Sue Limb: On the other hand...
PUBLISHED: 10:11 17 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:24 17 March 2014
When Sue Limb was 12, she could have run away to sea and become a Pirate of the Caribbean, though she feared a tricorn hat and a parrot would pass unnoticed in Stroud
I was going to write about how indecisive I am, but now I’m not so sure. Thank God I’m not God. Creation would never have got off the ground. ‘Let there be Light! - No, wait! Maybe that’s not such a good idea...’ Imagine the design stage of the Garden of Eden. ‘I’m torn between a Mediterranean garrigue and a heritage meadow.’ I wouldn’t have been able to make up my mind to smite anyone, either. Even the Emperor Nero played a mean fiddle.
I’ve been plagued with indecision all my life. You know that very early stage when a foetus isn’t yet male or female, but could go either way? I can clearly remember thinking, ‘Shall I have a moustache and a deep voice and be interested in cricket? Or shall I be a boy instead?’
Of course, I’m not indecisive about absolutely everything. If it came to a choice between having my fingernails pulled out by a medieval torturer, or sitting by the fire playing Scrabble, I know which I’d choose. Unless Daniel Craig was playing the torturer, and a very good local anaesthetic was available.
If ever there was a line of work where indecision is a fatal flaw, it’s politics. And yet somehow I found myself as the Green Party candidate for the Cotswolds in the European Elections of 1989. There were several public meetings where all the candidates would set out their stalls. I remember hearing the Tory candidate talking about a market economy and thinking, ‘Yes! Right!’ Then I heard the Labour chap give an impassioned speech about social justice and thought, ‘Yes! Right!’ It was easy to agree with the Lib Dems of course as they change their minds all the time.
Perhaps indecision is the unfortunate side effect of a tolerant, liberal attitude. But maybe it’s the sign of a deep instinctive cowardice: the bedrock of my character. What if, God forbid, I commit myself to a decision and make a mistake? Like the time I invited some vegetarians over for dinner and decided, instead of the culinary safety of pasta, to make deep fried chickpea patties for the first time. The fat was a bit too hot and after the initial explosion, once the smoke had cleared, I discovered that instead of offering nourishment to my friends, I had somehow Artexed the ceiling.
Indecision does offer some pleasures, though. Through its hesitations we can glimpse parallel lives we might have had. When I was 12 I could easily have run away to sea, disguised as a boy, and become a Pirate of the Caribbean. Perhaps it’s not too late even now to acquire the glamorous accessories. Though I fear a tricorn hat and a parrot would pass unnoticed in Stroud.
I don’t think I’d have got very far as an indecisive pirate. ‘Pieces of eight! Or nine, or whatever! Avast behind!’ (At least I’ve achieved that.) But maybe it’s not too late to plan an adventurous retirement. Shall I take to bungee jumping? Or go down the Miss Marple route, sleuthing away over my knitting in a tearoom in Chipping Sodbury?
But wait! the whole problem with indecision is this awful polarity, this relentless either or. Why not try a different approach and, instead of hesitating between opposites, try reconciling both choices in an imaginative synthesis? Yes! Yes! By George, I’ve got it!
So if, at some future date, you happen to catch sight of an elderly lady wearing a tweed suit and bungee-jumping whilst knitting a baby-pink matinee jacket, you’ll know I’ve cracked it.
This article is from the March 2014 issue of Cotswold Life.
For more from Sue Limb, follow her on Twitter: @Sue_Limb