Sunday, 7 September 2014

In defence of the 'sensible one'

Patsy and Eddie types, prepare to purse your lips

On a recent night out, while the rest of our party was either predictably AWOL or slumped semi-comatose in the corner, my friend leaned in and yelled over the dulcet tones of some 70s crooner (this was not, needless to say, the classiest of establishments): “I knew you’d be the only sensible one tonight!”

realise that ostensibly, this was a compliment. Thank you, she was saying, for remaining conscious for at least the first hour of my birthday outing. But instead of taking this as the praise Im sure it was intended, my heart sank a little. ‘Sensible’ is a label I seem to have done a blinding job in cultivating, over the years – but its by no means been intentional.
Generally, sensible is something that goes hand in hand with qualities like reliable, dependable, cautious; all desirable assets for oh I dont know, your GP, say, or quite possibly a guide dog…but a 22 year old woman? If I were to meet an untimely death, its not exactly what Id want engraved on my tomb stone. And with so much value placed on qualities like spontaneity and general being-up-for-a-laugh-ness, for a long time, Ive been made to see my cautious nature as something of a social handicap.
When deciding to head home instead of staying for that infamous ‘one more drink, for instance, the first thing friends are likely to hit you with is the B bomb. ‘DONT BE SO BORING!, they implore you, while all the while youre thinking, hey – Im knackered and have to be up early tomorrow and am already on for a mere five hours sleep – Im not being boring, it just makes SENSE. And therein lies the problem. One minute that sense of yours is a blessing, the next a point of ridicule.
Which is precisely why of late, Ive decided to stop fighting against it. Yep, from now on, Im going to be an out and proud, fully signed up member of the Sensible Club (S Club, for short, for anyone else interested in some pleasingly 90s themed nostalgia).
Obviously, the world would be a fairly bleak place if we were all to tread the sensible line. It would function as efficiently as the German public transport system, granted, but Ill be the first to admit that theres been many a time when Ive been glad of a less sensible friend bullying, or cajoling me, shall we say, into casting my sensible impulses to one side, and ensuring that I had fun I would otherwise have missed out on.
But think about it. Theres a saying something along the lines of ‘behind every great man, theres a great woman, and Id like to propose that a similar pattern exists where sensible people are concerned. Were you one of over 100,000 revellers rolling around in the mud at Glastonbury this year? Are you an avid Orange is the New Black viewer? Ever taken part in a protest march, or visited one of those trendy pop ups that seem to be springing up all over the gaff?
Well you can bet that behind every one of these enjoyable experiences, you’ll find a ‘sensible oneA whole group of them even. Organisers, producers, site managers, people who merely turn up on time – the types of people you can rely on for a contingency plan, a plan C for when even plan B isnt up to scratch, someone to work out the right timings, heck, to make sure there are some Portaloos in place. Without them…youre knee deep in shit. These events might be in need of the ‘fun ones, the ‘spontaneous ones’ to give the atmosphere a bit of a buzz – but without us Sensible Simons, thered be no event in the first place.
So, I might well arrive a perpetual fifteen minutes early. I might carry the equivalent of a first aid kit around in my handbag, create lists and itineraries and book things years in advance, and I might even, on occasion, lay my clothes out the night before (I know, I know).  But next time youre tempted to scoff at such behaviour, remember – more often than not, theres a thoroughly  planned method in that madness you so enjoy.
This article originally appeared in Gander Magazine, and can be found here