Three Feet of Life


I am Billy Lamb, about to say something profound.

Anyone out there watch Silk? It’s about barristers in London, wheeling and dealing, drinking real ale in dark Victorian pubs and having stand-offs in courtrooms. I’m mesmerised by a bit of dialogue in the last episode which I can’t get out of my head.

Billy Lamb, the head clerk, has just been diagnosed with cancer. Jake, a junior clark, is hopelessly in love with Bethany of the burnished hair, but can’t work up the courage to ask her out. So Billy says an extraordinarily powerful thing. It’s so powerful that Jake – poor wordless spotty Jake – leaps out of his seat like a jet-propelled Sir Galahad and asks Bethany for a date.

When you come into the world, you come out of your mother’s downstairs like a rocket fired straight into a brick wall about three feet away … Make the most of the three feet.

Three feet. Not much, is it? How do we make the most of so little?

Laugh. Younger Son told me a joke the other day. What do bunnies play tennis with? Tennis rabbits. Permit yourself silly thoughts that will make you smirk as you trog around Sainsburys. Invent amusing acronyms from the number plate of the car blocking your drive. Enjoy the squelch of water in your shoes as you get splashed by a passing bus.

Be Outside. So what if the weather’s being evil just now? The trees are green. The flowers are huge. The air is soft. The snail shells are pretty and the beetles are shiny and THERE ARE NO WASPS. The sky is like a grey pearl. If you can’t see that, look harder. Get out there and fill your lungs, friends! It’s what they’re for! Just don’t get struck by lightning.

Write Your Novel. If you’ve always wanted to write one, that is. If it’s never crossed your mind, don’t go there. Too much trouble. The rest of you (including me) should just crack on, whether you’ve still got twenty inches to spare or the brick wall is is sight.

Salted caramel yum

Eat Cake. Ideally those tiny salted caramel squares they sell in Starbucks.

Kiss Your Children. Even if they smell of poorly wiped bottoms. If you don’t have children, smile at any that you see. Beam at the glowering teenagers outside Tesco’s. They’re just kids. They may have a couple of inches on you, but they’re trying to get through three feet of life too.

Enjoy What You’ve Got. The law of averages states that there’s bound to be something good about it. And change the rubbish bits. That wall’s getting nearer.

So how am I doing on my manifesto for Three Feet of Life today?

I Kissed My Children this morning. I Laughed about a dream where I had to show John Barrowman to a decent greasy spoon cafe. Now it’s time to Enjoy What I’ve Got (a roof over my head, legs that work, a pretty necklace that looks like a fried egg), Get Outside (walk down the hill to my work cafe) and Write My Novel, via a bit of paid work to allow me to Eat Cake.

How about you?

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