The other day I left a comment on Mr BC's blog to the effect that I could have been a captain of industry if I'd wanted, I just didn't want to.
What a lot of old rot that was. I could never have been a captain of industry, even if I had wanted to. For a start I'm pathetically shy, and practically incapable of looking an interlocutor in the eye, let alone walking the walk, talking the talk, pressing the flesh, running things up the flagpole and all the other things that captains of industry do in order to reach their elevated rank.
For a second thing, I shun human company whenever possible, so as to spare my fellow human beings the discomfort of being in my introverted, socially-awkward presence. There was a time, when I was in a more fragile mental state than I am now (I'm not in a fragile mental state now), when I didn't even like going outside in case the mere sight of me spoiled other people's day. I'm fairly sure this is not the kind of attitude that got Richard Branson where he is today.
For another thing, I have no confidence in my own abilities, nor in fact any sense that I have any abilities to have confidence in. If I were asked to list my abilities, the list might go as follows:
1. Speaking French (not very well).
2. Arranging words in a passable sort of order.
3. Making pastry.
When my confidence is at its lowest ebb, it's this last one that I cling to, desperately, in a bid to persuade myself that I'm not the most useless, pointless individual that ever lived.
So it was the other day, as I was wandering around the kitchen berating myself for never having become a captain of industry, or a brilliant mathematician, or a columnist for the Economist.
'Still,' I thought to myself. 'I do make good pastry.'
A bout of cathartic pastry-making duly ensued, the methodical rubbing of butter into flour and icing sugar and lemon zest soothing my troubled thoughts, the spooning out of the mincemeat bringing back fond memories of cooking with my mum (I'm not sure why, as cooking with my mum usually involved her shouting at me for ruining whatever it was she was attempting to make, but still), the warmth of the oven momentarily raising the temperature of the kitchen above zero degrees Kelvin, and the aroma of baking suffusing the house with a sense of homeliness and contentment.
'I make great mince pies,' I tell myself, proudly.
As I take the mince pies out of the oven, the tray slips from my oven-gloved hand and falls upside-down on the slate floor, crushing the pies into a sticky morass fretted with a few disenfranchised pastry stars.
'Oh,' I thought.