In between making glass goodies for the forthcoming Medway Open Studios, this Sunday the whole family relocated to our son’s Hockey club for the juniors to have a practice session with the Men’s 1st 11 – who include the current GB Men’s captain Barry Middleton, and serveral other of the recent GB squad who came 4th in the recent world cup! What with that and the offer of a BBQ, we were all keen to go! Plus, the sun was shining and the club house bar was open – win-win!!
However…… shortly after arriving, I spotted one of the other mums, who I had not seen there before and realised that she and I were apprentice engineers together some 30 years ago! Not only that, but we had shared lifts to the training centre, I had sat with her for weeks in her knackered VW Beetle when she was learning to drive, and I had also worked in her parent’s pub when I turned 18 – As you can imagine, 30 years ago, we had shared a lot! I finally plucked up the courage to go over and say hello, thinking that she may not recognise me since I’m not really the tiny size 8 I was back then lol. I’m not sure what I was expecting really – it was a tad uncomfortable when for what seemed like hours, I was just waffling and not sure if she even knew who I was! I said ‘you haven’t changed a bit – I recognised you instantly!’ She said ‘I recognised your voice’. Hmmmmm – it went a bit down hill from there really!
She asked ‘What do you do?’ – I replied ‘I’m a glass artist! (smiling happily) – She just stared at me, looking like I had spoken Russian. Then she said ‘OH!’ followed by ‘What?!’ followed by ‘How come?’ – maybe I was speaking Russian?! It didn’t occur to me that my job would render her practically speechless! I endeavoured to explain a bit about what it meant to be a ‘Glass Artist’ – she continued to frown!
In the end I stopped talking and said ‘So what about you then?’ ‘Oh, I’m the Director of the British Chemical Engineering Contractors Association – I stayed in Engineering.’ Aaaaah! You know when you wished you had just carried on walking and gone straight to the bar?? Yes – that’s how I felt. Somehow I know this is not about her – she has done phenominally well – has an MBA, and a string of impressive jobs on her CV, whereas I am a Glass Artist and she has no idea what that is! Should I have felt insignificant? Should I have felt like a massive under-achiever? Should I now be hatching plans to avoid her at all future Hockey socials? NO I should not! So why did I?
Maybe it’s because being a ‘Glass Artist’ is a title I have bestowed upon myself – I have created the world in which I am my own boss and I make as much or as little as I wish. I make time in my week for the things that are important in my life, like my family and friends. I am involved in fundraising for my son’s school and I volunteer a day a week at Nucleus to keep the gallery running, which supports other local artists. Maybe I am not one of life’s high-flyers – although I used to be! Maybe I could have had a list of impressive letters after my name and an office in the city if I’d kept at it!? But maybe I am just as happy (albeit brassic lol) to be using my creativity and my engineering skills to make glass art that people who do know what that means, appreciate and buy, to make themselves happy too! Yes, I am very happy not to have the stress and politics of the old days in industry and I don’t even think about it until I meet someone from my past and feel like I have to justify it!
My immediate hope is that I get over this little episode of self-doubt before this coming Sunday, because I am attending my old school’s Centenary Afternoon Tea for ‘old girls’. I am bound to bump into many more high-achieving old friends and have to explain what it is that I ‘do’. Mind you, with the help of another ‘old girl’ who is a ceramicist, sculptor and rescuer of donkeys, I’m sure we will manage! If not, there are always the scones!
In the meantime, I will just go back to my workshop and make more suncatchers for Open Studios…… Or maybe I’ll have a cup of tea and a biscuit and do that later…… just because I can!
*skips over to the kettle with a little grin*