My dear father Walter is a 69 year old mans man, a butcher by trade and in recent years a nice and sensible bookkeeper. Some people think he resembles Santa Clause; a rotund man with a full head of bright white hair, a thick moustache complete with rosy cheeks no matter the temperature. We actually persuaded him to dress like Santa last Christmas although his brummy accent gave it away to my perceptive little nieces and nephews.
Walter is a man of routine; he’s always 30 minutes early and as a true British gent still greets strangers as ‘sir’. He will religiously watch every football match on TV because he ‘doesn’t support one team- he supports the game’ and you can be sure to find him sneaking biscuits whilst glued to the cricket or the F1 or horseracing…you get my drift. He’s a man who after 35 years of marriage to a domestic goddess still can’t cook anything but meat stew and has an aversion to the ironing. As a father he treasures his little girl (I‘m not sure when I will stop being his little girl) and has a ‘shoulder patting’ relationship with my much older brothers.
There have been no real changes to this ever reliable chap over the years apart from natural aging; my mum tells me she was delighted when he didn’t go through a midlife crisis (although he was 41 when I was born so maybe that was enough). So, you can imagine the ripples of shock in the family when a few weeks ago my father announced he had taken up Boxercise classes; and not just that, last week he went out specifically to buy a pair of jeans. His first pair of jeans. My mum and I have spent hours talking about these sudden changes. Why on earth is he going to Boxercise when he groans getting in and out of the car and why oh why is now the right time for denim after 69 years in polyester?! The thing is, my dad just shrugs and jollily gives the answer ‘because I feel like it’.
These are realistically minor changes but the effect has been major. He’s lost some weight; he’s gained a newfound confidence and an apparent taste for fashion as well as making my brother decide to give the gym a go. This started me thinking, no matter how set in your ways you are; a change no matter how minor could make a big difference to your life and even how you are viewed by others around you. My preconceived ideas about how my old pa should and will always act were dashed. Surely no one is beyond stepping out of their comfort zone if Santa Clause can suddenly buy boxing gloves and start doing squat jumps for fun.
It has certainly got me thinking about what minor adjustments I can make to shake up people’s perceptions of who I am…
Abi Elwell – Senior Consultant