Saturday, 17 December 2011

You don't have to be mad to be a transitioner but it helps

This politically incorrect statement used to be around every office in the '90s in the form of 'You don't have to be mad to work here but it helps'. I was out with my mother shopping in Peterborough and was surprised at how friendly everyone was and how many people she knew. It then dawned on me that she didn't know any of them and this was an aspect of her dementia. I have since heard of other neurological conditions with a similar outcome. But why do you have to have some kind of brain impediment before you will smile and say hello to someone you do not know?

Living transitionally means you may behave in ways that look a little odd. You may ask to borrow something that is really cheap to buy such as a cake tin. If you are cycling places then you tend to arrive slightly sweaty and multi-layered. You might eat strange things in the lunch break such as last nights leftovers. The other day I walked round the office asking if anyone was driving to our headquarters and felt rather embarrassed as people looked me up and down in wonderment at my lack of transport. 'Is she too poor to have a car?' 'Perhaps she has something wrong with her and is not allowed to drive'. Our company has now joined liftshare which means you can log on and find someone else going on the same journey and cadge a lift. Its kind of like a computerized hitchhiking with the knowledge that the person works for the same people as you.

You may also look generally poor by not flying abroad on holiday or buying the latest flat screen TV. So as well as being odd you will be poor and odd thereby lowering your status further.

However you will be oblivious of all this because you will be having such a good time connecting with people you share lifts, food and cake tins with. Different things will be important to you, for example I nearly crashed my car the other day ( yes I still have one) because every year I decorate the pine tree on the puppet theatre roundabout with secondhand baubles. This year I drove past looking for a place to park when I saw that someone else had already done it! I threw my head back with laughter! I have created a TRADITION.

Oh and the photograph? I just googled 'baubles' to look for someone who looked stranger than me and it didn't take long.


  1. If you'd been in the next room whilst I was reading this post Helen, after a breakfast of eggs and leftover potatoes and wearing a give and take jumper, you would have heard LOL and 'Yep!' alternately, an audio version of flashing lights - beautiful!

  2. Helen of Norwich, you are the Fine City's greatest treasure!

  3. Dear Helen,

    Really enjoyed your posts this week, especially seeing that gorgeous rainbow scarf and hearing about the roundabout tree.

    Your perceptions about being poor and odd are so key and really resonate with Jon's recent post about laughing at your neighbours. If we could just stop one thing in 2012 that would turn our unkind consumer world on its head, it would be putting other people down so we feel up.

    All the best for the hollydays,