Treading the boards

Alisdair Chisholm reflects on his goals for 2015 – and a ‘Big Walk’ looks to be part of it!

The last gig of the year 2014, remember that? It was funny, and lovely, and left me wondering.

It was a small conference, around 80 people, and the sales director, at the appointed moment, 10.00am as it happens, walked up to introduce me. A lovely man, he had though made the schoolboy error of wearing new shoes, and as his new shiny, leather soles hit the stage, before he made it to the microphone, he slipped and went flying.

Even better, he took a cup of coffee down with him, and better still, his ever so lovely assistant dashed to help him, slipped on the spilt coffee and ended up on top of him, adding to the rumours already fuelled by some alleged moments of indiscretion the night before.

It all made me laugh a bit, and the audience laugh a lot, and although the director never made it to the microphone and so never actually introduced me, it was still just about the best introduction that I have had all year.

The audience were lovely, in a gentle and hungover sort of way, and I hypnotised them and worked some magic and all went well, the way you always want it to but particularly when it is the last gig of the year, marking a break from proceedings for three weeks.

In the Q&A session at the end, a seven-foot tall man – I have met a lot of very tall people this year – stood up and asked me “What are your goals for 2015?”

Now, I am not in the habit of sharing my goals with just anyone – I am happy to tell you, of course; 140 gigs, if you are interested – but, since I had been talking about setting goals, it seemed a little churlish not to answer, so I told the tall man, and everyone else, my gig target.

Everyone happy, yet I walked away wondering… The truth is that, thanks to what I like to think of as a truly enlightened, large US conference company, the gig target is, to a great extent, pretty much taken care of, although there is still room in my diary for the good things that will come up through the year.

This is, I know, a lucky place to be, hence the wondering, and the lingering question in my mind, ‘What else?’ I just cannot bring myself to even imagine a relaxing year; a year without challenging goals would just seem like so much wasted time, which is not to say I always achieve all my goals (I don’t) but for me the fun is always more in the journey than the destination.

So I did what you do when you need to think, and decide, and went for a long walk. I left the castle, walked a few hundred metres to the beach and set off along the coast – it was meant to be a five-mile walk, but I hadn’t looked at tide times, because I never do, and ended up having to walk back a longer inland route, about ten miles in total.

Now, ten miles takes me a jolly long time, long enough by far to decide what else I might be able to pull off in 2015, but absolutely nothing came to mind. So, back at the castle, I made coffee, puffed on an e-cigar, surely the most bizarre smoking product I have come across so far, and just started writing down ideas, even though I didn’t really have any. This usually works, just write down the maddest goals (buy an island and declare it a new country, invent a new energy source, move to Vegas and become a professional magician, and suchlike) and the real things you want to do emerge.

So, the gig target is now 160 (getting the work is not as much fun as doing it, but it comes close), along with 10 charity gigs (it is about time I did something for nothing, for a worthy reason), another writing project (obviously this column is my first love, but like most trainers I have more words in me), and a 100-mile walk (five days, 100 miles, no money; you are welcome to join me, if it appeals).

I felt the usual thrill at setting out towards new ends and revelled in that excitement over espresso, amaretto and nicotine, interrupted only by the ping of my phone alerting me to a new email.

It was a cancellation, of a ‘day a month for a year’ programme, and I hit the phone in ‘rescue and salvage’ mode.

So it begins.

Walk on, Good fortune.


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