Coming second best is close to ideal

Actually, it is totally ideal when winning means you have to go on to the next heats in the competition, and you only entered on a whim and don’t have time (or inclination) to compete seriously.  In that situation, second place is the perfect result. So I’m very pleased with the second place certificate I got last night at my Toastmaster’s club competitions, especially as I hadn’t even realised it was competition night – I haven’t been along for a few weeks, so thought I’d better go to a meeting, and when I got there, discovered it was a competition, and was suddenly having my arm twisted to enter the Table Topics (impromptu speaking) competition, because they didn’t have enough competitors.
Not knowing about the competition in advance meant that I didn’t have time to get nervous, at least, especially because when they did the draw I got to speak first (which meant I didn’t have to go and sit in another room waiting my turn (because everyone gets the same topic in a competition, they sequester the contestants so that you can’t get ideas from the previous speakers), so no time to get nervous waiting either).  So I was up and speaking before I had time to think about it, and was really relaxed as a result.  I was pretty pleased with how I’d spoken (the topic was “If you could be an Olympian, which sport would you choose and why?” – so I talked about learning archery at high school, and how Neroli Fairhall (a NZer who was the first paraplegic to compete in the able-bodied Olympics) had been my hero.), and thought I had a pretty good chance of getting third (because I went first, I got to watch everyone else’s speeches, and knew that one speaker had done way better than me (to my relief – I wasn’t joking above about second place being ideal – I really didn’t want to win and have to go on to compete against other clubs!), and another had done, I thought, slightly better.  So I was very pleased at the end of the evening to discover that the judges had actually put me in second place.
(Oh, and the title is a line from a song – I can’t remember what the song is actually called (and am too lazy to Google it), but I do know it’s by Catatonia.  Just in case you thought it was some random phrase I pulled out of thin air.)


I don’t think I mentioned in my last post that I had a nice surprise last week – a phone call from the refugee woman I used to tutor.  For various reasons we hadn’t been able to continue our regular lessons, and she’d moved house so we lost touch a few years ago.  But she’d been cleaning out a cupboard and had come across one of her old workbooks, with my phone number written in it, so gave me a call.  We arranged to meet up, so she came round to visit on Saturday, and had a great chat (even if we probably each only understood about three quarters of what the other was trying to convey – her English is still pretty limited, although she’s picked up a lot more in the intervening years, and is still just as confident as ever about diving in and using the words and phrases she does know, even if she hasn’t always got the syntax to string them together properly).  She brought me presents, too – she and her husband went to Mecca last year for the Hajj, and had also been back to Afghanistan briefly to see family, so she brought me back scarves and jewellery from Medina and Kabul.  I was totally stunned by the gifts, but she said she thought of me as her NZ sister, and had been thinking of me all this time, and was so sorry to have lost touch for so long.
It’s great to be back in touch with her – I’ll have to make sure I make space in my schedule to meet up with her regularly so that we don’t loose touch again.

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