Not Stupid Today – A True Story And Guest Blog Post by Graeme Cumming @GraemeCumming63

I’m delighted to welcome Graeme Cumming to my blog. Not only is Graeme somebody I class as a friend, but he’s also a very talented author, writer and blogger.

A guest blog post by Graeme Cumming

Graeme’s true story opened up my eyes to something I’d never thought about when it comes to passing on wisdom and mistakes I’ve made in my life to those younger than me. Read his story and let him know how you pass on words of wisdom to the younger generation.


Unlike Bryan Adams, my summer of ’69 had nothing to do with playing guitar. Having struggled to play triangle during a school concert, I think it’s safe to say my musical abilities wouldn’t have stretched that far.

When I chose the wrong moment to hit the triangle, I was even more mortified than I might otherwise have been because my dad was in the audience. He didn’t tend to turn up for school stuff because of work – not many dads did back then. So, when he was able to put in an appearance, I wanted to impress him. Clearly, I was to be disappointed and, at the time, I assumed the same was true for him. It’s funny the perceptions we have of our parents.

That summer, we took a rare holiday. I suppose they were rare because we didn’t have the money for them. In those days, it was common for the husband to go to work and the wife to stay home and look after the house and children. With one wage-earner, a holiday was a luxury. Even better, we had two weeks at Mablethorpe, not just one.

Fifty-one years later, I still have great memories from that holiday. Great, though not all of them filled with joy. Not at the time anyway.

There was an incident where my dad and I were playing football on the beach. Sport had always been his forte. He’d even been signed as a professional footballer back in the fifties – though a foot injury put paid to his sporting career within weeks. Nevertheless, even with the injury, he was a good all-rounder. In his time, he played cricket, tennis and squash to a high standard, and even walked away with a trophy on the one occasion he played golf.

In contrast, my own sporting skills have always bordered on the inept. So there was very little surprise when I kicked the ball in the wrong direction, sending it hurtling out into the sea. The tide was going out and, before long, it became apparent that the ball was going with it. My dad did go after it – inevitably, he was a bloody good swimmer, too!

Like most kids, my dad was my hero. I thought he was capable of anything. So, when he swam back to shore and I could still see the ball in the distance, it’s fair to say I was disappointed. In short, I wanted my ball back.

Standing at the water’s edge, he pointed to where it was, bobbing further and further away. I felt very let down that he’d come back empty-handed. And I let him know it, too.

“You can still get it.”

“Graeme, it’s too far out.”

It didn’t look that far to me, a point I expressed pretty sharply.

“The tide’s taking it,” he tried to explain.

Perhaps the concept of tides was too difficult for a six-year-old. It was another thirteen years before I experienced the terrifying pull of the sea as a Moroccan beach seemed to recede very rapidly from my line of sight. And the overwhelming sense of relief as I somehow managed to scrabble my way back to shallow waters.

To this day, I don’t know whether my dad had ever gone through a similar experience, but he knew what he was talking about. I didn’t.

Hands on hips, I looked up at him and, in the manner befitting a child who isn’t getting their own way, let him know just how disappointed I was in him. After all, this was my hero. He was my Simon Templar, my Robin Hood, my Tarzan.

“Aren’t you brave enough?” It was an idea that was, frankly, shocking to me.

Exhausted from swimming against the tide, and faced with a similarly unreasonable question, I’d like to think I could show the same level of patience he did (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t).

“Sometimes, Graeme, there’s not much difference between being brave and being stupid.” He glanced out to the ball. “I’m not going to be stupid today.”

Naturally, this quite profound life lesson went straight over my head at the time. And yet, strangely, the incident and the words stuck with me, until one day they made sense.

I’d like to say my dad was not only a great sportsman, but a philosopher too. But I can’t. Like each and every one of us, he was a flawed individual, and over the years I learnt as much from his mistakes as I did his wise words. And I’ve learnt even more from my own mistakes, especially from my youthful certainty that I was right, that I was invincible, that I would be my own hero. But that’s part of growing up.

Now, as a father myself, I see my children making their own mistakes, and hoping they’ll learn from them too. I’ve shared my words of wisdom, and hope they’ll remember some of them when the time is right. Sometimes those words have been dressed up in stories – because sometimes it’s easier to learn when you’re being entertained.

And I do like to tell stories.


Graeme Cumming

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country.  He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas. 

When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking.  He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club.  Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.

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Connect With Graeme

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Books

Ravens Gathering

Where To Buy Ravens Gathering:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Waterstones

Troubador

Signed copy

Carrion

Where to buy Carrion:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

My thanks to Graeme for writing this guest post.

If you have any questions or comments for Graeme, please leave them in the comments section. He’d be delighted to hear from you.


For more true stories from my guests, click on the links below

How A Journey Of A Million Miles Showed Me The Value Of Home – A Guest Post by Paul Ariss @PaulAriss1

Today, I’d like to introduce you to Paul Ariss. Paul is a songwriter, screenwriter and has just started blogging.

Paul shares a true story about travel which gave me goosebumps when I read it because I know only too well what he was experiencing.

Have you ever experienced what Paul shares with us in his guest post?

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Author: Hugh W. Roberts

My name is Hugh. I live in the city of Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom. My blog covers a wide range of subjects, the most popular of which are my blogging tips posts. If you have any questions about blogging or anything else, please contact me by clicking on the 'Contact Hugh' button on the menu bar. Click on the 'Meet Hugh' button on the menu bar of my blog to learn more about me and my blog.

41 thoughts

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this nostalgic mini memoir in thought by Graeme. The past has much to teach us. And Graeme’s cover are spectacular! ❤

  2. How nice to meet you, Graeme, and thank you, Hugh, for sharing Graeme’s story. Fantastic words of wisdom…”not stupid today”…something every parent needs to have in their vocabulary. As a single mom for years, forced to keep my daughters home after school while I was still at work, I remember there were a few of those stupid days, believe me. I’m off to check out those books!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Terri. Ah, the joys – and responsibilities – of parenting. I remember concluding years ago that probably about 50% of what I did as a parent would be right, and the other 50% completely wrong. The only problem was, I wouldn’t know which 50% was which for a long, long time. It’s a unique learning experience!

  3. This is a really great story, Hugh and Graeme. Your memory is unique, but I also remember being that age and questioning my mother and father during situations like that. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Barbara. I’m sure we all question our parents like that during our childhood at least. As with so many things, it’s only when you’re own kids start doing the same to you that you realise how hard a time you gave them!

  4. I have always been a storyteller I’m not sure any of my lessons ever get through the muck I threw. I rely on hugs and laughter more than anything else. I somehow lost the manual early on. But I have faith in them.

    Thanks Graeme and Hugh for the great story
    Remember to keep laughing, There’s nothing better

  5. Great post! It’s comforting to know that sometimes our words are understood years later. That makes an effort worthwhile as sometimes those messages get through. As a retired teacher, I am surprised when I run into an old student who reminds me of some life lesson I tried to teach them years before.

  6. What a fantastic story you shared here, Hugh! And very well written too.

    Hello, Graeme, fellow sailor! I think the way you expressed your youth is similar to all of us. It took me until I was in my thirties to realize a few things – about tides and about life; what it can throw to you and how you’re NOT invincible. Part of growing up. All that actually happened when I was on an eight-year sailing journey. 🙂 I think experience is what teaches us most. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

    1. I’m more of a dinghy sailor, Liesbet, but I’ll grab any chance to be on the water – not that there have been many chances this year.
      As for the realisations, they’re still coming even now and, yes, a lot of that comes from experience. Thanks for your kind words.

  7. I love that my sons will call me to say they remembered something I had previously told them and that it had helped. Like last night, my son called to say he’d remembered how I’d talked about “how to have a difficult conversation” and he’d been able to use it effectively at work.

    I love what your dad said Graeme and no doubt you’ve used it with your choldren. You probably hear yourself thinking OMG, I sound like my dad lol.

    1. Don’t we all start to sound like our parents? It just creeps up on us.
      My own son has been known to surprise me occasionally by repeating back to me stuff I thought he’d been ignoring! As for that particular story, I can’t remember having cause to use it with either of my kids yet, but I did include a variation of it in my last book. Like I said, there can be lessons in the entertainment!
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

  8. Those stories will always stick with us. I hear you, Graeme, we don’t know, if we can pass on some wisdom to our children but we do our best to share insights which may stick with them for the time they need it.

  9. My dad was famous for his cowboy philosophy and I still hear his words of wisdom. They were simple but so true. I hope I have passed on some words of wisdom to my kids as well, many from him. A great story. Thanks for sharing.

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