A former boss of mine used to say, 'You don't get a show horse to do the work of a cart horse', a rather unsubtle way of getting me to spend most of my time on the sort of work only I could do. It was particularly insulting to the person to whom I was meant to be doing most of my delegating as the resemblance between her and a cart horse was truly remarkable.
Still, I thought of that expression today when, as acting church caretaker, I answered a lot of questions which I didn't immediately know the answer to but you didn't have to be a genius to solve.
Where are the staples kept?
I don't know but try and think like a staple for a minute. Where would you hide?
In that cupboard.
Sure enough they were in that cupboard.
How can I fit these things in the freezer?
I don't know but perhaps if we squashed those other things that look like stale bread.
It is stale bread.
Shall we chuck it out?
How can I attach these wedding decorations to the pews?
I don't know but they tell me string is good.
Maybe my skill is simply having been around long enough to know when a question is so unimportant that the answer doesn't matter and to have lived just enough of life to make an occasional sensible decision.
It took me back twenty years (when clearly I hadn't lived so long as I have now) and the Great Ayton CYFA Venture dining hall:
Steve we've lost 24 plates.
No you haven't they'll turn up.
Steve it's nearly lunch time and we have three tables with no plates on.
They'll turn up. If they don't we can eat in shifts.
Steve it's lunch time and we have 24 too few plates and the food will spoil if we make people wait.
OK. Where would 24 plates go?
Who washed up?
Who laid up?
Were all the plates out at breakfast?
Then they are in there somewhere.
There are 10 per table right?
So 24 is 3 tables without plates?
What are 12 x 2s?
Go take the 2 extra plates off the other 12 tables which have been laid for 10 not 8.
How did you know that?
I would have made the same mistake.
I'm a show horse. Have been for years. Now I'm off to the Somerville Arms.