I am NOT a rebel. I am one of life’s rule followers. But I broke a rule once and was branded a rebel by the ultimate of rule enforcers: a policeman. The shame lives with me still.
I like rules. I like to know where the boundaries are. I get a bit tetchy if someone steps outside the boundary – I worry for them. It’s like stepping onto a minefield. Stay to the path and you are okay. Step off the path and there could be anything out there. Stick to the path. It’s safe.
I am such a rule follower that I tut (inwardly because I don’t want the skirmish if someone hears me) if I see someone not following rules in life. Parking cars in bus stops. Litter louts. More than seven items in the seven items or less checkout in the supermarket (yes, I will count the beeps for you and exhale deeply at beep eight). Queues – now there’s a rule we all know and love. It defines fairness. But it comes with a subsection which is applicable to many rules. If you see a queue-jumper/aka rule-breaker, don’t challenge them. Because you risk confrontation. And there is a rule in life about avoiding conflict. Us rule followers often find ourselves quietly going backwards in queues rather than forwards because the rebels skip ahead of us.
And that pretty much sums up life. Free thinkers are destined for either greatness or jail. Rule followers are just that followers, not leaders so we get stuck behind the rest of you.
There is the murky area which us rule followers are a bit uneasy with and that is the difference between written rules such as laws and game instructions, we like those, and the unwritten rules which include etiquette and tradition. We would love a bit of clarity on those unwritten ones. Someone writing down unwritten rules would be handy.
I admit my rule following does make me a bit grey and boring, which is ironic given I broke a rule trying to be colourful. And for the first, and likely last, time in my life I was branded a rebel. Worse than that. Like I told you, I was branded a rebel by the most authoritarian figure in rule following, the grandmaster of the rule book: a policeman.
It all started when I read an article about seed bombs. I admit the word bomb was alarming but reading the article further I discovered the only thing ‘exploding’ would be flowers into life. How nice does that sound? And the idea was to put seed bombs in drab places where flowers would become most welcome in aesthetic and wildlife terms.
I loved the sound of this. There is an unwritten rule in life that nothing should become neglected or unkempt. Things should be cared for and nurtured. It you follow the rule of looking after things then there is no chance of things going a bit derelict on you.
Seed bombs sounded perfect. I failed to do further research at the time to discover that seed bombs were the tried and tested artillery of the ultimate in free thinkers – hippies.
So I rustled a few seed bombs up. A simple recipe (a rule follower loves a recipe – instructions in their finest form) and there I had it – seed bombs.
The idea is you put these balls – the actual idea is to throw them, but I was worried about hitting someone or something – in drab, sad places and wait for rain to soften the bomb and then the seeds grow.
I went to a derelict area near me where a factory once stood. It used to be a magnificent factory churning out jars of famous marmalade. But the fame of the brand had been cashed in and the product and jobs shipped out and now it had become just a sad area of skeletal buildings, and weeds. It had also become blighted by the ultimate rebels – graffiti artists.
So this was the perfect area to put my seed bombs. I parked up and started off leaving my seed bombs near the entrance and then getting braver went further into the site.
I did feel a bit self-conscious being at the abandoned spot. It was such a large, derelict area and I was the only person there.
Except I wasn’t the only person there as right behind me appeared a policeman.
He demanded to know what I was doing. The thing about a rule follower is when confronted with authority your heart beats faster, you instinctively feel guilty, lose all rational thought, panic and the words just don’t come out in the right order.
My blabbering of seed bombs caused alarm in the police officer that I was planting ACTUAL bombs. My inarticulate efforts to explain they weren’t explosives took a while to sink in amid the very verbal panic between us. Me being on the wrong side of authority; him at thinking he was ill-equipped to deal with a terrorist.
Both slightly embarrassed by what had occurred he threatened to charge me as I was trespassing, committing a littering offence as well as potential graffiti. I felt crushed. I was a criminal. He ordered me off the site and told me never to return. I was to keep seeds to my own garden in future and then he dealt the final blow: “Pack in being a rebel.”
A rebel. Me? I didn’t even eat food after its best before date.
The outcome of my ill-fated foray into becoming an unwitting rebel is that I cannot longer bring myself to eat marmalade. Seeing it in the supermarket makes me get a bit hot and clammy and my heart rate goes up as the guilt sinks down.
And these days the most rebellious thing I do with seeds is plant a one in June when the packet clearly states planting dates are March through to May.