Brace Yourselves. – By @carlyillston

By Carly Illston


Brace Yourselves. 


“Brace yourselves, the storm? She’s a-coming in” 

Living in Canada during the winter, that statement was an almost weekly occurrence by the boarding house janitor Clive. 

Clive was quite the character. Stooped back and white wizard-like nose hairs long enough to braid, he seamlessly glided in and out of our hectic school life with a mop and cart in hand. This is not to say that he was invisible however. 

As seamless as his transitions were, his opinions were somewhat rigid. Never one to shy away from voicing his politics, lunch and somewhat dubious life travels, he lets us know he was there. 

Clive was undoubtedly, not a man of affection. Nor often or to everyday people, a man of much warmth. But for what Clive lacked in outward emotion, he more than made up for. Whenever a winters storm would stalk it’s way over the mountain range like a tiger who caught sight of a particularly delicious Impala, Clive would button down the hatches. 

He was our hero. The hero who very much did not want to be cheered and hollered at by fifty young teenage girls who found his stoic actions both entertaining and endearing. He would grumble on his way, tossing a hand back at us in a swat saying “It’s my job”. 

His reluctance to indulge us, spurred us on even further. He was the sole recipient of “Clive Appreciation Day” and actively avoided us. 

I think of him often. His famous strap line has curiously grown wings and flown across the Atlantic. 

“Brace yourselves, the storm?”. 

This feels like a Monday morning rolling into the SCA and having Marc dump a truckload of work upon you at Townhall. And don’t just “do” the work, do more, be better, be the best. 

And you have to look after yourself, get in brace position for whatever will hit. Make brace position feel as natural as lounging across the sofa so it becomes habit. 

As for the storm, shelve your envy of your fair weathered friends whom come home at 5 in the evening and carry on with their normal lives. When there’s a constant storm circling you, you’ll learn how to ride the wind. To use it to your advantage. And to even stop and realise that storms make things interesting. 

My greatest fear is that I will live an unremarkable life with a house in Bromley, 2 kids, 1 husband and an annual all inclusive to Lanzarote at best. But at least frequent turbulence gives you something to gossip about and bring to dinner parties when the red wine has run dry. 

No planes actually crash because of turbulence, it’s just pockets of hot and cold air that cause the plane to drop. I guess this is like a lot of creative work. Just take the good with the bad and trust in the process that what goes down must come up. 

“She’s a coming-in”. 

Clive, you’re right. 

And I’m heading straight for Brixton. 

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