“Meeting The Dull Men of Great Britain – The Event (Part One)”
10 minute read
What the hell am I doing?
These six small words form what is arguably the one question that I’ve asked myself most in life.
The second most asked question is about why I continue to watch The Walking Dead despite the fact that it gets progressively worse each season. I mean, come on, who the hell are those garbage people anyway and what the holy shit-balls is their leaders stupid bowl-fringe haircut all about?
Excuse me for digressing.
But the first question is valid, because time after time I’ve gotten myself involved in ridiculous situations just because I thought it might ‘be a laugh’ and that at the very worst it would give me a good story to tell in the pub.
And I’ve often sat-back and imagined a compilation of all the highlights (or low points) of these situations and realised that it might actually make good television; or at the very least a great five-minute educational video which warns the viewer about the perils of having a warped sense of adventure.
Today was to be another one of those days as I was about to leave work and head up to Preston for the Dull Men’s Club event. You can read all about how this adventure came about by clicking here.
I picked up my bag and exchanged a series of goodbyes with everybody, and then a couple of my friends, Andy and Mark, asked what I was doing for the evening.
“Oh I’m going up to Preston to meet a group of dull people.”
For some reason Andy looked confused.
Maybe he’d not heard me properly.
“I’m GOING up to PRESTON to meet a GROUP OF DULL PEOPLE!” I said in a raised voice. Surely he’d heard me this time.
“Yes we heard you the first time.” Mark said.
And now it was me that was confused, because why would they need me to repeat the question if they’d already heard me?
“You’re going where? And for why?” Andy asked with his eyebrows raised.
“You’re going to Preston to meet dull people?” Mark added.
I smiled and pointed at Mark. “Yeah, see, Mark gets it.”
Andy and Mark looked at each other, and then looked back at me with a slightly-troubled look on their faces. Perhaps they’d just remembered that they’d forgotten to send an important email.
I glanced at my watch.
“Anyway I’ve got to shoot off now chaps. Dullness awaits!” I enthused.
I walked out of the door and towards my car, leaving behind two very concerned friends. I really hoped they’d manage to get their emails sent.
It was a beautiful day in early summer and the drive up to Preston had been a pleasure. The roads had been clear, the sun had been shining, and I encountered no traffic whatsoever.
The event was being held at the University of Central Lancashire and as I turned onto Adelphi Street and towards the car park, I had to suddenly jump on my brakes. Because sat in the middle of the road was a dog; or to be more physically precise I should tell you that the dog was squatting. And not only was the dog squatting, but what it was actually doing was taking a massive shit; right on the centre line of the road.
I couldn’t quite believe it.
The dog turned and looked at me with an expression that demonstrated how seriously he was concentrating on his actions. His eyes locked on mine with an intensity that was quite unnerving, and it somehow felt wrong that we were suddenly engaged in a stare-off while his two back legs quivered behind him. But the moment he’d finished his body raised back up, his eyes softened, and his tongue dropped lazily from the side of his mouth. Clearly he was very satisfied with himself, and at that his tail started wagging and he casually strolled off and disappeared into the bushes.
I was now sat in a stationery car in the middle of the road facing a huge steaming dog turd.
I really hoped this moment wouldn’t prove to be an omen for the evening that lay ahead of me.
I found my way towards the building that was printed on my ticket and let myself in. It was early evening and the building was almost empty, and so I made my way around the corridors in search of the lecture theatre.
After fifteen minutes of aimless wandering and venturing up and down the same corridors two or three times, I finally found it. I was half an hour early and yet I heard voices inside the theatre.
I suddenly found myself feeling nervous with the realisation of what was about to happen. While the majority of my friends were settled at home with their families, playing the dutiful husband, the doting wife, and the responsible parents; I was a fully grown and semi-responsible forty year old man that had driven up to Preston from Derbyshire and was about to meet a group of dull people.
I really began to question some of my life choices.
Not only was I doing something so completely and utterly bizarre, but I would also need to begin working my charm and to try and convince them to get on board and to become a part of this website.
This was brand new territory for me and I began to feel sick. I felt like such an idiot. I mean, what on earth was I thinking? These people could be crazy. These people might think that I’m crazy! Turn around Elliot. Go back home!
“Hello.” I suddenly heard.
I turned around to see a friendly looking couple walking past me and into the theatre. I forced a smile on my face.
“Oh hey, how you doing?” I said in response.
I knew I had to do this. I knew I couldn’t back out.
“Come on Elliot. Put on your game face.” I whispered to myself.
And with that I walked into the lecture theatre and decided to go all in.
As I entered the brightly lit lecture theatre I was greeted by three people; the couple that had briefly said hello outside, and the curator of the event; Dr Sandi Mann aka Dr Boredom.
The gentleman of the group stepped forward and greeted me with an outstretched hand.
“Hello, I’m Martin.” He declared in a friendly Welsh accent.
“Hey, how you doing? I’m Elliot.” I returned in a voice that I hoped sounded equally as friendly.
Martin gestured towards his partner and then continued. “We’re from the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society. Where are you from?”
Did he really just say the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society?
“I’m from Derbyshire.” I answered, feeling a little lost. Because what was I supposed to say? That I was just a clueless dimwit? He could work that out for himself.
“Oh okay.” Martin said. “Well please excuse me for a moment while I set my things up.”
Martin turned to Sandi and began to discuss the details of the evening.
I was now stood all alone and felt like I really didn’t know what to do. But I glanced upwards and was greeted by Martin’s partner who flashed a huge smile and held out her hand.
“Hi Elliot, I’m Keri.”
Keri instantly made me feel at ease and I stepped forward and shook her hand.
“Hey Keri, it’s really nice to meet you.”
“I didn’t quite catch where you were from?”
“I’m from Derbyshire. But as for why I’m here, it’s a long story.” I said nervously.
“That’s okay. I’ll listen.” Keri said, encouraging me to tell my story.
Despite the fact that I was feeling like a fraud and didn’t really know if my presence would be appreciated, I realised that it was time to just go for it. It was now or never.
“Well this is going to sound a little bizarre.”
And then I began to tell my story.
My mind was crammed full of things that I felt I needed to say, but I couldn’t help but feel like they were spilling out in a completely incoherent fashion. I’d not rehearsed this moment at all and what had made sense in my own mind suddenly sounded ridiculous as the words came out of my mouth.
I’d previously mentioned my idea to a couple of friends and it sounded logical as I’d told them. But as I explained my plan to a complete stranger for the very first time, I suddenly felt sick with nerves and began stumbling over my words. I could feel my face burning red and my breathing started to quicken, and I suddenly realised that my only way around this was to be honest about how I was feeling.
I stopped talking for a moment, took a breath, and then I looked back at Keri.
“I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well here.”
Keri looked back at me and smiled. “You’re doing absolutely fine.”
I’ve mentioned before about the ability we all have to make an impact on other people’s lives (check out this feature – “Four Nights in Florence (with a slice of Pisa)”). The gestures we make and the words that we speak can make all the difference, and this proved to be one such moment. Keri instantly put me at ease, and in turn this allowed me to feel like I could continue.
I laughed nervously but felt somewhat relieved.
“Okay, let me start this again.” I smiled.
The five minutes that followed proved to be definitive. I told Keri all about Lossul.com and what its central themes were, and I explained all about my perceptions of the DMC and why I felt their message was important. I went on to tell her all about The Mission and my various travels, and we shared stories about different people we’d met and the experiences we’d had.
As I finished explaining my plans for the DMC features, Keri responded by asking me…
“Have you ever been to Aberystwyth?”
“No, I’ve never been there.”
“I think you’d really like it there. You’d be more than welcome.”
I couldn’t quite believe it. It seemed she’d really gotten on board with what I’d said and it really began to feel like this idea could go somewhere.
I handed Keri one of my cards, the first I’d ever given to anybody.
“Thank you.” She said. “Would you like a pencil?”
And with that I became the proud owner of a genuine and fully authentic Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society pencil.
I hadn’t noticed that during the time we’d been speaking more people had arrived and it was time to take a seat. I could have sat next to Martin and Keri now that we’d been acquainted, but in the end I chose to sit next to another gentleman, seeing it as an opportunity to meet yet another new DMC member.
“Hi, I’m Dave. Valve Radio Enthusiast.”
I shook his hand.
“Pleased to meet you Dave. I’m Elliot. I’ve come here to meet the DMC and to hopefully write an article about it.” I said honestly and with a new found confidence.
Dave was a lovely guy and was incredibly easy to talk to, with one of the friendliest voices you’ll ever hear. He opened up a box and showed me a number of different parts from valve radios and began to explain what they all were, although I’ll be honest and tell you that I can’t actually remember what any of them did.
But he was super enthusiastic and even though I didn’t share his interest in valve radios, I could definitely buy into the passion that he had.
Being passionate is a wonderful trait to have and it really can become the heartbeat of a meaningful life. I think it’s no coincidence that the times in my life when I’ve been the most happiest is when I’ve been living in complete alignment with the things I’m most passionate about.
Another gentleman sat down next to me and we shook hands.
“Hey, I’m Elliot.”
I recognised him immediately from the DMC book and it suddenly felt like I was meeting a celebrity. I felt a little bit star-struck.
“You’re the guy that’s visited all 2,548 railway stations!”
And then it suddenly occurred to me that in the space of five minutes I’d met the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society and then found myself sandwiched between a Valve Radio Enthusiast and a guy that has visited all 2,548 railway stations in Great Britain!
How many of you can say you’ve done that? Admit it; you’re a little bit jealous right now!
I handed out two more business cards, to Dave and Andrew, and then I sat back and waited to see who would enter the room next.
If I’d felt a little star-struck meeting Andrew, then what came next completely melted my brain. Not only did I recognise the next man to enter the room, but it was also the man who occupied the front cover of the DMC book. It was Kevin Beresford of the Roundabout Appreciation Society.
I nudged Dave and then pointed at Kevin.
“That’s the roundabout guy Dave!”
Dave was still rummaging through his box of valve radio bits and preparing for the evening, but he responded to me with a relatively enthusiastic uh-huh.
Kevin entered the room larger than life, and then shortly afterwards Leland Carlson came walking in; the Assistant Vice President of the DMC, the man I’d been sharing emails with, the man who had invited me along. What a legend!
Leland began to prepare himself for the evening and pulled out a bag full of name badges. He said hello to the DMC members that he was already familiar with and he carried himself in a laid-back and unassuming manner. I’d been distracted by the name badges and didn’t realise that Leland was now looking directly at me.
“Hi! And you are?”
“Ah, Elliot!” Leland said in a raised voice and excitable tone. But he must have realised that he’d gotten a little bit too excited and that he really needed to dull things down a bit. I mean you can’t go getting a reputation for being excitable when you’re representing a community of dullards.
We shared a brief smile, shook hands, and then Leland handed me something.
“Here you go Elliot, have one of these.”
I looked down to see a shiny new 2017 Dull Men’s Club calendar in my hands. Might I add that this event was taking place in 2018? Still, it’s the thought that counts.
The door opened again and in came a really energetic looking couple. I listened intently as they spoke to Leland and picked up on who they were; it was Richard and Emily Gottfried, the Crazy Golfers. I waved to both of them as they walked past me and took their seats.
It seemed that everybody had now arrived and so we were all handed our name badges. I couldn’t quite believe I was here and I looked around the room with a massive grin on my face.
I was sat in a lecture theatre of a university I’d never been to in a part of England I’d never visited. I was surrounded by the Assistant Vice President of the DMC, a university lecturer who specialises in boredom, a valve radio enthusiast, two crazy golfers, a man that has visited an excessive amount of railway stations, the Telegraph Pole Appreciation Society (TPAS), and the Roundabout Appreciation Society (RAS).
To some people this might sound completely crazy, but to me it was beginning to feel like a normal Tuesday evening.
I looked down at my name badge to see what title I’d been given.
On a very plain white piece of paper and in a very dull and boring black font were the words…
‘Apprentice Dull Person’
I was entering at the lowest possible level, apprentice. But just you wait until they all hear about my Neighbours and Home and Away files. They’d be promoting me in no time at all.
Are you ready to hear what happened next? Then please click here to read “Meeting The Dull Men of Great Britain – The Event (Part Two)”
What do you think about the subject of dullness? Have you ever met any interesting dull people? Or have you met any uninteresting dull people? Do you like the colours grey and beige perhaps a little more than you should do? Do you think dullness is over-rated or under-rated? What are your thoughts on the subject of dullness in general? Or do you have any questions about dullness or that the big pile of dog poo that I encountered in the road? Is there anything that you’d like to ask which either myself or the readers could help answer? Please feel free to leave your comments below so we can get a conversation started.
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The Mission: A Friend In Scotland
The Mission: Resurrected in Sheffield
Ignore Other People And Listen Only To Yourself
Four Nights in Florence (with a slice of Pisa)
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Yes! You wrote, “…I’ve gotten myself involved in ridiculous situations just because I thought it might ‘be a laugh’ and that at the very worst it would give me a good story…” That’s how I approach life, too. Bad experience? Great story.
Well, I enjoyed that a lot. When I get a chance, I’ll read on.
‘Apprentice Dull Person’ <- Congratulations!
Hahah so you’re one of those people too huh? I think it’s a great way to approach life, because then when anything ‘bad’ happens you can just turn around and say, this will give me a good story to tell… 🙂
And thank you…I wear my name badge with pride! 🙂