"Ever since I had a traffic accident at the age of eleven, I have had a somewhat wonky body; having been left with one leg 3 inches shorter than the other. Since the time that I spent three years of my young life not being able to walk, I have had to constantly strive to maintain my balance in everyday situations that most able-bodied people take for granted. Playing any sport like football or table tennis after my accident rendered me likely to lose my footing and fall over should I suddenly turn. Being unable to maintain steady posture on one foot meant that when I entered the boxing ring, I would frequently have to spar conventionally for a few minutes before changing to southpaw part way through the round in order to keep my body upright and keep on the move for three minutes. When I took up horse riding, I always needed to readjust the stirrups so that the left leg was set 3 inches higher than the right leg, to keep me in the saddle without falling off.
During my years working in stress management, I discovered that the overwhelming majority of physical stress arose from the practice of not sitting upright on chairs. Consequently, balance and poise have always been important concepts in my life and it is no coincidence that our house has no sofas; merely wooden upright chairs to sit on, as I find them more comfortable and beneficial.
How you carry yourself speaks volumes about how you feel about yourself and are perceived by others. Not many generations ago, every well-bred young girl was given lessons in posture; being taught to balance a book on her head as well as digest its contents and meaning. Today, some mothers send their daughters for dance lessons or enter them into beauty contests in the hope that they may grow up as graceful young women. Have you ever wondered why there are so few men and women with perfect poise these days?
I suspect it is because we no longer highly value elegant carriage of person, being able to sit with proper posture and having good manners. When I think of these traits in a woman, Audrey Hepburn comes to mind. I could never imagine her alighting a taxi inelegantly, uncrossing her legs in unseemly manner, flashing her knickers and giving all the frenzied paparazzi the 'money shot' they'd waited a lifetime to capture on their cameras.
When I think of these qualities in a man, a late friend of mine and long term supporter of my charitable works, the Conservative MP and Junior Minister, Alan Kenneth Mackenzie Clark always comes to mind. Alan Clark may have
actually been born in a castle, (a crumbling 12th century medieval family home, Saltwood Castle) and lived in one the whole of his life, yet he always walked tall with his head above the clouds. And while his behaviour often left much to be admired and he was constantly talked about, he displayed this capacity to effortlessly glide instead of walk when he crossed the floor of the House of Commons or the grounds of his beloved 'Saltwood Castle.' He took each step in his natural elegant style; each one paced in equal measure as he leisurely strolled his way across the front of the tv cameras as he presented some historical programme; and he always walked as though he walked on hallowed ground. I always felt sorry for his ever faithful wife, Jane, whom after discovering that her philandering husband had had affairs with the wife of a South African barrister as well as the barrister's two daughters, simply ignored his indiscretions as she had done all of their married life. When questioned by the baying press about her husband's recent affairs with his 'coven' of ladies who'd done a 'kiss and tell' with the national press (as she provided them all with cups of tea), Jane simply replied, 'Well, what do you expect when you sleep with below stairs types?'
I have always admired the way that some people can maintain their poise when insulted or are caught in potentially embarrassing situations. Poise is essentially composure and dignity of manner which is seen in the graceful and elegant bearing of a person who possesses it. When someone with poise walks into a room, you cannot but help notice their presence. Everything about them exudes a sense of calm confidence and the impact of them upon all others is self evident. When they leave a room, the rest of the present company can find themselves secretly bowing for having attended their small gathering. Anyone who possesses perfect poise will never be placed in the embarrassing situation of ever revealing something they choose not to." William Forde: September 17th, 2016.