Posts Tagged 'public pratfalls'

There’s Something On Your…

After taking a short stroll through the studio yesterday morning to check on the final year degree show preparations, I was rather annoyed to find my new black trousers covered in wet white paint, and a displaced post-it note saying ‘this plinth belongs to J. McSporran, 4th year Illustration’ stuck to my backside.

With this in mind, I have been conducting regular inspections of my person today, but clearly not regularly enough. When I looked in the mirror this afternoon after doing a tutorial with a student, who I assumed was distracted by degree show nerves, I realised that I had the hearing aid equivalent of an unzipped fly: an eyecatching 3cm of slim tube retention piece poking horizontally out of my  left ear.


Punctuality is for Losers

My strange phobia of being late means that I am often the first to arrive at meetings at the Institute of Artistic Endeavour. This can create an unfortunate false impression of keenness in the face of the dullest of administrative matters. Especially when making matters worse by sitting at the front with my eyes open at all times.

Today’s keenness, however, was genuine. I was eager to attend a creative writing workshop for staff and students, hosted by the newly appointed writer in residence, a famous author. The workshop was scheduled to start at 3:30. I arrived at exactly 3:27, just in case there were any free buns to be had, but this turned out to be so early that the door to the room wasn’t even open. Oh well, I thought, at least I can get a good seat, and I eagerly barged my way into the empty room. Once inside, I was rather confused to find my empty room filled with a group of strangers seated reverently round a large table covered in books and papers, and I paused momentarily as my eyes scanned the scene with great urgency in an attempt to work out what the heck was going on.

Empty room. Full room. Early. Late. Big group of art students. Silence. A table with no legs missing in an art school. Nothing made sense in the split second it took for my brain to catch up with my eyes. When it eventually did, the sight of the famous author at the head of the table confirmed that I was, in fact, in the right place after all, but rather late. Late! Oh no.  I made a desperate lunge towards the empty seat nearest the door, letting out a very squeaky and unintentionally loud “Hi everybody” as I did so. Strangely there was no reply.

Puzzled at the church-like atmosphere, I settled myself into my seat and tried to act nonchalantly, as if I was late for things all the time. It felt quite good, until my fantasy was interrupted by the rustle of paper and the faint sound of some occasional consonants from the other end of the table. To my horror, it was coming from the Type 5 Inaudible student, who had been reading her carefully prepared passage to the group, until the strange woman with the squeaky voice came in and talked over her.

Empire of the Biscuit

Boredom is a terrible thing. During a tedious afternoon stint at the computer the other day in the office, I realised that the solution to my lack of motivation was a cake. A mandarin Danish pastry, to be precise. I scrabbled together the required £1 in loose change and hot-tailed it to the refectory.

When I got there, the sight of a lone student sweeping the floor in semi-darkness told me that closing time had arrived. I made my way efficiently to the cake display and surveyed my options. The display was bare apart from the last black cherry Danish pastry and a couple of sad-looking Empire biscuits with holes in the icing where the jelly tots should be. Hmmm. Tough decision. I don’t like black cherries and the only bit of an Empire biscuit I like is the jelly tot on top.

“Excuse me”, said the student uncharacteristically audibly, as she swept her brush round my feet in a symbolic gesture aimed at speeding up my thought processes.

It worked. I decided that a black cherry Danish pastry was better than no Danish pastry at all, and I reached swiftly for a paper bag to put it in. My arm brushed the ‘PLEASE USE TONGS TO HANDLE CAKES’ notice and I decided to ignore it in a huge display of anti Health & Safety bravado.

“Excuse me”, said the sweeping student again, as a giant hairball interwoven with unidentified fragments of refectory detritus threatened to engulf my feet. I wondered briefly if the missing jelly tots were in there, before abandoning hope and turning my attention back to my Danish pastry. Another set of lights clicked off. Feeling a bit under scrutiny, I reckoned I’d better comply and use the tongs after all. I clamped them firmly to the pastry and ushered its sticky loveliness gently into the protective caress of the paper bag.

Quite how it managed to fall cherry side down in the pile of floor sweepings at my feet I’ll never know, but the unseen string attaching the cake tongs to the counter may have had something to do with it.

The Leg

After watching the spectacular Michael Caine B-horror movie ‘The Hand’ recently, I’m starting to wonder if my right leg is possessed and trying to kill me. A mere 48 hours after tripping me up at the restaurant, it was up to its old tricks in the studio today, as I attempted to negotiate the 50 sprawled bodies who were drawing on large sheets of paper on the floor, at my foolish instruction.

There was barely a square inch of floor left to walk on, but when I finally noticed a student at the back who had been unsuccessfully trying to attract my attention for quite some time, I thought I’d give it a go. I delicately tip-toed across the room in one metre strides, being very careful not to slip on a loose sheet of paper like my unfortunate cousin, who dislocated his knee when he slipped on a copy of the Sunday Times Magazine back in 1986.

My slightly ungainly traverse of the room went unnoticed by the majority of the group, until The Leg mischievously decided to insert an extra stride, causing me to lose my balance and step heavily on to a student’s box of materials. At the sound of his stuff scattering everywhere, 50 heads turned simultaneously in my direction.

I hung on to a structural pillar to steady myself, before losing my balance again and leaving a big Nike footprint on his drawing.

“Oh my god, I’m sorry…” I said, as the students nearby frantically snatched their possessions and work from my trajectory of destruction.

“It’s okay, Moira”, said the recipient of my footprint generously, no doubt glad that I had stepped on his drawing and not on him.

Back Row

As the breakout session ended and we prepared to return to the lecture theatre, I felt rather pleased that I had performed my writing duties successfully, and I was now looking forward to  my free tea and coffee as my reward. My feeling of great wellbeing didn’t last long.

“So… Scott, Moira, Graham, if you would like to be spokespeople when we go back to the lecture theatre”, said the facilitator. My blood ran cold. I’m utterly, utterly hopeless at verbal summings-up in public and, whilst I may have heard and recorded the whole proceedings perfectly, I wasn’t actually paying attention to the content, since writing and panicking had used up all my available brain cells. I glanced at my notes hoping for salvation, but they seemed to have been written in a foreign language by someone with short-term memory loss and very bad handwriting.

I shuffled dejectedly past the free refreshments outside the lecture theatre, having suddenly lost my appetite, and reluctantly took my place beside my fellow note takers, who were happily slurping their coffees and chatting in the prized back rows. I begged pathetically for someone else to take my place, before silently resigning myself to my fate. Only a direct asteroid strike on the Institute of Artistic Endeavour could save me now. The room hushed and another flipchart appeared on the stage, ready to receive the collective pearls of wisdom from our deliberations. As the first four spokespeople fed back, the frequent spontaneous bursts of appreciative laughter from the audience told me that they were performing with great flair. Unfortunately, from my seat at the back, I had no idea what they were saying and, in the absence of binoculars, the distant flipchart was no help either. Had my points already been covered? Help. A vision of a cat being thrown down a well flitted unhelpfully through my mind as I was invited to share the sagely thoughts of Group 5.

Suffice to say, I will never be asked to be a spokesperson again, and I am going to sit exactly where I please in future.

Front Row

I attended a staff consultation event in the world famous lecture theatre of the Institute of Artistic Endeavour yesterday, and took up my usual lone position in the empty front rows, while everyone else crammed into the back seats. As PowerPoint warmed up, late entrants creaked down the hallowed wooden stairs, surveyed the empty rows at the front, then squeezed themselves uncomfortably onto the ends of the back rows.

After being given a brief outline of the afternoon’s proceedings, I was despatched to a breakout session in the Boardroom. In order to cover up my ineptitude at group discussions, I enthusiastically volunteered as one of the notetakers, a task which I planned to do from the comfort of my seat at the table, using several sheets of A4 paper and a rollerball pen. Unfortunately, the first notetaker spotted a huge flipchart in the corner and, having fully functional hearing, was keen to get on with squeaking away with a big marker pen, with his back to the room. Oh shit, I thought. The intricacies of the Learning and Teaching Strategy discussion drifted away from my consciousness as I blanched at the thought of how I was going to casually wrestle the flipchart into a suitable forward-facing position in the limited space when it was my turn. It was impossible. Aaaagh. I panicked as I realised I was about to be scrutinised from behind, as I wrote down a whole series of Cookie Bite Mondegreens, in huge capital letters for all to see.

Horribly prematurely, it seemed, the first notetaker finished, and I now had three options. 1. fake a heart attack, 2. take my place at the Flipchart of Doom and have a real heart attack, or 3. remain true to my intentions, appear lazy and write where I sat. I sensibly opted for the latter. Little did I know, all of that was the easy part…


My, what a lovely long leg you’ve got

Yesterday’s public fall on the stairs was followed up today at the hairdresser’s, with an embarrassing trip over the leg of a chair as I made my way to the sink. Whether everyone’s heads were turning at the clatter of chair impacting on ceramic, or the loudness of my voice after hastily removing the hearing aid 60 seconds earlier, was difficult to tell.


Several coiffured heads turned in unison.

“… shit, I’m shouting, sorry…I’m a wee bit, er…er…clumsy.”

Once the sink had been re-aligned on its pedestal and the shampoo bottles righted, I leant back and allowed my thoughts to wander to my long awaited podiatry appointment earlier in the morning. There had been the startling revelation that the bunion is the least of my biomechanical problems, as one leg appears to be longer than the other. Crikey. Like the malfunctioning ears, that’s something else I’ve not noticed before…then I thought of all the shoddy pairs of trousers I’ve taken back to M&S over the years because the legs were different lengths. Aha!

As the shampooist started on a nice relaxing head massage, I reflected that it must be that pesky longer leg which keeps tripping me up in public places.

Hope it’s not still growing…

Have A Nice Trip

Today’s massive contribution to society from me was a spectacular fall up the wooden Gallery staircase at the world renowned Institute of Artistic Endeavour, in front of a large group of people on a guided tour of Ye Olde Raincoat’s hallowed building. Having brought the sophisticated proceedings to a halt with a large bang and an explosion of paperwork, I then had to limp through the horrified group to get where I needed to go.

That’s Mondays for you.


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