The regular reader will have observed a number of recent opportunities for the author to perform in front of a more-or-less willing public. As a best men (or 20% thereof) in Edinburgh and in his more official capacity to unfortunate business folk in both Cork and Dublin. However, this was only the beginning.
Whilst in Cornwall, I found myself assisting an (unrelated) older couple with the interpretation of some wood carving in an National Trust property. For some reason, rather than just reading out the explanatory card provided, I managed to turn the whole thing into a performance. Still, the audience seemed to appreciate it.
Upon my return from Cornwall, I spent a scant few hours at Fish Towers before heading off to Glasgow for “the man”. Here I gave of myself and my voice to a largely unresisting audience for the vast majority of eight hours – with only some rather grey software to leaven the whole experience. Admittedly, only one chap (plus two colleagues who, frankly, had no choice) stuck it out for the full eight hours – no-one else could stomach more than six – but I’m still surprised no-one arrived in blue hats to enforce the Geneva convention. Perhaps Stockholm Syndrome sets in much quicker when Powerpoint is involved?
Eight hours is more than even a chap’s mother should have to endure, and is certainly a far longer period than is required to make even me bored of the sound of my own voice. In an attempt to maintain my own flagging interest, even if not that of the unfortunate audience, I attempt to throw in a range of “jokes”, vague witticisms and even small attempts at physical humour. I should also make clear that I work without script, rehearsal or safety net: it’s bad enough hearing it once and I like to leave room for spontaneity (that doesn’t mean there will be any, but there will always be room for it). This means that I find myself saying some quite unexpected things (well, unexpected to me) during my presentations. Very occasionally these are useful, even insightful, and I hope to be able to remember them later (or that someone in the audience is still awake to take notes). On this occasion, I found myself stating that “there were so many Chinese Walls in my head that it could be seen from space”. This was supposed (I think) to be an allusion to the urban myth that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space (with, I presume, the naked eye) rather than an indication of the size of my ego – but nonetheless, probably wasn’t my finest hour.
On my return from Glasgow (sadly leaving behind the glorious sunshine and warm summer weather), I strolled a short distance from Euston to talk to another group of unfortunates in my (allegedly) professional capacity.
Whilst I tend to worry about them in advance, I do rather enjoy these speaking engagements once I am in full flow. My grandmother took an interest in amateur dramatics in later life, and I wonder if these genes are being expressed slightly earlier in me – or perhaps, more likely, I am just a dreadful, attention-seeking show-off (which might explain this blog). This latter condition will not have been helped by the rather positive reviews I have received for all my recent talking engagements. So bad has this become that I have been accused of upstaging the products I am supposed to be demonstrating and whose sales I am supposed to be supporting.
I’m wondering if it is time to leave my current employment behind and seek a new career where my showbiz genes can find full expression. I have considered the after dinner speaking circuit: this strikes me as requiring a lot of eating and drinking (good) but is associated with late nights (bad). In an earlier phase of the project I like to call my “career”, I spent quite a lot of time in Spain. This had many positives, the weather and the language being but two, but I never learned to cope with eating so late in the evening: it interfered terribly with my sleep (and at my age the remaining vestiges of my beauty need all the help they can get). Is there an after lunch speaking circuit?
Or maybe its time for this blog to go (straight) to video? I think this would have to be YouTube based as Vine, with its 6 second time limit, is never going to be compatible with my tendency to loquacity. My last PTC (piece to camera) wasn’t 100% successful (my work with the “autocue” – OK, piece of paper – was less than professional), so it may be time to practise in front of the mirror.