Friday, 24 September 2010

Embarrassing Moments

At college, as an ice-breaker at an introductory meal given at his home by our tutor, we were asked to recount our "most embarrassing moment". No matter how hard I thought about it, no anecdote suitable for what used to be called "mixed company" at the dining table came to mind. I had a fund of red-faced stories, but they all involved drink, drugs, sex or bodily functions (or combinations thereof, though never yet at that stage of my life, I'm glad to say, "all of the above") .

Luckily, one of our number was a gifted and garrulous comic in the self-deprecatory mode; hilarity ensued, and my turn never came. Phew! There is probably a Greek word for something which turns out to be a perfect example of itself; for example, that my most embarrassing moment (up to that point) was being asked to think of my most embarrassing moment.

Subsequently, though, I did have a real hot-cheeked humdinger, which I do not expect to surpass; precisely the sort of story one is said to "dine out on". As I don't get invited to dinner parties these days, though, my first thought was that I'd share it with you. It is a very funny story. No drink, drugs or sex were involved, though "bodily functions" of a sort certainly were.

But then my second thought was: this is probably the single funniest thing that has ever happened to me, in a slightly cruel, self-lampooning sort of way. If I ever do get around to writing a novel (hey, I'm still only 56), this will surely make a brilliant scene. Why would I simply give it away? What is it about blogging, that compels one to empty one's metaphorical pockets for no gain?

So, I think I'll hold on to that one, for now. Sorry! But if you ever read of a novel in which a side-splittingly funny scene occurs, involving a man writhing on the floor of an enormous darkened room, that'll be mine.


Martin H. said...

Blogging is an ideal testing ground for some writers. Most are willing to give away some tasty examples of might eventually appear in a novel. The 'hook' is the prospect of getting feedback.

Although, unlikely to admit it, publicly, even established writers appreciate something that resembles a sounding board, if not, full blown approval from devotees. At least, that's what I hear from those I know, off the the record.

I hope you are sketching out a novel, Mike. I won't be the only to have had their curiosity aroused by the scene you briefly describe as ".. involving a man writhing on the floor of an enormous darkened room."

Mike C. said...


I sort of agree, but I also think that one of the curious paradoxes of the Web is that it has (a) revealed and encouraged an enormous amount of unsuspected talent "out there", but (b) by that very process, more or less eliminated anyone's chance of ever making a living out of that talent. "Content is free" is another way of saying "We're all hobbyists now".

The Web has also nurtured a taste for bite-sized gratification: why pay for someone's book when there are enough free snacks out there for a lifetime?

I have been sketching out novels (in my mind) since I was 16... My shelf of unwritten books is very impressive. But, as they say, "a writer is a person who writes". One of these days...


Kent Wiley said...

Mike, that was cruel. Such fine allusions, and then no pay off. Oh well, what do I expect for free?