Beam Me Up Scotty

It’s good to have a good old-fashioned belly laugh at all the stupid or embarrassing things we’ve ever done throughout our lives. As they say (whoever ‘they’ are), if one is able to laugh at oneself then one can laugh at the world, and the world laughs with you. Even some of the most traumatic situations can seem humorous with hindsight. Like finding oneself laughing irrationally during a funeral service, or having, shall we say, a windy moment in a lift. Finding oneself mortified can occur at any time and be over in a second, yet the memory of that instant event can last forever. I was once in a revolving hotel door in New York when, just for an instant, I was distracted. The door hit my head and my glasses shot across the huge reception area. Not only that, the lenses had become separarated from the frames. Within seconds I was surrounded by all these well-healed folk searching the beautifully carpeted floor, while I just stood there almost helpless unable to see a thing. The soreness of the thump to my head was nothing when compared to the embarrassment of hearing people say things like ‘oh, he’s so eccentric, he must be British’. Another example of such an event has happened to me on several occasions: that of mistaken identity. An example of this happened when we recently went to a marvellous theatre production of the Duchess of Malfi and during the break took advantage of a leg-stretch and a trip to the bar. Through the work that I do I’ve known the head of marketing at the Royal & Derngate theatre for many years. We’ve had numerous meetings: many a photo-shoot. I spotted her coming towards us and I waved for her to join us. She waved and smiled and came straight over. We gave each other a peck on the cheek, a little hug of recognition, and then I did the introductions. After a good two or three minutes she looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think you know who I am’. ‘Of course I do’. It wasn’t her. I could have died. It was a genuine ‘beam-me-up’ moment witnessed by a full theatre bar. God only knows what my wife must have thought. Then there was the time when I was I child, finding myself surrounded by adults at some kind of family gathering and not understanding a word of what was being said. They were the days when children were ‘seen and not heard’. Even the sandwiches were reserved for the guests, with the children having what was left when said event had ended. I was having none of it. I took it upon myself to risk the wrath of my mother and decided to butt in with, what I then thought would be a very adult thing to say. ‘Oh my, Auntie June, what a lovely moustache you have!’ After a silence which seemed to last a lifetime, my mum went ballistic.

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