Welcome to my adventures and experiments in creativity. Where writing is like running: sometimes I know where I'm going, and sometimes I see where the mood takes me.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Never Very Good At Impressions

Sometimes in life it’s good to take a step back, try and see things from another perspective. Today was one of those days – a selection of small, insignificant things combining to an unflattering, unrepresentative (but remarkably coincidental) whole.

Which ‘insignificant thing’ to start with?

Having a dodgy throat all week that finally culminated in a croaky, almost lost, voice? Feeling a sudden urge to eat Toblerone? Enjoying the comfort of jogging trousers for the first time in a long time, and not changing out of them to go into town? Not having chance to shave since last weekend, and so looking a bit unkempt?

Whichever, it doesn’t matter. Out into gale force winds I went, on a mini-odyssey to find triangular chocolate. Find it I did, quickly, and for only 98p. Nothing else to buy with it, so imagine for a moment how I must have looked and sounded to the lady at the Wilkinson’s checkout. Appearance of having been on the sofa all day, voice like I’d smoked fifty cigarettes while there.

Is it any wonder she looked at me with sympathetic resignation and said, “That looks like a good idea”? I wanted to dispel any suggestion I might be about to binge on chocolate, but my response was no better than a croak: “I’m not planning to eat it in one sitting!” I said. Unheeded (or, to give her the benefit of the doubt, perhaps unheard), she continued: “I think I might do the same later with a bottle of wine.”

“Oh well,” I replied, “enjoy it.” At that, I departed with my chocolate and resolved to have a shave in the morning and put on some proper trousers. Four hours or so later, I have just under half of the Toblerone left. I should definitely save that until tomorrow…

Very much influenced by this week’s podcast of the Dave Gorman show on Absolute Radio, the whole episode got me reminiscing about other occasions when I’ve made entirely the wrong impression. If I think really hard about it, I could probably come up with enough to fill a book, but I have a favourite – from a cold Saturday morning in February, six years ago, when I went to Donington Park motor racing circuit for marshal training.

Sitting for the day’s opening briefing, I found myself next to an attractive girl who, like me, was attending as a complete novice. For far longer than necessary, and despite resolving several times to say hello, I remained in complete silence, nervous to make the opening gambit. Then, just as I contrived to spill water down myself (don’t ask; I somehow misjudged the force required to squeeze water from a bottle), she turned to me and struck up a conversation.

We got on well in a polite, good humoured sort of way; certainly well enough that when it came to heading up to a field for fire training, she offered to take me in her car to save us both driving. As we fastened our seatbelts, and wanting to portray that I was comfortable with the prospect of facing and dealing with fire, I mentioned – quite truthfully – that I had been covering similar topics at college the previous day.

At which point everything fell apart…

You see, ever since I’d left Sixth Form to take up a position in an architectural practice, I’d been proud of the work and my attitude towards it. Felt like I was achieving something; making my start in life. I had nothing against full-time education, of course I didn’t. I was simply pleased with the balance I had, going to college once a week with the support of my employers.

As a result, I didn’t want the girl to think I was a full time college student. I wanted her to be impressed with my line of work, and the kind of things I had to know about in order to do the job well (I know, I know, more than a little shallow. I offer no defence!). After a brief pause while this line of thinking worked its way through my synapses, I said the immortal line, “I’m not at college full time, I go on day release.”

Unfortunately, at no point during the morning had I mentioned my line of work, or even that I had a job at all. I realised my error at the same time as she asked, in an understandably concerned tone, “Day release from what?” Happily, I was able to explain before she felt the need to ask me to get out of the car, but it probably won’t surprise you to learn that I never met her again after that day!

1 comment:

  1. I'd gone to see my friends cover band. I was - well, for the sake of argument, let's say I was... - "eighteen".

    The local gossip heralded the news that my friend was to be replaced as lead singer, by two females, making this his last gig with the band. Understandably, I was dissapointed, and headed off to the bar to drown my sorrows.

    Drown my sorrows I did, with Smirnoff Ice from a plastic cup if I remember correctly (those were the days, eh?). But my mood was improved somewhat by the lengthy conversation I'd struck up with the barmaid.

    An hour or two passed and I begun to dwell on my friends situation again. I decided a problem shared is a problem halved. I said to the barmaid something like; "I love this band, and now they're replacing the lead singer with two banshee females!"

    The look on her face told me all I needed to know. She was about to be a singer in a band.

    I drained my (plastic) cup and got my coat. MB