Friday, 10 September 2010

A Talent for Disaster

Ask any of my close friends, and there’s a good chance that they’ll tell you that I mean well, but…
…sad to say, it’s that “but” that seems to be my defining characteristic.

Despite my very best intentions, I seem to have a talent for disaster that can wreak havoc and switch my mood from bouncy Tigger-mode to mortified Eeyore in a wink of a gnat’s eye.

I’ve always tended to dive into everything with all guns blazing, in a fit of energy and enthusiasm to rival Bob The Builder on speed. I’m nearly always in a hurry and I don’t always look where I’m going. Add to the mix that I’m not really that scared of hurting myself (45 years have taught me that I bounce pretty well and rarely suffer more than a few bruises). The results usually produce gales of laughter in my friends (bless ‘em) but have me wanting to hide under the table ‘til everyone has gone home.

Decades ago, in a marriage that time forgot, I was on holiday in a picturesque town somewhere in central France. Armed with schoolgirl French, my pocket camera and a thirst for la belle France, I set off for a stride around the neighbourhood. So enchanted was I by the local architecture, trees, wildlife, street signs et al that I failed to notice a looming lamppost – until I bounced off it (I’m not exaggerating, I really DID bounce!).

In true English fashion, my first instinct was to apologise.
To the lamppost.
In French.
Bad French.

And as I skulked past assorted French townsfolk in an ecstasy of embarrassment, I could hear, feel, even taste their communal inner mutterings of “imbecile Anglaise!”

Then there was the time that I tried to stop my toddler son from destroying his godparents’ intricate display of liquors from around the world. I launched myself across the room, skidded on the polished wooden floor, missed my baby, and went smashing into the assorted miniature bottles. As the symphony of tinkle, tinkle, smash and alcohol fumes subsided, I looked up to see my two-year-old son rolling his eyes at me. He’s still doing more than a decade later.

Another time, I was sitting in a café having an animated discussion with some friends. I must have been pretty passionate about something, witnessed by the manic flicking back and forth of an unopened sugar sachet between my thumb like there was no tomorrow. And no tomorrow was exactly what I was hoping for moments later when the sachet left my grip, sailed through the air and landed – plop! – in the coffee of a man innocently reading his paper two tables away. That time, I really did dive under the table.

And I don’t just keep my general klutziness for my nearest and dearest – oh no. Shops have also been given a taste of my unique brand of… whatever. One Saturday, hubby and I were checking out the cooked food selection at our local supermarket’s Deli counter. It was a sunny day, so I was wearing shades which I had hoiked up on top of my head to get a good look at a the dish of “spetsofai” (a kind of spicy sausage stew) on offer. But I must have leaned over a too far – for with a graceful flop my Raybans slid off my head and landed in the middle of the sausage, tomato & pepper mix.

A cold sweat swept through my body and a beetroot flush rose in my cheeks – but in a split-second, I grabbed my glasses with a sleight of hand that David Copperfield would envy, and walked hurriedly away, leaving hubby staring after me open-mouthed.

Lately, I seem to have had a long period of relative grace. Until yesterday.

I’d popped into my friendly neighbourhood hair salon to have my mop tamed a little and those pesky roots touched up. And all went well, playful banter was exchanged with the stylist, I was happy with the look and feel of my bonce, and all was right with the world. Smiling my goodbyes, I tried to scutter through the chairs, sinks and hairdryers, only to catch the pointed toe of my shoe on the edge of a partition wall (whatever possessed me to abandon my usual comfy trainers?) and I went flying. It must have been quite a sight – long arms and legs flailing madly, a wide-eyed look of horror on my face, the desperate wobble of my middle-aged body as it struggled to stay upright, and the contents of my bag sprayed around the shop.

Miraculously, I didn’t plummet to the ground (just as well – the bigger they are, they harder they fall), and my biggest injury was to my pride, as I muttered abject apologies and handed over my money with a face scarlet with shame.

I just hope that I didn’t give any of those little old ladies in for their weekly set & blue rinse a funny turn.

I know it all sounds like the script for a bad slapstick movie. But it’s all true. I wish it wasn’t. Despite my always good intentions, I seem to be the Queen of Klutz. And it has passed into the lore of Mandi’s world.

So, if we ever have a coffee together or you find yourself sitting next to me at the hairdressers, you have been warned. Beware of flying sugar sachets, slippery floors, excitable Raybans and the careless newly-coiffed.

But remember, I mean well – and your chances of having a laugh at my expense are more than odds-on.


  1. Whilst out in a popular coffee establishment (no, not that one...) my friend, in the middle of a very animated conversation, arms flailing to illustrate her point, managed to turn my full and rather large coffee cup in a 180 degree angle on top of my mobile phone.

    I was more amused and impressed than anything else, and it was a good excuse to treat myself to a shiny new Star Trek style flip phone. ;)

  2. I think that it could be a complete disaster it the two of us ever had coffee. I broke my foot years ago. I was walking. No fancy stunts...just walking.

    Excellent read!

  3. "if"...that's "if". I can't even type, see? :)

  4. Just comfort yourself with the fact that being like this supplies lots of blogging material. It works for me.