T’other day, I was reminded of an incident WAY back in my schooldays. The scene was Copleston High, 1968 – single-sex in those days. Your Humble Scribe was 15. Her Total Worshipfulness, The Mayor-person (or summat like that) of Ipswich, was coming to give a talk. With low expectations, we all trooped into the hall.
Picture Margaret Dumont and you’ve more or less got her. The purpose of her visit having been expedited, she seemed to think some entertainment was required. And so she launched into a deeply LAME gardening anecdote. Unfortunately, her Ineffable Largeness didn’t appear to have rehearsed it…
“So there I was, up this ladder [I’m paraphrasing] clipping the top of this hedge, with m’gardening shears [she made shearing motions] but the ladder was too close to the hedge and I kept hitting myself in the…” – at this point she appeared to be about to pantomime scrunching herself in her SERIOUSLY ample bosom – 550 teenage boys held their collective breath – after a two-second pause that seemed an eternity, she JERKED her hands DOWN – “…stomach.” [Collective snigger].
The tragedy is, her comic timing was PERFECT – but (presumably) unintentional.
And the irony is, her INTENDED anecdote – has given ME a BETTER one!
If the old biddy still lives (unlikely – she’d be well over a HUNDRED by now) I’ll bet she remembers that day. Even Alzheimer’s couldn’t wash the memory of a sea of expectant boys faces – plus a dozen masters – all waiting to see how she was going to dig her way out of the gigantic HOLE she’d just dug herself!