I am in a work meeting – a big one – lots of people, lots of people who are after lucre, some of whom seem more desperate than others to draw down public funds in order to get out there and CHANGE things.
A chap who I don’t know is cack-handedly trying to make a point about people (out there, the great unwashed) not always making the most of their time in the evenings (trust me, it is relevant to the meeting). Rather rashly, with a slightly demented look in his eye, he casts his gaze about the room, and stops at me.
Chap: …Like, for instance – I don’t know your name –
Chap: Shane – can I use you to illustrate a point?
Shane: Yes, but be gentle.
Others: (a murmur of amusement)
Chap: Cheers. (To everyone) Let’s take Shane, for instance – still a youngish man, ha, got something about him, the world’s his oyster! (To me) Now, if I asked you what were you doing at, say, eight o’clock last night, what would you say?
Shane: (contemplative intake of breath) You’ll have to give me a moment here. (a moment passes) Eight o’clock – I would have been in the garden.
Chap: Ah, right. Bit late for gardening isn’t it? Would have been getting dark by then.
Shane: I wasn’t gardening. I was hiding behind a big bush.
Shane: We were playing hide and seek. Emma – my partner - was on, and I was hiding in the garden – behind the big bush.
Others: (that murmur again)
Shane: It wasn’t weird or anything – our boy, Alex, he was up the tree - so it wasn’t like I was out there alone or anything.
Chap: Yeah, okay.
(silence fills the room)
Chap: Shane, this example isn’t working – but thanks anyway.
The chap drones on - effortfully, but his moment is gone. A shame really, had he used the person to my left – the woman who I know would have loved to have been playing hide and seek or some such, then I’m sure that whatever he was driving at would have been struck home.
I sit back, and remain mildly engaged as the meeting draws to a close. During this last twenty minutes, one or two people who don’t normally have much to say to me seem to be eyeing me with something… Interest? Suspicion? Intent? Who can say. It feels a bit odd though.