Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Dignity, perfection and Mr Flap Flap

Thinking about an incident some years back has provided me with an interesting insight into the nature of humour.

I was on my way to a business meeting with an important client based in Bond Street, Central London, accompanied by a colleague, Sarahjane. As we were walking from the tube station down Piccadilly, I happened to look over the road, just as Elton John, dressed in a rather dapper sparkly suit and wide brimmed black hat was leaving The Ritz.

I was, of course, transfixed. However, I made the mistake of continuing to walk. Now, I need to make clear that, given that this was well over twenty years ago, my eyesight was quite a bit better than it is now, although my peripheral vision was definitely on the wane. I wasn’t using a white cane in those days and, in one hand I had a briefcase and in the other, a rolled up umbrella.

Walking as I was, totally distracted by the man himself on the opposite pavement, I failed to notice the large round litter bin ahead of me.

I walked squarely into it.

It tipped forward. I tipped forward. It fell to the ground. I fell with it.

I ended up spread-eagled on top of the upset bin, as it rolled from side to side beneath me.

Instantly, the wise words of the late Hollywood actor Cary Grant popped into my head – something along the lines of: “Whatever the calamity, always work to retain  your dignity”.

So, I picked myself up as elegantly as I could, given the circumstances. I retrieved the bin and set it back in place. I brushed myself down, picked up the briefcase and brolley and deftly straightened my tie – all to the soundtrack of Sarahjane doubled up with uncontrollable laughter somewhere, outside my field of vision to my left.

Nevertheless, with the great Mr Grant’s words still ringing in my ears, I held my head high, pulled my shoulders back, took a deep breath to compose myself and, in as dignified fashion as I could muster, continued along Piccadilly.

In so doing, I could hear an ominous flapping sound coming from the region of my right foot. Flap, flap, flap at intervals of less than a second. Cue more hoots of laughter from my colleague as I tried desperately to ignore the sound. Finally, I stopped to investigate. In the tumble, the entire sole of my right, highly polished black brogue shoe had come right away and was flapping furiously as I walked. I might as well have been wearing a flipping flipper!

All efforts to remain as dignified as possible had failed.

Where dignity fails you, let in the humour.

Thankfully, I was able to see the funny side.

What I have come to realise, in the re-telling of this tale is that humour occupies that space between dignity and indignity, between perfection and imperfection. In spotting the great E. John Esq., the “perfection” of confidently striding along one of the world’s most famous thoroughfares was utterly shattered.  The space that it exposed allowed for humour and, thankfully I was able to allow it in (after initial disorientation, confusion and embarrassment).

If everything in our lives were to be perfect, I doubt there would be much, if any of that space for laughter.  I guess the phrase “These things are sent to try us” could apply to my mishap – and visual impairment can be most trying at times. But, perhaps such things are also sent to amuse us – and, if so then thank goodness!

Anyway, ten minutes and a hastily purchased tube of super glue later, we were on our way to the meeting in Bond Street. We were still on time, the meeting went well and the client was none the wiser.

So, if you ever run into Elton John on your travels you can find out if he recalls the incident. I wouldn’t be surprised if he witnessed the whole thing. I didn’t notice though – I’ve got tunnel vision.

Where dignity fails you, let in the humour. Imperfect!       


Please note: If you see advertising on this blog, it has been placed by WordPress in return for this being a free service. Any such advertising doesn’t necessarily reflect my own views or values

4 Responses to “Dignity, perfection and Mr Flap Flap”

  1. Reminds me of arriving at a very formal business dinner with my not yet husband. We were announced at the entrance and handed a glass of red wine. Within seconds, someone just in front of me stepped backwards and delivered the whole of my glass of wine down my rather elaborate frilly white blouse.

    Dignity (and nerves) evaporated but the wine was there to stay. It certainly provided me with a talking point for the rest of the evening (which I needed) and it probably improved my appearance. I don’t suit frills but had not realised that at the time and I probably laughed and smiled more because there really was no point in trying to be ‘proper’ any more. And thanks to the person who stepped backwards, I threw away the blouse!

  2. Thanks Chris for yet another timely reminder.

    Those moments of embarrassment live with us a long time – certainly for me I remember them better than almost anything else in my life. I have found, even if I wasn’t able to laugh at the time, a retrospective chortle goes a long way to putting the incident into perspective and dealing with it. In fact, that same look into the past, to seek the humour in a situation, has helped reduce the impact today of other faux pas I have made.

    Don’t forget – how we remember our feet being in the air, when they should have been on the ground (like in Piccadilly), is not the way other remember it – if they do at all. I wonder if Sarahjane still recalls your experience – probably not!

  3. It’s a good job I have a sense of humour – my dignity is very fragile.

    A fabulous bit of writing Chris. I’m still laughing at the thought of you wearing a tie!

  4. One of your best, Chris, (speaking as someone who allows perfectionism to ruin many a fine moment!) I shall cherish your insight about humour occupying the space between dignity and indignity – thank you.

Leave a Reply to Jane Kershaw Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: