I’m shy. I know it doesn’t seem that way sometimes if you’re a regular reader of this blog – but believe me when I say that my online self is dreadfully misleading. Blogging means that I can hide behind my PC and say whatever I want. In reality, I occasionally mutter things under my breath or make stupid jokes and hope that interaction with other people will come to an immediate end. My virtual self and my actual self are poles apart. Basically what I’m saying to you is that I’m a
liar really good writer.
Online I’m like an uninvited (and drunk) guest at dinner party; bellowing my opinions all over the place, interrupting other people so that I can talk about myself, making terrible jokes (that’s the only aspect that remains consistent), frequently asking ‘Is there any more wine?’ and revelling in own stupidity. In reality, I’d be mumbling my way through mouthfuls of food hoping no one will talk to me while I’m chewing, I’d be passive during discussions, and I’d probably make an excuse to leave early.
When it comes to real life situations where I need to be assertive and confident – nine times out of ten I will curl up like a hedgehog in the path of an articulated lorry. It’s as though I can sense impending doom. That one time (out of ten) where I will feel a surge of confidence, a certain impulsiveness to “just go for it” whatever it may be, I can guarantee that it will go catastrophically wrong. I will then replay the incident over and over and over in my head and I will think about it the next time life presents me with another opportunity to be ballsy – and I will inevitably opt out.
This ‘fight or flight’ nightmare came about recently, when my friend invited me to a showing of Four Lions at the Cornerhouse cinema in Manchester – involving a Q&A session at the end with writer and director Chris Morris. I’m the kind of person who will get overly excited and nervous merely at the prospect of being in the same room as someone I admire. So when my friend suggested we wait outside to try and get an autograph at the end of the show, I nearly exploded (quite literally) at the thought of speaking words, aloud, to said person of admiration (namely writer/director Chris Morris) even if those words were only ‘Hello, please may I have your autograph?’. I was bound to screw up.
Anyway, we waited at the doors of the cinema with some complete lunatic girl who had been standing outside clutching a marker pen for about an hour, having not realised that there was a Q&A after the film. I wouldn’t have minded her so much had she not repeatedly bellowed “I WAS HERE FIRST” and laughing nervously/manically any time I moved. At this point I was telling myself not to ask for an autograph after her, because Chris Morris will totally think that we’re together and that I am also a lunatic. After all, we were both wearing back packs. So I shuffled away from marker pen girl and responded to everything she said by staring into a drain in the road and let my friend converse with her because she looks more normal, and the association that she was with the lunatic girl was less likely.
When Chris Morris emerged from the cinema, the lunatic lunged toward him brandishing the marker pen and pleaded with him to sign her arm. Then my friend tapped him on the shoulder and asked her to sign her cinema ticket, and I felt like it was safe for me to proceed, and not to be associated with the lunatic girl (who was now leaping up and down in the street like the lunatic she is). As Chris Morris took the ticket from my friend, his publicist looked at me right in the eye and said “THIS IS THE LAST ONE NOW – CHRIS HAS TO CATCH HIS TAXI” and I recoiled back into my anxiety-ridden shell as if the publicist was actually channelling a request from God specifically for me not to ask Chris Morris for his autograph, in case doing so caused a situation so awkward an embarrassing that the universe would actually implode.
You’re welcome, humanity.
And so there I stood, crippled by shyness, rooted to the pavement under the watchful eye of God, admiring Chris Morris’s excessively clean and well laced trainers and luscious curly hair.
Now that I think about it, I was really doing
humanity God Chris Morris a favour. Because, if I recall this correctly, the Cornerhouse representative specifically asked us not to harass Chris Morris as he left the cinema because his taxi was waiting outside to pick him up. But it took Chris Morris a good twenty minutes to leave that cinema, and I know that a great deal of people completely ignored this instruction, and selfishly presented themselves in front of Chris Morris, asking for autographs, to read their screenplays, to take their numbers and all that not caring that he had to get in his taxi. His taxi probably drove away and then the Cornerhouse probably had to book him another one, which probably really pissed off the cab company. And Chris Morris.
When it comes down to it, I didn’t ask Chris Morris for his autograph out of courtesy and not because I’m shy and socially awkward, or because God told me not to. I know that Chris Morris has better things to do than autograph various limbs presented to him by the mentally unstable. And if it wasn’t for people like me, people like Chris Morris would never catch their taxi’s home. You’re welcome, Chris Morris.
For those of you unfamiliar with Chris Morris (no judgement) – here’s a clip from some of his earlier work.