Getting dressed for the occasion

 Claudius, by Terry Freedman

Claudius, by Terry Freedman

A few years ago Chris Smith, an Englishman who lives in Thailand and runs the Shambles website, invited me to take part in an online conference.

"I was wondering if you could give a talk to a group of headteachers", he said.

"Of course. When?"

"It will be on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, because of the time difference, you'll need to be on Skype video by 6 am London time. Look, don't worry about getting fully dressed or anything. Just tip out of bed and put a top on. That'll do."

"Erm, right", I replied, thinking to myself, "I don't think so."

So, when the great day came, I was suited and booted. Well, not booted: I thought if I have to get up to find a book or something, nobody is going to see my feet. But shirt, tie, trousers most certainly.

I thought it went quite well. I imagined the headteachers falling naturally into two groups. One half of the room would be furiously scribbling down as much of my talk as possible, lest they forget. The other half, meanwhile, would be in a state of quasi-hypnosis, completely enrapt by my eloquence.

"Furthermore", I said. I may even have whipped off my spectacles as I said it, for effect. "Furthermore...". At this point Claudius the cat, a big fella who had been sitting quietly on my desk looking out of the window, decided to leap onto my chest. 

Feeling myself tipping backwards, I grabbed frantically for the table. 

But I missed. 

I did, however, manage to yank out the lead from the wireless router. So the last thing that roomful of headteachers saw was me falling head over heels backwards, with an insane cat attached to my face.

I believe that was the only time in my life that I have consciously thought to myself, "I'm glad I wore trousers".