Klueless in Kelso
Its not often for Huttonian to be at a loss for the right words in the face of an audience, especially a friendly one, but last Thursday in Kelso it was a case of the wrong sort of leaf on track.
For the last ten years I have talked to a number of audiences all over the Eastern and Central Borders (Local organisations are generally desperate
, thats the only word, for someone to speak to them) -mostly on two well worn topics:(A) Life of a Brit Diplomat, pitfalls, privileges,problems, Important People Met, Important Events Witnessed, Funny things happening on the way to Forum, Thrill of living in Foreign Parts, Illustrated with acetates-'Look that is me with Prince Charles, with King Hussein, with Dr Kaunda, with a deposed despot,ad nauseam etc. And the other (B) is about the politics of the Middle East (arising from the talk of the first part, but most jokes omitted, and acetates of Princess Diana replaced with maps of Israeli Settlements on the West Bank Talk one is for the more social societies: Guilds, Rural Institutes, Probi (Plural of Probus?)Rotary, and the second to the higher of brow: Political clubs, Peace Churches, Human Rights Societies, University of the Third Age. And very occasionally I have combined the two presentations with a third: 'Diplomatic Poetry'-Life of a Dip overseas,Muse by Mandarins, inspiration for verse-same jokes , same acetates but aimed at literary gatherings in the Bigger Border Burghs.
Kelso is a BBB. But with the Thursday Club I got it all wrong. This was no U3A with a largely (retired) professional clientele but a social gathering for the very very retired who liked one day a week outside the house, a cup of tea, a dry biscuit and a different place to snooze. People who had lived in the Borders all their lives and had very little interest in foreign parts too far across the Tweed. And I knew once that I had risen to my feet, acetate on 'Israeli Conquests since 1948' simmering on the Overhead Projector, that I was not going to grip but to glaze-indeed as soon as the lights went down four heads drooped in sleep and four others twitched in anticipation of at least 35 winks. By omitting 14 out of 15 slides,pages 4-12 of my presentation and including two extra (local) jokes I somehow got through my very truncated talk and even had a generous round of applause when the audience, woken by the chair, realised I had finished and they could advance on the tea urn with warmed hands.
Over tea I heard two ladies discussing the event. 'Where does he come from?' Anxiously 'Not from Kelso?' 'What was he on about?' 'The Middle East' ' Oh That'
Long silence and then glancing at the Autumn Programme of the Thursday Club' 'Missed the one on old postcards of Kelso' last week' ' But it looks good for next Thursday' ' What's that then'
I decided not to make any reference to a 'prickly subject'
And went home.
(The image is a new acetate I am working on for my a possible talk to the Tuesday Evening Club in a smaller BBB : Diplomatic Hedgehogs-At Home and Abroad
Labels: Blethering in the Borders, Kelso, University Third Age