An audience of one…

I am unaccustomed to public speaking. Even the simplest public address takes its toll.  The very act of standing up before a  sea of silent anticipation, even if that sea is a tiny inlet of family and friends, has the effect of letting all the carefully prepared words, that are stored in my head, drain down and out through my body so quickly that I am only able to catch a random mouthful, spit them out and sit down again.

I am also unaccustomed to public writing yet, because there is no roar of the crowd, the smell of the greasepaint attracts me. I can fashion written words like the elements of a  picture. The stuttering uncertainty of the first moments are hidden behind a screen of fluency. Pity the speaker, standing silent before his audience, who suddenly realises the weakness of the words starting to spill from his mouth, mentally edits them, loses all known vocabulary whilst simultaneously confirming, from the dampness of his brow and his sodden shirt, that the human body is composed nearly entirely of water and his audience entirely of detractors.

The writer sits alone, atop of a pile of crumpled sheets of rejected thoughts watched by an impatient and critical audience of one – himself: but he can sit there in his underpants, eating a plate of buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes and olives which would be impressive, but less acceptable, in a public speaker. And it’s very PC – Phucking Comfortable.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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50 Responses to An audience of one…

  1. 🙂 And that cheese looks good!

  2. Ha! This sounds like my husband before he had to deliver a best man’s speech at a friend’s wedding. Poor Henry. Poor you. His answer was courage in a cup. Though given a choice, I’m sure he would have preferred sitting in his underpants eating mozzarella instead. Great post!

  3. You certainly do know how to fashion words Roger, and we don’t mind if you do it in your underpants!

  4. The mozzarella looks wonderful, although I won’t try my local super U for it as I refuse to go anywhere near it because it has sucked the centre out of the next village to us. But it’s fine for you to use it as inspiration for pictures and words!

    • I agree with you about the tentacles of SuperU. The branch near us, in La Chataigneraie, is apparently the original family branch that spawned the mammoth. It would be difficult to suck the heart out of La Chataigneraie as I’ve never seen any sign of a heartbeat there! There’s very little choice for us, as all the small shops in villages near us have closed – unless they’re selling dreadful paintings or soap. At least, when we’re home in our small hamlet, it still feels like the countryside.

  5. I wish they would ban public speaking. People tell me that I look confident and come across like I know what I’m doing. Inside I am shaking like a leaf and feeling ill. Even when I just read off of index cards I want a hole to open up and let me drop in. Great post.

    • I really admire you doing it, even while shaking like a leaf.So many actors, it appears, suffer dreadfully from stage fright, and many yachtsmen suffer from sea sickness. We seem better suited to doing phuck all:)

      • I avoid it like the plague though there are times I can’t avoid it. It does help a bit now as I don’t care as much as I did when I was younger how people think of me. That was a blow for freedom. But I had to take a public speaking course in college and in order to get a good grade I had to do every speech over in front of the professor in her office. That class was torture! But you are right so many actors have stage fright. Jim Morrison and Natalie Merchant started their singing careers by having their back to the audience.

      • What a great story – the Jim Morrison back to audience bit. I shall have my back to the future to save worrying about it:)

  6. Roger, my last meeting as President of my Rotary Club is Tuesday. What would they think if I showed up in my underwear and ate that delectable goodness? I know. Bad idea, but I can daydream, can’t I?

    I actually think public speaking is much harder to a small group or to people one knows well. My sweet spot is around 200 people. It’s easy to work the room and gauge the general reactions of the audience, but not so intimate that I can see their individual eyeballs and facial expressions.

  7. Mad Dog says:

    I can’t comment on public speaking, but you are doing a grand job with the public writing. I’m a great believer in people doing what they feel comfortable and happy with. Follow your bliss 😉

  8. Perfection. I once read a statistic/statement that more people would rather die than public speak? While I wouldn’t go that far, I understand your sentiment about it. If only all writers ate so well while toiling away 😉

  9. Public speaking is a talent, one which takes copious amounts of practice and patience for many individuals. The podium was my shield during speech class, but found it was second guessing myself as the biggest problem. As long as I’m comfortable with what I need to say, it’s not nearly as bad. The audience knows less than me on the speech, and if I say it with certainty, it goes well.

    Writing for the public is more like having the car evaluated for its trade in value. It’s the waiting game that is a stress. I’ve decided to fill that void with chores and other work to forget about response time. It seems to help. Yes, you can write in your skivvies, if it pleases you! 🙂

  10. I laughed like a drain, Roger. So very true.

  11. Kathy says:

    “Screen of fluency.” A fine phrase. Thanks for all the laughs. (Although, in truth, I would rather get dressed and speak in public than write in my unmentionables. Once it’s over, it’s over. You can’t revise it.)

  12. Eha says:

    Is there just a tad of a chance you are too much of a perfectionist, Sire? If you speak half as well as . . . Personally I began having to speak in public as a teenager: found early on that if I was willing to make a fool of myself and get people to laugh ‘with me’ and not ‘at me’ I had them in my backpocket for the duration . . . . To this day I too find large crowds much easier than hypercritical small ones . . .

  13. SidevieW says:

    the feeling is far in my past. When i am reminded of it, I am grateful to no longer feel the empty legs may dump me on the floor

  14. Sally says:

    Much happier with an audience of one. The words ‘public speaking’ make my stomach churn. Interesting that putting words onto a screen and sending it out to the wide world is so satisfying. Another entertaining post.

  15. Michelle says:

    The SuperU? Mon dieu!

  16. An incredible amount of real estate transactions happen when one is in their pajamas.. and on the phone, lol. Love the look of that cheese.. but being visual, I can’t help but try to read the significance in the composition and placement of the singular olive and tomato?

  17. I’m surprised that with your great ability with the written word that the spoken word would cause you problems but I do understand. If I have an audience, my mouth seems to be disconnected from my brain. 🙂 Love the photo, by the way…the stark contrast of colors is wonderful.

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