Top fact: I have an incredibly high embarrassment threshold. Exhibit A: I once snogged my then boyfriend in a cinema full of our friends for a commercial. I endured directions like ‘more tongue!’ Without a ruffle. Nay, not only did I endure them, I responded, despite the many critical or curious eyes upon me. Exhibit B: I dressed up as a flamenco dancer and flounced around on Grimsby dock, to celebrate the town’s inauguration as ‘Europe’s food town’ ( a short lived reign). Aged 16, I danced suggestively to Bobby Brown in greek restaurants, shopping centres and circus rings.
I’ve done it all in the shame game.
What links these escapades is the presence or the promise of an audience. I’m that shallow. I don’t think I’ve matured at all in the last few years, although the number of embarrassing escapades has dropped drastically. It’s basically down to the fact that my audiences are dwindling, dahling.
Which is why I was relieved to lose a bet to my year 10 class last week, which resulted in me performing the whole of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air rap with some gestures ( I bartered them down from full on dancing). Finally, I could relax in a bath of full on, non educational, inappropriate behaviour.
The affect achieved was not the desired one. They didn’t laugh at how funny it was, or how on point my stylings were. It was 90 long cringey seconds. I quickly gave up even trying and just closed my eyes, reciting the tale of my ill fate on the basketball court and the eventual taxi journey to Uncle Phil’s house like one unbroken mantra. It was amongst the strangest 90 seconds I have ever spent on this planet and unlike the snogging, flamenco strutting and Bobby Brown gyrations, it was no fun at all.
Because I’m too old for this. My Fresh Prince was a dad dance. A dad dance of death. Teenagers don’t find it funny, they find it a cringe. I had woefully misjudged my audience and so sat down and pretended to look at something on the computer.
Unable, as ever, to fully the take the blame for my behaviour, I have arrived at the conclusion that my material was too familiar to them. What with neon loom bands and flat peak caps, teenagers feel they own the FP. I should have stepped back further in time, to a show much closer to my heart: the CITV classic, Knightmare.
If you are unfamiliar with this show, stop reading my pile of nonsense and seek it out immediatement. Knightmare exploited our burgeoning interest in Virtual Reality and combined it with medieval quests. But for kids! Every episode involved a child being intimidated for a few moments by a man with a beard before being strapped into a helmet and transported into a virtual world (possibly a car park in reality) where he or she would have to navigate various tasks using only the directions from their teammates which would be yelled with increasing hysteria until they fell through a wormhole and lost. What was brilliant about Knightmare was that hardly anyone ever won and that you could play vicariiusly, shouting instructions at helmet kid in between bites of jam sandwich, standing so close to the black and white in the kitchen that your hair and top layer of skin would buzz witb static energy.
Knightmare is on my mind at the moment as well because it sort of mirrors how I feel at the start of the long holidays. I am helmet kid, full of grand ideas, but ultimately at the mercy of the shifting terrain and inept advice of others. I often wondered what would happen if helmet kid had just mugged it all off and removed the helmet. I’m tempted to do the same before i fall down the wormhole …