Ever had to speak in public and cope with nerves?
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Last Monday morning I was on the radio. I spoke to Cork 96FM’s Deirdre O’Shaughnessy on the Opinion Line about the wastefulness of new edition schoolbooks, the weight of schoolbags and back to school costs. Deirdre was great – so easy to talk to that I forgot my initial nervousness.
They say that one of the worst fears humans face is speaking in public. I’m generally fine if I have something prepared, but having to make an unscheduled emergency announcement off the cuff, out of breath and in front of a crowd is another matter. Like our Sunday morning sidewalk debacle some time ago…
Late for mass, we parked on the sloping hill near the church. “Hear that?” Daddy-O asked. He checked our car but could still hear a creaking noise. The vehicle below us started to move. Its handbrake was probably slipping. “Find something to block the wheel!” Although we were beside a rustic stone wall, all stones were cemented solidly in place. The car continued to creak and slowly slip forward. Daddy-O stood in front and stalled it. “Go get the owner,” he directed. I noted the model and registration before tearing down the hill. A guy was handing out election leaflets. “Can you help?” I asked, pointing frantically at husband trying to stop the car. Fair dues, he set down the pamphlets and ran up. I left them to it and raced towards the church.
How in the name of God was I going to find the owner? No way was I going up on the altar to make an announcement. Maybe one of the volunteers who do the collections would say it? Didn’t see anyone I knew. Damn. Fearful of husband being flattened outside, there was no option but to go for it.
The priest finished the gospel as I reluctantly sidled towards the pulpit, “Yes?” Oh God, couldn’t the ground swallow me up? I felt like a right eejit standing there with the congregation staring.
The priest motioned me to the microphone. “Eh, a car parked on the hill opposite the church is slipping – handbrake’s slipping.” (Huff) I was still out breath. I rattled off the make and registration number. Did I remember it correctly? No one was getting up. “What colour?” the priest helpfully prompted. “S-silver.” Still no response. Husband could be rolled over and pancake-splattered by now. “You’d better hurry – it’s going to CRASH into another car!” I shrieked, sounding ridiculous but didn’t care. Someone got up and went out. They took their bloody time.
Embarrassed as hell, I scurried off. Daddy-O and the kids arrived. “The owner moved it,” he explained, “We’d managed to place a rock under the wheel so no danger.” After mass a mum from school was waiting. “It’s just as well you made the announcement,” she said, “I was parked below the one with the faulty handbrake.” “The election guy helped too. You should give him your vote!” Daddy-O joked.
Whatever about the radio, I’ll leave this public speaking lark to the politicians and the priests!
Maeve O’Keeffe, the Frazzled Mammy! ©Maeve O’Keeffe 2014
Maeve O’Keeffe is a Cartoonist, Illustrator and Journalist in Cork, Ireland
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