When technology goes wrong

At work, we have a regular whole team gathering (that’s 100+ people) that takes place on the first Wednesday of the month. It’s rather inventively known as ‘First Wednesday’ and is a cunning combination of nice lunch (to get people to the meeting) followed by an hour of presentations on assorted work-related subjects.

For some reason, I’ve had the dubious privilege of presenting at this function several times. I had the pleasure again today, and this morning while tidying up my script could be heard bemoaning the fact that we didn’t have a remote control with which to manage the PowerPoint slides. Usually, someone else does them for you, but that never quite works out the way you’d hoped it would.

On arriving at today’s meeting, I was informed that a remote control had recently been acquired and that June’s First Wednesday was to be its inaugural outing. I was both exceedingly excited and relieved that I wasn’t going to be the first presenter using it. As the meeting wore on I grew more and more concerned. No one was having much luck with the remote – it went too fast; it didn’t work at all; it shut the laptop down…all generally a bit frustrating.

I was the penultimate speaker and only had one slide in which timing was crucial. What was the one slide on which the remote went too fast? That one. Sod’s law! It also turned off the screen completely, but by that point I’d decided to carry on regardless. Stupid technology – who needs it?

The other problem with this function is that attempts at humour are sometimes lost on the audience. In our first joint presentation, C and I adapted a classic Simpsons quote – Troy McClure’s catchphrase: “You may remember me from…” and didn’t raise a murmur (though one colleague did e-mail her appreciation of the reference subsequently). Today, I described my Missing Generation project [I could go into this in detail, it’s honestly fascinating, but could bore the pants off you] as sounding like an Enid Blyton mystery, but I feel few noticed or found amusing the subtle reference…serves me right for trying to be funny. I should know better.

A waitressing fail of epic proportions

Today I was a sophisticated lady, taking tea with other sophisticated ladies in a terribly sophisticated venue. Ok, perhaps I exaggerate – my school chums and I put on frocks and went to quite a swanky hotel for tea. A lovely plan and something that was always going to be fun.

Because we’re not really used to posh surroundings, we had already got the giggles before we witnessed a truly disastrous piece of waitressing – lists of tea can be hilarious sometimes.

Those of you familiar with the traditional afternoon tea will know of the role played by cake stands (in fact, I would dearly love a cake stand of my own, if potential present-givers could take note). They’re particularly useful for holding the essential components of tea: sandwiches on the bottom, cakes in the middle, scones on top – and mean that crucial table space isn’t taken up unnecessarily.

Our waitress arrived bearing two laden cake stands. One was placed on the table, but as she lifted the second up, it fell from her grasp…

Three full plates of food fell off the stand, scattering across the floor, chair, my friend Pippa, her bag and coat. We were almost too shocked to laugh, though by the time two waiters were frantically clearing it up, it was all we could do to suppress our mirth. Fortunately, I thought to photograph some of the devastation:

A pile of plates, denuded of their contents.

That clotted cream will do the upholstery no good at all. 

Crumbs remain.

Two hours later a stray cake is spotted. 

Our poor waitress was incredibly apologetic – she blamed her short stature for it, which is novel! She offered us extra scones, but if there’s one thing that’s true of all afternoon teas, there’s always more food than your stomach can handle, so we didn’t get to take her up on the offer.