Friday, February 10, 2006

One tried and tested route of teaching plot development is to get students to imagine the worst that could happen to their character, and then help them devise ways of getting out of it. Well, as possibly the clumsiest person on the planet - with the exception of my two kids so together we're a walking disaster zone - I offer hearty condolences to Nick Flynn who experienced my sweatiest nightmare earlier this month. Mr Flynn tripped on an undone shoelace, fell down a museum staircase and crashed into three priceless Qing vases, breaking them into smithereens. A small shard of the pain he must have felt was shared, however, by readers of the Guardian article about Mr Flynn's confession, as they had to put up with the headline: 'Taking it on the Qing'. I preferred the museum official's comment in the original press report which was that they were just thankful he was able to leave museum unharmed. Unharmed by whom, it doesn't say!

I went to school near the Fitzwilliam museum in Cambridge and used to be taken for numerous - oh so, so many - educational visits there, but reading the press coverage has made me realise how little I actually saw of it. I remember just three things - the chocolate cake sold in the cafe, a yellow plate used by one of the Chinese emporers which would change colour if the food was poisoned, and walking - not tripping - down the staircase. It's one of those Gone with the Wind circular ones, and we used to practice flouncing down in that elegant but haughty way teenage girls manage so gawkily. Still at least we did it better though than Nick Flynn.

And so, my writing prompt today is falling over.

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