Some time between the end of school and the end of a Bachelor of Arts degree, some friends got together to make a pretentious black and white short film in which my big hair and bushranger’s beard pretty much shared top billing with a chess piece.
During the ‘down’ time, we took to recreating the cover of the Beatles’ Twist & Shout EP – the photo in which the band are captured in the air. Rather than have the camera running while we all jumped at the same time, and then editing it, or (somehow) taking a still from it of us in mid air, we foolishly decided that the optimum way to proceed was for us to jump, with the cameraman trying to click the ‘record’ button at the precise moment we reached what would be the nearest thing to a ‘zenith’.
State-of-the-art camcorder technology of the early nineties, along with the limitations of the human reflex meant that, unlike the Beatles, we were never captured at our highest point in the air. Instead, in that split second between us reaching the highest point in our rise, and our landing on the ground again, we somehow detected that we were plummeting and that the red ‘record’ light was not yet illuminated on the camera.
Our method of dealing with this knowledge was, of course, to run at the cameraman screaming. By which time the little red light was illuminated, because he had started recording. Which made for great viewing, when you watched the ‘rushes’: what you see is a bunch of guys suddenly appearing from nowhere, running at you screaming that you’re a bloody idiot, or words to that effect.
Imagine if life was really like that: every time you got something wrong, people would appear out of nowhere and swear at you.
I have, of course, experienced the real-life version of this, in the form of unsolicited e-mail. Sent by somebody I’d never met, not even through a mutual friend, it consisted of a single word:
After days spent trying to work out what exactly it was that I’d done, and who I could possibly have done it to, I realised that it was most likely something I wrote about the Doors or INXS that had produced this unsolicited e-mail.
Turned out it was the latter.
(But I don’t really think I got it wrong, personally.)