That time I sat on a firework: My favourite anecdotes

Have you ever seen the eyes of your friend glaze over as you realise you’re telling them the same anecdote they’ve heard at least twice before?

Or been on a date and had deja-vu as you pull another one of your go-to ‘I’m kooky and fun’ stories out of the bag?

I really hope your answer to both of those wasn’t ‘no’, as I’d like to think I’m not the only one who repeats the same anecdotes over and over when meeting new people. If it ain’t broke, right?

But just how boring am I? How few anecdotes do I have? I’m attempting to name 10 of them. If I can’t name ten we’re in big trouble here.

If you know me, you could play a fun game of bingo! How many have you heard me tell?

That time I thought I’d died in Central Park

I was 19 and travelling solo for the first time. I’d had a gruelling day of walking in the hot July sun, and hadn’t really eaten very much as I was on a teeny tiny budget. Having spent about an hour looking for my beloved Bethesda fountain (because it features in best-play-of-all-time Angels in America), I was certain that it was nearby- all I needed to do was walk in a straight line and I’d get there. Except, despite walking in a straight line, I somehow managed to pass the same group of people twice.

Instead of coming to the natural conclusion that perhaps I hadn’t been walking in quite as straight a line as I’d thought, I decided that I must have died and ended up in some sort of atheist’s purgatory, where I was destined to walk and walk in a straight line past the same rotating party of New Yorker extras for all eternity.

Luckily after a few minutes of this total madness I realised that maybe I just needed to get out of the park and get some water, which made me feel immediately better. And a mere 11 years later, I finally made it to the Bethesda fountain.

Bethesda fountain.jpg
Photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

That time when people on the tube thought they’d just watched me perform the role of Elphaba in Wicked

A few years ago I was travelling home one evening at around 11 when I became aware of a group of people looking in my direction and very obviously talking about me. They kept looking down at something and then back at me, saying things like ‘it’s definitely her, look’. As I realised that they were looking at a Wicked programme, they took my bemused expression for embarrassment at having been spotted (‘Look, she’s looking at us. It’s definitely her’).

I was about to get off the train when one of them delivered the absolute sucker-punch of a closing remark, either because she didn’t know or didn’t care that I could hear.

‘Wow. Make-up can really do wonders.’

That time I didn’t realise Al Pacino was in The Godfather

I was 18 and watched the entirety of The Godfather before saying ‘that guy looks like a young Al Pacino’. That’s the whole anecdote.

That time I forgot my passport

It’s the summer of 2009 and I’ve travelled from Devon to Birmingham to meet my friend Kieran for a trip to Prague. On the train to the airport I suddenly realise that I don’t have my passport. It’s in Devon. At least 4 hours away. And the flight’s in two hours.

Increasingly desperate bargaining at the check-in desk had no effect so my only option was to wave Kieran off to the Czech Republic on his own for 24 hours, get an (expensive) train back to Devon, book an (expensive) flight from Bristol to Prague, and arrive (poor) a day and a half later.

I’m guaranteed to never forget this anecdote because several people who know the story make a habit of reminding me every time I so much as take a trip to the supermarket.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

That time I got up on stage during a children’s entertainment show despite not having been selected

I was just a young Leo attention seeker, at the end of trip touring round Granada Studios, which had the set of Coronation Street on it (big news for 8 year old soap fans, I can tell you). They had erected a stage there and put some poor stage school graduate on it to entertain the kiddies. He was picking children from the audience to come up to sing and dance along to a pop song- I recall it was the wholly inappropriate ‘Relight my fire’ by Take That.

remember being selected and going up on stage with the presenter. Every other member of my family remembers it differently. Apparently I didn’t get chosen but decided that wasn’t going to stop me. My memory has clearly etched over this one to save me from the mortal embarrassment.

That time I drunk cried for hours because I spilt my chips

Look, carbs are incredibly important to me, okay? I’m eating a brownie as I write this.

Don’t underestimate the lengths I will go to get chips after a night out. I will divert my train journey home to go past a stop that I know has a McDonalds. I will walk in the wrong direction for ten minutes if I get wind of a chippy. A night that doesn’t end in chips is abhorrent to me.

In this instance, I hadn’t had to do anything extreme to get my chips because this kebab shop was located, as good all kebab shops are, directly next to the club. I was drunk. I tripped. My chips didn’t make it.

The horror! My friend offered to buy me more chips. No, I didn’t more chips I wanted my chips. I cried all the way home. I cried when we got home. I cried while I was fed toast (no match for chips to fill the drunken carb void, obviously).

Let this be a lesson to you all. Make sure I am within proximity of chips.

Photo by Gilly on Unsplash

That time I had suspected tuberculosis

Not just an illness suffered by courtesans in the Moulin Rouge, apparently.  As a child I developed a large unexplained lump on the side of my face which resulted in me spending some time in hospital either side of my 5th birthday whilst they worked out what I had contracted- tuberculosis being one of the strong contenders. Though it eventually turned out to be cat scratch disease (that’s a real thing, I swear), I enjoy telling people ‘THEY THOUGHT I HAD TB’ when they ask about the scar under my right ear.

That time I sat on a firework

A few short days after I thought I’d died in Central Park, I joined a month long trip round the USA with Trek America. The Fourth of July fell within our trip and we found ourselves camping near a very middle-of-nowhere kind of a town, where the entire population seemingly came out for the Independence Day fireworks display. Being somewhat scared of fireworks in close proximity, this was going to be an interesting one since it was not a huge, ‘official’ display and as such health and safety was not a priority.

Watching the fireworks on deckchairs, a group of us leapt up when we saw the still burning remains of one of the fireworks flying right towards us. Luckily it seemed to zoom past us, crisis over. We sat back down. And about ten seconds later I felt a sharp pain on my arse. What the hell was that?!

You guessed it- the charred remains of a firework.

Fortunately no literal or emotional scars remain, and I have since survived New Year’s Eve in Berlin – wow do Germans love their fireworks.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

That time I explained ‘Metamorphosis’ to Steven Berkoff, who wrote one of its most famous adaptations

Edinburgh 2013. We’re flyering for our physical theatre and puppetry adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, (using Berkoff’s script as our basis) and a middle aged bald man asks me to tell him more about it. Not realising he’s playing with me, I proceed to explain to the man who I later realised was Steven Berkoff the plot of his own show.

That time I accidentally melted a keyboard

As a massive teacher’s pet this one caused me guilt for years. Our rickedy old school had crappy heaters that never really worked, so some of the rooms needed electric heaters to keep us defrosted enough to pretend to be learning. One such room was the music room.

On this particular day my friend and I were sat perilously close to the heater, and as it started to get really hot on our legs, I decided to just turn it around so that it was facing the other way, not realising that I was turning it directly onto a keyboard that was out on the floor ready for someone to do chopsticks and/or the Rugrats theme tune on.

I realised the same time everyone else did- ten minutes later when someone said ‘what’s that burning smell’ and we all turned to see the warped keys around middle C curling with despair towards the ceiling. The teacher demanded that the perpetrator own up, and it’s one of the only times in my school career that I ever lied to a teacher.

Yes, I am that much of a swot.

Yes, this is the only available license-free photo of a keyboard I could find. You’re welcome. Photo by Valerie Mariya on Unsplash


SO there we are. We’ve limped towards ten anecdotes. I have proven myself to be a total bore. Please invite me to things that I can embarrass myself at so that I can replenish my store of go-to anecdotes.











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