Yesterday I came across a piece of old news, which - new to me - had me clutching at my face in abject embarrassment. I mention it now because tomorrow is Shame Week, and it seems appropriate. Apologies if it's old to you.
Watch the video here.
Good Lord. Surely, there is only one thing in the world worse than not winning an award, and that is thinking for a moment that you have. One can only hope that, as painful as that was for Tom Bullough, it was a thousand times more so for Mr Thomas. For obviously, it is with him that the shame must lie.
On his blog - in a post entitled A Glimpse of Hell - Tom Bullough wrote:
'Such a quick succession of euphoria, bewilderment, vertigo, humiliation, despair and absolute broken-heartedness has no place in real life. I am truly not somebody given to complaining, but that was cruel.'
My heart goes out to him. Writing in his follow-up post however, Bullough highlights the upside:
'The positive side is that a tidal wave of sympathy, support and enthusiasm for ‘The Claude Glass’ has come my way, which has been genuinely wonderful. The first message I received on Tuesday night was from the poet Gwyneth Lewis, who wrote, and I hope she will excuse me quoting her: “Another thing I’ve learned over the years – the part of you that hurts like hell right now is what helps you to write. So channel it towards that and forget the circus which surrounds publishing.” I am happy to report that last night I was able to get back to work, and I can tell you that Gwyneth is absolutely right.'
Few of us will go through the kind of cruel public humiliation which Tom Bullough had to endure that evening in July, but we all of us must suffer our own humiliations, moments of shame which eat away at us and have us shouting out blasphemies whenever we recall them (often creating other humiliations in the process). But yes, it's true, the part of you that hurts like hell is the part that helps you to write - or if you don't happen to write, it's the part of you that helps you to do whatever it is you do that gets you through life. It helps you learn. And it helps you grow. Really, it's what life's all about.
Aaaaah, good old humiliation.
Tomorrow I will tell you about the most embarrassing thing I have ever done. And I will grow in the process.
Thanks to Dick Headley for the heads-up.