Friday, October 12, 2007

2007 St Albans Table Topics Competition

My table topic:
Is a computer a bane or a blessing - in your life?

A computer used to be a bane. The worst thing which happened to me was when I was preparing a book of short stories to send to a publisher. I saw a tab marked autosort and I thought something which sorted out the layout and fonts would be a great idea. I clicked on it and my wonderful work vanished. I couldn't work out where it had gone. When I scrolled down the pages there were rows of dots. Then commas. Followed by question marks. Then pages of the word and. Mid-way were several pages of the word THE.

(A few members of the audience start smiling here.)

Finally the word zoo. The autosort had sorted all the words in my book alphabetically. I never got that book published.

However, now the computer is a blessing. Using it, I have managed to publish three books, a book of poetry, a humorous book on online dating, and my family history. With just one click I can load up the text. With another click I can load up a picture on the front cover. With another click I can load up the title on the spine. So to me the computer is both a bane and a blessing.

That was my best table topic. It had two personal stories. Not one. Nor a dozen. It was clear and memorable. It stuck to the subject. It didn't suddenly stop with me waving goodbye when I saw the red light but ended with a conclusion.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Today I was in a competition. Humorous Speech. Table topics (impromptu speech).

I didn't win either competition at next level. I was a bit fed up about this. I ate lots of donuts afterwards and ended up with a sugar hangover.

I came back and went out to dinner with my son.

He said consolingly, 'You've just started aiming higher. This time two years ago, you thought it was wonderful when you completed ten speeches.'

For me visiting a solicitor or a doctor or dentist are far worse than giving a speech.

My son who knows me agrees with me that people who see me happily giving a speech think I am super confident, which is ludicrous, when many days I am so afraid of life that I don't step outside my front door for fear of being knocked over by a car again.

Of course, paying thousands of pounds in solicitor's fees or taxes is more important than winning a competition, which I might win next year.

It is often said that people are more afraid of giving a speech then dying. But compared with dying, I can't see why a single person would think giving a speech is worse than dying. I rather think that thinking about dying puts the whole thing of being afraid about giving a speech in perspective.

The speakers' club president asked if I was nervous. I looked at him as if he was nuts. I knew most of the people in the room. They are only people.

He asked if I was afraid of anything.
I thought for a minute. I replied: 'Bungee jumping. But that's not something I ever have to do.'

After the meeting the woman who kindly gave me a lift to and from the meeting asked to see my book about my family history. I had mentioned it in table topics and when interviewed in the interval when they count the votes. She wants to publish a similar book about her mother's life story. I think helping somebody publish their life story is the most valuable thing I did today.

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