Advantages A possibility of public recognition and adulation
Disadvantages A possibility of public shame and humiliation
Andy Warhol, the pop artist (remember the Campbell’s soup tin painting?) famously remarked in 1968, "In the future everyone will be world famous for fifteen minutes."He was making a point about the growth of communications media and how they gave ever-greater exposure to ever-larger numbers. Since 1968 the trend has continued. If you think about the cult of the Celebrity nowadays it seems that some of them are only famous for being famous.
Of course, fame can be interpreted in a variety of ways: names like Bush, Blair and Chirac, for instance resonate around all but the most obscure corners of the world. Other names are well known in their own countries, some within their own communities. Fame can also be limited to particular fields of endeavor. Names like Rudolf Laban, Arnold Schoenberg, Dario Gradi, Yves Tanguy, Robert Harbin or Ted Wragg are likely to provoke the question, “Who?” from the average Man In The Street (Which man? What street?) whereas those concerned with Dance, Music, Football Management, Surrealist Art, Origami or Education will probably be familiar with at least one of them.So, Good People of Ciao, here is the latest and, I hope, most substantial challenge to date: tell us about YOUR fifteen minutes of fame: fame to be interpreted as loosely as you want.
I’ll kick off with mine. Here goes:************ Floon’s Fifteen Minutes of Fame ************
Many moons ago I lived in Gibraltar, teaching the children of Royal Navy and RAF families (well, someone had to do it!). Once a week in our Primary school we had a hobbies session: each teacher would run an activity that gave them, and with any luck the children, a lot of pleasure (This was, of course pre-National Curriculum: the word “pleasure” does not feature largely in that dreadful set of documents).My activity was Origami – the Japanese art of paper-folding. I had first become interested in this through a friend in The Magic Circle who was into all sorts of strange practices, most of them legal. He taught me to make the famous paper crane – the bird that flapped its wings when you pulled its tail. We would experiment with all kinds of folds and sometimes come up with new designs which we had to carefully unfold and refold several times to make sure we could repeat them (we then forgot them again).
Eventually I was proficient enough to fold some of the harder models in Robert Harbin’s books (see the list of names above) and could make ponies, boxes, all sorts of birds, flowers, you name it...Being a bit obsessive I could often be found with a pile of Origami paper, amusing myself and others with yet another discovery or repeating one of my favourites. There was the memorable evening in the Edinburgh Arms when I was drinking with a couple of friends and making flapping birds for them to give to their children. A crowd of sailors off an aircraft carrier came in and saw what I was doing. One of them asked if I would make him one to send home to his daughter. For my trouble he bought me a pint. Another asked the same favour – same payment. Then it snowballed. I don’t remember the rest of that evening…
Anyway, as they say, one of my colleagues mentioned my odd interest (obsession?) to his wife, Norma Squire, who hosted a chat show on Gibraltar Television. She asked me if I would be interested in appearing on her programme to talk about Origami…“Great!” I thought. “My fifteen minutes of fame – sixteen if I’m lucky!”
I duly turned up at the studio at the right time on the right day, clutching a pile of paper squares. I’d never been in a TV studio before and was unprepared for the heat of the lights. The sweat rolled off me and, added to my nerves, made it hard to make the folds sharp and accurate. I had some paper models I’d prepared earlier, Blue-Peter style, but I agreed to demonstrate the folding of the crane, or flapping bird, in front of the cameras. Norma questioned me about Origami as I folded and I can’t remember what I said in reply – evidently it didn’t all make sense I was told by my “friends” afterwards. Worse still the programme was going out live – they hadn’t yet got sophisticated recording equipment (it was only 1970, after all).I finally finished the bird, my famous piece de resistance, and got to the crucial part: demonstrating its capabilities. Proudly, I pulled its tail – and discovered that being extremely nervous I had made the creases too sharp. The whole thing tore into two pieces. All I could think to say in my confusion and embarrassment was “Oh, sh… – that’s the first time that’s happened…”
When the programme was over they offered me a weekly series, teaching Origami to the population of Gibraltar. I turned it down…I could have had more than my fifteen minutes if I’d kept my nerve and played my cards right. Ah well…
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