By the Book - Literary Life Lessons

By the Book #11 – Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you? Inspired by Miranda Hart's memoir, here's mine. Read on!

Is it just me? Miranda Hart, a British comedian, is so clumsy and awkward, that she wrote an entire book trying to get an answer to that question. Turns out, it’s not just her – it’s me too! It’s reassuring to know you’re not the only bungersome stumblebum, not the only klutz, not the only one who is remembered for their silly accidents. Actually, reading Ms Hart’s book made me decide to open up about the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me. Trust me, this is a good one. It’s quite a long story, but well worth your read. Bear with!

So, here’s what happened. It was on a bright, hot day in August, when my friend and I decided we wanted to go camping for a day or two. We would just sit outside in the sun, enjoy a picnic, and have fun. She would bring her dog, so it could run around on the grass – which was its favourite activity in the world (and mine, too, at the time). However, since we were poor students and neither of us in possession of a driving licence, we had to go somewhere close to where we lived. We ended up at a campsite in my hometown, where most people knew me. This is in no way a recipe for disaster, is it? 

Having arrived there, we started enjoying our well-deserved holiday. We had come prepared: after setting up our tent, we brought out a professional picnic basket and filled our glasses with some wine and our mouths with some snacks. It was perfect; the wine was still cold, and the snacks were great. We talked about the usual stuff: the times we’d publicly embarrassed ourselves, people we’d accidentally insulted, bruises we’d acquired running into tables – or a combination of these three.

After a while, her dog, Bella, was getting restless. It had been a while since we had spent proper attention to her, and she decided it was time for games. Her favourite plaything was a ball, which we would throw away and she would run after it and fetch it. You know how it works. My favourite plaything, however, was one of those things you could put your ball in and then chuck them away much farther – such fun! (Do you know what I mean? They look like a spaghetti serving spoon, but much longer, and a tennis ball fits in there perfectly. Apparently it’s called a Sport Ball Launcher, or something of the sort.)

Anyway, seeing as I’m quite a competitive person (really – it’s one of my biggest flaws), I wanted to throw that ball as far away as I possibly could. I loved it, the dog loved it, and my friend, especially, loved how insanely excited we were both getting… (She was watching us play, poured herself some more wine, and was enjoying herself immensely) It was great. Until it happened.

I knew from the moment the ball left the Launcher-Device-Thingy that it was the farthest I’d ever thrown. I was staring at the ball that had just left the launcher, and I saw it rising, rising, rising just a bit more, and then, slowly but surely, it had started its descent. Bella was already on her way towards the ball, happily running towards it – but then I saw where it would be landing. My elation at having thrown the perfect throw evaporated, and all I could think was please, not there. And of course, it went right there. I could see the ball, as in slow-motion but in reality moving too fast, moving confidently towards its destination. I didn’t know what to do – I both wanted to bury a hole in the ground and stay there forever, but also, I knew I had to witness it. I shrieked, and my friend, alarmed, stood at my side in mere seconds (while making sure she wouldn’t spill a drop of wine). I pointed, and at that moment the ball landed…

… It landed exactly on the back of a man’s head – on a bald patch roughly the size of a tennis ball. Even though it was far away (like I said: best throw ever), I heard the thwack of ball-on-head contact, and that was the moment I knew this was bad. Really bad. Unspeakably bad. My feet gave out beneath me, and I dragged myself to our tent, desperate to hide in as far away a corner of our tiny tent as possible. While lying there, I held on to the false hope that I’d imagined the entire episode. However, when my friend walked in, shrieking with laughter and assuring me I had hit the bull’s eye, I knew it had actually happened. I was crying, both with laughter and with absolute dread, and I was unable to stop. I couldn’t stand up anymore, tears were streaming down my face, and my stomach was hurting. Then I heard a voice coming  from right outside the tent:

“Did you throw that ball?”

I stuck my head out, and saw the man standing close by (I recognised him by his shirt and trousers, not his face, for, obviously, I hadn’t seen that yet). I bravely crawled out of the tent, stood up (praying that my wobbly legs would support me), wiped my eyes, and tried talking. Thankfully, some sounds resembling “it was me” left my throat. I braced myself. I was hoping he wouldn’t hit me, wouldn’t shout at me, and wouldn’t make a scene (remember, people knew me around there, and I didn’t want to be known forevermore as the village idiot). He didn’t look excessively angry, though, and eyed me up slowly. After a while, he said: “Good throw.”

Apparently, despite the ball hitting him at his unprotected, vulnerable bald spot, it hadn’t hurt much. He could see that it was just a game, and, judging by my inability to look him in the eye, that I don’t go around aiming for people’s heads intentionally. Also, he was quite impressed by my throwing skills. We talked about it, I apologised, Bella (for she’d only just returned with the ball locked safely in her jaws) licked his feet, and we parted amicably. My friend and I raised our glasses, and decided that, surely, life couldn’t get any better than this.

And that, dear reader, is why I have never again dared even look at a ball launcher, let alone use it. Surely, this one is just me…

What’s your worst blunder? Please, oh please, share them in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me for more unfortunate events, and book musings!


  1. Hoi powergirl,

    Leuk stukje. En leuke reactie van je slachtoffer. Maar, was dit nu ook een boekbespreking?

    Met vriendelijke groet,

    Paul Maasbommel


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