In a meeting

Don’t you love that moment
when you realise that you have said too much —
something about people not looking at you sends the message,
or else somebody does look, and it’s not the look you want to see —
then you realise that, whatever its virtues, your case is closed
and worse,
that people have reached a judgement fatal to your cause
and worse,
that the only evidence they have retained from your testimony
is that they don’t like or trust you,
either thinking, with satisfaction, I never did
or else, with faint disgust, I hoped for better.

It makes you wish you never opened your mouth, doesn’t it?

And what about that ghastly feeling that you never needed to speak,
that you volunteered to inflict this damage on yourself —
whether from hubris or carelessness, who knows? —
that if you had kept your mouth shut your hopes would be in no worse case
and your reputation would be preserved for other battles
potentially more fruitful?

It makes you wish you had a better nose for disaster, doesn’t it?

I have only one small comfort for you:
fifteen minutes of silence is enough to vanish for eternity.
No-one gives a shit about you.
The good name you imagine you have lost you only imagined you had.
No-one gives a shit about you.
In a meeting like this, everyone’s hearts are racing
and their minds are paralysed by fear —
it’s as much as they can do to string syllables together in a
simulacrum of reasoned debate —
and they will go out with the views they brought in
plus a parcel of new resentments and fears
to share with subordinates.

You’ll be lucky if they remember you were there.

©2018 Craig Bingham

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Grumpy Suite


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