This April, I attended my third European Speechwriters’ Conference at King’s College, Cambridge. Tradition has it that, on the first night of the conference, there is a festive dinner that also includes a speechwriting contest. With a twist! After each talk given during the first morning of the conference, attendees pick three words that, for them, characterise the talk. The conference chair then draws up a list of those words, and all of them have to be used in the speech for the contest. Here’s the list of words:
And here is the speech that I gave. (I came in second!)
’T was an average day
and the deadline was near
when I sat in my office
full of existential fear.
I sat there with Larry
my cat from the beach
who never did anything,
never helped with a speech!
The tears, they were coming and
drip, drip, drip, drip —
on the page, they were landing
at a very fast clip.
something went BAM!
And the door went A-SLAM!
And at first I thought: „Is that a chicken?“
And I wondered, will the plot finally thicken?
NOT a chicken, but LARRY!
Straight out of a black hole
he came to my rescue
with armour and soul.
Like a shimmering knight,
surrounded by light.
„Alex,“ the cat said with much emotion.
„What you need’s an idea,
not a magical potion!
What you need is a spark
and I’ll give it to you.
But spare me the bromides,
and I shall spare you!“
„Your usual words, they are much too demotic!
Alex, those jokes, they are so bureaucrOtic!
A speech should go off
like a hot air balloon,
not sink down like concrete.
Dude, you need a new tune!“
„I’ll let you in on my secret“, my little Larry said.
„India and Bollywood, that’s were it’s at!
Alex, your speeches need flavour and spice
Drama and romance, and music, THAT would be nice!“
But Larry, I asked him,
just how do you know?
Will a speech with flavour
really steal the show?
„Trust me,“ he whispered, „for a very long time,
I’ve been to Brian’s conferences on my own dime.
I listened, I learned, I took copious notes.
And now here I am to show you the ropes!“
And then PUFF! PUFF!
In a curry-red cloud
(While he gently miaowed!)
I was rubbing my eyes
Was this really my cat?
Lazy Larry, tired and fat?
Yes, it was him, in fancy disguise
Larry, my cat, dispensing advice.
So I got back to work, on that average day.
Wrote my speech, sent it off, (and I even got paid.)
It was quite a success, from what I hear.
And the next time, I’ll do it withOUT any fear.