Rhiannon Harries: No one means to be clumsy, so can't we give each other a break?

Share
Related Topics

What's the fitting expletive when you have accidentally caused a six-inch tear to a Picasso? Somehow I doubt it was "Oops!" that sprang from the lips of the woman who fell against The Actor, a rare canvas from the painter's Rose period, in the New York Met.

As the piece was transferred to the museum's conservation studio last week, and despite the fact that the Met has declared the damage is not irreparable, there was much slavering speculation over precisely how much the hapless art lover might have knocked off its £80m value:

"It's a 50 per cent loss of the value – at least," one specialist told the New York Post, sounding a touch too gleeful. "Even a small hole and Picasso collectors like [Steven] Spielberg are not going to be interested."

Debates over the correlation (or lack thereof) between the intellectual value of an artwork and its price tag aside, the palpable schadenfreude and unexpectedly vicious accusations of "carelessness" and "irresponsibility" in comments on news sites reveal our unforgiving attitudes toward what we perceive as "clumsiness".

Generally seen as a physical symptom of stupidity, we either laugh at it (when people trip themselves up or drop their drink in their lap) or (when people manage to trip us up or drop their drink in our lap) become disproportionately outraged by it.

But everyone has at least a few small-scale Met moments in their lifetime. One of mine involved a large black coffee and a new cream coat (coat belonged to me, coffee to a fellow commuter); another was the time-honoured encounter between a glass of red wine and a pristine beige carpet (that one's on me).

Having both dished out and received my share of "Why can't you be more careful?" remonstrations, I know it's impossible to avoid the occasional slip, yet I still have a hard job stopping myself from berating someone else's lack of hand-eye co-ordination. I do now know that coats and carpets should never be cream, though.

So why do we find it so hard to accept that something which afflicts all of us occasionally, and some of us a lot? One or two incidents a day is the norm, medically speaking. Tired people are clumsier. So are anxious people and pregnant women. Dyspraxia, a co-ordination disorder that would not long ago have been dismissed and ridiculed as chronic clumsiness, affects six per cent of the population.

On that basis alone, I think it's frankly rather amazing that more of us aren't walking into Picassos and upending priceless Ming vases every day.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron has reiterated his pre-election promise to radically improve the NHS  

How can we save the NHS? Rediscover the stiff upper lip

Jeremy Laurance
 

Thanks to Harriet Harman, Labour is holding its own against the Tory legislative assault

Isabel Hardman
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor