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

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

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: how to spell BBQ and other linguistic irregularities

Guy Keleny
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...