Living Between the Lines

Who are we to judge?

‘Follow me, through these doors – I think it’s already started but you’ll be fine…’ beams the enthusiastic woman who has just met us. Thrusting a sheaf of papers into Zoe’s hand, she ushers us away from the brightly lit foyer, through two sets of double doors, into the extraordinarily loud, darkness, leaving us without further instruction.
The three of us stand there for a moment, taking in our unknown surroundings. Students are already striding along the catwalk to the vibrant blast of a well chosen House instrumental. (I am not an expert but it is loud).
Spectators sit in rows on both sides of the catwalk, their attention on the garments being displayed, our entrance barely registering (we hope). We stand, a little uncertainly in the wings, jostled from side to side by an officious marshal.
‘Excuse me, can you move over there…you are in the way I am afraid…’
‘They need chairs!’ someone else hisses.
‘Oh, just a minute, chairs needed here!’ asserts a woman to our left, having conferred with someone and realising we are ‘official’.
Two chairs are set down in the front row. This time, heads do turn as we are ushered into them. Well, two of us sit. Lisa is somehow side lined and that’s the last we see of her for a while, apart from a brief reappearance when she creeps up behind us and hands Zoe the free glass of Prosecco that the latter accepted in the Foyer before we were abducted.
Zoe puts the glass on the floor between us and leafs through the score sheets she has been given.
I keep an eye on the Prosecco, lest it be knocked over.

The invitation to attend the end of year show at a local design college, was sent to Zoe, she of the Fashion/textile/design world. The invitation asked her to bring as many people from the design industry with her as she liked. Hence, Lisa and I are there. (Bona fide, design business owners).
It is a warm evening, the event is scheduled to take place between 6 and 8pm. Lisa and I looked forward to a leisurely browse through the students’ artwork. Zoe expected to have a quick chat with her contact about design in business.
We arrived at about 6.45pm.
We had walked the length of a corridor, admiring the displays, before Zoe found her contact. The excitable woman, clutching a clipboard, was clearly delighted to see we had made it and immediately handed us over to her enthusiastic colleague in the foyer. Enthusiastic colleague beamed at Zoe,
‘Ah, of course, I recognise you, the one with the lovely designs! You will need a Judge’s pack… I’ll get one, I think they’ve started but you’ll be fine…’ and she hurries off.
‘Judging?’ we all said it at the same time, who has started?
The woman returned and thrust the papers into Zoe’s hand,
‘Oh, she didn’t tell you, about the judging? Not to worry, I’ll take you there,’ she beamed.
We felt bound to follow as she ushered all three of us through the series of swing doors.

So, here we are, seated in the front row of the catwalk – I am not officially judging but while Zoe tries to make sense of the paperwork she has been given to mark, I watch as the surreal and wonderful march down the catwalk.
Together, we nod and agree the most talented, the most relevant, the most creative and marks are duly awarded. Zoe uses the short interval to frantically scan her notes and score each person appropriately. I don’t know how she manages to do it. Luckily, we did catch up and have seen all the entrants, despite our initial confusion.
As the show prepares to close, we exchange glances, nod, and make our escape.
We find Lisa outside, only a little peeved to have been left standing.
The excitable woman is engaged in conversation with someone else, clipboard clutched to her bosom. Seeing us, she pauses long enough to take the score sheets from Zoe and thank her profusely. Job done.
We take our leave before we can be asked to present the prizes – or make a closing speech – or wash up.
Everyone was a winner in my eyes.
As I said, who are we to judge?

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • patricia60

    What fun and what a pressure all wrapped up in loud! Another experience to add to the memory books and then again judging someone’s art, expression very trying. I find when I write a review at the second edit I think “this is someone’s baby”. And I find myself adding something positive to the writing. Even the books I do not like at all. So it goes. Then again I am not making any funds and I have about 300 viewers a month It seems to work and I try not to think about what judgement I am making good story telling for sure

    • Debbie

      I think we will remember that evening for some time Patricia. Zoe managed to score fairly (more her area of expertise than mine) As I said in the post – everyone was a winner in my eyes! 🙂

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie – do we get to judge the ‘welcome party’ too?! People do get excited at events like this … at least you had a chair, and Zoe had her paper work …if I’d been Lisa – I think I’d have wandered off and found somewhere less frenetic, and more comfortable to sit … hope the best person did ‘win’ .. cheers Hilary

    • Debbie

      The admin/organisation left something to be desired I think Hilary. As for the winner, I believe Zoe’s scores would have been added to those of the other judges and all the tweets I have seen about it seem to show it was a success. Another for the memory bank! 🙂

  • juliathorley

    This is SO funny. What a nightmare! I’ve been asked to judge performances and believe me when I say it’s no easier when you’ve been warned in advance! I’m glad you all got out with your dignity intact.

    • Debbie

      It was one of those surreal evenings that will just live on in the memory, Julia, not least because we were trying to get home in time to wave the boys off who were going to travel to Le Mans that evening…we made it. 🙂

  • Debbie

    Well, they all try so hard don’t they Teresa? It was a lovely experience really and so typical of Zoe and I to get ourselves into such a fix! 😉 X

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