It all seemed to be going so well. There I was handing out the kitchen utensils to my cousins. Me on a stool in the kitchen and a queue of little helpers passing knives, forks, spatulas, spoons and corkscrews down the line …leading to my 6 year old eldest cousin on her knees in the garden making mud pies.
When my mum discovered what we’d been doing for the last 30 minutes we all learned a few new words that would come in useful in later life when we were angry but which at the time left us all shocked and confused.
The words ‘nuclear’ and ‘explosion’ come to mind.
I ended up taking the rap even though it was (obviously) my eldest cousin’s fault.
When the nuclear cloud lifted the next day and started to disappear into the ether, I started to consider …my guardian angel.
Thoughts of Revenge
At our Catholic primary school we’d been told that our guardian angel would always look after us.
Indeed, there was a poster in our classroom with an illustration of a child about to run over the edge of a cliff and a glorious-looking angel with his wings in front of the kid preventing him from falling off.
Now I’m not sure where he was at the time when I needed him when my mum went nuclear, but I had no doubt in my mind that he’d let me down BIG style.
All this, despite all the prayers to him on a daily basis.
‘Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom God’s love commits thee here.
Ever this day
Be thou my guide, to light and guard, to rule & guide’.
Reaching for the knife
That was the bit that pissed me off.
Why didn’t the angel do his job and guard me by warning me that my mum was on the warpath so I could get down from the stool and claim my innocence in this mud-splattered enterprise?
While I was alone in the kitchen the following morning, still peeved with my invisible guardian, I decided to take the matter into my own hands and wreak revenge of the most horrible kind.
I slid a sharp-looking knife from the drawer (it was actually a spatula but it had sharp blades), climbed up on the stool and waved it behind my back, swishing away in the hope that one of my guardian angel’s wings would be at the very least severed or at best sliced off completely so that he’d never fly again.
Invisible or not, that would surely teach him a lesson ( in those days angels were always considered to be males, although the school, in its wisdom, later re-classified them as neither male nor female).
Having butchered his invisible wings I carefully put the spatula back into the drawer.
My mum never knew what I’d been up to – so at least the angel didn’t snitch on me to her guardian angel.
Maybe he had learned a lesson.
The things you do when you’re an angry five years old…
Not an angel
Fast forward to today and my days of clipping the wings from angels are long gone (honest) and I’ve learned how to stand on my own two feet and spot ongoing reputational dangers by myself and help others do the same.
As a media relations consultant, I train companies and individuals on how to manage the media during the good times and bad. That might be helping their comms teams become more effective with their writing and media skills or it might entail creating a bespoke crisis communications workshop to make sure that their senior leadership team know how to handle the media when the spotlight is on them.
Unlike my erstwhile guardian angel, I’m here to spot the danger signs that might damage your reputation before they wreak havoc and also to improve the way in which you interact with the some of demons in the media which can occasionally appear without any prior warning.
So look on me as YOUR very own guardian angel who is around during the good times and bad.
Or if that’s stretching it a bit, think of me as an objective pair of eyes and ears who will give you crisis communications advice of the highest quality whether you’re a CEO or, say, a comms director in need of some clear-sighted support.
I promise that although I may not be able to spot all the slings and arrows that might come up in the future I can make sure you’re better equipped to deal with them when they do.
Sounds pretty angelic to me.