A Funny Moment

It’s the little moments. The time when something makes you smile, or laugh. Jasper Fforde’s workshop at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference was all about humour in writing. Over breakfast the next day, we chatted about how you can write about the most horrific event and still make the audience smile.

Writing humour wasn’t on my mind as I assisted with the Diana Gabaldon book signing later that day. Everyone was already smiling! My job was to help people by taking their picture with Diana. Capture the moment so they could hold it forever. This was fun!

No one was expecting a medical emergency.

As we were wrapping up one of the fans collapsed. Since I was the closest, my emergency/first aid training took over and I stepped in.

There’s no need to tell you the scary and grisly medical details of what happened over the next precious minutes as we waited for the paramedics to arrive. It’s one of the most intimate times you will ever spend with someone. The surrounding world disappears; it’s just you and them.

I start talking. I pray my voice will keep them with us. I pray that what I say and how I sound can focus their thoughts and keep them here.

Last time I was in this position the man later told me he zeroed in on that sound and it made him calm, gave him a beacon to hold on to.

When everything is going wrong calmness can help. A place far away from the fear of what is going on all around you.

I hoped the same would happen on that floor where just minutes before a crowd had been waiting for Diana to sign their books.

As the worst of the symptoms subsided and the wait for medical help dragged on I could see she was starting to become aware of what had happened.

I leaned in a little more and said, “I don’t know about you, but I hope one of the paramedics looks like Jamie.”  Jamie Fraser is the hero of Diana Gabaldon’s books and a stunning Scot.  The smallest smile appeared, just a faint movement of her lip. In the midst of the mayhem she heard my joke and reacted. In that second I knew she would be OK, I knew we would get through this mess.

The paramedics and firemen arrived and to be honest, I can’t tell you what they looked like. My relief that the professionals had swept in to save the day was too overwhelming.

People came to the conference to attend dozens of workshops and hone their craft.

My experience was different but in some respects the same.

We are people connecting with people.

Great writing has the ability to make that happen. Words can perform miracles.

A writer can conjure up a feeling that supersedes everything else.

Diana Gabaldon created Jamie Fraser and he can make someone smile in the most horrendous circumstances.

Jasper Fforde reminded us that during those darkest moments it’s OK to say something funny.

And sometimes that is the best medicine.


Spending time with the amazing Diana Gabaldon


5 replies
  1. Shari Green
    Shari Green says:

    I love this, Tricia. Thanks for responding so well to someone in need, and thanks for sharing your story with us. Hugs!

    • Tricia Barker
      Tricia Barker says:

      Thanks Shari! I’ve been lucky to have great teachers at all my CPR/First Aid training sessions. It’s because of them that I was able to step up!

  2. Shawn L. Bird
    Shawn L. Bird says:

    It’s funny how the training just kicks in, isn’t it? I was teaching at the white board when a teen fell into my class room from the hall. I don’t remember anything, but the kids afterwords told me they were amazed how I was completely calm, as if children collapsed in front of me and had grand mal seizures every day. It was my first, and hopefully last. Another time, eating dinner in a restaurant, my dining partner started choking, I just got up, did the heimlich, the food was dislodged onto the plate, and we carried on, making a couple of jokes to diffuse the tension. Afterwards, it occurred to me how surreal it all was. Humour. Nature’s coping strategy for millennia! 🙂 (and cheers to Girl Guides for the First Aid training) 🙂

    • Tricia Barker
      Tricia Barker says:

      Shawn… I think when you take the training you wonder if it’s a waste of time but it only takes one “emergency” to realize how valuable it it! (Because of my day job I get re-certified every two years.) Thanks for sharing your stories… sidenote… I worked with the famous Ruth Buzzie years ago and she said we should call it the Heimlich REMOVER!!! LOL Jokes for people that do first aid.

  3. Tricia Barker
    Tricia Barker says:

    Thank you for getting in touch… and I am so pleased to hear you are OK!! (Funny how we are both Patricia’s isn’t it?) Take care of yourself…. and say hello to Doug for me… he never left your side.


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