60. Pillion Passengers and Backseat Drivers

Pillion PassengerFresh on the back of the last event where there were two prostate cancer speakers, I find myself at another and in the same situation. This time however, smart casual scarecrow had been replaced by slick Pete. Hair was cut so sharp you would think I saw a barber on the train, a funky dress shirt, crisp jeans and my best shoes. The only downside was I probably looked a lot more affluent than I actually was and this is not the safest part of London. Tread carefully.

I still don’t really see the point in having two speakers at the same venue speaking but I still have an open mind. This event was the one that one of the audience members had shown me, on his phone at a previous event. It was a flyer with my name on it and a location I had not been told about until the last minute.

I got there about half an hour early and it was just myself and a couple of church members that were setting up. One of the church members came along and introduced himself as I sat down. A couple of minutes later the same guy came back over to me.

“I know you from somewhere, I know I do!”, he smiled.  I could feel ‘oh no’ stuck in my throat.

It’s at that moment I get one of those rare occasions when I imitate a supercomputer. I rapidly perform a million biometric calculations, sift through countless situations and scenarios before I say another word.

Did I ever date his sister or daughter?

Did I ever bully him at school?

Do I owe them money?

Have I ever insulted them or a member of their family?

Did I bail on giving them a vital organ?

If you look closely you would probably see my eyes darting left to right while I’m crunching the calculation. Only once I have answered those questions will I proceed further or look to the door.

After the calculations came up blank the operating system came to life again and I smiled.

“You gave a talk in Kilburn”, he animated.

“Kilburn? No I don’t think so, I haven’t done a talk in Kilburn” I then stopped myself a few seconds afterwards. “Oh you mean the testimony that I gave in church?”

“Yes, yes. That’s right you did”

That was when I stood up in my packed church of eight hundred people and thousands more on live stream and told my story. Danger period over then. We exchanged some more pleasantries before he wondered off to carry on setting up.

They trickled in and then came the organiser. I had never met her before. I had arranged to do a talk with her previously, but I couldn’t do it in the end. She had kept my details. She told me Craig, who I would be doing the talk with, was a few minutes out. In the mean time they kept trickling in.  By the time Craig had arrived there were about fifteen people in the room. It would finally max out at just over twenty odd people in the end.

Oh and not a sign of the guy that showed me the flyer on his phone from last week.

We greeted each other warmly and he revealed that this was only his second talk. He spoke about the excitement of his first talk and how he spoke to his wife about it for hours afterwards. I smiled remembering my first talk and exactly the same emotions. It does not really stop excitement wise. You just never know what a talk is going to be like, what questions they are going to ask, the look of surprise and horror on their faces and the stories they will tell you and if they appreciated the talk.

It’s a mixture of when the speaker thinks he is ready and the confirmation from an experienced Prostate Cancer UK speaker that a newbie can go it alone. It’s not micro management from Prostate Cancer UK’s part at all. You really have to know your stuff and be able to share it with others. The talk has to convince them to go and get tested or for them to pass on the information to another.

Not something to be taken lightly. You are potentially saving lives, it’s that simple!

We had the briefest of discussions on how we were going to talk to the group.

“Do you want to go first with your story and then I will do mine?”

“OK then.”

Done deal.

We had waited an additional fifteen minutes to allow the stragglers to come in. It was now about quarter past eight. The organiser spoke first with her introduction and talked about her organisation. She spoke with passion about her vision, why she does what she does and what she had achieved so far. Twenty minutes later and Craig was up.

I don’t know if Craig has the Prostate Cancer UK presentation or not but he was reading from a written script that sounded pretty much like it. Once you are a registered speaker they provide you with a Powerpoint presentation for use at talks. It lasts about fifteen minutes and covers the key points about the message they want to get across about prostate cancer. They like the idea of getting some audience interaction with questions such as fact and figures, where is the prostate located in your body and what do you think it’s function is etc.

I remember back in the early days I would try to do the same with the crowd. You only need a crowd that are shy or just there for a presentation and not there to do any work. Thank you very much. Some of the answers that I got was that the prostate is in your chest, it’s in your testicles and it produces pee. What killed it for me however was a ‘smart alec’ at one presentation who answered one question with four different answers which knackered the first few slides I had lined up. I make the point of telling rather than asking but seeing Craig making I work made me think that with the right people I might just resurrect it.

I personally think he would have presented better reading bullet points rather than his head down reading a long script or even the presentation on his phone to give him visual reminders that he had covered everything. It’s just about engaging with the audience. Also people may think that he is just someone reading a script – something anyone can do. The case was of course different. The brief discussion that I had had with him it was clear he was excited and eager to go. Towards the end of Craig’s presentation, a thought suddenly came over me.

It was now nearly nine o’clock, people are going to want to go home.

Also just as pressing, what the heck am I going to say now that Craig has said it all?

Then they had the questions from the audience. He warned the audience that we are not doctors and anything too technical the nurses at Prostate Cancer UK will be able to answer. I thought with this only being Craig’s second presentation I might get a look in.

Shut up Ellis. This was in fact to be Craig’s boss moment.

The questions came thick and fast. He batted each one of them all around the hall with confidence and enthusiasm.

We all become experts in our own adversity.

There wasn’t a single question that he didn’t answer completely. This was certainly his moment and it was well deserved. He wasn’t just good, he was actually very good. He said afterwards that he may include his son in future presentations so he can give an account from a family members point of view. Very different, unique and powerful. I would love to hear that myself.

As this went on I wondered what the point was in me coming along. Maybe I could just put my jacket on and slip out of the door with my bag wrapped in a poker dot sheet on a stick, flung over my shoulder.

Eventually the last question was answered and it was my turn. It would have been pointless me going through exactly the same presentation, so thinking quickly on my feet I decided to tell a series of anecdotes. I started with the many anecdotes I had picked up regarding no symptoms and missed symptoms, men not talking about it when they have it, then men being denied testing, how prostate cancer had been missed in earlier tests and only found by chance. I finished with why I made my decision on treatment, my recovery and the benefits of early treatment and diagnosis. I was happy that despite the odds I was able to add something to Craig’s previous presentation. I had fewer questions that Craig but they were also very different.

At the end one woman pulled me aside and said she was worried because her husband had been displaying a couple of the obvious problems related to a prostate problem. He was getting up frequently in the night to pee but most importantly he was suffering with urinary urgency. We both described and laughed as we described urinary urgency at exactly the same time. This is where you go from nothing to requiring to go to the toilet immediately. I tried to reassure her that it could just be an infection or an enlarged prostate but the most important thing was that she should act quickly.

I gave her my details and a card of my blog. She promised that she would call me to tell me what happened.

I never heard from her, unfortunately.

However, that wasn’t the point. I made the first step and did all I could do. That’s all you can do.

About a week later I was contacted by another person that was organising a prostate cancer event. When I agreed to do the talk they then said they already had a speaker but thought coming from another perspective would be useful. I was on the phone and my face dropped. I said that I just didn’t agree with that philosophy and why.  By the time I had finished he completely understood but then said perhaps there would be a question that I could answer differently. I said in the end that I would rather just sit in the audience. I thought about it some more and decided that it was someone else’s presentation. I just didn’t go.

I had a long hard think about my opposition to doing joint presentations. Was it pride? Was it being greedy? Absolutely none of the above. I enjoyed Craig’s talk and he is a good, engaging talker. Like I said I would be keen to hear the father/son dynamic in a talk.

I did come up with the perfect analogy though.

If you are having a party you can have multiple DJ’s. It’s actually a good marketing point. You can have ‘DJ Bum Fluff’ that caters for the younger ravers, who listen to what the older generation would call just noise. However ‘Bum Fluff’ is very popular with the women. Where there are women you will always get guys sniffing around so instantly you have a guaranteed crowd. They might be young, cheap and maybe a bit rowdy but there is a lot of them. Invite along DJ Majestic and he will bring along the mature crowd that he has a great following amongst. These are the group that actually drink. They spend money unlike the young ruffians that try to sneak their drinks in. They are looking for a mellow nigh out where they can nod their heads or two step in appreciation. No trouble at all.

Two totally different groups catered for by two different DJ’s.


If you are unlucky to require one or hell maybe you just wanted one.

Why on earth would you want a second one directly after the first?

One thought on “60. Pillion Passengers and Backseat Drivers

  1. It was a good thing you went second, as your experience enabled you to add to Craig’s presentation without repetition. People do not like to be kept at a venue out of politeness for the speaker, they like a speaker to tell them something new. And you did. Next time they have joined speakers, maybe you could contact the other speaker beforehand – so you can arrange both presentations to add to each other.

    Like you I do not see much sense in pure repetition. The best way to bore a crowd …

    Liked by 1 person

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