Nobody likes getting caught out doing something they shouldn’t – not least when you’re being a bit of A Sort, and hoping no one will notice.
But if you’re subject to an attack of Inopportune Sharp Elbow Syndrome – being overwhelmed by a sense of competition when you should be having A Nice Time – where others are present, there will be trouble.
Witness the Wales primary school where parents’ collective marbles were so singularly lost after their darlings failed to Usain Bolt it across a muddy Cardiff field that the head teacher has now barred them from attending future sports days. How embarrassing, descending into obscene language and threatening behaviour all because an egg fell off a spoon.
Good job we never suffer from ISES. Except…
When hosting a dinner party
You have painstakingly curated a three-course extravaganza using the finest ingredients the overly expensive deli on the high street has to offer. Everyone correctly and reassuringly finds it Very Amazing. Until someone starts talking about how this dish reminds them of one they had at a different dinner party, which sounds Significantly More Amazing, and now your haute cuisine might as well be a McNugget on a china plate.
In the airline boarding queue
Not least when the tannoy calls for children under 11 to get on first, and suddenly parents start dragging their sullen teenagers to the front of the line. Where will we put our hastily purchased bags of duty-free booze now?! Petition to start ID-ing children at check-in queues imminent. And for speedy boarding to be outlawed. Unless we have speedy boarding, in which case, permissible.
At the gift table
Where whoever’s function it is starts to open all the swag from family and friends. In front of everyone else. Everyone had agreed a £25 spending limit – so how has she ended up with three swanky perfumes and a pair of opera tickets? Really regretting that “funky” salad server set now.
In the gym
Everyone’s sort of going at the same pace, and then someone with overpriced leggings and a point to prove starts squatting double-time to impress the instructor. Yes, you could channel that rage into improving your own form, rather than scowling sweatily at someone whose thighs don’t resemble those jamon legs on carving stands they do at the supermarket. But that’s beside the point. Also, now hungry for ham.
In the karaoke bar
Look at us all belting out Total Eclipse of the Heart after one merlot too many. Karen’s good, isn’t she? Karen’s doing Proper Singing. Why are you doing Proper Singing, Karen? This is Having a Bit of Fun While Drinking Singing. That’s a totally different kind of singing, Karen. I was a member of the chamber choir at school, actually. Had a haircut a bit like Bonnie Tyler’s. You’re going to regret this when we get to the coda.
On the school trip
When other people’s children’s packed lunch “treats” involve homemade chia seed and goji berry bites, and you’re the only parent who has shoved in a Twix to go with the Marmite sandwiches in the washed and reused takeaway container. All handed to your child in a scrunched-up Sainsbury’s bag.
When you’re showing off holiday photos on Facebook
Your iPhone snaps amount to pulling funny faces on a lounger by the pool, and then someone else posts their 10-day mountain-biking trip, looking all ruddy-cheeked and lithe and refreshed and not like they’ve been facedown in a vat of paella for the best part of a fortnight. Have they invented a Facebook dislike button yet? Give the people what they want, Zuckerberg.