Seeing the lie of the land and bracing for impact, I stepped up to the plate and prepared to eat my words. In the hollow blankness of the auditorium, my creaking cough thundered like a volcano going off, a single pistol-shot in the echoing cavern of expectation before me.
’So,’ I said, my throat as dry as my wit, which was as sharp as my tone, ‘we seem to have reached a fork in the garden path you’ve been leading me up like a lamb to the slaughter. A turning point of no return, you might say.’
I knew that this would hardly be a ground-breaking barnstormer of a speech, but so far, it was going down like the stock value of a lead balloon manufacturer. The silence that followed was as long as a freight train, as deep as a philosophy textbook and as uncomfortable as this analogy.