The scariest moment of my life

The ‘pinch me’ moments come at the oddest times. I was sitting in my Aunties living room, folding clothes, surfing Facebook and watching The Circle when an ad for GNW came on.

“Tonight on Good News Week! Tom Gleeson! Erin McNaught! Hamish and Andy! And a desk full of mouse traps!”

It occurred to me that to the thousands of stay at home mums and sick school children watching that ad, it would look like a rather good episode of GNW. To me it meant all kinds of things. I am one of only a handful of people who know the full potential of that particular desk full of mousetraps. Because almost exactly two days previously I’d been sitting behind that desk with an unidentifiable dead animal wrapped around my shoulders when the exploding mouse trap wheel of death had gone off unexpectedly.

For anyone who didn’t see that particular episode of Good News Week, let me paint the picture. The wheel was a Strange but True clue. It consisted of about fifty mouse traps of varying sizes nailed to a circle of balsa wood. The traps were primed (several crew members were harmed in the making of this episode) then ping pong balls were placed on each trap.

You can imagine that with something like this there is a fair margin for error. Don’t get me wrong, the props guy is a genius, but it still needs testing. That’s one of the reasons GNW needs to be rehearsed. Besides the fact that the lights and sound and cameras and various things I don’t understand need to be set up. Also, the more times Paul practices reading the autocue, the less likely he is to screw it up during filming (in theory). Mikey, Claire and the guests don’t rehearse. During these pain stacking hours, they have stunt doubles.

There are a collection of local comedians who donate their time for the privilege of sitting in the studio pretending to be someone else for several hours. On this particular Saturday, I had the pleasure of being Claire. I got to walk up and down on the shiny circle waving my arms, and not doing a mime about sheep until someone with a head set told me I could stop. Most of the time I talked to the guy next me (his name was Umit) or listened to Ian and Dave have nonchalant one-liner wars.

Then they bought over the exploding mouse trap wheel of death and balanced it precariously on the edge of the desk. At first we all watched it very closely. Then, after a while, we relaxed. It was at that moment that the props guy bumped it. The intended chain reaction only really worked once. But it worked with a loud BANG and a hail of ping pong balls. At the exact moment none of us were expecting it.

The props guy put his hands over his head and ran away. Umit leaped backwards out of his chair. Dave knocked his chair so far backwards he almost fell off the stage. And I started laughing hysterically at almost exactly the same moment I began crying. It was, and I mean this seriously, one of the scariest moments of my life. The other people in that room will tell you it was hilarious. And maybe it was. But you all jumped three feet in the air as well. You know you did.

When we all began tentatively repriming the traps we made an interesting discovery. Before it had gone off, each trap had two balls balanced on it and both Umit, Dave and I had about ten each to throw at it. There were less than half that number now. We searched the studio but we couldn’t find the missing ping pong balls.

TV-land is full of unsolved mysteries.

(You can watch the segment featuring the exploding mouse trap wheel of death here.
You may have to watch a trailer for Sex and The City first. If you’d like to explain how I could embed this clip instead, please leave a comment)

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year