Do you remember the last time you were turned down for a place at university or for a job?
You received a letter, the anticipation when tearing open that envelope, your future in your hands, replaced by emptiness when you read those few lines. Or the thrill in your stomach when the recruitment agent called, quickly replaced by disappointment when she broke the bad news.
Felt pretty rubbish, didn't it?
Or could you take it in your stride? Plenty more fish to fry? No big deal? Depends how much you wanted it, I suppose but, even so, I know myself when I've been turned down for jobs I didn't even really want, it's still a little knock to the ego; made me feel a tiny bit worse about myself.
My friend got free tickets to the X Factor auditions last night so three of us went along. We queued for a VERY long time to get in but eventually there we were, in the audience of this massive, popular, national TV show. Thousands of excited fans, the lights, the music, TV cameras and, there at the front, Dermot, Louis, Cheryl and of course Simon - wow!
The first few acts I have to say were bloody great, very talented young people - no older than their teens. How anyone could pick holes in their performances is beyond me but if they've to get through they have to be exceptional and they know this, so the criticism helps them.
Next up we saw a 50 year old Indian gentleman in a tan suit. He looked pretty out of place and had with him a large rucksack which, when questioned by Simon, he explained quite seriously contained tapes and CDs. The audience laughed. I laughed. The Indian gentleman didn't laugh, he just looked a little uncomfortable and put the bag down to one side.
I couldn't tell you what he sang but it sounded appalling; just utterly awful, out of tune. The audience laughed. I laughed.
He was told, of course, that he didn't get through. Cheryl's a good girl, she's been there herself and knows how it feels so she chooses her words carefully so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. The other two, particularly Simon, not so much.
The Indian gentleman picked up his rucksack and left.
I left a little before the end of the show; managed to completely avoid the crowds at the station. As I descended the steps to the DLR platform I noticed a figure slumped on a seat - an Indian gentleman in a tan suit, with a large rucksack. He was completely alone and looked a little sad. No big group of friends and family around him showing support, hugging him, drying his tears, you know, like they always show on the TV when someone doesn't get through.
Just a man on his own in a train station going home after being laughed at and told he didn't make the grade. My heart sank. As I walked past I slowed and he looked up. I smiled and nodded and said, "Good effort. Good effort." He smiled back, "Thanks."
I didn't feel much like laughing now.
How did he feel, do you think?