My name is Martin Wolfenden and I am a compulsive apologist.
That would be my opening greeting to the inaugural meeting of Compulsive Apologists Anonymous. However I’m so ashamed of myself that I couldn’t possibly attend such a meeting.
To be honest I’m not sure why I constantly apologise but I do it an awful lot, especially at parties or gigs that I’ve been invited to. In fact the first thing I do when arriving at a party is apologise for being late, early or on time. I apologise for the wine I’ve brought, even though it cost me a fortune, and for the clothes I’m wearing. During gigs I apologise to the audience for appearing in front of them, sometimes completely derailing the first part of my set or sketch in the process. This can get laughs but more often than not it receives a bewildered silence. Here’s an example from last year’s ‘All Day Edinburgh’ Free Fringe benefit.
Somebody suggested that all this bowing and scraping is because I have low self-esteem and they could be right. I will often publicise myself on the internet, usually as a prelude to publicising a podcast or some other bit of frippery. But the moment somebody catches me doing it I crumble into a pile of sorry. This happened last year when I was questioned on my right to have a Wikipedia page; I told the inquisitor that I hadn’t set it up, which is true. However the moment its existence was challenged I fell into a chasm of humiliation and apologised for my very life. When I got home I set about editing the page to make it an accurate depiction of my messy life in the early 1990s. However part of me knew that I was undeserving of such a page. So during a podcast I asked our listeners to vandalise it, which they did. Now I have the Wikipedia page I deserve, so that’s one less thing to apologise about.
It doesn’t end there though, oh no.
A few months ago a friend of mine set out to do a 24 hour blog for Comic Relief, during which he fell asleep. Now this was hilarious, especially when I received a flurry of text messages asking me to wake him up. Being a dutiful fellow I obeyed them and called his phone. I watched the phone ringing on the webcam he’d set up to document this epic feat, then I watched him wake up, stare at the phone and go back to sleep. This made me howl with laughter but then the niggle began, it was the sorry niggle. It was telling me that I’d been terribly rude so before I knew it, I’d texted my apology.
What the fuck?
I’m not sure how I will overcome this compulsion. Perhaps I’ll walk into a china shop with a bull and walk out covered in shards of pottery, without so much as a look of regret. Maybe I can get a doctor to give me electric shocks up my willy. That’s what they do, right?
I’m so very sorry.