There are four main stages of human development: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and the awkward phase, the latter of which may span any or all of the other three stages. During the awkward phase, one may hear oneself saying things like, 'I'd look so cool if I braided my hair into a thousand tiny plaits' (me) or 'I could totally get away with dressing like an American rapper even though I'm a suburban, British child who can't rap' (also me). Very rarely will an individual be aware of the awkward phase whilst they are in it. It won't be until many years later, if they have the misfortune of unearthing photographs from the period, when they will become regrettably conscious of it and find themselves filled with a deep sense of shame and an inability to answer the question, 'What the fuck was I thinking?'
The bulk of my awkward phase occurred between the ages of 12 and 16. At times I was painfully aware of it. Like the time I was on work experience at my uncle's law firm and I decided to go to court dressed as Cher from Clueless. As I entered the courtroom sporting a pink plaid mini-skirt with matching jacket, white knee socks and a pair of patent pink Mary-Janes, a whole host of eyes spied me curiously. At first I thought to myself, 'These people are impressed with how professionally I am dressed. I am fitting in seamlessly.' It was only when I spotted the judge inspecting me disapprovingly over the top of his half-moon spectacles that I realised how far from the mark I had fired. If I had ever harboured any hopes of a career in the legal profession, they had now been dashed by my questionable choice of attire. I sank down into my seat surrounded by a sea of black robes and wondered how much it would cost to sail to an uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific and live out my days never having to face another human again.
As harrowing as the experience was, the fact that I was aware of my blunder ensured that it never happened again. That dismal day was the first and only time that I was ever seen in that outfit. This means that it was only witnessed by my uncle and his staff, the entire population of the court and a few hundred civilians which, in the grand scheme of things, is a very small percentage of humanity as a whole. Unfortunately for me, I was blissfully ignorant of the majority of my awkward phase. I spent years of my life wearing green contact lenses and mismatching trainers and forcing my uncooperative hair into a highly unflattering centre parting. YEARS. On top of this, I developed idiotic catchphrases, tried out unsuitable laughs and generally wandered the earth being as ridiculous as possible. I shudder at the thought of the sheer number of people I must have come into contact with during this difficult time.
Apparently humans aren't the only creatures to experience the awkward phase, businesses are equally susceptible. During a clear-out of the loft a few weeks ago we discovered a box full of Lanther Black 'memorabilia'. Old designs, old marketing material, a ten-page business plan complete with company 'credo'. Every item in the box elicited the response 'Why did we do this?' or 'How did we think that was going to work?' or even worse 'How many people did we send that to??' We packed the box away, sealed it tightly and forced its contents to the back of our memories. We then returned to the safety of our office, to the reassurance of work that did not make us cringe to our very core. But then it hit me. What if this work makes the future us die of embarrassment? What if we're in a perpetual awkward state and we'll never realise until it's far too late? So I'd like to take this moment to apologise to the future Lanther Black for all of the terrible choices that we've made and will probably continue to make. But I'd also like to remind them that sometimes one must wear pink plaid to a court to discover that one should never wear pink plaid to a court.