IT was one of those moments when you wish the ground would open up underneath you, and swallow you whole.
Darren Connor, 30, leapt up on stage at an event in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square, grabbed the microphone and very publicly proposed to girlfriend Amy Bauer, who was in the crowd watching an Artsfest show on Saturday afternoon.
Accompanied by his pals, Darren did an embarrassing dance routine to Beach Boys classic God Only knows, then popped the question.
He went down on one knee – only for his beloved to turn him down, shaking her head in refusal to the gasps of the audience.
Amy fled as the crowd stared. You could have heard a pin drop, such was the shock.
Afterwards social media sites were abuzz with the news, and countless mobile phone videos hit youtube.
But what people didn’t realise was that it was just a stunt – or rather the beginning of an interactive arts project in Birmingham.
“Unbeknown to the onlookers they had just taken part in the exciting start of an immersive digital literature installation commissioned by Birmingham Book Festival,” said Artsfest aide Kerry O’Coy.
“Reliable Witness will allow audience members to physically affect the outcome of a story that begins with the failed marriage proposal between Darren and Amy.
"The story will continue to develop across different media platforms from now until October.
“Inside an empty Birmingham shop, the installation will combine real with virtual, allowing visitors to act as ‘friends’ to the couple and decide their destiny.”
•For more information, head to www.reliablewitness.co.uk