Hot April.

Right. Space to breathe. I feel like I’m coming up from underwater. On this perfect day I’ve been properly putting myself through the wringer. Pickle shat in my wardrobe last night, as I discovered when I went to get my jacket for this evening. It was a distraction from my nerves which were finely sharpened ahead of a nice meeting that definitely wasn’t happening at 3. Once the meeting that didn’t happen and that I’m not talking about had finished I walked to The Globe in the sun and put on my ringmaster’s jacket, faintly worrying that it might smell of catshit. I made a couple of phone calls to decompress and convert the audition nerves. That I didn’t have. Then I looked at the beautiful day and walked down the river.

I’m helping present the Women in Rail awards, as a sort of Shakespearean MC. It’s a bit bespoke, a bit ad-hoc, and super random. Still, someone just openly assumed I’ve been doing this for ages. Nope. Things like it. But this one is new. So far I haven’t insulted anyone or accidentally knocked Rachel Riley off the stage.

Apparently the last award ceremony that many of the same industry guests attended was fraught with disaster. There was a “James Bond swat team” that some people thought were real terrorists, and the comedian was riffing about buttplugs which people didn’t want with their dinner. The organisers are slightly on edge. I’m not. I’m in a strangely zen state about it all. My nerves are all spent. I did about 40 minutes of chanting this morning after I cleaned up the catshit and I’m just supremely peaceful that everything will be well.

It’s interesting to see how people respond to Rachel Riley. She’s off the telly, you see. Countdown. She’s pretty, kind, fiercely intelligent and had Manchester United as her special subject on Mastermind. I find myself getting her a glass of water and then kick myself for it. I’m a sucker for an attractive mathematician you see. She eats with the sponsors out front while I’m round the back in a room called Watkins 2 – a room where I’ve spent many hours with The Factory. It’s me, the son of the organiser, some of the event staff, and a mob of singing waiters practicing their choreography, and a bottle of wine open which I’d be breaking a lifelong rule if I touched. I want it though.

But I’m still working out what’s going to happen next. Redrafting on the fly. I’m also aware that it’s 9.20 already and I’ll be here for another two hours or more. I’m just going to have to introduce a couple more people, then announce the raffle winners and close the ceremony, using only Shakespearean language but I need to be on point for unexpected stuff. They’re running an hour behind with the food so brevity is the soul of wit and I probably have very little work left in the scheme of things. It’s all over but the waiting and an occasional frantic bout of activity.


The band had skipped the sound check at half five and then acted surprised when nothing worked. I had to fluff in verse for a while and do a bit of Prospero before they got it sorted. It was a chaotic night all said, and everyone in the venue was dying of heat exposure. We got it all out though, in roughly the right shape. And it’s probable that the guests only noticed the heat, which was undeniable. The rest of it was fun fluff.

I ended up in the photobooth with Rachel, who was tirelessly working the crowd while the band howled their covers into the mic.

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I tire rather more easily. I’m out. Waiting for a bus as the iron tongue of St. Paul’s tolls twelve. To bed. ’tis almost fairy time!

Pickle shat on my bed though. Thank the gods that Brian and Mel were there and noticed. They sent me before and after photos. About time I changed my sheets. I need to get these comics sorted fast or it’ll keep happening.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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