I’m sitting in a nondescript room with seven other actors. Everyone looks fabulous, but right now we are all slumped in chairs, shut down, as if we’re androids who’ve been switched off momentarily to recharge. It’s hot out there. Those of us not in corsets are in layers. I’m the only one with a bloody crinoline though, so I have to sit upright.
I just delivered the Maid of Honour’s speech. Not one I’ve ever thought I’d get to do, if I’m honest. I’ve done Father of the Bride and Best Man so now the only one left is Groom. I’ve avoided that successfully for decades. I wonder if I’ll ever get the full set! They’re certainly happening in an unusual order.
Full disclosure: I wasn’t actually the Maid of Honour. She hid behind me and whispered her speech to me, and then I spoke it out. It was partly a joke and partly because she’s very shy, but it was rather lovely. “I’ve known her all my life and some people think we’re twins.” At the end of the speech she did sonnet 116 through me – The wedding sonnet. It was lovely to have all control taken from me and just be a conduit for her. She made a mistake which I took a call not to correct as it’d be way too pernickety and might have been an in-joke. So many writers in the room. I was very aware that there were people in the crowd – writers and a singer – who I have admired for many years and whose first and possibly only experience of me will be as a falsetto Thisbe in a crinoline hamming it up at their friend’s wedding celebration. Although one of them once retweeted me which bulked up my follower count something chronic. Still “Hi, I’m the guy that played the slightly suspicious Thisbe at that wedding at The Globe. You did retweet me once too. It’s a coincidence that my Twitter handle is almost the same as yours. Um… Yeah so hi. Love your work. And your activism. I’ll be off over here now. Need to… check this corner.”
Anyway. It’s all done. As ever the worst part was the not knowing. There was a terrific amount of goodwill in a room full of highly intelligent motivated artistic people. It was a lovely way to earn a crust even if I came off stage after Thisbe’s death quite literally cooked in my own grease. Drowning in the stuff. Dripping like Vanassis’ lamb on the spit yesterday evening and smelling considerably less appealing. I didn’t get to have an awkward conversation with any of my favourite novelists. I’ll just have to write a book that they love to have
Now I have to work out how to get a load of suitcases full of clothing over to my flat without losing them, after I’ve wound the adrenaline out of my system. These jobs are very welcome at the moment, and it seems to be a good time for them. If only they didn’t involve wearing thick clothes in an oven.