I didn't feel nervous to start with - too busy taking money on the door and catching up with folks I'd met before and introducing myself to those I knew only through digital channels. Bought myself a pint of Rosie's Pig cloudy cider, and determined not to drink too much before my slot...
|L to R: Debi Alper, Sophie Wellstood, Sally Swingewood, Helen Hardy |
and Andrew James at the SfH table
|Dan Maitland (3rd from left) and the band, jazzing things up.|
Up on stage, I'd asked for a stool, because I always feel happiest reading to kids when I'm sat in a chair; I figured that even though my audience was a bit older than what I'm used to, I may as well make myself comfortable.
So I started reading...
My heart tried to jump out of my chest, which tightened in response. Part of me was wondering whether there'd be any implications for the hole in my heart (discovered a couple of years back) whilst still focussing on the words. At one point, the room started swimming and I had to slide my foot to the floor to anchor myself. I tried to remember everything I'd been told about reading in public; Go slower than you think you ought to. Add emphasis. Really speak the dialogue. Look up ocassionally to make contact with the listeners.
I think it went OK. I have dim recollections of a sea of half-lit faces and the sound of my voice...followed by a smattering of applause.
|Bit blurry - but me, doing the eye contact thing.|
Only when I got back to my seat did the shakes start. That's when I decided it was definitely time for Rosie's Pig.
|I look as relieved as I felt...|
* Sally, who put me up on her sofabed with lots of lovely handmade quilts to keep me toasty warm, and her cat, who came in to see me about 6.30am to demand breakfast!
* Spike, my cameraman for the evening.
* the sense of belonging and commitment to this wonderful project, and doing it all on the day after the SfH community had been recognised as Heroes by Shelter.
* seeing the London city skyline lit up in white and red lights when I arrived at Nunhead, and sitting over the River Thames on Blackfriar's Bridge.
* how quiet London is at night.
Would I do it all again? In a heartbeat - even in several very thumpy ones! I feel a lot more like a 'real' author now...