Thursday, August 23, 2007

200 in a tent

It must be Book Festival time, then. I have studiously avoided going anywhere near Charlotte Square until today, mainly because the mere sight of its white tents make me hyperventilate with what has to be a cut-down version of stage fright.

Understandable, really. After all, would you want to stand up in front of 200 five-year-olds and talk to them for an hour? Without gin. Or props, or really anything other than native cunning, three litres of adrenaline and cojones of steel. Actually, although cojones are not the most feminine of attributes, today, as I growled at my tiny children, I sounded like a bloke. I have no idea what nastiness is brewing in my throat, but whatever it is, it has given me a deep and erotically enhanced voice. Or so I'm told. In my own ears it just sounds like Amy Winehouse on steroids, but without rhythm or melody. And besides, all I want is to be able to get my hands down my own throat and itch that scratch. Hack, hack, cough, cough.

Listen. Here it goes. Rrrrrr, achhhrrrght, urrrrrchrrrg.

I had a coughing fit as I was signing books after the event, and hacked and choked and spluttered to such an extent that I could see the rising panic in the eyes of the little boy who'd brought me a book to sign. I swear I could see him thinking - I'm NEVER going to be writer when I grow up, not if I end up like her. In the hideous, embarassing silence during which I kept apologizing for being this ghastly choking version of my normal self ( a silence which was broken with hack, hack, cough, coughing sounds) my post-event coffee and buns went untouched while I groped around in my bag for some disgusting anaesthetic throat lozenges of the variety which trash your tastebuds and leave the inside of your mouth feeling like a trench at Ypres. Plus, for the following hour after partaking of one of those oral thermonuclear devices, everything you consume tastes of hospitals. Yummy. Went out for lunch courtesy of publisher and tried to enjoy salmon ( fishy hospital ) drink champagne, ( fizzy hospital, anyone?)but my heart wasn't in it. I think my heart has left for Shetland, actually. Or if not my heart, then my soul - the blackened, shrivelled little prune that it is.

One of the sheer joys this week has been reading Finn Family Moomintroll to youngest daughter at her bedtime. Have decided that my true nature is deeply, irretrievably Snork Maidenish. I had Tove Jansson's books when I was 10, and re-reading them now is like stumbling through the door into a forgotten, light-filled attic room. The illustrations set off depth-charges in my memory; depth charges loaded with the inspirational equivalent of sherbet.

Fizzz, fizzz, bubble hiss. Hack, cough, rrrrr, acccchtgggh.

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