What a performance


Is there anything worse than watching someone address a room when they’re so nervous they’re practically vomiting? Please say yes, because that was me, on Friday night, presenting to my seminar class, and I’m still making funny noises. Erk. Dry mouth, papers flapping so much I couldn’t turn the page – and no spit available to help – getting merds wixed up (‘incontinent’ ballistic missiles?), bum shaking like a Slendertone on max. Public speaking is hell.

The next day, through a haze of beer paranoia punctuated by groans, I read this interview with lovely Mark Gatiss, who said that his painful shyness is offset by his love of performing. Eh? That sentence burned out a few circuits. How can you be shy yet enjoy performing? I’m not shy at all, but standing on a stage, staring dazzled into the blackness of the auditorium, is one of the worst experiences of my childhood (after sports day – that was a whole new circle of hell). All those nativity plays and am-drams where I tried to hide behind the curtain, the scenery, other actors, anything.

The down payment on Saturday’s hangover was made after the seminar, in the college bar. Suddenly we seemed to be playing pool. Four hours’ sleep, four pints and no great skill in the first place – I was dire, but it was brilliant. I’d forgotten how much I love pool, but why, when I’m shit at it? Why can’t I love public speaking instead? It’s not just pool, either: singing, dancing, pancakes, I’m terrible at all of them, but somehow I don’t care, I love them.

I’ve got another presentation this Wednesday. Would they like a song instead, I wonder. And pancakes. I’ll take them some pancakes.


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