(This post will make more sense if you read the ones below, first)
After a cold, wet weekend and a chilly Monday and Tuesday, I’ll be off back to work again in a few minutes as this is the evening for teaching my evening literacy class - something I always enjoy once I get there.
Meanhwile, here’s the next part of my story about my first public performance with the poetry group, Late Shift. See: ‘Will I make it to Ledbury Literary Festival?’
Everyone knows that stage fright is unavoidable – and there I was, on the M5 on my way to Ledbury Literary Festival and still there was no sign of stomach butterflies or clammy palms. OK, then, enjoy it while it lasts, I thought. It’ll happen with a vengeance when I get nearer to Ledbury. I entered the town and found the hotel we’d all booked into for the night. And still I felt perfectly calm.
I booked in, and went out again to meet up with the others, as arranged, at the festival office. Seeing them was a pleasure, unalloyed by any hint of lurking panic. Maybe it was saving itself till I reached the venue?
Well before the programmed start-time, we trooped in to the hall, where at least 100 chairs were waiting for the audience. Our audience! Still not a flutter to disturb my composure. Every time I’d begun to think about the possibility of stage fright, I could feel a physical block in that part of my brain. Try as I might, any thoughts of that nature refused to materialise. It was then that realisation dawned:
I’d been ‘zapped’ by our family friend, a highly skilled psychologist, who mainly worked with children. I’d been talking to him a couple of days before my big event, and worrying about the possibility of stage fright, so, in his own inimitable way, he’d fixed it.
Hypnotism doesn’t have to be obvious to be effective. Quite the reverse, I’d imagine. Whatever the truth of it, I managed to give a good-enough performance, without a twinge of stage fright. The audience seemed to be enjoying my contributions just as they enjoyed the others – and their silences were as telling as their applause.
Love Bites, by Late Shift was a huge success, and because I was never troubled by stage fright, or even the fear of it, from that day on, I’ve been able to focus on perfecting my delivery - thanks to our friend. What a gift that was!
Next stop – the Edinburgh Festival (not quite next, exactly, but maybe the most exciting !)
Gaining new skills when you get older – especially when you’re on the down-hill side of fifty - is unimaginably rewarding.
A rather depressing day at work - a meeting about the new funding for September. You’ll understand why I’m feeling like this if you look back at one of my earlier posts, A Beginner Reader is not a Beginner Thinker .
I enjoyed working as an Adult Literacy tutor, and later a manager, because the service was dedicated to helping people who’d not been successful at school, and giving them support and time to work at their own pace. Now, the funding is depending more and more on quick results and accreditation, with less opportunity to take account of the realities of people’s lives, such as shift work, ill-health, and familiy responsibilities.
The word ‘family’ brings me back what I was mentioning in the previous post about Late Shift (to see how this came about, take a look at the post, Cannon Poets and What This Led to )
As any parent will know, once you’ve fixed a date for one of the most important events in your adult life, particularly one that closely involves others for whom your presence is vital, Sod (of Sod’s Law) will manage to arrange a conflicting event on the same date at the same time somewhere else in the country for one of your children – an event that in their eyes will rank as the most important of their life, ever. One of those key rites of passage, than which nothing, absolutely nothing, could be more important – for example, your daughter’s graduation ceremony.
Naturately, that was the date chosen for Late Shift’s first performance – an occasion that was to take place in one of the main venues for artistic events in the Literary Festival at Ledbury. The date of my daughter’s graduation ceremony at Nottingham University, with an invitation for two close relatives. This, in her case, meant her father, and her mother.
This was the three-year old who’d stopped my heart at the thought of our future separation. How could I not be there for her? (see the post: A Short Digression onThe Joys of Motherhood)
Enter Clarissa Dickson Wright, (a bit like a fairy godmother!) My daughter would have four visitors to her university that day: both parents would be at the lunch beforehand, together with her brother and her dearly-beloved Godmother. We could all be photographed with the graduate in her cap and gown (proof of her mother’s presence, in spite of everything) , and then I’d drive our son back home, before setting off for Ledbury. Meanwhile, Clarissa would take my place among the assembled parents, and offer her cheers and applause instead of mine.
As I drove away, I wondered why I wasn’t feeling nervous. Well, it must be because I wasn’t strictly on the way to Ledbury yet – I was on my way home, to collect my script and drop off my son. Stage fright was obligatory, wasn’t it? It was bound to hit me, sooner or later.