08 Aug Public appearances can be scary – but it’s all comparative.
Yesterday I had an experience which helped me realize just how hard it must have been for Masha and Dasha to appear on live national TV in front of 100 million viewers (luckily they didn’t know those statistics at the time) but it must still have been very scary for them.
All I had to do was go on Woman’s Hour for ten minutes and talk about my book The Less You Know The Sounder You Sleep– which is being published on Thursday. And my programme only has 3 million listeners. Easy right? Weeeeell, not really…as I sat in the BBC waiting room on my own, shunning the coffee pot on the table because I felt that if my heart had any more stimulation it would pop, I couldn’t help thinking that at least Masha and Dasha went through this together. Having said that, it was Dasha who had to do the talking and she knew she’d get a mouthful from Masha if she messed up. She didn’t.
But would I?
I was only going into a small radio studio to be interviewed by a woman presenter, but they had to walk onto a stage in front of a battery of cameras and a large live audience. I’m fairly fit and not bad looking , they were conjoined at the waist and had witnessed strangers literally fainting in horror on seeing them.
The clock was ticking loudly up on the wall when another guest came in. ‘I’m absolutely petrified,’ she said, and sat next to me. I immediately felt a little bit better. As Masha and Dasha must have done side by side. Which isn’t to say that my hands weren’t cold and clammy, my heart racing and my mouth dry. And now I faced an important dilemma: should I keep swigging from my water bottle and risk the awful possibility of having to run down the maze of corridors and double doors to the loo? Or stick with the dry mouth and sound as if my mouth was full of cotton wool?
I decided on the dry mouth option. I put the bottle down and looked at the ceiling. ‘Stop worrying,’ I thought. Unlike the twins, I wouldn’t have to walk across a platform in a spotlight fearing that the whisper of ‘mutant’ would be passed from row to row among the audience.
As it turned out, I wasn’t TOO bad. I knew what I had to say and apparently I sounded ‘confident and intelligent’ which I have to say astounded me. I was a bit thrown by the fact that I was sitting across a large round table from the presenter, Emma Bartlett – who had made the headlines by tearing Jeremy Corbyn to pieces on a recent Woman’s Hour programme – yikes. I could scarcely see her through a forest of plate-sized microphones and she had massive ear-phones on and referred frequently to her notes, so it wasn’t quite the cosy chat I’d hoped for.
Vlad Listev, the moustachioed presenter of ‘Vzglyad’, who interviewed the twins was a big friendly guy who, they told me, made them feel like they were sitting on his sofa at home so I suppose they had one up on me there. But a very little ‘up’ all things considered….