Last Thursday evening, I was almost sick in my handbag. Despite being quite grown up, with the crow’s feet, RHS membership and drawer full of useful bits of string to prove it, I have managed so far to avoid doing the thing I most fear: speaking in public.
But I could avoid it no longer. Last Thursday, my book Gifts from the Garden, was published and Jo, the owner of my lovely local bookshop, offered to host a party for me. ‘Just do a little talk, perhaps demonstrate a couple of the projects,’ she said gaily. ‘Yes, that’s a great idea!’ I said, hoping I could stave off the dry heaves until I hit the pavement.
I asked my pal, grower of delicious things, writer and all-around good egg, Mark Diacono for tips. He’s done loads of personal appearances, and if his career as a Bradley Wiggins lookalike takes off I dare say he’ll do a lot more. ‘Give them something to eat, something to drink and get a joke in fast,’ he said. As this is the philosophy I’ve adhered to all of my life, I started to think perhaps I could do this.
So I pitched up at the bookshop with a boot full of platters, snacks and drinks, ingredients for my demonstration and, tucked into my handbag, hastily typed notes for a speech. People came. Quite a lot of them. They drank, they ate, they laughed. They also bought a huge stack of books and I got to sign them in a slightly demented scrawl.
I didn’t throw up. I loved every minute and couldn’t sleep until 2am from the sheer exhilaration of it all. Now I know how rock stars feel. Hit me if I become unbearable.