OK, I'll have to go back to writing in the Queen's English. All that Geordie writing is doing my head in - it's not easy to spell, and we don't all speak like that. I happen to know that Clippy, Hadriana, Lakeland Jo and I all went to very nice girls' schools where slang was met with one hundred lines or a quick whip with the rosary beads.
So, on Friday morning I had to do a brief presentation in front of about four hundred people. Piece of cake. After all, I grew up performing in my dancing school's annual panto, tackling such Thespian hurdles as Dick Whittington's Cat (where I was on the stage ALL the time, don't laugh), and the Mock Turtle among others. Looking back, I always seemed to get the character parts for some reason. At university I was President of the Debating Union, where I regularly debated in front of large, heckling audiences. I also performed in whatever Law Department Revue was taking place, the height of which was a Sugar Plum Fairy routine done with three members of the rubgy team, wearing fresh fruit down the front of their ballet tights. Not a pretty sight but bloody funny, especially as we did it as a serious piece and I could hear them counting the beats behind me.
In a former life (with Lakeland Jo) I was in corporate training and stood for hours each day boring the pants off, I mean educating employees about all manner of things. Even as a mother, I have sung in front of about one thousand school parents in a large ballroom here in Chicago (don't ask), compered a pub quiz for the British American Business Council, and with my writer's hat on, have appeared on a number of live, unscripted radio and TV shows. And I can't remember being nervous at all.
Actually, lest you think I'm a complete show-off, the most nerve-wracking thing I have done in recent years was to be the tallest bridesmaid in an American wedding. You see, the bridesmaids walk down the aisle before the bride and father - one at a time. Alone. Unaccompanied. So the big church doors opened, and I had to walk down to the altar. Slowly. Smiling. Or rather, right cheek quivering like a fish on a riverbank. Feeling like a complete eejit. I don't like that kind of personal attention. I even felt ridiculous walking down the aisle at my own wedding.
So back to Friday. What, you're thinking, could have made this specific presentation so much of an ordeal? Well, it was to my kids' high school assembly - a room full of teenagers, all ready for lunch and thinking about the weekend. To add further anxiety, the Queenager casually asked me the night before
"Oh mom. What are you wearing tomorrow?"
Wearing? - I hadn't planned "an outfit". There's no uniform at the school and even some of the teachers look like vagabonds, so dressing up didn't really loom large on my list of things to worry about.
"Why?", I timidly asked.
"Oh nothing, just don't wear your black mom pants (trousers)".
"What do you mean 'black mom pants', they're nothing wrong with them".
"Oh, I know, I know, but you'd look much hipper in your skinny jeans".
(I hasten to add they're not skin tight skinny jeans, heaven forbid, but they're not bootleg either.)
So yes, I pulled out the skinny jeams, with white shirt and black cashmere cardi (going for an mix of authority and hipness all at once). I even managed to embarrass my kids without mentioning them. Mission accomplished. All went well, even though the slide show stuck on a huge picture of moi for about 80% of the time and then whizzed through the other photos, meaning that I pretty much had to ad-lib my way through at break-neck speed. (A technical hitch of course.)
I think I'd rather have spoken at Obama's inauguration though. Much less nerve-wracking.
(PS. I was talking about a sponsored walk I'll be organizing later in the year, to raise funds for a small school in Ghana. Hopefully a few of the kids will remember and sign-up.)