It’s 7.51 on a Monday morning.
Already I’ve been awake four hours groping around for erudite things I might say on Start the Week if asked. Since we’re supposed to be talking about selves I’m thinking of Robert le Page’s ever changing shirts.
The only self-shirt I have in this empty hotel cupboard is threadbare. It reads simply: ‘Someone’s going to find me out.’
I manhandle the ironing board over to the window with its view of Broadcasting House. I wonder if the BBC is the reason why this is the first hotel room I’ve ever stayed in to house an iron.
An iron, but no wifi. I am bonkers with myself, and without distraction the bonkers is worsening each second that ticks past.
It’s 7.59 and I begin to iron.
It’s 8.27 when I find the first guest in the foyer and am all over him like a dog. Does he know how much I loved his show? Does he? Smelling panic the man keeps well back.
Green Room reached the second guest arrives, in red dress, looking as marvellous as she always did. Gratefully she has no idea who I am. My once being her student seems to have passed her by.
Then the presenter, more stroke struck than expected makes his way up the corridor. As he enters his mouth clenches against our shock. Then his eyes find mine. He says something about his childhood, which I am too panicked to catch, a swallowed sentence, no detail and no allusion. This grown man has read me I realise, and his empathy reaches out.
Finally the fourth guest strides in. He is complaining that Hay Festival is a bloody nightmare to get to, motoring for hours across grass, whole weekend shot.
A smiley female producer arrives. Two million listeners she announces, and please on air DO NOT to be nice about anyone else’s book. Irritates the listeners no end.
I need the loo.
In the cubicle, pants down, there is no relief. None. I don’t want to pee, I realise but flee. Ironed, or not, the found-out-shirt is fitting. I will get utterly found out. This is a live show.