The final countdown

The final countdown

You are on in five minutes.

2000 audience members are about to take their seats.

Around 1500 pour in at the last moment.

This is London’s excel.

‘Is this you biggest audience?’ As a speaker? Yes.

As a musician I once played to over 20,000.

‘Nervous?’ ‘No.’

Four minutes 30 seconds later.

I count fifteen deep breaths.

I walk 100 steps to the stage.

I pause for 10 seconds and speak for 40 minutes.

Six laughs, three spontaneous bursts of applause and I am now offstage.

‘Not enough Scottish speakers down here.’ shouts an audience member.

‘They’re the best.’ shouts another.

Around 200 steps to the foyer, 50 interruptions – people want to talk.

‘Are you really 73?’

‘Where can we see you again?’

‘Thanks for not being another bore.’

‘You should have your own TV show.’

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

My train’s in two hours.

Back in Edinburgh in another 4 hours 30 minutes.

One hour later – out for the count.