I had a great experience today, after I'd spent an hour trying to find some smart clothes that hadn't been yanked off their hangers and compacted into the girls' "den" inside what used to be a wardrobe. I was to be the speaker at a ladies' luncheon at the four star Llangoed Hall.
The first piece of luck had me arriving to find the car park full of porches etc, and therefore I had to park in the staff carpark which was just as well as when I opened my dirty car door, three crisp packets and a princess wand fell out - it would not have been a good look chasing them past my awaiting audience, so I am glad that only the workmen could roll their eyes at my attempts to retrieve them and chuck them back in the car.
I had been relatively calm and confident, but on arriving saw a large group of smart ladies all chatting with a glass of wine, and I turned into a bit of a gibbering wreck. I was taken to the luncheon room which about finished me off, with its shiny glasses and too much cutlery. "Who are they?" I asked the waitress. "Chiropodists or Chiropractors," she said, "not sure which." Strange I thought, though useful for that twinge I've been getting recently.
Eventually, the ladies - who turned out to be a lovely bunch of Soroptimists - sat down and began the finest lunch, of which I finished each course in about a tenth of the time that they did, slugging down two jugfuls of iced water in my panic. As it finally became my cue to speak, they all disappeared to the toilet, and my nerves got to the bitting thumb stage.
My plan had been to tell amusing tales for twenty minutes and then sell all the books in my bag that I had been told it was OK to bring. Instead, because of the toilet queue, I told my amusing (ish) tales, answered a few questions, looked at the clock, ruined it all by cursing "F88*** Me, I've got to go" and sprinted out the door with seconds to spare to collect the children.
I took with me a few things from today - apart from the napkin and the bit of cheesecake on my top:
1) Always, ALWAYS get your clothes ready the night before.
2) Park your car on a hill in a breeze before going anywhere nice, and open the doors.
3) Know your audience, so you don't try and interest them in your corns, when really they are a retired geologist.