We all had to be at St. James Theatre  for the dress rehearsal by 12.30 in our outfits for the day. Nerves were running high. The stage was fully lit and our 2 meter square of red carpet sat prominently in the centre. We weren’t allowed to stray off the carpet or the cameras would lose us.

Sarb, DK and the team went through the order of speakers and the protocols for getting on and off the stage etc. Nice distractions, then we all did a 5 minute talk to get camera and voice levels right.

And we were into it. In the performance order, we  presented our talks to the handful of people in the dark cavern. Our voices almost echoed with the mics on and no audience to soak up the sound. I sat watching the talks, soaking up the gravity until my turn around 2.30.

Not my best time of day, I like a nap about then when I can get it. I got my cue on from Sarb walked out of the wings as the music started and stood on the red square till it ended. My voice boomed out as I started and all went well for the first four lines, then I missed a sentence, realised the next one didn’t make sense without the previous one and ….. whited out.

I couldn’t think of the next line, or the last line, or the next bit. Sarb rescued me asking “What’s the next bit of your talk about” and it finally clicked and I was a away again. Still, pretty scary, and the time standing stark and stuck on the stage was excruciating.

Emma collected me as I came off and we talked it through. She has such great insight. “You always get into trouble at the same spots, the turnover points from information to story telling”. I hadn’t realised this but when I checked the highlighted lines I often missed she was right.

She made me practice the turnovers and we arranged to meet for a run through early the next morning.

I went back to the hotel troubled that night. It meant so much to me to do this well. It was embarrassing telling Sally that the dress rehearsal hadn’t been a triumph for me and I could see the concern in her eyes.

Nothing to do about it then so we went to dinner.

I woke at 4.00. my talk was ploughing through my head immediately, so I called it up and got ready. Lying in the dark warmth I went through from wo to go, perfectly. Then did it again, easily. I ran at the transitions and got them all. I made lists of the start and finish lines and practiced their order and delivery. I rearranged nothing.

I knew my talk every which way. All I had to do was give it. But …….. I thought that yesterday as well.

Every time I began tho think along those lines I shut them down and moved on. I visualised the feeling of coming off the stage successful. I ached for that moment.

Bright and early on Sunday morning we were parking the car amid all the people heading for the market so there was a good buzz in the streets.

Pre-registration was going on at the theatre so it was a-buzz as well.

For us speakers there was excitement mixed with trepidation. We simultaneously wanted to be together and have some space. The early speakers prepared and us later ones stoically waited it out, watching the talks, peeping at the audience, preparing in our own way.

The volunteers were fantastic. The whole support team were exuding positive vibes, confidence and delight.

I caught up with Sally in the lunch break. She was in the third row and I knew I’d look for her but would try not to. Her normal calm was also brimming with excitement and a touch of fear. She’d ridden the roller coaster all the way with me. She couldn’t wait to hear the talk and experience it but also wanted it to be over and to have it gone well. Much the same as I felt.

Nearer my time I retreated to the dressing room and reread my talk. then presented it through in my head. Then checked the highlight lines.

And it still wasn’t time.

I drank more water and had another last wee.

I wondered if the talk would roll itself out of my mouth just because I said the first line, as if all the words were connected like a row of domino’s and would just follow one another.

And. finally it was time.

Sarb introduced me, the music started and …. off I went.


I have no clear memories of what happened next.

I remember standing, waiting then starting in a sombre voice with a little up in it.

I remember the rapt attention, as if everyone was holding their breath.

And the first laughter, right on cue.

And missing some lines but carrying on anyway.

Then remembering the lines and finding a new way into them.

And leaping to the stories and the movement phases. I always knew where I was in those, old familiar friends.

And the gasp from the audience as they realised that most of them were sitting on their left buttock.

And the loudness of the crowd when they stood up.

And the fun in the Hallelujah.

And then it was done.

I waited my few seconds, applauding the crowd as they applauded me – they’d done the work as well after all and given me so much positive help.

I walked off to hugs. My hands were shaking, my breath was catching, I felt like crying and yelling and hiding and laughing. The adrenaline was pumping for another hour but eventually I could speak normally, my heartbeat settled and my hands stopped shaking.

The speakers from our block were escorted up to speakers corner where the audience on their afternoon tea break could come and talk to us. A procession of kind words from people who had enjoyed my efforts was so reassuring.

They all had body issues, I could see them all.

It was the best of days. One that will stay in my heart always. I shared it with so many great people. People on the team,people supporting us, in the audience, on the web, everyone, everywhere who gives and draws inspiration from the efforts of  all us volunteers who believe that good ideas are worth sharing.

It’s a knowing, aware, awake, involved, caring and inspired community. These are the people who are going to save mankind from itself.

If anyone can.

I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to this community. It’s where I live.