Friday, July 25, 2008

My First Public Reading

The big night is behind me now.

First of all the location. Were I asked to choose a place for a reading debut, this is exactly the one I would have chosen. A gorgeous wood and glass centre right on the ocean. Where the whales come in. And they did that evening, chasing the capelin that are running. Cavorting in the waves by the shore.

This was the festival's Irish night and Irish stew was served. A dinner and show format. The place was packed and there was a waiting list. I would like to take the credit as the 'star' of the event but this would not be completely accurate. The food and the shockingly reasonable ticket price were a huge factor. Plus this year - in spite of gas prices and air fare prices - has been a record year for tourism in Newfoundland.

There was a large contingent of tourists from California waiting patiently in the parking lot for admission. We managed to save them some food and put tables out in the lobby for them to eat and then squashed them into the main room for the 'show'.

Packed to the rafters would be a fairly accurate description of the audience.
Maybe it is my advancing years, and more self-acceptance, but I wasn't nervous at all. Excited yes. Honoured yes. And totally delighted at being asked.

I spoke for about ten minutes on how I found Newfoundland five years ago (or more accurately how Newfoundland found me!) and then read my story, which took approximately twenty five minutes, dramatized for this purpose. I have posted it, along with stage directions to myself on the "Off the Rock" writing section of my blog for anyone interested in reading it.

A couple of friends from Toronto were kind enough to film the whole thing for posterity and will provide me with a DVD when they get back home in August.
In my experience, however, every event has it's unplanned sideswipe.

The evening was warm and the windows were all open and I could feel my skirt, a very light cotton, floating around my legs in the lovely ozone laden breeze. A not unpleasant feeling. About half way through my reading I had the odd sensation that the skirt was sliding down my behind but when I slipped a discreet hand back there all appeared to be well.

Oh, poor deluded me! Imagine my horror when the whole floaty skirt settled around my ankles in front of 200 people. I had the flash: you have to make a joke of this, you just have to. So I did. I hauled up the offending garment, resettled it around my waist and asked the audience if anyone would like me to remove my top also. There was a stomp of applause and roars of laughter. I then said my mother always told me to wear nice underwear in case of an accident and I did and I wanted to show you all publicly, thanks Mum.

Then I went back to my story. Just goes to show you, no matter how well planned anything is, the most unexpected disaster can occur.

The audience were wonderful. The Californians particularly went out of their way to get my email and address so they could purchase my book when it is finally edited and out there.

Then the accordions and guitars arrived and we all went on to dance and sing the night away.

At the end of the night everyone gathered in a huge circle and held hands and we all sang this tail of the evening number which often ends parties and festivals in Newfoundland:

Music And Friends

I've done a lot of living and I've found
No matter where you go the whole world round
They always go together hand in hand
Where there's one there'll be the other music and friends

When blue skies turn to grey and hide the sun
When tired hands their daily work has done
Nothing seems to turn things round again
And make the whole world right like music and friends

Music and friends it's so good to bring together music and friends
Side by side no one can break them
when we take the time to make them
Nothing else can take the place of music and friends

Music and friends it's so good to bring together music and friends
Side by side no one can break them
When we take the time to make them
When there's one there'll be the other music and friends

Nothing makes the whole world right like music and friends

All in all a wonderful, positive experience. One I will never forget. For many reasons!

PS And I thank Laura for my latest Braggadocia award, see it on sidebar.


  1. You survived the ultimate scenario with grace, having your skirt slide down in front of a multitude of people and you weren't embarrassed about it one bit. You are one cool lady. I hope I get to be as cool as that. I do always wear very good underwear in case I have to go to the hospital unexpectedly.

  2. That sounds like a wonderful night. Your skirt episode brought back a similar mamory when I was entertaining American visitors. We were in Belfast 'doing' the sights whrn my underskirt fell to my ankles as I walked along the street. I stepped out of it, bent down picked it up and put it in my handbag!

  3. You're in good company. I remember Queen Elizabeth, on a state visit somewhere many years ago, lose her panties to broken elastic. They fell around her ankles, whereupon she adroitly stepped out of them and continued forward, leaving Prince Philip to bend down, pick them up, and slip them into his pocket.

    I read 'Mending Fences' quite sometime ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. 'Another Province' is it's equal, if not better. I can imagine it was a triumph in such a venue.

    Hearty congratulations!

  4. Glad the evening went so well and they enjoyed your story. And how cool was that, dealing with your wayward skirt so adroitly!

  5. what a great evening! i'm thrilled for you. it sounds wonderful--the whales, the stew, the crowds, the breeze. ok the skirt thing isn't so great but you handled it with aplomb, and that's no small task.


    you'd better put that on a tshirt. that's no small thing, either.

    well done!

  6. Oh Irene: I was embarrassed but thought if I fell apart that would be no good. I just had to take it on the chin and make the best of it!
    GM: In spite of the 'episode' it was. I enjoyed reading about your mishap, quick recovery there!
    Ah so now I'm in very royal company with very unregal happenings!
    Thanks for your comments on my story and your congrats!
    Thanks Nick, my face is still red, though I had to laugh when a few came up after and thought the whole thing had been planned!!!
    Oh thank you Laurie, I'd kind of lost track of that aspect of it. Yes a first and I did it. Even with red faced humour.
    Thank you so much for your support!!

  7. Oh WWW, what a wonderful evening. I love the story about your skirt. It takes a woman of your grace and standing to handle it so well.

    You are such a tonic, you made me smile. Thank you.


  8. Oh thank you Hull.
    I'm glad I could bring a smile to your currently stressful life!

  9. Wonderful stories, WWW - both your personal one about the skirt, and the one you wrote and read - love that rather menacing ending!

    Re the skirt: none but a Leo-born or a Queen (as in Liz the Second) could carry off a public catastrophe with such confidence. :-)

  10. thanks for reading me, T!
    Not sure about the confidence, I suppose yes when the first instinct is to run and hide and cry in the bathroom! And you make a joke instead as you haul up the offending garment.
    I never thought of it as confidence but that must be it alright!!
    Ps I hope people think of this when bedevilments beset them...

  11. Terrific. Wish I'd been there - for the story reading too! You'll never forget it, will you - it's the unexpected that often fixes the clearest memories.

  12. Oh you're right, OF, I'll never forget it.
    But the thing is too I don't want the 'slippage' to detract from the whole marvellous show itself so when people bring it up now I move smoothly on to another topic. I really don't want it to dominate what was a wonderful happening in my life.


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