When I do talks and readings I set out to entertain the audience. They also amuse me on many occasions; here are just a few examples from the last couple of months.
I received an invitation from a Rotary Club to speak at their lunchtime meeting. We all enjoyed a good traditional lunch of roast beef and yorkshire pudding followed by custard and crumble washed down by some diners with generous glasses of red wine. After a smattering of Rotary business I was welcomed and stood for my talk. I noticed, within thirty seconds of starting, that one senior Rotarian near the front was fast asleep with his mouth open, snoring gently. I pressed on regardless and enjoyed a good response from members, evidenced by a lively Q & A directly after my talk and a round of applause that awoke the sleeping Rotarian. He was immediately called upon by the President to deliver the vote of thanks which he did with alacrity, a grateful smile and fulsome praise for my excellent presentation. One of the best he'd heard, apparently.
I never presume that people want their books signed, always wait to be asked. One very enthusiastic lady asked me to write a message in the one she'd bought. 'Of course,' and I turned to the flyleaf with my pen poised, mentally composing something suitable for the occasion. She beat me to it, and started to dictate: 'Please write Happy birthday, my darling Gemma'. I wrote this down faithfully. 'Er, OK, you want me to sign this?' 'Yes, put Love from Grandma xxx' I added the line to her direction. 'Now do you want me to sign?' 'No, that'll be fine, thank you,' and she went off happily with her book.
On a regular basis I have members of the audience coming up to me after talks to tell me that they too could have been a writer, but they never had the time to put pen to paper. My all-time excruciating favourite occurred recently after a talk to the WI. A woman in her eighties rushed up to the front to collar me. 'Do you do ghost-writing?' she asked in all seriousness. 'I've got some fantastic ideas for a novel. All I'm missing is the words.'