Monday, 2 March 2009

A story I'm not allowed to tell

Day Three. Ron Jonson tells a story that I'm not allowed to write. He's promised his son it won't ever be published. It's a funny, funny story.

Here's my own little kitchen sink drama for you instead then. I'm sitting in the front row of a small auditorium with my pen and my notepad. I'm not a real journalist, and as a volunteer I'm not even a proper employee of Mr B's and, by extension, the LitFest. But the nice Steward (well, they're all nice, aren't they) has sent me to the front where there are seats with 'RESERVED FOR FESTIVAL STAFF' signs. She has done this because when she asks for my ticket at the door I peel back my jacket to reveal my Mr B's badge and coolly say, 'I'm writing a blog for Mr B's.' But I don't say it very coolly. My voice breaks a little. Like a chair being pulled out. And I stutter. She gives me a 'poor love' look and directs me to the front row out of sympathy.

A few seats along, in the front row but not in Festival Staff seats, there are a couple of ladies arguing. This is good, I think. I can write about this. If I write about this in my notebook, I think, people around me will think I'm a writer and won't question why I'm sitting in such a good seat. The women are bickering. I write, 'mad women bickering in the front row' in my notebook and I give a little laugh. Ha ha. I am funny. I am a funny, funny writer. Why don't I send some of this stuff to a newspaper? This is good stuff.

One of the women moves seats and sits behind me. I feel sure she can read what I'm writing. It's good stuff, why wouldn't she want to read it? I look down at the notepad. Mad women bickering, it says. I put my notepad away.

After introducing the speaker, the Festival Producer sits down next to me in one of the seats for Festival Staff. I stick out my chest a little to show my badge off. It's suddenly awfully small. Has she seen it? She hasn't seen my teeny tiny badge.

At the risk of a face-off with the bickering woman, I pull out my notepad and, quickly flicking to a page sans mad women bickering, or shopping lists, pretend to write about what the speaker is saying. The audience chuckles. The Festival Producer chuckles. I chuckle knowingly and smile at her. And go back to the notepad with a face that says, 'this is good stuff, this is a funny, funny speaker.'

But I haven't been listening. So I draw a bad picture of the speaker. Here the speaker tells a story that he's promised his son he won't publish. It's just too good. But, because I can't write the story, I carry on drawing my silly picture of the speaker.

Afterwards, I ask one of the pretty members of Mr B's happy helpers (i.e. not me) to ask the speaker for a sound-byte for the blog. She doesn't have any paper so takes my notepad and pen.

Opposite me, there's a group of Festival Staff. The Nice Steward, the Festival Producer and some other women that I don't know. I get the feeling they're talking about me. One of them comes over. I sit down and try to look really cool, thrusting out my chest. She asks if I'm a journalist. 'I'm writing a blog for Mr B's,' I say, patting my pockets. But my notepad isn't there. I shift in my seat and its feet creak against the floor. For a moment I wonder if I'm going to be thrown out for pretending to be a real writer. But she's very polite. We chat and she doesn't give me a 'poor love' look. We shake hands and she leaves. Well, I'm with Mr B's now, after all. What was I expecting? Derision? I've arrived.

The girl from Mr B's comes back. 'Jon says he likes your picture,' she says.

Good night.

Sam 'The Uncommon' Reader


The Generalissimo said...

Go on - we need to know! Can't you find a way of telling us? Perhaps you could do an audio blog - would that be permissable?!

Enjoying your blogging - this one made me laugh out loud! Especially as this is the nearest we can get to the festival - living in Watford.


Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights said...

Dear Susanne

Glad to hear you're enjoying the blog. Shame you couldn't be here in person.

An audio bog sounds like fun. Unfortunately, even if I spoke this story I'd be doing the Festival, Mr B's and, most importantly, Jon Ronson's son a disservice.

My housemate tells me that he has heard Jon Ronson tell this story at another reading though. So although he's promised not to publish the story, he seems to be happy enough to tell it. I've checked Mr Ronson's website for ay upcoming tour dates near Watford but unfortunately there's nothing there at the moment. Keep your eyes peeled though as this is your best bet.

All the very best.