Jumping around randomly. Or clever decontructivist approach. Who knows, or even cares? Let's pretend I'm being clever, because it makes me feel better. And that's what this blog is all about. Making me feel better.
I promised to reveal the stomach-knotting panic of speaking before a well-relaxed crowd. Guess now is as good a time as any to verzilveren it. Don't know why I used a Dutch word there. Couldn't be bothered to remember the English one, I suppose. Not even totally sure the Dutch word means what I want it to.
Saturday, the second day of Beau's Oktoberfest, was when I was due up. Scheduled at 4 PM, 5 hours after the festival opened its gates. Not sure if that was a good or a bad thing.
The day started well. At breakfast, funnily enough. I always find breakfast the best meal with which to start the day. Supper just doesn't work. I shared breakfast with the Albany Ale gang - Alan, Craig, Ethan and Chad. The conversation soon shot off to some odd historical spot, a bit like when Dr. Who couldn't control the tardis. Except with fewer daleks and cybermen.
We decided not to turn up to the festival early doors. Alan had some important shopping to do. For sticks. And washers. No, it wasn't a random desire to do some hardware shopping in a strange town. He needed them for his and Craig's presentation on pub games the following day. He'd gone for a practical demonstration rather than a lecture-type presentation. Good idea. I wish I could have done the same with mine. That might have kept it under 3 hours.
Before we knew it, Alan had the wood and we were standing in the store's car park sanding sticks. It was a first for me. I'll go out on a limb and say it was probably a first for the others, too. The sticks were for a game called, er, sticks. It's pretty complicated, but I'll try to give you a quick summary of the rules. First you stand up a stick. Then each participant throws their stick at the standing stick, trying to knock it down. There's a little more to it than that, but I don't want to waste too much time explaining the details.
We hit the festival at 1 PM, after a quick game of washers in the hotel cark park. (It's another hellishly complicated game. Let's just say it involves throwing washers into a tin can.) Sadly, the speed-freak taxi driver wasn't on duty. I could have used the adrenalin rush.
I reckoned 4 or 5 pints should do the trick. Get me into the right stage of fearlessness for leaping fearlessly on stage. That or some valium. As there wasn't a valium bar, but was a cask ale bar, I went for the latter. Luckily, there was still plenty of cask beer left.
Beer School building at a quarter to four. Plenty of time to set up, I thought. Dick Cantwell was still talking about Pumpkin Beer, but after five minutes was done. Great, looked like they were bang on schedule. Was that crowd queueing outside there for me?
As it turned out, no. They weren't on time. They were one whole talk late. The crowd was for the beer and cheese pairing presentation. Standing discretely at the side, a plate of cheese slivers was still pushed into my hand. May as well try the cheese, I supposed. And it would be silly not to have the beer to accompany it.
For someone waiting for their turn to talk, it was like an hour in hell's foyer. A big group at the back spent the whole presentation chatting loudly. Some were paying so much attention they had their backs turned to the speakers. I thought: "If they do this when I'm on I'm going to tell them to shut up or fuck off."
Then the cheese was gone and it was my turn. I'd tell you what it was like but, being honest, it was a total blur. Alan tells me I spoke for 90 minutes. I'm sure that I wasn't on for more than 40 minutes at most. But I didn't check the clock. I must have got through almost half of my 57 slides.
If you were there and wondered what the rest of the talk was going to be like, you can find the slides here.
I am available to give talks on any of the crap that fills this blog. My rates are very reasonable. Just make sure you allow plenty of time. It may be few hours before you can make me stop talking.
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