A dolly of a night!!

August 23, 2009 at 21:55 (1)

Saturday night got off to a great start. Bas, her Dad and I went to Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre to see their latest production, of the old musical Hello Dolly. I said in my last post that the theatre was one of my favourites — to be honest, after Saturday’s show, I have to say that given the right weather (it was a beautiful clear night) it IS my favourite, no competition!!! I just think it’s a magical spot. I’d happily watch anything there. Although luckily the shows I’ve seen so far have all been high quality — and this one was the best of the lot!! They did a great job of the musical, it was cleverly staged, the cast was excellent. It was a night of pure, unadulterated joy. We all came away beaming BIG!!!!

Then it was straight on to Trafalar Square for my hour on the Fourth Plinth. I checked in with the One And Other staff, signed release forms, and did an interview for the project. Then, 5 minutes before midnight, I climbed onboard a cherry picker, and was driven through the Square and deposited on the Plinth. To my surprise, some fans had turned up, even though they only heard about it so close to the event, and I spent the next hour reading out some of my favourite extracts, along with a reading I hadn’t done before anywhere else. It was hard work, because I didn’t have an amplifier — I had a microphone for the web, so that was fine, every word was picked up, but those in the Square had to strain to hear me over the noise of traffic, passers-by, and some hecklers who were loitering nearby — but who, to be fair, didn’t pester me when I failed to respond. One of the most amusing parts of the night happened when I paused to chat a bit with the crowd between readings. I was asking where people had come from, and one woman (I couldn’t really see here because of the lights) shouted out, “Do you like burgers?” I was a bit bewildered, but replied that yes, I did. Then she shouted, “Do you want to see MY burgers?!?” And I realised she meant to flash me!!!! Now, while I’m all for free expression, and would be quite happy to view a pair of “burgers” most other times, I didn’t want to be caught ogling a half-naked woman while doing a live, televised event which was being watched by people all around the world!!!!! So I swiftly averted my gaze and pushed on!!!!

The hour flew by. For the most part I treated it like a normal event, though I was always aware that it wasn’t. Then, at the end, I spent a couple of quiet minute staring around the Square, and the enormity of it hit me. I’ve wandered through Trafalgar Square many times in my life, climbed up the lions, fed the pigeons before they were driven out, lingered by the fountains. But I’d never viewed it by myself from the plinth before, and most probably never will again. This was a true, once-in-a-lifetime experience. It felt a bit like a dream as I stepped back onto the cherry picker, one which I was absolutely delighted to have experienced. After popping back to sign the Plinthers’ book, I then met up with the fans who had come, chatted with them, posed for photos (there was a homeless man sleeping on the long bench where I was signing, which felt surreal!!), and signed all the books that they had brought along, finishing up about 01.45. I was amazed by their dedication — they had come from places as diverse and (in some cases) far away as Kennington, Potter’s Bar, Ealing, Bedford and Portsmouth!!!! You guys really ARE the best fans in the world!!!!!!!! It was a night I won’t forget in a hurry!!

If you missed the event, you can still view it online (the whole hour) by clicking on the following link: http://www.oneandother.co.uk/participants/DarrenShan


  1. Robbie said,

    Great blog. Glad you enjoyed the Square there Darren Shan. I might watch that sometime in the future. Keep up the good work and write more soon please!!!

  2. CindyJeans said,

    I know I already sent you an email, but I wanted to say again, I really enjoyed listening to the speech, even if it was online. You did a great job in expressing the mood with your readings. It was very fun listening to your excerpts and they really inspired me.

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