The Black Chair and Happy New Year
This year I gained a new publicist. Publicists are important. They stop you making a fool of yourself in the press and they raise your profile. Their efficiency means that you arrive at gigs on time and have pleasant places to stay. At events they cheer you up after a disappointing turn-out and help you celebrate when things are going well. Sam is amazing. She has enough energy to power all the Christmas lights in Oxford Street, she's imaginative and unflappable. But she has the persistence of a terrier. So when my first response to an invitation to appear on Celebrity Mastermind was 'never in a million years' she wouldn't let it go. And somehow I allowed myself to be persuaded.
So on a grey afternoon in mid-November I found myself in the Green Room in a BBC studio in Salford with Andy Day the CBeebies presenter, actor and comedian Tom Rosenthal and the BBC's economics editor Robert Peston. We were all terrified, we were there to raise money for our charities and we just wanted to go home. There was a lot of hanging about - some technical hitch - and while the warm-up artist kept the audience entertained we got more and more stressed. The others were used to appearing in front of the camera, but I found my mind emptying and a strange numbness overtaking me.
I'd done lots of revision for the specialist knowledge round on Shetland but everything seeped from my mind as we waited to begin filming. When we finally made our way back to the set it all seemed to go very quickly and in a strange blur. I still don't remember any of the questions. I could hear my husband's voice behind me but the lights were very bright and I didn't ever see him. At the end we were just thrilled that it was over. It was as if we'd been briefly been abducted by aliens and were being allowed back to the real world. But never, ever will I do anything like that again. Sam please take note.