Our first trade show: Day 1
Updated: Aug 4, 2018
I feel sick. The people in Sainsbury's know. They can smell my fear. It is 12.22 and I am contemplating the difference between a £5 mascara and a £12 mascara. This time tomorrow it won't be over. If anything, it'll be worse. A child runs past me and calls his brother a snotmongler. I don't know what that is but the kid in question has lights on his trainers and looks like he's having the best day of his life. I think I'd like to be a snotmongler. I choose the £5 mascara and hope I'll still be able to blink tomorrow.
Half an hour later and I am on the road. I arrange my fears into chronological order (the stand has collapsed, I've forgotten something, my Airbnb host will try to kill me, we won't take any orders) and then I arrange them in increasing order of severity, (forgotten something, murdered, stand collapsed, no orders). Looks like the worst is saved for last. Yippee.
I am walking up a hill carrying too many things and the case I am dragging behind me keeps bumping into my calves. I move away from my case slightly but it does not solve the problem. I stop to assess the situation. One of us is malfunctioning but I can't work out which one.
I have arrived at the exhibition hall. The stand is still standing. I want to high-five it. Probably not wise. I set about removing pencil marks from the wall. A group of people stop to laugh at Robin Bastard. I can think of literally nothing witty to say. Michelle was right, I am funnier on paper. I join in with their laughter until they walk away. I'll have to work on this before tomorrow.
I am outside my Airbnb. I have pressed the buzzer three times and there has been no answer. It is a sign. I should run away. I ring my host, Vin, and he buzzes me in. I climb the narrow staircase right to the top and I hear him greeting me. My sense of the layout of a building is incredibly bad and I can't figure out which way I have to go to follow his voice. In the end he has to reveal himself. He is older than his picture. Vin the Vain. He shows me to my room, it looks simple but comfortable.
We make small talk. He leaves long pauses in between his replies so that I can't be sure whether he is thinking about his response or if his way of ending a conversation is simply to stop replying. We discover that we went to the same primary school. I try to work out whether this makes him more or less likely to kill me.
I am in the car killing time because it feels weird to sit in my room in someone else's house. It is 5pm. I decide that I could probably return at 10. Only five hours to fill. I am Skyping with my cousins and they are trying to offer me advice on how to deal with any awkward situations that may arise tomorrow. The best thing they have come up with so far is to say, 'Ouch, my pancreas!' or to simply just back away and hide behind my stand. They are clearly from the Vin school of ending conversations.
I walk for about 3 miles trying to find somewhere to eat. When dining alone it is important that the restaurant is not to busy and not too quiet. I choose a little Italian place with daisies in the window. I order a glass of Prosecco and try to look interesting.
The table next to me are discussing a magician on Britain's Got Talent. One of them seems outraged because he has worked out how the trick was done and 'it's not magic at all!' I feel for him. It's a hard day when you discover that people can't actually disapparate or read minds.
He is consoling himself by playing 'guess where the waitress comes from'. He will never guess that she is from Pakistan because she has fair skin. I wonder how he will cope with two big discoveries in one day.
I have returned to the Airbnb to fetch my parking slip. I am climbing the stairs in darkness as I can't find the light switch. I remember it is the 21st century and I turn on the light on my phone. I have illuminated a cat sat on the stairs, still, silent, staring at me with evil intent. My heart leaps into my throat and I hurry to my room. Vin hears me and arrives in the landing. Suddenly, with the lights on, the evil cat has transformed into a sweet, miaowing kitty called Morris. I wonder if Vin is aware that Morris is leading a double life.
At last I am in bed, exhausted, apprehensive and still feeling sick.