Oh joy. It is less than 48 hours until the London launch of Through An Artist’s Eye. This is an event that requires my voice – to read poems I have specially written to a sell-out audience in a fascinating venue: the Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell. And I have a horrible tickly cough. So either Murphy or Sod has a lot to answer for.
The poems in question are my part of a collaborative project with artist Sonia Boué. It is our tribute to the extraordinary Felicia Browne, an artist born in 1904 – who became the only British woman to volunteer with the Republican militia in the Spanish Civil War. She was killed almost instantly on her first mission, aged 32. So I’d like to do her justice and not have a choking fit in the middle.
Turning desperately to the web for fast-acting remedies, I find a bizarre list of suggestions. These include buying a pot plant (such as an aloe vera or weeping fig – the latter is how I feel during one of these coughs); covering one nostril while gently blowing the other “into a tissue” – I’m glad they added that bit; or “oil pulling”. This is not something I have come across before but apparently involves swishing an oil of one’s choice (olive please) around the mouth for one minute – or, intriguingly, 15-20 minutes. I thought I might manage something in between but not sure that’s valid.
Finally I Googled ‘dealing with coughing fit during presentation’ and was excited to see a site come up. It told me “should the level of coughing suddenly increase during your presentation” (yes, yes, I read on) “this is a signal from the audience that their patience is wearing thin”. Oh dear, I hope it won’t come to that.
So I will be armed with a Thermos of olive oil, a packet of Strepsils and a big knot in my soggy hanky.