15 Mar 2008
Finding myself with twenty-five quite unexpected, achingly free, all-alone minutes to kill in rainy Sloane Square I bagged myself an unwise glass of Chardonnay and a corner table in a bright and bijou, tidy and table-clothed, exquisite but ersatz French bar.
Sipping the yellowy, buttery, oily wine, I leant back in my chair listening to the buzz of conversation: high-heeled women clutching bags from Harvey Nicks; men fresh from the office thumb-tapping their blackberry curves; lovers sitting oh, so close, murmuring into eachother's ears checking watches, and a woman alone, half way through a bowl of moules marinere. The bar was buzzing and heady and not a soul on earth, I realised, knew where I was.
Suddenly I felt on top of the world: I was Cortez overlooking Darien, Hornblower taking leave of Bolton in the Mediterranean heat, Adam escaping Eden with all the world before him and in my hand I tested the weight of a subtle knife with its wild, unlikely promise of other worlds; I was standing in the sunlight, the early morning sunlight in the little harbour church of St. Cecilia, to praise a soul returning to the earth, to the rose of Jericho and the Bougainvillea..... Anything... Could... Happen. ....
Actually, what was going to happen was: I was going to be on the telly, for I had in my pocket a ticket to be in the audience of Question Time and I was waiting for Cadogan Hall to open.
There is no two ways about it: I was most certainly in an extremely odd mood.
I dug out my old-man-glasses and un-holstered a silver blackberry of my own and on it I quickly wrote three questions. Questions topical yet timeless, witty yet wise, pertinent and political, questions they just had to select for broadcast.
And then my precious twenty-five minutes was up and I tipped the waiter extravagantly and my hat to my surprised neighbours, finished my wine and my almonds and ran outside, only to bump into Mrs Botogol hurrying in the same direction "Oh", she said, "did you have a drink in Leon on your own? You could have texted me"
They chose my question.
I rehearsed it to myself, under my breath, over and over, anxious to be autocue-perfect, but David Dimblebly wasted a whole 25 minutes on the budget, and they didn't get time to come to me.
On iPlayer you can spot me seven times in the audience.