The writer Mal Peet is one of the least boring people I know. I have, in fact, laughed harder in his company than just about any I can think of. So when he phoned sounding somewhat mournful, I knew things were bad.
“Darling,” he began. “By a series of strange accidents, I ended up practically headlining the Budley Salterton literary festival last week.”
“So I started speaking to my packed audience, got fifteen minutes in, was just hitting my stride, feeling the adrenalin, going strong, convinced I had a hit on my hands…”
“When it appeared that a woman in the fifth row…..had died.”
“Head back, eyes shut, no discernible signs of life.”
“Mal! How awful. How absolutely awful!!”
“Yes,” said Mal thoughtfully. “It’s so rare that I get a sold-out audience.”
“So….I guess you couldn’t really carry on?”
“No.” He sounded crestfallen. “AND it turned out she wasn’t dead after all.”
“Nope. The emergency services revived her.”
“But she ruined your event nonetheless.”
“No,” said Mal. “I was almost looking forward to saying I’d bored someone to death. It would’ve been a first.”
I know just what he meant. It’s hard to get good material these days.