Above the clouds

Photo by Sarah-Jane Edis.

In which Alex writes nonsensical, rambling daily blogs about The National Young Writers Festival 2014, several weeks after it happened.

FRIDAY
Head to Staple Manor for Breakfast Club. Drink a lot of orange juice.
Want fruit toast. But there is no butter because the butter is in another building because our fridge doesn’t work. Someone says they are going to get the butter for me.
Meet up with Dave to go over trivia for tonight. 
(Side note: I know Dave Warnake because once, a very long time ago, he liked my blog on Facebook. A year or so later I reviewed his comedy show for The Pun because he liked my blog on Facebook. Now I am inviting him to come to my festival and being a moderator at his World Record attempts and isn’t life bizarre?)
Person who was going to get butter comes back without butter. Despair slightly because of how much I want fruit toast.
Lay out all the trivia sheets and the prizes all over the floor. Go over the questions with Dave.
BUTTER ARRIVES. EAT FRUIT TOAST. AM EUPHORIC. 
Walk up Hunter Street with Sophie to get our bikes. Attempt to catch a bus because that will be quicker. The bus goes totally the wrong way and then we have to walk even further. This is not quicker.
Arrive at bike shop. Realise I have missed several calls while walking. Make calls while Sophie organises the bikes. Hand Sophie my phone so she can text someone while I do the paper work. There are no spare seconds in my day.
Ride cute lil’ festival bike up Hunter Street. Is nice.
Have to ride bike up hill outside Gun Club. Almost die. Is not nice.
Arrive just in time for Dear Diary. This panel is one of my program babies – my most cherished ideas. I’m been nursing this concept for years and I’m worried about how it will go.
It’s great. The panellists are funny and poignant and fabulous. Am filled with pride for my panel and gratitude to the people I trusted it to.
Walk back down Hunter Street, wheeling my bike.
Buy a schnitzel burger (with chips) from a bakery. Stand outside with my bike, blocking pedestrian traffic.
Sit on the floor in Staple Manor and talk to people and eat chips. I have eaten chips every day for the last three days. No regrets. 
Zoom back up the road to help the Student Media conglomerateset-up.
Dash across the road to get ready for The Critics Identity.
Sit on a couch at the back of the room, charging my phone and being lulled by the dulcet tones of smart people being smart.
Have a nap on the couch. During the panel. No regrets.
Am woken from nap by student media texting me to come turn on a light because they can’t find the switch.
Walk across the road, find the switch, turn the light on. The room full of people bursts into applause. I raise one hand in a salute as I walk out of the room, being applauded for turning on a light.
The stairway of the Gun Club fills up with people waiting for the next panel. 
History Chicks is interesting and engaging and the audience are super involved. It seems like some locals have gone out of their way to come to this session.
Next up is Stand-up, Sit Down, another of my treasured panel babies (I don’t like calling them my panel babies but I can’t think of a better term, open to suggestions).
The panel is, again, fantastic. It is everything I wanted it to be. It is great.
Gather with a bunch of people outside. Unchain my bike and begin making the pilgrimage to the other end of town and the Cambridge.
People ask how everything is going. I say everything is going surprisingly smoothly. Nothing has really gone wrong.
Arrive at the Cambridge. Take back what I said about everything nothing going wrong.
(It is worth saying at this point that this crisis wasn’t something devastating. No one was hurt. If you were at trivia you probably didn’t even notice it happened. It is however my job to notice it happened, so you don’t have to.)
During the next twenty minutes I am the most stressed I have ever been in my life. I want to have a panic attack but don’t have the time. I type numbers into my phone and then hand the dialling phone to Ewa because I didn’t have time to make the call. I ring Sophie just to tell her that I am more stressed than I have ever been but it is ok, I am dealing with it.
I organise despite the haze of stress, like stress is a layer of clouds that I had somehow risen above.
Finally ask Ewa to mind the fort for two minutes so I can go outside and slide down a wall and sit on the footpath with my knees against my chest and let the clouds engulf me for a moment.
Sophie arrives and takes over the phone calls. I tell her what we need to do and she does it. She is amazing.
Then it is calm. It is fixed.
Sit on a window sill with a lot of people having a nice time at trivia on one side of me and a dark, quiet Hunter Street on the other. And feel very far away. But through my exhausted numbness I am happy because they were happy. And that’s really what my job is about.
The John Triviaoltas win. They’re my long standing NYWF trivia team (see our glorious victory in 2012 and crushing defeat in 2013) and I am very proud of them. Two years out of three isn’t bad.
Ride my bike down Hunter Street, past crowds of festival goers walking in the same direction. For the second time that day people literally applaud me.
Relish the feeling of the night air. The way it feels to coast down a dark, near deserted Hunter Street so late at night. This ride is one of my favourite moments all festival. All the residual fog blows away and I feel happy and young and alive.
Watch smart people talk about TV in a panel that I accidentally named after this blog because I named it months ago late at night when my brain was out of better ideas.
Eat pizza in the hallway at the Royal Exchange. Until that point my favourite meal of all time was a cheese sandwich I had at 2:00am while on the Young Endeavour. This pizza maybe trumped that. That pizza is possibly my favourite meal of all time. I don’t have the words to express the way that pizza made me feel.
Late night readings. Happiness and darkness and all the things that Late Night Readings are. I think these sessions better encapsulate the spirit of NYWF than anything else.

Head to the Great Northern for drinks.
Talk to people who I like.
Man in an akubra gets up on stage and starts doing a bizarre version of stand-up (possible? Difficult to tell if it is actually comedy).
Alex and Joe heckle man on stage and cackle hysterically.


Eventually get kicked out of the Great Northern when they close. Man in akubra is mysteriously still going.
Go home. Make tea.
Eat a large bowl of chopped up watermelon at 1:00am.

Read my blogs about Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Coming soon –  Saturday and Sunday.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year