Diary - Arabella Weir
I was at No 11 and was asked to give a funny speech. I was delirious with joy because I'd used the "
I've had an unusually action-packed few weeks. Which is just as well. An ordinary week can find me not leaving the house for three days on the trot, and therefore not bothering to change out of the T-shirt I've slept in - sometimes not even bothering to put pants on.
Well, why would I? If I'm not going out, then I'm not going to get run over. And as far as I'm concerned, the only purpose of wearing pants is to save the blushes of ambulance drivers.
These days, though, your average ambulance driver would perhaps appreciate a cheap thrill; he or she might consider it a much-called-for perk. Having said that, I'm guessing that the kind of pantless person an NHS worker would consider exciting to see would very much not be me.
But, as I say, it's been a busy period for me, calling for pants every day, and clean ones to boot. Some time ago, I wrote a short story to be included in a collection called Magic. One pound from each copy sold goes to the National Council for One Parent Families. So, in my killer-combi capacity as one of the authors and a minor celeb, I have been involved in publicising the said book. The foreword was written by J K Rowling. If you want to feel like a major minor celeb, try standing next to her at a press launch.
The thing is, we were sitting very close to each other on the sofa, which, bizarrely, was placed centre-stage. (I mean, what had a sofa got to do with the price of eggs?) I'd suggested balancing myself amusingly on Ms Rowling's lap but, game as she was, she is very slight of frame and I'd probably have flattened her. This would certainly have got the book on to the front page of the tabloids, but might have meant an end to the Harry Potter phenomenon. John O'Farrell, another of the contributors, offered me his knee, but I thought this a marginally less dignified position than sitting on the lap of the bestselling author of all time, and eschewed his kind proposal.
I don't think either of them has any idea exactly how much I weigh - particularly since I've stopped putting that information on my CV.
That evening, Gordon and Sarah Brown gave a party at No 11 to celebrate the launch of Magic. The publishers, Bloomsbury, were of the opinion that, as a performer, it behoved (can that word be used in the past tense?) me to say a few amusing words.
Now, in my view, nothing could be more expressly designed to make a comedian nervous than being told to be funny. That may seem odd, as (I realise) it's part of the job description, but somehow the act of being instructed to be funny makes it suddenly the last thing you're ever likely to be able to achieve in your life.
It's the whole expectation thing. I'm sure male porn stars feel the same. Actually, never mind porn stars - I'll bet your average guy feels exactly the same at that hairy moment when a long-yearned-for lovely says: "OK, you're on, and it had better be good."
So, as I mounted the chair proffered up in lieu of a dais, and took in the sea of faces that included more movers and shakers than you could shake a stick at, I did what any nervous performer does: I plumped for the old favourites - swearing and being rude about someone in the audience. It's an old trick; you select an individual who has done absolutely nothing to merit ridicule and project all your terror on to them. Works a treat (ref: Lord of the Flies).
In my case, it was John O'Farrell. Don't know why I picked him. Alistair Darling just didn't seem right somehow and, after all, John had tried to get me to sit on his knee - so, in a way, he was kind of asking for it. I'm told the speech went well. I couldn't really tell - I was too delirious with joy that I'd used the "F'' word in front of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and wasn't being asked to leave.
How pathetically childish does that make me? Not at all - it was very daring and really brave, surely?
Later in the week, I went on Jonathan Ross's show for Radio 2 - apparently "the most listened-to station in Britain". Apart from affording Jonathan an opportunity to insult me using, as his material, my attractiveness relative to my size, I was on the show to publicise yet another worthy cause to which I have given my services free. (Note: I am a perfect person as well as a minor celeb.)
Again, in aid of the National Council for One Parent Families, I and a few other people had been putting together a comedy benefit night - 30 June at the Palace Theatre. It was a truly incredible line-up - Stephen Fry, me, Ben Elton, me, Paul Whitehouse, Richard Wilson, me, Rob Brydon, Jon Culshaw, me and many more. Oh, did I mention that I was going to be in the show, too? Obviously we've all been working for nothing and we're all perfect people, natch, goes without saying.
Sometimes I wonder if charities only exist to make cocaine-addled, prostitute-visiting, Hello!-friendly, Chancellor-loving major/minor celebs feel worthwhile. If so, I'd like to thank all those people less fortunate than myself - without you, there'd be no charity and I wouldn't feel so good about myself. Keep up the good work.