Diary - Janet Street-Porter

Esther Rantzen is copying me and Alastair Campbell with a travelling entertainment. In hers, she sin

Combining the promotion of my new book, touring my one-woman show and writing two newspaper columns a week seemed a good idea in theory. The reality is exhilarating but tiring. A great night in Manchester with an audience who really laugh loudly (great) at the horror stories of my home life, men and marriages. The week before, in Canterbury, the evening slumped a bit when one dreary old fart complained about my language . . . even though there were warning signs everywhere. Tailoring what I do to geography and social mix is not something I've ever considered. The day after tomorrow I'm playing Wimborne, near Bournemouth. Will they be prim or perky? I have decided to take a leaf out of David Essex's book, and rejected a run in London in favour of touring the provinces.

Before you ask (as about half of the local newspaper reporters have done), I am not copying Alastair Campbell - my show is rude, ruthless, indiscreet and true! More worryingly, I have discovered that Esther Rantzen has decided to copy both of us and relaunch her career with a travelling entertainment in which she sings an Edith Piaf song and invites the audience to find her a new husband. The Whitstable Times splashes with the headline: "Could you be the right man for Esther?" Esther confides in an exclusive interview that she's starring in an episode of BBC2's Would Like to Meet . . . in the hope of finding a new hubby, and offers readers free tickets and the chance of a date with her. I am not that desperate. My show is not a way of finding even Mr 30 Per Cent, let alone Mr Right, in Bridlington, Lancaster, High Wycombe or Bury St Edmunds, so the male population of rural England can safely buy tickets to see me without worrying about being propositioned. On the train back from York, I see my attack on Boris Johnson's feeble arts manifesto has enraged the Telegraph's Sarah Sands, always a good sign. Ms Sands usually writes about film premieres and clothes, so she's really raised her game.

A walk and a picnic in the New Forest on a gorgeous Saturday before my performance at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne. The facade of the building is a Grade One listed house, and behind lies an art-deco auditorium. My dressing room has fresh towels, a shower, soap - the best yet. Having surveyed the audience (mostly over-55s, ie, my age) I decide against using the C-word to describe my mother. I don't want to risk a bout of incontinence or a mass walkout: there are enough F-words to shock them anyway. A couple of gays at the front laugh hysterically all the way through and the Q&A session goes like a dream. I'm always pleased when women come up afterwards and thank me for saying all the things they secretly think about their nightmare mothers.

Afterwards, a drive north along winding roads to stay with friends in Somerset. Sunday is the hottest day of the year, and so we decide to climb the Cheddar Gorge, drinking copious amounts of water, with the odd Red Bull and a bar of chocolate. You can see for 20 miles from the top, across the Severn Estuary and over Glastonbury Tor to the south. At times like this, I realise just how fat and out of condition the British have become. We descend via Jacob's Ladder, a series of concrete steps. Puffing and panting upwards are tribes of would-be walkers clutching plastic carrier bags and bottles of fizzy drinks. They are wearing flip-flops, wedge-heeled espadrilles, crocheted cardigans, masses of jewellery and distressed jeans. The sight down below in Cheddar at lunchtime is loathsome - fast-food joints heaving with blobbies clutching carrier bags of fudge. Cheddar is a prime example of how to ruin a beauty spot - ugly signs, loads of car parks and yellow lines everywhere. It desperately needs an environmental supremo to restore tranquillity and style to what could be a sensational place. Meanwhile, the stream that runs past the pound shop is full of trout. I subscribe to trashy tourism by buying a penknife, batteries, a box of dog fudge and a bird tray, all for £4.

Next day, London is sweltering and my battle with the post continues. Another magazine subscription has been discontinued because a wit at the sorting office sent it back with "Gone away" on the label. Two people have been using my address to get credit cards fraudulently and I have a final VAT demand for someone running a business allegedly from my home. The day we all have to go and collect our mail is coming soon, I fear.

I go back up north for a show at the Darlington Arts Centre. More than 240 tickets have been sold, and the audience is ecstatic. My dressing room seems to be a children's painting area. It's a good job I don't need Miss Haversham-style make-up, just a bit of powder, a lot of stuff called goo to make my hair stand on end and a dab of bright pink lipstick.

After the show, nine of us try to get a decent meal. What a joke. We end up in an Italian restaurant near the town centre. The salami comes from a packet, the halibut is mostly OK, but this is a case when £24 a head is far too much for such basic fare. Darlington is a lively place: the locals deserve better than this.

Baggage: my childhood by Janet Street-Porter is published by Headline (£16.99). For All the Rage tour dates, see www.janetstreetporter.com

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