In the Green Room of the Royal Festival Hall, Daljit Nagra, all debonair charm, asks me what I think Derek Walcott means by ‘the silent knives from the intercom went through us.' Why knives? Why silent? Fiona Sampson looks like a gauzy green dragonfly. I swallow a grape. We do our sound checks and are given our starting orders.
The dressing rooms have pianos and showers in them. I wish I was about to zip myself into a silver cat-suit, paint my face blue and grab my stratocaster. I nip out for a smoke. My shoes are agony, and I lose one of their elasticated black swansdown decorations on the way back through security.
I am standing on the huge stage of the Royal Festival Hall, where Mark E Smith has snarled and roared, facing an audience of 2,000 people. I can see nothing. I can hardly believe I'm here. It is wildly exhilarating and indescribably comfortable.
At the book signing, Matthew Caley prances forward with a hello kiss. Simon Barraclough glows like an oval moon.
Amy Key and Camellia Stafford wave at me on Belvedere Road and we fall gratefully into the familiar arms of Pizza Express where my drunken gang is waiting for me.
In the domed courtyard of the Wallace Collection, my favourite of all London art galleries - the tables wear long starched skirts. We marvel at the gilding. It is all so grand! I am given a tiny cone of fish and chips. Katy Evans-Bush looks ravishing, and we have a laugh about Don Paterson's "wee farty boys' gangsheds" remark in that weekend's Guardian. Our chromosomes have been rearranged. Roger Robinson recommends a holiday in Trinidad.
Tammy Yoseloff suggests I cultivate my inner Anne Bancroft. Hugo Williams enquires where I am taking him for dinner. David Harsent tells me to stop looking so panicky about where my next drink is coming from. Clive James sits on a sofa surrounded by beautiful women.
Annie Freud's The Mirabelles was shortlisted for the 2010 T S Eliot Prize and was the Poetry Book Society Winter 2010 Choice. Her first publication was A Voids Officer Achieves the Tree Pose (Donut Press) and her first full collection, The Best Man That Ever Was (Picador, 2007), was a PBS Recommendation.