So, last night was a big night.
As many of you know, I am preparing a series of videos for the Annual Spring White Tea event in New York, and I am also hoping I can be there via the big screen using the latest of satellite technology, and by that I mean Skype or Google hangouts.
I wanted a small but keen audience. Be careful what you wish for, as they say.
As I am doing a talk next week in my hometown at a “Meet The Blender” function; I didn’t want this basically free event to sap potential audience from the paid event next week, so I simply asked someone I know to bring along a crowd of their friends and they agreed. I also invited 4 friends, of whom 3 suggested they would try.
So, friendly audience assured!
So, with 2 hours to go, I find out that the rent-a-crowd have had a better offer and are not coming. Damn!
I checked with the 3 friends - 2 definitely not coming and one hopeful but not sure. OK, so that’s the borrowed room, two cameras, Lady Devotea and myself as definite, plus one ‘possible’.
I decided to jump onto facebook and just put the call out to a local business group we are in, 2 hours beforehand.
Plenty of the respondents on there wished us well. Some made feeble excuses like “I’m 650 kilometres away”. But one couple said “It’s TEA: Let’s drop everything! We’re coming”.
So, we arrive at the venue, and of course I’ve forgotten a few things, but we can work round that. Well, rather, Lady D. worked round that, as I faffed about. I had of course carefully planned the presentation without much thought of practical things like “is there any sugar?”.
First drama – new camera fails to work. I am forced to go back to my spare, the tiny little Flip Camera that I have shot most of my videos on.
The we find out the “possible” has become a “not coming”.
So at this point, I check and it appears that 2 people are coming. We are due to start shooting in about 1 minute, but instead, we put the kettle on.
Sure enough, I pop my head outside and find Shirley and Steve wandering about looking for the carefully concealed door at the venue.
So, here we are. Lady D and I, and two ‘civilians’. Not tea shop owners, or relatives, or people we’ve drawn into our tea-infused world before, just people who like tea. That’s quite a unique substitute for our NYC audience. What about my repertoire of “in jokes”? Highly unpredictable.
So we did the obvious thing and shared a cuppa. Of The Duchess. Actually, two.
Between them, Shirley and Steve run a computer business, and a bridal supply business. Like Lady D. and I, it’s all about doing what you enjoy. Like us, they have children in their 20s, which is of course a shared trauma as every parent of 20-somethings knows. Like us, their business takes them from the corporate boardroom to market stalls and everywhere in between.
And then it’s time. Well, about half an hour late, but there you go.
“It’s Time” was of course, the slogan that got the Whitlam Government elected in 1972 (as anyone who pays attention to my blogs and videos would remember from here) and my dad tells a story of turning up to hear Gough Whitlam speak at a function and there being only 4 people present. Whitlam’s response was to take the entire audience to dinner and charm them all.
So, on a smaller scale, we’ve provided biscuits and tea: time for the main event. Time to engage what charm I have.
It’s quite challenging to try to speak to a tiny camera when there are three people in the room, and not just look at them.
In a few hours I am going to review the footage. I have already heard Lady D. ‘s critique. She feels the first segment was a little dark and also my nervous tic, where I basically shut my eyes without being aware of it, is quite pronounced. The second segment, she says, was wonderfully joyous. I guess I will find out more but I trust her judgement.
But to me, the great story here is that we left the venue more than an hour late. Why? We were having tea with Shirley and Steve. The 4 of us, drinking teas that will now be shipped direct to NYC and never created again.
We had a lot in common with our guests, but it was tea that bought us together.
Lady D held the event together whilst I tried my best to remember the objectives of the evening. I’ll find out soon if that part succeeded, but even if it didn’t, we had a great evening.
And lots of tea, in a roomful of tea lovers. Even in a large room, even with only four souls in that entire building at that time of night, a teapot and good company make a roomful.