LAURA CARTLEDGE Life’s like That...Public speaking is an experience I dread, but fond memories help

School awards evenings filled me with dread.

Don’t get me wrong I’m very proud of the certificates and shields I picked up over the years, it’s just I was convinced I would be the one to stumble and fall flat on my face on stage.

But with these days far behind me you may wonder why I am telling you now.

The thing is, next week I will be returning to that very stage. Only this time I won’t be receiving an award, I will be giving them out. And afterwards, just to add terror to the already terrifying, I have been asked to give a ‘short inspirational speech’ which is much easier said than done.

I am scared stiff of public speaking – something people find strange with my job being what it is.

However with writing I can stop, think and even delete without anyone knowing. But up on that stage there will be no rewrites, just me, a microphone and a few hundred people.

So why am I doing it to myself, you may ask? Which is a very good question. And the closer the day creeps, the more I forget the answer.

I guess the main reason is I have very fond memories of school. And the teacher that invited me is one of the main people who inspired me to do what I do now - something I am very grateful for. Plus they say the only way to conquer your fears is to face them...I just hope they are right.

* Too old for Advent?

Advent calendars are strange. Don’t get me wrong: if we have to have a countdown to Christmas, I would rather it came with daily treats. It’s just there is a lot of packaging to very little chocolate and the designs this year all seemed to be aimed at the very young – Peppa Pig, Thomas The Tank Engine and Spongebob.

It is almost as if I am not the target market anymore...