The Man With No Feet
10 November 2008
A few weeks ago I wrote about the possibility of performing a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe next year. Since then I don’t think I’ve given it a second’s thought. It was as if writing about it purged the idea from me, that as I wrote I was subconsciously thinking, Holy crap! I don’t want to do that... It still seems like a sensible thing to do, I’d probably enjoy it, but just don’t seem to have the energy to become engaged in the process. Much easier, and safer, to produce books.
I haven’t completely ruled it out, but then neither have I ruled out invading Ghana and starting a Chocolate War, but I probably won’t do that either.
It’s been a while since I read in front of an audience. Reading Harry Potter to my kids probably doesn’t officially count, even though I used to dress up, parade theatrically up and down, and do my best Robbie Coltrane impersonation.
The first time I did any sort of official reading was at the Tron theatre in Glasgow, alongside Chris Brookmyre, Val McDermid, and Denise Mina. I was the new kid on the block. I was probably rubbish, but I did get a decent laugh for my shagged someone in the back of a motor in Edinburgh joke from The Long Midnight.
The last time I read was at a British Embassy Warsaw Christmas party two years ago, which isn’t really an official publishing thing, but it was on a stage in front of an audience so it counts as somewhere higher up the scale than reading HP to the kids. I was worried at the time that my shoes might clunk a bit on the wooden stage so I took them off. As well as aiding the overall sound performance, I thought it might lead to a cool nickname, like Shoesless Doug Lindsay or The Incredible Barefoot Genius or even The Man With No Shoes, but instead people were just looking at my wife and saying things like, Why is your husband so weird? or It’s illegal to go barefoot in Poland in December, call the police!
For that show I read the scene from Barney Thomson & The Face of Death where the vicar gets stabbed in the eye. It’s a scene that allows for a fair degree of thespian activity, but the main reason I like it is for the gag about the vicar not knowing much of the Bible apart from there being 'a couple of bits about Jesus that rang a bell, and he was fairly confident about the story of Moses up to the point where he gets stuck in the basket...'
The Ambassador sat in the front row with his wife and six year-old daughter. I said I was going to read an excerpt that wasn’t child friendly. They said don’t worry about it, just go ahead. When I yelled the line ‘You’re about to die old man!’ for all the world like Larry Olivier was once again walking the earth, the wee girl reeled and winced, disappeared inside her mother’s jumper and looked at me like I might be the serial killer.
Thereafter I put Larry Olivier away and tucked The Man With No Shoes back inside his box, and once again became mild-mannered Douglas Lindsay.
I haven’t been back on a stage since, although I don't think the two incidents are related.