I arrive at the Hay Festival. The sky is rather menacing and it’s threatening to rain – is this an omen? Should I turn back now?

It’s my first time here as a performer. In fact, it’s only the second time I’ve delivered this ‘set’. I’m nervous about the ‘set’ anyway. ‘I’ve never done children’s entertaining before!’ I wailed to my wife this morning. ‘Yes you have,’ she said, ‘Just do what you normally do but take out the swear words.’

I’m feeling rather nervous as I walk into the artist’s reception – surely this should be ‘writer’s reception’? I feel like a condemned man keeping his own appointment with the executioner. I find out that the Baillie Gifford, where I’m appearing, holds about 650 children and parents. ‘Will there be a dress run?’ ‘No, there won’t.’ ‘But it’s my first time.’ ‘Don’t worry, everything will work perfectly.’

Oh dear God, should I run away? There are plenty of escape routes – flaps in the tents, open fields just beyond the perimeter. 

But I’m tethered to my publicist Tania, and an intern from the festival leading us through the crowds. There’s barely time to run away. Backstage the staff work with a reassuring calm. I’m fitted with a head mic. I’m handed a ‘dobber’ to work the slide show. I’m told that when it comes to ‘any questions’ stewards will miraculously appear with mics for the questioners. And at precisely 13.00, the scheduled start, I’m pushed on! Precisely. I’ve never, ever done a live show that started precisely on time. How do they do that? At 13.00. Not even 13.01.

I do my shtick. The head mic works perfectly. The slides work perfectly. The crowd is warm, responsive and engaged. The stewards DO magically appear. The sound is crystal clear. The kids ask brilliant questions. If I wasn’t mindful that they had to clear the tent so that the next act can start precisely on time, I would stay here for hours.

I do a book signing and head back to the artists reception for really good coffee and even better carrot cake.

I like Hay. I could stay forever