A week or so ago I was approached by someone and asked if I had any plans for a particular evening toward the end of October.
Don't worry. It wasn't that sort of request.
A friend of a friend is taking a year off to good things (working with the street kids of Honduras, if you're interested) and so needs to raise some funds for this to happen. For starters, I don't think a Travel West Midlands bus pass is going to get him there.
So a night of blues and poetry at a city centre pub is being arranged as a fundraiser. "You'd like me to buy a ticket?" I asked. No. She wants me to take part. I'm assuming that I'm not contributing to the 'blues' element of the evening - although my alter ego Dyspeptic Willy Madison might have something to say about that omission.
"But I don't write poetry," I protested. This is at least partly true. Despite my pretensions to culture, I'm not a complete Renaissance man. In my forty years, the grand total of two poems have flowed from my quill. One, when I was 12, about my hair. ("Look at my hair/It's my despair/It goes everywhere/But I don't care/Oh yeah"). And another about the contents of my fridge.
Not exactly the sort of thing to have them awarding me a Laureateship. Is that a word? It is now.
"Don't worry," my tormentor said. "There will be other people there. And some of the other stuff you've written will work, I'm sure."
I could have done without the "I'm sure".
Are the good people of Birmingham ready for an entreaty on the qualities of Marmite, I wonder? My proprosals to generate electricity from hamsters? My re-imagining of the Titanic disaster as a customer service experience? I don't think so. I'm already giving this stuff away for free on the Internet and still hardly any takers.
"You'll be fine," she said. "Look, it's over a month away. Plenty of time to write something."
Now I'm torn. Let's weigh up the pros and cons:
Pro: I am actually a bit of an attention-seeking tart.
Pro: It's for charity.
Con: Having parted with real money, the audience may actually expect quality.
Pro: It might be a good way to get my writing 'out there'.
Con: Do I really want my writing 'out' anywhere? (Well, yes I do, but I couldn't think of a 'Con' for this one).
Pro: It might be a challenge to actually write something meaningful. You know, poetry.
Con: Poetry, schmoetry. I have difficulty writing awkward prose about things I actually do. You want me to be creative, and get it to rhyme?
Ok, gentle reader, so what do I do now?