Archives For Felicity Ward

The 12th of February.

Where to begin? I have been reluctant to start this because I feel like it might dilute the memory or I’ll forget stuff.

The journey down was nice and straightforward. The chap was even there with the ramp when we arrived at Euston! We got a taxi to Jen’s in Highgate, where I was going to try on fun clothes in order to find an outfit for the show. I was shown into a little room, one wall full of clothes, one full of shoes, plus a rack of dresses, the floor covered in more shoes and bags and jewellery behind me. First I picked some favourites to try one, because I had to be selective. I looked at four or five in the end, but eventually decided that the first one I’d worn was the best. A navy blue midi dress from Libelula covered in sequins with pink piping, plus some Nadia Vodianova shoes and massive clip on earrings and a two-finger ring. I left with a promise to leave it at the hotel reception in the morning.

We had lunch at the nearby Cafe Rouge (saw so many good dogs), then another taxi to the hotel. When checking in, we each were given a fresh warm cookie, which I ate on my bed very messily. Unpacked, then collected what we needed for the show. Next stop, Union Chapel!

When we arrived, we rang a buzzer and were met by Bea, who works the evening shows. She showed us the backstage/dressing rooms, the facilities, and of course the chapel itself. They had built me a massive ramp to get onto the stage, and I met the sound guys so handed over my old iPhone, plus the cable and power pack.

There was no point going back to the hotel, so I sent Mommy and Daddy to get coffee, then it wasn’t long before the Anthony Nolan team and Christine arrived (separately). I finally met Lucy, then she and her colleagues set up all their tables and banners, and I got changed into my spangly dress. I had a practise run up the ramp, then got talking to lot of Anthony Nolan volunteers, remembering some from previous events. Then the doors opened and it was time to meet my public! For a while, I just watched strangers coming in which was brilliant because they weren’t obliged to come, they were just supporting the cause. Then I started seeing people I knew, like Emmer, Charlie, Denise, Amy, Joy, Lauren and Hannah. Mark and Shereen came over and I gave him a huge hug. I’m so glad he could come. Acaster arrived, then Suzi and Flick, and I went backstage with them. Soon Nish appeared, and before long, it was time to start the show! First up, aside from our lovely host, we had James, during whom Sara arrived, and then Felicity. Nish then introduced me, and I drove up (nearly off) the ramp onto the stage, giving a royal wave. The cheer was immense, and I had to tell them to stop because I was going to cry. I said most of what I’d planned, plus I gave Mark a shout out because he deserves to know what a hero he is. In hindsight, there are things I wish I’d said, but no matter. Everyone said I did really well, and I was happy.

In the interval, I gave Josh the bear for his baby, and met the Anthony Nolan patients who’d come backstage and lots of photos were taken. Josh opened the second half, followed by Suzi and Sara. Everyone was brilliant, it went better than I could have hoped. I said goodbye to the people who had waited at the end, and Nish, Sara and Suzi.

So many hugs. And it was all over. I put my socks and boots back on, and we made our way back to the hotel. Pyjamas, Graham Norton, wind down, bed.

The 13th of February.

I didn’t fall asleep until about three, and woke up at seven. Made myself a cup of tea, and got everything packed back up. I left the garment bag for Jen at reception, then we had coffee next door at Saint Espresso. Breakfast was required, and as it was pancake day, we went to The Diner nearby. We went past The Breakfast Club and its huge queue, but found The Diner nice and quiet, where I had buttermilk pancakes with bacon, maple syrup and whipped honey butter. So good, but I couldn’t finish them.

A last cab back to Euston, where I got another coffee, and we trundled home. This afternoon, I have put all my warm clothes on, curled up in my armchair. So happy.


The 29th of April.

Today has been so exhausting and so good.

I slept less well – super cold last night and no lung capacity to get more layers so I froze until I was too tired to care. This morning, I decided not to climb the stairs so as not to waste oxygen, so I just hung out in my bedroom until it was time for us to go out to see Tez Ilyas. He was great, as expected, i mean that’s going to be the case for every act I mention. I had to help him out at one point because the members of the audience he picked were not answering the question he asked correctly. Not paying enough attention!

He ran over slightly, so afterwards I literally just had time to grab a coffee before heading over to The Youth Wing to see Phil Wang. That was problematic, because the way I went meant I got stuck at a flight of stairs, but thankfully some very kind strangers offered to carry my chair down the steps (without me in it) and then I was back on my way. I got in and parked on the end of a row, and ended up with various members of sketch groups Pappy’s and Daphne to my right, with Tom Parry sprawled across the floor, snorting with laughter. For a work in progress, it was pretty slick, and I’ll be keeping a lookout for the finished product on tour.

I had Lolly Adefope straight after in The Canteen, so I left The Youth Wing the way I should have gone in, so I could get myself some more coffee before making my way back round to the other side of the school. On the way, I bumped into one of the women I hung out with last night, and she was going to Lolly too.

Coffee in hand, I drove down to The Canteen to join the queue. Being in the chair, I got moved to the front, which turned out to be a blessing and a curse. She was due to start at 4, but there were technical issues – there were cables that were needed and I watched people running back and forth trying to get hold of the right ones. This went on for just over an hour, and every time somebody came back, the hearts of the queue lifted, only to fall again when the doors didn’t open. I felt really bad for the guy who was checking the tickets – he knew nothing more than we did, and there wasn’t really anything he could do, I could hear people behind me getting (understandably) frustrated because this was going to impact upon their attendance of their next show, so they were having to decide who they wanted to see more. I was okay to wait, because my next show wasn’t until 7.15, and I was glad I did.

Her show is a reply to her reviews from her last show at the Fringe, in which she was criticised for not referring to her race enough and for talking about it too much. It would be like me doing a show and discussing or not discussing my disability. I have to applaud her too for her excellent singing, and for dealing with groups of people leaving towards the end of the show. Super impressed.

It ended just before six, and I was starving, having only had coffee since my crumpet at breakfast time. I got myself a smoky sausage in a bun (relatively easy to eat and no danger of spice) and ate it while watching all the fun dogs around. I even met a famous dog, Rosie, who is regularly heard on Rhod Gilbert’s Saturday morning show. She is a very good dog.

My next show, The Griefcast with Cariad Lloyd, was up stairs, but when checking the venues yesterday I’d been informed that there was a lift I could use. Today there was a worry because they had put an Out of Order sign on the door, but that was just to put able-bodied people off using it. Sneaky.

It was a small room and VERY HOT. Lots of people crammed in. The guests were Phil Wang, Kiri Pr’chard-McLean and Nish. Usually, the show is Cariad interviewing a comedian about a particular death, but today the topic was just death in general. In an amusing fashion. The last topic was “last words”, and Cariad asked them all what theirs would be. Phil missed a trick with his answer, and Cariad asked if there were any questions. I put my hand up and Nish pointed me out. I could have asked something poignant, but I had to say that surely, Phil’s last words should be “Wang out.” I saw the pun and had to say it. I don’t know if it’ll be on the podcast but I hope so. The only time I think my brain has worked that fast.

My next show wasn’t until 11.30 and also included Nish in the line up, so he met me back downstairs and the rest of the evening is a blur of faces and saying “Nice to meet you.” I did mean it each time, I just met a lot of people! We went to the bar in Y Plas where pretty much every comic at the show was.

Honestly I couldn’t tell you what we talked about, I just remember that for once, I wasn’t telling the story of my life ten thousand times, people just treated me like I as part of the gang and that pretty much never happens with people who don’t know me. It was just the most fun.

My oxygen ran out in the middle of Beat This, so I had to text Mommy and get her and Daddy to come and swap it over for a new one. I thought that might be enough to tide me over, but thinking about getting the taxi back on my own, having to deal with the chair, I just knew that it was going to be horrific. I cancelled the car, and sneaked out the side door. Knackered, but elated.

The 30th of April.

Going home early. It’s fine, we just don’t have enough oxygen for me to do another night.

We had to get into Mach earlier today, because there was a massive cycling race that started in the town and was going to close the road that we use to come in on. We got in at about eleven, and I sat in the car while Mommy and Daddy went to get coffee and some sort of breakfast pastries. I ate my co-op cinnamon swirl, then set off to Y Tabernacl for Pappy’s Flatshare Slamdown. Matthew and Ben said hi on their way in, and when the queue started to move, I went over to the lift to go up half a floor so I could enter the hall. There was a step down to the pews, so I just parked my chair at the best vantage point. Josh was a guest, and he saw me so he came over. Kiri was meant to be on the show but had yet to arrive, so other comedians were being texted en masse. Who turned up but ol’ Nishy Kumar? Kiri appeared shortly after, so we just got an extra person’s-worth of funny for free. I had a joyous time, particularly enjoying the quickfire round jingle that Tom and Ben recorded with Nish and Josie last night at Y Plas when Josie was full of Pinot Noir. I can’t wait to hear it when it goes out.

They ran over, as one has to expect, so then I had to bomb it down a rather steep hill to The Mach Arena for Josh and Friends. The wheelchair view in there was less good, but enough that I could just about see. We had stand-up from Josh, Matthew Crosby, Nish and James Acaster, then he read out some classic scrapes from his book which are all hysterical.

Upon coming out, I bumped into Amy, and we talked while Mommy and Daddy went to get food. I informed her of the racist attack Nish had just endured (Josh threw a massive ball at him but he was not injured), then they went to get lunch and we went to eat ours. We discussed oxygen levels, and we only had one full bottle left, so came to the conclusion that I only really had one more show left in me. Mommy and Daddy went back to the house to pack up, and I went to get more coffee and see who I could see before it was time for Sara Pascoe.

Happily, a lot of my lovely pals were still around, so there was Nish, Josh, Fin, Tom, a whole host of people. We whiled away the time together until everyone had to beetle off to our respective shows, and I left loving my wonderful gang.

Sara was fantastic as always, and I look forward to seeing the finished piece when she takes it on tour. I didn’t have time to hang around to see her afterwards because Daddy was coming to pick me up. We returned to the house, packed everything into the car, and we set off on the long drive home. I am so happy and I’ve had such an incredible weekend – definitely going again next year. Hopefully without any extra oxygen.