Pinned down and buttoned up

So this happened. On Tuesday I was at the celebration for the life of author Terrence Dicks, a wake for his family, friends, professional colleagues – and me. I never met him, unforunately, but I was there representing the Writers' Guild. I'm not planning to tell you about the day itself, it feels personal to Dicks's family, but I do want to examine a moment to do a compare and contrast.

The moment I heard a few weeks ago that Terrence Dicks had died, I was mentally back to a very specific summer in 1978 when a particular Doctor Who novel of his came out. I had to look up which one it was, but when I saw a photo of the cover, that book was in my 13-year-old hands. I could feel it again. And for a tiny moment, I could feel everything from that time.

Including my just-forming hopes of being a writer. I didn't know any writers, there were none in my family, I was just, just, just beginning to reach out to this idea.

Now compare to Tuesday, when I was in a suit and tie, standing there in a room full of people in television or for whom television drama was what their family did. I'm standing there, I've been invited as the official representative of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain, and because of the obituary I wrote about Terrence Dicks for them.

Yet I was still a little boy.

Not so much mentally, certainly not so much physically, but really because I'd torn my trouser leg on the way.

It tore right on the seam, but it also tore right at the precise moment when it was too late to go home to change. I was committed to a long sequence of bus, train and tube rides and the only wriggle room I had was about 20 minutes at various train stations.

In case you ever need to know, John Lewis at Birmingham New Street is about the only place that sells sewing kits.

One other store tried to sell me a sewing machine, but I just gave them a Paddington stare.

The 13-year-old me of 1978 had no more talent at sewing than I do, but he'd have done it, I did it, and there is a certain smugness to striding across New Street Station with your trousers fully repaired by your own hand.

For about five minutes.

Doubtlessly it's down to the quality of my sewing, and I'll have a better go over the weekend just to prove to myself that I can, but the thread unravelled as I sat on the train. And it took more of the seam with it.

In case you ever need to know, HEMA is about the only place in Euston Station that sells safety pins.

They keep them in the back. Tell them I sent you.

I promise you that no one noticed at the event. I'd say I doubt anyone noticed me at all, but they did and it was a particularly warm and welcoming group of people.

There are two things I want you to take away from this. The first is that I did not embarrass the Writers' Guild, standing there with my trousers held up by three safety pins. I did not.

And the second is that it turns out that if you prick me, yes, I bleed quite a bit.