Too much red wine, or perhaps just enough, resulted in me standing on a stage with over 150 people looking at me, expectantly, waiting for me to make them laugh. Did they know how scared I was?

The wine was actually drunk about a month earlier – while in a lovely restaraunt with my dear old friend Els and her boyfriend, Dick. At the end of the evening Dick invited me and the family to his 64th birthday party down near Wells, Somerset. Mid November and camping …  but, he added that if I did something, I could have a caravan … so I agreed. I do many many talks about hedgehogs so agreed to stand up and say a few things about hedgehogs to the party – the WI like it, so I was sure a gentle Somerset gathering would allow me to chat about hedgehogs for a short while … there is so much about the biology, ecology, physiology and behaviour of these fantastic animals that needs to be explained …

It was not that sort of party.

The storms and gales had calmed by the time we arrived. My daughter, Mati, was most excited about the time she was going to have making dens in a caravan. Pip was off, charging around in circles with an occasional flourish that seems to be the result of a weird mix of free-running and capoiera. And I went to find Dick.

“This is going to be great,” he said, “you can come on between two of the bands will 10 minutes be long enough?”

As people began to arrive and the bands sound check, the scale of the evening dawned on me. Four bands – masses of equipment – and the only other ‘act’ on the bill … me. Oh well, nothing ventured and all that – always worth pushing at the margins of ones comfort zone etc etc … earlier that week I had gone to my first 5 rhythms class

and there can be little scarier than going into a room full of people who are all so apparently comfortable at expressing themselves through movement, and being expected to do the same … but I did it. So this should be okay, if a little unusual.

As the first band was coming to a close Caro, in charge of the night’s performances, asked if I would be happy going on next, after a big round of happy birthday. Fine I said – and my mouth went dry, so much so that I really did not contribute much to the singing … and then she went to the mic and said, ‘And now we have something just a little different, Hugh Warwick is breaking new ground, developing a new genre of comedy, hedgehog stand-up’ …

And there I was, in front of a room full of expectant and slightly drunk people.

After the event I could picture the confidence curve waning as I went along. Initially buoyed by adrenalin, but as that slipped away, I felt the edge go – but I still had a great time – and people stayed and listened (though I was distracted by what I thought were fireworks in the background … turned out to be balloons of nitrous oxide being filled and consumed ….  maybe that was why they were laughing?) – and at the end were polite enough to express surprise that I had never done anything quite like that before.

Free from the tension I was able to join the fray and ended up dancing until 3am (which is fine until you factor in the children who were due to wake at around 6 … but were decent enough to sleep ’til nearly 7am). Some amazing music …

were superb, and then I danced to The Mandibles

who, I think, sang a song about a squid … I am not sure, was rather tired by then, but it sure sounded like they were singing about a squid.

So – hedgehog stand-up … not quite taking bookings yet, but will think about testing the scary waters just outside the comfort zone again sometime.