Despite my cautious driving, we make it to the club with oodles of time to spare. Neesy already has her hair in rollers and I’ve only got to glue on my false eyelashes. Getting ready in your hotel room before you leave is another trick I’ve learnt from Neesy; as she explained, you’re never too sure what the lighting or your dressing room will be like at your destination.
A bright pink sign advertising our performance is on the grassy median strip near the venue, so I slow down even more to get a good look at it.“Stop looking at that sign and turn into this car park, you dag,” says Neesy.
We get a spot close to the club’s entrance, next to yet another sign announcing that we’reperforming upstairs in the Manhattan Room. As we drag our suitcases out of the lift before they get jammed in the doors, we hear spontaneous applause.
Through our dark glasses, we see a long line of people waiting to get the best tables near the front of the stage. Both of us start laughing, Neesy in her rollers and flowery-patterned shift dress, me in my jeans and half-made-up face.
Management is taking its time to come upstairs and unlock the door, so we do an impromptu show for the early birds. I decide tap-dancing might be appropriate. Oh, how I laugh as my silver boots slip on the tiles and my heart does a little leap, revelling in the unexpected ways life can reward you with experiences that are far removed from your supposed skill set.
I’ve been a “serious” journalist, news presenter and TV panellist, and now I find myself performing “cabaret” with the legendary Ding Dong. There is no way I could ever have imagined such a career zigzag. And what a hoot of a time I’m having with this special woman, who has become one of my dearest friends.
Just an hour later, after I’ve glued on my eyelashes in the dodgy down-light of the club’s bathroom and Neesy has removed her rollers, we grab our microphones and clamber on stage. We’re both glittering in our sequinned outfits, sharing stories, telling jokes (well, that’s more Neesy than me) and singing songs. Yet another lesson she has taught me: there is no such thing as a bad audience, it just means you didn’t try hard enough.
At this stage of the tour, I’m only “allowed” to sing one word in our song – according to Neesy, I have no idea about pitch. She’s right, as she frequently is, but during this particular performance I manage to sneakily sing a second word. We catch each other’s eye and laugh and laugh. This showgirl world is something I could get used to.