I'm getting paid peanuts-per-hour at my day job yet I'm covorting around the country spending money that I don't have trying to shake famous people's hands. And all this because some crabby, walrus-bodied friend of mine made a bet with me.
If you don't believe me when I say that I recently considered selling my flat as I can barely afford to keep it, please feel free to phone Mr Halifax, Mr MBNA, Mr NatWest Credit Card or Mr Natwest Personal Loan and ask them how much they're owed. I must stress though, that I'm not after any of your sympathy.
I simply want your money.
That having been said, and to be fair, for want of a slightly less-worn cliche, I am actually having fun in the process.
On Saturday I took a day-trip to Edinburgh to meet my favourite author Iain Banks, or Iain M Banks if you prefer. I wasn't sure about the best way of getting there- should I take the high road or should I take the low road, so in the end I opted for the very high road. I flew. (BAA London Heatrow to Edinburgh - £110.50 inc airport tax).
Honourary photographer for the day was my good friend Eddy B (Edward Brett), who like me is a big fan of Iain's work. Eddy B is considerably more affluent than me, and offered to drive us up there in his Ferrari (aka his rarri), although when he mentioned to me that "I've only just bought it and I'm a bit worried that I might kill us both", I suggested taking the plane, despite my huge fear of heights what with vertigo etc etc.
During the flight, I got a little concerned when I stared out the window and thought that I saw a shape in the clouds that resembled Christ's head, as I feared that this might be a bad omen. On reflection though, it looked more like David Seaman, which I feared to be an even worse omen, bearing in mind my football allegiances.
I soon calmed down though when I reassured myself that seeing this Turin Cloud was probably a good thing and that I wasn't likely to plunge to a fiery death because Jesus actualy 'Saves'.
As does David Seaman come to think of it.
We arrived in Auld Rekkie in good time, and took a cab ride to our meeting point with Iain (The Royal Opera Bar) despite being 90 minutes early, because we heard that it had a very fine restaurant and because we were hungry and because Eddy B was paying.
I had the venison pate (can't put an accent on here) followed by the salmon and my dining acqaintance opted for the langoustine, a bold choice.
I must confess I was a little edgy during lunch, as on returning from the toilet I thought that I noticed Iain dining on a table near ours. The man in question was sat behind me, yet Ed confirmed that he did indeed have glasses and a beard.
How embarassing I thought. "We must look like a right couple of stalkers," I said to Ed. "Oh shut up and eat your deer offal," he replied.
It turned out not to be the famous author after all, because having popped next door to the bar section at the pre-allotted hour, our host entered through the external door in a smashing autumnal light-brown ensemble.
He was extremely genial and friendly. We exchanged pleasantries whilst I waited for my photographer to emerge from the crapper and then we all went outside for the official picture and handshake ceremony, where we were hindered only by some idiot tourists waving behind us whilst Eddy B was waiting to take the snap. Perhaps they were French.
That was it then, Iain signed some autographs for me, signed Ed's copy of the Wasp Factory and mentioned that he'd post me a signed copy of his new book for the old auction, before going on his way
As for us, we wended our way up a steep hill towards Edinburgh Castle where we briefly took in the view before deciding that we'd rather spend the hour that we had left in the city, drinking whiskey in a smokey beer cellar. After all, you can't do that in London....