“How am I looking?” I whisper.
“Nervous.” Giggles Sylvania. I lean forwards, fold my arms and frown.
“How about now?”
“Annoyed…” Sylvania frowns too. “Just try to relax, monsieur.” I will my hands to stop shaking as they fall back against the sofa, but it just can’t be done. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly as a sense of calm washes over me, pushing the nerves to one side. “Better.” She smiles. A long silence follows while we wait for my cue, until Sylvania takes it upon herself to break the tension. “I do not think I ‘ave seen you in a suit before, monsieur Franjo.” She hisses.
“Yeah well it’s a big day, isn’t it. I want to look the part. Get off on the right foot, make a good first impression and all that.”
“Eet ees only a press conference.” Sylvania insists. “You must ‘ave done hundreds!” She reaches out a hand and adjusts the red and black handkerchief in my front jacket pocket.
“Not like this.” I gulp involuntarily as the enormity of sitting in front of that microphone and answering question after question crashes down upon me again. “Not one this… Big.”
“Not the same.” I cut her off. “This one… Well don’t take this the wrong way, but this one means a lot more to me.” She furrows her brow in indignation.
An official looking man with a clipboard and headset hurries into the room and beckons me towards the door without so much as an encouraging smile. “Come on.” He hisses. I down what’s left of my tea and turn to Sylvania, who nods excitedly. With a surprising amount of effort, I then push myself off the sofa, onto my feet and walk towards the man.
“Ladies and gentlemen…” Comes a muffled monotone voice from the other side of the wall. Stopping momentarily, I turn back to Sylvania, who gives me two frantic thumbs up. I turn back to the door, put on my least terrified face and stride on. “Mr WT Franjo,” Continues the voice. “The new head coach of the England men’s national team.”