I’m no bewitcher of crowds; no Pied Piper. No Bono. Not that I’m not a fan. I am, in fact, pro-Bono. Sorry. Anyway, I only mention the U2 chap because surely he, along with perhaps Fred Mercury of the Queen band, could hold a crowd in his hand, like it was one of those snowglobe things, shaking it up when need be and conducting its mood and energy at will.
The biggest crowd I ever addressed was at my wedding reception, but it was manageable, because A) it was a captive, essentially drunk audience and B) I knew them all, so if anyone heckled me, I could orchestrate a Twitter hate campaign against them.
Actually, I did once address a considerably bigger crowd, but I only said three words to them. As a student, I had gone on a march to protest at Barclays bank operating in apartheid South Africa. We did a sit-down protest in a branch in Glasgow. It was on the teatime TV news. As was my face, briefly.
Later, as around 10,000 of us marched across George Square, I ran a few metres ahead to get a photograph of the column of people approaching.
As I walked back, I yelled: “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie!” For an elastic, terrifying heartbeat there was silence. Then, like a gust from a giant socialist hairdryer, 10,000 voices responded: “OUT! OUT! OUT!” Having shaken the snowglobe, I retook my place in the column, trembling with excitement.