"WHAT'S your name?" asks Louis Walsh, as I grapple with the microphone stand in front of me. I'm on stage at the Button Factory, auditioning for the music mogul's new boy band and my hands are trembling.
"Chris," I finally answer. "I'm 25 and I'm from Killester." That's the easy part done.
"Okay, Chris, what are you going to sing?" I'm not sure. Something by One Direction, perhaps? Too difficult. Westlife? Too predictable. Eventually, I decide on Bastille's chart-topping single, Pompeii. Louis looks pleased. "Okay, go ahead ... "
I open my mouth. The words spill out. I'm in the right key. Five seconds have passed and nobody has laughed. If I didn't know any better, I'd say I'm off to a cracking start.
"Many days fell away with nothing to show-ow," I sing, doing my best impression of a pretty-boy pop star. My feet start to move a little. I think I might be having fun.
Liam McKenna looks impressed. Today FM's Mairead Farrell is smiling ... I think. It's difficult to say – the lights are blinding. That's when I get to the chorus. "Does it almost feel like you've been here before-ore?" I continue. Damn it! Wrong lyrics! Keeping going, Chris!
I decide to repeat the first two lines. That's when Louis raises his hand. Had there been a shiny red buzzer in front of him, he'd have surely battered it into the table.
"Okay, thank you." And that's it. Within seconds, I've exited the stage and am back on the floor. What a buzz!
Just then, Louis and the judges take a break (they must have needed it after that display). I make my way over and explain that I'm actually a reporter. On duty.
"You set me up!" Louis laughs. Not quite. His team was in on the whole thing – they just hadn't told him. He seems relieved. "It's all real," he nods, pointing towards a crowd of youngsters in the corridor. That it is.
But does he pass comment on my audition? Not quite. I trust he was lost for words.