I am so nervous I think I’m going to be sick! I arrived at the Sky studios about 25 minutes ago and they’re already whisking me through to ‘hair and make up’. I’ve seen one of the researchers and we have run through the basic outline of the interview. It all looks harmless enough – small live audience and an 8 minute slot. It sounds like nothing – but then again – if I’m asked dodgy questions it could feel like an eternity! So here I am, reclined back like an astronaut ready for launch into space, ready to be plummeted into the unknown. The make up artist is friendly, chatting to her friend about the Lily Allen collection for New Look compared to the Kate Moss collection for Top Shop. Her conversation is peppered with instructions to me – ‘close your eyes’, and ‘open’ and ‘close again’. I blink, obediently as she sweeps and paints powders and colours across my eyes and cheeks with soft brushes. The lipstick feels thick and gloopy and I’m suddenly 8 years old again – trying on my Mum’s lipstick, afraid to let my lips touch and talking through a slitted mouth like a ventriloquist. She suddenly jerks my chair into an upright position, swiftly turning me to face the wall as she grabs the hairdryer and it roars into life. Before I know it I have 6 huge barrel brushes twisted into my hair. She works each one in turn, leaving 5 in place, whilst releasing a sixth, drying and pulling my hair tight onto the brush and then leaving that one to sit. By the time she twirls me back to face the mirror, I hardly recognise myself. My face feels caked and thick with make up and my hair is high and full of body. I think she senses my shock,
“It’s always a surprise,” she giggles, “the first time you see yourself with television make up on – but it’s for the lighting. If I didn’t put this much on you, you’d look washed out. Trust me.”
What choice do I have?
I’m scurried through to the Green Room where I sit beside an ex-Formula One driver, a celebrity hairdresser and a Guardian journalist who has written a book. We all smile at each other and I listen in as the journalist and the hairdresser discuss when they were last on the show. I feel excited and nervous, a slight surge of adrenalin and a little flutter of anticipation too. I have no real idea what they’re going to ask me, but I have to keep focussed on what I want to say. I find myself repeating, no, chanting to myself – Staying Single, disastrous dates, married men, a pledge for independence and a huge question mark over whether there are any decent men out there. And then my comic lines that I’m hoping to rely on - that there’s no coincidence that the word ‘man’ is simply an abbreviation of ‘manic’ or how many times a girl has to listen to ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ before she decides to jump the sinking ship of dating. I’m going to talk about my speed dating horrors and how the success of a chat up line lies solely in the way it is delivered.
OK – I’m ready.
Trevor sits at his desk trying to ignore Ade hovering around behind him. He’s already made reference to the fact that it’s nearly 7pm and suggesting that they call it a day. But Trevor wants to stay for longer –keen to get Ade out of the office so that he can plan his next move on the delectable, but highly thick, Sophie Regan. He’s planning to be at the Dorchester tomorrow to interview Summer Lawton, hoping that somebody from Woman To Woman will be there too. Anything that helps link him in with Sophie Regan will be a bonus.
“I’ll be here for a bit longer yet, Ade. You go.”
He noticed him check his watch from the corner of his eye and it was killing him not to laugh. Ade Ford was caught between the intrigue of watching Sophie on the William Montelson show and the curiosity of hanging around at work, long after everybody had left, simply to see what Trevor was planning...
This is crazy. I’m waiting in the wings (are they called ‘the wings’? Or is that only on the stage? God, now I’m thinking of sanitary towels with damned wings!!) and trying not to think of everybody that I know who might be watching me tonight. I’ve managed to master talking with almost normal lips and so don’t harbour as much concern now about looking like a glove puppet when I speak, but all I keep thinking about is Tamsin and Pete snuggled up on her sofa watching my every fidget and giggle. Then there’ll be Jennifer watching me, probably alone – she’d never let any of her yummy mummy friends watch me appear on television and state that I’m choosing to be single! But the ones that worry me mostly are the other people from work, and Adrian too (although maybe he doesn’t know – please God!) and also Rob! As I watch William interview Denny (the ex Formula One driver) I can see how the atmosphere is very intimate. William Montelson is very professional and has a way of making you feel as if it’s really just you and him in the room, with a few, oh maybe a couple of hundred (!) friends too. It’s going to be easy – all I need to do is ignore those 5 cameras as they zoom and rise, black and fluid, ready to pick up every movement, every sniff, cough or moment of hesitation as I struggle to find the answers!
Oh My God it was fantastic! The audience were so great and even managed to laugh at all the right places. William Montelson was an absolute legend too! He was really supportive and excited about my reasons for staying single and made a huge hype out of the horrors of dating. He made several references to his own happy family and said that he’d hate to be on the dating scene again – even flirting with me a little and promising that if he was free and single, he’d be making a bee line for a catch like me!! He said that! On television! I’m sure I went red. It was such great fun. He was horrified at my disastrous dating tales and I didn’t even notice the cameras. Well, apart from at the very beginning when I was transfixed by the one with the white writing across its lens. I was staring into it, amazed that it said exactly what William Montelson was saying – and then I realised that it was the autocue! How embarrassing. I can only hope that they didn’t choose to use that camera shot of me – bet I look boss-eyed and vacant! Cringeworthy stuff! So now I’m desperate to find out what it was like. I’m rushing back to get my back and take some of this slap off my face, when Denny, the ex-Formula One driver appears beside me.
“Hey,” he smiles at me. He’s kind of nice – sort of cute, if a little ‘lived in’ looking. “Listen, honey. All this staying single stuff. You don’t really mean it? It’s all spin, yeah?”
I frown at him, unable to grasp his reasoning. He continues, drawing in a little closer and whispering, “This could work for us both. Give it a few weeks and I’ll get you on some more of these chat shows. You’re gonna have to up the ante and give it some serious chat about not wanting a man in your life. And then I’ll appear slowly. We’ll make sure we’re photographed at all the right places – I’ll show you a good time, I’ll look after you. You’re gonna have to look coy and shocked and I’ll be very protective, as if we’re gutted that they’ve snapped us. And then we’ll make a public statement about how you’ve met the man of your dreams and how you’ve broken your promise to stay single. We’ll clean up, babe. The likes of Hello and Heat magazine will be tripping themselves up to talk to us and we’ll have it all ready for them with our story of true love and how it always wins in the end. We’ll make a bloody fortune! Look at Jordan and Peter!”
I’m stunned. I know I’m staring at him vacantly, but I can’t believe the devious nature of this guy. As if I’d throw it all in! For him! For someone that wasn’t genuine. Somebody that I didn’t even know. What a money grabbing bastard! I know he’s spent his Formula One career with his arse about 30cm from the ground, but I had no idea he really was such a low-down bum. I give him my best look of contempt and head for the make up room – I need to get this stuff off of me.