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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Almost famous for fifteen minutes

I was almost on television on Friday.  I am not talking about a home video, or even Funniest Videos, but real live television.  I was almost on the news.

My first appearance on television was several years ago, and I was completely miscast.  I was in London with a couple of friends, a few months before Christmas, when we noticed a crowd.  One of the more 'intelectual' children's programme's hosts were interviewing youngsters as to their views on the Yuletide season.  They wanted to know our thoughts on having Christmas every day, following the release of the song by Wizzard, wishing for that very thing.  The young boy in front of me was shouting, 'yes, yes, yes', and trying to get the attention of the interviewers.  Being very philosophical, even at an early age, I thought that was a ridiculous thing for which to wish, as it would take the fun out of receiving presents if we received them daily, and furthermore, I couldn't afford to return the compliment.  The camera turned towards us, and the interviewer stopped at the young boy.  Obviously thinking that his first answer was not particularly original, he answered, 'No, I couldn't afford it'.  Thoroughly amused and delighted with an alternative to all the 'ayes' that had been called, the interviewer continued to talk to the lad.  Absolutely incensed at the theft of my point of view, I called across to the camera crew.  'I said that', I shouted, trying to get the attention of anyone who would listen.  As a young teenager, I was not familiar with the word plagiarism, but knew that copying another person's  work could lead to detention.  My friends backed me up, but the interviewer had begun asking another question, in another area of the crowd.  We continued to try to get our point of view across, but it would appear that ungainly teenage girls were not as fetching as younger, more innocent, subjects.

Back at school, we told everyone to watch the programme the next time it was aired, as we were, after all, in the crowd. With eyes glued to the television, the following week, the programme came and went, and we were no where to be seen.  We watched for a couple of weeks and decided that without our input, the interviews were obviously of no interest to the general public.  With our popularity waning as our celebrity status seemed not to be a happening thing, we stopped watching the show and decided not to promote ourselves as future starlets.  However, within a couple of weeks of our boycotting the programme, we were apparently featured.  A friend, whom had not joined us on our trip to the heart of England's Capital, and had no reason to feel slighted, called us with great enthusiasm to inform us of our introduction on the small screen.  Our excitement rose, and promptly fell, as she described the nature of our debut.  It would appear, despite, no doubt, professional editing, that we were captured by the camera jumping up and down in a most inelegant fashion, that would not have afforded us an application form from the X-factor, let alone an audition!  As no one else was privy to the production, we decided to let the legend of our fame die, before it had a chance to reach infancy. 

My second appearance was on a more mature level, although the outcome produced the same miserable fate.  I was successful in auditioning for a quiz game show.  The particular show had been very popular during the seventies, but had been dropped by terrestrial television, only to be picked up by a satellite broadcast some years later.  As I was not a subscriber to the 'dish' at the time, I was unaware of the changes made to the programme.  The original was full of 'spot' prizes that could be 'purchased' with the points the contestants earned.  If, therefore, you were losing, you could make sure your appearance was worth while, by spending your points on a variety of wonderful items that were on offer.  I would be happy to leave with a case of wine, a year's supply of groceries, home accessories, and fore go the 'chance' of winning a boat.  The star prize always seemed to be a car or a fabulous holiday, when the winner of the programme failed to complete the final challenge.  When they were successful, the prize nearly always seemed to be a boat.  Living inland, and suffering as I do from most forms of motion sickness, together with my phobia of drowning, the option of a television, three piece suite and a lifetime supply of chocolate tennis raquets, was far more preferable to a water based vehicle.  Losing would have been winning for me.  However, the updated programme only allowed the person in poll position to bid on the incidentals.  I was never in poll position.  I just wasn't quick enough on the buzzer.  Another aspect of the show that I failed to mention, was that if the winner did not have enough points to be eligible to attempt to win the star prize, they could come back the following week, start from zero with the other competitors, and if they won again, their score would be added to the previous week.  They could return as many times as necessary, providing they continued to win.  Of course, by the fourth or fifth time, the audience were behind the previous show's winner, and willing them to win once again.  There were several shows filmed each day, and the same audience attended all; they just reseated before the filming of each episode.  The returning victor was, by at least the third show, quick on the buzzer, used to the layout and, usually, destined to win.  I was selected for the last show of the day, with the previous shows champion revisiting for the sixth time.  By the same token, I was destined to lose.  Coming in second was no consolation. Coming in second by default was abysmal.  The other losing competitor was in hot pursuit of failure rather than annihilation, when he answered a question incorrectly and lost five points; twice!  I was triumphant in hitting the buzzer first on a 'wild card' question, and won a decanter and set of champagne flutes. The prevailing champ went on to win a boat!  I left with my glassware and an atlas. 

I was successful in applying for another quiz show.  This one was rather highbrow on the BBC.  I had called my dad to see if he wanted to be my team partner, and we had auditioned in a church hall in London.  When we received the call to say we were successful candidates, we were informed that we would have to travel by THIRD class rail to Manchester, and our overnight lodgings would be a small bed and breakfast on the wrong side of town, which after some research seemed to be run by The Addams Family.  To have Lurch collect us from the station was an optional extra.  Quite underwhelmed by the prospect of vacationing with bats and vampires for a couple of days, my dad asked if I would mind if we didn't go.  I was delighted to refuse.  There was a sense of achievement telling the producers that they had not been successful in their application to enlist our presence.

The third appearance on the box has not yet happened.  As I said when I started this post, I was almost on television on Friday.  Every so often, the local news team set up podiums and cameras opposite our office.  Their 'stars' are usually members of the police force, and there is generally no clue as to why the crew are filming, other than it will undoubtedly appear on the next edition of the news for the  television station recording. 

Samantha drove up to the office just as the podiums were being set, and once parked I went out to meet her to take the dog for his morning constitutional.  Watching with a modicum of interest, we tried to decipher the best way to re-enter the office in a manner that exuded a blaze attitude of not caring, yet one in which we could be captured in the background of the broadcast.  Crossing the road, we manoeuvred rather subtly, and slowly, to the front of the office and exited the view of the cameras slowly, but with such dignity.  Once inside the office, we fixed our faces to the window and watched for an opportunity to ensure our appearance.  I made a 'hi mum' sign, which was promptly disposed of, due to it being somewhat obvious.  Unfortunately, our cue was not forthcoming and the crew left without allowing us an encore. 

The incident was soon forgotten and our day continued as the rest of the week, with a late finish, and a reasonably traffic free drive home.  We enjoyed a fun meal together with Samantha and Edward at one of our regular Friday night haunts, and returned home to find the dog, where we had left him, in the bedroom watching the local television channel.  'Anything good?', I asked the dog as he cocked his head to one side when a policeman appeared on the screen.  It took me a couple of seconds to register, but the screaming that prevailed once Samantha and I had realised this was the mornings contribution, was deafening to all around. Rewinding the scene, twice, as we are able to do with the rather clever technology that is linked to our television, we spotted the dog; at least part of the dog.  We were no where to be seen as the angle of the camera was rather cleverly devised to blot out any passers by carrying 'hi mum' banners, but the dog's ear was as plain as day.  Pausing the section, we studied the little brown flap with glee.  Who was to say this would not be the start of a promising career.  After all, I have heard stories of famous people starting off being 'hand' models.  Lassie had to start somewhere!  Samantha and I would have to be content with chaperone's status. 

So with another weekend almost at a close, and Samantha's homemade lemon curd being center piece of my kolaches, I am sliding towards another week of work, and heading for .... another story

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