One of the wonderful things about blogging is that you can merrily pummel your thoughts into the ether wrapped up in the comfort blanket of a pseudonym, with spell checker and a delete button to make sure you don’t make a spectacular fool of yourself. I could sit here cross-legged in my pyjamas, with matted hair, sporting last night’s smudged mascara and you’d be none the wiser. I could fall flat on my face on the way to my computer, spill my coffee over my lap, momentarily forget that the British Gas call centre man is not my boyfriend and absent-mindedly close the conversation with ‘I love you’, and again you would never know. In fact I could maintain a wonderful illusion of cool thanks to the mask of the internet.
This evening I will be dispelling any illusion of cool with my bumbling appearance on Channel 4’s SuperScrimpers: Waste Not Want Not.
Never seen Channel 4’s SuperScrimpers? Let me explain. The show is presented by the formidable Mrs Moneypenny, a Financial Times columnist and highly successful businesswoman. Mrs Moneypenny casts a critical eye over the frivolous ways of over spending individuals, couples and families to help them fight the splurge urge. The show is interspersed with fascinating money-saving tips from so-called ‘Scrimpers’; equally eccentric and savvy individuals who have developed weird and wonderful ways of curbing costs.
And this is where I come into things. And my parents incidentally. Somehow my sisters managed to avoid being outed as the love-children of a Blue Peter fanatic and a nutty professor with a penchant for walking boots and high-waisted jeans.
Somehow my sisters managed to avoid being outed as the love-children of a Blue Peter fanatic and a nutty professor with a penchant for walking boots and high-waisted jeans.
My father’s eccentricity should be confined to his garage. Or a suitably secure institution. Instead thanks to my ill-conceived blog post about Dad’s extraordinary frugalism, the well-honed embarrassing Dad act has been unearthed and will now have an audience of two million viewers. He also provided the film crew with enough gaffes to fill an entire edition of TV’s Biggest Blunders. Mum’s whimsical escapism encapsulated in shoe boxes and scouring pads will also enjoy an overtly public airing.
I’d imagine some people take to television like a fish to water. In front of a camera I’m about as natural as nylon. My speech capabilities regressed to levels that haven’t been witnessed since I was eighteen months old. Think Bridget Jones meets Mr Bean and you’re about there. My personal highlight involves two cans of baked beans. Despite fervent pleas to edit the clip out, the charming Assistant Producer informed me that it will definitely feature, ‘because it is really very funny.’
Embarrassment aside, depending on the extent of Channel 4’s artistic license, my family’s portrayal on national TV will hopefully have a point to it. For all their eccentricity, my parents taught us to be resourceful, thrifty and mindful of the environment in fun and creative ways. Holidays were spent building toy houses out of cardboard boxes, Halloween puppets out of Muller Corner yoghurt pots and Nativity sets out of toilet rolls. Mum used to delight us by building ‘fairies’ beaches on the lids of ice cream tubs, using toothpaste lids as miniature buckets to form diminutive sand castles. As hard-working doctors, my parents could have afforded to fork out on the real deal, shelling out for Fisher Price toy houses, manufactured puppets, well-crafted Nativity sets and Polly Pocket beaches, but that wasn’t the point. In much the same way, tonight’s show may feature a shot of my dad’s home-made mud guards attached to what is a pretty expensive bike. Now you can interpret this as a deeply ironic economising gesture or a demonstration of the syngergy between frugality and luxury; a reflection of our family’s enduring resourcefulness. Either way my parents’ financial and environmental consciousness has had a significant impact on us three girls, influencing our long term behaviours, values and career aspirations.
Nevertheless, tomorrow morning I may well be willing the earth to open up and swallow me whole. If you want to delight in my toe-curling TV debut, whilst picking up a few scrimping suggestions on the way, tune into Channel 4’s SuperScrimpers: Waste Not Want Not tonight at 8.30pm.
p.p.s. The whole exercise proved a good case for why nobody should ever don fake eyelashes. In one shot I’m sat down wind of a blazing patio heater. In the heat, my eyelashes turned to molten plastic, effectively gluing my eyelids shut. Look out for the sporadic twitching as I lose sight in one eye. To make matters worse I couldn’t source the same fake eyelashes for both days of filming, so in some shots I’m sporting ‘natural’, inoffensive and subtle lashes and in others I’ve got ten centimetres of synthetic fibres protruding from my face.
p.p.p.s. This will have all been a rip-roaring success if I get a call from the production team of Harry Hill’s TV Burp.