I think maybe I was destined to get the train and not the plane because in the taxi, I realised that the red skirt I was wearing is in fact a very old one in which the elastic has perished. I have been wearing it for publicity purposes because even if I am talking about death, tragedy, isolation and depression, if I wear a red skirt and say the book is funny, people seem to believe me. Sitting in the front seat of the taxi though as we swung round the hairpin bends en route for the train station, I looked down and the skirt was around my thighs. I had this sudden vision of me walking onto a live studio set with my skirt hobbling my knees and my magic knickers on display for the nation. Fortunately, nothing seemed to phase my cab driver. Arriving at the station, she dug around in her first aid box and came up with two of the biggest safety pins I had ever seen, thereby saving me from YouTube "wardrobe malfunction" posterity.
The train made it in time and there was even a car to meet me at the station and take me to the studio. It turns out you get your own dressing room when you are on TV. I would have been quite happy at this point just to stand outside the dressing room door reading my name over and over again, but an army of attractive, no-nonsense girls wearing headsets with microphones, and carrying clipboards keep coming to tell you things. While I was in make-up (sitting next to the undercover journalist Donal Macintyre - I just about resisted saying "You're that bloke from the telly arent you? You are, aren't you?" over and over), the assistant producer came in to get me to sign a piece of paper. This could have been a legal disclaimer, or it could have been a mortgage application form for a property in the Algarve Richard and Judy have their eye on. Who knows? By this time, I was too petrified with fear to focus on the words long enough to read them - I just signed it. She said: "Please don't swear. Really. Please don't swear." I had already been told by another girl with a clipboard and headset not to swear. My mind immediately filled up with every obscenity I had heard since the age of five. I said: "Oh God.I swear a lot." Her pretty face tightened. She looked away and said: "Well, please don't." The make-up lady finished and then the hair lady took over transforming my hair into something vaguely reminiscent of a Charlie's Angel (the first series). Then far too soon it was time to tiptoe into the studio and await my turn on the couch. What I wonder is so scary about appearing on TV? Is it the thought millions of people might meet you for the first time and decide you are an idiot? Would that matter in the scheme of things? I looked so striken with nerves, I think even the girls with clipboards were beginning to worry for me. I watched the tail-end of the appearance of the guest infront of me - a silver-haired, urbane and charming Italian historian. He gave Richard grappa and Judy chocolates; in the darkness, I felt like I was nine years old again, arriving at a friend's birthday party without a birthday present because I forgot to bring it to school that morning. As Richard and Judy moved from one sofa set to another, I concentrated on trying to regain the use of my tongue. I thought: "At least my skirt can't fall down." And then I was on.
Judy asks about the book and I look into her eyes which are a piercing sapphire blue, and two words come into my head "Wise woman." I attempt to answer her while thinking: "Oh my God, Judy Finnigan is the reincarnation of a wise woman from the 17th century. And I don't even believe in reincarnation." I cannot shake this thought out of my head for the rest of the interview. At one point Richard fires the question: "Would you describe yourself as a housewife?" If you say "No", it implies you chose not to align yourself with women who do not earn a wage but work themselves to the bone 24/7 as wives and mothers. If you say "Yes", it is disingenuous because I am earning money writing a book and as a journalist. I mutter something about being a working mother and working at home. He won't let it go. He is determined to see me as a housewife. He says: "Do you think you are a very modern edition of a housewife?" I am thinking: "You really are Richard Madeley aren't you?" Their previous guest had undertaken "an epic journey" sailing from Venice to Istanbul over a three month period in a 19th century schooner. According to publicity, his journey "is a fabulous fusion of history, culture and travel as he takes us around the Mediterranean Sea – in the wake of his ancestor, the explorer Alvise da Mosto – to discover the cities and islands where Western civilisation was born." Richard liked him. He is less impressed when I tell him I moved to the country and ran out of petrol five or is it six times? He said: "That's stupid." My behaviour has officially been declared "stupid" by Richard Madeley on national TV - if only he knew I was wearing safety pins to keep my skirt up. He wouldn't think I was stupid then. Judy defends me when he asks why I do not carry a jerry-can in the boot - she even tells him to "shut up". I explain I did learn to fill the car with petrol and he laughs and says "You are funny." I say that in London I used the Tube and the Tube never ran out of petrol. That's the joke. The Tube never ran out of petrol. He says: "No it won't - because it runs on electricity." I think: "I know that." Pretty soon it is over; I go home with a goody bag of Molton Brown toilettries and a thank you card with a lovely picture of Richard and Judy on the front. And you forget the terror - you just think: "They're very nice. I could do that all over again" and "I wonder if Richard Madeley knows he is married to a wise woman?"
I was so happy to click on your page, today and find a new post. I've looked every day, up to Tuesday, then there's two at once!
Standing up to your ankles in a tidal bay one moment, Richard and Judy then next- that's some crazy bus you're on, Wifey!
Sounds pretty nerve-racking to me - I think I would shrivel up and die. Well done for surviving it.
Hello Judith! This seems to be the only way I can get back in touch with you, It's Lynette here! how proud am I? The first I knew of your success was when i was eating my dinner watching Richard & Judy! How incredible you are, I'd love to be back in touch. Would you contact me? Lynette Allen, lynetteallen.co.uk Hope to be in touch soon x
Indeed I do...
I guess you will keep those safety pins as your special souvenir.
Surreal: your crazy life right now (wow!)
Strange: just what are magic knickers?
Downright Bizarre: am I really part of a blog group that Richard Madeley leaves comments on?
Hi Wifey, I'm a bit behind..but am getting there...congrats on your runaway success which includes buses, trains (maybe planes later), taxis, limousine cars...blimey...the energy/the adrenaline! Did you swear BTW? Didn't catch the R&J programme either...Must set the alarm clock to go off earlier....
Based on your last couple of posts Wifey, I don't think you need to worry about having material for the next book...
I'm sorry, but Richard is a twat (don't be dazzled by the toiletries!). I swear far too much too and would find foul words hard to suppress in terrifying bright lights/camera/action situation and faced with RM in full irritating flow. Would have been great if you had let a few slip - shake things up a bit on the suburban sofa. Prove you weren't a housewife anyway - just a good old fishwife, perhaps! Sorry I missed the interview - will check out the YouTube now. Congrats and look forward to hearing how things continue to pan out. As you say, weird reality right now for you.
You followed FRANCESCO? Oh my - and to think I was careless enough to have missed both of you?
Can any kind person tell me if there's a way I can find that transmission online, or elsewhere?
Have you seen the show back yet? I'll be interested to hear how you react to seeing yourself. London taxi-drivers sound a lot craftier than Australian taxi drivers! I doubt they would even know where to take you. I'll try to see the interview on You Tube. Good to see you back!
For those of you sad to find no entry on you tube re Richard and Judy,Judith has just had interview broadcast on bbc.co.uk/radiosolent which has a listen again feature.click on the Charlie Crocker site and enjoy.I think this is available from outside U.K.Judith you must listen to the critique which is on now after the interview..............
I do not like Richard Madeley. One jot. I like him even less now.
Arse (him not you, obviously)
Wow, Francesco, and to thing that I missed the both of you on R&J. I'm gutted. I must pay more attention to the TV schedules.
But I am going to a Francesco book signing next month so I will see him in the flesh. I love him.
I managed to see it again on the ITV see it again thingy on the computer...Richard was truly appalling in a rather endearing kind of way ...he reminds me of an afghan hound with that hair and his gangly limbs...and he absolutely had to have the last word! Hillarious and pathetic at the same time...You managed him beautifully especially the 'housewife' bit. You came across very well and I'm off to buy your book...
I was sent a promo 'mini' book of the first few chapters of the book. I chucked it in my bag today, and read it on the tube whilst scurrying home in a state of manic exhaustion to collect my two boys (1 and 2) from nursery)
I was howling by St Paul's. Your description of talking to your daughter a few weeks pre birth, and then immediately post birth were so so so moving.
Can't wait to read the rest! I 'think' you might have lived around my end of the East End, posh Vicky Park?
Anyway, I loved it. Mascara everywhere by Bethnal Green.
Only sorry I missed you on R&J. Damn work.
You looked absolutely fabulous darling, pins and all. Good job it wasn't me the girls were telling not to swear, within the first two minutes they'd have just put me back in the taxi without passing go, I fear.
I am so pleased your book is such a resounding success, can't wait to see the film!
Will you be wearing biker boots at the premier? Just a thought.
I think this may be the funniest blog in the history of the known universe. Or quite possibly the unknown universe. In fact I am fairly convinced it has been written by Francis Bacon aka Jane Austen. I have read nothing written after 1817 (death of Francis Bacon posing as Jane Austen) for ten years but I am now about to rush out and buy "Wife in the North". After that I may consider writing a book about a wise 17th century women such as Aphra Behn who wakes up to find she has been reincarnated as Judy Finnegan and has accidentally married a reincarnation of Dennis Thatcher (aka Richard). Alternatively I may simply buy a red skirt and deliberately perish the elastic (tumble drying usually does the trck) to understand the true experience of Judith O'Reilly's first appearance on television. Luckily I already own many appropriate pairs of knickers, some of which are still tight enough to confer some magic (although the most magical trick of all is managing to get the bl**dy things on in the first place). Judith O'Reilly, you are up there with Francis Bacon, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Frankie Howard. Put me down as a subscriber to the first issue of your marble bust.
This Madeley chap is a bit of a dick.
That Richard and Judy are a very British institution. You're fortunate to have had that experience! Good thinking on the safety pins on your lucky skirt, by the way.
Look at you doing so well!
Heard some of the Radio 4 stuff and sounded great I thought.
Have ordered you on amazon and am looking forward to reading.
Hope your launch went well - I had theatre tickets coz otherwise I was gonna say hello.
You must be well chuffties that everything is doing so well...
The book sounded great on Radio 4.
All the best with it all. I've done an amazon order and am looking forward to reading.
Best of luck
I have rediscovered your blog after being away too long. And now you have a successful book! Well, no wonder of it, you have a quick wit and a good eye; and a voice, too, of course. Congrats.
Richard Madeley shouldn't really call people stupid. Do you remember that incident some ten years back where he 'forgot' to pay for that case of whiskey in the supermarket?
now that's stupid
If she were that wise, she wouldn't be married to that idiot.
I'm so glad you've updated. Congrats on getting through it so well. Watching you on R&J I would never have guessed you had laryngitis, safety pins holding up your skirt or that you were wearing magic knickers:)
I was amazed when I saw your book on the shelves...I said to my friend "I know her" well I don;t but I do know who she is and where she lives etc...amazing...you are second blogger who's blog I have been reading to get a book deal. The other is Petite Anglaise, english girl in Paris...She is originally from york..Well done.
I think that was a nerve wracking thing to have to do! missed it!
I did notice you were mentioned in The Sunday Express supplement listing books to read this summer.
You may not remember me but we were at school together and I have just heard you have a lot of money! I have a new business you may be interested in investing in called "Makemoneymyway!" Its an on line business and I am sure we could meet up to discuss it! E me on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can catch up on old times...
Oh dear - what a shame - never watch the R & J programme - would have done so if I'd known you'd be on air.
Nearly finished the book. I've enjoyed it but have to say it's not quite as good as the blog...
Richard, I find has fleeting moments of absolute clarity and insight.
Judith O'Reilly was the education correspondent for the Sunday Times, where she also reported on politics and news, and worked undercover on education, social and criminal justice investigations. She is a former political producer for Channel 4 News and BBC2's Newsnight. She now works from the North-East of England as a freelance journalist.
Like so many others, I enjoy finding a new post here. If anyone is interested, I am also blogging from Northumberland. I relocated to Alnwick, after 34 years in America. You are welcome to take a look at: http://puddingtocome.blogspot.com/
oh wifey, you have earned your stripes, it sounds terrifying. At least you didn't do a snorty laugh thru your nose and send a stream of snot towards your navel. that has happened to me at key points in my life.
congratulations, wish i was in blighty to see your tv debut!
ooo wow, you've started moderating comments...that's scary coz people like me get confused, then write follow-up comments like this one and then end up looking a twat. Can I say that on live TV?
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