Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Embarrassing Memory #1: "Please don't make me get Toyah"

I've just come across this article, well, half-an article that sounded pretty good 'til it ended abruptly and demanded money for me to read more.

Yet in that brief moment of bored surfing, it occurred to me that I could relate every cringing memory I've ever had. There are several billion after all. Perhaps I could somehow exorcize those demons and in the process open some door of perception. But I doubt that.

A few years ago, I used to work for the BBC. I became quite dull and miserable during my time there but in retrospect I've put this down to feelings of inadequacy and intimidation. I felt inadequate because I was intimidated by the sheer hunger, vivacity and, in quite a few cases, sex appeal of the other employees. Things got so bad that I had a panic attack in the canteen just because I had lunch with people on my team. I ultimately became quite scared to leave the edit suites and preferred to silently get on with my work.

One such day springs to mind. I was mindlessly filing tapes and preparing for another edit when the director in our suite took a call. Toyah Wilcox had arrived in reception for her voiceover.

Turning to me, the director asked if I could go down and collect her. I froze, before managing a feeble 'Sorry?'
For some reason, I was hoping this monosyllabic reply combined with my look of unbridaled terror would stall him into rethinking his decision and getting her himself.
'Could you go to reception and bring Toyah here?' he repeated.
'Um... I'd rather not.'
The editor had now stopped what he was doing to turn and stare at me as well. Two faces of confusion.
'Why not?'
I didn't really have an answer for this.
'Do you fancy her or something?'
'Christ, no.'
My instant rebuttal only convinced them that I did actually fancy her, now making it a cast-iron certainty that I'd have to go just so they could watch me flap like a pidgeon caught under a bus. Then I did something I haven't done since I was five. I pleaded. An honest to goodness 'I'm lost and I'm scared' plead.
'Please don't make me get Toyah.'
'Just get her, alright?' They were both grinning now.

Like a man condemned, I left the edit suite with my head bowed. My legs were shaking, my mouth was dry. I wasn't even a fan of the woman. I had simply perfected years of keeping a low profile in a high profile industry and my confidence was comfortably numb.

I got to reception.
Sitting in the far corner, the furthest fucking corner with lots and lots of people to wade through, was Toyah fucking Wilcox with her head buried in a newspaper.
I was going to have to stand over her and call out her name, her stupid one-word name that was instantly recognisable, like Cher or Madonna, but without the larger-fame caché.

'Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks.'

'Toy-aah?' I whimpered. Some men in suits turned. Damned unwanted attention. I felt like an over-awed fan about to ask for an autograph when I was anything but. The newspaper dropped. Yep, that's her. At that moment, as she saw my petrified crimson face, I think she expected a pen and pad to be thrust under her nose but no, it was just an inexplicably nervous gimp.

'Hello there Ms Wilcox. I've come to escort you to the sound dub', was what I should've said. Instead, as my larynx shuddered, all I could croak was 'Voice-over' as I pointed somewhere vaguely behind me.

As we walked to the lift, that small, awkward lift, I had no conversation in me, no casual chit-chat. I decided that the best course of action was to make this as uncomfortable for the both of us. I tried to adopt a 'couldn't give a fuck' persona, but this just made me look like a wanker. The lift ride of four flights took three-and-a-half hours as I stood in a packed elevator studiously analysing each number increase above my head. My palms were now dripping.

By the time we reached the edit suite, my vocabulary had soared to 'In here', as I held the door open for her. I spent the rest of the afternoon avoiding her sneers.

To this day I'm at a loss as to why I turned into a momentary twat. Not a great story but hey, it's one of many moments that my internal VCR likes to play back when I'm feeling low.

Next week: Twatting Esther Rantzen with a big bag of tapes and getting evils.


Anonymous said...

You have to stop being so funny. I keep laughing out loud when I'm reading your blogs. I think people are begining to talk!

The Hobo said...

I'm also going to start up The Hobo's Views (notice the word play eh, eh? oh!) and attack things I hate...

Anything to avoid the full horror of working for The Man

The Hobo said...

Oh, and as for Salon. You click on the advert (which usually runs for all of about five seconds) and then you can read Salon for free.

It is as simple as that!

fwengebola said...

I've read it - not a great article, IMHO.
And thanks, anonymous. I hope you're female.

Anonymous said...

Yes I am, but with stalker-ish tendencies, so best avoided.

fwengebola said...


luna said...

Just imagine she's a bloke in drag and you'll be fine.

fwengebola said...

Oh good, that's better...

Gingerina's Parlour said...

Well I'm pleased to have read your 'Toyah' post as it reminded me of the 'Holly Johnson Day' I encountered on the Richard and Judy Show!

fwengebola said...

Yes, but by all accounts that went smoothly and you didn't go red and sweaty palmed.