What if the zipper of my dress bursts open and breaks while I’m in Norfolk? Prepared for a disaster, I’ve packed EVERYTHING and hopefully they will allow us on the train.

I’ll be reading Elizabeth Eslami’s Bone Worship on the journey, and I’m taking two other books. I know, excessive, but I can’t bear the thought of being book-less. I’ve also packed Godiva chocolates and peanuts because who knows if the hotel is equipped for major stress eating.

I’m looking forward to meeting the Candidates. At the moment there are eleven people in the running who want to participate in the TV pilot. They must be whittled down to six and, as a result of our panel’s probing, there will be one winner. At least I hope that’s how the Candidate will feel after working with us - like a winner. You never know…

Our director is funny, I mean really funny, so I’m practicing a poker face, a “very interested in what you’re saying” face and an “I’m here to help” face. These I shall rely upon when I feel that little bubble of hysteria forming.

I’ve one more thing to pack – nerves of steel. Where can I buy them at this hour? Please send suggestions.

I don’t know if I’ll have an opportunity to tweet and blog, but perhaps I should actually focus on what I’m doing. Imagine that.

So here we go to create


I’ve just completed a London shopping blitz. I needed to pull together three television friendly outfits on a budget. In hindsight, I should have offered a sacrifice of some kind to a couple of shops, maybe that would have helped. It’s a nasty old jungle out there and when an oasis is found, it must be cherished.

People used to pay me to shop with them. Call it what you will, but personal shopper is not my favorite. Stylist? No. My husband and I wrote a book about discovering your personal style, so I guess you could call me a former personal style finder. There’s a difference in all of these terms, but that’s another story. One thing for certain – it was much easier offering advice to a stranger than try to figure out what I needed.

I’d not been “out there” for a while. I don’t write in my pyjamas, but I hardly needed to follow fashion to sit at my desk. Whenever I left the cave I relied upon good quality clothes that have been loyal to me. They’ve remained pretty current and withstood the fluctuations in my weight. Television clothing is a different animal, different from any other “special occasion” clothing. You have to think about a lot of things, some of which remain a mystery for the time being, like how certain colors look in the light, or which patterns strobe.

First, I pulled out clothes from my closet and began trying on possible contenders. I constantly reminded myself that this is a pilot, not a broadcast, so I should go light on purchases and try to make what I have work. But then again, a pilot is an audition, or a job interview, so it still has to be right. No pressure there.

Lesson 1: Cheap is cheap.

I rarely get away with cheap clothing. Some people can if they have the right body shape, or if the occasion is casual and the way they come across is not important, or if the item is simple, say, a black turtleneck, even though it won’t last very long. This is disposable clothing. Still, I gave it a shot.

Question 1: Good god women - how do you do it? Oxford Street on a Saturday morning – this is the front line.

I braved an institutionally large store that sells cheap clothing, all of which hung off the racks like hunting spoil. I felt I’d somehow wandered onto a football pitch. Suicide sounded more cheerful. Walked in, walked out.

I bought stockings and a belt that day at John Lewis. Not exciting, but necessary. Had a grand time talking to a surprisingly helpful sales assistant about denier. Customer service in London? Ha! It happens when I least expect it, and I NEVER expect it. I moved on to another interesting conversation with a woman in the ladies room where we spoke between gags. This is 2010 JL. Please do something about your loos before people die in there.

I really wanted to be shopping in Shoreditch, or Hoxton, perhaps at one of those Steampunk shops, just to relieve the uninspiring boredom of the generic high street, but alas, I didn’t have the luxury of time…so…

On my way out of Debenhams (second and last visit) I was accosted by Perfume Man. What is this - Bloomingdale’s 1985? When I said ‘no thank you’ to his aggressive behavior I heard him make a comment to his colleagues who then burst into laughter. I stopped in my tracks and found the floor manager. I hope Perfume Man didn’t need that job.

A black and white rococo patterned skirt had my name all over it. Didn’t notice the crinoline until I got home because of the dimly lit dressing stall - stall, not room. I like it, but there’s a chance I may resemble a Christmas tree on TV. Must find baubles for neck. The skirt is also missing a poodle. Maybe I should consider this outfit for the evening shots and someone can light me up.

Ahh, Bond Street. Bless.

A bright red sequined t-shirt, very much on sale, at DKNY spoke to me. It was an intuitive buy that paid off, and I shall pair it with a skirt I bought in LA about three years ago. Eight ball in the right pocket. Great service, sizes for real human beings, sustenance, a lovely bathroom and I didn’t have to walk six miles. Now we’re shopping.

If Bill Cunningham of the New York Times says we must have a cardigan, then I am with cardigan. Although I can’t help but think that it was Mrs. Obama who originated this trend during the election and our darling Bill is commenting a bit late. Either way, I’ll wear it over a few scattered polka dots and call it an outfit.

Lesson 2: You may have to try on a lot of frogs.

I popped into Jigsaw – five times. What is WRONG with me? I changed lanes a dozen times trying to piece something together, and as I worked through not a little anxiety, I bought a blouse and returned it. Ultimately, there was something mean (my husband’s word) about the clothing. But in fairness to them, it just wasn’t right for telly.

Holy prêt-à-porter. It took a mountain of clothing and patches of six days to find three little ole items. Did I do something wrong? Lost my touch? Too picky? I don’t think so. Shopping is hard work. I found myself weeding though enough schmatas in enough retail space to equal all the Queen’s backyards.

Question 2: Why?

Fit. Fit. Fit. If I let him, my husband would walk around the shops with a tape measure. As it is, he waits until he gets home. But, he’s right. If you lined up every size medium t-shirt in a shop, each one would fit differently. I‘ve seen it a gazillion times. Ghastly, isn’t it?

Every top designer has a different idea of sizing. So does every manufacturer in China. I once thought that if I just had the boyish hips, long legs and arms of a lanky girl, that every item of clothing I could ever wish to wear would fit perfectly. It’s not true. When I worked with women with that very body shape, I quickly discovered that they’re not all perfect mannequins. Many complained about their long waists. Some disliked their short waists. A few thought their limbs were too long; others wanted desperately to be curvy. They perceived their issues of equal value to women who are short, overweight or otherwise hard to fit. Everyone has to work to obtain a great fit, granted, some harder than others. But fit it must.

Okay, I could continue, but frankly, I’m exhausted. I’d much rather hear what you have to say.


It’s as if I’ve been on a long-ish drinking binge and have woken to the harsh light of “what have I gotten myself into”. We have shoot dates: June 2, 3.

We have a show title.

And here’s where we’ll be roughing it.

The veil has lifted; time to stop this verbal lollygagging and seriously wrap my head around the task at hand. Our candidates need guidance to convince their families, friends, or colleagues that their life-changing moment has arrived, they know what they’re doing and they can handle it.

I confess here and now that I have rolled my eyes at TV shows similar to The Pitch, but I’ve also remained glued to the sofa foregoing a comfort break to see the reveal. Is this instant karma?

So, to use a Southern expression, I’m as nervous as a whore in church. I’ll be thinking on my feet and hoping that I won’t sound as if I’ve overdosed on idiot pills. These are people’s lives we’re talking about. Their stories are real and they’re willing to share them, warts and all. Surprisingly, in this age of baring all just to grab that fifteen minutes, our producer and director found it quite a challenge to find people who didn’t mind opening up and revealing details about their lives. Candidates mysteriously disappeared, others, when it came down to the wire, couldn’t commit to dates.

My initial fear and worry about what I will look like on the big bad screen has shifted. Will I be able to do a good job – this is the question that haunts my sleep. And will I have the stamina for god’s sake? There was something sobering about facing the shooting schedule our director wove into the fabric of hilarious emails. Laughing all the way to basically two days of working flat out for twelve hours or more each day. We’re even having dinner on camera, horror of horrors. Will it resemble Come Dine With Me without the cooking? Will we bicker about who will stay, who will go, who wins the record contract or performs for the Queen?

Our lovely director’s latest words, “Thank you for embracing the making of the pilot with no immediate reward.” Are you kidding? I’m a writer. Reward? We don’t need no stinking reward!

Well, on second thought…


It’s Britain’s Got Talent meets Dragons' Den, tinged with a little Jerry Springer, so seems the current description of the TV pilot that’s in the works. Production is squeaking along and, as predicted, the shoot dates have been changed twice since my last post. I’m going to be blacklisted from my hair salon.

A venue in Norwich has been chosen. Road trip! If the private plane doesn’t pan out, I’ve chosen Plan B.

Seems there’s a little trouble brewing in Norwich. I’m told our candidates - people who’d like a little help with a life changing issue - are, umm, unusual.

It’s come to this: Normal people just won’t do for TV. Wonder what that says about me. One of the candidates has an ambition to be a Johnny Depp look alike. (I resist the urge to insert photo.) Surely, either you are a Johnny Depp look alike, or you aren’t. Am I correct here? I’m told he’s the spitting image, especially when he’s donned full Jack Sparrow regalia. So why does he need help from our panel? Is it a business plan he’s after? Or would he like hair and clothing advice à la Mr. Depp? Guess I’ll find out later.

Our producer and director have pulled a few more quirky people out of the barrel.

Quirky, in this case, also means unreliable, a bit flaky and highly volatile. At the moment we are unsure of shoot dates. Apparently pinning down two consecutive days, attempting to collect the candidates' questionnaires and wrangling a commitment from them has been a nightmare. I’m wondering if I should be concerned for my safety. Might they throw chairs and other objects? There are no plans to have therapists standing in the wings, so I suggest we borrow a couple from the Jeremy Kyle show. Insurance anyone?

Boy oh boy.