I’ve been trying to process my daytime TV experience. The whole thing was quite good fun, and entirely out of my usual mode of being. I’ve been on a couple of news programmes, and done some radio, but never this sort of sofa-chat. In fact I’d never even seen the programme, and had no clear idea who Holly was, and couldn’t quite remember why Philip Schofield was famous in the first place. Blue Peter? Doctor Who? Asked to come on to make a case for the joys of nose-picking, I had a vague idea that I would challenge the superficial, consumerist babble from two direction – above and below. So I developed a line from Claude Levi-Strauss about the role of disgust in human culture, but also planned to go fully gross-out. One half of the pincer made of intellectual steel, the other of flob. Mucus is to me what daffodils were to Wordsworth, etc.
Of course it didn’t quite happen like that, because I lack the articulacy and the panache to pull it off. So I was left only with the pleasure of encountering something new and curious. So many people, all busy, the chaos never quite chaotic. All the men stupendously camp – one even wore a pink bow tie. All the women blond, hard-faced, super-efficient. The guests were all ‘ordinary’ – what an earlier generation of lower-middle-class snob would have called common. Three women – one in a wheelchair, one with breast cancer, one who’s just lost 7 stone – were being done up by someone called Gok Wan. He seemed to want to make them all look like a low-class idea of a high class prostitute. Or maybe footballers’ wives. All the women – including the one in the wheelchair – were made to wear preposterously high heels.
The person I was debating with – Rebecca Something – was a regular on these shows, and knew the form. She was the anti-snot candidate. She was hardly wearing anything at all over the chest region, so I spoke at her forehead, to avoid awkwardness. It was very awkward. I found her almost fascinating – she had set up a detective agency for women to find out if their husbands were cheating. She did this because she found out her husband had been cheating. Not at cards or anything – shagging I mean. Someone else. She had no interest at all in who I was, or what I did, or why I was there.
We were the first guests. The studio overlooked the river. Back in 1989 I had my first proper job a few buildings down. Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise. Holly really is extraordinarily lovely to behold. Not at all beautiful, but the most pretty it’s possible for a human to be (beauty and prettiness not being on the same plane). Philip is tiny. His legs are the same circumference all the way up. But he also has a charming and open face, and exudes a sort of decency. He gives me an encouraging smile. For some reason I assay a small wave at Holly. She begins to wave back, then stops herself, and settles for a nod.
And then we’re on, sitting round a table in the fake kitchen part of the studio. It goes by in a blur. I don’t use any of the lines I’ve thunk up. Except for ‘pick it, lick it, roll it and flick it.’ I want it to go on a bit longer. Rebecca Something restricts herself to saying ‘That’s disgusting’ over and over. I make a suggestive comment about oral sex, but slightly fluff it. I’d meant to say ‘we’ve all had worse things in our mouths’, but it comes out as ‘we’ve all had our mouths in worse places’. Then we’re done. I want to go for a drink to come down, but the crew’s work has only just begun, and Rebecca has to get back to Manchester, and, anyway, she’s already forgotten who I am.
Watching it later all I can think is how huge my head looks. As if someone had been pouring melted lard into my ear, and I’d forgotten to say ‘when’.
The offers of more daytime TV work are yet to flood in.