Many of you will be aware that I returned to education back in September. Initially to retake my Maths & English GCSE’s but with a view to moving onto an Access to Higher Education course and then ultimately to study creative writing and publishing at university.
In reality it’s a five year plan that, when completed, will enable me to actually do what I want to do in terms of a career. I’ve spent the first 40 years of my life drifting along and doing things to make other people happy as opposed to looking after mine and my partners happiness. So now, as I rapidly approach my 40th birthday, it’s time to change things up. I’m pleased to say that I have been accepted onto the Access course starting in September of this year, and my Maths and English GCSE’s are going well. I feel like things are actually going my way and I’m actually achieving something for once in my life. It’s a good feeling!
Anyway, with that brief life update out of the way, I wanted to share something with you.
Part of my GCSE English course and the subsequent exams revolve around ‘Imaginative Writing’, and the other week we were tasked with writing a short piece about ‘going on a journey.’ Now this particular piece could either be based on our own life or entirely fictional. In my case, I decided to go down the fictional route and came up with something that I’m particularly proud of.
I wanted to put a different spin on the whole idea of going on a journey. So, this piece is about a young woman named Sophie who is about to become a housemate on Big Brother UK, and it tells of her short journey from the safety of the car, through the madness of the crowds and paparazzi to an emotional realisation during her pre-show interview.
When I wrote this piece it got me wondering whether actually writing fiction could be the way to go for me, rather than writing the features and opinion pieces that I had initially set my sights on.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the piece. I would certainly be interested to know what you all think in the comments below.
It was the storm after the calm.
Just moments ago, I had left the relative serenity of the car that had chauffeured me the short distance from her hotel to the famous studios at Borehamwood, and experienced something that was usually reserved for those that were more well versed in the hustle and bustle of the media circus.
From the moment I stepped out of the vehicle, all eyes were on me.
In just a few seconds I had gone from being Sophie the over-qualified telemarketer to Sophie the social media star.
As I scanned my surroundings, the sheer scale of the world that I was about to enter came into focus. First, the crowd. The infamous ‘rent-a-mob’ that made it their duty to attend each and every live show lined the catwalk that seemingly stretched out infinitely before me. In reality of course, it was only a few metres in length. But as I made my way in what felt like slow motion along its sparkly surface, I found myself to be the involuntary recipient of their pent-up bile and venom. These people were complete strangers to me. I didn’t know the first thing about them or what their lives had thrown at them, but here they were, spewing hatred and hurling insults at me. Their bloodthirsty opinions formed on the basis of a mere sixty-second VT that had been heavily manipulated by the production team to paint me in a bad light. The Sophie that they were baying for was the person that was currently grimacing down from the twelve-foot high display screens that adorned every external surface of the building, not the real Sophie that was walking nervously past them.
Next came the paparazzi. A kettle of vultures desperately scavenging around the corpse of my previous existence, trying to extract whatever scraps of my past misdemeanours that they could in order to generate clicks and sell papers. Flashbulbs from their cameras pulsed away causing my eyes to squint uncontrollably and their oversized zoom lenses jutted intrusively into my face, trying to capture the most unflattering images of me to illustrate their savage tabloid musings.
It was a relief when Emma – the host of the show – gently grabbed my arm and steered me away from the hordes of hungry press.
She began to question me about my reasons for wanting to become a housemate on the most famous reality television show in Britain, and as I flashed the camera my best smile and commenced my pre-rehearsed speech about wanting to experience the journey of discovery that an eight week stint in the Big Brother house offered, my mind began to wander. The persistent hum of the raucous crowds fell silent and the sea of screens and illuminations that surrounded me gradually faded to black.
Why was I really here?
It’s not as if I craved the attention and exposure that an appearance on such a show could offer. For some people, a few weeks spent living on camera could open up a wealth of opportunities for them when they were eventually evicted. Glossy magazine photoshoots, night club appearances and even further television work were all within the realms of possibility.
But that wasn’t for me.
I had always preferred the simple life. I worked as a telemarketer. Not the most exciting career in the world but it offered stability and a decent wage. I always lived within my means and was sure to put plenty of money aside every month for that eventual rainy day. I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke and I’d never taken drugs. My lifestyle was safe and sensible. I preferred to binge on a box set rather than binge on junk food and I had never been involved in a Twitter spat with anybody. I was hardly your typical reality TV fodder.
Perhaps that was the point though. Maybe this whole exercise was to prove to myself and to those around me who considered me “dull” and “boring” that I could be spontaneous. That I could do something outrageous and a little bit “out-there.” Right at this moment I wasn’t sensible Sophie who spent every weekend tucked up in front of the telly with a pot of tea, but Sophie the TV star!
As the sights and sounds of reality slowly came back into focus and Emma’s interrogation finished, I began my ascent up the harsh metal steps and with a final wave to the crowds, that not five minutes ago had effectively been calling for my head on a plate, I stepped across the threshold and into the house.
Many would say that I had started this journey as a loser. But I had every intention of finishing it as a winner.