This is a brave edition of this long running blog. Foolhardy even but needs must.
I have set a high bar for this weekly epistle. My readers expect many things including candour. They demand quality, some pathos, wisdom but above all else, they want to smile and occasionally laugh.
And to create this alchemy, if I have to throw my wife under the bus (or to the lions) then so be it.
Still with me?
Then read on…
Nothing unusual about a dog walk for team Holland. Just another walk in Richmond Park for a middle-aged couple and their beloved dog. Well, normal to a point insofar as the old couple and their beautiful dog were joined by their eldest son, Tom and his very close companion, the actress Zendaya.
A lovely dog walk then, what could go wrong?
Some way in to the walk, Nikki’s phone rang (not unusual) but she actually answered it (which is unusual) but this is another issue aside.
Calling Nikki is Andrea, a trustee of The Brothers Trust. Andrea is a lawyer who offers sage advice on all things philanthropic and the smooth running of an organisation like TBT.
“Hi Nikki, what house number are you?” Andrea asked sounding a little flustered and urgent.
Nikki’s face drops. Why does Andrea want to know our house number?
“I’m here for my head shot… for the website… like we arranged…”
Another epic diary fail which immediately plunges Nikki into a panic. No point in offering excuses, Nikki explains her whereabouts, apologises profusely and sets off in haste for the car. Fortunate that Tessa has pooed already because her walk is over.
En-route home, Nikki’s dread builds at the thought of how we left the house. Certainly, in no state for a non-family member to witness and especially Andrea who happens to live in a palace nearby. At present, our patio is being re-laid, I have left a frying pan in the garden to cool off after last evenings poppadom’s and there is damp laundry hanging from airers and from every other vantage spot throughout the ground floor.
As our car pulls up, Andrea is waiting patiently.
Nikki tears into the house and tries to explain herself with humour…
‘Sorry, we met at university, so we still live like students…’
The shoot goes well. Andrea is recorded for posterity and will shortly be on our website. Panic over. Everything is okay. Nothing to see here…
Until a few days later when the world’s biggest website – MailOnline.com decided to make our dog walk even more traumatic for my shy wife.
A photographer with a long lens and a dubious moral code had been merrily snapping away at the famous duo amongst us.
Of course, this is something which we half expected but always hoped wouldn’t happen. Lots of celebrities pay money to be ‘papped’ and covered in the press but not in this instance and so it feels intrusive and an indictment on us all. Being famous nowadays is more exposing since everyone has a phone and a platform. A cost and a burden of success and popularity although unfair when an unsuspecting mum is caught unawares and looking like a ‘monster’ – her word, not mine.
Show rather than tell is a great mantra for the arts – but I would never be so unkind to reproduce this photograph here – but to say, its easily findable and if you’re reading this blog, then you have the means!
Days later, Nikki stares at the photo in question and is aghast. She closes her laptop and takes immediate action…
She makes an appointment to see her hairdresser.
Her hopes that no one will see the images are short-lived as her phone starts to ping from her well-meaning ‘friends.’
It’s almost as though an impromptu WhatsApp group had been established.
Perhaps called something like, Nikki Papped.
Anyway, as the laughter and glee fades, the girlfriends rallied and assured Nikki that she is in fact gorgeousssss…
But walking Tessa will never ever be the same again. Not with the prospect of being secretly photographed. Now, Nikki will have outfits to consider. To choose leggings that are flattering. To opt for a coat she hasn’t worn already…
‘How does my hair look?’
Who gives a shit? Tessa needs a poo.
But I won’t say this of course. Far too risky. I will wait patiently even if a hair dryer is required.
Our hope is that now the world has seen the young couple on a dog walk and a supermarket shop that they might be left alone – but Nikki is taking no chances – big hair and full make up from now on which but will count for nothing if she’s snapped picking up a dog poo.
You can watch me reading today’s blog on my YouTube channel.
Takes on Life Vol. 2 is published on May 1st and can be pre-ordered now.
The podcast Takes on Life is scheduled to begin April 5th (but subject to change) (highly probable)…
For more blogs like this and hours of extra content are all on my Patreon – as well as the chance to get Vol.2 now.