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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 13-Jan-13


Sunday 12-January-13

Famous for fifteen minutes

Have you ever had someone rush up to you in the street and say 'I saw you on television yesterday!' I hadn't until Thursday this week. It's a most peculiar experience and can drop you into confused state where you wonder who on earth you are.

It all began a couple of years ago when my wife and I were contemplating retirement. Well, sort of. She was teaching and I was consulting, the kids had left home and so the only thing that was keeping us where we were living was her job. We'd moved to Berkshire when I joined HP in the mid-80s and had stayed as jobs changed and our children grew up. But we are Welsh and always intended to return to Wales, so now this was our opportunity.

As my wife was retiring from teaching last summer, we started seriously looking at houses a year and a half ago but never seemed to agree on the right house. So almost in desperation, I applied to the BBC TV show 'Escape to the Country', where they show a couple three different houses in their destination county (we were looking in Monmouthshire). To our surprise we were accepted and were filmed last August. It was an interesting experience, watching how such shows are made behind the scenes. It was done with a small and friendly TV crew as we were hustled from house to house.

They showed us three very different houses, which is what I'd hoped for as we wanted stimulation more than the 'perfect house'. There was a pretty but tiny cottage, a converted barn and an uber-modern, minimalist house. We liked the barn, but it got sold a couple of days later, so that was that. But it had served its purpose in making us realize that this was a style on which we could both agree. Not long after, we bought another barn (which we like even more) and moved at the end of November.

As the airing of the show on daytime TV approached, we started getting apprehensive. Did we say something embarrassing? Would we appear foolish? Oh dear. But in the end it wasn't too bad, although entirely weird. Why do you appear so different on TV than when you look in the mirror? And your voice sounds so strange, too.

The next day we were in a DIY store when a woman rushed up to us and said 'I saw you on the tele yesterday!' What do you say? Do you pretend to be someone else? Do you play the diva? In the end we just said 'yes' and chatted about the experience. More than anything else, this was the strangest experience, and perhaps gave us a glimpse of what it's like for TV personalities and those in the public eye. We also noticed a few people looking at us and wondered if this was normal or we were getting a little paranoid.

 I can't say I'd like it to happen all the time, but as something new it was quite interesting. Fame, then, doesn't seem to be all it's made out to be. In theory you feel grand as all the recognition boosts your sense of identity, but as my wife and I are more introverted than extraverted, we are generally content with our own company.

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