My heart is racing and my mouth feels dry I cannot concentrate and I jitter –it’s just nerves. Yesterday it manifested itself in a full blown panic attack and I was unable to travel up to London to do a face-to-face interview but the good news is at least I wasn’t sick.
I was able to carry out the interview via the telephone so to be honest no one lost out, I mean if they were actually to see me well my cover would well and truly be blown. How can anyone take a frumpy fat forty year old seriously especially if she turns up in jeans and an ill fitting T-shirt? I swear these were the ONLY things in my wardrobe I felt I could possibly be seen in for anything else would be far too humiliating. All my old work clothes are juts that OLD and out of date. Not so old as to be vintage but old enough to make you cringe and that’s before you realise they make anyone over 30 look like mutton dressed up as lamb. I no longer have the legs for it, actually I never did have the legs for it, but at least I was young!
Now I wait to go up to London again and wonder if I will be sick with apprehension. No I really do mean I will be sick, I usually am. It started when I was laughingly called a cub reporter and I had a rather dubious experience on my first solo interview. In those days and possibly now there was a tension between advertising and editorial. In that advertising would tear their hair out if editorial wrote something that upset the advertisers and editorial would get equally frustrated about being told what they could and could not write. Somewhere amongst all that, one had to keep a balance. Usually editorial won out because that is the integrity of the magazine and without integrity why on earth would anyone want to read it. Anyway, I was to interview one of the magazine’s top advertisers and also one of the top dogs in the food manufacturing world. I was meant to be going along with our senior reporter but she called in sick at the last minute and because it was such an important interview I had to go on my own. It was a lunch at Chelsea Wharf in a very exclusive restaurant. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to eat and write at the same time but I needn’t have worried about that because I landed up having to worry about SO much more.
Having travelled down from god knows where this 40 year old director decided it was time to have fun and I was basically served up to him on a dish. Try as I might to get the interview all he was interested in was touching me up under the table cloth and whisper revolting things to me in my ear. And I was SO stupid all I could do was try to carry doing the interview and look beseechingly at the waiters hoping that they might rescue me but they didn’t. Perhaps they thought they had seen it all before and this was some sort of sex game the both of us played; me being all coy and him getting more turned on but trying to do it discreetly before we rushed off to some hotel where they turned a blind eye to couples hiring room for the day.
You’d have thought by the end of the meal I would have been desperate to escape but back in 1989 Chelsea Wharf wasn’t exactly easy to get to and there were no taxi’s to be had, even if I did had the money to pay for one. In fact I had no money at all as in my rush to get to the interview I had left my purse behind. He did apologise to me and offered me a lift back to Charring Cross and can you credit it because he apologized I thought he meant it and gratefully accepted the lift. Well you can guess that he pounced on me the minute we were in the car. I got really angry and told him very very forcefully to pack it in and drive me to the station. Like a lamb he did as he was told. How was I to know he thought it all a game? I just wanted to get back home. I spent the 45 minute drive to Charring Cross slapping his hand away from my thigh and telling him that I would not go to the movies with him and that I didn’t care if he did know a great little club in Soho however discreet it was. I felt such a fool and I felt increasingly nervous about what I was going to say to my editor for not getting a story and what on earth I was going to say to my publisher if I pissed this man off – I mean he might never advertise again!
Ever since that day whenever I had to go and do interviews I was always sick before hand, sometimes I suffered chronic panic attacks and would be found hyperventilating in the loos of a variety of up market and exclusive hotels and restaurants in London. I have no idea why I carried on; perhaps I am some sort of masochist. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind not to do the job I did. Needless to say I wasn’t a very good reporter but there again I wasn’t too bad either. I wonder sometimes what would have happened to me if I never had gone to that interview…
Anyway tomorrow I go up to London for a Conference one I should enjoy and even though I know it is highly doubtful anyone will try to touch me up or anything daft like that I am still full of nerves, I’ll try not to be sick but if I look kinda wild eyed and jumpy please bear with me once I am in the swing of it all I’ll be perfectly normal…honest!