A newspaper photo shoot ends up in a toe de-fluff

It’s been a bizarre week. After the hubby pointing out that, given my own marketing background I should get and do the publicity for my own book, I begin to email out a whole heap of press releases  to various media outlets.

Contacting them starts with calling the news desk numbers. And it turns out that’s quite a nerve-wracking thing to do. Keen to get the name of the right person to send the press release to, I pick up the phone ready to speak, and immediately put it down again, hands shaking. ‘Breathe,’ I tell myself.  This is daft. Given my book has a Gloucestershire connection, I have decided to start with the local papers first, and my heart is racing. ‘God help you when you contact the nationals,’ pipes up my hubbie, toast in mouth as he passes by the study. I tut. He has a point. Actually, I chastise him, but I have to admit he’s been a great help – he has spoken to his contact at Radio Gloucestershire and turns out they’re very interested in running a story about the book. ‘I could kiss you!’ I shriek when he calls one morning with the good news. ‘It’s not come to that has it?’ he replies. He has a point. But at the very least my two daughters are excited – it’s quite sweet. ‘Mum’s going to be famous!’ they yelp, jumping, knocking over their lunch boxes. ‘Mum’s going to be famous!’ I sigh. ‘Not really,’ I tell them. ‘Mum, we’re so proud of you!’  they say. Aaah. ‘ We’re telling the teachers!’  shouts the eldest. Oh dear God.

Come the afternoon, I’ve taken several deep breaths, called the news desks and finally sent out the press releases with accompanying photographs (1 potrait, 1 landscape is best, according to my friend, Press Chris). So far so good. Realising it’s nearly school-run time, I am shoving on my Converse and jacket, when my mobile shrills. ‘Hi,’ says an Irish voice. ‘Is that Nikki?’ My heart bangs ten to the dozen. ‘Yes,’ I croak. ‘It’s the Gloucestershire Citizen Newspaper,’ they say. ‘We’d like to arrange a photo call for your story tomorrow.’ Oh holy Lord. After quickly stemming the instant need to vomit, I arrange a time and date for the next day. ‘Oh, and can you bring your Kindle for the shot?” she asks.  Oh heck. I do not own a Kindle yet, but have asked for one for my birthday. So I do what I know I only can. I lie, sort of.  ‘Um, that might be tricky, because, um, it’s being…um…fixed,’  I say. There is silence. Then, yes! I remember my friend, Jo, owns one, and she only lives round the corner.  Result. ‘But I can get one!’ I say, triumphant. ‘Great!’ she replies.  ‘Bye.’ And with that, she’s gone. I text Jo, fast.

Dazed, somewhat elated and now late,  I sprint to school (turns out it literally is the school-run), and am breathless on arrival, when the Citizen girl phones again. ‘Can you get Stuart to be in the shot?’ she asks. This is Stuart Langworthy, my hubbie’s teacher who inspired the book. I try not to scare her by heavy breathing into the phone. ‘Sure,’ I say, ‘no problem.’ This turns out to be a bit tricky, as of course Stuart being a teacher, is teaching. But, bless him, he’s up for it and after a few calls and rearranging, first one venue, then the other, we have a time of 10am for the next day at his school for the shoot. It’s the same school my husband went to, the same school Simon Pegg attended, the same school Stuart’s always taught at.

That night, it’s a case of figuring out what to wear. ‘Mum,’ says the eldest, eyes narrowed at a blouse hanging up, ‘that’s okay. But make sure you don’t go too old lady.’ Then she’s off, head in book, her job done. I sigh, peer into the mirror  and pull at the wrinkles around my eyes. Make up. I’m going to need make up.

Thankfully, the photographer who meets us the next day is a nice guy. ‘I know your husband,’ he says as he sets up the room for the shot. ‘Most people do,’ I say, sighing.  The photographer is keen to get the Kindle, containing my book cover, into shot , but something’s wrong and it’s not playing ball. Last night, me and my friend Jo, whilst she was teaching me how to use it, actually deleted the book by accident. Oops. On top of the cover crisis, the photographer is actually two hours late – the Citizen girl forgot to tell him of the new time and venue we arranged, so things (i.e. me) are a bit fraught. But no matter. I stand, I smile, I hold up my friend’s Kindle, the Amazon page it’s sold on projected on to the screen behind me. When I am asked questions, I hear my voice shaking, but thankfully, no one seems to notice. Stuart is lovely, the photographer is kind and my friend Emma, who was also taught by Stuart, has turned up ready for lunch. ‘You off to work now?’ asks Stuart, once the shoot’s over. I shake my head. ‘Shopping,’ I say. ‘Ah, a bit of retail therapy,’ he replies. Hmm, yes. Therapy, I think. Therapy would be good.

That night, I am getting my youngest daughter ready for bed as she asks me about my day. I tell her about the photographer and the newspaper, and she beams a smile at me. Bless her. ‘Off you go and clean your teeth now,’ I say, as I nip down stairs. Two minutes later, she is calling me from her room. ‘Yes?’ I say, coming back up. ‘Mum,’ she says, sat on the floor, feet out, ‘since you did so well today, I have a present for you.’ She wriggles her feet. ‘You can clean out the fluff from my toes!’  she announces. I smile and kneel down.  ‘Oh honey,’ I say. This is a first. Removing fluff from her toes is her favourite thing. This is a Big Deal. ‘Thank you, sweetie,’ I say.  And then, giving her a hug,  I begin to de-fluff  her toes. Now this is therapy.

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