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Trying…to be more Becky
During my couple of weeks off work, the political wheel spun again returning yet another Prime Minister. And now the work begins for the UK’s youngest political leader of modern times - whom I was once described alongside as a “geriatric millennial”. Charming. But it was another kind of wheel that captured my attention last Saturday eve - Michael McIntryre’s to be precise.
The Wheel, a BBC game show, I am going to be totally honest that I knew very little about until I was invited to be one of the players on it at the start of this year. After a close friend’s mum practically fizzed with excitement when I mentioned the offer, I checked it out, found myself wondering about motion sickness in this giant water-free spinning jacuzzi in which several people sit trying to win someone else money - while laughing along with Mr McIntyre spinning at the centre of proceedings.
When these sorts of random but lovely invitations come through I am always in two minds. To leave one’s comfort zone or not, that becomes the question. For instance each time I’ve been on Have I Got News For You, I haven’t regretted it but in the run-up, the thought of not making Ian Hislop at least smile (I have always been on his team) plays at the back of one’s mind until the deed is done. And then once you are doing it, and Mr Hislop’s first laugh is achieved, it’s a riot.
My answer over whether to say yes to the The Wheel my came to me in a most peculiar way. A few days after my miscarriage in January, sitting on the rug in our living room thinking about what makes me feel good, after a period of feeling so, so sad, I just thought why the hell not? And replied to the show’s producers saying yes. That was also the same moment I made some other bigger, more consequential decisions, such as the choice to publicly talk about trying for a second baby, while it was going wrong, having endured five failed rounds of IVF. It was also the same moment when the idea for this newsletter crystallised.
Sometimes when one area of life has become horribly grim, it takes the pressure off in other places; the pressure of concerning oneself with what others will think and the fear of putting a foot wrong - even inside a giant illuminated wheel on national TV.
And so off I trotted to the studios a few weeks later and do you know what? It was genuinely one of the most joyous and weirdly life-affirming afternoons. And it all came down to Becky, our final contestant.
She came up through the shiny floor, (via a trap door in the centre of the wheel as you do) to meet us, beaming with the sort of smile you can’t help but return. And in Becky’s words, totally ready to “go big or go home”. The wheel was spun and I found the giant arrow pointing at me and on my specialist subject, women, (and yes as Michael rightly noted, it was rather a vast category). Our eyes locked. The question came up and the most wonderful things happened: I knew the answer before the multiple choice answers appeared. I told her I did and she trusted me. We were one in the moment. I so wanted her to get to the final round and now I can say, as the episode has just aired, she bloody did it. My hunch was mercifully correct.
And then Becky only went on to win the most she could £90,000, utterly transforming the lives of her family and daughters. Working in a service station, she shared lockdown hadn’t been easy and they had lost a lot. But now she could get on the property ladder and take her girls and partner to Benidorm on a much needed holiday.
Becky’s win was our win too - on an emotional level. I felt total elation for her and totally uplifted by her go get ‘em attitude that had propelled her to this very point. And yes I know we were just making a game show and that they go wrong an awful lot too, but this didn’t and Becky’s verve was something to behold up close; a shot of pure happiness in the arm.
Watching the episode back on TV this weekend, I could see things about myself others couldn’t or wouldn’t. I was laughing freely, enjoying the task in hand and crucially, on no IVF drugs. There was no chemical glaze. In between cycles, on the precipice of whether to spin my fertility wheel again, I was me. Without the pressures of trying.
I never usually watch or listen back to any of my broadcasting work (it is usually live in any case) but at the request of my excitable four-year-old, I was persuaded to on this occasion. And despite cringing at my in-chair dancing (I love to dance but moving around well in a spinning seat sat next to Anton Du Beke is a tough ask for anyone), I gave a knowing nod to my old self, or rather a fleeting vision of her and was pleased I had made the decision to chuck myself into TV’s Wheel.
Trying to say yes to things, the crazier the better, when you are going through something tough, usually turns out well, despite how rotten you may feel at the time. And if no such offers are coming in (I accept The Wheel is a brilliant but extreme example), please try to come up with something for yourself and perhaps friend. A dare you if you will, to shake your whole world up.
You are still in there under the layers of whatever is weighing you down. And while it might still be sitting on you, it’s good to excavate the real you and see them again - if only for an afternoon.
The Wheel-me is the real me. I liked seeing her again and am looking forward to meeting her more regularly once this particular fertility journey is over - however it ends.
Hopefully it concludes in January with a baby, as I type this nearly seven months pregnant, still suspended somewhere between disbelief, hope and fear.
But who knows? What I do know is that a part of me will be irrevocably changed, as it was by the years of trying to have our son. But I also know that the old me, my original self, is waiting, rather impatiently, to return centre stage. And I have Becky, Michael McIntrye and his whole Wheel crew, to thank for a healthy reminder.
Go big or go home eh? Becky-style.
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