Still no such thing as a free lunch

Under the counter: 'I have washed up after a dinner party, put eardrops in my cat's ear, swum 40 lengths and been on live television. Now that's what I call an over-achieving kind of morning'
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Indy Lifestyle Online
For the past five hours, I have been carrying a sweaty hot cross bun, filled with salmon, in my handbag. I have also washed up after a dinner party, put eardrops in my cat's ear, swum forty lengths and been on live television. Now that's what I call an over-achieving kind of morning. Had I been at work, I would still have been on my second Styrofoam cup of coffee and stuck on an Antiques Trade Gazette crossword clue like "protrusions on a wine glass stem," five letters.

When I say "on" live television, I didn't exactly star, but was part of the studio audience, and they zoomed in on me - a lot - according to my mother, who added that my hair looked nice. The difference between me, a mere "clap now!" stooge, and the surprise guest, was that I had spent half-an-hour clambering around in the rubble, with my fetid Tupperware box, trying to find the studios, whereas Spring-fresh Twiggy was limoed right over for lunch.

This was Light Lunch, "the flagship of Channel 4's new-look daytime schedule," hosted by Mel Giedroye and Sue Perkins, where they take one celeb chef, a few celebish celebs and mix with their own banter for a very long time. This "caring, sharing duo" were billed as the new French and Saunders, so when two invitations arrived a couple of days ago, I wondered which of my ladies-who-can-lunch friends to make my lucky guest. My doctor friend was on call, my temping friend was temping and my wealthy friend was at her pile in the country. I grew suspicious, so tuned in. Light Lunch was serving up heavy ham, in the form of Mel and Sue. After ten minutes of cringing - before the guests had even arrived - I had to switch off.

And so I went - alone. The rest of the audience in the queue looked like the same bus load of toothless pensioners that I encountered in Norfolk a couple of weeks ago, but the clement weather had brought about an added bonus of hairy veined legs and corn revealing sandals. Just the ticket for a "contemporary, upbeat" show, eh Mel and Sue? Once our "lunch money" had been distributed (pounds 3) to reimburse us for the packed lunch we were invited to bring (this particularly pleased the bus party, who obviously made a whopping profit) we were told to wait. Suddenly, a crew member, dressed in citro-trend and looking rather concerned, sidled up to me and the four other young women in the queue and ushered us away to the front of the building. She gave no explanation for this singling out, but I guess a front row of crimpolene-clad blue rinses sucking their meat paste sandwiches would not have been the right image to project to the "available 6.5 million afternoon viewers". So two 17-year-olds from Middlesex, two lassies from Scotland and I - the golden youth - were given the front two rows and the wrinklies were herded to the back.

As for the show, I found it so dull that every time there was a close- up of me my husband mistook me for one of the Glums. Squeaky star Fran Dresher was the main guest. She took a couple of mouthfuls of the nosh cooked by the guest chef and complained about the gaseous nature of the cauliflower. I agree - as if the show needed more hot air.

A quote from this newspaper in the Light Lunch press release reads: "There's no doubt which way Mel and Sue are going to go, and it's not down." I can only think the critic was going to add "It's up. Up the Swanee".

So, "there-you-go" girls. And no, I'm not going to eat my horrid hot cross bun.

No such thing as a free lunch. They pay you pounds 3 to bring a packed lunch. The catch? You have to watch the show.

Telephone 0171-737 8847 for tickets.

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