I was at a wedding over Jubilee weekend.
No, I was at THE wedding over the Jubilee weekend. The two coolest people I know got married and everything was just unbelievably, fabulously amazing and cool. Well, apart from me. But everything else was. It was super top brilliant ACES.
At this awesome wedding I bumped into an old friend who I was very pleased to introduce to The Man.
Error. First he told The Man that I am the filthiest girl in the world. And then he told The Man my Breast Story. And The Man – for the first time in memory – was speechless. The Man is used to having a girlfriend who behaves like a fool. But this story took things to a whole new level. He was gobsmacked.
And as I watched a sense of horror – and then mirth – develop in his face, I realised that I had to tell you my breast story, readers, for it is still the most awful thing I have ever done. I feel you have enjoyed my mishaps over the years – but forget them. They are nothing.
Buckle in and prepare for the Big One.
So. It’s March 2004. I’m in my first proper TV job after a few years working in West End theatre. Because I’m a bit older than the rest of the terrified arse-wipers, I mean runners, I want the bosses to take me SERIOUSLY. I want them to know that I’ve already had a bit of a career and therefore I have PROFESSIONAL SKILLS and can be relied on if they need any SPECIAL PROJECTS doing.
(Older than the rest but – clearly – a total dick nonetheless.)
My pompous posturing soon pays off. I am given the responsibility of emailing out the Executive Producer’s daily report to the world. She gives me access to the sacred email distribution list for the entire show, including the most senior CEO type people at the TV company I’m working for, and even some of the people at the channel who have commissioned the show.
Now, commissioners, in TV – for better or worse – are treated as deity. It is difficult for me to be diplomatic about the extent of the sycophancy that goes on between production companies and TV commissioners. But suffice to say I found it to be at best revolting. Either way, it would be a terrible, terrible offence to email ANYTHING to the commissioner that wasn’t pious and servile.
So. This daily email. It’s really important. It’s serious. It goes to everyone who matters, plus people who really do not matter, such as me. Readers, I’m bloody THRILLED to be given a gig like this. And because I am hideous, terrified, insecure little shit, I make sure my runner colleagues all know that I am basically more important than them.
(Don’t worry. I get my just dessert.)
Then one morning I am distracted. The bloke that I’m chasing has just invited me to go to Glastonbury with him (WHAT DOES IT MEAN, WHAT DOES IT MEAN?) and so, when my gay friend Craig, who is bored at his desk, emails demanding that I send him a picture ‘of my massive wangers,’ I agree. I jump into the project with great enthusiasm, coercing another runner into taking a photograph of my bazoomas and getting them to help me upload this picture into an email. Oh come on, it’s 2004. I’ve never used a camera before.
High with excitement about the man situation and my super importance as a group-emailing runner (rather than just another arse-wiping runner) I whack off the email, chuckling as I imagine Craig opening up the photo at his desk and guffawing loudly.
But Craig doesn’t open it at his desk. Because I haven’t sent it to Craig. I have instead sent it to the sacred email distribution list for the programme. INCLUDING THE CEO AND THE COMMISSIONER FROM THE CHANNEL WHO ONLY THIS MORNING THE EXECUTIVE PRODUCER BOUGHT DESIGNER PASTRIES FOR AND SLAVED OVER AS IF SHE WERE GOD.
Let’s recap. An email, entitled ‘My breasts,’ has been sent to everyone important who is involved with this show. Attached to this email is a photograph of my breasts.
I do not realise what I’ve done, though. Because, chest puffed out, I’m about to start emailing out the Executive Producer’s report. As I check over her email one final time before putting in the name of the distribution list, I suddenly think: “Hmmm. I’m sure I’ve emailed everyone on this list more recently than yesterday morning…”
But of course it doesn’t cross my mind that I in fact emailed them two minutes ago. Because that would be too awful to contemplate.
Then Tom comes in, staring at me weirdly. “Why on earth would you do that?” he asks, clearly baffled.
I smirk. Tom is a researcher, and therefore more senior than me, but everyone knows he’s useless. I’m going to overtake you in your career soon, I think, looking haughtily at him.
“Why on earth would I do what?” I ask politely.
“Email your tits to everyone on the show,” he says. “Are you out of your f*cking MIND?”
Down in the gallery, which is the bit where they’re looking at loads of telly screens, it is reported that loud, terrible screams are heard coming from the runners’ room three floors up. Lucy Robinson, her terrible error finally dawning on her, has just pressed ‘Send/receive’ on her inbox and – because she’s on this distribution list too – has just received the email that everyone else is opening as we speak. It is an email entitled ‘My Breasts’ and yes, it encloses a photo souvenir.
I am given a formal written warning. It is awful. I cry for three days and can’t look anyone in the eye.
Meanwhile, everyone who is not engaged in the process of pleasing the commissioner is roaring with laughter. My breasts are printed out on every machine in the building, often several times over. My breasts are tacked to every notice board and the guys in the security hut have papered one of their hut walls with my boobs. Often I will receive a walkie talkie call asking me to attend to a job somewhere and will arrive at the designated task location only to find a giant A2 rendering of my cleavage pinned to the wall and the s0unds of helpless laughter spilling out from behind the nearest door.
It gets worse. Another junior person (although not as junior as me. I really was at the bottom of the food chain) is sent a legal letter which she is required to give to one of the people taking part in our programme. The recipient of the letter is being sacked from the show, and the letter explains why. It contains a LOT of legal jargon reminding the sacked person of the confidentiality agreement they’d signed, blah blah blah.
But this junior person, on printing out the letter, somehow pulls it out of the printer with a page of my breasts which was sitting there. The breast picture is stapled to the legal letter and it is sent. Nobody realises what has happened.
Until the person who’d been sacked contacts the lawyers at the production company and asks why, in her letter of dismissal, she hasbeen sent a picture of some idiot’s breasts. She feels fairly sure that a tabloid newspaper would be interested in her woeful tale of irreverent dismissal. And so, the Executive who has just given me a formal written warning then has to call me in again, to tell me that there is a good chance that my breasts will appear in the News of the World this Sunday.
It wasn’t a good time for me.
Years later, I was in a beer garden with some new TV colleagues. I forget what show it was but by then I was working on quite clever programmes and therefore was keen to prove that I was an intelligent sort of a girl.
We were telling stories about talentless idiots who work in TV and blag their way right up to the top jobs. There’s a lot of them. And then my new boss shuddered and started telling a story about a friend of a friend who had, on her very first TV running job, somehow managed to email a picture of her breasts to everyone on the show. “I mean, can you IMAGINE?” she said, laughing heartily. “What a spanner! What a total fool!” Everyone else was laughing. “No way, I’ve heard that story too!” giggled someone else. “Stupid, stupid girl!”
I went to the bar and ordered a lot of chips. What else could I do?