I'm a celebrity sickie!

7th May 2004 at 01:00
I'd never done this before, and I certainly won't be doing it again.

I threw a "sickie" and gave in to the smooth talking so-and-so who masquerades as my better half.

Himself had won the first prize in the rugby club draw, and we had won a weekend in Paris. When I say weekend, I mean three days starting on the Friday morning. My conscience bothered me. How would they cope? Would they notice I'd gone? What if we're spotted?

We had to be at the airport for noon. I could go in for the morning and have a convenient migraine or something similar. No. I could phone in and assume a croaky voice in the style of Fenella Fielding. I rehearsed for a good 10 minutes and then dialled the school number.

The secretary answered. "Oh, Bridget, you sound awful," she said. I knew those drama lessons would come in handy.

Himself stirred from his alcohol-induced slumber and we were off. The idiot only stopped for a paper, and I had to slide down the passenger seat as various reluctant pupils were dragged into the queue for the school bus. I hid behind the road atlas for a full five minutes before he returned. I know every road around Wick and Thurso now.

Finally, we were off again and my thoughts kept straying back to St Pats.

Who was coming in today? Was there an assembly? I fidgeted and shuffled uncomfortably. The Oor Wullie cartoon characters kept coming back into my mind. My devil told me to get on with it. My angel said turn back. Cars overtook us. Everyone was happy, except me.

We pulled up behind a navy blue Avensis. Out of boredom, I read the car sticker on the back. Tangerine Terrors. I looked at the silhouette of the driver. No! It's him! Of all the luck - the director of education having a day off!

I dived for cover. My beloved thought I'd lost a contact lens, and muttered something unrepeatable. By now, my conscience was in turmoil. My spirits lifted when the director's car turned off at the next junction. Phew!

We eventually reached the airport, and I duly donned dark glasses and turned up the collar of my coat. We went to the check-in and queued up for the Paris flight. I resembled the girl from The Exorcist as my head spun round searching for parents, pupils or the director's Stasi. Then it happened.

From nowhere came lights, cameras and microphones. I was grabbed by the sleeve and hurtled over towards a trendy yoof presenter who was shouting and gesticulating wildly.

Through the music and thumping sounds, I heard the words: "And here they are . . . How does it feel? Where are you from? What's the name of the lucky couple?"

The yoof presenter duly informed us that we were the millionth customers with this particular budget airline, and we had won a special prize. Enter stage left a silicone-enhanced "celebrity" I duly recognised from the television. Never mind her. Get me out of here!

This was an act of God. Mea culpa. Maxima culpa. There we were being ushered into a waiting taxi, and the enhanced one was slobbering all over himself who I have to say was offering little in the way of resistance.

Cameras flashed. Miss Silicone flashed. I flushed. Take me away from this.

I saw my career rush behind me. How could I face them all? I was a deserter, a fake, a phoney. I had let them all down. I had to resign.

Eventually, I regained some composure and tried to reason with the producer, who was insistent that we accompany the team to the studios for a "live" interview on the Richard and Judy Show. Could this get any worse? I started to panic. I looked in the rear view mirror. I was a mess. Himself had the stupidest of stupid grins across his unshaven face. He always had a liking for busty blondes. My mother had warned me.

Then it happened. The yoof presenter was talking into his headpiece. I caught the words "off", "out of time" and "ditch". The taxi stopped.

Richard and Judy had run out of time, and the item was cancelled. The apologies were profuse. The whole recording had to be scrapped. We were offered vouchers for holidays in the Caribbean as compensation. I duly accepted. Himself was devastated. The Mountains of Mone gave him a signed photo of herself. Her spelling was atrocious.

We arrived home at two o' clock. I had only one thought in mind. I sped towards the school to redeem myself. I breezed in.

"Oh yes, much better, thank you," I answered in reply to those seeking news of my little illness. Forgive me?

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