You know, kraken lovers, every year I’m gripped by the Great British Sewing Bee on BBC 2 and every year I mutter to myself that I’ll apply as a contestant on the show. In fact I do more than mutter. I daydream about keeping the sewing room captivated with my irresistable, thimble-based wit, I wonder at how much Claude and I will become best friends, I muse about lusty fumblings in the haberdashery with Paddy Grant. Indeed, in my head the only problem with the Great British Sewing Bee is that it is yet to be graced with my captivating presence. However, there is a cloud on this imaginative horizon and it is this: reality. So here’s what would really happen if I appeared on the Great British Sewing Bee…
Arrive at the sewing room two hours early thanks to the assumption that, in East London, it takes six hours to travel 300 yards. Fall asleep while squatting on the pavement only to be woken by the arrival of the producer who kindly points out the crusting drool trail upon my cheek.
Stumble into the toilet because my raging period has started only to come face to face with May Martin when I emerge from trap number 2. Instead of sparking an erudite conversation about my joy of French seams I giggle into a fistful of blue paper towels, destroying any pretence of my being a functioning human being who can negotiate thread.
Leap into the sewing room to meet the other contestants. Smile, shake hands, make delightful small talk and die inside because my level of intimidation is suddenly so great that it feels as if small, shitting hamsters are nesting in the arteries of my brain.
Meet Patrick Grant. Go for a wank.
Bump into Claude and immediately feel the need to share details about childbirth, eyelashes and the samba. Ignore the fact that with every sentence I utter she takes a step backwards much like the victim of a serial killer nearing the edge of a shaley cliff.
Collapse at my sewing station with the kidney-punching realisation that I now actually have to do some sewing. That’s right. Sewing. As opposed to flouncing about in my sewing shed with a needle in my hand while hollering abuse at the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2.
Grasp the first challenge, which is to construct a sleeveless top with darts and an invisible zip. Bolt to the haberdashery where I blow a full 60 minutes wondering whether to use the cotton in turquoise or the cotton in teal before blowing another 90 minutes precision cutting my fabric. Get roused from my scissory reverie by Claude announcing that we have 30 minutes to complete the task whereupon I panic-sew my hand to my leg. Dress my dummy in two perfectly cut yet barely tacked together pieces of fabric while praying that May and Patrick go blind before they approach my offering. They don’t. Come last.
Return from being sick in the toilets to the alteration challenge. Decide to turn the pair of rubber galoshes I’ve been handed into a child’s fancy dress frogman outfit. Get as far as finishing the flippers before hearing Claude shriek, “You have three minutes! THREE MINUTES, PEOPLE!” while trying to superglue a crotch to a dummy. Come second from last, beating the woman who cut off her thumb while making a set of balloons.
Looked at by Patrick Grant. Have a wank.
Wiggle around the sewing room with joy before having my merriment dashed against the rocks of the third challenge. Start fevered work on a 1860s crinoline with a ruched bodice, scalloped neckline and fifteen underskirts in puce and yellow satin. Begin well, cutting out the fabric in just under four hours. Sew at my machine, hemming the first underskirt which is 3 metres in length before realising the bobbin ran out 2.5 metres ago. Start again, only breaking into a small sweat. Weep openly by the time I complete underskirt 13, unfortunately staining the satin with my tears and streaming snot. Thankfully begin work on the bodice not realising that I now have more pins than patience and am at the Defcon 5 of mental collapse. Top stitch a scallop 1mm short before kicking the Singer to the floor and stamping on it while screaming, “What do you want from me, you cotton-spinning, needle-stabbing bastard! Whaaaaatttt?” Am escorted from the room by a sweating producer. Get waved at by Patrick Grant. Am too exhausted for a wank.
Understand that this is not the sort of behaviour BBC 2 wants to broadcast before the watershed. Also understand that I may be better suited to sewing in the peaceful and deadline free seclusion of my sewing shed. Gulp four fingers of brandy, get offered a lift back to my hotel by a pale-faced runner and am delivered of the news that the Great British Sewing Bee no longer requires my presence on the show. Hear Claude announcing to camera that Cath has decided to leave the competition to spend more time with her psychiatric counsellor.
Watch the Great British Sew Bee when it finally airs. Entertain not a single, solitary notion of ever applying to go on the show ever again. Stand and salute the contestants who manage to get through even the smallest challenge without requiring a frontal lobotomy. Set fire to the spare copy of my application form. Return peacefully to my sewing shed never to darken the Sewing Bee’s hive again.