Melissa Todd: (Not so) cool for my shoot with The Sun

Melissa's stint as a Stepford wife

About 20 years ago, I discovered that if you’re sufficiently obliging to journalists, you can often get a makeover, photo shoot and big fat cheque out of them. I’ve been case study for all manner of bizarre true life stories, admitting to reckless shopping, drinking, dieting, addictions and the occasional perversion, all in the name of money – sorry, art – and I highly recommend it.

If you’re as vain, attention hungry and avaricious as me, it’s a win win win. I’m still awaiting my makeover and pay off from The Isle of Thanet News (Tumbleweed…Ed’s note) , although it will surely be vast when it arrives. In the meanwhile, I turned up in The Sun last week. “Why we have perfect lives as Stepford wives!” the headline screamed. Yeah, whatever. It’s a day out.

Twenty years ago I’d have been dead impressed by all the free food and drink, the top stylists and photographers, the uber-trendy location, but would have tried desperately not to show it.

And the food…

Nowadays I’m equally impressed, but less concerned with seeming cool. “Cor, this is smashing!” I kept saying, as I tried on frock after frock, decided how I wanted my hair and make up, then changed my mind, over and over, all while browsing the luncheon menu. They feed you jolly well at these things.

The models that surrounded me ordered chicken salads and picked at them, leaving behind all the good stuff, while I scoffed everything I was offered, happily accepted seconds, and had to be restrained from attacking their chips too.

‘Stepford wife’

“Stepford wife” they called me, and yet I spent the happiest of days tormenting my husband by text. “At station now, getting into a strange man’s car, and no idea where he’s taking me!” I trilled. Then: “At an industrial unit near Islington, I think. Lots of handsome men ambling round in their pants. Lethal Bizzle is here. He suits a thong. What’s a MILF?” And later, when he was halfway through a 13 mile, rain-sodden postal delivery, I told him, “Quesadillas and chips, steaming hot and fluffy, then sticky toffee pudding with cream! Really, so much food it’s embarrassing. I’ll have to hide some. Delicious though!”

What a witch.

The coolometer

I like to pose. Posing comes naturally to me. Nonetheless, standing on one leg in a six inch stiletto while the photographer fiddled endlessly did prove something of a challenge.  He turned up the radio to inspire me. “Sam Smith’s new song – and he’s next door doing a shoot for NME!” he told me. “Ooh, I’ve heard of him!” I squawked, sliding a few notches further down the coolometer, and still caring not a jot.

I hated the photos and the article when I saw it. I’d basically written the copy, so heaven knows why she felt the urge to mangle it so shamelessly, and lose all my pointed, passive-aggressive jibes. I can only assume my writing style is too subtle for The Sun. In future I shall stick to the vastly superior Isle of Thanet News (Rethinking the freebie…Ed’s note) – fewer celebrities and perks, perhaps, but they’re not frightened of a complex sentence structure.

Z list wannabe

“So sorry to keep you waiting!” I told the driver who deposited me back at Kings Cross. “Ah, I know how it is, you can’t keep to a schedule in your line of work” he said, confusing me for some Z list wannabe, a Big Brother contestant, perhaps, or footballer’s fling.

I sank back on to the heated seats, accepted a glass of champagne, and agreed dolefully that you couldn’t. The pampered husband of the docile, subservient Stepford wife had to get his own dinner, and cope with my tipsy, giddy excitement, all night long. Roll on the next scoop!