Opinion: Melissa Todd – The day I almost met Emily Atack

Melissa Todd

I turned up in The Sun a couple of years ago, purporting to be a Stepford Wife, devoted to pleasing my man – a silly piece of nonsense for which I was handsomely paid. Some TV company picked up on it recently and asked if I’d appear in a show called Adulting, fronted by Emily Atack, giving her relationship advice as she approached her 30th birthday.

To be honest I’ve a fairly chequered history with fellas, but I like seeing my head on telly, so I cheerily agreed. I cleaned the house, got my hair and nails done, bought a new skirt; told an unnecessary quantity of people I’d be too busy to see them on Monday as Emily Atack was popping by for a chat.

When they replied “Who?” I insisted they google her and jolly well be impressed. A few of my younger chums knew who she was, and a fair percentage requested autographs. My son also requested that I change his bed, apparently imagining his teenage self held all the solutions to Emily’s issues. No one’s ever accused him of lacking self-esteem.

I also prepared some relationship advice. I decided to recommend that she should submit joyfully to her man’s preferences and desires, partly because this line of logic seemed to be expected of me, but also because, for me, that really works.

I would postulate that devoting your life to making someone else happy is the only sure way to be happy yourself. It’s the simplest route out of your own stupid ego and its crass desires; and desire, as the Buddhists teach us, is the source of all suffering. There’s nothing unusual about trying to forget oneself, either: most forms of enjoyment involve a temporary abjuration of the self, whether getting engrossed in a film or piece of music or sporting event or just drinking yourself blind, according to temperament. If you’re in pain, emotional or physical, you try to forget it, leave it behind somehow, distract yourself from it, do you not?

And there are few more healthy ways  to distract yourself than with the happiness of another human being, particularly a fine specimen of human whom you happen to adore. It’s not trendy advice, and for that reason alone I thought it might be worth exploring.

Anyway, you can see where this is going. She didn’t turn up. An hour after she was due I messaged the researcher, who replied their director was ill and they were trying to find a new one, and who knows, maybe that was true. An hour after that he suggested perhaps we should reschedule, and that was the last I heard.

I was pretty miffed at the no-show – so miffed I dragged my poor husband to two, yes, two, count em, two, poetry events that night, when one is generally more than human flesh can endure, poetry being my current preferred form of bulimia. (“The hell with tomorrow! Just keep those rhymes coming! Sock it to me, you cracked soulful beauties!”)

Should Emily still be seeking relationship advice I would suggest that she find a man like my husband, except he’s indubitably one of a kind, and I’ll claw the heart out of anyone who ventures near him.

If she’s after more general advice, I’d suggest it’s usually a mistake to upset a woman who writes.