I’ve had a somewhat trying time of late, including the illness and death of the most important person in my life, dog diarrhoea on shag pile rugs, a broken toilet, an infestation of flies from the rotting corpse of a rodent that has died in an inaccessible place under the floor, and this morning the unexpected bonus of a spider in my hair.
People talk about ‘looking after yourself’ when bad things happen. I suppose they’re referring to eating, sleeping and not drinking vodka in bus shelters. But what does it mean in practice? Well, recently I’ve found solace in some unexpected (and frankly, quite boring) places. Washing the car (big gun with foam coming out of it = ace), doing the dishes, making porridge, ripping out weeds, throwing things out, doing Wordle and going to Poundland, to name but a few. I think it’s the everyday tedium that does it for me – suddenly, stylish sophistication seems hollow and futile, and ambition laughable.
So the other day, I found myself engrossed in the most boring grief displacement activity of all – watching Inside The Factory. Now, if I was firing on all cylinders, I would be mean about its presenter Gregg Wallace, saying something about his voracious, glassy-eyed egomania, but I felt almost tender towards him as he bounced around the factory where they make Henry vacuum cleaners.
Wallace LOVED playing around in the recycled plastic they use to make the wheels. He couldn’t disguise his childlike glee when he was shown how they put the smiley faces on them. He had a go at wiring the switches and laughed heartily at how the shiny dome of a Henry hoover was just like his. He even seemed happy to listen to a very dull explanation of how the internal motor worked.
(Actually, I’ve just found out that Wallace has recently quit the show after an allegedly offensive incident at the Nestlé factory in York, but let’s not dwell on that.)
In this episode Gregg’s face, glasses and head shone with genuine delight, and I could imagine him as a baby, spelling his name out in building blocks and marvelling at the world. But it’s not Wallace that makes this show so boringly compelling.