Having designed and brought to market a product as innovative and unique as The Gourmet Trotter, I have become disproportionately attached to it, it has become a living breathing blood-sucking object. The blood, sweat and tears it has caused me, and the emotional highs and lows of a roller coaster are exhausting so why then would I subject me, myself and I to the scrutiny of 5 humans collectively masquerading as The Dragons.
I have to say, it was the most amazing personal experience and as we are so often told, Life is about the Journey, not the Destination. If personal growth was something I was seeking, I found it.
It started with a little drive to Manchester, which as we southerners know, is absolutely miles north of Watford. So I was entering unconquered pistes from the start.
Accommodation in a traditional bland hotel had been arranged and all I had to do was be up and ready at 7am the next morning. Like a little lamb to the slaughter she came… or was I a sacrificial virgin (probably not) actually, probably more like a tired old heifer off to the knacker’s yard. But, show up I did, all suited and booted, only to find out my shorts had a small check and when in front of the camera they took up a life of their own and started strobing… swift change required to plain black skirt then back to the walk-ons.
I don’t want to divulge too much about what really happens and how a programme such as this is put together. Illusions are so frequently shattered, and if readers like believing in Father Christmas, they should be allowed to keep their dreams intact.
All I will say is that I had 9 hours of playing Dominoes, Ludo and ‘pick-up-stix’ the level of brain-power by now having been seriously depleted due to cold blooded fear. The wait was accompanied by a slow insidious drip of gastric acid drilling an ulcer in my stomach.
I find the power and strength of the mind really quite humbling. The fear was totally disproportionate to the potential event. They are 5 people, sitting in chairs waiting to hear about your business. Imagine them naked is advice often shared.
Once in front of the fire breathers it was, for me, fairly straight forward. They liked the product, and the innovation but thought that my market was very niche and thus no return for them. They were nicer to me than I’d imagined and I actually took away some really constructive advice. Or I would have if I hadn’t been so damned scared I couldn’t even remember my name or what they had been wearing when I left. I honestly could not tell you a single colour of shirt dress or tie! Indeed, was there a shirt, dress or tie??? Were they actually naked and I just hadn’t noticed?
It is not an experience I would hurriedly put myself through again. Rather like walking on hot coals and surviving I imagine. I’ve done it, no need to repeat.
All that needed to be learned was learnt it those 40-50 minutes. The editors now have the show to create. I expect I will get a fair amount of grief from my plummy accent, and will be redefined from the Clare I love and adore into a very different person. But that’s OK I put myself out there and the real people in my life know me for who I am.
The people I feel most comfortable with, my tribe if you wish, are people with belief in themselves and tenacity and determination to see plans and dreams through. No millionaires for me, I am far too simple for that.
The highlight of the whole experience was arriving home to my stupid stupid dogs who love me unconditionally and unreservedly and receiving a thorough telling off from them for having been away.
The next day as the adrenalin ebbed, found me walking in the rain with my hat pulled down over my eyes, my wellies squelching in the mud and the hounds hanging from trees and lugging great sticks. I had survived unscathed. All is well, a roaring fire, a proper mug of tea and toast dripping with butter were my just desserts and felt like heaven.