TOAs I’ve written before, my confinement has involved a selection of deep dives in different hobbies, ranging from trying to be a DJ to making the perfect mush. Each does the vital work of keeping my mind off the mental challenges we’re all going through, while also involving a small degree of self-improvement. I will soon re-enter the world as a connoisseur of oatmeal porridge that mixes music and is also great for coloring.
One of my latest obsessions, believe it or not, is rewatching old Coach Trip series. There’s something incredibly addictive about watching people yell at each other to the point of crying at the prospect of staying another day on a bus trip. It’s also remarkable to see how offensive some parts feel. In the 2010 celebrity series, EastEnders’ Ricky Groves and Alex Ferns were runners-up, despite showing their penises to models and “television personalities” Bianca Gascoigne and Imogen Thomas, and later claimed they were the victims because women they had misunderstood what they meant by that. In an episode without celebrities, they drive through Krakow, and Brendan Sheerin, the amazing tour guide, asks the group what they think of Poland. Someone responds, “Well, you can see why everyone is coming to us.”
The celebrity series also featured Big Brother’s Ben Duncan and The Apprentice’s Raef Bjayou, who were never meant to last long because their elegance set them apart from the rest of the group. It seems they had decided, most likely at the behest of the producers, to lean on this as much as their brogues would allow.
At one point, they move on to the topic of spa treatments and skincare, and Raef mentions that she uses Umbrian clay on her face, but never hydrates it. Usually this would have barely registered with me, but locked up was something new to hold onto. My wife pointed out that Raef had beautiful skin, the kind of skin we would like to have. We rewind the show to make sure we heard it correctly, and then we went into research mode. We spent an hour researching the clay and its properties, to see if there was any evidence to support Raef’s claims. We were eager to pull the trigger on a purchase, even if it felt strange to spend money on something recommended by a trainee contestant on a 10-year episode of Coach Trip.
After a double effort online, we decided that we had accumulated enough information to make the purchase. Like the magic of online shopping, two days later some Umbrian clay arrived on our doorstep. We were delighted and decided to kick it up a notch while watching Coach Trip that night.
There was a time when if you had suggested that I wear a mask to watch Coach Trip in bed, I would have been terrified of my future. Now, with the circumstances as they are, it felt like the best night I could have all year. When I found out that the mask had to be applied for only 10 minutes, I was almost disappointed.
We watched nine minutes and 50 seconds of the show before running to the bathroom to see the results.
Reader, I was amazed. My face felt lighter, my skin felt smoother and I’m almost 50% sure it wasn’t just the placebo effect of spending £ 50 on a little jar of that product. Now it has become part of our weekly ritual. Every time I see Raef on TV, I think two things: 1) You have changed my skincare regimen forever; and 2) I know you think the cucumber slices in your eyes were endearing, but no one else in the wagon agreed.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism