Shopaholic Takes Manhattan

Page 62

Still, never mind. On the positive side, Luke and I did manage to get our walk in Central Park — even if it was only for five minutes. And one afternoon, Luke took me on the Staten Island Ferry, which was fantastic — except for the moment when I lost my new baseball cap overboard.

Obviously, I didn’t mean to shriek so loudly. Nor did I mean for that old woman to mishear and think I’d lost my “cat”—and I certainly didn’t want her to insist the boat should be stopped. It caused a bit of a kerfuffle, actually, which was rather embarrassing. Still, never mind — as Luke said, at least all those tourists with their video cameras had something to film.

But now it’s Wednesday morning. The holiday is over — and I’ve got a slight dentisty feeling of dread. It’s my first appointment today with a pair of important TV people from HLBC. I’m actually quite scared.

Luke’s left early for a breakfast meeting with Michael and some top PR headhunter who’s going to supply him with staff, so I’m left alone in bed, sipping coffee and nibbling at a croissant, and telling myself not to get nervous. The key is not to panic, but to stay calm and cool. As Luke kept reassuring me, this meeting is not an interview as such, it’s simply a first-stage introduction. A “getting-to-know-you” lunch, he called it.

But in a way, lunch is even more scary than an interview. What if I knock something over? What if I don’t tip all the right people? What if I can’t think of anything to say and we sit there in an embarrassing silence?

I spend all morning in our room, trying to read the Wall Street Journal and watching CNN — but that only freaks me out even more. I mean, these American television presenters are so slick and immaculate. They never fluff their words, and they never make jokes, and they know everything. Like who’s the trade secretary of Iraq, and the implications of global warming for Peru. And here I am, thinking I can do what they do.

My other problem is, I haven’t done a proper interview for years. Morning Coffee never bothered to interview me, I just kind of fell into it. And for my old job on Successful Saving, I just had a cozy chat with Philip, the editor, who already knew me from press conferences. So the idea of having to impress a pair of complete strangers from scratch is completely terrifying.

“Just be yourself,” Luke kept saying. But frankly, that’s a ridiculous idea. Everyone knows, the point of an interview is not to demonstrate who you are, but to pretend to be whatever sort of person they want for the job. That’s why they call it “interview technique.”

My interview outfit consists of a beautiful black suit I got at Whistles, with quite a short skirt and discreet red stitching. I’ve teamed it with high-heeled court shoes and some very sheer, very expensive tights. (Or “hose” as I must now start calling them. But honestly. It sounds like Shakespeare or something.) As I arrive at the restaurant where we’re meeting, I see my reflection in a glass door — and I’m quite impressed. But at the same time, half of me wants to run away, give up on the idea, and buy myself a nice pair of shoes to commiserate.

I can’t, though. I have to go through with this. The reason my stomach feels so hollow and my hands feel so damp is that this really matters to me. I can’t tell myself I don’t care and it’s not important, like I do about most things. Because this really does matter. If I don’t manage to get a job in New York, then I won’t be able to live here. If I screw this interview up, and word gets around that I’m hopeless — then it’s all over. Oh God. Oh God…

OK, calm down, I tell myself firmly. I can do this. I can do it. And afterward, I’m going to reward myself with a little treat. The Daily Candy Web site e-mailed me this morning, and apparently this huge makeup emporium in SoHo called Sephora is running a special promotion today, until four. Every customer gets a goody bag — and if you spend fifty dollars, you get a free special engraved beauty box! I mean, how cool would that be?

About two seconds after the e-mail arrived, I got one from Jodie, the girl I met at the sample sale. I’d been telling her I was a bit nervous about meeting Luke’s mother — and she said I should get a makeover for the occasion and Sephora was definitely the place, did I want to meet up? So that will be fun, at least…

There, you see, I feel better already, just thinking about it. OK, go girl. Go get ’em.

I force myself to push open the door, and suddenly I’m in a very smart restaurant, all black lacquer and white linen and colored fish swimming in tanks.

“Good afternoon,” says a maître d’ dressed entirely in black.

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