Monday, March 3, 2014

What do you do at the office, Daddy?

When the teacher at Izzy’s new school invited me to give a talk to the children about my work, Izzy was very excited. 

“I love it when Daddy comes to talk about his work,” she said. 

“Really?” I replied with surprise, trying to remember when I’d been to her previous school to talk about television. I didn’t think I’d even discussed my profession with Izzy. Maybe she had overheard Mummy and Daddy talking about our pitches to the network executives in America. But why would that make her so excited? 

“Daddy, when you come to talk at the school about your work, please can we make cookies as well.” 

That was a bit random. 

“Izzy, what do you think Daddy actually does at work?” 

“You make bread, of course”.

So that’s what my daughter thinks I do for a living. Since Jo bought me a breadmaking course for my birthday a couple of years ago, I haven’t looked back. Rye, sourdough, cheese and onion bread: twice a week our house smells like a bakery. Izzy watches me and sometimes helps me knead the dough. 

And then I finally twigged: last March I went to her old school and taught the children how to make hot cross buns. They were a hit with the Mums – they all asked for the recipe. Since then Izzy has been under the illusion that this is all her Daddy does. 

“So what do you think I do when I go into the office – make more bread?” 

“No, silly, that’s where you get the money to buy me toys.” 

Welcome to the world of commerce through the eyes of a 5-year-old. I hadn’t the heart to break it to her that actually Daddy has a really boring job. 

“We’ve never had a parent in the media,” the teacher had said, “we’re all very excited to hear what you do.” 

Izzy doesn’t know the word media. She knows about Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and Barbie and, of course Peppa Pig, but she would just laugh if I told her that somebody actually created them. 

To her little mind, the fantasy world that she sees on Nick Junior and CBeebies is a real universe containing her favourite friends. How do they get onto the screen? They slide them into the back of the telly, she says. 

How heartbreaking it would be to tell her that her little friends are but inventions; that the reason Peppa has two eyes on one side of her face is that it’s cheaper to animate in 2D rather than 3D, and it works better on the plates, spoons, napkins, and other paraphernalia that litter her bedroom. 

Which is why Peppa Pig soft toys never look like the real thing, and why the girl in the Peppa Pig suit that came to her birthday party didn’t look a bit like Peppa and made everyone cry. Because she had an eye either side of her nose. 

I can hardly tell Izzy’s class that I am part of a sophisticated international marketing ploy, designed to make parents poorer and some producer rich. Or that when I created Robot Wars, I immediately contacted toy companies to produce mini Sir Killalots and Matildas and Sergeant Bash for 5 year olds to be given for Christmas. 

Last week I was unpacking one of the scores of boxes that lay unopened after the house move and found all sorts of clutter from my past. Quite why I’d kept them all these years I don’t know. I found my Robot Wars crew jacket, together with the American Idol sweatshirt and even an original Challenge Anneka t-shirt. I even found Sir Killalot’s original head. It’s four feet across. I can’t understand why Jo won’t let me mount it on our bedroom wall. 

So what do I tell Izzy’s class? The truth – that I sit in an office all day with a blank sheet of paper? Or do I lie, and say I slide things into the back of their televisions? 

Maybe it’s easier to say I’m a baker. And bring some homemade biscuits to prove it. Shaped like Peppa Pig, of course.

No comments: