Just a few days remain before I (temporarily) hand over control of my life to the producers of Ultimate Braai Master. The way they decide to edit the material will also shape the perceptions that people will have of us; it is one of the requirements of gripping reality television that the audience is able to identify with the contestants. The producers can’t fabricate what isn’t there, but sure as eggs, if there’s the tiniest hint of something they think could be interesting, they’ll be onto it like a shot.
The reputational issues are not ones that I thought about until yesterday – and they generally don’t worry me – but this thing of handing over control has been much harder.
My work schedule is the fullest it’s been all year. Fortunately, most of it can be done remotely, as long as I can connect to the internet, and have cell phone signal. With 13 challenges over 52 days (assuming we don’t get eliminated before the end), there should be plenty of time for doing that work. I didn’t finally commit until I had established this.
However, one of my projects is to taste wine for a new wine and artisanal food deal site, 5ounces, which entails me tasting the products and then writing a background story of 400 to 500 words about each one. All these things need to be couriered to me, but I can’t know the routing. So, I have had to make special arrangements for the boxes to be delivered to the producers’ courier company, who will then forward them to where they need to be.
This immediately flags me as High Maintenance, and probably labels me as someone to be eliminated early in the competition. I then made it worse, when I casually checked whether our vehicle (sponsored by Renault) for the 8000km road trip would have a tow bar, which could be used for holding my bike rack.
Apart from the enjoyment I get from riding my mountain bike a few times a week, it’s the way I remain fit – and pre-empting the likelihood of us travelling to South Africa’s most scenic parts – it’s also a great way of experiencing the great outdoors. I didn’t point out to them that I could also be provided with a GoPro camera, which could be used to obtain ancillary material of the terrain surrounding our trip.
The response was a short, sharp, “No”, which immediately caused me to respond emotionally (and at length). I got an even more terse refusal, which made me yet more emotional. Eventually, a different person made an effort to enable me to understand why I couldn’t take my bike. I remain grumpy about it, but it’s just one of those things I’m going to have to live with.
I have now removed any doubt of the High Maintenance label.
As far as clothing is concerned, we’ve been advised to pack for both very hot and very cold conditions, with the likelihood of laundry being done just once a week. We also pack a ‘braai box’ (dimensions: 49 x 41 x 27cm) with extra kit we think can be useful. We expect that the basic cooking utensils and ingredients will be provided. We’ve largely selected on the basis of things that enable us to have a little more control over the culinary challenges that we have to overcome.
The most important thing we take on this trip is our attitude, about which Viktor Frankl said: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
And that, really, is what it all comes down to, because the producers can control everything except our attitude, and a bad attitude cannot create great food.
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