The fifth exclusive extract from Sam Brick's new book - only on SFN!

It is December 2006 when I receive the call. My mobile rings. No number; must be someone important,
I think. In an open-plan office with several members of staff milling around me I get up and walk to the fortunately empty reception area. Is this the day when they finally confirm the series, when I finally get a decent night’s sleep?

‘Hi, Sam! How are you? It’s Catherine!’

‘I’m good!’ Thinking, get on with it. The silence that follows speaks volumes. ‘Listen, I’ll be brief – we’ve decided not to go ahead with the series.’

‘Right!’ I breeze. ‘Fine! OK! That’s fine, no problem!’

Inane pleasantries are exchanged between us. I finally end the call, the urge to vomit overwhelming me. I calmly walk to the loos, waving away the runner who wants a signature for something. I close the door behind me and throw up.

It’s over, it’s all over.

With creditors antsy for cash, and frankly baying for my blood, my company is hurtling towards bankruptcy. I can no longer afford the rent on the office, let alone the mortgage on my house. I have no choice but to get out of London.
Skeleton staff are let go; telling my loyal colleagues that the company is folding is one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had to have. At the same time I tackle the hideous process of winding down the business. I’m gobsmacked when my inner circle of friends flee. Jane hits me with an industrial tribunal court summons and Heather sends increasingly abusive messages about unpaid expenses. I understand that they need to look after their own interests, but their immediate volte-face hurts more than anything else. To the media world, I attempt to tell some white lies to save face, explaining I’m moving home to be with my family through an illness. I needn’t
have bothered, though – the grapevine in TV does a far better job than any advert on prime time.

Christmas sees just me and my dad eyeing each other over boxes. Me – trying not to cry. Dad – resisting the urge to say, ‘I feckin’ told yee so.’ Just eighteen years earlier he’d reluctantly moved me to London, to the tiny room in university halls of residence. I was full of hope for the glittering TV career. Even then he was the voice of doom about ‘London people’. And now; I’m defeated, he’s been proved correct – we’re moving me back to the Midlands.

Mother is a friend, mentor and all-round interferer (she’d take that as a compliment), and I’ve spoken with her daily since my business started to wobble. She’s so worried (I now know) that she wants to get me back home. Under her wing. Taking a mortgage holiday has bought me time. Time to find moneyed tenants for my beloved home in London and rent somewhere cheap in Birmingham.

Mother has already hustled my retired stepdad into locating a house. Ten minutes’ drive from both my parents’ homes. It is shabby on the outside and even worse on the inside; think stained and smelly carpets, yellowing, once-white walls. Student accommodation at its worst. But I can live there with my dogs and so I move in during January 2007.

Time alone is time to reflect. I have lost everything. That’ll be my home, my business, even most of my friends. Oh, and I owe, deep breath, over £100,000 in tax repayments, on credit cards, bank guarantees and personal loans.

It is March when my company is officially put into liquidation. In my eyes I am something I never thought I would be. A failure.

You’ve lost me there? What are you ditto ing at?