National $21 Challenge - Day Two

Posted June 3rd, 2008 by Penny Wise

If I didn't already have a title for this blog I would call it 'Mortified' or 'Reeling' or something like that. You know the old nightmare that everyone has about walking down the street in the nude when everyone else is fully dressed? I feel a bit like that after going on national television today with no make-up on and not even a brush through my hair. I'm serious! I wish I wasn't but hey, it had to happen to someone and it couldn't possibly happen to Helen Clark. Yes, I had to appear on the Breakfast show this morning immediately following the Prime Minister. Fabulous, no pressure Penny! Considering I had been up since four in the morning to travel to the studio I wasn't exactly looking my perky best but Helen Clark was in the house and her hair and make-up had to be just so. Fair enough - I just wish they hadn't forgotten about me! I didn't bother doing my hair properly or putting any make-up on at home as they told me they would take care of all that, so you can imagine how horrified I was to suddenly be told there was no time and I had to go on the set. I didn't realise at the time either, but the microphone lead they wound through my shirt got caught up in the back of my hair, giving a whole new meaning to 'bad hair day'. Like I needed any extra help!

To add to it all, there had been a technical glitch all morning - there were no commercial breaks so the team explained they were going to have to interview me for longer. No problem! A perfect opportunity to really get the benefits of our $21 Challenge across! Except whaddya know? Just as Helen Clark leaves and I get ushered through we receive the message that the commercials are back on, we're running ten minutes behind and now have to play catch up so my interview is going to have to be cut short. That didn't bother me too much, I mean you have to be prepared for anything on live television. Unfortunately nothing could have prepared me for Alison Mau, the interviewer.

From the start, Alison warned me that she was going to challenge me and I didn't have a problem with that. I'm used to everyone thinking we live on mince on toast and two-minute noodles and had all the answers. This was a story which was going to get the whole nation motivated into saving money! Well, that's what I thought. Unfortunately she had other ideas. From the outset she did absolutely nothing to promote the National $21 Challenge in a positive light. At no stage did she suggest that this challenge would be a good thing to do or a fun way to save money. This was her opportunity to help us really make a difference to people's food bills but she was too busy playing the hard-hitting reporter. I felt constantly put down. She even slagged off the recipes in the $21 Survival Guide, complaining that there was too much tuna and said the Carnation Pasta sounded disgusting! I do hope someone from Nestle was watching; it was their recipe she was making a mockery of, not mine.

Paul Henry, bless his heart tried his best to come to my defence at the end and summed up the challenge better in a couple of sentences than Alison had done in the entire interview. But as far as I was concerned it was too little, too late. Excuse my French but I'm pissed off. I'm gutted. The $21 Challenge has helped thousands of families and I'm really proud of what we have achieved with it. It is meant to inspire, to encourage, to help and now was our chance to make an impact on the whole nation at a time when so many desperately need it. Instead I felt the only purpose the interview served was to put people off. Thanks a bloody lot Alison!

I was feeling pretty crap about the whole experience but everyone assured me I looked fine back home. Not everyone thought the same though apparently! Imagine my joy when I received the following email:

"I was astounded to see the lady from your site appearing on Breakfast television this morning. Was she going to the cow shed or just coming home from the cow shed? Dear God, we are all trying to save money but Lord couldn't she have used some of your tips to smarten herself up somewhat and perhaps make or buy some shampoo? What a shame that such a dishevelled lady was out there promoting the site. I am not perfect but I certainly would have made a lot more effort."

Thank you very much, my dear you gave me the biggest laugh of the entire day! You'll be pleased to know I did go and get my hair cut and coloured this afternoon and the lady used lots of nice smelling shampoo - bit late now though!

Seeing as I was out almost all day, Noel was looking after the kids. I arrived home to find most of the baking already gone, along with half a loaf of gold plated rice bread, which he had cut into doorstep thickness for their breakfast and lunchboxes. We used up the rest of the fish for dinner. We can't use breadcrumbs any more, apart from rice crumbs but we don't mind as our favourite way to cook fish is to simply coat in flour and egg, then instead of crumbs we roll the fish in rolled oats. It's so yummy!

Technically I still haven't spent any more than $13.94. However, I do admit to buying a bottle of red wine to calm my frazzled nerves, although I refuse to count it in my Challenge because as far as I'm concerned it was medicinal. I've a good mind to send Alison Mau the bill! If you want to see the interview from hell, along with my fantastic hair, feel free to download it here.

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