“MOOOREEN! I’d never have believed that of you.”
The words of my flabbergasted hairdresser when I told her I was looking forward to the final of Love Island. The young-ish quine was truly shocked that an al’ crock like me should be a fan of the Mediterranean meat-market.
Sez she: “But they’re drunk all the time and doin’ affa things.” Wrong. The Islanders are never drunk and the worst they do is snogging. The only thing I don’t like is the abundance of bare bums and Botox-blown lips. Yet all my mates are equally appalled at me – like I’m some delinquent pensioner.
Twas ever thus. Scroll back a pucklie years to when I first fell under the spell of Big Brother, which – hallelujah – is coming back to our screens next year. Canna wait. Me and my pals had mony fa’oots aboot it. They, who’d never seen to much as a mintie, haranguing me for bein’ sucked into dud telly.
Indeed, I’d started off as anti-BB like most older folk in 2000, when my kids were glued, strenuously resisting their constant attempts to get me watching. Come the third series, the newswoman in me decided to tune in because there was a quine from Aberdeen in it. Stooory. Turned oot, she was voted ootski first, but by then I’d been bitten by the BB bug. Could barely tear masellie away from it – even when it was live during the night and they were a’ asleep. I was transfixed on the sofa when they were cooking their tea – at exactly the time I should have been makin’ ours.
Excitement over ‘local lad’ on Big Brother
Then, fit an excitement in series 4 when almost local lad, Orcadian Cameron Stout, walked off as the winner. I spent a small fortune voting for him. During the show, he’d mentioned a pucklie times his heart had been broken by his girlfriend at university in Edinburgh. Man, was I excited interviewing my hero when he came back, especially keen to find out more details about his lost love. Could Matchmaker Mo reunite them?
Sadly, as the BB years went on, the producers sought out more and more oddballs for the house, instead of ordinary folk like Cameron. Sometimes, when the alcohol was in and the wits oot, the happenings were truly OTT. Here’s the irony – both my kids went off it and stopped watching, while their mum still soldiered on to the end.
My friendship with the lovely Cameron has continued. He became the Evening Express’s Mr Roses on successive Valentine’s Days, when we spent weeks touring the Neest, him charming all the ladies.
And that lost sweetheart? Honestly, this will gobsmack you, as it did me. Shortly after he told me about her and I was regaling my best mate with the tale, she comes, slowly: “Actually, it’s my daughter.” Fit the…? She went on: “I couldn’t tell you while he was on BB in case you tried to do a story about it.” Mummy, daddy wouldn’t I just!
His lost love was by then married to someone else. But I passed on her number and they had a lovely chat. Awww. Fit a stoater of a coincidence.
Moreen Simpson is a former assistant editor of The Press & Journal and started her journalism career in 1970