Over the past nine years I’ve been challenged to become a self-help guru, a prepper, a brand ambassador, a top model, a famous YouTuber and immortal. Yes, immortal.
I’ve tried to overthrow Prince Andrew, have my life story turned into a West End musical, get my miracle cure stocked in a pharmacy, have my erotic fiction published and erect a blue plaque for BBC News 24 Wrong Man, Guy Goma.
I’ve found myself in in the editing suite of Britain’s Got Talent, sneaked around Google HQ in search of the ball pools, had my portrait exhibited in the National Portrait Gallery and been a real life shop mannequin at Mulberry.
A sensible question here would be why did I do all these things? The short answer is that my friend Geoff told me to. The slightly longer answer is that he told me to as he was worried that I was living my life to the min, rather than to the max. So he started setting me the challenges on the radio show we present together.
This book is a collection of my favourite stories from these challenges, written out in best and with lots of added extra bits.
I’ve sometimes been asked, “Do you really do all these things, do you actually do them?” There’s often an accompanying look in the eye of, “please tell me you didn’t actually do some of those things.” But I do always do them, mainly as it would be a much greater effort of imagination to make them up.
It helped that quite early on, I found that I had broken the thing inside of me that would previously been a barrier to me asking a stranger on the bus to scratch my back or pretend that yes, I really do have a two o’clock meeting with the financial director of Saatchi and Saatchi. I became quite fearless. And I also learned that generally people are much more lovely and kind and patient than I’d ever imagined before.
The Challenge: Do something no woman has done before
This challenge begins in typical fashion. With me wasting a good chunk of time fantasising about being mentioned in the same breath as fellow female trailblazers Edith Wharton (first female Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner), Amelia Earhart (first female to fly the Atlantic solo), Valentina Tereshkova (first woman in space), Elizabeth Blackwell (first female doctor), Marie Curie (first female Nobel Prize winner), Benazir Bhutto (first female leader of a Muslim state), Sirimavo Bandaranaike (first female head of government) and Kathryn Bigelow (first female director to win an Oscar).
Which is going to require a really long breath. I spend some time testing whether it’s even possible. It is, just about.
My procrastination comes from confidence. There must be loads of different options for me. I go on the internet. And immediately panic. There is no complete list of all the things women haven’t done yet. It’s very hard to find any. I’m Googling ‘things a female has never done’ and the only result is a thread on a bodybuilding website forum where a man has posted ‘a female has never made me laugh’.
I briefly consider attempting this, but it would mean having contact with this despicable man.
So I start thinking of all the obvious ones.
I know for sure there's never been a female President of the USA. The only thing holding me back right now is that they’re not advertising for a new president. Plus I wasn’t born in the USA. Plus loads of other stuff.
First female Pope is my next thought. But once again, they're not currently advertising for a new Pope. And I’m not Catholic. Or religious.
I should perhaps scale down my ambition. Then I think – what about the moon? No woman has ever been on the moon. But realistically, is this achievable? Ever the optimist, I look into it.
It's not great news. You need a degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. I fulfil one element of this. In that I've got a degree. And is English literature so different to physical science? I don't know. As I'm not entirely sure what physical science is.
A science degree is not enough for these space types though. Oh no. They also require that you have 1000 flying miles as a pilot-in-command. But there is some good news. I am tall enough. You must be between 62 and 75 inches and I’m 63 inches. I’m so pleased and excited about this I briefly forget the degree and the 1000 flying miles. And that there are no plans to put anyone at the moon at the moment.
That’s fine though. I don’t really want to go to the moon. There’s nothing there and that space suit is not at all flattering. I’d look fat and like I’ve got a big head.
Hello again to my favourite people in the world, who've bought my book and probably done loads of other amazing things too.
I’m writing with some news about the book. Which is: the title has been changed. It’s gone from ‘Challenge Annabel’ to ‘Annabel vs the Internet (The Time I Infiltrated Google HQ and Other Adventures)’. As why use two words when thirteen words and two brackets will do…
I've probably been asked the question, 'What is the shed?' more than 'When is your book out?' I've not taken it personally. So here it is, my shed. I hope you are not too deeply disappointed. It's where I'm supposed to keep you updated on the book, so sorry it's taken a while. I was finishing it off and I guessed that you didn't want updates detailing how I was crying over blank pieces of…
These people are helping to fund Annabel Vs The Internet.