The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

I’ve in­tro­duced a new seg­ment on my CNN show called The Grill. It gives me li­cence to haul guests over the coals like a slab of T-bone steak on the bar­be­cue.

Tonight, Don­ald Rums­feld, the con­tro­ver­sial for­mer US De­fence Sec­re­tary, took me to task over it. ‘Why do you call this The Grill?’

‘Be­cause I like to grill peo­ple. We were go­ing to be nice to you but I said, “No, let’s stick him on The Grill.”’

Rums­feld pursed his lips. ‘That’s a lit­tle ar­ro­gant, isn’t it?’

I paused for full dra­matic ef­fect. ‘I don’t think I’ll take lec­tures on ar­ro­gance from you, Don­ald Rums­feld!’ He slumped back in his chair, grilled into sub­mis­sion. counter to pay, the check­out lady stopped, looked me in the eye, and asked: ‘Are you over 55?’

I froze in hor­ror. ‘Sorry? 55 what?’ I spat back in­dig­nantly, know­ing full well the an­swer. ‘Years old,’ she con­firmed, loudly. I don’t think I’ve ever been so of­fended in my en­tire 48-YEAR-OLD life. ‘No! I am most cer­tainly not! I can’t even be­lieve you’ve asked that ques­tion! And more to the point, WHY did you ask that ques­tion?’

‘ I only asked you the ques­tion,’ she replied, calmly, ‘be­cause if you WERE over 55, you’d qual­ify for our spe­cial of­fer to­day of 10 per cent off all items.’

The cus­tomers be­hind me burst out laugh­ing. ‘And now that you’ve in­formed me that you’re not, you get no dis­count.’

My out­rage at even the sus­pi­cion I might be in the same age decade as Si­mon Cow­ell far out­weighed any fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive.

I in­stantly asked my­self: ‘ What would Si­mon do?’ in this sit­u­a­tion — and booked an im­me­di­ate facial.

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