I don’t want to do this anymore. I’ve just watched myself on French TV, talking about the time I made my shed London’s number one restaurant on TripAdvisor, and it’s the last time I’ll subject myself to it. Like Jared Leto, or Julianne Moore, or any one of the actors who love telling Graham Norton they just can’t bear to watch their own films, I’ve had it with myself.
I don’t recognise this Oobah; the real Oobah. I let go of him some time ago. The version of myself I’m more used to seeing is the infinitely better version I’ve spent the past decade carefully curating online. And I’m not an anomaly â we all do it. Whether it’s your sardonic wanker-self who tweets gags about anxiety, or your thirst-trap Instagram alter-ego, it’s more and more the norm these days to present multiple selfs on the internet.
With all the press I’m having to do for this shed story, maybe I could apply these rules to real life? Why jeopardise my career, interview by interview, when I could find someone with better chat and a more palatable accent to go on TV in my place? Someone educated who could make me sound smart on the radio? I want to be the first person to have his very own flesh-and-bone avatar â various versions of myself who represent me in the ways I’d like to be perceived in public. Yes, fuck it, I will hire an army of lookalikes and send them off in my place.
I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way broadcasters, journalists and producers will fail to realise they’re interviewing the wrong guy. I get that. But I have reason to believe this will work. Whether it’s the segment on Brazil’s Globo TV, or the hour-long documentary on Japanese TV, every interviewer has asked me the same questions about the shed. It’s not really me being interviewed; what I did has some recognition, but I don’t.
So, for six weeks, I’m stepping aside to see whether these superior versions of myself can excel in my place.
HOW TO CAST AN OOBAH
First, I’ll set out some criteria:
1: They must be bleach-blonde.
2: They must be ready to lie on television.
3: They must make me look good.
THE OPENING GAMBIT: BBC ONE, UK
It’s early morning and researchers from BBC One’s Rip Off Britain â a show about people being ripped off â are on the way to my shed to interview me for about episode about the seedy underbelly of fake online reviews. But not actually me; fake, better me. Tom.
Tom Rhys Harries
Tom Rhys Harries is an actor from Wales who I guess looks a bit like me, if all my identifying features didn’t appear to be drawn on with crayon by a child.
Photo: Jake Lewis
I’ve been prepping Tom on how these interviews tend to go, but if this is to stand any chance of working I have to pay attention to the details. So on the big day, I transform the shed from old:
Photo: Jake Lewis