Although it’s all rather predictable, The Apprentice continues to be a must watch programme in the Frost household.

Suited and made up, the bright (and not so bright) young things are put to work by the all-seeing Lord Sugar. Ridiculed and praised in unequal measure, the candidates make mistakes and outrageous comments. Some incapable of mental arithmetic and those for whom ‘Maps were before my time’. We’re shown facial expressions and linger over conflicts, calamities and confusion. From the 4am recorded phone call (and how much they appear to get done in the 20 mins before the cars are outside…) to the ‘You’re fired’ pointy finger in the Boardroom.

Lord S makes known his thoughts in no uncertain manner (and is a dubious role model) but it makes for good telly.

And the key to the programme’s success? 140 hours of footage condensed in to less than 60 minutes. We only see what the producers want us to see. It’s all in the editing and the narrative. It’s all in the telling.

The same is true in our lives. We all have edited versions. We all have our narrative. Be that in our memories, the here and now, and into the future. We produce accurate accounts as well as those edited to suit the narrative. We have different versions of the same episodes according to who’s watching – or depending on how we are feeling at the time. We let other people see and hear what we want them to.

It's all in the tellingOne of the books I’m reading at the moment is The Fatigue Book (the visitor is still here, by the way) and it’s where this image comes from. In it, Lydia Rolley writes about the importance of the narrative we have about ourselves. The words we use about our state of health, for example, and how through that narrative illness can become our very identity.

And that’s also true about the words which linger over conflicts, calamities and confusion or the narration of our mistakes and regretted comments.

To that we edit in the words of others. Words more hurtful than sticks and stones. Words which often say more about the person who said or wrote them but which have seared in to our heart with all the impact of ‘You’re fired.’

We present this editing of our memories, thoughts and actions to ourselves as if they are the final broadcast – and we live according to that version. It becomes our identity.

So what about all the stuff that ends up on the cutting room floor? Yes, some rubbish bits are best forgotten but what else should have made the final edit?

Our lives are not about making ‘good telly’ but, as Jesus said, about having ‘life in all its fullness.’ (John 10:10)

As an author (and occasional film maker) editing is key to producing the finished version. Taking out that which is not relevant (or is best forgotten) and keeping in what makes for fullness (and is best remembered).

It’s all in the telling – and fullness comes in how we tell ourselves the story of our lives.



Illustration by Rachel Alice Leggett in The Fatigue Book by Lydia Rolley (Hammersmith Health Books 2022)

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