Friday, October 29, 2010

Back to life… Back to reality…

What ho troops

And where have you been, slacker? I hear you cry.

It never fails to amaze me how the calendar fills up and the weeks speed by and yet nothing concrete is left at the end. Well, of course that’s not entirely true. Running repairs to the abode do, in fact, include a new piece of concrete. Laid by the Better Half, it makes an easier run out for the ever-increasing number of council wheelie bins. After being shown – repeatedly - I can attest to the incredibly silky smooth action now afforded to the bin wheels.

He’s out there again… either he’s modifying it into a slipway to accommodate a fortnightly ‘bottle over the bows’ launching ceremony or he’s jumping up and down on it and grunting in continued satisfaction at the lack of cracks. I’m considering getting out the old tap shoes and seeing if it can withstand a double time step… I doubt my back can take a triple.

I managed to throw it out again this summer – another reason for being so long absent. I was not lumber jacking, nor crab fishing off Alaska, nor rehearsing a rhythmic gymnastic display…No, I put it out buying shoes… Kids shoes.

At the beginning of the school holidays I smugly bought everything we’d need for the September return - apart from the shoes. By the time the break was drawing to a close we had to gird our loins for the awful event. Joined by the in-laws, who were visiting for a month, we queued and, twelve pairs later, I stooped to pick up a dropped toy at precisely the wrong angle – Ping! By the time we were back home I was listing to port - oh bum!

Being trapped on the sofa couldn’t have happened during the world cup, could it? (Ah, how quickly all of that has been eroded from the memory - better luck next time, lads.) The kids were given instructions to rat out Mummy every time she made a move to get up and sidle off to the computer and away from Peppa Pig. Mummy had to get straight again; Mummy was booked in as a ‘disease of the week’ on Holby City where I would be playing a woman with terminal ovarian cancer.

Holby casts out of the same stable as Eastenders, and potential thesps share a waiting room. It’s always fun to glance around the room at other hopefuls and see what you’re supposed to look like. I thought one might have got it a tad wrong, all low décolletage and high hem. Not what instantly came to mind through the script. Then the penny dropped. She was up for Albert Square and, as she sashayed off down the hall to meet the director, was replaced by two others competing in the hooker look-alike contest. Those poor women must have been up at dawn to slap it all on. But, if you want the job… As I type the lucky winner is probably being told to “git aht o my pub!”

Needless to say, playing someone terminal (never the best of fun) means I didn’t have to spend an hour ‘silk-pursing’ in the make up chair. It was flatten down the Barnet, pale up the face, rouge the eye bags and away you go. And I didn’t have to worry about a squiffy spine; I spent most of the action in the hospital bed.

They’re a nice bunch on Holby and they work them hard. Episodes 9 and 10 were shooting in one location, 11 and 12 in another, as, at the same time, episode 8 was finishing up. Regular cast have to shuttle between sets and storylines. 11 hour days, not including travelling and prep time, so not a lot of the day left for learning lines or living life. I doff the cap to those surfing such a tight schedule while maintaining not only a welcoming outlook but also credible performances. (You’ll be able to judge my own perf around Christmas time, when the episode is due to air.)

With brilliant timing, I had heard about the Holby audition as we returned from the travel agent, where we had just booked a few days in Disneyland Paris. Getting the job meant shifting the dates into term time. An action the Daily Mail assures would see me sent straight to jail. But the only comment from the Headmistress was “Have a lovely time.” – Stone me!

A few years ago our first foray into Mickeyland saw us catch the Eurostar and stay off campus, resulting in twice daily bun fights to get on the shuttle buses connecting to the satellite hotels. This time I was determined to stay in-park and, avoiding a set time to leave, the Better Half was determined to drive.

Arriving at the Chunnel to an unmanned booth I freaked. There, on the screen was his name and a set of instructions..

“But, but, OhmiGod - How do they know it’s You?!?” I panicked, looking skyward for the silent surveillance helicopter.
“It’s got number plate recognition.” He explained, in his voice for the bewildered.

Shame, I thought (hastily rearranging my face into the bored nonchalance of the seasoned continental traveller for the benefit of CCTV) – I would have preferred the chopper. Though fantasies of Jason Bourne had their work cut out competing with the soundtrack of The Little Mermaid:

Under the sea.. Shoo wal oo wee
Under the sea… Shoo wal oo wee
Jason that chopper
Will come a cropper
Take it from me….
While you uncover all de truth
I’ll still be marvelling at dis booth
Bombs you’ll be blowing
While we be going
Under the Sea

Several hours and many, many Disney songs later, we pulled into a cheap stopover hotel east of Paris. You know the type – wipe down room and shower pod. The wipe down came in handy as we awoke in the night to the merry sound of chunder spattering from a height onto the lino. No. 1 was proving her aversion to travel once again but rallied at the sight of Mecca and the Princesses. All of whom we had to meet and be photographed with.

Now that’s a tough gig. Smiling, posing, chatting and waving as the Royal wranglers ferry another goggle eyed child from the never-ending line for their Kodak moment. Every half hour or so another big-frocked beauty takes to the stage while the original Princess retreats to probably massage their jaw muscles, snort a stiff one and swear copiously.

Three days later, Princessed out, we crawled to the car and began the long drive home – next time Disney Hotel AND the Eurostar!

Back to mists, mellow fruitfulness and reality. Reality TV that is – tis the season of Strictly Ice X Factor!

Go Wagner… my cup runneth over.


  1. Lovely to catch up with you again after 20 + years albeit in a virtual sense! Saw Hunt for the Red October advertised and flashed back to the cinema with you and 2 chaps from our past :0
    kind regards Dot

  2. I remember seeing you in your role in Holby Suzannah, and found it very moving.

    Thank you all your blog entries.