I’m so behind I’m so behind I’m so behind. If I were one of my students, I’d bollock me right now. Oh look, I am bollocking me right now! Below is a response to a daily challenge from about a month ago, which I’ve only just got round to reconsidering. I found it quite cathartic, if a little self-indulgent (the best kind of blogging in my opinion). Let me know what you think.
I have a lousy memory. If there is a food based trigger, I’ll be fine; I’ll remember everything single detail of a meal from 1994, but ask me who or where I was, then, forget it (literally). So thinking about memories and moments that have changed the game is quite tricky. They have a habit of collapsing in on each other like dominoes. I find epiphanies genuinely difficult to isolate. For me, however, there is one moment which stands out when the synapses cleared and all those little patches of half thought and self doubt wove together to create one long carpet of moment. Carpet of moment is a good name for an easy listening album, as well. Double win!
Anyhow, here’s my moment carpet.
I’m about 25 and I live in London. I’m an actress – I went to drama school and have an agent and everything – but it’s not quite working as I’d hoped it would.
I was terrific at drama school and university and I have some great reviews under my belt. But lately, I’ve become embarrassed to mention what I do at parties and such because of the way that the conversation inevitably turns out.
“What do you do?”
“I’m an actress. I act”
“Aaahhhh (slight pause here, because they don’t want to appear nosey). What have you been in? Anything I’ve seen?”
“Mostly theatre. Which is great, because it’s what I want to do”
“Anything on telly? Been in anything good?”
“No, not really. Some student films, shorts, but ….”
And we settle into a shared moment carpet, woven from their disappointment and my own feelings of inadequacy and hatred for this pleb imbecile that doesn’t have the social skills to make me feel better about not getting a part in Eastenders.
You’d be amazed at how many times I sat on that bitter rug.
So I’ve felt like this for quite a long time by 25, but I don’t give up. I say it’s because I’m not a quitter and ‘it’s my dream’ like people on X factor do, but really it’s because I’m too scared and lazy to think of anything else to do.
Today, this day, is a big day. I have an audition for a two line part on a TV series that I have never seen and didn’t bother to watch in preparation. It’s a big deal. I have the script in my hand in an envelope and I’ve been told: “It’s a big deal.”
I have done some prep. I’ve been told that it’s for the part of a ‘rough chick’, so I don’t wash my hair and wear an old adidas tracksuit top. I’m secretly annoyed because I’ve lost an entire day’s pay at the call centre for two crappy lines in a series I don’t even watch. My brain compensates by telling me that my bad mood will make me extra spiky for the part and I protest against being here by not reading the script. Somehow I manage to reconcile these two polarised mindsets. For this, my friend, is what auditions do. They make you clinically insane.
I go in to the holding bay and it’s immediately obvious that I have never watched the series. “Rough chick” means footballer’s girlfriend in a biker jacket. Every other candidate looks better than I do on a night out. The room is full of leather jeans, stillettos and glossy heads, bent over their two line mantras, rehearsing with complete focus.
They all look like me. Better groomed but just like me; short, smiley, brunette, blue eyes. It’s like walking into a room of half-animated clone robots, lips twitching, eyes inwards. At first, I sense puke rising up my gullet and then the familiar fear that they’re all better than me.
And then something else. I look at the script in the envelope which I haven’t even opened yet and just looking at it makes me feel totally different.
The envelope is sealed. I don’t care about this job.
I don’t care about this job because I don’t care about acting anymore.
I don’t care about acting anymore because I don’t like how it makes me feel.
Boom! The moment carpet; the million disappointing auditions, unread letters, earnest headshots, fatuous courses, half baked fringe projects, rude directors of limited talent, fluffed accents, straightfaced bullshitting, just to get through the door. I don’t like it! I don’t have to like it! I go in for the audition. I don’t get the job. The next day, I quit my agent and do something else.
Years later with no regrets. Life is truly more creative now then when I was working as a ‘creative’ and is 100 times more fulfilling.
That TV series is still running, though, but I still haven’t watched it.