Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I'm all teeth...

Last night I bleached my teeth again.

Excuse me?

Dental bleaching. I know it sounds like S&M for dental hygienists but it's not. It's as close as I'm getting to cosmetic surgery. The thing is, I had my teeth professionally whitened a year ago and as part of the monthly upkeep, I have to wear bleach filled dental trays overnight.

It's not as bad as it sounds.

It's worse.

I have to psyche myself up for the task. I take painkillers: oral and topical. Then I put on these bleach filled plastic trays molded to match my top and bottom teeth. The bleach comes in a gel, which has a sicky lemon taste. Then I will myself to sleep knowing that I'll wake up in the middle of the night from the pain in my teeth. It starts off with a dull ache and develops into a mind grabbing jabbing pain.

In the morning, I take the trays out of my mouth and use Sensodyne toothpaste. (The one they advertise with "normal people" talking about how sensitive there teeth are...) It's pink and tastes gross (everyone knows toothpaste should taste minty). But it does the trick! The pain subsides.

Until I have something to eat. Or to drink. Hot. Or cold. Or at room temperature.

My teeth start to ache again.

It's an odd type of pain in that it feels slightly disassociated from my body. A bit like saying that the ends of your hair ache. Are you with me?

I become incredibly sensitive to noise. Because it goes straight to my teeth. Rustling paper, metal on metal... it all feels like someone's running their nails across a black board.

The ache lasts all day. Although it usually subsides in time for dinner, I know I have a few days of intermittent jabs of sensitivity to look forward to.

As you can imagine this does not make me particularly relaxed or sociable. It puts me on edge. Literally. Short fuse and all. I call that state of being: toothy. As in, "I'm a bit toothy today."

The thing is. It's not the discomfort that I dread. It's the memory of the discomfort that gets to me: knowing what the next 24 hours will hold.

Wait. That's not all.

There's more to it than that. I've also stopped drinking tea. And coffee. And eating anything too yellow or red or brown. So I eat a lot of hummus. And no chocolate. It's a bit like the voice diet (see the Notes from the Fridge blog) but colour based.

Am I insane? No.

Driven? Yes, but not sure where to.

So is it worth it? I think so. As an actress it makes sense to have a good smile. Especially in the American market. (Oh, I didn't know you'd been working in the US. I haven't.)

Here's to the next 10 hours of toothiness and pearly whites!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

I'm not licking that.

I had two auditions today. But first, let me tell you what happened at the post office.

I was back in there today. (Sometimes it feels like this mailing project will never end.) I had 3 identical letters for the US, 3 for Ireland, and 1 for France. I was served by a dead ringer for the character in the latest Royal Mail advertising campaign. You know (for those of you who live in the UK), the one with the inept employees who monkey about in their eternally empty post office... when they're not serving Joan Collins.

He's an unpleasant, unattractive character of undetermined age (I'm talking about the guy who served me this morning). He's trouble. A lethal combination of limited intelligence and power derived from the Royal Mail Book of Rules.

What normally happens is that you weigh the enveloppes and they print out a self-adhesive postage label. Quick, painless, efficient.

"I'm not putting the stamps on for you. You'll have to do it yourself." "Excuse me?" "You'll have to put the stamps on yourself." "But I don't need stamps. Aren't you going to print some postage labels?" "Not for that many enveloppes." "But there's only 7, and they're all the same size. 4 going to Europe. Three to the US."

That was my first mistake. I had engaged with the angry potato. Tried to reason with it.

"We don't do labels for that many envelopes. You'll have to put the stamps on yourself." "But your colleagues do labels all the time." "Well that's not the rule." "Fine!" (Me in my best passive-aggressive mode.)

So we did stamps. He, metting them out at snail pace. Me, licking them onto my enveloppes at high speed with mounting PMT-fuelled fury. I could have killed him.

As I inserted my credit card into the terminal, I tried to make amends. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm a bit frustrated (!) because your colleagues do it differently." "Move to the side please to lick your stamps, you're holding up the line and I could be serving the next customer." I bristled."My card is still being processed so I'm not holding anything up..." And them my parting shot: "Printing some postage labels would have been faster... "

As I said, I could have killed him. Instead, I'm going to blank him. From now on, I'll pass my turn in the queue to avoid being served by him. He is an ugly stain on The Public Service.

Anyway, brimming with barely restrained fury, I took myself to my first audition of the day. Blah blah blah. 7 hours later. I'm home, watching "To Save the King" - with the inimmitable Ian Richardson. It's part of the "House of Cards" trilogy. If you've never seen it, do check it out. It's brilliant.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Me fat? In your dreams!

I had a dream last night in which a woman told me that I was fat. Don't know what Karl Jung would have to say about it but it gave me a nasty shock.

It was one of those hyper-realistic dreams... I had joined some sort of dance/theatre troup and this woman - who had a very skinny little girl with her - said "with all that exercise, you'll be losing some weight and you won't look so podgy." "I look podgy? Do you think I'm fat?" "Yes."

In the dream, I actually went to change into more flattering clothes to show the woman that it wasn't that bad. But I woke up before I had a chance to show her.

I think it must have something to do with seeing my parents this weekend. Woman with little girl: my mother. She has a knack for commenting on my appearance within the first few minutes of meeting up. Sometime it's open. Sometimes it's in code. But I get the message every single time.

Now it looks like she's reaching me in my dreams!

But then I woke up, it took me a few seconds to realise it had all been a dream. That no one had called me fat to my face, and that there was a good chance no one would at least for today. What a relief!!

It's reassuring to know that in spite of the horrible and dramatic events going on in the world these days, the worst nightmare I can conjure up is one in which I get called podgy...

Here's to a skinny day and much much happiness and serenity.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Is he the one?

"Is that the one I know?" asked the friendly black lady at the post office. "I'm sorry?" (Me, struggling to balance an oversized envelope on the post office scales). "Is that the one?" she insisted, pointing at the address label. "Who?" "That one!"

She was holding 5 envelopes which I had just handed over to her. They were the last of a mail out of over 100... I peered over the counter at the label. It read "Pierce Brosnan". The fog cleared."Yes," I replied, "he is the one." She looked suitably impressed: "some famous friends you've got there!" What on earth did she think I was sending? Oversized invitations to a tea party?

I could have left it at that, and basked in the reflection of her admiration. The thing is, I don't know Pierce Brosnan (although he studied at the Drama Centre at the same time as my acting teacher - so I can claim one degree of separation). He happens to own a production company and I was writing to him in relation to that. What's the equivalent of cold calling for letters? Cold writing? So in the spirit of truth and humility, I told her."Ah... you're a film maker!" There was still a strong note of admiration in her tone. "No. I'm an actress." "Oh...."

Was it disappointment? At what? That I was an actress rather than a filmmaker? That I was obviously not famous enough for her to recognise me? That I was too old or ugly to fit her idea of what an actress should look like? These thoughts raced through my mind as I put my debit card back into my wallet along with the receipt that she handed me. Then I walked out into the sunshine.

And that - as they say - was that!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Do you really like me this way?

I was watching a DVD of my performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last summer. Seeing yourself from the outside - as it were - is always a revelation. Do I really look like this? Do I do that with my face? Is that how I sound?

Goodness grief!

All I can say is, if I wasn't me and I met myself, I don't think I'd like me very much. Which begs the question: how come I have so many friends? (Even if I'm not counting everyone of Facebook.) They must like me for who I am as a person, not for how I come across. It's reassuring in a way...

On the other hand, my agent says my face is my selling card. Oh dear!!

Most of us feel that we would like to be a bit different from who we are - at least some of the time. Apparently even big stars with objectively great looks have off days... So here's a list of changes I'd make if I could:

1. Be taller, at least 5' 10" (I'm not sure how tall that actually is, as I grew up with the metric system, but it's a good 5 or 6 inches taller). 2. Be blond? Or a red head with green eyes. Or be black, or Asian. 3. Be good at remembering people's names. Anything else? 4. Be really relaxed and chilled. 5.Have an operatic voice. 6. Be an experienced horseback rider and have a black belt in martial arts (all of them). 7.Weigh less.

Ok, so some of them I can do something about, some I can't - at least not until they have some major advances in genetics. Or until we can survive without actually consuming food.

In the meantime? Avoid doing auto-biographical shows. And be kinder to self. And more appreciative of all those friends of mine who stick with me in spite of my glaring flaws and imperfections!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Spring is the time for love

Spring has come early! (I know the Met insist that Spring starts on March 1st, but I know better. It starts on the vernal equinox - March 21st.)

It's Friday the 13th and here in London the sun is shining in a hazy sky. The temperature is up up up! The air feels soft and smells sweet - full of the promise of buds and new growth. It's saying, start afresh, start anew! Do something different and exciting! Surprise yourself! Shed your winter coat! Indulge that spring in your step!

There's bird song, and the first insects buzzing around. It's light earlier and for longer. And in two weeks' time, the clocks will be going back!

Take a deep breath, take it all in. All of it! Feel happy, glorious and free. Like recess in the playground in between lessons.

Spring holds the promise of summer holidays and sunshine, the sea side and sand castles, and steamed mussels with white wine and garlic.

Am I getting ahead of myself? Probably. But anticipation may be the new reality. It's doesn't cost a thing, it doesn't tie you down, it won't disappoint. So go ahead, anticipate everything! The whole pastry window display at Maison Bertaux in Soho, all the cup cakes at Magnolia Bakery, a shiny new car, Louboutin shoes, a whole new designer wardrobe in size 0 (you'll fit into it because you've anticipated the cupcakes without actually eating them). Anticipate holidays abroad (pick up the brochure or if you want to go all out: buy the travel guidebook).

The world is your oyster! Out with the old, in with the anticipation of the new! To new beginnings! And a fantabulous weekend...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

French accents are sexy

I have an audition today. For a corporate film (it's filmed role play for training purposes). And I've been asked to do a French accent to play the role of "Sophie".

This is ironic. I can speak French like a native, I can speak English like a native, but speaking English with a French accent doesn't come naturally to me. So I have to put it on. And make sure I don't sound like "Allo Allo".

So, that's today's challenge. Oh la la...

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

You make love like an ugly girl.

I've always had this theory that the plainer one is, the more of an effort one should make. I'm sure it's not entirely PC or moral for that matter but it's probably an evolutionary trick (because if only beautiful people got to pair up and mate then by now we'd all be gods and goddesses!).

Example 1: crossing the road. I don't know about you, but I always wait to make sure that car (a) has seen me, and (b) is slowing down. And then I always give a friendly wave as I walk across, just in case.

Example 2: being grateful for the attention. If asked on a date, always always say yes! It's a bit like auditions, you may not like all the jobs you go up for but you never know when the next one will come along. (Speaking of which, I have a casting for a corporate ad tomorrow, to play "Sophie, a very attractive French business woman. Must speak English with a French accent.")

Example 3: give it your all and more in bed. Afterall, they can't see you in the dark and all they'll remember is what a fantastic time they had. (They always fantasise and imagine you're someone else anyway.)

Example 4: be very very nice. Personality IS everything. Actually, this one applies to ugly and beautiful people. I know a guy who is objectively quite attractive. Problem is, he's self-obsessed and not very generous, and really tight with his money. A bit of a good looking jerk really. Can you imagine what he's like in bed? (especially with the lights off!)

Whether you're plain, it pays to be nice. If you're gorgeous, make sure you keep the lights on...

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Will you still love me when I'm old?

In less than 6 hours, I will be a whole year older. It's like travelling through a worm hole.

I've had a busy last day as it were. My own personal new year's eve. Packing in as much as I could before the new dawn. Work on my website, work on the script, background research for the script, shopping for my birthday dinner (I'm not cooking it), shopping for Friday's dinner party (it's not a birthday party so don't feel bad). And reconnecting with long lost friends from the Lycee on Facebook.

There's nothing like a bunch of other people your own age to make you realise how different your life could have been. Most of my school friends are married, most have children (at least 2), most do not live in their home country (I went to an international school). None of them seem to be actors. Some look the same they did back then. Some look completely different. Some haven't aged at all. Some are doing exactly what I expected them to do. Some have mellowed. Some still have the same crushes. Funny. Underneath it all, people don't change.

The other ironic thing I've noticed is that with time, we mellow, and time and distance create a bond. Sometimes we're just glad to reconnect with a time in our lives when we were full of hormones and dreams. I went to a very special school, run by a very special very eccentric very individual and dedicated man. His name was Dr. Scherer. And my class was quite exceptional. Some fantastically talented individuals.And great teachers. It's just so nice to reconnect with some of that. A nice birthday present as it were.

Here's to tomorrow and a new day, a new year.

Here's to new beginnings

Monday, 2 March 2009

Wanna be in my film?

It's been a while I know. But I've been busy. I've been writing. A script.

It's about a heist that goes tragically wrong although I may yet turn it into a comedy. And it's due on March 20.

The other thing that's due pretty soon is my birthday. In 2 days to be precise. (Not that I'm counting.) I'm expecting lots of presents and a home made Victorian Sponge birthday cake.

Speaking of films, my show reel is now loaded onto my spotlight page so you can go and view it at: