Sunday, 27 March 2011

I love a good shoe fetish!

Yesterday afternoon, we went to see a show. I was able to enjoy it properly because neither I nor anyone else I knew was in it. When you're an actor, doing a show is easy, but going to see someone else's show? You have no idea. It's like trying to navigate the Titanic through the eye of a needle, whilst riding a unicycle.

Consider this: if you think a show was really bad (or worse: average) you have to lie. You have to. There's no two ways about it. Because if it's someone important (read: someone who can get you an audition or an acting job or someone who can blacklist you) your instinct for self-preservation will make you lie through gritted teeth. And if it's someone you care about, you have to lie by omission because they know that you know it was crap. If you're lucky and there was one small detail you enjoyed then you can tell them how much you loved that one bit and say nothing about the rest. (Unless of course the one bit you enjoyed was someone else's performance.)

On the other hand,  if it was good (or the PR was excellent which amounts to the same thing) and the show has that je ne said quoi buzz and everyone and his dog thinks its fantabulous and it's getting a transfer to Broadway where everyone who matters will see it (or more importantly hear about it) then it's time to turn green because next thing you know, your mate will have moved to LA, been offered a lead part in a successful TV series, become "richer than God" (as someone else once put it), deleted their FB page and stopped returning your phone calls and emails. This has happened to me. I won't tell you his name other than it begins with a T. (T my darling, all these years I let you call me Isy even though I hated it, so if you're reading this, stop ignoring me and give us a job! Or introduce me to someone who can.)

So what did we go and see? It was a musical, called Shoes, by Richard Thomas (who did Jerry Springer, The Opera) and Stephen Mears. It was billed as a wonderfully fluffy confection of songs and musical sketches all to do with shoes. We went along with some friends who are straight out of a Jackie Collins novel in that they and their lives (down to their children and pet chinchilla) are picture perfect. He is an attractive and successful serial entrepreneur and she is his beautiful and uber-elegant blonde wife. Not only are they perfect, they are also lovely people.

I took us to the wrong theatre. I kid you not. Now, before you judge me, let me explain and give you some background. The show was at the Peacock Theatre which is an annex of Sadler's Wells (another theatre). Confusingly, the show first opened at Sadler's Wells before transferring to the Peacock. Are you still with me?  Also I was feeling a bit rushed (what with my yoga class with George not ending till 12:30 and having to meet our friends by 2 o'clock for the 2:30 matinee performance). Don't know why but rushing always seems to addle my brain: I can go from super brainy Hermione Grainger to Wizard of Oz scarecrow in a split second - only it doesn't show until it's too late.

Anyway, after yoga, we had a quick bite to eat, I tried to style my hair (still waiting to get a haircut) and then we walked up to Islington (about 25 minutes) to the theatre. We got there with plenty of time to spare (it was 1:45). He went to relieve himself  (and I think maybe get away from my slightly passive aggressive vibe which had to do with the fact that we had got caught in the drizzle on the way because he didn't have the umbrella even though I'd suggested we should take it. The feline in me cannot abide getting wet when I have clothes on. And just in case you think I could have taken it myself as any self-respecting independent female would, let me just tell you that it's a huge golf umbrella and that whenever I try to carry it it tends to drag on the ground.)

As I stood around waiting for him to re-emerge, and for our friends to arrive (as I said, we were early),  I noticed that the programme sellers were selling programmes for an entirely different show. I can't remember now what it was but it certainly wasn't Shoes, the Musical. After a few seconds in my alternative universe (the theatre must have a second studio) it came to me in a flash:  I was standing in Sadler's Wells and the Peacock Theatre was not at Sadler's Wells... it was - I checked the posters... in Holborn. About 45 minutes on foot, or a 10 minute cab ride. I felt the panic rise from my ankles upwards.

Just then he came back up the stairs. Me: "We're at the wrong theatre!" He gave me that pained look which he saves for those times when I do something so incredibly stupid that it makes him want to cry and shout "Why? Why? WHY?"

Still me: "But it's ok, we just need to go to (pause as I darted over to double check the poster)... Portugal Street."

He looked relieved. "I know where that is." (So did I, after all, we'd both been to see shows there before).

Me: "We've got plenty of time." Him: "Let's get a cab."

He launched out of the theatre, and still shaken by my monumental lapse in anything resembling intelligence and common sense, he stepped onto the bicycle path to hail a cab that was just pulling away. The first cyclist swerved to avoid him. "T...." ( I know it's confusing, his name also begins with a T) I shouted out his name in a panic as the crowd on the pavement looked on with horror at the impending mangle of body parts. But he was too busy running after the taxi to hear me. There is definitely something terrifying about shouting a warning to the person you love only for them not to register it. I shouted his name out two more times, rather shrilly. The second cyclist also managed to swerve to avoid him. I jumped onto the road, grabbed him by the arm (the love of my life not the cyclist) and threw him back onto the curb. I then crossed the road and climbed into the waiting cab (who'd done a u-turn and was patiently waiting for us to finish our dance with death).

I looked out the cab window and saw that he had come to his senses: he looked both ways before crossing the road to join me.

Me: "You almost got run over twice back there. What were you thinking?"
Him: "What do you mean?."
Me: "What do I mean? Why do you think I was hollering your name out like some sort of demented screaming banshee?"
Him: "I didn't hear anything."

Oh, honestly.

Me: "How am I supposed to ever save you from danger if you don't register me yelling out your name in sheer terror?"
Him: "I just didn't hear you..."

Words failed me.

We got to the right theatre with 5 minutes to spare before we were due to meet our friends (and 35 minutes before the start of the show). Howzat for planning?

What about the show? The show was great! Fluffy and silly as advertised, and also rather subversive and full of rude language. We were a bit appalled by the presence of half a dozen little girls in the front row. Not least because they were gorging themselves with sweets. Luckily great unsuitable parts of the show went way over their heads both literally and figuratively speaking. Especially the song about the Mary Janes.

He liked the leggy and rather sexy girl of Afro-Caribbean descent who I have to admit was the prettiest but I preferred the taut and hard blonde girl who'd previously played Roxie Hart in Chicago. She wasn't classically pretty , but she had at-ti-tude, she was a better dancer and she had the kind of muscular definition that make you think that maybe food is over-rated.

It was great fun (especially the nuns' song) - and some of the performers were truly outstanding so I hope that they'll remain in the cast when the show transfers to Broadway as it's bound to do. If it ever comes to your neck of the woods and you want to indulge in a bit of fluffy nonsense, do go and check it out.

Friday, 25 March 2011

This is so 21st century...

When I was a little girl a long long time ago...  Hey! You, at the back! I heard that.

Let me start again, when I was a little girl... Whenever a famous person would die, I would experience a delayed sense of loss. Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Grace Kelly: I didn't know who they were! I only got to know them after the fact through the retrospective programmes on television (and yes in the early days it was in black and white and we only had three channels).

When I got a little older I started compiling a mental list of all the famous people I was going to meet one day. (Please note that I said "looked forward" and not "wished" or "hoped" or "fantasised about".) Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Joseph Cotten, Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Paul Newman, Peter Ustinov, David Niven, Alfred Hitchcock, Sydney Pollack, Orson Welles... I really thought that the day would come when we would meet. (Obviously not all together at once. Cos that would be, like, so weird.) Whenever someone on my list would die, I would feel an immediate sense of loss, not least because I knew then that our paths would never cross. And yet it had all seemed so real!

Every year, my list gets a little shorter. Please Mr. Eastwood, if you're reading this (hey, if he and I are going to meet up at some point, then him reading my blog is not that much of a stretch.) Anyway, Clint (may I call you Clint?), I really want to act in your next film, whatever it is. I don't care what I play, I'll play a horse. For free.

What does any of this have to do with the price of fish? Not much, other than my list keeps getting shorter (only this week with the passing of Elizabeth Taylor) and that makes me acutely aware of the passage of time, or rather of the growing hinge between our two centuries. Like the proverbial fence, it doesn't do any good to perch on it for too long. A decade is long enough.
It's now 2011 and it sure is starting to feel like - well - like it's not the 20th century anymore. Doesn't it feel like someone's come along more or less overnight and rearranged the neighborhood? At first glance it's the same, but the trees have grown, the road's been resurfaced, couple of the old buildings torn down... To my five year old niece, it all looks perfectly fine and normal, and because I'm determined to stay young in mind (and body), I'm going to say that I'm pretty cool with it too (even though, sometimes, I miss things.)

So what's the 21st century about then, so far? Here's my top ten list:

1. Shuttle Atlantis will never launch again
2. East is the new West
3. Life is digital
4. Some contemporary terms are already obsolete: LP, CD, VHS, U-matic, Top of the Pops, Magnum PI
5. GM food is the new organic
6. Rockstars are old
7. French people speak English (sometimes - horror of horrors - amongst themselves!)
8. It's hard and getting harder to tell the baddies from the good guys
9. Hedgehogs ans sparrows are on the endangered species list
10. Have you noticed how no one really wears watches anymore?

And, getting slightly ahead of myself, here's my top 10 of what the 22nd century may bring:

1. Cancer iradicated
2. Reversal of the ageing process
3. No more pollution
4. Food for everyone
5. Water for everyone
6. Permanent world peace
7. Concrete/asphalt replaced with water and greenery
8. goodbye metric! 8 (or vertical infinity) is the new 10...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Battle of the Princesses

Don't worry, it's not a real fight, it's not even the title of some new reality show on MTV (although I can just about picture it, can't you?). It's about the qualities that go into making some women into 'icons'. Are some types more successful than others?

Remember that game "rock-paper-scissors"? Well it's not really relevant here other than to demonstrate that success is relative. So forget the rock-paper-scissor analogy which could be misleading and let's instead take a look at two extreme types that I'm going to call Diamonds and Butterfly Wings.

Diamonds owe their success to a lifelong determination, absolute focus, discipline and dedication to their objective. These ladies get what they want. It may not always be pretty or romantic, but they get there, and they commit such effort to the enterprise that at the end of the day - whether or not you agree with it - you've just gotta take your hat off to them. By Golly they've earned it. Madonna is a Diamond.

Butterfly Wings on the other hand owe their success to their sheer beauty and fragility (and I have to admit, in some cases,  to a certain talent for emotional manipulation). They often seem to become successful in spite of themselves. If the Diamonds are the high priestesses, then the Butterfly Wings are the sacrificial offering (on the altar of Fame - if we want to be thorough and complete the metaphor). Marilyn was the archetypal Butterfly Wing.

What about Princesses? Well what about them? What is a princess anyway? I keep seeing these signs on the back of cars "princess on board" and it makes me wonder... whatever happened to tradition: Rolls Royces and horse drawn ceremonial carriages?

By definition (my definition) a princess is someone who gets to be as special and beautiful as bride on her wedding day, every single day of her life. Look it up, you'll see it's part of the job description. Just below "must be able to walk with a shiny crown on her head" and "must be able to perform the royal wave whilst sitting in a golden carriage". Have a look I tell you! Or just take my word for it. 

Catherine Middleton, or 'Kate' as everyone who's never met her insists on calling her, a soon to be princess,  is a Diamond. Very pretty, very personable (from a distance, as I said I've never met her nor do I know anyone who's ever met her. If we're talking degrees of separation, I'm closer to Madonna). I think Kate would have done very well at anything she set her mind to so she'll make a fantastic princess. She seems nice. Someone you'd want to know. Doesn't she give you the feeling that she will make her soon to be husband a very happy and contended man? That they will be married for - like - ever. And have a zillion children like Victoria and Albert? (Queen Victoria, not Posh who's with someone called David, not Albert. I'm not about to start any false rumours.) Where was I? Kate will make the perfect wife and consort, because she knows what she wants. She is stable, she is strong, and she has a lot to give. She will probably endure and live to a hundred and beyond. She's like the 21st century's answer to the Queen Mother. A true Diamond I tell you. Like one of those big jewels on the Monarch's crown. Precious, shiny, and indestructible.

Although she photographs beautifully and will give British women a sense of style the rest of the world can aspire to, she does not steal my heart.

You see, I like Butterfly Wings. I know. I KNOW. What's wrong with Diamonds? Nothing. The thing is, I liked Princess Diana. She too was beautiful and photogenic. She too became a style icon. But like Marilyn, there was such a fragility to her, her light shone so bright you just knew it wasn't heading for a happy ending. She was riddled with flaws but it seemed to make use love her all the more for it. She lived without a safety net which made the stakes that much higher. (And as any actor worth their salt will tell you, the higher the stakes the more rivetting the performance.) We watched her soar high up into the sky, far beyond anyone else's reach. And then we watch her plummet to the ground, like a shooting star.

I'm not saying that one type is better than another. And as I said, I like Kate. But I loved Diana. In the battle of the Princesses, I know which side I'm on.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Come a bit closer, my Puff Adder wants to say hello...

I’m not good when I’m hungry. Or hormonal. Or both. The Puff-Adder, as a good friend of mine christened it, is my small, green and deadly Familiar, with a lightning strike (and telescopic fangs). According to this same friend – who is still very much alive and kicking no doubt saved by his well honed survival instincts and some life saving tips from his ex-Special Forces mates – Puff Adder is quite easy to spot. Apparently, it’s all in the gaze: my eyes narrow, my nostrils flare, and KAPOW! Too late, you’re dead. So if you’re clever (or know me well), you track it and make sure to retreat in time to safety. I just think of it as letting off steam. But apparently, the strike is lethal. Very few have recovered, and of those who have I’m told none ever made a full recovery.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The fine art of spanking...

Hypothetically speaking (of course), would you rather be spanked or do the spanking? I figure that - either way - it's going to hurt. And I don't know about you but the palm of my hand carries a lot less padding than what the French call mon derriere (to be precise, the French spell it with a descending accent from left to right on the second "e" but blogspot won't let me do accents).

What's brought this on I hear you ask? It's a bit of a lurid topic for a Tuesday late afternoon... Well let me ask you this: is there an appropriate time for this kind of conversation? Dinner with the in-laws on a Saturday night perhaps? Over lunch with the stranger next to you on a packed long haul flight? Or maybe over organic white tea with Lady Gaga on a break from her tour? (The last one probably but that's unlikely to happen, no matter how many FB contests I enter on her fan page. Mama Monster, if you're reading this I just want you to know that I think you're the best, even better than Madonna in her heyday, and that you're making me feel like I'm 15 again but in a good way.)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Of pussycats, parrots and counting beans

Lately, I've taken to interacting with imaginary cats. Sorry Smoke, let me rephrase that: with cats that aren't there. (Don't be put off by the image of the parrot. I'll come back to that.)

It started a few weeks back at an audition where I had to mime a cat. (As in miming my interaction with an imaginary cat as opposed to pretending to be a cat which is - in some ways - easier but has no place in a commercial's casting.) The casting breakdown called for a woman in her forties to play a  nurse arriving home at 3am after a long shift. Other than the fact that I have no nursing experience (I don't believe being a fan of Nurse Jackie counts for anything?), have never worked a 12 hour shift and am usually in bed by 11 o'clock at the latest, I figured I had as a good a chance as any of getting the part. The script required the character to make a cup of tea (at 3 in the morning?) and make a telephone call and - here's the acting bit - go from looking forlorn and exhausted to happy and satisfied. No scripted dialogue. Personally, I think it would have made a fantastic commercial for the tea manufacturer (it was for something else) but when you're an actor no one listens. Anyway, there I was, ready and willing.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Eight Point Nine

After a night of disturbed dreams in which I kept losing track of time and arriving late at the exam centre (I had those same dreams last week) I indulged myself and my study guide (the book, not a person) with a nice soak in the bath (chapter 1 - it's a long one) and then shifted to the red couch (chapters 2 and 3). I only paused this morning's last minute revisions for my Financial Regulation exam (chapters 4, 5 and 6)  to have some breakfast. We turned on the television for the morning news. And there it was, that terrible apocalyptic footage from Japan. Him: "I think maybe we shouldn't watch this. If you think it's going to distract you..." Me: "No no, it's fine, leave it on."

It wasn't really. Fine I mean. What a terrible thing to have happen, those poor people, and me eating my Dukan galette like everything was perfectly normal. Because in my life here in London things were normal - other than my sudden awareness that something had gone terribly wrong on the other side of the world, in a country I have never visited. Such large scale appalling destruction. And no one to blame. No hate figure. No tyrant, no terrorist mastermind. No one to claim the horror as their own. It is what it is: humanity caught in the giant machinery of our planet's inner workings. Like Chaplin's character in Modern Times except not funny. Not funny at all. A tragedy of Biblical proportions in the second decade of the 21st century.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Small is Beautiful and the Playboy Audition

Catapult is the word that comes to mind to describe this morning's start to the day. With it being Spring and all, we've been using the rising sun as our natural alarm clock because it's so much nicer waking up on your own terms at 7am. But this morning it failed to wake us up. I was having a delicious cat like ooh-look-
-it's-morning-I'm-looking-forward-to-breakfast stir when I glanced down at the clock.

This morning I had an audition scheduled for 10:15 at Spotlight in Soho (that's the London's West End where many of the theatres and production companies are based and therefore a popular neighbourhood for castings) and I usually allow a good 45 minutes to get myself there cool calm and collected. The clock read: 8:44.

I vaulted out of bed, into the shower, applied make-up, had a quick breakfast, tried to speed air-dry my hair and threw myself out of the house with my Financial Regulation study guide in one hand and my dance shoes for Zumba in the other.  It goes without saying that I got to the audition a wee bit early.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Gaga Love vs.The Cult of the Skinny

I'm not well. Really? Tell me something I don't know. Seriously, I'm in one of those moods... Capital C-O-N-T-R-O-L. 

It spells trouble.

Revisiting old territory is so tedious, don't you think? Like finding yourself back in some town you'd promised yourself you would never set foot in again. But I was born this way Baby... anorexic episodes and all and despite several years of strong recovery under my belt, that demon can still rear its ugly head. (Ironically,  I'm also a recovering compulsive over eater...  the two extremes used to keep me in the most unhealthy but life saving balance.)

Now, before we go any further. Please promise me you won't feel bad, and you won't worry about me. There's no need. The thing is I don't mind having this - this kink -  in my DNA. God makes no mistakes. Afterall it's been fertile creative ground ever since my first one woman show "There's Something in the Fridge that Wants to Kill Me!"

Do we have a deal? Then read on.

I know what's caused Control to take over: it was failing that exam. It ambushed be on Thursday afternoon. I was too full of anger, self-pity and frustration to notice it creeping up on me. What happened exactly? Chronologically: I failed the exam, ran some errands, didn't have lunch till 3 o'clock, over compensated with a HUGE bowl of pasta (more like two huge bowls of pasta actually), felt a bit stuffed afterwards, checked in the mirror that my stomach wasn't protruding too much to go to Zumba (it wasn't, well not if I sucked it in), went to Zumba, felt really unwell during Zumba like I was gestating a baby giraffe, skipped dinner, skipped breakfast the next day, went to another Zumba class, rushed around, had a smallish lunch... et Voila! before I knew it I was in the clutches of Control.

You have to understand, this is so unlike me: I like to eat! The more I eat, the more I want to eat. I can out-eat most people I know, and probably most people I don't know. I can carry on eating even on those rare occasions were I feel full. I find it incredibly hard to go without food. I don't understand people who claim they can forget to eat ... Normally, if it's past my mealtime, my entire being goes into spasms of panic and desperately tries to communicate in the most convincing and innovative ways that I am about to pass out, go into a coma and die of inanition. It will allow nothing or no-one to stand between me and my food. Beware small babies in prams and trespassers! I will show no mercy...

No amount of reasoning - or therapy will convince me otherwise. When-in-doubt-eat is my defacto mode, although, these days I can recognise the signs and activate my support system. Occasionally though, something unexpected (it can good or bad - I'm not picky) will occur to distract me long enough from my eating schedule. Once my being goes into fasting mode, something else takes over. Another version of me: tough, strong, indestructible. She feels no pain. She never fails. She excels. She used to be my best friend before I knew better. Under her influence, food becomes a bad thing. Food becomes the enemy.

But the craziness around the food is just a footnote, a symptom of the seismic shift that takes place in my head. In recovery, I can spot the change from miles away, even if it doesn't make it easier to reverse or avoid. But hey, at least I know what's going on. I watch it, powerless, like a movie audience watching the psycho killer creeping up on his victim: He's right behind you!

Under her influence, I become incredibly controlling of my environment, and everything has to be N-E-A-T. Because, as everybody knows, Neat is the next best thing after Skinny.

Let's talk about Skinny. Shall we? I've regressed to finding skinny alluring all over again. I find myself lusting after the skinny thighs of strangers on the street, the models at Paris Fashion Week and Lady Gaga's perfect behind in her latest video for Born This Way .

This is a slippery slope and I'd better watch out... But there is one saving grace. Let me tell you a secret: when Control takes over, my creativity suffers. And no matter how loud the call of the Skinny, the call of Creativity is always louder. Thank goodness Control makes me stiff when I dance and turns me into a terrible actor. I am so grateful for this emergency exit, this panic button, the very existence of this path back to normalcy, to the celebration of Life in all its glory including both the glamourous and the scuzzy bits!

I always know where to find that magic door, it's up and to the right, next to the golden laughing Buddha with his huge belly. All I have to do is push the door open, hum a bit of Lady Gaga for courage and inspiration, and step on through.

Just love yourself and you're set...

I'm on the right track Baby, I was born to be brave...

Friday, 4 March 2011

Welcome She Writer Blogger Ball Redux!

A warm welcome to fellow She Writes members! Hope you enjoy your visit...

Click here to return to The magic bookshelf...

Marginal Fail, Nul Point! and Ringing in the Changes

I might as well live in Antartica. Apart from the fact that it would probably be marginally warmer than London at the moment, it seems that - with a few notable exceptions - most of my social interactions this week have been conducted via the computer.

I'm not complaining. No. I'm moaning! Only because today happens to be a very special day. It's my father's birthday. And my birthday too. A whole year older! How does that happen? How do I manage this incredible feat, every year, of ageing an entire year on the night of March 3? As a child and up until the age of 25 or so, being a year older was exciting. (I remember this one year, when I turned 7, overegging the anticipation and woke up thinking I was 8.)

Nowadays it's still thrilling, but low key. I even start using my "new" age from January 1 (does anyone else?). Then around the start of February, realise that I'm not quite that old yet and it makes me feel like I've defied Time! (No, really. It's a great feeling.)

I don't have any children of my own so there are none of those kiddy milestones to make me conscious of the passage of time. I no longer think I'm the same age as teenagers (that stopped when I realised they couldn't spell) but when I see a bunch of 20 somethings, they feel like my contemporaries. Of course all it takes is for one of them to call me Madam (I live in the UK) or for an adult talking to a child to refer to me as "the lady". As in "Don't make so much noise Justin (Justin? Who's he?) you're disturbing the lady."

The other age marker is watching teachers with their young charges. (There's a primary school around the corner.) Since when did teachers get so young? Mine were old... or were they? An old school mate sent me a copy of our school picture from year 5 and I remembered my teacher as a rather old and fat and sour woman... looking at the photo now, she was probably my age. She does still look rather pinched though, I got that bit right. Ah, the cruelty of youth!!

So today is my birthday and I am nursing a wounded ego. I failed my Financial Regulation exam yesterday - BY ONE ANSWER!!!! - because I didn't study hard enough for it... because I didn't think I needed to study that hard... because I thought I was clever enough to "wing it"... because I like sailing close to the wind... because being clever is my favourite defense mechanism as in.... "well maybe I didn't get (they didn't give me) the part in that play/commercial/film but I'm clever, I've got 2 Masters degrees, so eat my socks!" Now I have to face the fact that this exam is designed for clever people, who are expected to study HARD and LONG and the fact that the pass rate is only about 50%... so even amongst clever people who study hard, it's a tough one. I also have to face the fact that he passed it the first time round (although he did take the training course which I didn't). Oh dear, and face the fact that I now have to study HARD and LONG for another week or so until I take it again. And pay the (outrageously) expensive exam fee. Again.

Where was I? Today is my birthday. In spite of what I said in the beginning about my limited social interactions in the flesh as it were... I am looking forward to having birthday cake this afternoon with a kind and beautifully sexy Brazilian professional samba dancer the combination of which (cake and Brazil) is the equivalent of heaven on a stick and I couldn't ask for a nicer birthday treat!

Feliz Aniversario to me!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Up a creek without a paddle...

He set off for San Francisco this morning. From London, it's quite a schlep. I packed his bags and even packed a picnic so he could avoid airplane food. Computer? CHECK. Cell phone? CHECK. Reading glasses? (He hasn't had them that long.) CHECK. Sun glasses? (It is California afterall. Nevermind that London is about as warm as the box of fish fingers in your freezer). CHECK. Coat? Scarf? Ear plugs? Passport?... oh you get the drift.

The little Monica in me was feeling in control and on top of things.

He left silently in a Green Tomato (that's an electric car taxi service). I got a couple of texts, and a call to say that he was dutifully seated at the departure gate waiting for the flight to board. I took the opportunity to remind him - still channelling Monica from Friends - that all his travel efforts would come to nought if he failed to board his plane because he was at the wrong gate. In that respect he's got form. He once missed a business flight to NY by waiting at the wrong gate (and the wrong terminal) and somehow managing to tune out the frantic calls of his name over the tannoy. Turns out he was waiting at the gate of another BA flight going to NY, only an hour later... That's what happens when you live in the centre of things: Heathrow has several flights to NY, with the same airline, within hours of each other. It could happen to anyone but not to me.

Self-congratulation invites bad kharma. I ought to know, from experience. And I didn't have long to wait.

There was another call.

Him: "We're about to board but I've just realised I forgot something..." Me: (what? WHAT?) ????" Him: "My business cards..."  I didn't swear but I really wanted to. "You're a doll. Gotta go. Bye!!" He didn't say it quite like that of course. (He doesn't call me doll either, he calls me cute things that I'm too shy to share.) I wanted to swear some more but suddenly got a craving for something chocolatey.

No time for chocolate, besides I know how to differentiate between emotional and physical cravings. (Years of therapy. Plus, just to be on the safe side, I always make sure there's no chocolate in the house. It's foolproof.) Instead, I went online. I found a place not too far from his hotel. With a turnaround time of less than 6 hours with digital printing. (Thank you Google.) I found the file with the business card artwork. I dutifully loaded up the file and as a last step filled out the billing details. SURPRISE!!!

In America, a lot of billing systems are not set up to process non US/Canadian cards. It's not a criticism, it's a big country with a huge domestic market and let's face it, how many foreigners order business cards in any given year?

But if you're in London at 10 in the morning, 8 hours ahead of the West Coast, it's the internet equivalent of being up a creek with no paddle...

Paddle or no paddle I had to keep moving to keep the craving at bay. I emailed my American friends asking for help. I called them up at work too and left voicemails for good measure...Then I went to Zumba. Then I traipsed for miles to my audition. Then I tried to read my Financial Regulation studybook whilst I waited my turn to audition (Some people just love the sound of their own voices... "I call this 'painting on a found canvas'. I made that when I was in India." The English have some great descriptors for people like that. If you don't know them, ask some British people. One word starts with a T the other with a W.)  Then I traipsed back to the train station (and got a bit lost because I was hungry.) Then I had some lunch -  at about 3 o'clock. Then I  got an email back from my friends saying: "we're on the case." 
Thank goodness for reliable grown up friends. (And for Linked-in.)

Now I am waiting to see if the cards will be printed on time, or indeed at all. (I did receive another email from my friends saying they too were struggling with the payment on the printers' website...).

I am not complaining. I brought this onto myself by dedicating an entire blog entry to how much I was going to miss him during his business trip. As my Abuelita used to say "it's no good bringing to much attention onto yourself". I miss her so much. And she was right, I got my just desserts. (Which is another thing I miss about San Francisco. Expresso thick shake anyone?)

Note: The order has just gone through, the proof looks good, and the cards should be ready for him to collect when he lands! For the record (sorry Sue, I'm sure you're going to hate that...):

 Sue R., environmental lawyer and fantastic mother is a star!! (and a jolly good friend too.)

Just go in looking like crap...

Another call from my agent yesterday morning: "I've got you an audition for a photo shoot. It's for a French charity." Me:"Oh... (that's not going to pay much then...) thank you for putting me forward." Agent: "I will email you the details." And she hung up.

Later on, I checked the casting breakdown. I was up for the role of the "thin woman": must be very thin/skinny and look like she is about to have an organ transplant....

Oh dear Lord, here we go again. The Universe does have a sense of humour.

I called my agent back: "Apart from the fact that I am starting to sense a pattern here (remember the bald cap audition from last week? Still waiting to hear on that one...) I'm not sure I look... well... unwell enough for the part..." (I can't help it, it's in my genes: my mother looks 20 years younger than her actual age. And the fact that I live what many people would consider a very sheltered life, I'm in bed by 10, I don't drink or smoke or indulge in anything less... legal. My worst habit is a fondness for diet coke and sugar substitute. I just look... healthy. A casting director once described me as having a mineral water commercial kind of face.)

"That's what make-up is for!" said my agent. It was a bit snappy. It's never a good idea to criticise your agent's judgement, especially if the casting director has requested to see you. "Just go in looking a bit rough you know? Besides you are thin." No, I don't know how to look rough. Apparently my version of looking rough is everybody else's Sunday-morning-at-church look (I'm exaggerating for effect). And no I'm not thin. I'm a slender hour glass. There's a difference. I don't look like I'm about to have an organ transplant, I look like I do a lot of yoga.

But I am an actress so I will do my best: I will go in with no make-up and a bit dishevelled. I have a Zumba class right before it so that should work in my favour. Of course my ego wants to go in there looking like a million dollars. My ego also wants me to get the gig. My ego is torn. "Look, if they really want you, they'll get a good make-up artist in to make you look the part..." I just love my agent.

The truth is, it's an opportunity to meet a casting director who works on quite striking commercials, which in itself is an opportunity to get something that will look striking in my portfolio, something that might just catch a director's eye... and lead to greater things! (This reasoning isn't flawed, it's just very optimistic which is the only way you can survive in this profession - you have to believe, you have to know in your heart of hearts that one day, you'll get that big break. Otherwise, you go and do something more rewarding.)

Let's be positive: I do have rather angular features, in the right light and with the right make-up... who knows. Now, what would Dita do?