Casting studio dude: Isabelle? Up you go.
Me: Ok then. Thanks
Director: Hey Isabelle, thanks for joining us. Love your bag!
Me: Thank you.
Director: Everybody, this is Isabelle. You know, the one who shouts 'budgie smugglers' at complete strangers. Maybe we can get her to do it again. Ok Isabelle. Sit at the desk and imagine it's a family dinner table. This is the best holiday dinner ever but it's all about to go wrong. You get splashed with gravy all over but you pretend like nothing happened. You know, stiff upper lip and all that.
Director: and... let's do it.
Me: Oh, patron saint of actors and lost causes please give me a sign: do I start now or do I wait for him to say action?
So I started miming being at the dinner table, eating, passing the salt, checking that my imaginary children had everything they needed, offering them more mash. I really got into it but suddenly realised there would be no cue for the gravy splashing and I'd better get a move on. So I did a weird all over body shudder and then wiped the imaginary gravy off my face and imaginary blouse with my imaginary napkin all the while trying to put a brave face on (which most likely resulted in me looking rather wild eyed and demented.)
Director: O-kay Isabelle... That was good. What was that!? Especially the set up. You took ages! But can we do the splashing again? And maybe this time you can carry on eating as if nothing happened... You're supposed to be an actor! I'm ever so disappointed I really expected more from a budgie wrangler. Ah well...
Me: Ok. I'm sorry!
Director: and... let's do it.
Me: Why oh why won't he say action? Or give me a cue for the splashing so I can act surprised? I'm so rubbish. I'm so not getting this job. Why are they even asking me to do it again?
So I repeated the whole sorry scene, tacking on a bit of brave face eating at the back end but to tell you the truth, my heart wasn't in it.
Director: Ok. Thank you. I hope the next one's better.
Me: Thank you. I'll never get another audition.
Fast forward to Saturday night and the MTV Staying Alive Foundation charity gala. (Check it out, they do really cool AIDS prevention work for young people.) We had the tux, we had the gown, (and the new trunks). I put on my fiercest face paint (I'd done a dry run a few nights before at 2 in the morning channelling Lady Gaga), sleeked my hair back (do you know how hard it is to slick back a short fringe?) and pulled on my gorgeous new dress.
I'd bought some gold and silver glitter sprays from Claire's (a UK chain that caters to the beauty needs of the under 12s which is about my styling age as I wasn't allowed to experiment with make up as a teenager) and sprayed it over every inch of exposed flesh - all the while hoping I wouldn't end up like the dead girl in Goldfinger.
We got to the party early and met up with my friend D. for a game of celebrity spotting: oooh look, there's Boris Becker, Linford Christie, and Julien Macdonald fresh from his stint on Strictly Come Dancing... Then the rest of the party arrived and - this is the thing with my friend D. - his other guests were more interesting than the A-listers! It was like meeting the cast from Cluedo but without a murder:
First there was Miss Scarlet, international conceptual artist who combines beauty, wit, the authority of an admiral, and a deep sense of humanity. She rocked the black fish tail look.
Colonel Mustard was a cool, suave and debonair American, working in DC (he denied being a spy but I'm sorry, regular people do not look that good in a tux). I made a mental note to ask him to explain the plot of Gravity's Rainbow to me once we knew each other better.
Professor Plum (the young cool version): a young engineer who builds Rolls Royce engines in his spare time (just kidding, that's his job). Imagine a cross between David Niven and Marcel Dassault in the making. I thought about my crappy little audition from the day before and cried a little on the inside.
Mrs White (the young sexy version): an opera trained Beijing-based performer with more wit and vim than Truman Capote, and Mr Green (the decadent playboy version) who had some fantastic anecdotes.
Then there was the Willy Wonka of Design, rivalling my friend D in the sweetness stakes. If it were me, and I'd designed the new London bus, and the UK pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo amongst other design wonders of the 21st century, I think I'd cop a bit of a diva attitude. But he was just lovely. He even complimented me on my mother-in-law hand me down of a clutch (which - if truth be told - does rock some pretty nifty giant diamante action) which made me feel 10 feet tall.
And finally, there was what appeared to be the by-product of a cougar's fantasy: combining the looks of a GQ model, a posh pedigree, rugby player, avid skier, sky diver, linguist, Cambridge scholar with a social conscience and all around cutie. I figure, once God finished putting him together, he took a step back and thought: 'gee I wish I'd based the whole lot of them on this model but I can't be bothered with a world wide recall so I know, I'll just make him a twin!' And he did. (The twin wasn't there because even at an MTV gala, you can only take so much perfection.)
I can attest he was pretty real as he ended up sitting next to me at dinner. I know, right, how lucky was that! Even luckier in the lucky stakes was that my husband sat directly opposite me so I was able to blow kisses and mouth 'I love you's' across the table all evening.
And that, as they say, is that.