Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Feel the Fear and Have a Drink Anyway

I called Fellow Actress on Sunday and told her I was really worried

“What’s up?”

“You know my kitchen Island. The wooden one in the middle of my kitchen”


“Well I was walking across Cambridge Circus on the way to see my agent and suddenly, I had this really weird vision or thought, in my mind, that it was all curling and drying up , snarling and cracking, like the Arizona Desert, and it was so petrifying I stopped , frozen to the spot, having a full on panic attack”

“Weird” she says

“I know! Its really weird! It just makes me feel shaky and fearful and scared and panicky even talking about it” I say tearfully

“Death”, she says matter of factly


“You’re concerned about death"

“Aren’t we all?”



“Darl don’t worry. Its like,sometimes I suddenly get this thought that I want to throw myself under a bus”


“Yeh but I wouldn’t do it obviously”

“Yeh,” I say, and I tell her that what made it worse was that I then typed the words “Having an irrational thought about Kitchen Island” into Google, who has now become the equivalent of my boyfriend,father,best friend when it comes to confiding and seeking advice from someone,and the first thing that came up was a scary chat forum, where one girl who had had a similar experience (but not with her kitchen island) was told to “check in with a shrink as soon as you can as you are clearly mentally ill”

Oh god, don’t start me with Google.” she sighs, "The other day when I was at a low ebb I Googled “What should I have achieved by the age of 35?“

“What did it say?” I ask

“Been head hunted for a new job, bought jewellery by a man and developed your own signature style“

“Well you certainly have that,” I say, thinking back to the last time we had gone to Shoreditch House and someone asked us if she had come as Courtney Love as he didn’t realise it was a fancy dress theme.

“You need to see a therapist though because that’s not normal“ she says

“I know.“ I say “ Thanks for that .But how can I ? I cant afford it“ I moan


“That’s what the NHS is for” she says smugly

I arrive at my local GP’s surgery having made a twelve O clock appointment with a Mrs Freedman, the NHS counsellor. I realise that, having tied in my weekly shop to Sainsbury’s beforehand, I am now laden with bags of wine, vodka and Doritos which is probably not a good look when pleading insanity and poverty. I go up to the receptionist and tell her who I am here to see. When I say my name she looks up.

“Oh my god, you’re off the telly aren’t you?” she says looking at my shopping bag

I nod sheepishly I feel like a fraud. “ A few years ago now” I offer as an apology

She looks at the computer screen

“I’m sorry but there’s no appointment for you at 12pm“

I panic, there must be, I expressly remember her saying 12pm as it had meant missing the last 20 minutes of This Morning.

“Your appointment is actually at 4.” she says. God, if this is the state of the NHS with their appointments system, what are they going to do with my mental health.

“I can't do 4 I have a meeting “ I lie “I really need to see her now” I say with urgency, and force a tear with the aid of some sense memory excercise I learnt at drama school.

I can see Britney Spears and Mariah Carey’s breakdowns flash in front of her eyes as she jumps up and says

“Let me have a chat with her.” and she winks at me and goes upstairs.

While I am waiting tensely,a man I vaguely recognise comes to the desk. I’m racking my brain trying to think where I know him from and then I hear his deep, booming voice as he says to the other receptionist

“I've got an appouintment with Mrs Freedman at 12pm“

And I remember now . Oh my god. It is. It's him. The lead singer from that band who had one hit back in the eighties.And he’s got my appointment with the NHS counsellor.”

And suddenly a thought crosses my mind. And its even scarier and more paralysing than the Kitchen Island one. What if Mrs Freedman’s patients are all Ex Soapstars and One Hit wonders who can't afford proper therapy? What if I am just one in a long line of has-beens who walk into her surgery every day? And I pick up my groceries and turn and walk out of the door.

Later that evening, I get home and sit down at my computer

“ Will I ever be a successful actress again or should I just give up now ?” I type into Google as I pour myself a large Vodka and Tonic

Friday, 25 June 2010

Herpes ain't nothin but a number

I met up with Fellow Actress last week for a "Recession Session" at Pizza Express. Actors love the Recession. It has opened the door to so many opportunities we could never have previously dreamed of ."Two for the price of One"s in restaurants we would normally only ever have been able to go to once a month,twenty percent off in online shops that only our "Real Work" friends could afford. Two of my friends were made redundant the other week and when I told Fellow Actress, she high fived me and said "another one bites the dust". It was the first time I've actually seen her genuinely look happy in months, but her smile soon faded when I had to break the news to her that I had left the Pizza voucher at home. Apparently she has OCD and has been fixating on the American Hot all week. It's trying, but at least she's not fixating on her alcoholic ex-boyfriend any more. It's taken her a year to get over him and they were only together for six weeks,so really I should be relieved that the Pizza Obsession has taken his place.

To be honest, I forgot the voucher on purpose.I knew it was the only way to get her out, but these weekly Pizzas are causing my waistline to expand, and in fact, due to this increased snacking,my button up blouse unbuttoned itself the other day in an audition and the director got the pornographic version of Lady Macbeth.

I try to appease Fellow Actress by telling her not to worry, it's three courses and a glass of wine for a tenner at Pierre Victoire on Dean Street.

"Is that for two?" she asks.

Sometimes I wonder if she realises we are not still in 1988.

As we finally sit down to eat, she grills me about last night's date.

"It was good" I answer

"Good?" she says, unimpressed with my monosyllabacy.

"Yeh" I feel obliged to elaborate,"I mean, he's good looking, sexy, rich..."

"But." she says,"There's a But"

"He's only twenty four"

"Oh" she looks relieved," I thought you were going to say he was anatomically challenged" ,she says wiggling her little finger

"Oh God no" I reply aghast,"Never. Again"

"So? Whats the problem?" she says

"He thinks I'm 28"


"Well,you know I'm not. In fact I'm far from it"

"So?" she snorts. "Look, Do you actually want a "relationship" with him?"

I think about it. I’m still totally cut up about The Worst Split Ever with Commitment Phobe Ex which occurred a few months ago. The thought of getting into another relationship hadn’t really crossed my mind.

“Well,No” I say

"There you go then..just go for it...Oh,But" she says with a mouthful of baguette," Be Careful. Those young ones can be really good kissers but the minute they get you under the sheets they can pound you like a machine"

I cross my legs and gulp down a wine."One more?" says Fellow Actress beckoning the waiter over. I nod.

"So", I say,"How's your love life?"

"You'll meet him." she beams," He's picking me up when we finish. I'm a bit pissed off to be honest " She leans in and lowers her voice. " We had a lovely date other night, we went to the Tate Modern and had a few drinks, and then we walked back over the Millenium Bridge,holding hands as the sun was setting over the Thames, and it was all just so romantic, and then, he said he had something to tell me. And, well, he turned to me and said.."

"Those Three Magic Words...?" I gush, on the edge of my seat with vicarious excitement.

She does a funny thing with her head "I've got Herpes" she says and downs her glass of wine.

"Oh" I say and put my forkful of smoked salmon down. Four more glasses of wine later he arrives

We get the bill. Its £63.50

"Yikes,I only brought a tenner" says Fellow Actress snogging Herpes Guy's face off, "..thats all you said it would be"

I smile sweetly and hand my credit card to the waiter " Does that include service?" I ask, and as he shakes his head I wonder to myself if the Recession is such a good thing for actors after all.