So I'm in the queue at the Post Office to post some more banal things like headshots of myself and my illustrious acting CV and other such narcissistic items, to potential power hungry employers, when my phone rings.
"Hi there,all set? We are going live in 50 seconds? "
"Going live? S..s...ss...sorry," I say with a stutter and a nervous laugh,"What do you mean "Going Live"?"
The woman on the other end of the phone sounds slightly stressed " Radio Ashurst? Remember? Your agent said you had agreed to do it!? We are interviewing ex Soap stars who played "the Villains" on their respective TV shows. "
I can't remember actually. But that doesnt surprise me. My agent has a tendency to forget important details like asking me if I want to do something or not. Its something he and I are working on.
"Right well....." I start, but its too late, I am suddenly listening to the dulcit tones of Radio Ashurst's daytime DJ introducing me against a background of Luther Vandross.
"Hello Harriett!" he bellows," Thankyou for joining us"
"Its a pleasure!" I bellow back,
"Not interupting your busy schedule I hope?" he says
"No, no, just having lunch with my agent" I say charmingly, and the man in front of me turns and gives me a funny look.
"So Harriett, you played the Villain in a Soap on Primetime TV for a number of years.Tell us more"
"It wasn't a soap it was a TV drama" I say sweetly trying to hide my annoyance at his downgrading of my career
"Suuure" Mr DJ gushes."Anyway,tell us,Harriett, do you think you are anything like your character?" he guffaws
I'm sorry,do i think I'm a bitch? Er...let me just think about that for a second....
"No" I say calmly, "It was a part I was paid to act out"
"Yeh, thats what they all say" he shouts and laughs heartily.
ha ha ha.
"Soooo, can you run us through what happened in your storyline again? I mean she had quite a journey didn't she?"
"Well," I say sighing and then taking a long, deep breath to prepare the rattling off of "The Storyline", which i can now do off by heart, I begin.
"She had an affair with her friend's dad, had his children, and then drowned her sister in the Thames when she found out she was pregnant with his love child ,got arrested, fell in love with her inmate who was actually a voodoo witch and put a spell on her, which she broke by doing the 12 steps in AA where she met the man of her dreams, and finally she met a sticky end when she was bulldozed by an errant lawnmower whilst on a weekend break in Cambodia with his brother."
The old lady standing behind me grabs onto her shopping trolley to steady herself.
"What a gal " the DJ says smarmily
"Yeh, she was a total bitch" I say
And there is Silence. Oh god. I've just said Bitch on Live Radio.
A few more seconds of silence , which on Radio time feels like hours, and Mr Funny who has obviously been told to "wrap it up" quickly by the producer, comes back with a hurried,"Well, Harriett, thanks for joining us,and oh what are you up to at the moment? Any new projects you'd like to tell us about??"
Shit.Fuck. Bollocks. Quick, Harriett, Quick,Think. Whatever you do you must not utter the career ending words "nothing." Think. Think. Think.
"I'm er, I've er just written a novel" I blurt out
"A Novel? Thats fantastic! Will it be on our bookshelves soon?"
"Yes. yes it will indeed be published soon" I say through clenched teeth.
"Can you tell us what its about?"
"Er.No. No I couldnt possibly. Its a secret" I say coyly.
Great . I am now officially writing a novel. My mother will be so pleased.
And the old lady behind pokes me in the back and points to a bored looking postal clerk sitting there, waiting for me .
"Till 3 love.You're next"
"Must go!" I scream into the phone. And hang up and go over to the window.
" Can I send these first class please?" I say plonking down my six brown envelopes
The man's sullen face suddenly lights up
"No thanks", I say breezily,"Just normal post"
"Do you want them to get there next day? For this we recommend recorded delivery. Guaranteed to arrive on time"
"No thanks I just want normal mail" I say again, trying to be polite
"Ah, but is safer recorded delivery, better for valuable items. What is the value of your contents?"
I stare at the brown envelopes in front of me , containing my sad sorry, dead end career and I lean in so close that I can actually see the condensation of my breath on the partition window.
"No value." I say slowly and firmly. "Absolutely No Value Whatsoever." And I bite my lip to stop the tears."Just first class please, that will be all"