There’s nothing quite like an audition to show where you are supposed to be AT in life.
Two years ago, I sat firmly in the ‘loveable, best friend’ casting bracket. Not hot enough to win the guy but wise enough to be chief council and smiley enough to be a funny sub-subplot. My inbox glistened with castings:
‘Warm, bubbly with an interesting face. Quirky. No model types’.
‘Quirky’ was the Lollster’s 2013 buzzword, along with ‘average + build,’ ‘no household names’ and ‘willing to work for free’.
When I didn’t get the job, I could relax, content in the knowledge that I just wasn’t bubbly (chubby) or interesting of face (dog-like) enough for the role. It was NEVER down to being shite.
But at least I was in the younger category. The female with something to say, the female living her life. The female with an above healthy Bueno addiction and all round dis-interest in cats.
Now, I go up for mums:
‘Warm, bubbly with an interesting, (if slightly haggered), face. She has probably done a lot of drugs. Quirky. Bingo wings. Mother of a young teen’.
There was a time when I would have been grateful to have been handed a temporary husband when heading into a casting but now I’m handed 2.4 children too.
“Just treat them like they’re your own” the casting director proffers.
Er…”but I just came from the pub and kids usually think I’m a c**t. Oh, I can’t say that in front of the youngest? Oh, wank. Sorry”.
“Just pretend to make cup cakes and have a conversation about fairies…and keep the swearing to a minimum”.
I look to my two fake children who are already working the room:
The older one is a stage school type who reeks of piano lessons and elocution. His CV is already five times larger than mine and he has more contacts than I’ve had hand jobs.
My ‘youngest’ is dressed head to toe in pink and unfortunately, it appears that she has gone to the Keira Knightly school of acting.
“Hold this spatula Maisie, now can you remember when we saw that fairy in the garden”?
“We don’t have a garden”. Pout.
I laugh quaintly, pretending to stir some hot caramel into the invisible sponge. I momentarily forgot that we are in London and not the northern, countryside childhood of my yester year. ‘Maisie’ has obvs grown up in an all concrete, Peckham penthouse.
“Ha ha. What is your favourite fairy then, sweetheart”?
She looks at me, square in the eye, her ‘older brother’ squeezing her shoulder now, willing her creative genius to flourish, forthwith. The two of us are spending the advert money in our heads. Like mother, like son.
What? Pink? That’s not even a thing.
“Your favourite fairy is pink”?
What a dumbass.
She stands there, hands by her sides, oblivious to the non-existent sprinkles I just put in her eye line.
Then my husband enters like a plumber in an eighties porno. He’s suitably hairy. I recognise him as the murder victim in a recent Poirot re-run. He’s quasi famous! ITV2-1 am-in-the-morning famous! This is in THE BAG!
“Hi honey”. He skids across the work surface and offers me a limited edition, non-stick cake baster.
“For the woman who has everything”.
He holds me. I smile. Our son smiles. Our daughter looks into the mid distance. I kick her ankle. Show me some teeth honey….a three grand buyout teethy smile…she pouts. Man, I love my family.
My husband clings on to me for dear life. He can smell the 50% for an optional second-year-repeat-fee. I look lovingly into his eyes, his dark, seen-better-days eyes and scan down to his Harold Bishop jowel. It occurs to me that we could never pass for a couple, just as I couldn’t have birthed two children and look THIS FRESH.
Or…OR did I just get old and not notice? Did something just pass me by there? The 144 bus and MY LIFE? People my age DO have two children and baking skills. Some of them have rank husbands. Some of them are OK with it. Shit. This was like looking in a pound shop mirror. The life that could have been.
I drop the pink youth off with her real mum as my ‘son’ skateboards back to Dalston. (Kids grow up so fast these days).
The mum is toned and at least two years younger than me. She has even brushed her hair.
“Well, that was torture”. I note to my bubbly, (chubby) husband. “Pub”?
He waves his wedding ring at me in a camp yet sorrowful fashion. What a joker. Like I was after a bit of ass.
I sit in the pub, alone, drinking Tia Maria cocktails. Other 30 something women are littered around supping up calories. This is like one of those anti-suffragette posters. A warning. What not to be. A grave yard for the crows footed wenches who had once, dared to dream.
My phone rings. My agent. Yes! That was quick.
“Hi Lolly, something’s just come in. The latest James Bond…”
Yes! They’re filming in London and they finally came a knocking…
Yes. Of course.
“They’re casting her mother”.
“I’ll do it”.
“It’s for the understudy”.
What? How does that work?
“James Bond; the musical comedy. A tour around old folk’s homes in the north-west”.