15 Seconds of Fame

15 Seconds of Fame

Some things have happened, good things! At last, a tiny scrap of success, but it still feels like I’ve bought the winning lotto ticket and been presented with a bumper crate of champagne. But let me go back a bit….

I’m thirteen, wearing my best flowered jeans, stomping round the Metro Centre in my new pods trying to look as cool as person can do with a bad perm and iced-champink lipstick. My friend, (leggy blonde beauty, no acne, coral lipstick and electric blue mascara) is stuffing a McDonald’s burger into her, as we peer into the window of Tammy girl, ooh-ing and Ahh-ing over clothes we can’t afford.

This guy approaches and we scowl at him in teenage welcome.

‘Hey Girls, do you wanna be in an advert?’ He smiles.

At that point we should have heard our mother’s voices screeching in our heads to move away from danger, but instead we grinned like idiots and said ‘Yeah, alright!’

We spent the afternoon filming. What a treat! Seventeen goes on the new roller coaster, smile, scream look like you’re having fun. Fifteen goes on the pirate ship, smile scream look like you’re having fun, try not to peuk. 450 goes on the Ferris wheel, smile, scream, peuk…(I was never much cop with heights!). …then we waited a few weeks until suddenly there we were…in all our glory! Only on the Goddamn telly!! The advert ran for almost two years and every time it was on I swelled with pride! My friends joyful, beautiful face lighting up the screen, luring folk far and wide to come and enjoy the pleasures of the Metro Centre and me…..for about 15 seconds….half my ponytail and one blue pod…. Oh the thrill of seeing bits of me on the telly!

Many years later, I felt it was time I showed the world a bit more of me. Will Young had just won popstars and there was a new show in town. The X Factor. This show was surely designed with me in mind. Normal people who could sing, people just waiting to be discovered, people just like me! I practiced and practiced ignoring the neighbours scowls and the gentle discouragement from friends and family…’You know telly’s a bit different from Karaoke at The Crown after a litre of Vodka.’ I wouldn’t be told. I donned my best mini skirt, got my hair done and off I went to the Big smoke and joined the queue. It rained. It rained some more and the wind joined in, just for fun. But I gritted my teeth and held fast. Until finally there I was….sodden, bedraggled, hoarse with fear and frostbite but the cameras rolled on and after about 15 seconds, I rolled along the conveyor belt of wannabees with a polite thanks but no thanks, back out into the freezing London summer.

If Andy Warhol was right and we do all get 15 minutes of fame, at this point I’m only operating on about 1.6% of my potential! ( This figure may be wrong… two goes with a calculator and several phone calls to family members while we tried to recall schoolday fractions and no real actual Carol Voderman type acumen, means it’s a general approximation!) Still, the point is, there’s still time!

Recently I was visiting my Dad oop North. We were eating the best fish and chips in the world (only to be found on the North-east coast!) and watching The Chase, me nodding sagely while he answered all the questions.

‘You should go on a quiz show, Pops,’ I said.

‘Ah’ll not be making a fool’ o’ meself on the telly’ he replied, sternly.

I gulped.

So this probably wasn’t the time to tell him I’d applied to go on a very popular quiz show and had already been for the audition? We had five minutes to tell an interesting true story. I told the story of how one of my passengers at work dropped her handbag on landing and her vibrator shot out, rolling down the length of the aircraft, finally coming to a halt outside the cockpit door. Much mirth ensued, but perhaps it wasn’t quite appropriate for Saturday night prime time telly?

I digress, whilst munching my chips an email pinged through. A message from Brum radio! I read that they liked one of my stories and read on waiting for the inevitable rejection part. It didn’t come. I read it again and a salt and vinegar grin spread across my face.

‘Dad! Guess what…they’re gonna put my story on the radio!’ I screeched, jumping up and showering the carpet with chips.

Welshbear smiled from the chair opposite and Dad raised his eyebrows with delight….. but The Chase was on…so that was about all I was gonna get from them!

This week my story ‘Vesta’ was aired. It sounded wonderful and I was grateful to the actress who brought her to life and to Phillip Ellis the producer who thought my work was good enough. It’s a tiny stepping stone in my writer’s journey, but it meant the world to me…and I couldn’t be happier!

As for the TV audition….let’s just say Phillips wasn’t the only email I received! I’m ready for my other thirteen and a half minutes of fame…watch this space!





Holiday Hunger Games

I’m pretty sure the person who invented school holidays is the same person who thought up the Hunger Games. Seriously, not only have my kids fought each other to the death, but then when you shout at them and try and separate them, they turn on you and form an alliance in order to finish you off!

I’m unlucky enough to live in a village that borders two different counties, with two different bodies that regulate the school holidays. So, this means two separate term times which in turn means my kids, over Easter, either separately, or together, had a total of 25 days off school. 25 fecking days! What kind of torture is that?

We started off well, the youngest and I enjoyed a few days of animated ass- kicking pandas, zoo animals (the goat was a favourite? Not a flicker of excitement at the tigers or snow leopards) and a jolly time sticking glue- ing and pasting bits of shite onto bog roll to create an Elf village. All of this while the rain lashed down and the wind howled and the chances of the sun coming out were zero to nil.

We had a few days up north bracing against the Northern rain and the Northern howling wind but at least we had two Grandads an Aunty and a Nanna to shove them at when the going got tough. All the while though, the suffocating feeling of imprisonment loomed overhead. No you can’t go out without a pink Puffa jacket velcroed to your leg, no you can’t sit down at any given point, ever,….. no you certainly cannot write…arghhhhh!

Then it was party time…for them! Welshbear retreated back to the comfort of work and I was left winging it. For days…endless days…endless, endless days. Now if like us, you’re not flush with cash, you’ve got to somehow fill those days without financially ruining yourself. Unlike Facebook world, where everyone seemed to be enjoying weeks in Portugal, twee cottages in France, Floridian adventures, I was stuck on home turf, with two bored kids, while outside (I may have mentioned this), the rain lashed down and the wind howled.

They liked each other for approximately half a day…then the games began. It started off with light bickering and a few choice words from me. Then in between creating a mess of hiroshimatic proportions, the real fighting began. A push here, a shove there, more choice words, separate rooms, chores were dished out to try and combat the mess, but countless ‘in a minutes’ later, I wanted to cry. …ok I did cry…just a little bit. But only after the eldest had stabbed the youngest through the leg with a pen and youngest had poked the eldest in the eye with a sword/toilet brush.

I retreated to the bathroom for some mummy time. But even that didn’t work. When you have to have a shite in three parts because you need to stop your kids from killing each other every few minutes you know you’ve hit rock bottom in the world of parenting. Particularly when for the third part of the turd your actually accompanied by a four year old , literally sitting on the pot with you, in order to ‘stay safe’ as she put it!

I complained to Welshbear. I even rallied a little when at the weekend he offered to look after them while I studied/had a peaceful bathroom experience/planned ways of disposing of them without evidence.

Two hours, that’s all I was gone for. Two hours. I flounced downstairs and was hit by what can only be described as a war-zone. Every toy ever sold was strewn across the floor, the bathroom was covered in crayon, by covered I mean covered, in the way several graffiti artists would cover it after downing a litre of vodka and smoking a potato sack full of green stuff. The kitchen had exploded and the kids…well they were happily ensconced in the youngest’s bedroom, smothered in the remnants of 17 Easter eggs whilst watching inappropriate youtube on the ipad.

And Welshbear? Well he had deployed the man button. The button that allows all men to form a shield of oblivion all around him. Mess becomes invisible, as do the children, the only thing visible to the male naked eye, is the golf he was happily engrossed in on the telly. I tapped him on the shoulder and he looked up with a soppy smile.

‘Alright love, did you get your work done?’ he asked

I gestured around, mouth flapping like a cod fish while he looked perplexed.

‘What?’ he asked.

Only then, 18 days in, did I go to the fridge and succumb to the wine. Gallons of the fecking stuff. But there’s nothing worse, even the depths of hell can’t compare, to a Monday morning hangover, two feral kids and a house that looks like a bombsite. I took a deep breath and ploughed on. Only one more week to go. It took guts, it took determination, it took strength and will power but finally, finally we made it to the end. The final day of the holidays.

I opened my eyes and I kid you not, glorious fecking sunshine. My two kids snuggled next to me for an early morning cuddle, beaming at me with cherubic faces full of love.

‘Mummy, I’m gonna miss you so much when I go back to school,’ piped up my youngest.

‘Yeah, I wish we could be off forever,’ agreed the eldest.

I smiled benevolently at my little darlings.

‘Me too girls, me too.’ I replied…..heading straight to hell for lying.