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.
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!