Tuesday, 29 September 2015


The eagle has landed. And by eagle I mean me and by landed I mean arrived in Frankfurt. This is my first time in Germany; I’m successfully not mentioning the war, wearing copious lederhosen and have already partaken of more currywursts than you can shake a stick at, though I wouldn’t suggest shaking a stick at a currywurst, waste of a good stick and waste of a good wurst.

The lederhosen are, of course, a lie… for the time being. Currently, it is far too hot to be parading around the streets of Frankfurt, the financial capital of Europe, in any form of leather and the Mexican wave of cardiac arrests it could start amongst the banking world is not worth the effort. Or the recession it may subsequently cause.

The reason for my being in Frankfurt is simple: I am working as, in the words of our beloved director, a biological prop. Doing the acting in other words. Myself and three other biological props have been picked up and transported to the land of cleanliness, order and techno to perform Tennessee William’s masterpiece, The Glass Menagerie. And I am loving every second of it.

The Glass Menagerie is a play about family dynamics, oppression and shattered hope… A comedy I hear you cry! I play Laura Wingfield, the physically and emotionally crippled sister of Tom. The play is semi-autobiographical, Tennessee Williams’ sister Rose suffered from what we would now diagnose as panic attacks, anxiety and schizophrenia, in the end she had to be sectioned and given a lobotomy. She haunted him throughout his writing and you can see elements of her in many of his female characters.

In the thirties there was a swathe of lobotomies in America, mental health services were more than primitive as it was a subject yet to be properly explored without fear, misconceptions and taboo. They even had what was known as “the lobotomobile”… A van that would travel around and you’d pop in the back and swiftly get the front part of your brain removed. Not too dissimilar from our ice-cream vans, just with less ice-cream and more invasive surgery. We, as yet, do not know if they shared the same catchy arrival jingle. I’m hoping they did.

Needless to say, I have approached this part with delicacy and sensitivity, doing my best to build up a fully rounded picture of her and hoping to emotionally move the audience, potentially producing sniffles, sighs and or full blown tears (as every actor secretly or not so secretly wishes to do). 

Well, last night, I produced more than that. An audible gasp echoed around the English Theatre, Frankfurt, in the final soliloquy. “An Oscar for her!” my inner ego was shouting, “Surely at least a Tony or a Bafta?!”
No, no. None of those things. What had happened was this: I was on fire. And not in a good way. In the final speech, my challenge is to singularly blow out five candles on a candelabrum, without dribbling and or having an infuriating “magic relighting candle” moment. Until last night it had, worryingly, gone without a hiccup and with only a tiny droplet of dribble in sight. 

However, last night my natural bird’s nest of hair decided to make a bid for freedom, dangling precariously over the flame, flirting with flammability until finally it caught and went up like a rocket. 

The gasp was not produced from a place of awe and wonder at the sensitivity of my performance but more from a place of shock and horror at the flammability of my follicles. 

Luckily, having grown up with three siblings fighting for the last parsnip on a Sunday roast, my reactions are cat-like and agile; I swiftly patted the offending section down, gave a cheeky smile to the terrified audience and finished blowing out the candles. All the while trying to ignore the unmistakable smell of burning that was snaking through the auditorium and my stage managers twitching with fire extinguishers in the wings. 

(Wishful thinking)

In conclusion, I would like to add to the age old actors’ saying: Never work with animals, children or FIRE. Unless you want to get burnt. But maybe that’s just me. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Head Space

Hi World. I don’t know if you have ever had those times when you are constantly questioning… Who the bleep am I? What am I doing with my life? Why have I matched black knick-knacks with a grey training bra circa 1997?

No? Just me? Well to that I say bollocks. We all have moments in our life when it feels a bit like we are being washed away in a tide of uncertainty and that the only constant in our life is that Escape to the Country will be on at 7pm with a seemingly contented couple who just DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO with their half a million pound budget that *GULP* they could increase if necessary if it had JUST that couple more acres of land for the horses. *SIGH*

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about money or property or marriage or horses; it is about the fact that constantly in our society we are being asked to compare ourselves to other people. Whether it be through social media and the dreaded selfie, job promotions, or, as my last post highlighted some poor girl in a yellow bikini in search of a bucket and spade. Which, let’s all be honest for a second, is not a healthy thing to be doing and we are all guilty of it. BIG TIME. 

The self-comparison, not the bucket and spade search. We all need a bucket and spade once in a while.

Our bodies and minds are fragile, wonderful things that we need to take care of. I am only just learning this lesson aged 28, but better late than never.  As the daughter of a father who has manic depression and a mother who suffered badly from anxiety attacks, I come with a dollop of all of the above and awareness of more. 

If we sprain our foot (whilst doing a Baywatch impression and running into a lake) or burn our hand (by leaving the paper on the minced beef whilst frying it) then we don’t think twice about going to the doctors or ladling two inches worth of Sudacrem on top of the offending wound. But if we have a wobble in our mind or an unexplainable sensation of feeling low or out of kilter, it does not seem as easy to ask for help. And yet it should be. 

As a society we are slowly but surely getting better at tackling mental health issues and eradicating the fear and taboo that surrounds talking about them but boy have we got a long, long way to go. 

One incredible thing to come out of my current wobble is the discovery of the app Head Space. It’s a meditation app that gently trains you to have ten minutes of meditation a day, just a little breather from all the thoughts that are currently enjoying a hearty barn dance in your brain. If you think about it, after a long day of work you put your feet up to give them a rest, why not do the same for your brain?

Have a gander, I dare you: https://www.headspace.com/

A wise man once told me in hushed tones, “Nobody is sorted, not all of the time.” And this is what I’m telling myself whilst watching Bob and June browse their six bedroom property. “Nobody is sorted, not all of the time.” 

And that is ok. In fact, it’s human.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Beach Body Ready... Or not

The big question on everyone's lips at the moment is this: is this woman beach body ready? Well, first and foremost, let’s leave the body part until later and tackle the real issue here: is she beach ready? And the answer is plain and simple: absolutely not. 

I see no sign of the all-important bucket and spade, no streaky sun cream and seriously does she think that flimsy yellow bikini will hold out against a wave off the coast of Weston Super Mare? Oh no my friend. We’ve all been there and, in the words of Alan Partridge, she will need to put ‘the boys back in the barracks’.  Or rather ‘the girls’, as the case may be.

What kind of self-respecting company would put such a highly unprepared vulnerable woman at the fore-front of its advertising campaign? This poor girl doesn’t know what she’s letting herself in for. She hasn’t got a beach bag to carry the essentials in, (Factor 50 if, like me, you are so white that moths are attracted to you), no sign of any flip flops (I mean for crying out loud, how on EARTH, is she meant to go rock pooling without footwear?!), and no HAT. I mean, come on. A burnt scalp isn’t good at the best of times but next to that garish yellow dental floss of a swimsuit? HELLO, CLASHAGE!

No towel either! How could I forget the towel?! She's going to have to do what any self-respecting woman does when the loos at work run out of paper. Shake dry.

Now, onto the body... Protein World, I would have you know that she most certainly is NOT beach body ready. For one, she needs some embarrassing stray hairs on either her legs/pits/vadge. Two, she needs at least 5 dimples of cellulite. And three, she needs one, if not more, strategically placed bogies hanging out of her nose (from the waves not a cold, although who am I to dictate her state of health and without that towel the risk of her catching a chill is HIGHLY increased).

People of the world, we need to find this woman and warn her NOT to go to the beach. She simply is NOT ready yet. Let’s type her up a beach inventory, get her a sandy sandwich but most important of all, give her a hug because we need to turn that frown upside down.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Old Papa Laura

Well, they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder… How does a year suit you?! Pretty darn fond I’d say!

My last blog entry stated that I had recently turned the ripe old age of 27. I can safely say that I have since then added one whole year to that total. 28. Safely out of the clutches of the ‘27 Club’… Sorry Hendrix, we’ll have to save our high five for later. Much later hopefully, cue touching of wood, rubbing of rabbit’s foot and any other life assuring gestures sure to keep me on this planet until I am old enough to sit in a rocking chair and hit a child with a walking stick*.

Dream big Darrall, dream big.

What I have noticed about this y’ere aging process is that the older I get, the less I give a sh*t. Not about the important stuff like family, friends and SClub7, that I still very much give a big steaming turd about. But the little stuff, the things I used to endure night sweats over in my teendom, that is water off a duck’s back with a few years behind you.

A queef for instance, or in layman’s terms: a fanny fart, when one of those cheeky buggers slipped out in my younger years I would freeze, squeeze my eyes shut and pray for temporary deafness in my gentleman caller.

Whereas, today I positively GUFFAW in the face of a queef, which shall henceforth be new minted as the Victory Honk.  

There is something incredibly empowering about aging.  So many people shy away from it, fear it or are in darn right denial about but I say NAY: AGE, WISDOM AND BOOB SAGGAGE, I AM READY FOR YOU.

Ok, so the boob saggage I am not quite ready for, that was merely my getting swept up in hyperbole, though due to the nature of having 34Ds (thank you Mother) it is somewhat inevitable. But like that high five with Hendrix, I’d like to stave it off for a few years yet. 

Failing that, portable scaffolding will have to do. 
Just without the builders please.

So readers, I charge you, when someone asks you your age this week, because they will, the nosey buggers, say it loud and say it proud. If someone I.D’s you, because like me you have the face of a grubby toddler, flash your provisional and nod with dignity. And finally, if the youth at work start calling you Old Papa Laura, take it, make it your own and then hit them with your walking stick**.

*Note to readers, no children were hurt in the making of this day dream.
**Second note to readers, this is a true story and you may all now address me as Old Papa Laura.

Until next time Folks!