And so today, I am on a nightshift. If you have ever worked in Welsh hospitality during the long, cold weeks of any January, you will know what a long, cold, and utterly silent time this is. Instead of running around doing room service orders for returning hungry clubbers, and sorting through endless mountains of financial audits, you clean, and watch the darkened lobby, maybe clean some more, and eventually, by your third shift in a row, you blog.
Before I started work this evening, I went to the cinema. As everyone I know was working humane daytime hours, I went alone, and spent three hours completely immersed in the dystopian world of The Hunger Games. I like going to the cinema on my own; you don’t have to talk to anyone and more importantly, you don’t have to share your popcorn and Crispy M&Ms. But it also means, that after the film is done, instead of the usual discussionof how the film was, you wander the streets of Cardif daydreaming about how you could have been the next Jennifer Lawrence.
Let me explain. My daydreams are not that farfetced. I could have made it in acting, and I have a strong bakground to prove it. But for the last few years of my life I have been nowhere near a stage and harbour no secret desires to change that. Perhaps it takes explaining my childhood history of performing to understand why. Now, most people have an embarrassing school nativity story, where they’ve picked their nose or fallen alseep or played a lobster in front of everybody. But growing up in a church environment, I’m willing to bet that my experiences are slightly more exaggerated. Granted, I have my school stories. I dont feel completely comfortable when I think about the time in a school Eisteddfod talent competition I led a group of girls dressed as green aliens in a dance for Will Smith’s ‘Men In Black’, coming last and proving categorically that my mother had made the right decision to send me to piano lessons instead of ballet ones. There was also the time that I fell off the stage during a rehersal for a Christmas concert, knocking over the hall’s Christmas tree and breaking my thumb in the process. But those incidents fade in comparison to the church shenanigans. It all started with my dad really. The first play I really remember doing had lots of singing and involved my dad dressing up as a giant blue Psalm Book named Psalty, while the rest of us paraded around as church mice. He inspired me. The next thing I knew I was a budding actress and wanted to be in everything going. Luckily our church had a lot of scope for this….
I played a box of gold in an alternative take on the nativity, seen from the perspective of the wise men’s gifts. The next year I played an intellectually challenged sheppard. Another year on, I hit my stride and took on the role as Joseph, when every boy in sunday school refused to play along. That was the year I was sick in the toilets with nerves and thought I must be a true actor. Yet another year on and I finally made it to the dizzying heights of playing Mary. This was no ordinary Mary. This time, under the guidance of a forward thinking acting coach, we placed our nativity in the 21st century, soap opera style and improvised the script. I was convinced I was destined for the Oscars, until there was talk of me pretending to give birth on stage and thats when I began to regret my enthusiasm.
Outside of Christmas we were even more adventurous. We began writing our own plays, led by my best friend Becky, an ambitious and up and coming script writer, who had a passion for comedy and capturing various groups of people hilarious sketches. The crowning glory to my glittering stage credits was my role as Pushy Girl in a work of pure genius called The Nice Girls. Based on the Spice Girls, the play required maximun glamming up. Taking Scary Spice as my inspiration, I poured myself into the role, perming my hair and putting more bronzer on my face than even my sister uses. At the time I had a problem with my foot that meant I was in plaster and on crutches. No fear; I was a method actor; I could use this. My character was fiesty and I used my poor leg as a prop, making the audience believe Pushy Girl had been in a fight. I meant business. The play was a roaring success, and earned even more credibility by causing one woman to complain about the wisdom of portraying the Spice Girls in a church setting. Controversy. The mark of true artists.
And then I realised that nothing would ever beat that highlight of my career. I did what any genuine artist would do, knowing they had given everything they had to give. I retired. And now, when I see Patrick Stewart or Ian mcKellen, or any other stage legend, I feel an allegience to their group, and think of what might have been. I suppose every actor has their low point, their flop, a Gigli or a Men in Black alien dance. But to make up for it theres a Good Will Hunting or The Nice Girls. We can rest easy, knowing that we’ll be remembered for all the right reasons. I just hope nobody finds out where I’ve hidden my dad’s home videos of Psalty The Singing Psalm Book….