Sneezing into soup

The vomiting is over. Tommy has regained some colour in his cheeks and managed to eat at least five spoons of porridge and some baguette. He is asleep and I am oh so tempted to join him, but duty calls.

One hundred and ten! Yes, one hundred and ten of you peeped in yesterday. Or possible one hundred and five, four of which had to go back again and check that they’d understod what on earth I’ve been blathering about for the past two weeks and one person who had googled “do it with Patricia Hewitt” (see Sex and Politics). And what’s more : two weeks! Yes, two weeks! I’ve actually kept this up until the 14th of January. The statistics are overwhelming for someone as attention-starved and lackadaisacal as me, who’s never managed to keep anything up for more than five days, not counting breathing and eating and growing hair. So the question is … who are you all? How did you find me? And why are you coming back for more? I know why my family read this blog everyday – they’re clearly hoping for a mention, to be put down in print and immortalised on this vast netherworld that is the net, and/or to discover something sordid and steamy and unforgiveable in my life and thus try to get me wiped off the will. But the rest of you? …

Anyway, I was overjoyed and slightly in shock to discover that even my brother, he who reads nothing longer than the back of a cereal packet (the mini ones), is reading this. Not my brainy brother, studying away mid-Masters degree and writing essays on the French Revolution, Slavo Zizek and other space heroes, no, I mean my brawny brother; Best Shot Bullett – muscles to crush a tiger’s skull but can’t go out of the house from April to October without being smeared from top to toe in factor 90 sun lotion. If he’s reading this then I have indeed achieved something. I don’t know quite what, but I can definitely feel a bubbling sense of achievement somewhere inside. Or maybe that’s the red cabbage salad going down.

So, back to my readers. Firstly, I love you. Yes, I do. Knowing that a hundred-ish people are reading my words makes me feel good, makes me feel happy, makes me want to keep writing. I love you all. I love you so much I’m becoming obsessed with you and I keep checking you’re still there – seeing how many of you are with me of a day. The danger now of course, is that I love you all so much that I might slip into the trap of writing to please you. And that is deadly. It will result in prettily constructed la-de-dah pockets of jolliness and sweet wordy lollipops in order to keep you with me but will have the same effect of a powder puff granny reeking of old rose perfume and napkins slipping bargain-buy sweeties to the kids. They soon learn to avoid Grandma by hiding behind the sofa and even ask not to go to her house anymore. I do not want this to happen. I might also subconsciously try the tabloid tactic of grabbing your attention with SEX, SCANDAL and BOOBIES! But this too will soon lose its effect as you’ll all become blasé just like we Brits have become with Page 3 girls and get more worked-up at the article on page 2 about rising water rates. So I’m going to have to avoid writing-to-please and try to remain fresh, honest and slightly ridiculous. Try to be myself. Like on a date when you put on mannerisms to seduce and delight only to see the bloke’s forehead furrowing and his eyes hazing over… until you sneeze into your tomato soup and spray it all over the Maitre d’Hote’s pristine, white, knickerline-free trousers only to look up and see your date grinning at you, eyes brimming over with love. I am going to attempt to continue sneezing into soup as I write this blog and I hope it pays off, as now I’m in love with you all I would hate to lose you.

Why such strong feelings about a bunch of strangers reading my humble words?

As I mentioned earlier, I am attention-starved. I’m an actress, so by definition most actresses are attention-starved even when they’re called Angelina Jolie or Scarlett Johannsen, but I have aggravated my case by making a chain of very odd decisions, for an actress with a promising future. I started acting at Sheffield University and by the end of my second year had won a prize for best performer and been asked to join a young theatre company called Dead Earnest. I learnt tons with them, nearly put my degree into jeopardy, toured around the north of England in my little old 2CV which I’d driven over from France without a licence, telling myself I’d speak French (what little French I knew) to any policement who asked me questions and generally having a lot of fun. It was fantastic and I was thinking of applying to Central School of Drama in London when my French farmer boyfriend fell through a barn roof and ruptured his spleen. Well that scuppered things. I went over to nurse him back to sheep-catching health and had great fun living on a farm all summer and swimming in the nearby lake and chasing cows up the road as they made a break for Paris and generally feeling very carefree. I still spoke terrible French and spent a lot of my time feeling stupid as everyone else would burst into laughter at the end of a punchline and I would still be working out who was in the boat, but I was young enough to trust the powers that be and I truly believed that I would somehow, somewhere be spotted and whisked into the land of cinema and fame and big houses. So I didn’t make a plan, I didn’t do what most ambitious actresses do and make decisions which will help their career. No, I knew I was destined for films and glory so I didn’t need to work out how to get there, it would just happen. So I just surfed along on whatever wave came by without thinking too hard about where it might take me. And so not only did I move to a country where I barely spoke the language and knew absolutely no-one in the theatre/cinema business, I then moved out of Paris and down to my boyfriend’s farm in the Berry – the middle of nowhere. Total lunacy. Did I really think Lars Von Trier or Ken Loach might run across me in rural central France? Yes, I did actually. At the bakers maybe. Or the Tuesday morning market. Or they might see me herding our sheep across a road and stop to ask me if I wanted to play a modern farmer girl in green school shorts just like the ones I was wearing.

Despite all these hinderings to my career I still managed to work with a load of companies, improving my French on the way. I left my first boyfriend – I literally ran away and joined the circus, following in the footsteps of Nellie the elephant – and when I fell in love again it was with a blue-eyed lighting engineer for a travelling theatre company. Aahh, at last, someone in the same line of work as me; surely the two of us would settle down in some big city where projects and scripts would come flowing in. Erm, no. Three and a half years ago we moved to the teeniest village in the Ardèche with 50 inhabitants and a post office the size of my shoe. NO-ONE would find me there, and yet still I resisted and went on to perform at the Paris Odéon where the likes of Sarah Bernhardt once performed. I had 3 month old Tommy with me in my dressing room and my boobies leaking milk all over the stage much to the delight of my fellow actors. But then that finished and I came back home and there my story ends as I’m not young and carefree anymore and the reality is sinking in. Living out here, raising Tommy and maybe his future little brother/sister, not having an agent, being concerned my dog is getting enough green mileage per day – all these things mean I won’t become a filmstar. I won’t get that admiration, that attention I so crave. Well, I do get some attention, intermittently – from the gigs I do down in Marseille and from the odd recording thingy in Paris, and from the local leering butcher. Which is why, my one hundred and ten readers, I love you. And I promise not to talk about me me me tomorrow and to focus on you. Our relationship needs to be balanced. I did the washing up yesterday, so if any of you fancy coming over and doing todays, I await you with open arms and with a bowl of sneezed-into soup. x x x

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