Interview, tick… next step: The Audition.

The title of this post rather gives away my latest news. Which means this will be another short post – yippee for me and my new decision to be in bed by half past nine every evening until Léonie starts bloody well sleeping through the night.

I dropped Tommy off at school at half past eight Wednesday morning just in time for him to bundle himself into a coach with his suitcase and wave goodbye to me through a steamed-up window; one of 40 little noses pressed up against the coach windows. It was his first school trip, his first time away from home for two nights without being able to phone Mummy or Daddy, and he was perfectly happy about it all. I had spent the night before writing T.O.M.M.Y. on his clothes/shoes/toothbrush/Dog & Donkey and tagging up his various bags with mini postcards of his grinning face. It took absolutely ages – precious time I should have been using to a/ prepare myself for the interview, and b/ sleep. But it meant Tommy left equipped to the hilt, and I didn’t get any of those stomach-lurching jolts when you realise, “oh damn, I forgot to pack him any pants.” I had been planning to drive down to Marseille later that morning, but having slept just 5 hours in bits the night before with a poorly-yet-wriggly baby in my bed, I went home and straight back to bed as Léonie crashed out in my arms. We ended up driving to Marseille late in the afternoon with me wondering how my exhausted brain was going to react in an interview the next day. Slowly, probably. Stupidly, no doubt.

I slept at a friend’s house. With Léonie in my bed again. And thus, another five hours of broken sleep, a 6:30 am start, and a double shot of paracetamol with 3 expressos. The interview was at 3 o’clock. I dropped Léonie off with another friend who was meant to be painting her workshop but was quite happy to have an excuse to take a break and push a baby around Marseille in the sunshine. I got the tram to the children’s hospital and was amazed at how huge it was. It is gigantic. I found my way in through the A&E entrance and got into one of four big lifts. I looked at the buttons. 16 floors. I pressed 9 and got out on the orthopaedics floor. I wandered out, looking for the meeting room and ended up doing a circuit of the ward. Again, enormous. I am used to small town hospitals with cosy little children’s wards. This was all long, long corridors and neon strip lighting. It was too hot. Or maybe that was just me sweating in anticipation of the looming interview. I found the salle de réunion and just then the door opened and a very smart, tall, bald man in a white suit and a pink shirt came out, grinning. Another candidate for the job. He looked like a very professional actor with perfect qualities for playing a clown. Damn. And he was grinning. His interview had gone well. Double damn. But then Caroline Simonds came out and gave me a wide, welcoming smile. “Ah, you must be the very lovely, very British ‘Teapot’!”

“Erm, yes.”I stammered.

“My, did you put those big blue eyes on to match your t-shirt?” she asked. I was so nervous my sense of wit failed me , and I just blurted out, “erm, no, I mean, yes, I mean …” but she saved me, by explaining they needed a few minutes to make notes about the last bloke, so did I mind waiting? “Don’t get lost!” she called. So I didn’t go far. I just went a bit further along the corridor so I couldn’t hear them talking. I listened to the noises in the ward : various footsteps, a bleeping machine, a child crying out “Maman, Maaaamaaaaan” over and over again, two nurses exchanging notes, a small family chattering as they walked down to a room at the end of the corridor. I looked out through one of the bedrooms which was empty, and gazed at the view – Marseille rooves and behind them, rocky hills topped with blue sky. I smiled at a couple of nurses and visitors who came past. It was hot. I wondered if I wanted to work here.

Then the door to the meeting room opened again and Jean-Louis welcomed me in. I sat down with my bag on my lap as protection but didn’t actually need any protection, as the two of them immediately made me feel very comfortable. It didn’t feel like an interview, it felt like chatting with a couple of people who you happen to find yourself traveling with. We talked about all sorts of things, not just work and CV’s. It felt like they wanted to know who I am, not what I have done. The conversation was natural and fun and funny. “You’re wearing the same t-shirt as in your CV photo” Caroline said. “Oh no! Am, I?” She whipped the photo out – one I had taken a couple of months ago, very unprofessionally – standing in front of the stone wall on our terrace. “Oh no, now you’ll remember me as the girl with only one t-shirt in her wardrobe … I did actually have a purple one on this morning, but my baby girl wiped snot all over the shoulder, so I put on a black one and it got the same treatment. I’m down to my last t-shirt. Honest.” By the end of the interview we said goodbye as if we were friends. And quite sincerely, if I don’t get to work with her this time round, I hope we get to be friends. This woman has a huge heart. And a wicked sense of humour. And the biggest eyes I have ever seen. She thought I had the bluest eyes she had ever seen.  I think it was the t-shirt that did it.

As I left she said, “we’ll be in touch, Butterfly”. I assume this was to do with my current haircut which sticks out on either side of my ears a bit like wings. It was quite nice to go for an interview and to know that looking a bit odd was probably a plus, seeing as they are hiring clowns.

On my drive home the next afternoon, Jean-Louis phoned me to tell me they want me to audition. HOORAH! But now I’m nervous. The auditions take place IN the hospital, WITH the children patients. I’ll be with two experienced Rire Médecin clowns, but still. I just need to stay calm, stay alert, improvise with my partners, be as Teapot as Teapot can be, and focus on each child. It’s going to be quite a day.

It is half past ten. Whoops. And this is not a short post. I am wrong about nearly everything these days. I’ll take that as a good sign.

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