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November 21, 2018

You know how there are times when you ignore your gut and agree to do something you know you shouldn’t?

That happened to me in 2005 after I went for an interview with a development charity. However worthy their work may have been (and it was very worthy indeed), there was something about the place and the men who interviewed me that just felt wrong. By the time they called me a week later to offer me the job, I’d already accepted another one. But this charity really wanted me, said my unique brand of campaigning and media skills was what they needed as they entered into a more campaigning modus operandi. The other job paid better, so the charity not only met, but bettered that salary. I said yes. It was a mistake. My gut had been right. Six months later, thanks to my NUJ rep, I walked into a completely bogus disciplinary meeting and walked out with my head held high and £5000 in my pocket. (God bless unions.)

Never ignore your gut.

When I walked into the auditions for this year’s panto, Pirates of Nursery Rhyme Island (written and directed by a local woman), I knew I only wanted a small role. I love being involved in the panto, but I also know my limitations. I’m all right at learning lines for a two person scene in a play, but the chaos of pantos is such that lines are spread out with multiple characters in multiple scenes. No, just a small role for me. One of the pirates says nothing but “Argh!” throughout the entire play. I can do a pretty good Argh, so that role would have been perfect. Or Mother Goose, who only comes on in the final scene. Or, if pressed, one of the other pirates, which would have meant working closely with a good friend.

When the director called me and told me she wanted me to play the pirate captain, the pantomime villain, the first words out of my mouth were, “I can’t do that! I could never learn all those lines.” (I’d read the script and knew that “all those lines” included a number of lengthy, nonsensical speeches.) But she pleaded and cajoled. Eventually, against my better judgement, I agreed.

Last weekend, working on the lines with a friend, I thought I finally had them nailed. Last night, at the penultimate rehearsal, I very much did not.

When I grudgingly agreed to take on the role I did so with the proviso that the director had better not blame me if I ended up having to call for lines. I wasn’t joking, but I honestly didn’t think it would be this bad.

Knowing that almost everyone else is in the same boat, still frequently calling for lines, doesn’t help. Nor does the fact that it’s not just the newbies. Nor does the fact that the newbies keep telling me how wonderful I am in the role. I’d be wonderful if I knew my fucking lines.

Never ignore your gut.


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