At five or six months I was beginning to think about how I was going to get back on my feet as an actress. I was still with my agent and happy to audition for parts. I found a childminder in the area, a recommendation, who was happy to have Number One Son two days a week and possilbly be a bit flexible and a nice actress/Nanny who was happy to babysit for us. I was up for carrying on.
Also, I needed a job. I was on maternity leave. Er, leave from what exactly? I reapplied to my old temping agency and was offered a one day a week job in a school in East London for six months which I took gratefully and was open for other work but I wanted to see whether I could get an acting job again. How would it work? I had no idea.
The phone rang. It was my agent. I was getting on a bus with a buggy in Crouch End.
'Hello?' Phone pressed to my ear, buggy in the other hand..
'Hello sweetie.'. It's Lasaaaaane. I have a casting for you.'
'Great. What is it?'
'It's for Hollyoaks. Tomorrow. Part of.........a mother. Oh and it's in Liverpool'.
'Yes. Buy your own ticket dahling. They will reimburse you with cash when you get there.'
'Right. Okay. Great. Okay.' My voice was flat.
'Is this fine. I mean I know you have a baaaaby and everything......' she tailed off, the thinly veiled disgust evident in her voice that I had dared to (whisper) pro-create.
Great. I looked at my phone clock. It was five-thirty pm and I had to arrange childcare for tomorrow. It was not a designated childcare day. My childminder would be finishing for the day and might not have space for tomorrow. Jonny was working at the drama school he taught at and I had to get to Liverpool, audition, and get back in time to collect Number One Son. Piece of cake.
I phoned our no nonsense Northern childminder of a certain age.
'Liverpool?' She said. 'Okay. What time will you be here?........eight o'clock. What time will you be collecting him? Six o'clock? Better be here then. That's when I finish. On the dot.'.
'Okay. Brilliant! Lovely. Great. See you then. Thank you so much.'
I put the phone down and the MOTHER GUILT kicked in. Hard. I was going to leave my baby boy for ten hours while I galavanted up to Liverpool to audition for a part which would mean my whole family relocating up North but which let's face it I probably wouldn't get anyway.
As I paid for a taxi to take me on to the Hollyoaks set and waited with the other 'mothers of teenage children' I had the feeling I was not going to get the job.
I didn't get the job.
I didn't get any of the jobs I went for in between breast feeding, night waking, buggy walking, baby music and battling post natal depression. Until, a weird thing happened in the summer after Number One Son was born.
I was playing in the park next to our flat when a couple of strange messages flashed up on the email on my phone.
'YOU COULD BE FILMING NOW!' They said. It looked like spam. I deleted it. My phone had been on silent but there was a message from Lasaaaaane.
'Phone me. It is urgent.'
I phoned. It was lunch time. No-one answered. It was a wonderful summer day and I pushed Number One Son along in the park the sun beating down on my back sipping a coffee. It was an idyllic scene in the park. Children playing, people sunbathing, the paddling pool full. I turned the buggy into our garden round the back of the park and spread out a blanket for Number One son to play on.
Two o'clock came. I phoned my agent.
'DIDN'T YOU GET MY MESSAGES???'
'Um...no. I thought....anyway. What is it?'
'You have been offered East Enders. From that audition you did.'
'But I didn't get that one.'
'Yes but now they are asking for you. You need to get to Elstree now.'
'I....Oh. Well okay. Look, I just have to sort out a babysitter. I'll get back to you.'
O-Mi-God. I phoned my Dad.
'Hi. I'm sorry I can't take you call right now but I'll get back to you as soon as I can.'
Oh yes he was teaching singing today.
My sisters were at work.
Okay. Let's see. Jonny was in a play at the King's Head afternoon and evening. My childminder was.....holy smoke ON HOLIDAY THIS WEEK! I started to panic. Who was going to have Number One Son?
With heavy heart I phoned my agent.
I couldn't make it.
I couldn't find the childcare.
At that moment I realised that my life had changed totally and irrevocably. Suddenly I had a reason more important than someone else's whim and I was more important to this person than I would ever be to a casting director who needed a last minute replacement for a bit part.
Onwards and upwards! Always good to be unavailable anyway. Creates an air of mystery. Number One Son burped in happy agreement.