I recently came across an article about Keith Fleming where he set out the 10 things that had changed his life. It had me wondering what my own ten things would be.
Now I’m sure there are many more than ten things that have altered my life so this is really a highlights list (in true Oscar’s style there are many people, places and things that haven’t made the list that I am hugely grateful for). Anyway, without further ado, here they are!
1. My heart operation when I was 5.
I had a hole in my heart between the ventricles repaired and was able to live a much more normal life than the one I’d had before. I am so grateful to the doctors, nurses and surgeons who took such amazing care of me as well as the additional grandparents I gathered on the cardiology ward!
Learning to read opened up my world when I was a child, especially as I was not able to be as active as other children. Inside a book I could be and do whatever I wanted.
3. Creative Writing
New Year, Same Me
On 1st January 2020 I sat at my dining table with the Canon Zoe Mini printer my Mum gave me for Christmas, my phone, a piece of card and some sparkly coloured pens. I was fed up, fed up that Christmas was over, fed up of being told I was supposed to be a new me, fed up of feeling that I was supposed to be dissatisfied and reaching for something more.
I decided to do something different. I thought about what I might do if I were actually enough just as I was, if my life were actually pretty amazing without a private jet, Range Rover or Caribbean villa, if instead of reaching for something outside myself I could find peace with what I already had.
This led me to create a Gratitude Board. I went back through my photographs for 2019 and printed off the ones of people, places and things that made me smile and remember the good moments I had enjoyed, either alone or with those I love. I included my TEDx talk, holidays, my...
Who’d be an actor now?
COVID-19 has been a grim time for actors. Theatres across the world have closed, with no real certainty on when they may open up again. Film and television sets have closed down and have only recently begun to re-open, with limitations imposed to control the spread of the virus.
On top of this many of the less well known occupations for actors such as workshops in schools, role-play training in businesses and even face to face drama classes have all been put on pause. It would be reasonable to think that David Tennant and Michael Sheen, who produced a comedy on Zoom, were the only actors working at the moment.
But that is not the case. I am an actor and spend most of my time narrating audiobooks. I have been as busy as ever and there is no sign of that slowing down. Although some titles had their launch dates moved back to the Autumn during the peak of the virus, there have still been plenty of titles launching to keep...
I sit in a padded box talking to myself in many different voices. Some call it madness, I call it a job.
In 2013 I graduated from Drama School as a 40 year old mother of two, desperately wanting to make a new life for myself as an actor and writer, hopefully reaching the holy grail of making a living at something I loved. I had no idea how it was going to work.
I tried a few things with varying levels of success and enjoyment before eventually finding my way into audiobook narration. The opportunity came about because I did an impersonation of Joanna Lumley at a Voiceover Network Event in 2015. Several months later I was asked to narrate four back catalogue books, but was called into the studio for an audition first.
The night before I had an audiobook narrator nightmare. In my dream I couldn’t remember how to read. I looked at the text in front of me and it meant nothing, similar to those pre-stage show dreams where I was on stage in the wrong play and...
As we near the end of audiobook month I thought it might be fun to consider the ways in which the audiobook is better than a book. I am a lifelong book lover and an audiobook narrator. I love to listen to audiobooks, also it’s part of how I develop my own craft and skill as an actor, but I can also be found happily browsing bookshops or sitting around with my head in a book.
A few people I have spoken to about audiobooks don’t know that much about them. So perhaps before I get into their benefits its worth busting a few myths about audiobooks based on some of the comments or questions I have received.
1. Aren’t audiobooks for people who can’t read?
There is no doubt that audiobooks are great for people who can’t read a book for whatever reason. I, and a number of my audiobook friends, have narrated books for the blind allowing them access to a wide range of...
Summer of 1978
When I was five I went into hospital for the summer, a warm August in 1978. I had been born with a hole in my heart that had left me officially failing to thrive. I was small, sickly and struggled to breathe with a fairly constant cough that sounded like a barking seal. I had been under the care of a cardiologist for a while, going through a couple of exploratory operations to determine the size and location of the hole before the main surgery.
Off to Hospital
This was in the days before dedicated children’s wards so I was staying in the cardiology ward where the child patients tended to arrive on a relay basis while most of the patients were of my grandparents’ generation. I had lost two of my grandparents that year; they had been living with us and I had spent a great deal of time in their loving company so their loss was palpable. In hospital I was adopted by a whole host of new ones.
My mother stayed with me. Having said that I...
I have not been doing so well with my response to the outbreak of the corona virus. I didn’t want it to be true so spent some time, along with the government, in denial. I told myself either that this wasn’t real, that somehow it didn’t apply to me or that I would just get it, be ill and get it over with.
This last one was actually quite a dangerous and irresponsible thought. I was born with a congenital heart defect, thankfully fixed well with only a minor murmur left, and I have asthma. Allowing myself to risk getting ill could leave me with serious illness, in intensive care or, potentially dying.
This would then have consequences for my children, my husband and my parents, my brothers and sisters and my wider community of family and friends. My irresponsibility could leave them worrying and praying for me or having to mourn my loss.
I still struggled. You see I don’t like limitations. And many times in...
I am giving a TEDx talk on November 16th at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (RCSSD) about creativity and its transformational powers. I am not going to tell you here about the contents of the talk, but how it came about.
What’s a TEDx?
When I tell someone I am doing a TEDx I receive two reactions, one is bafflement and asking “What is that?” (my Mum was among those…), then there is a “Wow, how did you do that?”
Just over seven years ago I would have been in the first camp; then I saw Brené Brown’s talk on Vulnerability while I was at drama school and I loved every minute of its and her authenticity, thoughtfulness and vulnerability. I watched it in awe and in the back of my mind came the thought, could I do that? I wanted to ask her, “How did you do that?”
When I was first asked that question my first response was to describe the process of looking up the TED...
As a creative being I hope you have come across journaling as a way to connect with yourself and set you off on a creative journey. Most mornings I spend some time journaling. I have done so for many years now, on and off, after the time I spent following Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”. She advocates three pages or twenty minutes of free writing. I manage two pages covering what is bothering me or the random stuff that goes through my head at 630 in the morning.
A couple of years ago I started to sign it off in a particular way. I had read or heard about someone who had a difficult role in public life. He was asked how he managed to keep his head and said he used the serenity prayer every day. So I started to adopt a bit of his practice.
At the end of my journal I wrote the words: Courage, Patience, Wisdom before closing the book and going on with...
Odd one out
As a creative and an introvert I often feel like I am out of touch when I’m in a group of people. I see a group full of happy, smiling, chatting people and the fear starts. My stomach clenches, my palms start to sweat and my mind, usually so full of chatter, goes blank.
The school pick up is a nightmare for me. I wander along to pick up my son and find myself standing there nodding politely and slightly awkwardly as everyone else seems to seamlessly slip into conversation. I count the seconds until my boy comes bounding up to me and then depart, feeling like a bit of a social outcast.
On the occasions when I am invited into the chatter I become almost instantly bored as people engage in the smallest of small talk about parking spaces or… to be honest I can’t even remember as I wasn’t listening. My mind had gone off on a frolic of its own, considering why bees are or how come Leonardo...