How It All Began

My mum was a single working mum so used to send me to a childminder who’d pick me up from school every day. My childminder was brilliant, a tiny lady with a big white van and what seemed like hundreds of kids trailing her heels. I reckon if you ask all the young professionals in north London who were born in the 80’s, half of them will credit their life skills and their first sex education lessons to chats sitting on Jan’s kitchen floor. She was and is amazing!

I must have been about 9 when one of the mothers at my childminder’s offered me the opportunity to be a character on a BBC radio play, this was my first paid acting job. I was playing Eglatyne Jebb as a child. With a little help from Google  I’ve re-discovered Eglantyne was the founder of Save the Children, I’m sure I knew that then, I remember very little about the play but will never forget the name Eglantyne Jebb! Part of me is quite tempted to call my own child Eglantyne now because it’s so burned in to my memory, although then it would be shortened to Egg and that’s a terrible name to inflict on a little girl!

I loved every second of being at the BBC, especially sitting in the green room (which was blue and therefore quite confusing to a nine year old). I seem to remember getting shown how all the sound effects were made, it was all very bleak and there were lots of footsteps in the snow and howling wind noises. I was so certain as a precocious, little performer that acting was my destiny and many an Eglatyne Jebb type role would come my way, infact It was probably this job that lit the actor flame that just won’t go away no matter how old I get or how unlikely superstardom becomes.

As a kid I was convinced I was either going to be an actress, trapese artist or astronaut; sometimes I wish I’d gone with astronaut!

It was around this time my dad introduced me to Helen Sharmen, at one of his science exhibitions. Helen was, and is, the first british astronaut in space (note: not the first british woman as the press like to say, while it is true, it also suggests that legions of british men had been orbiting the globe for centuries!) I could tell even at that tender age just how impressed he was by her and could even see a little bit of him hoping I’d be so inspired that I’d beg to be signed up immediately to whatever the british version of space cadets is. If there was a british version of space cadedts in the 90’s I have a feeling it probably was a bit like scouts with lots of pasty children running around with colanders on thier heads and jumping off chairs.

Helen Sharman is still my hero and I still secretly want to be an astronaut, if I havn’t hit the big time in a couple of years do you think I’d be too old for space camp?


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