Following being talent spotted for some retarded comedy sketches I put up on Youtube, I get a call enquiring if I was free to appear in an online sitcom called SVENGALI alongside Jonathan Owen, Boy George and Martin Freeman. In true Del Monte spirit I say YES as I feel a turtle head emerge. Not only will I be meeting real life famous people but one is Welsh, one is my favourite gay singer and the other is from The Office. Fuck me, this is like Christmas without people being glassed. I put my camera-phone on charge and book a taxi to the Megabus. ‘If Madonna started out skint and with no talent, so can I’, I chant boarding the rust bucket with my butter sandwich packed lunch (no bacon today, I don’t want to look fat on screen). 80 hours later I’m no longer swimming with the condoms in South Wales but instead am bathing in the bright lights of London. I thankfully have use of a borrowed car SatNav to navigate my walk from Paddington to Piccadilly Circus (I don’t like tubes, since hearing about the bombs thing). Genius.
After being almost knocked down a few times I arrive on set. Martin Freeman’s voice is instantly recognisable. AND BREATHE. He’s using big words such as quintessentially and sounds so clever. SWOON. ‘Jenni this is Martin, Martin this is Jenni’. This is it! My cue to say something cool. I’ve had the entire M4 to come up with… ‘I know it's Martin Freeman, from The Office, innit!’ I smile, rolling my eyes just like Ricky Gervais does in, erm, The Office. Martin smiles back at me and I’m sure I spot him winking through his sunglasses. BREATHE. FORM A BOND. THINK. QUICK! ‘I like your glasses, are they Rayban?’ They have big fuck-off Rayban written down the sides of them, and what else could Raybans look like? He’s blushful, I hope this means he likes me. BREATHE. The dressing room/cupboard is small. I’m offered a script, but of course this being my once in a lifetime opportunity to act with real-life famous people I’m all prepared and duly announce loudly and clearly that I’ve learnt my lines, waiting for applause. TUMBLEWEED.
No expense has been spared… there are sandwich platters, bottled waters and real fruit everywhere, it’s like a proper wedding buffet. I tuck into the grapes but then suddenly realise what I’ve done… ‘Are these grapes just for the celebrities? Sorry… sorry…’ I say shamefacedly. The director tells me to help myself. I remember actresses shouldn’t eat and put the grapes down.
It’s time for the cameras to roll. I have to change into my t-shirt (the brightest I could buy so I’d get noticed) and the director asks everyone to clear the room so I can get changed. ‘You can’t ask celebrities to leave the room just so I can get changed!’ I whisper desperately to the director, and proceed to announce that nobody needs to move: ‘just close your eyes or pretend it’s a bikini’. They now think I’m a slag and the room is cleared in seconds. Between takes, I spot Martin is struggling to adjust his cravat. This is my chance! I grab my compact eyeshadow case, flipping it open to reveal a mirror. ‘Hey presto!’ I shout across to Martin, or Marts as I’ve begun to call him, ‘I’ve got a mirror for you!’ He seems grateful, I feel all warm, and for the 10 seconds I hold my mirror for him I feel like his wife. ‘I just love watching you and Jon acting together, it’s like watching Robert De Niros’, I gush. He walks off. Maybe he didn’t hear me. Perhaps I should write him a letter when I get home.
Boy George arrives. ‘Boy George is here!’ I squeal, running over. The crew give me strange looks, perhaps they’re jealous of my confidence. ‘Hi George!’ Is that his name or should I address him as Boy George? He says hello and claims to have seen me on TV recently… he hasn’t, maybe he's mistaking me for Su Pollard. ‘I like your t-shirt, it’s really cool’… ‘Can I get you a coffee?’ I beg. The next 40 minutes are spent getting coffees for 16 people and cleaning up sandwich trays from the dressing room. As I scrape up grape stalks I clock Martin Freeman’s empty bottle of water and for some reason choose to put it in my bag. Does this make me a thief? I decide the answer is no.
"I announce that nobody needs to move: ‘just close your eyes or pretend it’s a bikini’. They now think I’m a slag and the room is cleared in seconds."
The shoot goes so quickly, if only I could be around real life famous people every day. This is where I belong. I use every opportunity to talk to my new gay best friend Boy George ‘I love your make up’ I assure him. ‘Are you having a birthday party, can I come?’ He walks off. I don’t think he heard me. ‘Photos!’ I exclaim. How could I almost forget to get photographic evidence of me and my new celebrity chums? Out comes the camera-phone, I need to be quick before Boy George washes off his make-up and leaves. ‘Please can I have a photo of us on my phone, please?’ He obliges. I’ve never been so happy. I see in the corner of my eye that Martin too is leaving. I run down the stairs after him ‘You’re leaving? Is this goodbye?’ I ask with a lump in my throat. ‘Yes, lovely to meet you’ he says. YES! He kisses me on the cheek (a 3cm square area on my face which is yet to be washed). I blow him a wet kiss goodbye and as he walks out of my sight I feel empty inside.
For 5 hours I’ve been part of the ‘in’ crowd. I’ve shared grapes and water bottles with the stars. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I want Martin Freeman to fall in love with me, wed me and take me up the red carpet, but even if I did I’ve since established through Google on my phone that he’s happily married with two children and lives blissfully somewhere posh, I accept we are to be ‘just friends’. As he opens the door to leave I shout out ‘Are you on Facebook?’ he doesn’t reply. I don’t have a very deep voice, maybe it didn’t carry. I take one last photo of the back of his head.
I’m told filming is over and it’s time to leave. Everyone has given up alcohol for the weekend and state they’re not going to the pub. On my journey home I comfort myself knowing Boy George is my phone screensaver and I have a picture of Martin Freeman’s head to put next to mine as I sleep. Each night I feel them next to me in spirit, even if due to their busy schedules they aren’t able to come and stay with me in Wales, or be my Facebook friends. But if either Martin or George are reading this… call me? I get paid on Friday and maybe I could come to London again for drinks? I’m on 07749 450454. Or you can find me on Twitter, or you can call my Nan 01685 878878, she’s very reliable at taking messages. P.s. I love you.
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