Saturday, 9 July 2011

On Not Being a Famous Actress - Wendy Meddour

I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. My Nanny used to say they were “the best days of your life.” Even as a child, that depressed me. “You mean, this is it?!” I thought. To be fair, I didn’t get off to a great start. Mum took on the wrong day and the classroom was completely empty. The following morning, I had to lock myself in the bathroom all over again.

But things began to look up when the title of the school play was announced. It was WENDY AND PETER PAN! The character after whom I was named! I was so excited. My moment had come. I – the one and only ‘Wendy’ in the school - would have an opportunity to shine. To go to Neverland with Peter. To save the lost boys. To bicker with Tinkerbell and fight with Captain Hook. It was the beginning of a dazzling career on the stage. At least, that’s what I thought.

We all lined up to be given our ‘parts’ and I tried hard not to look smug. (I even had ringlets and a t-shirt that said: ‘Wendy’s a little princess.’) But then, my teacher did something I’ll never forget. She gave the part of ‘Wendy’ to a girl called Karen! Yes, KAREN – the girl with straight black hair?!?! From that moment, nothing made sense.

“But I really am Wendy,” I tried to explain.

“No,” said my teacher, looking down her list. “You’re ... the crocodile.”

A crocodile? Was there a crocodile in Wendy and Peter Pan?! I was still trying to work it out when my teacher passed me a yellow fireman’s helmet. “Try this on,” she said. I did as I was told. But the helmet was too big and slipped off my head.

“Oh dear,” she sighed. “I think Angeline will have to go at the front.”

“Can I be something else?” I asked, pulling my best ‘Wendy’ face.

“You can go at the back,” she replied.

“The back?” I asked

“Yes,” she said. “You can be the crocodile’s bottom.”

Karen sniggered. (Well, actually, I don’t remember that bit, but if she didn’t, she should have done).

“Do I get to say anything?”

“Well, I suppose you can say ‘tick tock’,” she said.

So I did. And I was quite a good crocodile’s bottom. I said ‘tick tock’ in all the right places and got to wear bright yellow moonboots. (Mum – still feeling bad about the first day fiasco - bought me best yellow moonboots in the world).

And as I sit here now, writing about that day that I didn’t become a famous actress, something occurs to me. If I hadn’t been a crocodile’s bottom, I might never have become a writer. I’d have been far too busy under the glare of those bright lights.

There, you see. Things always work out for the best.


wendymeddour.wordpress.com

19 comments:

Lucy Coats said...

I love it! Made me laugh a lot. And yes, things mostly turn out as they're meant to--though I'm sure you would have made a wonderful Wendy, Wendy.

Rebecca Emin said...

Really enjoyed this post, although I felt sorry for the younger you, I have to say. Back end of a crocodile, aww.

Sam Mills said...

And I LOVE the illustration. How long does it take you to draw something like that?

Sam Mills said...

And I LOVE the illustration. How long does it take you to draw something like that?

Sam Mills said...

And I LOVE the illustration. How long does it take you to draw something like that?

Sam Mills said...

Sorry for the 3 comments - I got impatient with the slow posting button and kept on banging it and now my computer won't let me delete them! Still, shows much I like your illustration, Wendy!

Sue Hyams said...

Oh, how I love this post! Wonderful! Not everyone can lay claim to being a crocodile's bottom. You should be proud!

Wendy Meddour said...

Thanks (x3)Sam. Perhaps I should fib here, but the illustration of me being a crocodile's bottom took 3 minutes. Having said that, it takes me months to do the illustrations for my books. (Confession: I produced a lot of 'reject' cats before I came up with the one that will feature on the cover of The Black Cat Detectives).

Lisa T. said...

I can just imagine your best "wendy" face. Perfect little yarn .. cheered up my day (:

Marie-Louise Jensen said...

Wonderful tale! It made me smile and wrung my heart at the same time. It's easy to forget how hard it is to be a child sometimes.

Sue Purkiss said...

Oh, tee hee! I was only ever asked to be in a school play once. It was a Christmas play, and we were singing that carol where a bird comes out of the something or other and goes 'Vrecroo!' (Or possibly 'Cuckoo' - I may have misheard.)I was supposed to dress up as a bird and run up and down and flap my wings. I mean, it's not exactly King Lear, is it? But I couldn't cope with the idea of all those people looking at me so burst into tears and got out of it. Another career path not taken...

Wendy Meddour said...

Thanks for all the super comments! And if a director happens upon this post, I have now perfected the 'Wendy' face, and am awaiting your call ;)

Liz Kessler said...

This is hilarious! Loved it. Funny how those moments stay with us. I was the Second Crow in the Ice Queen and i have to say, we stole the show! :)

scattered_laura said...

This really made me smile! I feel the old cliche, "Always the bridesmaid..." should now be replaced by "Always the arse-end of the croc..."

Stroppy Author said...

Lovely, Wendy! And there's nothing wrong with crocodiles' bottoms.

My Small Bint made being the donkey the most sought-after role in the school nativity play be flatly refusing to be the angel and saying she would only be in the play if she could be the donkey. Suddenly everyone wanted to be the donkey- maybe everyone in your old school now wants to be the crocodile's bottom, having seen how it can launch a career.

Emma Barnes said...

Loved this!

It also reminded me of the exchange between Jennings and Darbishire where Jennings says maybe the old geezers on speech Day are right when they say school is the happiest time of your life.

To which his friend replies maybe that's going a bit far - "it's the second happiest. The first happiest is all the time you're not at school."

Tam said...

I think my first role was Shepherd #3 in the Nativity but I soon graduated to The Angel Gabriel and had lines and a song and everything. I kind of wish I could lay claim to the crocodile's bottom, though :)

Maureen Lynas said...

This made me laugh so much! What a strange world a child has to inhabit at school. I never thought about it from this POV when I was the teacher doing the picking. Maybe you should tell this story on every school visit for the teachers - so that they can be understanding, and for the children - so they know that being a crocodile's bottom can actually be the best part.
Thanks for the laugh.

Wendy Meddour said...

Glad to make some of you laugh - it makes my childhood scars worthwhile :)