Non, je ne regrette rien.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 2 October 2007

I dont see the point in having regrets. What is done is done. If I had given any energy to the numerous events that have happened in my life, which in the cold light of day make even me blush, I wouldn't be here to tell the tale.

Of course there are days when a mountain of madness descends and after the fifteenth chocolate Hob Nob one regrets having opened the packet in the first place, but mostly I forgive myself and forget.

The reason I mention this at all is for Chrissie in Carcassonne who wants to know about the book launch I should have been attending this evening. (Pressure of work, a cloudy mist, and the inability to stretch an hour four ways, made it impossible for me to go). It was for the National Hospital Development Foundation and the launch of THE BOOK OF REGRETS to which I was a contributer.

Several folk were asked to write about an incident from their past that, had they chosen differently, would have resulted in an alternative life journey. Now since all our journey's lead to the cemetary and none of us gets out of this alive, I agreed to write something.

In my case the difference between uttering 'No' instead of 'Yes' would have resulted in a totally different life experience - or not! Had I said 'No' I probably wouldn't be sitting in my flat in Battersea preparing for a radio show on LBC with a daughter at London University, a husband from Leeds, a best friend who was an original Bunny Girl and a past that includes more mistakes than Mad Mick made. But then, if Auntie Becky had gonads she would have been Uncle becky.

Out of all the regrets I could have had, which of course I don't have because I don't subscribe to regretting anything, but out of all the regrets I could have had, were I to have one at all, is the regrettable incident that took place some 40 years ago.

The cast included me, a black leotard, The Central School of Speech and Drama and a posh tart from The Home Counties.

I had been taken to London by my mentor, Mr.Rangely, to audition for a place at drama school. Mr. R. had directed me in 'Hobson's Choice' at Boreham Wood Grammar School and encouraged me to pursue a life on the boards. After failing to open my gob at RADA and tripping over the carpet at Guildhall, I had my sights set on The Central School of Speech and Drama in Swiss Cottage, North West London which offered the best drama education money could buy.

I got through the first round. I had a recall. I arrived for a day of workshops. We were asked to, 'come prepared, be on time and bring a leotard.' I was punctual, fully kitted out and had the said black, stretchy leotard in my string bag.

After a full day of 'stuff' we were taken into a studio for a movement session. I had a real problem with my body image. Brigitte Bardot I was not - being more of a Gina Lollobrigida, although I didn't know it at the time. We were all sat around in a circle, told what choreography they were expecting and then sent off to get changed. I hadn't done the communal dressing room lark before and was deeply shy and horribly embarrassed. So when the gel from Berkshire asked to borrow my leotard, not surprisingly, I gave it to her without hesitation.

At the end of the day I was taken into the principles office. 'Working in theatre,' she said, 'requires discipline and commitment.' I clearly didn't have either as was indicated by my missing leotard. Thus they couldn't find it in their hearts to offer me a place. I did not defend myself. I did not tell the truth. I was dismissed. I walked out into the cool air of Swiss Cottage and wept.

Self worth is a funny thing, it sometimes takes an act of generosity thrown back in your face to make you realise that you are just as worthy as Miss Hunt from Berkshire.

In the event I went to a silly little drama school opposite the 'Bull and Bush' pub in Hampstead where I studied drama, poetry and how to down a milk stout in ten seconds. Now that's what I call an education.

p.s. This morning I wore my dalmation dungarees to work. I got into a crowded tube train at Victoria. A middle aged man leapt up out of his seat and offered it to me. 'No, I'm fine,' I said. 'I insist,' said he. I sat down. I said to the girl hanging from the strap and the woman sitting next to me, 'He thinks I'm pregnant.' The three of us started giggling. 'I may try that myself' said the girl. 'It always works.' I said. The three of us laughed louder. 'At my age' I spluttered 'It would be a bloomin' miracle.' , The three of us laughed louder. The whole carriage nearly exploded in mirth. If it wasn't for the beautiful poem printed on the carriage wall I think I may have got hysterical. It was all about rain and leaves, peace and quiet and love. By the time I got to Oxford Circus I was calm and collected. The middle aged man helped me off the train. I nearly conceived! Thank God for dungarees.

That's it - the take away has arrived. Have a good night &.... cusoon.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At October 3, 2007 3:11 PM chrissie carcassonne wrote:

Hi Jeni,
Just loved the leotard story. What a life lesson that was, and perhaps, although it was tragic at the time, it has saved you from horrid sort-outs later in life.
As for me...Regrets, I've had a few, but then again too few to mention!(Well, OK then, over a drink one evening.)
A man opened the door for an angry young "woman’s libber" who rounded on him and said..."you don't have to open the door for me because I'm a Lady". His reply was..."I open the door for you because I am a Gentleman"!!
Chrissie x x

2. At October 3, 2007 3:53 PM Sue Campbell wrote:

Jeni - thank you for telling us about your experience at the Central School of Speech and Drama - I was very sad for you but pleased that you didn't let it get you down and can look back at it and other things, in the right way. Clearly, you have a lot to be thankful for now and that's what is important.

3. At October 3, 2007 6:47 PM judi4 wrote:

Dear Jeni, You're sounding much better today - GOOD! (who is this Jean person who thinks you're being self indulgent? You just carry on being you)
When you started this blog you mentioned a tv series in the autumn, but you couldn't tell us about it. Well was it this british dish thing on ITV? Its trying to be The Peoples Cookbook but not as good - and the presenter is awful, Mr Personality he ain't. We're going to Blackpool tomorrow supposedly to see the lights, but really to eat Harry Ramsdens! xx

4. At October 3, 2007 8:34 PM joy smart wrote:

Did you get taken in by Sainsburys offer last week of buy one get one free on the chocolate hob nobs? I bought them for the kids really but eat one and "who ate all the hob nobs?" is shouted from the kitchen as i sit in slumber watching that cookery programme with Ainsley that has gone horribly 'updated'.

5. At October 4, 2007 11:20 PM Francis wrote:

Oh, oh, oh! I get to use my interesting fact here! Females have gonads too! It's true!

Other than that, I'm glad you're okay, the blog is good reading and I still haven't bumped into you around TW since Longplayer shut!

6. At October 11, 2007 1:45 PM tony critchley wrote:

Jenni - Are the rumours correct that you are to appear on our screens again soon ?
I hope very much so, you are truly missed.
Best wishes - Tony

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