Bad Year Gone Good

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Bad Year GoIMG_7482ne Good

Last year at this time, things were good. Life was running smoothly. Then a week later this time last year life began to plummet . Sept. 30th my youngest son and I set off to Dublin as he was doing a photo shoot for Aer Lingus. It was fun. He was great. We met some lovely people from our agency. I met a man called Fergal( not as in met a man). Love that name.It was one of those experiences that could have been dull as we were in an airport for 24 hrs but it was fun. We flew back and once we landed everything began to unravel. The cat died. There were some health scares. Some surgery. Death in the family. Bullying. I’m not making light of any of these situations by the way. They are all part of the patchwork of the quilt of despair I seemed to be sewing .Throughout the year I stumbled(literally), was kicked while I was down(figuratively). But I am proudly a Weeble. I wobble but I don’t fall down. I am programmed to just keep going even though I felt like crawling into a hole and crying while watching Beaches.
I had some good bookings that were definitely tonic for the soul. I did, however put them to the back of my mind once the shoots were done as I have learned that some shoots never come to fruition for various reasons. Of course as I’m a sensitive an actor I assume it is all my fault.Woe. The campaign is delayed. You can’t actually see yourself in anything despite being in front of a camera for 12 hrs. I took them for what they were. Had a lot of fun. Met some geniuses along the way. I digress.
We had a fun summer in Canada so I thought finally, life is cutting itself out from a new cloth. But nooooooo.
Cue August. The kids and I all went for a family casting then we were going to the park to play football. We were a picture of a little photo shoot family. All match matchy, exchanging warm smiles and giggles through a soft filter with moving music as the score to our day played in a perfect circle of fifths. ( well not quite).After the casting we would then be the ‘little frolic in the park family.’There must be a German compound word for both of these familial dynamics. The reality was I was in fact one of those mums who falls over a disabled ramp and breaks her foot so we became that crazy loud family in A and E with the glares from people asking why that woman doesn’t have anyone looking after her 3 small kids while she waits 4 hours for an x-ray and plaster.
I was a broken woman. I had no change for the snack machine. The A and E desk guy suggested I walk to the Costa at reception. *insert swear*off A and E man. Hello, broken foot, Costa is a 10 min walk if both your feet work. So we are bored, decaffeinated hungry, poor, I’m in pain, my phone battery is dying and the kids father was not picking up his phone, He’s a pianist so that is not uncommon. I was silently railing and cursing like King Lear crossed with Michael Douglas Falling Down. My foot, My soul. My everything. I’m hungry. We’re all hungry.
I finally get home, with my new cast and 3 hungry kids in a taxi. How will I tend to my flock? How will I clean. I cant’ get them to and from school.Two of then have birthdays coming up. Countless lessons that need a chauffeur. Arse. Arse Arse. Oh and let’s add some drama from our flats as I am the freehold director……. once again -arse.
My friends were my village that helped to raise my children during those 6 weeks. I love them. All of them. Among my silent cries were loud cries. Boredom,ennui, desperation. I must mention there was and still is other tricky ‘stuff’ that was adding to this state of mind but I’m not going to venture into that pot of despair just yet.I only mention it so you don’t think I was only pitying myself because I couldn’t carry a latte with crutches or that I would have to forgo John Lewis for a t least a month.
This was mixed with countless “Oh the irony, you tripped on a disabled ramp. haha-great material for your stand up. Oh you got a cast after a casting haha” Shut up. All of you. It is no longer funny. I am experiencing despair.
Then one day, the ‘things will get better moment ‘happened. I was sitting on my sofa crying from pain/boredom/ennui/BILLINGTONS-packs-web11despair/ while simultaneously torturing myself looking at the Spotlight jobs I knew I could have got (well might have stood a chance of getting an audition) if I could actually leave the house. I was missing the thrill I got when my mobile rang and I could see if was form one of my agents (I know -agents. Not one but two). I lamented. Then it happened. I received a text form a friend with a photo attachment that read this you ?’ It was me. My face. My face was on a bag of Billington’s caster sugar. One of the shoots I did in June came to fruition and there I was on a bag of caster sugar. The shoot itself was such an inspiring day as I was fortunate enough to be photographed by my new favourite genius Seamus Ryan. An utter joy to work with and so much fun.
First the sugar bag then my face popped up in a Sainsbury’s magazine. Then as if things weren’t getting better it was in Grazia. Right next to the horoscopes. I could hardly breathe from excitement, .At first thought it was asthma then perhaps a panic attack. But no. It was pure and utter euphoric breathlessness and not the sex kind. I had thought my career had peaked at the Rentokil safety video, when I had to pretend I had rats and wood rot.Or the time I did the conga with Kevin Bacon in the EE adverts. Just as I was catching my breathe realised my face was everywhere .Well everywhere at Earl’s court for the Cake and Bake show which I couldn’t get too with a broken foot. There were giant versions of my face. Medium versions. Me .My face. Eating cake. My face on a Zoe Paterson Cake. Sniff . I reflected on my life .This Canadian prairie gal born on a cold snowy mid Feb morning has hit the big times. I was known for my baking in Uni and not academic achievements btw So this was big.
Almost a year to the date my life began to unravel it gradually started to mend bookended with lovely Irish connections.My nan was Irish so maybe she had some thing to do with it all. My life, well It is still fraying, I will admit that .Who would have thought though that a bag of sugar would have saved my soul. All because I have great agents and a charming( genius ) Irish photographer liked the way I looked with cake and a cheeky grin on my face. So here you have it. If life gives you lemons make a drizzle cake with Billington’s caster sugar…and hang out with some Irish people if you can.

by  Courtney Cornfield

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