Pretendumentary

 I’ve just spent the week at Schoolies. I didn’t like it. I was almost hit by a glass bottle.

I make cocktails at a beach side bar in Thailand. Also… I have dreadlocks and beads in my hair. It doesn’t smell so great.

I work as a costume designer for French and Saunders. Dawn French thinks I’m pretty amaze-balls.

I’ve won two gold medals at the Winter Olympics for aerial ski jumping. Those skiing head band things suit me just fantastically. I look really cool.

I work as a high school teacher. It’s not a 9 to 5 job.

I run my own dance school, but the rule is everyone has to dress like Flash Dance all the time.

I was the conductor of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra for 6 months until I was fired for my choice of repertoire which was exclusively orchestral arrangements of The Beatles. Shame QSO Shame!

The secret to weight loss is pretending to be a robot-woman in aerobics classes.

I’ve recently written a novel about a walking talking coconut which sold more copies than Harry Potter. I proudly promoted it on The Graham Norton Show.

 

Yes I admit it… I occasionally star as the protagonist in imaginary documentaries and the guest on imaginary talk shows.

Sometimes the story is about me as I talk through events which have actually happened; such as losing weight using my robot-woman technique, or going to schoolies and narrowly avoiding death by falling bottle. Sometimes the stories are told by a made-up and imagined me discussing fantasy events which have never happened anywhere other than inside my imagination; such as competing in the winter Olympics, enjoying a relaxing hospitality job in Thailand, or writing The Magnificent Coco La Nut…

Usually the documentary is pretend filmed when I’m driving in my car alone, like the driving scenes in a Louis Theroux doco. I’ll be driving along and chatting to the imagined interviewer sitting in the back while the camera man sits beside me in the front. We have to stop filming at the traffic lights in case other people see me talking to myself.

I’m usually the guest on a talk show when I’m falling asleep. All of a sudden the campy delights of the Graham Norton set appear in my mind as I explain the hilarious details of Coco La Nut; drifting off to sleep.

These are two lovely spaces where I’m on my own to imagine. Sometimes my pretend documentaries (or pretendumentaries if you like… no?) are exploring a topic which is affecting me at the time, like relationship issues or the looming 30th birthday. I use this kind of self-talk as opportunities to work through troubles or concerns that are difficult to talk about publically. I pose probing questions to myself in this private space where I can answer them honestly.

Other times this play is just a lovely chance to imagine a life or experience that is totally different to the one I live each day. I’m able to drift away into the glamorous life of celebrity or the relaxing journeys of back packer. They can work as a kind of happy escapism. I find this particularly useful during stressful or tense times in my life. Dissolving into fantasy and play for a few moments gives me a little break from worrying. It can take the pressure off so that I can sleep or begin to relax. 

I recently read Miranda Hart’s “Is it Just Me?” and I was so happy when I found this passage at the end of her book:

“I did fake Parkinson interviews in my bedroom (I was always the last guest of the evening, always played in by T’Pau, and they installed a gold sparkly staircase especially for me). I’d have the audience in the palm of my hand, touching Parky’s knee regularly, winking at Jason Donovan who was in the seat next to me.” (Hart 2012, p314)

And then this passage…

“Do we ever stop dreaming? I know I haven’t. I must have been at least twenty-five when the Spice Girls happened, and I distinctly remember imagining my way into the group. I was going to be the sixth Spice, ‘Massive Spice’, who, against all the odds, would become the most popular and lusted-after Spice.” (Hart 2012, p315)

So no, Miranda Hart, it’s not just you (but I think you’ve known that for a while and that is part of your success). However, I was very glad, and relieved, to know that it’s not just me either.

Oxoxoxo AF

GET YOUR BUTT TO THE FORUM

References

Hart, M. (2012). Is it Just Me? London, Hodder & Stoughton

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