London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

27/08/2002, By Jenny Walters

Reader Rating: 3 from 20884 votes


My Week - Starting 2nd August: Working as a temp receptionist (and a jobbing actress) I get to travel to some interesting parts of our metropolis.

This week I worked at a lovely little design agency based by Borough Market. Borough is a fantastic food market open on Fri, Sat and Sun and so for Friday lunch I treated myself to a tasty free-range high grade beef burger (well, the beef was allowed to roam free, I don’t know how well treated the burger was) off one of the many well stocked food stalls. Borough is one of London’s oldest established markets, nearly 1000 years old according to the home made cake stall owner (I treated myself to some of their wares for dessert). It is one of my greatest pleasures to sit and eat my lunch whilst watching the bustling crowds drool over the fresh produce, it reminds me of the souk at Marrakesh, a real atmosphere soaker. I will bring my husband, Carl down here this Sunday lunchtime to listen to the English music session that happens on the 1st Sunday of every month at 12.30 pm.

Farmer’s Markets, a concept that has been going for years in America but is relatively new in England are now springing up all over the country. The idea is that the farmer can sell locally grown produce directly to the public. The farmer’s markets in London include: Notting Hill – Newcombe House Car Park, Kensington Place every Saturday, and Islington – Camden Passage, N1 every Sunday. Gorge yourself on good quality British food.

My flustered agent called me during the week and sent me on a casting for a TV ad. Most people hate these cattle market castings but I like them because they generally take me through the warren of streets that is Soho, probably my favourite part of town. Managing to squeeze the audition in during my lunch hour (I feel like super-temp sometimes, by day a desperate actor and by tea time a mild mannered receptionist again) I rushed through town willing the tubes to be on my side. A lot of tourists are confused by the anguished look on commuters faces. Travelling on the tube when your destination is somewhere jolly, like a nightclub or a restaurant can be an exciting experience but throw a deadline into the equation and it can be hellish. I made it on time to the rather grotty agency, did my turn and rushed back to the office, avoiding the temptation to visit the shops on Oxford St.

Soho is generally populated by a young crowd but I would recommend a visit to anyone. It has many good coffee houses for a daytime people watching session and bars in the evening for the more adventurous. Always exciting and vivid, arm yourself with an A to Z (you must buy this little gem, mine is a life saver) locate yourself at Soho Square and just wander. The key to London is to get yourself safely lost (with A to Z, travel card, a disposable camera and only the cash you need for the day) and see what you stumble across.

Oh, by the way, I got the TV ad and spent an interesting day filming with Julia Sawalha and Richard E Grant.

My Week – Starting 9th August: This week sees me working at another design agency based in one of London’s less salubrious areas, Kings Cross. Thankfully, the agency has its own in-house restaurant as this part of north London, though filled with potential, has not yet been blessed with many decent lunchtime eateries. There are a couple of interesting restaurants on the Caledonian Road, I visited the Ethiopian place recently and had a very tasty spicy lamb stew served in pancake bread. Most people here at work travel a little further up the road to Islington which is chock full of beautiful shops and restaurants. King’s Cross did have the wonderful Almeida Theatre but that has been closed to return to its old home in Islington. Thankfully, the Terence Conran owned Almeida Restaurant has remained and is still serving up excellent French cuisine. Make a note; if you are coming to London in Spring 2003 visit the Almeida.

Jenny and Carl - On The Town

Many visitors to London make a trip to the theatre, often to a west end musical. Indeed I did the very same thing when visiting New York at the beginning of the year I saw Cabaret at Studio 54. But I would also thoroughly recommend a visit to the London Fringe. It can be a bit hit or miss but if you invest in a copy of Time Out or look out for fringe reviews in The Evening Standard or the Guardian Guide on Saturday you might find yourself a diamond in the rough for a fraction of the west end price. Now that the British Rep system is all but obsolete many of our greatest theatre actors start out on the fringe. I have trodden the boards in many of our popular ‘off west end’ venues including The King’s Head, Islington and The Latchmere, Battersea in very successful productions. The added bonus is that they are generally situated above pubs! Phone ahead to see if they serve food and can feed you before the show.

I had a casting this week for a TV comedy show which took me to Covent Garden and the extremely hot and sweaty Pineapple Dance Studios. Pineapple is well known amongst performers in England and is mostly frequented by talented lithe, young things dressed in Lycra (Spandex) but there are classes for all standards, beginners included: a bit of salsa, ballet or jazz could liven up your trip to London no end, not that I’ve been tempted yet!

Luckily the casting didn’t involve any dancing (not my forte) and I have been recalled for another audition next week. Wish me luck.

Whooping It Up

My Week – Starting 16th August: This week my husband and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary (I was a child bride!) so we skipped hand in hand up to town. We had deliberated over how best to spend the evening but decided to do what we enjoy the most – eat and drink. We strolled around Soho and stumbled across a couple of swanky bars, one of them a private members club so I had to do some of my best chatting up to get us in and settled with a couple of rather ostentatious looking cocktails. The best bars in Soho are not the most obvious but are tucked away underground, keep your eyes peeled.

After getting thoroughly well oiled we slid down to Chinatown in the pouring rain. It must amaze visitors that the British are still so stunned by the weather here. Tourists are always very well equipped; wearing lightweight layers for the violently fluctuating weather and can pluck out a waterproof jacket at the drop of a hat. Londoners run through the streets, summer clothes soaked through or stand in shop doorways staring in disbelief like someone from a very hot country who has never seen snow before.

Jenny In Chinatown

Chinatown is a magical place. I think Chinese is probably my favourite food and wandering around at night with the lights twinkling and the mouth watering smells emanating from busy restaurants, is heaven (forgive my waxing lyrical but it is my anniversary and I have had lots of booze). Finding a good place to eat here can be a bit of a gamble and I would suggest that you refer to a guidebook or a web site for suggestions. When you find somewhere have a look through the menu and go for something you haven’t tried before, sometimes you need to ask for the specials menu. I had shark’s fin soup and the old man had hot pot of belly pork with yams. Delicious.

We had been in that neck of the woods earlier in the week when my friend Lucy met up with us to see the play, ‘Vincent in Brixton’ at the Wyndhams Theatre. www.ticketmaster.co.uk It’s a charming play and has been received very well by critics and audiences but I did find it dragged a touch and during the second act was thinking about what to have for my tea.

I was sent up to Swiss Cottage in north west London this week to audition for a show that is having its American premiere in Texas. I haven’t spent any time in Swiss Cottage and it didn’t look like an awful lot was going on there, though they do have a Farmers Market on Wednesday and some very trendy bars. I know that up the road are the rather prettier Belsize Park, St John's High Street and Hampstead Village. You can admire the serene views and swim in the freshwater bathing ponds up at Hampstead Heath.

It’s a very risqué play and I wonder how they will receive it in Texas. Anyway, it turned out that I “wasn’t quite right for the part this time” so I don’t have to worry about that!

Jenny Walters

Rate this article: [-]  1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

More Articles  | Log in to Have Your Say

Re: The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

By Peter Horwood 03/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19802 votes)

I would like to hear more about how Jenny Walters gets on with her acting career. I think it would make an excellent read.

<b>Editor: We are hoping that Jenny will be making a regular contribution to the Lantern every month.</b>

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Re: The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

By Callmecorny 03/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19831 votes)

Good luck in your choice of career! It is nice to hear about London from a native's point of view.

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Re: The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

By Sean 03/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19782 votes)

How refreshing to hear about some alternative things to do in London town. I too can recommend Borough Market, worth it for the bread stall alone.

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Re: The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

By Valerie Atkinson Brown 03/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19644 votes)

Keep us posted on your progress. I'd love to learn more about the acting scene in London.

Signed: Texas native and avid fan of London :)

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Re: The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

By John Griswold 04/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19525 votes)

Fine article, but what, precisely, is an "A to Z"? I suspect it's a travel guide, perhaps more specifically a guide to London, but where, pray tell, might one purchase it? Thanks much.

<b>Editor: I have put in a hyperlink from AtoZ to where you can buy one.</b>

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Re: The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

By John Griswold 05/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19619 votes)

Thanks much for the help. See you in a few days :)

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Re: The Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

By Lucille Howe 21/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19683 votes)

Well, well...what a varied and exciting life this young lady leads!
I found Jenny's column a brilliant, and entertaining read, and can't wait to log on next month for an update on her crazy adventures. Ditch the hubby and let's go dancin' Jen. You sound like you know where it's all going on.
Lucille.

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Repeated Posting

By Lucille Howe 21/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19569 votes)

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Repeated Posting

By Lucille Howe 21/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 19597 votes)

Rate this response: [-] 1 2 3 4 5 [+] 

Log in to Respond

Site Search


Our Site Web

Back Issues

Select Issue

 

Our Guides

Book Online

Polls

What is your favourite place to visit in London


Results | Other polls


Sponsors