I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
2012-06-09 | 3:15 p.m.

I had my birthday a week ago on Friday. I, seemingly out of nowhere, turned 28. I had SO much fun. On the day itself I had no work due to court half term so spent the morning cleaning the very unclean flat for impending weekend guests, mine being my best friend Katie and James's a slightly nutcase-ish but very nice friend called Jason.

I had a Tesco meal deal for lunch - I know how to celebrate in style! - and a bottle of Curiosity Cola for an extra treat, which I ate and drank in the cinema whilst watching The Angels' Share (3 stars). Then Katie came to the flat to drop off her weekend bag and we broke the law by drinking Froglet wines on the DLR on our way to go to the bar I'd reserved an area in for my birthday party. Tori and Natalie came along which made me so happy. Tori has a baby now but I think in our hearts when we get together it'll always be like when the three of us were at uni.

When Tori had to go, Natalie and I escorted her to the Tube wearing Prince Philip masks then went and rejoined the party. Later I damaged everyone's ears by moving the party on to a karaoke bar and singing The Promise and a duet with Katie of Don't Speak. My brother who once famously told me that my singing voice 'made him feel sick' was there and said my performance only compounded his opinion and James said, 'I think your brother was right,' but an old man with no teeth who'd been hanging around in the audience absolutely loved it! But when he smiled gummily at me and started stroking my arm I knew it was time to leave.

The following day, the Saturday, Katie and I went to the Museum in Docklands, which is awesome and the Sailor Town section still scares me even though I've been through it a good handful of times, lunched in Strada and went wine tasting in South Kensington before going back to the flat and having more drinks and then being taken out for dinner by James and Jason.

So work was quiet the week just gone because we've had the Jubilee bank holiday and it's been High Court half term, but it worked out well as on Wednesday I received a phone call along the lines of, 'Hello, would you like to come and do another day's filming on Friday?'

Hell yes!

So yesterday was a very interesting day indeed (if we ignore the five hours of sitting around before I was called onto the film set). I was told I may be in a close-up scene so before I went along I did my own hair and make-up to what I thought was a perfectly acceptable standard but as soon as I arrived at the film base I was shoved into make-up and had my ponytail yanked out and my hair scraped into a severe half up/half down arrangement, my cheeks swamped in blusher and extra eyebrows drawn on whilst all I could do was sit there and mentally ban everyone I've ever known from going and seeing this film when it comes out next year.

We then were taken over to the set by minibus which was the decidedly charming Middle Temple Hall (which I recognised from going to a QC party there about four years ago!) and then the sitting around began. There were fewer extras this time than I when I did the day of filming in April, which was nice but, seriously, most of them are mad as a box of frogs and some of them were rude about my job. Comments including:

'Oh you're a real life stenographer? Well you better think of a plan B career then.'

Thanks, you doom monger.

'I bet I could learn how to do that job in a day.'

No, you couldn't.

'Why do you exist?'

Fuck off!

Some of them were lovely though.

I finally got called onto the set at about quarter to 5, by which time I'd had my hair redone three times and my make-up redone about eight times. If I avoid the cutting room floor I'm sure people will wonder why there's a panto dame on their screen tinkering about with a Stenograph.

The filming part was pretty special for me but I don't think I will get asked back to do any more film work as I stubbornly refused to do what the directors were requesting in the interest of making it as realistic as possible.

'Can we put your machine on this desk?'

'Absolutely not. It needs to go on its tripod and be at a height I can reach it.'

'Can you be at a right-angle to the actors?'

'Absolutely not. I need to be sitting facing and looking at whoever's speaking.'

'Can you just mime pressing the machine's keys?'

'If the camera is panning onto my hands [which it was] then absolutely not.'

I like to think I was being helpful :)

The scene I was in was steno-ing Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall and Kenneth Cranham who were all sat round a desk in a judge's room which was great! Rebecca smiled at me and Kenneth came and patted me on the shoulder afterwards, then I went off to have some coffee, sat around for another two hours (the film world is neither fast-moving nor glamorous) and then had foundation and powder put all over my hands so they would be ready for their close-up, ahaha.

I watched the camera as it filmed just my hands doing steno and it looked pretty good! The quality of proper movie cameras is something else. I had one of the crew reading out the script at this point and they were happy with just two takes. Afterwards they said they needed just the noise of the keys tapping, with no background interference and I'm not very good at steno-ing if there's no one speaking so I just sang Taio Cruz Dynamite to myself in my head and tried to steno that. I don't think I will ever fully understand why I chose that song - it was a bad idea for MANY, MANY reasons not least including the fact I don't know the lyrics. If it makes the cut you'll actually be able to hear me mentally stumble over it. Terrible!

I'm at my mum's at this present moment in time and need to get a move on as I have a village fete to go to! Then a night out in the old town. Maybe a bike ride tomorrow if it's not raining. And on Monday I'm working at a VAT tribunal. On the last of these things I sense a need to employ the use of a pair of glasses with fake eyes drawn on that I was given by one of my friends as a birthday present.

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