Posts Tagged ‘The Pantograph Punch’

Think of the Pay Cheque

June 5, 2013 |  by  |  Performance, Uncategorized  |  Share

As a fan of The Pantograph Punch I’m super chuffed to have been invited to have a rant  at this one off fundraising story telling event amongst some pretty gangster company.  I’ll be talking about that time I was a nurse during the war.

Think of the Pay Cheque – Auckland Trades Hall – 13.06.13



March 18, 2013 |  by  |  Uncategorized  |  Share

Trades Hall 2

Presented as part of Think Of The Pay Cheque – Adventures in Bad Jobs for The Pantograph Punch June 2013.


In September 2009 I was standing in my kitchen with a bouquet of flowers in front of me, holding a giant oversized Good Luck card and for some reason I felt deeply guilty. I looked at my hands which were shaking and I realised my wedding rings that I’ve been wearing everyday for two years aren’t there.  And that is when I burst into uncontrollable sobs.

My flatmate came in and asked me ‘what happened?’

I said ‘I just killed someone.’

Two days later I flew to Paris.


It was 2006 when I  landed a role on a soap opera.  It meant that I had a bunch of savings, I could be one of those people who actually thinks half seriously about buying a house AND my parents stopped asking me what my back up plans were. Its was GREAT and ALL I had to do was pretend to be a nurse on national television.

I thought about that paycheck a lot for the three years I was on the show, and I haven’t really stopped thinking about it to tell you the truth.  I think about it just about everytime I pay for something with the Gold Visa card I was given by the bank purely because of that paycheck.

But somehow it wasn’t enough to keep me there.


When I was a kid I was so shy you’d think I was a mute. I never wanted to talk out loud because everytim I did I’d end up with people either laughing at me or patronising me because I was so “cute”. So I just didn’t talk. I was dead shy.

Imagine the day I took my mother to St Lukes mall.  As we descended the escalator with people going up started to shove and point and laugh directly in my face.  It was like there was this domino effect where every single pair of eyes turned to look at me. Like the escalator stopped, a spotlight hit me, I was naked, and instead of applause there were fingers pointed like that kid off The Simpsons. This was the day I figured out that by taking this job I had decided to take my inner child and hold her precariously over the side of a cliff and just sort of pay her to stay there, smile and talk in an indian accent.


Mostly people suffer from what I call TV tourettes syndrome.  This when as soon as they recognise you from whatever show it is they yell the name of that show really loudly straight at you.  The one thing these people have in common is that they all seem to believe that TV stars are deaf because no matter how far away they are they will yell as loud as they can, in your face if they have to.

I’ve become pretty good at ignoring people who yell in my face.  And I have one rule when it comes to the awkward  ‘do I know you..?’ Never (and you have to believe me because I’ve tried it) tell them they know you from TV,unless you absolutely have to. Because there is absolutely no way of saying, “you probably know me from television” without sounding, feeling, and looking like a complete cock.

I did have to resort to it once.

I was at home one day and someone knocked on the door.  So I opened it and there was a lady standing there and she realised she had the wrong apartment.  But as she was talking to me her eyes glazed over.

And she said, ‘don’t I know you from somewhere?’

And I said, ‘um, not sure, maybe, perhaps..?’ and she clicked.

She said ‘Of course!  Auckland Hospital.  You’re a nurse there!  I’m a nurse too, we worked together one weekend.’

I said, ‘no, I’m really not a nurse.’

She said ‘yes you are, Auckland Hospital don’t you remember me??’

I said, ‘look I’m really sorry I’m not a nurse…but I did play a nurse on TV …’

And she said ‘oh it’s definately not that, nice try!’

She laughs and walks away.

Here’s the twist, two weeks later the exact same thing happened to me on the street with a different lady.

Except this time when we got into the argument about nursing, I had learnt my lesson so  I said, ‘yeah, that’s right, Auckland Hospital, see you next week in the staff room!’


My friend used to live in Madrid and she loved telling me stories about this guy Diego.  Diego was tall and lanky, dark, a little sulky, cool, and he was her coke dealer.  And if it wasn’t for the fact that he was Spanish and handsome you’d probably run a mile but because he was Spanish and handsome he was sort of irresistible. There was definately something slimey about him, but he was also really suave so he was kind of like a cat…but an oily one..

When the show produced a fridge magnet with my character on it and I sent it to my friend in Madrid and she showed it to Diego.  She explained to him what I did for a living and he said “Why would anybody want to do that for a job?”


I started to rebel against the machine because I realised  that I agreed with Diego.  I think soap operas are stupid.  I hated the show.  I hated the attention, I hated the writing and most of all I hated my goody two shoes character and when you think about it I was spending most of my life playing someone I hated deeply.

The more angelic she was the more devilish I became. I started behaving like a naughty teenager who was trying to get kicked out of home.

On the night of the Television awards in 2008 myself and two others decided to sneak a hip flask of whiskey in like the naughty little girls we were.  Little did we know that there was a gossip columnist sitting behind us who wrote about it all in the paper the next day.

When this happened, the head of the production company called us into his office. He slapped our contracts in front of our faces and read out this passage to us:

Section 4.3 article e) at all times and at all public places the actor will behave in a responsible manner and not do anything which could adversly affect the reputation of the actor, the Production, the company or the relevant network.  Without limiting the foregoing the Actor acknowledges that intoxication by way of alcohol or other substance abuse, excessive expressions of anger and any violent, rude or abusive behaviour shall be deemed a serious breach of this clause by the Actor and shall entitle the company to terminate this Agreement.

And then instead of firing us he said “You can do whatever you want.  Just don’t get written about.”

I’m pretty sure I did everything listed in the paragraph during my time there and I still didn’t get fired.

And that is when I realised that because my character was so good, I could be as bad as I liked, I was never going to get fired.

And so I quit, and together with my producer, we plotted the death of my character.


Dying was actually a really great way to leave because I got to spend the last two weeks there lying down with no lines to learn.  I was either lying in a coffin with all of my favourite castmates crying over my fake death.   Or I was lying on a gurney being rushed through the entire set of the hospital.

My last scene: I’m lying there on this gurney with one of the head Nurses by my side and my fake husband on the other side and they’re waiting for action at which point they will rush me down the corridor and in through the well timed elevator doors.

The elevator doors are hand operated.  There is a tiny cupboard next to the elevator just big enough to fit one person in it and it’s always some poor AD’s job to wait inside there for the cue and then pull the doors open and shut.  This cupboard is full of graffiti from these poor souls things like “get me out of this fucking prison show,” “trapped in a box” or “kill me now.”

I’m lying there and I look up and I see all the lights, all the scaffolding, the ventilation system, the fans, I see the boom mic swinging over head from the Nurse to my husband and back, and he’s saying “Will she be allright?” and she’s like “Just keep it together man!” or whatever.

I look up and I see the structure of everything.  I the nuts and bolts that hold the building together. I think of the people in the building and the people in their cars, and the people at home, the people outside waiting to come in and give me a bouquet of flowers and a giant Good Luck card.  And a little tear wells up in the corner of my eye and rolls down my cheek.  And the Nurse looks down at me and she says “Oh honey! You can’t cry, shhh.  Dead people don’t cry!”  And a make up artist runs over and dabs the tears away, and a costume person comes and ties a hospital bracelet around my wrist with my characters name and birthdate on it.  They call action, the elevator doors open and close.

But we had to do another take, because of a squeaky wheel on the gurney.

This is what happens to squeaky wheels on the set of a fast turnaround TV show. They don’t have time figure out why the wheel is squeaking…so they just replace it.  They chuck it in the squeaky wheel pile and just let it roll away.  Squeaky wheels don’t get fixed, they just move on somewhere else far away from places that don’t have time for them.  They go to Paris, they fall in love with other squeaky wheels.  They join gurneys full of squeaky wheels and they squeak together and have squeaky parties with Diego’s cocaine and make art works about being a squeaky wheel in a squeakist world.

They have no money because they spent it all in Paris.  They have debts.  But they do have fantastically ridiculous principals which help them sleep at night.

But in secret, when they are on their own and no one else can see, they stream Shortland Street on demand because they miss it and actually quite enjoy it sometimes…