London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Diary of a Young Londoner (An Aspiring Actress)

23/10/2002, By Jenny Walters

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 24324 votes

My Week - Starting 27th September: Yet another manic week of trying to get everything done in an impossibly short space of time. When you are an aspiring (read desperate) actress you have to say yes to anything that your agent throws at you. I’m afraid it’s a long way off to being able to pick and choose which jobs I go for and, according to my agent there are no excuses for missing out on any auditions. Maybe death, at a push.

So on one day this week, for example, my castings took me from Chalk Farm, then across to Finchley Road and finally culminating in some voice over work in the lovely Ealing Studios. It’s fantastic when you get some actual real work and I loved swanning in to Ealing Studios, famous for the classic comedies of the 40s and 50s.

There was a lot of building work going on around the studios and I found out that they are currently undergoing a redevelopment, which is good news as they nearly went into receivership in the 1990s. But things are looking up with ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ starring Judy Dench having been filmed there recently. I think that British films are having a bit of a resurgence, we may not have the money but we’ve got the talent. I don’t mean me of course. I haven’t got much of either!

The only way to get around London, if you are covering as many square miles as I do, is to buy yourself a travel card.

They’re not cheap but prices vary depending on which zone you are in and you can use them on main line trains, tubes, buses and I am told, some boats on the Thames. I haven’t tried that yet and with the weather being as miserable as it is at the moment it may have to wait until next spring.

The Old Bailey

My Week - Starting 4th October: This week I had the daunting task of serving on the jury at The Old Bailey.

It was a pretty nerve wracking affair to meet up with a group of strangers and wait for your name to be called by someone in a wig and a black cloak to decide on the fate of the defendant. But that’s what we did. For three days solid in my case. And then those of us who weren’t called (not enough crime in the capital at the moment, apparently!) were sent home, a little disappointed but also very relieved.

There has been a court on the site of The Old Bailey since 1539 and before that it was Newgate Gaol. It is a very awe-inspiring place and I noticed that there were guided tours going on round the building, which would be interesting. The court officials told us that, if we actually went into court there would be a bit of disturbance by people going in and out of the public gallery as The Old Bailey is on the tourist trail, which I found a little odd. A touch too voyeuristic for me but whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

Barbican Centre

During my lunch hour I would stretch my legs and wander round that part of town. One of my strolls took me to the Barbican where I looked at a free exhibition by a sort of relative of mine (father’s cousin’s husband) Grayson Perry. He creates beautiful ceramic vases plastered with explicit images. He has become a very successful artist but I think he is just a very naughty boy.

Visiting the Barbican is a good way of passing a few hours, as there is always something going on and usually things to see for free.

My Week - Starting 11th October: My father in law and his wife came down south from the North West this week. They often visit as they both have family living in London and when they do they treat to us to a trip to a restaurant. They are always very welcome.

La Lanterna

This time we went to a popular Italian restaurant in Bermondsey called ‘La Lanterna’, 6 Mill Street, SE1, the kind of place where the portions are so big you have to be rolled out on to the pavement afterwards. Just like mama used to make, not mine though, she’s from Manchester.

My continued good works in the field of researching fabulous cocktails this week took me to a friend’s party at a bar called ‘Jerusalem’, 33 Rathbone Place, W1. My selfless pursuits led me to find that Jerusalem did a rather good White Russian and some fine bar snacks. They also had a tasty menu but I had already eaten having treated my husband to a hearty bit of Spanish food earlier at ‘Café EspaÔa’ 63 Old Compton St, W1.


It was perfect food for the miserable, rainy evening that we visited. I suppose you would describe it as unpretentious peasant food, and it was very reasonably priced as I had found it listed in the Cheap Eats section of that week’s Time Out. I think Time Out London is an excellent guide. It is available at newsagents and bookshops for a couple of quid and lets you know about all the latest goings on in theatre, restaurants, music etc.

My Week - Starting 18th October: My husband Carl invited a work colleague round for dinner this week. He is from France and, whilst working in England is holed up in a bed and breakfast on the Edgware Road so I thought I would treat up to a home made British dinner. Doing my bit to promote British cuisine abroad I served Scottish wild smoked salmon followed by Lancashire hotpot, bread and butter pudding for desert and some crumbly Cheshire cheese and organic pears to finish. And it was very tasty indeed; even the French colleague was quietly impressed. The next day at work he was caught trying to find out the recipe for bread and butter pudding.

Tiramisu - La Lanterna

Later in the week I was working in Charlotte Street when Carl appeared and whisked me away for a bite to eat. We didn’t know where we wanted to dine so we went to one of the nearby pubs for a bit of liquid inspiration. We were in a part of W1 that has come to be known as Noho and is due north of Soho just across the dividing Oxford Street. It has lots of businesses and restaurants and is set to take over as the next place to go for nightlife. We decided to have Britain’s national dish, curry and wandered south.

Without the aid of a guidebook we took a chance and got a table at ‘The Delhi Brasserie’, 44 Frith Street, W1. Thankfully the gamble paid off and we had a delicately spiced Chicken Korai and a tasty Jalfrezi. The British curry industry is huge and apparently has an annual turnover of £1.8 billion and employs over 9800 members of staff. It might not be exactly what they serve in Delhi but we can’t get enough of it!

Jenny Walters

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