The light-bulb went off while I was driving home last weekend. From the back seat of the car, my twin five-year-olds burst into song: "I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker ..."
I have no idea where they heard such unsuitable lyrics (well, actually I do -- their father will be spoken to) but it occurred to me that, since they were in tune, hey, why shouldn't they put their talent to commercial use? I could rest and they could be the family breadwinners.
So within days I was sitting in a windowless room in Astoria, Queens, in a casting session for the US remake of the British TV series Life on Mars.
I'd already been faxed through the three pages of lines for the part of "young Colin" (Colin has a twin brother, apparently). We'd rehearsed in the kitchen the night before and, I must say, I was quite taken aback by how much they enjoyed themselves.
But in the audition waiting room the atmosphere was deadly serious.
My two wanted to talk to the other kids. But they were practising their lines with their parents. "Hey," said one of mine,"I say those sentences too." His rival's mother gave him a death stare.
Soon came our turn. In went the first twin. I thought it a bit odd he was away for 15 minutes. He only had four sentences to say. Then his brother went in. Then I was called. More death stares.
"Have they ever done this before?" the casting director, a nice brusque woman, wanted to know. "Er ... no," I stammered.
"Could they stay and meet the director in two hours?" Two hours?
"Absolutely not," I said thinking of all I had to do that day. She looked a bit surprised. We settled that they'd return during lunch hour in the next week.
The boys never met the director. The casting director now says she needs much older boys - but I was told she will want mine for other projects.
Had my unaccommodating attitude ruined it for the offspring, I asked their "agent". I was assured, no. She added: "Most mothers call every morning wanting to know if jobs are available, and their children are utterly obnoxious. Until they are 10 this doesn't hurt the kid's chances, but generally casting directors don't want nuisances on the set."
It's a relief: I'm not a "stage-mother". Except I am still working -- and the boys are still singing inappropriate songs in the back of the car.
This article was originally published by the London Evening Standard