Living in Australia isn't an easy thing. You could get eaten by a shark as soon as you step outside, your shoes could be literally made out of Black Widow spiders, or you could have your eyes melted by the sun shining off Bert Newton's face. Or, of course, you could get beaten up by Bert Newton's son. Or you could be Bert Newton's wife. It's a fucking minefield out there.
But spare a thought for the millions of poor Australians who are part of a soap opera. Be it Summer Bay, Erinsborough or Wondan Valley (how the hell do you spell that, anyway?), every day is a new adventure in tragedy. If you happen to wake up tomorrow and you look like Kate Ritchie (I apologise for that), here are some tips on how to live another happy day in paradise...
Mister Evil Breakfast's Guide to Life as a Soap Opera Character
1. If you fall in love, which is an occurance which will happen at least 70 times in the average soap character's life, be careful. As soon as you utter those three magic words, "I love you," prepare to either spend the next week in the hospital as a patient or a 'helpless victim of circumstance.' Whichever the case, you'll most likely find yourself in a coma. But all is not lost, cause if you're in a coma, the chances of you actually dying are slim to none. Death in a soap is either instantaneous or non-existant. Waking from a coma is also a fairly easy process, all it takes is someone to discuss their deepest feelings with you. Just like a slap in the arse with a wet sheep, you'll wake and will suffer no ill-effects at all. Not only that, you and the entire cast won't ever recall anyone ever even being in a coma after a week.
Any visit to the hospital will be a fairly eventful one. Whether you've just had heart surgery, had your face reattached after it was cut off following an accident with a 'tampered' lawnmower, or you're just there for a check-up, you'll have your own room, be ordered to "stay another night" and will probably find out you're adopted after a few blood tests.
2. Getting married is a practice fraught with danger. On your wedding day, it's law for any soap star to either be involved in a car accident, a skydiving accident or the sudden appearance of a long lost relative (most likely a mother or father), their wife/husband (either current or ex) or a child from a previous relationship that no-one ever knew about. Be prepared for a fairly harsh few days, but don't stress too much - a disturbance like that will only ever last for three days, and twenty minutes after you're married, you will be discussing children.
3. Having children isn't an easy process for a soap character. If you're married, you will have some serious struggles in getting pregnant, especially if everything else in your relationship is going well. After a visit to the doctor for a check-up (see #1), you may even find yourself with ovarian cancer or that your uterus is actually a pair of bagpipes.
But chill. If you really want a kid, just apply for an adoption. You can do it over the net, and will be accepted either the first or second time you check your email. Are you worried that your violently abusive past, drug history and lack of employment will hurt your application? Stress less, amigo. You're a good person, and that will work wonders for you. Expect a kid in a week.
Not married? Having sex? Well, you're in some serious trouble. The first time you have sex, you WILL get pregnant. Did you cheat on your partner? Pregnancy. Did you make a mistake and sleep with the bad boy of the show? Have fun explaining your baby to your over-protective father.
Pregnancies last about a month, and your child will be a baby for about 5 years (if your contract lasts that long) and then suddenly appear in high school.
4. School is a strange place. All of the kids are all in the same classes together, always in the one classroom, which is always taught by the same teacher (probably someone's parent), regardless of age or academic prowess. You'll probably encounter a bully - stay strong and learn that walking away is the best defence, and they'll disappear forever. If the bully is of the opposite sex, you will definitely begin dating (refer #3).
5. Employment is an option for everyone. If you're a high school kid looking for some extra pocket money, don't bother with McDonalds or Woolworths, working at the corner store (which only ever has packets of chips and slices of home-made quiche for sale anyway), will keep you busy for the next three years. If you ever finish Year 12 and are thinking of going to uni, expect the owner of the store to die, or run off to Botswana to his great aunt's house because she needs a kidney and he's the only matching donor. Bingo. You own the store. You'll immediately turn it into a cool hang-out place, with a lot of neon lights and some funky art on the walls. Strangely, it didn't seem to cost you anything. Unfortunately, it will burn down the next day. Insurance? Hell no. Just wait for the neighbourhood to rebuild it from scratch. As you re-open the joint, use these words: "Thanks to everyone for this, this is fantastic. And I've learnt my lesson from dealing with dodgy fire sprinkler installers from anyone who aren't in the opening credits, I've got four different kinds of fire insurance, and the back storeroom is definitely off limits for clumsy four year olds with a box of matches!" Wait for the laughter to die down, cut the ribbon and begin your life again. You may be ripped off by the kid you hired to look after the till though.
If you're an adult, you're probably the only person in the city with your chosen profession. Doctor? Lawyer? Refrigerator repairman? Welcome to high living, and of course a little bit of improvisation. If you're an ear, nose and throat specialist, you'll definitely have to come in for some amputation work on someone whose leg was caught in the doors of an elevator as it fell fifteen stories. If you're a cop, you'll be directing traffic while leading a homicide case and tracing calls from a kidnapper. Just watch out - one wrong move will put your career in jeopardy. Forever. If you're a lawyer, you may have to sue yourself at least once in your lifetime.
Good luck, future UK panto stars!