Friday, 2 October 2015
As I was saying to my friend the other day.....: I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook,...
As I was saying to my friend the other day.....: I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook,...: "Darlings, you're too, too kind." My performance was pitch perfect. The audience aghast at such honesty: such characterisa...
My performance was pitch perfect. The audience aghast at such honesty: such characterisation: such depth.
It started with a desperate call from the University - they needed an actor and they needed 'em quick. The Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology - I know I get all the "A list" gigs - had this major production number on stream. It was a deep psychological piece about memory loss, identity crisis and anger - Proust in Emergency Ward 10 if you will. The script was tight, it was to be delivered straight to camera. There was to be no hiding place.
So who do you call? Moi, au naturelle. I was slated for 10 am and what with make up, in depth characterisation and coffee I reckoned that's three hours out of my busy schedule. But as I told my agent "These are doctors, for Christ's sake! How can I turn them down".
I was doing it pro bono. Also I wasn't being paid. This would not appear on my "CV", but possibly on my tax return - by way of charitable giving. Anyway, I didn't mind travelling by public transport. I knew if they offered me a limo, I'd have to turn it down.
I received the script a while back. I warmed to it immediately. It spoke to me. This guy was angry, he and his wife had been pushed through the system and spat out. It was heavy. I knew I needed to research the characters and their predicament. So I spent 5 hours in A&E at my local NHS hospital just to get to know what it was like being fed through the sausage machine. Frankly, I think it was that that gave my performance such depth, such grounding, such reality.
The director's assistant met me at the plush office entrance and we took the executive lift to the 4th floor and I was whisked into the studio. The director, a cool academic dude called The Professor, welcomed me. "I've changed the script: now I know you're doing it." I didn't flinch. He handed me the lines. I'm a professional, I scanned the text. " O.K.. let's lay this track down."
I didn't notice the camera. Call me old fashioned but when someone mentions camera I see large chunky mechanicals with two film spools attached. This was "digital".
If you ask me we went wrong when we ditched vinyl, record decks and thermionic valves and went 8 track cassette. This camera was minuscule. It was unnerving: but I handled it.
At this stage I was beginning to think that this was not the Warner Bros style production I was expecting. So I quizzed The Professor. This was no follow up to Bond's "Spectre", no latest iteration of "The Bourne Identity" or "Harry Potter Goes Camping". This was educational......
It was one of a series of vignettes, designed to weed out psychopaths and deviants applying to do a post graduate course in Psychology. O.K. I'm signed up to education and all that jazz. I have no problem with that. Except I saw my expenses claim rapidly shrinking - I mean doesn't the Gov't have it in for higher education - especially anything connected with the NHS?
So we did the scene. I'm a professional and I gave my performance 110%. Two takes and it was in the can. The Director's assistant took me for a coffee - skinny flat white - and I signed off "Hasta la Vista, Baby". I don't hang around when the job's done.
The John Lewis gift voucher will come in handy. And I'm comforted in the knowledge that in some small way I have helped to train the nation's future generation of psychologists.
Is that a take?
Thursday, 24 September 2015
As my old buddy William Shakespeare would write:
“...and then, in dreaming, / The clouds methought would open and show riches / Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked / I cried to dream again.”
Back in the Old Smoke, the ladies of the WI were a fading memory.
Back to life, back to reality. Which for me is a bit of a cheek. I'm retired, I have little of life's obligations loaded on my shoulders.
Other than... putting out the bins, paying the bills and keeping my doctor up to speed on my medical mishaps. Which is what I'm doing assiduously.
My ever attentive audience will recall that just before I set off for the WI college, my right hand was encased in plaster. This following an unfortunate incident with my slippers and a door jam. I can assure you all that this mishap in no way restricted my artistic endeavours at Denman College. Indeed, I believe it drove me to new heights (see previous posting "Calender Girls").
Today I had to return to the hospital. Would my metacarpal be mended? Would the plaster be removed? Or would I find myself encased in adamantine's eternal grip?
My appointment was for 10 am. After a hearty breakfast to ensure my blood sugar levels didn't drop to dangerous levels during the diurnal wait at the Fracture Clinic, I set off for the hospital.
Parking a mile from the hospital car park - there was no way I was going to pay to keep the NHS going - I managed to reach the clinic in time. It was heaving. Honestly, I do not know how the staff keep going. A constant flood of broken this and that's. The Khan twins were on duty and on time and they'd called in reinforcements - 2 registrars and nurse specialists.
What was nice was that fracture day was treated as family day. Young Johnny had a broken leg and all the family turned up... mum, dad, grandma and grandpa. Happily continuing, in the fracture clinic, the family row they'd started in their kitchen three hours earlier.
I handed in my appointment letter and was told to fight for a seat. Thirty minutes later my name was called...I was to go to have an X ray.
The X ray department had patients spilling out of every orifice. I was expected, since the lovely young man at border control already had my details. Which had me wondering why I'd waited 30 mins in the Fracture Clinic before being transferred to X Ray.
Crowd control. That is the NHS's principal aim. It's not to make people well, or less sick. It's to keep moving the mass of patients through the system. If they paid as much attention to healing people we'd be a well nation.
I waited for about an hour. I can't swear to that, I might have lost consciousness while waiting. There were old women bent double, old people unable to move without assistance waiting and waiting and waiting. I thought that given they'd less time left maybe they should have been bumped up the queue.
Going to hospital no doubt gives a biased view of the health of the area: but I found it hugely depressing. None of the people I saw today were well off, white or middle class. Mostly they were old, Asian, black and, I think, poor.
I thought as I waited. " We can afford private health insurance - and avoid all this shit."
After my X ray I went back to the fracture clinic to have my cast removed.
It was like an iron foundry. High speed saws were cutting through plaster, white sparks of gypsum flying into the air. Mine was removed with heavy duty scissors - but it was traumatic.
Then back to see Dr Chucks. How he keeps so cheerful I'll never know. I mean, there's only so much fun you can get out of a broken metacarpal or two. He was not down heartened. Like good old Christian he strove. And having striven, I was informed that I'd need to be careful for at least 3 weeks, but gentle exercise - squeezing a ball - would be helpful.
An appointment with the physios and another visit to Dr Chucks in a month's time. No doubt my GP will want to see me after this.
So there's plenty to occupy my time. Retirement isn't all holidays in the sun and sex with frustrated widows you know.