Monday, July 31, 2006

London Double Shot

Written 15th July, 2006: After not going into London for months, yesterday, I went into London for the second day in a row! This time, I was going to audition for a part in a short film, which, when completed, is to air on Channel 5, here in the UK. It's also supposed to be shown in Canada and America. My audition was scheduled for 4:30PM. I intended to leave much earlier, so I wouldn't be late, like I was the day before. That's what I intended. As it turned out, didn't leave quite as early as I planned. I got to the Bracknell train station just after the train I wanted to catch had left. The next one was at 2:32PM. This was starting to turn out like Thursday's trip. Because my appointment was for half past instead of a quarter past, I had an extra 15 minutes, as compared with Thursday.
Upon arrival at London's Waterloo Station, I tried to make quicker time to the Northern Line Tube platform. My audition was at a film company located in Kentish Town, again, so I would be taking the exact same route as I did the day before. What is it with Kentish Town and the film production? While I was waiting on the Tube train, I heard an announcement over the station's public address system. "Due to a broken down train..." oh-oh..."all services on the Jublilee Line are..." Relief! It wasn't the Northern Line. Looking at the digital display of the next expected trains, I saw something strange. A train was listed as being due in one minute, but going down the branch of the Northern Line that doesn't service Kentish Town. But there were no trains listed after that one. Determined not to wait 20 minutes, like I did the day before, I decided to take this train. I could get off at Camden Town and perhaps there would be a train along quickly from the other Northern Line route, the one via Bank, going my way. This proved to be a good idea. When I got off at Camden Town, there was another northbound Northern Line, heading toward Kentish Town. I arrived at Kentish Town by 4PM. The directions said the address I was going to was five minutes walk from the Tube Station and I had thirty minutes to get there. Sweet!
I walked slowly in the warm July afternoon sunshine. I tried to drag out my journey, as I didn't want to arrive any earlier than 15 minutes before my appointment. This audition was more involved than the one I had done the day before. There was a script I was supposed to read from, but which I hadn't yet seen. I wondered how I would do. Finally, I was there. The film company was located upstairs and had a sign outside. Already this seemed to be more substantial than the music video production, which seemed like it was being run out of the directors private residence. Walking through the company's office doorway, I saw over a dozen people at desks, working. On the right, there was a board with photographs of people an the names of projects written above groups of these photographs.
A young woman, casually dressed, was seated at the desk by the doorway. She had short hair and looked a "production type." She looked up at me, expectantly. I introduced myself and told her I had an appointment to see the casting director. She said he was currently with someone. Then she handed me a form and a pen, asking me to sit on a settee and fill the form out, while I waited. She offered me some water and I accepted. My mouth tends to get dry, especially when I am nervous. I filled out the form and returned it to the woman at the desk by the door. Re-taking my seat, I picked up a magazine from the coffee table in front of me. It featured an interview with Grace, who had been evicted from the Big Brother house a few weeks ago. I started reading the interview.
Before I could finish reading about Grace, the woman who had called me and set up my appointment came over and introduced herself. She was dressed smart casual, much prettier than the bird by the door. Everyone I could see in the place was dressed fairly casual. As I was auditioning for the role of an office manager, I had dressed in a suit and tie, as befit the role. She brought me a copy of the script and indicated the part I was expected to audition for. She said I could look over the script until they were ready for me. I wasn't expected to memorize it, just be familiar enough with the story to talk about it in character, but in my own words. That was a relief. This was the first time I had gone for a role in a film that involved scripted diaglog. Previously, I had worked as an extra without any lines. I just had to stand where I was told and walk or move the way I was asked to. For the first time, now, I would have to speak on camera and in character. I wondered how I would do, as I didn't really have any formal training for this. I had a small role in a play at university, but that's about it. How much of the story would they expect me to remember? Some of the characters names were a bit awkward, including my characters and the main character's, whom I was scripted to mention. Looking through the script, I saw that the main character's surname was spelled in two different ways. Which one was right?????!!!
Smart casual came back over to see how I was doing. She asked if I had any questions. I showed her the problem with the character's surname being spelled in two different ways, in the script. She said I didn't have to worry about that, just use whichever one I was comfortable with. She asked if I needed more time to prepare. I said, "no, I'm ready." I had read the short script over a dozen times now, mainly my lines, so I didn't see the point in procrastinating any longer. She left me there sitting a while.
In due course, a tall, young looking, blond man came over and introduced himself as the casting director. He was dressed in jeans and a button down shirt. He seemed very friendly and easygoing. He led me into a private office and told me where to sit. There was a small video camera opposite that place. He asked me where I was from and got to know me a bit and also made me feel at ease. Finally, he said that, for the audition, he was going to interview me on camera, as my character, and I should respond in my own words, based on what I remembered of the story from the script. Afterwards, he asked me a little more about myself, then said he would be making his recommendations to the director and my audition tape would be reviewed. He seemed encouraging and said I should hear from them within the next week or two.
Back out on the street, I pondered what to do next. I had another Travelcard, but I didn't want to get home as late as I had the night before. As I was on the north side of London, I decided to head over to Crouch End. One of my oldest friends in London, Pam, used to live in Crouch End. She had attended my wedding, but the Black Queen had discouraged me from visiting Pam often, after I was married. Pam, herself, had gotten remarried, to a Moroccan man, who had give me his mobile number, but over the years, I had lost it. After my divorce, I had turned up at Pam's flat, but no one answered the buzzer. Looking in the window, there were new plants in the window and the bits of decor I could see looked entirely different. Pam had been mentioning something about moving into a house, the last time the Black Queen and I had visited, but I had no idea where. I suspected she had, finally, moved.
Pam was originally from Zimbabwe and, over the years, she had introduced me to a number of Zimbabweans in the Crouch End area, as well as an Indian friend of her's, named Mash Sing something or other, plus a whole assortment of oddball characters who were regulars at this local pub, "The Queens." Pam never seemed to be able to manage having a phone, so in the old days, before I moved to England, when I used to visit here, I would drive my rented car to Crouch End and ring Pam's buzzer. If no one answered, would head down to The Queens and invariably I would see someone who recognized me...someone who Pam had introduced me to. I would leave word with that person to tell Pam I was in the UK and when I would be around again. Then I would drive to Wales and visit people I knew there for a few days. Returning to Crouch End, I would go to Pam's and she would be there, expecting me. After my divorce, I tried this same tactic, but didn't find anyone in The Queens I knew. A lot of yuppies have been moving into Crouch End, over the past few years, and they may be driving out the older, working class residents.
Walking the Crouch End high street, I made my way to the Queens. I peered in the windows of the only other pub Pam ever went to, but she wasn't there. Walking into the Queens, I looked for any familiar face. There were none. I slowly returned back the way I had come, looking into each shop window, in case I should spot her or her kids, either patronizing or working at any of the businesses on the high street. I was hungry, so I nipped into a kebab shop and order some chips. As I waited for a fresh batch of ships to cook, I stared out the shop window at the passers by, in case I should spot Pam. Once my chips were ready, I walked with them, open...eating with the little wooden chip fork, as I made my way back to the bus stop. I headed home, as I wanted to make it in time to see "Big Brother." It was an eviction night, after all.


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