Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Road More traveled?

Yesterday, I tore myself away from the wonderful world of catering temp work to do another shoot for "Seconds From Disaster." This was a continuation of the filming for the same episode I was working on 10 days ago. The director decided he needed to do another scene with my character. That was fine with me, as I got another day of paid TV work out of it.
I had a call time of 9AM. The plan was to transit the Congestion Zone prior to 7AM and park at my friend Tom's flat (Tom, the Injured Cyclist ). I was up late the night before. I had been distracted on Monday night and so had fallen a day behind in my blog. Now, I was on the verge of falling two days behind. Lovely London radio DJ, Opal Bonfante, a loyal reader of this blog, was complaining that she wanted a new blog from me. I think she was suffering withdrawal symptoms, as she's practically addicted to my blog. Kate Moss could substitute my blog for cocaine, if she hasn't already, and avoid the criticism she's been subjected to, lately. My blog is the latest in thing to read among celebrities, both in America and here, in the UK. Aren't you glad you have discovered it. For once, you are in on something trendy before all of your friends. You can use it at parties. Let slip, "I was reading in the JosephintheBracknell blog today...what? You aren't hip to it? Oh, it's the latest thing and very funny. I'm a subscriber. Anyway, I was reading it today and..." Well, I hate to disappoint Opal, as I find her simply fabulous, so I worked on the "A Gay Love Story?" edition, trying to complete it before going to sleep. I was up till 3:30AM doing so. My alarm was set for 5AM. I would only get one and a half hours of sleep. Not good!
My alarm sounded at 5, as planned. I rolled over and lay there. I didn't pry myself out of bed till 5:21. I was supposed to be leaving the house at 5:30. I went for my morning sit in the toilet. I chose to do a sudoku while there. I have a tendency to lose track of time while in the toilet, or in the shower. Being sleepy didn't help. By the time I had finished my sudoku and my shower, it was 6:21. Too late to clear the Congestion Zone by 7AM. Now what? The last time I aborted a Congestion Zone transit, due to time, I diverted around the North Circular, which entails traveling around half of London. It's a long way and takes ages, especially during the morning rush hour. On Sunday, when I was filming the gay love story, it had been at a location in Clapham, which is on the south side of London. Tom's flat is in Southeast London. I live southwest of London. I have long suspected there should be a southwest passage, which would enable me to cross from the southwest to the southeast of London, avoiding the Congestion Zone, in a much shorter distance than going around London to the north. As I already had the directions to Clapham, from Sunday, I quickly programmed Mapquest to give me directions from Clapham to Tom's. Checking the southern boundary of the Congestion Zone, on Transport for London's website ( ), I decided it was possible. I had found the long sought southwest passage! It involved taking the A3 into south London, picking up the New Kent Road, getting to Tower Bridge Road, then onto the Jamaica Road to Surrey Quays. I finished preparing and set off at 6:50AM.
Things went well at first. I made good progress on the A3 till I got to Clapham. All of a sudden, traffic came to a standstill. Bumper to bumper and crawling. It took me an hour to go seven miles. I started worrying as 9AM approached and I was still not at Tom's yet. From Tom's, I still needed to walk to the Tube station, then take at least two Tube trains to get to Kentish Town, where the studio is. I was going to be seriously late. I finally arrived at Tom's at about 9:15. I decided to splurge on a cash bus journey to save time on the walk to the Tube. As I walked to the bus stop, a bus pulled up. Ahead of me, a guy walking to the bus stop started running. I am not, generally a runner, but I decided now was one of those times and I started running. I was twice as far away as the guy in front of me. I watched the line of passengers boarding the bus dwindle down. The bus driver waited for the guy ahead of me. Would he wait for me? No. I can't say I blame him, as I was still a ways away. I slowed to a walk as I watched the bus driving off down the road.
When I reached the bus stop, I looked at the schedule. At that time of day, there should be a bus "approx. every 12 minutes." It's about 15 minutes walk to the Tube station. Should I wait for the next bus, or walk? An old guy walked up and asked me how long I had been waiting. I told him that a bus had just pulled off as I walked up. He said that although the schedule says every 12 minutes, it would take much longer than that, as the buses get stuck in traffic at that time of morning. Given my experience of traffic that morning, I didn't doubt him. He said it would be quicker to walk and set off. I made a snap decision to follow him. By the time I reached the Tube, it was nearly 9:40. I was surprised that the production people hadn't phoned to see where I was yet. I decided to call them before getting on the Underground, because I figured I wouldn't get a mobile signal down there. I wouldn't want them to call me and get no answer, as they might really worry then that I wasn't coming. Fishing around in my holdall for the computer print out with the phone number on it, I discovered that I only had the landline number for my contact, not her mobile. I remember reading in the last email I had from her about this shoot that she'd be available on her mobile that day. I tried the landline to her desk. She didn't answer. I made my way to the train. As I walked through the Underground station, my mobile rang. I quickly pulled it out of my pocket. Looking at the screen, I saw that it was the number of a bill collector calling. I don't answer when he calls. I continued walking. Down the escalator, it rang again. It was my voicemail service. I had two messages. The first was the bill collector. I had to listen to him drone on in order to hear the second message. The second message was from the Senior Production Coordinator, my contact, who also happens to have the same first name as my evil ex-wife, the Black Queen. The woman from the production company had finally called, looking for me. She left her mobile number. I tried to memorize it, but I couldn't...lot's of zeros and sevens. Now, I am very tight with money (cheap, in American terms), so I never use the service where you can return the call from the voicemail, as the phone company charges extra for it. I decided to use it for the first time in seven years. While I was standing on the Jubilee Line platform, she answered. I started apologizing and explained about the traffic. She said not to worry, that there was no need to rush. She said, "get here when you get here, we're setting up some other shots in the meantime." She didn't sound angry. I told her I should be there in about twenty minutes. Wishful thinking.
I finally arrived at the production company's studios at 10:30AM, an hour and a half late. All together it had taken me three hours and forty minutes to get there, that morning. I asked for the Senior Production Coordinator at reception. The receptionist told me to have a seat and the woman would be with me shortly. I moved over to the seats, but I didn't sit. Surely, she would be right out and we would rush to the set. I waited and waited. Finally, the receptionist came over and said she had some trouble finding the Coordinator, but that she would be along soon. She urged me to sit Did this woman not realize that I was talent and I was needed on set? I relented and sat down. I waited and waited, and waited some more. After what seemed like ages, my evil ex-wife's namesake finally showed up. She told me to remain sitting, as she had to get my costume, then she would lead me to the set. She didn't seem in any hurry. Although I had spoken to her over half a dozen times on the telephone, during the course of my involvement with the show, this was actually the first time I had met the Senior Production Coordinator, face to face. Not only does she share my evil ex-wife's first name, she has the same hair color and is about the same height. She even stands the same. I hate being reminded of the Black Queen so visually. After what seemed like more ages, a member of the crew, whom I had worked with on my first episode of "Seconds From Disaster," appeared. He greeted me with recognition and said he'd take me to the set. As I followed him, we discussed my travel difficulties of that morning. I made myself sound as sympathetic as possible. Would the director yell at me?
As we arrived at the set, a scene was being filmed already. It was one I wasn't needed for. I was offered a chair and some refreshments. The crew seemed as deferrential as usual. My costume arrived and I got into it. I still ended up waiting. It seemed like being late hadn't caused much problem at all. Then it was time to do my scene. It turned out I only had one that day. After we finished the different takes, angles,and pick ups, the director asked me to hang around till lunch, in case he decided to do any more with me. Hang around? No way I was leaving before the free food. While I was eating lunch, I was informed that I was finished for the day and could go home. I had been expecting to be there all day, like I was the last two times I had been to one of their shoots. What to do with the rest of the afternoon? Should I go to a museum? I was tired and didn't feel up to it. As I walked outside and turned my mobile back on, my voicemail called. I had a message from another production company about a show I had applied to be in. I listened to the message twice and wrote down the number, so I could dial it myself. No way was I going to pay again for the automatic return call service. He asked me what I was doing. Oh, would he want me to come right over? I told him I had just finished a shoot and was free the rest of the afternoon. He offered to call me back, to save my mobile bill. Of course, I accepted. He did a little, sort of, telephone interview of me. As we talked about what I could bring to the show, his interest seemed to be on the wane. I tried to build up his interested and seemed to regain some ground. He didn't ask me to come right over, but said they had my details and would get back in touch and that they were at early stages yet. After he hung up, I called Tom's home number. I had sent him an email saying I would be in shooting till the evening. If he was home, he might want me to come over and spend the whole afternoon with him. Tom had said he wanted to interview me for some BBC Radio 5 thingy he'd gotten involved with, about blogging. I told you my blog is the latest thing and it's starting to receive media attention. You didn't believe me, did you? Well, those of you in the media did, because you know it's true. Tom didn't answer, so I left a voicemail message for him, letting him know I was free early. He might be out at physical therapy, or something like that. I continued walking to Kentish Town Tube station. As I arrived at the station, I made up my mind where I was going next. Sod the museums, I was way too tired. I decided to head to Tom's. If he wasn't there, I would sit in my car and take a nap. I descended into the nether regions of London's underground system.
The journey to Tom's was leisurely. As I now had an all day Travelcard, I could take the bus from the Tube station to his flat, rather than walk, as it cost me nothing extra. As I hadn't received a call back from Tom, I thought he hadn't gotten home and heard my voicemail message. I got into my car and prepared to nap. However, based on my past experience of Tom, I figured I would call him again, as he seems to be bad about returning calls when I leave a voicemail. Sure enough, he answers. "What are you doing home?" I asked.
"Where are you?" Tom asked me back.
"In your parking lot."
"We'll, you'd better come inside, I guess," Tom said. It turned out he'd only gone for a walk, earlier, not physio, but hadn't listened to his voicemail messages. We spent a relaxing afternoon chatting. As evening approached, I told him I had planned on going to the Wibbley Wobbley Boat, that evening, and participating in the Comedy Open Mic night, again. Tom said he wasn't interested in going. I was quite prepared to go without him, but I felt so tired, I just didn't feel up to it. Asking him what I should do, he advised not to go. Tom cooked a light, pasta dinner. After dinner, we both fell asleep watching TV, in our respective seats. I woke up before Tom. It was about 8:15PM. I felt rejuvenated after my nap. I took out my notebook and began writing an outline of an act for the Wibbley Wobbley. The Open Mic is supposed to start at 9PM, but the past two times I have gone, it has started late. As 9 approached, I told Tom I had decided to go, after all. It's only a five minute walk from Tom's and I am right there. It made sense to go. I need the practice. Tom did what he always does when I am about to go to the Wibbley, he starts talking about various things, while I am desperately trying to memorize my act. I know Tom doesn't mean any harm, but he always distracts me when I am trying to get in the zone. It was getting to be 9:15 and still he was chatting away. I finally made my goodbye and walked to the Wibbley. This would be my first time performing there without Tom in the audience.
When I got inside, it seemed like they had started on time that night, because one of the regular comics was already performing. The compere caught my eye and said he could put me on if I wanted. I sure did, why else was I there? There ended up being six of us performing. I went on fourth. The past two times I had been, there were hardly any women in the audience. This time, there were quite a few. When it was my turn, I got a good response from the crowd. This was my best performance to date. I got many laughs. Possibly the most of anyone that night. After the show finished, one of the women in the audience came over to my table. She asked me if I was Joseph in theBracknell. It was Sarah Marie, a friend from Myspace and a listener to LBC radio, who's heard me on the radio many times. This was great! She looked older in person. She was there with her new boyfriend, Julian, who had performed after me. They joined me at my table. Julian bought me a pint of Stella, which was great, as I had only budgeted for one, which I had already exhausted. We had a great time talking and stayed till closing. I told them that Pauly in the Morden, another LBC listener and Myspace friend, who also does comedy, is due to perform at the Wibbley next Wednesday. We agreed that we would return next week. I offered them a ride home to Greenwich, which, although in the opposite direction to the way I was going, wasn't far.
In the car, I put on Opal Bonfate's "London Calling Show," on the Big L 1395AM. Now that the Big L's transmitter is back online, I can listen in the car. While we drove, I called Opal and requested "I Don't Need a Man," by the Pussycat Dolls. I told her about the Wibbley and that Sarah Marie, Julian, and I were listening in the car. Opal mentioned us on air and played my request. After I dropped those two off in Greenwich, I turned around and made my way back to Bracknell, with Opal playing on the radio the whole way. It's too bad Tom hadn't come, as he missed the best time at the Wibbley yet. If you are in London next Wednesday night, don't you miss it. They have a comedy open mic night every Wednesday and it's free. Next Wednesday, October 4th, both Pauly in the Morden and I are due to perform. The Wibbley Wobbley Boat is located at Greenland Dock, Rope Street, Surrey Quays, London SE16 7SZ (phone 0207 2322320). The show starts at 9PM.


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