Cast Away aka Killing Time in London Town

February 24, 2009


“Do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call, every word you say is suspect, you’re a corporate whore and eh, end of story.” Bill Hicks.

This morning I had a casting for a commercial. I had to go to a fancy pants agency over in Ladbroke Grove. You know you’re in a fancy pants agency when the people who work there take their dogs to work. This one, a sweet and lovely dog, I have met before- on one of my other failed trips out to Ladbroke Grove. And this was a failed trip.

I don’t like castings. I never have. When I was younger, and I didn’t have to go to them, I wouldn’t. I didn’t like the way they made me feel nervous, the way they made me sweat, the way they made me feel just a little bit useless and stupid. I’d have been like Bill Hicks. But, I’m still here. So I’ve given up and given in. Though some amongst you may be aware that I did one advert in 1995 for some sweets called Fruitang. We did the advert as the World of the Strange characters. So, I guess I’m off the artistic roll anyways. That advert enabled me to afford driving lessons, at the age of 33, and also to afford a car; my little Ford Fiesta that I’m still driving now; yes, my car’s a teenager.

So, back to today. I had to be a tic tac man (the racecourse hand lingo, not the mints) for a tabloid newspaper ad. Everyone around me looked like a bookie from the racecourses. I wasn’t going to get this ad and so I resigned myself to stroking and playing with the dog. While all around me waved their arms like they were playing a demented game of Simon Says, I sat on the floor and communicated with the dog.

In the casting room, you face about ten people all there to watch you wave your arms around. They gave me a piece of paper with my name on it. You hold this up while they film you for an “ident”. I forgot to take mine in. I tried to make light of it but I felt hidden scowls. Once, at a casting years ago, I got so nervous that when I went up to shake the hand of the director, a man called Rock, I stood on his foot. Anyway, I waved my arms around a bit and then left. The odds on me getting this job?- for the tic tacs reading, crossed arms. For the none tic tacs- 33/1. It would be higher but that’s as high as tic tac goes.

I left and decided to kill some time in London time. Sometimes I pass the time, sometimes I waste it; but today was definitely a killing day.

In Winkworth’s, just by Ladbroke Grove station, the estate agents sit eating crisps.

Outside the Ivy photographers wait, ready to shoot. I stand for a moment to see who will come out. But then I realise that I could be in for a big disappointment; what if it was, say, Sid Owen? And so I walk away, knowing for sure that I hadn’t seen, say, Raquel Welch or Uri Geller.

I do the same thing outside Cafe Nero. A police van turns up and spills out its officers, straight into the cafe. That’s exciting. I wonder what’s going on? Well, I’m still wondering. I walked away. I think they were maybe all going in for coffees.

I go to Fopp and allow myself £10 worth of goodies. I buy two dvd’s; Funny Games (the Michael Haneke remake of his own film), The Assassination of Richard Nixon (Sean Penn); and a book, The Comedy Writer by Peter Farrelly (as in the Farrelly brothers). Not bad for £10. Oh, but then it goes hopelessly wrong. I get to the till and am tempted by their “sweets” display- I buy two more things; the special edition Deathproof soundtrack (why special? because it comes in a padded packet, like a car seat), and Sunday at Devil Dirt by Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan. Doh! Now I’d spent another £6. Still, at least I’m going to make a bit of money playing a tic tac- Doh again! Me and my bad memory.

That’s how I killed time. Now I’m off to pass time, playing pool for JFK Rejects. It’s cup night tonight and we are in the semi-final, facing JFK’s (the non-reject ‘A’ team). Come on the underdogs!

p.s. If this post seems a little moany, sorry. Yes, I don’t like castings, but when things work, it’s not a bad way to earn a living. There are worse things I could do.

8 Responses to “Cast Away aka Killing Time in London Town”

  1. Nigel Tomm said

    I’m Nigel Tomm and all I do is time killing.

  2. Darrell said

    Don’t be silly you’re not being at all moany. You’re hatred of castings is reminiscent of my hatred of submitting work to galleries, especially if I have give them a two thousand word piece on the concept of my work, or give them a long laborious description of my so-called career in the guise of a third person.

    Sadly, talented people are at the mercy of casting directors, gallery owners et al. Just don’t become one of them.

  3. Simon Hickson said

    Thank you Darrell. I’m glad you think I have a talent. I do. For communicating with animals. That’s why they call me Dolittle. I think.

  4. Andrea said

    I concur with Darrell, and can think of no more disheartening/nerve-wracking thing than going for constant auditions throughout one’s life. Or, indeed, laying one’s work out there for criticism/approval/acceptance in any form. But that aside: how did you get on in the cup?

  5. Simon Hickson said

    Sadly,we lost 7-4. At one point we were 6-1 down, but even so a loss is a loss is a loss etc. Still, losing semi-finalists is not too bad, and there may be some inevitability to JFK Rejects losing to JFK’s. I lost both my games.

  6. Darrell said

    See there’s a talent. And when Blackadder finishes doing Oliver! I see a Dolittle revival in the West End. You may have to go through the ultimate casting hell on prime time TV, with Norton and Lloyd-Webber, but think of you’re name up in lights on Shaftesbury Avenue. Or, it’s time to sharpen up the pool hustling skills

  7. Simon Hickson said

    Let’s combine the two. Hustler- the musical awaits. And I don’t want anyone getting the wrong end of the cue here.

  8. […] 27, 2009 I had a casting the other day. Better than the one I had a few weeks back, but I still won’t get it. That’s not being defeatist. I did a good job, I’d be […]

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