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.