I slept the sleep of a drunkard. The irritating phone burst of Wagner lurched me into the waking world. It was 0925 and Tom was calling.
Having spoken to him (my voice hoarse from an alcohol-blurred sleep), I concluded that he called for two reasons:
To tease me (my drunken desire for drugs and group sex);
To tell me of the open call to audition that was happening in Soho.
My brain was too raddled by sleep to respond to his provocation. The women may have been Australian. I may well have been very drunk. But I’d seen Tom in similar situations. And one of the Aussie girls possessed a terrific knowledge of Russian Literature. I’m not shallow, Reader. I can see beyond the prosaic.
I only managed a grunt in response to Tom’s auditional revelation. His agent told him that it wasn’t suitable for Tom’s style (Tom had an agent – think about this), so Tom thought it right and proper to let me know ‘considering that I was broke and out of work and a loser’.
I ended the call. Nobody gets to call me a loser without reaction. The details of rehearsal had, however, been secreted in my bedside notebook.
He told me that the doors of audition-house didn’t open until 1300, so I shut my eyes and fell back to sleep.
It was dark. I was walking London alone. I was on a long road. I wore Wellington Boots. White stone buildings grew high on each side of me. There was a loud explosion. I couldn’t locate where it originated. The street was empty of both cars and people. My mobile phone began to ring. Caller display showed that it was my old English teacher, Dr Jones, ringing. I did not answer.
I woke in a cold sweat at 1130. Showered, shat and shaved, I was in town by 1230. I’d consulted www.streetmap.co.uk, before leaving the flat, and so the location was a synch to find. The building stood on a side-street in Soho - a three-storey detached house. There were signs attached to the place’s red metal fence (‘Project X auditions’), but no human presence.
A few London losers moseyed up and down the road behind, but none showed interest in the London townhouse in front of which I stood.
I tried the door. Its wood was red. Its red was gloss. The handle was large, golden, round and set dead central. I pushed, I pulled; the door was locked.
There was a doorbell, under which (where there should have been a name) there was written ‘Do Not Ring’. I pressed the button.
Dully inside, I heard an electronic buzz.
Three minutes of waiting and the door remained closed.
Gay Tom’s time-information could have been flawed. I decided to visit The Three Greyhounds. There I could drink beer. This would be a ‘good thing’, as alcohol calms the nerves (I wasn’t nervous). I would take half an hour to drink one pint of lager. I might read a paper. Something undemanding. I might even eat a packet of peanuts.
When the half an hour of pubtime had elapsed, I would jog back to auditionbuilding. Hopefully, there might then be some ACTION.
This was the plan.
It almost worked.
I did read a paper. It was The Star. I had a packet of chilli peanuts. They were delish – why? The piquancy of chilli seasoning balanced well the tart taste of peanut. I drank two pints of lager. This was not intentional. The Czech barmaid (large nose, bleached hair) misheard my damned order.
Extra lager meant extra time spent in smoke-filled pub (strangely smoky, actually, as I was the only customer). I left after forty-eight minutes. My face was smiley, my belly full of lager and peanuts. I decided that going to the pub had been the correct decision. The extra alcohol had even alleviated the nagging headache from night previous.
The house of audition was two sides of a triangle away.
My head popped! There was a line of losers at the corner of the house’s road! They weren’t in a huddle. They weren’t moving. They were queuing!
I studied the people with the eyes of a student (e.g. studious) as I strode towards the congregation.
They appeared as if they could be waiting for audition. A few looked like me (cool and handsome, but artistic too). Some looked like drama students (stupid) and sounded like drama students (shrill and stupid). Some looked like Harry Potter fans (peaked magician caps and glasses). There was also a worrying sprinkling of tall, hairy men.
Reader, I sighed. Beer had done for me once again.
Why hadn’t I waited? Why did I go to the pub?
Two tall women were gabbling excitedly at the back of the queue. One was ugly, the other ugly. I can’t bother do describe them, Reader. They were ugly. One had her hair pulled back from acne-ridden forehead in a tight pony-tail. And my height reached only their nipples. They were tall, ugly sorts. Tugly.
I asked them if they queued for the audition.
“No,” said the ugly one. “We enjoy hanging around Soho streets.”
Sodding sarcastic students.
“Like dirty whores?” I said.
The ugly one raised a middle forefinger to me and said she’d give me another black eye.
I walked past them, along the three deep, 50(?) long queue that snaked around the pub street.
At the point that the queue bent around the corner, I turned and surveyed the road.
Yes. This was the wait for the audition. The whole pavement was packed with people, right up until it hit the townhouse that, fifty minutes earlier, I was waiting alone outside. It was a distance of 100 people-packed yards. Like a line for a popular nightclub (Fabric), it was.
I swore. A Harry Potter turned and shook his disapproving head.
Shoulders hunched, I traipsed to the end of the line.
And, already, six more had joined at the point of ugly women that had marked the queue’s conclusion only a few minutes beforehand. I fell in behind them, leaning against the plain brick wall of corner house. As the anger at the spontaneity of queue formation dissipated, a realisation of the ignorance of the part I was auditioning for grew.
I tapped the back of the bloke in front. He turned with extreme speed. He wore a T-shirt with ‘Marillion – probably the best band in the world’ printed violently across green chest region. His black hair was short. His chin was wonky – as if someone had spent years pulling lower jaw right, whilst upper jaw was edged left. It was a disconcerting look.
“Stop staring at my jaw,” said the man and I apologised.
After apology, I asked for details of the film for which I was auditioning. The man asked me if his chin was really that noticeable, I lied that it wasn’t and he gave me the S.P.
This was a rip-off of the Harry Potter series. It was to be the first film that didn’t use a Rowling novel as its source. Harry was now a 25 year old. He had retired from sorcery and lived in a bachelor pad in Bermuda with some sexy witches. He’s pulled back into action when an evil wizard threatens to take over the world with some wicked spell or something.
I told the wonky-chin guy that I’d audition for the part of Harry Potter. He laughed and said that I wasn’t good-looking enough. Anger sparked inside my brain.
“And you are? I suppose you’ll be going for the part of some monster. With that chin of yours, I mean,” I said.
He told me to piss off and turned his back.
During this exchange, I hadn’t noticed the queue build up behind me. We hadn’t moved forward, yet ten more people had appeared at my bum.
“Oy, you want some of this?” said one of these newcomers, and offered me a crooked joint.
I considered his offer for a few seconds.
Marijuana might help me relax (I wasn’t nervous) and free me from self-conscious inhibition, I reasoned. I took the roll-up from his hands (I noticed dirt under his fingernails) and took a deep puff.
Instantly I felt as if my brain had been scooped from my skull and thrown into a deep ocean, miles away (the Atlantic?). I coughed a cloud of white, acrid smoke. I leant back against the wall and asked the guy what it was because it wasn’t weed.
“Crack,” came his reply. “You want some more? I’ll do you a good deal.”
I shook my head very slowly and handed back the dirty joint.
“Too bad,” came the guy’s reply and he bounced off.
Mind reeling, I followed his progress – he walked further up the queue and offered the ugly girls the joint. They told him to fuck off. That he did, round the corner. He was no hopeful actor. He was a drug-dealer.
Reader, my brain bent. I felt as if I’d instantly consumed twenty pints of cider.
I waited in the queue for three hours and twenty five minutes. I possess little memory of that time. I recall marvelling at the brownness of the world. I remember staring at the wonky-chin-guy’s hair in front and being quite bowled over by how wonderful hair is. I have a dim recollection of having my details taken by a woman with a clipboard in the house’s reception. I do recall sitting in a red hallway waiting to be called into an audition room.
Cogent memories begin like this –
I’m sitting in a chair opposite a long, oak table. Behind this long, oak table sit three people. At the right is a woman with spiky black hair and a vinegary face. In the middle is a fat, bearded guy (a bit like a ‘Just for Men’-using Father Christmas). At the left was a tiny woman.
They did introduce themselves to me, but I forget their names and roles. I suppose one was the director and the others producers? I don’t know.
I do, however, remember their questions with clarity. Why? Because there weren’t that many of the bastards and my answers were all excruciatingly embarrassing.
Man: And your name?
Man: And which role will you be auditioning for?
Kay: Ummmm….. Harry Potter?
Man: The characters we are casting today are listed on the paper you’re holding. Harry isn’t one of them.
He was right, I was holding a piece of paper. There were three names printed upon it. There was no further information. Ogland. Pete. Subranna.
As one, all three leant back in their chair.
Man: Well … alright.
He threw a script at me.
Man: Start. I’ll read Ogland.
Pete’s lines were growling animal noises. Nothing more. I wished that I’d chosen Subranna. Man interrupted after my first growl.
Man: You’re aware that Pete is an eight-foot dog/human hybrid?
Man: How tall are you?
Kay: Five foot ten.
Man: Do you want to start again?
The line said ‘growl’. I growled. The spiky-haired woman interrupted.
Woman: Stop. Kay, what made you audition for Pete? Why not Subranna?
A high-pitch laugh burst from my mouth. This (inappropriate) behaviour was due to the crack. The tiny woman (she had tiny glasses and bobbed black hair) spoke.
Tiny woman: Have you read the character descriptions?
Tiny woman: Describe Subranna to us.
Kay: He’s a man?
Man: Thanks for stopping by. On your way out, could you tell the next person to come in? Thanks.
I would have felt disappointed, but I was still high on crack.
I bought a burger on the way home. That semi-sorted me out. I walked from Lewisham to Outer Blackheath to fully sort me out. And, thankfully, the effects of the crack did dissipate. However, my narcotic high was gradually replaced by the wrench of depressed disappointment. The drugs had sparked the dying embers of yesterday’s hangover – and once more I headached.
On Lee High Road, I noticed a man with a dog walking towards me.
But this wasn’t any dog. This was Dog! The dog I’d saved.
The guy walking Dog was an elderly sort. He wore a flat-cap and used a walking-stick. I watched them creep close to me with quasi-smile. As soon as Dog was close enough to touch, I bent down and felt him.
His owner whacked my head with his walking stick. I fell instantly to the pavement, shoulder striking floor with sharp pain.
“Help! Help! Mugger!” yelled the man.
As I staggered to my feet, avoiding the repeated thrusts of his violent walking stick, I noticed a gang of twenty metre away bus-stopped children react to the old man’s screams. They had stopped graffiti-ing the bus timetable and had began to run towards us (me, man and dog). I turned-tail and (dog) legged it.
It was in a lingerie shop in Lewisham shopping centre that I finally lost the kids. I hid behind the oversized bras. And so what?
Such was my depth of my funk, I took a cab back to flat, even in the knowledge that such expense was wildly profligate.
I lay on sofa on returning to flat, my head throbbing through combination of crack, hangover and stick-attack.