Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Optimist of Earl's Court


I was filming a short in Earl's Court over the weekend. As I sat in a cab, waiting to roll, a tanned middle-aged couple swept by chanting "British Laws for British People!" - I'm inferring the capitals - and waving "Leave" stickers like Madame Bertaux swinging the Tricolor. That is to say, jauntily. "No! No! Why?" I howled out of the cab window. The woman beamed as she headed out of view: "Yes! Yes! We should be able to write our own laws!" There was noone around to ask who she meant by "we".

Three hours earlier she and I had struck up a conversation in Philbeach Gardens. The crescent was plastered with "Remain" and "Leave" posters.* It was a quiet street. The woman was heading indoors with some purchases and had seen us filming. As we chatted I tried to maintain eye-contact through her shades and not let my gaze drift to the sticker in her window. She asked when she could see what we were filming, and I didn't know. I did know the short was part of some council initiative because I was getting very nicely paid for it (we weren't allowed to say anything nasty about the Royal Family in Brompton Cemetery, that was part of the deal.)
"So will this be on at the New Art Centre?" she asked.
I didn't know about any Art Centre. Apprarently - I didn't know this either - Earl's Court exhibition centre is no more. "But do you know what they'll be building in its place?" she confided, "Housing obviously, but - and we've been pushing very hard for this - Do you know Covent Garden? A Covent Garden! But here! A cultural centre. Here in Earl's Court."
"Crikey!" I offered "So... like... Covent Garden?" I was picturing gift shops fringed by gangsters dressed as floating Yodas.
"Yes. Or an Arts Centre or something. Wouldn't that be wonderful? We have two Tory councillors who are absolutely behind it all the way, and one Lib Dem who is proving a proper pain. Wants nothing to do with the redevelopment."
"So it would be..."
"A proper venue, a thousand seater. Because I mean they've got to put something. They can't just tear down Earl's Court. Everyone's behind it."
"And do you think it will happen?" I asked, trying to think of a precedent.
"Well they've got to."
"But do you think they actually will?"
"No," she corrected me, "They've got to."

Serena from make-up came over and asked to see what the lady was holding. I'd been so busy maintaining eye-contact I hadn't noticed the square, lacquered box. She opened it. A clock rocked between several brass hoops.
"It's a chronometer. Isn't it lovely?"
It was. My brain translated "time" and "meter"... "Oh wow. What's it for?"
"It's a chronometer."
"Is it like a clock? I mean, what would it have been used for?"
"Telling the time."
"But I mean, what's the difference between that and a clock?"
"I don't know. They had them on ships."

Three hours even earlier, I was hobbling down Earl's Court road in clogs and a dressing gown splattered with fake vomit, howling red-eyed into paving stones.
 
Speaking of the referendum, remember this from 2011?


*That would have been a good photo. I wish I'd taken it. I'm not supposed to share any photos of the shoot either, so accompanying this post instead is a picture Keeps took of what I did yesterday and where I did it, which is why I couldn't be at the polls today. Sorry, history.

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