6 April 2013.
Big story of the week this end was asking Barbara Windsor out for a Chinese. Next biggest story of the week was being politely turned down re. the Chinese by Barbara Windsor. More on that later. In third and most painful place is the tragic tale of the New Doc Martin’s.
Not wishing to wax overly erotic, since about 2005 I have been prone to suffering from corns on the sole of my right foot (restrain yourselves, girls). Those of you who enjoy a corn or two will understand the horror of this, but for the blissfully uninitiated, having one of the little buggers down there feels roughly the same as treading on a lego brick. Except, of course, that this is a vile subcutaneous lego brick which follows you around and is there on every step. Mmmmmmmmmm.
Chiropody is a great and glorious thing, and my man Jonathan at the Happy Feet clinic in Bushey really knows his way around there with a Swann-Morton number 11, and does a commendable job in keeping things at bay. However, in the War On Corns, your biggest ally is a good pair of shoes. With its air cushioned sole and construction akin to the Normandy U-Boat pens, the bog standard Doc Martin’s lace-up Copper’s Special is the chap you need, and I’ve worn a pair of these every day since about 2005 and a half. From 2009 until last Tuesday, it has been the same pair. Roughly one thousand days of continuous wear-an amazing feat for shoes.
Some of you may have noticed the recent five months of rain, which means a lot of puddles. I noticed on Monday that the right shoe was taking on water, and listing a bit to port, in a similar way to those pictures you see of the Ark Royal going down off Gibraltar. Realising that their time had come, I made all the necessary arrangements for them to have a fitting warrior’s funeral. I am currently putting the finishing touches on a miniature Viking longboat in which I plan to push them out, ablaze, on the first leg of their journey to Valhalla over the canal at the bottom of the field by the cricket pitch.
Out with the old, in with the new. I had to go into London’s glittering West End on Tuesday to meet with an agent and a client for a big do in the Waldorf. I reasoned that I could pick up a new pair of Doc’s on the way, and break them in a bit on the site visit. Duly purchased, they looked great, and all ready for the thousand day ordeal which they were now in for at the hands of my feet. Clearly, these were not giving up without a struggle. By the time I’d walked from Covent Garden to the Waldorf, an almighty distance of tens of yards, and in spite of the best efforts of my Nice Thick Sensible Socks, most of the skin on my heels was now missing, and with every step it felt as if the thingy which Boy Scouts have to get stones out of horses’ hooves was being jabbed in with a considerable degree of gusto by one of Satan’s little helpers. The meeting came and went in a welter of wincing and sweating, but I think I managed to hold it together enough to get the business done. Either that or I just came over as servile with a twist of bonkers. I had to get a cab back to Euston, and luckily Her Indoors was able to meet me at the other end. After immersing the bottoms of my legs in greek yoghurt for the rest of the evening, the agony had abated long enough for clarity of thought to re-establish, and so I set about the heels of the new Doc’s with a pair of pliers, to soften them up in anticipation of round 2, assuming that my feet grow back.
My job mainly consists of walking around, lifting and carrying, standing up, driving, shouting and occasional bursts of operating musical instruments. As luck would have it, work on Wednesday through to Friday consisted largely of just standing up, with a bit of shouting except for doing a spot of teaching at The Gables, where I had to swallow my pride and walk around barefoot like some ghastly ageing hippie. Horrid. I was tempted to knock a bit off the fee, but sense and greed prevailed. The Standing Up And Shouting part of the week’s work actually was in the course of the fulfilment of one of my great life ambitions- I was to be the Musical Director for a television game show. Well, nearly. I was actually going to MD a TV advert which was going to be shot as a game show, and then cut up into little snippets to form an ad campaign. The ad was for an online bingo business called Jackpot Joy, the face of which is, of course, the great Barbara Windsor.
I don’t want to sound like a hideous showbiz nonce, but Barbara is really really lovely. An absolute gem, who, unusually actually likes musicians! She spent quite a lot of time in the quiet moments of the shoot chatting to us chaps in the band about her times on the road with Ronnie Scott’s band in the fifties. As we were planning to go out for a Last Night Of The Run (I know The Run was only three days long, but the insular effect of the showbiz life comes on quickly) trip to the Chinese after the downing of tools on Friday, I asked if she’d like to come. I asked Barbara Windsor Out! Bless her, she apologised and said couldn’t come because she had to go out for posh dinner with the producers and the money men. That doesn’t matter. I still asked her out. I’m up there with Sid James.
Apart from the searing pain from the feet, the TV work was fabulous. A real rare treat for us is to just be able to leave the gear when we finish and say stuff like “See you tomorrow”. I enjoyed trying to follow the script in order to count off the various musical cues, and it was really rewarding when we timed an entry so that it started right on the button, and finished neatly when the contestant or whoever had walked to the right mark on the set. More of that please! If that wasn’t enough glee, the Wardrobe Department had decided to go for Maximum Fun by kitting us out in gaily coloured shirts (I had a pink one) and whimsical headgear (I had the prince of hats, the Fez). Here’s a shot of Matt Regan and Ian Laws locked in a typically intellectual musicians’ conversation on set to give you an idea. I believe they were discussing how the middle bit of “Nut Rocker” was going to go, if memory serves.
Tomorrow, I have to play three hours of Trad Jazz outdoors in the rain and then put together the big band gig at Ronnie’s. Probably in my slippers. A quiet week next week, thank the Lord, so maybe some interesting developments on the Seaplanes Of The Axis Powers diorama for next time.