Diary… Haggerston awaits its next big scene

Cutting edge drama unfolds on Kingsland Road



>> Got off the 243 bus at St Leonard’s Hospital, Haggerston, and five police officers had a big man pinned to the road.

As the cops wrestled to cuff him, the man kicked and screamed in protest.

Just as I aimed my camera at the dramatic scene, a squad car sped in to block the view and kill the shot dead.

The 243 was not likely to make it to the next stop (Laburnum Street) very soon.

243 bus in for a long wait…

>> At Headway HQ in Timber Wharf it was an early start on the short walk across Kingsland Road to the U7 Lounge for a film shoot with director/artist in residence @posyd.

The film is a 5-minute short to play at Headway’s upcoming ‘Common Threads’ week at the Autograph Gallery in Shoreditch.

Director Posy wants me and Chris to sit in a fake booth in a dingy basement bar having one of our normal stupid conversations.

Posy will capture this gripping exchange on camera.

So Chris and I sit pretending to sip coffee and talk about life before and after our brain injuries.

My role is to get Chris to jibber-jabber. He doesn’t need much help.

He retells his story about the 10-year-old child at the hotel swimming pool on the Isle of Wight.

Before we embarked on this outpouring of Method acting, Posy had given us a pep talk about some “narrative theories of survival” she had read about in a book loaned to her by Chris.

There were principally two, the author had argued: Transformation through Chaos, and Quest. I wondered a bit about Redemption, but let it slide in the interests of meaty drama.

Seated and fully immersed in my character (Mickey Rourke), I launch our scene by offering ex-science teacher Chris my ‘Proof of God’ pet syllogism.

From there the dialogue rolls on, with ease. Chris settles into his lead role and gets louder and louder as time goes on.

Miller & Mann…

We hardly notice Posy and her crew, which I guess is the idea.

Later, Chris said we must have come across like those two old fellas in ‘The Muppets’.

Statler & Waldorf…

I told him I wanted to be Mickey Rourke.

Being a film star (extra, actually; prop, probably) is quite boring.

At least in this permissive shoot, as professional as it undoubtedly was, I could wander around writing about it and taking pictures.

Lights, camera, mischief…

But in the ‘real’ film world, I bet that kind of behaviour is forbidden by some sneaky clause in fine print saying all the actors are allowed to do is get bored shitless waiting for the next shot.

No wonder so many of them end up as congenital fuckups.

After me and Chris came Sam, who has great stories, then Cecil, who is a legendary tale-teller.

Later was Dolores, Affiong and Yoki, all superstars I will gladly pay tribute to in my Oscar speech…

…Even though I was actually the only makeweight in the whole cast and felt like an imposter throughout.

Film-making is very hierarchical. Here there was a team of technical creatives plus a few people buzzing around with clipboards asking us if we wanted more tea or croissants.

But we got to see another side of Posy. Posy The Boss. In charge. Pointing, waving, instructing.

But also sitting quietly, watching, listening.

And in our case, only “directing” us when absolutely necessary.

Otherwise, invisible.

I think the Chris/Billy element might have been meant to look like one of the booth scenes in American movies where men are somehow only able to properly talk to one another when seated in a diner with a cup of cawfee in front of them. 

We got a free lunch out of it (burger, chips, salad) and as many biscuits and pastries as we could stomach.

And hopefully Headway will get an Academy Award-winning short film about a few of its members, their stories and the importance of the work that goes on at Timber Wharf.

I still want to be Mickey Rourke.

>> Later on TV we watched the first in a new series of ‘This Country’, which was, as always, very special.

My wife tells me it is the third and final series because the actors who make it are now too well known to evesdrop on unsuspecting people, which was the source of the show’s dialogue.

◾Read yesterday’s diary.