I spent a very uncomfortable night populated with fears of my inadequacies and dreams of being seen as a tart, the worst one with Simon and his family shunning me.
I needed to speak with someone who could give me a decent opinion or advice. I called Tom. It was seven in the morning and I’d been up prowling around the house for two hours.
I heard him yawn as he answered the phone. “Oh, Cathy, there’s nothing wrong is there?” Within moments I was in tears again and he waited patiently for me to recover enough to tell him my latest dilemma.
“You must do as you see fit, it’s your life and it’s your image that’s at stake, don’t let anyone else control you. You’re a natural enthusiast for your subject and anyone who isn’t equally enthused will either be deaf, dead or watching some other channel. You’re pretty enough, you don’t need to do sexy: you’re naturally sexy, just be yourself.”
We chatted a bit longer and he admitted he was finding things lonely in the house on his own. I promised to go and stay with him as soon as I could. I felt very guilty, I had used his position quite often to help with my little disasters and given him little in return.
“Our relationship is a bit one way isn’t it?” I said with a tinge of apology.
“Whatever do you mean?”
“You’re always doing things for me, and I do nothing for you, do I?”
“Apart from giving me a reason for living, no, not a lot.”
“What?” I was astonished at this.
“Having you as my surrogate daughter gives me a reason to be here. I look forward to your calls or visits. When you’re here, the house lives again, and so do I.”
“Daddy, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise…” the tears started again. “I’m sorry, I neglect you, I don’t deserve you or the help you give me.” This man had done more for me than my own father had ever done.
“Hey, don’t get all upset, I wasn’t laying guilt on you, I was trying to explain how I felt. You brought sunshine into my life after a long period of grey skies, that’s all I was saying.”
“Without your help, Daddy, I wouldn’t have lived this long, I’m sure of that.”
“Yes you would, you’re tougher than you think, mentally and physically. I just want to see you realise your potential, you have such a wealth of talent. Do your film, but do it your way.”
“I’m coming home tonight.”
“I thought you were filming.”
“I don’t care, I want to see you.”
“Leave it until the weekend. I don’t want you having an accident on my account. Come and cook me a Sunday dinner.”
I desperately wanted to hug this man, whom I loved so much as his surrogate child. I didn’t know if I could wait until Sunday. I’d also have to tell Simon. I showered and had some breakfast and called Alan.
“Erin told me you were wavering about the whole thing, I wondered if you’d change your mind again.”
“I feel I need to finish Des’ film, but not the way Erin suggested.”
“I suppose she told you I was a thief, did she?”
“Um, I um…”
“She did. Okay, I know she’ll draw up a contract that ties me like a straitjacket but I’d like to help you finish this film too. Des was a mate of mine, his stuff is good and we’ll make enough from it to make it worth my while.” I wanted to believe him, but I wasn’t sure if I could.
“She didn’t leave the contract.”
“Didn’t she? She said she’d seen you yesterday and you’d had a bit of an editorial discussion and agreed to differ. She also said you didn’t know if you were strong enough to present the film, she suggested she may need to get Julie Dixon to do it.”
“Julie Dixon! That trollop, I think Erin needs to remember whose film this is. It’s mine, at this rate I’m going to be looking for another agent.”
“I’d stick with her if I were you, she’ll get you a good price and loads of airtime.”
“So what are we going to do? Are we filming or talking?” I decided to move things up a notch.
“I’m ready when you are, sweetheart.”
“Right, at the woodland site in two hours?”
“I’ll be there.”
“So will I.” I didn’t say, ’sans sexy clothes and pout,’ but that was how it was going to be.
I dressed in green trousers and shirt, with a green jacket. I wore walking boots on my feet. I had a bra on, but it wasn’t a push up. I did my makeup, but it was very light. I packed my script and the equipment into the Mondeo, grabbed my handbag and locked up. An hour later, I was parking at the woodland site in the Forest of Dean. Alan was already there, and was setting up some of his equipment, he had a young man with him.
“Ah, here’s the star of the show,” he said to his companion. “Cathy Watts, this is Darren, who’s going to be our technical assistant.”
“Hi, Darren,” I said smiling at him, “What’s a technical assistant?”
“It’s jargon for gofer.”
“That’s me,” said the youngster.
“Are we paying him?” I asked quietly.
“Yeah, but I’ll sort that out,” Alan said adjusting a camera mount.
“Okay. I thought we’d do a quick recce and then decide where we’d do the shooting.”
“Fine with me.” He picked up a large camera on a tripod and put it back in the car, hiding it under a blanket. He double locked his car. I also locked mine.
We walked around the site for another half an hour; agreed where we’d film and then went back to the cars for the equipment. I’d made a flask of coffee, which we shared and then went to the shooting site. Alan did some checks for a few things including my voice, although he said we could always dub it later.
It was at this point I realised I’d left my script in the car. I was about to ask if Darren could go and get it, when Alan suggested I improvise, if it was rubbish, I could always dub over it afterwards.
“This is a patch of ancient woodland, it has a bank and a ditch which is probably medieval, the species of plant and tree are numerous and nearly all native species. Sadly, it’s now just a tiny remnant of the woodland which would have covered Southern England centuries ago, when bears and wolves also roamed these islands…”
I went on in this vein for several minutes before walking to a bush on the edge of the woodland and picking up several acorns under it, showed them to the camera. “These acorns show the unmistakeable presence of dormice.” Alan zoomed in and I pointed out the smooth edged hole around one acorn and a rough edged one around the other. “This is a hole gnawed by a field or wood mouse,” I showed the rough edged one. “This one has been eaten by a dormouse.” I held up the smooth edged one and Alan zoomed closer still.
He focused on the abundance of food in the woodland edge, hazel nuts, acorns, haws and of course until it gets colder, insects. I explained all this to the camera. I then pointed out a probable dormouse nest, suggesting that we came back later to see if it was occupied, when we’d need special night vision equipment.
“Okay, that’s enough, I’m knackered,” I said off camera.
“That was brilliant, Cathy.”
“I expect we’ll have to redo it or dub it.” I said, feeling less confident than my colleague.
“If we do, it’ll only be tiny bits. You’re a natural, kiddo and I suspect the script would get in the way, rather than help you. You talked about the woodland, the dormice, the other creatures. We’ve got some lovely sounds of blackbird and thrush, with robin and chaffinch, and great tit doing his bike pump bit in the background. If it’s going to be this easy, we’ll have the shooting finished in a couple of days—weather permitting.”
“I know a nice pub not far away, let’s go and get a bite to eat and I could do with a drink.” I hate to admit it, but a glass of wine felt more needed than the food.
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