I mentioned a month or so ago that I went to an event called Write, Camera, Action - an excellent workshop which puts together writers, directors and actors, to work on a 5 minute script. At the end of it I e-mailed Linda, who organises it, to ask what you needed to do if you wanted to workshop a piece "for some time in the future,"I said. "I'm just enquiring for future reference," I said. Well, I'm not sure how it happened, but I managed to find myself on the schedule for the next WCA. Which is tonight. So I had to turn a scene from OLD DOGS into a script, to be worked on and acted in front of everyone as a mini-play. I chose a scene from the middle of the book. It's not giving anything away to say that after hours on a Saturday night, most the main characters end up in the museum where the gold dogs are on display. They're not all there for the same reason, but none of them are there honestly. Two of the characters are a pair of neds, who want the dogs so that they can finance the purchase of their own boozer. They are hiding in the toilets. At this point in the book the scenes cut between the characters quite quickly, so I took all the scenes in which they appear, changing it a bit, and made one scene out of it.
In the five page screenplay - although not in the book - to pass the time I have one of them pulling out a magazine called Big Jugs. Five minutes later the other one pulls out a copy of Butterflies and Moths. You can take props to Write, Camera, Action, so I decided I needed two magazines. I was going to get Ewan to go and get one of them for me (not Butterflies and Moths, obviously - that would completely destroy his street cred). Only I forgot. So that left me with a bit of an embarrassing lunchtime to look forward to.
I did ask a couple of male work colleagues if they would go for me. One of them just looked at me as though I was out of my mind. The other told me that he would do many things for me, but that buying dirty magazines was not one of them. So, no further forward, but with a face as red as a spanked bottom, I set off for a newsagents that I never normally go to. Operation Scud Mag was underway. Only to be abruptly aborted as I walked into the shop to be confronted by a group of schoolboys.
I turned tail and walked back out. There was another newsagents just along the road so I popped in there. Mercifully quiet this time. I glanced up at the top shelves. There was my target. Lock and load. I reached out an arm to pick something titillating off the shelf, when what did I hear but "Oh, hello, Donna. How are you?" Foiled by the wee woman from accounts.
"I'm...in the wrong shop," I said, and scurried out. Well, what are you supposed to say when you are caught in the act of buying porn? "I'm just in for my jollies"? "I only read them for the articles"? "Whatever happened to Big And Bouncy? I haven't seen that for ages"? No one was going to believe "It's for a play," so there was no way I was going to try that one.
My next try was in a newsagents I go to occasionally. "Awright, hen," said the shopkeeper. "The usual, is it?" I just nodded, and came out with a packet of extra strong mints and some Askits.
So I decided to go to the big W H Smith at Central Station, on the grounds that it would be anonymous and I could do a swift in and out mission. There are shelves and shelves of magazines in W H Smith. As I was trying to suss out what was what, I noticed a strange phenomenon. Women would walk over to the shelves, look briefly at what was on offer, then pick up the latest copy of Vacuous Celebrity or Woman and Kitchen or Let's Knit! and then head up to the counter to pay for it. Not so the men. They were all bloody standing around reading about football, or computers, or cars. Not buying the magazines, just standing there. Right in front of my porn.
But I now had my plan. A quick survey of the shelves for a Butterflies and Moths type magazine produced BUSES (which is, apparently, the world's biggest selling bus magazine since 1949 and came with a 16-page Diecast and Model Bus supplement. In other news, the Metroline Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer B27D is replacing the Dennis Dart SLF/Caetano Nimbus on route 35 and I unfortunately missed London Bus Day on April 18th). I picked up BUSES and walked over to put Operation Scud Mag into play. I pretended to be looking intently at the football magazines on the shelf below, then reached up an arm and pulled one off the shelf. Five bloody others fell.
Two men hurried to help a damsel in distress, saw what it was that had fallen and backed away in horror. "It's for a play." I mumbled, neatly replacing the fallen magazines by throwing them onto the top shelf, before scuttling off.
I got into the queue, hiding my new copy of Razzle in between the pages of BUSES. Then I hid Buses underneath my arm. I wasn't actually sure which one I was more embarrassed about buying. The counter was staffed by a bloke and a young girl. 'Please don't let me get him, please don't let me get him, please don't let me get him,' I prayed to the porn gods. "Next, please" said the male assistant. I plonked my magazines down on the counter. He looked at me as he picked up Buses and rang it through. I shrugged. His eyebrows raised as he picked up Razzle. "It's for a play," I said through gritted teeth. "Oh, aye, hen, I'll just bet it is." He didn't even give me a brown paper bag to put my shame in. Luckily, I'd brought my own, just in case.
To add insult to injury, when I got back to the office, the colleague who had looked at me as though I was mad said "Did you get it?"
"Can I get a wee look at it then?"