Friday 15 February 2019
Reading time 03 minutes 56 seconds
“Disappointment haunted all my dreams” – (“I’m a Believer” The Monkees)
At the age of 10 I was destined for a part in the musical Bugsy Malone.
The version of the musical I was interested in was being staged by Mickey Dolenz, everyone’s third favourite Monkee, and I was going to attend the audition, get the part, leave school and be an actor. I had decided that once I was an actor in London’s West End it was only a matter of time before TV came knocking. First of all, Play For Today then I would be cast in some blockbuster movies with some time off to do a bit of Shakespeare at the National (depending on my endorsement schedule).
Back to the audition.
It was on a Sunday, which was perfect, and it was as if Mickey knew that it was my Dads one and only day off. I woke Dad around 7am although he didn’t seem as excited as me because the car had snow on it which meant both my Dad and his motor needed defrosting. Once on the road I sat in the back with my hand-held video game but the moment it went ‘beep’ Dad shouted at me and told me to turn it off. He was right of course as I would have a proper job by the end of the day. No more video games, I was 10 and it was time to grow up.
My Dad never swore unless it was absolutely necessary, and even then the worst thing he ever said was “Pox”, but as we approached he saw a very long queue and I learnt a couple of new words in that moment. We joined the back of the queue. Dad went off on an expedition and walked round the entire building to discover the entrance was a short way behind us, but we were at the very back. He estimated it would take about 6 hours to reach the front. Dad didn’t look pleased. He explained to everyone how long it was going to take and a few of them left. He’d have to convince thousands if he wanted to get to the front any quicker but he had little else to do so started on that task.
After about 4 hours and a queue movement of about 50 foot (thanks to Dad) he snapped. “POX. I’m going for a walk!”
He came back 10 minutes later and marched me not that far behind us to the front of the queue. My bottom lip was quivering, and I was on the verge of tears, but he strode purposefully up to security flashed a bit of paper and we were in. We’d just pushed in front of thousands. He explained that entry tickets were being handed out at the front and while he was walking past it got a little chaotic and Dad “managed” to get one. Wow. This guy was amazing.
I was called along with 50 others. What?! I thought they wanted to audition me?
We were put in a room and each asked to sing. I’d a gorgeous voice according to my Mum but only for the song Doctor Foster. Sadly, they didn’t know that one and we had to sing a ‘G’. I had no idea what that was, and they asked us to sing scales. Everyone bar me seemed to know the words and at the end a lady put an orange coloured sticker on me. All Orange stickers were to go next door. So long suckers.
Then came the dancing test. People had leg warmers and plimsoles, but I had a pair of trusty Clarks commandos. These idiots in their silly footwear, didn’t they realise the long-lasting damage they were doing to their feet with no arch support?
We shuffled, stepped, twirled, jumped and curtseyed. Everyone did this although I was the only one in time and earned another orange sticker. All Orange stickers were asked to go next door. So long suckers!
I wondered when we would get to meet Mickey?
A woman then spoke up and crushed me and the other Oranges so much that we could have been juice. She told us that sadly we hadn’t been selected and it was time to go home. She encouraged us to keep working hard and maybe next time we would be more successful.
I found my Dad. “That was quick” he remarked, “you’ve only been gone ten minutes!” He asked a woman he’d been chatting with what two Orange stickers meant. She whispered that I couldn’t sing or dance but I’m not sure why she tried to hide it as I’d just had this pointed out to me in a room full of other non-talented people. The rejection was crushing, and we travelled home in silence.
Hollywood would have to wait as I was going to school on Monday. It was a good job I’d only told everyone I knew. The 30 people in my classroom, the 200 in the rest of the school, and the teachers, and my nan. If this had happened right now I would have told my friends on Facebook and imagine how embarrassing that would be….
Picture: I ended up being a bell boy rather than an actor this is the only surviving picture