Chapter Number 18
Monday, I was up like a lark. The person who spoke to me on the telephone last week about making a television series telephoned to tell me they were due to arrive that day at 11am. Hastily, Lance and I double-checked every room was in a pristine condition and opened all the windows and doors to blow through the awful smells left behind from a myriad of colognes and after shaves that seem to linger on forever.
Fortunately what guests there were for the Saturday had all gone home on Sunday morning, so we had been able to get all the housekeeping done by the end of the day.
Right on time the television people arrived - six of them in two taxis from the station. Peering through the curtains, Lance and I watched them as they stood around on the pavement glancing up at the roof. One of them was taking photographs of the outside of the building from every conceivable angle, whilst the others were in a huddle and in deep in discussion, occasionally looking and pointing up the road and then down the road.
Eventually they rang the doorbell, and I rushed to let them in to get them off the street. On opening the door I noticed the net curtains were twitching over the road, and Cynthia, next door, had decided it was a good time to busy herself with mopping down her front steps.
Directing them all to my dining room, whilst Lance went to put the kettle on and find some biscuits, I was in awe at the friendly but professional approach of the group. With no prevarication, they got straight down to business. The offer was as I was told on the telephone last week: full payment for all the rooms for the rest of this season, and again for the whole of next season. The first payment would be advanced within the next two weeks. In return I would just have to look after the proposed guests as I normally would. It was important, they explained to me, that no-one in the area knew that the guests were on a pre-release holiday from a detention centre.
There would only be six at a time anyway, and they would always be accompanied by two officers from the relevant detention centre. None of them would be sex offenders or violent, I was assured. Phew! That's a relief, I can remember thinking - presuming they were referring to the inmates! Apparently, once rooms had been allocated to the lads and the two officers, all the rest of the rooms would be used up by the film crew.
Naturally there would be some modifications and changes made to accommodate all the cameras and lighting equipment, I was told. Possibly they might need to scruff-up the place just a tad for realism, but this would be up to the artistic director. Any changes made would, of course, be rectified by them at the end of next season.
They will take sole charge of the whole of the premises, assuming complete responsibility, so I will have no worries at all. It sounded really great, and I could not wait to sign the agreement, which thoughtfully had already been prepared. After an hour or so of them looking over the property, and all agreeing what a wonderful place it was, they departed telling me that a small production team would be arriving later on in the week to make detailed plans and arrangements. I should have a couple of rooms ready for them to leave their equipment in.
The production team duly arrived on the Thursday. There was the director and two assistants, an artistic director, the set accountant with yet another assistant, a senior cameraman and another two assistants, a first and second grip - and would I not like to get a grip on one of those! - a best boy, who just happened to be as ugly as sin, a set designer, and at least four other un-identified guys armed with machines. They began by checking my lighting and electrics, and measured every nook and cranny. Every now and again they would tap the walls, muttering to each other, and I could hear one of them say something like: “That will have to go,” or: “We can pull that down to get through here,” and then they would scribble away madly in the huge notebooks that each of them carried.
After nearly all day of suffering them tramping around my place, they called me for a further meeting to discuss their needs for when the filming actually starts. It was a bit of a shock, really: they will have to knock down my backyard wall in order to get a crew catering van and an electricity generator in, and they intend to put up steel girders across both the dining room and the lounge to accommodate their lighting and cameras.
A number of cables will also need to be fitted, and these will run along the ceilings, up the stairs, through the corridors, and into each of the guests' rooms for more lighting and cameras. They propose putting my dining room and lounge furniture into storage, thus enabling them to use some older furniture and a pool table supplied by their props department, so it looks like the only living area left for me will be my basement bedroom. The only good news is, because of something to do with Equity or the likes, the crew will be completely catering for themselves by using the catering van parked in the yard.
Anyway, they want to have the first group in to make a pilot film within the next three weeks, before going full-steam ahead at the start of next season. I'm finding it all a bit of a rush, really - I was hoping to just lie about and watch them setting the place up for the rest of the year. Still, it is only for a week, so it shouldn’t be too bad.
With Lance shortly going off with his new-found friend, I had been hoping my profile on the dating site would have produced more response. Perhaps my log in name: “darrylfromsouth” is just a bit confusing. I may need to think of some other way to attract a partner. After all, I should soon have a lot more time on my hands.
I managed to get to see Julian and Tristan during the week and tell them the news, except I omitted mentioning the sort of guests it was being filmed, just saying they were young men on outward bound course holidays. Julian and Tristan became very excited and wondered if they could help me in the kitchen, or with the cleaning of the rooms, if I got too busy when the filming started proper next season. They even offered to sleep over if necessary. How kind they are, I thought.
You have to hand it to these two guys - not literally, of course! - they have decided that the S & M scene was just a bit too heavy-going for them so, still smarting a bit, they have thought up another new idea. This would involve much less work and drama than the running the Nudist Art Weekends, as well as being much safer for them. They are thinking along the lines of offering “Holistic Touch Weekends”. These would be, they pointed out, a great draw to the less dress-conscious, or even the desperately shy or the particularly ugly.
They could come along for a weekend where they, with care and respect, were allowed to fondle each other, and the hosts, in a nice but refined and gentle way, with the rules being that no items of clothing were ever to be removed or opened - well, at least not in the public areas. Tristan and Julian thought they could quite easily get it all going by encouraging the guests to have a fondle as they arrived, and reminding them they would always be around to be fondled at any time, although groping would be out of the question.
They were currently researching where to advertise this new service for maximum impact. Of course, they emphasised, the wording would have to be very discreet. Maybe, they thought, something along the lines of suggesting these were holistic touch weekends for men only where they could get to know each other spiritually via the energies transmitted through the hands. They could even charge more for the spiritual angle, and guessed it might appeal to all sorts of groups such as gay older stamp collectors, train spotters, lonely hearts clubs, and Masonic lodges.
With this in mind, they were looking for the names of the magazines these groups might read, and thought perhaps putting a notice in the reading rooms of various libraries around London might be worth the day out!
Over the last couple of weeks they hadn’t fared too well business-wise, and had soon spent all the money from their last event. Now they had to consider selling the harp in order to pay their rates this month. Last weekend Julian spent time late at night trolling along the sea front, and under the pier, to see if he could attract anyone that may not have managed to find a hotel for the night.
He had returned quite
dejected after all he got were offers from others to give him a service,
and adding insult to injury they had wanted him to pay for it. Now he had
come to the conclusion the area was definitely going downhill.
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