Chapter Number 20
This last week has seen the lovely Lance leaving with his new friend, the butch lorry driver who is also a cross-dresser. Now I have no one to drool over anymore. Lance had brought him round once, in his drag. He was a thick-set guy who sported a beehive blonde wig.
I could clearly see the hairs from his chest peeking through a sort of lace top to the dress he wore, and the bright red lipstick, just a bit smudged at the corners and with hints of it on his teeth, gave him a rather frightening smile. His choice of a short leopard-skin dress did tend to show his varicose veins even through the thick stockings, and I could not help noticing that the zips had burst open on his off-white snow boots so that white laces, which he informed me had been dipped in that glitter stuff, were now cleverly holding them together.
In fairness I did congratulate him on his look, but asked why he had not shaved off some of the visible hair, especially from the back of his huge hands with the pork sausage-shaped fingers. He told me he was reluctant to because of the flack he might get back in the transport depot. Shame, really!
As they left I got the idea that Lance really wasn’t so keen on going off with this guy after all, but he had committed himself to it. He was one that clearly enjoyed the freedom to explore himself, and had done that by helping me with all the renovations. Now he was disappointed he would not be around to see the filming.
The young lad that we had picked up on our journey back from Blackpool Pride with his huge rucksack and an even bigger hold-all was leaving me, the person he had chosen to stay with for a while, but now with a mountain of dresses, shoes, wigs and make up bags too. It was a sad moment. With lots of hugs, and promises to come straight back if things did not work out, I hoisted him up into the cab of the lorry and watched as he was driven away. I do hope it works out for him.
Some of the film company crew arrived early in the week and I was given a very nice cheque to cover payment for the rest of the season. The generous proportions of the cheque allowed me to immediately pay all my commitments for the next six months. At least now I shall have no worries about paying my debts for a long while, and anything else I can earn in the meantime - perhaps by way of sneaking the odd guest in if the film crew aren’t around - will be my spending money.
As the week went on, more and more film crew arrived. Along with them came all the set builders and technicians, and this created an enormous amount of interest from the neighbours - especially when some of my new furniture was taken out and old dilapidated replacements brought in. The wall separating my yard from the back alley was demolished and, after an hour or so of a lot of shouting, pushing and shoving, the crew's catering trailer was finally squeezed into the yard - but only just!
Inside the property the workmen knocked holes through the lounge wall into the dining room and erected two huge girders. From these now hang mountains of camera and lighting equipment. At one point, in a panic, I rushed to see the set director after noticing the guys in the bedrooms were writing graffiti all over my new wallpaper and were even tearing bits of it away from the corners. Others there were using a paint spray can to age the window frames and my nice white ceilings.
The set director pointed me in the direction of the set accountant who, rather curtly I thought, explained it was all in the contract I had signed, but I should not worry as it also stipulated they would put everything back exactly as they had found it. He assured me every part of the premises had been filmed prior to them wrecking it, and he even handed me a copy for my own reference. The old tart then asked me to stay out of the way of the film crew, telling me I would be summoned if or when I was required. Now whenever I walk around some queen will tut and then ask me not to for fear of mucking up the set, so all I can do is retire to my bedroom in the cellar.
That I have had to fill with all the things I don't want them getting their hands on, including my antique child’s coffin with the porn mags inside. Never mind, I continue to remind myself, I have the money and it all will be put back right in the end. I might as well enjoy it. At least I can still use the front lounge for a few days to have a cup of tea in.
The telephone has not stopped ringing with locals wanting to know what is going on and, as I have been instructed to by the film company, I have had to lie by telling people it is all to do with the production of one of those DIY makeover series. I can’t help noticing that Cynthia next door is dressed-up to the nines every day now, and that Celia and Sonja, who have the rest home on the other side of the road, are wheeling their residents out daily to the front of their property to take the sun where they can watch what is going on.
All the wheelchairs look as if they have had a makeover too, with polished chrome wheels and spotless black plastic armrests. Of course the excitement didn’t last long before the old scroat who has the guest house directly opposite me, the one who spends her life looking out from behind her net curtains for possible guests and should she spot one will be seen rushing out onto the pavement and almost tugging them towards her door, complained to some local business group that she belongs to about all the activity and noise in the road, saying it was disturbing her guests and lowering the tone of the area.
It was not long before I received a visit from the chairperson of this group: The Southtrend Urban Business and Residents Association, accompanied by the secretary. The chairperson, a Belinda Parsons no less - I have seen her in the local paper, apparently knows and gets on well with all the bigwigs in the town hall, and she also chairs several tourism-type groups. A keen and dedicated kind of person, she has even been seen to help push-start the odd coach with a problem in the bus garage. She is a very elegant, well-dressed woman in her late thirties with an electric vibrancy, a vivacious smile, and a personality to match. Leaning forward, as if to divulge a confidence, she explained the person who had complained was one of those who never did anything for the association, that is other than turn up occasionally at a meeting to complain about the bins not being emptied on time, or about men blatantly holding hands in the street, and always to demand to know what the association was doing about getting more guests for her.
“Don’t worry about it at all, Darryl," Belinda said, after hearing my explanation for the filming about to happen. "Quite apart from showing what could be done to these old properties with some DIY, I’m interested in just what a great boost this could be for tourism in Southtrend-On-Sea."
Naturally she wanted to meet the film director and the producer, and to be shown around. Happily I introduce her to them, and whilst she was having her tour the secretary of this association, Donald Duckworthy - what were his parents thinking of? - told me that Belinda, like all the members of the association, was a business owner. She had run a very successful tourist caravan site on the old gasworks ground behind the fun fair until most of it was destroyed by fire after one of the holidaymakers had, against all the rules, started a barbeque. Fortunately with the insurance payout she had been able to buy a large hotel on the seafront. Now she just leases it out, so giving her more time to spend on her various projects, and with her husband, he being a self-employed steel-erector and golfing fanatic.
“You may remember seeing in the papers and on television,” Donald went on to say, “one of Belinda’s great crusades a couple of years ago when she wanted the council to stop removing the whelk and cockle stalls from along the sea front."
He explained the council, in their wisdom, were at that time removing these stalls in order to comply with EEC directives about contamination. The weight and descriptions of a portion of whelks, winkles, muscles, eels, shrimps, and cockles etc. also left much to be desired by the EEC. However this type of seafood had been bought here for decades, first by the holidaymakers from London and the crowds that arrived in the charabancs from the hop fields of Kent, and later by tourists of a much wider origin. Seafood had always been a great draw for Southtrend, and it provided much employment and colour. People would come here and buy a few bottles of beer and then pick up a plate of whelks on the front before putting knotted handkerchiefs on their heads and spending the afternoon lazing around in deckchairs on the beach until the pubs reopened.
Belinda had drawn the attention of the media to the loss of all this to the resort, and the resultant effect it was having on local businesses in general. An article she wrote for the local paper was syndicated and soon the national press took it on board too, along with several television news programmes. The upshot of all this was that very quickly this became news all around the world, and Belinda found herself having to spend a whole day either on the promenade or sitting in a deckchair on the beach whilst many news teams from around the globe jostled to hear her story and filmed her tucking into a plate of whelks.
By the end of the day, and positively green from the many takes and retakes which had resulted in her eating enough whelks to last a lifetime, she had provided an enormous publicity stunt for Southtrend-On-Sea. Since then she has continued to work tirelessly for the town, pushing to smarten it up and to bring in new businesses. Her latest campaign was for a new mega-conference centre and amusement park complex.
I learned that Donald was formerly an entertainer on the London stage, but had been the secretary of this group since it started many, many years ago. He and his partner, Arthur, ran the Fell Climbers Hostel. On seeing my smile he went on to explain that they mostly took in the normal holidaymakers. The choice of name had been deliberate and was used to advertise in the Fell Walkers Gazette as an alternative place to come for the older fell walkers who could not do the hills anymore, and for a while it had seemed to work quite well.
The man was a consummate reader and also a bit of an intellectual, collecting over the years a vast library of newspapers and magazines that filled almost two of his bedrooms and the cellar. Ask him anything and he would have the answer. A person of routine, he could be seen at strictly the same time every morning and evening walking his dog, one that from a distance more resembled a small donkey.
On finishing her tour, and inviting the senior personnel of the film crew to a garden party next Sunday along with me and my friends: Raymond and Robin, Belinda took her leave with Donald, promising to ensure that Southtrend would get as much publicity for the accommodation owners as she could muster. I felt, as she left, it was like closing the door on a whirlwind!
A few hours later, Julian and Tristan arrived - just to be nosey really, but nevertheless they were welcome. As I could not let them upstairs they stayed glued to their seats by the open lounge door. With big smiles and limp handshakes they spoke to everyone from the film crew as they passed by, ooing and arring and finding everything said by the crew, however trivial, to be either outrageously funny, amusing, or fantastically interesting. Rather cheekily too, I thought, they didn't waste a moment in promoting their own place, stating the obvious that is was for “friends of Dorothy”.
They told me the fondling weekend had turned out to be a major flop. No one had actually booked, and now even more desperate for some income they were thinking of trying a butt plug weekend. It transpires there are quite a few people they know, and they feel there must be others too, that like to wear these accessories all the time. They already had a few themselves, and in various sizes, so they could assist by helping the guests try out different sizes and shapes. What they must do, they insisted, was to ensure that a piece of string was always securely threaded through them to avoid them getting lost.
That had happened to Julian some years ago, and all the doctors and nurses from the whole of the A&E department had stood around in obvious great mirth to watch it being removed. It was just so embarrassing, really embarrassing, he complained. I did try to point out that if their guests were naked during these “fittings” and were themselves of the more overweight type there could at the slightest hint of flatulence, or when someone might just bend over to pick something up, be a potential problem with ricocheting butt plugs. They considered that momentarily, and then agreed they might still need to give this idea some more thought.
Julian, ever so casually, then suggested that with all the camera and lighting equipment now in my place, they knew of someone who dabbled in the making of porn films. This person was always on the lookout for new locations and would probably jump at the chance of being able to film indoors. He had no lighting equipment of his own and usually shot all his material in the woods around Billericay. This was fine during the summer, but he had a lot of trouble finding actors willing to strip off and perform from autumn onwards.
In December and January it was absolutely impossible. Tristan felt that, if I was interested, they could talk to the guy and perhaps get me a small part in a film, and maybe some small amount of money as well for allowing him to use the equipment upstairs. It would have to be at the weekends though, when the film crew had gone home, of course.
I could see that they were intently looking for any sign of interest from me in my expression - you know, like the car salesman who nods to himself to encourage you to do likewise when asking you a question. Anyway, I now knew the real reason for my friends' visit, and I felt that were I to agree to their suggestions it could be a nice little earner for them. So not wishing to be too dismissive of the idea, I just as equally and casually suggested that they might like to loan me one of these films, and if after viewing it I was the slightest bit interested I would think about giving them a call.
But for now I really
have to prepare for next week when the first bunch of pre-release lads
with the two prison officers arrive for the pilot filming. I must get a
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