I can measure my own waist, thank you
I went to an acting audition today. It was for a commercial for some finance company or other. I had to be an old-fashioned bookseller who makes a knowing aside to the camera. My knowing asides to camera are legendary and litter the floors of editing suites the world over.
The receptionist was a young American who I guess would describe herself as “direct”. The word I’d use would be “arsy”. The receptionist takes your details as you go in and is normally as sweet as a banana muffin. Not this one. She handed me a thin sliver of black plastic and grunted “It’s a tablet. Know how to use it, don’t ya?” “Yes” I replied, “Just give me the other one and a glass of water and I’ll knock it straight back.”
OK, that was on the train back home, to myself and in my head. What I actually said was “I’ll try”. I’d only used a tablet once before and spent ten minutes clumsily planting my sticky thumbprints on the screen before taking it back to her. “Come on” she growled, “Your email should read “@”, not “at”. Didn’t ya know that?” “I couldn’t find the @ thing. Sorry” She tutted and nudged the screen down and now I could see it.
“And ya haven’t put ya height down.” “It only did centimetres. I can give you it in feet and inches”. She gave me a look a snake would reserve for a rat it had just decided was too gristly to eat. I could almost see the thought bubble over her head: “You stuffed shirt old dinosaur Limey.” What she said was “Oh come on. We live in a metric system.”
For the next two hours doubts tumbled round in my head faster than underpants in a spin dryer. Maybe she was right. You buy a chicken fillet and it’s in kilos. A bottle of wine’s measured in cl. I thought, perhaps I’m living thirty years out of date in some kind of delusional universe, like the Japanese soldier discovered stranded on a Pacific Island who thought the war was still going on. Maybe no one uses cash anymore and everyone’s humouring me when I flash a fiver. Maybe, to most people, I talk in some kind of antique Shakespeare-speak which they find so hysterically funny that they let me carry on doing it and giggle behind my back. When I buy a belt the assistants let me ask for 33” rather than bla bla bla centimetres, and then huddle in a snigger.
As you see, I’m prone to paranoia at times.
When I got back to Deptford I needed a drink and popped into my local pub. “A pint” I said. The word slipped out. No one laughed. They gave me a pint. A pint. Not 565 millilitres. It tasted lovely. Ordering a second one, in a fit of euphoria I yelled out “I’m 33” and I’m proud!”
At that point everybody did snigger.