I wrote a newsletter about figuring out the background actors in my new neighbourhood and…here it is!
The live action film of my life that is Two Names: The Musical, would be nothing without its background actors. The big players drive the narrative of course (‘Mum’ ‘Best Friend’ ‘Guy from Deliveroo’) but it’s the background talent that adds colour and authenticity to the daily scenes. In my old postcode, I had collected a very strong group of extras. There was Thin Shin Women, so called because her shins were…incredibly thin. I’d see her on the number 15 bus most days. Flash Gordan was a tall, tanned man in his fifties with shaggy blonde hair who wore shorts no matter the time of year. Disco Stu was another regular who’d cycle around the place in his uniform of flared jeans, work boots and deer-hunter cap. I only heard him speak once when he snapped at someone near the centre aisle of a Lidaldi and was immediately demoted to the role of ‘Villian’ in the credits.
In my new ‘hood, I am still on the hunt for a quality supporting cast. I’m not even 100% familiar with most of the neighbours yet. I’ve met some of them and every time I do, I tell myself that I will never, ever, ever, ever, for as long as I have breath in my lungs, forget their names. Three minutes later, if someone put a gun to my mother’s head and said ‘TELL ME THE NAME OF THE COUPLE AT NUMBER 52 OR SHE’S GETS IT!’ With my eyes full of tears I’d have to say ‘I’ll really miss you Mum.’
When I decided to paint the outside of my house however, that changed very quickly and I got to add a few more names to my casting list. The pots of paint had been sitting in a corner of the kitchen for months, like the world’s most shiteous art installation. But when the weekends rolled around, I had EO’MD-I Y fatigue. One bright Sunday morning however, I decided to rip the plaster off and just get it done. Like a true pro, I hoofed out the steppy stool, popped on my paper onesie and then after ten cups of tea, two episodes of Peaky Blinders, a small roast and a twenty minute nap, I began.
My road is tiny and narrow. Once you step outside the front door, you can’t help but, gasp, interact with the neighbours which is why you need to be in the right frame of mind. First out the gates was Nice Package Guy from next door. He got his name entirely innocently. He was a nice guy who sometimes kept packages for me. A true hero. He told me I was doing a good job and I told him it required no skill at all and then we ran out of things to say which felt incredible and not awkward at all. A while later, a fella a couple of doors down I’d never seen before moseyed up. Again, he opened with a compliment about how the house looked great. This time I drank it in and acted like I was doing necessary and vital work. In the blink of an eye he transformed into Detective Inspector Nosey Neighbour. He wanted to know how long I’d lived there and if I was renting. He asked how much my deposit was, if my husband was inside and what the mortgage was like. When he then asked me for my first car, childhood friend and mother’s maiden name, I told him I thought the stairs were on fire, went inside and lay face down in the hall. I christened him DC12 on account of him asking me more questions than my mum during an episode of Line of Duty. When the coast was clear, I ventured back outside. A few Air B and B-ers came and went and then after about an hour, I saw someone come up the road I thought I knew. As the shape came towards me I gave a big ‘hello’ in their direction and instantly realised, in fact, I didn’t know him at all but had seen him topless several times. It turns out, a mega influencer’s fella lives right next door with Nice Package Guy. I abandoned my post immediately, fired up the WhatsApp and informed my pal, who lives down the road, of this development. We were both thrilled. We still hope his girlfriend will visit soon and if we’re lucky, have a blazing row right outside the house. A gal can but dream.
It may have taken almost a year of procrastinating but the outside of the house finally looks more presentable. The real winner though is central casting. Who knows what adventures me, Nice Package Guy, DC12 and Insta Boyf will get up to this year. I’m drafting my Oscars 2021 speech already.