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An Audience with Carstairs Ch. 04

Suits you, Sir

Monday came and Kate had to go to work. She practically ordered me to go get a new suit, for which I was sent to a shop near Holborn, where a very nice elderly gentleman who had clearly spoken to Kate over the phone measured me up. He found me a very decent dark grey suit that was a bit more current than my collection of five year old, shiny-bottomed rags, which I had always gotten at shops for the 'portly gentleman.' Now I was able to buy off the rack, with only the trousers being a bit too long.

"If Sir is willing to come back in about thirty minutes, we'll shorten them right now."

The day that Sir can't amuse himself in London for thirty minutes (if he isn't fresh out of jail, penniless and desperate) is the day that Sir will have to hang himself. I went out and bought myself an expensive leather case for my phone, bought coffee and a sandwich to go and found a bench in a tiny park on Red Lion square, where I caught up with the Dutch news on my phone.

I was about to get up, when I got a call from my mother.

"Hi mom, where are you?"

"Hi sweetheart, I'm in the... um... Mwingi National Reserve. In a lodge. It's fantastic here. We've seen lions and elephants and so much more!"

"I'm glad to hear it. So you're both well?"

"What? I lost you there. Martin, we found a newspaper here. Were you... hello?"

"Yes, I'm here."

"Were you drunk?"

"Yes mom, I was. Very drunk."

"Not like you. Are you okay now?"

"I've sobered up, yes. It's going to be fine."

"Good. And how are you and Kate doing?"

Awkward...

"We're absolutely fine, mom."

"Are you having sex with her? What? Hang on, your dad is... Look Alfred, they're lovers now okay? I... just shut up, I'll tell you when I get off the phone. Hello?"

"Hi mom."

"Your dad says hi. So are you having sex with her?"

Jesus Christ. Of all the problems I had expected to have to deal with, this was probably the worst one. And it kind of hit me when I wasn't looking.

"Look mom, do I ask you if you're having it off with dad? We're happy."

"Okay, so I'll take that as a yes. I'm so relieved. Just don't make me a grandmother, okay?"

"I promise. Is dad going to be okay about it?"

"No. But I'm working on that. What? Look, I'm ON THE PHONE. What? Okay. Dad says, 'do anal, I've already raised two moron...' ALFRED! How is that a way to speak to your..."

The call dropped out at that point and I can't say I was sorry about that. I needed a minute or two to let it sink in, then went to pick up my suit and shirts. And ties. And shoe polish. Good thing I was making a bit of money again. The guy asked for a picture of Carstairs visiting his shop, for Facebook. I asked for 10% off, to which he agreed in a second. Fame has a price, but sometimes it also has a discount.

I treated myself to a taxi home, given that I'd just saved myself 30 pounds just by asking. And I had a lot of stuff to carry, including a suit wanted to keep wrinkle free. It felt strange, very wasteful. Still, it came to only thirteen pounds, so I paid fifteen and was happy I didn't have to traverse the Underground with all this. Then I went back out to do my shopping. Today I was in the mood for braised beef, one of only a few dishes my mother does very well. I guess talking to her had made me think of that.

On my way back from the shops, I stopped to put my headphones on and start a Podcast. From where I stood, a traffic island on one of the outbound lanes of a roundabout, I saw an elderly man hobbling along just ahead of me. He seemed to have a problem getting to the other side of the street. A woman helped him but when he wanted to thank her, she sped off. It was an Indian guy, maybe a Pakistani, dressed in that way immigrants have when they live in a predominantly non-white area, which is certainly what Southwark is: a ridiculous hat from some Godforsaken goat-herding village, a mangy coat and a knitted sweater. He tried to cross the street again, back to where he came from, fruitlessly trying to enlist more help. Eventually he made it.

This guy didn't just need help crossing the street, it seemed. I sighed. I didn't have much to do and sometimes life gives us chores like this, so I guessed I was up. I put away my headphones and walked up to him. He looked at me with a hopeful gaze.

"Good afternoon," I said. I figured he'd do the rest.

"Ello," he croaked.

"Are you alright, Sir?"

"Yes. I would like to cross the street."

He didn't use contractions, which made me think he didn't speak a whole lot of English during the day.

"Can I help you with that?"

"Oh yes please!"

"Well let's do it there then, where there is a light."

We walked to the crossing, which took an age and a half with him. I pushed the button and he crossed when it was green. I made eye contact with the first driver in line and we nodded: he'd wait until the old geezer was out of the way. He took his sweet bloody time. I gave the driver a thumbs up and turned my attention to the man.

"Right. So where are you going?"

"To my son!" He pronounced son as 'sahn' and said it as if he was on his way to meet the Queen.

"That's nice. So where does your son live?"

"He lives in a very nice house! He has a business."

I suppressed a sigh. I just wanted to know if the old sod was going to get home.

"You must be very proud. Well, have a nice day Sir," I said. He turned around, took about five steps and looked over his shoulder. I had not moved an inch. Like I thought, this demented fuck had no idea where he was going. I forced a smile and stepped up to him.

"Sir, where does your son live? In which street?"

"Who?"

Bloody hell. I saw a concrete bench a few metres to our left.

"Shall we sit down and figure out where you're going?"

"You are very kind," he smiled and began to shuffle there. I was looking around for a policeman, but they only show up when your brake light is out, don't they? Eventually we sat down on the bench and had a very difficult conversation: he seemed to forget the topic at hand after every other sentence, didn't carry ID, asked me if he was under arrest and became very sad when he figured out he was lost. I introduced myself as Martin and he told me he was Abishek. I asked him if he carried a phone, so I could see if he had family members in his contact list. He simply shook his head.

"No phone."

"Right. So what's in your pockets?"

An Oyster card, as it turned out. Nothing. No ID, no medicine bottle with at least the name of a pharmacy, just zippo. Zilch. Aware of his predicament, he began to cry. I patted his shoulder.

"Don't worry Abishek, we'll figure this out. Let me think for a moment."

I took out my phone. Who to call? The police? Seemed a bit drastic. I wanted to Google something, but what search words to use? 'What to do with demented old fuckers?' 'Helpline for Alzheimer patients?' Eventually I decided I'd call Kate. She was probably behind a computer, she grew up here, she might know. If you can get a truck to take a piano to a landfill, you can find a number to report lost senile people to. I got her voicemail though and then I decided I'd try my luck with her office.

"Keller and Fox, how may I help you?" said a young man.

"Yes hello, this is Martin King, I'm..."

"Oh hello Mr. vandee Casteeley, how can we help you?"

At that moment, a dark-skinned woman came running up to us, screaming in Hindi. Or perhaps Urdu. Might have been Dogri or Kannada, of course. Or Kashmiri, Konkani, Marathi, Sindi, Tulu or Urdu. I mean who the fuck knows?

"Ah please hold, this problem may be about to solve itself. In fact, it has. Thank you."

"Bye Mr. King."

The woman hugged her father (or brother or uncle or nephew or cousin or father in law or whatever), who seemed to recognize her. Then I was thanked profusely for taking care of him, even though I hadn't done anything. I shook some hands and watched them hobble off. Remind me to get a canister of helium and put a bag over my head when I ever find myself in that situation. I shook my head, put on my headphones and was on my way to braise the fuck out of some beef.

Kate was home late, so I ate alone and spent the evening texting with various people. Lola confirmed she had reserved a seat for Samantha, a nice one on the first row. Kelly hoped to see my new suit soon, preferably during a dance. I didn't want to tell her too much, but I told her I would make good on my promise. I had a fairly long chat with Annabelle, who had been unable to resist getting in touch with Monique. Suffice to say, my wife was very much aware of my new career and even more aware of the legal summons to sell the house and turn over half the proceeds. That was news to me, but Kate turned out to be behind that. I must say that I didn't really mind. Monique had never reached out to me after our divorce, not even to congratulate me when things went well. The Graham McAfee show airs in The Netherlands as well, only a few days later because it's subtitled, so even if she hadn't watched herself, plenty of people would have seen it. That villa would be worth at least 800.000 by now. Half of that would be quite welcome, so Kate and I could move out of this dollhouse. Somewhere I could have a car again. And an office. And a cat, that would be nice. Monique had been allergic to them. And she didn't want to have to walk a dog, though I'm no dog person either.

Tuesday was, once more, an empty day. Well not really, I had to catch a bus in the afternoon but that was hours away. I took a leisurely shower and came back to a phone that had seven missed calls and a dozen messages on both Kik and iMessage. They all seemed to be congratulations for some reason. Weird, because it wasn't my birthday. I called back the first one, Kate.

"How do you DO this, Martin?!"

"Hello. Do what? What's up?"

"Did you see BBC Breakfast?"

"Do I ever?"

If there is one thing I can't stand it's breakfast TV. Two people, propped up by caffeine and a burning desire to be on TV, having in-depth five minute interviews about how cole slaw cures cancer; doesn't get much worse than that. If I had the choice between hosting something like that or spending the rest of my life as a dockworker, then give me the hard hat and the safety shoes.

"Tune in then, you might catch the last loop. Call you back."

Oh right, these shows repeat their items three or four times. It was a quarter to nine. Two smirking people sat on a couch, alternating lines in dumbed down scripts and then looking at each other by way of a handoff.

"As our population ages, more and more people will be suffering from mental issues such as Alzheimer's."

"Yes, and at the moment one in every six people over sixty has one or more of the symptoms."

"Alzheimer's and related illnesses can strike anyone, no matter their race or background."

"As a society, we'll have to learn how to deal with a large fraction of the population that needs a bit of extra care."

"That's why BBC's Panorama did a test: are we prepared to lend a helping hand? Well, not many people are. But you'll never guess who did. Here's Joan Baker with a report."

Joan was in a park, for no reason I could fathom, with another woman.

"Thank you Giles, yes I'm here with Alice Howell, she's with the BBC Panorama team. Alice, what did you do?"

"We wanted to see how many people were willing to help an actor pretending to be a confused elderly man get home. Our hidden cameras were positioned in London's borough of Southwark and here's what happened."

Yup, there he was. The guy I had helped. They showed video of him trying to reach out to passers by. Nobody seemed to care. A reporter narrated the scene.

"Very few people seem CONCERNED with the plight of our actor, or rather of an elderly Indian MAN who not only has trouble crossing the STREET, but also finding his way HOME. Colin Abhay SPECIALIZES in these characters and trains PROFESSIONAL caregivers to deal with elderly immigrants. But when he tries to find SYMPATHY in the street, he finds it HARD to get ATTENTION. Only a FEW people are WILLING to help him CROSS the STREET, but if he makes it HOME is of concern to NO-ONE."

Some more footage of 'Abishek' being helped to cross the street.

"But THEN Colin meets an ANGEL of MERCY, a KIND FACE in a SEA of INDIFFERENCE. And it's not who you'd EXPECT."

There I was, messing with my headset and looking at that man.

"When he's not SERVING tea to ROYALS and NOBLEMEN, Carstairs, or rather the actor Martin King, apparently SHOPS in SOUTHWARK. He notices the elderly man and COMES to his AID."

Fragments of me and Colin talking, me calming him down, asking him to search his pockets. They had him wired for sound. You could hear us chatting.

"It SPEAKS to the REALISM of Colin's performance that even an accomplished ACTOR like Mr. King can't TELL he's meeting a COLLEAGUE."

No I bloody couldn't! And they might have told me about it.

"Eventually another ACTOR steps in, before MR. KING needlessly CALLS the POLICE. But as we TRY to TALK to him, he DISAPPEARS."

A shot of me disappearing into a busy throng of people crossing the street, while someone with a clipboard emerges from a van and tries to follow me but can't get to me because of traffic.

The duo on the couch prattled on a bit and that's when Kate called me back.

"Did you see it? That's gold. Pure gold. I see Alzheimer awareness campaigns in your future, Martin. Doesn't pay a lot of money, but you can't buy that kind of goodwill."

"Yes. Whatever. All I did was make sure that old fucker wasn't run over."

The old fucker was on TV now, looking much younger and telling that reporter about his craft.

"So yeah, I try to make it real, ya know, 'cos people need ta learn. But it's cool when people like Mista King, you know great actors, when you can fool 'em. 'Ere, thanks evva so much for lookin' after me, Mr. King!' he said, winking at the camera.

"Great actors... I never knew the bar was that low," I muttered. Fame and competence, the two most often confused qualities in the world.

"Guess your Facebook team has their work cut out for them," said Kate. "I'm handling your Twitter, you might want to have a look."

"No thanks. It's entirely undeserved. Tell them that."

I felt like closing the curtains and putting my phone on airplane mode, but that would be stupid, especially because Kate was working hard on my behalf. I politely thanked people who managed to find me directly and explained they had made it look much more intense than it had been. Eventually I was fed up with hiding and I decided to make my way to the three o'clock bus, to ride to Hertford with the rest of the cast and crew. I checked with Lola, so that they would wait if I was a bit late. If anyone had a bone to pick with me over how I had left, they could do it in that bus rather than backstage.Suits you, Sir

Monday came and Kate had to go to work. She practically ordered me to go get a new suit, for which I was sent to a shop near Holborn, where a very nice elderly gentleman who had clearly spoken to Kate over the phone measured me up. He found me a very decent dark grey suit that was a bit more current than my collection of five year old, shiny-bottomed rags, which I had always gotten at shops for the 'portly gentleman.' Now I was able to buy off the rack, with only the trousers being a bit too long.

"If Sir is willing to come back in about thirty minutes, we'll shorten them right now."

The day that Sir can't amuse himself in London for thirty minutes (if he isn't fresh out of jail, penniless and desperate) is the day that Sir will have to hang himself. I went out and bought myself an expensive leather case for my phone, bought coffee and a sandwich to go and found a bench in a tiny park on Red Lion square, where I caught up with the Dutch news on my phone.

I was about to get up, when I got a call from my mother.

"Hi mom, where are you?"

"Hi sweetheart, I'm in the... um... Mwingi National Reserve. In a lodge. It's fantastic here. We've seen lions and elephants and so much more!"

"I'm glad to hear it. So you're both well?"

"What? I lost you there. Martin, we found a newspaper here. Were you... hello?"

"Yes, I'm here."

"Were you drunk?"

"Yes mom, I was. Very drunk."

"Not like you. Are you okay now?"

"I've sobered up, yes. It's going to be fine."

"Good. And how are you and Kate doing?"

Awkward...

"We're absolutely fine, mom."

"Are you having sex with her? What? Hang on, your dad is... Look Alfred, they're lovers now okay? I... just shut up, I'll tell you when I get off the phone. Hello?"

"Hi mom."

"Your dad says hi. So are you having sex with her?"

Jesus Christ. Of all the problems I had expected to have to deal with, this was probably the worst one. And it kind of hit me when I wasn't looking.

"Look mom, do I ask you if you're having it off with dad? We're happy."

"Okay, so I'll take that as a yes. I'm so relieved. Just don't make me a grandmother, okay?"

"I promise. Is dad going to be okay about it?"

"No. But I'm working on that. What? Look, I'm ON THE PHONE. What? Okay. Dad says, 'do anal, I've already raised two moron...' ALFRED! How is that a way to speak to your..."

The call dropped out at that point and I can't say I was sorry about that. I needed a minute or two to let it sink in, then went to pick up my suit and shirts. And ties. And shoe polish. Good thing I was making a bit of money again. The guy asked for a picture of Carstairs visiting his shop, for Facebook. I asked for 10% off, to which he agreed in a second. Fame has a price, but sometimes it also has a discount.

I treated myself to a taxi home, given that I'd just saved myself 30 pounds just by asking. And I had a lot of stuff to carry, including a suit wanted to keep wrinkle free. It felt strange, very wasteful. Still, it came to only thirteen pounds, so I paid fifteen and was happy I didn't have to traverse the Underground with all this. Then I went back out to do my shopping. Today I was in the mood for braised beef, one of only a few dishes my mother does very well. I guess talking to her had made me think of that.

On my way back from the shops, I stopped to put my headphones on and start a Podcast. From where I stood, a traffic island on one of the outbound lanes of a roundabout, I saw an elderly man hobbling along just ahead of me. He seemed to have a problem getting to the other side of the street. A woman helped him but when he wanted to thank her, she sped off. It was an Indian guy, maybe a Pakistani, dressed in that way immigrants have when they live in a predominantly non-white area, which is certainly what Southwark is: a ridiculous hat from some Godforsaken goat-herding village, a mangy coat and a knitted sweater. He tried to cross the street again, back to where he came from, fruitlessly trying to enlist more help. Eventually he made it.

This guy didn't just need help crossing the street, it seemed. I sighed. I didn't have much to do and sometimes life gives us chores like this, so I guessed I was up. I put away my headphones and walked up to him. He looked at me with a hopeful gaze.

"Good afternoon," I said. I figured he'd do the rest.

"Ello," he croaked.

"Are you alright, Sir?"

"Yes. I would like to cross the street."

He didn't use contractions, which made me think he didn't speak a whole lot of English during the day.

"Can I help you with that?"

"Oh yes please!"

"Well let's do it there then, where there is a light."

We walked to the crossing, which took an age and a half with him. I pushed the button and he crossed when it was green. I made eye contact with the first driver in line and we nodded: he'd wait until the old geezer was out of the way. He took his sweet bloody time. I gave the driver a thumbs up and turned my attention to the man.

"Right. So where are you going?"

"To my son!" He pronounced son as 'sahn' and said it as if he was on his way to meet the Queen.

"That's nice. So where does your son live?"

"He lives in a very nice house! He has a business."

I suppressed a sigh. I just wanted to know if the old sod was going to get home.

"You must be very proud. Well, have a nice day Sir," I said. He turned around, took about five steps and looked over his shoulder. I had not moved an inch. Like I thought, this demented fuck had no idea where he was going. I forced a smile and stepped up to him.

"Sir, where does your son live? In which street?"

"Who?"

Bloody hell. I saw a concrete bench a few metres to our left.

"Shall we sit down and figure out where you're going?"

"You are very kind," he smiled and began to shuffle there. I was looking around for a policeman, but they only show up when your brake light is out, don't they? Eventually we sat down on the bench and had a very difficult conversation: he seemed to forget the topic at hand after every other sentence, didn't carry ID, asked me if he was under arrest and became very sad when he figured out he was lost. I introduced myself as Martin and he told me he was Abishek. I asked him if he carried a phone, so I could see if he had family members in his contact list. He simply shook his head.

"No phone."

"Right. So what's in your pockets?"

An Oyster card, as it turned out. Nothing. No ID, no medicine bottle with at least the name of a pharmacy, just zippo. Zilch. Aware of his predicament, he began to cry. I patted his shoulder.

"Don't worry Abishek, we'll figure this out. Let me think for a moment."

I took out my phone. Who to call? The police? Seemed a bit drastic. I wanted to Google something, but what search words to use? 'What to do with demented old fuckers?' 'Helpline for Alzheimer patients?' Eventually I decided I'd call Kate. She was probably behind a computer, she grew up here, she might know. If you can get a truck to take a piano to a landfill, you can find a number to report lost senile people to. I got her voicemail though and then I decided I'd try my luck with her office.

"Keller and Fox, how may I help you?" said a young man.

"Yes hello, this is Martin King, I'm..."

"Oh hello Mr. vandee Casteeley, how can we help you?"

At that moment, a dark-skinned woman came running up to us, screaming in Hindi. Or perhaps Urdu. Might have been Dogri or Kannada, of course. Or Kashmiri, Konkani, Marathi, Sindi, Tulu or Urdu. I mean who the fuck knows?

"Ah please hold, this problem may be about to solve itself. In fact, it has. Thank you."

"Bye Mr. King."

The woman hugged her father (or brother or uncle or nephew or cousin or father in law or whatever), who seemed to recognize her. Then I was thanked profusely for taking care of him, even though I hadn't done anything. I shook some hands and watched them hobble off. Remind me to get a canister of helium and put a bag over my head when I ever find myself in that situation. I shook my head, put on my headphones and was on my way to braise the fuck out of some beef.

Kate was home late, so I ate alone and spent the evening texting with various people. Lola confirmed she had reserved a seat for Samantha, a nice one on the first row. Kelly hoped to see my new suit soon, preferably during a dance. I didn't want to tell her too much, but I told her I would make good on my promise. I had a fairly long chat with Annabelle, who had been unable to resist getting in touch with Monique. Suffice to say, my wife was very much aware of my new career and even more aware of the legal summons to sell the house and turn over half the proceeds. That was news to me, but Kate turned out to be behind that. I must say that I didn't really mind. Monique had never reached out to me after our divorce, not even to congratulate me when things went well. The Graham McAfee show airs in The Netherlands as well, only a few days later because it's subtitled, so even if she hadn't watched herself, plenty of people would have seen it. That villa would be worth at least 800.000 by now. Half of that would be quite welcome, so Kate and I could move out of this dollhouse. Somewhere I could have a car again. And an office. And a cat, that would be nice. Monique had been allergic to them. And she didn't want to have to walk a dog, though I'm no dog person either.

Tuesday was, once more, an empty day. Well not really, I had to catch a bus in the afternoon but that was hours away. I took a leisurely shower and came back to a phone that had seven missed calls and a dozen messages on both Kik and iMessage. They all seemed to be congratulations for some reason. Weird, because it wasn't my birthday. I called back the first one, Kate.

"How do you DO this, Martin?!"

"Hello. Do what? What's up?"

"Did you see BBC Breakfast?"

"Do I ever?"

If there is one thing I can't stand it's breakfast TV. Two people, propped up by caffeine and a burning desire to be on TV, having in-depth five minute interviews about how cole slaw cures cancer; doesn't get much worse than that. If I had the choice between hosting something like that or spending the rest of my life as a dockworker, then give me the hard hat and the safety shoes.

"Tune in then, you might catch the last loop. Call you back."

Oh right, these shows repeat their items three or four times. It was a quarter to nine. Two smirking people sat on a couch, alternating lines in dumbed down scripts and then looking at each other by way of a handoff.

"As our population ages, more and more people will be suffering from mental issues such as Alzheimer's."

"Yes, and at the moment one in every six people over sixty has one or more of the symptoms."

"Alzheimer's and related illnesses can strike anyone, no matter their race or background."

"As a society, we'll have to learn how to deal with a large fraction of the population that needs a bit of extra care."

"That's why BBC's Panorama did a test: are we prepared to lend a helping hand? Well, not many people are. But you'll never guess who did. Here's Joan Baker with a report."

Joan was in a park, for no reason I could fathom, with another woman.

"Thank you Giles, yes I'm here with Alice Howell, she's with the BBC Panorama team. Alice, what did you do?"

"We wanted to see how many people were willing to help an actor pretending to be a confused elderly man get home. Our hidden cameras were positioned in London's borough of Southwark and here's what happened."

Yup, there he was. The guy I had helped. They showed video of him trying to reach out to passers by. Nobody seemed to care. A reporter narrated the scene.

"Very few people seem CONCERNED with the plight of our actor, or rather of an elderly Indian MAN who not only has trouble crossing the STREET, but also finding his way HOME. Colin Abhay SPECIALIZES in these characters and trains PROFESSIONAL caregivers to deal with elderly immigrants. But when he tries to find SYMPATHY in the street, he finds it HARD to get ATTENTION. Only a FEW people are WILLING to help him CROSS the STREET, but if he makes it HOME is of concern to NO-ONE."

Some more footage of 'Abishek' being helped to cross the street.

"But THEN Colin meets an ANGEL of MERCY, a KIND FACE in a SEA of INDIFFERENCE. And it's not who you'd EXPECT."

There I was, messing with my headset and looking at that man.

"When he's not SERVING tea to ROYALS and NOBLEMEN, Carstairs, or rather the actor Martin King, apparently SHOPS in SOUTHWARK. He notices the elderly man and COMES to his AID."

Fragments of me and Colin talking, me calming him down, asking him to search his pockets. They had him wired for sound. You could hear us chatting.

"It SPEAKS to the REALISM of Colin's performance that even an accomplished ACTOR like Mr. King can't TELL he's meeting a COLLEAGUE."

No I bloody couldn't! And they might have told me about it.

"Eventually another ACTOR steps in, before MR. KING needlessly CALLS the POLICE. But as we TRY to TALK to him, he DISAPPEARS."

A shot of me disappearing into a busy throng of people crossing the street, while someone with a clipboard emerges from a van and tries to follow me but can't get to me because of traffic.

The duo on the couch prattled on a bit and that's when Kate called me back.

"Did you see it? That's gold. Pure gold. I see Alzheimer awareness campaigns in your future, Martin. Doesn't pay a lot of money, but you can't buy that kind of goodwill."

"Yes. Whatever. All I did was make sure that old fucker wasn't run over."

The old fucker was on TV now, looking much younger and telling that reporter about his craft.

"So yeah, I try to make it real, ya know, 'cos people need ta learn. But it's cool when people like Mista King, you know great actors, when you can fool 'em. 'Ere, thanks evva so much for lookin' after me, Mr. King!' he said, winking at the camera.

"Great actors... I never knew the bar was that low," I muttered. Fame and competence, the two most often confused qualities in the world.

"Guess your Facebook team has their work cut out for them," said Kate. "I'm handling your Twitter, you might want to have a look."

"No thanks. It's entirely undeserved. Tell them that."

I felt like closing the curtains and putting my phone on airplane mode, but that would be stupid, especially because Kate was working hard on my behalf. I politely thanked people who managed to find me directly and explained they had made it look much more intense than it had been. Eventually I was fed up with hiding and I decided to make my way to the three o'clock bus, to ride to Hertford with the rest of the cast and crew. I checked with Lola, so that they would wait if I was a bit late. If anyone had a bone to pick with me over how I had left, they could do it in that bus rather than backstage.

with   audience   carstairs  

Jul 15, 2018 in romance

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