I am working on the tills. This is not as glamorous as it may sound but I have the pleasure of working alongside Emily, a lovely actress who, despite doing very well professionally at the mo, still comes back to this event year on year. She conducts herself with a constant smile and winning disposition and only occasionally flinches when someone inexplicably mispronounces the name of a major, internationally well-known fashion magazine which is also a girl's name, which we sell.
Emily is taking advantage of a little downtime by looking over the script for a major high profile audition she has coming up. If she gets the part she will remember me for being wilfully destructive to her preparation process by alleviating my own semi-boredom by singing at her spontaneously or by uncontrollably blurting out the completing word or phrase to a previously internal progression of thoughts.
"Dixie Chicks!" For example.
Or "It WAS Blind Willie McTell by Bob Dylan, I knew it!" The latter in reference to a song that was playing thirteen minutes earlier.
Or most recently, "Emily, EMILY! Look at those words on the wall over there. Let's say them with wrong pronunciations and see whose is funniest." This worked quite well at first but was then ruined by her average-at-best attempt to re-pronounce Sunglass Hut as 'Sung-lass Hut'. The game ended soon after. Mildly frustrating, but not as frustrating as the time we lost Garry Jenkins.
Sometimes on jobs of this type I will suggest we play 'let's name all fifty states' largely because I know I can, or can before I inevitably become stalled at 48, forgetting as I do each time Montana and Vermont.
Emily is occasionally relieved for a break - and mightily relieved I imagine - by Luke who is an electric ball of delight and reminds me I should smile more. Luke has instigated the game 'let's guess what's in the free Lavazza goodie bag'. Upon quickly and mutually agreeing the answer is probably coffee I return to my scribbling.
Luke, not to be deterred, starts a discussion about eating habits and we both agree on 'everything in moderation' and that before too long we will discover that moderation causes serious heart disease. We then compile a mutually agreed upon list of most-annoying-phrases, the winners of which are:
I love food. (Everyone does)
I love people watching (Everyone does).
These are phrases that make one sound profound whilst abdicating a responsibility for actually being so. Our final winner is 'Can I get?' which is just grammatically poor and must be stamped out.
Other highlights of my day include making a list that on one side has 'Dixie Chicks' (see earlier) and Shania Twain and on the other 'Cheryl Crowe' and 'The Corrs'. I abandon this and move onto a list entitled 'List of things I really have no right spending any time making a list about'. I get as far as writing 'Cheryl Cole' before ditching that project.
These twice-yearly gigs are fun. As I am marrying the most beautiful woman in the world the thousands of women parading around has no appeal but seeing the familiar faces of actors I've known for over a decade has. Catching up on life, celebrating each other's recent successes and getting a general sense that we are all truly in the same boat is lovely and encouraging.
Another rather fun factor is that as we are in possession of staff badges we obviously are allowed priority barrier exit privileges and often we leave right in front of some fashionista journalist presenting a to-camera piece about all the glamour inside and are caught on camera. Therefore I practise my best knowing 'Yes, I'm from in there' look, which I hope is reminiscent of those you see when a news broadcast is taking place in front of BBC TV Centre or the cabinet office and the IT guy leaves to go to Boots.
I am thwarted in my attempt to make Emily jump by proclaiming 'bacon' in a surprisingly loud voice so I am off to find a free coffee.