“Have an apple. We eat apples like horses here,” is the first thing he says to me. I don’t want an apple. We’re surrounded by apples. We are in a swanky hotel room full of apples in Knightsbridge and he’s a TV producer, but he’s fully clothed. He’s talking about the show he’s making in London, brainstorming ideas with two other producers and a fixer who’s a friend of mine. I’m the driver. He’s taken a shine to me. He likes my socks.
His brain is going twenty to the dozen. He’s created a show that has run and run, and now his budgets are so lavish he can stay in beautiful hotels, have all the apples he can munch, employ amazing humans, and buy the crown jewels should he desire. He’s still going round the world with the show though, keeping his finger on the pulse. “I’ve been round the world thirty times or more.” He tells me. “I’ve met a lot of crazy people.” He’s off to Amsterdam now. Then Uganda. “What’s the food like in Uganda?” I ask him. “Breakfast,” he says. “I only eat breakfast and pasta. But these fucking hotels in London – nobody should charge that much for breakfast. How does anyone live in this city? It’s a joke. And I’ve been everywhere.”
We get in the lift and he immediately hits on the stranger in it, proving his own cliché. He must be in his seventies and he’s still on location because it keeps him active. Keeps his mind working. He just stays in better hotels now and has more apples and a driver. I’d do the same, without the apples. “I imagine the first few years you were fired up with the travel and the change but now you’ve seen so much you barely know where you are anymore”, I impulsively comment. My reward is a 1,000 yard stare and a barely perceptible nod. I’d do his job for a couple of years, sure thing, hell yeah, apples or no apples. But 17 years on the hoof? Hoo-eee. “I hate those malarone, they make your kidneys hurt. They make you crazy. I’d sooner have malaria. I had it once already. It’s not so bad.” says his associate.
In the short journey to Heathrow we cover Russia, Grenfell, Silver service catering, economics, British politics, the legacy of colonialism. He’s constantly insightful. He is a mega rich libertarian and he has indeed seen much of the world, even if a fair amount was through tinted windows. “We have to let the money trickle down. We can’t only spend it on breakfast in stupid hotels.” He assures me. I like him. At Heathrow he tells me “Make sure you’re here for the shoot. I want you here for the shoot.” “Of course,” I lie. If there’s an acting job I’m taking that instead. But in the current environment I’ll take driving an eccentric millionaire in a Range Rover over another bloody golf tournament.
Once he’s at the airport I join the team that are location scouting. “He’s a nice guy,” I say. “Oh really? He was nice to you?” Seems I got lucky.
We spend the rest of the day walking around central London looking at rooms in the vicinity of Eros. Never once does anyone ask about price. Money is no object.
And thank God for that. They want me back tomorrow.. A couple of days work like this and the photos are covered, plus some of the bills. I just needed to wait for the sunshine and the apples start blossoming.