Jobs for the boys and girls

This morning I drove to the coast with Kimberley. I got her to DJ and she played Oasis, which was a good nostalgia trip as we screamed out of London. The roads were empty that early on a Sunday. And the Nissan is so smooth you barely notice you’re driving unless I try to start it in fourth which might happen occasionally.

In no time I was in a castle, standing behind some friends of mine in costume, hearing : “So, how do you know Al Barclay then” That’s a friend asking a man I don’t think I’ve ever met. “Oh, we’ve been in a pub together some time,” he ventures, which is a very good guess and not unlikely. Outside of social niceties I think I’ve just … never met him before. I stop him going any further into it by announcing my presence. Don’t want to make him feel awkward.

There are six actors down there who I cast. None of them had to audition. All of them are being paid nicely for an easy gig where you are looked after. Three of them I have never met until today, and those three have genuine, serious military experience. The other three are various very different forms of solid. The extent of their casting process? I rang them. That was all I needed. All of the strangers had third party recommendations. None of them immediately struck me as tricky. That was good enough for me. I won’t sit at a table with a pencil and a power dynamic if I can help it. That table is an impossible place for them to show anything other than tricks unless it’s run better than most of the tables I’ve been at lately. Plus it costs money. Better to walk down a road with them, or have a coffee. If you’re still here in the industry, you’re not shit. You might be a narcissist though. Or some sort of borderline personality.

I was a tiny bit worried but now I’m relieved. I liked them. I wondered if one of them might be angry. I wondered if another might be lost. I wondered if one might be arrogant. To see them form their dynamic together I realised all those concerns were nonsense – stuff my stuff had put on them. I remembered the special skill of the jobbing actor: we walk into a totally unfamiliar situation with a load of strangers and immediately feel at home and get it done. Plus these guys used to serve. They aren’t fucking around. They’ll be great tomorrow, and all of them are getting more than I do per day. Which feels strangely brilliant.

I’ve found work for 15 people on this job, maybe more. It’s been very satisfying. The bulk of the people I’ve found have been actors who are willing to wait until the last minute to know what they’re doing tomorrow, and who need the money. Employing actors is a double edged sword. You often get highly intelligent eloquent diligent workers who are great at teamwork, but unless you’re employing them to act they’ll always be looking out the window and if that fucking unicorn runs across the lawn they’re off after it before you can stop them and I’m off pacing them with a saddle. But damn, it’s lovely seeing people happy in a job and knowing you put them there.

This whole concept was put in place close to 20 years ago and they must have gainfully employed hundreds of thousands of people over the years, worldwide. Everyone is working bloody hard but glad to be doing so because it’s worth their while. I shook hands with the man who created this whole thing today, and said “It’s good to see you.” I meant it. What a legend, to still travel with it after so many years and in that time to have changed so many lives for the better.

Tomorrow is going to be mental. I’ll see if I can post a generic enough photo not to break this NDA. Ha yes. Here’s me pretending to relax. Lies, I tell you.



Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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