I had a raw leek before breakfast. I can still taste it. It doesn’t really feel like it happened today any more.
Scientists would tell you that “acting” is not possible before 9am unless the perpetrators haven’t slept. I now know this to be a lie. The leek… the leek was real. And reader, I ate it.
Let me take you back to a few weeks ago. Margate. Frolicking by the seaside. Oh what fun. Learning some new scenes. Joy and friends. “And of course I’ll have to eat a raw leek! Hahaha that’ll be funny! Hahaha” #fadeout
#fadein on a close up of me biting into the leek at 8.25am. Carry through my historic laughter into their present laughter. See my face. See the realisation. See the memory of my laughter curdling. Cut to their faces, grotesque from my perspective.
And they loved it. Oh how they laughed over their breakfast tea. I don’t even know who they were. They worked for … a company. Some of them were French, so I had to learn a scene in French. Some of them were Welsh. So I had to eat a raw leek before 9am.
The thing is, the scene needs the leek to be eaten. And the real eating of the leek is funnier than the avoidance of the eating of the leek. Scientists know this. We like to see people in discomfort. It’s why we all know about ALS now. Because of self inflicted ice bucket tortureporn.
I bit it. A big bite. Then it was in my mouth. And I had to either swallow or spit. I’ve lived a long time before having to make that call so I can count myself lucky. Turns out I swallow. If I spat it would be momentarily funny because ha ha yuk, but then everyone would be aware of slobbery floor-leek at their smart breakfast. Nope. Not on that hourly rate. Munchy munchy yum yum yum yum.
Some actors have to eat leek every night for months and twice on Thursdays and on Saturdays after one too many in the dirty duck the night before. I directed Noises Off at uni and we poured real sardines on an actor. Poor thing. I’d never do THAT now. But you’ve got to put your money where mouth is, and if I’d seen an actor avoid the full extent of leek munching I would know they were phoning it and I would silently mouth the word “coward” even as I enjoyed the scene. Which I would, as it’s a marvellous moment. And even at breakfast we smashed it.
Which is why I then had an existential crisis in my van. That’s it again. All that learning, all the adrenaline, first leek nerves and then I’m carrying wood for a guy who has had a robust and starry career and is now taking some time off to make actual money. “How are you on the whole ‘acting’ thing?” he asks me. And I witter on about unfinished business and vocations and so on. Before getting into the van and driving to Cambridge screaming into the ether at the top of my lungs every five miles, with my leeky breath. Partly existential crisis. Partly radio 4. But oh yeah. Unfinished. Business.
eBay is going great. I’m making money with the van. This morning paid beautifully. I’ve got an audition tomorrow. Fifteen years plus…
I’ll miss that breakfast leek.