TCW Defending Freedom has heard once again from Britain’s leading crisis thespian, the ‘Jabbing Actor’ Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite. He describes a surprisingly delightful role he was recently called upon to play.
AS I am prone to mention, ordinary people are under the mistaken impression that the life of a celebrated actor is one of glamour, glitz and paparazzi. Alas, this is not the case. To conquer the peaks of one’s exacting profession one must suffer indignities that others would regard as beyond the pale. Indeed, it became clear to me from a tender age that the call of Thespis required unimaginable sacrifices.
As a child actor I was in constant demand. After I won a talent competition (Tomorrow’s Stars Today) on Blackpool’s North Pier with my outstanding impersonation of little Jimmy Clitheroe, the ‘Clitheroe Kid’, agents fought to utilise my talents. Their clamour and the demands of my fans caused me to visit some unlikely places. One such was the Ukraine. I was taken there to play the part of a drummer boy in the film Waterloo.
I mostly remember smoke, mud, sleep deprivation and cabbage soup. I appear briefly at the start of the battle. As a French musket ball slams into my chest, I fall to the ground in slow motion, still attempting to bang my drum, and Christopher Plummer stifles a tear. I often awake recalling the image of my falling, stricken little body in a dream.
As has been the case with many child actors, later life became difficult. As my voice broke and as the years passed I have to admit that I succumbed to the temptations that capricious Fame thrusts in the path of those with abundant talents. Nevertheless I believe that the depths to which I sank ultimately informed my subsequent ascent to the heights of crisis acting.
I reveal this to you because recently I had an unusually delightful acting experience. As I was delivering a large order of yam-based meals to some young men who had sailed here from Ghana, my agent, Irene, called me and instructed me to drop everything and report to a waiting plane at Heathrow.
On boarding, I noticed that the aircraft was filled with a number of less esteemed crisis actors of my acquaintance, but it transpired that I had only three hours or so in their close proximity.
On landing we found ourselves on a pleasant Greek island. We were whisked through customs and deposited in a plush hotel.
The following morning we were briefed on our roles. A bonfire had been lit close to the swimming pool and we were to be photographed rushing around in panic mode using anything at hand to try to extinguish the flames. My implement was a coffee pot.
After ten minutes of confected bedlam, the BBC and others were happy with their images and firefighters extinguished the blaze. We were allowed two pleasant days of relaxation in the sunshine to make use of the hotel’s beach and other facilities before our return to a rainy London.
The experience caused me to recall the wise words of dear, dear Dame Judi when she came to Rada to present the Roger Moore Award for Playing Roger Moore: ‘Dear boy, life may seem like a bowl of damsons but occasionally you may encounter a cherry. Be a star and fetch me a negroni, some olives and a chunk of Gouda.’
In this time of constant and ever-changing crises, I can assure you that whatever perils present themselves, Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite is ready and willing to act as your guide to generate the appropriate level of fear that you are required to adopt for your safety and well-being.