TCW Defending Freedom has heard once again from Britain’s leading crisis thespian, the ‘Jabbing Actor’ Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite. He describes an unusual role he was offered earlier in his illustrious career.
YOU may well find it difficult to believe but my life has not always been filled with bravos, banquets and bouquets. Indeed, many years ago, when the profession of crisis acting was in its infancy, I was often required to suffer the indignity of drinking cold tea and eating stale cheese sandwiches as I waited to illuminate various dreary films as an extra in crowd scenes.
The ascent to the pinnacle of my calling began in 2009. You may recall that in that year the NHS required that we all be alarmed by the arrival of a deadly Swine Flu. It so happened that I had just returned to London from remotest Norfolk after spending a week playing a victim in a disastrous film called Lesbian Vampire Killers. If it wasn’t the ennui and dreadful catering that made me look so desolate, it was performing in the proximity of the bombastic James Corden. The film was accurately described as ‘profoundly awful’ by the Times and my performance does not feature in my showreel.
My agent, Irene, must have got wind of my pallid, nay pitiful, demeanour and it was to my ultimate good fortune that, not long after, I became the deathly face of the Swine Flu vaccination campaign on a variety of gruesome posters.
Some weeks later, when I had regained my famed natural sparkle and bonhomie, Irene suggested I attend an interview at the offices of the Conservative Party.
I have to confess that I had not then, and have not now, the slightest interest in politics. Being a scion of a notable circus family, The Amazing Hepplewhites, my upbringing was rather unconventional and divorced from worldly concerns. My parents had many roles in the circus. In addition to being a trapeze artist my mother regularly placed her head inside the mouth of a lion whilst my father, an erstwhile lion-tamer, became the world’s only one-armed trapeze artist having lost a limb to the aforementioned beast. Following the accident, my parents were required to improvise a routine which made greater use of their legs.
However, after the depredations of Norfolk it was any port in a storm, and I reported to Conservative Central Office for my interview. Imagine my surprise when after a short discussion, I was asked if I wished to become a Member of Parliament. The young man explained that I would represent a safe seat in Suffolk or Essex. He told me that my main role was to look smart, learn a few simple scripts and do whatever people called ‘whips’ told me. I was to be given a good salary, and generous expenses. He even promised to pair me up with a decent-looking woman who would play the part of my wife, and indicated that other perks would include access to ‘hush-hush’ government contracts.
I must confess I was tempted by the prospect. My interviewer explained that more than half of the party’s candidates were actors and the job was specifically designed for those with limited education and little or no interest in local or international affairs.
After a great deal of soul-searching I refused the offer. I decided that I did not want to be typecast, and it had come to my notice that the leader of the party was an unctuous, uppity type called Cameron.
Do I regret my decision? Not a bit of it! Cameron is now a distant memory and I revel in the adulation of my multitude of fans. As dear, dear Dame Judi said to me when she came to Rada to present the Dame Emma Thompson Award for the Best Portrayal of Hypocrisy: ‘Dear boy, as the Dane said, “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will”. Be a darling and try to find me a margarita and a sausage roll.’
It is not unreasonable to think that Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite might, by now, have achieved the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Few would argue that this would have been a much more satisfactory outcome than that which has transpired. However, I ask you to consider what a disastrous loss to the profession of crisis acting that would have been, and to whom the government would turn when it was necessary to terrify millions for the furtherance of the general wellbeing of the nation.