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Unidentified Staggering Jabbing Actor


TCW Defending Freedom has heard once again from Britain’s leading crisis thespian, the ‘Jabbing Actor’ Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite. He describes a new role well suited to his range and experience.

CONTRARY to popular belief the life of an actor, even such a distinguished crisis actor as I, is not all glitz, glamour and glory. As I may have previously reported, it is often the case that I am required to supplement my income by being a delivery operative for organisations conveying foodstuffs to the denizens of the metropolis. Earlier today, for example, I spent several hours dispensing essential supplies to young men who had sailed to our shores from the Central African Republic. 

Indeed ‘resting’ is a role with which most of my equally distinguished colleagues are all too familiar. But it is at these times that I take comfort from the wit and wisdom of dear, dear Dame Judi. I will always remember our bantering on the days she came to Rada to present awards to promising students. For example when she was there to present the Paul Newman Award for the Most Amusing Smirk, she pronounced these words of wisdom. ‘Dear boy,’ she remarked, ‘the fact that your smirk made you look sinister does not mean you will necessarily be a total failure. Be a darling and see if you can find me a vanilla slice.’ From that moment on I was determined never to become a total failure.

On my return to my flat above the Brentford Washerama, I had just settled down with a Waitrose Italian Recipe Tuna Pasta Bake and my copy of Dame Judi’s tour de force autobiography And Furthermore . . . to check whether she had remembered our interactions when I received a call from Irene, my agent. Naturally, I took heart and assumed that there would be roles to play as a deadly new virus was imminently to ravage the land, but I was surprised to learn that the role in question was far more intriguing.

Apparently, the skies have recently been replete with a variety of flying objects which can be described only as ‘unidentified’. I was told that the government wished to control the level of alarm that these objects might engender and I was to find my way to a remote location on Dartmoor in two days.

It came as no surprise to me that I should be involved in whatever epic they had in mind. The director was no doubt aware of the words of the pre-eminent Time Lord, Tom Baker, who, referring to my role in the Doctor Who episode Destiny of the Daleks, famously remarked recently that my ‘Exterminate . . . Exterminate’, still gave him sleepless nights. Or perhaps it was the reminiscences of David Tennant in which he blamed his departure from the programme on my terrifying performance as a Cyberman.

The set location, in deepest Devon, turned out to be an Army firing range. On arrival I was immediately taken to Costume and placed in a body-length green latex outfit. I must admit I looked quite stunning as a one-eyed, androgynous extraterrestrial. Sadly I was not allowed to record any footage to add to my showreel.

The set consisted of a damaged cylindrical container surrounded by balloons, some deflated. My role did not require any dialogue. I was told to stagger out of the container in a dazed fashion from where I was to be manhandled by security guards dressed in Personal Protective Equipment. I have to say that having always been proud of my stagger, I staggered beautifully and my only regret was that Dame Judi was not present to witness my performance. The director was happy after ten takes and I was disrobed and on my way home within the hour. 

I was not informed of the release date for the film nor how it will fit with the rest of the news. However, I am proud to report that once more Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite has become a conduit for a crucial message that will no doubt resonate for the benefit of humankind throughout the civilised world and beyond.

(NB: I was required to sign the Official Secrets Act, so please do not distribute this message amongst those who might inform the authorities.)

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John Ellwood
John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood. ‘My Dear Friends . . . ’ a compilation of many of John’s contributions to TCW Defending Freedom is available in paperback and on Kindle.

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