Extract from 'FALLING UPWARDS' Chapter 25 -The Tenth Kingdom

"...The word Werewolf back there triggers a recollection that just screams: “Worst Job! Bad memories! Alert!”.

Before I joined the agency that has represented me for the last sixteen years, I was floating around not sure if I was an ex-mime artist or a would-be actor. I did some Extra (or ‘Background Artiste’ as it’s now called in that faux PC newspeak) work here and there - for example, if you go through certain scenes in the Pacino movie “Revolution” frame by frame you can see yours truly grimacing away amongst hundreds of others as ‘Angry Villager’ or if you are of a masochistic nature you could do the same and spot me in “Death Wish 3” as a punky gang member. But I really wouldn’t recommend that you waste your time doing this to be honest.

A small agency called ‘Dancers’ got me a job for a promotional company that wanted to plug a new board game (a board game? that shows how long ago this was) called “Werewolves Of London”. I met the people concerned and they told me that they had a unit at a three-day Games Fair at the Olympia exhibition hall in west London. It was £150 a day for me to dress up as a Werewolf and scare people walking past their display. I said: “OK!” Then they said I’d have to provide my own costume and make-up AND make my own way to the centre. To myself I said: “Uh oh!”.

First off, I went to the local Oxfam shop and bought the cheapest cotton shirt and pair of hideous trousers that I could find, took them home and tore holes in them. Then I went to Theatre Zoo and bought a large coil of fake hair and a lot of spirit gum (theatrical glue), some false nails and a set of those plastic vampire teeth that fit over your own. So far so good. I arise fearsomely early on day one and start applying the hair that I’d previously chopped up into huge piles of short tufts. Two hours later I’ve just about finished gluing a massive amount of it to my face and neck. The floor of my living room looks like that of a barbershop for gorillas. I have to be at Olympia for a ten o’clock start and it’s now 9.15. I furiously adhere more clumps of the scratchy, artificial hair to the bits of my chest that are visible through the rips in my shirt and to my hands and forearms. I have a big problem with the teeth - not only do I start to gag as soon as I insert them, they also pop out and fly across the room if I open my mouth wider than a vole’s bum hole. Fuggit! I’ll put them in when I get there. I tug on some big boots that could suggest that a pair of Lycanthropic and clawed-feet are barely restrained within, and phone for a mini-cab. Naturally I’ve left it far too late and they’re fully booked up for the next hour or so.

“But I’m a Werewolf!” I sob into the receiver.

“Yes, I’m sure you are sir, but I can’t do nuffink until at least 11 o’clock”.

It’s 9.45 all of a sudden and I tear out of the flat to try and find a black cab going west. You can picture what I look like can’t you? Luckily I’m too stressed-out to be self-conscious as I pant along the street up to Notting Hill Gate. Innocent pedestrians and walkers of incontinent and expensive dogs cower away from my snarling, hirsute aspect, concerned mothers cover the eyes of their excited offspring just as they spot my speeding form. I hurl myself into the first taxi that stops. Inevitably the sliding window is opened with a sound like the doors in ‘Star Trek’ and the Cro-Magnon behind the wheel says:

“Fuck me! You ‘ad a rough night or wot, mate?”

At Olympia I elbow through the crowds of anorak-wearing Games fans, showing my laminated pass to all and sundry and find the stand for “Werewolves of London”. “Ah, there you are Tim! It is Tim isn’t it? We were starting to get a little concerned.” I stick on the false nails that I’d distressed the night before (they now resemble those of someone who digs graves with their bare hands for a living) and take my place outside the display stand. Someone’s coming! Quick pop in the teeth! I do so and then leap out at the hapless, pimply young gent who appears to be vaguely interested in this fab new game for those lonely, retentive and solitary evenings. “GRRRRRR!” I snarl. “OUCH!” he exclaims as a pair of saliva-shiny plastic teeth strikes his left eye. As he fumbles away to seek medical help, I realise that my own, grimly discoloured smoker’s fangs will have to suffice for any subsequent visitors. There is absolutely nowhere for me to sit down for a break due to the thoughtless design of the display and after two hours of half-hearted leaping and growling, I need a fag and a piss desperately. Upon my return I’m told that I really shouldn’t just wander off like that without telling anybody. I pounce upon the officious little shit in his cheap and shiny suit and bite out his tongue, decorating all and sundry with an arterial-spray of his sluggish blood. Kneeling on his heaving chest I commence to savagely tear at the skin of his throat whilst howling in a manner that dogs of wolverine descent could hear from miles away. The longest seven hours of my life snail past and at five P.M. I walk home through Holland Park ignoring the stares and jibes of all in my way. It took me as long to depilate myself, as it had to hair-up all those hours ago. The next day the whole sorry saga was repeated again and was even more unbearable, so on the morning of day three I phoned ‘Dancers’ and told them that I had overnight fallen victim to a rare skin-disease previously only known to afflict Alsatians and Irish Wolfhounds and that I would sadly be unable to leave the quarantine of my home for at least another week. They had little choice but to comply. Even today, whenever the moon is full, I feel a familiar but disquieting stirring in my blood that makes me crouch on all-fours in my lunar-lit patio and howl for my distant brothers and sisters".

 

 

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