This morning, I’m afraid, I was meant to have an off-camera rehearsal with one of our contributors from the White City film. Sadly, I didn’t sleep at all last night. I spent the entire night panicking about the filming. We’re not the most brilliantly organised team and an email I sent last night, with a list of things I felt we needed to achieve before the second round of filming commenced, was met with a kind of “I’ll try my hardest to do what I can, but I’m not a conjurer,” which meant I then spent the night trying to work out what we’d need to do in a broad range of situations. Sometimes I get the impression that everything I request is either met with a “we can’t achieve this on the budget we have” or the impression that people are doing me a favour by doing anything I ask for. I kept waking up with adrenaline bolts surging through my body, all of which came at the moment I dropped off to sleep. It’s the second night this has happened, and it’s terrifying.
Confronted with the thought that (at the last minute) no one was able to accompany me to the rehearsal this afternoon, I’m afraid, for the first time in my life, I bailed out. The idea of having to deal with all of Frank’s concerns and explain to him the practicalities and timings of the shoot was just too much for a man who hadn’t slept a wink. Frankly, it wouldn’t have been fair on Frank. He deserves only encouragement for the amazing work he’s done on this film.
So I took myself across London to Philippa’s house and spent the afternoon playing in the park with Deia and Silver, and a group of about 10 4 ½-year olds who seemed to want to use me as a climbing frame. It’s funny how trusting children are. The moment Deia jumped on my back to ride me like a donkey, all her friends appeared and hopped on as well. You could see rather concerned mothers, who hadn’t been introduced to me, either feeling embarrassed that their children were potentially bothering a man they didn’t know, or more likely terrified that a 38 year-old stranger was playing with their children. I hope it was the former. I would be very sad if what I was doing had aroused suspicion. That’s the world we live in, however.
Still, spending an afternoon playing on the swings, and creating magical structures out of glittery beads, was exactly the tonic I was looking for. Life as seen through the eyes of a little girl is a much more relaxing and simplistic place. Deia worries if the cat makes a mess of the craft work she’s doing, or if another little girl won’t share a biscuit with her. It is hugely refreshing to realise that a problem is just a problem. What is a disaster for Deia is but a drop in the ocean for me and actually the crippling stress which I’m experiencing on White City is nothing compared to the pain my friend Sally went through when she lost her husband to cancer. Sally’s problems are nothing when we consider what going on in Syria, and so it goes on. But it’s all relative to what we know. I guess, if I put my logical hat on, I’m lucky that all I have to be stressed about is a film musical, but on the flip side, because I’ve never suffered the loss of a close relative or friend, it’s the most stressed I can imagine anyone ever being. If I were to lose a loved one, I’d be stressed about that, and all my other worries would probably somehow fade away. Perhaps. I have no idea, really. I suppose it’s all about how we manage stress to make sure that, instead of preparing ourselves for every possible doom-laden eventuality, we do what we can, when we can, and greet problems as and when they arise... because in all honesty, we have no idea what lies around the corner. Much more important is that we try not to let our own stress effect those we love, and seeing a mother like Philippa selflessly pushing her own problems aside to keep her child as free as possible from sadness and worry is a deeply humbling thing.