August 18th, 2020
Testament 1The fitting day was a couple of weeks before shooting, a train journey up to somewhere in the middle of nowhere in East London. After wondering up and down the same few roads the boy found the entrance down one of those roads you only see in crime dramas as a generic back street. It was just wide enough for a van to get though without scraping its mirrors and the boy had to wait a few minutes for a car to crawl down from the other end, only to be followed by another, then another, before he could skitter down, splashing in the dirty puddles that pooled around the bottoms of drainpipes that went up three floors on either side. The alley opened up to a large warehouse door where a few strangely dressed smokers stood nattering and laughing. These seem like the type he thought, there were lots of rings, a tattoo or two, one of them had blue hair, definitely the sort of thing someone working in a costume department would have. The boy checked his directions once more for luck before nervously approaching, waiting for one of them to notice him standing awkwardly nearby and approach him with a smile and a... 'Hiya! Here for the fitting?' 'For the- Yes, I...' She stubbed her cigarette on the bricks and waved for him to follow. 'Come on in then.' She smiled again and he smiled too. Actually not so bad so far. In fact, the excitement he'd felt on the train was starting to bubble up again as he followed the woman in under the rail of the big sliding doors. He squinted to see in the dark room, his eyes adjusting to the dim amber light that shone down from large industrial overheads. The warehouse was owned by one of the biggest costume rentals in London, and therefore, everywhere. Every imaginable character hung in protective plastic bags going back in rows and rows, so far that the boy couldn't see the other end of the long low room, where the lights were only on down his end, where things were happening that he suddenly realised he hadn't been paying attention to. The woman from outside gave him a little wave, grinning at his obvious awe which he quickly disguised with a strange fake cough, which caught in his throat and turned into a strange real cough that he sputtered over for a minute saying I'm fine in little wheezing gasps. He felt as cheeks redden as the woman raised an eyebrow, a mixture of pity and amusement on her face. Inside he grimaced, if I'm going to make it in this industry I'm going to have to get better at that. They started with basic measurements, which he had written on a piece of paper in his jacket pocket but was too nervous to say anything once the woman had pulled out a tape measure and asked him to remove his outermost layers. Makes sense, he thought, I doubt I've struck a particularly prepared image. Little did she know the boy and his mother had spent an hour the night before giggling with excitement as she carefully measured chest, head, neck, bust, dress size, shoe size, waist, hips, leg, inner leg, and pencilled them all down for him to bring the next day. Your first film set, she'd said, do you know what to expect? Not in the least, save what he'd seen in films set on film sets, or TV shows about TV shows where the murderer was a jilted actor and the director was in on it for financial reasons. Measured up, the Costume Lady went to a nearby rack and started rummaging through the jackets that hung there. They were all replica WWII, with various ensigns, badges, and things stitched on that would have meant a lot to his grandfather but not much at all to him. A jacket was found, thick green wool, heavier than it looked, stiff at the shoulders and elbows, a medium amount of leather attachments and a the grading that looked only a little above the most basic. He wondered how he'd got his promotion. Probably nothing heroic, he thought, accidentally saved a superior and spent the rest of his time panicked in a ditch before being sent home. He frowned internally, that got pretty bleak pretty quickly. Trousers were found to match, not easily given his rather drastic height to waist ratio. Suspenders, boots that fit surprisingly well, and were comfortable despite their clunky weight. The star of the show, however, was the flat, thick browed cap that sat like a military coronet upon his bright-eyed crown. The soldier in the mirror smiled back as he grinned like a fool at the image of himself all dressed up with only a war to go to. Guilt would rack him in a pale moment later as he considered how much he was enjoying the idea of armed combat, but right now he did look good in uniform. Costume complete he returned to his jeans a zip-hoodie which now felt rather underwhelming but incredibly comfortable and was pointed in the direction of three swivel chairs, arranged in profile before a set of mirrors surrounded by the classic dressing-room bulbs. It was like in the movies, the movies about movies that is, or the special features that came with a National Theatre recording, where he had glimpse into the famous glass courtyard. He imagined his own dressing room, the bare bulbs, cards from well-wishers blue-tacked around the edge, flowers in a vase, someone from make-up bustling in and out telling jokes as he stood calmly facing his reflection, confidence oozing from the room out through the door, along the corridor and down stairs, along a second corridor and backstage. He stood like Billy Elliot, a paragon of calm poise and determination, self-assured in the eyes of the audience and his peers alike. He looked again and saw the gangly boy in jeans and a zip-hoodie, staring blankly into the future.
©2007-2023 Benedict Esdale