Sunday, 12 March 2017

The Oscar for best exposed bum goes!

The wonderful Emma Thompson - she pinched my bum with gusto!
Rather than dwelling on an imbecilic cock-up concerning envelopes and selfie-obsessed idiots at last week’s Academy Awards, I remember the fantastic films nominated in 1995. Both Pulp Fiction and Sense and Sensibility swept me away with their superb screenplays and performances.

Emma Thompson quite rightly won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. It took her seven years to write and then she played her part with understated brilliance, and then she tweaked my bum with gusto.

What was that?

Don't tell me Emma Thompson ever had physical contact with your nether regions.

Oh go on then. Tell me. Tell me another base and sordid tale from your quirky past. Tell me a bizarre story involving toilets, a genuine Academy Award Winner and your scribbler’s bare naked behind.

Back in the 1990s, my dear friend and actor Chris was on a world tour with Kenneth Branagh’s Renaissance Theatre Company, performing in King Lear and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

At the time, I was living in West Yorkshire, so I crossed the Pennines to spend some time with Chris when the tour reached Manchester. He arranged my tickets, so that I could see Lear in the evening, and Dream the following afternoon.

To be honest, I was a little nervous of this double-whammy of old Bill Spear and his barmy 17th century lingo. There is a painful scar on my brain that resembles the words ‘A level English Literature', yet I was absolutely blown away by both shows.

Richard ‘Dickie’ Briers (smiley Tom of ‘The Good Life’ himself) was just a tad too cuddly as crazy King Lear, but Emma Thompson’s performance as the fool was dazzling. She hammed it up just right, dragging herself around the stage on her knees, with such resigned expertise that you ended up believing her/him an amputee.

The following lunchtime, Chris brings me backstage to meet the cast and crew before the matinĂ©e, and before you can say ‘dealer takes two’, I’m being invited to play a little dressing room poker with Dickie and the lads.

Never one to spurn a chance to take money from those that have it, I sit down and await my cards, but sadly the game is not to be. Just as we start playing, a cheery boyish Kenneth Branagh appears in the doorway and announces:

“20 minutes!”

It’s a bit like being in a fire station when the siren sounds. All of a sudden everyone has a mission, and I have none. Chris does his pursed-lip smile thing as his hand directs my back out the door.

I confess to him that I desperately need to use the loo. He points down the backstage corridor to the left, and says he’ll see me later, but right now he has to become a moth.

“Fair enough!” says I, walking swiftly off, feeling the urgency of my mission building with sudden vehemence.

I test the first door I come to, and at the sight of washbasins and the like, I fly into the middle cubicle, lower my jeans and feel immediate, wonderful and substantial relief.

With my breathing returned to normal, I look around the cubicle for some entertaining backstage graffiti. Just imagine the legions of great actors that must have sat right here, on the backstage po-po at the Manchester Palace Theatre.

Oh no. 
Oh good god no.

To my left sits a sanitary towel disposal container. Even given the trendy nature of thespians, I doubt very much that they share their toilet areas with the opposite sex.

My heart sinks down to my toes. Oh please don’t let me be in the Ladies.

At that very moment, I hear the door open, and three very female voices announce their arrival. My heart rises from my toes and drops out of my bottom, travelling west down the U-bend.

How bad is this?

How much do I want to be caught lurking in the famous ladies’ loo?

Best sit very very quietly until they are gone.

My blinking sounds like thunderclaps, my breathing like a wheezy gale, but I remain undetected, and exhale deeply as I hear the chitty-chatter stop and the door close.

All is silent now, and I must grab the moment, before anybody else walks in.

With one movement, I kick open the cubicle door and grab my jeans, pulling them up as I enter the washroom area. In the massive mirror in front of me I see my reflection, an ungainly image of bare thighs, exposed buttocks and - and also staring into the mirror, not three feet away from me, there stands Emma Thompson in her flowing white Helena robe.

Her mouth falls agape as I frantically explain who I am, apologise and make swift my escape.

Sadly, most of the production passes me by in a blur, so fraught am I by the horrific events of earlier, but by the end of it, I have calmed down, and feel happy to be walking along the street with my mate, proud of his achievements and thirsty for a pint or three.

Behind us we hear excited female voices, and Chris turns around to see Siobhan Redmond and Emma Thompson heading along behind us.

With a slight edge of pride in his voice, he turns to me.

"Hang about mate, I’ll introduce you! Siobhan, Emma this is my friend Charlie and -"

at which Emma Thompson walks behind me, and very obviously and sportingly pinches my arse as she greets me:

"Hello Charlie! I didn’t recognise you with your trousers on!"

Chris turns to me, almost lost for words.

"I can’t leave you alone for one minute, can I?" he exclaims, sounding just as proud now, for very different reasons, as he had the moment before.

©Charlie Adley

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