LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
(Thanks to the law of perversity (Aka Sod's Law), almost all of my raunchy dreams are somehow thwarted by events. I have no idea why I had this dream, but despite everything my subconscious threw at me I was obviously determined to get the guy! I have no idea who he is, the male name Val recurs in different dreams, so maybe it was someone I once met but whom my conscious mind has forgotten.)
I stood outside the door of Val's ground floor flat situated outside the town centre. As the star of the film he had the best lodgings. As female lead, playing opposite him, I had a nice flat above a shop in town, but I envied him for getting this place, even if it was a mile from the studio where the "indoor" shots were to be filmed. Tomorrow was a big day; not only had I landed the plum role in the film, but I would be doing my first steamy scene - and with such a well-known name! I rang the doorbell and waited.
"Come on in," he said, "Let's share a coffee, before we go through the scene again. Are you worried?"
I laughed. "No, okay, maybe a little. I've never done this sort of scene before!"
He laughed too. "Don't worry! Take a seat, I'll get that coffee."
I dumped my coat over the back of an armchair and my handbag on the coffee table next to a well-thumbed copy of the script while he switched on the coffee maker. The kitchen was a small area opening into the sitting room. I walked over to the kitchen window and gazed out at the river where three white ducks floated serenely by. Symbolic, I decided, calm above the water and paddling frantically below. It was almost dusk.
"It's a nice place," I said finally.
"Hmm," he agreed as he closed the lid of the coffee maker, "The bridge over the river looks nice when the streetlights light up. Where have they put you?"
"I've got a flat over the baker's shop." I replied, still looking at the rain-slick pavement (uneven sandy-coloured slabs, not modern concrete).
He put an arm round my shoulders in a companionable way, "First a coffee, then we go through that scene. You fancy a proper rehearsal?"
"Dress rehearsal?" I asked, smiling nervously.
"Undress rehearsal?" he asked in response.
Was that a proposition or just teasing, I wondered. It was hard to be sure. We had become good friends during the weeks of filming. Now after all that time spent shooting outdoors while the weather held (today was the first day of rain) everyone was ready to move onto the indoor shots. Room interiors had been built in the local film studio and the continuity boys were going crazy trying to make sure the shots hung together properly without any glaring continuity errors. Val and I had shared coffee, spent lunch-breaks and shooting breaks together and generally hung around together until even the director had begun to mutter under his breath. But we were supposed to be on-screen lovers and wanted to get the feeling right, so it was only natural that we spend so much time becoming comfortable with each other so that it looked natural. Val had made the odd remark which might have been something more had I cared to read between the lines, but I viewed him as a friend, an experienced actor who had helped me with my lines and put me at ease on this, my first starring role. I admired him as a friend and an actor, and anyway, he had a nice bum, dark hair, great looks, a lovely smile - and a horde of female fans.
A door from the living room was open a chink and a little light shone through. The bathroom? I wondered, or the bedroom? The coffee was ready so we went back into the living room and settled into two of the armchairs, just to chat about the next day's filming. I was nervous about tomorrow; I had never done scenes which required me to remove so much clothing. How was it possible to shoot such intimate scenes without becoming, well, even a little excited? I got the feeling that this rehearsal of the steamy scene might get - well not exactly out of hand, but it might stray away from the actual script. I didn't particularly mind, that smile would win anyone over.
The doorbell rang again.
"I'll get it," Val said, "I wasn't expecting any callers."
It was my parents. They'd come to a few shoots to see how it was all done and to lend moral support simply by being there. They were as excited as I was at this big movie - I real step away from washing-up liquid ads and walk-on parts in drama series: the extra standing by the coffee-machine in The Bill, woman in waiting room in Casualty and suchlike. Val had given them his address in case they needed to contact me while we doing walkthroughs of the script during filming breaks.
"I hope we aren't disturbing you, " my father said as they came into the living room, "We're going back tomorrow and just wanted to wish you luck."
"Not at all," Val told him, "We're just going through the script for the big studio scenes tomorrow. Can I fix you a coffee - or tea?"
Strange. I was sitting in an armchair chatting to my parents while a famous actor sat on the arm of my chair after making cups of tea. Did my parents notice anything untoward? The way he leaned slightly towards me or the arm resting on the back of my chair. He was tickling the back of my neck, out of sight, and all I could do was ignore it as best I could. Much as I liked seeing my parents (they were so proud of me), I really wanted them to leave. I hinted at the importance of practising for tomorrow's big scene (without telling them what it was) and getting it over in one shoot and felt quite relieved when I kissed them goodbye and Val shook their hands. He had told them how much he rated me as an actress and how confident I seemed even though I must have been nervous at my first big film break.
As they opened the door I saw my sisters' shared car outside. Both sisters had come to see some of the filming - something they could tell their University friends about - but they hadn't got this address surely? As soon as they saw mum and dad in the doorway they came over to us. By now the streetlights were shining amber on the rain-wet road.
"Hi, sis, we saw Dad's car outside and thought if we waited we'd know which flat you were in. We just wanted to wish you luck before we went back."
So of course, as Mum and Dad left, my two sisters came in for coffee. They thought Val was ace - autographs, anecdotes the whole lot. Trouble was, every time I'd taken boyfriends home they'd paid more attention to my skinny blonde sisters than to me. Was I feeling a bit jealous of the attention Val paid to them, especially when one of them had a sneezing fit? All that solicitous attention, kneeling beside her seat and patting her on the shoulders - much as I had always loved my family, I really couldn't wait until they left.
"Is it the cat fur on my clothes?" I asked (there was a cat in some of the scenes) "I've got anti-histamine tablets in my handbag if you need one."
"I'll get it," Val offered. Was he getting protective of my sisters? Or was he hinting at some sort of familiarity between us, warning my sisters off?
"We didn't know where you were, but we saw their car as we were driving back to the hotel. You don't mind us dropping in to say goodbye do you?"
"No, it's nice of you to come up to see your big sis. We were just going to do a walkthrough of the script for a scene tomorrow, it's quite an important one." I indicated the script on the coffee table.
One sister rolled her eyes, sensing that maybe she should leave. The other wanted to see the script. Val, who was sitting on the arm of my chair again (was he leaning a little closer this time?), told her it wasn't allowed and she'd have to wait to see the film. The more perceptive of the pair started saying her goodbyes and virtually dragged the other from her chair. Once again it was kisses and hugs all round and from the way they hugged Val I was sure they'd have given their right arms to do tomorrow's scene in my place. A couple of hours had passed, dusk had come and gone and there probably wasn't time to run through our lines before tomorrow.
Val collapsed expressively into a vacated armchair, arms outflung, and sighed heavily. "Do your family always choose these times to arrive?"
"Usually," I replied. "It's getting late," I added, reaching for the thumbed pages on the table.
"Leave it," he said, stopping my hand in mid-air and giving it a friendly squeeze. "I know all my lines - why don't you just ad-lib?" and he flashed me one of those heart-stopping smiles and winked.
"Didn't you mention something about it being a (cough) dress rehearsal?"
"Something like that!"
What do actor boyfriends whisper into their partner's ear at critical moments preceding passion? "Lights, camera, action"! We rehearsed the scene. Only neither of us stuck to the four-minute script ... and to be absolutely sure, we rehearsed it again in the morning.