I had an email a couple of weeks ago – would I be interested in speaking to the actors of a new film about MS? The producer was eager to portray an accurate and honest account of the realities of life with MS.
I read further – the actors were Lesley Sharp (from Scott & Bailey, my favourite) and Joseph Mawle who had been in Game of Thrones.
Erm, yes please?
So last Tuesday I found myself in a rehearsal room in London, chatting away to them and the script writer. They asked me an incredible array of insightful questions and I think I did my best to describe life as a person with MS.
On Friday, I was invited back to watch the first day of filming. My book was to be one of the props, so I gave them a copy, where it was placed in a prominent position. My book on film – fame at last! The scene I was to watch was taking place in a support group, with a circle of chairs, Joseph already sitting down and being joined by the therapist, a lovely actor called Jonathan Nyati ( to whom I gave some handy DIY advice).
I had lunch with Joseph in a beautiful sunlit garden (OK, so there were several other people around the bench) and then it was back to work. I wandered around, fascinated to watch Lesley Sharp re-do a scene over and over, where she walked through a door and along a corridor with an unmistakable MS walk. My eyes brimmed with tears; she had nailed it.
The sheer volume of people involved in filming was eye-opening – I counted at least twenty. During takes we had to be completely silent, so of course I dropped my bag with a huge thud by accident. Not my finest moment.
Halfway through the day, I heard my name being called from the other room. The producer was asking me if I wanted to be in the film. Huh? I walked in a daze towards her and she told me I was to be an extra (Woman in the Support Group), entering the room shortly after Jonathan, where Joseph was already sitting. I would then greet them both and take a seat.
Reader. I frantically worked it out. If I said no, I would regret it for ever. If I said yes, I would regret it for a short while. I said yes. I was given a cue, sent out the room and had to count two seconds before turning the door handle and walking in. Well, I did it. About six times (I think they were desperately trying to find my best angle). Where was Spanx when I needed it?
When I had finished, and stopped trembling, I felt brilliant. I had done it. And not only that, I was part of a project which will hopefully increase awareness of MS and the effects it can have. Before we left, I had a great chat with Lesley and Joseph, both of them impressing upon me just how important they thought this project was.
I floated back to Paddington, wondering if I had made the whole thing up. I’ll even have two credits on the film – script advisor and (fat) Woman in the Support Group, aka, Stumbling In Flats playing herself. Do you think I can apply for an Equity card?
p.s. I must point out, the camera puts on three stone …
p.p.s. I must lose said three stone before the premiere …