This week I made a couple of tentative steps into my attempts at becoming a real journo. These involved being invited to the screening of a TV show, drinking too many of the complimentary beers, standing quite close to two men I admire but couldn’t pluck up the balls to talk to and then sitting on my own, at the back of an auditorium, pretending to take notes. You know what I worked out? I fucking love being a journalist.
The series in question was The Mimic, the beer in question was Becks, and the two men were Terry Mynott (who stars as Martin Huddle) and Matt Morgan (who wrote it (and also saw Russell Brand right through his darkest ages)). I admire them because they are both brilliant at what they do, funny and seem approachable, yet, I could not approach them.
I have discovered that the best thing you can do when at a press launch event type thing is pretend you know what everyone is talking about and say the name of your publication as often and as quickly as you can.
“Paul Schiernecker” I muttered to the girls in reception handing out the laminates. “I’m here for WUWO”. I took stock of what I was saying, issuing words like I was Doctor Gonzo with a cigarillo clamped between his grinding jaws, A man walked in front of me in a bike jacket.
“Hi, I’m really sorry but I need to toilet, can I just grab my pass?” he asked. I went to be annoyed, to issue some kind of disdain at being shoved down the line before I realised I was before the very man I was there for. It was Terry Mynott, the mimic, the talent, the man my friend Aislinn had described as being like a good looking version of Dan Skinner. He was there, right in front of me, and he needed a wee. I couldn’t believe it.
The reception girls threw their arms out over their deck, trying to find his pass and then handed it across to him, all crouched and lowly like Gollum. He walked off to the toilets. I stood, amazed.
I’m easily starstruck. I once told Simon Pegg that I wanted to keep my brother in a shed. I once freaked out when Simon Amstell appeared to acknowledge I was a person in a hallway of The Roundhouse. I was once onstage with Joe Pasquale in a pantomime production of Peter Pan. I am not yet cut out for the dizzying heights of being Mikey P (that’s what us journos call Michael Parkinson). I stood like a man possessed and watched someone I had seen on the telly a few times disappear off to the lav. I couldn’t believe I had come so close to an interaction. Maybe it could replace the time I saw Paul Gascoigne in an airport as my celebrity story. No, don’t be too brash Paul, think about what you’re saying!
I then had to repeat my name, annunciating effectively this time so they could dig it out for me. At the top it had a big double line through the words “Victoria Wood – writer”.
Fuck you Dinnerladies, I thought to myself and was ushered down the stairs in to the basement like an errant Fritzl mongrel child.
When I got down there I found a crowd of other unwashed, Converse bedecked and bespectacled writer types awaiting some kind of action. They each sat in a corner of the room which was seemingly impossible to the world of physics because it was a perfect circle. Outside the area was a bar. I got a Becks and sat down, pretending to be engaged in a series of emails I had received offering me Wowcher deals and the opportunity to review my own novel on Amazon.
Then in came the wonderful girls of the PR agency with whom I had received countless emails as they tried to keep the whole show on the road. They were only ever too keen to set things up, point things out and seemed to build a genuine rapport so quickly that it seemed inappropriate. They walked in amongst us like the girls of the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, Disney critters fluttering between them, a choir of rose-like smells given off by their very presence. Fifteen guts were sucked in, smiles were forced, we aimed to please.
They began working their way around the circle, chatting to the writers on either side of me. I went up to get another beer. There was a strange knot of people stood to one side. Amongst them, now in a t-shirt was Terry, and with him, in a beanie hat and hefty beard was Matt Morgan. This is when I really started to freak out. There was a time, not long enough ago that I am ready to laugh about it, that my good friend Jocasta and I would sit in front of the wireless (a laptop at the end of his bed with some bodacious speakers) and listen to Matt and Russell in their 6 Music days. This was before they got over to Radio 2. It was before Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Sachs-gate and Katy Perry. It felt like they were chatting to us and we were there for them every week. Over the course of the following few days we would also download the podcasts and laugh again at their stupid comments and conversations, their between-track banter (god I hate that word) and their friendship and rapport. It was a very precious time. That’s why seeing one of them in the flesh freaked me out a bit. I had a similar incident when I saw Brand perform at the Cliffs last year and he came near me whilst on the prowl for his after-show feast.
I stood at the bar and pretended to be an actual normal human being and then scurried back to my seat with another bottle in my hand. That’s when the lovely Emma who I have been emailing decided to instigate a conversation. When I told her who I was working for she pointed along the bench at a couple of young rapscallions who were interns for my magazine. I joined them to pretend to know what I was talking about and to explain the strengths of The Mimic over conventional impressions shows. Then we got another beer.
We were ushered into the screening room where I once more shuffled past Terry and Matt, worried I was about to foul the whole thing up by letting my mask slip. I sat in the back with the most revered looking of the journalists and took out my notepad. I wrote THE MIMIC in my blotchy hand at the top of the page and then considered writing something else for over an hour.
The commissioning editor gave a short speech and then we watched the first two episodes. The strange thing about attending an event like that on your own is it feels a bit odd to laugh. Fortunately everyone else was laughing because the second series of The Mimic is even better than the first. The visual and written jokes are back, the voices have grown in quality and volume, the setup for them doesn’t feel as clunky. It’s a great show.
Afterwards everyone applauded, as you naturally have to, and there was a question and answer session. I, naturally didn’t ask anything but tried to capture a couple of the provided anecdotes in note form. As class was dismissed I ducked out again, bowing to anyone who smiled at me and leaving Victoria Wood’s pass with security, I walked back out the door and under the roaming chunks of metal that make up the structural 4 at the front of the building. I was out. I was done.
Two days later I did get to speak to Terry at length as an interview had been setup for us. This time I was prepared. I had good questions about voices and acting and things. To be fair to the man, he knows how to spin a good yarn. His anecdotes were bittersweet and brilliant, he laughed at my attempts at jokes and he even treated me to impressions of Charlie Brooker, Alan Carr and Walter White. I tweeted him which he duly favourited, the social media equivalent of a thumbs up. I will say this much, I’ve been given a glimpse of things to come and I loved it. This is just the tip of the iceberg but I’m ready to veer right for it and kill everyone on board.