Last week was one of the most bizarre of my life. It started on Monday morning with an almighty banging on my front door shortly before 9am.
“Who is it?” I asked gingerly through the closed door.
“Police” came back the reply.
I opened the door thinking it could be anyone claiming to be the police but then I saw three burly uniformed policemen in body armour standing on the landing.
“Can we come into your flat?” one of them asked.
I was hesitant. Fortunately, my flat was relatively tidy as my new neighbour and I had gone to the 18th century Clandon Park House the day before and I had made us both a light supper on our return. But on the other hand, I did not want the police traipsing all over my carpet in their outdoor shoes.
"What’s the matter? “ I asked, growing increasingly concerned that something terrible had happened. I have no next of kin as such so I knew they could not be calling me to tell me of a death in the family. Perhaps it was something to do with another resident in the house.
“Do you have windows at the front of the house?” the self-designated spokesman asked. When I replied that I did he asked if they could just take a look at them. Immediately I thought they wanted to use my windows for some kind of covert surveillance operation.
“Just let me get dressed, “I insisted. “I will only be a few minutes. “
I did not feel comfortable standing there in just my towelling dressing gown.
“If I can just stand by your kimono, the policeman asked, pointing to where my 19th century Japanese wedding kimono hung from the living room wall.
“Well okay," I agreed dubiously, thinking it an odd request.
Then the policeman explained that because I had a foil backing to the painted Chinese screens I had at my window they thought I was running a drugs’ farm. A drugs’ farm!
“But I put foil on the back to act as insulation; to keep the heat and the cold out," I declared, completely flabbergasted. A quick glance at my window sill showed I was growing lettuce, tomatoes, a cucumber, chilli peppers, Swiss chard, French Tarragon, mint and courgettes. Nary an illicit substance in sight. The whole idea I could be running a drugs farm was ridiculous. I have since discovered that people engaged in growing illicit plants use artificial light and keep the windows covered at all times. I have the screens down during the day and usually have the windows wide open during daylight hours being something of a fresh air freak. Nor do I run up a huge electricity bill. In fact quite the reverse, as I endeavour to keep my fuel bills as low as possible, especially during recent winters when the sheer cold forced the Brimstone Butterfly into a kind of hibernation, swaddled in her cocoon of quilts and hot water bottles. It beggars belief that they should have tried to raid my flat without first carrying out a few cursory checks. Some said later that I should not have let them in without a search warrant but it never occurred to me I could be a suspect. Their over the top response seems quite ridiculous in retrospect but at the time, thinking that something dreadful had happened and their refusal to allay my fears was quite upsetting, I think I have been the victim of a malicious anonymous tip-off designed to waste the police’s time and my own. But of course the police are never going to admit what prompted them to act the way they did.
Later during the week I had two interviews at two separate locations for two different roles within half an hour of one another. I knew I would either be a quivering wreck or as cool as a cucumber. Luckily I was the latter but have yet to discover how they both went.
On Thursday, my friend’s short Indie film was shown at the Soho Curzon in London’s West End as part of the Soho Film Festival. The film we had made together earlier in the year has already been shown in Amsterdam, Spain, Moscow, Italy and England but this was the first time we had been able to go along and see a public screening in person. I have been to the Curzon Soho on many occasions in the past so it was a strange sensation to think a film I was in would be screened there. Not having the top fashion houses on speed dial, I decided to wear a navy blue polka dot dress which a retro vibe, together with a denim jacket and a 1930s bejewelled cloche hat. I also wore a pair of battered white plimsolls. I hoped people would think them edgy rather than in need of a damn good clean.
There were not many people around to watch the selection of winning films, which was hardly surprising given that they were being shown at noon on a weekday. I know I would have ordered a three line whip amongst my friends of it had been held in the evening or at the weekend. The Filmmaker turned up late. He was supposed to arrive a quarter of an hour before the actual screening. As it was he arrived with less than a minute to spare. Consequently, the only images I have of the screening is of a reflection I took of myself in the Ladies. Still, the good news is that the Filmmaker has found an Italian distributor and over the next few years we could receive royalties in the region of tens of millions of pounds. All right, that is a slight exaggeration: royalties of around ten quid between us.
After the screening we went to Maison Bertaux for coffee and I treated myself to a cream cake to take home with me. In my opinion this quaint French café and bakery in Greek Street is one of the finest patisseries in London. It has been baking fresh bread and cakes on the premises since the 19th century and I always try and buy a small cake or two from there whenever I am in the vicinity. I spent the rest of the afternoon in my more familiar guise of amateur historian and walked over to Hyde Park Corner and Apsley House to explore the Duke of Wellington’s former home. Given that I seemed to be facing my own personal Waterloo all week, what better place to visit than the home of the victor of Waterloo?