An old actor.

I remember sharing a dressing room with a tall, elderly gentleman actor whose life had become distilled into two great loves.

The first, was that of the profession which he’d followed for over 50 years. The second, a love of cricket.

Given the vagaries of employment that greets all those who choose to “tread the boards”, he’d done very little to protect himself against disappointment other than to try to use a good agent and then hope that over the course of whatever job came his way, he would turn in a good performance, be liked by his director and fellow actors and perhaps pick up enough good reviews to convince himself  that it really was a worthwhile life.

As far as his love of cricket went, that was something over which he had a greater degree of control and the nature of his profession enabled him to indulge in it with relish.

If he was “between engagements” there were days, sometimes even weeks, when he had time on his hands and if this coincided with the cricket season all the better. When he was working he much preferred to be in the theatre. This was because, with the exception of tedious matinee days, there were only his nightly obligations to fulfill. Should he be performing in the West End this meant a whole day of cricket ahead of him at the Oval or at Lord’s before he reluctantly pulled stumps and headed, courtesy of his bus pass, to whatever theatre was requiring his services.

One summer, he had been lucky enough to land a small part as a butler in an American film which was being shot on location in the West Indies. Early in the morning he was sitting having breakfast with the American director and the producers of the film. They were outside the hotel on the veranda facing the sea, the sky above them clear, cloudless, Wedgewood blue looking forward to the days  filming, when to the consternation of the Americans, one of the waiters approached the table and said to my friend, ” It’s raining, sir.” This caused some panic to appear in the eyes of the American producers who had no idea that the waiter was referring to the weather over Lord’s cricket ground where England were playing a test match against the West Indies.

My cricket-loving actor friend was one of happiest men I’ve had the pleasure to meet.


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