We had one of those frightful movie types from Los Angeles arrive at the club a month or so ago. He was introduced to us by one of our shady new mems, who got into the home of homes in the last intake in order to enlarge our dwindling exchequer.
This Californian went by the moniker of Chip Ladd, which I am almost positive is not his real name. His intent, he said, was to use our edifice in his next “major motion picture” as the home of a misunderstood prostitute.
Skepticism is an ugly word, but it ran through the heart of our club like scurvy. The so-called “Chip” wandered within our ivy-covered walls back-slapping one and all and astoundingly offered my favourite barman and waiter the part of the long lost son “in transition.”
Rogers preened about the halls practicing his line — “What about the bandages?” — as he delivered our martinis. Somehow (money) Herr Ladd managed to convince our board to allow the film to actually take place upon our carpeted floors with all manner of disruption, which is an outrage of the first order.
On the day in question we waited as if for a firing squad, sure that the filming would not work out. What had been advertised by Chip as “a few lights and a man or two, which would almost be unnoticeable” turned out to be stadium lighting and some of the largest humans ever witnessed in the senior reading room.
Heavy cabling was draped over us as we sat, stunned, in our green wing-backs, while several tough females told us we could not move and were to “shut our mouths.” The star arrived, and to say she was in fading mode would be an understatement, so several autograph books were quickly put out of sight.
From what we could hear from the rooms where the actual production was taking place, Mr. Shakespeare can rest easy. There was terrible swearing followed by exclamations of joy from Chip, and then the star shouted “ Don’t touch me there again!” followed by a thoughtful silence. The climax seemed to be some sort of ripping sound preceded by a scream and Rogers’s line, “What about the bandages?”
Now, I don’t know about you, but mems forced to sit for long stretches festooned in heavy cable after a martini or two felt urgent needs, such as an emergency bathroom break. Their silently mouthed cries for help were met by the dead eyes of the aforementioned production assistants, and complete indifference descended on the soon to be moist reading room. Tea towels were discretely passed around the embarrassed mems with fixed smiles.
At long last the film wound down, but not before several unscheduled pistol shots rang out, pushing the last of the mems who had managed to not produce a personal accident over the abyss.
We Smythe-Browns like going to the movies; in fact my brother Llewellyn met his present wife Rosetta at the flicks when he dropped a gallon of orange pop onto her head during a frightening movie. She chased him into the lobby and out into the traffic, where he was hit by a singing bicyclist. This brought sympathy galore from the wet-haired Rosetta, and they celebrate to this day their accidental meeting by attending as many cinemas as possible.
So let it be known far and wide that we as a family love the movies, but Chip Ladd brought a pause to that love affair. After the director and crew left it was discovered that two upstairs maids plus the sous chef were pregnant and several valuable silver forks were missing from the dining room collection.
Sadly Rogers is still shouting, “What about the bandages?” while he serves.