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Blog: Up And Down Camden High Street With A Sofa

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Last Thursday was a big day in the theatre for me and also for a bunch of chums, as it was the Dress Rehearsal for "The Sexy Seven", the compendium of short plays that we had on at The Etcetera Theatre. Things had been going amazingly well for the show so far - we'd sold out of all tickets for Friday and Saturday with only a few left for Sunday - so I was expecting SOMETHING to go wrong, just so that we would obey the eternal laws of Doing A Show.

SPOILERS: I was not to be disappointed.

All was well when I arrived - I showed the actors how to get into the fish costumes I'd made (NB my play features two prehistoric fish, which I thought was terribly clever when I wrote it but less so when I had to spend HOURS working out HOW to make and then ACTUALLY making the costumes) and how to work my camera tripod for another play, then said hello to the various colleagues who were there. Mr A Dawson (PRODUCER) and Mrs A Ferrar (Props) were looking a bit worried because the sofa that they'd ordered as Main Prop hadn't arrived yet, but otherwise all seemed well so I popped out for some LUNCH.

Over the road from the Etcetera was The inSpiral Cafe, a vegan raw food cafe that I'd looked in several times but had never been quite brave enough to actually enter. I steeled myself and did so, and was EXTREMELY glad that I did because the food was FANTASTIC. I had a raw creamy cashew cheese tart which was odd looking in many ways but DELICIOUS! As I'd designated Thursday as an official Day Off, I accompanied it with a cheeky lunchtime beer. HOORAH! As I ate a drank I marvelled at the wide range of Traditional Veggie Cafe TYPES, my favourite this time being Wild Haired Hippy Man Trying To Look Cool In Front Of Pretty Young Girl Wearing A Headband. It was a classic!

I was just finishing off my SOY LATTE (if you're going to do these things you should do them properly) when I got a text from Alex saying that the sofa hadn't arrived, he was going to buy another one, could I meet him outside Argos? "AHA!" I thought, RELIEVED that Doing A Show was FINALLY happening, "So it begins!" Argos always seems to be FULL of people buying emergency props whenever we're in Edinburgh so this felt right and proper, even if a sofa is perhaps a little bit pricier than the norm.

I set off to Argos, passing The Oxford Arms underneath the theatre, where I saw Alex and Alison and everyone sitting in the window. I went in to discover what had happened: our sofa had been ordered from a company in Birmingham, who'd arranged to deliver it to the pub. When it hadn't arrived by 3pm our team had rung, to be told that it had been delivered, just not to the pub! Further research got us an address, a "shoe shop" a few doors down.

We had a name for the person who'd signed for it, so off we went to the "shoe shop" (actually a bog standard Camden Tat Shop), where one of the staff told us that the signer was the manager but he wasn't there, while others denied such a person worked there at all. HMMM. It was all A Little Bit Dodgy but there wasn't a whole heap we could do about it - we knew a delivery HAD been made there as TNT, the delivery company, had taken a photograph, but the staff denied all knowledge of a sofa so, needing one URGENTLY for the dress rehearsal, we headed down the road to Argos as planned.

Here we ordered a sofa and patiently waited for it to be brought to us. I had visions of some great heavy item that would need a happy half hour of allen key wrangling to assemble, but when it arrived it was a very short piece of folded foam. It was a bit disappointing after the aforesaid VISION but did at least have the benefit of being easy to carry as Alex and I LUGGED it back up Camden High Street. As we walked i thought about what a total shit hole Camden High Street is, and how miserable everybody seems to be who lives there. It's like an Even Worse, Much Dirtier version of BRIGHTON, where people seem to think they can be RUDE all the time because they reckon they live somewhere that's All That. At least Brighton has veggie pubs and a seaside.

We eventually got back to the pub, where one of the barstaff said "Is that another sofa?" "The first one didn't come" explained Alex. "Oh", said the chap. "There's one upstairs. It's just been delivered."

Sure enough, while we'd been gone, the original sofa had magically turned up! There were two schools of thought as to how this had happened, EITHER the shop owner had got spooked by the fact we knew his name and had a picture of his shop so had decided to bring it back OR TNT had got two orders mixed up, had delivered something else to the tat shop earlier but marked it down as our delivery by mistake.

Whichever way round it was we now had 200% of the sofas we actually needed, so Alex went back upstairs for the tech run and Ali and I went all the way back down Camden High Street again. This time my thoughts meandered to the sad way that Camden has appropriated Britpop and turned it into a heritage industry. They've commercialised Britpop! That's never what Britpop was about, right guys?

When we eventually got to Argos we were greeted as old chums by staff members who happily reimbursed us so, in a very real sense, all was well. By the time we got back to the venue I felt I had earnt a PINT so GOT one and then went to sit in for the dress rehearsal that we'd all come for.

It was dead good! My play was on first and the actors were fab, the costumes worked well, and there were LARFS aplenty (all right a lot of them were from me, but still) so I was very happy. The rest of the show was ACE too, although it got cut off about 80% of the way through because we were running late and another lot neeeded to come in. What we saw, though, showed that it was working - we had an Actual Show!

Afterwards there was beer and chat and, eventually, talk of doing the whole thing again. It sounds like a GRATE idea to me, although maybe the next one could involve less furniture?

posted 16/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett

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