A guy I know (sortof) called David is getting together some proposals for movies and is asking really talented people to make a pitch based on a specific location. I've been asked to do Islington. I see this piece as a quintessentially London film which is very much grounded in Islington and reflects a lot of issues which ordinary Londoners are facing every day. It pays homage to Richard Curtis but also nods in the direction of Europe and, of course, has more than a passing acquaintance with Hollywood. So far only Colin Firth and Cate Blanchett are in the frame but it's early days.
Sc. 1 A woman d'un certain age, wearing rather drab clothes, is sitting alone in a cafe in Highbury. She is cupping a mug of cappuccino in her hands and is idly looking at the new year honours list in the Guardian. A gang of cheery Arsenal supporters walk by outside. They are joshing with each other and waving football rattles. The woman looks soulful. She is surrounded by happy couples who are either laughing, holding hands or kissing.
Sc. 2 Ganache (for that is the woman's name -her mother was very fond of baking) is at her desk at work in her office which is on the top floor of the Gherkin. Next to her, standing by a drawing board, is her boss who is distractedly poking a pencil in his ear.
"God, Ganache, this practice is going down the tubes if we don't get a big design commission soon."
"What? We're getting a London Underground job" quips Tarquin, the young assistant.
Jack glowers and Ganache looks anxious.
Sc. 3 Ganache is walking down Chapel Market, clutching a bunch of daffodils and is flanked by her best friends, Don and Con. Don is a leading barrister and Con is a lorry driver. Happy market traders are laughing and trading jokes. Con and Don are slightly overweight and both men are wearing frocks.
"Daahling we're going to get you some new togs and a really lovely surprise to cheer you up!" cries Don.
Sc. 4 Ganache is curled up in a Mies Van Der Rohe leather armchair in her attic flat in Canonbury Square. She is wearing a rather daringly, low cut top and is cuddling a really lovely kitten. She looks optimistic.
Sc. 5 Ganache is walking down Liverpool Road, under the flowering cherry trees, towards her office. She is dressed in a floating, floral dress and is wearing lipstick. Jack is walking towards her and as he comes near, cries,
"Splendid news, Ganache, we've won the commission to design all of the Olympic buildings - even the stadia! It looks like you, me and Tarquin are going to be burning the midnight oil. Let's celebrate!"
CUT TO THE INTERIOR OF THE IVY. Jack is reaching across the bottles of sparkling wine and glasses of sparkling water and is looking into Ganache's sparkling eyes.
"Y'know Ganache, there's something rather different about you tonight. You have a certain sparkle. Here, have some more to drink."
Sc. 6 Jack and Ganache are walking past Kenwood House in Hampstead Heath. They are holding hands. A light rain begins to fall. They stop by the statue of Peter Pan and kiss.
Sc. 7 It is a hot, sunny day. Ganache is standing outside a conference hall in Edinburgh beside a poster which says, "Royal Institute of British Architects Annual Conference sponsored by ODPM, CABE and RICS". Jack and Tarquin appear round the corner.
"Golly" says Tarquin, "Everyone who is everyone is here."
CUT TO HOTEL IN MIDDLE OF NIGHT. Jack is scuttling down a corridor in his striped pjs. He knocks softly on a door which is opened by Ganache who is wearing a floor length, white cotton nightdress. As Jack slips through the door Rogers, Foster and Alsop come round the corner. They are laughing expansively and smoking cigars.
"Well, well." snarls Foster, "Little jumped-up-Jack is being a naughty boy - stealing the bigger boys toys and playing away from home."
"Let's make the most of this" drawls Alsop.
"And get the design commission for the Olympics back where it belongs!" cries Rogers.
Sc. 8 Jack is outside his house in Notting Hill, packing the boot of his SUV while being nagged by his wife and 3 teenage children. CUT TO Ganache who is packing a small bag with a few blouses and skirts and a copy of "1,000 English Churches To See Before You Die". Ganache looks wistful.
Sc. 9 Ganache, Don and Con are sitting in a cafe in Upper Street. Outside small children, in new uniforms, are being walked to school by their nannies. One working-class Cockney boy is dressed in the new Arsenal strip.
"Daahling, are you sure you're doing the right thing? A married man?" says Con, while adjusting the straps of his petticoat. Ganache looks worried.
Sc. 10 Ganache walks past some children trick and treating and arrives at the office eating a crisp, seasonal apple. Jack is looking grim-faced and Tarquin is clearing his drawers.
"Wh-what's up?" stutters Ganache. Her lipstick is smudged and she is wearing a rather dreary winter coat.
"The ODPM called me in. The big boys at RIBA and CABE have nobbled the Olympics Committee. They seem to think, for some inexplicable reason, that a two man practice and a technical assistant aren't up to doing the Olympics. It's curtains for us, kids, and not curtain walling either."
Ganache looks stricken.
Sc. 11 Jack and Ganache are standing outside Waitrose on Holloway Road next to the Lithuanian men selling illegally imported cigarettes.
"I know it's a shock" says Jack, "But Rogers needs me, the Olympics need me. Can't you see? I'm doing this for London!"
"Never mind London! What about us?" cries Ganache in a piteous voice.
"Don't you see darling girl - there is no us."
A single tear rolls down Ganache's cheek. Jack brushes it away, turns and walks quickly into the night.
Sc. 12 It is snowing. On Upper Street small red-scarved children are pressing their noses against toy shop windows. Grandfathers are carrying home turkeys and happy groups of work colleagues are spilling out of bars on to the frosty streets. CUT TO CANONBURY SQUARE. Don and Con are tottering up the street in their fur coats and high heels. Outside Ganache's house they see a green box filled with used tissues and empty Jameson whiskey bottles. They ring the door bell and shout through the letter box. Suddenly from out of the cat flap shoots the kitten, now grown into a very large cat, a very large cat indeed with a strangely distended stomach. The cat looks at Don and Con. Don looks at Con. Con looks at Don. Con and Don look at the cat.
The End (unless you live in the US)
Alternative Sc. 12 It is snowing. On Upper Street small..... blah, blah,....shout through the letter box. Con puts his well developed lorry driver shoulder to the door. They both rush upstairs, as quickly as their pencil skirts will allow them, and burst into Ganache's flat. She is alone and crying.
"Daahling everything will be fine" cries Don.
All three have a group hug.
FLASH FORWARD TO NEXT SUMMER Ganache is walking up the aisle followed by her two bridesmen, Don and Con. Standing at the altar is Tarquin. Jack is in a seat four rows down, smiling ruefully. Outside the church hover a group of judges, who are impatiently waiting to announce that Tarquin, with the help of Ganache, has won this year's Stirling Prize for his project on the Islington Cockney Sparrow Community Rest Home (sponsored by Arsenal) for retired market traders.
(Ok I know I was only supposed to do three lines but I got carried away.)