Friday, October 24, 2008


We moved the actors' agency that I work for into my house in the year 2000. Prior to that, we were in a room in one of those business centres where a lot of small businesses lurk. Ours was one of the smallest and lurkiest and our office had, let's face it, been designed as a stock cupboard. Yes, it was small - and for the first few years I was there - from 1993 - it didn't have a ceiling. So in the summer it was incredibly hot and in the winter it was incredibly cold and most actors smoked then so it was always full of a blue haze. Really, how I stood it for so long I don't know: I suppose it was because the work was always interesting.

We moved the agency to our house really quickly, over a weekend. What became our new office was built on to this Victorian house in 1965, when my brother was born. My grandmother lived with us in those days. My brother had the new room downstairs as his playroom, and my grandmother had the room above it as her bedroom.

Because the agency moved in so fast, we never really had time to plan where we would put everything and it's always been very cramped, with two big desks facing each other and a third with the printer on it, and lots of things all over the walls:

These shelves were built by the Communist in the Sixties and they're not bad at all. On the other side of the room, however, were these:

All the wrong size to be useful and very bendy in the middle. And you see that yellow curtain over the door? There were matching ones on the windows. One of them had a patch on it, where my brother's hamster escaped and ate a hole in it in about 1972.

However, although it was not the smartest office in the world - - and was, perhaps, in the running for the scruffiest - we did a lot of good work in there. Looking at the office it might perhaps be assumed that the actors are extras or walk-ons - - but no, the agency is a non-profit-making co-operative, and the actors are proper actors, who play proper roles in film, television and theatre throughout the country.

And, because we represent some excellent actors and we've all worked very hard, we have had a degree of financial success.

So, we thought, let's push the boat out and paint the office.

And then, more ambitiously, we thought - - hey - - let's have it completely redone! With the right kind of shelves! And a specially-designed desk.

We were very fortunate in that John agreed to do the carpentry for us.

But before John could start work, it all had to get much worse before it got better. Before he could put the new desk and shelves in place, several noble actors mucked in and decorated the room, and a really tricky job it was too:

But then Susie's friend Jackie finished the decorating after our actors had got it all ready and done some of it: Rob's girlfriend's brother Dave turned up and fitted a new carpet, beautifully.

Then John turned up with some wood - all pre-designed and pre-cut in his usual clever way - and some nails, and some bits of machinery that I didn't understand, and a glorious page of instructions:

And we soon had strong shelves spaced at just the right intervals:

And, best of all, our special Curvy Desk, designed so that two people can sit at computers.

It looks quite delicate but actually it's really solid: "strong enough to dance on" as John said. More photos on John's blog here.

Over the next few days we'll be moving back in from the office's temporary home in our dining-room (and that lends a whole new meaning to the word "cluttered").

You don't, of course, need posh surroundings to do good work- I think our first, stock-cupboard office proved that. But I think pleasant surroundings make everyone feel better, and I hope that our new office will bring great success for all our actors.

And many thanks to John: and also to Susie, Ruth, Byron and everyone who helped!


Blogger Silverback said...

Great plans. We British do great plans. We've built much of our history using great plans.

And why are they great ? Well we get our priorities right and always incorporate the very important things right there into the plans so they won't be missed or forgotten about.

Tea and biscuits. They're what The Empire was built on. (Looked like a Hobnob to me.) How wonderful to see them added on these truly great plans.

9:03 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Talk about "Changing Rooms"! Hope you'll be happy and maybe dramatic in your new improved environment. What credit crunch?

12:40 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Congratulations on your new digs. You even have "Separate Tables" (somewhere, David Niven is turning over in his grave).

3:16 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

...unless he's still alive, of course.

3:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't remember the lack of ceiling in the stock cupboard. The complete lack of windows made more of an impression on me.

I do know that, from the start, moving into your house was a huge improvement - and this is another great step forward. Thank you for tolerating and supporting the upheaval.

1:54 pm  

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