Others would celebrate, but instead of looking forward to a bright new future with an agent on my side, I can only think of how much time has been lost in getting here without one. I should have a body of work behind me already, instead of only now beginning to forge a career and I dread meeting people of my own age with an established track record. So, for the moment dear diary, I am more persuaded that I should turn it all in in favour of a librarianship, warm beer, and a bicycle.
It’s a good agency too, but it feels like I’ve been handed over to the odd one out of the three original founders – the one who’s never been promoted, while his colleagues left him behind; the only one of them still cynical and disappointed as they watched their scruffy little first floor Soho agency become a massive commercial enterprise commanding river views from somewhere in Vauxhall.
He reminds me of Mr Fips in Martin Chuzzlewit, a very minor character I acknowledge, but I always liked the way he went from a by-the-book type to a right old monkey as soon as he got the chance. Just the sort under whom I’d thrive I fancied, because he would bring the guileless, trusting, decency to the meeting that normally I’d have bagsed for myself; and were it not for my newly found resolve to treat everyone I encounter with contempt until I am certain that they deserve better, would have done. Half way through, he glanced at his watch, and said ‘fancy a pint?’ then groaned as he realised we couldn’t – not because it was only 11.30 am I figured, more that he’d suddenly recalled that we are still living with Covey.
There was a silence then, and I decided I’d better jump into it.
I said, ‘look, I’m not really …’
‘A cove?’ he said, and I said, ‘Yes.’
‘I know,’ he told me, ‘you can’t act. But don’t worry, you’ve got an interesting sort of madness about you. It’ll be enough to earn a few quid.’
I had prepared for the interview expecting that I needed to persuade my putative agent that I was more interested in developing my creative and copywriting career than I was the acting, for which currently I was better known. It must have shown because he then said, ‘What’s the matter now?’ and when I told him, he said, ‘fuck that, it’s all luck and bullshit. You’ve got a minor bit of passing notoriety, cash it in while you can.’
Then he told me how lucky I’d been already – that I’d been given an interview and got an agent; that there are innumerable others out there with much more talent, who had nothing with which to support their applications; then he pointed to his waste paper bin and made a half-hearted shrug.
I was in because I’d come to them with a couple of contracts up and running; plus, a brief flash of national recognition. And it’s true, all the others needed an agent for no more than that first job to get them going, and that’s the one thing that Agents aren’t interested in doing.
‘You’re one of them now,’ he said, ‘a talentless gobby prick with ideas above his station and work to match.’
I think we’ll get on, as soon as I find my voice.