My life as an actor, part one
By Simon Barget
Once I was up for an award and it was a big one and I found out via email and I realised there was no more of the waiting, this was it, and I had been recognised. Finally. And the email was so real and so right there in front of me and it was a formal thing, formally worded and I had been chosen, Martin Morris, and it was so carefully worded and we wish to confer on you the honour etc. we the Royal Actors Fellowship –a letter to follow -- and though I couldn’t believe it when I got it, it all made sense and I realised that this was the annunciation of me, the final piece had been located and would be wedged in rather neatly and ceremoniously, and all I had to do was bask in it, sit back and let it happen.
And then all the mental gymnastics and the thoughts upon thoughts, the excitement damn it, so much fucking excitement, like a child’s excitement: what it meant about me and who I was and I couldn’t help myself but to indulge in all these thoughts upon thoughts, but what it really felt like was that someone had closed a door inside my body, that the air and the everything was now all settled, settled and locked in for good, and I could go about the world feeling puffed up but above all stable, sort of hovering above it all with the self-doubt banished for ever.
And that day I spent the afternoon in Hyde Park with Robin and we walked all the way from Charing Cross past the ICA up to Buckingham Palace and St. James’s and everything that went by, every person and child, every dog looking back a few feet ahead of its owner, everything that was in my line of sight was implicated in this wonderful new world of me, the new Martin Morris, as if to confirm that it was all in the right place, and I was, and had always been, the linchpin.
The search had ended.
If I’d wanted to stop acting there and then, I could have, I could have put an end to it, I could have given it all up, I’d have been happy.
We had lunch at the Ritz, I don’t even know the Ritz that well, I didn’t, and it wouldn’t have been my choice, but we both seemed to end up there, and we hadn’t booked or anything, but it felt so right to splurge, and I saw that I had denied myself everything up to that point because I hadn’t thought of myself as quite enough. Just the way they came up to us and showed us our table, right at the front, well it all seemed like destiny. We might have gone to the Caprice or the Wolseley, I don’t know, if we’d have wanted celeb or hip, or the Ivy if that’s still a thing, or the Groucho maybe, trust me I’m not into that, but it wasn’t, it was just about going where you feel you want to go, and I saw in myself all these restrictions I’d put on myself because I’d thought I was only really an aspiring actor. I was no longer aspiring. I was it, I was the goddam thing and could go where ever I pleased.
I got home and checked my voicemail, the calls I’d seen an hour ago, a couple from an unknown number, and it was a voice I didn’t recognise, some admin lady from the Fellowship, and I thought it was to confirm details of when and where and what I needed to wear, to say at the dinner and who’d be compering, this was the company I now kept, and I was so flown away with all the fantasies that I failed to hear the horror of it, the message, and that was the thing, it had been a MISTAKE, can you believe it a mistake, and another actor called Martin Morrison was the rightful recipient, and they had clicked on my name in their database by mistake, and they were so dreadfully sorry etc. and when I heard it my brain was on overload, I was desperately and urgently trying to bring this new piece of information into my awareness, trying to work out what it all meant, my heart beating so fast I thought I was going to have a heart attack, well that feeling of having difficulty assimilating something, well now all the thoughts were running the other way, backwards, down this alley and that tangent, down that backwater, and though there was nothing I could do -- I wasn’t going to complain about it or anything -- I felt like there must be some middle compromise position, not quite given the award but shoed-in next year for my troubles, OR they’d give me some other award as a consolation, you know how the airlines bump you from one airline to the codeshare one and you manage to winkle your way into business, but none of that was going to happen I soon realised, and from one moment of being in the October sun on the vast open Mall walkway to sitting at home, it is amazing what one little voicemail does to a man, to a very serious actor.