The Mysterious Matter of the Hydden Optician

Jekyll and Hyde Filming Music Hall 17 February 2015In between eco printing and writing flash fiction, I’ve also been scribbling away at a trine of short stories (with illustrations – mine), that I’m going to publish shortly as an ebook. I put the finishing touches to Leaves, Three Short Tales yesterday morning and gave myself a couple of hours off to catch up with dreadful, and dreaded domestic affairs.

And get some fresh air.

The third of my tales, – The Shadow – is set in a theatre. It’s a quasi-gothic supernatural (maybe and maybe not) moralising (maybe and maybe not) mystery and not being a thespian, I needed to do some research on the backstage area of a theatre: the catwalk, the lighting; and on terms specific to stage acting, such as corpsing and I had this story in mind as I set off down Rochester High Street to visit my optician, having had a letter urging me to make an appointment for an eye test.

Jekyll and Hyde Filming J Kealy Tattoo Artist 17 February 2015The area of the High Street where my optician’s premises is situated was shrouded in drifting smoke. When a gap appeared, I saw that the premises had transformed into a music hall.

I coughed at the smoke in my throat and rubbed my eyes. To the right of the music hall was a shop I’d never seen before. J Kealy, Tattoo Artist it read above the door.  Next to that, a Rag, Bone and Paper Merchant had appeared overnight.

I must be hallucinating. I really ought to get out more. I spend too much time at the computer.

As a black 1930s Ford van drove past an old wooden barrow full of watermelons, the thought flashed through my mind that I’d fallen into the story I’d just written, through the sheer power of my writing. Alternatively, had I stumbled accidentally into a black hole and gone back in time?

Jekyll and Hyde Filming Car Rochester High Street 17 February 2015I breathed a sigh of relief when, another gap in the smoke appearing, I saw signs set on the pavement cautioning that filming was in progress and that the smoke amounted to special effects. (At the top end of the set, a nifty little pollution machine was being operated by one of the special effects crew).

Mystery solved, I’d not stumbled into a black hole and my writing was not powerful.

Part of the High Street (including my optician’s) had been transformed into a film set. And my contacts (fruit & veg shop, convenience store, various charity shops and chatty members of the crew) informed me they were filming a new version of Jekyll and Hyde for ITV, to be broadcast in the autumn. I was reliably (ha!) informed that actor Richard E Grant had been filmed earlier in the day tearing off his clothes off in the alley next to the greengrocer. And I recognised from TV a few of the faces of the costumed folks hanging around waiting to perform, one of which belonged to actor Tom Bateman.

Jekyll and Hyde Filming Rochester High Street 17 February 2015Now I’ve read Jekyll and Hyde (both in English and French) and there was no mention of a tattoo parlour, nor were there any horseless carriages. As for the costumed folks on the High Street waiting to perform, there was nary a bustle in sight and the men wore trilbys, apart from two sailors and I don’t recall there being any sailors in the book, either.

It was a modern update? Sort of. It’s set in the 1930s, and I was again reliably (ha!) informed, that it’s going to be about the grandson of Dr Jekyll. The  cocktail Jekyll mixed and quaffed that transformed him into the evil Mr Hyde, has resulted in a genetic alteration. This has carried forward through the male line, though skipping a generation, to his grandson. The grandson has spent his childhood being cured in India.

If he’s tearing his clothes off on Rochester High Street next to the greengrocer, it would seem that the cure hasn’t worked, I thought.

Jekyll and Hyde Filming Barrel of Melons Rochester High Street 17 February 2015So much for my High Street contacts. Here’s the truth of the matter, from the horse’s mouth (Richard E Grant’s web site):

Richard E Grant is to star as the boss of a secret government department in a new TV adaptation of the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde story.

The Withnail & I actor will play Sir Roger Bulstrode, who is head of the shadowy M10 service in ITV’s Jekyll and Hyde, which will also feature ex-Coronation Street and Strictly Come Dancing star Natalie Gumede.

The 10-part series begins filming next month with Tom Bateman, who has been seen in Da Vinci’s Demons and on the West End stage in Shakespeare In Love, playing Robert Jekyll and his dark alter ego.

The story has been written by Fast Show comic and novelist Charlie Higson, who has set the action in the 1930s.

So why was Sir Roger Bulstrode tearing his clothes off on Rochester High Street? He probably wasn’t. The plot will no doubt be a lot thicker than the smoke I swallowed, physically and metaphorically.

My little ebook (Leaves, Three Short Tales) has been put in its place.  For the record however, the tales are called, The Second Coming of Judas Iscariot, Adam and Evelyn and The Shadow.

I’m retaining film rights, just in case. Well, you never know who or what you might bump into, do you, when you set off to visit your optician.


About AnnIsikArts

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