Sunday, July 7, 2013

Barack Obama Comes to Town

Who do you think is coming to town?
You'll never guess who...

A few years ago I finished what I thought was the last draft of a script that I wanted Robert de Niro to produce and act in. As I typed 'END' I thought, wouldn't it be just great if I lived in New York, then I could my walk my script to him. Somehow.

The next day a friend told me Robert de Niro was here in Cape Town. I called everybody under the sun to try and find a way to get my script to him. His agent's PA's PA in LA said I didn't have a chance in heaven or hell. I called Tribeca Films in New York and the man I spoke to spat at me and slammed the phone down. I called the hotel de Niro was staying in here and they said sorry, you have to follow protocol. Whatever protocol was I wasn't in on it. I found out who his publicity person was in Cape Town and they were aloof and disinterested.

I tried to gate crash the big opening night of the hotel de Niro was staying in and men in tuxes and shades politely steered me away. I didn't have an invitation.

Utterly daunted and dispirited, I decided that asking people clearly wasn't going to get me anywhere. My Dad used to say do before you ask. You might get into trouble for whatever you do after you've done it but at least you get to do it.

So, script in sweaty hand I marched up to the grand hotel, sauntered into reception hoping nobody could see the holes in my shoes, and asked a receptionist to deliver my script to Robert de Niro. She asked me if he was expecting it. I said nonchalantly. "I'm not sure. I think so." I didn't move from my phone for weeks. He never called. He never wrote. I don't regret refusing to take no for an answer, but I rather hope he never got round to reading it because it was horribly amateur. I've done 3 more drafts and it still isn't finished.

When I heard Barack Obama was coming to town I did a double flip. I called everybody under the sun and they all told me there was no way any member of the public could get close to him. I understood that but I didn't like it. Didn't quite see myself trying to get past Presidential security, though.

On The Day I got cabin fever and went out to buy a pie and eat it on the beach. Console myself. Annoyed that I hadn't tried harder to find a way to see my political idol. I drove past a whole lot of kids and adults lining the streets by the entrance to an AIDS centre. Would you believe it, the Obamas were dropping in on that centre.

Police vans and cops clogged up the streets, even the cavalry was turned out. But it was security a la small suburb in Africa. No visible guns, no sinister looking men in shades. There were a couple of CIA lookalikes with earpieces, just like the movies, but it was all pretty relaxed.

We waited all day, kids climbing trees, sitting on walls, to get a better view. Excitement building. There were only about 150 of us, but by the time the advance guard arrived everybody was hopping.

We could see the limo coming for at least half a mile, surrounded by police cars and bikes, lights flashing. It was over in seconds. The limo swept past and in true Bridget Jones fashion I missed them. Most of the crowd left, but not me. The US President and I had a rendezvous and I wasn't going to be the one to renege. I waited another couple of hours and - da da da da!

He got out the car to shake my hand and tell me he reads my blog religiously. I swear he did.