Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman had to put on three stone in weight to play the part of Winston Churchill in the latest (and brilliant) Spielberg movie.

It is 6.00 a.m. on January 1st. He is waiting for his personal fitness instructor. The doorbell rings.

MIRIAM MARGOLYES [for it is she]    God, why three steps up to the front door? And this door frame’s so narrow, I can….. hardly… squeeze… through it. Here, grab these bags! [puffs]

GARY OLDMAN    What’s going on? Who are you? Where’s Dimitri?

MM    I am his replacement. [reads out]

Mr Oldman has contracted to put on three stone in weight by January 31st. He must also learn to smoke cigars properly.

Better get a move on then. Let’s get the fryer going, shall we?

GO    But…I’m all kitted out to go on my morning jog. Five miles round the grounds and finish up in the pool, after a cold shower. Then an hour in my private gym.

MM    Oh deary me, no, we can forget all that nonsense. Whatever next? You’ll do yourself a mischief if you carry on like that. Now why don’t you sit back on the sofa and light a lovely Romeo y Julieta, while I pour you a large brandy. Here’s a bowl of salted peanuts.

GO    A brandy? At this time of the day?

MM    Sir Winston always had half a bottle of brandy before lunch; said it sharpened his appetite up before the champagne. Cheers! And a big breath in with that cigar please – proper inhaling, no silly little puffing. Get those lungs doing some proper work for a change.

GO    This is a nightmare. I’m heaving up already. [Coughs and splutters]

MM    Cheers! Down the hatch! That’s the way. Let’s see now --- the full English, eh? Can’t beat it to start the day. (Hums cheerfully) Fried eggs, bacon, sausages – ooh, I’ve brought some lovely big pork bangers, don’t tell the rabbi! – mushrooms, and kidneys. Ooh, yes, they taste nice. Fried potatoes sizzling nicely… and black pudding of course. What about a mug of hot chocolate while you’re waiting? Where do you keep the sugar? Now dig into this bowl of cereal while we’re waiting for the potatoes and the sausages to fry. Come on – eat up!

GO    I can’t stuff any more into my stomach.

MM    Nonsense! You haven’t started yet. Have some of this fried bread, dripping with luscious lipids. It’s yummee! Oooh! And I’ll just pop another egg or two into the frying pan. Some black pudding? Got to keep your strength up, you know. Hitler’s just invaded Norway.

GO    I can’t stand this! Can’t eat any more of this rubbish. I’m off to do my 100 press-ups. I’ll just have some goats’ yoghurt and a sparkling water, please. And some yogi berries.

MM    Mr Oldman!! Gary!! Please - sit down! Have you forgotten your New Year’s Resolutions already? It’s not even seven o’clock on January 1st! Tut tut. Where’s your willpower? You don’t leave the table until I say so, or there’ll be trouble. Now open wide, there’s a good boy.

GO    Damn the Nazis and damn the contract. I’m going to explode.

MM    Nonsense. You’ve hardly started. When you’ve finished your breakfast – and I mean all of it! - you can lie back and watch daytime television. Bound to be some cookery programmes on. You can get a few tips for when I’m not here. Have we got any fizzy drinks?

GO    Do you have to put all these sauces on everything? And must I eat all this toast and butter and marmalade as well? And croissants too. Oh God. I hate croissants.

MM    Of course you have to, skinny little thing like you. A breath of wind would blow you away. Never get our boys back from Dunkirk if you’re wasting away from starvation, shall we? Oh good-oh – just found some leftover Christmas pudding here. Hardly been touched - what a crime. It’s so delicious, I think I’ll have another spoonful…Lots of brandy butter too – ah, and some mince pies. Ideal for afters. Come along now, nice clean plate, please! Remember your New Year’s Resolutions! Then we’ll sit and watch television together with this Supasize box of Quality Street while I plan a big lunch. Jeremy Kyle should be on in a minute.

GO    I’m going to be sick.

MM    Have another swig of brandy – that’ll settle your stomach. And keep puffing that big cigar. We’ll never defeat the Nazis the way you’re going. These truffles are to die for.

GO    I’m feeling a bit queer. I think I’ll just shut my eyes and run over my lines. "We shall fight them on the beaches, on the landing grounds…

MM    ….in the soup kitchens and the canteens and the cafes….

GO    ….in the fields, on the streets, and on the hills….

GO and MM [together]    And we shall never surrender."

GO [expires]

Richard Vaughan-Davies

I retired to the Cotswolds ten years ago after selling the retail business in North Wales which I had built up over forty long years. Fortunately for my sanity most of my time was spent creating advertising copy and promotions, which dramatically increased the business and taught me the power of words. Being a member of the Chippy Writers’ Group encouraged me to attempt a lifelong ambition to write a novel. Recently published, In the Shadow of Hitler is a romance set in the ruins of bombed-out Hamburg in 1946.

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