Keith Chegwin as Fleance

by Paul Farley

The next rung up from extra and dogsbody
and all the clichés are true – days waiting for
enough light, learning card games, penny-ante,
while fog rolls off the sea, a camera
gets moisture in its gate, and Roman Polanski
curses the day he chose Snowdonia.

He picked you for your hair to play this role:
a look had reached Bootle from Altamont
that year. You wouldn’t say you sold your soul
but learned your line inside a beating tent
by candlelight, the shingle dark as coal
behind each wave, and its slight restatement.

“A tale told by an idiot . . .” “Not your turn,
but perhaps, with time and practice . . .”, the Pole starts.
Who’s to say, behind the accent and that grin,
what designs you had on playing a greater part?
The crew get ready while the stars go in.
You speak the words you’d written on your heart

just as the long-awaited sunrise fires
the sky a blueish pink. Who could have seen
this future in the late schedules, where I
can’t sleep, and watch your flight from the big screen;
on the other side of drink and wondering why,
the zany, household-name in years between?