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?