Standing on the stairs in the Saloon, giving a short introduction to various tour groups, whether about history, heritage or filming, I often ask if anyone has any questions. This is, of course, the fun bit and the questions can vary tremendously. However, one of the more frequent ones is; what is it like living with a film crew?
Well – where to start? After some thought over my morning tea, I have come up with the following:
There are masses of mats from Corex to boards,
trolleys and dollies which arrive in their hordes,
Large lights on silver stilts with tennis ball feet
And black wires snaking (though really quite neat)
To screens and decks with knobs everywhere,
Monitors with cases hold equipment with care.
Crew in black trousers, black boots, padded coats,
and stuff everywhere, despite our organizing notes.
Small white vans, large white vans and various trailers
filled to the brim with costumes to tailor.
Cars and buses from breakfast to tea.
Tables and bins where my Labradors can see
friendly faces and little somethings to nibble
which they far prefer to their designated kibble.
‘Sparky’ from Locations asks John G for a word,
the details and boundaries can get a bit blurred.
Can they start early? Stay late? Change a date? Have a tea?
John’s heard it before, grins and suggests a fee.
Shooting has started – calls for silence and “turning”
the technical terms we are all learning
We try to walk silently on our tiptoes
Whilst actors and actresses practice their pose.
It’s fun and exciting, frenetic, nail-biting
chaos that’s miraculously eventually self-righting.
From Highclere’s scenes to the silver screen
our honey-coloured home and the lawns have been
life enhancing at all times from darkness to dawn.
For so many fans when and wherever born
let’s hope the film catches your hearts for the past
and for the present with this wonderful cast.
As you can see, poetry may not entirely be my absolute forte but there is nothing quite like sitting in silence waiting, whilst cameras are rolling, to cause my mind to start turning. Some of the Autumn days have been utterly beautiful as has the energy and I hope that next September millions of people might enjoy going to the cinema to see our Autumn at Downton.