London has its fair share of famous squares. Headed up by Trafalgar Square overseen by Lord Nelson atop his column. Then Parliament Square with Big Ben, Leicester Square with its premieres, Barclay square with its nightingale and many others… but the one that gets my attention recently is the less heralded Golden Square. Nestled in the heart of Soho, London’s show-biz district, Golden Square is my destination to record a podcast on fatherhood.
At the time, I was in my late 20’s/early 30’s, newly married and more recently a dad to a son with more energy than is necessary for survival and without appearing to need any sleep. I was a stand-up comedian on the up but already with nagging doubts and why I have lofty intentions to become a screenwriter, no less. A much more secure income for a young couple going forward and on the off-chance that we have any more kids!
My meeting was with a production company, headed up by one of the UK’s brightest TV stars. The executive running the film wing had read my first screenplay, The Faldovian Club, had called me in and he wasted little time.
“I love your script. We’re buying the rights and it’s going to be our first feature…”
This probably remains the most exciting meeting of my entire life, although this is as much a factor of my naivety at the time than anything that he had to say.
“Our people will talk to your people and we’ll make it happen…”
I didn’t have people at the time – still don’t but I didn’t say this, obviously.
And anyway, I had stopped listening to him by now. Although exhilarated, I couldn’t wait for the meeting to end so that I could call my wife, Nikki. To let her know that she had been wise to take a punt on the odd looking bloke with the unusual career choice. To tell her I had cracked it. That I was Hollywood bound and she should start looking at bigger houses because now we could afford loads of babies.
Another three boys duly arrived but as for Hollywood…
Walking from Piccadilly Circus station this week and heading for Golden Square, I recall this meeting all those years ago. The adrenalin coursing through me as I leapt about the square yelling in to my phone.
I smile ruefully now.
Had I known all those years ago what I know now, I wonder how I would have reacted.
That they would not make my movie after all. They didn’t even buy it. They never made any movie and the company is now disbanded. And yet in 2022, I would return to Golden Square to discuss a book all about a Hollywood success story – albeit not my own, but the career of the baby boy at my home, no doubt running his mum ragged when I called.
I might have been ambivalent. Disappointed for myself but gleeful and disbelieving at what was in store for baby Tom.
And yet here we are.
Today, Tom is in New York with his brother Harry (more kids), busy filming his next thing. Although we speak regularly, I also catch up on his life on-line; where he is and what he’s doing, courtesy of intrusive types with long lenses or simply the camera phones of startled passers-by – the modern price of his success.
Unlike my novels, Eclipsed is a story that required no imagination on my part. I just chronicled what was all a complete fluke. A story that fell in to my lap. A happy series of coincidences and serendipitous good fortune.
The podcast record is fun and goes well. Helmed by Dave Berry, formerly of Capital Radio and now the breakfast host on Absolute Radio. Dave is a new dad to Evangeline and I enjoy opining on the bits I got right and wrong.
I am mindful to claim anything as unique, but Eclipsed makes a decent case. A father and son with the same lofty goal. One with a plan of how to get there and one without. And with diverging outcomes. Reading Eclipsed for the audio book, the coincidences are often unerring and the outcome is euphoric.
When Nikki showed me that solid blue line for the first time – that I am going to be a dad – I recall being as elated as I was frightened.
Eclipsed is a chronicle of my forays into fatherhood and all hinged by show-biz. I have written it as funny but this is subjective. But above all, it is a happy book and this comes as a great relief.
However I fare as a comedian/writer, it will never eclipse my home life successes and this is what I would have chosen that day in Golden Square when I dared to believe what transpired to be a load of bullshit.
And yet, perversely this BS has provided a glorious upside, because without it I wouldn’t have this story to tell.
A story that might even be unique.
Eclipsed Audio Book – read by Dom and in conversation with Tom is being published on 19th June 2022 and can be PRE-ORDERED HERE for a reduced price on the 15th and 16th May of £15.