There are radiators and drains in life. By that, I mean those who give off warmth and energy and those who exhaust and deplete those around them. There are, of course, different grades, shades and spectrums of defining people in such a way; times when “a drain” can be positive and times when “a radiator” can be negative, but on the whole the temperament will out. The Thesp is a radiator. Not only that but he understands the Italian spirit of bella figura; putting on a front of grace and goodwill. Even when the current theatrical part he has is smaller than his talent either demands or deserves and the production values and professionalism of his team are less than they ought to be, he does not complain. Further, he is unpaid and very much “off-West End” so, now the rehearsal period is over, he is back with me during the day.
We still maintain two corporate accounts with US law firms. We work with those moving over to London, guiding them through the rental negotiations and finding them a flat. It’s the part of our business that I least enjoy and one that I don’t often get involved in but am loathe to give up. It proved a steady, if small, income through the lean year of 2008 and in early 2009. The Thesp has taken over as the relocator-in-chief. On the whole, though well remunerated, the job of a corporate lawyer is not a fascinating one. The profession requires diligence, a brain for precision and endurance, for they are worked very long hours. Given all this, I feel The Thesp brings a certain, and needed, joie de vivre and, to be frank, difference into these clients’ lives.
As we sat together in the office recently, I overheard him talking on the phone: “No darling, that won’t possibly do for you. I know you think you’re economising with this flat but it’s simply too depressing for you – every aspect you have is on to a brick wall. I won’t have you living in prison. I need you to see green and open spaces and feel the possibilities of life.” He was right, of course, and for an extra £20 per week and a further five-minute walk he found that particular junior associate an airy flat overlooking a small park in a converted Victorian warehouse. The Thesp also went with him on a Sunday to his local shop in order to purchase a bicycle. He then showed him the best cycle route – along the canal, avoiding the main roads – which took the young man almost directly from his new flat to his office.
His ways might be eccentric but they are effective and those rare complaints I get are far outweighed by high praise and gratitude. And for me, just seeing The Thesp arriving, dressed with dapper distinction, on his wicker-basketed bicycle with silver cigarette case in hand puts a smile on my face. He has taken to arriving in full voice singing “Hello Dolly”, after seeing the newly staged musical of the same name the other night. His repertoire changes with almost weekly regularity.
. . .
Last week, on leaving the office, he treated Natasha (a member of our team with whom The Thesp flirts outrageously) to Whitney Houston’s “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” and this week he’s offering to Natasha and me his take on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Memories”. He really inhabits the soaring line “I can dream of the old days, I was beautiful then” with powerful emotion.
While The Thesp acts for corporates in Islington and Clerkenwell, no doubt giving them the benefit of his fine singing voice, I take a more prosaic approach. I am suffering along with my favoured clients. Their offer for the perfect pied-à-terre was accepted a week ago but we still await the contact details of the vendor’s solicitor. It seems a very strange practice and we’re beginning to conjecture over conspiracy theories and twisted plots that are rapidly ascending into the realm of fantasy. We are toying with the threat of an ultimatum to cajole him into action. My concern is that Big Daddy always told me that you never make a threat that you don’t intend to keep. Ever. And this flat, for my client’s purposes, is going to be extremely hard to better.
The excitement at the start of the week was an offer on the mega-house, close enough to the asking price that I thought The Sheik might be persuaded. He has not been, despite my best efforts. It has given The Thesp a chance to broaden his repertoire with Abba’s “Money, money, money, must be funny in a rich man’s world”. Indeed.