I’m Ready For My Close Up

It’s Owlywood, here at Shrewsday Mansions.

The children have been holed up in their offices for some considerable time.

A film has gone into production. The script has been written and an exacting director – Felix- has been appointed. Yesterday’s dog walk was primarily a location scouting session, although I’m not sure the dog appreciated the gravity of the situation.

Maddie’s toy owls have been signed up as the cast. She’s doing all the different voices. The atmosphere is electric.

And it has all been made possible because Felix found his birthday present.

Allow me to transport you back to our trip to Euro Disney last year: a euphoric time for Phil and the kids. The only thing which got me through the experience was a heightened sense of irony.

The trip celebrated Felix’s birthday; and Phil, an extravagant father at times, had purchased the very latest in moving picture technology: a Flip camera.

For the uninitiated – and I was such- this is a top-of-the-range film camera with all the convenience of a swiss army knife. I can only surmise that its inventor must have been a man, some cross between a scout master and Cecil B. De Mille. Tiny, convenient, it slips in a pocket with ease.

It also slips out of a pocket with ease.

My son is many things. He has navigated me round the Oxford one way system using just an iPhone map. He solves verbal and non-verbal reasoning problems with alacrity. His mind is razor-sharp.

But he does not always hold on to things very well.

His socks drive me nuts. I bought a seven-pair-pack just two weeks ago and can I find them now? He takes them off for comfort, when he is playing, and they migrate with ease: under sofas, behind cupboards, under toy boxes. I wish they would mate and produce more grey socks.I’d never have to buy another pair.

When we went to Disney, he filmed hours of footage. Hours of It’s A Small World, complete with the high-frequency sound track. Endless frames of Disney characters saying howdy and doody in broken French accents.  All on this tiny little contraption which would have amazed Queen Victoria or King George. A space age moving picture capsule.

And then he came home, and the Amazing Moving Image Contraption vanished.


We are not unaccustomed to things disappearing from Felix’s grasp, but this loss smarted more than most. The cost, the criminal waste and the loss of all that precious footage of It’s A Small World cut us to the quick. We searched and stomped and burrowed and cleared; but to no avail. We even kept an eye out for it when we redecorated Felix’s bedroom and moved all the toys out: but no dice. It was gone, for good. It was as if Fate had flushed it unceremoniously down the great water closet of life.

We sighed and resigned ourselves to the loss. My iPhone was used for all filming, and would get perennially clogged up with footage of small children and owls and elephants in forests. Sorry, it would signal pathetically; I just can’t fit another image on. If it were a person it would sniff disconsolately.

This unsatisfactory turn of events endured until a few days ago.

My son shot downstairs, glowing with a rare concentration of triumph. “Mum!” he bawled happily. “I’ve found my flip camera!”

But where? In an instant my unconscious had scanned the house for any place I hadn’t looked before. We had cleared  the wardrobes, the laundry pile, the land beneath the sofas, the kitchen cupboards….

“That’s wonderful! Where,” I enquired incredulously, “could you have found it?

“In Dad’s safe!”


The safe is a greedy gobbler. A small drab treasure box with buttons on the outside, Phil squirrels away stuff he thinks might be really very important indeed.

And then, like a squirrel, he forgets what he put in there in the first place.

Still, he has his uses.

Felix just walked into the bedroom. The children were up and in their offices bright and early this morning, planning the shoot. I am off to London to have lunch with my father, but Phil is being pressed into service. As what, I am not quite sure: maybe a gaffer, or a best boy, or perhaps location assistant, dealing with the problems each place presents: keeping away passers-by, clearing the scene, tidying up after everyone.

“Are you all set to start scene one?” I enquired of Felix,  with Julie -Andrews enthusiasm.

“Yes…” said Felix with admirable focus.But he continued to dawdle.

“What are you waiting for?” I enquired.

“We’re waiting for Dad to come out of the toilet,” he said.

You just can’t get the staff these days.


62 thoughts on “I’m Ready For My Close Up

  1. We once found my son’s wallet YEARS after he had lost it–I’ve repressed exactly how many years because it would reveal a stark truth about my housekeeping–while dusting the clerestory window sills, which are about twenty feet off the ground in our high-ceiling living room. The mystery of how it got up there, without him realizing it, was never solved.

  2. “Owlywood”??? What can one say except “OW” ! 😀

    Sounds great fun. Absolute best use of school hols. Glad the flip camera was safe in the er… safe. Our Easter Sortout (not my idea but Capt Sensible didn’t earn that title for nothing) yielded olde Super8 film of small boys, a drab-looking woman and a man with loads of hair!

  3. I feel guilty, I got my flip as a corporate gift (for giving someone a lift home from a conference – hehehe)

    I wonder when the film will be released? Will I crack the nod for the premiere? What will I wear? Oh dear, decisions decisions!

  4. We each made our puppet. Cast of 36. I got the lead part: Pied Piper. 5th grade I think. My last Hollywood try. It has “plagued” me for years that I did not make it a career.

  5. Our Flip camera has disappeared too. It’s obviously What They Do.

    When I was expecting Matt I found driving David’s car was too uncomfortable, and the key to it was massive, so I took it off my keyring and put it away ‘somewhere safe’. I remember thinking ‘it’ll be safe there until I need it again.’ Matt is now 24, the car is long since sold (with only one key) and so is the house we were living in and the key has never resurfaced.

    I suppose it depends on your definition of ‘safe’, because it’s probably still where I put it, quite undamaged – I just can’t remember where…

  6. I was thinking perhaps our ghost had migrated over to your house and taken the camera. Glad it was found. Wish we could find Ashley’s keys. Ghost still has them! Good on Felix and Maddie! Perhaps they would be interested in producing a little-known playwright’s work called “One Day in Eden.” I’m certain it could be modified to feature owls instead of people.

    BTW, what is it with men and the toilet? Our boys forever whined, “Why does Santa Claus always have to use the bathroom at our house?”

    Also – how is your Mum? I hope everything went well yesterday!

    Happy day to you all, filled with enough. . .

    1. Thanks for asking, Paula. I saw her this afternoon and she’s come through predictably bruised but progressing incredibly well. Dad’s there with her. I’ve just left him with my iPad so he can blog while he’s up there.

      Men and the toilet: I know….I have no idea. When we came to this house I negotiated a huge airy study on the strength that he could commandeer the downstairs bathroom. Still seems a good deal to me.

      If Ashley’s keys turn up in Phil’s safe I’ll be the first to let you know.

  7. That was surely a fun read, so many little stories within the main story. The Disney piece with the veiled pain of “It’s a Small World” music banging around inside the head. The missing socks and my favorite description of Phil…And then, like a squirrel, he forgets what he put in there in the first place.
    Still, he has his uses. Oh My! 🙂

    1. He does. I returned this evening, Lou, to find he had been out and about all day shooting scenes with the children and had already begun to splice the whole thing together on our Mac. He has worked so hard with them. I’ll post a little of the film when it’s finished 🙂

    1. Tandy, returning this evening I found a daughter mourning because no day could possibly be as much fun as the one she had just had. She said she wished she could rewind it all and begin again….what a Dad…

  8. Laughing out loud this morning — Owlywood, missing camera, missing socks, and a production delay for a potty break. Anxiously awaiting your next installment (and maybe a film preview?)…..

  9. As I went for my 4am visit to the WC, I enjoyed reading this post and seeing how much I have in common with Phil. Cayleigh makes movies with her Mom’s iPhone, and I love it when she shows them to me. The perspective of a child, while sometimes repetitive, can be so interesting. I hope you’ll post some of the ‘no-faces-showing’ video clips or the owl movie.

    Flips are so easy to lose. We’ve lost two. Maybe that’s why they went out of business………

    1. Certainly will post some as soon as it’s ready, Andra – Phil’s about half way through editing and we are off to Covent Garden and the Tower tomorrow so it’ll be a day or two before the owls surface.

      And like you, Phil is glowing having spent a day in the company of people who see things through a different lens all together.

  10. Oh this is a delightful post! I’m so glad the lost was found… Now if only I could remember where I put (for safekeeping, of course, until I had time to install it) the missing memory card I bought for my computer a year or so ago… 😉

    The photo brought to mind a scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where ET is hiding in full view among a large array of stuffed animals. One of my alltime favourite movies – perhaps one day Felix will be as wellknown as its director. 😀

    1. I love that scene too, Ruth! The whole film has a strange ability to bring back the great things about childhood for an hour or two.

      We all have missing things we never found. Uncanny, sometimes….

  11. This is hilarious on so many levels…let’s just start with your comment about Euro Disney–“The only thing which got me through the experience was a heightened sense of irony.” I live in the valley of Mickey Mouse…we are “frequent flyers” and I SO get this comment. And just picturing everyone tearing the house apart looking for the camera–brings back memories. But my children rarely lost anything significant. Their father did and still does to this day. Whole sets of keys have never been found. Wallets with i.d.–the list is long. Your creative children are a delight as always. You are all scene stealers! Debra

    1. Thank you, Debra, what a lovely comment! Our family is a bit dodgy on the Losing Things front. We are all a little like your husband. There are times when we sigh resignedly and give up all hope. To find Felix’s camera again was such an unexpected treat. It did make me think that squirrels must be so overjoyed when they re-find their stash in the cold days of Winter….

  12. There’s nothing like the feeling of a great rediscovery, Kate… I still have clear memories of when I found a favourite old teddy bear of mine. Sadly, I haven’t a clue where Teddy is now…

  13. You just reminded me – I put my flip away and haven’t used it for ages. About 2 years ago, I had a brunch for three other women, all theatrical, operatic, extroverted and excessively creative. They had not met each other and I risked a light show of great magnitude by bringing them together.

    I set up the Flip, turned it on half way through the meal which lasted 2 1/2 hours. One of them was in the middle of a hilarious story so I didn’t want to interrupt her to announce the camera’s presence. The story was so riveting that it set off many more. I FORGOT TO MENTION THE CAMERA!! That evening, on my way to bed, I noticed a misplaced red dot of a light. The camera!

    I watched the whole thing in bed and laughed myself silly. Because I was so embarassed about forgetting about the camera, I dared not go to them and ask if they’d like to be sent the video. I simply erased it.

    I share Felix’s thrill over having discovered all that taping and talking during a good trip and that it was not lost. Thankfully, he can share his work!

    Take Two, Felix. Good filming!

  14. Rule #1: Never never never put anything where it belongs, or where it will be safe, or where it will be easy to find. I’ve lost so many things doing that.

    You’ll post the projected date of the film’s U.S. premier, won’t you, as soon as it’s determined?

    And I’ve been meaning to tell you–a friend who lurks here gave your URL to a woman who has decided she wants to write. She said you would be a good example. I would say “an elderly woman,” because I think that’s the case, but the definition of “elderly” is broad, and might include me.

  15. LOL! Love this, Kate, and look forward to seeing the movie…you will share, won’t you? in the meantime, I’d better check out the Flip camera 🙂

  16. I for one should love to see an excerpt of Maddie’s owls (of whom I was quite fond last I read of them) and Felix’s Small World footage. I myself recorded much of the same when in Orlando last, but I feel mine lacks the je ne sais quoi of EuroDisney…

  17. IN our house things disappear too. Socks are difficult once your have three adult males….
    we need an amnesty every now and then, in case of misplaced mis pairing.

    Mobile phones also dissappear……

  18. Oh…this makes me think of those scenes in Neverland where they are planning a play…or, my fave growing up, Little Women…sigh, how I wished to have a troop to act out my writings ~

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