March 5th 2001:
Gloria from the costume department, myself and Depp are standing by the side of a quiet stretch of the Thames, when I remove his “puffer” from the boot of my car. He is naturally pleased at its return and doesn’t notice the modifications to its construction. Anyway, he puts the jacket on and smiles contentedly. I suggest he pulls up the zipper to its full extent, to which he of course complies.
He is in the process of igniting a cheroot when I manfully toss him into the Thames. Unfortunately, the previously quilted and ribbed panels of the puffer jacket had been filled with too much air and young Depp floated too high in the water for it to be reasonably acceptable.
So there I was, racing down the footpath, trying to keep level with Depp, screaming at him not to be such a cissy when our previously concealed divers manage to catch him and drag him up and on to the bank.
I quickly remove the jacket from his shivering body and instruct Gloria as to its further modification.
A few hours later and Gloria enters the public house to inform us of the completion of said modifications. So we finish the game of darts we are on and help a slightly inebriated Depp into his further modified jacket.
Luckily, the bar we’d selected for our luncheon lay directly on the banks of the Thames.
There was a small drop from the bar’s pleasant balcony, but only a slight splash was heard as Depp hit the water once more.
This time it worked perfectly. Just the right amount of air and his bobbing, flailing body floated at just the right height out of the water.
We returned to the bar and ordered their finest champagne by way of celebrating our success. We, of course, saved a glass for young Depp who returned shortly afterwards but was unfortunately refused entry due to his dripping persona.
We joined him on the balcony where we spent a most pleasant afternoon quoffing champagne.
March 6th 2001:
We carried out more tests on the modified jacket until young Depp was suitably relaxed in his now buoyant “puffer.” In fact, he achieved such a state of relaxation as he was swept down the Thames that on his final session he could be seen puffing on a cheroot as he swept by us.
My stroke of genius had worked a treat!
It was during these eventful happenings by the Thames that, purely by coincidence, the chief buyer for Marks and Spencers was walking his dog along the footpath and stopped to watch in wonder at these strange proceedings before him.
On inquiring as to the madness of it all, I duly explained to him the situation.
As a consequence of this conversation, a new range of “puffer” jackets are to be launched at M&S, Oxford Street, to coincide with the UK launch of “Operation South Downs” in summer 2002.
In a unique marketing tie-up, a limited edition range of jackets will be produced, nicely embroidered with the “Operation South Downs” logo and the “Prepare to be swept away” log-line, and thereafter the standard “buoyant puffer” will be available to the general public.
As well as being a “must have” fashion accessory for 2002, these jackets could well save hundreds, if not thousands of lives worldwide due to their air filled buoyant pockets. And all because young Depp was a poor swimmer! It’s strange the way these things work out isn’t it?
March 14th 2001:
I fully realise a flagrant and certain disregard of mine for the mounting interest in the soon-to-be-filmed “Operation South Downs” in my not having kept my diaries up to date with its progress.
Unfortunately one’s time is not one’s own when so heavily involved in the writing of draft number six of the screenplay.
It’s a fact that I hadn’t fully understood; the commitment and sheer workload involved on a project of this size and importance.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’m cut out for this type of stressful vocation.
No matter, apologise I must, most profusely. And by way of making suitable amends I will hereby elucidate, as fully as contractual constraints will allow, and hope that the following “titbits” will maintain your interest.
One of the main problems over the last few weeks has been the continuing volatility in the money markets which has led directly to a number of major backers withdrawing funding in the project.
One is, of course, very pleased at Gordon Brown’s continuance of preferential tax breaks to those wishing to invest in the British film industry, and indeed there has been a pronounced increase in interest shown since the budget, by small investors particularly, and a few major players too!
Specifically, I am very pleased to announce the involvement of Marks and Sparks as a major investor. Given their recent, well publicised difficulties, this is a very brave and welcome addition to the coffers on their part.
You may remember their agreed involvement in the production of the much lauded Operation South Downs “puffer” jacket – an air filled buoyant fashion statement and combined lifejacket that is destined to take the world by storm in the summer of 2002 - The further involvement of this major retailer, in a much needed injection of funds, has guaranteed the future of the project at very small cost to the purity of the concept.
Yes it’s true that the entire cast will be required to wear, exclusively, the products of this great retail outlet to the exclusion of all others, but their range of apparel is so extensive and all encompassing that one is not in the least concerned. (Unfortunately, Gloria from the Costume Department who assisted me so admirably on the production of the prototype “puffer,” has tendered her resignation in direct response to the M&S involvement on such a scale. I shall miss her sorely!)
Funding and sponsorship has also been forthcoming from one of Britain’s oldest brewers.
Harvey’s, situated in Lewes, know only too well the heartache and great drama that occurred in the great floods of year 2000, having been one of its many victims.
And before criticism mounts and is voiced as to the placement of their product within the film; it is wholly acceptable and to be expected that their superior product should be so drunk by the stars of the film as it was at the time of the floods and still drunk by the locals today.
In fact, it should have been one of the more pleasant aspects of my involvement in the film that saw myself, Hopkins, Horrocks and young Depp, among others, being invited to take a tour of their premises by way of necessary research and also, it is admitted here, by way of a well earned “jolly” to sample their wares.
March 20th 2001:
Our visit to Harvey’s Brewery was to be cloaked in secrecy. You have to understand that the publicity machine, in its official capacity on the film, is not due to kick into gear until March 2002. We did, however, have a small camera crew with us, to record the highlights of the day.
Though still in its infancy, the idea had been broached as to the possibility of a documentary to further heighten public interest in the project. Funding has yet to be agreed to cover costs in their entirety.
Under separate cover, I also hope to agree terms in the near future with a view to publishing my own “unofficial” diaries, charting the whole project from initial inception to world premiere in the summer of 2002. More of that later.
to be continued.