2/52 Crash The BAFTAs
All week I've been nervous about this. I've been asking myself on a daily basis "Nina, why on earth have you decided to add this to your list? It's stupid, naive and obviously, you can't just crash the BAFTAs. This is 2018 after all and we're not living in a spin-off of Almost Famous. Even if you do own a similar coat."
I woke up and started to prepare for my journey over to the Royal Albert Hall. Dressed all in black, hoping to pass off as a volunteer, and with my nice clothes in a bag but very little motivation, I left the house.
As I walked to the bus I thanked little baby Jesus and all things holy that it was a beautiful day and the sky was blue. It made it less awful to be out on Kilburn High Road on a Sunday morning. For anyone unfamiliar with the Kilburn High Road, you can compare it to that tunnel scene in the 1971 film version of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that probably still, to this day gives you nightmares.
As I got on the bus, I nestled myself by a lovely window seat and enjoyed the sights. In my opinion Sunday mornings are heavenly. It's quiet. It’s the one time when London seems to slow down for a moment as people go fetch their fresh croissants from the hipster cafe down the road. There are those who make good choices and go for a morning jog while others sit on their front step in their pyjamas and winter hat with a cigarette in one hand and cup of coffee in the other, relishing the sweet feeling of knowing they have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to be.
That morning, I envied those people. A lot.
I finally got off the bus in Kensington and was thinking "Nina, you've gotta make sure you create a life for yourself where you can live someplace beautiful like this and fall asleep where you don’t have to listen to drunken middle-aged men shout from the pub down the road.” Is that too much to ask?
I walked through Hyde Park and as I passed a pair of black party shoes which had been abandoned by the side of the road, I imagined what the story behind these shoes could be. Perhaps a young, drunk woman on her way back from Mahiki had a few too many tequila shots and after making a fool of herself in front of one of the BAFTA nominees was politely asked to leave. Too embarrassed to hang around the venue to hail a cab she stumbled down the road, wanting to flee that horrible memory as fast as humanly possible. Stumbling along in 6 inch stiletto heels, she realises that she isn’t going to get very far wearing the shoes that feel as uncomfortable as a British person in a social situation. So, the shoes were removed and abandoned, neatly side by side - possibly the most respectfully abandoned shoes I ever did see.
As I saw the Royal Albert Hall emerge on my right I felt an immediate surge of adrenaline (or maybe it was panic). As if I were an MI5 agent, I decided the sensible thing to do would be to first scout out the area. Ever since watching Spy Kids I knew I was born to be the next Carmen Cortez.
The first thing you realise is there’s a ton of security “Duh! Fucking Donald Trump is president and people have literally been going mad over the past 2 years. What world do you think we live in?”
I walked around searching for the courage to finally approach the perimeters and quickly realised people were too busy trying to organise the BAFTAs to question my presence. I looked like I was there for a reason, for all they knew I had some super important role to play in making sure the statues were handed out to the rightful winners. Cue memory of the 2017 Oscars. Awks.
So I did what any sensible person does when they’re looking for human interaction; I decided to hang out in the smoking area.
As I had predicted, this was where the conversations started. The one that stuck with me was with Paolo, a pastry chef from Italy. He studied in a fancy culinary school in London and was living here now, making cakes for famous people. We talked about the life of a baker and how much he enjoyed making croissants. “Ah it’s easy!” He exclaimed with pride and joy. He spoke about his disappointment in British food as perhaps a certain well off, hotel owning billionaire father would speak about his son, the Harvard law graduate turned go-go dancer.
After a number of random encounters I strike up a conversation with two serious looking security guards. These were definitely not the kind who graduated at the top of their class at security school. Nah, we’re talking guys who’ve been out there and seen things. After a little chat I decided to flat out tell them about what I was trying to do. Foolish perhaps as they pointed out there was no way I was going to get in. As I realised this may be the end of my journey one of them said “You can pick up a viewing wristband and watch the stars on the red carpet later on as they arrive.” I looked at him for a moment pondering this and thought “Why on earth would I want to spend my time watching other people walk down a carpet as if they're zoo animals?”
There's this pull towards movie stars that is fascinating because I don't even think it's the actor in particular people care about. It's more about the characters they play and the stories they tell on screen that ignite a kind of fire in people. There's something amazing about watching stories portrayed on the screen we can identify with. Being part of stories that demand bravery from our protagonist can make us feel like there are possibilities in our own lives. This is why art is so powerful.
As I walked away from my mission I sat myself down on the steps across the road from the venue. With the sun shining on my face and my eyes closed I listened to the world around me as my mind raced at a million miles an hour. Maybe I should try hanging around a bit later again? Would this whole day have been a waste if I didn’t manage to get in? That’s when I had to remind myself that getting in wasn’t the point of this exercise.
The incredible thing about pondering an ambitious plan is you actually start imagining ways in which you could make it happen. That’s the magic of the process. Suddenly you’ve opened yourself up to a realm of possibility that wasn’t there before.
You find yourself stretching your creativity and imagination. What scenarios would you encounter and how would you deal with them? What’s the best approach and strategy to this situation? You imagine your own bravery and fearlessness and the triumphant feeling you get when you manage to achieve your goal and overcome your own doubts. These are incredible feelings, even if they’re only in your head.
And this is amazing because it trains our brains to think beyond what we already know and we see our own possibility rather than our shortcomings. It teaches us how to dream bigger. It teaches us about the opportunity we have in a world where often times we’re faced with dream crushers. Most importantly it teaches us that we’re capable of more than we ever dared to imagine before.
Even the attempt is worthy. It brings with it experience. Even when accompanied with failure we’ve now stood closer to that goal than ever before. That’s what I had to remind myself of. I had just experienced a morning I’d never have been near were I to accept immediate defeat.
And maybe that’s really the point of it all. This ongoing process which can’t progress until you’re prepared to look foolish and fail. And perhaps that’s what distinguishes those who succeed from those who fail. Failure is nothing more than the abandonment of one's dreams at the point when it starts to get uncomfortable. If you keep going you haven't failed. You’ve just hit a bit of a speed bump.
And the question I leave with you today oh curious reader, is this. Should we not all spend more time in that headspace? Dare to dream bigger and believe in ourselves more than ever before? And not stop there but also learn about the power of execution, regardless of what the outcome on the first try may be?
But hey, I’m idealistic so don’t take my word for it.