Emma Samms

Some­times life takes you where you just don’t want to go

Cotswold Life - - INSIDE - con­tact @Em­masamms1

Last week whilst driv­ing through cen­tral Lon­don I found my­self in­ad­ver­tently head­ing into a bus lane. With Lon­don traf­fic be­ing what it is, no­body al­lowed me to change lane and thus I drove for quite some time (cer­tainly long enough to have been caught on cam­era) where I wasn’t sup­posed to be driv­ing. It wasn’t a nice feel­ing.

It made me think about other times that I’ve ended up some­where I shouldn’t. About a year ago I was walk­ing to a meet­ing in Lon­don, mind­ing my own busi­ness, and I turned a cor­ner just be­hind Trafal­gar Square to find my­self fac­ing a wall of five or six mounted po­lice of­fi­cers. One of them in­di­cated that I should turn around and head back the way I’d come. De­spite the fact that both the po­lice of­fi­cers and the horses were wear­ing full riot gear, I ini­tially re­sisted their at­tempt to ‘ket­tle’ me by say­ing, in a con­fi­dent tone “I have a meet­ing” and I waved my brief­case at them, as if to prove it. Sadly, this failed to im­press them enough to let me through and I was obliged to turn back and join the Free Pales­tine protestors gath­er­ing in the square.

Some­times, of course, I’ve been places I shouldn’t have been on pur­pose. As far back as 1989 I was work­ing on a film in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary. I had just fin­ished a huge pho­to­graphic job in the USA but hadn’t had time to process all the films (no dig­i­tal back then) so I had my as­sis­tant fly in with the rolls of film with the in­ten­tion of us hir­ing a lab to work in on the days I wasn’t act­ing. This was be­fore the fall of com­mu­nism and it hadn’t oc­curred to me that it would be hard to find such a lab. As it turned out, the only lab in the whole of Bu­dapest, pos­si­bly all of Hun­gary, with the pro­cess­ing equip­ment that I needed was the cen­tral press pho­to­graphic lab, owned and op­er­ated by the gov­ern­ment. As you can imag­ine, it was not avail­able for hire. With a dead­line for my pho­to­graphs fast ap­proach­ing, I some­how man­aged to bribe my way into the build­ing at night for a week.

Un­der cover of dark­ness, my as­sis­tant and I, some­times with large rolls of pa­per on our shoul­ders to hide our faces, would walk past se­cu­rity in the most non­cha­lant man­ner achiev­able un­der such cir­cum­stances.

Get­ting away with be­ing some­where you shouldn’t is al­most en­tirely about at­ti­tude. I’ve taught my daugh­ter that the best loos in Lon­don are at the posh ho­tels and as long as you walk in with con­fi­dence there’s no rea­son any­one will ques­tion your pres­ence. I’m sure many of us who take the train to and from Padding­ton sta­tion have re­alised that the ad­join­ing Hil­ton Ho­tel has a de­light­ful ladies’ pow­der room on its first floor. Un­for­tu­nately it’s at the top of a large, curved stair­case, re­quir­ing Dy­nasty lev­els of charisma to counter an il­le­git­i­mate as­cent or de­scent.

Some­times be­ing in the wrong place at the wrong time has un­ex­pect­edly pos­i­tive consequences. A dear friend of mine just hap­pened to be leav­ing Clar­idge’s Ho­tel at the same time as Mariah Carey and her spec­tac­u­larly large en­tourage. Un­be­known to my friend he was right be­hind Miss Carey when the paparazzi out­side the ho­tel took the pic­tures they’d been wait­ing hours for, re­sult­ing in photos all over the in­ter­net the next day that might­ily im­pressed his teenage chil­dren.

So far I’ve yet to re­ceive no­ti­fi­ca­tion that my car and I were caught on cam­era in the bus lane by Water­loo Bridge, but if I do, it’s a fair cop. I was def­i­nitely some­where I wasn’t sup­posed to be. Though, an­noy­ingly, with no good rea­son.

Fin­gers crossed.

Emma Samms

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