STILL sleepy, I arrive “on set (which is a TV term) of Pizza, that funny cooking show on SRS. Actually, the set is just a van parked near the bush. I have been asked to bring black boots, but now I realise I will have to go in the bush in my best shoes. I am given a soldier’s uniform and told to put it on.
A NICE lady with a sponge puts mud on my face and hands. I ask her why I have mud before I’m even in the jungle. The sponge lady thinks this is very funny.
PAUL, the man in charge, talks me through the scene (a TV term, like something you saw, but spelt wrong). Apparently we have to make believe something called a flash back in Vietnam. I hope it’s nothing like what my Uncle Ernie was arrested for in Morreau Reserve at Rooty Hill.
A MAN called Angry Anderson arrives in a big car. He is to play the leader of the flash. One of the other soldiers says he was in a band before I was born, but can’t remember any of his songs. Today, Mr Anderson is Mr Angry About Traffic.
I MEET a nice man called Greg Evans. He is not in Vietnam, but he is in a scene with Annalise Braakensiek, that lady who makes me feel funny. Later, someone tells me Mr Evans was on a TV show called Perfect Match when I was young. I bet his match collection is even better than mine.
THE soldiers and Mr Anderson and a fat man in big shorts with a camera go into the bush. I have been given some dog tags to put around my neck in case I get lost. All the soldiers are given big guns. Mine is held together with sticky tape and the trigger has fallen off, so I hope Vietnam isn’t too dangerous. I am also worried about my best shoes.
ALL the soldiers (including me) have to walk three paces forward and stop. Then we have to do it again. And again. And again. M r Anderson keeps making jokes I don’t understand, but I don’t want to ask what they mean in case he gets upset.
NOW Paul wants us to crouch down and look scared. Up and down. Up and down. Once, a branch goes up my nose. Mr Angry has something to say. He says it over and over again, exactly the same. I wonder what I will get to say.
MY KNEES are hurting. but finally we can stop crouching. I tell one of my fellow soldiers about my knees and my shoes. He says, “War is hell.”
AFTER lots more crouching and looking scared or angry or happy, Paul says we are finished. Mr Anderson asks where the car park is. I realise I will not get to say anything after all. The fat man with the camera says he’s been eaten alive by ants and uses a rude word.
AS I am getting out of my uniform, Annalise Braakensiek arrives for her scene. Luckily I pull my pants up before she can see my Pink Panther underpants. I ask the producer how much I will get paid and she laughs hard. I laugh with her. It’s good to have such friends in the TV industry.
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