When they come to make Twickenham: The Movie, Saturday’s conference on the Future of Twickenham will form one of the pivotal scenes in the whole film. This will mark the key moment when the Councillors and residents realise that it’s easier to sit in opposition than push through your own agenda. But, more tellingly, it’s also the point when the red mist clears and everyone lays down their weapons and unites to build a better, brighter future, a Twickenham fit for Heroes.
In the film, the following characters would play out the action:
Chairman, Councillor Nicholas True. Played by Charlie Higson reprising his role as Ralph the country gent in the Ted and Ralph sketches on The Fast Show.
Conference facilitator, LBRuT Head of Communications, Cormac Smith. Played by Liam Neeson or anyone else who can combine geniality with just a hint of underlying menace.
Solum Regeneration’s Nigel Carr. Played by Stephen Merchant as a man doing a comic turn trying to defend the indefensible.
Councillor Clare Head, Cabinet Member for Traffic. Played by Alison Steadman.
The audience: Assorted extras mostly over the age of 40, if not 50. OK, 60.
Other cast members as shown.
True: “Welcome to the conference everyone. Was it Ovid or Homer who said that to unite for the common good is nobler than knobbling the united commoners. I’m a wicked old Tory classicist and so I ought to remember. But too much of this RFU coffee is tipping me over the edge. We want to hear your views and work with you to improve this town. In fact we had a great response to the Barefoot Consultation in the summer with lots of ideas and feedback.”
Audience: “Great, just do as we say then”
True: “I’d just like to say that I’m not going to comment on every comment from the audience”.
Audience man: “Can we have an ice rink please.”
True: “As I said, I’m not going to comment on every comment from the audience but no, no ice rink. He’s a tricky chap is Johnny Ice Rink.”
Audience man: “Thanks for putting on this event. Any chance of a new cinema?”
True: “No. We want to make Twickenham a great place in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.”
RFU man: “Yes, this is a great opportunity to showcase the town on the international stage. For thousands of visitors and in front of millions and millions of TV viewers.”
Audience woman: “Yes, yes, yes. Never mind all that. What about my car parking space on rugby days?”
Audience man: “And Twickenham has more to it than rugby, but thanks for the free sarnies RFU.”
True: “As I said I’m not going to comment on everything you audience people say but yes to both points. It’s all about 2015 but it’s also about so much more than that.”
True and Audience together: “Right. The plans for the station, they’re rubbish aren’t they. And why won’t Network Rail engage properly on this issue”.
Carr: “You people just don’t like modern architecture, do you?”
Audience (all): “No, that’s not it, we just want something nice.”
Carr: “Our architect has won an award which means you’re just not GETTING IT. Stop living in the past. We’re doing this stuff all over the south east so it must be right. Gotta dash!”
Smith: “Any questions? Make them brief. Or else”
Audience man: “I’ve lived in Twickenham since 1952 and in that time I’ve seen shops come & go, the decline of the age of steam, the rise of the internet. I once saw a heron frighten a Canada goose near Eel Pie Island…….. and for that reason we want a better town. But can I just ask whether it’s true that a swan can break a man’s arm?”
True: “As I said, I’m not going to comment on every question but I expect it would depend on the angle of strike, the force of the impact and the thickness of the bone. I think it was Plato who said “in coffee veritum est”. Let’s take a break.”
Smith: “Drink up you lot. Right, next question. And anyone, and I mean ANYONE, speaking for more than 20 seconds will have me to answer to.”
Head: “Right, here’s a video impression of what King Street could look like with a bit of regeneration.”
Audience: “Wow. That’s brilliant. But where have the cars and buses gone?”
Head: “Ha ha. Good spot. They’re not in the video because that would spoil the effect that you said you wanted. But if you have any ideas on how to deal with the traffic problem then please let me, the Council Member with responsibility for traffic, know. It need not be a fairy tale.”
Westminster Council man: “I worked in Twickenham 25 years ago. What has all your bickering done for the town since then? Nothing, that’s what. I’ve arranged much bigger schemes than this so you really ought to just get on with it.”
True: “Quite. Now here’s a video about possibilities for the Twickenham Riverside.”
Audience: “Great. Can we just have one big open space, preferably without using developers at all or having any kind of commerce on the site”
Dissenting woman: “Well actually, I’d quite like to be able to buy things in this huge open piazza”.
Westminster council man: “Indeed. Don’t waste your time with all that talk of compulsory purchase orders, working with people is much better, quicker and cheaper. Although, to be fair, I’ve done a bit of everything which is why I work for Westminster and not out in the suburbs.”
Audience man: “We need more working boatyards here too!”
Sensible audience woman: “Let’s not forget the young people. After all they’re part of this.”
Audience (majority): “Who? Oh them. Pah!”
True: “Well, thanks for your time everyone. I’d just like to end by saying that if you don’t believe in fairy tales you can’t slay any dragons. Or was that Aristotle? And by the way, there is no money for this but if I were to set up a kind of Trust and you were to write a cheque for say, one million pounds each, then that would be a start. On second thoughts and looking round the room, ten pounds each would be a start. And I’m going to set up an advisory panel so you can continue to have your say but you have to be prepared to compromise.”
Audience: “Great. We like compromise. Is that when you have to agree with us?”
True: “Err. More coffee please.”
Smith: “Thanks so much for coming, now eff off home before I kick you out.”