We approached this day with equal parts foreboding and excitement. Foreboding because it was the end of this first phase of the journey/script junction programme and we knew we were going to miss each other a whole damn lot. What helped was the fact that we knew that come September, we’d all be together again at AFRIFF so it was just a short parting. Now, parting in November, that will be painful (yeah, I’ve made the leap). But exciting because we had pretty much soaked in as much of the city as we could in the short span of time and I hope I speak for all of us when I say our stories were looking good. So were eager to return to our lives and actually begin work. Because truth is however ‘complete’ our project seemed when we arrived, it would have undergone many changes, sometimes paradigm shifts in the course of the last few days.
We discussed deadlines. Submission of the first drafts of our scripts were pegged for early October (hear that people?)
A timetable was drawn up with empty time slots to see the various tutors and we had to walk up to the board and indicate our name under any tutor and time we choose. In these one-on-one sessions, we discussed our work in a more intimate fashion, assessed the clarity in this final stretch and got last feedback.
Then we broke for lunch. Back to sandwiches but I couldn’t hate with any energy. Not after the food-fest of the last two days. That pizza, chicken and chips though!
Our guest for the afternoon was Keith Shiri, programmer at AFRIFF partner for script junction who joined us for half an hour. We had a vibrant conversation about
Yup, that’s all I heard because this here girl was sound asleep. Don’t judge me, I told you I had five shots of tequila last night, like, what did you really expect! I can promise you however that the conversation was very vibrant, evidenced by the loud voices disturbing my peaceful sleep. And I wasn’t very successful at hiding my sleeping (I wasn’t trying) – not when Maurice told me later that he appreciated my very insightful contributions to the conversation. Fuck you Maurice.
After this, we were invited to re-pitch our modified projects, focusing on what had changed. As I reported, I came with a premise and was leaving with a story, complete with scenes and anecdotes and, damn, my colleagues had near-all done my work for me and I was just over the moon. I know we all benefitted but I speak for myself when I say I must’ve benefitted the most, because my skeleton had blood and flesh and sinews and nerves. A tweak here and there, put in a heart and it’d start beating immediately. Yes, I was lucky. Yes, I was grateful. Yes I was leaving much much more knowledgeable, about my project in particular, and the film industry and filmmaking in general. I had met some amazing people. I had made useful contacts.
Well, we hurriedly did last minute selfies…
And on that high note, we said our farewells and dispersed, but knowing we were meeting for a final dinner. But before we did, there was a rousing ovation for our co-ordinator Emily (Wendy left that morning and although she sent us an email saying how sad she was not to say goodbye, rumour had it that she hates goodbyes to the extent that she would do near anything to avoid them).
We had our evening wrap meal at Zucca restaurant. Kinda subdued. And then it was over.
BACK TO DAY ZERO – DEPARTURE
Kassim, assigned our trip co-ordinator called me as early as 5:20am I think to ensure I was even awake at all. We, the Lagos group were supposed to meet at the hotel lobby at 5:40am for pickup. We did but while loading up the taxi, we got word from Emily that a larger cab was coming (you see our luggage had grown somewhat), so we chilled. The hotel offered us a final lovely lovely mocha. Then the cab arrived and we packed up but the coffee was so great we stayed to drink every last drop. And then off we went into the morning. This time, maybe because it was so early, we saw better the serenity of the Edinburgh countryside. Lovely low stone cottages. We were already feeling nostalgic. At the airport. Check in was a breeze. We did a little more shopping. And then two of us managed to lose our boarding passes and while one was easily found (before we even realized it was missing) the other, aha! We had to go right back to check in, right back through security and OMG, all the time we’d gained, we lost. See, we might not have had to go through security again, but Kassim likes to play by the book (I promised him I will get him arrested one day cuz you gotta live on the edge sometimes). And then the barcode permits only single use so the gate refused to admit us a second time. And for some reason, the security I scaled successfully the first time decided to treat me like a terrorist this second time, complete body checks and metal detector and shit and guys were laughing at me. I just barely escaped an anal probe I think. (if you suffer haemorrhoids, can you be forced to submit to an anal probe? #questionsthatkeepmeupatnight) Inefficient much abeg. Such a bother when we could have maybe just returned the back way we came and if they caught us, we’d say uhm uhm, officer, we are missing, we no speak… our engrish not so good etc etc dumb-speak. Of course our names were called over the Public address system toboard the aircraft (which actually you can hear what they are saying, I mean, what’s it with Naija Airports’ Public address systems anyway? You never hear shit!
We arrived Heathrow and it was a breeze. We had about two hours to kill but it passed fast because there was free WiFi.
Should I stop here?
About six and half hours later, we entered Naija and of course, the well behaved passengers in London quickly regressed to animals. We had been informed that the plane would taxi for an extra five minutes or so after landing and we were to sit buckled in until the signs went off. For where? The moment we landed, some guy jumped clear off and immediately opened the luggage compartments whereupon several air hostesses and passengers starting hissing like vipers and nearly yanked the guy to his knees like a terrorist. Na so una dey fear? It was funny.
The moment we entered the airport building, we knew in no uncertain terms we were home. And I will allow our UK colleagues find out just what I mean when they come in November. No spoilers.
Over and out.