It may sound cheesy, but I feel I’ve come a long way in a year. This time in 2012 I was sitting in an old biscuit factory in Bermondsey, having driven from Maidstone through two and a half hours of solid rush hour traffic, only to be working (“interning”) for two failed magicians from Essex who thought they’d start the world’s shittest magazine.
Needless to say, it wasn’t how I pictured myself at 23 years of age: law degree in hand, trying to breathe some life into a publication that was essentially a spine bound, matte finished, portfolio of toilet paper with Alan Sugar on the front.
Since then I’ve worked as essentially the editor for a much (much!) better magazine; I’ve moved to a new town and met a whole load of new, amazing people; I’ve had video footage I shot shown on the BBC; I’ve managed to learn shorthand to 100 words per minute and I’ve come here, to Malaysia, to shoot this documentary.
Today I was presented with the toughest challenge that I have faced since those fateful days at the biscuit factory. Today, it seemed like the winding roads of life had led me to this one final test, to prove that I’d turned my life around.
Today, I had to try and eat a soft boiled egg with chopsticks and three different kinds of ladle.
Needless to say, I was at a loss. None of my education – formal or otherwise – had prepared me for this moment. I first attempted to crack the shell with one of the ladles. To no avail – the sides just weren’t sharp enough. I tried using one of the chopsticks as a sort of cleaver – the egg simply spun away in a mocking pirouette.
Skipping forward, I ended up mushing the top of the egg with my hands and drinking the yolk as if it were some kind of pretentious, Shoreditch cocktail. Needless to say, my actions did not go unnoticed – the young Malaysian boy sitting across the restaurant looked at me with a mixture of trepidation and amusement that hasn’t been seen since the era of the Victorian freak show.
Overwrought anecdotes out of the way, here’s a quick update on the progress of the film. After a nice weekend off it was back to the grindstone for a 7 hour shoot. In the morning I interviewed my friend Sharanya’s mum – Dato’ Ambiga Sreenevasan – about her infamous political activism, and she gave all the detailed and passionate answers I was looking for.
In the afternoon I travelled south to Putrajaya – a strange kind of planned city/ Islamic theme park which serves as the administrative centre of Malaysia’s government. I filmed the Prime Minister’s house and office, which was basically a palace equipped with a huge, ornate, personal mosque.
I arrived in time for Dhuhr prayers, for which the Prime Minster was escorted by a 30-strong armed guard on the comically short journey down his driveway and round a roundabout to the mosque. Interestingly, no guards accompanied him into the prayer room itself, which conjured an amusingly ironic image of PM Najid performing his salah in a bulletproof box.
All the establishing shots are now on tape (well, hard drive) and with just three more days and two more interviews left to do, I’m hoping at least someone else is around to appreciate the moment I get to legitimately say “that’s a wrap” for the first time.
If you have a solution to the boiled egg conundrum, please send answers on a postcard to Restauran Magic Silver Pot, Taman Tun, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.