I was in Pretoria making a film for Absa. It was just preceding the volcanic purple eruption of the Jacarandas. Maybe it was the hint of pollen in the air but, upon arriving from George, my eyes and nose began to run. Badly! A sneezing, dewey eyed film star went against my Elizabeth Taylor notions! Meryl Streep would have been a different matter. Often she weeps in her films, her eyes fill with delicious heart rending tears but somehow I didn’t think I had quite her talent! In any case, tears were what I was hoping to avoid.
I had two days of filming at The State Theatre. Hennie, the director, left to begin getting the stage set up for our filming the next day. Sniffing and dribbley eyed, I went for my afternoon rest. Lying on my bed in the hotel bedroom, I thought: ‘Tomorrow I begin filming. I am going to look horrendous if these waterworks continue. I need some antihistamine. Fast!’
I gave Hennie a call. Sure, he would get some for me on the way back to the hotel. I took the packet of blue and white tablets from him at dinner. “My life saver,” I said swallowing two.
I was nervous about facing The State Theatre. I hadn’t come into contact with it for almost 26 years. I had a terrifyingly exhilarating morning in which I was confronted by one of my worst fears – the stage from where I had tumbled 18 metres. And yes, the tears had fallen thick and fast. Here I was taking antihistamine to stop my eyes running and I flipping we’ll end up crying a bucket load of tears! What use was that? I don’t have a Meryl Streep face, made for tears. My face distorts into a wonky grimace-like mask. Oh, glory, maybe making this film was not such a good idea, I thought.
Once back at my hotel room, my eyes barely having recovered from their State Theatre experience, now began their Jacaranda weeping once more! I made a bee-line for my antihistamine tablets. I had left them next to my moisturisers. I stopped. Next to my face creams was a big, empty space grinning up at me. I looked around the room. Nothing. My antihistamine tablets in all their beautiful blue and cream colours had gone. I searched. No tablets. Oh, friggin’ hell! I needed the tablets. I was streaming once more. I phoned poor Hennie and asked if he could pick up another packet! No problem, he would give them to me at dinner once more.
I woke up from my afternoon rest, to see a man standing at the door of my room.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded, scrabbling for my Cochlear Implants. His mouth began moving and I said: “Hold on, just wait a minute!” Placing them in my ears, I said: “What on earth are you doing in my room?”
Highly embarrassed he said: “I am so sorry! I knocked and knocked on your door and you never answered. I thought no one was here. I am just checking that your room was cleaned.”
“It was very nicely cleaned, thank you. My antihistamine tablets were cleaned clear away!”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that someone has taken my antihistamine tablets! I left them right next to my moisturisers, came back from work and…..” I gestured at the empty space, “…they are gone!” I glared at him through my slightly red swollen eyes.
“Madam, I am sorry! Have you looked in the bathroom?”
“Yes and I have searched this room. Rien, niks, nada, zilch, nothing!” I expostulated.
“I am so sorry, Madam, I will speak to the room cleaners and get back to you,” he said making a hurried exit. Grumpily I put on the kettle. Half a cup of tea later, there was a knock on the door. I opened it to the same man. Apparently he was the hotel manager and he introduced me to the four hotel cleaners. They trooped into the room and I explained what I had lost. One woman began going through my makeup, my moisturisers, my base. “They’re not there, I’ve looked,” I said.
Another glared at me and said: “Where were you this morning?”
“I was at work; at The State Theatre,” I replied somewhat wrong footed. “And I…well…um…I left my antihistamine tablets right here and I wondered if…if you had perhaps moved them or put them in a different place?”
I was assured that my blue and white antihistamine tablets had not been moved. Indeed they had not been seen!
“Where are they then?” I demanded, “They couldn’t have just disappeared, could they?”
They all marched out of my room, promising that they would let me know if my antihistamines magically appeared! Yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought making myself another cup of tea.
Hennie gave me a new bulging packet of blue and white antihistamine tablets at dinner. I took two immediately and repeated the dose after breakfast. Okay, I was ready for the filming!
After a long but triumphant day in front of the camera, we came returned to the hotel and collected our baggage. As I was leaving my room, I searched in my bag for my room key. And my fingers touched my antihistamine tablets.
Two packets of them!
Oh, Shytenhauzen! Shytenhauzen! Shytenhauzen!
At reception I asked to see the manager and was told he would only be back that evening. “Damn, I needed to speak to him.” I swallowed and said to the receptionist: “I mistakenly accused the people that cleaned my room so beautifully of taking my antihistamine tablets. I have just discovered them in my bag. Would it be possible to apologise to the four cleaners?”
Once again, my eyes were teary. I had two packets of antihistamine tablets in my bag but they wouldn’t cure these tears! I received this beaming smile from the receptionist that spilled over the counter top and into my heart.
“Thank you for coming and telling me. So many people on making a discovery such as yours, would have remained quiet about it and would have left the hotel with that accusation hanging in the air. I will tell the women tomorrow.”
I would love to say: Oh, it was because of my brain damage that I made such an appalling mistake. Brain damage had nothing to do with it. It was my own carelessness. My focus was on my filming and as a result I made four women unhappy, accusing them of being thieves.
I apologise to all four of you. ‘Sorry’ seems such an inadequate and inappropriate thing to say but until a better word is invented, ‘sorry’ will have to do.
I am so sorry. I am deeply, deeply sorry!