Jan 12 27
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A few days ago I had an email forwarded from my running club inviting me to be an extra in the filming of an ad for a local business. The New Balance running shoe factory at Flimby, West Cumbria, is right on the coast, with great views to Scotland in good weather. When the weather is more inclement, on the other hand, the factory is exposed to icy blasts coming off the sea. A few miles inland there was snow so I suppose the only reason we had rain rather than snow was the salt in the local microclimate.

Looking over the Solway to Scotland

We assembled in the staff canteen which, after several hours with 100 or so people crowded in there, developed an interesting aromatic fug.

In the canteen - for many hours, ironically without food!

There was plenty of time to chat because we arrived for 9 am and did not actually do any filming for nearly three hours. To my surprise, although there were some local runners present, a lot of people were neither local nor runners. However, they all looked the part once kitted out. We had been told to turn up in running clothes without logos – a much harder task than first appears: how many items of “gear” do we own that don’t have a logo? Not many! Since we were all given New Balance gear this turned out not to matter. I was attired in a singlet (purple – hurrah!) and compression capris (don’t leave much to the imagination :(, but surprisingly comfortable once I got used to them :) ) and new trainers, when I was one of ten chosen to go outside to run up and down a stretch of grass being filmed. It was f****ing freezing and by the time we had done this half a dozen times my hands were totally numb. I was very glad to get back into the factory.

Hardly anyone was at work today - I was told that they can choose their own hours on a Friday

Initially I had been given some purple and white trainers and as you can imagine was very pleased – until I discovered they did not fit, and they were replaced with ORANGE ones :( :( :(

Orange shoes - not my first choice of colour :(

Before long I was extremely happy they were orange: some time was spent with one group running from the outdoors into the factory, and the other group running from the factory out to the yard. Between takes we had to hang about at our respective starting points, and very fortunately the orange-shoed group were the group who started indoors – result! :) :)

We were all starving and thirsty by this time – it was after 2pm – and finally we were fed, plenty of buffet and cake and surprisingly good coffee. Then it was a change into different gear, in my case a long sleeved fluoro pink top (I “acquired” a jacket too but it was so big I gave it to Andy – a friend from my running club and not the Andy who usually appears in this blog) and back outside where, although frozen to the bone again I was at least sprinting backwards and forwards. Twenty unlucky people had to stand still in a line and watch the rest of us – as some of these were attired in as little as short shorts and singlets, I am astonished that none of them was overcome by hypothermia.

Back inside again and by now it was 4.30 pm. We had been told that the session would finish between 3 and 4 pm so there was a bit of muttering in the ranks when an announcement was made that we would be required for another 50 minutes. Andy and I were a bit loath to leave before getting paid, but when it was announced that the media company’s cheque book had been “forgotten”, and we would have to email invoices to the office, we suddenly remembered that we had children to collect and could not stay any longer. (Well, Andy has three children so I reckoned I could borrow one temporarily for this purpose.)

It was almost dark by the time we left!

From the factory car park at 4.45 pm

It was a novel way of spending a Friday. Even if we don’t get paid (and this has happened to me in the past when a film company went bust) at least we have lots of unexpected free gear. Oh, and of course a moment of fame. I was briefly on BBC Look North this evening, being interviewed on the strength of my being both local and a runner. Sadly I failed to take the opportunity of plugging my running club. The ad will be out in March I understand – blink and you’ll probably miss me!

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