Have you ever found yourself stepping outside your door thinking how convenient it would be to just be able to “blink” and find yourself in another country?
My husband and I used to live in London, and now that we’re back in New York there are many days when I long to return for a visit. Whether to stroll through Regent’s Park, walk along the River Thames to see the London Eye or head over to Baker Street, home to the fictional character of Sherlock Holmes, there are many things I recall fondly.
A London Shoot
So at first, it was a mystery when I left home to take my daughter to school the other day only to discover that my streets had been blocked off, and London had suddenly “appeared.”
A large TV shoot had emerged, for the show, “Elementary,” taking up blocks all around us, filling our streets with production trailers, craft services and trailers for the actors and much more.
A policeman waved me through some pylons, saying, “Welcome to London!” as I passed.
London’s “Black cabs” were littered down the block, along with numerous other British cars, including Mini-coopers (one painted with the British flag on top), Aston Martins, a vintage Land Rover, Jaguars and even an old Bentley, sporting British “diplomatic” plates. All of the cars had British plates as well.
Moving down the block, a small cafe had been set up on the sidewalk (right next to a parking lot that I’m guessing you’ll never see in the shot), along with one of the famous “red phone booths,” so identifiable with London. Funny thing about those booths—they didn’t work here, as they were just glorified props, and I couldn’t help but laugh to think that they were never actually much more than props back in London—where they weren’t supposed to be just for show.
A man was busy spray-painting onto the street the words “Solo motorbikes”—and a gaggle of typical mopeds, motorcycles and motor-bikes were lined up ready to be re-parked there.
Bobbies vs NYPD
At the end of the block were a Double-Decker bus, and two police cars that looked as if they’d taken the QE2 to get to these shores.
Oddly, a number of NYPD members were standing around the British police car wanting to get a better look.
It would seem that they were assigned to the street beat, but for the moment they were enjoying the scenery around them. As one walked away he yelled to the others, “I’ll see you fellows later at tea time!”
Even the parking signs had been switched out for the British versions. All of the sudden, I was back inside the congestion zone!
A neighborhood local who owns an Irish Wolfhound (not an ideal breed for a small Brooklyn apartment) had apparently been enlisted to allow the dog to be used in the scene.
Two authentic looking Bobbies walked right past me. As I commented on their costumes they smiled, and I hoped they would not talk in the highly- likely event they were not actually British.
I watched as extras began to fill up some of the café tables. They were served scones with clotted cream. (Well, that’s what it looked like from across the street. Or perhaps I was just fantasizing?)
For just a bit, as I continued walking, I was transported back to the streets of London. Living in New York afforded us the chance to walk into many different countries on the streets of the city, as makeshift sets would pop up for a limited period of time.
But, as I continued walking, an extra who’d been hired to drive one of the cabs and clearly had no idea how to drive a stick-shift, proceeded to rev it up so much that gray smoke appeared from the back. All of the sudden, the car gave a jolt,hiccuped into reverse, and slammed right into another British cab behind it. It was quite clear from everyone’s reaction and the profanity coming from the Assistant Director’s mouth, that this was not a planned part of the scene. And with that, I crashed back to my reality, and headed out to work.
I’ll simply have to replay the scene through a different lens, and check out the final version of my “trip” on the telly.