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Sport 7: Winter 1991


When I was aged eleven years I auditioned for the part of a boy who was to be the chief character in a film to be shown on television. At that time my dream was to become the chief character in many such films. I dreamed of the boys and girls of my school telling their friends in the years to come of attending the same school as the boy who was now the chief character in a number of films they had seen. In my mind I heard the boys and girls of my school talking in their men's and women's voices about the boy who was now playing the major roles of his generation in films which, it was being said, had become instant classics. I imagined a time in the future when I would be unable to remember any of the names of the boys and girls of my page 27 school, though if I ever met them, I would pretend to remember.

I can recall no details of the first audition, though I imagine it taking place in a hall large enough to hold all the boys of my school, except those few who were either ill on that day, or who had no desire to be the subject of the future adult-talk of all the boys and girls of their school.

The uniform of the school, which I imagine all the boys at the first audition being required to wear even though it is a Saturday morning, is predominantly navy blue. Navy blue jersey, navy blue shirt, navy blue shorts, navy blue socks. The socks, however, are topped with two thin bands of different colours; cornflour blue and lilac.

The second audition was held in Wellington in a small room more than ten floors above street-level. On this occasion I was the only boy present in a room full of adults, one of whom was my mother. I was not wearing my school uniform though it was a Wednesday morning. I was given three pages of script and taken into a second, smaller room. My mother, having wished me luck, remained in the first room where she had been offered a cup of tea but had said no thank you. The second room was the sound-room of a recording studio and it was bare except for a microphone on a stand in the middle of the floor. The floor was crossed in places by cables. The room then became dark for a moment until a single light was turned on over the microphone stand. I remember thinking in the moment that because of the darkness I would never be able to read the three pages of script I had been handed. In that moment I was convinced that the adults had expected me to have read and memorised all the words contained in the three pages of script in the time it had taken to walk from the first small room into the sound-room and that now I would never be the chief character in this or any other film. Standing in the darkness I then knew that I would never be an actor in the films which would be seen by all the boys and girls of my school, but that I might one day be the subject of a film which some boy or some girl from my school might see without being quite able to remember whether the man who is the subject of the film is the same man in whose outline flickers the shape of a boy in navy blue, cornflour blue and lilac.

I can recall none of the words of the script which I read into the microphone under the single light in the sound-room. I remember that while I read I was facing a large rectangular window which was perfectly black. Later, I learned that the man who had written the words I was reading page 28 was standing behind this window, watching and listening to his words forming in the mouth of a boy who might have become the boy in the film the man had scarcely imagined when he dreamed of the boy who is the chief character of the book he had written some twenty years before.

I now believe that the man who stood behind the black window of the sound-room watching and listening to all the boys who came with their mothers to the rooms more than ten floors above the streets of Wellington, had as a young would-be writer imagined himself as the boy who is the chief character of the book which some twenty years later would be a film for television. I also believe that some man or woman who had been a boy or girl from the school of the man who had stood behind the black window, when they saw the film of the man's book, might catch in the outline of the boy-actor who is the chief character of the film, a flicker of the boy whom they cannot quite remember but whom they believe went on to write a book some twenty years ago.