Having been away filming in somewhere glamorous like Nicaragua, it's always grounding to return to the UK. I was straight off the plane and down to Weston-super-Mare for a couple of days' filming for a golf DVD I'm making. I have a particular aversion to British seaside towns – we just can't seem to get them right. They're either places like Padstow that have been totally taken over by a TV chef and turned into a personality-based marketing opportunity or they're the windswept, penny-arcade, piss-stinking destinations of the desperate. Weston-super-Mare is one of the latter.
It does have a fabulous beach – on the first day we were busy filming a nude volleyball scene while a real-life emergency was unfurling in the mudflats of the Bristol Channel. When the tide was out, a couple of teenagers, in what was clearly an attempt to escape the town, had wandered out towards Wales. They quickly got in trouble and got stuck in the mud. A mini-hovercraft was despatched and zoomed out towards them. Pretty soon they were pulled out of their sticky trap and returned to the shore. I had some binoculars with which to watch the volleyball and I trained them on the teenagers and saw that they were both in tears. I assumed this was due to the shock of their ordeal. Later on, having filmed in town, I realised it was frustration at being made to return.
An hour before sunset we started filming a little scene in the empty pedestrianised shopping centre. It was not a big affair – a crew of five and me, dressed in antique golfing garb. It was enough, however, to attract quite a few locals desperate for something, anything, to fill the dying day. On a wall about six feet above the "Italianate Gardens", three youths were attempting to do the French sport of parkour, where you hurl yourself off street furniture and walls in a fluid athletic fashion. All three jumped and crumpled in pain on the floor. Two feral youths in shell suits on little bicycles watched both the jumpers and our little shoot – their faces in permanent contact with their plastic milkshake drips.
In the middle of a take, a man of about 50 shuffled right into the middle of the action. He looked around at us in a slightly bewildered manner before asking: "Is this the new Indiana Jones movie?"
There was a long silence from all of us as we tried to take this question on board. Eventually, one of us piped up that it wasn't. He looked disappointed. We tried to carry on – we wanted to finish the scene before the sun went down and the real crazies came out – but minutes later we were interrupted again. This time, a cross-eyed man of about 45 had grabbed the soundman's furry boom and was staring at it in an astonished manner. "Is this a radioactive brush?" he asked the soundman.
We made a safety decision and wrapped for the day. We drove quickly out of town to the safety of our hotel. It had recently won "third best wedding venue in the South West" and was quite... special. There was a bridal shop, Las Vegas-like stone statues everywhere and a bad recreation of Monet's 'Water Lilies' just for those all-important wedding photos – it was very surreal. We retired to "Truffles", the restaurant, where there was a plaque announcing that the name "Truffles" had been the result of a competition, with the winner's name there for all to see. Typically, there were no truffles on the menu. I drank myself into a stupor before retiring to the Emerald Suite for a lonely wedding night.