Dreadlocks and the Four Bears

Delia’s career is in the doldrums and she can’t afford to turn down a voice over; even if she has to be a bear.

Delia answered the phone promptly, it was her agent.

‘I’ve got you a star role, back to the cinema.’

Initial excitement was followed by disappointment.

‘You won’t have to leave London, it’s a voice over.’

It still rankled with Delia that she had been passed over for Marigold Hotel.

‘Advertisements?’

‘No, no CGI.’

‘A spy film?’

‘No computer generated image, like Toy Story, Paddington Bear…’

Delia wondered how much worse it could get. ‘A children’s film?’

‘Nothing wrong with that, all the stars do them now.’

‘Who else is doing it?’

‘Tamara James.’

‘Who?’

‘You know, she sent that Tweet and hasn’t worked since.’

* * * * *

On Thursday Delia turned up at what her agent called a bijou studio. She had not dared ask for any more details, she could not afford to turn it down, but the young strangely attired young man who greeted her was friendly, enthusiastic and solicitous.

‘First one here, great, now how much do you know about the film?’

‘Nothing, I like surprises, this is just a bit of fun for me, I do like to support up and coming talent.’

‘…and we are very honoured to have you on board. Basically we’re going back to basics, a classic tale not yet retold, want to get in before Disney; Goldilocks and the Three Bears.’

Delia laughed. ‘I know it’s only a voice over, but I think my voice may be a little too mature for Goldilocks.’

He joined in the laughter. ‘Brunhilda… the brown bear, not the Valkyrie; you will be magnificent as Mother Bear.’

The smile froze on Delia’s face. ‘Who is playing Father Bear?’

‘There is no father bear, we have to reflect the modern family.’

‘I don’t understand, there have to be three bears.’

‘Yes, Big Mama Bear, that’s you, Mama Bear and Baby Bear.’

‘Very funny and how did they manage to produce baby bear?’

‘A.I.D.’

‘I thought this was a children’s film, now you’re telling me the family has AIDS?’

‘No, artificial insemination by donor, Big Mama’s egg, Polo, the only gay Polar Bear in the Arctic, was the sperm donor and Pandora, Mama Bear, was the surrogate mother.’

‘Polar bears in the wood, this gets more and more bizarre.’

‘We have to show diversity.’

‘So what is Pandora?’

‘A Panda of course.’

‘Pandas are not real bears.’

‘I know, but we can’t be seen to be prejudiced. Pandora escaped from the zoo, it wasn’t working out with her husband, this was her only chance to become a mother.’

‘So what is the cub, a Teddy Bear?’

‘I love your sense of humour; I’ll show you the first rushes on the laptop.’

Despite her reservations, Delia found herself taken by the lively colourful characters.

‘It is rather lovely, someone must be good at drawing. How sweet, a coffee coloured cub who’s afraid of the water and refuses to learn to fish. What’s happening now?’

‘The family have gone down to the lake in the woods, where Polo has lived since being ostracised by the Arctic community. Every Sunday they invite him back for breakfast, the access visit to see his son.’

‘Leaving the porridge to cool off?’

‘Veggie Kedgeree actually.’

Delia was getting into the spirit of the film. ‘Can I see what’s going on back at the cabin? …who on earth is that?’

‘We could hardly have the stereotype young blonde girl; that is Dannie Dreadlocks, she’s left home because her parents won’t take her to the gender reassignment clinic. We have to make sure the film is inclusive of the LGBTQ community.’

‘What has any of this to do with sandwiches?’

‘Sandwiches? Oh, you’re so funny Delia, you mean BLT, bacon lettuce and tomato. I’m talking about lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer.’

‘I think you are making this film too inclusive, can’t you just have a nice story?’

‘It will be, most of this stuff is back story, only the parents will understand. Let’s skip to the next scene, we’ve already added the soundtrack.’

Delia watched as the androgynous Dannie Dreadlocks skipped up the wooden stairs inside the cosy cabin, complaining in a strong Glaswegian accent that they should have gone to Ikea. In the first room she found a tiny wooden bed and sat down, but it snapped in half. In the big room she found the enormous four poster bed that Big Mama and Mama shared. At that moment a huge shadow filled the room and Dannie turned to see Big Mama blocking the doorway. The frame froze on the laptop screen.

‘Oh, what happens next?’

‘We haven’t written that part yet, we thought we’d let you all go down the Mike Leigh route and make up the script.’

Janet loves writing novels, short stories and blogging. Her favourite theme is how ordinary people cope when strange things happen to them.

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