Toby Strong, Cameraman

There was Bill, me, and a parrot in a boat. Well, it wasn’t really a boat. It looked like one, but it was sort of made from odd bits of cardboard and ply board glued together.

It was all very funny to start with. The parrot, Bill and I bobbing on the calm blue waters, sun on our faces. We could have been on a punt in Oxford reading Keats.

Bill did a lovely piece to camera – he always does. I filmed it beautifully – I always do. However, the parrot was not so good. He had the easiest job: he only had to sit on an oar and look like a parrot, but somehow managed to mess that up. I messed up the next and Bill got it wrong the third time around.

By this point, the clouds had rolled in, the sea was getting choppy, and our pretend boat was pretending not to float very well. Even the rescue boat happened to be a dodgy-looking trimaran, but at least it was a real boat.

Due to linguistic incompatibility, it took 5 minutes and 4 people to relay a simple message. So things started to get interesting: it would take a fair while for things to get done, and voices had to be raised to even attach a line from the real boat back to our pretend boat.

Bill and I were now laughing in a sort of feverish, maniacal way. The parrot was staring fixedly over my shoulder. I turned and realised the cliffs were in fact very close…

Before long, we abandoned filming and stowed the camera where it was least wet – it was still wet, but just not as wet as the rest of the boat was getting! The parrot had abandoned all pretense of stoic bravery and huddled into Bill’s chest like a multi-coloured tumour. The waves were now big enough to be scary, and the pretend boat finally accepted it wasn’t a boat and was just a load of papery stuff glued together.

The rescue boat decided it couldn’t get us off, so it was going to pull us to safety… A lovely idea, except the pretend boat didn’t have a pretend keel or a pretend tiller and the waves and cliffs weren’t pretend either!

As we pitched, tossed and rolled on the point of sinking, words started to come out of Bill’s mouth that even the parrot blanched at. It really was quite petrifying and hysterical. We decided that if the good ship should go down, Bill was taking the parrot and I would take the camera.

Needless to say, we made it and by the time we were safely ashore and the parrot had regained a little dignity, we felt a little silly about our histrionics. In addition, we still have a good story, a fantastic sequence, and the three of us are still very close because of it!