After the drama of the award for Best Actor, the #TAFTAS (Torthorwald village Annual Film and Twitter Awards), which saw Tom Hanks end up on a stretcher, moved on to the second award, Best Short Film. Up for this, were the 8 ‘dwarves’, a motley crew, who, apparently, were not really dwarves, just generally vertically challenged, apart from one of them, who maxed out at 7 feet tall. How, you might well ask, did I know all this? Well, while Tom Hanks was being carried to the exit, someone had suddenly appeared, and handed me a colourful programme entitled, ‘THE TAFTAS – a global phenomenon’.
Now, as a reporter with The Times, I know a few global phenomenons. Vladimir Putin, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, the Wet Fish. The list was endless. I’d never heard of the TAFTAS. Had it gone viral while I’d been stuck on the train from Edinburgh? How had the TAFTAS escaped Googles all seeing and knowing eyes?
I opened the booklet and quickly scanned the first few pages. I settled on a page entitled ‘Tunnel to Cardiff’. It described why this documentary had been put forward for the award of ‘ Best Short Film’. The documentary told the story of how 8 ‘dwarves’, who appeared not actually to be dwarves, had been commandeered to build a huge tunnel, linking Southen Scotland to Wales via the ‘Tunnel to Cardiff’. As I started to read their story, my eyes widened. Surely, this was fiction, a story produced in the weird mind of a comedic madman. I read on……..
‘Gadget, this is hopeless. 3 weeks we’ve been digging this tunnel with one pick and one bloody shovel. 35 feet……35 bloody feet in 3 weeks. We’ll all be dead long before we reach the Solway, never mind Wales!’
‘Ok ok, I’ll speak to the boss and see what I can do. Christ, who’s farted?’
All faces turned towards Stinky.
‘Why do you all look at me every time?’
‘Was it you?’
‘Yeah, Gadget you’re always the smartass, aren’t you, I can’t help it. It’s genetic.’
‘Genetic my arse. Hey Cooky, don’t give him anymore brussels……’
Cooky was the engine behind the team. He could cook something out of nothing, having learned his skills from 10 years in the SAS. He’d entered Masterchef once, but had been disqualified for hitting Greig Wallace with a fresh bream, after he’d slagged off his raspberry pannacotta.
In the meantime, BigMan was lifting a huge rock into the skip. At seven foot tall, he was the giant of the groups and could lift almost anything. Unlike most big men, who’s main skill was lifting heavy objects, BigMan had a PhD in astrophysics. On his gap year, before heading to work in Switzerland on the Hadron Collidor project, he’d heard about the #tunneltocardiff project on Twitter. So, here he was, lifting rocks and eating Brussel Sprouts with the strangest group of individuals he’d ever met.
As he dumped his rock, he noticed Birdy was doing his morning ritual of feeding the birds and other wildlife over by the burn. In the three weeks he’d been with them, he’d started to notice all the team appeared to have some unique and sometimes, unusual skills. In Birdy’s case, he had an affinity with every bit of wildlife that moved. Birds, squirrels, Yaks and even the weird looking ‘pigeon’ which had appeared out of nowhere the other week. They all flocked to him as if he was their best friend. As yet another robin landed on Birdy’s head, BigMan smiled.
Just then, Driver and Fengshui arrived. Driver, could apparently navigate to anywhere, even without a TomTom sat nav app in sight. Since they’d only dug 30ft, he hadn’t had anything to do yet, but he was the practical joker of the group, and, annoyingly, was always smiling. His partner in crime, Fengshui, was a different bag altogether. All the way from Northern Mongolia, he practiced his martial arts every day. He was as quick as lightning, sometimes appearing out of nowhere, with that big grin on his face. His nickname came from his penchant for arranging things to allegedly ‘harmonise with our surroundings’. He’d even arranged everyone’s tents facing each other to ‘match’ their personalities. BigMan rolled his eyes as Fengshui moved his skip 2 inches to the right.
Over near the tunnel entrance, Stealth and PoshGit we’re having a game of chess. Stealth, was a member of the infamous local #camouflageclub. He could hide anywhere, merging into the background like a chameleon. His skills had a downside, as, in the short time they’d been here, he’d been sat on twice and nearly decapitated when Gadget was testing one of his flying gizmos. PoshGit was, well, posh. An ex Etonian, his parents apparently owned Southern England or something. He could talk real proper, but he wasn’t lacking in intelligence, and, had already shown he could plan things meticulously.
………….The article on the ‘dwarf’ Tunnellers went on, but my attention was dragged back towards the stage as Rant and Reck returned to the microphone.
‘Ok errybuddy, Meestah Hanks eez ah ok. Now to present sekonda award, all the way from Cardiff issa very rubbery @GillWRU ‘. Applause rang out as the lady wearing a beautiful evening dress, but carrying quite a large handbag, walked out on stage. In a lovely welsh accent, she announced the winners of Best Short Film Documentary as the strange group of bods I’d just been reading about. As they climbed the stairs to receive their award, I could relate each individual to their descriptions in the programme. I’d already made up my mind. This place and it’s characters were fascinating. I wouldn’t leave tomorrow as planned. I had to go and interview the Tunnellers. The was a lot more to them and this place than met the eye and the night was yet young……………..