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DIARY OF A CITY GUARD – PART 7

Recap – I’m fully costumed, make-up’d and second-breakfasted, and waiting in the gazebo-tent-canopy-lounge-thing. Time to be on set right? When I started writing these I thought I’d probably reach the set by the third or fourth installment, but this is part seven and I’m not there yet and I’ve hardly begun my mission… quest… thing to find out what this TV show is about. There are parallels here to the start of the Lord of the Rings (book) in that sense. And, I hasten to add, in no other sense whatsoever.

One of the assistant directors asks me if I’ve been distressed yet. The non-plussed look on my face makes clear my need for further explanation. I’m taken over to a spot where some people are distressing costumes, which it turns out means making them look lived in – rather than giving them something to worry about or making them listen to one of the murder podcasts my wife is so fond of. Essentially applying dirt and superficial signs of wear, so that the extras don’t all look like they’re all on their first day at a new school.

Cosplayers
These cosplayers are in serious need of distressing. Amongst other things.

I should perhaps clarify at this point that this whole process I’ve been going through at the studio is not the process that the cast go through e.g the actual actors. Or rather it is, but they’re in their own trailers nearer to the set itself. The people passing through these tents with me are extras, stand-ins and perhaps some stunt performers.

I should also clarify “assistant director”, or as they are known on set the AD. There are numerous ADs, some more senior than others, and as far as I can tell they’re basically the oil that runs the entire operation (apart from the things that need actual oil). They communicate between departments, wrangle extras and cast, organise call sheets and rehearsals, perform crowd-control, oversee continuity and basically work non-stop. For the most part they appear on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Unsung heroes as far as I can tell. Don’t tell any of them I said that.

Now fully distressed, I am ready for the set. I’ve been here at base for about two hours. It’s now getting light, but I’ve been up for about five hours and I’m a little discombobulated by this. I’m back at the main entrance to the tents awaiting a minibus to take us to set. We’re all in our robes, which we are no longer wearing to protect our costumes from food and make-up but to protect our costumes from prying eyes as we drive back out on to the main road and head down to the set, just a minute or two away. You’d have to have some seriously determined prying eyes to be spying on us leaving a tent situated in a private compound surrounded by walls of shipping containers to get into a minibus with blacked-out windows before disembarking down the road in another private compound, but Amazon are clearly determined to keep this all under wraps and are taking no chances. And in fairness it’s working – no pictures have been leaked at this point.

We shuffle out of the minibus and we’re… ushered into another big tent. But of course. This is not a job for a tentaphobe. This time it’s the extras holding tent. This is where we all hang out here until we’re needed. We can take our robes off now. There are well over a hundred of us here. Because there are a lot of us today, we’ve been earmarked our own tables as territories in the tent, and it feels a bit like like a really odd wedding. But people seem to be gravitating into groups by costume anyway.

And what costumes. As well as the majestic City Guards in their regal blue and gold outfits, there are several other groups. A bunch of gentleman looking well north of sixty are wearing white robes with incredibly ornate shoulder pieces. These are on a table marked Seers, and they bring to mind perhaps ancient Greek or Roman senators. A much larger group of men and women of all ages are wearing colourful robes made of beautiful fabrics, some featuring lettering in a language that I do not recognise. I forget what this group were referred to as, but I’m sure it will come back to me. I think they’re some sort of aristocracy. There are plenty of people milling about in much more down-to-earth clothing, all well-worn rough browns, and these are the dock workers – the working class.

Last are the Sea Guards. These are more numerous than the City Guards but we seem to be older and more heavily armoured. Heavier all round really. The Sea Guards armour consists of an ivory-coloured chest/back plate and some vambraces. Their skirts are a suitably lovely teal marine colour and they are armed with white daggers on leather belts. A healthy rivalry will develop betwixt the Sea Guards and their far more handsome and intelligent City Guard compatriots.

Amdelyn, conspicuous by its absence from the Amazon Second Age map

And now we must wait, which it turns out is about ninety percent of the average day in the life of an extra. I’m hoping when we get a call to set that I’ll finally learn where in Middle-earth we are. I know the city is called Amdelyn, but this is categorically not an authentic Tolkien placename, so I’m guessing it has been created for the show. It’s clearly a city of men and a port city, and there are precious few of these mentioned during the Second Age – Umbar and Pelargir are perhaps the only real contenders aside from Romenna, the capital city of the island of Nûmenor. Chances are if you’re reading this then you’ve already seen the show, and you already know exactly where I am, but its still 2021 for me and I have no idea. Surely today is the day when I get some proper revelations?

It turns out that today is indeed the day. But not yet. For now, we wait.

2 thoughts on “Of Amdelyn and Its Realms”

  1. This saga is taking on M*A*S*H like proportions – it will soon have lasted longer than the event that inspired it

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