Bear is a large Rottweiler - it's a good thing I wasn't lying about him being friendly!
After Bear peed on his shoes, this quiet and unassuming man invited me to a local and very dilapidated house where he was going to be shooting his movie The Stone - No Soul Unturned. Philip Gardiner is the Director, the quiet and unassuming man I mentioned earlier and if you Google him, there's not much he hasn't done in the world of cults, religions, secret societies and all things weird and wonderful.
After a whole week of watching, listening and learning without realising, I took away from the experience a wealth of information on how things work in the film industry - the Indie Film Industry, not Hollywood.
I thought that would have been it for my film career but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that for my efforts on set (tea making mostly), I was going to get a credit on there! Well that was worth it! Then Phil asked if I'd like to come and watch another film in the making - Paranormal Haunting - The Curse of the Blue Moon Inn. Of course I said yes!
After filming that one, things went a little quiet. I started helping out on AWESOME Magazine, writing at the end of 2011 but not much else, I continued with my political work and tried to get as much writing in as I could.
At the beginning of 2012 my life was turned upside down.
Phil asked why I hadn't asked him to work on my book covers. I told him that I didn't want to be someone who asks him to do stuff for the sake of it. I just didn't "want to be that person" who takes advantage of a friendship. I'm NOT that kind of person.
Then on 1st May I took a phone call from my husband's workplace. He'd been taken to hospital. He'd been underground (he's an Electrical Engineer at a coal mine) and he took ill. I later found out that he had been alone when he took ill and had to struggle along, getting weaker and weaker for about a kilometer. He had had a heart attack - he could have died in the time it took him to get to somewhere where there were people to help him. He was stretchered out of the mine and taken to hospital. I couldn't go to see him straight away, they would be doing tests. I was at my wits' end, almost frantic with worry.
Coincidentally (and believe me, I don't believe in coincidence) Phil phoned and it all came out.
"You know I said I don't want to be that person who asks you for help?" I said.
"Well, I'm going to have to be that person. Trev's had a heart attack," I said and even as I was saying it, the implications still hadn't got through, the truth hadn't hit me yet.
"Leave it with me," Phil said.
Over the next few days, while Trev was in hospital and I was worrying myself stupid, there were friends messaging me and offering support. Dave and Jules especially spring to mind, Jules offered to send Dave on his days off to stay with me for moral support. You know you are truly blessed when long-distance friends loan their husbands - I'll never forget that act of kindness Jules. One friend in particular was never 'out of touch'. It didn't matter what time of day or night, if I needed to talk about something - in particular what we were going to do if Trev could no longer work - Phil took my call. He's a very busy bloke and yet he had time to listen to a friend. I'll never forget that either.
Not only did he listen, he actually heard. He didn't offer to pay my mortgage, he didn't offer me a job but he did offer me something I desperately needed - a focus to get my mind off the worry about my husband. I have a saying, "If you can't change something by worrying about it, don't worry about it" but it's so much easier to give advice than take it.
Phil asked me if I'd like to be Producer on his new movie Exorcist Chronicles. Now, of course I said yes. It did the trick too. I was too busy to worry unnecessarily - Trev was on the mend, no damage to his heart, no surgery needed and in fact, the doctors said he was in possession of healthier arteries than his own (bearing in mind the doctor was very young) and there really was nothing to worry about.
What I've come to understand about this friend of mine, Philip Gardiner, is that he may give a direct helping hand to people he considers friends but he has another way too. He will push you towards opportunities. He doesn't tell you what to do, he'll show you options and watch how you deal with the choices. Sometimes things don't happen immediately but patience is a virtue - it really is.
I've watched for a few years now, I've listened to him and I've seen how some people can't wait for the exact time to make a move. Those people get impatient that Phil hasn't made it all happen yet but what they don't get is that Phil isn't the one that needs to be making it all happen, THEY are.
I dare say a word dropped in the right ear would catapult someone into the heady heights of fame and fortune and everything that goes with it - exploitation, back-stabbing and as swift a fall from glory as the rise to fame was - perhaps more so. But, do it for yourself, do the groundwork, build the foundations and fame will come - steadily, slowly perhaps but it will be YOURS and you'll be able to own it and sustain it for many years - I know which I'd prefer.
The picture I chose for this post is one of my favourites. I think I look strong and confident in it but believe me, things could have gone a very different way on that day in May 2012. I thank the mineworkers, ambulance staff, doctors and nurses who helped my beloved husband that day and I also thank Dave and Jules. My undying gratitude also goes to Phil Gardiner who had nothing to gain, nothing to 'pay back' and certainly no need to give support and distraction to me. Yet he did, he never said there would be monetary benefit, he never promised to enhance my career but the advice he gave and advice I've seen him give to others - taken or ignored - is invaluable.
Learn from others' mistakes, life is too short to make them all yourself.