Perv massages and piano lessons
Photograph: Sabri Hakim
Four days of non-stop, deeply frustrating negotiations and it looks like we have reached some kind of deal. It seems that the family had heard that we were paying other people (the 10 dinars we gave to the women we interviewed) and thought we were cheating them. Plus, they can see that we're rich and argue, not unreasonably, that they should be paid. They came up with a classic: another film company has approached them to make a film - and obviously has offered vast sums of money - so they are going to go with them unless we make a better offer. Started at 5000 US dollars. Yeeha.
Anyhow, the family is now going to cooperate with the filming. We are going to give them a percentage of the profits of the film (as we will all our characters). We will help Malik get his passport and arrange the logistics of the filming trip. And we will give them a small amount of money as an advance against their future royalties (JB came up with the "advance" idea to help make us all feel better that we're breaking one of the fundamental rules of doc making. But just couldn't see any way round it. And who made up these rules anyway? Why can't the rich people give the poor people some money?).
We've been filming a few bits and bobs in the last few days, but nothing too exciting. And our supposedly-fixed camera is not letting us make backups, so I can't even log the tapes and feel better (or worse) that we've got some good stuff (not a good idea to watch tapes before backed up in case the rewinding causes drop outs).
And we are severely running out of time - supposed to be in New Orleans in SIX DAYS. But then, we haven't heard from our contacts there for ages, so maybe it's all off. Still, it'd be a blessing in disguise if we could stay here longer.
Have been passing the time between arguments with Muhammed trying to do all the little things we normally forget to do - write the diary, make the Making Of, send postcards to other Crude characters, take pictures of bread, 20 press-ups morning, noon and night etc etc.
And now tonight, just as we got the news that we're back on with our family, I did something to my back. It's not agony, but I can't see myself hanging off rooftops with a camera tomorrow. Lizzie suggested she find me a massage, something I've always been slightly phobic of. But I could see the wisdom this time and there's no doubt my back felt tonnes better after it had been thoroughly pummelled by an Arabic man in a super-posh hotel. The fact that he helped himself to a grope is just part of the whole massage experience, right? Ditto the lecture about my bad skin care - he said no woman should have patches of dry skin. Her skin should be all soft for her husband. I said my husband (couldn't be bothered to get into that one too) was more interested in my films than my beauty regime. And besides, I was here making a film about the Iraqi refugees, surely that's more important? He finally conceded that, yes, it's quite important to help refugees, but just not in the same league as good skin care.
Add the perv massage to two almost-full-on snogs from 60-year-old Iraqi widows and I'm getting quite a lot of attention. Seems they're lacking physical contact as much as I am. But then their husbands have been killed, so my missing is minor. (But missing is still missing, right? There aint no league table).
Lizzie was happily swimming around in the rooftop pool when I emerged - and then I cheered up immensely as the in-house piano player played one of my favourite Boy-pining numbers, I Will Wait For You, and then taught me a bossa nova version of Killing Me Softly, which is a hell of a lot harder than it looks.