Today I found myself in York. It was a joy to be back in a place filled with so many special memories. I went to university in the city, and I suppose it’s the place where I became a man. When it comes to filming there, we’re pretty spoilt for choice to the extent that I’m almost concerned that any shots the city will generate might tip our film into a sort of twee, picture-postcard version of Yorkshire which only really exists for tourists. The place is almost too beautiful, particularly at this time of year. The weird harsh winter has meant that all the spring flowers York is famous for have bloomed at once. Bright yellow dandelions and buttercups were sharing lawns with delicate daffodils of all shapes and sizes. Trees seemed to be almost collapsing under the weight of white blossoms and blood-red pinks and lilac clematis flowers were peeking over the tops of stone walls. It was an absolute riot of colour... And you couldn’t find a place more different from Hull. In Hull, chavvy lads wearing Burberry hang at on the street corners. In York, it’s the posh old ladies who wear the Burberry!
The turnout was much better, and some wonderful characters came along to audition for us including someone who’d be in A1: The Road Musical, which was a great treat. The highlight for me was probably meeting the glorious carillon player at York Minster. A carillon is a tuned set of church bells which are operated from a keyboard, and since writing Oranges and Lemons, I’ve always wanted to feature one in a composition. Click here to see what a carillon looks like.
Other auditionees included a lad whose relatives were all sea workers in Scarborough. His great-grandfather was a lifeboat man and died saving a fisherman’s life in the early 1950s. We also met someone who’d won a couple of heats of Opportunity Knocks but had been beaten in the grand final by Patti Boulaye. He’d also been inappropriately propositioned as a young man by the genius music-man Joe Meek – him off of Telstar. That’s certainly an anecdote that not many people would own up to!
Camp: Bouleye and Meek
I returned to Leeds to the sound of bells ringing across the city, seemingly carried to me by the light spring breeze. I wondered what the special occasion was before realising it was just a Sunday. I am obviously way too used to living in a secular metropolis!
350 years ago today Pepys’ assistant, Mr Burr was back on board the ship. Keen readers of this blog will remember that he disappeared without leave on April 5th much to the chagrin of his master. One assumes he’d been back on board some time, but sadly it’s never mentioned where he’d got to, why he’d left, when he’d returned, or whether he was boxed over the ears for going AWOL.
One of Pepys’ best friends, Peter Luellin, appeared on the boat which makes me wonder whether perhaps it hadn't set sail the day before and if Pepys really was being thick for thinking the coast of France was the coast of England! Even keener blog-followers will remember Luellin as a clerk and one of the hell-raising lads that Pepys regularly went out on the town with in the early days of his diary. He was three years Pepys’ junior but sadly died unmarried of the plague 1665.