I’m sitting in the Newcastle Travelodge, about to sample a vegetarian noodle dish, which I’m desperately hoping isn’t laced with coriander. I’ve been tipped off that a very good vegetarian moussaka exists in a restaurant within a stone’s throw of here, so I now have my Friday night treat sorted out. Until then, I may have to make do with evening meal which consists of pepper and tomato soup, or this noodle thing, if it’s any good, which it won't be.
The Travelodge here is crap. I arrived yesterday to discover that they’ve now brought in a system of self-check in. Sadly, none of the codes and numbers I’d been given bore any resemblance to the code the check-in computer expected me to have, and it took me 20 minutes of knocking and coughing loudly before anyone appeared to help me. Why not go the whole hog and have the entire hotel staffed by robots? They’d be considerably less surly than the silly cow who "helped" me yesterday.
My head is spinning. I went to bed rather late last night and was up too early, and since 10am, I’ve been sitting in a tiny studio at BBC Newcastle working with some of the soloists from the musical. It was considerably more exhausting than I thought it would be. Fortunately, the singers were all really good and came in looking excited and ready to enjoy the experience. I thought some of them would struggle with what I’ve written, but they all sailed through. The exhausting part was the sheer number of people we were working with. It seemed like a relentless flow of individuals were coming into the room, working with me for 20 or so minutes and then being replaced by someone else.
Still, it’s wonderful to reclaim the project, and be able to spend some proper time with the people who’ve been working so hard up here whilst I've been in London creating the backing track. Someone showed me some photographs of some of the choir sessions that have happened in my absence, and all the singers looked hugely engaged, which made me feel both relieved and proud.
One of the ladies who I saw today said the project had given her a massive sense of worth, and a huge injection of confidence. She said people had started to comment on the change in her. Jumping into the unknown has triggered something and now that she’s learnt how to sing with confidence, she’s taken herself off for swimming lessons and even wants to finally learn how to drive, which I suspect would change her life completely.
One after another came in, and said how much they’d been enjoying the experience; some even said that it had had a profound effect on them. One mother told us her daughter’s grades had gone up as a direct result of her being involved in the piece! It’s experiences and stories like these that thoroughly justify, not just the project, but my very existence!
I had a phone call this morning to tell me that the big project I’ve been rabbiting on about for what seems like weeks now, had taken another baby-step towards reality. I feel sick!
BBC Newcastle smells of hyacinths. Someone has brought a pair of them into the office and the smell is almost overpowering. I’m never altogether convinced that it’s a scent I particularly enjoy. I think it’s a bit like some kind of industrial toilet cleaner, mixed with the whiff of an old people’s home. Alistair simply described it as the “sweet smell of death.”
So, it’s the end of January, and a twelfth of my “significant year” is almost over. It doesn’t feel hugely significant just now, but I have my fingers crossed.
350 years ago, Pepys was once again visiting the theatre, this time to see Argalus and Parthenia by Henry Glapthorne, which sadly was “wronged” by Pepys’ “over-great expectations.” Expect nothing, Mr Pepys, and you’ll never be disappointed!
He called in on his parents and found his mother fresh from a visit to Huntingdon, where she reported on the comings and goings of his extended family. Pepys’ Auntie Anne was dying and his Uncle Robert was already talking about the fact that he wanted to remarry when the inevitable happened. Pepys had been chosen as his heir, and was obviously keen to avoid any complications of this nature! Brutally honest as usual!