Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Train station terror!

It can surely only be a bad thing that the staff at the Travelodge in Newcastle have started to address me by name! This morning, when I asked them to book me a taxi to the station, the man behind the desk said; “of course, Mr Till... And we'll see you next time.” I was horrified. Obviously, it's very kind of him to learn my name, but the fact that he's bothered to do so can only mean I’m now officially part of the furniture; like the two old ladies in Fawlty Towers. When I was making my film about the A1, I came across a toothless couple who'd stayed at a Travelodge in Grantham 22 years ago, and lived there ever since! They seemed utterly content with their lot, but surely there can’t be anything more soul-destroying. What have they done with their belongings? And why didn't they choose a nicer location than a travelodge by the side of the A1? Read about the true horror here

I'm now on my way home. I’m having to travel via Leeds, which adds a couple of hours to my journey time. It's a long, rather dull story, but the vastly condensed version is that I got lumbered with a pair of non-exchangeable tickets; one from Newcastle to Leeds and one from Leeds to London, and there didn’t seem to be anything that anyone could do to exchange them! I wouldn't mind, if the teenaged lad opposite me could stop himself from farting the most disgusting smells into the carriage!

I had a terrible scare at Newcastle Station. I’m carrying about ten heavy bags on this journey, one of which holds the rushes for the entire shoot. I have to deliver them to the edit suit this afternoon. There are no copies, and if the tapes go missing, we’ll have to reshoot everything! There was a great deal of faffage at the station as I tried to pick up my two separate single tickets, with their two separate 8-digit reference numbers; one of which wasn’t recognised by the machine...

In the hell of wondering from ticket machine to ticket machine, and eventually to a lady behind a counter, I managed to leave the rushes somewhere. I can't imagine how I managed to leave them behind, but I only realised after walking through the ticket barriers at the station. I couldn’t get the words out to the man in uniform. “I need to go back through..." I stammered, "I’ve left something... The rushes... I need to get back through...” He started to ask questions. “Where are these rushes?” He spoke slowly and calmly, as though I were having some form of psychotic episode. I assume he was using all the skills he’d learnt on the “preventing religious fanatics from detonating hand grenades” course that East Coast Mainline had sent him on recently.

I didn’t have the time to engage with him. I imagined a security team had already moved in to detonate the suspicious package that I’d left... wherever I’d left it. I kept looking down at the pile of luggage I’d hauled through the barriers, in the hope that the missing bag would miraculously appear. I could feel the blood rushing to my face. A primeval scream formed in the pit of my stomach, surged up into my throat and burst out of my mouth; “Please help me!”

It seemed to do the trick. He jumped out of his skin and immediately opened the barriers. I ran back into the ticket office, depositing pieces of luggage as I blustered through an entrance hall, which was filled with people who'd deliberately positioned themselves in spots which created the mother of all assault courses. I imagined myself in Matrix-style slow motion, leaping metres into the air, and running up the sides of walls.

I found the bag... exactly where I’d left it, on the ticket counter. The woman smiled at me, nonchalantly. I felt like a tit.

People like me should never be trusted with such important jobs. I am, after all, a great believer in the self-fulfilling prophecy. A week ago, as I tried to open the door to our flat, I thought; “wouldn’t it be awful if I dropped my keys, and they fell 30 feet off the edge of this stairwell?” A second later, I dropped my keys, and watched as they plummeted 30 feet into a muddy puddle in my neighbour’s courtyard. Retrieving them was, as predicted, awful.

This morning, as I struggled to the airport, I wondered how awful it would be if I left the rushes somewhere.

The expectation that I’ll do something as stupid as this, often leads to what Nathan and I refer to as “I had a bag” moments. These are those adrenaline-soaked, second-long episodes, when you decide you’re one bag lighter than you were when you set out at the start of a day. They’re often caused by some long-forgotten creative decanting and consolidating, necessitated by the demise of a plastic bag.
February 23rd 1661 was Pepys’ 28th Birthday. This fact seems to have had little impact on his day, which he spent working, visiting steelyards, talking about investing money in light houses, and doing business over several glasses of wine.

He went to Whitehall Chapel and heard the rehearsal for an anthem which composer Henry Cooke had written for a choir of children. Pepys described the music as brave. His favourite word. It was a cultural day for Pepys, who went home via the Salisbury Court Theatre where he saw The Changeling; revived after 20 years, and still, in Pepys' mind, as good as it was. He added an interesting comment, however, which reflects the ever-changing face of 17th Century society. “I see the gallants do begin to be tyred with the vanity and pride of the theatre actors who are indeed grown very proud and rich.” Speaking of pride and vanity, Pepys also wrote that he was now considered an important enough figure to stand for Parliament. He decided that it wasn't for him just yet; unsurprisingly due to the cost of such an enterprise. He didn't seem to be at all worried by the concept of failing, however, for he added, “I am sure I could well obtain it.” He was beginning to feel invincible. His final line is worth quoting in full:

“This is now 28 years that I am born. And blessed be God, in a state of full content, and great hopes to be a happy man in all respects, both to myself and friends.” Aww, bless.

1 comment:

  1. I laughed out loud several times reading this blog! Was your Matrix-style sprint accompanied by a low, half-speed "Nooooooooooooo"?

    Very happy you retrieved the bag undetonated & I look forward to seeing the film!