Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bring back the riots

It’s been a magical, yet incredibly hectic and tiring day. I was up with the lark, running to and fro across the bridges in the early morning mist. By the time I’d returned to the hotel and woken Nathan up, the sun had broken through, and it stayed with us all day.

We went first to Tyne Mouth via the Metro, which sadly wasn’t running properly, so we had to go the long way round, which involved passing through most of the stations on the coastal loop. Tyne Mouth is such a beautiful little place and I was very excited to show it to my family. We ambled through the town and ended up at the sea front. The abbey was closed, so we walked out onto the pier, right the way to the end, where the little lighthouse sits. All this time, the sun was beating down, turning the waves into little strips of tin foil floating on a magestic blue carpet. It was truly magical.

The day became about walking. We trekked along the side of the Tyne to the passenger ferry in North Shields. At one stage, we passed the most incredible row of shops and cafes; an old-fashioned grocers, which seemed to sell almost everything, sat proudly in the middle. We went inside. Everything was laid out so neatly. Penny sweets, a little fish counter, all sorts of things on shelves that stretched from the floor to ceiling. More things were hanging from the roof. A group of locals were sitting at a table outside, watching the world go by.

It felt like such a unique part of town. There were little Italian restaurants, and pubs with giant wooden dollies sitting outside. There were light houses, and towers and warehouses. Everything seemed so utterly steeped in history. It was like stepping back in time.

The ferry ride was charming and we ate chips in South Shields, before paddling in the sea, which was colder than we could ever have imagined. We introduced ourselves to some incredible little statues on the sea front, nestling in a sand dune, like giant weebles in huge skirts.

Then it was back to the BBC, where I was interviewed live on Look North. Yet again, I did that ridiculous thing, half way through the chat, of forgetting where I was, and then immediately realising I was live on television. I went blank for about a second, but apparently got away with it. After the broadcast, about 40 people from the BBC up here watched the film for the first time. We ate pizzas, and it all seemed to go down incredibly well. I felt proud.

March 23rd 1661, and Pepys went to the theatre, this time the Red Bull, which he hadn’t visited since the theatres reopened. This particular theatre had the reputation for being a bit of a rowdy place. Pepys arrived too early, and was forced to walk around Charterhouse Yard until it opened. When he was finally let in, he was recognised by one of the ushers (formally a seaman) who took him on a tour of the tireing-room (dressing room) “where strange the confusion and disorder that there is among them in fitting themselves, especially here, where the clothes are very poor, and the actors but common fellows.”

Pepys eventually found his way to the pit, where there were only a handful of people “and not one hundred in the whole house.” The play, All’s Lost by Lust, was done very badly indeed “and with so much disorder, among others, that in the musique room the boy that was to sing a song, not singing it right, his master fell about his ears and beat him so, that it put the whole house in an uprore.” Wow! Bring back theatre riots!

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