Thursday, 31 March 2011

The worst thing since Thatcher

It’s 3.30am. I’m in a prison of a Travelodge in the wrong part of Leeds, and I’ve hit a bit of a brick wall. I keep thinking about Lisa, holding her little baby in hospital, not wanting to fall asleep because she knew he’d be gone when she woke up again. Nathan saw her this evening. She showed him a little box of belongings; a few pictures of her holding her son, some ink imprints of his little hands and feet, and a few knitted things that a charity makes for mothers in these situations. I’m sitting in bed weeping and weeping and trying to make sense of everything.


I’ve been talking at some kind of BBC event this evening. I’m not entirely sure what it was all about, but it went very smoothly. It seemed to be a celebration of the marvellous outreach work they did in Yorkshire last year and it was a delight to see all those old familiar, friendly faces, particularly cameraman, Keith. (That's Scouser Keith the camerman from Leeds, not Geordie Keith the cameraman from Newcastle.) I feel very much at home up here.

I’m convinced that BBC Yorkshire didn’t organise the event. At the end of the evening it became clear that all the visiting BBC staff were staying at the palacial Queen’s Hotel, right next to the train station. I, on the other hand, am in the Travelodge, which is the other side of town, opposite a sex shop! By Travelodge standards it’s pretty ghastly. My telly doesn’t work and the heating is broken. I had to go down to reception three times just to get into my room because the key cards weren’t working. Breakfast isn’t included. I can’t expense it because I’m not BBC staff, so I will leave Leeds slightly out of pocket.

In fact, I feel rather raw and jaded about everything right now. The more I work for the Beeb, the more I realise its sheer size. No one really talks to anyone else. It’s like a series of little satellites revolving around a non-existent moon. It's difficult to work out what's going on from the outside. This evening, rather worryingly, I was told that the funding promised for the Manchester project couldn’t be given in the next tax year, which might explain why I haven’t heard anything from them for the last two weeks. It could well be that the last glimmer of hope for me in terms of work this year has now gone out. I suppose the best place to start an ascent is from the very bottom of the mountain, and lying in a freezing cold Travelodge weeping like a child could well be seen as the end of a chapter!

Fortunately, the one thing that’s keeping me going is the amusement I’m drawing from the comments about the Metro film on You Tube. They feel like those two men on the Muppet show; “I loved it, it was okay, it was worse than okay, I hated it, call the police!” except with swear words. It’s an online riot! There’s now officially an exact 50/50 split between those who liked it and those who loathed it. I have never written something so seemingly controversial – or a piece with so many hits on You Tube (15,000 in 4 days!). I agree with many of the comments, good and bad. It was never meant to appeal to everyone, and it certainly wasn’t designed to be entered for a Turner Prize. That said, some insults are pure genius! "If these people are really from Newcastle, how comes they're wearing coats?" But my favourite comes from the person who wrote; “This is the worst thing to happen to the North East since Margaret Thatcher!” That, people, is how to cuss with intelligence!

Well, it seems that writing has cheered me up somewhat. It’s 4.30am, and I should try and get some sleep.

Sunday 31st March, 1661, and a stranger preached “like a fool” at St Olave’s Church. Pepys had dinner with Elizabeth, who seemed to be throwing a bit of a tanty, refusing to dress herself because the house was too dirty. Pepys went to see his parents and then visited Mrs Turner’s house, where he became very angry because he couldn’t “woo” the precocious daughter of the family to give him a lesson on the harpsicon. Hmm...

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