Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Shit sandwiches

I left the hotel room for the last time this morning and did an obligatory “whally check” as I left. I think there’s something very wrong with the way I process visual information, however, because as I faffed about at reception, attempting to check out, a cleaner came rushing up to me with my camera. My camera is not a small thing. Heaven knows how I missed it as I glanced around the room thinking; “must make sure I don’t leave anything important behind.” The last time I stayed in an hotel, I left my shoes behind. I’m sure Freud would have a field day on me...
Today the sun shone across Manchester and the sky was a brilliant blue. We decided not to go to Hattersley. We’ve already found our five protagonists, and most of the groups that we’d planned to visit were either taking a break for Christmas or had been cancelled. We went instead to Salford Quays to create a buzz about our project amongst the good people of BBC Manchester.
The new BBC building will never cease to delight me. It’s incredibly well thought-through, highly practical and very pleasing to the eye. We had a long chat over lunch with someone from the National Union of Journalists who had been handing out fliers. She asked if I was a member, so I proudly flashed my Musician’s Union card at her. She looked suitably impressed, and said that she liked the MU because members of the BBC Phil had been helping her with the NUJ’s ongoing battle for better pensions.

I think our visit ticked all the right boxes. We thrashed out a very detailed timescale for the rest of the project and got a number of people excited about what we’re doing. There is, after all, no point in making a beautiful film if the people with the power to “talk it up” don’t know it exists.
Nathan just 'phoned to tell me that all the box office staff in the theatre he’s working in received a lovely Christmas card from the producers of the show they're currently selling. They were all terribly touched. It was a lovely card, with a picture of the theatre on it covered in snow, and a lovely message printed inside. The gesture instantly became the mother of all shit sandwiches, however, when they discovered that the cards had come from a stack, wrapped in an elastic band, with a post-it note attached to the top which simply read; “casual staff – card only.” What a way to make your staff feel really special – and then immediately dispensable! I love the concept of a shit sandwich; a shocking insult delivered with a charming smile, a kiss from a person with smelly breath, a commission from a choir in Lincolnshire...

The train I’m on is delayed in the station; 25 minutes and counting. To make matters worse they’re now allowing people on board who would have caught the next train, which means it’s becoming more and more crowded. It’s also incredibly hot.
Friday 13th December, 1661, and Pepys stayed at home all morning. The recent spell of freezing weather had caused considerable pains in his bladder. In the afternoon, he accompanied Elizabeth to Mr Savill the painter’s, and watched as the “dead colour,” or first layer of paint, was applied to a pencil outline. He thought the result was rather fine, although seemed to be much more interested in a “pretty lady’s picture" hanging elsewhere, "whose face did please me extremely.” Typical Sam. Lusting over a painting. Whatever next? Embroidery porn?

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