Saturday, 25 February 2012

Coffee houses

I’m on the train home from Manchester, feeling utterly wiped out but very content. A rather haunted-looking girl is sitting opposite me. She’s actually in my seat, but seemed so terrified when I told her, that I plonked myself in a different chair to avoid making her panic any more. She asked, rather pathetically, if the seats were “A class”. I’m not quite sure what she meant, but suspect she’s running the risk of losing her grip on the world, and trying hard to maintain a facade of ordinariness. She keeps staring at me like an animal in a snare.

A woman is sitting at the other end of the carriage with the most amazing hairdo. She must be about 50, and has a face which looks like a well-worn teak table. Her hair, all platinum-blonde and looking like a sea of man-made fibres, is piled up on her head in a cross between a beehive and a giant chignon with a brilliant platted bun at the back. She’s very cool in a hard-faced sort of way. I tried to give her an approving smile, but think she might have mistaken it as a come-on.

A good sleep last night did me the world of good. If the alarm hadn’t gone off, I suspect I’d have slept all day. I had a final breakfast at the hotel; 2 hash browns and a spoonful of mushrooms on toast. I’ve had it every morning since I arrived and it kept me going a treat.

My suitcase has broken, so I spent the tram ride from Media City to Manchester Centre wrapping a shed load of selotape around the handle, which has given it a short respite.

I met Paul for tea and scones in a charming little cafe somewhere in the Northern quarter, an area of Manchester I like very much. It was lovely to see him with the stresses of yesterday well and truly over, and we were finally able to have the necessary natter where we patted each other on the backs and said; “good job, friend...”  As we left, I popped to the loo, and was hit in the face by the smell of my Grandmother’s house. I picked up almost anything I could find - the bar of soap, the towel – to see if I could trace where the smell was coming from, but concluded it was a combination of things. For a minute or two, I stood, remembering the comedy drawings of cows that my Grannie had framed in her loo, and the little crocheted pillow cases she made for the toilet rolls. I thought about her for a long while and then I thought about the Midlands and then I felt tears pricking in my eyes, so made a hasty exit.

As the fields streak past the window of the train, I feel an extraordinary sense of pride, a huge amount of excitement and little bit of fear about what’s to come in the rest of the year. 2012 is shaping up quite nicely, and I suspect, if I work hard and everything falls into place, it could be a very good year. To celebrate, I’m listening to some of my previous compositions, and thinking about the people who have drifted through my life via my music. Miners in Yorkshire, fishermen in Scotland, brass bands in Northumbria, market stall holders in Coventry, roadside cafe owners along the length of the A1, the 40 extraordinary people who sang on the Pepys Motet. Every song brings its own set of memories, which take me to bizarre corners of the UK. Tantrums, tiaras and tears of absolute hysteria, but above anything else, pride. One day soon I might even be able to visit Lincolnshire without having a panic attack.

Someone has farted on the train. There’s nothing like the stench of rotten eggs to pull you out of a romantic stupor!
One of the many joys of filming in HD is the better class of still you get when you do a screen grab from the film. Take a look at these...



350 years ago, Pepys went with Mr Moore to a coffee house, where, as ever, a great debate was raging. This one concerned the recent hurricane, or, as Pepys put it more romantically, “the late, great wind.” He went on to recount some of the stories being told; “I heard one say that he had five great trees standing together blown down; and, beginning to lop them, one of them, as soon as the lops were cut off it, did, by the weight of the root, rise again and fasten.” News was coming in from outside London as well. In the Forest of Dean, over 2000 oaks and beeches were blown down in one single walk there, and Pepys’ father reported 20l damage to their Brampton house.

1 comment:

  1. Aside from a relax massage, coffee is one of my reliever for stress during break. It's just that it makes me more alive and ready to go again. I'm glad that there are lots of coffee houses are in the land. For a pub quiz questions during a coffee break is the best.

    ReplyDelete