Monday, 20 February 2012

Water like chalk

It struck me this morning that one of the problems with Manchester is the quality of its drinking water! I don’t think I’ve visited anywhere in the world which has such horrible tasting water. The liquid which comes out of the tap in my hotel room tastes like a pile of damp dishcloths and the water everywhere else is really bitter. It must be really high in some kind of mineral. I'm sure it's really good for me and I’m equally sure it’s a taste I’ll get used to. I’ve noticed it more acutely since being up on Salford Quays, so I’m wondering if this area gets its water from a different reservoir to the rest of the city. Whatever the case, it's desperately minging and I'm off to buy some Evian! I was talking to someone today who said that water in London tastes like chalk, so I suppose we all get used to what we know.

We’ve been editing all day, concentrating on the first two films. It’s slow progress, but we’re getting there. As always with these projects there are things I wish I’d done differently. Certain shots start to show weaknesses when placed against others, and there are never enough “cutaways”, which are the transition shots, which hide all manner of continuity errors and jump cuts. In rubbish documentaries these usually consist of pictures of hands, clocks, clouds and extreme close-ups on eyes so you can’t tell what’s actually being said. Unless you have a continuity expert watching like a hawk, cutaways are necessary evils. The trick is to make sure they’re part of the story you’re telling.

I’m reliably informed by a number of my English region moles, that the staff at BBC Manchester are famously rude. Some, including my editor, Phill, are absolutely wonderful. There was, however, a steady flow of people sticking their heads into our edit suite today to rather brusquely make it clear that they didn't approve of our presence there. One woman, whose face was painted a bright shade of passive aggression, said; “I’m sure you’re fine to be in here, I just wasn’t told and I have over a million viewers expecting to see a television programme tonight which can’t now be edited.” I smiled very sweetly; “I’m sorry to hear about that.” My inner voice was wondering why a programme due to be screened tonight had not yet been edited. I smiled sweetly nonetheless. There was a note on our door which said the room had been booked all week for the Hattersley project, but still the heads kept popping round the door. The usual response from those who looked inside was; “oh.” I can walk though the newsroom here and not recognise a single face or engender a single smile. I had a nice chat with someone in the kitchen area but I had to force her to engage in a dialogue with me! Manchester is like London!

All this makes me miss Nathan rather a lot – and my friends and family for that matter. I feel a little bit like I’m in exile up here and now that the warmth of visits to Hattersley has gone, I'm going to bury myself in my hotel room and do nothing but watch rubbish telly. Hands up if you're bored of hearing Whitney Houston?

Thursday 20th February, 1662, and Pepys’ day began with a visit from composer William Child, who “set” Pepys something for his Theorbo, a sort of lute. I’m not sure if this means he gave Pepys some music to learn, or added something to the instrument which made it easier to play.

Pepys received a letter from Lord Sandwich, still in Portugal, which brought news of bloody battles against the moors. Pepys immediately took it to the House of Lords to spread the news. On his way home, he called in on Mr Savill, the painter, who was working on a miniature version of the portrait of Pepys he’d just finished painting.

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