Friday, 27 April 2012

Camden Hop becomes a stampede


I just got caught in a horrendous mess of tourists doing the Camden hop, which is the thing that all Northern Line people get horribly used to doing when rushing from the Charing Cross trains up the steps and down again to find the Bank ones. In my opinion, it’s best done when you have suitcase which can be used as a dangerous weapon to bat the airheads out of the way who simply want to bumble around the station with no particular mission in life. These are the same people who step off an underground train and immediately stop to work out where the station exit is. It’s one of the most dangerous things you can do in London. In London, you have to be swept along by the crowd, make quick decisions about where you want to go. It’s certainly almost criminal to walk in pairs and groups of three at a slower pace than hurrying commuters. As I rushed down the steps towards the Charing Cross branch today, I was instantly brought to a halt by a group of Japanese people who were blocking the stairwell whilst trying to work out if they were standing on the right platform. “Come on... quickly, quickly...” I said, like a school ma’am. I instantly felt ashamed at my impatience, but I had a theatre to reach.

Call me a Mommy-hater, but the word I find myself loathing more than any other at the moment (apart from "chillax") is “babyccino.” Cafe owners who use the term should be shot. It’s a tiny cup of hot foamy milk, people! If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few sprinkles of chocolate thrown in for good measure. I think we can only really call it a babyccino if we’re loading the drink up with shots of caffeine to make the kids climb the walls. Do we really need our children to grow up with another one of these ghastly middle-class urban portmanteaus? Children are not sophisticated; neither should they be. It’s a horrid word, a horrid concept, and it only exists is to fleece yummy mummies out of money they have to burn.

You can tell by the tone of this email that I’m having a somewhat frustrating day, which seems to have revolved entirely around my application to the blinkin’ Arts Council. Everyone is being incredibly helpful, and I am hugely grateful, I really am, but every time a new set of notes or suggestions come in as to how to improve my pitch, I have to spend an hour cutting sentences from the application to bring it back down to the maximum 2000 words. It’s hugely frustrating – and I can’t believe how long the process is taking. Every time I think I’m on the verge of submitting the blessed thing, a new set of notes tumbles in from somewhere else. It’s hoop after hoop after loop after loop whilst I’m simultaneously juggling an almost impossible set of availabilities in order to make sure the recordings happen with the right people in the right places and the right times... Deep breath!

I chatted to Penny on the phone earlier, and was obviously really tense. I wasn’t raising my voice or anything, but my throat now feels ragged.

I just went to see Nathan in a workshop performance of a musical about the Lost Boys from Peter Pan as grown-ups. It’s a lovely concept, and with more work there’s probably quite a nice little piece in there somewhere. Nathan was playing Hook, beautifully of course. I have no idea how old Hook is meant to be. Certainly, I would have thought, older than Nathan. Or now that we’re approaching 40, maybe not. It's such a terrifying thought. I dreamt last night that I was dying of a terminal disease. What a cheery thought. I remember feeling thoroughly miffed about the fact – and really very poorly. Writing a requiem is ever likely to bring out these thoughts, I guess!

350 years ago, and Pepys returned by coach from Southampton to a buzzing Portsmouth. More and more of London’s society figures were coming out of the woodwork, and the Queen’s anticipated lodgings had been decked out beautifully... There had been panic the day before when the palace very nearly burned down. Pepys was shown various gifts that were going to be presented to the Queen on behalf of the Navy including “a salt-sellar of silver, the walls christall, with four eagles and four greyhounds standing up at the top to bear up a dish; which indeed is one of the neatest pieces of plate that ever I saw, and the case is very pretty also.” I’m told that a salt-seller matching this description can be viewed at the Tower of London.

A merchant ship arrived in the harbour in the evening, and it caused a veritable stampede; “Lord! what running there was to the seaside to hear what news, thinking it had come from the Queen.” This day and age, the Queen’s journey would have been tracked by helicopters and her arrival time would have been predicted to the nearest second. Back then, the journey from Portugal was lengthy and governed by the winds and the tides...

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