Saturday, 7 July 2012

Glorious York

So there I was this morning, struggling into Highgate station at 7.20am with incredibly heavy bags, in a rush to catch the 8am train from King's Cross, feeling tired and grumpy.

I touched my oyster card on the reader and was annoyed to find it needed topping up. To avoid shuffling across the ticket hall with all my bags, I tucked them to one side and darted over to the ticket machines less than ten meters away. 

The train station was empty but for the man who sells sweets and things dealing with four enormous piles of newspaper and another chap updating his oyster. 

Predictably, just as I'd started the process of topping up, a bored LU staff member appeared to tell me that my "unattended" suitcase was a trip hazard and that it was my responsibility to keep it with me at all times. "But it's tucked right up against the wall." I said. "It's still a trip hazard." "It would be more of a trip hazard if I had it with me at the ticket machines... And besides, this place is empty." "If someone trips on it," he said, "it's me they'd blame, not you." "Plainly that isn't the case" I replied. Forgetting in my anger to make some kind of pun about suitcases.

By the time I'd huffed and puffed and stomped over to retrieve the offensive suitcase - pretending to be slightly disabled to make the nasty LU man feel guilty - my Oyster purchase had been cancelled and I had to begin the process of topping up again. 

To add insult to injury, as I went down the escalator, listening to my tube train roaring out of the platform, the station staff alternated their two prerecorded customer announcements reminding us that "unattended luggage is dangerous and may be taken away and destroyed." The announcements were played on a loop - probably 20 times. Ridiculously unneccessary - and rather incendiary.

I arrived in King's Cross with minutes to spare, and there was a second panic as I realised I didn't have my ticket collection details with me. I had to wake up Nathan back at home to access my emails. 

My relationship with Nathan is increasingly like an episode of the 1980s game show, Treasure Hunt. He's Kenneth in the studio. I'm Anneka Rice, rushing about in a day-glow jumpsuit trying to achieve the impossible with a smile on my face. When the shit hits the fan and I find myself running off in the wrong direction, I call him up, and he puts me back on track by solving a complicated clue. I'm trying to work out whether I can extend the metaphor to make Fiona Wincey Willis!

The first part of Ebor Vox has been cancelled. We were due to be performing my composition as part of a flotilla of 400 boats drifting along the River Ouse. Sadly the water level is so high that the boats won't fit under the bridges, and the currents are so strong that it would be like a cavalcade on speed. I had images of the choir's boat losing its moorings and smashing against the bridge with singers in posh frocks being catapulted into the water and carried off to the Humber Estuary. I guess as long as they keep singing, it'll be like the Diamond Jubilee all over again! 

I arrived in York at 10 and immediately went into preparations for an alternative performance of the composition in York Minster gardens rather than from a boat on the Ouse. The weather was fabulous, and the sun has shone all day. York, however, remains badly flooded.

We did a little ad hoc performance of the piece, flash mob style, with singers appearing from within the audience. I conducted with pride. There are sequences in the song about the Minster "standing proud and tall," and there we were in its shadow, underneath a cornflower blue sky. It was a wonderfully relaxing and inspiring moment. 

After the performance the choirs disappeared around York to do miniature flash mob performances in cafes and parks, museums and markets. There was a real buzz in the air all day. We even managed to gate crash the Church of England synod at York University, perhaps slightly controversially with an all female choir! It was nice to pay a fleeting visit to the campus and watch the enormous carp floating around the lake next to Vanbrugh Paradise. It was less nice to be handed a flier by a gentleman from the society for the protection of unborn children. I don't know whether I was more appalled by the concept of the society or the fact that a MAN was handing out fliers for it. 

We're going to drive out to Pickering tonight to see the moors whilst there's still some sunshine. 

Pepys took Elizabeth by boat to Westminster on 7th July 1662 so that she could visit her parents. Unsurprisingly he didn't accompany her to their house, but waited in Westminster hall instead. I say unsurprisingly, because, I think, in the whole 9 1/2 years of diary, there is but one reference to Pepys visiting his in laws. He obviously thought they were French and below him! 

1 comment:

  1. I am Wincey Willis.. except I just move myself around the map