There’s a very beautiful, but very smelly dog sitting next to me on the train to Newcastle today. He belongs to a rather arty-looking woman from Durham who also has two slightly unruly children. It’s what happens when you bring your kids up on a diet of pumpkin seeds and rainbows.
The kids are climbing the walls – they’re far too used to long walks in the countryside to be cramped into a train carriage. Middle-class, ruddy-faced Mummy has just taken her iPad out in an attempt to occupy the children. For some reason they’re watching Monkey Magic on a loop. I would have thought a pair of headphones might have been a nice touch to prevent the rest of the train from having to listen to the dreadful grunts, yells, thwacks, thuds and clangs of the incessant fight sequences on that particular show. I hated everything but the theme tune as a child. As an adult I’m almost climbing the walls.
The Mummy keeps talking to strangers on the train saying, “could you ask for a better dog? He’s so well behaved...” No, love, he smells like shit. A better dog would smell more pleasant. “I thought he might be smelly”, she’s just said to the bloke opposite, “but actually I think the children are smellier...” Heaven preserve me!
The man opposite has the names of all his children tattood in giant letters on his forearms. It’s basically a list of pop singers; Adele, Kylie and Robbie. I only know they’re his children rather than his favourite pop artists because he’s using the word Adele to get his daughter’s attention. His head looks an over-inflated balloon.
Nell emailed today to say that we’d found the last two participants for the 100 Faces project, our 98 and 99 year-olds. Trying to find someone who was born every year since 1912 has provided us with the most complicated jigsaw puzzle, which must have nearly killed Nell, who has literally worked around the clock to sort everything out. I am hugely grateful to her. It’s funny how this project is suddenly upon me. It’s very different to other pieces because the sound and visuals are being recorded at the same time. Even the music side of things was over in a flash. I would usually spend days in a studio layering instruments up, but when you use an orchestra, everything gets recorded simultaneously in a 3 hour session.
That said, and largely as a result of everything I’ve just written, this week is probably going to be murder. One hundred people, all with different needs and skills will need to be filmed in the space of six days. By Sunday we’re all going to be quivering wrecks.
Nathan is in Vienna. He’s just sent a text to tell me he’s been visiting the room where a six-year old Mozart once played. He found the experience emotionally overwhelming, saying that the space made it so easy to imagine an 18th Century scene, that he almost didn’t want to bring himself back into the real world.