Monday, 3 December 2012

More delays

Eyes down. Here we go again. I’m at Newcastle train station on a stationary train, which is waiting for a guard and a driver. Apparently there’s been a fatality on the line somewhere near Peterborough. I can’t bear the thought of another journey like last Monday. In fact I’m wondering if I should rush down the aisles and offer to drive the silly thing myself.  All passengers heading to destinations as far as York have just been frog-marched off the train. Apparently there’s another train in the station which will get them where they want to be at greater speed, although I’m fairly sure they’ll be met by an East Coast firing squad designed to keep the lid on what could well be another PR catastrophe.

I’ve just been down to the buffet car to be told that it’s not working... for the second delayed train in a week running! When I started to complain to the three people standing behind the counter (apparently waiting for an urn), an aggressive Scottish woman slammed a big metal door in my face. Thing is, I know that none of these delays are actually being caused by East Coast, and furthermore that I’m an arsey bastard who likes to whinge, but East Coast staff are plainly demoralised and weary at the moment and they really shouldn’t take it out on passengers! Surely someone needs to teach them how to deal with angry, emotional or bored customers. Rule number one: open the buffet car. Rule number two: if you can’t open the buffet car, at least let people know so they can make other arrangements, or avoid making their way down the train like plonkers!

Despite a sensation of impending doom about this journey, I’m in a really good mood. It was day one of the 100 Faces edit today and we cut the film - in its entirety - in about five hours. I was very relieved that it cut together so speedily, because an enormous amount of time from hereon will need to be invested in post production work.  Everyone who features in the piece was filmed in front of green or blue screen, which means we need to spend a huge amount of time keying in different backdrops and making sure the people in the film a) don’t look like cardboard cut-outs, b) don’t look like they’re making an appeal for the MacMillan nurses c) don’t look like they’re acting in an in-house corporate film for HSBC and d) don’t get visually overwhelmed or upstaged by what’s going on behind them. This film, after all, is about one hundred Faces, and one hundred faces need to shine. At the same time, it’s important that physical numbers are seen regularly in the film to give the audience a sense of how old the people they’re looking at are. I suspect we’re going to be sitting on a very sharp knife-edge between subtlety and lily-guilding. The film needs a rawness to it; a realness.

I’m very much enjoying the process of editing in Newcastle. I love the city and I love its people. I’m staying in a great hotel with a river view and a bath and we’re in a great edit suite run by a lovely bunch of people, with jelly babies and cups of tea aplenty. What more could I ask for? I’m also enjoying the thought that this entire piece, from orchestral sessions  through to the dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s, will have been shot, recorded, graded, promoted and mixed in the region (with a little help from the hills above Sheffield, of course!) Self-sufficiency certainly feels very appropriate. BBC Newcastle have always punched way above their weight in the field of television. They are now far and above my favourite BBC Region.

Pepys was out and about in a very cold London all day on this day 350 years ago. He went by water to Deptford and Limehouse to look at masts and newly built boats and to talk to various people about the Chatham Chest, a fund set up in the late 16th century to pay pensions to disabled seamen. The aforementioned chest was probably the world’s first occupational pension scheme – not that anyone in my position would understand the meaning of a pension! (If I lose the ability to compose, just stick me in the nearest dustbin.) Pepys was forever worrying about the cold (and worse still, getting himself wet in cold conditions) so a trip on the Thames was his idea of hell. By the evening he had got himself into something of a tizzy, so went to bed with a posset. Now why on earth do we not have possets anymore?

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