Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Colindale

I've just finished an epic day of work, which started at 9am with a trip to the newspaper library in Colindale. I was horrified to discover, on arrival, that the place - a stunning example of 30s brutalist architecture - is being closed down and replaced by a "purpose built" facility in Boston Spa, Yorkshire. Yawn. 

So now if you come down to London to visit the British Library and they don't have the publication you're looking for, instead of popping up the Northern Line to North London, you have to schlep up the East Coast Mainline at great expense. There's a similar situation going on with the BBC at the moment. Everyone's really anti-London at the moment. It's desperately boring. 

I spent the day looking through copies of the Yorkshire Evening Post, from 1914-1916, trying to get myself into the mentality of someone in that era. The newspapers themselves are enormous. A2-sized, but only four pages long, with tiny, tiny fonts which made my eyes go funny. 

The level of propaganda they pumped out in those times is astonishing. The Battle of the Somme was reported as a great success and the "killed in action" column was stopped for two weeks; no doubt because readers would have been horrified by the enormous spike in numbers. 

I found a hugely moving letter written to the paper's editor by a soldier from York, hoping that people would send spare musical instruments to his battalion. He had got together with group of soldier friends and they wanted to set up a "string band." They were appealing for violins and mandolins because they felt so desperately deprived of music. The only noise he said he currently heard was the "screaming of shells." I think the fact that he was appealing for stringed instruments touched me very deeply. I instantly put myself in his position and felt rather helpless. I wonder if any instruments were sent to him, and if he survived the war...

I went from Colindale to Hackney to Penny's house to edit together a little video to go alongside our EP, Four Colours which will be released next month. We did some filming of the choir and our soloist, Jodie Prenger, in the studio when they were recording, and it all looks very lovely. It's left me exhausted, however. I'm definitely not very well right now, and haven't been for a little while - since I finished work on the White City film. Come on, Till, pull yourself together! 

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