Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sent to Coventry

I went to Coventry today, the ancestral home of most of my family. I was there to meet Hamish at the Belgrade theatre. We talked about musicals, and the general lack of funding in theatre at the moment. Coventry has just been massively hit by another round of cuts. It's deeply depressing. No one can afford to commission or perform new musicals and no one in this country is taking responsibility for the development of composers and writers. What commissions there ARE usually come as a result of producers buying the rights to books and films, which of course inevitably leads to the watering down of passion. So all in all the meeting was a little bleak....

Far less bleak was my lunch afterwards with Siobhan from BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, who was the brains and braun behind Coventry Market: The Musical, which was a massive community musical film we made in 2008, featuring the shoppers and stall holders of Coventry's famous circular indoor market, which was built from the ashes of the city after the Second World War.

Siobhan was on great form and took me to a little vegetarian cafe in a dodgy-looking concrete jungle on the edge of the city centre. All the food on the menu was named after different actors. Shiv had a "Tortilda Swinton" and I had the "Ingrid Burgerman." When I first looked at the menu, I didn't realise we were in the land of food puns, and only did so as I said out loud, "what the hell is Soup Pollard?"

After lunch I went to Stoneleigh, a little village outside the city where my Grannie lived from when I was born to when she died about ten years ago now, I suppose. It's a stunning village, but it was all a little wind-swept today. Spring has not yet been declared in the Midlands. I parked up on the Main Street and ambled down to my Grannie's old house, which I was relieved to see still bore the name, High Beams, which my family gave it more than 40 years ago.

I walked down the lane to the river, which remains beautifully clear with bright green reeds undulating in the water like the tails of tropical fish. I stared into the water for some time, wondering how many times I'd stood on that particular spot as a child and in how many different weather conditions. I remember when the whole lane flooded and we had to walk along wooden raised walkways, which have long since disintegrated or been engulfed by cow parsley.

I walked across the meadow to the church, and stood for some time looking at my Grandparents' grave and feeling supremely emotional. I don't quite know why it affected me so badly this time. I suppose I was experiencing an emotional response to the way and speed that time passes. There are probably very few people left in the village these days who remember my Grandparents. I stared into the old house, with its new lamps and lovely leather sofas, and tried to remember what it looked like twenty or thirty years ago. The bubble wrap in the windows, the strange polished stone eggs, the high-backed, 1960s swivel chairs in the study which would have been so amazing for children who wanted to recreate blind auditions in The Voice.

I drove back home to London, listening to a debate on Radio 4 about Islam and the fact that large numbers of Muslims think that Armageddon is on its way. Apparently, the end of the world will be signified by in-fighting within Muslim sects and wars fought largely in Syria. (Familiar sounding?) The actual end is triggered by a Muslim army marching into Rome (bit random) and Jesus reappearing, ripping the cross in half, and telling everyone he was a Muslim all along. (Seriously!) So basically, ISIS are all behaving like c**ts because they genuinely think they're bringing about the end of the world, which is, you know, nice. I'm fast losing patience with that lot. Since they started tying gay men to chairs and lobbing them off buildings, I'm been thinking they need to be wiped off the face of the earth to enjoy the wrath of an eternity of nothingness. They're backward and violent and it's time to start getting tough with communities and individuals in this country who don't take enough responsibility for their own. Let them go to Syria. Why stop them? Just don't let them return.

I rehearsed the Fleet Singers again tonight. Get your diaries out. Our concert is on Sunday 22nd March, which would appear to be two weeks away! Someone had made absinthe-flavoured chocolate brownies for the interval refreshments, which were absolutely delicious, in a sort of heady way!

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