Meriel reminded me this morning that it's exactly four years since Tyne and Wear Metro: The Musical was first aired, which means, exactly four years ago, I was in a state of confusion and shock! I'd hitherto been rather used to my films being positively received by audiences, but Metro: the Musical caused what can only be described as a disproportionate amount of mayhem! I guess I first realised that things weren't going as smoothly as usual in the back of a taxi heading away from our premiere party. Our producer, Alistair, kept checking his iPhone and suddenly announced that the film was trending on Twitter. I didn't really know what that meant at the time, and assumed it was a good thing, until we started to look at the comments and realised the film was being utterly savaged! People were going as far as to say that piece made them feel ashamed to be from the North East and they were saying so with vitriol!
As the days went on, it was YouTube which established itself as the main battle ground. Exactly 50% of those that saw it hated it, and because I'm a glass-half-empty type of person, I ignored the positive comments and focussed on the fact that as many people had given us the thumbs down as had opted for a thumbs up. As the days rolled on, the YouTube hits grew and grew. For at least a year I would periodically go online and force myself to look at the terrible things that people had said. I was like someone watching a road traffic accident. I couldn't look away once I'd started to drive past.
These days, of course, I'm proud to have created something controversial, something with 100,000 YouTube hits and something which has riled and excited people in equal measure, because all of these things are cited as definitions of good art. As it happens, I watched the film from start to finish twice last week and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was made with love and humour, and that's good enough for me... And the 50,000 people we can assume liked the film!
So, anyway, this time four years ago, I was in Newcastle with my entire family. We'd spent the day walking from Tyne Mouth to South Shields, via the Tyne ferry, which anyone from the region will know is a fair old hike. My family have always been big walkers but on this occasion, my mother was struggling and none of us could work out why. She continued to struggle throughout the rest of the year, really, and by the summer was in agony. Her joints ached. She could barely lift her arms above her head. Even the vibrations of cars passing on the street outside her house caused her to shudder. The doctors, of course, told her it was merely wear and tear, just as they'd told me that my whooping cough was psychosomatic. It turns out that my Mum had a condition called PMR (Polymialgia Rheumatica.) I am mentioning this fact because I know a number of this blog's readers are women of a certain age. PMR is treatable with steroids, but if left, can lead to Temporal Arteritis, which is a more serious condition, which Nathan's mother is currently getting over. PMR and TA are both more common than you might think and don't seem to be particularly high up on the list of conditions that GPs spot. Nathan's mother actually diagnosed herself! So here's the deal: If you're post-menopausal and you find yourself inexplicably aching profusely in the shoulders and neck, ask your doctor about PMR. Simple.
Today's been spent in the familiar surroundings of PK's loft in Worthing, working through three more of the tracks from Brass. The Prologue almost sent us insane. It's twice the length of any other track and vocal lines weave their way in and out like trains at Clapham Junction. A couple of performers needed an astonishing amount of remedial work and we spent hours digging out solos which had been buried under a heap of other stuff. It was epic.
Speaking of which, I've just been on an epic walk along the seafront in Brighton, from First Avenue in Hove all the way to the Brighton Marina, which must be a six mile round trip. I was accompanied on the journey by an orange crescent moon, which looked very much as I imagine the eclipse must have looked in Manchester last Thursday, with the difference that today's moon was mounted in black velvet rather than greyish skies.