Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A bursting boil

There's an awful feeling which dawns on me when I wake up early in the morning to go to a meeting in town, namely that I'm going to have to get on a packed tube and deal with people pushing and shoving and tutting and swearing and sweating and smelling like wet dog, old ashtrays and garlic. Being on a tube when you can't even open a newspaper feels like the biggest waste of time.

I read an article over a woman's shoulder about tornadoes and, once again, ingested the bizarre statistic that, by land mass, Britain experiences more tornadoes than anywhere else in the world. Apparently the majority of them are on the M4 corridor between London and Reading. I can only think that the type of tornado we experience is considerably less serious than the one that took Dorothy to the Land of Oz! I remember a tornado about ten years ago making a bit of a mess of a Birmingham street and a load of shell-shocked Brummies saying "Oi thought the end of the world had come, frankloi..." Tornadoes aren't exactly big news over here. Maybe they should be!

So, the unthinkable happened today and, in a meeting with Channel 4, the lump inside my eye burst! For about five minutes I was forced to take a piece of tissue out of my pocket and continually dab my eye like one of those old ladies whose eyes permanently run. The lady I was meeting must have thought I was mad... Or really grotty. Philippa, who was also in the meeting, said she didn't notice, but when I looked in a mirror afterwards there was a sort of crusty smear on my cheek. Mortifying. Still, I no longer have pain in my eye, so I reckon whatever burst has burst for the good!

I had a lovely sandwich from Greggs for lunch whilst sitting in the searing sun by the fountains in Somerset House, which are like geysers bursting out of the ground, some to a height of ten feet. I longed to be four again. I feel sure my mum would have allowed me strip to the waist and run through them like a bikini-clad model in a slasher film!

I met Michelle of the Turkie for a post-lunch Orange juice, which was an unexpected surprise. We quickly put the world to rights and caught up on about three months of gossip. She looked really well and is enjoying her new home just outside Oxford. She's going to come and stay the night at ours at the end of July so we get a chance to really catch up.

My second meeting was in another cafe at Somerset House (who'd have thought there could be so many!) with the lovely Lisa from Chichester Theatre. It was a "hello, what's new?" chat rather than anything specific. I last saw her in the flesh when I was a bar man at the Royal Court theatre in 1999. I think she was the casting director for the theatre back then. It's so long ago I can hardly remember, but they were fun, carefree days. Stephen Daldry ran the theatre at the time, and took great care of his staff. Every year, at Christmas, he used to organise a massive treasure hunt through the streets of Central London. It was the social event of the year.

I walked from Somerset House to St Martin's Lane for a meeting with a charming lass who's in charge of dealing with alumni from the University of York. I think she's hoping to create more of a network of us, but was surprised about some of the people she hadn't realised had attended York, like Baroness King and Simon Stephens, who is big news right now after winning Tonys galore for the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which has to be one of the most confusing titles ever written.

I was hugely impressed by her general knowledge, however, and she'd REALLY done her homework on me, which is always flattering. She handed me a booklet about the music department at the university, which celebrated its 50th birthday last weekend. Within the booklet was a timeline of key moments in the department's history and I'm proud to report that one of perhaps only 20 entries from over the years was the fact that the university chamber orchestra had played on my film about the A1. I don't know why I was quite so touched to be mentioned. I suppose I've always felt a little like a poor cousin to all of the academic and technically-gifted "proper" classical composers who have emerged from the department over the years, to whom I've never felt I could even hold a torch.

It was a fun experience, however. I placed the entire orchestra on the enormous heaps of coal at Ferry Bridge Power Station and got loads of little yellow dumper trucks to drive up and down behind them. I hope that's an experience which a fair number of them will remember fondly.

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