Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Postman's Park

Don't you just hate stupid people? I particularly hate stupid people whose job title includes the word "genius." At 10am this morning, I queued up outside the Apple Store in Covent Garden in the hope of being able to bag myself one of their oh-so-prestigious walk-in appointments. The doors opened and people literally started elbowing each other out of the way and running up the stairs. I half expected to find a set of cheap designer wedding dresses on the upper floor, but actually what I found was another blinkin' queue!

When I got to the front of the queue I explained, as I have to perhaps twelve Apple employees, that I was in the middle of a commission and that I was desperately hoping that we could find a way for me to be without my computer for as short a time as possible. "Well our turnaround time here is 3-5 days" said the man. I told him I understood that this was the case, but that other staff at Apple stores had told me that I might have been able to bring the computer in when it was expected to reach the front of the queue, rather than to have it sitting, unused in some warehouse. I explained that several people had told me that the part I needed replacing would be in store, so it was likely to be a same day fix. "If you bring your computer in at another time it will still be a three day wait. All our customers are treated the same. You can't jump the queue..." "I'm not asking to jump the queue" I said, "I'm simply trying to establish whether there's any way I could keep the computer whilst it's queueing." "It doesn't matter when you bring your computer in, it will still be a 3 to 5 day wait..." He plainly hadn't listened to a word I'd said and I was obviously wasting my time trying to negotiate with him, so I found myself saying something that I don't often say in these situations... "Never mind."

So, anyway, I was sent away and told I'd receive a text when they were ready to see my computer, so I sat in a cafe, where the delightful Eastern European lady behind the counter engaged me in conversation about how curiously empty the cafe had been today: "usually we have queues right out the door..."

I received the promised text and returned to the Apple Store where my trust in humanity was restored by a lovely chap called Rico, who listened, sympathised, experimented and then told me he could get the computer fixed by tomorrow; "it would have been today, but lots of people are off sick. It's something that tends to happen when the weather starts to improve..." I can certainly cope with a couple of days without a computer. I've got pen and paper, after all... And an iPhone.

I went to the gym before lunch on my way back from town and ran a lot and swam a bit. I was going to walk home up the hill to Highgate, but I got too hungry!

I dived back into "Em" after lunch, and started hacking the first draft of the synopsis apart, cutting most of the last four pages because they seemed to take the piece in a new and somewhat rambling direction which felt unnecessary, even though large chunks of it were fabulous. There's a saying in this industry: "sometimes you gotta kill some of your darlings so that the rest of your loved ones can breath." In my experience they're far better killed off at an early stage, than by a producer on the last day of rehearsals!

I came into the City this evening to sit in on a rehearsal of an amateur choir. It was incredibly windy, and within about five minutes of exiting Moorgate tube, my eyes were full of grit and bits of plane tree!

The church that the choir (who were excellent) were rehearsing in, is right next to Postman's Park, which is one of London's hidden gems. Postman's Park is located on Little Britain (yes there is a road in London which shares its name with that irreverent TV comedy show starring my mate Matt.) It's what city dwellers might describe as a "pocket park;" no more than about an acre in size, with a beautifully manicured lime-green lawn protected by a number of ancient conker trees. What makes the park interesting - and a little surreal - however, is its wall commemorating acts of heroism in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. These glorious enamelled tiles all feature lengthy inscriptions, which tell the tales of those who died attempting to save the lives of others... Perfect fodder for the Victorian era which placed a great emphasis on dying a "good death." The language used on the plaques is pompous, and really quite amusing to our 21st Century ears. In fact, one of the plaques is featured in my London Requiem and describes the death of a young Jewish lad in the East End who rescued his brother from the path of a tram. His final words were said to be; "mother I saved him but I could not save myself."

Another plaque is dedicated to "Sarah Smith, Pantomime Artiste, at the Princes Theatre" who "died of terrible injuries received when attempting, in her flammable dress, to extinguish the flames which had enveloped her companion. January 24th, 1863." A little bit more research reveals that Smith was actually a 17 year-old ballerina, that the accident happened live on stage during a performance, and that she managed to save the life of the dancer whose aid she rushed to. Brava Sarah!

The rest of the plaques follow a similar formula. Some of the the martyrs died rescuing children from icy ponds, some were struck by runaway trains. Many of the tales beggar belief!

I had no idea Postman's Park was so close to the Barbican, as I've always accessed it from St Paul's. It's amazing how London can be such a jigsaw; a single piece links up so many different locations, which hitherto seemed unrelated.

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