Friday, 25 March 2016

Painfully trendy

It was wonderfully sunny when I woke up this morning. The sky was baby blue and the planes in the sky were glinting like sequins. It was one of those mornings which instantly makes you feel alive. So much, in fact, that I had my breakfast (being nuzzled by a little black cat) and then went to wake Nathan up. We're told that this is the last good weather we'll see for a while. It always turns nasty on Easter Day. God's punishment for those who believe!

The Jewish festival of Purim happened yesterday, which celebrates of the saving of the Jewish people from Haman who was hell bent on killing them. It's all part of the somewhat bloody legend of Esther in the Bible.

I've never really made the link before, but I wonder if the name Esther has anything to do with Easter? Obviously, the most likely derivation of the word is the well-cool pagan fertility goddess Ä’ostre, but it strikes me as quite interesting that the Jewish Spring-time festival celebrates a woman called Esther.

I wonder what happened to Esther Rantzen...

Why do you suppose Old Street Station always smells of bacon? Do you think it's sponsored by the meat industry? The smell drifts down the escalators but is always gone by the time you reach any of the little cafes in the underpass. A conspiracy theorist would no doubt claim the smell was being pumped in so that commuters get so hungry we're forced to buy the first shitty bit of food we can find, no doubt from an over-priced underground vendor who paid some sort of back-hander to the smell-creators. Fortunately I am impervious to the allure of pig meat. Bacon's from a pig, right? Not a cow? I get confused because of hamburgers.

I worked with Philippa at the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, an establishment which, as you might expect for an hotel in that location, borders on the painfully trendy. They play actual records on the sound system, which occasionally bounce and crackle. Philippa asked my to order her a "decaf, skinny, flat, white coffee." I waited as the barista cleared a backlog of orders. He put one coffee down on the counter which wasn't claimed immediately. I asked if it was mine. He laughed and shook his head. "I'm terribly sorry," I said "I have no idea what a 'decaf, skinny, flat, white' looks like!" Turns out it looks like every other coffee.

Philippa was writing a screenplay set in 1958. My show is set in 1965. A mere seven years apart, but so much changed in the sixties that I suspect there's a wealth of difference between the two worlds we were writing about.

I met brother Edward and Sascha for lunch at Spitalfields. It was surprisingly uncrowded there today. One assumes many Londonders are presently hot-footing it out of the city. We ate in Giraffe: soup and a plate of potato wedges for me after gorging myself on pizza last night.

We were out of the market and on Brushfield Street at 3pm. I wanted to test the old wives' tale which suggests the sun always goes behind a cloud at 3pm on Good Friday to mark the passing of Jesus. Jesus apparently died at 3pm. You learn something new every day. Apparently nature isn't too fussed by time zones and sends the clouds in at 3pm whichever country you're in. I can report, however, that the sun was resolutely shining at 3pm. Not a cloud in sight. In fact, it only passed behind a cloud some ten minutes later. So bang goes that theory.

Edward and I talked a little about Europe. Readers won't be surprised to learn that I come from a family of deeply proud pro-Europeans. My mother lived in Germany and Sweden. Brother Edward lived in Poland for ten years and works in international finance. Brother Tim lived in Holland for close to twenty years. All are great supporters of the union and are impervious to ill-informed arguments which have their roots in xenophobia. My brother referred to a German journalist he'd heard being interviewed in the week. No-one in Europe can quite believe that the Brits have chosen such a ludicrous time to have a debate on Europe, namely a time when all hell is breaking loose on Europe's southern borders. A time when we need to pull together and work out what on earth to do. When the German journalist was asked what he thought about the UK choosing this moment for a referendum he said that he'd recently been on the border between Macedonia and somewhere else where thousands of migrants were trying to cross a border. Police were so overwhelmed they were using smoke and rubber bullets. People were getting injured and running everywhere in a panic. That evening his girlfriend phoned him up just to pick a fight for the sake of having a fight. That's how he feels about the UK. That's the message we're sending out to Europe with this ludicrous referendum.

I came home and spent the night playing pen and paper games with Abbie, Ian and the cats. What a perfect way to spend a day. A bit of work, a nice lunch, a political chat and an evening of games.

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