Wednesday, June 22, 2005

riding out east and other things

june 22nd

Current level of conviction in own genius: 6.5
Amount of creative activity in last 24 hours: 0 - too busy, like, WORKING
Hair day: slightly bedraggled, given extreme heat

Have been very busy with educational work and even a gig - some PAID and everything! Gasp. I premiered my kids' piece, waterworlds, at top venue LSO St Luke's on Monday, and my lovely rum lot from St Andrew's Primary in Salisbury did a fab job in making us the tightest and most enthusiastic act, even if they did look like 30 singing/playing smurfs with their all-over blue face paints (I opted for a Ziggy Stardust-esque glittery blue slash across the face which I sported on the tube home to absolutely no raised eyebrows whatsoever). Am hoping the success of this piece has impressed one or two people in the kids-contemporary-music-biz and might swing me a job or two.

Am already missing the cool kids from the country as I have done a couple of days work at my new primary, St. Saviour's, and had the joy of 60 5-7 year-olds today, including some real little terrors who really didn't want to learn 'How Do You Make A Hippopotammus Smile?' and more likely wanted to run down the streets stealing tyres or something. Still, it's quite fun to have 8 year-olds desperate for you to include them in their end of term concert, writing poems that rhyme 'school' with 'cool' (naturally) and 'fool' (ok) and 'tools', as in 'even if school is a tool' (erm), breakdancing haphazardly in front of you and, most hilariously, 4 boys singing 'Is This The Way To Amarillo' in 4 different keys whilst marching cheerily on the spot. Ho ho.

Juice had a gig in the eclectically-programmed Corsham Festival, which involved trying to keep Anna entertained and awake enough to drive us to deepest Wiltshire and back way into the night by talking about food and music and edible pants and things. Corsham is a preposterous chocolate box of a village, clearly straining to be cast as backdrop to a BBC1 World War 2 melodrama, and we sang a funky, candlelit gig to a respectable crowd. Barry Russell drove all the way down from Huddersfield to hear us premiere his cool stones-and-shakers piece, and is clearly a man to know and impress: he has work with a choreographer in the offing and is potentially keen to work with us on it for performances in London and New York. 'Spose that would be alright.....

Finally.... I can't go without waxing rhapsodic about my lovely weekend chez Ma in East Riding. Andy and I drove up on Friday, enduring the eye-glazing boredom of the A1 before bursting into the sun-basked meadowy Wolds to the burbling accordion tunes on the Amelie soundtrack. Of course, this being me, the accursed Rainbringer of the North (nary a single visit to my mum's and thus the beach has been free of lashing downpours and shouty winds), the weather soon gave way to wintry bleakness. Boo.

Still, Saturday was momentarily bright enough for us to enjoy a trip to Whitby via the ace smuggler's cove of Robin Hood's Bay, where the folk clan, the Waterson-Carthy's, live, a town piled onto the rocks, a maze of sloped roofs and cobbled alleys. Rather marvellously, there appeared to be a mini-folk dance festival going on by the jetty: four Yorkshire 40-something lasses cheerfully doing a slightly ragged clog dance to the intricate twangings of a 5-piece band who looked like they could have played everything twenty times as fast without breaking a sweat or taking their mouths away from their pints of thick ale. There was a gently appreciative crowd of locals and tourists and it just warmed my heart to see an English tradition still going strong. Dammit, I'm PROUD of being English and proud of its roots music and folk heritage, something that's still being clung determinedly to in places like the North-East, and I hate that it's so crowded out in our increasing urbanity and Londonisms. I love decent, conscious hip hop more than almost anything, but so many English kids (from any racial background) are Americanised and cityfied to the gills and have no concept of this land's traditional roots, and they're something to be cherished, even if some of them are a bit Wicker Man-esque. Amen.

Aaanyway, to Whitby, scene of many a family holiday, and fairly unchanged, with its lobster pots, twisty steps and smoked kipper house on one side, and the grimily glitzy tat and whalebones on the new town side. Slightly more disconcerting was the market stall selling SS memorabilia... Enjoyed fish freshly whipped from the sea and the fang-toothed abbey and glowering church on the hill, complete with eerie pock-marked gravestones - see for some ace pictures of all this, by the way.

On the way back, we had time to stop in Beck Hole and have a drink at THE SMALLEST PUB IN THE WORLD EVER - a full 3m squared. I kid you not. There was room for three people to enjoy their pork pieces and crisps whilst the other punters drank outside on the road, seemingly unfazed by the nuclear-midge-clouds and the occasional avalanche of runaway sheep. We also perched briefly at the lip of the Hole of Horcum, a vast grassy crater and minor natural wonder, before passing by the (blatantly un-secret) mammoth concrete pyramid of Fylingdales and, most excitingly, Goathland, the set of everyone's favourite intellectual challenge, Heartbeat.

Phew. Sunday starred rain in all its guises, from itchy drizzle to monsoons, and plighted our East Coast odyssey slightly. Still, managed to show Andy Filey Beach (spent half an hour entertaining Ray Mears fantasies by sheltering in a cave), the long arc turned gunmetal grey by the deluge; we then squeezed in a cream tea in the dead-end town, peered through our streaked windshield at Flamborough Head, had a sorry-assed walk along Bridlington's south beach and went home defeated. Still, for all the inclement misery, I have an absolute devotion to the East Coast. Whilst I'm enjoying the sunshine at the moment (under a layer of fake tan and Factor 325 of course), there's something about the unpredictable, earthy lack of glamour that you can't get anywhere other than on the seashores of the UK. Which is why I can't wait for possible camping trip to the West Highland Coast in August!! Hurrah!!!

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