This poem was written for a very special lady. I had felt the need to write something anyway but when I learned that she too used to write poetry then it seemed even more important to put something into words.
When someone dies, the funeral is a chance to say goodbye. When it is the funeral of somebody you have never had the chance to meet, then goodbye becomes something more.
Today I have to say goodbye,
A life so precious has gone by.
I’ll meet folk they used to know,
Today goodbye means Hello.
I’m travelling to a far off city
Unknown to me, but quaint and pretty.
This is the place that they called home,
Today goodbye means Hello.
I’m learning now about their life
Poetess and devoted wife,
Friends who miss her kindness shown,
Today goodbye means Hello.
A lady I never got to meet
But who has shaped one close to me,
And so for their loss I will cry,
Today Hello must mean Goodbye.
I’d never seen the Humber bridge before. It’s an amazing structure. The main span is 1410 metres. The towers are 155 metres tall and they are 36mm further apart at the top than the bottom to allow for the curvature of the Earth (at least that’s what the information boards around the area tell you).
We stopped for a look on our way into Hull.
We saw it again on Sunday when we returned for a second photo-shoot with Spencer Tunick, and before we went home we managed to find time for a walk across it too.
Kingston-upon-Hull has an amazing set of City Museums. Entrance is free so there was no reason not to take a look. We managed to find time to visit The Streetlife Museum of Transport and the Hull and East riding Museum (briefly). I certainly hope when we go back we’ll find time to visit some of the others.
The transport museum was amazing with a period street, a carriage ride and a couple of lovely trams. A couple of new tram logos I’d not seen before:
Romans Go Home!
The Hull and East Riding Museum was a little jaunt through history and certainly has some wonderful Roman mosaics and the best Roman street scene I’ve ever seen, complete with graffitti! Slightly more authentically, I should point out that “Cave Canem” made an appearance too.
The Ferens Art Gallery is of course temporarily closed, but we have plans to visit that when it reopens and hopefully then we’ll get a chance to visit some of the other places we’ve not yet seen.
When you come to a city the first challenge is finding your way around. We were lucky when we visited Kingston-upon-Hull recently to be part of a group of fellow tourists and friendly locals who went on a walking tour of part of this lovely city.
We met up in Queen’s Gardens, leaving unneeded possessions for safekeeping and from there we all walked through to the Rosebowl fountain.
“It looks like a ship’s wheel”, we were told.
Then we marched up Alfred Gelder Street to Lowgate.
“What’s this big building?” asked one person*.
“It’s the Guildhall” the locals helpfully replied.
From there we walked towards the old town and up to the Scale Lane Bridge; notable for being the only bridge where pedestrians can stay on it while it opens. We were a large group but some of us were fortunate enough to be able to make our way on to the far end of the bridge and how kind of them to open it especially for us.
Our tour then done we made our way back to Queen’s Gardens to collect bags before heading back to our hotel for a shower and then searching out some breakfast.
…leave nothing but footprints (in B3 paint).
Perhaps I forgot to mention though, that this tour started at four o’clock in the morning and we were naked and painted a rather fetching shade of turquoise (in our case ‘B3’) throughout; for we were part of the “Sea of Hull”. A nude art installation by photographer and artist Spencer Tunick commissioned for Hull as part of the UK city of culture 2017. The largest so far in the UK, with 3,200 participants.
I know there are lots of pictures on the internet, so many accounts already describing how it felt. So how did it feel for me? I hadn’t worried about getting naked but I had worried (laugh if you know me) about my lack of worry. I wondered if I’d find I’d misjudged myself when it came to it. It turns out I hadn’t.
I wasn’t oblivious to the careful way the whole thing was set up either. We were repeatedly asked not to get naked until told to. Partly I’m sure in order to avoid public order offences, however also it meant that once final instructions on painting ourselves had been given and we’d been given clear instructions to be as quick as possible, when the order to strip came there was a mass scramble to get out of our clothes. We were given no time to think about what we were doing. By the time we had leisure to look round we were part of a sea of naked blue people filling the park.
It felt perfectly normal to be honest. For once I felt completely at home in a crowd, accepted, we were all together. Even leading the march down Alfred Gelder street chatting to Spencer’s assistant Steve (“Steeeve”) was surreally normal.
It was a truly fantastic experience; to be part of something amazing, beautiful and so, so much fun. I’m glad to have discovered a wonderful city, full of friendly people. I certainly learned some new things too. For instance:
- Hull has some fantastic city clocks (and when nobody is wearing a watch they are the only way to keep any sense of time).
- Penguin huddles work to keep people warm too.
- Body paint is surprisingly hard to remove from some places (but coconut oil helps).
- Also, if you ever wondered what it felt like to be the little mermaid then try walking barefoot on the Scale Lane Bridge. Ouch.
We’ll be back of course, when the art gallery reopens to see the art we helped create. Until then…
Embed from Getty Images
We are #SeaOfHull
*that was Spencer Tunick of course. He was giving us directions relative to it.
In our recent visit to Spain we decided to drive out to Bilbao to have a look around. I always enjoy a chance to see a new city and to ride on a new tram and this was a decidedly modern tram.
Plus of course there were lots of things to see.
We went to Spain, for the second time driving (yes, all the way) to San Sebastián (or Donostia depending on your affiliation). With an apartment on the ninth floor of the building, overlooking the river, there was the chance to get a couple of nice photographs of the view.
It’s such a fearful play.
– It’s a marvellous part.
While I have mentioned this show already, it certainly deserves a post to itself.
It was suggested* to me that I go to the audition for this, which was being put on by a group I knew nothing of but was reasonably nearby.
To my amazement I walked away with a part, playing ‘Sorel’ the daughter of the retired actress (Deja vu anyone)?
What a lovely opportunity to work with the most friendly and welcoming people, to improve my Parisian geography (the Rue Saint-Honoré does not lead into the Place de la Concorde) and to have the fun of being a stroppy and rather sarcastic teenager every night.
The set was wobbly but functional (and importantly the staircase was rock solid) and looked great. The costumes were lovely (I had two beautiful dresses and got to wear my silky pyjamas in act three) and thankfully there was a lovely makeup lady to make sure we all looked great.
Thanks too, to the Stage Manager, particularly for their liberal use of white gaffer tape and ever entertaining dressing room calls. It was all much appreciated.
What fun then to act in such a wonderful play.
Of course, while the cast were wonderful and the audience clearly appreciative they reserved the biggest laugh every night for the comedy moment with the barometer, a feat of comedic timing performed by the youngest member of the crew (who may just happen to be my daughter).
So what a wonderful time, putting on a great play, and how lovely to make new friends, who were so welcoming to the very shy newcomer to the group.
*Insisted is far more accurate. But James dragged me to the auditions and got made Stage Manager for his trouble, so that seems fair. 😉
See How They Run
Have you seen the one about the retired actress, with the French doors and the staircase?
I was recently asked to do props for a delightful farce featuring a retired actress, several members of the clergy and an escaped German soldier. The play (See How They Run) features a charming set comprising of a living room with French doors, a staircase and doors on each side.
The show was fantastic, funny and great fun to work on. I’d never done props before but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the cast were all great to work with.
While all this was going on I was simultaneously rehearsing for another play. This one featuring a retired actress, her family and their several houseguests. The play (Hay Fever) features a startlingly similar set.
The deja vu was heightened by the appearance of a barometer on each set, and the astonishingly similar sounding door bell (blame the sound engineer/stage manager respectively).
Further parallels within each play include the rehearsal of part of another play within it, the mention of “If” and…well I could go on.
Double the fun for a busy but satisfying month.
There’s a Triffid behind you…
In any show sound effects are important. They can set the scene, provide atmosphere and cue the action. Getting that just right can make a huge impact; as I was reminded recently.
If you are of a certain age (and a sufficiently geeky mindset) then there is one sound effect that will be instantly recognisable to you, the menacing rattle of a triffid. I’m sufficiently geeky to currently have it as my text message tone*.
So imagine the scene: a family day out at the Living Rainforest, walking along shaded jungle paths, when apparently out of nowhere comes that deadly rattle. The young woman standing next to us looks round in alarm.
“What on earth was that?” she exclaims.
With a straight face, I reply “a Triffid” and stroll away; leaving her obviously none the wiser and not at all reassured. Round the corner there is laughter and high-fiving with the family, including of course the person who has been conveniently texting me at irregular intervals hoping for just this result.
Still, it just shows how effective that sound effect is. Even out of context it is scary and organic, even more so when watching the show. Sound engineers are often under appreciated, but listen out because what they do is important. Even that telephone doesn’t just ring itself you know!
*Thanks to my favourite sound engineer who gave it to me.
Everybody has weak moments. One of mine was at an after show party when somebody (you know who you are, James) twisted my arm into agreeing to direct a “Green Room”.
In our little theatre group a “green room” is a one-act play put on, for one night only, for the members as a social occasion and as an audition piece, as it were, to be considered able to direct a full show. In this instance there were two of us, potential directors, and we agreed to put our plays on together.
I won’t bore you with tales of the stress of trying to organise everything, cast the show, actually directing and working backstage (in my case lighting) that went into making the evening happen.
I will tell you it was a fascinating challenge and an awful lot of fun, that we had wonderful cast and crew who made it possible and that the audience thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I will also tell you that all production meetings should also involve ice cream sundaes.
So, whatever the official verdict (and I’m still waiting for that) I think we did ourselves proud.
Why am I telling you this now you ask. Because somebody (you know who you are, James) gave me a very special Christmas present; a framed copy of our programme. And it turns out, just for a moment, I felt like a real director.