Monday, 29 March 2010

Carnesky's Ghost Train/Blackpool

So where was I going on this train? Why Blackpool of course. Somehow or other I've been assigned the task of documenting the last installment of Marisa Carnesky's Ghost Train in Blackpool before it opens for business this Friday. It has taken her ten years to get the project off the ground which has finally found a permanent (we hope) home on Blackpool's busy promenade. It's going to be pretty good I think although compared to other things in Blackpool it may be deemed 'too arty'. Still, Blackpool Council has backed it to the hilt - much to the chagrin of the local paper - in the hope, I suspect, of drawing in a different demographic, oh alright then, middle class people. Hey, maybe I should have mentioned it to the stubborn mother on my journey up here...

Saturday, 27 March 2010

On The Train

Virgin Trains, don't you love them? They have a knack for winding up people like nothing else on earth. Today I witnessed the most ferocious argument between a youngish working class girl and a mum who, thanks to a cock-up with the reservation signs, had helped her young family to the clutch of seats the woman had reserved for her friends. What happened next was a full scale verbal assault on the mother. 'Do you know what, people like you really wind me up, do you know what, these seats are mine and people like you have no manners and do you know what, I can't believe that you're just sitting there and do you know what....' etc etc. Despite the continued barrage and the raised eyebrows of the other passengers, the mother refused do budge saying quietly, in between the other woman's anguished gasps for air, that she would not move because she had a three year old and they had no where else to sit. Her calm tone only riled the woman even more who in the end sat in the one remaining seat next to her. 'I am going to sit here and I'm going to make your journey hell for the next five hours, is that what you want, is it, is it?' The rather tired looking Scottish bloke sitting next to me piped up. 'Listen Darlin', I think she's got the message.' 'What's it got to do with you,' the woman retorted. Another lady butted in, 'I think it's the principle of the thing,' she said glaring at the mum, 'these are her reserved seats even if the sign up there doesn't say that.' All the while the mother's husband, a grey faced American in a base ball cap, strode up and down the carriage searching in vain for somewhere to move his family. By now the woman's shear aggression was visibly upsetting the two children who had sat through the onslaught. It was a huge relief when one of angry woman's friends managed to find her a place further up the carriage. Maybe it's some kind of class prejudice, but by the end of this ghastly encounter I felt terribly sorry for the mother even though she was completely in the wrong. Must be a first.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

True Stories/Carnesky's Ghost Train/The Review Show

A bit like Errollyn Wallen's Song Club (Muthatucker passim), True Stories Told Live does exactly what it says on the tin. Ordinary people (well as ordinary as you can be to do this kind of thing) tell an extended story to a roomful of strangers. I heard five very contrasting tales the night I went; bedsit life in sixties London, the trails and tribulations of Irish dancing competitions, travels in Kazakhstan, touring Ireland with a dysfunctional rock band, and the life and times of an incorrigible bon viveur. Great stuff, some funny, some tragic and all told with wonderful colour and warmth. It's free too but make sure you get on the guest list (see link below). I dunno, what with song clubs, poetry nights and now this, are we rediscovering our Victorian heritage? Whatever, this is more entertaining than an evening in front of the telly or a solitary roam on the internet.

To Blackpool to film a ghost train. Actually it's still only a shed but work is well underway on Marisa Carnesky's forthcoming attraction which should be, all things being equal, a very welcome addition to Blackpool's sea front. It's a bold and slightly left field take on the traditional ghost train that draws on Carnesky's Jewish roots. Having done the rounds (quite literally) for a few years Carnesky has never been able to find a permanent home for it until now thanks to Blackpool Council. The trouble is there are many in the town who think far too much money has been spent setting it up so there is an enormous pressure on her, and the council, for the ride to deliver when it opens on Good Friday. Anyway, I'm filming this story as it unfolds.

Caught The Review Show - 'from Glasgow' - last night. I don't know what the significance of 'from Glasgow' was because it could have been a studio discussion from anywhere. The only Scottish element was some poor singer from Scottish Opera who, after Martha Kearney's fumbled introduction, sang an aria from La Boheme, accompanied by someone on one of those lifeless electronic keyboards. I suppose once you've flown up six English contributors, provided them with overnights, meals etc, there probably isn't much left in the budget for a half decent piano. Ironically, the overriding theme of tonight's show was climate change.