Snow on the hills…..I travelled by train last weekend from wintery Sheffield through the Pennines to Liverpool. It was a glorious journey. If you are a lover of bleak moors and snow covered hillsides where sheep shiver in a blisteringly cold wind then the north is for you. I grew up on the edge of the Pennines, and have never lost my sense of wonder at their quiet and Heathcliffian majesty. Here's a pic from the train…..no sheep, but trust me, there were many, huddled together for warmth…..
Arriving in Liverpool I checked in to the glorious Hope Street hotel which is slick and modern and wonderful and the rooms are warm and comforting and the bathrooms glamorous and simple, simultaneously. Is it only me, but when I stay in a hotel - I get to do that a fair bit - I always look at the room and think - if I lived in this room, what would I do with it, or, if this were my flat, how would I accommodate everything in it. As most hotel rooms are the size of my entire floorspace this is an amusing pastime. I am all for amusing pastimes. I almost wrote pasties, there, as in, and I am all for amusing pasties, and as it happens, I am. On the motorway they sell all manner of pasties hitherto unimagined down a Cornish mine. For example, cheese and vegetable. Stilton and beef. And more. I am awaiting chorizo pasties. Its a matter of time.
So, I wondered down through the Liverpool Christmas town centre, with stalls and trees and lights and music, and thought how beautiful it is, this city. There's been a real explosion of architecture with all manner of new buildings beside the grandeur of the Victorian Merchant's richesse. Its a pleasure to walk down through the town to the waterside. Because there had been violent storms the estuary was much choppier than usual, and the fierceness of the dark winter sea was frightening. I thought of all those people sailing out of this harbour, thinking of their new lives in America, and not so very long ago - waving goodbye to the Liver Birds and wondering how they would feel if and when they might be lucky enough to see the Statue of Liberty.
We did our first show to a packed Rodewald Suite and George Seaton and his lovely staff with Ewen on the sound and lights gave us their all. We, in return, gave ours, and after a small red wine I slipped back and slept. Saturday morning was sunny and I headed back to the docks and marina to catch the most glorious Turner-esque sky to the west. Lunch in a fine Italian in the little lanes up by the burned out church and then another show. Another great audience, another small red wine and it was Sunday and time to head back to London on Virgin trains. I won't hear a word against Virgin trains. They're always good to me, and for the most part, on time.
Back home it was swiftly into gear for Ian Shaw's Christmas Cracker show at the Purcell Room with Sarah Jane Morris and myself guesting. There was much hilarity in the dressing room, as none of us seemed to have a clue what we were to do, though Ian issued instructions between gales of laughter. But we found that we harmonised without effort and the audience were up for everything, and the night passed too quickly and in a haze of joy. I walked home along the river to Pimlico in the growing fog, buildings slipping silently from view as I passed.
And next…..well, lets see….Mari and I this coming weekend at St James Theatre.
And more of that when we get there…..and then its New York City where the boys are pretty…….
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