I could not have had a busier or noisier day yesterday than if I had actually purchased a ticket right into the jaws of Hell for a one-day round-trip round Satan's lair. I got on a train from Devon to Paddington at 9am only to be greeted by a multitude of already-drunk Arsenal and West Ham fans, complaining Rugby fans (who were still drinking, but apparently in a "sensible" fashion, unlike their football-obsessed counterparts) and an old Chap from Sidmouth who wanted to tell anyone who would listen about his charity work and his dog, Sarah. I asked why he would call a dog Sarah; he said it was in honour of Sarah Ferguson. I'm not to sure if the former HRH would see it as a compliment, but it takes all sorts.
My Metlab clients were all in fine form as usual - hello Elinor, Ben and Rich - though this was our last session before the course ends >SOB<. Still, they've all produced rather marvellous and very different first drafts, exactly what they were supposed to do, so I think everyone's got a lot out of it. I then went to a script meeting with a director over at Ealing...Or attempted to, for the chaos on the tube yesterday can only be described as catastrophic. With engineering works putting the Central line out of action altogether, an army of tourists, commuters and weirdos were gathered on the District Line all shouting and screaming at one another. One chap was having a huge argument with what I imagined was his girlfriend on his mobile: "Well that's nice! You could have effing told me before I got effing stuck at Earl's Court you selfish cow....Excuse me, WOULD YOU STOP LISTENING TO MY CONVERSATION!!" Whoops, guilty as charged. I politely (alright, sort of politely) said that perhaps he shouldn't be shouting and screaming in public if he didn't want others to listen, to which a kindly-looking Indian Man muttered "Here, here" and Mobile Man jumped on a train to Wimbledon, possibly just to get away from us.
So it took me an hour and half to actually get to my meeting (which seemed to go well, thanks)....And 7 minutes on the above-rail train to get back to Paddington. I felt a little like Dr. Who in a very small Tardis full of annoying People, travelling through time only to find that I could take Willy Wonka's glass elevator back and bypass them all. A slightly bizarre mixing of analogies there, but then it was a very, very bizarre day.
One other good thing to come out of it though was I had plenty of time to get into the fabulous Pies and Prejudice by Stuart Maconie. A Broadcaster and journalist (for those of you who don't know) Stuart goes in search of The North (of England, for again those of you who don't know) and what it really means to be Northern. For our American Friends' benefit, I should explain that being Northern is somewhat of a curious state of being, in that, though this Island might well be larger than the aforementioned Tardis, its North/South Divide could stretch into infinity, again like that paradoxical Time Machine. If that makes any sense. Probably not. You get the gist though, right??
So I was inspired. I've always enjoyed Travel Writing since Anna Funder's amazingly fabulous Stasiland (before that, Travel Writing to me had meant Michael Palin in baggy shorts and Judith Chalmer getting steadily more orange whilst entreating us, "Wish You Were Here...?). People often email me and ask me about the lovely place in which I live, Devon and though I am prone to slag it off on the basis that I would rather pluck my eyes out and fry them in garlic than live here, I am forced to admit that it is indeed beautiful, has some awe-inspiring scenery and fabulous history. It is also the place which my husband hails from and my two lovely children were born, where my parents and youngest sister live and where Exmoor, a place that will always have a little piece of my heart, resides. So, grudgingly, I do like it here, if only a little bit: I have the kind of relationship with Devon I might have with a doddery old aunt who sings when drunk and has the habit of saying, "I told you so" when you break up with a boyfriend. I can't wait to get away, but I'd miss her when she's gone.
So: today I am announcing that I will write twelve articles about Devon over the coming months and indulge my Travel Writing bent. Maybe they'll be god awful and dull or maybe they will prove a revelation. Who knows. I'm promising nothing. However, if you want to know what is going on in Devon beyond cream teas, The Famous Five and yokels with trousers done up with string, now's the time to ask while I'm researching this series. Perhaps you want info on Ilfracombe, advice on Appledore or Tales from Torrington? If I know it, I'll write about it. Put a request in the comments section. Or, if you're a complete townie-type and wouldn't know a Devon village, town or place if it hit you in the head with a wet herring, click here for a list of places that may tickle your fancy. Over to you!