Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
Great, a week with some sort of a normal shape on it that doesn't involve cars or trains. Spring popping up over the pyjama cord and I've got a list of mundane tasks to do that's about thisssssssssssssssssss long. Back from St Andrews last Tuesday night. St Andrews is a really nice place. Only about And-a-half-times bigger than Wivenhoe with a population of about 17,000. There's a very venerable old university there, where they sent Princess William for a while. The result of this, I was told by helpful locals, is that pushy American moms often send their daughters there, in the hope that they might marry a prince. It's true that I heard almost as many American accents in the streets as I did Scots ones. As I found in Edinburgh, the locals are very polite, hospitable and good fun. I'm beginning to think that Scotland is a rather more civilised country than England, and by quite a long chalk.
St Andrews/ Dr Seuss's tower in foreground.
The StAnza Poetry festival was quite the best-organised one I'd ever performed at..bar none and St Andrews itself is littered with ancient monuments and beautifully-kept old houses. If it wasn't about eight hours on a train from here, I'd be back there every other weekend. People I met, met again. or encountered included Simon Armitage, Elvis McGonnigal, Carol Anne Duffy and a number of others. My various responsibilities and performances dictated that only on the Sunday night did I get to have a bit of a long drink. This ended in a Scotch whisky, the likes of which I don't normally taste in England. I mildly regretted this when I found myself on Monday morning just about to face two groups of schoolkids in the Byre's Studio Theatre. It went well though. I think.
Unlike Wivenhoe, for a small place, St Andrews has tons of shops ( all open) cafes and restaurants (nearly all open) and a huge amount of pubs (all open) Among the shops is a kilt repairer, two or three health food shops, a New Agey crystal shop, all sorts of specialist shops that I haven't seen down here since the 1960s and unbelievably, a Christmas Shop that was doing great business on the Saturday morning in late March when I went in there. Those ancient monuments again: a ruined cathedral with what looks like a Dr Seuss-designed tower, a castle, loads of arches, two beaches, a beautiful coastal walk, a cinema, and a fabulous modern Arts Centre. I nearly died of beauty fatigue and had to go and lie down one afternoon. The place feels really haunted too and I had the strangest feeling that I'd been there before. No wonder that their patron saint built the place there.
On Tuesday I rushed south in time for Wednesday night's gig at Maldon Library. Lovely town is Maldon, but not really in the same league as St Andrews. Good audience though. Packed out at about 120 people and Waterstone's and Ian P's stall sold loads of books. I must be getting popular for some reason. Last night, somewhat against my better judgement, down to the Rose and Crown to watch local boys Scarpenter's News playing an amiably shambolic gig. Tai Chi Dave and I after an immodestly long drink didn't need to be asked twice before we were up there, drunk and playing God-knows-what on unfamiliar instruments. I had a bit of a wine-ache this morning and I can't remember going home. Gaaaaa!
Baker Lane, my shortcut to the Byre theatre with its cherry tree.