I love skyscrapers and urban density, but guys, you might want to space these out a little:
Previously the trip to Liverpool Street station has always seemed like a long and expensive slog, but this time Daughter hired a cheap ride on some local app, and the driver sluiced through the streets with eel-like agility.
I know where everything is at the station now, so I headed right to tickets and explained my need: We want the train to Norwich, but not the express, the one that stops at Ipswich, where we change for Lowestoft, except we’re getting off at Darsham.
The clerk made a few taps on the screen, nodded, agreed, and produced the tickets. Given the number of trains that leave from here and the places they go, it’s astounding they can hold the entirely of the East Anglia system in their heads, but so it seems.
The train was due to leave at noon. The train left precisely at noon. Sped north and east, with the usual progression - old town, industrial area, exurbs, then countryside. It’s only two hours. It’s not that far. But it’s the opposite of London.
I assume this is an amusement park ride, or perhaps some Earth Defense Facility compromised by an alien device:
Recessed tiny windows: these apartments weren't for people who needed a lot of light. No carpet, either.
Imagine living on the ground floor. You'd feel as if a great weight pressed on your small, fragile space. Maybe because it did.
I can't tell if this is intentional. Not that it matters.
The city fades away, replaced by rustic sights:
And then . . . we were here.
First thing we did after dumping the bags was walk Mabel to the sea. The paths go through tall grass, and then you go up a rise and behold the great growling ocean pawing at the shore.
Couldn’t be happier.
Dinner at the pub, the Anchor:
Big table, met some new people, including a filmmaker who once had an evening in a pub with Anthony Burgess. Sat across from Jan, who is also in the newspaper humor game, and her two-hander sitcom playing on Radio 4. (More below.) Daughter and Alex, our host’s son, did the younger-person thing on the end, talking with great enthusiasm about matters cultural.
At one point I went up to the bar for another pint - Adnan’s, the brewery to which the Anchor is yoked or connected or whatever the term is, has come out with several new varieties. I started talking whisky with the co-proprietor, and as you might imagine, she knew her stock, and was more than happy to give the returning American a hint, a whiff, a taste, a measure of some of the new products, if only to confirm that their lukewarm rep was correct. I ended up paying ten pounds for three millimeters of some ineffable Scotch product, and it was wonderful.
Sitting in the old familiar warm English pub with a grand whisky and friends old and new: that was the moment I have been waiting for since the world shut down two years ago.
The next day: up and out to the Black Dog, or Mucky Pup, the deli down the High Street. Got croissants and sausage rolls. We started recording around ten.
Why yes. Why yes. We’re working on a ten-ep podcast called “The Private Life of Peg Lynch,” an account of Astrid’s mother’s life in radio and TV, including her affair with a Hollywood heartthrob. Astrid wrote five hours of recollections, extracted from her mother’s letters, and it's just fantastic. She reads them as her mom, interspersed with actualities from Peg’s many interviews. I’m just part of the framing device that opens and closes the shows, and I play a few other parts, reading reviews, doing some dialogue, adding my own notes. She’s recorded all her parts, but I’ve come here to do my inserts, and to record the "top and tails," as they say. Her son, Alex, a recording whiz, is handling the technical aspects, and we’re doing it in Denis King’s studio, which is part of the Huut.
We nailed the recording by the shank of the afternoon, and then it was time for a nap. Natalie was still out walking, and I had a sudden pang of worry: perhaps she’s fallen prey to the Suffolk Slasher, or the Walbers Basher. Some dodgy bloke who came up to help with a construction project, thought he could commit a muh-duh and slink away to his fetid bedsit in Whitechapel, sure the police would never connect him to the crime, unaware that his workbook had a distinctive mark they would use to tie him to seven other unsolved crimes in the area, all committed at the same time the builders were working on a shed.
Turns out that wasn't the case.
Work day. All day in the studio on the Peg Lynch podcast. Pity, because it was bright and warm, perhaps the first time the thermometer crawled over 50. But! I’m here to drive the podcast, get us in the show and out, do the banter, and set up the wonderful stories Astrid has written. It took most of the morning after brekkie (sorry) and afternoon, after which we took a walk into the wilds of Walberswick.
We'd sat around the table looking at the TV, which was just showing the BBC4 logo. Like the old days of raio, I suppose.
Astrid conjured a wonderful meal, and conversation was a delight. Good Lord, I missed this place.
Now I’m back in the Huut, listening to the Mancini channel on the satellite radio. It’s all 60s orchestrated grown-up hits. Charade. Umbrellas of Cherbourg. That sort of thing. I think there’s about 14 songs, repeated endlessly, performed by different groups, each of whom diminishes the original in their own special way.
Which reminds me. As I have noted from time to time, I have a particular interest in the musical cues for “The Black Museum.” I know, I know, doesn’t that make me special. That’s so James. Sigh. Well, a few years ago I found out who wrote them, and I floated the name to Dennis, who knows everyone in British music up to a certain point.
Oh yes, Sidney Torch. Recorded a number called Jumping Bean. It used to play on game shows. And he sang it. Well, I had my tiny bluetooth speaker on hand, and found it on YouTube.
(Torch recording; he didn't compose it.)
It came to the end, and we had a laugh: This the most blatant theft of Holst I've ever heard. He not only steals Mercury, he goes right into Uranus the Magician.
I mean . . . come on.
Here's the Holst.
Settled in and utterly at home, and don't want to leave.