Review of Mercury Fur by Middle Child Theatre Company

Hull-based Middle Child Theatre Company have launched their first ever extended run of a single production with a relocating of the controversial Mercury Fur which was written by Philip Ridley and originally launched in 2005 in Plymouth and then London where it was originally set.

The production is set in post-apocalyptic Hull and takes place in the abandoned unit 15 of the Lowgate Centre in Hull Old Town, on entry you are given directions to where the performance is taking place at the top of the building, you’re told to follow the butterflies (pictures on the walls) and step over the dead dog, which I didn’t see, and this is meant to immerse you in the sort of futuristic world that the production is set in.

The long walk up the stairs is slightly arduous but is a half-decent scene setter, however when you enter the room where the action is taking place you are struck by the dim light and the general almost anarchic state of the room with rubbish strewn around in a great panic and signs on the walls saying things like: If at first you don’t succeed… Call An Air-raid, Army of One, Hope Is All We Have and If You Tell A Lie Enough, It Becomes Politics.

The background music and sound is set perfectly to draw you in and immerse yourself in this unforgiving world that is being replicated.

When the action starts you’re thrown into the edge-like life of Darren (played with superb resonance by Laurie Jamieson) and his big brother Elliot (Played with admirable menace by Joshua Mayes Cooper) who survive on their wits in this new world and not much more.

The story moves at a very good pace and once it has hold of you it doesn’t let go, to the point that this 2 hours 20 minutes performance doesn’t actually include an interval, which makes it all the more immersive and entertaining because of the subject matter.

The timing of the entry, and the backstory, of Naz (Played with great relish by the great Nima Taleghani) is pitched quite well but the building of the relationship between him and Darren is done with absolutely the right amount of suggestion and, when it becomes slightly more controversial than you expect, it does seem to fit very well with the surroundings and the story, and is very well acted and very sensitively handled by the two actors.

With the clearly very disturbed Darren (who has a penchant for eating butterflies as if they’re hard drugs) being bossed by Elliot and the developing friendship with the very disturbed but also impossibly laid-back Naz you begin to genuinely care and worry about the characters and you also start to wonder what the ending will be like.

Elliot’s true love Lola (daringly well played by Laurence North) is a genuine character to remember with great control and desire.

The part of Spinx (admirably portrayed by Edward Cole) is very well developed by the three main characters even before you see him, and when he arrives he is exactly as you imagine him, as long as your imagination stretches to a man with a blonde mohican and wearing trousers, boots and a 3/4 length fur coat.

When Spinx arrives he has a surprise guest with him called The Duchess (played by the wonderful Madeleine MacMahon), whose appearance causes great panic even before she enters the room. The Duchess is quite a peripheral part in some ways, but absolutely essential and heartbreakingly lovable and understated all at the same time.

10-year-old Charlie Thompson is very strong as the character known only as The Party Piece, around whom this whole sordid party is built, along with the Party Guest (played rather convincingly by James Stanyer) and as the production moves towards its seemingly horrific ending it doesn’t wilt in any way shape or form.

The story is driven along by the power of suggestion, particularly by Spinx, which seems to suggest an awful fate for the Party Piece at the hands of the bloodthirsty Party Guest, but even as the meat hook is being sharpened a terrible twist befalls one of the other characters.

Finally, as the Party Guest gets his evil way in the bathroom, the whole audience are left sitting in what is effectively the Living Room, hearing bitter and almost sickening howls of pain, before the Party Guest is stopped by an unexpected interruption and his victim is taken from his grasp and brought back in a thoroughly horrible mess.

Eventually the production ends as it began, with Darren and Elliot arguing and clearing up the mess, but this time there’s a difference which leaves it with the sort of cliffhanger ending that the story demands.

The whole piece is expertly directed by Paul Smith, last week he told me that Middle Child “Really want to challenge audiences with this one.” That objective is very powerfully achieved in breathtaking fashion, take a bow Middle Child Theatre Company.

Hull KR 0 Leeds Rhinos 50, Dejected Rovers Simply Outclassed By Rampant Rhinos At Wembley

Hull KR’s dream return to the Wembley cup final after a 29-year absence turned into an embarrassing nightmare as they were simply ripped apart as cup holders Leeds Rhinos retained their trophy.

Records tumbled as winger Tom Briscoe became the first player to ever score five tries in a Challenge Cup final and the Rhinos made it a record biggest winning margin eclipsing their 36 point victory in 1999 against London Broncos.

The Wembley showpiece was started with a heart-rending performance of the traditional Challenge Cup anthem Abide With Me by Lizzie Jones the wife of Keighley Cougars and Wales player Danny Jones who tragically passed away a few months ago playing for the Cougars in London.

Chris Chester named Albert Kelly in his starting side after the half-back recovered sufficiently in time from a knee injury that had kept him out since the semi-final victory against Warrington Wolves ironically at Leeds Headingley ground four weeks previously.

Rhinos coach Brian McDermott brought back Joel Moon and Kallum Watkins in the centers and Danny McGuire returned after missing the Super 8s victory at Hull FC a week ago and Jamie Peacock was restored to the starting line-up having started from the bench in that 36-22 win at the KC Stadium.

Leeds set their stall out early moving menacingly up-field but an organised defence from the robins held them at bay although in both of the Rhinos first two sets the ball was turned over to the men from the KC Lighstream Stadium within 10 meters of their line.

The first points duly came the way of the cup holders after Kevin Larroyer was adjudged to have reefed the ball out of the grasp of Jamie Peacock in front of the Rovers posts and Brett Delaney snapped up the loose ball to to touchdown under the posts, the conversion from Kevin Sinfield inevitably followed to give them a six point advantage in the 6th minute.

The early exchanges were clearly going the way of the holders but a note of caution for them was that Hull KR were not panicking as maybe a lesser team would have and sticking resolutely to their game plan and getting settled in to the contest.

The first bit of luck to go the way of the men in red and blue came when McGuire put a high bomb up and full-back Kieran Dixon came to take the ball and knocked it onto an on-rushing Leeds player but was then able to re-gather the ball without referee Ben Thaler seeing the knock-on.

The first test of the Rhinos defence came when a pass from Peacock was fumbled and knocked-on in the Leeds half giving Rovers possession and territory but the chance was wasted as Tyrone McCarthy dropped the ball in-front of the Rhinos defensive line.

Leeds then moved to the other end of the field all too easily and finally McGuire got on the end of a fast move down their right hand side to score the second try in the right corner, the touchline conversion was successfully added by Sinfield to make it a 12 point advantage.

Disaster struck again as Rovers went for a short kick-off and Leeds winger Ryan Hall gobbled up the ball to make the break and then a fast move from left to right saw Watkins put former Hull FC winger Briscoe in for their third try inside the opening 20 minutes, Sinfield hit the post with the conversion to leave the score 16-0.

Despite the dominant opening from the Rhinos their opposition kept plugging away valiantly no matter how hopeless the situation seemed for them.

Another chance came their way when a ball was batted back by Maurice Blair and Kris Welham kicked the ball forward but it went dead-in-goal, shortly after that a Leeds mistake gave Rovers more possession and territory but a kick to the right side was easily gobbled up by Hall behind the Rhinos line.

Leeds next visit to the Rovers line caused more pressure but a try was not forthcoming this time when a grubber kick by McGuire was snaffled up by former Rhinos player Shaun Lunt.

After Ken Sio dropped a ball Hall was held up over the line and then Kylie Leuluai was also held up and then a fast move to the right saw a chance squandered as Watkins dropped the ball.

Just when the robins needed a shift in momentum Kelly produced what everybody thought was a 40/20 but then referee Thaler reversed the decision to give them head and feed when replays showed his foot was about half an inch over the Rovers 40 meter line to the relief of the cup holders.

Rovers threatened again as John Boudebza made a smart break in the middle of the field giving Kelly a chance to run at the retreating Rhinos defence but after that was stopped the ball went to their left and was lost within 10 meters of the line again.

As the clock ticked down towards the break the game appeared to have slowed down and this was clearly to the benefit of Rovers as particularly James Donaldson and Welham were making impressions on the Rhinos defence.

Another chance came as Welham got to a hail-mary kick before Briscoe and Dixon suddenly had space to work in front of the Rhinos posts but his attempted kick through was stopped by full-back Zak Hardaker to see the Rhinos keep their 16 point advantage as the final reached half-time.

The second half started as the rain started to tip-down as Rovers hoped to make a record-breaking comeback for a Challenge Cup Final against the holders and Super League leaders.

The half started badly for them however as a mistake from Dixon gave Leeds a scrum 20 meters out after a kick by McGuire but they held them out and then a Sinfield grubber gave a glimmer of a chance as the full-back tried to get away down the right but then dropped the ball in the tackle 30 meters out to give the Rhinos another scrum.

Another attack though by Leeds was repelled as a pass by off-load machine Adam Cuthbertson ended up in Rovers hand just in-front of their posts.

The trophy was seemingly wrapped-up for the Rhinos after a spirited attack by Rovers as a kick by Maurice Blair was left by Dixon and Briscoe pounced and never looked back on a 90 meter race to the line despite the brave effort from Sio to try and stop him, the touchline conversion from Sinfield made it 22-0 in the 48th minute.

The more Rovers were panicking the more desperate the situation was becoming as the dream of playing at Wembley was turning quickly into a nightmare particularly for Dixon who was making mistakes with alarming regularity as the affect of playing lower league opposition in recent weeks was seemingly making a big difference against the battle hardened Rhinos.

The next name on the try scoring list was Brad Singleton as the big prop barged his way over despite the attentions of Dixon and video referees James Child and Richard Silverwood were happy to award the try as he managed to get the ball down before it squirmed free, the conversion from Sinfield made it 28-0 to the Rhinos in the 58th minute.

A rare attack by Rovers with an impressive build-up from a break by Graeme Horne promised to bear some fruit but eventually Larroyer was held up over the line.

Another attack shortly after saw a high kick from Kelly invite Josh Mantellato to chase but the bomb was easily defused by Hall again, Leeds then moved far too easily to the other end of the field and Briscoe was on hand to gobble up another pass from Watkins to slide over in the corner for his hat-trick, the touchline conversion attempt by Sinfield was somewhat hooked to leave the score at 32-0 with 15 minutes left to play.

Kelly finally got his 40/20 to give the robins a scrum 10 meters from the Rhinos line but another chance was wasted with a forward pass to Tony Puletua handing the possession back to Leeds.

Another opportunity came to Leeds as Watkins made a majestic break and then handed the ball inside to Rob Burrow for the diminutive number 7 to race in under the posts, the inevitable conversion by Sinfield stretched it it to a 38-0 lead for the treble-chasers with seven minutes left to play.

Within two minutes of that Briscoe was in for his fourth try after another break and pass by Watkins put him away down the right again, a sixth goal from eight attempts by Sinfield made it 44-0.

Dixon’s nightmare then carried on as he scooped up a kick and ran the ball back only to drop it in the first contact, McGuire snapped the ball up and put the ball out to Briscoe for the England winger to set a new record with a first ever five-try-haul eclipsing the four tries scored by Leroy Rivett in the Rhinos 1999 triumph against London Broncos, the conversion from Sinfield brought up the 50 point mark.

Chris Chester speaking afterwards said his team had not performed as well as they have shown for the rest of the season, jubilant Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said there had been a desire to give legends Peacock, Sinfield and Leuluai the perfect Wembley send-off but that they will also still be determined to carry off the league leaders shield and the Grand Final trophy as well.

Penalties- Rovers 2 Leeds 3

40/20- Rovers 1 Leeds 0

Lance Todd Trophy Winner- Tom Briscoe

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Michael Buerk and Martin Bell comparison.

Michael Duncan Buerk was born on 18 February 1946 in Solihull (YouGov.co.uk). He was educated at Solihull School before going on to University of Sussex and then Cardiff Metropolitan University.

His first choice of career was the Royal Air Force (RAF) but his hopes were dashed for this when he failed an eyesight test at the selection centre.

He began his journalism career at the Bromsgrove Messenger, South Wales Echo and the Daily Mail before joining Radio Bristol in 1970 (BBC On this day).

He became a BBC news reporter in 1973 and went on to become the corporations South Africa correspondent in 1983 until his uncompromising reports about the brutalities of the regime there during the dying years of Apartheid led to him being expelled by the government of the day in 1987.

He is best known for his reports of the “Biblical famine” from Korem in Ethiopia which was first broadcast on 23 October 1984 and ultimately led to the Band Aid record Feed the World and the Live Aid concerts at Wembley Stadium, and in the USA on 13 July 1985.

Watching that report from Ethiopia you can tell that he slightly lowers his voice to give off a sense of hopelessness because of what he’s reporting about, sometimes he just goes silent and let’s the pictures do the talking telling the viewer everything they need to know.

He is also known for being the first news reporter on the BBC at the start of the new millennium when he made the bulletin at 01.00 on 1 January 2000.

He has crossed swords with the BBC on occasion including expressing disappointment at their decision to move the Nine o’ Clock News to its current slot at 10 o’ Clock (BBC On this day).

He has also openly criticized the “Pressure to deliver” that is put on today’s news reporters.

He has also been known to court controversy and the BBC had to issue an apology when he criticized the victim in the Ched Evans rape case for being drunk at the time.

He had to be airlifted out of Addis Ababa in 1991 after a munitions dump exploded, killing his Kenyan sound recordist, John Mathai, and injuring Mohammed Amin, the cameraman who had accompanied him to Ethiopia in 1984 (BBC On this day).

By the time of that incident he was turning his hand to presenting, and had become one of the main anchors for the BBC Nine o’ Clock News. He also began presenting non-news programmes such as BBC 1’s 999 and, on BBC Radio 4, the ethical debating programme, The Moral Maze, and interview series The Choice.

Other reporting credits in his portfolio include North sea oil begins to flow (3 November 1975), Duchess opens massive Selby coalfield (29 October 1976), Violence erupts at Irish hunger strike protest (18 July 1981), Queen fends off bedroom intruder (9 July 1982), Parents can stop school beatings (25 February 1982) and Europe grants emergency aid for Ethiopia (25 October 1984).

He announced his retirement from News Presenting at the end of 2002 but continued presenting other programmes beyond then (BBC On this day) and also entered the jungle for I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in 2014.

One of his famous quotes is, “It’s the little things that you notice in this cacophony of misery… The whole thing is emotionally overwhelming. “You take some sort of refuge in the mechanics of the job that you do… but there are limits, and it got very close to the limit of being able to function in the midst of all that, because you feel an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. “The only Europeans who were there were aid workers, and you weren’t, you were just a journalist, and at that particular moment I couldn’t think of a more useless occupation.”(BBC On this day)

Martin Bell OBE was born on 31 August 1938 in Redisham. He was educated at The Leys School in Cambridge and then went on to King’s College, Cambridge where he gained a First Class Honours degree in English and also served on the committee of the Cambridge University Liberal Club.

He didn’t gain a commission so served his two years of National Service as an acting corporal in the Suffolk Regiment, during which he was involved in active service in Cyprus during the emergency involving an Insurgent campaign by the Greek Cypriot militant group.

He joined the BBC as a reporter in Norwich as a 24 year old following his graduation in 1962. He was called to London three years later and over the next 30 years he reported from 80 countries and covered 11 conflicts (BBC On this day).

He made his name reporting from Vietnam in the 1960s and then went on to cover wars in the Middle East, Nigeria, Angola and Rwanda, he also had numerous assignments in Northern Ireland.

He won the Royal Television Society’s Reporter of the Year award in 1977 and again in 1993 and was awarded an OBE in 1992. He was let down by his “Lucky” white suit in 1997 when he was badly wounded by shrapnel whilst delivering a bulletin from Sarajevo (BBC On this day).

What he saw in Bosnia led to him making the surprise announcement that he was leaving the BBC and entering politics just 24 days before the 1997 General Election. His legendary fight for the safe Conservative seat at Tatton, on an independent, anti-corruption ticket, made him a symbol of the revolt against perceived sleaze in the governing Conservative party at the time. He won the seat with a majority of 11,077, overturning the tory majority of over 22,000 (BBC On this day).

Despite describing himself as an accidental MP he was persuaded to run for Parliament again in 2001 for the constituency of Brentwood and Ongar in Essex where the sitting Conservative MP Eric Pickles, much like Neil Hamilton in 1997, was embroiled in controversy, however this time he was unsuccessful and so ended his political career (BBC On this day).

He then made a brief return to TV journalism in 2003, providing analysis on the second invasion of Iraq for ITN’s Channel Five News, he compiled short stories from daily video coverage that gave a uniquely historical and humanitarian perspective that was in stark contrast to much of the mainstream media at the time.

He is now a Unicef Ambassador and describes himself as “Too old” for journalism and politics although he still comments now on the state of modern journalism (BBC On this day).

His reporting credits include, Moscow calls for UN action against Israel (13 June 1967), De Gaulle: Back me or sack me (24 May 1968), Civil Rights protestors defiant (10 January 1969), IRA Bomb kills six at Aldershot barracks (22 February 1972), ‘Anti IRA Spies’ break out of jail (11 March 1974), Dozens Die as Israel retaliates for Ma’a lot (16 May 1974), Mercenaries trial begins in Angola (11 June 1976), Sadat in US for Middle East talks (3 February 1978), Carter wins Panama Canal battle (18 April 1978), Nuclear Leak causes alarm in America (28 March 1979), Skylab tumbles back to earth (11 July 1979), Sandinista rebels take Nicaraguan capital (17 July 1979), Reagan beats Carter in landslide (4 November 1980), US Guilty of backing contras (27 June 1986), Superpower treaty to scrap warheads (18 September 1987), Irangate colonel avoids prison (5 July 1989), Earthquake hits San Francisco (17 October 1989), Failed Bosnian ceasefire threatens peace (25 July 1993) and US Peacekeepers pour into Bosnia (2 January 1996).

One of his famous quotes is, “It was once said of ITN’s Sandy Gall and myself that we had faces like the relief maps of the countries we were covering. The country in his case was Afghanistan and in mine was Bosnia, neither of which is blessed with regular features. But film star good looks were not then in the job description.”(BBC On this day)

He is also a member of the prestigious Frontline Club which is a club exclusively for war journalists.

Comparing the work of Michael Buerk and Martin Bell is like reading two bestsellers, both clearly put people at the forefront of their stories and let the pictures they are showing do the talking at different times. The main difference between them is in their voices, while Michael Buerk has a quite deep, almost forbidding, voice, Martin Bell is higher pitched and he tends to talk that much faster as well, both though are very clear and intelligible and very descriptive at times.

You will also find that they have much of their impact by keeping their sentences short and they always report the most newsworthy aspects of their stories.

In his report from Ethiopia on 23 October 1984 Michael Buerk would at times just go silent for 10 to 20 seconds and allow the pictures to do the talking for him and the only time you saw him was when he was interviewing an aid worker from Medicins Sans Frontieres.

Martin Bell on the other hand, certainly in his time in Bosnia, would do a piece to camera with troops either around him or behind him.

The times when you see Michael Buerk reporting with armed people near him are in his reports from South Africa when he covered the violence caused by Apartheid.

In his report for Newsnight about the death of Nelson Mandela Michael Buerk took us back to the days of Apartheid before Mandela was released from prison and also struck us with a film that showed two completely different sides to 1980s South Africa.

In the film he showed Apartheid related violence with guns being fired and riots, then in one swift move he took us to the part of South Africa he lived in while there, just 12 miles away from the violence, where there was a banquet in an exclusive white suburb which was a different world altogether to the townships.

After showing the banquet in very plush surroundings he suddenly took us back to the townships where death and violence reigned. Looking through Michael Buerk’s autobiography The Road Taken (Hutchinson, 2004), there are pictures that hold particular fascination like a photo of him in Ethiopia, one of him interviewing Margaret Thatcher and one of him stood with Nelson Mandela.

Both of them do appear to absolutely immerse themselves in their surroundings and genuinely give a voice to the people they are reporting on like the starving, the terrorized, the dead and dying.

There is no holding back from extremely disturbing images in their reports as well. Both show extreme violence, dead bodies and genocide and will also show both sides of the story no matter what the story as shown by Martin Bell when he shows troops firing on civilians.

One very interesting interview with Martin Bell, which can be viewed on You Tube, is when he is interviewed at The Frontline Club in which he talks about his career covering different conflicts in front of a packed audience.

They are both massively influential and still very well respected in their own ways. You can see impressions of the work they did in modern journalism and both are still very well spoken about by their colleagues and have both very much earned their respective places in journalism history and their influence will clearly continue to have an effect in time to come.

Current journalist’s such as Rageh Omaar and BBC News special correspondent Caroline Hawley have since picked up the baton from their elder statesmen and continue to show a similar style of reporting due, no doubt, to the massive influence of Michael Buerk and Martin Bell.

The awards and personal accolades that both have been awarded are clearly very deserved, looking back on their remarkable careers you can only be inspired by them especially when seeing how their work has stood the test of time and is still very relevant to this day.

A Day Out In The Capital

It was bright sunshine but freezing cold as I left my flat to walk to the Interchange. After picking up my paper from Chapel Street News I got to Hull Paragon Interchange in good time and found some of my fellow students waiting there.

Some of us got the 8:25 train and the rest got the 8:28 train, whilst Jools, Maria and Aaron were travelling on Megabus and meeting us in London.

Getting to London King’s Cross at 11:10 we quickly met up with Mr John Baron and waited for the rest of the group, on the 8:28 train, to arrive.

Once we were all there we made our way down to the Underground Station, got stung to the tune of £12 for a day ticket, and got on the train to Victoria Station where Jools, Maria and Aaron were meeting us to go to the offices of The Daily Telegraph.

Having eventually met them outside 111 Buckingham Palace Road we made our way into the very nondescript, but very imposing, building for our tour round.

The gentleman who showed us round was, I believe, called George, unfortunately we didn’t get his surname. He made it a very entertaining tour, allowing us to take some photos and telling us that he had worked there for 50 years but that he was 39 years old.

We were given a birds eye view of the working newsroom, before being taken downstairs to wander around it a bit later, he also pointed out what is known there as “The Golden Mile” where the carpet changes colour (from blue to gold) and so do the salaries because that’s where all the bosses work.

Also in that building he pointed out where the gym is and he showed us several different departments and some really innovative stuff like where it shows them how many readers they have reading, and which sections they’re reading at any given time, before leading us back out to where we first came in, via the dining/seating area.

After the tour we went back on the Underground to King’s Cross and myself, Jools, Maria and Aaron went to McDonald’s for lunch (naughty I know but I’ll soon work it off at the gym) while Liam stood outside having a cigarette and talking on his phone.

While we were in there a man came asking us if we had any spare money for him, we all told him we didn’t, then shortly afterwards when we were outside he came and asked us again, and again we explained that we still didn’t have any spare money.

We all met up again outside King’s Cross (where a little fruit tart will cost you £3) and made our way to the offices of The Guardian.

We weren’t given a tour here, instead we had a Q and A. First learning about CP Scott and reader numbers and the Scott Foundation, which is what keeps The Guardian trading, we then fired several questions at one of their journalists, in between being asked monotonously “Does that make any sense?”.

In all we were in there about an hour and a half and left there about 4:30 with some very useful information.

After this we had time to do whatever we wanted until making our way home, Jools, Maria and Aaron left to go and get their Megabus home, John, Jackie and Sophie went off to do some shopping and get a bite to eat and the rest of us decided to get on the Underground again and head to Leicester Square.

While there 7 of us decided to go to Chiquito’s for something to eat, while the other 2 went for a look round Chinatown. Having eaten we came back out into Leicester Square and were soon joined by the ladies who had been to Chinatown and we made our way back to King’s Cross to wait for our train home.

When we got to King’s Cross we found John, Jackie and Sophie waiting there as well so we had plenty to chat about while we waited for our respective trains (John was getting a different train) so the waiting time soon passed.

On the train we were waiting to leave when we heard a voice over the tannoy telling people to get off the train if they weren’t travelling because the train was now ready to leave.

The journey home was a bit of an experience because it was noted that travelling on the train with us were a bunch of Yuppies who had also been on the train that we were on this morning heading down to London, they had been drinking cans of lager and cider on the train this morning and they were drinking lager and Whisky this evening.

They were harmless enough but their constant playing of a game on a mobile phone and singing Oasis songs did try the patience a bit.

Finally made it home late this evening and just finishing this post as the bells of Holy Trinity strike 12:30.

Goodnight (after I’ve eaten and taken my medication).

Paris trip Final day

The final day of the trip was very long and certainly had its quirks. We started the day by doing all the remaining packing, then unpacking to get cases rearranged and packed again, then unpacking again to get certain things in certain places and repacking everything again before leaving the room to go and wait in reception with Errin and Katie.

After the excitement of the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company, the Arc De Triumph and the Seine Cruise I certainly just wanted the day to be just as ‘Normal’ as possible as we returned home to reality so we tried to relax before starting the long journey home to good old Hull.

We found a Chinese takeaway serving large portions for a small price for lunch and then left shortly after lunchtime to get to the station to check in, when we got to Paris Nord we found we were a bit early so we had to wait about half an hour before we could check in, at which time we were joined by the rest of the group who had travelled to Paris with us.

Once we were safely through passport control we found a few duty free shops although nowhere near as many as you find in an airport.

The toilets are of quite a high standard in the waiting area it has to be said.

Once we were called to board the Eurostar you could feel the excitement mount among all of us, my friend Kati and her partner were excitedly showing off the engagement ring that he had planted on her finger while we were in Paris and I must say I’m genuinely happy for them both.

On the train we all got comfortably seated and it almost felt like there would be a big cheer as we started moving but there wasn’t one as we all just settled in for the long journey back to England.

The Eurostar is about an hour and a half travelling from Paris to the Channel Tunnel and just before we entered it a voice came over the intercom saying we were about to enter the tunnel and saying we would be in it for about 20 minutes before emerging into England.

True to form we were 20 minutes under the English Channel before reaching English soil which suddenly reset all mobile phones to original settings and suddenly gave me a good signal on my phone so I got many notifications that I hadn’t been able to get before.

The train stopped and dropped off some passengers at Ebbsfleet International station before carrying on to London St. Pancras where we all disembarked. On arriving there it was noted that there was a man sat at a piano there playing Sonata Number 14, otherwise known as Moonlight Sonata, by Ludwig Van Beethoven.

We waited a short while but were ultimately told by the lovely Di Allerston that we could dash to get the next possible train if we wanted rather than waiting for the whole travelling group to come together, so Errin, Katie, Martin and Myself went in search of the next possible train.

We dashed to King’s Cross and I noticed there was a train leaving in a few minutes from Platform 2 that would drop us off at Doncaster so we could get a connecting train to Hull.

We dashed through the crowds to get to the train and just made it, we walked through several carriages but eventually gave up looking for seats as it seemed the train was absolutely crammed full.

Eventually a lady came and checked our tickets and told us we would get to Doncaster at 7:47pm and there would be a 7:55 train from there to Hull.

We stayed where we were stood at the end of the carriage until a few minutes later when the lady who had checked our tickets announced over the intercom to us that there were several seats on carriage D so that was it we were off in a flash making our way to carriage D to sit down.

Upon reaching Doncaster we got off the train which was carrying on to Leeds and Errin and Katie were off like the clappers to get to Platform 1 where the train to Hull was waiting. After a few stops myself, Katie and Martin decided to stand the rest of the way to keep the blood flowing in our legs after being sat down as much as we had been.

We finally got home to Hull at 8:58 and all went our separate ways.

The trip to Paris has been ultimately very rewarding and I can only hope that whoever reads these entries in my blog finds them enjoyable and informative.

Paris trip day 1

I was pleased to see some of our travelling party when I arrived at the railway station at 7:15 this morning. As the group gathered we decided to make our way to the platform to get on the train to Doncaster.

After a quick journey we changed trains and headed off to London King’s Cross. When we got there some people wanted to go and find Platform 9 and 3/4 of Harry Potter fame but they didn’t get to see it which caused a certain amount of disappointment.

Before too long we were heading over to St. Pancras international station to catch the Eurostar to Paris. It is very conveniently marked on the floor where your carriage is so you can’t go wrong

Travelling Eurostar was certainly an experience, not so much because it was my first time but, because I was surrounded by a bunch of young ladies, one of which thought I wasn’t a student, who proceeded to compare notes on boyfriends, amounts of clothes in their cases, and the colour of them, and what they are going to do when they graduate.

On leaving the station the train went into a big tunnel so one such young lady thought that the channel tunnel lasted all the way from London to Paris. When we came out of the first tunnel a few minutes later and she realised we were still very much in England she said she was happy that the tunnel didn’t run all the way to Paris.

Before too long we were in the Channel Tunnel and heading under the sea towards France. When we emerged from the tunnel in Northern France the ladies sat near me were all wondering if we were still in England and, on discovering that cars were driving on the wrong side of the road, the one who earlier had said she was happy that the tunnel didn’t run all the way from London to Paris, announced she was unhappy about her first experience of going through the channel tunnel.

When we arrived at Paris Nord we were soon out of the station and into the fresh air (or as fresh as it can be in a major city). We followed Di and the other lecturers as we picked our way through the French capital to our hotel, unfortunately nobody seemed to be sure in which direction we should be heading so some time was wasted trying to find it.

After a few scares thanks to the French drivers, and Broadie declaring that he doesn’t get Paris because of the people trying to cross the road without a green man at the crossroads (which there definitely is) we made it to the hotel, called Hotel Paris Louis Blanc.

Having got settled in we all met back down in reception to go to the Paris Catacombes. Looking round them was extremely interesting and also very sad but is certainly very much worth visiting if you have chance.

After visiting the catacombes myself and one of my room mates Martin went to Buffalo Grill for tea, we each had a full 3 course meal before heading back to the hotel.

Martin Green Presentation

City of Culture company Chief Executive Martin Green has delivered a presentation of his previous work and ongoing work to students, lecturers and officials of Hull School of Art and Design in the Horncastle Building.

Featuring much on his experience as Executive Producer for the opening and closing ceremonies for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Mr Green laid out extremely impressive credentials to a captivated audience as to why he is the man to deliver the City of Culture celebrations in 2017.

“Ceremonies show who we were, who we are and, most importantly, who we wish to be,” Mr Green told the audience.

He showed videos of the opening ceremony for the London Olympics and the Beijing Olympics as well as videos of the preparations for the opening ceremony in 2012.

Being both engaging and entertaining he explained, sometimes in quite comedic ways, how he helped deliver on promises that had been made about the games, he also spoke of his involvement with the o2 Arena.

He then carried on by explaining about what is expected for Hull 2017 saying “We’re not at the end of the road, we’re at the beginning of it, we’re the gateway to Yorkshire,”

Mr Green also said that a volunteering initiative will begin at the start of 2016 because of the size and complexity of such an operation.

Taking questions from the audience he continued to engage with everybody there and still had time, despite his busy schedule, to talk to people afterwards, both inside and outside the building.

One man from the south bank said; “When Hull won the bid I was dreading it, I thought typical, more money to Hull and still nothing for us, but after today I’m actually genuinely looking forward to it,”

Mr Green also explained that Hull will do City of Culture in a unique way because it is a unique place.

“I believe culture can move mountains,

“The bid was good, it won, we’re curating what is in the bid, that’s our central act,” He concluded.