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Thursday, 24 November 2011

Thursday already, and I am way behind with my work. The trip to North Yorkshire (Tuesday and Wednesday) took a chunk out of the week, but I managed to get home early enough yesterday to write another 1,000 words for the tenth chapter of the fifth Mike Pannett book. Man severs arm in steelworks; farmer falls on harrow and spears his leg; thieves rip lead off a church roof. Action-packed stuff. I also found time to sound off about the new breed of rapacious directors and CEOs (see yesterday’s posting), and write 1,000 words which will be the basis of the home page on my new website, which ought to be up around Christmas-time.

However, I have neglected to talk about the outing in town on Sunday evening. As we made our way down the hill towards the railway arches the pedant within me was starting to wonder why a display such as we were about to witness should be called ‘Durham Lumiere’ rather than Durham Light - although I am willing to concede that  that does sound like a brand of beer.

Town was absolutely heaving, so much so that once we got down North Road and up to the Market Place we were trapped in a shuffling convoy, controlled by stewards and directed at intervals to the next display. So we stood for forty minutes looking at the plastic bubble

and waiting for the blowers to start up, whereupon clouds of fake snow eddied around inside it. Very nice, but not something you’d care to watch for longer than… thirty seconds or so?

From there we shuffled our way painfully slowly towards the cathedral green. This was one of the pieces de resistance, the projection of successive images onto the cathedral walls, within accompanying sounds. I suppose that of one had had a programme of events it might have made a little more sense, but we didn’t - and were left to surmise that we were looking at a potted history of the building, indeed of Christianity’s progress through the north-east.

So we got St Cuthbert (634-687 AD), dying on one of the Farne Islands, and his body being carted about by his acolytes in search of a suitable burial place. (Miraculously, the body managed not to decompose - and ever since I heard that I have been trying to eradicate from my mind the wicked thought that it had something to do with the north-east climate.) Initially the saintly remains were buried at Chester-le-Street, later at Ripon, in God’s Own Country (I mean Yorkshire), finally the site of the present cathedral in Durham.

The crowds around the cathedral were well managed; after the show we were moved on through the narrow streets that lead down to the river. This is where we encountered the rather elegant flying figures, one of whom I featured yesterday.

Along the riverside they’d set up a cascade from one of the bridges and illuminated it  in varying shades of red, blue and purple. Once again I told myself I must get into the guts of my camera and exploit its full potential.

Back in town there were a number of clever installations dotted about, including this rather amusing clock, its image projected onto a wall from a good hundred yards away:

We had arrived in town around five-thirty; we left four hours later. We had prepared a dinner back home, but by now it was far too late to think abut going back and serving it. It was one of those nights when we were so hungry, and the hour so advanced, that fish and chips were the only answer.


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