I love a slow burning film. No Country For Old Men style plodding noir is something I can get completely lost in.
You have to be in the right mood for one though, and I woke up today feeling refreshed and ready to meet the world on my own relaxed terms. I wanted to go on a little trip to somewhere languidly nice, and I had just the place in mind.
Over the last month I’ve gotten maybe a bit too used to a life lived at the pace of my own heartbeat, and to the hours of my day dictated only by my sleep cycles. Lately they seem to vary between really really short and quite long – which I guess is just my body taking as much as it does or doesn’t need.
Oddly this seems a bit hedonistic, and has caused me to feel strangely guilty. I’ve been used to getting up for work for so many years that a perverse situation has developed after being made redundant where I actually feel bad about sleeping well and getting up when I’m not tired any more.
Maybe it’s this guilt that’s driven me to go outside so much and push ahead with my plans to get fit. It feels when I do this that at least one part of my life is structured and that I’m making progress.
Today (primarily for this reason) I decided that I’d build on my previous trip to Birmingham by NOT driving to the train station outside of Warwick and doing the whole trip under my own steam. It’s become REALLY important to me that I remove as much reliance on my car as possible. Proof positive that this is happening can be found in the fact that after three and a half weeks since my last fill up my car still has over half a tank of petrol.
The plan this morning was that I’d go to Birmingham to see ‘Hell or High Water‘ at The Electric powered only by feet (and a couple of trains). However this was not the ONLY thing I wanted to do. When I went to Birmingham the last time I hadn’t realised (until a few people pointed it out to me on Facebook and WordPress) that the Central Library hadn’t been nuked altogether – it had been replaced with a modern one in Centenary Square.
After getting off the train and purchasing my tickets early at the Electric box office (saving 45p by not booking online 😄) I wandered off to the library via theTesco Metro behind New Street. I managed to hit the reduced food counter at just the right time and got a bottle of water, some cooked salmon, ham and a few organic apples for breakfast and lunch.
I hadn’t really planned to eat it anywhere in particular – and knew nothing about the library – but as I got closer I realised there was a balcony half way up and people seemed to be wandering about up there, looking down at me.
My initial lukewarm feelings about the ‘marmite’ external aesthetics began to mellow. It looked quite nice actually and was slowly growing on me.
It grew on me LOTS more as I progressed inside.
If you’re no fan of vertigo (I was ok but tightly gripping a LOT of barriers and trying not to look straight down!) I’d advise that when you visit you focus on the stairs or the lifts and avoid the escalators. These appear to delight in showing you the ground floor, no matter how high you go up. From some places you can see from the top almost to the bottom.
It does look stunning though. It’s a fantastic space designed for quiet contemplation and exploration. I LOVE IT!
The outside decked and seated area was a bit breezy today – and was one of the reasons I don’t miss the old days and having flowing golden locks of long hair whipping me to death.
I used to look a bit like Thor. True story.
The views were expansive – but I think ‘developing’ is probably the best way to describe the vista. Birmingham appears to be undergoing open heart surgery.
From what I can see on the various billboards the results will be impressive – but it’s hard not to feel a bit conflicted about this re-generation at the cost of £500,000,000 when so many doorsteps surrounding some of the city’s iconic spaces are full of the homeless, begging, sleeping, or just looking depressingly lost.
It’s disquieting to say the least – but I don’t think it’s a new problem. I remember this from when I used to come here as a young man. Somehow the poverty back then seemed like it ‘fitted’ though, and almost went hand in hand with the run down looking Digbeth coach station and the concrete eyesore that was New Street and the Bullring.
Maybe it’s a testament to how much has been done to structurally improve the centre that this rampant homelessness now seems so jarring and out of place.
On the way past lots of big issue sellers was the mailbox – providing a sharp contrast to the consequences of economic austerity with the exclusive shops and concessions contained within.
Oddly this space seemed also affected by recession, and appeared partially drained of life and commerce, with the lower floor almost appearing as a modern art installation. Two enormous bespoke benches were flanked by almost no shops and I felt like I was in the bottom of the Tate Modern rather than a mall.
However, my temporarily moody view of the world faded when I noticed on the third floor in the reception area of the BBC studios there was a Dalek!!!
It’s difficult to explain why to someone who doesn’t like Dr Who – but seeing a Dalek makes me feel like a five year old. I almost skipped through the front door into the BBC reception and started taking photos, much to the amusement of the security guard, who asked if I wanted to see a TARDIS.
‘What?! No way!!! You have a TARDIS? Where?!’ I said, managing (I think) to maintain an air of adult calm and composure.
He pointed at the lift. It was painted to look like a TARDIS.
‘Oh.’ I said. ‘The lift.’
I took a photo of it to make sure he wasn’t disappointed.
‘No – if you go upstairs in the lift there’s a TARDIS.’
‘Woohoo!!!’ I replied (further maintaining my grown-up demeanour) pressing the button and taking photos of the TARDIS LIFT DOOR OPENING!!!!
I headed upstairs and sure enough there was a full sized TARDIS, and some iconic character heads, including Davros!
After a few more photos I went back downstairs to the security guard, who smiled knowingly at me.
‘Happy?’ He said – his arms still folded and his legs slightly apart in the standard security guard pose.
‘I really really really am!‘ I giggled and grinned like a Cheshire Cat as I left the building.
The next stop (via a bizarre Starbucks for coffee where all the baristas were dressed like cowgirls) was The Electric Cinema.
The atmosphere here took me right back to picture houses of old and I instantly felt that spending money here was worth it – just to keep this slice of history alive. The Art Deco touches, hand made slices of cake at the box office, the quirky cocktails, the old style tickets and the plush red velvet seats oozed history and charm.
I’d been looking forward to this for AGES and I wasn’t disappointed.
I had booked a front ‘sofa’ – which was in reality an armchair, and not a particularly wide one at that.
However, when I look at seats these days I still tend to view them with the mindset of a man who has not lost any weight. This seat some months ago would have been a BIG problem. Not any more though. Sure – It was a little ‘fitted’ – but also felt comfortably ‘snug’.
I had the front row to myself so I put my feet up on the leather pouffe and chilled out.
The film was excellent, and the cinema going experience was about as close to perfect (in my humble opinion) as you’ll get. Plus I made my way there under my own terms with no car and no feelings that anything was a strain.
As I type I’m on my way back to Warwick on the train for the last part of my walking, the mile or so back to my house, and we’ve just reached my stop.
Back in a minute.
Well – now I’m home, and I’ve been looking at my activity log. Today was a busy one from a walking perspective – and I’ve been keeping a close eye on what Apple Watch has been counting. I’m very confident indeed that its stats today reflect real world effort.
There has been some interesting discussion (after my request for input on my last post) regarding my walking and whether I should take the Apple Watch figures and add them up to count toward my virtual walk along the length of the U.K.
No-matter where people shared their thoughts the common themes in the feedback were ones of huge support and positivity about my progress – which I’m always thankful for, as it really does help when there’s such spirited and well meaning energy being thrown at me from all directions.
I have decided to take the figures as they are – even with their margin for error and count them toward my goal. Every month I’ll add up the totals and see how close I am to virtual John o Groats.
At the moment – since I started Slimming World (from April to August inclusive) I have walked 349.5 miles.
Although there are slightly different figures everywhere for the true distance on the internet I’m following Wikipedia which says the distance by road (roughly around when Ian Botham would have done it in 1985) is 847 miles.
I therefore have 497.5 miles to go.
Piece of cake internet. I can do it, and I’m going to have a lot of fun along the way. You’re welcome to join me for the journey, although I might stop a few times on the way. Man can’t live without coffee and the cinema after all…