This week, in a city suddenly emptied of its students and crammed with Christmas visitors and nervous interviewees, has had its moments of misery and fun. For the majority of it I was sick, the weather was below zero, and everything was weary. In a moment of divine inspiration, a friend told me about Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s six episode show The Trip (directed by Michael Winterbottom) and I’ve watched it compulsorily every since.
In The Trip Steve Coogan has booked a trip around the north of England to write up various restaurants and pubs for the Observer magazine. Though this was planned to be shared with his girlfriend Misha, in the face of their separation he invites Rob Brydon to join him. This show combines favourite elements: improvised comedy, impressions, pompous conversation, meta-television (how much are the actors themselves?), hours spent over food and wine, Wordsworth and Coleridge, beautiful wintry northern landscapes, and inevitable piano-accompanied melancholy.
As a result, I’ve found myself itching for peregrination (new favourite word: meaning journey, travels, rambling, random movements, pilgrimage). I’ve toyed with the idea of catching a coach and going to Yorkshire for two days, wandering the heaths and moors, and warming myself by the fire. Singing Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights. Being soaked in solitariness and loneliness, bleakness and bareness. This is only accentuated by the medieval English history I’m reading: the cold clammy castles, the marches, and the Percys of Northumberland.
This is obviously as romanticised as I always get over the unknown: but I think I’d like a bit of it – old and creaky, miserable and shabby, with the promise of hot food. Of course I’d need company to enjoy the hours of eating. Most Harris Mancunians have gone home; there’ll be five of us left this week. In the wake of a sudden stillness, I suppose it is the poets one is left with.
So I’ll take a leaf out of Rob Brydon’s book with the beginning of Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey:
Five years have passed; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur. Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
Keep your eye out for The Trip: If you’re in the U.K. you can find it on BBC iplayer, and it’s been edited into a full-length film to be released in the U.S. in 2011.