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RNCM’s End of the Line at Piccadilly. Or: Don’t finish up with a Bay Tree

Mark Garner gets dewy eyed over trains, kisses and classical music

Written by . Published on July 6th 2009.


RNCM’s End of the Line at Piccadilly. Or: Don’t finish up with a Bay Tree

A lifetime ago I kissed a girl on platform eight at Piccadilly Station.

I was remembering the moment as clearly as if it had happened five minutes ago - as I sat on my balcony drinking a freshly brewed coffee, contemplating a freshly broken relationship. Remembering that kiss I cried; the Town Hall clock joined in, the single, solitary, lonely sob of one o’clock on a Sunday afternoon.

The Orchestra’s impossibly young cast of thousands with a talent far beyond their years, tuned up, tuned in and took off with an organised chaos that sang into areas it never would in a Concert Hall. Including Kentucky Fried Chicken, the brass section taking the pink cowboy hats completely by surprise.

Yes, Mr. Editor, I know you asked for two hundred words on the Royal Northern College of Music’s (RNCM) production of The End of the Line (A Brief Encounter), an Aria for Eight Voices performed live in Piccadilly Railway Station, but bear with me.

I started preparing for the review thinking I shouldn’t be doing it. Feeling a bit of a fraud really, as how could I critique a work such as this, slaved over by world class musicians young and old and brought to us in a railway station decanting Saturday evening hen parties, ready to make their assault on Manchester. In short, cheap skirts and clunky, obscene shoes they smelled cheaply of pop stars’ bank accounts. Fiddling with their hems every ten yards, they wouldn’t be so fussed five hours and ten Wickeds later.

People moved through the orchestra and the station baffled, bemused and in some cases, delighted. The Orchestra’s impossibly young cast of thousands with a talent far beyond their years, tuned up, tuned in and took off with an organised chaos that sang into areas it never would in a Concert Hall. Including Kentucky Fried Chicken, the brass section taking the pink cowboy hats completely by surprise.

Thirty years ago I met Amanda getting on, as it was called in those days, The Pullman Express in Euston. We had lunch together on a bright, sunny Friday afternoon, as the train rolled along. We already knew each other, we mingled back home with our partners.

We fell in love by the time the train had passed through Watford. For two and a half hours we talked, laughed and loved each other in a way that only happens when there is a barrier between you. That journey went on for an eternity. This woman was everything I wanted out of life. Bright, beautiful, blue eyed and blond, with a filthy giggle and a sharp wit. On platform eight I went to kiss her on the cheek. It was ten minutes past three and it turned into a lover’s kiss, one that came flooding back to me after all those years. I can remember no other kiss as powerfully as I do that one, being jostled by people and, less forgivingly, time.

The tears I shed an hour ago weren’t for the freshly broken relationship. They were for the brief encounter that I hadn’t had the balls to carry through.

The End of the Line … is a musical installation in Manchester Piccadilly Station about time and travel and all those relationships that begin and end in the anonymity of railway stations. Four couples identically dressed from the era of Brief Encounter (the movie), explore a relationship through the moment, through memory, and through reflection on the experience of rail travel between then and now...’

So, for you classical music geeks who would accuse me of being a fraud and ranting that I shouldn’t be reviewing stuff I know little of, for this particular Aria I happen to be expert.

And for you people who took part, you gave us all a great experience. You have my thanks for those tears and that memory. Don’t make the mistake I made all those years ago, grab life and run with it, don’t look back. You don’t want to be on the balcony with me. Bay trees, good looking or not, are no substitute for the love of your life.

The End of the Line (Brief Encounter) took place at Piccadilly Station on Saturday 4 July and was performed by RNCM. You can download Dominic Power’s libretto for The End of the Line (A Brief Encounter) from www.rncm.ac.uk

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18 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Little Bit of HeavenJuly 6th 2009.

My goodness, that's one way of doing a concert review.

HenriettaBlueJuly 6th 2009.

Dearie us. All three of us girls in the office started crying at this one.

JonathanJuly 6th 2009.

I have a suggestion. At the end of the year take three hundred of the best pictures on the site and publish them in a book with the 250 column as the anchor of the day by day format. I'd buy the Manchester Confidential Year.

Colin CopulationJuly 6th 2009.

Tomorrow: Gordo's first shag

mark mJuly 6th 2009.

maybe he wonders about your grammar?

VJuly 6th 2009.

Sir,I think you've reviewed this perfectly, its about what the piece means to each individual who was listening, the memories of journeys, experiences, and more. As Victor Hugo said, "Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent."

JohnJuly 6th 2009.

I suppose this means that your next restaurant review will be entitled "Beef Encounter"

JaneybabyJuly 6th 2009.

Mark Garner! I know who that was you old Devil, I am going to tell her. I always wondered why she always asked after you. Mardarse, you should have gone after her. And she is still fabulously good looking

LongTallJillyJuly 6th 2009.

best Garner/Gordo piece for ages. Aaah..

FrancineJuly 6th 2009.

Is this that drunken fool who wonders around town being a twat ?

emma graceJuly 6th 2009.

I'm filling up here Gordo!!

PathosJuly 6th 2009.

Love wakes men, once a lifetime each; They lift their heavy lids, and look; And, lo, what one sweet page can teach, They read with joy, then shut the book.

HowieJuly 6th 2009.

Great piece of work that my friend. As much as I wish you eternal happiness, like most artists you do perform better when starving (emotionally if not nutritionally) in your atelier.

AnonymousJuly 6th 2009.

Best Gordo story in ages, more about music and his past loves please!

GKWJuly 6th 2009.

Ah, but can he remember 2 weeks ago ?

EugeneJuly 6th 2009.

This was TOP. Well done to everyone who worked on putting it together.It was a little hard to hear at first, but really got going. What a great atmosphere...i was sipping a G & T out of a can ! Felt like Buckinghamshire council estate chic. Oh, the good times.

JonathanJuly 6th 2009.

Actually do it by week, with all the 250s for that week on ahead of four pages of images.

gordonisamoronJuly 6th 2009.

Mrs Isamoron and myself were there and it was indeed a strangely moving experience. I think Mark hits on the essence of it wonderfully. Mind you, I love all those amazingly talented boys and girls at the RNCM. Get yourselves along there.

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