TODAY is my second Monday without an office to go to. Perhaps in time this will become the new normal. At present it still feels oddly dislocating, but the weekend was good, combining music and a lovely coastal walk.
Elvis Costello put on a great show in Harrogate on Saturday, coming on stage in a white fedora or some other sort of white hat, tipped at a jaunty angle. He was wearing a three-piece suit and his patter and anecdotes belonged to an old-time showman as much as a rock star, part Buddy Holly, part Eric Morecambe. But then Costello has always has his own complicated shadows, to adopt one of this own song titles, and a long solo concert, two-and-a-half hours, saw him navigate many of these shadows, showing his dark and light sides.
Costello is a still in great voice and he is a fully committed performer, rolling out song after song, sometimes acoustic, sometimes electric, then at the piano, but rarely less than electrifying to watch. For this observer, the highlights included Shipbuilding, Watching The Detectives, Alison, Pump It Up (that one rattled the dust in the mental attic) and, strangely She – the oddity being that I’ve always hated Costello’s version of that old song, yet played live with an acoustic guitar it really worked. No Indoor Fireworks or I Want You, but the man does have so many songs.
Someone in our party said that Costello should have done a cover version of a song with local links, suggesting I Predict A Riot. Surely in Harrogate that would have been I Predict A Polite Disagreement.
Then on Sunday a group of us, friends who like to walk, went to Ravenscar near Scarborough, and followed the old railway track to Robin Hood’s Bay. We had fish and chips, or fish and no chips, or chips and no fish, bought sizzling hot, and sat above the beach to eat. I had the works, loved every mouthful and carried a lead belly for the rest of the day. After lunch, we walked back along the beach and then up by the youth hostel, and climbed up towards Ravenscar, passing by the alum works.
As we headed for tea opposite where the station used to be, we passed the outlines of what might have been. Ravenscar is sometimes still known as the “town that never was”, thanks to ambitious Victorian plans to turn the place in a resort to rival Whitby and Scarborough. The Ravenscar Estate Company bought the area in 1895 for £10,000, laid drains and built new roads. But the north-easterly gales that can hit the area saw off potential buyers, and by 1913 the Ravenscar Estate Company went into liquidation, leaving only ghosts.
A lovely walk, with a hidden past. My own past is not so hidden, but it is just as gone.