1:20pm. Alighted Deansgate to have a look at the Metrolink works. It looks just like a heavy rail works program.
1:30pm. Back to the station - and here comes a train. It's a Class 142 Railbus, still with bus type seats inside. On good track it's quite tolerable.
1:35pm. We terminate at Manchester Oxford Road. There's no possible reason not to go right through to Piccadilly except for lack of capacity there. No doubt there's some historical reason for having two big stations - all the more reason for having transport planning integrated with town planning and separated from both politics and transport operation. Not as easy in the old world as in the new of course. Incidentally, this trip was from Liverpool - a long trip on a Railbus.
1:46pm. Looking around we see that the whole railway is elevated above street level, on a brick bridge. Obviously done in the days when railways made vast amounts of money. It fits nicely with the character of the city - but the properties in the shadow of the bridge are run-down and undesirable. There may be something in the argument against elevated railways. But the problem seems to be in the narrow gap of no-mans-land between the building and the bridge - so somehow that needs to be filled in.
1:53pm. Time to head home. The next service to Piccadilly is a Northern service to the airport, run with a Class 156 Sprinter set. The toilets at Oxford Road station are just like station toilets at home - which is probably why they have nice but pay-for toilets at Piccadilly.
2:06pm. Nearly an hour to the next Buxton train. Time for some Stockport shuttles! BritRailPass rocks!
2:10pm. We get on a Cross Country Class 221 set - like a Virgin Voyager. Must look into the history of that.
2:42pm. Stockport - a Class 323 back to Man Picc. Still love that sound!
3:02pm. ARGH! Miscalculated and missed the Buxton train! Next try, race it to Stockport. Not much chance but worth a shot.
4:53pm. We didn't make it and are now an hour late for rehearsal. That is profoundly embarrassing, it has NEVER happened before.
6pm. Rehearsal is finished. Lots of stuff has been reworked, which doesn't make it any easier. We aren't bothering with the show tonight so there's time to experiment with the Britischerwurst (British pork sausages) Rosuav brought home from Aldi. I don't care for human food but Yes Minister is always worth commemorating.
8pm. Private TBJ rehearsal. Highly necessary. Comes across fairly well.
10:30pm. Time to go to the festival club! We start with a sing-through of some of the chorus bits from Mikado (great fun) and then the St Andrews group give us a cabaret of songs from the less popular shows - Grand Duke, Utopia, Yeomen, Patience and one from Gondoliers. It sounds like the audience don't know Patience very well.
12:05am. Home - tomorrow's a big day.
4/8 8:30am. We're up and ready for rehearsal. No more lateness, not for another five years at least.
9:10am. We're first! That's more normal.
11:30am. Home for lunch. And how about writing some notes for a presentation to Smartpax?
3pm. Dress Rehearsal. Unpleasant surprise - the set isn't according to what we've rehearsed with. Last minute reblocking...
4:50pm. That was one tough DR. At home I'd say the rest of hell week will have it perfect for opening night, but here we don't have that luxury. Midga's looking reasonably unstressed about it though.
6pm. Here we go... make it a good job on the costume and makeup Midga, you're dancing with Elise!! An honour indeed, enough on its own to make this trip worthwhile!
8:15pm. And that was the show... it seems unreal. Just here and gone in half a week. As we leave, one of the stage crew, who had previously ordered Midga away when set was being moved, started ordering Elise around the same way. She wouldn't have any of that sort of thing, of course... but it's totally weird to have that sort of social distinction between cast and crew. At home if there was a spare body on the stage the crew would give it a job.