About twenty years ago I was auditioning for something in Coventry. I have no real recollection of the audition itself, where it was held or if I was offered the position. The thing I do remember is having the following day to explore the city as the next audition was still a couple of days away and there was no point going home.
I had chosen a cheap B&B which was by a main road, a short walk from the city centre. It was a morning in winter, the rain was pouring and I had planned a lie in. Unfortunately, my room was where the towels and bedding were kept so from about 9am onwards there was a string of disturbances from the landlady getting pillow cases or face cloths while hinting (not so gently) I should get out of her way. This was an example of getting what you pay for.
My other memory of that visit was getting a minor electric shock from an exhibit in the near empty transport museum. I reported this event to somebody working there who helpfully told me ‘it must have been static’ and ‘it happens sometimes’.
This week I found myself back in Coventry with time to kill. Once again it was raining but this time I had a plan. I was here for the City of Culture festival, I went to the last one in Hull four years ago and was very impressed, so feeling braver following my second covid vaccination, I hoped to repeat my experience.
As I got off the bus I noticed a teenage girl who was screaming down the road at a boy around her age who was walking quickly away from her. I am not sure what led to this tirade but it ended with her screaming the brilliant phrase “you are the blood clot in my life”. I enjoyed this insult so much I could have broken out into spontaneous applause, but I feel my actions would have been unwanted.
This time, I headed to the cathedral where there would be a concert and three exhibitions. Due to the ‘current situation’ pre-booking tickets was essential through their website. It was a time-consuming process, an account needed setting up, password created and lots of boxes to fill in. Anyway, I was prepared with my ‘exhibition and entry pass’ for 1:30pm.
Part of the reason I had chosen the cathedral to visit (other than it was free and very little else was open yet) was an exhibition which sounded so bizarre I just had to go. I love an unusual museum. I have previously been to a pencil museum in Cumbria, somewhere in Cheshire that had over 600 cuckoo clocks and was a regular visitor to a place that specialises in cat pottery (much of which is broken) in Norfolk. My eye had been drawn to “Concrete Collar by Tom Illesley… explore the beauty and complexity of Coventry’s ring-road in a unique photography exhibition”. A whole exhibition about the complexity of a ring road? I can see why pre-booking is so necessary
Due to the rain and vast amounts of construction work happening everywhere, I had exhausted the delights of Coventry by 12:45pm. Rather than risk death at the transport museum, I headed to the Cathedral thinking I could loiter outside for a while. Instead the lady at the entrance waved me in with a smile. She wasn’t interested in seeing the ‘exhibition and entry pass’ I spent so long applying for. It became fairly obvious this is because there were about four other people in the whole building (and some of those were staff). Sadly, the lure of the ring road exhibition on a wet Monday afternoon had proved very easy to resist for the good people of Coventry. Shame.
I sincerely hope in another twenty years, I will get round to visiting Coventry again, when the building work is finished and it isn’t raining. Perhaps it will be to see something called ‘the blood clot in my life’. That would make me very happy.