Nicholas Quirke was in high spirits on a sunny 22nd May and pleased to be spending quality time with his siblings.Traffic on the roads was slow and it took him over an hour to get to Godalming and his sisters house though they still had time for a couple of games of casino, which he won, before heading off to London, in the company of his niece Megan, to his Brothers exhibition. Kate was suffering with a trapped nerve and found it easier to drive which made an interesting change for him being a passenger. They listened to the Podcast he had recorded with Penny and he was given some good constructive feedback. The exhibition opening hours in the week were up to 12.00 so they were privileged to have the gallery space on the Fulham Road to themselves. Nicholas had seen most of the painting and prints before, particularly as some of them were prints from Michael’s earlier work. But he was interested to see them in a gallery and particularly as it was the space where his own recent purchase had hung. There was much merriment amongst them as they discussed the work and the sudden quirk Nicholas had developed of slamming doors.  They enjoyed a long lunch and conversation in a nearby Italian restaurant before heading back to Godalming for an evening at the Yvonne Arnaud theatre seeing ‘This House’ and featuring his pal Miles Richardson. Their party included Peter and Megan and a friend of theirs Sheri. The production was nearly 3 hours with an interval and he did feel very tired but it was a stimulating play focusing on the political landscape of the years from 1974 – 78 from the viewpoint of the Tory and Labour Whips offices. Chaotic, fun and enlivening. Miles invited them to join him at the party the theatre had laid on for their first night. It was a brief and fleeting meeting but quality. Nicholas was feeling exhausted after spending yet another day traveling up to London and was happy to head home after dropping off the family. It was predictably another late night.

 

Nicholas Quirke was lurking in 1979 and 1981 on 21st May 2018 as he flexed his creative muscles and started work on a Podcast project with Penny Parker. They were plundering his diaries from the early 80’s as a source for a humorous discourse on narcissism, social mores, tastes, intolerance, politics, self analysis, misanthropy and more. They recorded two excerpts which they found hilarious to record and decided to distribute to friends for a more objective opinion before launching on the public in June. As Nicholas walked into town he met Cath with whom he and Peta were working on production for December and they had a quick discussion about where they were in the planning. It was with a sombre mood that he approached The Buddhist centre for a Funeral Celebration of his neighbor Bruce’s life. It was a wonderful ceremony with shrines, music, poetry reflection and chanting. On his way home he was lured into the Bluebird Tea store and came out with some Oolong and a Matcha tea kit. as he passed the Duke of Yorks he checked out what films were showing and he saw they were screening a documentary called Filmworker about Leon Vitalli who gave up a promising film career to be Stanley Kubrick’s bitch for 30 years. It was a fascinating  story and Nicholas was particularly delighted to hear him debunk the conspiracy theory that Kubrick faked the Apollo moon landings and that The Shining is his coded film confession. As he left the cinema he saw that David Shrigley, Guest Director of the 2018 Brighton Festival, was screening a documentary film about the making of the opera he wrote the libretto for, ‘Pass the Spoon’ and was called ‘ A Shit Odyssey’. He turned round and went right back in. Nicholas loved the cheap, crap aesthetics of the piece but was rather bored by the attention seeking behavior of the lead performer. In the midst of this he was caught up  in a rage caused by the problems he was now encountering having sent a small package to Denver which never arrived with Terry and appeared to be on its way back to him as something happened to the address. It was on this note of anger that he retired to his bed.

Nicholas Quirke was finding his fellow travellers on the road on 20th May unusually hostile and aggressive towards him on this beautiful summer sunshine day and was finding it difficult to contain his rage and language. With his schedule out of synch, he’d missed a weekly catch up with Cathie on Saturday and to ensure a meeting they both squeezed in a visit to Cafe Nero’s at 8.30 am. From there Nicholas drove to London and Kensal Rise to meet Diana whom he had not seen since meeting in New York in December. It was wonderful to see Diana again and he was also able to meet her lovely daughter Marissa. They had come to the UK for a holiday and it had unusually timed with the Royal Wedding and they had gone and camped out at Windsor to have a good view. As they were North London it seemed a good idea to go to Hampstead and the heath. As always, Nicholas felt a frisson of excitement at returning to his former stomping ground. As he parked the car Nicholas experienced his first confrontation with a car who honked at him for daring to stop and find somewhere to park.  Lunch was at the charming Louis which still looked exactly the same. It was a charming environment to eat, but the service was inattentive and not to Diana’s exacting American standards. A walk on Parliment Hill to absorb the views led to a new discovery of George Orwell’s house which he had passed countless times in his youth and had no idea it was  situated there. Memories of living in Southill Park crowded in on him and as he saw the hundreds of people enjoying the Heath in the sun he realised how privileged he had been to have lived with such easy access to such a beautiful spot. Cole had recommended an Exhibition at the Barbican, ‘Another Kind of Life’ so they journeyed into the City. It was not without traffic incident and his language became more colorful with each transgression.  The offense culminated when Nicholas, who had ‘Right of Way’ was faced with a driver speeding up and driving straight for him till he had no choice but to reverse. How smug and the other driver looked as he drove off, waving to them. They were a little late to meet Cole who was in great spirits and excited to be showing his old man around the exhibits. It was an exceptional collection of photographs from artists, whose work focused on the marginalised in society. It was powerful and moving and though they were there for nearly two hours still did not get to see everything as they were swiftly moved out at closing time. It had been wonderful to see Diana again, reminiscing and attempting to locate old friends through social media, it was time for a reunion of Temps Corner. He was home by 9pm and was able to get a mercifully early sleep.

 

 

Nicholas Quirke was feeling exhausted on 19th May. He felt that the past 2 weeks had been lived at a furious pace and the price he found himself paying was that the symptoms of his malaise were starting to return and if he was not careful there would be a flare up. How he would love to take it easy but it was a day in Hammersmith for rehearsals with Frantic Assembly on Fatherland.  The opening preview was at the end of the week and the seriousness of the endeavor loomed large. He got up early to get the train, as parking on a Saturday would be mercilessly expensive, and as he had just received two fines for contravening traffic regulations on the 9th of May in London; a congestion charge he forgot to pay and the bewildering apparent driving in a bus lane, monumental waste of money, picking up an expensive parking bill was not going to be added to his financial woes. The journey on Southern Rail was surprisingly smooth, though there was some consternation underground as the District line was closed and he was concerned he might be late, however, he arrived with 30 minutes to spare. It was the wedding day of Prince Harry to a Showgirl, and Nicholas was pleased to be avoiding the hype in a rehearsal room even though he was missing the wonderful summer sunshine. He thoroughly enjoyed his days work and the opportunity to get a little creative, despite the confines of being in a chorus. It was very physical and fun and a little emotional. It felt like an would be a really powerful piece of theatre. they finished earlier than expected so by late afternoon he was back in  Brighton and at a loose end. At a loose end and needing company he contacted Peta and was invited to supper with her and Steven. She served up a delicious meal and the enjoyed a hilarious evening. Two outbreaks of hysteria, which would never translate, but out of which  Bernard Cribbins moved from childhood icon to legend, and an excruciating attack of cramp made a memorable night. Once again it was late and he dragged his weary self home to bed with the feeling that the work and laughter was really satisfying for his soul..

Nicholas Quirke was feeling watched on 18th May 2018 as he had visited the Stasi Museum in Berlin and was a little more than spooked by the procedures employed by the Security Police of Eastern Germany. He had started the day early and  despite only having 3 hours sleep felt well-adjusted. He knew though that he would pay for it later.  He fully researched replacing the broken part of the fridge and contacted the manufacturers for a replacement, though he wished the incident had not taken place, he did feel quite pleased with himself for having resolved his clumsiness. He could not however feel happy about the cracked screen of his I-pad which would have to wait till he returned home to be corrected. Once Kim was awake they made plans for breakfast, though Alistair declined to join them. It was new venue and Nicholas felt particularly hungry as he had only eaten a side salad and some chips for his evening meal, having a vegan rye bread tofu sandwich and a peanut power smoothie would fill that gap. Once again he was saying goodbye to Kim in a foreign town and separation anxiety overcame them both. Visiting the Stasi Museum, housed in the buildings used by the secret police took Nicholas and Alistair out of the city centre to a bleak soviet bloc vista. The museum proved to be fascinating, uncompromising visit to the a time before the Iron Curtain came down. It was exciting to see the world from the alternative perspective and it was both bewildering and chilling to understand why they bothered with this immense, complex and cruel organisation. It was also wonderful to walk through the authentic offices and spaces inhabited by the Stasi’s seniors, it really was like being in another world. The bleak surroundings of the Lichtenberg area offered no pleasant lunching option so they returned to Prenzlauer Berg and dined at Vietnamese. It was time for Nicholas to return home to base, he had experienced the city from a view of the past and he felt there was a contemporary Berlin that he had largely ignored which meant he would have to return to enjoy its rich and varied culture. He took the train to the airport through another strange and unreal vista and felt disappointed that he had packed his cameras away and could not capture views he was seeing. The airport process was completely second nature to him now and the journey to UK shores was easy and calm. He was used to the unfriendliness of plane travelers so it was nice, on this occasion to find himself between a Dutch brother and sister, flying to the UK to celebrate their parents 25th wedding anniversary. He was relieved he had booked long-term parking and could drive himself home rather than catch trains in the middle of the night. Finally back at base he took himself to bed to prepare for his long Royal Wedding Saturday in London,

 

 

Nicholas Quirke was enjoying the Berlin lifestyle, though it was not without personal challenges. His day started well with a breakfast with Kim on Schonhauser Alle. They were engaged in chatting with a couple of fellow customers who had both just moved to Berlin, including one Englishman and who both made the City seem like a great place to live.  Kim was keen to visit the Wassertum in Penzlauer Berg which in the 1930s had been the site of a concentration camp. It was an eerily uncomfortable experience as one of the buildings had been converted to luxury apartments. They had a really good walk  around the area and Nicholas was pleased to discover that he sill possessed a natural sense of direction had not deserted him and he got them home. While they waited for Alistair to arrive from his flight Kim went to the hairdressers while he amused himself at the apartment. To his chagrin he managed to break a glass shelf in the fridge. Alistair arrived late and they set off for lunch and for a 3.5  sightseeing bike ride around Berlin. They stopped for quick 5 minute bite outside and then climbed astride their steeds and took to the streets of Berlin. They saw some of the extraordinary sights as well as getting an amazing history lesson from Fima as they pedaled the roads and pavements. The leaned about the rebuilding of Berlin after the war, they stopped at the site t of the book burning, the location of Hitlers bunker and the Terrain  of Terror and one of the remaining stretches of the Berlin wall. Feeling energised by the long ride they walked to the The Berliner Ensemble where they were going to see a 4 hour epic ‘Krieg’. Nicholas was feeling weary from the days exertions and fell into an introverted and uncommunicative mood. It was not the frame of mind to see the startling, noisy and impenetrable pageant that the Ensemble were staging. It was the chaos of war on the stage and the images from the performance were disturbing and exiting particularly from their front row seats. It was a truly amazing experience to see this renowned company perform in the Beautiful Theatre where Bertolt Brecht had staged his works. They had a light supper on the riverside after the performance which was tarnished by Nicholas dropping and smashing the screen of his Ipad. He took a taxi home and did some research on replacing the broken shelf. Despite his tiredness, conversation and debate with Kim and Alistair kept him up till 3.30 am when exhausted he sank into a deep sleep.

 

Nicholas Quirke was aware that he had deliberately sabotaged his body clock and though he woke at his usual 5.30 am he discovered an immense weariness overcame him and unable to get out of bed he went back to sleep. When he finally rose at 8 and was amused by some of the Objects D’Art their host had populated the apartment with, he felt refreshed. After a bath and some reading he set of to explore the Eberswalder Strasse area in search of some travelling essentials. He found the Germans engaging and friendly and managed to share  laugh with a couple of the people he conversed with. The sunshine helped fuel his sense of bonhomie and it was in this spirit he set off to enjoy the enticing surroundings of the Tajikistan Tearooms. He was expecting to experience a delicious tea drinking session, but after locating this beautifully situated cafe he was naturally disappointed to discover it was shut and didn’t open till 4pm. Despite his plans being thwarted and few minor upsets to his agenda he managed over his lunch in Humus and friends, to set more plans in motion. His first stop was at the impressive Brandenburg Gate and spent some time trying to visualize the Berlin Wall in place and feel the devastating effects such a intrusion into the city must have had on the citizens either side. He then walked to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of  Europe and again felt the overwhelming emptiness the Holocaust Tower had left him with. Being in city where a race had been expunged, had been rounded up and taken to death camps filled him with a deep misery. This state of mind was not alleviated by his visit to to The Monument to Homosexuals persecuted and murdered under National Socialism where he pondered the sad history of this city, a City that in the Thirties had represented liberty and fun and decadence. The final memorial to the horror of National Socialism was to the murdered Sinti and Roma people. He enjoyed some relaxing time in the Tiergarten and paid a visit to the Reichstag before heading back to the Tearooms where he and Kim would eat before the Theatre. They really were exquisite, and anywhere that made you remove your shoes and where you sat on the floor to eat held a great appeal for him. It was a delicious meal and when they finally left Nicholas had high hopes for the play they would see at the almost unpronounceable Schaubuhne Theatre, ‘Returning to Reims’. Anything had to be better than the tedium they had endured the night before. It ws not and easy journey and they got lost at the last hurdle and were 5 minutes late. The box office had closed and it seemed impossible to get the tickets he had bought. The play however had not started and Nicholas managed to rein in his rage when the lady at the box Office finally opened and said ‘ You should not leave it so late’. How condescending and such a comment would normally have elicited a tart and furious response but he let it go. The play was an intense political  and social history as well as an analysis of the march of the far right across Europe, it forced him think and he enjoyed it but really he wanted something light and frothy.  He felt drained by the feelings of Sadness he had felt during the day and it was with some relief that he closed the doors on the world and took himself to bed.