Monday, 5 October 2015

Antiques Roadshow

I don't actually watch the Antiques Roadshow. I could never take it seriously after that Victoria Wood Christmas sketch when someone took in a lidless blender. ("Now you've settled an argument!") But I happened to catch the final few minutes last night before tuning in to new "psychological crime thriller" From Darkness. (More on that later.) They were in Durham. A lad was showing his grandfather's World War II medals. He claimed he would never sell them, but after hearing they might fetch £3,000 there was - dare I say - just the teensiest bit of wavering to be detected in his eyes. Then Fiona Bruce showed us a mystery object brought along by Glenda (which rhymes with blender). This turned out to be a knitting stick, or goosewing - basically a carved strip of wood you wedge in your armpit to hold one of your knitting needles. This frees your arm up to do something else, like hold a glass of wine, or - as they suggested - herd sheep along to market. Multi-tasking the old-fashioned way. Anyway, I thought my friend at the Twisted Yarn might be interested. Because frankly even a third arm wouldn't help my knitting.

But it gave me a little moment of nostalgia. I am sure that the Antiques Roadshow has visited Durham many times over the years, but this sent me back to September 1997, when I saw it being filmed there. I wasn't taking along any family heirlooms to be valued, you understand, of which we have none anyway. Back then I was about to embark on my Master's degree at the University of Newcastle. I had gone up a week before the start of term and my Jesmond flatmates hadn't moved in yet, so I had spent a couple of days going completely stir-crazy by myself, not knowing anybody or having anything to do other than unpacking. I felt a long way from home. (I was a long way from home.) I had just split up with my boyfriend, and while this was no bad thing ultimately, I have to confess I felt terribly lonely. So on a sunny day on Tyneside, I decided to get out and explore. And I took myself off to Durham on the train for the day. It's only a ten-minute journey from Newcastle Central. And what a lovely city it is. As Bill Bryson says, if you haven't seen Durham Cathedral, then what have you been doing all your life? You must. You can even (apparently) borrow his car. I'd lend you mine, but it only just scraped through its MOT and there's not enough tread left on the tyres. Look, it's simply stunning:

(Durham Cathedral, that is. Not our car.)

Anyway, down by the weir on the river, er, Wear, looking up at the cathedral, the then Antiques Roadshow presenter Hugh Scully (on a break from filming) strolled past me on a bridge. And he gave me a lovely smile and said hello. Just because he was friendly and nice. In my miserable frame of mind that day, it meant a lot. 

The rest of my year in Newcastle was brilliant. But it definitely had a shaky start. And Hugh Scully of the Antiques Roadshow - of all people - made me feel a little bit better about it. 

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