A new round of nattering

Bristol’s talking cranes are getting some new conversation in July to coincide with a summer exhibition on Children’s TV at M Shed.

Although children’s TV programmes was a more specific subject for scripts than last time, I was able to find numerous facts and catchphrases to draw from as well as details on all the objects in the exhibition.

The first draft is now ready to go. Be sure to come and listen to the whole thing from 2nd July! For now, here’s a little taster:

Jacqui: I learned a thing or two today.

Hev: Blimey, that’s a first.

Jacqui: Quiet you. Listen, back in 1947, only 15,000 households in the country owned a television. Imagine that. All those people without any Corrie or Eastenders.

Hev: I can imagine that just fine, thank you. I’m more of a documentary type. So, what changed?

Jacqui: Well, apparently lots of people went out and bought a TV just so they could watch the coronation of our Liz in ‘53.

Hev: Is that right? It was her 90th in May and all. She’s been around even longer than us!

Jacqui: Can’t beat old queenie. Anyway, after the 50’s, television came along in leaps and bounds. Nowadays, there’s catch-up, Youtube, streaming off the interweb, I can’t keep up!

Hev: Between you and me, I don’t think we need to. We’re just a pair of cranes, after all. Better off enjoying the view.

Old friends

Came down ‘ere about a fortnight ago, following the line of the river through town. Wasn’t having much luck until then, it was all shopping malls and traffic wardens. None of them wants you around, see. There was the occasional park and that, but they gets trouble up there in the night, so it wasn’t much use.
Anyways, I ‘eard about the dockyard from some swanky magazine, believe it or not. Found a copy lying on the street someplace and had a read of it in a quiet doorway. Said the place had managed to ‘retain its historic character’, which I took to mean, it hadn’t all been turned into flats and restaurants like every other blinkin’ place I’s come across.
So I followed the course of the water as best I could, and I see’s its already started; people spillin’ out to the water’s edge with cappuccinos and what ‘ave you. But there’s an old train line running through, with moss and spring flowers all mixing in. So, I started following the tracks as they curved downriver; like a highway of old it was, all crusty sleepers and rusted iron. Eventually led me ‘ere.
There’s not a lot around, but that’s what I like about it. You can always find yourself a proper little nook where no one’ll bother you. Feel like I got friends in the cracks, y’know, and the peeling paint. And that water’s always running, churning through them old gates as sure as times passin’. Makes me think, if it all goes to pot, I’ll just find myself a nice bit of driftwood and float on out of ‘ere.

Somewhere Between a Rock and a Truly Wild Place – part four

I feel like a proper adventurer as I emerge from the scrub following my conquest of the tunnel.

The sun breaks out again and I hot-wheel it down the pavement, the bridge flickering through the trees above. The end of the gorge is in sight now, rock giving way to Hotwells and the unsightly tangle of the Cumberland Basin octopus junction.

But its not over yet. This place still has a few surprises and the next one is perhaps the most surprising of them all. Set into the cliffs like a lost temple to transport is Clifton Rocks Railway, a Victorian construction that once saw a funicular train carry people up inside the rock to the top of gorge. The last I heard, there were attempts to get it running again, but as I cross the road for a closer look, there are no signs that this is the case. In fact, there’s not really much to look at apart from the bath-stone carved exterior and a gate, through which a glimpse of a tunnel is shortly consumed by darkness.

In case you’re wondering why so much effort went into ferrying people from bottom to top and back again, an answer lies in the adjacent buildings of the Colonnade and Pump Room, part of the Hotwell Spa that once existed here. They are a grand set of buildings, and at one time would have attracted a very grand class of clientele who came to benefit from the water’s health-giving properties. But much like the railway, they are largely ignored these days, except by the occasional rambling tourist or some commuters who happen to get stuck alongside during a traffic jam.

Opposite, is an old landing pier for steam boats that once graced the river and dropped off out-of-towners to the spa. It’s now rotting away in spectacular fashion, with great bows of wood bending or broken and gradually sinking in the merciless mud. It runs for 50 metres or so until a newer, concrete version replaces it, before the Brunel locks open out and the New Cut begins.

Looking across from 200ft up are the houses on The Paragon, majestically clinging to the very ends of the gorge. Then the rest of the neighbourhood sweeps down into Lower Clifton and beyond. I turn off here and negotiate the obstacle course-of-a-cycle route that cuts across a bridge and two locks, seeking out that waterside pint.