Friday, 24 April 2009

Sun and Sangria on the Humber

In a strange and unexpected moment at about 11.45 on Wednesday morning, the charming proprietor of Sabrini's cafe (Princes Road, Hull) plonked a chilled jug of pink sangria on the terrace table in front of Mr Brown and myself, and we two out-of-towners squinted through the bright sunlight at each other: we had arrived, young gods on the Yorkshire riviera.

Stuart Brown ('Nick') beams at his proximity to an array of hanging sombreros

Feeling rather marvellous, we were ushered inside by our genial hosts - Messrs. Boyce and Jensen of the Hull Film organisation - where the Importance Of The Medium program began with Eva Weber's ethereal documentary on cranes and their drivers. Following a break for nachos and cigarettes, the moment came for It's Nick's Birthday to be unveiled to the public - a lunchbreak public 20-strong and united in festival spirit. The homemade and accident-happy ethos of the film was channelled into the atmosphere of the room through the guitar amp sound system and reinforced by the phlegmatic purr and splutter of the coffee machine and obsessive brush-strokes of the hot chilli-oriented hung paintings. Afterwards, Mr Brown and I were interviewed to video by Boyce's people, a process that could have been torturous had the sun and the breeze and the people (and the bellyful of punch) not been configured so divinely, and which was all the same makey of pitsweat.

For weeks in advance, we had awaited with childlike anticipation our trip to Hull's Glimmer short film festival, so it was perhaps inevitable the hit-rate of our daydream-embellished expectations would be at best off-centre, if never off-target. Having been tipped that Hull would smell of death (it did a bit) and planned in mouthwatering detail the fish and chips we would acquire for our midnight train journey back to Manchester (we didn't feel like eating after an unsettling aperitif of top-drawer David Firth animations), we met reality half-way on discovering that Hull wasn't in fact a coastal port and the big bit of water by it was (to quote Mr Brown) "merely an estuary". We had promised ourselves we'd see the sea, and the see the sea we would: Mr Brown, and myself, and a young lady from Australia whose acquaintance we made over sangria at Sambrini's, stared out at the glistening brown Humber, alone and together, imagining it to be the ocean for the best part of forty minutes. Although we stood in silence, the synchronised remapping (more accurately re-demapping) of three neural networks (one of which was Australian) was felt to be an adequate riposte to the tyranny of fluvial geography. (Mooring fees in the area have not been affected).

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