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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, August 29, 2008
    A1: The Road Musical
    Flicking through the channels it was a delight to discover A1: The Road Musical on Channel 4 tonight.

    The Director/Composer Benjamin Till lives on the A1 himself and - with the help of Dave Brown, a trucker from Yorkshire, makes the journey from London to Edinburgh stopping off a few times to meet other A1 people and hear about their lives.

    "I see the people who live alongside the A1 as my neighbours," says Till, "and I wanted to celebrate the extraordinary stories in every ordinary life. It's always struck me that whether in times of great happiness or great sadness, people express themselves through song, so a musical felt like a fitting way to capture these peoples' stories."

    So we hear them sing: Dave Brown at Smithfield Market with a ensemble of London commuters and pedestrians, Janet Wood in Grantham recalling the stranger who in the aftermath of her accident had held her hand through the broken window of her upside down car and disappeared when the emergency services arrived, the Rossington Male Voice Choir and former-miner Derek Burton at Haworth Colliery in Nottinghamshire, angry about pit-closures and the end of locally-sourced British coal, the grandmother of 16-year-old hit and run victim choirboy Danny Lawrence singing his favourite hymn How Great Thou Art, and Michael Ross protesting Berwick not being a Scottish town.

    Highlights for me included a choir of bikers singing a contemporary rebel song at Squires Cafe near Sherburn in Elmet in North Yorkshire, and the York University Chamber Orchestra performing in the industrial wasteland under the massive concrete motorway ramps where the A1 meets the M62 at Ferrybridge power station.

    It's a little strange but oddly wonderful, A1: The Road Musical. You can watch it here.