Driving faster than Richard Farnsworth in The Straight Story but just a tad more lawful than Barry Newman's Kowalski in Vanishing Point, my Road Trip! Road Trip! around the United Kingdom is producing a wonderful series of vignettes showing it's rich regional variation. From provincial dialects and local employer through to land & urban scapes viewed through my windscreen, the breadth of diversity presented day to day is amazing.
Here's another set of shout-outs before driving into Week 3. In chronological order of visit:
1) Beverley Harrison / @bkmizon at Holy Cross Catholic High School in Chorley, Lancashire. A serious force for Musical Futures west of the Pennines and I can confirm, in reply to her Tweet, that her classroom was indeed presented beautifully...until some bloke in a yellow jacket arrived and littered the space with lighting gear!
2) Anne Rushforth / @annerushforth at St David's High School in Saltney. In the shadow of Airbus's prodigious A380 aircraft wing manufacturing facility, Anne has created an oasis of music learning which has her obsessive detail written all over it. Beverley, you have stiff competition in 'the UK's neatest classroom' competition :-) Throw in an orchestra of inflatable instruments and my first day of Week 2 finished perfectly.
3) Omar Khoker at Severn Vale School in Gloucester. Impeccably dressed and clean shaven, Omar's presence within an enviably equipped music department forms an erudite figure not to be questioned...until, that is, his phone rings. Yep, mid-shoot, Disclosure's smash 'Latch' blasts through the room. You couldn't script it! We both agree that the 2013 Mercury Music Prize shortlist is safe, commercial but pretty balanced, especially within the electronic genre :-)
4) Sarah Pappin at Torquay Academy. Surrounded by new, academy status architectural steel walkways and business like corridors, Sarah and her team are transforming the music and drama department. Thank you Sarah for going along with my risky stage direction. Oh, and maybe reevaluate that back to back weekend exercise lol!
5) Alex Jennings / @alexjbass at Ivybridge Community College. A school so damn big, it has it's own weather system. The town of Ivybridge, on the edge of Dartmoor, consists of a BP station, a Tesco Express and the school, that's it. 2,600 pupils, 57 feeder primary schools, and it's own coach park - Alex requires a sat nav to find his own staff toilet. Still gigging with his band The Breaks, the South West has a new head of music ready to pose for an Esquire fashion advertorial.
6) Jon Reeves at Steyning Grammar School. Greeted by Jon and one of the country's finest (and very ornate) Gamelans, capturing a portrait should have been a breeze. However with the school being established in 1614, I wanted to dig a little deeper into the school's vibe and Jon came up trumps! A little class shifting and chair rearrangement later and we created some magic.
7) Emily Armstrong, Hayley Fox & Amelia Jimmison at Oak Grove College. Working in one of the UK's largest special education needs schools, this dedicated trio work wonders with Oak Grove's students. Appropriately adapting Musical Futures through to year 11, Emily's team work with a focused teacher / student ration of 1 to 6. I learnt more about Slayer, drank strong tea and made sure that a mysterious class mascot received due attention in the final frame...
Week 2 logistics: 1,087 miles driven along the yellow line above, with a average of 50.4 MPG and 46.9 MPH and the newly opened Premier Inn at Burgess Hill is the UK's greenest hotel, apparently. Also the countryside around Church Stretton is so ridiculously beautiful, that I am sure that Visit England designed the area within a Waitrose lambing advert iPad app presented by Nicholas Crane, ready to be sold to the Chinese middle class looking to travel aboard.