I am sitting on a train at Nottingham station listening to Bolero. This is the last page in my Bolero notebook and will be the final blog post for a while as I take my writing offline to focus on the show. I have written about journeys for this project, journeys to Paris and Sarajevo, journeys to music. But I have not really written about home. Later in the year the other artists will come to Nottingham to start work on the project. They will arrive at this station and Nottingham has a part to play in this story too. This is where the journey to Bolero started.
Torvill and Dean grew up here, trained here in the old ice stadium and taught themselves how to clean the ice so they could practise until the early hours of the morning. When they won gold they were given the freedom of the city and streets were named after them. When the ice stadium was rebuilt the area outside became Bolero Square. When the Olympic torch passed through Nottingham on its way to London last year, Torvill and Dean danced across the ice with it and I was there. As the ice was being cleaned by large machines driven by men in tuxedos, they played the 1984 Winter Olympics routine on the big screen. They didn’t play the music and as the machines made their way around the ice you could hear people humming Bolero to themselves. The public learn the tune living in this city. It is part of the soundtrack to our lives. I went to a wedding the other day in Nottingham and a young woman was wearing a fur stoal around her shoulders. When I asked herr what she wearing she said it was called a bolero. ‘You know like Torvill and Dean’. She wasn’t born when Torvill and Dean danced to it in 1984 but she knows the story, she knows the name, she knows the tune.
I am reading a book about Torvill and Dean and how they met. She grew up above her Dad’s newsagents not far from where I live now and worked in a building society. He was a policeman. They were part of the fabric of this city and brought it one of its proudest moments. Now they appear on TV every weekend teaching celebrities how to ice skate. Sometimes those celebrities dance to Bolero. Torvill and Dean will come to the ice stadium in Nottingham this year where their journey started. I would like to meet them, to ask them what they remember about Sarajevo and whether it left its mark on them the way it has on me. Last time I came home, Sarajevo didn’t leave me. It felt like I was still there.
Now that I am home I exist in this space in between Nottingham and Sarajevo. Torvill and Dean chose the music of Bolero because they wanted to take the audience on a journey. It is the soundtrack to my journey across Europe. But now that journey is over and the journey of writing is beginning. Next time I write here, the artists will have arrived and we will be working at Nottingham Playhouse bringing Bolero to life. I hope I can take the audience on a journey too. I hope the journey can be as powerful and as moving as the music. I hope we stick to the tempo. As I write this in Nottingham it is snowing and the city looks like Sarajevo. Warehouses next to the station look like bombed out buildings. Like last time, I haven’t really left. I can still see the Olympic logo in the snow.