A British composer's ambitious quest to premier a requiem in the highly atmospheric Abney Park cemetery by lantern light.
Saturday, 30 January 2010
We came 5th in the quiz. Out of 15th. Not bad, but not great. The winners were a mirthless crew who all looked a bit like they been peeled and dipped in vinegar. We could well have won, had we used our joker more wisely. I had no idea I knew so little about "famous people"! That said, it was a nice little quiz. We were fed a decent nosh and the question master was charmingly eccentric, referring to us constantly as the Royal Box. I think this was a reference to where we were sitting in the hall, but Nathan said it was because our team was full of Queens. The questions were all a bit geared towards people of a certain age (which didn’t seem to correspond with the average age of our team) but thrillingly, there was a question on Samuel Pepys. It wasn’t exactly specialist knowledge, so I couldn’t wade in to make up for the mistakes I’d made on earlier rounds. But overall a wonderful evening, with incredible company.
Speaking of incredible, we’ve just returned from The ABBA World Exhibition at Earl’s Court. Brother Edward and Sascha took us for a belated Christmas present and we were all like children in a toy shop. We saw the Arrival helicopter, the Waterloo costumes, exclusive interviews, unique photographs... Nathan finally got his Jim’ll Fix It wish to sing with the band, care of a rather special hologram package (pictured) and Edward and I sang Money Money Money in the karaoke booth. Every image of the band brought back a different childhood memory. I remembered the day Edward first went to school and sitting in a lonely trance listening to the Greatest Hits album staring miserably at the picture of them on the park bench until he came back home. I remembered dragging him around various second hand record shops looking for B-sides I hadn’t yet heard... Oh, the joy, the sadness, the nostalgia. Heavenly!
Now sitting in a cafe on Old Compton Street with Fiona and Nathan. We’re having a cup of tea before heading off to see some late night cabaret. It’s been a very musical week. And a week where I’ve consumed large amounts of tea, to the point of getting caffeine shakes on a number of occasions!
We know for a fact that Pepys wasn’t a tea drinker, at least he wasn't until September 25th 1660 when his diary includes one of the first references to drinking tea in literature; “And afterwards did send for a Cupp of Tee (a China drink of which I never had drank before)”. Unsurprisingly, the words Cup Of Tee are not written in shorthand and rather jump off a page which otherwise seems to consist of nothing but symbols and squiggles.
January 30th was the anniversary of Charles I’s execution (or “murder” as it was being referred to by 1660). Pepys woke up, and worked for a while on his new composition (did I mention he was a keen composer?) before pausing to realise the gravity of the day. He noted that it was ten years since the King died, even though the execution happened in 1649, so it was actually 11. You’d think he’d have remembered. He wagged school that day to watch the event taking place!
Composer and television director. Recent works include: A Symphony for Yorkshire (winner of 3 RTS Awards and a Prix de Circom), Tyne and Wear Metro: The Musical (winner of a Gillard award), The Pepys Motet, The London Requiem, Songs from Hattersley, A1: The Road Musical (nominated for a Grierson Award), Watford Gap: The Musical, Coventry Market: The Musical (nominated for a SONY award and recipient of two Gillard awards) and Oranges and Lemons, which features every bell in every London church mentioned in the nursery rhyme.