Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Pachelbel what?

Every morning I walk up the steep hill into Highgate Village laden with bags. There’s something rather symbolic about starting the day with an uphill climb! People often tell me how lucky they think I am to be following my star, and in many ways I think they're right, but the flip side of freedom is an extraordinary lack of security. I'm 35 years old and I don’t have a pension plan, or a mortgage, or any of things I imagined I’d need by the end of my 20s. I don't even know how I'm going to earn money from the start of next month! Friends think twice before inviting me out for expensive nights on the town because they know I’ll drink tap water and complain like my Grannie about the cost of bread rolls. But there is an upside. As I've grown older, I've reconciled myself to the fact that I’ll never own that house with a roof terrace over-looking the heath, or indeed ever be wealthy enough to have my suits made by a tailor. And this feels quite liberating. Finally I can focus on enjoying what I have as opposed to obsessing about what I want or worse, feel I need.

My oldest and closest friend is now back in the country after a couple of months away. She lives the life of a glamorous nomad, touring with a rock band, then spending long periods in Texas with her partner. It's always exciting when she comes back to the UK. Sometimes I can't believe we’ve known each other for over twenty years. We're heading into Muswell Hill later to celebrate by buying some paint and manuscript paper.

I'm finding it hard to write in the cafe this morning, because instead of playing Enya style musak, they’re playing classical pop music, which I find very difficult to ignore, even with my enormous headphones. At the moment it’s the turn of Pachelbel’s Canon, which is bringing back memories of busking at the age of 17 in Coventry Market. What’s peculiar about this version is that one of the violinists has gone off on one and seems to be improvising some of his part whilst playing with the most astonishing 1920s type vibrato, which rather defeats the object of playing a) a canon and b) something that was written during Pepys' lifetime. He's out of control. He must stop. He has stopped. Now there's a harp. I have to leave...

On 20th January 1660, Mrs Lane makes her first appearance in Pepys' diary. Betty Lane kept a linen stall in Westminster Hall and Pepys had a long-term casual affair with her. In fact, at one point, she claimed to be pregnant with his child. On this occasion there is no mention of a sexual encounter. Mrs Lane and all the other maids from Westminster Hall were wearing the white scarves of mourning following the burial of a young bookseller from the hall.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting endeavour Ben. For what it's worth I don't know anyone who can afford a house with a roof terrace overlooking the heath. And if I did I'd suspect they'd sold their soul (and possibly a kidney or two) to Simon Cowell.

    Anyway, that's my neck of the woods when in London during my working week. So if you see me puffing up that hill on one of my ungainly training runs, do say hello. It seems that the quality I decided I desired was physical fitness, which is strange given a youth mainly spent striking decadent poses with rolling tobacco.

    I think you're brave for going solo and living the creative life anyway. I've never been able to take the plunge, but then I don't have a musical in me either. Keep up the interesting work.