Monday, 4 January 2010

Syrupy light

Up betimes to find London glowing in a syrupy wintry light. What a lovely way to start the working year. It's freezing both outside and inside my flat and suddenly all the Christmas decorations look rather tawdry. Time to take them down.

Pepys was chilly 350 years ago; "it snowed hard all this morning, and was very cold, and my nose was much swelled with cold". His swollen proboscis obviously gave him gip all day as he was still talking about it by the time he went to bed. Other highlights of his day include being merry with a piece of Cheshire Cheese (not altogether sure how this is possible, but it sounds fun...) and yet more card games. He also talks a fair amount about national politics, which at the time could best be described as "inconclusive". Oliver Cromwell was dead. His feckless son had taken over as Lord Protector (and been removed) and Charles II was waiting patiently in Holland for his moment to decadently sweep back into the country and restore the monarchy. Left, right and centre noblemen were turning their backs on the Republic. Even Pepys, who'd witnessed the beheading of Charles 1st (and cheered like a true convert) was now talking of the "murder of the former King".

Interestingly, January 4th was a day of fasting and prayer in Parliament. I assume the members of the Rump Parliament were hoping for divine inspiration to guide them through the complicated times. The whole fasting thing was a fairly regular occurrence in those days. In a few years time, they'd be fasting and praying for harsher winters. The unusually mild climate of the early 1660s meant the possibility of a plague. What little good their prayers did them! That said, I'd still love to see a bit of dedication like that from our current MPs. Gordon Brown on the Daily Politics Show all hypoglycaemic and irritable after a day's fasting. Shots of MPs in the house in deep prayer instead of shouting at one another whilst waving those silly pieces of paper...

Yesterday, I went to two parties. The first was the one I was nervous about, but I needn't have been. It was wonderful to see my friend again and her daughter, my god daughter, who is walking. Thrilling. She's a very intelligent child. You look into her eyes and she peers back with a sort of haughty understanding of the world, which is almost unnerving.

Later in the day, we went to my friend Nat's house in Queensway and I played the piano for what seemed like hours. It was one of those parties where everyone just wanted to sing. Pepys would have been proud, although I'm sure he would have been confused at our song choices; "I Need a Hero" "Hey Jude" "Fame" "Waterloo." Cheese. Cheese. Cheese. Perhaps that's what Pepys meant when he talked about being merry with a Cheshire!

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