Tuesday, 5 January 2010


I am sitting in the Wimpy at Watford Gap service station. It doesn’t get much more glamorous than this. I feel like a film star. I’m about to eat a Lemon Pepper Quorn burger, which I’m sure will prove to be the most delicious Lemon Pepper Quorn burger I have ever sampled.

Watford Gap brings back many happy memories. It was the setting for my most recent musical film, which was performed by the brilliant people of Northamptonshire; the county I’m proud to have both grown up in... and escaped!

I’m still shaking like a leaf. Today was the day I chose to drive up to Manchester for a meeting with the BBC about a potential project. Today was also the day that God decided to punish Manchester with what can only be described as a shit load of snow. I can’t say I wasn’t warned. My Mancunian brother texted me several times with increasingly apocalyptic tales of a city in a Danny Boyle-esque standstill, but the sun was shining in the south and I was feeling optimistic. “How bad can it be?” I wondered. Incredibly bad, as it happened...

It was okay as far as Chester. There was an exciting sprinkle of the white stuff at Birmingham and a Christmassy dusting on the fields around Stoke. But half an hour later, I was weeping like a poof at my steering wheel, begging God to give me an indication of where in the white fog I’d landed. The car suddenly spun out of control somewhere in the city centre and I abandoned ship. Oddly, it looked a bit like I’d parked it so I got out. Didn't bother to try and pay. Couldn't see any yellow lines under the snow. I had a quick look around in the hope that someone in the vicinity had seen me and thought I was doing a cool hand break turn into a parking space; like they do in the films. Just my luck. No one was watching. The snow was too thick.

And finally I'm back in the south. The weather has followed me down the M6 and the M1. But Wimpy makes everything better. Such a treat to have vinegar on chips. Thank the lord that at least one fast food chain has upheld that terribly British tradition. Shame they seem to have ditched those classy porcelain plates... and I can't see a Brown Derby or Coke Float on the luminous menu. Boo! Further disappointed to discover I poured sugar onto my chips rather than salt; but hey, the first food of the day is bliss, however late it comes and however bizarre it tastes!

350 years ago, Pepys was also suffering a great culinary disappointment after taking his wife to one Mrs Jem’s house for a sack posset, which sadly never came. And for those of you who fancy a sack posset, you can find the recipe here

And for those of you who are waiting with baited breath for news of the Pepys Motet, the up-to-date situation is as follows. St Olave’s Church are backing the project (hurrah) and have kindly offered to pay for a much needed recording of the work (hureeh), should enough money come in from other sources to pay for the writing and premier (ah...) I reckon we’re looking for £6,000...

I've already had interest from some very kind members of the Pepys Club; a wonderful organisation who promote and celebrate the work of our dear Samuel. Quite how much money they’ll be able to spare, I don't yet know, but every penny counts and I'm very grateful to them. Frankly, it’s thrilling to think anyone would even consider sponsoring the Arts in this awful climate! That said, the process of going cap in hand to people is horribly embarrassing. I think it must be for any creative person. I hate discussing money and the process of asking for it feels slightly invalidating. If I'm a great composer, shouldn't they be queuing up to get me to wave my magic wand? Or is my brand of magic just that little bit too way out there? Perhaps my compositions are like iPods. No one knows they need one until they see someone else with one! I bet Damon Alburn and Anthony Gormley don’t have these sorts of problems.

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