Thursday, 28 January 2010

Was Samuel Pepys gay?

I’m on a tube heading to Warwick Avenue, which means once again, I’m suffering the hell of trying to travel from North to West in London. Almost impossible. I seem to be surrounded by shrieking women, and if that isn’t bad enough, I’ve got the whole King’s Cross subterranean Marathon to endure, just to change onto the Metropolitan line.

I’m off to watch some comedy, which if you know me well, is tantamount to my saying “I’m off to watch calves being slaughtered.” There’s more than a whiff of autism surrounding me, and I find it very difficult to understand when a joke has been cracked. My mother once taught me to carefully study the face of the joke teller to know when to burst into that sort of fake laughter posh people do when they watch Shakespeare.

I worked all day today in the cafe, relieved to find myself in some kind of routine again but suffering from sleep deprivation and feeling like I might be coming down with some sort of cold. All these particular gripes, however, were whisked away by the joy I experienced upon handing in my Nero loyalty card and receiving a free cup of tea. There are no words to express the excitement I probably shouldn’t have been feeling at that moment!

Still buzzing from Fiona’s string recording yesterday. I was so proud of her. I sat there listening to what she’d written with my jaw open, wondering where the inspiration had come from. Of course, the immediate response is to fire off about a million composers that the work has briefly reminded you of, but when you get into lists which include Bartok, Vaughan Williams, Grieg and Adams, you have to acknowledge that the girl actually managed to create something refreshingly unique. Bravo, Fiona! And thank you for having a good impact on my writing. When someone raises the bar like that, you have to step up to the mark – amidst other platitudes.

Interesting to note that it’s January 28th today, which makes it the anniversary of the Challenger Disaster. Quite why this had enough of an impact for me to remember the date I don’t know. But I still remember it being announced on John Craven’s Newsround and the shock I felt, perhaps because there were two women on board, one of them a teacher, and I found that hugely upsetting.

A typically busy day for Pepys. Lots of walking. Lots of socialising. Not a great deal of work. Pepys’ boss, Mr Downing (of Downing Street fame) left England for Holland and was very civil to Pepys as he said his goodbyes. This excited Pepys somewhat and sent him randomly rushing back home to fetch his best fur hat. The plans seems to have been to present it to Downing as a token of his esteem, but by the time he’d found it, Downing had left. Pepys then visited St Clement's church, which must mean St Clement Eastcheap (another bell I’ve recorded) and then drank at a place called Heaven! Comic thoughts enter my mind of men in periwigs and patches pouting behind fans and fighting with handkerchiefs, but we know for a fact Pepys wasn’t gay... In fact, he seems to have had no idea what buggery was; a confession he made in his diary upon hearing the news that some Navy men were in court accused of engaging in the wicked act! If there was a 17th Century gay bar, it’s safe to assume it wasn’t called Heaven!

Fiona and her talented string players at yesterday's recording

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