I had a very interesting chat this morning with a chap from the Royal Navy. He seems to think there are at least three former choral scholars training to be officers at Dartmouth; and that he’s sure a choir of five singers can be found within the Navy. This is wonderful news, although I guess if they’re based in Dartmouth, there might be a whole set of financial considerations. Perhaps that’s something the Navy could help us with. The other interesting thing that the conversation threw up is the possibility that one of my 8 choirs might have to be men only. I realise there are women in the Navy, but my gut instinct is that we won't find any who sing!
I've spent much of the day so far working on piano reductions for the Choir Invisible. I’ve now done rough drafts for three of the songs, so will need to spend tomorrow on them in order to free up next week for Pepys.
We went shopping in Sainsburys (thrilling) because my friend Hilary is coming over for an evening in front of the telly tonight. I was hungry and got shirty. I'm hideous when hungry (something I share with Dear Sam.) I actually called one poor woman a "plonker" (where do these words come from?) Meanwhile, Nathan was almost knocked out by a man who decided to close the freezer lid on his head! Instead of doing anything practical to help the situation, he just stood there saying; "I can't believe I just did that..." again and again, whilst Nathan separated his face from a bag of frozen peas.
On February 5th, 1660, Pepys revealed that his wife was nothing but a common thief! It seems she found a black hood (very fashionable at the time) in Mrs Turner’s pew at church, and kept it for herself. And on the Lord's day! Scandalous! Perhaps it was also her who stole the bag of money that Mr Hawley lost. The poor chap came to see Pepys first thing, looking miserable, confessing he had no idea where the bag had gone and revealing there was 24l inside. We assume the money belonged to their boss, Mr Downing and that Mr Hawley would be in a huge amount of trouble unless he could find it. 24l was the equivalent of a quarter year’s salary for someone like Pepys. (Salaries were paid quarterly in those days).
Today’s entry has a rather perplexing and slightly spooky end;
"After supper home, and before going to bed I staid writing of this day its passages, while a drum came by, beating of a strange manner of beat, now and then a single stroke, which my wife and I wondered at, what the meaning of it should be"
We never find out what the drumming was all about. I love the image of the Pepyses listening to the beat and trying to work out if it was conveying a message. That there was a time when drumming might have been used for those purposes is fascinating. Apparently back then, the military had a vast array of calls and orders that could be relayed by complicated drum patterns. Perhaps it was one of these. I wonder what Pepys would have made of the hippy at Covent Garden tube who seems to be playing bongos every time I walk past!
Apparently we're due for another cold snap next week. I enclose this rather special photograph of buses on Muswell Hill Road just before Christmas. We've got all this to look forward to again!