Thursday, 4 February 2010

Killing turkeys

My mind is absolutely full of stuff at the moment. It has been for days. I keep drifting off whilst trying to solve little problems. I then re-emerge in the world and realise I've forgotten to do something important in the here and now. Today I left my trainers at the gym and then lost my wallet in the car like a forgetful old bat. In fairness, the trainer incident might have had something to do with the fact that I spent much of my time in the gym today floating around like a loon whilst listening to some really good music. Featuring prominently in my aural landscape was Paloma Faith’s Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful, a somewhat hypnotic wall of sound, which I discover to my joy, Fiona played the violin on. Listen to it and watch it here. Use headphones and you too might want to bounce around like a child on tartrazine.


I’ve just returned from Finsbury Park, where I’ve been assisting my tragically infirm friend Ellen, who has back problems at the moment. She's not actually infirm, but her back has been misbehaving for months, poor lamb. We had a good laugh about the fact that she was sitting on a special chair whilst I was wearing insoles in my shoes. We both did our stretches whilst whinging about the world. I wouldn't want to swap places with her, however. Bad backs are utterly debilitating. My mother seemed to spend most of 1982 in abject pain, lying on beds that were always too soft. I remember trying to help her climb a flight of stairs on one particularly horrific day. I think it took us 30 minutes; both of us sobbing miserably.

Aside from my stupid feet problems, I also seem to have developed some form of weird RSI in my right index finger, which I'm assuming is to do with too much computer work. Is this really what old age is all about?!

Incidentally, as an aside, I see on the news today that MPs are being forced to pay back many of the expenses they claimed last year. What I don't understand is why the people who allowed these expenses to go through in the first place are not the ones being forced to eat the public humble pie. We all play the game with expenses; claim for what we think we can get away with. Actors claim for haircuts and suits. I claim for books and CDs. But surely the person who approved the building of a duck house should be the one apologising?

Back in 1660, Pepys was having a lovely social day. After a spot of lute practise, he called in to see one Mrs Swan, who he describes as being in “very genteel mourning for her father,” which I think is a splendid turn of phrase! I am at this moment trying to picture how someone might mourn genteelly. Gentle sighs, I suppose. A tiny handkerchief dabbing at the corner of a doe-like eye. Perhaps a doleful song accompanied by a harpsichon. A pale consumptive face...

Pepys ate only bread and butter for the entire day. I first assumed he was suffering the ill effects of yesterday's mutton, but reading on, we discover it’s because his friends were discussing “Marriot the Great Eater”; famed across London for his gluttony. This had a rather unusual effect on Pepys who suddenly became ashamed to eat what he might normally have eaten. And for an inveterate trougher, that's no mean feat! A few minutes later, Pepys, who was a great collector of modern ballads, was handed a copy of a song “to the tune of Mardike” (see picture – and try to play at your peril) which he borrowed because it was so beautifully written out. On closer inspection he decided it was a silly song and not worth copying out for his own pleasure. So there.

On a slight tangent, I received a copy of Pepys’ Beauty Retire via email today from the secretary of the Pepys Club. It’s not the best copy and I may not be able to read all the notes, but it’s a start, and I'm very grateful to think that some of the doors I spoke of yesterday might be slowly opening. Or perhaps they were never there in the first place.

There’s a lovely little end piece to today’s entry, which is self explanatory and I leave you with it:

"This day my wife killed her turkeys that Mr. Sheply gave her... and could not get her maid Jane by no means at any time to kill anything"

Useless maid!

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