I’ve been working all morning on piano reductions for the Lincolnshire project. This is one part of the composing processes that can be extremely time-consuming. For this composition, a piano part is an absolute necessity because it’s not always going to be possible for the choir to perform with the full strings. Because of this, I need to make sure what I write is pianistic and works as a full accompaniment in its own right. But this takes time. I did five hours' work today and I've not yet finished the first song! Sorry, Samuel, you're gonna have to wait just a little bit longer!
That said, I did find a couple of hours to look through my shortlist of diary quotes and I'm beginning to get a sense of how some of the set pieces, like Pepys account of the Great Fire, could be spine-tinglingly exciting. I'm now desperate to get my hands on a copy of Pepys’ song, Beauty Retire but it seems no one's able to help me. I'm beginning to wonder whether certain Pepys fans might see themselves as the unofficial guardians of his legacy. I wonder if I've been banging at a few doors which hide some very private parties to which people like me aren't invited. An elitism, I'm sure dear Samuel would have adored!
I’m celebrating the end of a busy day with a bowl of potato soup and my favourite treat; fizzy tongues from the shop opposite Highgate tube.
So what was Pepys up to 350 years ago today?
Well, Monck finally arrived in London and although Pepys didn’t see him anywhere, he saw his soldiers, and was impressed. Pepys was hanging out with his cousin, Mrs Turner. She was one of the few relatives who wasn't an embarrassment to him, in fact he was incredibly fond of her. She’d married a lawyer and done alright for herself and she turns up in the diary frequently. After giving her a tour of Parliament, he wined and dined her at the Rhenish Wine-house, and then took her back to his dwellings to feed her some more; this time an under-cooked mutton stew. I bet she was thrilled!
Pepys and his wife then go to the park where Mrs Turner’s daughter, Theoph(ila) challenges Elizabeth and “another poor woman” to a running race. Theophilia, 8 at the time, wins, and the "poor women" seems to lose her bet, handing over a pot of ale as punishment! Racing in the park in February seems like an eccentric pastime even for the Pepyses. We know it was a bright sunny day, but surely it was still muddy. Were they racing in pattens, I wonder? Now that, I’d pay to see!!