Friday, 12 February 2010

Praise-God Barebones!

I continue to write little bits and bobs for the motet. Today I was working on a charming, rather simple passage from the diary where Pepys witnesses a rainbow at dawn over the Thames. The first rainbow he’d ever seen in the morning. This got me wondering whether I've ever seen a rainbow in the morning. Maybe there’s a scientific reason why they might occur less frequently first thing in the day. Anyone got any thoughts on that?

My cold continues. It seems to be heading towards my chest, which is a great improvement on the everlasting sneeze that became the focal point of yesterday. Other than this, I'm not a very interesting person today.

February 12th 1660, was unseasonably warm and sunny; “a most pleasant day as ever I saw” says Pepys, who spent the morning walking in a park and the afternoon in the city with his cousin Roger searching for General Monck like a pair of teenage autograph hunters. London was still celebrating and apparently Monck had been greeted with cheers and cries at St Paul’s Cathedral earlier in the day.

Later on, Pepys met and walked for a while with a little hunchbacked man; the apprentice of a local bookseller, whom he describes with a wonderful lack of political correctness as “the crooked fellow.” They try to find a pub, but none are open. Pepys also discovers that people have been smashing the windows of the wonderfully named Praise-God Barebone’s dwellings. Barebones was one of Cromwell’s puritan cronies. He even gave his name to a short-lived, rather unsucessful unelected parliament, so in the light of current developments was being viewed as the devil incarnate. A quirky fact about this man is that he was supposedly christened; Unless-Jesus-Christ-Had-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned Barebone. Talulah Does the Hula in Hawaii, eat your heart out!

The day ends, as all fun days must, with a row about Elizabeth’s new dog (which arrived on 8th February care of her brother, Balty)

"So to bed, where my wife and I had some high words upon my telling her that I would fling the dog which her brother gave her out of window if he pissed the house any more."


  1. I must say, as I've been absorbing the Diary day by day through Phil Gyford's blog, that the "dog flinging" episode has brought the broadest smile to my face. I would love to see this make an appearance in the motet.

    I'm sure a whole series of quotes from Sam highlighting his wrath at, and love for, Elizabeth will make the cut. I would love to make it over the pond for the celebration.

  2. The dog is still in the short list, rest assured! And so much of the diary is about Pepys and his love/anger at his wife, that it would be impossible not to include some of these passages. If you're interested in seeing the shortlist I am very happy to email it to you for your perusal and thoughts.

    And the piece will be recorded, so you'll be able to hear it, if not in person! Where in the States are you from?

  3. I'd be happy to look over the list, but I'm sure it would make me wish I'd been jotting down my favorite passages as we've gone along. So many gems to uncover. I can't help imagining a divided choir calling and answering with anger on one side and love on the other, developing into counterpoint, then finding its way toward reconciliation. (Well, we could hope they would reconcile, although Sam could never stop being Sam ...) Sorry, my singing days come back to me. Enough of my imagination, though, as you're the Man on a Mission!

    As for me, I've come to rest back in my hometown of Vancouver, Washington (the first one, originally a primary Hudson's Bay Fur Trading post, alongside Portland, Oregon). Beautiful area, worth a visit.

  4. OOh... Happy Olympics! Look forward to taking the baton from you guys at the end of your run!

  5. See, now you've come up with ANOTHER reason I need to come back to London. (Actually I enjoy compiling more and more reasons ...)