I don’t know what’s going on at the moment. I had another phone call yesterday with more bad news. A very decent chap who I visited a number of times whilst researching my A1 film has died. Cancer. The poor bloke was so brave; inspiringly so. He was a singer and performed in the Edinburgh area as the Caledonian Aborigine. Some years ago, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and they told him they’d need to remove his voice box. He refused and said he’d rather lose his life than the ability to sing. So, they removed as much of the cancer as they could and he took his chances. When I met him, everything was looking good. He’d moved to Seaton, just south of Musselbrugh to live with his sister in the pure sea air up there. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out and the cancer returned. His sister called me yesterday to let me know that he’d gone. With any luck he’ll still be singing somewhere, looking down on us with that indefatigable smile.
It’s a Sunday, and I’m in a traffic jam on my way to The Curtain’s Up pub, where the plan is to try and win the quiz again... If we ever get there. We’re on the M25 having just visited our friends Kate and Sean in Redhill. We spent a very pleasant day with their son, Lukas, playing a game which seemed to involve catching a load of butterflies which were flying out of a plastic elephant’s trunk! Who invents these surreal things?! Redhill’s a proper dump though. We popped into the town for a spot to eat and sat in a cafe surrounded by a suite of multicoloured mullets. Hair so wrecked by years of abuse that it looked like the insides of a set of felt tip pens from the mid 80s. I guess you could call it trailer trash chic, but it seemed so prevalent! The culprits weren’t all sitting together in a retro huddle. They were scattered about the place, as though there were a sort of sub species in the town.
A busy day for Pepys 350 years ago. The houses of Parliament had finally opened its doors to previously excluded members, so the Rump was officially at an end and the free parliament was back. Pepys, in true Pepysian style was in the thick of things and intriguingly was taken aside by Mr Crew, who, over dinner told him it was now safe for Montagu to return from his country estate to London. This could only be good news for Pepys, who would be bound to find himself with a decent new job if his master was back at the centre of power.
After this exchange, Pepys returned to Westminster Hall and met up with one Henry Purcell, father of that great composer of the same name, and an important music man on the Restoration scene. They went to a coffee house, and sitting in a room over-looking the Thames sang Italian and Spanish songs and a new canon for eight voices by the composer Matthew Lock, who'd also joined them. Whilst they sat in the coffee house, making music and talking eruditely, London was once again celebrating:
"Here out of the window it was a most pleasant sight to see the City from one end to the other with a glory about it, so high was the light of the bonfires, and so thick round the City, and the bells rang everywhere"