Tuesday, 9 February 2010

A secreted flageolet

I’ve just returned from Julian's Dad's funeral in Bedfordshire. It was a very sombre occasion attended by a group of utterly bewildered people. Poor Barry got himself some kind of bizarre virus and went from being perfectly healthy to dead within a week. By all accounts he was an incredible man; a journalist turned consultant, spirited and vibrant with a deep love for his family and fingers in hundreds of different pies. He was known, loved and respected by many people, including several politicians. The local MP and his predecessor were both present (one Labour, one Conservative). Both said, he was as well known in the Palace of Westminster as most politicians. My relationship with Barry was purely email-based, but we were in regular contact. He enjoyed my films and was always making suggestions. Sadly, we never met... Until today.

I think I’m coming down with a cold. I woke up feeling like I’d been slapped by a gorilla and now have a rather itchy sensation at the back of my throat. Joy! I dedicate what’s left of tonight to television and Jaffa cakes.

Pepys wasn’t feeling particularly well on this day either. I think it’s safe to say he was stressed and run down. By the end of the day he'd felt the need to apply a plaster to the boil on his chin and a dollop of alum to a “canker” in his mouth. A canker is what we'd call a mouth ulcer. "We" being 21st Century Brits. Curiously, the Americans still call them cankers. It's one of those ancient English words like “gotten” that shows they’re just a bunch of Puritans gone AWOL. And for the science geeks amongst us, alum or aluminium sulphate is the active ingredient in the styptic pencils some of us use when we cut ourselves shaving.

Despite not feeling well, it was business as usual for Pepys. He wrote more coded letters to Lord Montagu, offering up-to-date and detailed accounts of political developments in the capital, he watched and enjoyed a debate in the house and still found time for a spot of food in a tavern near Temple Bar, with his friend Mr Swan. Whilst waiting for a plate of poached eggs, Pepys whipped out his flageolet and had a quick blow. He often seemed to have a musical instrument secreted about his person, ready for such occasions.


  1. Benjamin,I am thoroughly enjoying your daily blog
    and excitedly looking forward to seeing your Pepys Project come to fruition! Sadly (and happily at the same time!) you are a new discovery to me, so I haven't seen any of your previous work...is any of it available anywhere for me to watch?
    Best wishes, Debbie.

  2. Hello Debbie

    You can see a fair amount of my stuff on line. Maybe start with www.a1theroadmusical.com

    Or check out The Busker symphony on You Tube. (Start with the Finale)

    Lovely to hear from you - and to know there are people reading!!