I am in the very middle of nowhere in a tiny cottage over-looking a beautiful lake somewhere near Belvoir Castle. It’s an incredibly spooky place, particularly now that the sun has set. There’s a Neolithic burial mound on the hillside behind the lake, and the stable block I’m in is built from the stones of a disbanded abbey. Apparently if we listen carefully enough, we’ll be able to hear the sound of rats scuttling about in the stables below. A sobering thought... and I’m a fan of rats.
There are four of us, holed up in a room with a microphone and a multi-track machine. We are recording the vocals parts to the Book of Hope; the set of songs I’ve written for the Lincolnshire Choir, and we’re very slowly going mad. It’s taking rather longer than I think we’d all hoped, and I’ve had to take myself into a different room for a moment of calm, whilst my stomach unknots itself and makes the horrible gurgling noises of a man who has still not got over a stomach virus. When on earth will it clear, I wonder?
We have to drive up to Leeds this evening. No doubt we’ll not get there until the wee smalls and I’m up with the lark tomorrow doing press for the Yorkshire project, which will be launched first thing. Very exciting, but with every extra minute we spend recording these songs, I lose another minute’s potential sleep. I think I’m meant to be interviewed on the telly as well, which will be fun for everyone as I’m bound to look like death warmed up.
350 years ago today, Pepys was still in limbo. The winds were high, and once again he couldn’t go to sea. There was much to do with Montagu, however, and he spent a day in meetings. He also noted that this day was actually the day he said his sad goodbyes to his mother and father, and not the day before, as reported. With this amendment it becomes clear that Pepys didn’t write his diary on a daily basis; he collected notes here and there and wrote everything up at a later point. This explains a number of the inconsistencies that take place in his writing, particularly when it comes to his tenses.
At the end of the day he went back to Mrs Crisp’s house, where he described things as being “very merry”. The old lady of the house, obviously a big Pepys fan, sent out for supper, and then gave him a little gift; a handkerchief with strawberry shaped buttons sewn into it. How ghastly! Definitely the sort of present only an old lady could give. Perhaps she also knitted him a little jumper with a ship sewn into the front and made him a macramé owl!