Tuesday, 13 April 2010


Last night I had an incredibly disturbing dream. It was one of those ridiculous and frustrating nightmares that I'm sure everyone has from time to time. I was on a cluttered stage in a theatre somewhere and I didn’t know any of my lines. To make matters worse, everyone around me was facing upstage and mumbling incomprehensibly as though they were part of some strange cult. I couldn’t hear any of my cues and kept wondering how awful the experience was going to be for the poor audience. When I came off the stage, everyone was yelling and telling me that if I’d bothered to study improvisation like they had, I wouldn’t have wrecked the show. They didn’t seem to be interested in the fact that their finely-tuned improvisation skills were entirely lacking in any form of theatrical craft. You can put a turd in a Harrods bag, but it's still a bag of shit!

I woke up with a start; an annoying bloke called Adam's voice was vibrating in my ears. My i-Phone alarm was ringing a crazy marimba light-motif. In my daze, I picked it up, said hello and was very surprised when no one answered...

To my mind all of this means I’m stressed, and possibly very close to losing my mind. I’m currently on a tube heading into town because my music writing software has just gone up the swanny. I’ve no idea what’s happened and right now I have an incredibly strong desire to throw my computer through the window of the tube train so it smashes into a million useless pieces and gets eaten by rats and scorpions and whatever else hangs out in these airless, sooty tunnels...

It first crashed (probably just for fun) last night and I worked until midnight and then until 1pm today painstakingly copying the second half of the second movement of my motet into a new file. At 1.15pm, that file also crashed and I waved goodbye to something like 10 hours’ work. I have called the software helpline – several times – but rather fabulously it’s located in the States, which means you can’t call them before 2.30pm. It also means you have to talk to an American. American customer service people are machines. Impassive machines. Chat to someone in the UK – or even India - and you’ll hear emotion in their voice. When you shout at them they cower and sound close to tears. The Yanks just say; “well I am sorry, Sir” in a sort of monotone “welliamsorrysir” kind of way, which makes you wonder what went wrong in their childhoods.

For the past week, it's felt like I’m running up a slippery hill wearing a pair of flip flops. For techno geeks out there, the problem seems to be that Windows 7 is one step too far removed from anything Allegro Finale (an ancient programme at 3 years old) recognises. There are upgrades, but they're not downloadable and more frustratingly they need to be sent over from the States, which could take weeks.

So I’m off to Chappell’s to wave goodbye to £250 as the very kind gentleman there is allowing me to have the academic version of Finale 10, which is apparently the same as the professional version but cheaper. I'm assured it will work with Windows 7 but I have my doubts. If it doesn't, you'll find me at 11pm in a tube tunnel somewhere between Highgate and Archway feeding myself to the rats and scorpions.

And to think a little girl was singing Ring a Ring o Roses in the cafe this morning and I took it to be such a sign of good things to come. How was I meant to know she was a bloody harbinger of doom? She looked so sweet with her silly little bunches and her toothless, imbicilic grin.

Friday the 13th of April 1660 was (unluckily for some) a nasty, gloomy, angry day. The weather did nothing but huff, puff and spit. Pepys, who really ought to have been born a Virgo, spent the day tidying his room and sorting through his papers. (We had a girl like that at school. She was called Jenny. She looked like Mrs Mangle and her eyes used to go all funny when you mentioned stationery.) Pepys drank ale and wrote letters late into the night, but when it came to going to bed, he discovered rain was dripping in through his roof and soaking his mattress. He went to the great cabin immediately below and bunked-down with John Good, one of Montagu’s servants, who must have been thrilled to be sharing a bed with the noisy bugger from upstairs who entertains posh people and plays depressing violin music at anti-social hours. The wind was so high through the night that the crew were forced to lower some of the ship’s masts. That said, John Good’s bed was, according to Pepys, most comfortable and the rocking of the boat sent him into a deep slumber which lasted until 10am. It's not mentioned if poor John Good slept, or even if he got to do so in his own bed!


  1. Two things: Sibelius. and Mac. Just Do It.

    Now I will play depressing violin music in my hotel room to delight the inhabitants of Porto Alegre.

    Bach should do it.

  2. Unless you wanted inspiration for the plague motif, I don't know if I would have counted "Ring a Ring o Roses" a good omen. More a premonition of the Microsoft Blue Screen of Death.

    And I can report that someone has put your formal call for singers on the PepysDiary listserv. Unfortunately I'm out of voice and too far away, so I must respectfully decline. ;-)