Monday, 19 April 2010

High tea on the Peninsula

I’m staying in an hotel in a very pleasant corner of Leeds, just south of the city centre in a complex of wharves where the River Aire gushes over a weir and runs parallel with the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Every morning, I go down to breakfast and eat my beans on toast whilst working on the motet. After a full day on the Yorkshire Symphony, I go back to the hotel and work until midnight. It means I’m utterly knackered. Unfortunately, there seem to be mirrors everywhere in the hotel so I wake up and am forced to see a wizened old sage staggering around the room. I slap on the moisturiser like a clown wearing grease paint and hope for the best. To make matters worse, I’ve just stuck a piece of paper in my eye which means it’s now bloodshot. I look like a sweaty, elderly alcoholic.

We’ve been reading poetry today. BBC Look North launched a competition a few weeks ago for people to write a poem about Yorkshire. I’ll be setting the winning entry to music as part of the symphony, so it needs to be right... And yet so many were wrong! There were poems about Yorkshire puddings, David Blunkett, Emmerdale Farm, the Arctic Monkeys (who apparently have a tribute band called the Antarctic Monkeys...) But in amongst the endless verses which sounded like the crap they read out on Countdown, there were some proper gems. One came so much from the heart that I couldn’t seem to read it without crying. There’s certainly no shortage of love for Yorkshire. We’ve now whittled down the entries from 150 to 20 and a new set of judges will take the reins. I’m very excited to discover which poem will be chosen.

It seems many of my friends have been affected by the volcanic ash. My brother, Ted, was stranded in Amsterdam until yesterday when he took an over-night ferry to Harwich and Julie is stranded in Hong Kong with no idea when she’s going to get back. I asked if it was worrying or exciting and she replied; “currently sitting in the Peninsula having high tea, so I can live with it for now...” I’ll say!

The 19th April 1660, and hysterically, Pepys’ assistant Burr disappeared again without leave! A less even-tempered man would have made him walk the plank! It was also the day that Montagu discovered he’d been elected as the MP for Dover, which no doubt blew even more smoke up the preening peacock’s arse! Poor Pepys’ day ended in catastrophe, however. It had been raining nonstop, and by the time he got to his cabin his bed was soaked through. He was forced to wrap himself up in a dry sheet and no doubt spent the night shivering and wondering where the hell his clerk had gone!

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