Saturday, 24 April 2010

Snooker Loopy

It’s a very beautiful, sunny Saturday evening in Leeds and it feels rather depressing to be staying in my hotel room, sitting at a Formica desk working. I have the window open, and a lovely breeze is drifting in from the canal outside, so I can at least pretend to be relaxing!

We visited snooker-loopy Sheffield again today and met another eccentric assortment of musicians, which included djembe drummers and the usual selection of Yorkshire's finest brass players. Today’s star performer (apart from Steve Davies of course) was the organist from Sheffield’s City Hall. He’s only a young chap, but he plays Hammond organs and Wurlitzers for ballroom dances and was taught to do so by his 80 year-old father who still plays the drums in dance bands. It's utterly authentic and he’s Sheffield born and bred and I’m thrilled he took the time to come in and see us.

The afternoon was spent in Huddersfield, where we listened to a saxophone choir, who were excellent. Just before they played, another saxophone choir (...and who knew so many existed) played Grieg’s Holberg’s Suite, which is a shining beacon in the string orchestra repertoire and a work which is jam-packed with memories for me. It worked beautifully on saxophones and made me cry like a little girl.

En route to Huddersfield, we got to take a closer look at the highest structure in the British Isles; the radio mast at Emley Moor, which you can see here. It towers above the surrounding moorland like something out of a George Orwell dystopia. I got very excited about a little prefabricated chip shop which resembled a matchbox underneath it. I’m not altogether sure why, but it felt somehow more real than many of the locations we’ve been looking at during my time up here. It was just sitting there, all lonely on the edge of a moor, dwarfed by a giant radio mast. It felt like a little snippet of genuine Yorkshire life.

On 24th April, 1660, Pepys shared the remainder of his pickled oysters with Montagu’s servant Sheply and Mr Luellin. After a morning of work, he was invited across to The London, which was the second most important ship in the fleet. It had a bigger stateroom than the Nazeby but according to Pepys, wasn’t as richly decorated. When he got back to the flagship, he was greeted with the news that Lambert was back in captivity. Keen readers of this blog will remember that he’d recently escaped from the tower and whipped the Puritan fanatiques up into a frenzy. Recapturing him brought the situation under control and the quest to return the King to England could roll forward once again, completely unhindered.

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