Sunday, 16 May 2010


I did three hours work in Costa Coffee today, and in that time, put the finishing touches to one of the movements of the Symphony for Yorkshire. There’s no rest for the wicked, however, because tomorrow morning, I’ll need to start working on the third of the four movements, so it’s almost back to square one. That said, I’m pretty sure the lion’s share of the writing is done. I’ve already scored for both brass bands, the carillon, the tap-dancing accordion player, the saxophone choir, the Wurlitzer, the samba duo, the 12-piece wind ensemble and the musical saw! But I’m not quite out of the woods yet. Challenges on the horizon include finding cameos for a 5-piece folk ensemble, a rock band, an early music choir, a ukulele orchestra, and a set of Columbian drummers! One day, I’ll write something simple like a string quartet...

We’re currently driving away from The Curtain’s Up pub, where we won the quiz. Hurrah! I will confess to one tiny cheat. We were asked the name of the grace and favour residence of the Deputy Prime Minister, which was something I ought to have known and was genuinely on the tip of my tongue. Unfortunately the only word that would come to mind was “Dollywood”, which plainly wasn’t the answer. However, I believe it’s not cheating to contact your ex-partner on these occasions, particularly when said ex used to be a government minister! I texted him and was immediately provided with the answer; “Dorneywood.” But doesn’t Dollywood seems so much more appropriate?

Who'd live in a house like this...?

Good news for Nathan, who's just been cast in one of the Lost Musicals at Sadler’s Wells. These semi-staged performances have been taking place for about 20 years. All are forgotten musicals by hugely well-known composers, so in the past they’ve done pieces like The Flower Drum Song by Rogers and Hammerstein. The show Nathan’s doing is called The Day Before Spring. It’s by Lerner and Loewe and will run for 5 consecutive Sundays from 13th June.

350 years ago, Pepys spent the entire day on board the Nazeby, which was anchored off the coast of Holland. Montagu, emerged from his cabin at one point, shimmering like a disco ball draped in some of the glorious garb that had been delivered the previous day. It transpired that he was hoping to meet the King, who’d been due to come to Scheveling to see the Navy fleet. Sadly the King never arrived, so everyone played nine-pins instead. Pepys doesn’t mention if Montagu changed into something more appropriate before the game but I like to think that he didn't. Furthermore I hope the dreadful sycophant slipped on a little pile of sick and ruined his ostentatious clobber!

Later in the evening, conversation turned once again to the King, and what a difficult financial situation he’d managed to get himself into. No doubt this was caused by living completely outside of his means, which became something of a speciality during his official reign. All his attendants were said to look ragged; “their clothes not being worth forty shillings the best of them”, so you can imagine how overjoyed the King was to receive a generous gift of money from Parliament. “So joyful” in fact “that he called the Princess Royal and Duke of York to look upon it as it lay in the portmanteau before it was taken out”. Aww bless.

The poet, Andrew Marvel, who was a contemporary of Pepys, wrote about this particular event;

“At length, by wonderful impulse of fate,
The people call him back to help the State;
And what is more, they send him money, too,
And clothe him all from head to foot anew.”

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