Thursday, 27 May 2010

Emeralds in a waterfall

I’m exhausted. I’ve been working on the symphony without a break since 7am and now every time I close my eyes all I can see is manuscript paper and thousands of little dots. To make matters worse, my feet are hurting rather badly. I plainly need a new pair of shoes. The ones I’m wearing have worn down so badly that I look like Tiny Tim when I walk anywhere. Very soon, people will be throwing money at me in the street. It’s hugely frustrating. All this stretching and wearing of insoles seems to be doing me no good whatsoever.

I spent a very charming hour yesterday with three generations of my god-daughter’s family. We strolled around Highgate Woods and marvelled at the sun glinting through the green, green trees. The leaves looked like emeralds cascading down a waterfall.

In the evening, I went with Ellen to see Jonathan Harvey’s new play at the Hampstead Theatre. It’s a great piece; a real departure from the innocuous farces I associate him with. This play had real depth, and at times was incredibly hard to watch. It constantly reminded me how lucky my generation is. If I was ten years older, in the same job and living a similar lifestyle, it’s likely that half of my friends would have died of AIDS. Although I’m aware that it’s almost impossible nowadays to watch a gay play that doesn’t somehow reference the disease, there was something about the way that it was dealt with in this piece that felt both fresh and incredibly hard-hitting... and at times, deeply moving. I doubt I shall ever forget the image of a young lad, hallucinating on his death bed, flying above the stage, hand in hand with his mother, whilst an instrumental version of Don’t Cry for me Argentina played at full volume. It shouldn’t have worked... but it choked me up. Ellen enjoyed it as well, and was thrilled to get the opportunity, beforehand to meet a Pet Shop Boy.

350 years ago, and amidst much pomp and ceremony, Montagu became a knight of the garter. The King wasn’t present on the ship to do the honours, but he’d sent one Sir Edmund Walker with a sealed letter on a crimson cushion in his stead. The ceremony seemed to involve tying a little ribbon around Montagu’s neck, and then attaching a garter to his leg; a camper procedure I’m sure it would be hard to find, but then again, this was the Restoration. And Monck fans need not worry. The day before, he’d also been blessed with this particular honour.

The ship was filled to the brim with various lords and fancy types, so Pepys found there was no room for him at the dinner table and was forced to eat in his cabin. Unfortunately, his lobster was served with a bottle of oil instead of a bottle of vinegar, and Pepys managed to ruin his meal, much to his chagrin.

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