Monday, 31 May 2010

Hopping in and out of the shadows

It feels incredibly odd to be working on a bank holiday. It's like there’s some kind of anti-work fog floating through the air. You look out onto the street and people seem to be drifting purposelessly. You turn the television on for company, and instead of daytime chat shows and quizzes with complicated rules, they're showing obscure Judy Garland films. Fiona called me up at lunchtime and asked if she could come over. She had a stack of admin to do before leaving the country and was having the same problem. She felt that being in the presence of another person working would spur her on, so we spent the afternoon holed up in the loft with me banging my head against a wall, trying to write the final movement of the Yorkshire Symphony, which features perhaps the most bizarre line-up of players. How on earth am I going to write for a rock band, a euphonium and a Wurlitzer!?

At about 5pm, the attic air became stifling and we took ourselves for a walk across the heath. It was a good decision. It had been cold and overcast all day, but the sun was suddenly shining and it felt quite magical to be hopping in and out of the long, early-evening shadows.

We sat inside a hollow tree and met a family of rats living by the side of one of the ponds. They seemed to be incredibly tame. We tried to feed them pieces of dried mango, but a golden retriever came lolloping over and spoilt our fun! We wandered through the fair, which is back in town again. After a slightly disappointing visit to a travelling hall of mirrors, I bought a toffee apple, which tasted heavenly. Every bite brought with it another happy memory of Hallowe’en parties from my childhood.

May 31st 1660, and Pepys spent a pleasant day on board The Charles. He played some songs written by the composer Henry Lawes, was given a pair of light-blue silk stockings and walked until 10pm on the deck with the captain of the boat; his mood much improved by being no longer in pain down below.

“This day the month ends, I in very good health, and all the world in a merry mood because of the King’s coming...I expect every minute to hear how my poor wife do. I find myself in all things well as to body and mind, but troubled for the absence of my wife.”

So he hadn't forgotten she existed. I was beginning to worry.

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