Tuesday, 25 May 2010

I hate you, Mr Sax!

I’m having another rather frustrating day trying to create scores and parts for the multitude of bizarre instruments that we’re featuring in the Yorkshire Symphony. Yesterday was about brass. Today is about wind and right now, I’m wishing that dear old Adolphe Sax had spent 1841 doing something other than inventing the saxophone! The rules and regulations associated with that instrument are particularly mind-numbing. I’ve just been on the phone to Sam trying to understand how to write for the smallest member of the saxophone family, the sopranino. It’s so rarely played that Sam wasn’t sure he’d ever even seen one... and he’s a saxophonist! The fact remains that it is now almost midnight and I have been working solidly since 9am. I am utterly brain dead and I have no idea what I’m writing! All I know is that I have ten minutes to finish this entry before I officially fail in my task to keep a daily blog! Pepys would be horrified!

I think it’s also been a tough day for Alison up in Yorkshire. She has the almost impossible task of trying to organise rehearsals and recording sessions for 300 musicians and at one point sent an email which simply said; “I’m not replying to your emails today as I’m getting arsey”. I do hope it was sent with at least a hint of jest! I had been bombarding her with countless worried emails about string players!

The weather’s been much cooler, which means I’ve not been sweating like a pig, which means until very recently I was able to focus on the task in hand. It’s been sunny, but there was a distinct chill in the air, which became apparent when I took a 30-minute break at tea time to sit in Waterlow Park with Nathan and Fiona. I ate a Fry’s peppermint cream, which felt kind of old school! Tomorrow, I'm going to search for a Wham bar!

Friday 25th May 1660, and by the morning, The Charles had reached Dover. As everyone prepared to disembark, Pepys found himself in conversation with the Duke of York and was thrilled to discover that the King’s brother actually knew his name. Everyone else was fawning around the King. Word was out that he was going to knight a few people before leaving the boat, but this turned out to be a rumour.

Barges were taken to the shore and no doubt the musicians who Pepys had booked all those weeks ago were playing beautifully. Montagu got to share the Royal barge whilst Pepys had to make do with the company of a footman, and one of the King’s favourite dogs, who systematically shat all over the boat. Pepys was highly amused at the incident and it suddenly occurred to him that the King, and all his possessions “are but just as others are.” It’s well documented that Charles II loved dogs. What’s less well known is that they kept getting stolen from him, and he was forever placing adverts demanding their safe return!

The King was received by General Monck “with all imaginable love and respect at his entrance upon the land of Dover”. And there was an “infinite” crowd of people. Noblemen rubbed shoulders with townspeople. All had come to see the King and all were cheering; “the shouting and joy expressed by all is past imagination.” Montagu, as one of the major masterminds behind the King’s return was particularly chuffed, in fact “almost transported with joy that he had done all this without any the least blur or obstruction in the world”.

And that was that. Not that I heard it mentioned on the news, but 350 years ago on this very day, the Restoration officially happened. And that, my friends, is why the Queen exactly 350 years later, was invited to sit on a throne and read a speech outlining what parliament would be doing in her name. And I’m afraid in my brain-addled state and as the clock ticks towards midnight, that’s about as eloquent as I can be about something that feels like an important parallel.

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