Saturday, 22 May 2010

Intermezzo Number One

I’m taking a break from composing whilst Nathan plays Intermezzo Number One by ABBA on full volume in the sitting room. It’s difficult to score a symphony whilst music is playing this loudly, so I might just have to dance instead...

It was another glorious day in London today and once again we took ourselves to Waterlow Park where I sat and wrote whilst the sun cooked me to a crisp. The place was crammed full of people. I assume that everyone was panicking that this might be the one day of sunshine they’d see this year.

We sat next to a young couple, who were obviously very much at the honeymoon stage of their relationship. They seemed incredibly old-fashioned and formal. There was lots of cooing and sighing and polite conversation. I couldn’t believe quite how enthusiastic the young lad was being about the bread his new girlfriend had bought on the Green Lanes. Similarly, she claimed never to have seen such a beautiful tuna salad. I thought it looked like cat food. But they were in love. Obviously, my instinct was to vomit all over them, but Nathan said he thought it was lovely and that I must have a heart of stone. Perhaps I have.

I'm very worried about money at the moment. The BBC always takes way too long to pay, and because of the Lincolnshire business, I have nothing in my account to tide me over. To think that I actually turned work down so that I could do that commission. I wonder if it’s occurred to the woman who runs the choir that her actions have directly affected my livelihood. Or perhaps I should be more understanding. From her perspective, I suppose, she's just been handed an end product. Why should she pay for it if she doesn't know how to interpret it? She doesn't read music so she probably doesn’t realise how long it takes to write a four movement work for strings and large choir, even if she's written in the contract that it should have "some of the qualities of the Barber Adagio", which is not exactly setting the bar low! I'm sure Barber didn't write his seminal masterpiece in his lunch break on the back of a cornflakes packet. Perhaps when she asked for full scores of the work which she wasn't expecting to look at, or hand out to the choir, she didn’t realise how long it takes to format a score properly - or for that matter how long it takes to create a piano reduction, which has been asked for mid-way through a commission, or indeed how expensive it is to do four 200-mile roundtrips to Lincolnshire and back to work with her choir. I suspect by the end of this process, these are all things that she will learn.

Tuesday 22nd May 1660, and the Dukes of York and Gloucester, dressed in yellow trimmings, and grey and red respectively, came to inspect the Nazeby. Montagu went in a boat to meet them, and the rest of the crew stood at the entering port to greet them. The dukes were “exceedingly pleased” with the ship and Pepys described them as very fine gentlemen.

Pepys was part of the group who were chosen to see the Dukes safely back to land again, and there were so many people crammed onto the beach awaiting their return, that Pepys described the normally white sand as looking black. By the time they’d deposited the dukes and returned to the Nazeby, they heard that the King was now examining the fleet from the shore. There followed an enormous gun salute. Every gun on every ship in the fleet was repeatedly fired until the sound became cacophonous and deafening. Pepys pointed out that this was the first time that the King had ever been saluted by his own ships and they were making the most of it! Never one to be left out, Pepys felt he needed to get in on the act. He rushed to the gun nearest his cabin and started firing it. Unfortunately, he positioned his head too close to the mechanism and very nearly blinded himself.

In the evening people started to move cabins to make way for the more important guests. Pepys downsized to the carpenter’s cabin, which he was forced to share with one Dr Clerke. Many of the King’s servants started to appear on the ship, and a good many Dutch people too had come on board, simply out of curiosity.

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