Tuesday, 15 June 2010


I’m looking at what can only be described as a biblical sunset. Huge streaks of orange light seem to be shooting up from behind an ink black cloud. I’ve been stuck in a recording studio for what seems like the last 48 hours and don’t think I’ve seen daylight in all this time. The experience of looking at such an attractive sky, which is now darkening to reveal a perfect crescent moon, is therefore all the more enjoyable. Less enjoyable is the fact that my flat up here would appear to have either bedbugs or fleas because my legs and arms are now covered in little tiny itchy insect bites. More on this revelation once I’ve caught one of the little critters in the act and punished him severely!

It’s been quite a time and I’m so exhausted I seem to have forgotten my name. Yesterday was hell on earth and presented me with my very first walk-out by a set of musicians in a studio. It was an absolutely horrible experience, led by old-timer, a real MU stalwart, who decided from the moment he arrived at the studio, that the set-up wasn’t something he was gong to put up with. He demanded extra lights, mirrors to reflect the extra lights and then a baseball cap to deflect the reflection of the extra lights! At 5 minutes to the end of the session, despite the fact that we’d started half an hour late and were playing the final 20 bars of the symphony, he downed tools and refused to continue. I asked him if he’d stay an extra 10 minutes, just to finish up, but he refused and proceeded to flounce out, breaking a pair of expensive headphones in the process. Unfortunately he was followed by another four string players; rather tellingly the quartet of players who we’d recently discovered weren’t actually from Yorkshire at all. I was however, hugely grateful to the players who stayed behind and muddled through to the end with me. I suppose it just had the effect of making me feel a bit crappy about things. I think I’ve got a bit too used to dealing with communities; and working with musicians and singers who seem to genuinely care about the projects I’ve invited them to take part in. It’s always hard to swallow the reality that some professional musicians simply don’t care about the music they’re asked to play, or for that matter the quality of their playing!

Today also started rather badly, with a pair of drummers in the studio who had a somewhat interesting relationship with rhythm. It took 2 hours to record 8 bars of music, which must be a record for one of my projects. Everything changed, however, with the arrival of the Colombian drummers, who were like a beam of beautiful golden sunshine. They were well-prepared and energetic, and their leader, Ian is wildly charismatic. Their enthusiasm totally turned the day around, and from then on everyone who stepped through the door seemed to be a joy to work with. There was a buxom and utterly charming pianist, a Wurlitzer player who performed the most authentically 1950s organ solo I’ve probably ever heard. After him came the Hut People; a duo consisting of an extraordinary percussionist who used to play with the Beautiful South and perhaps my favourite musician to pass through the doors of the studio so far; an accordion player called Sam, who worked tirelessly to make sure that every single note and nuance of my music was observed. It’s amazing how a day can be turned so completely on its head by a troupe of Colombian drummers!

Many thanks to Nathan for his guest blog entry. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did. I’m not altogether sure that the date in Pepys’ Diary he chose to write about was the 14th June 1660, so it might not have made a huge amount of sense to the keener readers amongst you. But I think he did an incredible job for someone who was given 30 minutes notice!

350 years ago Pepys was re-entering London society. He was making new friends and reacquainting himself with his old ones, which included the clerks who used to haunt the inns and taverns of London with him in his sillier, less upwardly-mobile days.

A rather cryptic remark in today’s entry read; “My lord resolves to have Sarah again”. Sadly this is less scandalous than it immediately reads. Sarah was a former housekeeper who had been sacked for unspecified misdemeanours in 1657, but was apparently being given another chance.

There was more news on the Montagu front; on top of everything else (he’d become the Vice Chancellor of the Fleet and a member of the Privy Council), he’d been awarded the position of master of the Wardrobe and I’m afraid I’m too tired to make head nor tale of what Wikipedia tells me this means. Maybe you could look for yourself!

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