Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Marching orders

It’s Nathan’s birthday today, and he’s here with me in Leeds! Hurrah. He’s come up to help in the studio whilst I spend the day prepping the filming tomorrow. I also need to have a hair cut because I look like a Yetti... or more specifically because I look like a circle. My hair tends to grow out instead of down, and unfortunately as I get older it also gets finer, so gone are the lustrous curls of my youth, replaced by the sort of thing you’d expect to find on pension day sitting underneath one of those hair dryers waiting for a permanent wave.

The studio is certainly a testing environment. We hit another brick wall today when we discovered that our choir of early music singers had managed to systematically sing a perfect quarter tone flat; or probably, in fairness to them, at baroque pitch, which I’m sure is what they’re used to. At one point I was found with my head face-down in a piano keyboard wondering what on earth I’d done wrong in a former life! We continue to be forced to cut more and more sections of string music. If only I’d have known which few bars were going to end up with, I’d’ve been able to take longer in the studio trying to get them to sound a bit better!!

So, in two hours’ time, I have to say goodbye to the music, put my director’s hat on, and place my trust in Nathan, Hazel and Simon to continue whip my ungainly composition into shape. There’s still so so much to do on it before it can sound like anything other than a wall of confusing sound... and yet my ears are spent and my time has run out.

To make matters slightly worse, the surly teenager who gave me such lip in the studio is still deciding whether she’s going to grace us with her presence for the filming on Friday. She’s apparently going to make up her mind tonight; two days before we’re meant to be filming her. If she doesn’t turn up, I’ll be forced to find a replacement and we’ll have to spend another day in the studio sorting out the vocals, not to mention the expense of another day's shoot. I shouldn’t complain. I should instead try to remember at all times to feel incredibly blessed that she’s even considered lending her dulcet tones and beautiful face to our project.

Sitting in the studio with us on his birthday can’t be much fun for Nathan.I have given him a cake by means of apology and it has 8 candles, one for every year we've been together, which I hope he at least enjoyed blowing out!

350 years ago Pepys’ poor maid, Jane, was still lame. Elizabeth was climbing the walls and had become desperate for some help around the house. Pepys hired a boy called Will, who wasn’t destined to last very long in his employment. He then ordered Elizabeth to kill six pigeons, which he proceeded to eat with his friend, Mr Hawley, who’d also worked for Mr Downing back in the dark days when Pepys was a humble clerk.

Pepys spent the afternoon walking all over London; visiting friends near St Giles, Cripplegate before heading back down to Whitehall where he saw a great many “fine antique heads of marble” that Lord Northumberland had presented to the King in an attempt to garner forgiveness him for his previous commonwealth leanings. But how old were these antiques? What constituted a 17th Century antique, I wonder? And would these marble heads still be around today?

Pepys’ final job of the day was to “pay off” Miss Ann, who keen readers of this blog will remember as the gorgon who worked for Mrs Jemima; Montagu’s unfortunate daughter with the bizarre neck problems. Miss Anne had done nothing but complain to Pepys during her time in Mrs Jem’s service; especially during the winter when she herself was bedridden. How sweet it therefore must have been for Pepys to finally get the opportunity to award her with her marching orders!

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