Saturday, 12 June 2010

Steely defiance

I’ve broken all the promises I made to myself and am writing this blog with the England/ USA World Cup match on in the background. I refuse to be drawn in, however. I’ve been there before. 1998 was a particularly painful memory. I don’t pretend to be a footballing expert, but it strikes me that England is pretty rubbish at the game. In my opinion, our players are paid too much and I genuinely think they spend too much time living the high life and not enough time perfecting their art or developing their stamina. They run out of steam before the end of every match and it is unbelievably frustrating to watch. And yet we continue to support them. The streets outside my window are entirely empty. It would appear that the whole of Leeds is watching the match. Why?

The most irritating aspect about this whole world cup, however, has to be the noise the fans make with their little plastic trumpets. It sounds like a million mosquitoes hovering over a cess pit, which is possibly not that far from what's actually going on. And in case you're wondering, all of the trumpets are pitched to a B flat, which is somehow even more hideous. At least if it was an A, you could tune your violin to it and have a little play whilst waiting for the English footballers to stop fannying around the pitch like uncoordinated children.

You may detect a slight anger in my tone as you read this. Or perhaps it’s more a sense of steely defiance. I’ve just received more news from Lincolnshire and it seems that going to court is now an inevitability. And on behalf of hard-working, trusting composers across the globe, I say bring it on...

Today was an incredibly important day. We recorded the first bars of music for the Yorkshire symphony in a portakabin on the outskirts of York. The group performing was the Shepherd’s Group Brass Band, formally the band of the Rowntree’s Chocolate Factory, before Nestle waded in and decided they didn't need a brass band. I worked them extremely hard, making sure that every note was as in tune as I felt it could be, and I’m incredibly pleased with the result.

We went home via the Hyde Park region of Leeds to look for more locations and found some absolute gems. My personal favourite was the Hyde Park Picture House which is a splendid art nouveau building in the middle of an area of back-to-back Victorian terraces. If this were in London all the houses would have been gentrified, and instead of chippies and greasy spoons, the place would be swimming with vegetarian cafes and one-stop-yoga-shops. But this is Leeds, and the area feels almost other-worldly; a sort of 1960s throwback. Washing hangs on lines stretched across the roads. Mucky-faced kids play on the steps in front of their homes. I knocked on one door to ask about a washing line, which I felt might make a quirky backdrop for a shot. The woman who answered was charming. You’d have thought I was her long-lost son. She explained that anyone could use her washing line; “I leave it there for t’students. And when mine's occupied, I tell 'em to use mi Mam’s next door. There’s always pegs. I make sure of that. It’s not a busy road, you don’t get fumes or owt, and we’ve not got back gardens, so makes perfect sense, if you think about it. If you’re keen, I’ll certainly make sure there’s summat hanging there when you come here to film.” Amazing people up here...

It was “very hot” and busy day for Pepys on this date 350 years ago. He met a bewildering assortment of people including Mr Pierce the purser, Mr Pierce the surgeon, Mr Faithorne, the painter and engraver, Mr Greatorex the instrument maker, the Dukes of Gloucester and York, the speaker of the house of Commons and a cuddly toy. Okay, I made the last bit up. When he returned to his father’s house, which seemed to be where he was staying, he found his parents in bed, and his wife, obviously slightly irritable. They’d been waiting for him to come home all day...

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