Monday, 19 July 2010

200 blogs and counting

It’s been another tough day in the edit, but we continue to take baby steps forward. For much of the day I thought we were going to have to reshoot at least a couple of scenes, but a few pep talks from Alison and Keith the camera man made me realise I was striving for an unachievable perfection. Our film is performed by musicians of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, so make it too glossy or perfect would run the risk of its losing its heart and soul. Also, there’s a limit to how hard you can fight before you need to step back and think; “yeah, you know what? That’s as good as it could ever be...” The pride is beginning to come. Every time I watch a run through of the film, I wince for a while and think, “I must do something about that shot” before losing myself again, and finally feeling genuinely proud of not just myself, Alison, my filming family and Hazel and Simon but every single one of those performers featured in the film who are giving it everything.

For those of you on Twitter, apparently the Yorkshire Symphony is tweeting. BBCyorksymph. It’s also on Facebook...

350 years ago, Pepys and his wife “did lie late a-bed”. Later in the day they headed by boat to Westminster. Pepys dropped Elizabeth and Will Hewer at Whitefriars with a shopping list as long as their arms, which included a new fire iron as theirs has already broken. Pepys called in on Montagu and found him still in bed. He then went to Westminster Hall where he met up with his friends, the booksellers, Mr and Mrs Michell. He took them out for anchovies and olives at the Dog Tavern and paid for everything. Gawd bless him.

So, the exciting time has come for me to publish the blogs I’ve received today. I hope very much that you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I have. I have cried four times already and am touched that so many people have bothered to share their lives in such wonderful prose. Happy 200th birthday to you all!

...and the prize for the blog that could have been written by Pepys, oddly goes to my brother, Edward. All you need to do, Ted, is finish the day singing some motets on your balcony, and you're the man himself!

From Helen:

A glimpse into my life, eh? Well, I'm a psychotherapist recently moved to Cambridge. However, Monday is still my day for seeing clients in London so this morning I made my weekly train trip into the Big Smoke, earlier than usual as I had a hair appointment. I've been to the same hairdresser, Elliott, for eleven years now and we've become good friends - it was great to see him, but sad to hear the latest in the saga of his marriage break-up. I'm now immersed in the exhausting intensity of seeing nine clients in a row, but since my 4pm client has called in sick I have an hour free which I'm using to send in my blog like the good girl I am - my last chance to do so before tonight's 10pm deadline, and better than venturing outside since Regent Street is a risky place to have a consulting room, shopping-wise! Plus it's way too hot for me out there - I loathe summer and the sun, and it makes me long even more to get back to my beloved airy Cambridge. Even summer feels almost bearable there! Almost.

From Rachel:

(Stands up) Hi, I'm Rachel and I'm a self-confessed blog addict. (Smattering of applause) I also play the french horn, so I'm not just a random who reads your blog; I'm enjoying being able to keep up to date on Symphony happenings.

My day was typically uneventful; working at Next is not what I intended to do with my degree. I'll be honest, I spent 2 hours sorting lingerie. It would appear that no one in York knows how to use coat hangers.

However, in sympathy for your mentally long days recently, I thought I'd give you the low-down on my decidedly more interesting Saturday.

The Next Sale started on Saturday. In case you weren't aware, it starts at 5am. Why this is, nobody knows. It just does. So my day started at 4.50, in time for my 6am shift.Work was fine, nothing particularly thrilling, just women going crazy because 'everything is half price or less'. Great. Then lunchtime came around and on my way to buy my sandwich, I found myself surrounded by policemen in full riot gear, police dogs, ambulances and all sorts of noise and generally excitement. York doesn't see very many riots so the police were taking no precautions. Thankfully, by this time I'd purchased my baguette and had made a hasty retreat, as they then closed of half of York to stop grown men fighting about football...ridiculous.

After finishing work at 3, it was off to Leeds to meet my parents. An amazing Bella Italia dinner (don't be put off by the fact it's a chain) later, we made our way to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to see the evening show of 'Britain's got Bhangra'. A-MAZING! A bollywood musical - all singing, all dancing. If anyone gets a chance to see it - go! And that was it. 18 hours after it started, Saturday was finally over.

As you said 'a few words' about my day, I think I may have outstayed my word count.... Over and out,

From Edward:

Hi, I'm Ben's older brother, Edward. I work as a banker in Canary Wharf, London, and live in the riverside flat reference by Ben in this blog.

I started the day knowing it is likely to be a long week, especially as my boss has just got back from Shanghai and I haven't seen him for over 4 weeks. Actually, the arrival of school holidays has kept the day less hectic that I had feared. In fact, the only urgent matter is that it looks like I may go to Sibos in Amsterdam this October. The last time I flew to Amsterdam for a 1 hour meeting, the volcanic ash cloud conspired to keep me there for 3 days before I managed to get a ferry ticket, so you can understand my trepidation about returning!

My new blue suit from Hong Kong fits perfectly and looks great. I am surprised given that I put on weight during my recent trips to Hong Kong and Morocco. Thankfully, the weight is coming off again and the suit fits.

Fingers crossed, my new hire has not been tempted to remain with his current - and my ex - employer. I was worried that a counter offer might get in the way of completing my little team in London. It seems that good sense has prevailed. Likewise, another ex colleague from way gone when joined the team today. I took him for tea in Canada Square this afternoon and we sat out in the sun and gossiped for a good hour, pretending that I was introducing him to product management. He'll be a good addition to the team.

I spent the end of the day arguing about how to help a customer finance a big Israeli infrastructure contract. I was surprisingly frank with those concerned, which yielded some good action points for the remainder of the week.

The work day ended at 6.30 pm, which I always like. The flat is lovely in the warm sunshine and I've changed into shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt. It's almost as good as being on vacation.

From Elizabeth:

I've been reading your blog since I found it via the BBC website a few months ago. I'm really looking forward to hearing both the Pepys Motet and the Yorkshire Symphony once they're allowed out - I grew up living just north of Yorkshire and I've been enjoying your descriptions of places I know and love while you've been filming.

My name's Elizabeth; I live in Ealing and commute to work on the train every day to small software start-up company in Reading. It's a 25 minute bike ride from the railway station to my office - Reading's surprisingly well equipped with cycle routes. This morning I almost ran into the company's CTO who was running to work along the canal towpath. He got into the office a distressingly short time after me, suggesting he runs almost as fast as I cycle.

This morning I've got a really bad case of The Monday Problem. The Monday Problem occurs when you get into the office on Monday morning, but realise you have very little idea what on earth you were working on the previous Friday. Knowing this, I left myself copious notes on Friday about *what* I was doing. Sadly, the one thing I seem to have omitted is *why* I was doing it. I have lots of notes on which functions I need to re-write in my program, but no idea of what bug I was trying to fix. I've now got a mug of tea and some music on (I wear headphones in the office - they're enormous and look ridiculous, but sound great and I don't have to look at me) and am hoping everything will soon become clear. I'm listening to an album called "Bleeding Light" by a band called Holy Ghost Revival. I always listen to music in albums-worths, even on my mp3 player.

Last night my boyfriend and I walked from Ealing, through Chiswick toHammersmith to see Penn & Teller's last show at the Apollo. Sorry, the HMV Apollo - I don't think there's an unbranded venue left in London now. (The Relentless Garage, I ask you.) Chiswick isn't somewhere I know well, but it seemed extraordinarily well-served for appealing-looking pubs. I think some Sunday trips to investigate their roasts might be called for. There's some intriguing shops too - a specialist bread shop, and we even found an example of that fast-vanishing breed the independent record shop.

Penn & Teller were fabulous, their show's a real mixture of proper, old-fashioned stage-magic, showmanship and new twists. Why demonstrate feats of memory with numbers when you can do it with a nailgun and risk of maiming? My favourite trick is Teller's "Shadows" - I don't care about the mechanics, it's just an absolutely beautiful thing to watch. If you've never seen it, the trick is on youtube here:

From Nathan:

Hello again, to anyone who remembers my "guest blog" a few weeks ago, and a simple hello to those who don't!

I'm Nathan, Benjamin's partner, and as I've already contributed a bit to this blog (let alone been mentioned a fair few times), I thought it would be bad form if I didn't respond to Ben's plea for info on what his readers have been doing on this day, the 200th day of the blog!

I have spent all day today, from 10am until 6pm, in a recording studio in South Woodford, singing backing vocals for a new "Glee"-esque theatre show that will be touring the UK very soon. Fans of Glee will be delighted to know that many of the hits from the TV show are being featured, and for me, it's been a fantastic opportunity to sing the kind of songs that I never get to sing in my everyday life. Songs like (predictably) "Don't Stop Believing," "Living on a Prayer," "The Final Countdown," Vogue," "Don't Stop Me Now," "Jump," and, seemingly, hundreds more. I worked on the tracks for a couple of days last week as well, and it has been a huge amount of fun. Great music. The show is going to be one helluva fun night out!

I've also just been booked today to do a series of surprise singing events all over the country, throughout September. Every night, you'll find me at some dinner event or other, pretending to be the Head Waiter, or the Maitre D', before whipping out a microphone, and bursting into song. I love doing it: it's a right giggle, so I'm really pleased that I've been allocated such a big block concerts. I'll be visiting Liverpool, Bradford, Wakefield, Co Durham, Devon, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Blackpool to name a few.

Less fun, is the fact that I've completely thrown my neck out! I was at a party last night, playing many very silly games, and laughing more than I have done in a very long time - we played "How Many Ferrero Rochers Can You Eat In One Minute?" Tragically, I only managed three. It's harder then you think, alright?), and "How Quickly Can You Get An After Eight From Your Forehead Into Your Mouth Without Touching it?". Not very quickly at all, it turns out, judging by the smears of melted chocolate down our faces! Dangerous though these extreme games might seem, it was simply while telling an anecdote that I shrugged my shoulders, and something went a cross between "Crunch" and "Squelch" in my back. The upshot today is that I can hardly move my head at all, and I've been in constant pain all day, having to turn my entire body if I want to look behind me, or even to the sides!

Tomorrow brings my first day at my new day job: working in the Box Office at the Shaftesbury Theatre, which I'm quite looking forward to, in a strange kind of way. One of my new colleagues will be an old friend from a show we did together in Germany about 10 years ago, so it will be lovely to pick up that friendship.

So it's been an eventful few days for me. At some point soon, I'll sit down, and take five minutes to do absolutely nothing... Nah - never gonna happen!

From my mother and father, Richard and Noelle:

For the second day running we’ve spent a sociable day in hot sunshine eating and drinking. Yesterday we were at Little Eastern Hall with the Thaxted Festival crowd, complete with peacocks. Today we met our very old friends Mike & Sue (Sylvester!) at the Orchard in Grantchester, surrounded by the ghosts of Rupert Brooke and Virginia Woolfe, eating cream teas. Pity about the wasps. Last time there we were there with Ben & Nathan. Lovely spot. Now we’re off for a glass of wine on the terrace. Will it ever end?

From Fiona:

I am writing from the painfully chic lobby bar of the W Hotel, Barcelona. Even the children in here are minted. I am 15 months into my 18 month World Tour with Placebo and we have a day off here before flying to Palma for a gig tomorrow. There is no danger of me actually getting served here - the staff are way too busy looking nonchalantly cool to do any work - so I can write undisturbed whilst staring out at the sun terrace which overlooks the ‘alternative’ end of the beach. By alternative I mean the ‘hippy / nudist / dope-smoking / gay / anything goes’ end of the beach. The W has done its best to hide this colourful slice of life by roping off a section of the sand and installing a blingtastic champagne bar, but there really is no disguising what’s on view. Big sunglasses please.

I sunbathed by the pool for an hour or so this morning then retreated as the temperature reached sweltering and I became unglamourously sweaty. I did some yoga, had some ‘encouragingly big plate featuring disappointingly small food’ room service and then got my teeth into some violin practise (Barber’s violin concerto. One day I’ll whip through that bastard blindfolded, maybe..) whilst staring through the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the ocean. I never forget that I am lucky to be experiencing all this luxury and at the same time I wonder why we really desire any of it, when nature is so stunning.

Also in the hotel is legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk. He and his friends invited us to watch them on the halfpipe yesterday, which was impressive, and most of my bandmates have gone off to watch them again today, but as I really know nothing about skateboarding I felt a bit of a fraud tagging along. They are friendly, laidback and fearless guys but I admit I am intimidated by duuude-ism and Awesomeness.

This evening I will go for dinner at a restaurant on the harbour with a few of my bandmates then get a reasonably early night in preparation for tomorrow’s hectic schedule. The beds here are huge, fluffy linen clouds that surround you and float you off to sleep. This feels truly amazing after you have spent two sleepless nights bumping around in a coffin-sized bunk whilst hurtling across the continent to the next gig on the tourbus. Pepys would never have imagined such a schedule to be possible, although he would have had the right constitution given the quantities of wine he seemed to enjoy!

Still haven't been served. Happy 200th blog!

From Philippa:

I'm Philippa, mother of Ben's god-daughter, Deia, and lifelong devotee of la Till. I'm a screenwriter and I live in East London with my husband, baby and cat. All their names begin with 'D'.

I had an angsty blog all planned - I was going to talk about juggling work and motherhood and how challenging that can be and then move on to nature of human existence. Then I was going make you cry and finish up by wowing you with inspirational quotes ... and then I had the most glorious day, so I thought I'd tell you about that instead.

It was one of those days when I wasn't trying to do a million things at once, and I'd had enough sleep (rare, rare, RARE) and everything just seemed to flow... I took Deia to the park and then to a playgroup near our house where we had a great time, playing on the slides and the little cars and cradling various plastic dolls - which were then either thrown onto the floor, or bitten, or ritually undressed before being discarded. We came home. Deia slept. I had some tea and washed the floor. My babysitter came and cooked us a super healthy lunch and I did a few hours editing on the script I'm currently writing. Oddly I've signed a non disclosure on this one, so all I can tell you is that it's true, historical, Spanish (but not set in Spain) and really really dark... I love it. I'm halfway through and in that place where you feel as if at last you've broken the back of the thing and you've nailed the tone and now it's time to have some fun...

In the afternoon I heard that I'd got a film project I'd pitched for a couple of weeks ago. I am THRILLED. It's an incredible project. Once again, historical, true story - Czech this time - packed full of magic realism and possessing an emotional punch that left me reeling for days when I first read the story. Again, I can't say anything about it... This is ridiculous, and probably a bit irritating. Let's move on...

Anyway, the babysitter left and Gaby and her Mum arrived for tea. Gaby is Deia's godmother. She has taught her the vital life skills of starting a motorbike and the correct way to drink beer from a bottle. After an hour of fine conversation I wandered along the Hackney Road to give Reiki healing to my friend Sam, who last year had a massive stroke and has been recovering ever since. It was a particularly lovely session and I floated home full of hope, gave Deia a bath... and here I am.

It's not the most scintillating of days, but the incredible thing about it was that I felt able to really be IN it - really live it and be present to it. Ah you see, I suspected all that angst would come out somewhere... Because, if I'm honest, I have everything I need and want in life. Life is full to the brim with amazing things. And yet still, it's a daily battle to really enjoy it - to be in it, moment by moment, rather than continually thinking about the future or the past, or whether they'll be enough time to do what needs to be done, or what I could be doing if I wasn't here. And all the time I'm struggling with my mind, I'm missing these little, golden, timeless moments that make up days like today. BE HERE NOW. That's the trick. I only manage it one day out of fourteen. But actually, maybe that's pretty good going.

I read what Pepys did on this day (I'm sure Ben will tell you.) It sounded quite similar - nothing very special on paper... but I can't help wondering if his was a golden day too.

From Tash:

Tomorrow I will be doing a dress rehearsal at Park Junior School with Chris Twell. They are doing Oliver this week. Then going to Bedford to present documents so that they can do my CRB check for the part time Vocal Animateur job that I have with them starting September. Then off to MK to see my singing teacher for my last lesson before the summer holls and just to finish off, a lovely Yoga class :-)

Take care and I can't wait to see the end result of your Yorkshire symphony...

From Sandra:

It's me, Sandra, the one who told you that because of Watford Gap The Musical, YOU have got me back to singing! I must say it's great having the opportunity to contact you (I often wanted to in the preceding months but you have had so much going on). Special parts for me were learning of the financial backing you deserved, also the excitement of getting the musicians and singers and the personal bit when Nathan arrived in New York out of the blue! The other bits were recreating for me scenes of York and Leeds both of which I am familiar with. The shot from York Minster down at the musicians was amazing as was the handshake across The Shambles! Hope you managed to get in to the Railway Museum or even on the nearby Wheel. The former I have done twice, the latter not at all because it was enough for me to go on the London Eye!

Your incredible knowledge, skill and inspiration to others I shall remember always. I'm loving reading your blog and I'm so impressed with all the work you have put in and are putting in to Pepys Motet. Last weekend, I introduced a friend to The Samuel Pepys Pub Restaurant at Slipton, near Kettering (which you are probably famililar with anyway) - she only moved to this area about four years ago and it was meant to be a "cultural" afternoon. Sandwich lunch at the pub followed by a look around Lyveden New Beild near Brigstock (unfinished lodge for Tresham from Rushton). In the pub there was a reproduction painting of Mr Pepys with a brief profile on him. I mentioned you and your work to the Landlord who told me that The Samuel Pepys Appreciation Society had visited fairly recently. It is thought Mr Pepys stopped there en route somewhere or even overnight but there is nothing documented to confirm that. The Landlord was interested in your work and when I gave him the website details, he said he would print off extracts for his clientele.

I was in Herefordshire on 26th June for three days. The cousin we visited has a Museum in the grounds of her home in Wormelow to the memory of Violette Szabo, the war heroine so beautifully acted by the wonderful Virginia McKenna in "Carve Her Name with Pride". Every June there is a Garden Party to remember Violette who spent some of her childhood with her Aunt and Uncle who lived in the house that my cousin now owns and also spent time there between her missions in the war years. It is called the Violette Szabo Museum which has a website. The family is very proud of my cousin, Rosemary Rigby, M.B.E. Since 2000 when the Museum opened, Virginia McKenna has attended every Garden Party and every now and then Tania Szabo (Violette's daughter) will attend as she did this year - she lives in Jersey and is a translator. I met her for the first time three weeks ago but I have met with Virginia several times now and she is so likeable and modest - a lady who clearly was touched so deeply by the bravery of the heroine she portrayed. I hope you have seen the film. Jack Warner played Violette's Father. If you haven't seen it, I hope one day you will.

Now, as to the day of your 200th blog - Monday, 19th July 2010, I shall be going to work but in the evening to a rehearsal for the "Voices Aloud" Choir - our show is Friday & Saturday, 1st & 2nd October at The Masque Theatre in Barton Seagrave at 7.30 p.m. We are working on medleys from lots of West End shows and the MD has hopes of us at competition level next year. Don't suppose you can get to see us?!

From Meriel:

I woke up rather late this morning after a very strange dream in which someone was trying to paint me blue and got rather upset when I declined. Freud would have something to say about that methinks. I then spent a fair amount of time faffing about and finally got on my bike at at about half past eleven to cycle round Lewes delivering posters to schools for my latest venture.

My latest venture being a club for children and young people which aims to combine drama, dance and creative writing. And music. And the visual arts. A tall order you may think. But not really. The idea is that we have a theme for the term and around that we create a piece of live performance with a written element. Depending on the theme and the interests and talents of the members, we then bring in whatever art forms seem justified and fun.

While cycling I pondered another idea I had recently which is a mobile library for homeless people. Homeless people typically find it hard to join libraries as they have no address. All I need now is a van, several hundred books and some willing volunteers in Brighton and East Sussex.

I bumped into an old friend and her baby, rather charmingly named Diggory, when I was out and about. They were sitting on a bench by a pond full of gorgeous ducklings, ducks and swans. As I approached them, I narrowly missed cycling into the pond (my co-ordination skills being rather lacking) which would have provided some entertainment. It occurred to me that Lewes during the day seems to be populated almost entirely by parents and babies, which can be a source of delight (they are all very cute and happy etcetera) and also some sadness (I would like to join their ranks). At least I now have a boyfriend so am one step nearer motherhood! And he is neither married, mentally ill, a sexual deviant nor living in another country. It's a start.

I then popped in to see my boyfriend's parents as I was down their way. His dad called me Melanie and teased me because of my fluorescent cycling jacket, and his Mum chose to confide in me which was very touching. I am beginning to love them both.

I finally got home, very hot, and jumped in the shower and tried to fix the dishwasher and washing machine while eating a rapid lunch.

Then it was off out again to work. On Mondays I work as a counsellor in Hastings for an organisation that provides low cost counselling to people on a low income. I love this work, and have been there for nearly a year. I feel a sense of satisfaction that I am benefiting people who are often struck down by many of life's woes (mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, profound loneliness, marital breakdown etc) and I meet some wonderful people. My counselling sessions were followed by supervision when I discuss my clients and get support and advice from my supervisor and fellow counsellors. We are a mixed bunch: a person centred counsellor (me), a psychodynamic counsellor, an existential psychotherapist and a CBT therapist. It is always interesting.

On the train on the way back I was eyed up by some dodgy youths with cider and retreated into my ipod.

Just thinking of watching some TV before bed. And consoling myself with the thought that it is only three days til my holiday.

Bring it on!

1 comment:

  1. Utterly fantastic! Isn't it amazing that we are all doing such different things on exactly the same day. Thanks for the praise as well (although I have no intention of singing motets on my balcony, thanks).

    Now for the challenge: how will you top this for the 250th blog?

    Best wishes