Friday, 20 August 2010

A bit of Britten

I'm sitting in the snug at my parents’ house in Thaxted watching an assortment of clips from Proms this year. We’ve seen some tremendous Arvo Part, a bit of Britten, Lenny Stokes' amazing orchestration of Bach's Toccata and Fugue and now it’s the turn of Dvorak. There’s a composer who understands how to write a good tune... and what a charismatic conductor Andre Nelsons is! He's wearing the most enormous smile on his face and the music seems to be passing through him like a dose of absolute joy. Sometimes he stops altogether and simply listens to the players. He's at one with his orchestra. The more I listen to Dvorak, the more I realise what an influence his music had on my early writing.

I’ve just returned from Leeds where I had a meeting with the BBC. It was lovely to be back up there again. The sun was shining brightly and I had a lovely walk from the station via the indoor market, where I brought a Belgian bun and a cup of tea to celebrate. After the meeting, I had lunch with Alison in an Italian restaurant that I used to jog past and always hoped to visit. It used to smell so fabulously garlicky! Alison has just moved house and now lives practically next door. Lucky her.

I’d love to say the meeting went well, but I’m not sure the powers that be are as enthused about the idea as we are... but we’ll see. It was lovely to see everyone up there and I was sad not to bump into cameraman, Keith, who has just had an operation on his knee.

I'm in Thaxted to borrow my parents’ car. Nathan can’t make tomorrow’s Ruby Wedding celebrations, and needs his car to get to Berkshire... My parent's do is somewhere very peculiar in Northamptonshire, which is basically only accessible on four wheels.

It was a busy day for Pepys 350 years ago, which saw him rushing around London in search of the Lord Chancellor, Sir Edward Hyde, who'd sent for him to discuss Naval finances. Pepys looked for him first at his residence, Worcester House, before heading to the House of Lords where Hyde was sitting. Pepys was thrilled to see all the traditions associated with the chamber, “seeing their manner of sitting on woolpacks etc which I never did before.” The woolsack still exists in the House of Lords, and is, as you might expect, a giant (red)cushion, stuffed with wool. In those days wool was almost as valuable as gold and an enormous cushion stuffed with the substance was a great display of wealth and importance.

In the evening, after finding out he’d earned 100l at the Privy Seal in the space of a month, he went “all alone” to drink at Harper’s, where he found Mrs Crisp’s daughter, Diana, and stayed and drank with her friends all night.

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