Wednesday, 11 August 2010

The death of trees

I have just negotiated the rabbit warren that forms the lower ground floor of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. I have an appointment with the orthopaedic team here, who will, with any luck, sort out my stupid feet. I have been ushered into a strange, rather clinical room, with a beige plastic floor and a bed covered in blue paper. I have no idea when someone will come to help me, so am going to sit and blog...


I was woken up at 8.20 this morning by the BBC in Newcastle who wanted to interview me on air about the Metro project. Because it’s been announced I suppose I can tell the world I’m going to do it. The Metro is the North East’s answer to the DLR. It’s a sort of railway-cum-tube and it’s celebrating its 30th birthday this year. This means it was opened in August 1980, which makes it a very interesting prospect in terms of music. 1980 marked the death of disco and the birth of electro pop. The Winner Takes it All by ABBA was at number one, and Xanadu was still in the top ten. And if that doesn’t inspire a composer, nothing will!!

We did an appeal for people to come forward with interesting stories about the Metro, and by the time I’d finished speaking, the phone lines were apparently going bonkers. If my experience of A1 is anything to go by, the Geordies will not disappoint on the story telling front...

I feel awful today. It’s like I’ve been stamped on by a thousand tiny feet. I’m shivery and tender and have a horrible suspicion I’m coming down with whatever it was that Nathan had. It’s a bad day for me to get ill. I have a million and one things to do including a radio interview at Broadcasting House and a shopping trip with my brother down Oxford Street. He is buying me a suit for my birthday. You gotta feel well to go suit shopping...

I arrived at the Royal Free incredibly early and bought myself a cup of tea from the cafe opposite. I went to sit on a bench and realised the young girl next to me was in floods of tears. Proper heaving tears which almost broke my heart. It’s always difficult to know what to do in these situations. Does she want a quiet moment? Does she want someone to ask if she’s alright? Would she think I was being creepy if I did? So, what did I do? I went to a local newsagents and bought a Milky Way which I gave to her. “You’re obviously sad” I said “chocolate sometimes helps. I hope things get better soon”. I felt a bit silly doing it, but she seemed genuinely touched and with any luck she’ll realise that the world isn’t always a terrible place
...

It is now an hour later, and I seem to have been subjected to a form of torture! It was decided that I needed a steroid injection in my foot. And how do they administer a steroid injection? Imagine a needle going through your heal and scraping around for about three minutes and you’ll come close to imagining what I’ve just been through! Mr Galea, the handsome Malteser who was administering the injection, seemed fairly surprised that I was howling with laughing throughout, but what else are you going to do?! I now feel like there’s a weird layer of something under the skin of my foot; like I’m somehow walking on a cushion, or one of those things the ladies wear with high heels. I’m warned there will be more pain. Fantastic.
...

I’ve returned home to find that the majestic tree at the end of our neighbour’s garden is being ruthlessly chopped down. First I thought they were doing some hard-core pollarding but now I know the sad truth. Horrific! Now I have to peer into their house instead of looking at a thing of great beauty. There were squirrels and pigeons living in that tree. Where are they going to go?
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Worse... worse... Three trees are being cut down. All the trees that I can see! I asked why and was told it was so the owners could re-build their wall. We don’t need more walls, we need trees. Surely we should have been consulted about this? This barbarous act has completely changed the view from the back of my house. We’re now completely over-looked and all I can see out of my kitchen window is Victorian red brick. I want the trees to come back.

Unlike me, Pepys woke up 350 years ago in no pain, which made him assume (probably correctly) that the previous day’s ill-health was as a result of heavy drinking the day before. It was another busy day, which saw a visit to his old house in Axe Yard and a trip to see his former neighbour, Mrs Crisp. He dined with Montagu before heading home, where he sent for a barber and was trimmed in the kitchen “the first time that ever I was so”. How grand! Pepys’ beloved clerk, Will Hewer, remained out of the house until ten at night, which made Pepys extremely angry, “but was pretty well satisfied again when my wife told me that he wept because I was angry, though indeed he did give me good reason for his being out; but I thought it a good occasion to let him know that I do expect his being at home. So to bed” You tell him, Sam!

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