Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Gladys Pew

It’s 11pm and I’m in a car driving back from Thaxted to London. It's amazing what modern-day technology will allow you to do in a moving vehicle! It’s been another one of those niggly little days. My cold is now in full swing, but I had to get up early once again, to move my parents’ car to avoid a parking fine.


Sadly, I wish I’d also taken time out to move my own car, for later on this afternoon, when Nathan tried to go to the gym, he discovered it was missing. He called me, and I went to meet him on the street, where we stood, for some time, scratching our heads, trying to remember if we’d left it somewhere strange. At one stage I even wondered if I’d moved our car instead of my parents’. Had it been stolen? Had it been clamped? Was it the other side of London for some inexplicable reason?

...And then it occurred to us that the tax had recently run out. We’d been meaning to sort it out, but couldn’t do anything until it had been MOT’d, which neither of us had had the time to do.

I called up Harringey Council, and sure enough, the car had been taken away and stuck in a pound and it was going to cost us £100 per day to keep it in there. So, obviously, we immediately went to pick it up and also discovered we'd have to pay £160 as an assurance that we’d immediately get it taxed, which means a last minute MOT which means dipping into our pockets even further. It was perhaps unsurprising that the only method of payment they’d accept at the pound was cash, despite the council having told me on the 'phone I could pay by credit card. One suspects, therefore, that not all the cars that are impounded are dealt with in an official capacity. The whole place stank as much of corruption as it did of slightly sharp BO.

I was in a bad mood anyway on account of having been embroiled in a messy row with Amazon due to their flagrant inability to deliver a package to me. They'd even managed to mess up handing said package to the man who sits all day behind the till at the delicatessen below us. More outrageous is the fact that the company they emply to make their deliveries (now that the Royal Mail has lost its contract) uses a premium rate phone number to deal with tracking parcels. All phone-calls start with a compulsory 3-minute automated voice-activated whatever system which you have to sit through just to start the ball rolling. Money makes the world go round...

Aside from all this, and the hideous rain storms that now tell us rather cruelly that the summer is officially over, I have been almost swamped by Pepys Motet admin. Just trying to organise auditions for the many people who want to be involved is a nightmare. There have been wild misunderstandings; people thinking I was still up North; that St Olave’s Church is in York. Everyone seems to have a very different set of criteria in terms of availability. Add to this the plethora of different vocal types, all of whom require a different passage of music to learn, and you have one very confused composer who wishes he could afford someone who enjoyed doing this kind of thing. Frighteningly, there was no time today to do any writing at all, but at least I feel a little bit more in control. I had hundreds of unread emails hanging over me and up until today it felt like I’d thrown a load of dirty socks into a wardrobe and was trying to ignore the smell.

Friday 24th August, 1660, and Pepys went with the Sir Williams to St Olave’s Church (in London, rather than York) to choose a location for their gallery-style pew. Gladys Pew. The last time this idea was mentioned, it was shot down in flames by the church wardens, but now Pepys was writing about how speedily the work was going to be done. No doubt by Navy carpenters. I wonder what happened in the meantime?

Later in the day, after finding there was no work at the Privy Seal, Pepys called in on his parents and found his mother not feeling well. He promptly gave her a pint of wine, which no doubt perked her up no end. In a rather ghastly display of pomposity, Pepys then interviewed his cousin, Dr Thomas... in French. Dr Thomas had merely asked Pepys if he’d look out for a place for him but Pepys was unconvinved, finding him “a weak man” who spoke “the worst French that ever I heard of one that had been so long beyond sea.” Hmmm. Probably suddenly feeling all puffed-up and grand, Pepys then strode away to St Paul’s Churchyard, where all the booksellers had stalls, and bought himself Barkley’s Argenis “in Latin”. He returned home to discover someone had left him a gift of 48 bottles of wine. It's surprising he got his head through the bedroom door that night!

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