Sunday, 15 August 2010


I’ve been spring cleaning all day. The house was a tip this morning and I felt utterly ashamed. I’m also one of those people who puts off working when living in a messy house. Now that the house is clean, I have nothing hanging over me and can really start to focus on the work that needs to be done. I have music to write, choirs to audition, tax to sort and bills to pay.

Today we took delivery of the Tyndarids; a pair of male rats, we’re calling Castor and Pollux who’ll be staying with us from now on. They live in a cage in our sitting room and seem to spend all their time at the moment play-fighting and exploring their new surroundings. I’ve had them both out today to sit on my shoulder and, like all male rats, they’re very placid and enjoy being fussed. I think they’re going to prove to be very lovely additions to the family.

I was taking a look at some of the comments on You Tube about A Symphony for Yorkshire today, and have been horrified to see people STILL going on about how dreadful it is that the BBC have asked a Northamtonian to write an ode to Yorkshire. Obviously, I’m not about to give these people the satisfaction of responding directly, but I do want to make one thing very clear. Yes, of course there are hugely talented directors and composers in Yorkshire; I’ve never said that there weren’t, but none of them came up with the idea to make the symphony! The assumption seems to be that the seed for the project was sewn by the BBC and it was them who went out looking for composers, but the idea was very definitely mine and was formed because I learnt to compose in Yorkshire and have always dearly loved the county.

This certainly doesn't mean that the BBC wouldn't happily talk to any Yorkshire-based creative people with the necessary skills to make a similar project in the future, but on this occasion they agreed to fund the project on the strength of my idea and my previous work. It also needs to be pointed out that the BBC insisted that all filming, recording, editing and post-editing was done in the county. It could easily have been done exclusively in London but BBC Yorkshire wouldn't have that. The symphony therefore gave many creative Yorkshire-based folk (and not just musicians) a chance to show off their wonderful skills. So if you’re a Yorkshire-based composer/ director with a back-catalogue of award winning, community-based documentary films which you've made for pennies, and you’re still feeling hard-done-by, I suggest you stop whingeing, you get your thinking cap on and you start pitching ideas! And if you find a project in Northamptonshire, you will have my total blessing! Rant over.

The keenest-eyed amongst you will have noticed that I wrote about August 15th 1660 yesterday. Blame it on the sun stroke or the Cam water that I obviously swallowed too much of! It’s therefore, with slight embarrassment that I now write the entry that you all should have read yesterday...

August 14th 1660, and Pepys commissioned a posh velvet coat from Mr Pym the tailor. He spent much of the day at the Office of the Privy Seal, and had his supper with his father and various others at The Tower of London; which in those days was the location, not just of a prison, but also a menagerie, various chapels, public meeting spaces/sites of execution, the home of the crown jewels, and, of course, the royal mint, where all coins were made. At the end of the day, round the corner, back at home, Pepys “made good sport” in the kitchen by forcing his maid Jane, and Will Hewer to comb his hair before he went to bed. This might have been more entertaining for Pepys, as it’s likely they were combing his hair for lice. Nevertheless, the “sport” became something of a regular event, which eventually got him into all sorts of trouble, for it was often after a good hair-combing session that Pepys would make a play at various females in his service. Most notably Deb Willet... But that would happen in 8 years' time!

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