I woke up this morning with a rather tight sensation in the middle finger of my left hand and discovered that the nasty cut I’d received whilst falling off a punt on Saturday had got somewhat infected. I have smelt of TCP all day as a result, but probably better this than the stench of rotting flesh...
I had a lovely surprise this morning at Costa when one of the neighbours I'd recently met out on the street came to visit me. Her name is Keeley, and she’s an actress with a wonderful energy, and a very charming little daughter called Betty.
Unfortunately, and mainly as a result of not yet being paid for a big chunk of work I did before the Yorkshire Symphony, I realise with horror that I'm going to have to sign on for a short period until I officially start working on the Pepys Motet at the start of October. I don’t have any particular issue with signing on. It feels a bit weird, and slightly humbling to be 36, doing very well in my career, yet still not being able to earn enough money to survive when someone decides (for whatever reason) that they’re not going to pay you for a job you've worked incredibly hard to complete.
I finished working in the cafe at 3pm today, stepped out into the most glorious sunshine and immediately brought myself a roll and some hummus and went to sit in Waterlow Park. It suddenly struck me that we might not get a great deal many more days of summer sunshine like this, so immediately called Nic and asked if she wanted to come for a drive. After all, what is the point in being a freelancer, and an impoverished one at that, if you can’t periodically take yourself away from the city?
I picked her up in Stoke Newington and we drove due north, eventually finding ourselves at the Dunstable Downs. We ate chocolate at the top of the chalk ridge before taking ourselves for a little stroll. It was incredibly beautiful. Over our heads countless kites and gliders were silhouetted against the sky.
Later on, we went to have a look at the Tree Cathedral, which is part of the Whipsnade Estate. It seems to be a set of trees which were planted in the shape of a rather grand cathedral by two men in honour of friends they'd lost in the First World War. It was, I must confess, slightly disappointing, although the “Lady Chapel” area had a very strange atmosphere, which pleased me in a funny sort of way. It had a bench inside, with a single bouquet of lilies resting against it, which had filled the very still air with an incredibly pungent smell, but the atmosphere was very heavy and dark and quite disturbing. Both of us felt it and wondered why...
We ended a rather charming evening eating Italian food in St Albans, which is a very attractive city, particularly at night.
August 16th 1660, and Montagu took his leave of Pepys, and disappeared with his strange daughter, to the family seat in Huntingdonshire. It is clear that Pepys mentioned the offer that Mr Man had made for his position, and that Montagu advised him to turn him down, saying it “was not the salary of any place that did make a man rich, but the opportunity of getting money while he is in the place.”
Pepys had lunch with some of London’s finest musicians; Humphrey Madge, a violinist and member of the King’s Musick and Captain Cooke, who in Pepys’ words was a “famous singer”. No doubt Pepys was in his absolute element.