Friday, 22 October 2010

The face which sags like an old cushion

Today I’m feeling calm. I’m in Greenwich. It's freezing cold, but the sun is shining. I have time in my schedule to sit down, eat a sandwich and relax, and I’ve just had a very good rehearsal with half of my “gospel” choir. Both of the singers I saw this morning are students at Goldsmith’s University and both are extremely quick readers. It was exactly as a rehearsal should be. We skimmed through the music at high-speed and everyone left feeling confident and happy.

The countdown to next week's recordings involves a bewildering number of rehearsals; 10 in the next 5 days, but the more the merrier if they make the recordings go more smoothly. I'm feeling very much on top of things, having found out this morning that we finally have a gospel tenor, so for the first time we have all 40 singers in place, and I am thrilled. If I'm entirely honest our new tenor is less gospel and more musical theatre, but frankly a) beggars can’t be choosers and b) he has SUCH a fine voice and singing pedigree that I can’t feel anything other than deeply privileged to have him on board. Famous last words, but I do believe the tide may well have turned in our favour...

We had to make a last minute dash to Thaxted at Midnight last night to pick up my parents’ car. Nathan has a singing gig on Sunday which he can’t do without transport, but I’ll be in Dartmouth and, rehearsals permitting, my Godson's 5th birthday party in Aylesbury. This is an over-simplification of what has become a deeply complicated problem-solving exercise. Nathan, for example, will have to take my parents car because our car has already been passed through a stringent security system at the Navy base I’m visiting tomorrow. I was asked to name the make, colour and model of our car and could only get as far as saying it was an electric blue Volkswagen. Nathan was fairly shocked when I suggested it might be a Volkswagen Metro. Secretly I knew all along that it was a Golf...

We arrived in Thaxted to find my Mother wearing her arm in a sling, following a nasty fall involving a washing basket, a paving slab and her dignity. She appears to have dislocated one finger and broken another and seems, unsurprisingly, fairly shaken. She was also rather annoyed by the ineptitude of the National Health system, who (or which) had sent her from pillar to post without actually doing anything about the broken bone. She’d spent the day twiddling her (unbroken) thumbs in a series of A and E departments and local surgeries.

I had a slightly surreal moment on the tube this morning, when I decided I was the oldest person in the carriage. As I race towards 40, I realise many things. I still don’t have a pension, or a mortgage, and can’t afford to have plastic surgery when my face becomes crabby and starts to sag like an old cushion.

Monday October 22nd 1660 and Pepys ate a lunch of ribs of roast beef from a local cook shop, bemoaning the fact that he’d been forced to buy takeaway food almost every day because his house had been in such a constant state of disruption from various builders and decorators.

He went to see Sandwich and found the house busy with people preparing for his trip to France to collect the Queen mother from exile... or more correctly, the King Mother... or, I suppose, because Charles II was not yet married, the Queen.

Pepys collared Sandwich in the evening and they talked late into the night. Pepys asked if he could borrow a painting which he wanted to have copied and Sandwich revealed himself to be a sceptic in all matters of religion. Pepys stayed the night, sharing a bed, as was a common practice, with his rival Shepley; “but could hardly get any sleep all night, the bed being ill made and he a bad bed fellow.” It seemed Shepley could get nothing right. Not even when it came to sleeping!

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