Friday, 5 November 2010


Happy Birthday, Fiona! 

I am in the deepest wiles of Norfolk in a town called Wymondham. Oddly, it's my second visit to this place this year. We came here in January to celebrate my close friend, Helen's, birthday an event which became one of the highlights of the year. 

Today I've come to Wymondham College to discuss the idea of my writing a composition which celebrates the school; and what a fine school it is. I've just been given a tour by a group of charming sixth formers. 

The drive here from Derby took me through the middle of Thetford Forest, which looked incredible; the deep greens and charcoal grey of evergreens stood out against the deep oranges, yellows, crimsons and golds of the trees who were shutting up shop for the winter. 

Needless to mention that we didn't win an award last night; well, we did, but it was bronze. Our service station musical was up against packages about war and mental health, so winning was never an option! 

The evening itself was great fun. I had three vodka and cranberry juices, which got me feeling very merry, and after the awards were done, we danced for hours to cheesy 1980s pop. The place was full of people from the BBC Regions who I've worked with on previous projects. The whole team was there from Yorkshire as well as Northants, Coventry and London. My next boss from Newcastle was also there, so we got to have a good natter about Metro The Musical. It was wonderful just to forget about Pepys for an evening. 

Speaking of which, it's s Pepys double bill today as I didn't have the time to read what he was up to yesterday. November 4th, and Pepys went to Westminster Abbey and heard its organ playing for the first time. All organs were removed from churches by the puritans, so one can imagine the impact this instrument must have had on Pepys listening to it for the first time. I'm told, and I'm sure this can't be true, that in the 17th Century, the sound of a church organ was the third loudest sound man could produce after canon fire and blacksmith's furnaces! 

We're also told how strangely beautiful Pepys felt Elizabeth was looking on that date, it being the first time she wore fashionable black patches on her face. 

November the 5th, 1660, and Pepys spent the day doing Navy work. His entry for the evening appeals to me;  "the 5th of November is observed exceeding well in the City; and at night great bonfires and fireworks." I don't know why I'm surprised that a) they were already celebrating the date by 1660 (I assume it was the first time it could happen since the end of the interregnum) but also that fireworks existed back then. 

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