Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas launch

It could never be described as hot outside, but I feel as though I've had a sweat on all day. Much as I complained about the freezing temperatures oop north, it was nice to be able to put a coat on and not feel too hot within a few minutes if being outside. Till men are hirsute, you see. I think it's the Welsh genes. Obviously not everyone likes an hairy man, but it can have its benefits. We get into bed, for example, and immediately double-up as hot water bottles and I can deliver twice as many pieces to camera on a winter day as a cold-blooded presenter! But the drawbacks are manifold; people love to pretend that they are repulsed by body hair and in a typical English winter, when the temperatures hover between 4 and 10 degrees, I sweat like a weirdo! That said, I'd have been incredibly popular in the 1970s, and like to think I might have survived the Titanic!

Now, here’s a conundrum; why do you suppose someone has sent me an enormous bag of John Lewis towels through the post? It’s a lovely thing to receive, but I daren’t use them because I’ve no idea who they’re from, why they were sent, or even if they were meant to come to me. They have my name clearly marked on them, but there’s no note. Initially, I assumed my brother or someone had sent them to me so that I could pass them on to someone else... but in retrospect this makes no sense. I am perplexed!

Today went past in a flash. We slept in until about 11, but by the time we’d gone into Muswell Hill, and I’d been to the gym, it seemed to be 5pm. I treated myself to a massage. I can’t really afford it, but it’s so lovely to just lie there and drift into nothingness for an hour. My masseur did some pretty good work on the knots on my shoulders which had formed after hours trudging around Newcastle with my laptop and stills camera surgically attached to my back.

This evening saw the launch of Christmas at 343 Archway Road. Nathan dusted down his tree, and we covered it in hundreds of shiny baubles. We’ve lit lots of candles and as soon as I’ve written this blog, we’re going to open our advent calendars, which have chocolates inside. I’m in something of a rush to get to the chocolate, so forgive me if this entry feels rushed.

I received a lovely email today from a lady called Maureen about A Symphony for Yorkshire. I’m still getting about one email a week from people who enjoyed the piece. Today’s was particularly sweet, and ends:

"I have watched it so many times, over the past couple of months, that your music and the words of Doreen Brigham's poem come to mind frequently. I am a poet so it's understandable that the poem delighted me so much but the combination of words, song, brass bands, male voice choirs, harpist,the hilly street in Haworth and general good spirits of the piece is captivating. There is something very steadying and consoling about Doreen Brigham's words and the music set to them. I had to have an operation late November and pre going into hospital A Symphony for Yorkshire and Leonard Cohen's music proved a calming influence. I particularly like the section at York station when the singer sings 'And when I've done my roaming'."

It genuinely means so much to receive these kinds of letters. The fact that they’re still coming in really does make me think that I might have produced something over the summer that will stay around in people's consciousness. I certainly feel it's something I can be immensely proud of. Let’s hope Metro proves to be as good.

December 13th 1660, and Pepys, it seems, didn’t have a great deal to write about. Workmen were back in his house, this time painting his parlour. At noon Lady Batten and Elizabeth finally returned from Woolwich and their safe return was celebrated by cracking open a very good bottle of red wine “of my Lady’s own making in England.” Red wine? From England? In the Late 17th? During the second ice age? Hmmm... Though it’s not out of the question to think that this wine might have been made from red grapes, from somewhere like Kent, it’s worth remembering that wine doesn’t necessarily refer to a drink made from
grapes. This red wine could have been made from blackberries or red currents...

Christmas in Highgate

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