Friday, 10 December 2010

The mother of two queens

I’m currently on a train, winging my way towards London, whilst watching the most intense sunset glowing in the West. As we chugged out of Newcastle, the sky was a sort of bizarre blend of iridescent blues and pinks, and it’s now the deepest of orange colours. The dark clouds above are descending, however, and very soon the sun will have vanished for another day. The first part of my Newcastle journey is now over, and I’m returning to the capital to write music. It’s at this stage that the niggling doubts begin to bubble up in my mind. What if I’m thwarted by the mother of all writers’ blocks? What if I write music that no one enjoys listening to? I’ve never thought of myself as a lyricist, so what if I write words that are a load of rubbish? It's at this stage that I just have to sit down and trust that inspiration will come...

Everything else about the project is falling rather wonderfully into place. I'm thrilled with Nexus; the people who run the Metro system. They seem to care very deeply, not just about their trains but about the people who travel on them. We had a meeting with them earlier today and they're bending over backwards to support the project; as they should, really, but I'm very grateful, because without their support this wouldn't be anything like as potentially exciting.
I wish I could say we're getting as much enthusiastic support from our partners at The Sage, who I’m still not convinced, have any interest in the piece at all! I continue to give them the benefit of the doubt because The Sage itself is the most wonderful resource, which facilitates world class community projects. If I was from Tyne and Wear I’d be immensely proud of it.

I'm about to write the mother of all letters of complaint to the people at Travelodge. I was left without hot water in my room for two whole days during this current stay, which as you can imagine, in all this snow, was fairly gruesome. For two mornings running, I’d go down stairs, after a cold shower, and report the problem. For two days running, I’d return to my room, freezing cold and think “ooh, what I’d love is a nice hot bath.” Sadly, it was only when I insisted on a room change that the problem resolved itself.

I also want to bring the collective Travelodge attention to their appalling vegetarian menu, which is basically geared towards offering meat-eaters two lovely "alternative" dishes that work well without meat; namely spicy dishes. The only two veggie options are therefore a hot bean chille – garnished with coriander, and a spicy noodle dish – wait for it – garnished with coriander!If you don’t eat coriander, or like spicy dishes, you're screwed! Where’s the bean burger, or the bland veggie lasagne? To make matters worse, their only veggie starter was a tomato and pepper soup; and they didn’t have it in stock for the entire week and a half that I was staying there! Shocking. You know you're fighting a losing battle on a menu if you've resorting to marking bread rolls as vegetarian starter!

The 10th December 1660, and Pepys was up with the lark. He wanted to visit the Navy’s Comptroller, and walked in moonlight to his residence to find he was not yet up. He therefore “went and walked all alone twenty turns in Cornhill, from Gracious Street corner to the Stokes and back again, from 6 o’clock till past 7, so long that I was weary," but when he returned to the house, the Comptroller had got up and left! So Pepys went to Westminster in hot persuit. Westminster Hall was abuzz with the rumour that the Duke of York, was about to marry the Lord Chancellor’s daughter, Anne. Because Charles II died without a legitimate heir, the crown was passed to his brother, and Anne became the mother of two future queens of England; Mary II and Anne.

In the afternoon, Pepys went to a coffee house back in Cornhill. Coffee houses were still rather new to the capital and it was the first time Pepys had visited this particular one, finding much pleasure in it “through the diversity of company and discourse”.

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