Thursday, 13 January 2011

Double disabled

BBC Newcastle is a wonderfully friendly place. We had lunch today in Jimmy’s Cafe on the top floor of the building. I ate a jacket potato whilst sitting at a lovely plastic table. A woman with a very peculiar accent talked to me. I couldn’t understand much of what she was saying, but smiled a lot because I knew she was saying something nice. An incredibly tall woman kept walking past me. I wondered if she was a transsexual, but didn’t want to stare.

My stay at the Newcastle Travelodge was once again marred by a lack of hot water. I was forced to move to a room two doors along the corridor, where the water was merely tepid, which apparently was all I could expect. I didn’t complain. I was more than a little relieved to be out of the first room. It smelt of Dettol and illness. I later discovered that it was a “double disabled” room. Do you think a double disabled room is for people who are doubly disabled?

We spent this morning at the Sage in Gateshead, meeting the lovely chap who’ll be conducting our choir for the project. He seems incredibly sparky, and I’m sure he’ll do us proud.

We went from Gateshead to Newcastle to meet another live-wire; a charming dance teacher, who’s going to provide the film with some cracking choreography, courtesy of a group of street dancers.

Later on, we met the Newcastle Kingsmen, who tap dance like virtuosos holding swords, and then our Northumbrian piper, who played the first 8 bars of the piece, and sent shivers down my spine. Things are slowly coming together, although I wish I could find some decent food in this city!

We visited the brass band in Morpeth last night, and I was able to talk about the music with its conductor. The vague plan had been for us to stick around and hear the band whizzing through what I’d written, but I sensed that this was going to cause embarrassment; “I think you might sack us if you hear our sight reading!” said the conductor, and I fully understood. Rehearsals should never be public occasions, and the presence of a composer at such times can be utterly mortifying. We slipped away quietly. The good news is that the conductor feels the music is playable, with the possible exception of a couple of runs on the baritone horn, which I’ve said can go down the octave or be simplified if needs be.

Sunday 13th January 1661, and Pepys went to church and sat in the Navy Office pew, where he heard a “cold” sermon, delivered by a young man who’d never preached before. Still, our hero wasn’t complaining. Commissioner Pett had brought his wife and daughters to St Olave’s, and the eldest was a “very comely black woman”. Black, in this instance referring to the colour of her hair, and comely being a compliment! Pepys was increasingly using church as an excuse for ogling the ladies, and in the afternoon, a trip to Greenwich gave him further opportunity to practice his misogynist pastime.

Pepys stayed the night, once again, at Mr Davis’ in Deptford, but almost as soon as he’d got into bed, was woken by an alarm. Everyone, including hoards of Navy men from a fleet of nearby boats, got out of bed and armed themselves with various spikes and weapons. It was, however, a false alarm; an over-reaction to six men riding through a checkpoint without stopping. The Navy men were sent back to their boats and Pepys returned to Mr Davis’ house, where he found lots of very interesting song books to keep him from sleeping.

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