I’m currently sitting alone in my kitchen. My house is full of people, many of whom I’ve never met! Nathan’s niece, Jen, and her fella are up in the loft. He is serenading her with lounge music on the piano, and the sounds are tinkling down like little pieces of stardust. Meanwhile, Nathan’s friend, Jason, is in the sitting room with four giggling women, who are apparently set to be the next big thing in the easy listening pop market. Think a female version of The Soldiers and you won’t be far off, although if I tell you anything else I'll have to kill you. They’re meant to be rehearsing for their inaugural gig, but I haven’t heard any singing; just a lot of cheering, various trips to the loo, and an Irish lady talking in an implausibly low voice. One of them has brought an enormous sponge cake, which I’m sort of hoping they won’t finish...
Anyway, I don’t really know what to do with myself in the kitchen. This must be how my Mum used to feel on her birthday, when I had my mates over in one room and my brother and Dad were watching James Bond in another. She used to go and sit in her bedroom, and no doubt cry! Fortunately, I’m off out soon, to listen to the Crouch End Festival Chorus rehearsing their next concert. On this most surreal of days, it feels like a relatively normal thing to be going out to do at 9pm.
For those of you reading who don’t know how you get through life without regular updates regarding my levels of fatness, I can officially reveal that instead of blood, cheese is now coursing through my veins. Today is the day that this situation changes. I’ve been to the gym, I’ve eaten sensible food at sensible times and have vowed NOT to resemble Captain Caveman when the Metro Musical receives its premier in March. I long to be excitingly lithe but am prepared to settle for a waistline. The trip to the gym has made me feel extremely zingy, and even after I’d completed half an hour of carb-caning exercise, I still found myself with enough energy to secretly perform 1970s-style drag runs across the main studio whilst Classical Gas blared in my ears. Joy!
10th January 1660 presented Pepys with another opportunity to drink himself silly. Together with his friend, Mr Hawley, he managed to polish off two pints of wormwood and sack. Mr Hawley, probably tripping off his nuts, admitted that he was attempting to woo Mrs Lane, the draper from Westminster Hall, which must have entertained Pepys, who was having an illicit affair with her
Later in the day, Pepys called in on Mrs Hunt and found his wife there with a Frenchman, a lodger. As Pepys entered the room he found the Frenchman (innocently) kissing his wife “which I did not like, though there could not be any hurt in it.”
Later still, Elizabeth and Samuel called in on Sir William Penn for a second time. The first time they'd found him ill. He was still ill but Pepys decided he was milking it and hung around for hours talking about the Fanatics, who were believed to be hanging out in Highgate. I wonder if they’re still here? I’ll check the churches on my way out later. Apparently there were only about 500 nutty Christian trouble-makers; “a thing that was never heard of, that so few men should dare and do so much mischief.” Some had already been captured, and were no doubt being tortured gruesomely, something they'd probably have enjoyed, because part of the pull of born-again Christianity is the joy of persecuted like the big JC. Pepys tells us the men would talk of nothing but their leader's imminent arrival back on earth. If I see them on my travels, I'll ask if they're still waiting.
Ps. It is now about 9.45pm and I am sitting at a desk in a school hall. To my right is the actor, Paul McGann. He played The Monocled Mutineer, which I loved as a child, so I am too intimidated to talk to him! We are watching the Crouch End Festival Chorus rehearsing. He's playing the part of Doctor Rieux in Robert Gerhard's The Plague. I am here to see if I can convince them to let me write something for them.
It's a deeply surreal experience. I have never sat in front of such a large choir. Walls of sound are blasting my eardrums. I am astonished that the choir is tackling something so complex and extraordinary and thrilled to be sitting in the middle of it all!