Saturday, 26 February 2011

Thumping R and B

Uselessly, I think I’m coming down with a cold. My throat feels all tickly and hot, my neck is aching, and I have a strong desire to disappear underneath a blanket. We were kept up last night by our downstairs neighbour, who seems to think it's appropriate to play thumping R and B music until the wee smalls. The house was literally shaking, and the bass lines were so repetitive, I just wanted to scream. It’s difficult to be angry with him, because we’ve not yet told him that his music comes straight up through the floor.

We ended up sleeping in the attic; a typically British way of solving a problem. The rain was sheeting it down onto the windows in the roof. It's a sound I love when I'm tucked up in a warm bed, but poor Nathan, whose a very light sleeper, found the whole experience incredibly traumatic. We could still hear the music two floors below, and the sound of traffic on the A1 is also pretty loud up there.

At about 8am, he suggested we went back downstairs, but almost as soon as we'd settled in our own bed, the music started again! Not only does our neighbour have dreadful taste in music, he’s also a robot who doesn’t need to sleep! Gah! As I write this, I can still hear the music thumping away downstairs. Maybe he's doing a dance marathon for Comic Relief!

How sad is it that on a Saturday night, I’m sitting at home all alone? Nathan is working, and is heading out afterwards. But the idea of going to a club fills me with abject horror; I get very claustrophobic, and am like an old lady when it comes to protecting my ears from loud noises. I guess I'm a bit of a recluse outside my work environment. I never used to be, but I've developed a hatred of crowds, and standing up for long periods of time.

Tuesday 26th February 1661 was Shrove Tuesday. Elizabeth was “indisposed” in bed (no doubt suffering with her period), so Pepys went to Mrs Turner’s house, and found her making fritters for a group of friends, which included a tall, attractive women who'd recently appeared in London from the country. It’s quite wonderful to think the tradition of eating pancakes on this date goes back at least 350 years and Pepys described these particular fritters as the best he’d eaten in his life.

He glanced out of the window at one point and noticed a group of people throwing sticks at a tethered cock. That's a cock of the male chicken variety before anyone sniggers like a school boy. It was a weird and rather cruel Shrove Tuesday custom, with origins that I can't begin to understand.

Pepys was then taken to look at the harpsichon that had been made for Mrs Turner’s precocious 9-year-old daughter, Theophilia.

Pepys got home to find his wife and Valentine together. He insisted on referrinng to Martha Batten as his Valentine, which strikes me as bizarre, and probably freaked the poor girl. I hate to reveal the last line of the diary entry; which was censored by the prudish Victorians who first published the work: “I went to bed where (God forgive me) I did please myself by strength of fancy with the young country Segnora that was at dinner with us today.” Let your imaginations fly people...

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