The combined clans had been assembled primarily as guinea pigs or interviewees for the taster tape. They were, without exception, hugely natural in front of the camera, and I was very grateful to them for turning up and being so utterly brilliant. Nathan and his sister Sam sang a particularly theatrical rendition of Phantom of the Opera, which I found incredibly touching, my Mum sang a very quirky song about washing, Nathan's mother, Celia sang Sweet Polly Oliver beautifully, and we came together en masse to do all sorts of rounds and folk songs. I think we made a pretty lovely sound and even Lewis, Nathan's 12 year-old nephew, joined in. I was thrilled to see that Nathan's niece, Becky, has also discovered music, and seems to have taken to the piano like a duck to water.
The highlight for me was probably my Dad recounting a curious story about a photograph of a public execution in the States, which he found in a drawer at his Grandmother's house, next to a bakelite record of a folk song, which recounted the story of the very man who was swinging from the scaffold. When he asked his Grandmother about it, the picture mysteriously vanished. He told the story particularly well. I was very proud.
The house looked marvellous when we arrived, and the parents lit an open fire; perhaps the last before the summer. My Mother did the most amazing spread. It was like a Roman banquet, with rows of cheeses and puddings and flans and pies and fruits begging to be eaten...
In the midst of the mayhem, Hilary and Ellie were being screen-tested as potential presenters for the documentary. I wouldn't like to have to pick between them, as I thought they were both surprisingly professional. I love the idea of setting off on this bizarre journey with one of them, although, as with all these things, it's worth reminding myself to keep saying yes and then to put everything to the back of my mind, because the likelihood of anything actually making its way onto the television is rather small. Even if everyone becomes utterly passionate about an idea, there are always politics to wade through, and an almost bewildering number of hurdles to avoid; something which is becoming all too apparent on our symphonic project!
A pregnant Hilary interviews Nathan and Sam in front of the cameras
350 years ago, Pepys spent the morning reading a dictionary of seafaring terms (as you do). It was probably worth it. By the time he'd died, his knowledge of all things Naval had become legendary. His fame isn't just based on his diaries!
The brilliantly candid Pepys made a welcome return in the second half of the entry. After noting that his parents, and various other family members had popped by in the evening, he felt obliged to mention that they'd stayed until he was 'weary of their company.' Do you think he told them they were boring?! Probably.
The Gaitch family with Ellie and Hilary at Thaxted windmill