I’m in Hayes in Middlesex, which seems to be a part of the world with little, if anything, going for it. For starters, it reminds me of a terrible job I did at the lowest point of my career, directing children in a production of Singing in the Rain, whilst a vicious, fat queen breathed down my neck. For pudding, the place just feels a tad run down. On the way from the station, I passed countless shops and pubs which had been boarded over, and more barbed wire fences than I'd have expected to see in a place so firmly within the commuter belt!
I've just been to the Beck Theatre, where I met a childhood heroine, Maddy Prior; the singer from the 1970s folk-rock group, Steeleye Span. It was an absolute treat to meet her and she looked remarkably well. She’s got to be in her 60s, but looked a great deal younger. She has brilliant two-toned hair and was extremely easy to talk to. We chatted about almost everything, from her performing drunk on Crackerjack to the fact that Fiona’s husband’s band, Midlake, are big fans of her work. She was thrilled. I was thrilled. We were all thrilled.
As we spoke, I kept having to remind myself that her’s was a voice I’d listened to since my very early childhood. I used to sit and stare at the All Around My Hat album cover wondering which of the long-haired hippy people were blokes and which were girls. Her’s was the voice that accompanied me on teenaged trips through misty Northamptonshire glades on a search for crop circles and haunted churches. “Whatever happened to crop circles?” She asked “They just went didn’t they? One day everyone was talking about them, and then next the bubble had burst.” I was proud of myself for not gushing. I love to think that she might do me the honour of singing some of my music one day. That would be just so exciting...
And to see the performance on Crackerjack, click here
I’m heading back to Central London feeling all excited about my encounter. It’s Edward Thornhill’s birthday today, and we’re having drinks in Soho House. I feel a little under dressed. I’ve never felt cool enough to legitimately visit Soho House, but I shall pretend...
We’re now a third of the way through the year. I don’t know what’s happened to the time. I sincerely wish I had a job!
April 4th, 1661, and Pepys spent much of the day playing music at Lord Sandwich’s house. He went with his best mate, Henry Moore, to his father’s for tea. He went home late, leaving Elizabeth because their house was still over-run with workmen. All very interesting, but he didn’t meet Maddy Prior, did he?!