Thursday, 19 May 2011

A leap of faith

It’s been a somewhat lethargic day. I’ve sat in my little space on the sofa for hours on end, looking at my computer screen, developing ideas for future projects, transcribing gravestones and researching homophobia. There's now a me-shaped dent on the seat. At one point I started to feel a little dizzy; I suspect a combination of this blessed cold and my staring at the screen for too long without looking up.

I had some very good news this morning. A Symphony for Yorkshire has been nominated for 5... count them... 5 Regional RTS Awards, including best drama/ entertainment; a category which pits against This Is England '86 and South Riding! Hysterical...

There’s very little else to say. Gloria Bee seems to have vanished, but an enormous bumble bee keeps popping in to visit us instead. I’m very supportive of bumble bees – particularly ones that look like they’re wearing a coat of beautiful black and orange velvet. I nevertheless have to keep helping the majestic creature back out of the kitchen, as I feel a television is no place for one so regal!

Fortunately, Pepys was a busier man than I on this date 350 years ago. It was a Sunday, and he walked into Westminster, stopping en route at York House, where he observed two catholic masses which were being held on behalf of the Spanish ambassadors. Pepys went for a turn in the garden, but decided York House was less charming on the inside than it seemed from the outside.

He spent the afternoon hanging out with Sandwich, his colleague Mr Howe, and the eccentric Captain Ferrers, who was obviously off his tits on the 17th Century equivalent of acid, because his behaviour was both erratic and bizarre.

The group talked about an imminent trip to sea. Ferrers was trying to decide whether or not to go, but said, rather oddly, that he would definitely go, if he were sure “never to come back again.” We’re not told why. Ferrers was a rake; perhaps he had debts, perhaps he’d been scorned, perhaps he was tripping, because he suddenly went bonkers; “he grew so mad with joy that he fell a-dancing and leaping like a madman.” Bi-polar anyone?

He rushed to the balcony and asked how much anyone would bet him to jump over. Pepys, probably in an attempt to steer the situation away from imminent danger, told Ferrers he’d give him 40l if he didn’t go to sea. But Ferrers was manic, “and, with a vault, leaps down into the garden:—the greatest and most desperate frolic that ever I saw in my life. I run to see what was become of him, and we found him crawled upon his knees, but could not rise; so we went down into the garden and dragged him to the bench, where he looked like a dead man, but could not stir; and, though he had broke nothing, yet his pain in his back was such as he could not endure. With this, my Lord (who was in the little new room) come to us in amaze, and bid us carry him up, which, by our strength, we did, and so laid him in East’s bed, by the door; where he lay in great pain. We sent for a doctor and chyrurgeon, but none to be found, till by-and-by by chance comes in Dr. Clerke, who is afeard of him.” (afeard in this case meaning desperately worried on his behalf.)

I'm pleased to announce that Ferrers recovered, fairly speedily from his injuries, but continued to behave strangely... No doubt for the rest of his eccentic life.

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