Monday, 27 June 2011

Beavers

I may well end up regretting my decision to run all the way to Hampstead Garden Suburb and back again on the hottest day of the year. I am now melting on my sofa, wondering if I need to be hospitalised. It is truly bonkers out there. Earlier today I walked from the dole office in Holloway (where I signed off, hurrah) to Highgate Village. It’s a steep enough hill, alright, but I sweated like a morbidly obese cow. I actually had to break my journey to buy a can of coke in Tesco, and ended up feeling utterly ashamed as the woman served me. I swear she decided there was something very wrong with me as I dripped so much sweat onto the bank note I was handing over, that she may well have thought I was about to pull out a gun and rob the joint. She’d been milling about in air-con heaven, and plainly had no concept of how hot is was outside.


I worked in Costa on the third movement of the Symphony for our O2 Award ceremony next month. The final roll call of performers is 4 singers, Circus Envy, a pianist, 4 acoustic string players, a tenor sax, a soprano sax and Ed Aleyn-Johnson on the electric fiddle. It’s a great line-up and I’m very excited.

The cafe was lovely and cool today, but filled to the rafters with lethargic, shiny people, who were trying to escape the weather. Everyone who came in had the same conversation; “it’s boiling, it’s clouding over, it’s going to rain, they say we’re in for a massive storm.” I assume “they” are the weather men, rather than the Highgate village sages. It took me back to my first year at University when the old woman who cleaned our corridor, Nancy, would often tell me “they say snow’ll be rolling off the moors tonight.” I always wondered who’d supplied Nancy with this information. It was never on the local news. I think back then, a network of wise women lived across the country. They communicated in highly mysterious ways. They knew everything, had no opinions, merely answers, and stopped society from sliding into disarray in the days before the Internet. Some were faceless and merely possessed the ability to point, others could divide and find themselves in two places at the same time to supply a particularly important piece of information. They worked as cleaners, and in lauderettes, and spent hours sitting in cafes and public libraries.

Thursday 27th June, 1661, and Pepys went with his father to Mr Starling’s bar near the Temple for their morning draught. They talked about Uncle Robert in Huntingdon, and how Pepys wanted to buy some land in the village. Pepys Senior finished his drink, and immediately left London to be with the aforementioned Uncle, who was gravely ill and needed assistance. In the afternoon, Pepys went with a bevy of ladies to the theatre to see Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, which was, apparently, well acted.

When he returned home, he found that Mr Holden the Haberdasher had sent him a “beaver” which would set him back a grand 4l 5s. A beaver in this instance was a hat, made of beaver skin, which was considered a luxury back then.

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