Thursday, 21 July 2011

I am cool!

Something very exciting happened to me today: my life was validated by a teenage girl! I was sitting in Costa Coffee with a manuscript book in one hand, whilst transferring music to my computer with the other. A group of teenagers had been irritating the hell out of me at the back of the cafe. One of them kept screaming, and the others kept shushing her, which was somehow even more annoying. Fortunately, they decided to leave, en masse, after about ten minutes of white noise. As one of them walked past, she hovered behind me for some time, and then said; “that is SOOO cool.” Her friends were shushing her, again. “I don’t care" she wibbled, "it’s cool... he’s composing...” And with that, they vanished, and my heart skipped a beat.

I... am... cool.

I knew it!

Obviously, I now forgive them for screaming like foxes on heat. They can scream as much as they like if they're going to say stuff like that. Being validated by a 16 year-old is the most exciting thing that can happen to a fusty old bugger like me!

...And it couldn't have come at a better moment. I've just entered what I think is probably the first writers' block I’ve encountered during this Requiem project. I know it's got something to do with the weather - I can't concentrate whilst everything feels so damp and sticky - but it could also be to do with the fact that I’m working on one of the movements that other composers tend not to tackle. It’s known as the “tract,” and to be fair, its Latin text is not hugely inspiring. Same old, same old, really, going round and round in circles; “rest in peace, save our souls, everlasting light, God, God, Jesus, God,” the odd biblical reference. I’ve got a cracking tune, but I don’t know where to take it. I’m on the fourth version of a middle section and I keep having to throw things away; minutes of music biting the dust at the push of a button. I also have chafing from all the running I’ve been doing in the gym, which is obviously occupying my mind somewhat!

My cold doesn't seem to have amounted to anything, however. Famous last words, of course...

Sunday 21st July, 1661, and Pepys spent the day putting his papers in order. He was due to head back to London the following day. Various local dignitaries and legal men visited him in the afternoon, and there was a massive argument, which ended with a compromise. Pepys’ Aunt Anne would be given 10l to leave her house, so that it could be sold. No wonder she'd been behaving like a spoilt child. 10l strikes me as a shockingly small amount of money to compensate a recent widow, who's been thrown out of a house she's lived in all her married life. I'm not sure women counted for much in those days. Where would she have gone?

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