Friday, 12 August 2011

We got the job sussed?

Fiona is back in town, and it was lovely to see her for lunch today. Her hair is a great deal longer than it was the last time I saw her. We ate, with Nathan, in my favourite greasy spoon on the Archway Road. I go there as often as I can for poached eggs and mushrooms. Fiona has been touring in Germany with Placebo this week, and I think too many nights on the tour bus have taken their toll. She retired for an afternoon nap.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on a pitch to write the music for a TV comedy series about a school. The pitch involves writing a theme tune and incidental music for a number of scenes. Writing background music is always a challenge because it requires a completely different set of skills, the most important of which is mathematics. It’s all about timings; working out what time signature and tempo something needs to be in, so that a certain visual moment can be underpinned with an appropriate passage of music. I therefore spend long periods of time with a stop watch surgically attached to my hand. This kind of writing is often about creating music which has no function other than to simply create a mood, and this is a real skill. Sweeping melodies are usually way too distracting for TV music, and I love to write a nice melody. It's also a British comedy, and British comedies don’t tend to use that much music, so there’s very little for me to cross reference. It's one heck of a challenge. Still, after a few days of high-level anxiety, I think I finally cracked it today. I couldn’t have done it without Nathan, of course, who has actually learnt a new computer programme simply to help the process go more smoothly. I do not deserve him...

Because of all this, I've been living a rather hermit-like existence. I wake up and walk into Highgate Village to do a morning of writing, and then come home and write some more. It's a never ending cycle and I must remember not to drink too many cups of tea, which are apparently bad for my voice, alongside pretty much every food stuff that I really enjoy, from vinegar, through pasta sauce, into dairy produce. The voice specialist I saw yesterday was hugely apologetic when she told me that white wine wasn't very good for me, but no pasta sauce? No cheese? No vinegar? Come on!

Fans of Fisher Price nostalgia will be please to read that I've now moved four of my new plastic figures into an aeroplane. They went on a day trip this afternoon to the sofa and have now returned to the book shelves, where they seem to be sitting patiently inside the plane ready to alight. The blonde woman, the one we used to call Sally-Anna, is plainly a drunk, and finds it very difficult to sit upright in her seat. It’s what happens when you realise you’re set to spend eternity wearing the same dress and sporting a timeless, peroxide blonde 1960s hairstyle!

Away home. Looks like the plane's been flying through some volcanic dust clouds...

Speaking of timelessness, 350 years ago, Pepys was told the troubling news that Edward Montagu, the 13 year-old son of Lord Sandwich, was very poorly. Immediately assuming it was something to do with the fruit that he'd fed him two days before, our hero immediately made his way to The Wardrobe (the London residence of the Montagu clan). He found the boy, very ill indeed, but not with food poisoning – with suspected small pox. Even more worrying was the news that Sandwich himself was ill, somewhere off the coast of Alicante. Perhaps he'd spent too many nights clubbing. Pepys went to bed, troubled at the thought of what would happen to the Montagu name if the Lord and his heir both snuffed it simultaneously.

I met a lady once whose husband and son had died on the same night in two different London hospitals; the son of Lupus and the husband of a heart attack. When she heard they were both gravely ill, she didn't know which hospital to visit first. Talk about Sophie's Choice...

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