Friday, 11 November 2011

At 11am on 11.11.2011, Nathan and I switched the television on, and watched images of people in train stations, schools and various cenotaphs marking a two minutes' silence. The children in the school were delightful. One of them was playing "rock, paper, scissors" with herself. You can hardly blame her. When you're five, two seconds is a long time to stay sitting still! Every year, I vow to be standing somewhere more interesting when the clock strikes 11, but every year I forget. One year I was still asleep! I was particularly annoyed at myself on this occasion, however, because I like the notion of a palindromic date. I looked out of the window to see if anyone on the Archway Road had stopped what they were doing for a moment of private thought, and immediately called Nathan over in a rush of excitement; "the cars!" I shouted "they've all stopped in the street!" Nathan looked at me and rolled his eyes; "that's because the traffic light is on red!" #shameful.

The rest of the day was spent working – firstly in the cafe, and latterly at home on the kitchen table. We lost a tenor from the choir last night. I’d rehearsed him on his own, right at the start of the process, but then not heard anything from him. I kept texting and sending emails, but there was an eerie silence. Last night I decided he must have gone AWOL and sent a text saying; “I really shouldn’t have to chase you like this. Please can you let me know what’s going on?” Of course, I then received a stroppy email from him saying; “I don’t like your tone, and because of that, I’m going to pull out of your project," which was a disappointing response. Quite why he wasn’t brave enough to simply say he didn't want to be involved any more is anyone's guess. It's plain his radio silence was a product of his trying to think up an excuse, and I was annoyed to have provided him with one! There are far too few people in this world who are prepared to accept their own failings. Simply saying "no" or acknowledging that something isn't working is much fairer on everyone in the long term.  Being left in the lurch with a quarter of the rehearsal time already gone is a very different experience from being left in the lurch two weeks before full-scale rehearsals have commenced when there's plenty of time to find a replacement. Still, we seem to have found a new tenor, so I guess all's well that ends well and I certainly don't want anyone to go through the hell of learning music that they just don't have the time to learn.

So, as of about 6pm this evening, I have a full complement of players and singers for the gig on the 27th. Fingers crossed that this glorious situation will continue. I'm counting down the days...

I rehearsed Carmen, the delicious top sop today, who was totally on the ball and seemed to know the music backwards... Well obviously not backwards. I once told a community choir they needed to know the work we were singing backwards, and someone actually asked if I meant they had to be able to sing it starting at the end...

November 11th, 1661, and Pepys called in on Lady Sandwich, to find his wife looking at different types of lace. Pepys had promised to buy her a length, and the two women were deciding which sort was the prettiest. The two women opted for something which cost a whopping 6l. (£600 in today's money!) Pepys pretended not to be shocked – but he was horrified.

Captain Ferrers, the rogue, took Pepys to his very first “gaming house” in the afternoon, which I assume was an early form of casino. It was in Lincoln’s Inn Fields and Pepys wrote that it was strange to see "the folly of men to lay and lose so much money, and very glad I was to see the manner of a gamester’s life, which I see is very miserable, and poor, and unmanly."

Ferrers, ever the man about town, then took Pepys to a dance school in Fleet Street, where they saw "a company of pretty girls dance." Pepys added that he didn't "like to have young girls exposed to so much vanity."

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