Friday, 25 November 2011

Foy

Another day of frantic preparations for the concert, which included a full hour spent sellotaping orchestra parts together, and about 5 hours’ organ practice. I kept gluing the wrong pages together and then having to rip them apart. I feel quite ashamed to hand the music to the players because I've managed to sellotape various pubic hairs and bits of food into it.  I’m still struggling with the organ parts - things are improving, but I'm terrified I’ll sit down to play the tomorrow and find myself back at square one. There’s something about a keyboard that is so much less forgiving than a piano. Maybe it's because there's a great deal less control when it comes to the volume. The merest scuff of a wrong note reverberates like a squeaky clarinet in a school orchestra.

My brother Tim arrived from Manchester at about 8pm with his partner, John. They’re staying with me this weekend. In fact, many of my friends and relatives are arriving in London for the concert. I'm beginning to feel excited. We went up into the village and had a drink at the Flask with Fiona’s parents. I always feel very proud of Highgate when we have visitors – it radiates middle class charm! All of our guests seemed particularly impressed by the open air notice boards which are scattered about in these parts. I suppose it is rather bizarre that no one has tried to set them on fire, or covered them in grafitti or excrement. It's also rather nice to see how much stuff is going on up here; yoga classes, singing lessons, film and book clubs, music concerts... You name it.

Tim was very keen to go to the top of Parliament Hill because it was the first place we visited after finding each other. Tim is my half brother. He was taken away from my mother after he was born in Liverpool in the 1960s. I knew of his existence from my early twenties, but it took me the best part of ten years to finally track him down. It’s a long, and very wonderful story, filled with so many co-incidences that co-incidence eventually turned into fate. When I found him, he was living in Holland, and within days of my contacting him, he came back to England to meet his birth family.

I picked him up from Stansted airport. We were both incredibly nervous and I couldn’t think of anything else to do other than take him to my favourite place in the world. We walked onto the Heath, climbed the hill and stood and looked down across the twinkling lights of London, aware that life would never be the same for either of us again.

The lights looked very beautiful this evening as well. The sky was dark and clear and they seemed to be shimmering. The Shard of Glass looked particularly impressive. It’s the first time I’ve seen it from that angle at night time. It’s entirely changed the shape of the horizon in the city... very much for the better, I feel.

Today is the year anniversary of the first performance of The Pepys Motet. It seems like a lifetime ago.

350 years ago, Pepys attended a "foy", which I'm told is a final meal thrown by a navy man before he goes to sea - one assumes to make peace with the world in case he didn't return. Today's foy was a meal of wine and oysters. Pepys went to the theatre... twice, the second time to make up for the fact that he hadn't enjoyed the first.

He then went drinking with mates. He drank too much - and was hoarse by the time he got home, no doubt because he'd shouted like an alcoholic all night. He'd also spent much of the night drinking toasts to the memory of a beautiful woman he'd admired whist studying at Cambridge university. That would make anyone hoarse.

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