Sunday, 12 February 2012

Poor Jack

I woke up this morning to the news that Witney Houston was dead. No one wants to make any statements about what might have killed her, but I think we can assume that drugs were to blame. What a terrible waste of a god-given talent. It's astonishing how an alluring performer with the best voice in pop could spiral so far downwards that they became nothing but a laughing stock. My brother went to see her at the O2 recently, and she was apparently so awful that most of the audience had left the arena by the time she'd finished her set. I Will Always Love You, was, tragically, the biggest disaster of all.

Breakfast in the hotel was a fairly surreal experience as the news of Houston's death swept through a room filled with people still hung over from the night before. We gathered around the television for a few minutes and made appropriate noises. One Japanese girl seemed genuinely distressed.

The surrealism of the occasion was enhanced hugely by the mystery of the disappearing toast. The hotel has one of those machines that sucks bread into a sort of conveyor belt oven which eventually flicks toast into a tray below. A group of us were loading our bread in, waiting for a bit, then peering into the machine to discover it had vanished. An ever-increasing cluster of people was standing around scratching its head until someone realised that the toast was dropping out of the back of the machine which was level with a tiny gap in the cloth on the table top. We pulled the table out and found 100 pieces of toast in a pile underneath! One woman laughed so much that she dropped a glass of orange juice which shattered all over the breakfast room floor.

Sunday's a lonely old day, isn't it, when you're on your own? I don't know what should make it worse than any other day in this respect. There's probably just as much to do in terms of shops and cinemas being open, but the streets are empty and the world seems to be hiding, no doubt doing their washing, tidying their houses and worrying about the week ahead. It doesn’t help that I know that Nathan’s with his family less than 100 miles away in Wrecsam and my own family have gathered in Thaxted.

I’m therefore drifting like a ghost through the streets of Manchester, pretending to shop and trying to busy myself. Periodically I'm listening to the Hattersley songs. I now have to re-programme myself from being a composer to being director. My mind must shift from an audio world to visual one, and start to find solutions to the whole new set of technical challenges which lay ahead.

I’m a great fan of Moleskine notebooks, particularly after discovering their A5-sized manuscript books. I was therefore hugely excited to find a storyboard notebook in Waterstones today, which provides me with a series of small empty rectangles which I can fill with rubbish drawings representing the individual shots in the films we're about to make. It's a useful way to focus the mind on the job in hand, and with any luck, make sure the films have a decent flow to them.

Because there’s nothing else to do, I’m going to dance in my hotel room...
There. That was lovely.

350 years ago, Pepys spent the day with lawyers, ticking enough boxes to describe himself “highly contented” with the work he’d achieved. He got home, did some composing, and then took delivery of 100 Poor Jacks (a kind of dried and salted hake) sent to him by fishmonger, John Addis.


  1. The case of the disappearing toast made me ponder, yet again, the great mystery of the disappearing socks. Accordingly, I pulled out my washing machine, hoping to find one hundred missing socks, just as you found one hundred pieces of missing toast. Alas. No socks. Another thought on missing things was about the poor woman I once had to section into a mental hospital because she thought the world was about to run out of ( musical) notes.

  2. Amazing! Every time I sit down to write a new piece of music I wonder if the world has run out of musical notes. We're all walking that thin line between sanity and insanity!