This morning Nathan and I went to help Fiona load most of the rest of her London possessions into a white van. It wasn’t exactly a moment I’ve been looking forward to, and as she disappeared up the Archway Road, I got so upset that Nathan had to buy me a hot chocolate!
For the first time in my life I’m wondering how much future there is in London. It would, of course, be impossible for Nathan to move right now – if ever – but I’m painfully aware of the sheer number of my friends who are upping sticks and moving away. London is expensive, and it can have a very negative effect on the people who live here. We cram ourselves into tubes and buses and bars and concrete buildings. We have no interest in the well-being of anyone other than our very closest friends. We have no concept of the changing of seasons, or, in fact, anything outside the metropolis. I think people outside London have more time to care.
Anyway, we can’t move right now. We have an abnormally beautiful and inexpensive flat in a wonderful part of town, and, unlike most Londoners, we are surrounded by green spaces.
In an attempt to reclaim my rural roots, I took myself to the Heath this evening, and walked around as the sun set, and the April showers started to take hold. I was almost deafened by the sound of birds singing. I had no idea the dusk chorus was such a phenomenon at this time of year on the Heath. I spent many happy minutes losing myself in the sonic world which was being presented to me; trying to pick out the individual tweets. What I found particularly moving was the way that the sounds got quieter and quieter as the light faded and the birds fell asleep. By the time darkness had truly descended, there was nothing but the sound of silence, and the odd hoot from an owl. I got extremely wet, but I didn’t really care. I was enjoying the smell of rain too much.
I delivered the York composition today, which felt like a massive achievement, and quite an enormous weight off my mind. It took many hours to format all the scores so that choirs and individual singers in the city can download everything they need when they need it, but it’s done and I can now focus on other projects. I celebrated by sending a begging letter to someone I know up in the village. I promise to have no pride whatsoever until the London Requiem is fully funded. I will beg, borrow, flirt, scream, go naked and lie until I am holding a copy of the CD in front of me.
Pepys went on a tour of churches 350 years ago, starting with St Paul’s and then heading to the Temple, where a young lad, who’d fallen asleep during the sermon, fell off an incredibly high chair and almost broke his neck.
The talk of the town was of the arrival of the future Queen of England, who was on her way from Portugal, and due to dock in Portsmouth within the week. People were intrigued by what would happen to the King’s principal lover, Lady Castlemayne, when the Queen arrived. She’d become incredibly influential within the court and was building up both enemies and very loyal fans. Pepys was in the latter camp. He adored the woman and thought she epitomised glamour and the new England.