Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Dulcimers


The sun is a circular peach in a milk-white sky. The air is perfumed with the rich aroma of May blossom and cow parsley. The birds are about to begin their dusk chorus. Summer is here and I feel alive.

I've come to the Heath for an evening constitutional. It's a wonderful time to clear one's head. This week I’ve been attempting to realign my life-work balance. I've been going to the gym, dieting and trying to find a little bit more time to enjoy the life I've created for myself.

I sat in St Giles churchyard with Nathan at lunchtime enjoying the sunshine and doing very little else. June and July are going to be months from hell in terms of work load and I need to be fit and relaxed in time for the mayhem.

I employed a tenor for the choir today; a nice Aussie chap who is a post grad at the Royal College. There are many more people who’ve asked to be considered, but they've been so hideously slow in responding to my emails that I'm almost pleased today's tenor was good enough to join us, so they can begin to learn the importance of grasping an opportunity as soon as it arrives! I learned the hard way when I graduated from drama school and missed out on several key opportunities simply because I hated using the phone and didn’t call people back. As Nathan puts it, “you snooze, you lose.”

We went to see Jekyll and Hyde: the Musical at the Union Theatre last night. It's a fundamentally flawed work, but the production was beautifully and consistently directed by Luke Fredericks. It's rare, and probably not altogether healthy, to walk away from a production feeling that the director is a rising star but I was impressed by his level of invention. The set was very well designed as well.

It’s a Pepys double bill today. On Thursday 22nd May, 1662, Pepys went to the theatre to see a play called Love In A Maze, which he didn’t rate. Unsurprising by the title. I bet it was a bawdy comedy. Actually, I’ve just read up about it and it was indeed a comedy of manners famous at the time because the last act involved an actual on stage maze! (That part sounds quite impressive...) In the evening Pepys was brought some olives, some anchovies and some “muscatt” wine. He didn't know what the wine was, and was too ashamed to ask. We've all been there. It's the feeling I get when anyone mentions classical music to me!

Friday 23rd May, 1662, and Pepys and Elizabeth called in at the Wardrobe to see Lady Jemima Sandwich. Sometime after he arrived, he was brought the news that his patron, and favourite distant cousin, Lord Sandwich, who had been away for months bringing Catherine de Breganza over from Portugal, was in the building... This put Pepys into a "great suspense of joy." Sandwich looked very well and was very merry, having left the King Charles II with his new Queen at Portsmouth. Queen Catherine to be was apparently "most agreeable" and a very fine painter to boot.

Later on, Pepys went to the theatre to see Witt in a Constable, which he described as "so silly a play I never saw I think in my life." I’ll leave the rest of this entry to our hero, who went from the theatre to Covent Garden to see more Punch and Judy...

After it was done, my wife and I to the puppet play in Covent Garden, which I saw the other day, and indeed it is very pleasant. Here among the fidlers I first saw a dulcimere played on with sticks knocking of the strings, and is very pretty...

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