Friday, 11 May 2012

Fleet memories


I’ve been rehearsing with the Fleet Singers tonight. They’ve now got to the end of the piece of music I wrote for them albeit in very broad strokes, but at least they know the nature of the beastie. There’s quite a mountain to climb, but the gradient will be considerably lessened if everyone now goes away with their music and does the necessary homework for us to spend future rehearsals finessing sound rather than note-bashing.
They’re a fabulous bunch. The wonderful thing about this project is that it deals with the genuine memories of a group of people. Each member of the choir was asked to provide two memories from the past sixty years; the only stipulation was that they needed to come from two separate decades. It was remarkable to discover quite how diverse the group is. They come together in a Hampstead Methodist church every Monday night,  and on the surface of things, ought to be fairly similar, but the lives which delivered them to this particular place and time couldn’t have been more different. There are people from Trinidad, Jamaica and South Africa. One woman camped for some time at Greenham Common, another kept a crow as a pet. They've all had experiences which have triggered the most fascinating conversations. 
I think my generation has an incredible amount to learn from those who fought for human rights in the mid 20th Century, and quite a lot to feel grateful for. I spoke to a chap today who’d been on the original Aldermaston March. He used to protect left wing politicians when they spoke at rallies and demonstrations in North London. Speaking to him made me realise how full of optimism those times must have been.

I think it’s probably a result of a combination of stress and a sedentary lifestyle, but I have a very tender left arm; a sort of neuralgia-like sensation. At the moment Nathan has something similar on the left hand side of his face. It’s strange that we’re simultaneously experiencing the same sinister pains (both meanings of the word).

May 11th, 1662 was a Sunday, and the usual preacher at St Olave’s Church was out of town, so Pepys and the congregation were forced to suffer a “dull, flat Presbiterian.” There was stewed beef for lunch with pickled sturgeon sent in a barrel by the unfortunately named Captain Cock. In the afternoon, Pepys went to St James’ Park, where he saw the King, officially no longer in mourning - though God knows I can’t remember who’d died - who was wearing a suit laced with gold and silver, which sounds very fancy, but the general consensus was that it was a touch old-fashioned. Pepys stayed the night at his friend, Captain Ferrers’ house, but the bed was too soft, and it was so muggy that he didn’t sleep at all.
It stopped raining last night.

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