Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Pleasure Gardens


Oh Christ. Here we go. I think I’m coming down with whatever Nathan had during the last few days. When you’ve seen someone badly suffering from an illness, the thought of coming down with it yourself is tantamount to sitting on the edge of a cliff in a force ten hurricane. Inevitable. Terrifying. What must it have been to begin to experience the symptoms of plague in the 17th Century, knowing that there was nothing you could do but wait to die...

I tried to go jogging earlier on, but every time I started to run, I instantly got a stitch, which refused to go. I wondered at one stage if I was having a heart attack. Now when I breathe in, my lungs hurt. My neck is starting to feel achy. I’m going to Germany on Friday and I want to be well so that I can enjoy the experience. Let’s hope whatever comes is short lived and manifests itself in a less painful way than it did with Nathan. I think I've got a fairly robust constitution, although let's not forget that Nathan gave me whooping cough, which didn't seem to effect him at all.

Penny came over this evening, and we sat in the front room scripting the first of the films we’re going to make about the Requiem. I always prefer it when we’re together face to face, because we tend to inspire one another. We were both up in the night worrying. I sent her an email at 3am, and she responded at 5! Her daughter has been ill as well, with similar symptoms to Nathan, so there’s obviously something going round.

They appear to have arrested the parents of the six children who died in the house fire in Derby, a few weeks ago, which begs the question; why would two people want to kill ALL of their children? It makes no sense to me. The other thing that makes no sense, and forgive me being slightly insensitive here – why would you call one of your children Jade and another Jaydon?

At some point I’ll introduce you all to my sister Benjemima.

I am more than a little worried about my friend Tammy. When news broke this morning about the earthquakes in Italy, Nathan reminded me that she lives quite close to the area affected. I wrote her a joking email, assuming we'd have heard if the city of Modena where she lives had been badly hit and received the following reply, which I know she won't mind my quoting on this:

To be honest so far modena itself has only suffered slight damage as it is built on reclaimed marshland and so the water acts like a sponge and absorbs the shocks, but nearby surrounding towns have been v badly damaged. Churches and homes destroyed and thousands are sleeping in tents/in the open. We are at home, although lots of people in Modena have escaped for the night. We thought about going, but decided to stay. School was evacuated and all schools are closed tomorrow. We have a number of survival bags that are already in the car. Since the last quake just over a week ago we have had a ton of shocks and it is totally freaking me out

May 29th, 1662, yielded a charming diary entry from Pepys. It was the King’s birthday (“solemnly” observed we’re told) and also the day when Catherine de Breganza, the future Queen of England, arrived at Hampton Court Palace. A few bonfires were lit in the street, as was the custom to celebrate great events, but the general feeling was that Londoners were all a bit over it. Breganza had been threatening to arrive in London for at least a month and she still hadn't... quite.

Pepys took his wife, his serving boy and his maid to Vauxhall to visit the pleasure gardens there. The women gathered pinks at the Old Spring Gardens, but the new gardens, which Pepys hadn’t visited before, were hugely superior.
"And here we also walked, and the boy crept through the hedge and gathered abundance of roses, and, after a long walk... we had cakes and powdered beef [salt beef] and ale, and so home again by water with much pleasure.”

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