Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Red sky in the morning...


I've just spent the afternoon with Mick Harding from the wonderful Circus Envy, a band who played on A Symphony for Yorkshire. We walked all over central London from King's Cross, where I met his train, through Bloomsbury, around Soho, Piccadilly and Covent Garden. It was genuinely lovely to see him. He grew up in Northamptonshire, so his part-Yorkshire, part-Daventry tones started to pull my accent all over the place.

Our walk was accompanied by every type of weather known to man, lovely sunshine, brutal grey clouds, a strong breeze and then thunder and hail of such ferocity that there were flash floods on Old Compton Street. We sat drinking coffee under an awning, feeling dry and incredibly smug, but what on earth is happening to the weather?!

I dropped Nathan off at Kentish Town train station this morning, at the ungodly hour of 4.30am. He’s flown to Malaga to do a singing gig. The flight departed from Gatwick, which ought to be the most difficult London airport to get to from up here, but fortunately there’s a brilliant train service which runs from Luton to Brighton via a number of useful North London train stations, so his journey was likely to be relatively painless. We arrived at Kentish Town so early, however, that we had to access the station via its night entrance. It was delightful driving back to Highgate as the sun rose into a sky smeared with streaks of pinky red. The birds were doing a crazy dawn chorus, but the warning signs were there. “Red sky at night shepherd’s delight, red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.”

I went back to bed, but was vaguely aware of the sounds of Paul and Fiona creeping down from the loft about half an hour later. Paul is heading back to the US today via Heathrow airport. A couple of hours later, Fiona and I met in the kitchen and stared disbelievingly out of the window at the heavy rain. “The weather looked so promising” she said “when I was waiting for the taxi with Paul. I went back to bed and then there was the sound of a monsoon on your roof.”

Stephen from Ebor Vox just phoned from one of the choir rehearsals in York. Apparently the “scratch” choir has started to make a very lovely noise, and he seemed flushed with excitement. It’s so odd to think that my music is being sung as I write, some 200 miles away from London.

350 years ago, bells across London were being rung, and bonfires were being lit “for the joy of the Queen’s arrival.” Catherine de Breganza, the Portuguese princess betrothed to Charles II, had arrived in Portsmouth on the previous evening. Pepys, however, in brutally frank terms described the joy as “not particularly thorough, an indifferent [joy] in the hearts of people, who are much discontented at the pride and luxury of the Court, and running in debt.” How little society changes in 350 years.

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