Monday, 28 May 2012

When the sun shines...


Is it the heat which is constantly circulating the smells of my childhood around my nostrils at the moment? As I wondered around North London today, I was bombarded by familiar, but long forgotten scents; 1970s sweet shops, creosote, verdant undergrowth nestling by the side of tarmac pavements, talcum powder, plastercine, hyacinths, meatballs. Maybe I’m just entering another period of nostalgia...

When I was younger, I used to say that the light of early summer days reminded me of Ancient Egypt, which probably reenforced the notion that I was quite an eccentric child. I can only think that we learned about Egypt at junior school for the first time in a summer term and that my brain rewired itself to associate the white light of sandy monuments with what I could see in the playground outside. Hot weather often stirs ancient memories for me. I associate the sun with happiness. And birthdays.

The sun also brings out people's arms, and in Hoxton, where I've been all afternoon, you suddenly see an awful lot of tattoos. Maybe I'm just more aware of body art since Nathan had his arm covered in signs and ancient symbols, but tattoos genuinely seem to be everywhere right now. Walking from Arnold Circus to Old Street tube, I counted 20. I'm always fairly surprised to see them on teenagers. I don't often find myself wondering what someone's mother would think, but when I see a near child with a tattoo, I genuinely pity his parents. Then again, the parents of most teenagers are probably not far off my own generation. A mate of mine from school has a 21 year old! Well, she’s not a mate. She’s a friend on Facebook... and we all know that’s a very different thing!

I’ve just got back from a hugely sweaty rehearsal with the Fleet Singers, where we managed to run an entire movement from Songs AboutThe Weather. If only we had four rehearsals left instead of two, I think we could pull something quite extraordinary out of the bag. There are some wonderful and very attentive singers in that lot. A couple of them never took their eyes off me. It genuinely is a pleasure to stand in front of them and wave my arms about, even on one of the muggiest days of the year so far! I left the rehearsal needing to be popped into a tumble drier but feeling very upbeat.  

350 years ago, Pepys spent the day doing bits of business in all corners of the City of London. There was a visit to Mr Wooton, the shoemaker, where he had his morning draught, and then lunch with his father who was in town. Pepys continually refers to his father in this era as a "poor man" whom he felt needed as much cheering up as possible. He never mentions what the problem was, however. One assumes it was simply old age – and Pepys was recognising the symptoms in his father for the first time.

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