Saturday, 9 June 2012

Unfair hopes

A glimmer of sun and a flash of blue sky raised hopes across London this evening. Weather forecasts suggest these hopes will be utterly dashed tomorrow, just in time for our second day of filming on the Requiem. 

I'm bored of the weather and bored of the cost of public transport in this city, which has haemorrhaged £9 from my oyster card in a single day. I'd double check this figure with an LU member of staff, but they've stopped peopling the ticket office at Highgate Station!

I'm in Catford, taking a much-needed break from the mayhem of recent days. It's craft and cake and I sat preparing a score for our first requiem rehearsal tomorrow whilst people knitted socks and hats around me. I really must learn a craft. Julie thinks I'd make a wonderful knitter, but I don't have the patience, the mathematical brain or the eye for detail. 

Catford is incredibly alien to me. It's a strangely  edgy sort of place, filled with  intimidating and unfamiliar types of people. There's a disproportionately high number of fat women here, for example, who seem to drag themselves around the streets like their legs are made of lead. There are a very high number of men in these parts who skulk about exuding attitude and glancing at everything and everyone with deep suspicion. Groups of lads in hoodies roller-skate down the centre of busy roads with no regard for motorists, or, it would seem, their own safety. Passing car stereos blare out too loudly. There are weird barriers everywhere, stopping people from crossing roads at the most convenient places. Curious kafenias emit ever-more curious smells. Grubby-looking shops sell weaves, false nails, and odd-looking fruit. The place emits a whiff of lawlessness and reminds me very much of parts of Brooklyn. It excites and horrifies in equal measures, but I certainly don't get a sense of a local community who would come rushing to a stranger's aid if he were to find himself in trouble! 

I got my 1662 dates muddled up yesterday, so 350 years - and one day ago - Pepys went to Lord Sandwich's house, where a talking parrot caused a great deal of mirth. It was only Lady Sandwich, who, for some reason, didn't like the creature. We never learn why.

Home, and Pepys found himself troubled by the behaviour of his clerk, Will Hewer, who had started to get ideas above his station...

"Home, and observe my man Will to walk with his cloak flung over his shoulder, like a Ruffian, which, whether it was that he might not be seen to walk along with the footboy, I know not, but I was vexed at it; and coming home, and after prayers, I did ask him where he learned that immodest garb, and he answered me that it was not immodest, or some such slight answer, at which I did give him two boxes on the ears, which I never did before, and so was after a little troubled at it."

Hewer plainly forgave Pepys, for the two men went on to become trusted confidents and a life-long friends. Hewer became an incredibly wealthy man, the Judge Advocate General no less, and, in later life, when Pepys' health was failing, he invited his former employer to live with him in his Clapham mansion. I think Pepys may well even have died there. 

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