Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Today started way too early with a taxi journey to the BBC's Western House just up from Oxford Circus. I was launching the 100 Faces project in a series of interviews with various radio stations across the North. 

My day was made all the brighter by the man at Western House who installed me in one of those strange hessian-covered studios where you sit on your own in front of a mic, waiting for the various radio stations to get in touch. He was possibly the smiliest bloke in the world, which makes so much difference at 8am! I kept peering out of my window to check if the smile was permanent. It was! He smiled even when no one was looking at him. As I left the studio, I told the woman on reception what a difference to my day he'd made. She snarled menacingly!

From Oxford Circus, I travelled to Camden for an early morning hair cut from a pair of delightfully chatty Aussie ladies, before heading up to Regent's Park via a spot of breakfast on Parkway. 

In Regent's Park I recorded the sixth instalment of my "composer's notes" series, whilst sitting under a swaying chestnut tree which was rustling in the breeze like a thousand cheerleaders shaking pom-poms. 

It started to rain, and whilst attempting to get out of Regent's Park, I managed to get stuck in the "inner circle", a curious road in the middle of the park, which, it seems, is almost impossible to escape! 

Penny and cameraman Rob rescued me, but not before I realised that my wallet had gone missing. There was no alternative but to curse wildly and get on with the task in hand. We kicked things off at Willesden Jewish cemetery with an interview with Philip Sallon and his sister, Ruth, about their father, whose gravestone inscription, "nothing but the truth" features in the requiem. 

Philip was his usual eccentric self and wore a Ghandi costume underneath a plastic rain mac; bits of bollock and buttock peeking out all over the place.

Ruth arrived on a flower-covered bicycle, carrying an English flag in one hand and an Ethiopian flag in the other. The image of her cycling through the graves is one which will live with me for some time.

The siblings bickered and argued, philosophised and fascinated. Their father, Ralph Sallon MBE was a well-known caricaturist, whose anti-Hitler drawings were actually dropped from planes into Germany during the war to lower the morale of its citizens. As a result he was placed on Hitler's official hit list! 

It was whilst we were doing the interview that I received a call from the MU. "We've just had a phone call from a lovely lady who says she found your wallet in a park!" Bless her. I shall be picking it up from Camden first thing tomorrow. 

From Willesden we travelled to Highgate cemetery where members of the Rebel Chorus sang sequences from the requiem in the mystical surroundings of the Egyptian Avenue. It was a particular thrill to have Uncle Bill and Jago with us all the way from Lewes... It was an incredibly special shoot. My favourite moment was undoubtedly when the choir stood at Radcliffe Hall's grave and spontaneously sang her inscription in the requiem. 

We sat for a while in Waterlow Park before heading off to King's Cross, where I sat on a swing and did a series of little interviews in the glorious orange evening sunlight... 

I am exhausted... Happy, but exhausted, and filled to the brim with a sense of just how kind and generous people can be. And the inscription from the requiem that the choir were singing this afternoon ?

Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. 


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