Tuesday, 21 August 2012


We're sitting in Stansted Airport, surrounded by screaming children, women with skin the colour of teak, Scottish business men and Essex lads on tour knocking back cans of beer. I've never arrived so early at an airport in my life. When you travel with just hand luggage everything moves so much more speedily. 

Nathan is knitting next to me. It's quite astonishing how much attention a tattoo'd man knitting will generate. People literally stop in their tracks and stare. 

Last night I ventured into Queen's Wood to record another set of composer's notes for the Requiem. I decided to sit in the area where our beloved pet rats Maud and Pollux are buried. The London Requiem is dedicated to the dead of the capital, and don't see why this shouldn't include rodents! 

Upon entering the woods, I immediately realised I'd made a terrible mistake. The place was terrifying. Weird birds were making weird noises, and the undergrowth was a riot of cracks and rustles. At one point, a fox, or something darted past me, making a noise which sounded like a car crash in my headphones. I finished recording the blog and ran back to the car, my heart pounding in my ears. 

I sat in the car for a while trying to catch my breath, and watched in horror as a group of 12 or so lads emerged from the same area of the wood carrying torches and shouting. Heaven knows what they were up to, or what would have happened if they'd have come upon me, speaking like a loon into a small recording device. 

I listened back to what I'd recorded and realised with horror that the tape had run out almost as soon as I'd started speaking. I had nothing to show for my brave expedition and there was no way I was going back into those woods again! 

I went back this morning but was blighted by the screeches of planes flying above. I don't know if the wind was blowing in a particular direction, but they seemed far louder, lower and more regular than planes normally sound in these parts. I gave up, and went into Muswell Hill in search of a pair of shorts and some deck shoes and failed miserably on both counts! It's been a frustrating few hours; compounded even further by the Internet in our house breaking down! 

350 years ago, Pepys ate a venison pasty for the second time in as many days. The deer hunting season had obviously begun. Pepys was invited to The Mitre on Fenchurch Street by his Uncle Wight, and was thrilled to be joined by a very beautiful young lady, who drove him almost to distraction. It was, apparently, only her hands which were unattractive; they weren't white enough, apparently...

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