Wednesday, 28 November 2012

God bless East Coast!

I travelled up to York this morning, and saw, as we passed through the South East Midlands, quite how much of this country has been effected by floods. Every river we passed had burst its banks. Every lake and pond was indistinguishable from the field it was sitting in. People on the train billowed and tutted in awe and horror. The phrase which rang out more than any other was, "I have never seen anything like it." I know for a fact that I haven't. 

Hats off now to East Coast Mainline, in particular a woman called Claire Peacock, who sorted me out with a new ticket, at no extra cost, when a mix up on the platform with another provider made me miss my train. I was in such a state when I reached her, and could have burst into tears when she waved her magic wand and gave me a ticket for the next train. She has renewed my faith in East Coast, and made me begin to think that Monday's hell was something of a blip. 

York itself is flooded as badly as I've ever seen it with water gushing out of the windows of buildings by the riverside. The swollen Ouse was like hot melted chocolate rolling along a spoon. 

It's always great to be back in York, however. I love that the good folk of the city just get on with their lives when it floods. My Mum tells me York was on the news yesterday with a silly reporter standing waist deep in water (unnecessarily) and saying how worrying it was that parts of the city had been under water on a worrying number of occasions this year. Apparently the woman she was interviewing said, "yes, it's not much fun, but please tell the world that York is very definitively open for business!" Bravo York... 

That said, if I didn't know the city so well, I'd probably say that it looked somewhat apocalyptic! Bus loads of tourists were standing open-mouthed on the bridges. 

I was in York to watch the premier of a film commissioned by the City council about the Ebor Vox project, which saw some 600 performers marching through the streets of York whilst singing one of my compositions. And what an honour it was! 

It was such a fabulously unique and eccentric project which the film captured rather skilfully. I feel very proud to have written the piece and hope it becomes something of a standard in York. I was also rather chuffed to be described in the film as an acclaimed composer. That's nice, isn't it? 

If you'd like to see the film in full (roughly 18 minutes) you should go to and see me being interviewed in various shades of black! 

I sold a copy of the Requiem this evening, which I'm hoping was bought by one of the performers. I'd like to think at least some of the  600 performers might be interested in other projects I've worked on! 

350 years ago, London was in the grips of a bout of fairly cold weather. There had been snow on the roofs of the houses when Pepys woke up the previous morning and a hard frost the following day. This was fairly shocking, not just because it was relatively early in the year for cold weather, but because there hadn't been any snow - literally - for 3 years, a fact I find astonishing when we consider that Pepys is often associated with the Little Ice Age; ice fairs on the Thames etc. in fact, 1650 is historically considered the gateway to a series of bitterly cold winters, which makes Pepys' accounts of warm, dusty winters all the  more noteworthy.

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