We went to Julie Clare’s house last night with David from the choir, Meriel and her little dog Berry. It was a wonderfully relaxed, quiet evening. We played silly games and ate an obscene amount of food, which included the most supreme chocolate roulade, courtesy of Julie. At midnight we switched the telly on, and watched the fireworks in central London with the volume switched off whilst singing along to ABBA’s “Happy New Year.” Perfect.
We must have left at about 2.30am, our stomachs full to bursting, and today, Meriel, Nathan and I went to Hampstead Heath. I wrote a tweet to say that it was the perfect thing to do on a New Year’s Day, and received a response from someone actually tweeting as Hampstead Heath! “It’s worked for me for a thousand years” said Mr Hampstead Heath, “me too,” I replied, “have you seen Hampstead Heath: The Musical?” “Seen it” came the response, “I’m in every scene y’know...” I stopped tweeting at that point. Interacting with someone claiming to be the personification of a North London Park felt too surreal for words!
We returned from the Heath via Highgate village and spent an hour walking from pub to pub looking for something to eat for a late lunch. The experience became hell on earth. The place was teaming with people. Every pub we entered was either too full, had stopped serving food, or didn’t accept dogs. We drove into Muswell Hill to find all the cafes closed, baring the curious “Jenny’s”, which is like a sort of cross between an old school Wimpy and a Greasy Spoon. It did the trick, although the food we were offered was deeply limited on account of the place having run out of most ingredients. “You got mushrooms?” “no” “veggie lasagnes?” “no” “veggie burgers?” “no” “can you make an omelette?” “yes... no... wait... lemme check if we have eggs...” All the waitresses were rushing around looking utterly bemused. One of them told me she’s started at 10am and hadn’t had a lunch break. January the 1st would definitely be the day to launch a restaurant!
Pepys’ Yuletide period was quiet. Christmas in those days was a fairly sedate affair; church, followed by a roasted chicken, plum porridge and mince pies. There was a cold, dry frost on the ground, and Pepys went to the theatre many times, his oaths about cutting back on pleasurable exploits having come to an end. He saw his wife’s former companion, Gosnell with her sisters from a distance on Boxing Day, and, despite the fact that she’d proved to be a proper liability, longed to have her back in the household, really just so that he could sing with her again. Pepys loved music.
Gossip of the day told of a merchant’s house in Lothbury, which had burned down inexplicably and utterly silently in the middle of the night; so silently, in fact, that none of its neighbours noticed anything untoward until the house had almost entirely been razed to the ground with no survivors; not even a cat or a dog.
Elizabeth was upset because she didn’t have a winter gown. The fashion dictated mohair... she only had taffeta.
New Year’s Eve was spent at Whitehall Palace, watching the King, the royals and hangers on, dancing and singing in glorious gowns. How the other half lived in those days.