Saturday, 16 February 2013

A brand new me

Nathan and I have just been for a belated Valentine's Day dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in Smithfield Market. Nathan had wanted to take me to a place in Angel, but it was fully booked. He seemed genuinely sad that we hadn't been able to go somewhere nice, so instead of going home with a pizza, or eating in Highgate, I suggested we ventured further towards the City. 

The area around Smithfields is incredibly beautiful, and very still and dark on a Saturday night. The twisting labyrinth of alleyways and lanes around the ornate Victorian market building offer a snapshot of 17th Century London. People appear from gloomy doorways like shadowy ghosts. I half expected to see Mr Samuel Pepys himself bustling past on his way to Seething Lane from an appointment with a lawyer in the Temple. 

I've always wanted to visit Smithfields early on a week day morning, to see all the pubs still open and the greasy spoons filled with workers from the meat market. Not the ideal location perhaps, for a card carrying vegetarian, but I'm intrigued. 

I've spent the day playing the 'cello. Yes, the beast has been brought out of his case and I'm willing the callouses to return to my finger tips to ease the pain of playing on blisters  (which is the current situation!) Various muscles in my upper arms and hands are hurting like hell. There are plainly contortions involved in cello playing which I used to take for granted! 

It also makes me acutely aware that modern day living will one mean render most of our fingers obsolete. Computer work relies so heavily on our thumbs and forefingers that it now hurts me to write with conventional pen and paper for too long; something to do with the pressure on my middle finger, which I don't use a great deal these days. 

Anyway the 'cello is out for a reason. I may or may not have a gig (imagine me doing a gig?) on Monday night. We're rehearsing in the afternoon and the band is under the strictest instructions to immediately sack me if it sounds horrible. I have to say, however, that playing the 'cello is deeply therapeutic. It makes me feel a little sad and wistful sometimes - chiefly because it reminds me so much of being young and idealistic; that long hot summer after we'd taken our A-levels when we busked every day - but it's a real tension beater, so it's great to be doing it again. I'm slowly coaxing the old sound out again! 

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