Today will probably end up ranking amongst the most difficult days in my life, although as I wasn't actually expecting to survive it, I guess there's cause for some form of celebration!
We started at 10am with pupils from three White City junior schools, all of whom were polite, diligent, in tune and hugely well-prepared and as a result got the day off to an unexpectedly positive start. I think they enjoyed the experience of singing in a recording studio, and I very much enjoyed taunting them by speaking in a freakishly low voice through their cans. "I love his deep voice," said one little girl, and it struck me how unfamiliar most children are with men. Nearly all primary school teachers are female and I guess there's a slight tendency for men to speak to young children (particularly their own) at a slightly higher pitch. It feels more child-friendly, I suppose, although it's never something I've bothered to do. Talk to all kids like their adults; that's my motto. It's what my Uncle John used to do, and it freaked me out good and proper!
We continued at a good pace with Frank, whose song is about a 40-year love affair with a woman called Mona. He was in and out in an hour and I was muchly relieved.
We were on time for lunch, and Julian and I sat down in a restaurant on the Uxbridge Road for some falafel and salad.
It was after lunch that things took a bit of a nose-dive. One of our most talented contributors got "red-light fever" (the inability to perform in front of a studio microphone), most hadn't learned their words, let alone the music they'd had for three weeks, and to cap it all, our steel band forgot to come for their session. All this, of course, means extra studio time and the budget for the piece is creaking at the seams!
It's so tough being the composer in this particular situation. Probably because I'm shattered, I took everything incredibly personally and kept having to stop myself from saying, "hey, I've written you a song to sing about your life and spent loving hours crafting it and honing it; the least you could have done was learn it!" If someone wrote a song for me, I'd be thrilled. Frankly, I'm thrilled if someone writes me a letter! Then all manner of terrible thoughts started flashing through my head: is the song good enough? Is the music too difficult? It's the ultimate rejection, I suppose, and it did make me wonder whether this ought to be the last musical film I make of this nature. I genuinely find the pressure too great to deal with as I get older, and if the contributors themselves don't seem that fussed about being involved, I'm forced to question who I'm actually doing it for. I'm certainly not doing it to provide the world with music that anyone can sing, because what I write is so specific to the individuals who perform it.
Of course I'm being a little over dramatic, as there were high points along the way. Danny's session was long, but ultimately highly successful and the group of teenagers who came in at the end of the day were a joy to have around, but I go into the bank holiday weekend with three major sequences left to record, when I'd hitherto expected to have everything done and dusted. Very disappointing.
Anyway, we still achieved much today, and there were plenty of belly laughs along the way and tomorrow I get to have a lie-in, which is just brilliant.