Monday, 9 September 2013


I’m sitting in the auditorium of the Lost Theatre, which is somewhere in the void between Vauxhall and Stockwell. It would appear to be nowhere near a tube. We walked here in the rain and my shoes leaked miserably. I am seriously wondering if I have a form of trench foot because every time my feet get wet these days they begin to itch. I’ve come to the Lost Theatre to watch the Sitzprobe (or first rehearsal with band) of Nathan’s concert which takes place on Sunday night. It’s a show which features music by Stephen Schwarz, who wrote Godspell and Wicked, so there’s plenty of wonderful material to choose from. Unfortunately I’ve had a bit of a diary f*** up, and booked myself to go on a research trip to Leeds which begins on Sunday, so of course I’m going to miss the important gig.

I’m thrilled to report, however, that the concert is going to be excellent. The band is tremendous and the singers are superb. Nathan’s singing a song called Fathers and Sons, which is devastatingly beautiful. He’ll also be performing West End Avenue, an Alice Ripley standard, which is a terrific song that makes me desperate to go to New York. If anyone wants to see the show, it’s on this Sunday night. 7pm at the Battersea Barge. Be there or be square.

Whilst watching the “sitz”, I’m transferring research notes for my First World War musical into an ever-growing word document file, which is currently 110 pages long. I’m turning into quite some expert, but by the end of the month, when I’ve been to Leeds and the French Battlefields, I’m going to be utterly fed up with acquiring knowledge, and desperate to start the creative process.

My hand was forced today by someone who’s trying to get extra funding for the project who asked me to commit to a working title for the piece. I’ve opted for a single word title, Brass, which is slightly unfortunate due to its similarity to the title of my last stage musical, which was, of course called Blast. I’m trying to convince myself that this is all okay by using 1970s examples. Led Zeppelin called all their albums Led Zeppelin and the Bee Gees had massive hits with songs called Words and World. I reckon that puts me in fairly good company.

At the moment the word Brass feels like it pretty much sums my musical up. I’m telling the story of a group of Leeds women who reform a brass band which was disbanded when their relatives and sweethearts went off to war. The women are munitions workers who fill shells made of brass, the very shells which their men folk are trying to dodge in France. So, for the time being, Brass it is.

I’ve returned to the Pepys Motet to give the remaining four unrecorded movements a little dusting. Essentially, I’m trying to strip the pieces of unnecessary vocal lines which will take a long time to record in the studio, but prove ultimately fruitless. We’re set to record the remaining four movements at the end of October and the beginning of November. Because I have to prioritise Brass, I’m getting up earlier every day this week and doing a solid hour in the morning on Pepys. That said, it was incredibly cold this morning...

In the middle of the day we went to Muswell Hill to arm ourselves against the invasion of moths who are threatening to destroy Nathan’s woolly artwork. The little bastards have started munching through his socks, and some of them have entered the holy stash of yarn on the top of the wardrobe. They must be stopped, of course, so whilst the US decides whether it’s going to invade Syria, I’m announcing a war on moths.

I actually think there’s something of a gap in the market for a moth ball which doesn’t smell like death. Moth balls smell as horrid as they did at the turn of the century and you’d think by now someone would have invented something which has a nicer fragrance. Moths apparently don’t like the smell of lavender, so why can’t a moth ball be invented which masks whatever grotesquely poisonous substance is used to kill the critters with a smell which is more pleasing to human noses? I assume it’s because no one wears natural fibres these days. If there were a need for moth balls away from the small number of artisans who use proper wool for knitting, we’d have something which killed moths and made us go “ahhhhh.” Like Shake ‘n Vac, you know? Or Zoflora bleach.

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