Thursday, 21 November 2013

Metal discs

Hail and thunder woke me up this morning. I was trying to have a little lie-in after sitting up all night writing another song for Brass. I write better late at night, so am not going to start feeling bad about shifting my hours to a slightly more nocturnal regime. It's not like you miss out on wonderful daylight hours at this time of year. Especially bitter, nasty days like today.

I struggled my way down to Hammersmith Town Hall, getting hopelessly wet on my way from Ravenscourt Park Tube, whilst the thunder rumbled in the distance. A poor man was standing outside the hall with a table filled with beautiful autumn vegetables. He was soaking wet and obviously freezing, but he was smiling bravely. I love the Brits sometimes. If there'd been money in my wallet, I'd have bought everything he had for sale.

The screening went well. A good load of people came, and many of them were weeping rather openly at the end. They stayed behind afterwards and we did a little impromptu Q and A session, and I feel I might have slightly insulted one of the council leaders, who, when I urged the group to not ignore the arts as a way of engaging people and bringing happiness to a community, suggested that she hoped I was pleased with the money they'd invested into the Lyric Theatre. Unfortunately I couldn't hold my tongue and reminded her that another well-respected arts institution in the borough, The Riverside Studios, had been condemned, largely, I'm told, because the Tories struck a deal with the Arts Council to remove its funding so that they could develop the land for housing. This, I must point out, is not a fact, but a rumour darting around the area, but it certainly makes you realise that, as Arthur Miller said, "there are wheels within wheels." Any way, I felt a little bad mentioning this to the council lady and I hope she wasn't too embarrassed. I'm sure she's a very great supporter of the Arts. She seemed like a genuinely lovely lady.

I came home via central London to buy manuscript paper, went for a jog in the filthy, freezing cold, did some work on Brass and then ventured back out in sub zero temperatures to see young Abbie and Ian for an evening of pasta and Tori Amos.

Ian brought down an enormous box of letters, belongings and photographs that his Great Grandfather had collected in the First World War, and I spent about 3 hours going through them. Such extraordinary things, the most moving of which was a wallet; the wallet he'd had with him in the trenches. Inside, a lucky rabbit's foot, a tiny badge of St Christopher and a curious circular disc of metal. The men carried their wallets in their breast pockets and the metal discs inside were said to be just enough to protect the heart from a stray bullet. So if the rabbit's foot didn't save you, the flimsy metal might!

There were also books of picture postcards created by enterprising French people, many of which demonstrated the absolute destruction of towns like Amiens. One of them showed images of Albert, the town we stayed in during our recent trip to France, and was filled with photos of the church with its curious statue of the Madonna and child perilously hanging at a 45 degree angle from the very top. It was all fascinating and more than a little moving.

I'm home now, and thought I might do half an hour of composing before bed. I'm hoping the loft isn't too cold!

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