Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Veins

It's been a very bitty day, filled with a series of mini-rehearsals which kicked off with the divine Michelle, whose voice seems to be improving on a daily basis since starting her lessons with Jem. We had lunch at the spoon before welcoming Abbie into the fold to repeat the same music from an alto's perspective. 

After rehearsing, Abbie sat in the sitting room with Nathan looking at preposterous knit-wear designs. I have a horrible feeling she's going to become Nathan's knitting famulus. She seemed a little too keen on starting on a project which Nathan described as the knitters' equivalent of self-harm!

I've had a general sense all day that there were a million things that needed to be done which I had no control over. The biggest task of all was to record demo tracks of the songs from White City to hand out to contributors tomorrow. The problem is that Nathan has to be present whilst I sing them because he understands the kit and he's been out a-knitting all evening. Instead of relaxing, of course, I sat in front of my computer researching arts funding organisations for future projects. I have the weight of being out of work from the end of June weighing very heavily on my shoulders. 

We've gone for kebabs for tea prompting even more general panic because I now feel that I have saturated fat literally flowing through my veins. I haven't felt normal for weeks now and am thinking perhaps it might be good to be unemployed for a while simply to gain a sense of equilibrium again. It won't happen tonight. At 11pm, we've got to start recording again. My tummy feels nervous. Homework tummy. All I need now is for Songs of Praise to be on telly. 

My tribe

I've just spent the evening with my delightful friend, Lli. We were meant to be going through her parts for the Pepys Motet but spent much of the evening talking about Wales. Lli makes me feel very Welsh. It's funny; my Welsh ancestry is fairly watered-down, but I have always felt incredibly attached to it. Wales for me is a land of mystery; a place I sort of yearn for, and always have. I attribute much of my musicality to my Welsh Nana who accompanied me on the 'cello whenever we saw her. My teacher always knew when I'd spent the weekend with her because my playing always came on in leaps and bounds.  She made the music make sense somehow. She also encouraged my composing a great deal by turning the nonsense I'd scrawled on pieces of manuscript paper into coherent little ditties. I'm told she once played the piano for silent movies, so improvising was obviously one of her fortes. It strikes me that my ability to compose probably came directly from her. 

Lli adheres to the concept that we all belong to a specific tribe and if this is the case then I feel she and I definitely belong to the same one. We bump into each other all the time, purely by chance, and today, when we decided to meet in Muswell Hill "at about 5pm in Sainsbury's or Holland & Barrett" I had no doubt that I'd find her without the need for mobile phones. And there she was; staring at tomatoes...

The rest of the day was spent working on White City, formatting piano parts and thinking about the demos I need to create for our contributors. I also managed to compose two songs for the production of Much Ado About Nothing I'm helping out with. A busy day, really. It needed to be. May scares me. 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Dongs of Praise


Today I have done nothing. I slept in. I watched television; a terrible “comedy” film about an American becoming the King of England following the tragic deaths of the entire royal family in a photography accident – don’t ask. I had my sister-out-law’s banana loaf (left over from the quiz) for breakfast and toast for lunch, a little snooze in front of Homes Under the Hammer, and then, before I knew it, Songs of Praise was on, which always means that Sunday is over.  I haven’t watched this particular show for years; to be honest I tend to avoid it like the plague. Today’s episode featured an entire congregation wearing bright red, which felt cultish and weird. I stared in horror for a while before turning the sound off. I’ve never understood the importance of Songs of Praise in the 21st Century. They got rid of Top of The Pops because it felt old-fashioned, like it had lost its way, so why has this particular dinosaur continued to haunt Sunday night television?

 

Hymn singing is certainly not an art form; it’s something which people endure – particularly as it’s always done badly. You wouldn’t dedicate a weekly slot to featuring school orchestras and amateur choirs murdering awful works from the classical canon, so why on earth do we still watch hymns, whilst the cameraman zooms around the church trying to find the prettiest woman in the congregation to use as a default shot? If it gets too dull, show them a nubile blonde, that’ll keep the Dad’s from reading the paper.

 

The other problem with Songs of Praise is, of course, that it reminds you that it’s a Sunday night and that you have work or school in the morning that you’re not quite ready for. Nathan calls this sensation “homework tummy” and he’s not far wrong. Perhaps the purpose of Songs of Praise is simply to fulfil that function. It gives you half an hour of non-telly to zip around the house throwing things in washing baskets, sending those emails that have been waiting all week to be sent and scraping the caked-on mud off your rugby boots so that you can sit down and enjoy the decent Sunday night telly, like Antiques Roadshow. I suspect the simple truth is that people are so disinterested in religious programming that Songs of Praise has remained alive simply because no one can be bothered to think of an alternative, and also that the BBC had to find something to do with Diane Louise Jordan after she got too old to be on Blue Peter.

 

I suppose the one good thing about the present BBC1 Sunday night line-up is that it no longer includes Last of the Summer Wine, which was inexcusably awful television. Old men falling into rivers and trying to snog old ladies in wrinkly tights is not and has never been funny. Ghastly.

And for those who like a laugh - here's a picture of the lovely Philip Sallon doing the musical theatre round!
 

Hurrah

As I walked along the Fortess Road on my way home this evening I noticed that someone had spelt the word "happy" with candles and left it on the pavement for the word to see/ destroy. It very much sums up my state of mind. 

The quiz was bordering on triumphant. I reckon close to 80 people attended and we easily made our target. 

We fed people cake and cups of tea. Many of my friends had baked amazing things to add to the food table. There were piles and piles of amazing things for people to sample. The Victoria sponge which Abbie and I made yesterday vanished in seconds. 

The highlight of the afternoon was undoubtedly Philip Sallon singing songs from the shows. We'd prearranged with him that for a spot round he'd be played a series of songs through headphones which he had to "la" for the rest of the room. He camped it up beautifully and got a standing ovation from the quizzers! 

We also prepared a round with 15 versions of Send In the Clowns sung by different iconic vocalists from Frank Sinatra to Frida, and that also received a spontaneous round of applause. 

I can't describe how wonderful and touching it feels to address a room filled with so many wonderful friends. It seemed like everyone was there; representatives from every stage of my life, many going back 20 years. Ellie and Izzy, Ted, Mez, Philippa, Matt, Sultana, Helen, The Rebel Chorus, Julie, Raily and co, people who'd sung in Oranges and Lemons, Nathan's family, JZ, Lyn from the BBC, members of the Fleet Singers... They just kept arriving and forming new teams of strange combinations. Blissful. Little Will was the official score sheet collector. My family's team won.

Afterwards, Ted, Michelle, Abby, Ian, Mez and I went to the top of Hampstead Heath and looked down at the twinkling lights of London before having cheap grub in Tufnell Park. It was like old times. 
The lights from the Heath

 
At 7pm, I saw a rainbow! 

Friday, 26 April 2013

Cakeastrophe

I'm too busy to write much. I've been quizzing it all day. Shopping and prepping all morning and cake making all afternoon with the glorious Abbie who arrived like a beacon of joy to help me. We made two chocolate and marmalade cakes based on recipes by Nigella Lawson, a fabulous raspberry Victoria sponge, 30 cookies, and a marble cake. I feel hugely proud of what we did. Abbie knows so much about baking and taught me to listen to the cake when it comes out of the oven to hear if it's ready. Who've thought?

One of the cakes was dropped. Hell! I won't say which one in case someone reading this sees the cake tomorrow and screams "unclean" really loudly. I think we've got away with it. It's amazing what you can cover over in baking! I nearly wept when it happened though. 

Tonight is all about sorting out the final details for tomorrow. I've had a list on my iPhone all day which is slowly getting shorter. I reckon we might even be in bed by 2am.

But look at our cakes! Look at them!

 
And here's Abby in the kitchen

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Long nights

Wow. Would you believe it? Everything on Nathan's computer has turned up except the quiz rounds we created! How ironic is that?!

I've been in Chester all day. 4 hours there. 4 hours back. I ache all over. My voice is hoarse. 

I've been teaching conference delegates at Chester Race Course how to sing Take That's Shine. There were loads of them and I had to shout rather loudly. They were a wonderfully rowdy bunch, who were obviously up for a laugh and I think they did rather well. At the end of the day they got to sing the song with a live band, which is a treat for almost anyone! 

There's little else to say, really. These things always run rather smoothly and I met some brilliant people, including an amazing gospel singer. 

I dropped a pianist off in St Albans and got myself lost in the process. For the record, the M1 is really badly signposted from the centre of that particular city. 

Right. I've got to get back to the quiz. To quote Julie from Fame, "it's gonna be a long night..." Now is that a clue, I wonder? 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Losing it

I reckon I'm losing it! I have done nothing but stare at a computer all day. This morning was all about the application to the Arts Council and this afternoon was all about the quiz. And true to form, technology did its best to flummox me at every stage of the journey. It's now 10.30pm and I have just been expelled from the loft by Nathan. Our printer has run out of colour cartridge but won't stop printing out useless pieces of paper. I wondered if throwing a little stool across the room would help. It didn't. 

My only break today came in the shape of walking into Muswell Hill - in mega heat - to buy stationery and cake ingredients for the quiz. I genuinely don't know if I'm coming or going...

Nathan has taken over the task of trying to delete things in the print queue from my computer, but in the process the computer has crashed because there's so much stuff open on the desk top. Every time I think of something else I need to do, I open another word document and start writing. I have just closed down 49 different documents, all half-written. 

We still haven't got Nathan's computer back from the repair shop, we have scores of musical montages to create, a million cakes to cook, paper cups and orange squash to buy, and Nathan is now working every day between now and Saturday. Tomorrow I'm in Chester for the whole day. I have to drive there and back in a day.

If the computers continue to crash and misbehave I simply don't know how we're going to have everything ready by Saturday. Genuinely not a clue. 

We will, of course, because there's no other option, but life really shouldn't be this stressful. 

If anyone reading this has any time on Friday to come to my house to help me bake cakes, do feel free to get in touch! 

But otherwise, don't forget to come to the quiz. It would just be so sad if no one came after all this hard work! 

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Tweedledee

It's very warm outside today, and as a result there's the slightest hint of rat pee floating around our siting room. It's been a long time since little Cas died, but he's certainly come back for a visit today. All I can think is that the warm air has heated the carpet a little and released the stench of ratty ammonia! Ghastly!

We've sat in the sitting room all day, staring out at the yellow buds on the trees opposite, wishing we could be in a park, or in a pool somewhere. 

Instead we've been sorting out the quiz - a job we've been putting off for rather too long whilst waiting to see what's happening with Nathan's computer. Bizarrely, it looks like the tiny computer repair shop on our street might actually succeed in finding Nathan'a deleted files where the people in Gamlingay failed. It's going to take time, however, so we've had to start rewriting lost rounds. I can't tell you how angry I am with the Gamlingay people. They have wasted so much of our time and money. It costs about £30 in petrol to go there and back.

There's not a lot else to say. Our friend, the lovely Mark, dropped in for tea, which gave us a necessary leg-stretch. 

The rest of the day we've been like Tweedledum and Tweedledee on the sofa. Every so often I'd do twenty minutes on the Arts Council application, then we'd download another song and have a think about questions for another round. 

Round and round in circles this day's gone, so much that at about 10pm I had to take myself for a run around the block because I'd been staring at a computer for too long.

Actually, we did go out, briefly, down to Dartmouth Park to see the venue for our quiz; a beautiful little church hall which reminded me of a million village halls in a million villages across the UK. The only thing missing is a huge union flag and a portrait of the queen. 

The woman who runs it is as charming and gloriously eccentric as any woman I've met. When we said goodbye she grabbed us both and kissed us twice on each cheek! So sweet. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Best practice


Fiona is back in the UK and sitting in my living room on the sofa under the window that only she sits on. It’s very lovely to have her back. She’s laughing at Windows 8 with Nathan; bloody smug Mac users. I’m the one who has to put up with a system which doesn’t work and which is about as unintuitive and un-user friendly as anything any of us have ever come across. I reckon it’s basically Microsoft’s attempt to make their last few users up sticks and buy Macs. The only reason I don’t have a Mac is the fact that I can’t be bothered to use a new system, and here I am expecting to learn a new system. “Oh this is awful” says Fiona, “it looks like a brochure my bank would give me.” She’s not wrong. I hate it. I can’t use it and now do all my internet work on my broken computer which is still running Windows 7.

We’ve just been to our local pizza restaurant, Papa Dels. It’s a fabulous little place where everyone sits around two enormous communal wooden tables. After 9pm you can buy a pizza or a pasta dish for just £4. It’s brilliant.

Today I’ve done nothing but sit in front of my computer filling in an Arts Council application. I reckon I’ve got another 24 hours’ work left to do on it, which is fairly astonishing, but a necessary evil I suppose. I’ve been a bit blinded by management jargon; questions like “how does this fit into best practice?” I rather hate it when thoroughly good English words are brought together to make meaningless phrases. I now understand that “best practice” is something very specific.  Wikipedia tells me:

“Best practices are used to maintain quality as an alternative to mandatory legislated standards and can be based on self-assessment or benchmarking. Best practice is a feature of accredited management standards such as ISO 9000 and ISO 14001.”

I’m obviously none the wiser. Come off it, people. I’m a composer. I just write nice tunes.

Nathan’s computer finally came back from the people in Gamlingay. Unfortunately they’d not been able to locate any of the deleted files, and even more unfortunately, when Nathan came to switch the computer on, it was flashing an error message. We phoned the Gamlingay people and they said we might need to take the hard drive out again because it “might have been put back in wonky.” We took ourselves down the Archway Road looking for someone who could lend us a screwdriver small enough to undo the screws on the back of the computer, and found ourselves wondering into a little shop we’d never seen before; ironically, a computer repair shop.

We showed him the computer and he immediately discovered that the Gamlingay people had put the hard drive back in upside down, and in the process ripped out half the rubber on the inside. Our new friend also told us, even more ironically, that he did data restoration at a quarter of the cost of the Gamlingay people. So Nathan’s computer is now with him. Four doors down from our house.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Eurotasm

I appear to be at the British Eurovision Fan Club's pre-Eurovision bash. Nathan and I have come as the guests of Brother Edward and Sascha and we're having an absolute blast. 

It's fairly eye-opening stuff. We're at the Shadow Lounge in Soho and appear to be surrounded entirely by men who, as compare Paddy O'Connell just quipped, "seem to have left their wives at home."

What is it that makes Eurovision so quintessentially gay? Is Eurovision really, as my brother maintains, the gay man's World Cup? At the moment 200 men on the dance floor are pretending to rip each others' skirts off whilst miming to Making Your Mind Up. 

We've so far been treated to sneak previews of this year's entries from Malta, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Romania, San Marino, Greece and Austria. For the record, Finland, which seems to be a song about Lesbian marriage, sung by a nutter in a wedding dress, is an awful lot of fun. The Romanian chap is a fake-tanned, sunglass-wearing counter-tenor. "What a strange man" said Brother Edward, pretty much summing up the situation. 

We're standing next to an area marked "for artists only," which is filled with a group of gurning, coke-snorting, vicious queens, who are doing everything they can to upstage all the performers. They're not performers, of course, just loud-mouthed mates of the organisers, and they're annoying me intensely. They remind me of the sort of wannabe hangers-on who fill the VIP lounges in clubs like Heaven. There were a heck of a lot of people like this  hanging around when we did Taboo in the West End. On second glance they appear to be friends of the Greek contingent. 

The Greek entry, by the way, is called "Alcohol Is Free". It may well prove hard to find a less appropriately named song in a competition staged in Sweden, where alcohol is anything but free!!

The woman who was one half of the Azerbaijan winning entry two years ago got up on stage and mimed her way through three rather bland songs, begging a simple question: if you're at an intimate gig with some of the best singers in Europe, why bother to turn up if you're just going to mime. Who are you trying to kid? Tragique. Top marks for the woman from San Marino who came on after her and pissed all over her talentless bonfire with a brilliant live performance! 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Neo pagans

I'm walking along Parkland Walk, an attractive disused railway line which runs from Finsbury Park to Highgate via Crouch End. It's a great favourite with joggers because it seems to follow the only route heading South East that doesn't involve huge hills. 

Did you know that Finsbury Park backwards is Krapy Rub Snif? You do now...

I woke up in Thaxted this morning, seemingly rather early, with the warming sounds of wood pigeons caressing my ears. At one point one of the little blighters was sitting on the chimney. His cooing seemed to echo around the entire house.  

It felt very sad that, on the most beautiful spring day this year, my father found himself stuck in a hospital bed. We went to Cambridge first thing to visit him, blatantly disregarding the hospital's official visiting hours and telling a porter that I wasn't prepared to have a conversation with him via an intercom and that he could tell me to my face if he was going to send me home after travelling all the way from London to see my poorly father. Rather wisely, he relented and let us in

My Dad is being kept in for another night, largely due to the fact that his kidneys were slightly affected by the issue he had with his bladder, and they wanted all his "bloods" to come back down to  normal before sending him on his way. It seems sensible. 

He's having a wonderful time, of course, surrounded by patients, nurses and porters to befriend. My Dad is perhaps the most relentlessly optimistic person I know and will always look for the positive in a situation. I felt a great deal less concerned about leaving him today than I had yesterday.

My mother and I took ourselves to Grandchester. The weather was so stunning today that it seemed rude not to go there and follow in the neo-Pagan footsteps of our great heroes. We're both secret lovers of all things Bloomsbury, so taking tea in the orchard where Rupert Brooke, Virginia Wolf and E M Forster took their tea felt appropriate. It was glorious. The sun was glowing, the trees were starting to blossom and everything was taking on that delicious lime-green colour. Except the scones, which were fluffy and fruity!

We stopped off at Byron's Pond, a weir surrounded by fields of bamboo, on our way home and walked for some time along the reflective banks of the Cam. It was a new find for us both, one, I predict we'll visit again. We were both missing my Dad. It seemed wrong to be there without him. 

I came home and found myself at Tottenham Hale contemplating a tube journey into town and a tube replacement bus back out again and decided instead to bus it to Crouch End and then walk the rest of the way home. A good decision as it happens! 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Cambridgeshire

Today's rushed past in something of blur, although when I look back to the moment I woke up, it feels like a life time ago. I did a morning's work on White City, and then, just after we'd had lunch, a flurry of phone calls came through which entirely changed the shape of our day. 

The first was from Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire. The people who have been working on Nathan's computer for the past week were unable to retrieve any of his lost data, so that was that, really.

We got in the car and started to drive up the A1 feeling a little deflated, but fortunately, the deal with the company is that if they can't find any data, there's no charge, so at least we've saved ourselves £400. Nathan can now move on. It's life laundry, really, I guess, and some of the files recently turned up on a memory stick, so less has vanished than we'd originally thought.

More worrying news came from my mother who called to say that my father was being rushed into hospital - oddly in Cambridge, which was about 15 miles from the place where we were picking up Nathan's computer, so we re-rooted via the A&E at Addenbrooks and found my Dad in a bed looking rather sorry for himself and sounding like he'd swallowed a box of razors. 

Fortunately it soon transpired that he was going to be okay, although I shall keep an eye on his progress because I very much take after him health-wise, so all these little issues are probably coming my way. He was looking incredibly chipper by the time we left but they've kept him in overnight as a precaution, so I've come home to Thaxted to keep my Mum company. We're watching telly.

As we drove home the orange setting sun was enormous in the sky, glinting on the rows of daffodils by the road side. The joy about this late spring is that all the flowers, literally all of them, are blooming at once. It's joyous, especially when the sun shines. 

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Where did the day go?

Crumbs, it's already 9.30, and I have no idea what I've been doing all day other than the most gruesomely boring and detailed orchestrations for the White City project.

I made some lunch, I think, but being buried underneath heavy duty headphones for 12 solid hours is enough to make you lose your mind. The ones I'm currently using cut off a lot of sound around me, and can end up being rather disorientating.

I know I went up to the Tesco superstore on Colney Hatch Lane to collect some prizes for the quiz this morning. I phoned Haringey Council en route to speak to someone about our nemesis, the objectionable couple who live at the top of Hillside Gardens, who have so regularly put notes on the car which complain about our parking outside their house, that we've stopped caring. The little minxes have managed to get the parking space replaced by a single yellow line, and I wanted to complain vociferously about the fact. In an ideal world no one would have to look at a car whilst they're washing up but we live in London where no one has garages! Where are the cars going to go if they every NIMBY refuses to cooperate? 

My call didn't do much good. These things are almost always impossible to reverse in retrospect, but I liked the guy I spoke to enormously, and he promised to look into a few options in terms of replacing the parking space somewhere else. Last night, for example, I couldn't park my car on the street at all.

I made a start on an application to the Arts Council today and spent an entire afternoon just inputting figures into their very complicated budget system. These applications can take weeks to fill in. I don't blame them, because it certainly sorts out the men from the boys and those who want funding from those who simply think it might be nice, but blimey it's hard work! 

Quartets and paint balling

I've just been to the cinema with Philippa on my first night out in what seems an eternity. We went to the Barbican, and because Philippa was a little late, I popped into the main complex to wash my hands. What a curious place it is. I'm pretty sure that it would all seem rather familiar if I was living in 1960s Poland, but because I'm not, everything seemed a little brutal! And barn-like. 

We watched the Philip Seymour Hoffman film about a string quartet. It had my old friend Imogen Poots in it. It's lovely to see her doing so well. I guess you could say I gave her her big break, when I was casting films, by bringing her in on the spur of the moment for the film 28 Weeks Later.

The quartet film itself was intriguing. Heaven knows how something so art-house and wishy-washy got funding and ended up with so many big names attached. It was, however, painful to watch actors pretending to play stringed instruments; cringe-worthy, really. There was also a scene where an expensive violin gets dropped in a scuffle and left on the floor. I gasped out loud. The scene was highly unrealistic. No matter what the circumstances, if a violin was dropped in the presence of string players, everything would have gone into slow motion whilst everyone rushed to see if it was okay. 

It's been a very pleasant day which started with a morning stroll into Muswell Hill to pick up a prize for our quiz next Saturday. It's slightly eccentric prize; a paint-balling trip for ten courtesy of the deeply generous folk at Sainsbury's Muswell Hill. I'm not sure it's something my Mum would enjoy, so we'll make sure there are a few other prizes, but I'm equally sure one or two people will get very excited at the prospect... That's if I can find the voucher, which seems to have gone missing! 

We came home from Muswell Hill laden with soup and cheese. Penny came over for a working lunch and we brought each other up to speed on the progress of the White City project. I played her all the songs I've written. It's a horrible thing to have to do, but useful in that you suddenly become aware of all the flaws in your writing. It's funny how a work's first audience can force you to polarise your views on what you've written.

It's very windy tonight. Perhaps we've skipped summer and gone to autumn?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Synth drum

I've spent the day finessing music for the White City project, wondering if I'm wrecking one of the tracks by adding drums to it. Hearing everything on nasty computer sounds can start to grate a little after a while, and before you know it you've lost all sense of objectivity. 

There was also half a tonne of admin which needed to be done today; booking players, planning sessions, sending music, writing quiz questions, sending out invitations, talking to the Arts Council. I also need to get my head around what I might do once this present job's done and dusted. The problem with freelancers is that we don't get the chance to relax. Everyone says to treat the periods of rest like holidays, but being on holiday means not working and not working means not earning. Dull, dull, dull.

I might actually sign on for a little bit and try and write something epic. I've always believed that the benefits system is there for short-term use. It doesn't really work to sign on longterm when you're single and living in London without children. It's very difficult to survive for long on the payments they offer. 

There's been a lot on the news recently about benefit caps, and, without wishing to sound like a fascist, I've been astonished by quite how much people are receiving when children are added into the equation. One woman on the telly was getting £280 a week in various benefits and £320 a week in housing benefit. That's £600 a week, which is more than I've ever earned!  It's awful to say, but no wonder some people opt for children instead of jobs - and it annoys me intensely. There's a sort of attitude with quite a lot of people that by having children they're doing the world a favour, when in my view the opposite is the truth. By all means have children, but only if you can afford them, and don't expect to live in expensive towns and nice houses in posh streets if you can't. The woman who was receiving£600 a week was whinging about the fact that benefits capping meant she was going to have to leave her beloved London, and my attitude was, "so get a job, or leave London!" It seems very simple. The fewer people we have to trip over in this city, the better, and frankly, if we're poor, we don't get to call the shots. And that is coming from a man who is officially in the bottom 10% of earners in this country. 

This, of course, on the eve of Thatcher's funeral. Anyone reading this reactionary blog entry would be forgiven for assuming that I'll be mourning her passing tomorrow. I won't. Not in the slightest. She was a cow.

I've recently discovered that the Arts Council have had £10m cut from their annual budget.

...Now how much did that woman's funeral cost? Gosh, what I could give to the world with £10 million...

Monday, 15 April 2013

Hollywood Fatwa

I've been writing all day... In fact I've been writing much longer than all day because I got up so damned early this morning. I was wide awake at 7.30am and because the sun was streaming through the windows I thought it might be fun to get up. I felt sick all morning as a result.

I've been writing music for the Egyptian cafe sequence in the White City film and am terrified that I've written a sort of musical equivalent of Mind Your Language. I've been studying Arabic music quie carefully but there's always a risk when one attempts to pastiche a style of music that goes hand in hand with religion that one might cause offence, particularly when one's natural affiliation is with Jewish music! 

Nathan listened to it and asked if they still dished out fatwas. I think he was joking. He was straining home-made bullis gin through muslin at the time, so I'm hoping he wasn't listening too carefully. Imagine being given a fatwa for writing music! 

We're about to sit down to watch Paul Hollywood's breadmaking programme, which is basically porn for housewives. All that slow motion kneading and sticky liquids falling from above can be rather off-putting! The producers of the programme do it so that women of a certain age can imagine him doing the same to parts of their bodies that never see the sun. They go wild when he rolls his sleeves up in preparation. Nathan says he's got hands like feet. 

In recent weeks I've been compared rather often to Paul Hollywood; a comparison I'm not exactly insulted by, despite being a clear ten years his junior! It's funny how one goes through life being compared to people who are in vogue. In my early 20s I was always Morrissey, in my late 20s, they called me Joachim Phoenix and in my mid-thirties I was always compared to Derren Brown. Whatever next? Clive Dunn? Terry Wogan? 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

A riot of purple and yellow

Ah! The sun! How good does it feel when the temperatures suddenly start to soar? Spring is finally here!

Nathan and I walked out of the house in coats and scarves and immediately broke into a sweat. Thermometers told us the headline news; it was 18 degrees and rising. Scores of people were walking up Southwood Lane towards the cemetery, all with the ambling quality of folk with nothing better to do in the world than simply wander in the sunshine. 

Gilbert and George were out and about, far away from their usual Shoreditch haunts, wearing matching tweed suits and rather silly hats. I assume they'd been to the second-hand book shop on Archway Road and were heading down the hill to ensconce themselves in a nice cafe with the Sunday papers. They wouldn't have been alone. 

We decided, on the spur of the moment, to head to Thaxted with a big bag of Sunday roast ingredients. It felt like our turn to cook for the parents. 

I made the full works; beautiful fluffy roast potatoes, five kinds of vegetables, leek cheese, a fabulous port gravy, apple pie... My Mum threw in a lentil bake and we ate like vegetarian kings! 

After literally stuffing our faces, we went for a walk across the fields behind the town. Daffodils lined the pathways, crocuses, primulas and even the beginnings of May blossom. It's so strange to see them all coming into bloom at the same time. Suddenly the British countryside has become a riot of yellow and purple. 

We walked for some time along a stream which was burbling with fast-flowing crystal-clear water. As if to gild the lily, two pure white ducks appeared from nowhere, sailing down the stream at high speed as though doing some kind of avian white water rafting stunt. 

The straw-coloured sun sank behind a wispy dark cloud on the horizon and the cornflower blue sky filled with hundreds of majestic vapour trails from aeroplanes riding those great circles to the States. 

Marvellous. Invigorating. The perfect end to a perfect spring day. 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Rain storms and cellos

There's something quintessentially British about sitting in a rain storm eating a chip butty isn't there? I found myself perched on a little wall in Muswell Hill doing just that at lunch time today with nothing but a cloth cap to keep me dry. Where was the whippet? I hear you cry! 

We were, as usual, promised a fairly decent afternoon weather-wise, so when the rain started pelting down, I was horrified - and stranded like a cow in a field.

To make matters worse, I was carrying my 'cello which isn't renowned as one of the most portable instruments. You can't make a dash for cover with that on your back, let me tell you! 

I was on my way to Llio's house where I was due to record some 'cello music for her new album.

After walking a mile to the nearest bus stop and waiting there for what seemed like hours, I eventually got on an appropriate bus. It was full of old ladies coming home from shopping and it smelt of pear drops, mouldy plastic rain hats and wee! 

The session at Lli's was somewhat hard going, largely because her music is so beautiful I wanted to do it properly, but also because we were working on a piece in a slow 12/8 time, which required the most astonishing amount of stamina. I felt incredibly exposed. 

I was recording in the upstairs bedroom with a cup of tea and a plate of Jaffa cakes whilst they were downstairs. At one point I was playing with a rainbow-coloured scarf over my nose to take away the sound of my sniffing: something I do rather a lot when I play, unfortunately.  I looked like the gayest member of Al Qaeda and Lli nearly wet herself when she saw me. 

I think I did alright, however, and once they've spliced together a few of the best takes I'm hoping they'll have something rather nice. Lli treated me to a taxi home, which was so kind of her. The driver was as perplexed about the weather as me, but he showed me a short cut around the back of Muswell Hill which I shall definitely use in the future, so that was nice. 

That's probably the lamest signing off for a blog ever, but I'm tired and really can't be bothered to think of something more profound! 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Crash!

I feel hugely uneasy about something tonight. Almost as though there's a kind of tidal wave on its way which is going to engulf us all. I can't explain my feelings in any other way. I have no idea where the emotion is coming from and I'm quite convinced it will pass. 

Today's been fairly hellish. I allowed myself a little lie-in to clear a headache from the night before, and just as I was sitting down to start work with a lovely cup of tea, I heard a wailing noise coming out of Nathan's mouth...

To cut a long story short, he'd run out of space on his computer, backed all his recent files up on a memory stick and then deleted the lot. Unfortunately, it transpired that the memory stick was corrupt, and that everything he'd put on it and then deleted from the computer was gone forever. Everything. Forever. His knitting patterns, the quiz questions, his filmed tutorials. Everything. 

He went into meltdown and I dragged him to the Mac Store in Covent Garden. I thought the clever people there would be able to reverse almost anything. I was wrong. They sent us to a data retrieval company in Tottenham Court Road, who couldn't help, but suggested a specialist company on the border of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, more specifically, in the comically named village of Gamlingay, which I remember well from my childhood.

Nathan had to go to work, so the onus was on me to drive up the A1 and deliver the computer to the clever (expensive) people in Gamlingay. It was all a bit weird. I was greeted in a tiny, rather grotty vestibule, by a man who said he couldn't let me any further into the building because they were doing a "sensitive" job for the police. It all felt a little sordid; like I was depositing a computer which belonged to some kind of child killer. 

Gamlingay itself looked as I remember it 34 years ago: sleepy, misty, boringly quaint. We once went there, at the end of the 70s, on the eve of a big thunder storm. We obviously knew the storm was on its way, so rushed home to our house in the neighbouring town of Potton. A warm, strong, circular wind was blowing in the garden, accompanied by a rather apocalyptic sepia light. I was nervous because I hated loud noises. It's funny what you remember...

I drove through Potton on my way home; past the old oak tree at the end of the estate, which was the edge of our territory, past Les' Garage and past the Hollow from whence every year on Bonfire Night, I'd have to be taken home screaming because of the loud bangs. One year my Dad put me in a pair of enormous headphones apparently to block out the noise; it did no good. I ruined yet another bonfire night for the family!

I don't know when the fear of loud bangs passed... Actually, it's still there in the form of experiencing absolute terror when rock music or club music gets too loud... But that's more because going deaf would end my career! 

I made it back home at about 4pm, fully aware of the irony that my working week had both started and ended with lost days due to computer mayhem. God I hate technology!  (And loud noises...)

Thursday, 11 April 2013

False memory

An interesting question was raised this morning when we discovered that some of the original London cast of Naked Boys Singing had requested that Nathan remove their names and any images of them in the show from his website. It seems slightly odd to me. Naked Boys Singing was a well-respected and rather charming show which wasn't in any way seedy. It was simply performed in the nude! 

That said, it seems some of the actors, who very proudly stripped off in the show on a nightly basis, no longer feel comfortable with the career decision they took back in 2009. Some are even claiming that  online images of them in the show are actually affecting their current career and indeed romantic prospects, which is very sad. 

Of course, attempting to rewrite one's past is a hiding to nowhere. Google "Naked Boys Singing" and there are pictures of the cast in Time Out, The Guardian and a host of blogs. Sadly, if the cap fitted in 2009, there will always be people who remember how good it looked!

My personal belief is that we make our choices and that we must stand by them because revisionism is dangerous. If Time Out refuse (as they will) to take the pictures down, do the actors take them to court, claiming that they were duped into having the publicity shots done, or forced into doing the show? When people don't get their way, they often default to "pity me" status. There's always someone else to blame for the decisions we make and huge cans of worms are opened up as the lies and cover stories begin to roll.

Personally speaking, I believe the past can only be embraced. You hold your hand up and say, "yes, that was me," and you nip an future exposés in the bud. Deny it all you like, but someone will always have an old programme hanging around in their loft. 

On that note, there's been a recent spate of people putting programmes from humiliating student drama shows on Facebook. It was Meriel's turn to be embarrassed yesterday, for publicly thanking the writer of the Yellow Wallpaper for giving her "inspiration an hope." "How pretentious was I?" said she. I instantly remembered walking around the York University campus barefoot in a kaftan, which is obviously a great deal more horrifying - particularly in the snow.They called me King Thesp, and there was a poem about me on the cubical door in the JCR toilets. 

..."You don't know the half of it", I said to Meriel.

Mortifying, yes, but I wouldn't lose those memories under any circumstances. They're part of the fibre of my being. They swim around the back of my mind in a sort of hazy, sun-bleached orb and one day, I'm quite sure, I'll have forgotten them entirely and in the process will have lost part of the essence of me. The kaftans, and crazy hair cuts, and slightly dodgy romantic liaisons are all part of me. And trying to erase them would somehow be denying my future. 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Exhilarated

I'm exhausted, and smell of the sort of sweat that only an adrenaline-fuelled studio session can generate!

We had our first session on the Pepys Motet project today with the tenors very firmly in the spotlight. These are, of course, famous last words, but I doubt it could have gone a great deal better... I feel rather elated. Those lucky enough to be musicians who regularly work in recording studios will know that there's nothing better than the buzz you get from a good session.

The day started with a proper early morning walk, to Muswell Hill, through a misty, magical Highgate Woods. My walking partner was the lovely Meriel, and we put the world to rights several times over, before reaching our breakfast destination; a greasy spoon just off Colney Hatch Lane. We polished off a couple of vegetarian breakfasts with extra halloumi before taking the back route home, along the Parkland Walk, as the sun started to burn through the mist. 

There's a stunning view over the city from up there. Under normal circumstances you can see all the way to Canary Wharf and beyond, but today it was like looking at a piece of reflective glass; a swirling mass of misty, sunny haze which threatened to destroy our retinas!

We walked through Queen's Wood, and were home by 11, whereupon I settled down to doing some writing.

At lunchtime I received the call that all composers dread; one of my tenor's voices was shot and he was unable to sing... 

Cue the major panic as Nathan and I called every tenor we could find to absolutely no avail. In the end, Christopher very kindly agreed to come in and do as much as he could and Nathan very speedily looked through the dots in case he was suddenly asked to step in. 

As it turned out, we were okay. Christopher's voice held out, probably as much to do with the fact that the style of music I write doesn't always require perfect vocals. I'm much more likely to opt for a take with a crack in it because I find it emotionally more engaging, and the Pepys is all about extended vocal technique, which hardly requires kosher singing. 

The five tenors in the piece make up a quarter of the full ensemble and they are universally red hot: Five utterly unique-sounding voices encompassing musical theatre, early music and opera styles, which for some reason blend rather wonderfully together. 

The session was lively, ran to time and everyone was as well-prepared as I could have hoped. Hurrah for them all... Although I've had too many cups of tea, so feel a bit jittery. 

I can't wait to get cracking on the next piece in the jigsaw now, which is a session with the basses in early May. We're taking small steps on this project. 

The only trouble with running sessions in South London is the ludicrously long tube journey home. Still, I guess, it's the perfect length of time for writing a blog! 

Sleep well readers. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Exhausted

I'm properly cream crackered!. There's been much to do and I've steadily and bravely worked my way through the longest list in the world. 

I've been writing strings for a very nostalgic song in the White City series, and have thrown caution to the wind, allowing myself to write subtle dissonance and opening the door to experimentation and serendipity, which can sometimes be a wonderful thing. 

Nathan went off to his knitting night this evening, and instead of putting my feet up, I worked until he came home again, finessing the opening sequence of the film, which is this weird Bach/ rock fusion. It's coming together very nicely, although I couldn't find an end to the piece for love or money.

Meriel has just arrived and is staying the night with us after another London course with Gateway Women, which is the organisation for women who can't have children. We're catching up on news. Her dog, Berry, has just been adopted by new parents, and she's looking for a job and a lodger, so if anyone is looking for a room in Lewes, drop me a line.

Fiona emailed from a sunny Texas, where they're expecting enormous thunder storms. The weather here is less impressive, in fact it's rather grey and overcast, which is disappointing after such a beautiful weekend. 

I'm sorry. I'm boring myself. I promise that there will be more to say tomorrow. I have my first day of recording on the Pepys Motet tomorrow night. Exciting but scary. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

PC Hell

Today got off to a rather panicky start. My new computer was still glitchy, so I took it back to PC World at 9am. I was astonished to find an entirely empty store; not just devoid of customers, but completely without staff. There was no-one behind the tills. No-one in the "PC Know How" corner. There was a girl sitting behind the mobile phone counter - texting - who resolutely refused to acknowledge my presence, even when I started to film her! 

A man, carrying a hoover, eventually waddled over and explained that he was short of staff, and that it was company policy, in any case, for the engineers, who fix computers, not to come in until 11am "when it's busier." Sometimes the logic of the insane can be breathtaking. 

I went back at 11 and sat for an hour as they tried to find my name on the system, only to discover that there was no record of my ever having purchased the computer, or any insurance for it. After phoning my bank, it transpired that my name had been inputted into their system as Mr Benjamin and that as a result I didn't have effective insurance. To make matters worse, my broken computer couldn't be replaced because it was now out of stock. I was given a set of unsatisfactory alternatives. They could get an exact match for me in 3 days, possibly tomorrow, I could have a display version for a £10 reduction in cost, I could have a full refund (but no computer to work on) or I could have a computer with a worse spec for the same price. It was like a virtual version of Sophie's Choice.

I got desperate for the loo, but they wouldn't let me use the staff toilets so I was forced to wee behind a tree outside. 

Not good. Just not good. 

In the end I did a deal on a computer with half the memory of the one that had broken, but negotiated an extra storage unit thrown into the package, to make up for the short-fall in memory.  

I got back home, loaded all the absolutely necessary programmes onto my new computer, huffed and puffed a bit, ate some spaghetti on toast, and by the time I'd started work again, it was 3pm; a full six hours of my day wasted by ineptitude and the shambolic, disinterested  nature of PC World. 

It seems that Margaret Thatcher has died. It's a bit of an anti-climax, really. I've sort of imagined this day. I don't really like the thought of anyone dying, but she was, in my view, a desperate, ghastly, ruthless woman. I think history will view her as a unpleasant and probably impressive necessity, but I will never be able to forgive her for what she did to the miners and the teachers, and for that matter, the entertainment industry. I'm genuinely surprised that no-one, apart from the IRA ever took a proper pop at her, but then, by the end, she was just a silly old woman without any sense of the person she'd been in the 80s, so I guess there was little point in getting too worked up about her.

I am reminded of CND marches as a child, with hundreds of people screaming "Maggie, Maggie, Maggie. Out Out Out." I genuinely grew up thinking she was an ogre. 

That said, I heard a priest on the radio this morning preaching forgiveness, not relating to Thatcher, but it did strike me that forgiveness is a noble thing. He also said, and this is probably the last time I'll quote a catholic priest in this blog, "we should all be aiming for the day when the power of love overcomes the love of power,"  which I thought was rather lovely. I loathed Thatcher, but respect her for having not just a vision, but the courage of her convictions to see it through. All subsequent British leaders have loved power too much to do anything other than try, at all costs, to remain in power. And that is surely worse?  

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Kent, Essex and now Wiltshire

I appear to be standing in the middle of the stone circle at Avebury in Wiltshire. This genuinely is one of the most spiritually invigorating places that I know. This stone circle is so large that there's a village in its centre. It's bracing, but the sky is a very faint shade of blue and a watery sun is trying to break through the high level cloud. It's all rather special, but then Avebury always is. 

It feels strange to be here, alone. This is a place to share with more than passing strangers, a tree filled with crows and a hovering sparrow hawk. Nevertheless, I've decided to walk in a full circle around the tall earthen mound which surrounds the site. This place is built on chalk and all the pathways are gleaming white against the pale wintry grass.

I stopped for a while at the Cherhill White horse on my way here and peered up at it in awe. This whole area is steeped in mystery. If only we had the ability to tap into the energy that prehistoric people felt here, we might begin to get a sense of how they created such perfect circles or hauled such impossibly large stones across the countryside. 

I spent this afternoon in an RAF base somewhere near the beautiful village of Corsham. I was rehearsing with a group of friends who belong to the Royal Air Force Theatre Association and are putting on a production of Much Ado About Nothing. I'm helping them with a bit of music. 

The place is like a holiday camp, with chalet-style accommodation, one assumes, for short-term use by RAF personnel. There were a lot of children playing in the grounds, many of whom had rather haunted, melancholy faces which appeared slightly old before their time. Perhaps this comes from a life of being dragged from base to base. 

The RAFTA group meet for a weekend once a month throughout the  year before staging a show in a small professional theatre somewhere like Oxford or Cambridge. Their shows are always of a very high standard and they must have an absolute ball coming together for their residential rehearsals at RAF bases. Some of them looked rather worse for wear this morning!  

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Spring!

We're currently driving along the darkened, pot-hole-laden country lanes in North Essex. Has anyone else noticed quite how many pot holes there are on the roads at the moment? Is that due to the recession or a heavy winter? It's probably a mixture of both, although you'd think the councils would see the importance of fixing the problem as quickly as possible. They are, I'm told, responsible for any damage caused by their negligence in this regard. 

The last time we drove along this stretch of road, we came across a car with a puncture which had been caused by a pot hole. We helped the a poor couple to jack the car up in the freezing cold. Heaven knows how long they were there for...

Fortunately today's been much more spring-like and bright buttery sunshine cast an almost continuous yellow glow over countless patches of daffodils yawning themselves into the world

Michelle, Nathan and I started the afternoon at Anthony's house in Bromley, where an eclectic bunch of people were celebrating his birthday with an absolute riot of tea and cake. It was an eccentric crowd; a mixture of theatricals and Salvationists, which needed to be seen to be believed. I'd say that 80% of the men present were gay. Perhaps only 60% were acknowledging the fact, which felt a shame. 

The sun burned down on us through the conservatory window, and everyone was wearing Easter colours, which added to the joy of the occasion. Outside in the garden, three tame hens rolled and fluffed their feathers in a warm flower bed. 

We've just come third in the Thaxted tennis club's annual quiz; a somewhat bewildering experience which was presided over by a silver fox whose face seemed to get redder throughout the evening. The questions were all a little esoteric, which can be quite frustrating until you realise that everyone else is struggling just as much. We were staggered to have come third. 

We've just seen a deer - more specifically a stag - wandering along the side of the road. His eyes shone like stars in our car headlights and we could just make out his fine antlers against the night sky.  It was a hugely exciting end to the perfect day.

Gut instincts

I tried to phone the Post Office today. They've been regularly delivering next door's letters through our letter box. More Post Office hell came in the shape of their automated telephone system, which sent me looping through cyber space for a full five minutes. When I finally worked out which button to press for a real person, I ended up waiting on hold for 12 minutes, which was inexcusable, frankly. 

Still, the guy I ended up talking to was refreshingly un-belligerent and held his hands up, sympathising with my plight, which is about the best defuser for a situation. I ended up quite liking him, even though, by the time we'd finished talking, I'd gone into Muswell Hill, done some shopping and started to head home again. 

Today I made a start on the opening sequence for the White City film, (which really needs a name soon!) The opening is a curious fusion of Bach and something rather grungy and rock inspired. I've tried to keep it melodically simple, as people will be talking over the top of it, but I can already feel it heading to a very dynamic place, which might not be the best thing in the world. Who knows? The problem with being a composer is that you only ever have your instincts to go on.  As a result I reckon I place more on my gut than most, particularly when dealing with people. As I get older I give fewer and fewer people the benefit of the doubt. It tends to back fire. I met a woman once who used to get so stressed she'd bleed from the eyes. I thought she was insane but people told me to give her the benefit of the doubt. Never again! 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Calypso haze

I’m in a Calypso haze. I didn’t know such a thing existed until I started writing a Calypso. A Calypso haze, it transpires, is a sort of endless whirling sensation in the brain, caused by the repetitive bass-line which gives this particular type of music its essence. It’s not an un-enjoyable experience, but I hope it doesn’t last until it’s time to go to sleep. My brain can become a very active place when it smashes against a pillow. I once tried to learn chess, but every time I shut my eyes at the end of a day, I saw a checker-board stretching out in front of me. I wasn't designed to play chess. I have a reactive rather than proactive mind. I'm not sure I'm meant to write Calypsos either. I've never felt as white as I've been feeling all day today, although whenever I write pastiche, I end up feeling like a fraud.

We’re writing a round for our music quiz tonight. It’s very entertaining, although the whole thing is taking slightly longer than anticipated. Only another ten of these to go...

It’s been snowing all day. In fact there was a full on blizzard raging outside the sitting room window at one point this afternoon. I genuinely thought that yesterday was the last day of winter. What if the spring simply never comes?

I found this on You Tube today. I don’t know why I find it so beautiful. There’s something deeply hypnotic about it. It feels rather reminiscent of children’s books from the 1970s. Do have a look, and see it through to the end, because it’s also a very lovely piece of music. Dear old Debussy. I should listen to a great deal more of you...

 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Shivering

I seem to be watching a documentary about the Hillsborough Stadium disaster, which is a fairly upsetting experience. Thank God the recent enquiry got to the bottom of the grotesque police cover-up, although 23 years seems like an excusably long period of time for the people of Liverpool to have to wait for their closure. The Sun newspaper in my view needs to be posthumously taken out of circulation for publishing those hideous reports about the tragedy. 

I've been writing pretty solidly for twelve hours, so I think I'm probably owed a little rest. At about 3pm this afternoon, my friend Tina emailed to tell me that the Four Colours project was fully funded and that she'd donated the final fiver. I immediately checked my emails and found the confirmation from We Fund: "congratulations, your project has been fully funded." 

We're slowly getting there! All we need now is to raise £500 at the quiz, and we'll have enough money to pay for the reproduction of CDs, which means 100% of every sale can go straight to the Kaleidoscope
Trust. This is obviously very good news.

I don't know what else to write, really. I haven't spoken to anyone since Nathan left the house at noon and as a result I'm feeling a little jittery. I'm taking myself (and this blog entry) to the shops in the hope that a whiff of spring evening air will make me feel a little bit more human. 

*goes to shops*

The wind is up and everything feels a little autumnal out here. A few crocuses are bravely poking up from flower beds. They look a rather strange colour in the sickly halogen street lights. There are some daffodils by the A1. They seem to be shivering; daring each other to bloom. "I've heard it's not that bad once you're open" says one, "go on then," says the other, "I dare you..." "One more day in bed. I'll open up tomorrow. I promise!"

The man in the newsagent seemed to be staring at me. I initially thought it was because I most look like the living dead but then remembered that they treat everyone in their shop like potential thieves. Even the regulars. Anyway, I've bought a soggy tomato and some halloumi, so I reckon that makes it tea o'clock. Have fun tonight. 

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Bumpy starts

April got off to a rather bumpy start today with both of my computers going wrong. I know! What are the odds? To cap it all, our Internet keeps going down, so even when my computers decide they ARE working (which they both do from time to time) the likelihood is that I'll get stuck in with something online, and end up cursing all over again! 

Because of all of this, I feel I've been moving painstakingly slowly through the day. I have sort of written two songs, but don't know if they're any good. Still, at least I'm moving forward...

The weather seems to be finally sorting itself out. The sun has shone constantly and the sky has been the most vibrant blue all day. We went out in the early afternoon to take some pictures of Nathan's latest knit-wear creations. It was cold, but the light was beautiful, and for the first time in some time I felt vaguely alive. 

We celebrated by going to the gym and I spent the evening working whilst Nathan went to one of his knitting groups. His designs are selling rather regularly these days, which makes me feel very proud. He's currently making a pair of socks inspired by an Argyle jumper. Incredible. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Solar flares

I'm at Julie and Sam's house in Catford doing very little, really. Julie and I have been going over music for the recording sessions we've got coming up over the next month and we're catching up on general news.

I'm in slight denial about how much work I've got to do from now until the end of June. I always knew that the start of April would mark my getting onto a merry-go-round which could end up spinning so fast that I turn into a gibbering wreckage. Now that the ride's arrived, I guess I just have to take a deep breath and jump on! 

This evening we've had a lovely stir fry, a heap of éclairs (Juli'eclairs), copious cups of tea and two crumpets.  Nathan and Julie are knitting and we're sitting under blankets watching a terrible disaster movie about solar flares. What else is a bank holiday Monday for? 

What I really want is a plate of grilled halloumi, but you don't get many Greek shops in the South East of London. I should probably think about going to bed at some point as well. 

I woke up this morning to discover that someone had donated £200 to the Four Colours fund, which takes us to within £65 of our initial target. At first I thought it was an April Fool, but the money still seems to be there, which makes me very excited. 

Our second target is to raise £500 at our music quiz on April 27th, which feels a little optimistic based on the rather small numbers of people who have so far confirmed that they're coming, but I'm keeping my fingers firmly crossed. We'll have great fun whatever happens!