The alarm clock went off like a klaxon in my ear this morning. I was in the deep sleep that only a cold can generate, and woke up not knowing who I was or where I was. All I knew was that I had to get out of bed...
There was some last minute packing to do. It's very hard to know what to pack when you're about to spend the best part of three weeks away from home, in a period which includes a 40th birthday, especially when there's a whole load of reference books and computers and cameras and stuff that you also need to find room for.
Lugging an enormous suitcase across London with a stinking cold was hell on earth, particularly when, at Charing Cross, the handle simply snapped off and I was forced to run for a train like some kind of hunchback with my computer bag around my shoulder bashing against the backs of my knees and threatening to trip me over.
The doors of the train opened at London Bridge which was a scene of utter carnage. It must be a day when a large number of families have decided to go to Brighton or Heathrow because all I could hear from the platform was the sound of screaming children. It was a constant roar. As we pulled away, an Australian lad asked me if the train went to Gatwick, which it didn't. Poor bloke was going to have to go all the way to Seven Oaks on a non-stop train. A delightful ticket guard very carefully gave him the necessary instructions to get himself back to London Bridge, but taking this wrong train almost certainly meant that he was going to miss his flight.
I reached Seven Oaks at about ten, and limped my sorry suitcase to a taxi which delivered me to the Seven Oaks school, where we are rehearsing Brass.
Day one of rehearsals was a happy affair which involved a read-through of the show's script followed by a series of music rehearsals, which went really rather well. There's a lot of music to learn on this piece; a lot of incredibly intricate harmonies alongside huge swathes of music for the actor musicians.
The highlight of the day today was almost certainly coming across a group of cast members who had formed a miniature brass band and were busking their way through a number of songs from the show. Two of the six musicians had learned brass instruments especially for the production, and they seemed really rather good. It was also rather nice to hear their take on some of the songs. If the songs weren't catchy, they would almost certainly not have been able to busk them. I place a great deal of emphasis on trying to write memorable tunes!
At the end of the day, I was able to work in detail with one of the actresses, taking her through one of the songs in a great deal of detail, which, at this stage, felt like a really strong place to be in.
The food here at the school is really very good. Three enormous square meals a day, which have definitely made me feel a little more chipper, though as soon as this cold clears, I will need to go running on a daily basis, or try to learn not to eat the lovely-looking food.
All is good in the world of Brass.