Leaving the house today felt a little odd. I stayed indoors for a full 24 hours yesterday and the outside world felt very noisy and confusing. I completely understand how some people get into a place where they become scared of leaving a house. If I stopped doing it for long enough, I could well see myself developing some sort of hermit complex. I speedily resolved today's issue, however, by listening to music on the iPod Nathan very kindly bought me for Christmas. The world turns into an epic and beautiful film when the right music is blasting into your ears.
The new iPod seems to work very well. It's good and loud, and the headphones go into my ears without immediately falling out. It took me a few minutes to work out that the iPod factory settings include a "shake to shuffle" feature, which means when the iPod is jolted, the blessed song suddenly changes. Can you imagine anything more irritating when you're having a lovely post New Year jog at the gym than an iPod which changes to a random song every time it gets shaken. To make matters worse, before the track changes, the iPod emits a rather chemical little sound which alerts you to the horror coming your way! To begin with, I had no idea what was causing the seemingly random phenomenon. I was beginning to wonder whether I'd developed narcolepsy or entered a modern-day JB Priestley time-slip drama! In the end, I went into settings and de-activated the function. I can't for the life of me work out why anyone would want it. If walking is enough to set it off, an iPod suddenly becomes a useless object. Apple really does seem to be moving away from its famous user-friendly focus. Has anyone tried to use iTunes lately? I must keep reminding myself that, however bad Mac gets, nothing in the world can be worse than Windows 8. That system will probably go down as the biggest own goal in the history of technology!
I was determined to take it easy today, but did make a very basic start on the process of scoring A Symphony for Yorkshire for brass band. In the wake of Brass, quite a number of people are asking what else I've written for brass band and the answer "a few bits and bobs" is plainly unsatisfactory! It was actually the saw player from the symphony who suggested the piece would work well if scored for band. There are, after all, countless brass bands in Yorkshire, and a whole heap of love for the county in the rest of the world. The symphony was one of my most successful compositions, but because it was scored for 270 individual musicians, it's never been written in a form which can be reproduced for live performance. I am determined this year to make my music more future-proof so it can have a life outside film and very specific never-to-be-reformed ensembles!
I had lunch with Nathan at Stock Pot and created a terrible scene when I stood up to go to the loo and knocked Nathan's glass of coke onto the floor where it smashed and went all over his trousers and hand-knitted work-of-art scarf. It was horrifying; the cafe owner came running over with a dustpan and brush and then a bucket and mop and it took him an age to clear everything up. Meanwhile, the entire cafe stared at me. Nathan went back to work with sticky jeans, and I felt suitably ashamed.