I've never mentioned this particular fact in this blog before, but Nathan and I have a little ritual every night before going to sleep. Since developing mild tinnitus earlier in the year, I've occasionally found it a bit tricky to get off to sleep, particularly when the room I'm in is completely silent. We've explored playing different bits of music on my iPhone from Vaughan Williams to minimalism, but it turns out my ideal sleep companions are the dulcet tones generated by a lady from Norfolk called Tilly Trout who has a glorious knitting pod cast. I have no idea why I find her voice so soothing. She's chirpy, has a wonderfully pictorial way of describing yarn and is obviously incredibly warm-hearted. I tune in for a while and then allow myself to drift away...
We have a bit of a running joke every night: "Where's Tilly?" I ask, and the iPad comes out... Last night was no different. I got into bed and asked where Tilly was, before sinking into the pillow. But then a strange thing happened. The voice was familiar enough. It was definitely Tilly, but instead of staying "hello, it's Tilly Trout here..." she was saying "hello Ben..." And before I knew it, I was listening to my very own bedtime story which Tilly had made up and recorded specially whilst knitting some gloves with a 2 by 2 rib stitch pattern!
It was so surreal and such an amazing treat. I think Nathan must have mentioned at some point on his own pod cast that I enjoy listening to Tilly, and Tilly, who herself watches Nathan's podcast enjoyed the thought so much that she recorded me my own bed time story. How sweet and amazing is that? It was a great story as well, about a little boy who learned how to knit...
It did the trick and I slept like a baby, although my dreams were a little bit on the disturbing spectrum. There was a beautiful, rather enormous full moon on display in one of them which I was trying to photograph, but my camera had broken and the shutter wouldn't close.
Nearer the dawn, I actually managed to dream that I'd died, and was desperately trying to get in touch with Nathan from the other side as it were, turning up at a pub in East London known to be haunted, and trying to find a medium!! It sounds ludicrous, but the entire experience was incredibly distressing and I woke up crying, which is something that's happened only a couple of times in my life. Thankfully, glorious sunlight was streaming through the bedroom window when I opened my eyes, so I was able to breath a sigh of relief and enjoy the process of realising that I was still alive!
We walked down to Kentish Town this morning, down Swain's Lane and along the side of Highgate Cemetery. The road was covered in conkers, which must have fallen prematurely in yesterday's stormy weather. And then I realised that it's pretty much autumn and that the conkers probably weren't premature after all.
We walked back in the dark across the Heath. The moon was peaking through the clouds. Somewhat spookily, after yesterday's dream, it seemed surprisingly large, but it was in its crescent form rather than full so I didn't start checking my pulse! The clouds in the sky were a curiously dark shade of Amber and the sky behind them was the darkest shade of midnight blue. It was all a little surreal and made more peculiar by the continual distant peeling of the bells of St Anne's church on Highgate West Hill.
They're doing something strange to the ponds on the Heath. In fact, the boating lake appears to be twice its former size. In the darkness we couldn't really tell what was going on. There just seemed to be a huge expanse of water reflecting the moon. We've subsequently ascertained that they're digging dykes to protect North London from the potential mayhem which might be caused by huge quantities of rain water falling on the Heath. In 1975, the ponds burst after a mega-storm and there was catastrophic flooding in Gospel Oak, South End Green and the Vale of Health. I believe someone actually drowned in a basement flat!
We'd already got a bit spooked by the sudden appearance of a cluster of torches which seemed to be hovering in one of the trees. It turned out to be a group of children with a couple of adults all of whom were holding sonar devices with torches attached, which we assumed were being used to locate bats. The machines made the most curious sound. A whooshing and clicking.
So all in all, having been in the worlds of Brass and our new project for much of the rest of the day, it's been a fairly surreal twenty-four hours. I shall be quite pleased to wake up tomorrow morning!