Monday, 7 December 2015


We spent the morning putting the final touches to the latest draft of Beyond the Fence, before sending it out to all the relevant people. There'll be another draft before we go into rehearsals, probably two, but it's important to let everyone know the direction things are heading in so that they don't panic and worry we won't be able to deliver.

The afternoon was spent with Nathan beavering away on a lyric whilst I sat at the kitchen table making changes to the opening number. The words were flying out of Nathan, so much, in fact that we had to keep reminding ourselves to use as much computer-generated lyrics as possible. We have a data-base of lines from the computer system which we've decided might be useful for certain songs. They're, in the most, rather uninspiring, but occasionally have the power to send a song in an unexpected and exciting direction.

For the first time in my life I have a touch of writers' block. I know exactly why it's come. So many constraints have been put on this project by the computer processes, that finding interesting ways out of the cul-de-sacs they create becomes exhausting and utterly thankless. I feel stifled and uninspired most of the time. Sometimes I think the computers are doing nothing but making the music I would have written without their aid just a little bit less good! It's been hard to stay upbeat for too long on this project.

I went to the gym in the late afternoon and then trotted into Euston to meet young Josh, our assistant director on Brass, for tea and a catch up. It was lovely to see him, and I think he's doing everything right in terms of making contacts and, more crucially, keeping in touch with the contacts he's made.

His writing seems to be really taking off. I think he's found a niche for himself in Manchester, which he paints as a really happening and inspiring city. He actually takes tourists on guided walks of the place and tells me he's very keen to rid me of my prejudice for the city.

Only on Saturday I was discussing my ambivalence towards Manchester with a woman from Leeds who described it as being a bit "up itself." I've always found Mancunians a bit unfriendly (and very anti-southerner) in a way that Loiners and Geordies don't seem to be. I've always had a theory that the further north and east you travel in the UK, the more open people appear. The Cumbrians, for example, seem more closed than their North-Eastern counterparts. There are theories in this respect about the majority of British immigration (and invasion) coming from the East.

Liverpool is considered to be an exception to this rule because it became a Mecca for the Welsh and the Irish. I've genuinely never been to Liverpool, so have no idea if this is the case. I'd like to go. It's where my brother Tim was born.

I'd genuinely like to be proved wrong about Manchester. Plenty of my friends, and brother Tim live in and love Manchester, so perhaps I ought to go on one of Josh's tours and find out what all the fuss is all about.

When I got into York university I was also offered a place reading music at Manchester, so, perhaps if I'd taken that up, I'd be living there now, criticising Londoners and knowing I was living in the finest city in the world!

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