Sunday, 17 January 2016

These dreams

I've been having some classic anxiety dreams of late! I always know something is stirring in my subconscious when my dreams take me back to school and university. Two nights ago, I went with my friend, Meriel to the university house we'd lived in together. We were really surprised to find that it had doubled in size. I suspect that's my subconscious acknowledging how distant some of my memories have become. We lived in that particular house twenty-two years ago, and, though I always prided myself on having a razor-sharp long-term memory, certain memories have started fading into a hazy mist. Occasionally I look at a photograph and can't remember how I ended up in the place where the picture was taken!

Last night I dreamed that I was performing in my school's production of My Fair Lady. I was playing Alfred Doolittle, but walked onto the stage without knowing a single line. I put a script on the piano and managed to blag a full-cast sing-a-long of Wouldn't It Be Loverrrrly whilst feeling a crippling sense of mortification. I caught my Dad's eye in the audience and felt ashamed for forgetting to learn my lines!

The scene after the song was a wash-out. The other actors on stage spoke so quietly and incomprehensibly that I didn't know where we were in the script. There was a huge pause, it was obviously my turn to speak, and I frantically looked down at my script to find all the words had turned into mathematical equations! At that point the cast started giggling, and I felt ludicrously angry with them for being typical teenagers. Then I looked in a mirror and my face was covered in welts and I was trying to work out if the red splodges were just tricks of the light. And then I started talking to the audience and asking them if they thought Holst's Planets Suite was the greatest ever composition by a British composer! The audience started throwing shoes at me, and that's where the dream ended...

The last part of the dream came as a result of my listening to Neptune as I drifted off to sleep. I'd forgotten quite how impressive and moving the heavenly choir in that movement is. We once performed the piece at York Minster, with its ten second echo acoustic, and the boys of the Minster choir sang from the other end of the transept behind a giant rood screen which was decorated with carved stone angels. It was an absolute coup de theatre. It struck me last night that The Planets has shaped almost every piece of music relating to outer space which has been written since. From Star Trek and Star Wars to conceptual album tracks by ELO!

There was snow on the roof tops and trees in Highgate this morning. It hadn't really bothered to settle anywhere else, but it was a joy to see. Nathan spent the day in Stoke On Trent where he tells me there was rather a lot of snow.

I've been at NYMT auditions for most is the day today. I really only popped in to meet the show's director, but obviously ended up staying the day. There were some particularly talented kids there, a surprising number of whom were either from Yorkshire or played brass instruments, which was great for us. Three of the original cast were there, Ruby, Ben and Robyn, and all three did marvellously well. It was lovely to see them and I felt stupidly protective of and proprietorial about them. I felt proud as punch when Robyn sang Could Have Been, the song she sang in the show.

It was so peculiar to think about meeting them for the first time two years ago and thinking how they've grown up in the meantime. They've all become hugely accomplished performers. Ben played the cornet as well: the same piece as he'd played at his original audition in Manchester in 2014, which moved me so much it inspired me to write the show's title song. I remember the moment so clearly. Jezza Walker, who runs NYMT, was there on both occasions, so it really was a serious blast of déjà vu.

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