Friday, 5 August 2016


I had a classic anxiety dream last night. I think it was a response to all the admin I'm doing at the moment, and the fact that we go into rehearsals for Brass and I feel there's a ludicrously tall mountain to climb before any of that can happen. There's also anxiety attached to not being in work and needing to be in work. Call it a post-holiday come down.

The dream was very bizarre. I'd gone back to visit my old music department at the University of York and was trying to find my composition tutor because I wanted to give him a copy of the Pepys album. When I found him, I realised I'd forgotten to bring any copies of the album with me and asked if I could send it through the post. He sucked his teeth and looked embarrassed. "Thing is" he said, "I'm not really that interested in hearing it. You were a fairly promising composer, but your laziness has stopped you from amounting to anything." I tried to remonstrate and was about to tell him that Our Gay Wedding had been BAFTA nominated but then a weird woman came into the space. She started talking over the top of me about the fact that she'd bought a lovely pair of shoes because she was so miserable in her marriage. My tutor stopped looking at me and started to sympathise with her plight. I stood there for a while and then started to feel like a bit of a gooseberry; "I ought to be going..." I said to my tutor. "Okay" he said, "great to see you..." And then I left.

This morning I went to see Philippa and my two god daughters, who were having a play date with Lily and Jack, who live around the corner. I think it's fairly safe to say that I was well and truly godfathered.

Godfathered (verb): Possessing a weakness not present in actual parents or professional carers which tolerates (and encourages) a level of bad behaviour in children to the detriment of the godfather's appearance, health or dignity.

I got covered from head to toe in face paint. I got swung in a basket until I nearly chundered. I got embroiled in a plot to lock Philippa out of the house and then was prevented by force from opening the front door to let Philippa back in. It was a lot of fun!

We ate at the Hackney City farm, which is a charmingly ramshackle place in which to have lunch. Much or most of the food is vegetarian. I had the most delicious plate of food: Scrambled eggs on sour dough bread with avocado and Halloumi. The kids ate pasta with pesto.

We then went plum-scrumping in Haggerston Park. I have no idea why that participle park is filled with plum trees. I can only assume there was some kind of post war initiative to bring fruit to inner city kids. The trees are simply laden with fruit, and there aren't any wasps about at the moment to make a mess of them. We were mostly picking up windfalls, but I also got a big stick and gently encouraged a few more down from the trees. Philippa regularly goes searching for plums in the park, with which she makes lovely crumbles and beautiful tarts.

When I arrived at the house, the kids were all under the conservatory table searching for dead insects. They found a cricket, a wasp and a bluebottle, prompting one of the visiting kids to say, "oh my God, this house is so creepy!" Deia looked at her friend and agreed, "they fall down from the spiders' webs in the roof."

I had to come home with my face and hair covered in pink, blue and purple face paint. No one on the tube seemed to find it remotely funny, although I could see everyone staring. The assumption in London is often that a person who looks a little eccentric is extremely mad and must be avoided at all cost. Someone came up to the person sitting next to me on a bench at Old Street to ask a question about the Northern Line. When I answered instead, she refused to make eye contact with me. Maybe she saw the bright purple nose and immediately assumed I was an alcoholic?

This evening we drove into central London and parked up on the South Bank somewhere near Lambeth Palace. We were filming yet another set of sequences for the Pepys video, this time with Trevor, a Canadian opera singer with one of my favourite voices in the world and Abbie, who hugely generously came along to record a few more sequences which would have been done by members of the Rebel Chorus who are out of the country at the moment.

We filmed opposite Big Ben, realising in the process quite how much of the beauty of Central London we take for granted. It's a stunning city and we are incredibly lucky to live here. As ever, with this film, we had a riot playing around with fire, and the four of us made a rather brilliant crew. We all performed in front of the camera, Trevor and Nathan did lighting, Trevor, Abbie and Nathan did sound. Nathan managed the pyrotechnics. Who needs a gaffer and a dolly grip when you have four musicians?!

We filmed Abbie near the London Eye, and were somewhat astonished when, mid way through her shot, a fox appeared from the bushes, found a half eaten ice cream, and sat, very happily tucking into it no more than a metre away from us. Nathan shone a torch on the little fella, and he seemed more than happy to let me film him for a while. He may well appear in the film!

The day ended on Leake Street, that fabulous graffiti-lined street behind Waterloo which basically runs underneath a series of railway arches. It's open day and night, and is always full of rather edgy looking people, but the place provides a lovely looking backdrop for any film you might want to look a bit urban and gritty. I was particularly pleased with a shot we did of Abbie there, walking along with a lantern in her hand, Nathan creating a pool of light on the floor in front of her with a torch. Very beautiful. I hope they all edit together well because I'm very pleased with a lot of what we've shot.

I have three more people left to film...

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