Thursday, 15 September 2016

Endless piano music

This has to be my least favourite type of weather. It's hot and very very muggy in London. Plainly if there isn't a thunder storm going on above ground (I'm on the tube) then there's about to be one. I am dressed up nice and smart to go to a quiz, but everything I'm wearing is already damp. Soon my moustache will start to droop. I wish I were wearing a giant kaftan, like my Grannie often wore. Hers were usually purple. She introduced yellow into her colour palette after her golden wedding. She liked yellow. Her entire kitchen was yellow. Walking in there was like entering a field of primroses!

I've gone off piste. I've no idea why. Actually, that's not true. My brain is utterly addled as a result of being cooped up in my house all day, all the way through the morning when the weather was dry and fine, before the front moved in. I had to shut the windows because I was playing the piano and didn't want to annoy the neighbours. And boy was I playing the piano! I did nothing else from 9.30am til I left the house at 6pm. I am playing the piano to accompany Ben Jones at a little cabaret on Monday night. It's a forerunner for the NYMT concert at the beginning of October which I wrote about in my last blog. I'm not a natural pianist. I'm self taught, so sight-reading is problematic. Furthermore, I have very limited technique, so my left hand doesn't play at the same tempo as my right hand, and semi-quaver runs have the habit of sounding lumpy and weird. The song I'm playing with Ben is relentless and charging. In the show it would be played by a rock band, which means the piano part I've written is quite a roast, specifically to reflect how it ought to sound. I genuinely don't know if I'll get through it, and yet I'm forcing myself to play because the new writers' cabaret is all about daring to do the stuff you might not have the guts to do in a more formal situation. I'm not sure I'm any better at playing the song than I was first thing this morning and I only have three more days to perfect it (all of which are chockablock full of other activities.) This is genuine jeopardy the like of which Anneka Rice would lap up like some sort of boiler-suited, giant cat, faced with a bowl of milk! I spoke to one of my writer friends today who is performing a three-part song at the same cabaret with no rehearsal whatsoever, so I guess we'll be in a competition to see who sweats it the most! Add mega performance anxiety into the equation and the audience could be in for quite a night!


The quiz tonight was in a very chi-chi hotel on the Strand, which might have been bordering on too-cool-for-school: all chrome structures like a gleaming church organ, over-polished stone walls and piped in heady smells. It reminded me of a hotel I once stayed in in Newcastle where they had really posh wall paper on the walls, and a 24-hour club feel in one of the bars, but the rooms didn't have baths in them because apparently baths don't fit the demographic of the party people the hotel was aimed at. After a gruelling day of filming you NEED a bath!

The event itself was a charity fundraiser. It's an annual event and I'm pleased to say that they raised more money than in any previous year. The quiz went well. The team that won were taking things very seriously and kept coming up to ask which questions they'd got right, and what they were scoring.

As we walked back to Waterloo in the soupy air, we passed a couple of media types who were plainly talking about the Bake Off fiasco, and the business of the show transferring to Channel 4. One of them seemed somewhat aerated as he pointed out that the world wouldn't come to an end just because Mel and Sue were refusing to relocate to the dark side. The only trouble was that in the height of his rant he called them "Sue and Kim" which made me laugh because it was plain his subconscious was telling him not to mix the presenters up with the 1980s pop princesses Mel and Kim. I loved Mel and Kim. I knew their dances. I had their posters on my wall. Mel was my favourite. Then she died. I was heartbroken. Sort of. The obsession with them was coming to a close and had been replaced by Tanita Tikaram and war poetry. I'd decided that the reincarnation of Wilfred Owen shouldn't be into dance music. Wilfred Owen liked goth folk pop.

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