I drove up to Northampton today for a meeting at my old music school about a potential commission. It's such an inspiring and special place to visit and I'm relieved to report that it hasn't changed a bit since 1992 when I was last there. I was so happy to see that the fees for studying have been kept extremely low so that all the ensembles and classes are open to people from all backgrounds. It's absolutely crucial: without the Northamptonshire music school, and its "music for all" policy, I'd simply not be a composer, not just because we could never have afforded the extortionate rates some of my friends pay to give their children music lessons, but because the school provided me with a window to the outside world. I met likeminded people there who wanted to get out of the county, and wanted to do well in exams - two concepts which were somewhat alien to the majority of people I went to school with. It was very much my salvation. It gave me hope and it gives me hope to know it's all still going on.
We had our meeting in an amazing cafe which is in a retro shop just down the Kettering Road from the music school. I'd eaten there once before at a friend's suggestion on the day of Ursula's funeral. It's such a quirky little place, full of room-after-room of bric-a-brac and second-hand clothing. Had it been there in my youth, I'm pretty sure it would have been the quintessential hang-out for our sort, and, sure enough, as we walked in, a little gaggle of music school kids were drinking coffee.
It's been boiling hot today. Hot in a way where the sun feels dangerous and makes you panic a bit when you go outside. I understand it's done nothing but rain up north to the extent that Manchester seems to be under water and friends up there are marking themselves as "safe" on Facebook. I can't imagine what's happened.
I have settled down this evening to watch some more of the Paralympics which I find both inspiring and uplifting. It's rather lovely to see races that Brits are likely to win. I sat and watched about six gold medals being won the other night. Three have been won tonight in the twenty minutes I've been watching! It's glorious. I watched a swimming race the other day where there were only about seven limbs in total across the entire field of athletes. One Chinese woman was doing backstroke with no arms whatsoever, which I thought was fairly clever. I have no idea what was propelling her through the water so quickly! She must have had some kind of onboard motor.