Thursday, 1 September 2016

The first day of the year

For me, September 1st is the first day of the year. I've always felt the same way. The metaphorical school year starts, and I suddenly feel one year older, ready to take on new challenges in a way that doesn't quite happen on January 1st.

So we ran around London today, systematically failing to achieve almost everything we needed to achieve. I had a list. It was long. I failed on most counts. I had to buy some speakers. We drove to the PC World in Friern Barnet and selected some. They didn't have them in stock. We went into central London to book a hotel for our holiday next year. The travel agent didn't have a hotel anywhere near where we need to be.

Lunch was nice. We ate in a little trattoria on Berwick Street and had a set two-course meal for a tenner. I had filo pastry triangles stuffed with feta followed by a vegetarian moussaka. With the risk of sounding like Samuel Pepys, they were the best filo pastry triangles I've ever eaten.

We came home, I tidied the house and started cooking. A few members of the Rebel Chorus came over tonight to listen to the Pepys Motet album on the eve of its release. At 3am, exactly 350 years ago, the great fire of London started to rage its way through the city of London. There had been weeks and weeks of fine, dry weather and everything was tinder box dry. High winds fanned the flames across the city, and for three days London burned. It was a relatively slow moving fire, which explains why the death count was so low (around 6 deaths), but it engulfed and destroyed much of the city. People, realising their houses were at risk, would throw their belongings into carts and take them to houses across the city, which, themselves, would go up in flames. Pepys' house escaped the inferno. A last minute change in wind direction saved his part of town (which included the Tower of London.) Nevertheless Pepys had all his belongings shipped off to the village of Bethnal Green, and the things which he couldn't fit on the van were buried in the garden... Most famously his Parmesan cheese.

Llio, Abbie, Jana and Little Welsh Nathalie came to listen to the album and it was a really rather lovely occasion. I felt a mixture of pride and relief. Another project ticked off successfully. This time next year I wonder what else I'll have completed... It was nice to hear the track - an evocation of the streets of 17th Century London - with the sounds of the A1 roaring away in the background. The Pepys album is meant to be a blend of old and new, hence why the singers come from every conceivable modern singing tradition including gospel.

So, if you find time to have a watch of our lovely video about the Great Fire tomorrow, please do so, and remember what was gong on in London all those years ago.

Here it is: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EKk8bnVO2u8

And then, if you feel moved to do so, buy the album. Please buy the album! It's four years' work, and a true labour of love. It's very weird. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it's innovative if nothing else!

If you fancy it, it will be available for download from all the usual places from tomorrow, or you can still buy it - and the London Requiem - from the shop on my website:

http://www.benjamintill.com/shop/

Go buy! Please.

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