Thursday, 8 December 2016

Researching the Nene

Nathan seems a little better this evening. He spent much of the morning in bed and then ventured into the sitting room to do as much work as he could for the South Bank. He's determined that he's out of the woods. Mind you, this is one of those insane illnesses which keeps returning just when you think it's cleared off forever.

I've spent the day doing research for the Nene composition, going through reams and reams of documents. Doing online research is a sort of bottomless pit. You find yourself with window upon open window as each new lead takes you in a different direction. Sadly, information on the net is very rarely properly documented or backed-up, so in order to find source material, a great deal of digging needs to be done. I spent at least an hour today trying to track down a very specific piece of writing by Northamptonshire poet, John Clare. So many webpages alluded to it, but I think they were all copies of each other.

I was phoned around lunchtime by a charming man called Stan who comes from somewhere like Bugbrooke, just outside Northampton. Stan is in his late 70s and grew up playing on the river Nene. He has some wonderful memories of sailing underneath tree tunnels and swimming in the river near Beckett's Park, where cooling towers at the local power station made the water toasty! Even in the winter. Stan has subsequently made it his business to know everything there is to know about the river. His accent is old-school Northampton. It's such a beautiful sound. Long "ays," all "gooing" and "toosdy". Moosik to my ears!

Stan made a career for himself building ladders in the traditional way with wood farmed from the vicinity of the Nene. He encouraged me to look at a little film he featured in online, which you can see by following the enormous link below. I'd rather like you all to watch it, so that you can hear a true Northamptonshire accent. It's a really rare accent, which very few people have ever heard, and, as evidenced in Kinky Boots in the West End, even fewer can actually mimic. It's a connoisseur's accent. Have a listen and see if you can copy it!

Link to video

I'm feeling majorly wiped out still. It's very hard to walk, I still have an open sore on my leg, and I'm in a perpetual state of absolute exhaustion. I slept a good ten hours last night and still want to go back to bed. I think I'm still suffering from the residue of the cold... I just want to feel like me again...

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