I had a meeting in Victoria today in a tall concrete building, not dissimilar to Centre Point. We were up on the 13th floor in a room with commanding views across a wet and windy city. It's been a ghastly day today. London turned a dark shade of grey and everyone was in a terrible rush to be, well, anywhere else! Someone knocked my mobile phone clean out of my hand at the tube station. He was in such a hurry, that the force of him bashing into me sent the phone spiralling out of my hand and across the ticket hall where it came to rest underneath the legs of a little old lady. She gave me such a look as I grappled to pick it up. As though I were some kind of gerontophile, trying to get a look up her skirt!
After the meeting I went to a little cafe to do some work, and, somewhat momentously, joined the two halves of my Nene composition together. The piece needs to be 12 minutes long, so I was somewhat astonished to discover that the two halves together were running at exactly 12 minutes! The piece still needs more space to breathe, however, so I might have to lift out a section and reserve it for the longer version which is being performed next year. It feels like a really important moment, however, in the time line of the composition. Obviously, there's a multitude of work to do on the piece in terms of fine-tuning, but to be at this stage already feels like a huge achievement.
I feel slightly blessed to have left Victoria some twenty minutes before the terrorist attack happened in Westminster, which was just a five-minute walk from the cafe in which I was sitting. My original plan had been to stay there until my train to Brighton this evening, but I was scuppered by my tumble drier deciding not to dry my clothes properly. I ended up needing to return home to pack before heading out. Quite where I would have been otherwise, I dread to think. My heart goes out to anyone who was caught up in the mayhem. It must have been deeply terrifying. But we have to do the British thing of keeping calm and carrying on. Those bastards will not prevent democracy or liberty.
I don't know what I was expecting by getting a 5.40pm train to Brighton on a week day, or in fact, why the Trainline.com was selling cheap tickets on this particular train, but it was standing room only. I ended up crammed into a corner by the door, barely able to breathe without choking on halitosic fumes, whilst the man next to me listened to the Fine Young Cannibals singing Good Thing on his headphones. I joined in at one point. He was plainly playing the music so loud that he didn't notice.
At Croydon, there was enough of an exodus for me to be able to sit on the floor in the train's vestibule. The stale stench of the sticky carpet serenaded my nostrils. I could see the glimmer of a beautiful pink sunset through the flickering trees in the window above me.
I finally got to sit down on a proper seat at Hassocks. I had a blissful five minutes' of composing time before arriving at Brighton Station.
I walked to Fiona's house in Hove via a series of back streets. I've eaten some pasta tonight, watched some films and composed some more music. I think it's going to rain for the rest of the week, which rather dashes my hopes of sitting by the sea with a manuscript, all tragic and pale, like something from Death In Venice.
I'm up late trying to upload something onto iTunes, but it keeps failing. It's only three minutes long. I'm plainly doing something wrong. Just call me Grampa!