Saturday was a good day for all sorts of reasons. Having thrown myself into being a nosy neighbour with genuine enthusiasm I noticed that items were being removed from next door by the tenants, and that, apart from cars pulling up and taking things away, all was quiet. As far as those same tenants were concerned, Sunday was even better, for yet another police raid in the morning, the fourth in three days, brought the sought-after confirmation that they have done a runner, for such it was that I had witnessed on Saturday. According to one of the boys in blue the ‘hovel’ (his words) has been stripped of anything worth stripping and there is no sign of life. Being the nosy sod that I am, and delighted to help the police on their way, I gave them details of people, registration plates, cars and anything else that might have been of use. Today I will get to enter the house and see just what damage they have wrought over the past few years, and I don’t think that it will be pretty. The good news, though, is that they are gone, unlikely ever to return. They shall not be missed.

I sat down and continued work on the harp piece on Saturday, the niceties of its construction meaning that I have gone from being way behind schedule to being slightly ahead in a single day. Having spent years, quite literally, trying to find some kind of fusion of sonata form and modern musical language in my instrumental works, I have turned to the Baroque for my inspiration, specifically ritornello form, and find it to be quite conducive to productive writing. There is some way to go before I have truly made it my own, but the more I write in that style the more I will be able to find my own solutions, and that is what I am really striving to do. Even when I look back at the instrumental works I was writing at the start of the year I can see that my language has come on apace, as has my confidence. There is much revision to be done on this piece, but the basic sketch is now more or less in place.

I also discovered a shortcut in Sibelius after over ten years of using the program which made me literally shout out for joy, so much time will it save. Being even vaguely tech-savvy is so important for the modern composer. Only just over a decade ago getting a score to somebody meant a trip to Rymans and a long hard slog over the photocopier, plus goodness knows what other hassle getting the music bound, packaged and sent. Nowadays one simply emails the file through and, hey presto, the deed is done.

Come Saturday afternoon I took a deep breath and ventured into what will be my composing room. At some point I needed to bite the bullet and get rid of the dust and chaos in there, so, bullet bitten, I wiped down some bookshelves, moved items around, and placed various bits of furniture into what might become their final positions. The attic has had its chimney breast removed, a new staircase put in (necessitating the removal of the chimney breast downstairs as well), new flooring and supports, new lighting, new power, new paint and goodness knows what else, but, at last, at last, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am even cautiously optimistic that I will be composing in there sometime this week, and am genuinely looking forward to the experience.

On Sunday I played the organ in Hampstead in the morning, where I was Organist before my ten year tenure of the same position at St. George’s. I always enjoyed playing there, especially the optimistic choice of repertoire, and it is heartwarming that, even after ten years away, they are happy to have me back. Yesterday we tackled the Kodaly Missa Brevis on minimal rehearsal, and with only 5 singers. At St. George’s this would have been a bit of a struggle but at Hampstead it was all taken on the chin and enthusiastically performed. I then taught and came home to discuss the goings on next door, and watched the film Senna in the evening. As a confirmed F1 nut I was a witness to all that vitriolic nonsense between him and Prost taking place as it happened and found it to be most unsavoury, and the film makes fascinating and uncomfortable viewing, but, for all his many and obvious faults, he was an enthralling character.  Even after 17 years, though, that weekend at Imola remains shocking from start to finish.

I’ll be shifting to my new timetable this week and, while it might mean some antisocial hours, I think it will be good both for my writing and for my morale. I had a late start on Saturday, compared with recent weeks, but it was both more productive and more relaxed than most days this week, and Sunday’s extra hour was gratefully accepted, for I had a disrupted night. The plan this week is to rise later and retire similarly further into the night.

The days ahead are not the most secure financially, at least not until the middle of November, but I hope that an extra bit of work or two might trickle in. In any case, it will be something of a novelty for money to remain in my bank account rather than being spent immediately on coving or plaster. I am sure that this will be just one of many post-building joys.  Meanwhile I rather suspect that my builder, the son of my ex-neighbours’ landlord, might just have another project on his hands very soon after the events of the past few days.  I’ll know once I’ve had a poke around what’s left of next door.  Goodbye to them and good riddance too.

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