This is still meant to be a composition blog, but please bear with me while I bring you up to speed on my neighbours from hell. On Monday morning once my builder had arrived we took the chance to enter the building to witness exactly what chaos had been wrought. Unfortunately, I made it no further than the front door, as my builder (the landlord’s son) discovered one of the teenage sons of the house upstairs in the front bedroom, asleep on the floor. One deep breath and a phone call later yet another police raid was in progress, and more information about their misdeeds emerged. It transpires that, as well as being involved in the nastiness of a week ago there was a further incident involving one of my neighbours, his girlfriend and a knife. How charming.

To top it all off, as I lay in bed last night, getting used to my ‘later to bed, later to rise’ timetable, I heard the purposeful tread of trouble down our road. I have heard it so many times that I now recognise it from a distance. I also heard the words ‘knife’ and ‘shoot’, followed by banging on our neighbours’ front door and a noise like a spray can. Eventually all went quiet and, once the coast was clear, I went to have a look at what had happened, expecting my house to have been defaced as a reward for my efforts to restore law and order to this street. Instead it turned out that these two (?) had stabbed the tyres of the car parked in next door’s drive and scored the paintwork deeply all the way round. Clearly these criminal masterminds are of a similar intellectual ilk to my ex-neighbours, for not only has said car not moved for ā€“ ooh ā€“ about four years, but it actually belongs to the nice chap over the road at number 26. As you might imagine, he wasn’t best pleased. It appears that it might be in my neighbour’s best interests for the police to find him before his partner’s friends.

This morning, Tuesday, I finally had the chance to enter the house, and the stench is still in my nostrils some hours later. To say that the place is squalid is a real understatement, and something has certainly died in the kitchen. I opened the freezer with genuine fear, but rarely have I been so delighted to discover produce from Iceland (the shop, not the country) rather than body parts or anything more gruesome. The bedroom at the front appears to have some kind of axe mark in the door, and there are CDs scattered around with such charming titles as Cocaine Killer #13. Must keep that in mind for my next orchestral work.

Their landlord, a kindly and elderly gent, appeared yesterday morning to promise that they would be gone by the end of November. Little did we realise that they would be gone by the beginning of the month. At least my builder now has a large project in which to sink his teeth after he has taken my last pound of flesh, something to look forward to later today.

Enough. It is time to talk about composition and me. I think that any writing I manage to get done this week will have to be fitted in around other more pressing matters, such as tidying the house and earning money. Rooms are gradually emerging from their transitory state like so many butterflies from chrysalises, and I have to say that the master bedroom is now a spectacular place to be, a cool yet welcoming place to be when listening to tyres being slashed. Later this week it will be the turn of the composing room to be put in order, then some other areas, and then phase one will be done. It will take some months for my wallet and psyche to recover, but I hope to initiate phase two sometime towards the middle of 2012.

I’ll be cracking on with my harp piece today, and then I will have a sit down and a long think about where to go next. Once that piece is sent I will have three competition entries awaiting judgement, and perhaps I need to shift emphasis towards chasing some commissions instead. There are also, as alluded to before, a couple of larger works I would like to get started.

November does look like being a good month, however. There will be performances of at least four different works of mine, plus the added bonus of a recording by the BBC Singers. They really are one of the best choirs in the country, and I’ll be going along to the recording session, so I will make sure to keep people informed. Having survived September and October as a composer fairly well, and succeeded in keeping my builder building at the same time, I think that I should manage to keep the wolf from the door in November. I will also be continuing my policy of sending scores out to carefully selected people. This has worked well for Sweet Was The Song, but now I need to hatch a plan for other pieces to hit specific targets.

Just to wrap October up nicely, lame kitty is now doing very well, and passes on purrs for all the good wishes. He has made a nigh-on miraculous recovery and the highly aggressive black and white cat which we believe caused all the trouble in the first place is now facing a united front formed of ex-lame kitty and my other cat, Joey. Neighbours gone, cat recovered, performances pending ā€“ it’s all going well, really. Once my builder has my cheque in his hands I’ll be close to bankrupt too, and I can feel as if I have really made it as a proper composer.

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