Yesterday was a day to restore a little my faith in humankind. I played a service for what I assume is a rather well-to-do family, and a rather famous one at that. Thankfully I no longer get knock-kneed at the thought of meeting famous people, even if I can get completely tongue-tied when I bump into racing drivers I hero worshipped as a teenager. These folks are still merely folks, I remind myself, even if their spheres are somewhat broader and higher than mine.

These particular people were an utter delight, their hospitality and welcome starting with offering me and the choir chocolate brownies (bad for the voice but good for the soul) and extending to generous and warm hospitality at their rather large house afterwards. I doubt our circles shall ever intersect again, but it was quite encouraging to meet some really rather normal people whose lives are emphatically out of the ordinary.

That was my only work engagement yesterday and, apart from a dab of teaching tomorrow, will be my only one for a while after the cancellation of this weekend’s Italian jaunt. I’ll be using the free time to carry on with shaping the violin piece into something presentable and getting my other competition entry ready to go. The back of my mind is always crowded with various musical thoughts, ideas ready to spill out onto paper, so I shall not be short of notes to play with, I think, and would like to pursue the whole Bachian structure thing a little further.

Barring any sudden influx of commissions, I am getting the feeling that I need to spend a little time working on some technical aspects of my writing. I address these very often in my competition entries, but I think that I need to sit down with a couple of textbooks and work through a couple of ideas, partially for purely technical reasons, but also because I need to know the effect that certain types of writing might elicit. If I am in the mood I will try to dissect any piece of music I hear, especially the modern stuff, in order to hear what is going on, and it is always the harmony which lures me in. Is it tonal? Layered? Atonal? Serial? Random? I still feel hemmed in on this front and need to let my imagination fly, but I know that, as in so many things, it is the hard work done on the basics which lets the nifty stuff look effortless, whether the exercises Kissin puts in on a daily basis or those lonely hours somebody like Djokovic puts in on a practice court.

One of the plus points of the cancellation of my trip abroad is that I might get to watch Italy play England in the Six Nations this afternoon, something ironically that I would have missed had I actually been in Italy. In my barry beery days I would have adjourned to a local hostelry to watch this with some co-shouters, but now that everybody has moved to their own particular nooks and crannies of the country, I think I shall sit meekly in front of the radio instead, and have it on in the background. I wish there were more rugby to watch down here in my neck of the woods rather than the scrummage outside Chickens-R-Us on a Saturday night, but this is hardly rugger territory, and I normally work on weekends anyway. In any case, the Six Nations has been less exciting since the French stopped picking Chabal for their team and the prospect of serious injury to an opponent subsided…

Chabal - sensitive footballers look away now