It was a funny old day yesterday. It all began well enough with a stint of teaching in west London, coaching one of my students towards an examination in the summer. I then went on to play for a funeral which had something very rare indeed, a eulogy written by the departed herself. It also took me some time to convince the celebrant that my name was not Neil but Nick. For some reason I have often been thought of as Neil, which must have something to do with the way the brain processes information. However, this usually happens when I am introduced to somebody verbally and almost never when I am in email contact with them, as my address makes my name clear, of course. In the course of organising this funeral, though, something went clearly awry, for I was continuously referred to in emails as Neil. I nudged back by signing my emails as Nick (a gentle hint, I hoped). On meeting the celebrant yesterday the message had clearly not made it through, for the following exchange took place:
“Hello. You must be Neil.”
“No, I’m Nick.”
“Oh.” – slight pause – “Where’s Neil?”
Not to worry, though. The worst of these incidents took place many years ago when I was playing for a singer somewhere in London. The person introducing the performance asked my my name, which I duly gave. He then went straight out on stage and asked the audience to welcome the singer “…and her accompanist Neil O’Reilly”.
I then travelled on from the funeral to give a lesson, only to find that confusion over the time meant that there was no lesson to be given, at which point I went home and switched off for the day in preparation for being back at my personal grindstone today.
All told, yesterday was full of those hazards which present themselves to the freelance musician, although I am fairly sure that the timing confusion was not my doing, as it would have overlapped with the funeral. Onwards and upwards it is, though, and I spent a little time yesterday putting my musical affairs into some kind of order and determining which things demand my attention most urgently. At the top of the pile is orchestrating some Parry for an orchestra of very mixed abilities, so over the next few days I am going to be throwing myself at this first batch of arranging for South Korea in an effort to get it done ahead of time and thereby ease the pressure for the second batch. I certainly have enough time to get the majority of it done this week, of that there is no doubt. The tricky bit is going to be forcing myself to do it and investing the hours while I have the opportunity, frontloading as it is probably called.
This evening the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir get their second bite at With Thy Might, and we shall see exactly what familiarity breeds. It all went fairly well first time through, so fingers are crossed for a decent rerun, although there will certainly be people there who have not seen it before. We have a large pile of other music to tackle as well, so the luxury of time is not overflowing, but there should be enough space for us to give a good account of ourselves with it.
Those following Cat 1’s progress will be pleased to hear that he is still attached to his tail, although it does look as though he has been the target for some bizarre game of Pin The Tail On The Donkey, and none too successfully at that. He has suffered the indignity of being held down, shaved, sprayed, bathed and heaven knows what else, all the time viewed with disdain by Cat 2, whose peace-loving nature (apart from where humans are concerned) tends to keep him out of trouble. We are continuing to monitor Cat 1 for any relapse in state from pussycat (from “puss”) to pussycat (from, well, “pus”).
Today promises to be bussy, sorry, busy. Time to get on.