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A long, hot and stuffy journey eventually brought me home late on Sunday evening after an enjoyable but intensive week and a bit of work at the Anghiari Festival. In terms of performances of my music, I could mention the arrangements of the items for the childrens’ choir, and the rewriting of various parts of Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, but the week is really about the young musicians of Southbank Sinfonia and their various generous sponsors and supporters. I am assuming that I will be invited back next year, even though I am not officially part of the SBS organisation, but it is good to think that I have some time before then to relax and recharge.

The week finished with a superb and edgy rendition of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, which reminded me and probably everybody in the audience just how vivid an experience live Classical music can be, and also just how dangerous Ludwig is when he is dancing at the edge. I can only assume that people who find this kind of thing boring have never been to this kind of thing.

It is depressing to get back to glamorous Mitcham and encounter, within twelve hours of my arrival, some overzealous drinker shouting charming epithets about his partner (I assume) into the night at gone the witching hour, a man shouting at his girlfriend on the way to the tube this morning (presumably a different man from last night), and rubbish strewn around the tram yesterday and the streets today. Not for a minute would I pretend that these problems do not happen elsewhere, but the level of alcohol-fuelled aggression in this country seems absurdly high, also the preponderance of film posters with guns on display. Maybe I am just getting old, but I am certainly getting tired of all this pointless posturing. Respect is earned by what you achieve and not by what you have, and things are severly out of kilter in any culture which believes otherwise.

Still, within the walls of castle O’Neill all is well. We celebrated my return from Italy with (what else?) pizza and Prosecco, and there was a dishwasher in the kitchen to boot, delivered in secret by my partner’s parents. I had thought my builder’s quote towards the upper limit for the work he had to do last week, but it transpires that installing this beast was a task which had been hidden from me. It may not sound like much, but those quarter hours spent in the sink all add up, and it has to be a good sign that my first thought was “more composing time!”.

As I chomped my final Baldaccio ice cream of the year yesterday morning I completed the proofing and correcting of Everyone Sang, which is now finished. This week is quite busy in terms of work, but I shall be travelling with manuscript in tow, ready to continue scribbling on the competition entry which I hope to get done maybe even by the end of the month. Then I have three commissions to tackle during August, which promises to be quiet in terms of professional engagements, but with plenty of opportunities to get things done.

Once I get to Sunday it is fair to assume that I will be beginning my summer break, which is more a lull in professional activity than anything else. What with America, Italy and the hectic period in between I have not really had much time to relax of late. Also, as I have remarked before, I am keen to test drive a more intensive personal work schedule soon, to see if it works for me and, more importantly, for my partner. My targets for the next academic year are high and I will need to hit the ground running to come close to achieving them and longer term aims. Talking to various people in Anghiari has made it clear to me that what I want will be difficult to achieve and require application, dedication and tenacity. The difficult has never put me off, though, so it really comes down to how many of these last three qualities I possess.