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I spent a couple of days away last week, hiding in one of my boltholes away from the phone and the interweb as much as possible, taking in the air and putting some fresh notes onto paper. Back in The Smoke for the weekend and still waiting for my bathroom to take shape, it is a return to work with sudden but expected drive.

While the sketches for the string piece are ticking happily along I am still fighting hard to put together a text for the Exeter College commission. I know exactly what I am looking for, but it is proving tricky to hit that mark, even though I have cast my net ambitiously wide. It feels as though I am narrowing down on my target, and I want to avoid the tired old choices, so I hope that some further diligent reading and research today will see the main body of the text taking shape.

There is a performance of the Missa Sancti Nicolai next Sunday morning at Christ Church, Hampstead. I will be plying my trade somewhere else, but it is intriguing to imagine what it will be like accompanied by that rather economical organ. It will be quite different from the sound of St. George’s, its home, and I wish the best of luck to the person who has to get their fingers around it.

It has been a tough few weeks. There have been various tours and the like, alongside the home-based carnage of letting my builder loose on the bathroom. It has all been very stressful, which is understandable when all that is slotted alongside the whole business of one’s own, well, business. Maybe the pain of this latest batch of building works will be forgotten when it is all done, which is probably just as well, for else I would never do anything like this again.

So into the week we go. For once I have some clear time ahead of me in which to get things done, and my tasks are pretty clear – sort out the text for Exeter and then continue with the writing, and keep digging into the string piece. Distractions are done for the time being, so it is time to get back to being a composer, remembering Churchill’s sage advice never, never, never to give up.