I like to think that I behave and act as a borderline professional. Unless something disastrous happens I tend to get to places early, my compositions are provided before deadline and pretty much ready to go, and on the rare occasions something disastrous does happen, I let people know as soon as I can,
In my cosy little world this is how all people aspire to live their lives, but, somehow, whenever I dip my toe into that murky, dank water of home improvement I end up howling at the moon. How can it be, I have to ask myself with depressing regularity, that so many companies can fail so completely to do what they say they will do? Yesterday, for example, I paid what I consider a decent sum of money for a skip to arrive this morning so that my builder (here at 8.30, clearly a good day for him) could clear the remainder of the debris of the recent building works. Their vision, according to their website, is “to always exceed customer expectations resulting in customer delight”, surely a statement designed to provoke joy and a willingness to overlook the split infinitive.
Depressingly, inevitably, the skip failed to turn up, and I was given short shrift by the chap on the other end of the phone, who told me it would be with me between 1 and 3. Not exactly what I had paid for. I asked him why he had not phoned me to let me know what was going on and he said (and I quote exactly) “Mate, I’m up to my ears in it, I can’t call a hundred people”. Of course, I did not want him to call a hundred people, I just wanted him to call me. Attitude hardened, complaint letter ready to go, I now await the arrival of the elusive skip. I’ll let you know.
In musicworld, however, I have been getting on with the first movement of the string piece, reprofiling the second half of the first movement and, for once, not hesitating to reject, replace and recast. Slowly and surely, although quite quickly in absolute terms, the music is coming into focus, and I am happy with the way it is going. I was even doing some sketching on the tube yesterday when my neighbour asked me what I was writing – it turned out that they were a singer, so I took the opportunity to hand over a business card, because you never know what opportunities might occur.
As I get further into this piece I realise that the first movement, in particular, has proven to be an educational experience, and that my theoretical approach has had to give way to the practical. It has been a fascinating journey thus far, finding myself fairly often up some kind of dead end, only to find that the answer lay somewhere unsuspected.
I took a hard rehearsal with the Malcolm Sargent Festival Choir last night, unnecessarily so, I felt. When I play with an orchestra or accompany a choir the conductor’s word is law, and I feel it is reasonable to expect my own choirs to behave in the same manner. A significant number of people would probably believe it has something to do with the conductor’s look-at-me ego, but it is all to do with getting results. I am working on a production of Messiah this weekend which is more theatre than concert and which is going to involve some rather strange goings on for a chap like me. I need to take three casual outfits with me for the wardrobe manager to choose from, for example, and have been provided with a colour chart. Those who know me will realise that this chart is worse than useless, that I am with Henry Ford when it comes to colour, but if that is what the director desires, that is what the director shall get. I respect him far, far too much to do otherwise.
Whether composer, performer or director, I have always aspired to give more in every area than other people, and I believe that my current life is due to that attitude in no small way. Amusingly, I was once turned down for a job because I was “too reliable”, but, of course, as that door closed another opened. Maybe that is why I cannot abide lack of professionalism in others and why I suffer so acutely when I see it around me.
Heavens above, the skip is here..!