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There’s no time like the present to get back into the old routine, especially if one has to get out of bed at an early hour on a day off to wait for the windscreen man to appear (some time between eight and one).  So, back in the wilds of the West, I have done some of my domestic duty, and am settling down for a day of marking essays, listening to Brahms’s Piano Concerto No.1 (“barren dreariness, truly disconsolate”, according to one contemporary listener), heading to Wells, doing some gaming (Race For The Galaxy is on the menu today), getting a takeaway curry, settling down to watch The Apprentice interviews (something even more brutal than choosing composition as a career), with maybe a glass of fizz for company as well.  Then tomorrow it is Star Wars, and it had better be good – I still wake up in the night sweaty and breathless at the thought of the crashing mess that was Prometheus and, as a result of this, but also of many other things, have lost some of that wondrous anticipation of my youth, but the moments of elation these days tend to come from left-field, rather than from something I expect to be great.

Yesterday I was at St. Clement Danes with Simon Over and Crispian Steele-Perkins for the nth carol service of the season and, I think, the third performance of We Three Kings this month, replete with trumpet (Crispian) and tambourine in its chamber orchestration.  C S-P is a hoot, and we had many giggles up in the organ loft which, conveniently for those who have not quite outgrown the naughty schoolboy, is out of sight of the congregation.  Of course, he is a marvellous musician as well, but also enlivening company, and I always enjoy working with him.  It was also the last time I shall see Simon this year – we work together so often and so closely (one notable lady refers to us as the “Morecambe and Wise of choral training”, which I think might be a compliment…) that it seems odd to head off and say “see you next year”.  I lost count a long, long time ago of the ways in which Simon has helped and supported me throughout my career, and he is one of the very few people without whom I cannot imagine working.  Not to see him for four weeks is going to feel odd.  Thanks again, Simon, for everything.

As of today the rush of Christmas, at least when work is concerned, begins to recede, so there are only three more work appointments for me before the day itself when, for the first time in twenty years or more, I shall not be seated at the organ, but instead enjoying the day as normal people are supposed to do.  I fully expect to be back at the keys next year, but, after two decades, and with all the ingredients in place for a truly relaxing and fulfilling time, this time off will be my present to myself.