One of my favourite things to do here in the wilds of the West is to sit in the corner of my local hostelry of an evening and tap away on the old laptop, scribble quietly on some manuscript and, for want of a better word, relax. It is a delicate balance of what needs to be done and what could be done, and, as working environments go, it is cosy and welcoming. One of the ways in which Somerset differs from Mitcham, apart from the fact that the pubs here have yet to be turned into flats, is that you can strike up a conversation without being in fear of your life, and I have met some interesting people along the way, from the four French rugby fans who travel to a Six Nations match every year (but never to one involving France) to somebody who is a couple of years behind me in the West Country -> South London -> West Country thing.
It is always interesting when people find out that you are a musician, the more so when they realise that (a) you make your living at it, and (b) you are a composer. It is as if you are made all the more exotic by this rich and strange combination. I don’t go around shouting it from the rooftops, as I am happy to get on with my work quietly, but other people sometimes do my publicity for me. A couple of days ago I got chatting to a chap who has a relative just about to embark on the perilous path of music, while yesterday we had a hysterical night in the Indian restaurant as our lovely waiter went all wide-eyed and weak at the knees at the thought of “this great musician” (his words, not mine) in his midst. It was all rather amusing, but a lot of fun, and I must admit that I fanned the flames ever so slightly by showing him a couple of the Notre Dame pictures, mainly so he knew that I was not faking.
The work, though, continues quietly and in private, whether tucked in the corner of The Dusthole or, as now, in my room in the house, and this is the unglamorous bit, the bit that does not involve firing off to France or Italy or London or Bolton Abbey and having your music performed to full houses. Like the iceberg, nine tenths of the work is done below the surface, and the performances and finished pieces are only the visual manifestation of all that work. I have always believed, and still do, that solid effort and hard graft are the foundations upon which success may be built, and, as I start working in a slightly different direction as well, it is heartening to see the process beginning to take shape in a new area.