Careful though our beloved banks need to be these days, there is little doubt in my mind that a mortgage application in the current day and age is one of the most stressful and intrusive processes around. I had forgotten the palaver two years ago in the joy of finally being able to move house, but now am going through the whole thing once more and having to face up to defaults on accounts I had closed six months previously, the knowledge that rental income apparently is not income (not reliable enough apparently, and with me a composer as well), and write essays here and there on how I am not going to put it all on red or on Lucky Lad at the 3.30 at Kempton. Sigh. I keep telling myself that it will all be worth the hassle in the end and that this is just one of those processes of modern life.
Thus it is as well with the notaire who is dealing with my father’s estate. Well, I say “dealing with”, but there seems to be very little in the way either of information or action at the moment. Having the notaire based in France is both inconvenient but necessary, and I wonder idly now and then how wise it is to deal with somebody whose mother tongue includes the phrase laissez faire. In all the stress of this I think it is fair to say that the events of the last months occasionally catch up with me. I know it is part of the process and I know that it will pass, but some days seem particularly dark at the moment, and not just because the clocks have gone back.
The view from my composing window is beautiful at the moment, though, and the drive back to Somerset often punctuated by moments of mist and fog. All the stresses and strains, all the emails, all the errands keep taking me away from my (lovely new) computer and the Sibelius running on it almost permanently, but I am trying very hard to keep track of the writing. The piece on the drawing board at the moment is This Light Of Reason, appropriately enough about holding up a candle against the darkness, and, as the notes fall into place and the motifs and gestures fill out the texture, it is taking on a personal aspect. Of course, the piece is in memory of Jo Cox MP, but our intention (“our” being mine and the commissioner’s) was that it should travel and become as widespread as possible, and that its message should be universal, and it certainly feels that way. Maybe it is just coincidence, maybe not, but the gestures and subject both of This Light Of Reason and The Human Seasons, to be premiered on Tuesday, might always remind me of my father. Music, after all, is the great reminder, perhaps even more so than Proust’s madeleine.
On Sunday morning the choir at St. George’s performed my Dominus Regit Me, which has become part of the repertoire for that building and that choir while I was at Mary Abbots taking part in a performance of some very fine Monteverdi (is there any other kind?). Despite Claudio having shuffled off this mortal coil many, many years ago there is still so much that he has to teach aspiring composers, especially as far as sonority and texture are concerned. The man simply had one of the finest ears for sound.
As The Light Of Reason heads towards the end of its composition it is time for it to overlap with an arrangement of O Little Town Of Bethlehem, also for the Parliament Choir concert, but without quite so much urgency as the Donne setting. I will be using the Kingsfold tune, which I far prefer, especially as it forms the basis of Vaughan Williams’s Five Variants On Dives And Lazarus, which was performed at our concert in Notre Dame. This arrangement will therefore serve as a reminder of our wonderful time in Paris as we reflect on the year past, and I am in two minds as to whether the music will eventually emerge into the more modern tune.
Lastly, and very pleasantly indeed, a long-standing friend made his way over from New Zealand to spend Friday evening in the company of KT and me. Substantial inroads were made into the wine stocks of the local shops and the beer supplies of the local hostelry, and along the way we introduced him to the delights of cooperative gaming, a bit of Hanabi, which always becomes substantially more fun after a glass or two of wine, a dab of Codenames, including the wonderful clue 2-Oats indicating Snow and Death (which therefore turned out to be 2-Oates), and lastly, and befitting our visiting chemist, we saved the world from infection in Pandemic. After a difficult and stressful few weeks (how long before I stop writing that phrase?) it was good to leave it all behind for a few hours, at least.