Lockdown Blog 12: A day in the life

Good morning, from a rather sunny Scotland. One of the best kept secrets of Scotland is that the weather isn’t nearly as bad as popular myth would have us believe. The wonderful Scots word ‘dreich’ is used to describe the gloomy, grey, dull weather which supposedly pervades north of Hadrian’s Wall. But my experience being imprisoned in Perthshire for a few weeks now, is quite the opposite; I can count on one hand the number of times it’s properly rained since I’ve been up here and at its best, the weather here is a thing of rare beauty. So beautiful are the sunsets, in fact, that I’ve taken a few rather fetching pictures to share on my Instagram page — shared also here for you, the reader(s) of my blog: 

Since last it was my turn to write a blog post, I did in fact carry out my threat, and posted a video of me playing Chopin. To my surprise and slight embarrassment, it’s been viewed 16,270 times. 16,268 of those are almost certainly my Mum, and the remaining 1 must have been my Dad as in response he kindly sent me scans of a few piano pieces by the French composer Gabriel Grovlez (1879 — 1944). I’ve just started work on a beautiful one called ‘Petites Litanies de Jésus’ which is musically simple, but deceptively hard to play smoothly and lyrically. Well, it is for me anyway! Probably not for my Dad, Steve, who taught me piano from when I was 5 years old. My formative musical education was the combination of singing next to Mum in our church choir (from a similar age) and these lessons with Dad. I was not a gifted piano student, but was always encouraged to improvise, compose, and work things out by ear. This has allowed me to develop good aural skills which are very handy every day of my work, but only now am I wishing I had been a more diligent technical student during the days of my regular piano lessons.

Gabriel Grovlez – Petites Litanies de Jésus

Today’s piano practice will have to stay on hold as I have a few bits of King’s Singers work to plough on with, alongside cooking duties for this evening’s dinner for 8. On the KS front, I’m working hard to help put together our collaboration with the ‘Stay At Home Choir’ — this has been set up by a couple of musicians whom we know, to create a virtual choir for people ‘locked down’ at home. They’re working tirelessly in the (somewhat thankless) job of synchronising hundreds of videos of singers serenading their mobile phones. We’ve offered one of our audience favourites, ‘And So It Goes’, to be ‘performed’ by us with backing choir of these hundreds of housebound singers. We’ve never done anything quite like it before, so I’m excited and nervous to see how it works out. If you have a mobile phone, and an aptitude for singing ‘Oo’ and ‘Aah’, you can sign up on their website to get involved:


Once I have done this, a few other jobs, and a conference call with the other guys this afternoon, I’ll be taking leave of my laptop, donning my apron then slicing, spicing, roasting and dicing my way to a curry. And once the curry is consumed and cleared up, I’ll be falling into the regular pattern which has been established by Ellie, me, and her father Ian: namely, to settle in to watch an episode or two (..or three) of ‘Game of Thrones’. I’ve spent the last however-many years telling myself that it’s not my kind of thing, and that I’m best off devoting my time to worthier pursuits. How wrong I was. It is absolutely for me, and if the world continues to fall into ruins and we’re reduced to cannibalism, I’ll be all the readier for it after 3 series of abject butchery and ruthlessness which I’m embarked on presently. 

Right, all of this typing is making me sweat. I’m off to spray on my new aftershave — purchased yesterday, 1st April:


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