[late, around the 25/26] Feb 1969
Dear Mum, how are things with you? I’m at home once more ˗ in the middle of the week when I should be at work ˗ I just don’t know what is wrong with me of late. In spite of taking some vitamin pills since I had my last cold, I woke up yesterday with a screamingly sore chest, and wobbly legs, and a sore head. Anyway I went to school, and though I had intended coming home in the afternoon ˗ I had nothing set out to do ˗ I stayed on and did some of the work for the very busy week I’ve got next week: the re-audition for Opera for All on Monday, playing for Abigail Ryan at the Wigmore Hall for the Tauber contest on Wednesday, and playing for three of the singers doing an audition for the Wells on Friday. I intended going in today, and even got up and was dressed, but once again I felt all shakey, and finally went back to bed. I was supposed to go and have dinner with Mike [Tither] tonight too. I’m not feeling bad just at this moment but equally I don't feel a hundred per cent. I’m really fed up with being below par, and wish I knew what to do about it.
Sorry there have been such long gaps between letters, but I was terribly busy last week. Went with Abigail to a play called the Delicate Balance, done by the [Royal] Shakespeare Co. The acting of this company ˗ it’s a repertory one ˗ is always superb, and even if the play isn’t much good, the cast is well worth seeing. Actually it was a fairly interesting play, though I can’t say I saw the point of it all. Peggy Ashcroft was in it, and also Michael Hordern and Sheila Hancock ˗ who used to be in a crazy TV thing called The Rag Trade. Abigail and I decided at the last minute to go ˗ we were on a [number] 15 bus, which meant we could go all the way into town, and both had originally intended to go straight home. But I had to collect some stuff from George Bamford, the copyist, and so we It sounds like this was a patch in which I thought Abigail and I might become an item. It wasn’t to be, though for a very good reason.]
|St Patrick's Catholic Church, Soho Square|
When we came out of church it was snowing hard, as it had been on and off all day, and we got covered in the stuff going to the theatre. This was one of the worst falls I’ve seen, adn there was complete chaos all over. I was lucky that the trains had started running again by the time I got out of the play but other people had been waiting for about two hours!
The next night Kevin and I went to see The Cocktail Party, by T S Eliot, with Alec Guinness in the lead. If anything this was even more obscure than the previous night! But it was very well done generally, with the exception of one of the actors, who recited his verse with the accents all wrong (the play is in blank verse) and made it sound all unnatural.
The next night I had my first experience of a laundrette, and found it quite interesting. I also realised just how clean washing things in a machine like that is to washing them by hand. [!] my shirts have always seemed to be clean, but this was the first time my underclothes and hankies were really whitened again! I went up to Crowls that night too. Next morning I had to go back down to Kings Cross to collect a huge pile of music to be checked; it subsequently took me all weekend, ! ˗ and then meet one of last year’s rep students who is now at the Wells whom [Uncle] Reg had met up with at his church, and whom he had invited around so that I mgiht have a chat with him. We spent about an hour and a half talking, and it was very interesting. I’m afraid the Crowls must have thought I was being a bit rude, doing nothing but work all weekend, but the thing was that I had to take it back to Bamford on Sunday evening. (And then I got some more on Monday ˗ which completely filled in another evening. It was music for a film score, for Alfred the Great, and had to be ready for recording on Wednesday ˗ that is, yesterday. [The film score was written by Raymond Leppard, who, as Wikipedia puts it without the pun intended, ‘played an instrumental role in the rebirth of interest in baroque music.’ ]
On Sunday night Kevin [Flaherty] and I and some others from the Centre went to a concert at the Festival Hall conducted by Andre Previn, with John Ogdon playing Rachmaniov’s Third [Piano] Concerto. I didn’t like this latter much, but they also played a Haydn Symphony very well, and a Symphony by William Schuman, a modern American composers, which was very exciting. [Sunday 23 February 1969 André Previn Symphony No. 85, ‘La Reine’ HAYDN Symphony No. 3 WILLIAM SCHUMAN Piano Concerto No. 3 RACHMANINOV John Ogdon piano.]
On Tuesday, I went to see Gloriana ˗ by Britten. It’s an opera that was written for the present Queen’s coronation, and wasn’t much of a hit at the time: certainly by comparison with his others. It does have a rather weak first act, and the last act is only good up to a certain point ˗ it’s basically the libretto that is the fault ˗ because the music is fabulous. One scene especially makes the opera worthwhile. This is the quartet scene in the second act. It’s only about seven minutes long, but it is so exciting the way it builds up from the single character on stage to a marvellous quartet bit with 3 of the characters singing a sort of vengeance piece while the fourth character, a woman, does great sweeps around the stage in great anxiety. It’s full of very neat touches too. At the end of the first act, a prayer scene, the curtain falls on complete silence ˗ no one dared clap until it was down. There is a masque in the beginning of the 2nd act, which is entirely accompanied by unaccompanied chorus singing. (?) And the ball scene in the end of the second act, where the queen, in making a fool of someone also actually makes a fool of herself, is partially accompanied by an onstage band, which every now and then is taken over by a rowdy and horribly orchestrated (with sliding trombone sounds and lots of percussion) version of the band music.
[handwritten] I’m glad to hear Mary [?] is coming up to see you ˗ that’ll be very good for you I should think. A pity isn’t it that you can’t cook meals for Fred [the cat].
Reg didn’t blink when I told him there was a girl staying in the flat. Thought I’d better tell him. [Goodness knows why!]
I’ve also got some checking to do for the Centre’s Gianni Schicchi parts. More cash I hope! Mike. [The Opera Centre included Gianni Schicchi in one of its student productions.]