[ 22:35 monday 24 december – roskear street, camborne, cornwall ]
en famille, anna and adam’s sitting room in cornwall. dad unfurls a paper, adam pores over a cycling magazine, anna’s curled up in an armchair and mum’s up to something in the kitchen. after dinner we played a game rather like the victorian parlour game where players attempt to communicate a word through drawing but in this case the word had to be conveyed by sculpting it in brightly-coloured clay. during my childhood we rarely played games together as a family but it’s generally a hoot when we do.
this afternoon mum, dad and i went for a walk from peranuthno around cudden point and back again. a keen south-westerly wind was pummeling the high rollers into the rocks, augmented by the big spring tide. afterwards we stopped in marazion to buy wrapping paper. the lady in the post office gave me a glass of mulled wine. a twenty-piece silver band was assembling in the village centre beside a big christmas tree, so we joined the crowd and listened for half an hour.
i’m strikingly happy and stimulated at the moment, which crept up on me unawares. one factor in this is the reemergence of music-making as a big component in my life. at the beginning of the year i started obsessively working obsessively at bach’s forty-eight preludes and fugues on my electronic keyboard. i’ve tinkered with them sporadically over the last few years but with no obvious trigger it suddenly became much more serious, i felt a hunger to truly master them. by august my technique was back up to where it was when i was eighteen and i could give a decent account of about half of the forty-eight. when i came down to cornwall for my birthday in september i visited my piano teacher viola nettle at her home in redruth and played a dozen of them for her. viola taught me from the age of seven to seventeen but this was the first time i’d played for her in nineteen years. she’s been one of the great inspirations in my life.
around the same time i started experimenting with karsten with him playing electronics and drums whilst i hopped between electric keyboard and accordion. in september i moved into a big flat above a glass-maker’s workshop in dalston which proved to be something of a catalyst. for the first time in london i have plenty of space and no neighbours, so i can make as much noise as i want at any hour of the day. i bought an upright piano (via ebay) from a japanese girl returning to tokyo after three years’ study at trinity college of music. i replaced the amplifier and speakers i’ve been using since cambridge. under karsten’s guidance i got some high-quality microphones. dexter loaned me a drum kit. timur contributed an amplifier and guitar. in november jam sessions started happening at my flat each week with a succession of new musicians coming along. meanwhile i started playing several times each week with josselin, a double bass player who also does some mean beatbox. it’s been great picking up a thread that’s been so central to my life after twenty years in abeyance.
this has been a demanding period for trampoline with the team trebling in size and a huge ramp-up in our engagement with customers. once all the new people were in post we took a deep breath, put all previous assumptions to one side and spent several months working together to plan the company’s strategy for the next year. there are few enough fixed points in any start-up so removing the ones that exist creates a certain amount of discomfort. but as i gain more experience running the business i’m discovering that removing structure can be as important as creating it. in the last couple of weeks we had a number of great developments with new clients so we all had the satisfaction of ending the year on a high.
last week i received a rather wonderful christmas present from the aether. for no discernible reason the bbc invited me and peter (plus guests) to a gala screening of this year’s doctor who christmas special. for friends outside britain, doctor who is a somewhat eccentric science fiction television drama for children that’s been on the air since nineteen sixty-three. the programme rapidly established itself as a cultural institution, a status undiminished forty-four years on. i loved it as a child and i still harbour a guilty fondness for it. so on tuesday evening, after a frantic day at the office, i zipped home to change my clothes then got a cab with timur to kings cross. the screening was in the science museum’s cinema so we took the piccadilly line down to south kensington. however at covent garden the train ground to a halt and it became clear it wouldn’t be moving again. we sped up to street level and ran through the streets to embankment station, dodging traffic and pedestrians on the way. we finally arrived at the science museum three quarters of an hour after the screening was due to start, gloomily resigned to having missed most of it. an attendant whisked us through corridors and up the back stairs. we finally emerged into the auditorium to discover that bbc executives had been droning on for the previous forty minutes and the film was was about to commence. joy!
the show was super. afterwards there were questions and answers with the cast and finally a party. at every turn i bumped into actors who’d appeared in doctor who at one time or another over the past forty years, plus an assortment of bbc grandees and minor-league politicians. it was deeply surreal and i felt gratifyingly like a ten year-old. my outfit played a useful role in the proceedings. back in october i went to a tailor in san francisco with a pattern for an english formal jacket circa 1780 and had them make one for me in lilac mohair velvet. the finished article arrived a week ago, so i wore it to the doctor who extravaganza. half-way through the party i bumped into russell davies, the programme’s ebullient writer and producer. after chatting for a few minutes he looked me up and down and said: “you look fabulous, you should be the eleventh doctor!”. my christmas was made then and there.
to my friends everywhere, happy christmas!
: c :