What a wonderful weekend. I visited Janet Shell and Christopher Goldsack who live commendably close to Hampton Court Palace, which I needed to visit as part of my research into "Duty of Evil", my Tudor apothecary crime novel - currently at Chapter 14!
Janet and Christopher headed up a wonderful recital on Monday evening in aid of Save the Children. The mix of the serious and amusing was perfect and brought me right back to my musical side, which has been a little neglected of late owing to the number of hours I spend on the laptop writing. Christopher's portrayal of 'The Count' in Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro' encompassing his exasperation at Cherubino and his frustrated attempts to get Susannah to submit to him gave me several useful plot points for the third book in the Georgia Pattison series, not yet written, but entitled "Say Goodbye Now" a direct quote from Dent's edition of the opera and taking place during a production of 'Marriage of Figaro'.
Janet's brilliant acted "I can't quite remember your name" had everyone in fits of laughter and was a perfect adjunct to the more serious part of the programme. Christopher's Promenade Girls' Choir was a joy to listen to. Then it was back to their house for delicious food, champagne and music talk into the small hours. Bliss.
The next day was my long-awaited visit to Hampton Court Palace. Another gem of a day. I met Tom Davie, the President of the East Molesey Photographic Society, who took two hours out of his day to show me around the palace and tell me endless interesting snippets that only someone who has known and loved the place since he was a boy, would know. All the warders knew Tom and that made it easier for me to talk to them later because I had been introduced by him.
The day was just incredible and made so by the wonderful staff and warders. If anyone reading this is interested in our history and has not yet been to HCP, you are missing a huge chunk of your education. That the warders can discuss all aspects of the palace's history whether from the level of a child's education, for the casual visitor or for a serious researcher is not only an accolade to them personally, but also to the palace management. I salute all of them. Indeed I became so excited that I completely forgot to have lunch and only realised this when I left the palace at just gone 5pm. I found out quite a bit I didn't know, always a good sign.
So what did the weekend teach me? Several things. That music is such a massive part of my psyche that I must keep it "tuned up". That time spent with friends is equally important and perhaps, most important of all, that sometimes it's good to get away from the laptop for a few days and re-enter the real world.