13/06/06 Bob at Paul’s

Over breakfast, a hugely-hungover Adrian showed me a recently-discovered film of the Incredible String Band in 1969. He’s an archivist for the band and their mates, and every time we think the well is dry something else appears. It was fun to watch, but I think, as the saying goes, you had to be there.

Headed to the City of London for my mid-year review with my two managers, feeling more and more sick and headachy with the heat, particularly in the underground. The meeting went OK but I had to rush to the toilet to puke afterwards.

Walked from there to St Paul’s Cathedral, where Robert Fripp was performing Soundscapes at lunchtime. Sat in the shade on the Cathedral steps, my back against a pillar, and dozed for half an hour. Inside there was a communion service going on. There was Fripp’s guitar and effects unit (like a flashing and glowing chest of drawers), and there were Fripp and Toyah, Fripp standing for the service and prayers. As the service finished, the seats began to fill with people – mostly men in their  30s-50s – respectfully waiting for the maestro. I spotted Sid Smith, King Crimson biographer, but nobody else I’d heard of.  I had a seat very near the guitar but had to move as two very talkative guys came and sat beside me. Even with Fripp starting it seemed like they were going to continue, so I moved away to what turned out to be a better place to take in the swirling sounds that filled the dome. In Soundscape terms, this was a very even, harmonious, almost rapturous one, no jarring or challenging tones. He seemed to play very little, and let the tones circulate, playing only to add shifting frequencies rather than to be heard as a separate melody or lead line. Quite beautiful and, together with the cool interior of the building and the fact that I’d sat quietly for a long time, healing. I left to enjoy my solitude and increasing sense of wellness, and had a coffee nearby, then the train to the airport.

Again there was a delay but as we were about to board the heavens
cracked open with lightning and torrential rain. We had to run across
the tarmac to the  in threes (so nobody was left on the stairs waiting
to board) and got utterly drenched in 20 seconds. Then we couldn’t take
off because we couldn’t refuel till the lightning had stopped.

Madame was waiting for me at Edinburgh to rush us to Pest’s dance show in Stirling;
in fact she’d given up on my plane arriving with enough time and was
leaving but I caught her at the last minute, and we zoomed up to
Stirling, hitting 90mph at times. But we still missed Pest’s first dance,
the one she’d most wanted us to see. We’ve been going to these shows for six or seven years, since she started as a beginner in ballet and modern dance, and she’s grown graceful and skilled. This would be her last show before leaving for university, so it was a landmark not to be missed.

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