DIARY 08/08/14

Tractors tugging carts of grain are trundling past our house til way past midnight. Between downpours, thunder storms and the fear of Bertha, the arable farmer knows full well when the time is right. Now is right. And it has been right for two weeks or more. The harvest started early here on the Essex/Suffolk border.

I lean on the brick wall running from the barn and watch the action in the twilight and sometimes by moonlight. I am mesmerised by it all: the machinery (combine harvesters cost around £200,000), the skill of the farmers and their crews. And my mind will drift, back to the Royal Albert Hall, for instance. I remember leaning my head down, slightly off-mic, for the first two refrains of “oh, dear, look what they’ve done to the blues...”, eyes closed and remembering earlier times, then looking up and finding 3,500 people on their feet, arms high. I knew they were singing. I can hear with my eyes closed! But I was shocked to witness that. Those in the boxes, too, were standing. I felt a frisson, be sure. I went to Frankfurt last week to discuss performing the show with the Frankfurt Philharmonia orchestra and choir. I am pretty certain it will happen – next year, late Spring, we think.

September 24th – my son’s birthday – Barry and I will play a Live session on the Marc Riley show, in Salford for BBC 6 Music. I realised today, on agreeing to a Yorkshire Post interview, that we play a whole batch of shows this autumn in that great county: York, Pocklington, Hebden Bridge, Hull and Wakefield. James, Barry and I will find plenty to occupy our curiosity on all those afternoons! I might even do the real tourist’s thing, and take the open-top bus around York. Did it once before, and it rained.