London, The City That Never Seems To End

I spent the day in London – or more specifically the City of Westminster, although the two pretty much mean the same thing when it comes to a day out in the Capital.

Once more, the size of the metropolis didn’t fail to amaze and impress me, and I wondered what it must be like for newcomers without a home or friends. Those vast streets that soon begin to look alike. The anonymity. Endless traffic and packed streets.

I passed Westminster Abbey and Downing Street, and wished I could have mustered up more enthusiasm for these pieces of history, but I suppose the long bus journey ahead had started to tire me out. An hour to go.

Finally, I ended up in Camden Town – itself a miniature metropolis – and caught the connecting bus back to the calm of north London suburbia.

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Quit Smoking, From 40 Cigarettes A Night To Zero

Times passes. A year. Two. Five years, and three months; I haven’t smoked during that time. Not once, although I’ve been tempted. Hopefully, I will never smoke again. It’s an enjoyable habit, but destructive in terms of health.

What do I think of e-cigarettes? I’m not sure. Probably better than regular cigarettes, but not for me.

Nicotine Replacement Products. I think these are fine, especially for people who used to rely on cigarettes, both physically and emotionally. I always make sure I have some when I go out.

Major triggers of temptation:

  • The smell of tobacco
  • Unrelenting stress
  • Watching someone roll a cigarette

A Relaxation Technique: The Imaginary Candle

Also known as Pursed Lips Breathing. Place a finger in front of you. The imaginary candle. Gently blow out through the mouth at the imaginary candle, then inhale through the nose with minimum effort. Out, in. Eight times, letting the breath relax and concentrating on the exhale. Never strain or force the breath.

Finally, breathe out and in through the nose only, continuing for a few more minutes.

The key: simplicity and breathing that barely makes a sound.

A Strange Day

Freezing, but humid.

I got up early, stretched and did my breathing exercises, but felt tired and groggy.

Had a number of meetings and played the piano, but couldn’t shake off the malaise and exhaustion.

Went back to practise Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata, but couldn’t concentrate.

Arranged to meet a friend for coffee…and ended up leaving my sports bag somewhere.

Now, sitting with the heating on and the window open, and wondering when I last saw the sports bag.

Piece Of The Day – Appassionata by Beethoven

I’m one of those people fortunate enough to have the ability to play works featured on Classic FM or Radio Three.

This morning, I enjoyed sitting at the piano and playing the Appassionata by Beethoven, the Second Ballade by Chopin, Hungarian Dances nos 1, 2 and 5 by Brahms, and the Nineteenth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt.

The Appassionata breaks the traditional boundaries of the Sonata, developing First Movement Sonata Form and introducing the abridged second and third movements. Despite the heights of emotion present in the writing, the work remains firmly in the Classical tradition, and not Romantic.

A fulfilling morning. Tired arms and wrists. Afterwards, I headed to Coffee Republic to practise my German with a friend from Germany.

Bizarre Weather Here In The UK

The sky turned an unusual shade of orange on Monday afternoon, bringing to mind the French word orage (storm). One of my colleagues joked about the apocalypse, but the whole thing felt unsettling.

The following day was humid at times and chilly at other times. I’ve definitely come down with a winter bug and will take Piriton at bedtime.

Busier Than Usual

I haven’t had time to blog here recently. I went back to work after an extended summer break and have an extra musical work playing jazz and light classical piano in north London.

I’m also preparing posts for a sister website blog that tells my musical story from scratch.

Plus, my language studies. And the magazine interview last week.

Till next time.

A Magazine Interview

Hi, I don’t want to spoil the show – but tomorrow, I’m doing an interview for a creative arts magazine on the subject of my new blog, mypianobio

The blog project, titled My Musical Journey by Lawrence Estrey, tells my personal story as a musician, but touches on sensitive topics like gangs, bullying, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I don’t want to say too much now. I think it’s a case of, watch this space. 

Difficult Writing About Past Experiences

A person wants to share autobiographical material. How do they proceed? Too much, and the reader may get bogged down in the detail. Too little, and the narrative will lack conviction.

Plus, the past is complicated. And messy. And emotional, of course. Can a writer really reduce a period of time to a few paragraphs or pages and expect to convey their experiences?

I think the answer lies in painting pictures first, then providing summary in later parts of the story. Describing new scenes, themes, in detail, bringing the narrative to life. But choosing summary techniques as well, to prevent the story from getting stuck at later points.

Writers also have the task of deciding on various lenses, to borrow a term from photography. Does the person choose an introspective approach, looking inward? Or do they project their material?

I’m currently sharing my experiences as a piano player on my sister blog and facing these structural and editorial issues. I use a number of narrative techniques. You can access the story here.

Till next time.