We drove to Newcastle last Wednesday night through the snow. Occasionally we reached 40 miles per hour. Just once the snow blew so wildly and incessantly across the A1(M) that we had to stop blindly in the middle of the road, with the hazard lights on, hoping the lorries would continue to trundle past obliviously. My vital work in Newcastle went ahead, with only a couple of absentees. My pleasurable music-making in Chester-le-Street was abandoned due to the weather, leaving us with a couple of days trudging through the world heritage site of Durham, impressed by the cathedral and the narrow streets of timeless learning and the green-tinged celebratory students and the obligatory underdressed Saturday night cavorters. We also took in a student production of My Fair Lady (uncut), featuring a number of unwittingly hilarious thespians. Imagine my excitement to find, in the well-stocked bookshop, not only Will Self’s latest oeuvre finally in paperback, but also a collection by David Foster Wallace (“Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”). I’ve just read a 30-page story called “The Depressed Person”, circular and hypersensitive, with footnotes, addictive and funny and depressing at the same time. All therapists should read it!

The thaw is underway in Wakefield. Driving back from Durham this morning felt like returning to the soft south, no proper snow, just grey and damp. A week of choir and jazz workshop and youth theatre and ballet piano and other vital tasks to look forward to. And listening to some new music. Recommendations:

(1) Steve Lehman Octet on Radio 3’s Jazz Now (via iplayer)

(2) We Here Now – Shabaka Hutchings’ compilation of current young London jazz.