Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Box of delights

Lorraine and I had a poor night's sleep, compounded by an alien cat getting through the cat flap and a howling fight breaking out at 3.00 AM.  Nevertheless pp early with Lorraine and competed the first draft of my new horror story by about noon. Still tinkering with the title. I will put this aside now for a couple of days. Right now I like its stalkerish creepiness.

Then three small boxes of books arrived containing a few dozen copies of Magnificent Grace. I had been dreading the moment I opened it looked through a copy and found a howling formatting error or something. Luckily, I could find none and pronounce myself satisfied. There was something very satisfying about popping open a box of books and seeing this story finally realised in book form. Now there is the business of taking it into schools. Put out the standard box shot on social media, and had some nice attention -- even a couple of people saying they would buy it. Maintaining cautious optimism.

Off to the gym for a decent session, and after I popped into Anton's house I dropped off Klaudia's card for her birthday tomorrow.

Lorraine home early and we had a vegetable mash with sausages, and watched another episode of Wisting, and Good Omens, which Lorraine likes lots.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Sunshine day

Up early and carrying out a box of tools to Max's car as I saw Lorraine off for the day. She will be able to drive herself to school in a few weeks. Max has been great.

Off out for a walk a little before noon, wearing sunglasses as the sun was low and bright and I was walking due south to the sea. Listening to an improving self-help book on self esteem. Good to read these kinds of things from time to time, as they are full of common sense reminders. Reached the calm sea, and popped into the Sea Life centre again, and even had a cup of coffee while gazing at a big tank full of grey mullet, rays, dogfish, guilthead bream, and a large ballan wrasse. I figure if I go there a few times I shall have a brilliant idea.

Then a brief crunch about on the pebbles under the pier, and I walked home to continue my work having completed my 10k paces. Discovered Music For Installations today on Spotify by Eno. Mostly a collection of generative music, it includes the music from the installation at the Montefiore hospital in Hove I wrote about here. For me it was an excellent discovery of hours of perfect music to work and think to.

Pressing on with my short story, which is very me, whether this is a good thing or not remains to be seen. Working title: The True Confession of the Karma Chameleon. Set up a meeting with Andrew, a Business support advisor in Sussex at the Federation of Small Business mainly because he got in touch with me. He naturally will have some kind of angle, but it might be useful to flex local connections and learn more over a coffee. Wrote to the teacher at St Mark's school. Lorraine showed me a child's book recommendation at her school, which was for Magnificent Grace.

Felt good today, as I stayed well within my calorie allowance for the first time in a while.

A note from Richard today, with a picture of Jane's new book Barking Mad, of which she had shown me a few early chapters some time ago. So glad she continued with it. It is a book for that great pack of dog lovers, and people who like amusing travel stories. There is a potentially huge audience.

Below the snap Richard sent of Barking Mad (I think the illustration style works very well), the octopus at the Sea Life centre, and a snap under the pier, there almost seems to be a Union Jack buried in all those lines, and a Skelton Yawngrave meme based on my Mum's painting.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Not blue at all

Blue Monday was fine for me. Parts of the short story I have been working on fell nicely into place, when I joined two unsatisfactory things I had written before to make one satisfying whole. Busied myself with this and a few other bits of admin and emails, then to the gym this afternoon where I had a decent workout.

Lorraine home in good time and I had a chat with her before going out for a cheeky curry with Ben and Rick. Rick drove us to the Elizabethan Curry House and we had a nice meal there, then back to Rick's place (just around the corner from me) for a cup of tea. Ben had just been on a weekend course on divine geometry, looking at Persian patterns. It required drawing millions of circles and not going mad. He said it was quite stressful but he learned a lot. Rick I learned works voluntarily for Crimestoppers committee, and before his retirement was responsible for security for the region's Post Offices and Royal Mail. Talking about climate change and so on. 

Then home, refreshingly sober, early to bed with my lovely Lorraine.  

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Wolf fish

Lorraine and I now yearly ticket holders for the aquarium. As the yearly pass cost only £5 more than a single ticket, it seemed a bargain. I have visions of myself going there and sitting about off season.

We hopped on the bus and went there in good time today. I loved mooching about looking at the tanks of course, and Lorraine enjoyed herself too. There is a little cafe at the end of the Victorian arcade of tanks. The aquarium opened in 1872 and claims to be the oldest operating aquarium in the world. It has apparently the UK's largest collection of sharks and rays. Very happy to visit this  knowing that I will be able to return any time I feel like it.

Home again, and did Sunday things. Cooked some roast pork which was very nice. It was part of the collection of meats that Lorraine had bought before Christmas. We watched Call the midwife too, which is something of a Sunday ritual. I have grown to like this programme, which has a good heart which is a nice thing to be reminded of on Sunday night, and it reminds Lorraine of her former life as a ward sister.

Snapped these wolf fish all lying in a sociable pile at the bottom of the tank. They were great big things perhaps as long as a metre.


Saturday, January 18, 2020

Out monstering

Lorraine and I chatting in bed this morning, having tea and breakfast and discussing how we need to make more of the weekends again now that Lorraine is more on top of her weekends and has not worked on Sundays as standard any more. We resolved to go to the Sea Life Centre aquarium down by the pier today, and took photos of ourself so we could pick up passes. By the time we got there however, we were too late, as in January the last admittance is at 3 o'clock.

Instead we went for a stroll on the pier, and were rewarded with the sight of murmurations of starlings as the sun began to slide towards setting.

From there we made our way, via a brief stop at the Evening Star where some Brighton footie fans were just whetting their post match whistles after a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. We fell into conversation with one of them briefly before we set off up the hill for an evening with Anton and Ann and (intermittently) Oskar eating Anton's excellent pizzas.

Lovely time there as usual. Anton also added a sublime Polish cheesecake to his repertoire. Ate until popping point. Lorraine, who had been feeling tired all day, simply went home to bed, while Anton and I had an absolute bloody final or two in the Battle of Trafalgar, now reprieved after a local campaign from unwanted changes. I caught a cab home, as Lorraine had earlier, and fell into bed.

Below Lorraine and I at the end of the pier, the storm damaged groin by the pier, sunset with starlings (click on it to see the starlings better) and a jowly and less than flattering shot of me out-monstering  Frankenstein's monster.

Friday, January 17, 2020

An interlude of philosophical tranquility

Up to The British Library today to meet Mum. We went to see the Buddhism exhibition there, notable incidentally for being the first time I have paid less for a show due to being 60. I was early but Mum was too, so that was great. A perfect little exhibition in many ways. Lots of lovely stuff to look at, Buddhist texts on palm leaves, gorgeous illustrations explaining the Buddha's life and the cosmology of Buddhism. There were also sounds playing too, with cicada and frogs and natural sounds of water. There was also a large bowl to strike at the end, which people did which rang out in a lovely way. It made Mum think of her dad Alex for a while, who was born in India, used to tell her about Buddhism and other religions.

I have always been well disposed towards Buddhism, reading quite a bit about it from being a teenager, and going to a retreat with Sophie. Mum and I enjoyed this quite a bit, you came away reminded of kindness, which can only be a good thing.We had been relaxed by an interlude of calm, and talked about how the exhibition was an oasis of calm and sanity in a hurly-burly world.

Then to The Somers Town Coffee House, which is a relaxed pub where we were rewarded with a seat. It took an hour for the food to arrive, which gave us plenty of time to chat over drinks of Hobgoblin and Cider. Food average but inexpensive.

Feeling a bit wan and weird on the way home. But I had become a dehydrated, and by the time I reached Brighton had drunk enough water to feel okay again. I walked home, and Lorraine and I headed for the gold sofa.

Below Mum striking a singing bowl, a long illustration of aspects of the Buddha's life, and the detail of a tiger.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Do something else

Found myself struggling for concentration this morning, so bearing Brian Eno's advice of 'When in doubt -- tidy up' simply did stuff instead zoomed about tidying, doing laundry, taking stuff to the post office. Then decided to get a fresh perspective and have a cup of coffee there. Suddenly began to get my head around the mental block I had, (after the yummy mummies had taken a screeching child away) eagerly opened my yellow notebook and snatched up my blue inked fountain pen only for it to run out after a dozen words. Bah. Simply went home though and got on with the day, rejuvenated. Amazing how many times doing something else is the answer.

Off this evening to The Needlewriters in Lewes. I caught the train at London Road, where I sought out Sarah by prearrangement in the last carriage. She congratulated me on the publication of Sin Cycle, and we discussing her editorship of the works of Mary Barnard hopefully to be published by SUNY.

We headed to the John Harvey Tavern, just a stone's throw from the Harvey's brewery, where among the usual suspects were Charlotte, Janet and Jeremy, who was hosting tonight.  I had a pint of Old and Bitter, a mix of old ale and bitter and known unfairly by bar staff as the Mother-in-Law. Tonight's readers were Emily Elgar a novelist, Ian McEwan a poet, and Umi Sinha a novelist, and there was much to enjoy in their readings. Liked it very much when Umi, who read us a bit from the novel she is just completing read out a somewhat overwrought line, and burst into laughter at it saying she would probably have to cut it. I was enjoying her reading very much, and this humility just makes you like people more.

My pals here always make me feel better about this bizarre path of being an obscure writer. Great to  enjoy a cathartic moan and lots of laughs. Home on the train with Sarah, and I legged up the hill from London Road to home sweet home and to find Lorraine still up in bed and reading.

Below upstairs at the JHT in Lewes, the audience listening to Emily Elgar.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Quietly onwards

Started a new short story, this morning which I worked on most of the day.  No title as yet.

At lunch watched the remainder of a documentary in two parts about the Jonestown Massacres in Guyana. Over 900 dead followers of a madman called Jim Jones. Apparently the biggest loss of US civilians until 9/11.

On the way to the gym I chatted to a couple I met through Matt Pollard some time ago, Basil and, I think, Michael. Talking about poor Glen lots while standing near the newt pond in Preston Park. All very sad and I hadn't realised they were such friends with him. Glen had so many friends who were all willing to help.

The gym is full of students, so I feel like coelacanth, or some other living fossil. I had not taken my water bottle so was reduced to lapping water out of my cupped hand.

A quiet night in with Lorraine and Beth, watching the quiz show Only Connect, which Beth is exceptionally good at.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Nit picking

Rainy and cold all day. Outside seemed unspeakable, so stayed inside. Was able to re-edit the text layout of Magnificent Grace changing the paragraph indentation across the book, with various saves to Amazon, and assorted nitpicking took about nine hours, with a break for lunch, where I watched a documentary about the Jonestown Massacre. Beth working tonight, Lorraine and I cooked sea bass (why is it called sea bass? there are no freshwater bass in Europe).

Monday, January 13, 2020

Wanted: unrelenting drive and focus

Lorraine managed to do her own shoes up this morning, and go about business on her own. She is doing well. Horrible nightmares last night, waking up to feelings of obscure doom. Perhaps it was just that it was Monday. Or perhaps I am not writing enough horror at the moment to vent it all.

Stern focus and unrelenting drive somewhat elusive at present. I spent the morning tinkering with the layout of Magnificent Grace. Then I pressed save, and went to the gym. At the gym I realised I was a bit premature, and there was something else I wanted to fix. Will have to wait a bit before this can happen. A few bits of admin arranging visits to schools.

A quiet tea-sipping night indoors. Spoke to Mum and we agreed to meet up on Friday. All quiet on the freelance front at the moment, as it usually is this time of year.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Rock Cakes in the sunshine

After a kipper breakfast, Lorraine and I rode on the bus down to Hove Town Hall and walking back along the seafront to Brighton. A sunny day, quite warm in the sunshine. Just loving getting the sunshine on me after so much grey lately. The water was high and the pebbles seething when the waves pulled back. At the Meeting Place Cafe we stopped to have a cup of tea and two of their huge rock cakes sitting in the sun by the sea.

Then we toddled back into Brighton, and ended up having a coffee before bussing home. Made a giant turkey stew from the stock I had made from the Christmas Turkey, rather excellent. Started reading The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft. For his time, he was an innovative horror writer for the time, but his not even thinly veiled racism is vile and unacceptable. Reading while holding my nose.

Lorraine and I watching Call The Midwife tonight, L sad that the wrong uniforms are being worn by the nurses. The fathers of the babies are generally portrayed as nasty pieces of work in this show. It is a formula.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Proof positive, and 1917

A leisurely start today, with breakfast in bed. Up and found that the Proof copy of the paperback of Magnificent Grace had arrived. Generally pretty pleased with this when I had a look. A couple of issues I will try to fix. Actually having the thing in your hand makes it seem very real.

A certain amount of pottering about the house with an increasingly handy Lorraine before we took ourselves out for the afternoon and off to the Duke of York's picture house to buy a cup of tea and see the new Sam Mendes film 1917.  As harrowing as you would expect a depiction of trench warfare to be, but brilliantly done and filmed to make it seem it was one continuous shot. Probably the best war film I have seen. Lorraine loved it too, although it was a tough watch, saddening and extremely moving.

Walked home talking about the moving, and then had a very relaxed evening on the gold sofa.

A break in the clouds

A nice evening with Dawn and Beth. Lorraine home quite early and I collected a curry from Red Chillies and we had a bit of a spicy feast and a very talkative evening. Dawn plotting changes in 2020, and perhaps relocating.

After doing various bits and pieces of my own work this morning, walk up to Hollingbury Hillfort this afternoon after chatting with Sonia. I was armed with my proper camera and catching the sun bursting through the clouds and Rampion wind farm and the i360 from a distance.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Evening with the monsters

Another foggy damp day. Lorraine up and more independent now that her arm is no longer in the heavy cast. I had no urgent tasks and I had the luxury of doing some thinking, and catching up with a few blog posts, and fiddling about with some writing. An old pal Chris Amies got in touch via Instagram to say he had read and liked The Inheritor in Supernatural Tales.

Out with the so called Beer Monsters this evening, in our usual Evening Star haunt. Nick was there when I arrived, he is a mine of information about beer and brewing. We were soon joined by Steve and Richard, then two musician pals of Steve's discussing an upcoming Sumerian Kyngs gig. Later we were joined by Claudius, and who had with him a young rapper called Harrison who goes by the name of Aitch who I asked to find himself on Spotify for me as he was leaving. He was a nice guy and very talented. Later we were joined by Monty Oxymoron currently keyboard player with The Damned. When I grow up I want to be a wikipedia page too.

Drinking a strange dark pale ale, rather nice.

An interesting night with interesting people, all of whom apart from young Harrison knew my old pal Paul aka Dr Spacetoad.  Walked home, pausing only to eat half a bagful of chips. My diet is not going well. I had Ryvita and humous when I got home too.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Gull in goal

Up slightly later, and Beth drove Lorraine was off to the fracture clinic. Turns out the doctor she saw there was a parent of a child at school. Good news, however, the break was very clean and Lorraine now has a wrist support rather than a sling, and has been told she can do light things, such as a bit of typing, with the hand. Getting the cast off was good, and prevents L having to probe with pokey things under the plaster when she felt an itch.

Meanwhile at least another hour spent in a futile search for my Harry Potterish lost spectacles. I have now spent four or five entire hours ransacking the house from room to room in search of the bastard things, which I still believe must be in the house.

Made a bean jar today, but somehow it wasn't right. Slightly too much carrot, and an hour undercooked in its slow cooking process, nor did I add real chicken stock. Worst of all, as I had no fresh parsley, I experimented with coriander. It transpires that coriander in a bean jar is an abomination. It is just not a bean jar with coriander in it, but L gamely got it down and said it was nice.

When I wasn't going downstairs to annoy a working from home Lorraine, I spent most of the day preparing the MS of Magnificent Grace for print. A repetitive and nit picking day, interspersed with longueurs as the amended MS was uploaded and processed by Amazon. By evening and the wonders of tricknology a proof copy was on its way and should arrive this weekend. I need to have printed copies as I have three school visits lined up.

Foggy again up here in Kenny Towers, although when I went downhill to the gym it lessened somewhat. Took some snaps in the park, but a spot of water on the lens ruined most of the shots. Arrived at the gym I have been using in London Road and was denied access, as it wasn't my home designated gym (which is a bit further down the road). It had let me in for the last five months so I thought it would have grown resigned to the matter. I keyed in my number four times, and was sent four 'computer says no' texts and emails after. I tried a fifth time and gained entry, so I bite my thumb at the computer and am none the wiser. Did my usual workout, and was pretty tired by the end of it.

L and I watched the last Dracula episode tonight, a decent mini-series, quite camp and playful.

Below fog and greyness abounding in Preston Park, and a seagull playing in goal.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Anne is 80

Up early, and getting Lorraine off to school. Two more hours searching for my Harry Potterish new glasses. Took to facebook to moan about their disappearance, Rosie suggested I should use strings to keep them on me. The majority of the day fiddling with the book layout for Magnificent Grace, which absorbed a good deal of patience.

Decided on a quick walk, and took my camera to photograph the fog that settled on Brighton in the afternoon, but its battery was flat. I took one snap on my phone of misty Blaker's Park.

The evening Lorraine, again home at six which is very early for her, we cabbed off to Anton's house where Anne was having a little gathering for her 80th. Anton unexpectedly had to work in London today. Anna there however to help, which was kind. Both bairns there too being excellent. Good to see Klaudia who we'd not seen over the festive period, now recovered from tonsillitis. Oskar now clearly taller than his sister. I expect he will be looking down on the area of concern soon.

Anne in good spirits and looking sparkly, with her pals Nina and Gerry there as well as Sam and Martin, who I'd not seen for a while. Sam said their son is now my size and quite the renaissance boy being an excellent sportsman, gifted at maths and sciences and interested in drama and music.

A cheery evening, and nice to catch up with everyone. I liked Gerry and Nina. Anne had known Nina from her days in Mexico, and Gerry is a more recent friend, who has a lively outspokenness about her.

Below Blaker's Park taking a bit of a gothic turn this afternoon, Oskar and Klaudia; Nina, Gerry and Anne.

Monday, January 06, 2020

First Monday

The first Monday of the year, and Lorraine collected by one of her colleagues Max, and driven off to school. I felt strangely anxious first thing, but having wrote a list of things to be done this week, managed to carve through them all by 11 o'clock.  Paid my accountant, billed an agency, rearranged a school visit and made the decision to go with Amazon for the production of the paperback of Magnificent Grace, as there is less risk and initial outlay. Preparing the manuscript again.

Also took myself off to the gym for the great atonement, I am much less fat than I was this time last year though which is pleasing. A throng of new year newbies being shown around. Beth also back to her gym the last couple of days.  Spoke to Anton, to Mum about the financial advantages of being 60, and to Dawn about going into school among other things. Lorraine was home from work at an unprecedented 5 pm. Managed to eat chocolate and a shoal of lebkuchen so the diet part of it not being Christmas hasn't asserted itself yet.

My new slightly Harry Potterish spectacles have disappeared. Spent some time hunting them to no avail. The capacity material objects have to simply disappear is underestimated.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Twelfth Night

Decorations all packed away in the cardboard box marked Christmas for another year. After Lorraine and I took off its decorations, I dragged the tree down to the Christmas tree graveyard in Preston Park, following the trail of needles. Noticeably fewer this year than a couple of years ago. Our tree barely shed at all, and it seems few others had done so too. Must be the species on sale around these parts this year. Caught up with a bit of correspondence, and wrote to Sarah Barnsley who had sent me a note of congratulation about Sin Cycle, and a long overdue note to Joan in Deviation Road.

Otherwise a final day of mooching about. Seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time on laundry, tidying the decorations away and washing up. All cooked a roast chicken with many vegetables this evening, and ate it watching episodes of the brainiac quiz show Only Connect which Beth is very good at. Drank some wine, as it was Sunday night, and next week is a school week.

Began clipping Calliope's claws which seem to have got too long, as she is mostly an indoor cat now. Watched various vet's videos on YouTube, some of which suggested wrapping your pet in a towel etc. Calliope simply submitted to it without demur.

So, farewell to Christmas. Joan sent me this photo of Dick as Santa. He was born for the job.  Here he is with a bairn and two collies. Dick also sweated buckets in his suit. Must be an occupational hazard.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Enjoyable indolence

Another glorious day of doing little after Lorraine and I had got up showered, an affair using gaffer tape and plastic bags to keep L's plaster out of the water and us both in the shower at the same time to help wash her hair.

I mostly caught up with this blog and also posted something on my Notebook blog about Sin Cycle and cooked a vegetarian chilli which was rather nice. Lorraine braved a spot of work, and wrote her thank you cards to the children, who had showered her with gifts at the end of last year. Otherwise, we enjoyed a passage of indolence interspersed with the Norwegian Wisting detective series which featured skeletons at the bottoms of wells, which was rather fun.

The house immediately below us down the hill has had a extension just added to the roof. When washing up today I glanced out at the back garden and saw the lower half of a naked man striding about by the window. An unexpected eyeful. Lorraine and I debated what to do about this. Perhaps he hasn't finished decorating.

Trying to stay in a Christmassy bubble, trying to avoid news of fire-ravaged Australia, global climate catastrophe, Trump's morally impoverished warmongering with Iran, the appalling prospect of Brexit this year and so on for this weekend at least.  

Friday, January 03, 2020

Beatling about

Up comparatively early, and had breakfast before Jade and Sam had to set off. Funny to see Beth driving them off to the Station as we waved them off. I was sorry to see them go, and it was a pleasure to have had them stay. Texted Sîan today with the pics I took yesterday with Jade and Lorraine.

Then an amount of tidying up and stripping of beds and laundry and so on. Lorraine and I mooched through Preston Park into town, where I had a haircut. Home again, and then the launderette.

After this I fancied going into standby mode for a bit, so we watched the first episode of the new Dracula series on BBC, and saw A Hard Day's Night by the Beatles. Surprised by how chippy the dialogue was. Wilfred Bramble, Pa Steptoe of the ancient series was in it, and was a bit of a cantankerous Samuel Beckett character. Lorraine and I cooked a huge vegetable soup tonight, and lapped it up.

The music was good though.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

A seaside stroll

Feeling a tad less liverish this morning, having managed to drink nothing yesterday. Beth off to work today. Sam, Jade, Lorraine and I bussed into town this afternoon, and sat downstairs due to the arm. Sam got off to meet one of his pals Lee and the rest of us continued to Hove Town Hall where we walked past Janet and Ken's old place down to the sea. Cool and a bracing breeze here, and lots of seagulls gliding on the current. A slow amble back into town having a good heart to heart with Jade. Just nice to be out in the fresh air.

Shared the news about Sin Cycle on social media, lovely response from some folks. Feeling cheery about this as a start to the year.

Then into The Basketmakers (the family pub) where we found a table, and were soon joined by Sam and Lee. Lee a good old pal of Sam's who proved to be a talkative and cheery soul, who surprised me by remembering that we had met once many years ago. He was interested in logic and mathematics, and  is considering launching into the brewing side of the catering business. We had a cheery session in the Basketmakers. Beth came by in the car after she finished work, and collected Jade, Lorraine and I. Home and the women all sat down to complete a puzzle together. I sat with them sharing my opinions on things in a free way, and then later spilling cream on the table when I brought up some pudding after Betty had cooked us a stir fry.

Below Jade and Lorraine by the January sea; gulls and remnants of the huge amount of pebbles that were washed over in rough seas lately (a regular winter scene). Jade and Lorraine puzzling. Beth out of shot at her own request. Sam home just after we went to bed.