Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sad news from Carl and trouble in London

Dry toast this morning, and feeling queasy and tired.  Lorraine drove me down to the station.  The train broke down half in and half out of Blackfriars station, something wrong with the doors or brakes or something. Amazing how long it takes for a train to empty out when only one set of doors is open. More than twenty minutes. Almost half an hour late to work, walking there in the rain.

A strange day, with the most excruciatingly badly organised teleconference with people in New York that I have ever been a party to. Managed to leave early, however after missing the early train. The sound of a helicopters outside. As this afternoon a lone madman had driven into people crossing Westminster Bridge, and killed a policeman just inside the houses of Parliament. He was shot dead.  Now I'm writing this at the end of the day, it seems that five people are dead and 40 were injured. Dreadful stuff.

The next train was cancelled. I took another train but this was delayed blah, blah. Another poor journey. But looked over towards Westminster and ironically there was a beautiful sky, with deep pink clouds.

I talked to Carl, after he texted me saying his brother Rory has died. Rory was Carl's older half brother, who I knew as a lad, but I hadn't spoken to him since my early twenties. Carl a bit numb, but as is often the way, he had some mixed feelings about Rory. By coincidence a tough day for his business too, so not the best of times for Carl. Good to talk to him though.

Home and thinking about bed quite quickly. However feeling noticeably better than I was at the same time yesterday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Slightly unbearable

Up at six this morning, and feeling perky. Made porridge and tea, Lorraine kindly drove me to the station and off to London. Doing some work on the train. When I finished doing this, I realised I was feeling nauseous. Luckily I was sitting by the toilet, so felt reassured that if I needed to spew there was somewhere to do it. Into work, and felt sick all morning, struggling on with the brief with Keith, who was also under the weather.

The briefest of pop out to the local pret a manger for a roll then back to it. A lengthy presentation, in which I didn't do too well, to round the day off. Feeling hot and sweaty today. Still, I have been offered another week's work there after this one, which is a boon.

Heard from Carl today, that Rory, his brother, is seriously ill. I told him about Gerald.

Home, passing several armed police inside St Pancras Station. Did some work on the train for my French friends. Luckily Lorraine collected me as she had been late at school due to a parent's meeting. Home, speaking to Laura who was in her car. She and Beth had been out hunting pokemon, and found a pokemon gym apparently. I don't know what this means, but I think it is good.

Lorraine cooked a very fast stir fry and we went to bed very early.

Menaced by a stuffed bear on a slightly unbearable day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New boy

Up with Lorraine today, and off to St Pancras today to work at an agency around the corner from the one I normally work at. Chaotic place, and feeling like a new boy, as I'd never worked there. Luckily I am partnered with Keith who has been there for a couple of days. No seats, their wifi is dreadful for 'guests' such as ourselves, a dire brief and Keith already flinty about the eyes. Still, good to see him. Popped out to get some sushi at lunch from the nearby supermarket which has a Japanese staffed sushi bento type lunchtime service there. Worked for the rest of the day of the crap brief, and left shortly after six. Home by 8:20 and when i got there Dawn and Lorraine were sitting opposite Betty, who was filming herself for an audition for a job in New York.

Chatted to Dawn afterwards, who has lost her mother recently and is trying to get everything sorted with her family. Nice to see her.

Lorraine and I off to bed, not needing to be rocked to sleep tonight.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A day of rest

Traditional late start for Sunday. Did a bit of work, and spoke to Mum to arrange seeing her on Wednesday. Lorraine and I took things out of the dungeon to go to the tip, got a shopping delivery, and Lorraine did lots of cooking.  I read more of Noughts & Crosses. We watched the final of the Big Painting Challenge. I girded my mental loins for a week of work in London. An early night.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thai Sapphire

A late morning, although I got up to take my lovely wife some breakfast in bed, which included walking down to the shop to buy the requisite chewy brown loaf. Then went to Brewers to choose paint for our front door. We chose a colour called Thai Sapphire, which is a blue with a hint of red, which I hope will vibrate nicely with the orange brick, or so I told the woman in the paint shop. I felt a bit middle class immediately afterwards. Then off to see Janet and Ken for possibly the last time in their Powis Grove house, as their move is imminent. After cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, Janet gave us a nice chair to take away too, which was very kind of her.

Then home, where I simply slept on the sofa for a bit, before we went out again with Betty off into Hove to have a curry with Rosie and Innis, after a single drink in The Wick Inn. I enjoy chatting to Innis a great deal about music and art and so on. Rosie about to go to Rio, and will take Innis with her as her personal photographer. A nice enough curry afterwards and a bus home.

Friday, March 17, 2017

An interlude with Bob

Up early doing some writing, then dealing with the door people who rehung the door and fixed the problem. Then down to Preston Park and off to Trafalgar Square where I watched people scrabbling about between the paws of Landseer Lions at the Base of Nelson's Column and being unenthusiastically controlled by people with whistles. Some folks wandering around with St Patrick's day Irish tricolour hats and so on, young women with shamrocks on their cheeks.

Bob had been a bit delayed, and arrived saying he had vision problems and chest tightness. After a quick triage it seemed that it was a migraine, and that he had been rowing this morning on his rowing machine. He bought some migraine pills and we found a cafe. However as we walked in, the Italian bloke inside was weirdly rude, and so Bob turned on his heel, to the denunciations of Italians as we left. I helpfully reminded him that he was a cazzo as we left. Thence across the road for a drink and a sandwich. These seemed to have therapeutic efficacy upon Bob. We then went for a drink. The coke helped Bob, and the pint certainly helped me.

Then to the National again, having been there last week with Lorraine. Went to see the Australian Impressionists exhibition, which was wee and quite interesting, and interesting for me to compare to the Canadian plein air painters. Enjoyed mooching about in the National, and Bob and we found a fascinating painting by Salvator Rosa called Witches at their Incantations.

Thankfully Bob sufficiently recovered at this point to go on something of  a pub-crawl through some of the most characterful pubs in London, we popped in at The Seven Stars, The Princess Louise, and the Cittie of York from where we loped off to find a Chinese restaurant, which was surprisingly good. A cheery evening, and something Bob and I have done periodically for years now. Long may it continue.

Fond farewells with Bob at Charing Cross, and we got the tube, and made our various ways home.

Below A detail from Witches at their Incantations I snapped at the National, by Salvator Rosa (1615-1673). Particularly liked the wax doll with pins being shown to a mirror. The Princess Louise, one of the many splendid pubs we stopped at. This one a grand old gin palace, with lots of compartments. Miraculously this photo of the bar area makes it seem empty, it was in fact rather rammed.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

In and out of the fog

A good morning's writing, although Lorraine called me on the way to work saying Dawn's mum had died. I texted Dawn for both of us while Lorraine was driving. It had not been a surprise, and she had family all around her when she went at home.

Personally, I was feeling clearer in the head today. I have been in a bit of a mental fog all week due to Gerald's death and Andy's death and beginning to get twitchy about money. But a week's work has arrived for next week, thanks to my pal Keith, which offers welcome boost to the Kenny coffers, and with a new client to boot.

Then off to the gym, also much needed after being locked indoors for the last two days. Walked down with Betty who was also off to her gym for a frenzied personal trainer workout. We left in sunshine, Betty in shades, and by the time we reached Preston Circus we had walked into the cold sea fog which was covering most of the City and crept back to cover the whole town later. I've never known a  winter here with so much fog and mist.

I then went to buy five lots of keys for the new door. And was educated on the types and varieties of keys, and the new non-standard keys coming from China. Then to the gym a quick 35 minute workout then I undid all my good work by going to visit Janet and Ken and sharing eccles cakes and other fancies I'd bought en route. Janet cheery as they move in two weeks. Ken looking well and had recently been on a long uphill walk, a feat only to be encouraged by after recent events.

Home and did a bit more writing in the evening, on poems this time, and filled in a couple of freelancer forms for the place I am working at.

A long and difficult week for Lorraine this week. I cooked and then made the mistake of trying the new keys in the door. The keys are all find, but the deadlock does not line up with the hole in the door frame. A schoolboy error, which made me feel cheesed off, on what had (Dawn's mum aside) been a better day.

To bed early.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Door day

No hangover this morning, which was just as well as a man called Alan came to replace our front door and the door frame, so the day was full of drilling, banging, and machining of various types, especially when he was joined by a mate later. Despite this, I had a good writing day, though was unable to escape for any kind of a walk. Spoke to Mum till the drilling got too bad.  Was phoned for a job that I couldn't take, which was a bit galling.

A nice evening with Lorraine and Betty listening to music and chatting. I heard a Good Reads Podcast where someone chose a book by Julian Cope, the leader of The Teardrop Explodes, and it sounded excellent. I read a few pages of it on Amazon and have ordered it. Listening to post-punk music today such as Talking Heads and The Teardrop Explodes and Joy Division, which is not my usual auditory lurking ground but quite fun for a change.

Our front door and frame being taken apart.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A slow worm's belly

Slightly sadder and wiser this morning. Drinking lots on a school In other words, a hangover. However sat with Beth as we sent off our registration for Edinburgh. So with a venue booked, and registration made, we are committed.

My productivity today lower than a slow worm's belly. But I hope for better tomorrow. Lorraine and I enjoyed watching The Big Painting Challenge, in the evening. Amateur artists challenged to produce pictures of ballet dancers. I like the way the painting process is shown, and the tips from the experts. It is making me want to do some daubing myself. An early and highly sensible night.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Out with mates

After recent events, finding it hard to concentrate today, and so found myself doing things like ironing and laundry instead of pressing on with the story. In the afternoon I took myself to get a haircut and go to the gym, and this was helpful and found myself much clearer headed than before. 

Went out at 5:30 to meet Glen and Richard in the Evening Star. Glen fresh off the plane and looking cheerful and well. An enjoyable chat with them, and arranging to meet up again soon. Richard had been over to Greece recently and had played with Glen doing his Shakespeare Heptet material. Steve unable to come because of a leg injury he got while putting the clay pigeon ejector away at his shooting club, which sounded ouchy.

I walked down past the Brighton Tavern only to find Matt standing outside having a cigarette. So I simply joined Matt and Reuben for a drink. Great to see them. A very sociable evening, although drinking on a school night possibly not the most sensible thing, I felt it did me good to get out and see some mates.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gerald dies

A note from Mum this morning to say that Gerald had died. Spoke to Mum about it. She had spent some time today with the Emin Society, her brother Alex used to visit for some discussion about meditation. Spoke also to Toby, walking along the street with Romy, both wrapped against the unseasonal -20 cold. Everyone pleased Gerald had moved on from a deteriorating health condition he would have hated. I felt glad too that he wasn't suffering any more, of course. For me his death is being processed at a deep level, and obviously I felt sad too.

Spent a day at home today. Played a game of Scrabble with Lorraine, and we organised accommodation for Matty boy and Isy's wedding in the summer. It will be a tent, albeit a very comfortable one. Also Lorraine sorted out accommodation for Edinburgh also in August. Chatting to Betty about it, as there are unknown bits and we may have to recast the show because of Dylan having a long rep run. It's all unknown territory, and a bit scary for Beth. But fortune favours the brave, especially when we have Lorraine's full support too.

Spoke to Janet this evening. Her house move is dragging as these things do.

At the end of the day, I discovered that a four  of my short squibbish poems have now been uploaded onto this US site called The Basil O'Flaherty.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

To London for culture and Katie

Lorraine and I had an afternoon zoom up to London today, by way of doing something cheery. We went to The National Gallery and then into the Portrait Gallery. Just a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. Gallery behaviour so different these days, and it does make me feel like an old curmudgeon.

I'd not been to the National for years. People walk up to deathless masterpieces of art, take a photo of it on their crap phones and wander off without giving it a second glance, or perhaps take a selfie with themselves in it with Van Gough's Sunflowers over their shoulder. The fact that you can download better images of the pictures from the internet. Anyway. Lorraine and I found ourselves sitting down near the Constables, and we looked at these over familiar images for some time. I've not really looked deeply at them since I was a child, as my tastes have moved on somewhat. But they really are astounding in lots of ways.

Great to see the picture of Moulin Huet too by Renoir. Also extraordinary is the picture by Joseph Wright of Derby of An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump of 1768. In it a white cockatoo is being suffocated in a bell jar as a demonstration of the effects of a vacuum.

Left the National, just as a feminist march against male violence was culminating in Trafalgar Square. A lively scene, and I was interested by how they were going to go about this, beyond the slogans. I think it is a radical idea.

Thence to have a sandwich and a cup of tea, in Pret a Manger, before popping briefly into the Portrait Gallery.

Then we strolled down to Embankment and made our way to the Bag O Nails pub to meet First Matie. Katie and I have used this pub as a place of emergency drinks in the past, to discuss life important life events at critical times. Great to see her, in a non-smoking very healthy and cheery looking Kate. Lots to discuss, including her gradual moving into a new home in the Forest of Dean. It had been too long. A few drinks there then fond farewells to Katie, who was heading back to West London, and Lorraine and I scored a couple of guilty chicken burgers and measly fries to eat on the train back to Brighton.

Found ourselves falling into a conversation with a father and son from Jersey, who were Arsenal fans, proving two wrongs don't make a right.

Home at a good time and lay on the gold sofa sipping sparkling waters.

Obviously I took an idiotic shot of the Renoir too. Lorraine standing by a statue for nurses, not wearing a pigeon on her head fortunately. And the scene at Trafalgar Square, with a floating Yoda and many protestors and David Shrigley's giant Thumbs Up statue, which makes me think of Dr Seuss for some reason.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Andy's funeral

Another misty day. Lorraine dropped me off at Preston Park Station this morning and I went to Gatwick where I met Pat and Barney having gone through security. Off this morning to Newquay to go to Andy Wilson's funeral. Met Pat's second cousin Liz who was with some others who had worked with Andy at a different agency.

I got lucky with the seating and had two seats to myself, on the Flybe, and sat by the window. A blanket of cloud broke up a bit over the North Cornwall coast and I could see the beaches of the rugged coast before we landed. The airport smaller than Guernsey and with no luggage we were all through in no time, and into an eight person cab, which hared us off through more mis to the crematorium on the outskirts of Truro, we were slightly late but crept in nevertheless. Andy's coffin there.

A misty day here too, and I was interested to see some of the countryside as I had never been to this part of England before.

Then, standing about outside, Barney, Pat and I were given a lift by Lloyd, a cornish copywriter who had also worked with Andy. We drove off to a lovely church on the outskirts of Newquay called St Columb Minor Parish Church where there was a remembrance for Andy. The vicar who had been at the crematorium clearly knew Andy, who he called Drew, well. We were asked to write messages to Andy, and I wrote one about laughing in a bucket, as Andy had told me that to make a party a success I had to get a bucket. He demonstrated in the office with a metal desk bin and laughed hollowly into it, and invited me to follow suit. It worked a treat.

Andy was my art director for about a year, and when you work in a two person team like this spending all hours together, it is fast way to get to know someone really well. He was a genuinely lovely man whose life span out of control.

The saddest part was a film shown with clips of Andy talking and laughing and messing about with cameras, which brought a tear to my eye. His uncle and brother and former partner Ali all spoke too, and nobody glossed over his terrible last few years battling alcoholism. But everyone was reminded what a sweet, handsome and talented man Andy was. His and Ali's children are teenagers, and I remember seeing them as toddlers.

Then off to the Bristol hotel, high on the seafront for a reception. A few Cornish Doom Bar, and sandwiches and several big platters of Cornish pasties. Nice to hang out with Pat and Barney. The three of us broke off for a seafront walk for 45 minutes. On the way back we bumped into Andy's uncle who asked us if Andy was any good at his job. We were able to reassure him that he most certainly was. When we went back to the hotel the party had thinned, and I sat with Andy's Mum and his brother Patrick and his wife (who live in Singapore) and cousin for half an hour or so chatting. Nice to share this time with them. Andy's mum invited me to stay with her if ever I find myself down this way, which was very kind of her.

Then a taxi back to the airport, and a fast journey home. Walking up from Preston Park I called Mum, to hear that Gerald was still holding on.

Met Lorraine in the Park View where I had another Doom Bar and we had a quick bite to eat. Home and happy to be with Lorraine, after a sad day, that I am pleased I was part of.

Below the the photo that was used for the service of Andy. A beautiful man with a beautiful soul. Some snaps from the plane, over the River Camel, along the north Cornwall coast towards Newquay, and coming into Newquay airport from the Celtic sea and three uninspired snaps of Newquay.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Gerald seriously ill

Worked this morning on the novel, then learned that next week's work in London had been cancelled, for the second week in a row. Quite keen now to earn some money. I went into town to the gym,  and was walking to see Helen for an afternoon working on the Centaur project.  

As I left the gym Toby messaged me, and told me that Gerald had been given 24 hours to live. Gerald is our stepfather, who I have been estranged from for many years. Toby has had a much closer relationship with him, and Mum has seen Gerald lately and made her peace. He has not been well lately, and all who are close to him are hoping that it is over soon.  Stopped for a coffee on the way to Helen's to digest this information. Obviously I wish his suffering to me brief, and his death to be as easy as possible. 

Then off to Helen where she played me the new section of the opera on her sibelius software, and then played a section which is a bit of a lament, on piano which was utterly gorgeous.

A bus home and a chat with Mum, who had gone to see Gerald, but who was not conscious. She had seen him recently however. 

Cooked and Lorraine and I had a quiet evening. I got ready for Andy's funeral tomorrow in Cornwall.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Rainy day

Wednesday raining all day, and I simply worked like a dog on the novel, making some strong progress. I also sorted out some ISBN biz for Mr Fleming's new collection.  Messaged Toby, Romy is having an eye operation today after her torn retina. Otherwise, little to report.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In the groove

Groundhog day, but in a good way. I'm in a productive groove from first thing to breaking off after six hours to walk for almost two. Did so without a jacket or a coat, as it was a lovely fresh but not cold day.  Beth, who was home today, and I then started filling in forms for Edinburgh registration. Or at least Beth did lots of it because she is competent and has more patience, and I sat in a chair  umming and ahing. We still don't know if Dylan can work with us in the summer as he may have an exciting new offer. Spoke to Mum who had a nice weekend, seeing some of their pals.

Working through my backlog of things, conscious that I will be losing Friday to go to Cornwall.

Really grateful to have this time to work and walk. It is paying off, although it feels more mentally draining than my usual work. With the exercise I am going to bed physically and mentally tired. Kenny coffers playing on my mind a bit, but I have some work pencilled in for next week up in Tavistock Square, which will be really helpful if it comes through.

Thinking about Romy today who is having an eye operation this week.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Fleas, pigs and lost time

Started early, after Lorraine had brought me some tea in bed. Cleaned catsick off the floor, did laundry and discovered this morning that something had bitten me about a dozen times around my knee. I suspect a knee flea. De-fleaed the cats later. Calliope calm about it, Brian acting as if we were trying to murder him.

Started work for my French friends about pigs, which only took an hour and so wasn't much of a swine. Then writing a long to do list, and as other mooted work did not appear, I was able to happily begin work on the children's novel at nine.  

I broke off  to go to the gym, where I had a good workout but managed to drop my watch while getting changed. It landed perfectly face down on a hard surface and the second hand broke and some of the numerals fell off too. Second hand and three ones sliding about over the watch face.

Home, and worked on for a while, then did cooking. Lorraine tired from work. Me also tired. Another Monday.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

A cozy afternoon

Up, in a creaky way after gym work and spadework, and Lorraine assembled a bread and butter pudding and we drove off to Steyning. Stopped in the Sussex Produce Shop to buy Dawn some flowers, and eye the wealth of pies they have there, before spending the afternoon with Dawn, changeable weather outside, and us all cozy in her front room with flames dancing in her wood burning stove, with her view out the back across the village green to the Downs. She cooked us a lovely salmon in pastry dish from a Jamie recipe, and then I engulfed some bread and butter pudding (which as eny fule kno is one of the allowable puddings) made by my wife's own fair hand. Dawn said she would be happy to read my book when it was done, and perhaps give it to some of the better readers at school. I did take earlier versions into Downs school, thanks to Dawn, and the Children's feedback was incredibly useful.

Fond farewells with Dawn, then home, where I did some of my list of overdue things, and Lorraine prepared an assembly about telling the truth. Then it was the haven of Sunday night TV, and the Call The Midwife show that Lorraine loves, because it is about nurses in London. The birth scenes all too convincing for my liking. Then SS:GB also on BBC1, which is set in a Nazi occupied London. I do enjoy a spot of alternate history, and this isn't bad. Although as my friend Marilyn mentioned on Facebook, if you want to know what the UK looked like under Nazi rule, they did it in the Channel Islands.

Saturday, March 04, 2017


Up early this morning, I went off to buy some bread and took up tea and bacon and egg sarnies to my lovely wife, before we got up and drove off to her school. A team of parents and other volunteers were assembling to lay paths of rubber chippings, made from shredded car tyres. I found myself shovelling for well over an hour. I left off for a while only to return and find four children happily shovelling it all back into the sacks again. Once the ground was prepped, by pulling out a forest of tiny sycamore shoots, it all went quite smoothly with an ant-like processions of people with wheelbarrows. Once the paths were laid, a few other jobs were done and the school was made safe, Lorraine (who had to lock up naturally) and I crossed the road to The Eight Bells village pub, and had a couple of drinks with some of the parents, which was fairly cheery. We were standing in the garden, and the sun even made an appearance.

Then home for a late lunch round of cheese on toast, and then I simply fell asleep on the gold sofa, feeling like I had done another workout, and laid low for the rest of the day. Watched a film called 45 Years, with Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay, which was sad, but quietly brilliant too.

Friday, March 03, 2017

A quiet breakthrough

Worked out at last how to replace a section towards the end of my story, with a much better bit. Although hard to explain to anyone else,  for me this was a big step forward and I felt a cheeriness about it. Spoke to Mum, did some billing,  and chatted to Sonia about going to the gym.

The gym curiously empty, and I felt good for trundling in there.  Sumo'd it in the showers there too, ad I had cunningly brought more clothes. Afterwards I sat in the ideologically unsound Starbucks and did some excellent work on a few new scenes for the book. Also there was some news from my French friends, and the work I was doing for them recently on a pitch was won, so I'm still big and clever. Other bits of freelance being dangled around. Then a pacy walk home, feeling strangely full of manly vigour, just in time for Lorraine to arrive, sneezing with early hay fever, and we slid off to the Preston Park Tavern for a quick bite to eat, before sliding back to the attractions of the gold sofa.