Thursday, May 28, 2020


A few bits and pieces of my own, before working through the afternoon for the agency. Off this evening for a walk around to Anton's house. I sat in his front garden under the magnolia tree, and Anton sat on his stairs and we had a few beers. First time we had seen each other in months. We didn't get near each other, but it was much better than a beer over zoom. We were sitting outside as the applause for the NHS started and we joined in. All in all it was lovely to see him.

Johnson's riskily quick easing of the lockdown continues. It is too soon. Our numbers far higher than other countries who have begun to relax the restrictions. You have to look at Johnson and ask does this man have the best interests of his country at heart? He does not.

Walked home, after having a discreet wee in a drain outside Anton's house. The park much less busy.  now. Home and I ate some chicken wraps and Lorraine and I happily watched a couple of episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine before bed.

Crossing Preston Park this evening. Lots and lots of people in the sun. First time I had been in this park for a long time. It was crowded with people, but all socially distanced as far as I could see.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Bits and pieces

Insubstantial bits and pieces of work coming my way, and spent much of the day waiting for work to arrive, and when it did it was in paltry amounts -- so what I can bill for today is minimal.  I wandered out for a couple of walks in Blakers Park.

The government is a shambles at the moment. Even the right wing press are calling for the dead of Dominic Cummings. But it stays resolutely on his shoulders for without him, Johnson is an empty sock puppet. Expecting this shower to lead us out of the coronavirus crisis with any efficiency is like asking a dog to sing Wagner. In better news, they are clear in Guernsey now.

In the afternoon I risked a longer walk, listening to Carrying the Fire, which has patches of being really fascinating. He is prepared to be vulnerable too, talking about how claustrophobic and freaked out space suits made him feel to begin with, but he couldn't talk to anyone about it for fear of being booted off the team. 

Spoke to Mum today too. Salty is still missing, and not knowing its fate really horrible. Ben was going to check his CCTV footage to see if there was any sign of anything untoward. Mum has some dark suspicions about non-cat loving neighbours.

On my return picked up another very small job about promoting nature in back gardens, which was fun. Enjoyed zooming with Slug and Emma, a pleasant account person.

Once this all done, Lorraine home too, and Beth sunning herself in the back garden with a book and a hand-held electric fan. It was really hot and I went out to buy some cold beers. We had these with dinner outside. Lorraine streaming with hay fever this evening, and went to bed early. Beth and I stayed up chatting, and having a few more drinks. 

Below a different view from the golf course up towards Hollingbury hill fort. A beautiful day, and with this heatwave, the grass turning straw-like in places.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Trug life

Working in concentrated burst on the Coronavirus stuff from early till just gone 5, whereupon I slunk out into the back garden where Lorraine was happily doing a cross stitch embroidery and listening to an audiobook. She and Beth had a distanced chat with Innis and Rosie, and had driven past a place in Hove where Betty is hoping to move in with two pals in the Summer. She is excited at the prospect, but trying hard not to get too excited until it's in the bag.

I took a couple of strolls around Blaker's Park just to have a bit of exercise in short breaks during the day. A few messages with the Tobster, having a coffee outside his cafe in Toronto. Listening to Carrying the Fire. Lorraine and I watched the last few Episodes of Afterlife. This Ricky Gervais series is almost unbearably sad, but quite funny in places too. Lorraine and I watched it together, L crying lots, but liking it.

Here is a picture of our trug. The salad greens on the right are all we have eaten so far. They are delicious freshly picked. There are carrots growing, and more greens, and beetroots.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Pebbles and flowers

Bank holiday Monday... very hot too. I was feeling a bit unsettled, and spent the day doing Freelance work about coronavirus in kids.

This I interspersed with trimming an ivy hedge, and after work watering the garden and  going with Lorraine down to the Sainsbury's local to collect some Argos stuff, over the counter.  I lurked about outside as you can only go in singly. A distanced queue outside. Young people cavorting about the place.

The vile wormtongue Dominic Cummings in the news today, apparently immune to the sack and refusing to resign as Prime Minister's special adviser. Even some of the right wing press fulminating against him for breaking all the lockdown rules, driving up to Durham from London while he and his wife were infected, and going out for day trips and so on. Folks who were not allowed to visit dying relatives and so on, justifiably incensed. He gave an unapologetic press conference in a garden. It seems he is the real power in the land. When was the last time an adviser was given a press conference because they were the story?

Lovely salad dinner outside with Lorraine. Lorraine and Beth starting up a sourdough 'mother' in the fridge.

Below our pebbles and flowers in our garden.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Salty AWOL

Salty still awol from Mum's. Spoke to Mum a couple of times, and they have organised a campaign of posters and so. Very unlike Salty not to return.

Otherwise I took a walk in the afternoon, listening to my astronaut book -- and counting my blessings.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

End of the story

A leisurely start to the day, then I uploaded the final episode of Magnificent Grace to SYTV. A lovely note from Ben in the evening -- he had listened to the whole thing. Now I have to maintain energy in the project and do more promotion.

A walk this afternoon to the usual place, have paused The Silmarillion and am listening to Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins the astronaut, which is fascinating. Blustery while I was walking, and this walk ended in rain. Lorraine and I took another walk around Blaker's Park an hour later when the sun came out again.

Spoke to Mum today, very worried as Salty their beefy white cat has disappeared.

The evening spent playing cards and trivial pursuit with Beth and Lorraine.

Friday, May 22, 2020

A spot of work

A freelance day for me, starting early with reading loads of briefing materials, and then a zoom call with Matty boy, and Slug and others at nine. Matty has an austere buzzcut. My own barnet now taking on a misbegotten life of its own. Met Ozzie and art director, who instantly had to leave for a hospital appointment which became delayed so I spent the bulk of the day working on my own, which was fine.

I then took myself for a long walk after work, but it was very windy and blustery up on the Hillfort.  I stopped at Quaff at Fiveways which has a bench in front of the door, and bought some Harveys beer. Chatting to the man behind me in the queue about the prospects of drinking in a pub beer garden soon.

Lorraine, meanwhile, was into school, now responding to her leadership calls on how the school should open. So far so good, although some of the parents are troubled. The fact is in the absolute absence of coherent leadership from National or local level, it has fallen to headteachers and their governors to carry the can.

Home and L and I had a delivery curry, while Beth ordered Taco Bell. Watched some TV, including the guilty pleasure Gogglebox.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Crows v Magpies

Lots of work this morning, recording a double episode of SYTV.  Chats with Anton, and a good chat with Robin this afternoon on WhatsApp's version of YouTube. Looking at people while you talk to them is increasingly expected these days. Sent a couple of notifications about the job starting next week, which was reassuring. Otherwise life at Kenny Towers in its new normal. Lorraine still working with governors and parents on what the new opening of schools will look like. Meanwhile the government is suddenly saying that the June the first date for a return to school was advisory only. Looked over some communications before Lorraine sent them out.

Up on Hollingbury Hill late this afternoon. Quite a few people enjoying the sun. A second spike, little threat to the teenage friend groups there. The Isle of Wight again clearly visible. Ploughing on with the Silmarillion. My bad ears have led to the necessity of me improvising balancing the earphones on their sides, rather than having them flat, next to each ear. With this technique, although it gives me round Mickey Mouse ears, works well enough to listen to an audiobook.  Saw a crow and a magpie having an aerial battle on my travels, the crow flying inches from the magpie for about fifty yards.

The hottest day of the year today. Forced, almost unwillingly, to drink a cold beer on my return at 6:30. Beth cooked a vegetable flan, which was tasty. Beth has an online personal trainer, who was  guiding her through exhausting exercises this morning.

Below... Meanwhile in Guernsey Jane is enjoying attention in the Guernsey Evening Press about Barking Mad! And an iPhone camera can't do justice to the clarity of the day. But a glimpse of the I of W in the distance, and Brighton and its wind farm.

Monday, May 18, 2020

A pleasing bit of luck

I can now close my jaw properly and hear through both ears without opening my mouth, both positive signs that my ear infection is beginning to clear up.  Phoned by Slug this morning with job for next week, which was music to my recovering ears. Nice to chat to him.  The prospect of some paid work a pleasing bit of luck.

Fairly productive today, recording SYTV episodes... The end is in sight. I also had the plot for a short story pop into my head as I was walking today, and managed to get this jotted down. A rather beautiful day, fresh and sunny, and I felt my mood improving. I was not listening to anything, because of my ears, and actually this made it more enjoyable.

I noticed people are not avoiding each other on the streets any more, and there were groups of teenagers cycling over the golf course and together in friend groups. Slug was telling me that in East London, where he goes cycling sometimes, the lockdown has been definitely weakened, and people are openly flouting the rules.

Also put together a few paragraphs for Lorraine, who was involved all day and well into the evening at school and then a long governor's meeting tonight to work out what to do about the school opening.

Long chats with Anton today, I sat outside this evening in the sunshine chatting with him as we both had a drink of beer. Anton drinking special Belgian beers from specially sourced Belgian beer glasses.  Beth cooked an interesting evening meal with prawns, samphire, garlic chilli and pasta. Rather fresh and nice.

A couple of flower snaps on my travels...

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Another lockdown Sunday

My ear is feeling a tad better -- but a general air of gloom in Kenny Towers. Did some bits and pieces of Skelton recordings, hoovered the house from top to tail and washed the kitchen floor. Went out for a short stroll with Lorraine, who is understandably preoccupied with school business. Wrote a review of Jane's book for my other blog.

More cheerfully, Lorraine, Beth and I played cards this evening, after eating a roast chicken. I made myself a dark and stormy having made the wonderful discovery of a bottle of dark Bacardi with a decent amount left in it to go with the ginger beer and lime juice.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Soothed by Barking

Another poor night's sleep, with the raging ear keeping me awake. Continued to rage today, despite drops, so I spent much of the day on the gold sofa, feeling wan. I started afresh on Jane's book Barking Mad! and read it cover to cover. A perfect escapist read for a gentleman with a sore ear. More about Barking Mad! here. Also read a couple of stories by Clark Ashton Smith, who I read when I was a teenager. He has a florid style full of purple prose, but he taught me many words when I was a kid, and I am still driven to the dictionary when I read him. His vocabulary is extraordinary.

Otherwise rallied a little this afternoon and went for a walk with Lorraine around Blaker's Park. Lorraine understandably preoccupied by the decisions she has to take for her school. I am helping her as best I can, mainly by listening and talking things over.

Lorraine cooked a marvellous curry tonight, which was a thing of beauty. Beth lying low today, and sending out for Taco Bell. Lorraine and I watched a little TV, as you do. Gogglebox, an episode of Devs, Kermode and Mayo on TV talking about TV (what has the world come to) and Brooklyn 99. Then bed.

Friday, May 15, 2020

An interlude

Ear properly raging this morning, so I talked to my GP practice and was able to get an appointment. I walked down to Oxford Street, where my surgery now is, and blessing Mum for providing me with some rubber gloves, buzzed for entrance and was allowed in. I found it was all a bit like being on stage, a facemask was pushed towards me and putting it on, I walked past the one patient on a chair and went upstairs to a waiting room with three or four chairs all in different parts of the room, with nobody sitting in them. Saw a Dr Cotton, who I liked lots and masked up as she was, looked into my ear and was gratifyingly taken aback by it, saying it looked very sore and painful, and prescribed antibiotic eardrops and then spray steroids for once it settles down. I asked her how she was bearing up, and she said that they were doing okay, and that people were beginning to come back to the surgery now after being too afraid to. We had tried to have a remote session, but the video link would not work on my phone, although I could see her, she could not see me. But it was better for her to be able to see for herself.

Off then to the pharmacy, still sporting my facemask or PPE as we are learning to call it, and then home stopping off at the corner shop. It was quite bright, and having my shades on and facemask made me feel a bit like The Invisible Man. Although the effect was a bit lost as my sunglasses kept steaming up.

Lorraine home, and stressed by the Government and local authority and trying to work out what to do about the school reopening for June 1st. I think it is a reckless policy personally, and I got very exercised by a hateful Daily Mail front page blaming teaching unions for causing trouble -- i.e. pointing to the fact that keeping children of 4 and 5 apart socially distanced in a classroom is utterly impossible.

Home again, and doing a few bits and pieces. Painful ear business making me feel a bit wan and flaky.  Nevertheless I joined a quick zoom call with my glass-mates, including Adele, Sally, Rick who lives around the corner, and Ben.

A glass of beer in the Taverna, and Beth sent out for some Mexican food. A nice change, although I wouldn't fancy it every week.

Below... Myself with lockdown hair and a facemask. Beth said I looked terrifying when I came home. Below a room meeting of glass homies. I was the only one to incorporate a background. An attractive dungeon.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A passing mood

My ear ache is getting worse and making it hard to sleep. Talking to people one way or another today, Mum and Anton, and hearing from Toby, and Sarah Barnsley was nice. Uploading the new episode of SKTV. But fighting the feeling that what I do is absolutely futile. A walk around the park with Lorraine helped, however. She has real things to contend with, such as the government, local authorities and the safety of her staff and children -- all of which put my own self-indulgent gloom in perspective. These moods pass. Much as this day did, without much incident thankfully.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Making tracks

Ear inflamed and painful today. Mostly just working on SYTV all day, chats with Anton and a long one with Toby this evening, who told me about a guy coming to their house in Toronto to look at the decking a while ago, who turned out to have gone to Toby's school in Kingsbury and they knew lots of people in common. He was well remembered by his pals, aka the Rabbits, when Tobs zoom called them recently.

I went for a walk this afternoon, now listening to The Silmarillion, although not with the same gusto as LotR. I have only read it once or twice, so it at least feels newish. There is a lot less of it to.

Lorraine working hard all day from home, and Beth receiving an energetic personal training session over her laptop in the front room.

Didn't drink again today, have abstained three of the last four days, not that I was worried about the amount I was drinking (these days 3 cans of beer seems like loads) but laying off will help control my weight. Also seem unusually attracted to snacks like crisps lately, which we don't usually eat.

Below Richard in Guernsey wrote a nice blog post about new pathways being trodden in response to the virus. I walked back some avenues homeward yesterday, and found that the grassy bits had new paths in them to supplement the pavements. One such is below in Surrenden Road. I took my camera up to Hollingbury Hillfort today, snapped these, zooming a bit. One looking towards Portslade, and the other a snap from the top of Surrenden Road.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

The Dream Home

Another episode of Skelton Yawngrave TV, and also uploaded a short horror story The Dream Home. Kept myself pretty busy, and in the afternoon went for a bracing walk -- quite a few folks out and about now and noticeably more cars on Ditchling Road.

Lorraine working from home, but with her nose to the grindstone sorting out how a restart in June can happen, and talking to staff and so on. Chatted to Mum, and then sat in the Taverna, in the sun, which was just warm enough, and drank a can of beer and finished listening to the appendixes of the Lord of the Rings. Listening to that has brought great succour and calmness to me. Reminded Mum that she had written in the three volume copy she gave to me when I was sixteen (previously I had read the family yellow-spined onevolume giant), 'for all your seasons of mist and mellow thoughtfulness.'

Beth out for much of the day working, and Lorraine and I had a leisurely dinner, and watched TV, like you do.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Do what thou wilt

A fairly productive start to the week, despite waking up in a fury at the government's handling of C19. Pictures emerged today of people cramming into the tubes again, and this is simply a recipe for a second wave. The ambiguous messaging and botched delivery is astonishing. Most of the agencies in the country could have delivered something better. As the day emerged lots of conflicting interpretations emerging, from within the government, let alone the general populace. Attempted a meme....

which at least made me feel better.

Lorraine off at school all day. I finished editing, The Dream Home, the short horror story that was published by Frogmore Papers, and the latest Skelton Yawngrave TV episode (I'm now on chapter 24). Essentially I think I am going to read everything onto YouTube, as it is a way of giving published material a bit of a second airing -- and also should I meet a sudden demise at the hands of C19 I want to have uploaded lots of stuff. Also had a really nice WhatsApp chat with Robin about a new scheme/wheeze we are discussing.  Spoke to Carl, who told me that Ellie had resigned from her job in local chippy after six years working there as they wanted her to start work again, minus PPE and so on.

I took myself for another walk up to Hollingbury Hill, and this was gorgeous as it was a cool clear day, and again and I have never seen Brighton looking so clear from the hill, and the Isle of Wight was again visible. The sea shining with reflected sunlight. Listening to The Lord of the Rings as I went, however: disaster. I reached the end of the story, and am now am reduced to listening to the appendices. Spoke to Anton about this today, and he suggests I go the full Silmarillion next, but I think I may have to take a sharp turn.

Sainsbury's delivery today. A major event.

Below clear air over Brighton from Hollingbury.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Wind and venting

A cold and windy day today. Indoors, Lorraine working on her assembly and me recording Skelton Yawngrave stuff, which involved Lorraine dropping the book into my hands from above, and also toying with The Dream Home, one of my horror short stories. Spoke to Mum too, who is rather bored.

Lorraine and I had a walk up towards Hollingbury, dropping off a bottle of wine for Joe a few doors up, who is a GP. Lorraine had written a thank you note in it, just to be nice. I had spoken to him a few weeks ago and he looked haggard and definitely under pressure. It was Lorraine's idea. We walked up towards Hollingbury, then Lorraine turned back to do a spot of gardening and I carried on for a bit. Windy and spots of rain, but at least this meant there were few people to dodge.

Had to tidy away chairs in the garden tonight, as I feared they were going to blow away.

Lorraine waiting for the clownish Prime Minister's speech before completing her assembly. Johnson's speech full of holes. I vented on social media after, writing on facebook....  Finally get what this shower remind me of... When you meet another agency on a pitch and they’ve obviously stunk the place out with their lousy strategy and weak and risible creative, but they can’t drop their brittle faux confidence till they’ve reached the car park. BoJo like some over promoted GAD whose dad went to school with the chairman.  A GAD is a group account director, a suit, as we used to call them. It is pointless venting, but there you go.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Garden dwellers

A warm and lovely day, which was mostly spent in the garden. Thank God for it. Took a few idle snaps with my iPhone, read things and ate things and sat in the garden listening to the Lord of the Rings audiobook as Lorraine did embroidery. All rather restful if it were not for the virusy backdrop. Beth out for a bit seeing some pals at bargepole's distance. She came back in a melancholy mood. It is tough for her.

A delivery curry tonight from the Shahi, however, it put a smile on my face at least.

Below unfurling ferns, islanded Brian, and another hover fly.

Friday, May 08, 2020

A little outbreak of strutting

Today was the 75 anniversary of VE day, and a public holiday. Although the notion of public holidays are somewhat modified under lockdown. A beautiful day, Lorraine and I doing some jobs in the garden, cementing a few stones around the steps in the garden and -- under Lorraine's adult supervision -- I drilled holes in the outside walls, and we hung an ornate plant holder and an outside clock thermometer moon phase thingy up that Anton had given us some time ago.

These missions accomplished, we felt as if something important had been achieved.

I also strutted about the place a bit as by my reading of The Remaining Cliffs being accepted by The Island Review.

I took a photo of a flower fly, also known as a hover fly.  They day passed without incident, which is just as well.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Into the woods

Woke up at four and was wide awake. Slept fitfully afterwards. Lorraine at school again today, I uploaded the Skelton Episode, which seemed to take ages, and then made off for a long walk in the afternoon. Walked about 15k paces during the day, and went over Hollingbury Hill and into Stanmer Woods for the first time in ages. It is blissful to walk among trees, and there were few people about, all of them on bicycles or the odd person walking their dog.  Hollingbury was noticeably busier today, and I noticed several groups of teenagers hanging out, clearly breaking the lockdown rules. The government has shot itself in the foot and leaked the idea that there will be some easing of the restrictions from Monday. The newspapers reflect the bungled messaging by trumpeting 'Freedom Beckons' etc.  All jostling of course with the groundbreaking news that the singer Adele has shed a few pounds.

Home after my walk. Beth sunbathing in the back garden, Lorraine home and finishing off a bit of pesky headteachering, I sat in the garden reading poetry publications by Charlotte and Robin. Lorraine came out and soon it was beer o'clock. I popped out to the off licence which was thankfully empty when I got there as I zoomed out it had filled up with a queue of blokes, none of whom was two metres from the next man. A cheery evening, with messages from Anton and beermonsters.

Below stepping into trees and the idiotic and dangerous press headlines.