Thursday, January 17, 2019

Piecing things together

A bit sluggish and not able to concentrate this morning.  Iron discipline made me give myself a sharp pep talk, and made a list and ticked off all the things on it and felt a good deal better afterwards. Planning to meet up with Keith next week. Saw on facebook that the French Bloke was in hospital for an op, but seems to be in good spirits.

I also went to the gym again, and while trundling and walking there and back finished The Unsettled Dust, the third collection of stories by Robert Aickman I've read. The last story was called The Stains and was brilliantly unpleasant. Mackerel and corn on the cob tonight. Got sent a smidge more work to do tomorrow morning for my pals in Chiswick.

Lorraine doing a crossword tonight, to stop herself staring at screens. We listened to some music and I joined in, actually piecing things together is quite therapeutic. I feel I am being drawn into Lorraine and Beth's jigsaw cult. Calliope got involved as usual.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


No freelance this morning so spent time thinking about the waiting project, after Innis sent me a Brain Pickings article about the positive aspects waiting can have on human communications -- a message you have waited for can be more meaningful than one you have not. I am working on a foreword to the idea, as a way of condensing what it is in fact all about. A new book called Delayed Response, by Jason Farman, seems interesting, and the one of the quotes nutshells what I am interested in... 'Waiting can be a tool of the powerful to maintain the status quo by forcing people to invest their time in ways that inhibit their ability to transform their situation.'

 Brain Pickings is excellent and I have bought books from reading articles on it.

After lunch I went to the gym fro a half an hour's trundle and a shower, then walked to what is becoming my usual Caffè Nero to meet Chris. Among other things I learned from him that he is toying with abseiling from the Eyesore i360 and that Churchill used the phrase Keep Buggering On, or KBO as a phrase for resilience. Resilience is something to be fostered.

Listening to more Aickman today as I walked into town and back. Salmon stir fry tonight. I watched a documentary about Jeff Beck. Managed to miss most of his work in the 70s, but he has a guitar that sings like a human voice, his version of Nitin Sawhney's Nadia is gorgeous.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019


A sleepless night. I eventually gave up at 4am got up and started reading Let the right one in, a horror story. Took Lorraine tea and made her breakfast seeing as I was up and dressed. A brain befuddling fug of tiredness all day. Tried to fall asleep again at eight, but then Lorraine called from school saying she had left her phone, and I gave up then. Unfortunately I had to do work for my French pals today on swine flu. Feeling a bit anxious about this afterwards, as no sleep seems to deprive me of twenty IQ points. I had a nice chat with Val though.

Anton phoned me about going to a business event run by an old work mucker Terry Brissenden on Storytelling in Business next month.

Today Theresa May's Brexit dead duck deal was crushed in Parliament -- apparently the biggest ever government defeat. I cannot see any outcome from here that will not harm the UK. A second referendum, as finally the UK has a better idea of what it is voting for, may be a good idea. But what happens if it is 52/58 again, as seems likely. Meanwhile neglect of proper governance of the UK is everywhere evident. If half as much energy went into protecting the environment, for example, as went into Brexit, arguing about the wall in Mexico, building Chinese airstrips on atolls in the South China sea etc. what an amazing thing that would be.

I cooked a fish curry in coconut milk and stuff, to a recipe, which Lorraine deemed successful, then went to bed wan and exhausted before ten.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Start of the week

Patchy sleep last night, but up early. Another short story manuscript sent off. Contacted by Guernsey Literary festival as two of the poems I had entered their competition were too long -- and luckily I could resend. I negotiated a small smidge of work for my pals in Paris to start tomorrow, and had a bracing afternoon walk while listening to another Robert Aickman story. Looking from the hills at the grey sea, and clouds rolling over from the north. Chatted with Anton about how great his food was, and with Mum about coming up next weekend. Cooked for Lorraine. All good.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Chinese feast

Up and about this morning. Both of us went to our respective gyms, despite both of us feeling sluggish. I managed to trundle on the cross trainer for 25 minutes before feeling washed out. Walked there and back, so much better than nothing. Lorraine went to her gym too. Met back at home, and then got ready to go to Anton's house to celebrate Ann's birthday, which had been on Monday.  Oskar had been to a Chinese society in the morning, with one of his best pals. His pal, from a Chinese family, got bored and left Oskar there. His pal's dad, who was running the class, translated everything for Oskar. Klaudia there too, of course, but was feeling under the weather.

Anton had excelled himself in the Chef department, cooking steamed pork and poussin and ribs in a Chinese themed meal. Lovely stuff. As usual, a very cheery evening. Anton under new advice to cope with the raging tinnitus he experiences, which involves meditation and going to bed at midnight for the first two weeks, so that his body gets used to him being very tired when he goes to bed, thus making him fall asleep quickly. This regime is exhausting though, as he tends to wake up and start the day at six. Ann on good form, and we had a nice chat while Anton and Lorraine got sucked into a complicated game, one of those Tin-Tinesque traversing a jungle games.

Lorraine and I rolled down to the station, full of food, and glancing in at the Sunday evening, mid-January emptiness of the pubs. We got a cab from there home, and the cabbie said that it was very quiet this time of year, barely worth working the weekends.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

New and Improved

Lorraine starting an experiment when she doesn't work on Sundays like she has been. This made the weekend feel new and improved and more weekendish even on a Saturday morning. We set off for a drive to meet Lorraine's intrepid pal Carolyn for coffee. She is off again to Nicaragua again this week, where she has set up projects to help local people and is now pretty fluent in Spanish too.  Bureaucracy infuriating there however. She tried to ship over a box of essentials for a local school but the box has languished in customs for over half a year on a variety of bogus reasons, infuriating that its contents is simply to help Nicaraguan children.

I fell asleep this afternoon, and slept heavily for an hour, and felt a good deal livelier for it afterwards, for this pesky cold never seems quite to leave you.

Lorraine and I walked down the hill into town, and picked up the book, Buddhism for Busy People, she had ordered from Waterstones. Then we mooched off to Beth and John's house, where they had been cooking spicy chicken wings and flatbreads. We played euchre with them, and then Uno afterwards. Beth has begun a new craze for jigsaws.

Home on the bus, and Lorraine straight to bed. I watched a smidge of Match of the Day, because Chelsea had won. But this soon paled and I followed Lorraine to bed.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Starting a survey of scariness

Friday, then and maintaining positivity. Up early, did some writing. Sent email off to my French agency pals, about my availability, and sent some more poems out for the Guernsey Literary Competition.

A pleasant afternoon, and I went to the Jubilee Library and rejoined it, coming away with a horror book by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I went across the road to the Starbucks and sat there for much of the afternoon, continuing my survey of the horror genre, reading The Chalk Man, by C.J. Tudor another horror novel that has sold very well. I almost finished it. A mixed bag, tightly plotted and full of lot twists. On the other hand the language was a bit cliched, and I found the characters were unconvincing. But, while never actually horrified, I certainly found it an enjoyable page turner -- and it was her first published novel so really well done. I will read the Lindqvist next. I have been looking at lists of the greatest horror novels, and Let the right one in, which I have just borrowed from the library seems to score very highly.

Lorraine and I sauntered around to Red Chillies, when she got home, ordered a cheeky takeaway, and popped across the road for a pint in the Park View. This was actually the first beer I have had this year, and I had another bottle when I got home. We watched a movie adaptation of Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, which was fun. Lovely to be with Lorraine on a Friday night. Counting my blessings at the moment.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

In the bleak midwinter, frosty scribe made moan

My essay on waiting was unplaced in London Magazine's essay competition. Not too sore about this as I had to rush for the deadline, and having reread it lately I thought the conclusion was weak. But you have to give things your best shot at the time.

Contacted my pals in Chiswick, and it seems the prospect of any more work this month has melted away due to general quietness. It seems the poos and kidneys work was just a flash in the pan. I recontacted the folks in Paddington who had offered me some work last week. I did not hear back today either. All this did was prove the requirement for steady nerves and iron discipline. I remained buoyant.

Wrote to my accountant, retaining his services for the year, and sent some poems into the rejectosphere. Downloaded the updated Scrivener, as it was unsupported on Apple's updated OS. I had bought Scrivener through the App store, a schoolboy error, as the billionaires at Apple will make you pay the full price again, despite them moving the goalposts. Luckily, Scrivener recently offered a discount for App store customers as long as you sent them proof of purchase. Got the upgrade at around half price, so it was worth it. Scrivener is so much better for writing things on than a word processor. A business necessity guv.

Walked over to Hove this afternoon to spend a couple of hours with Helen, to discuss the end of the opera. Quite a nippy day today and was cold by the time I got there.  She has written a gorgeous tune for the final scene and, in a reversal of our normal working practice, she wants me to fit the words to the notes, which is fine as I have done this before. Nice to escape into music and Centaurs.

Then bought a swede and two potatoes and walked home again to make sausages and mash for Lorraine when she got home. A listening to music, and chatting night. I was very tired, and so was Mrs Kenny. On a facebook page for people in Brighton, everyone moaning about this terrible cold that's going round and how it lasts for ages. Also saw on facebook a marvellous speech by David Lammy, which nutshells everything I feel about Brexit and the duty to tell the truth.

Below Helen playing me the new piece.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Inches of progress

For the first time this year I managed to complete my normal daily target of 10k paces. Off this morning to meet Innis in the Costa Cafe at the top of Preston Street, the one where I meet my stained glass buddies. Nice to see Innis, and we discussed a collaboration around the Waiting project, and I showed Innis the powerpoint presentation, which I have been adding to, and we chatted about the sorts of ways that we can visually interpret that.

I walked home through Seven Dials, and Preston Park. A snack for lunch, watching an Irish comedy set in Cork called The Young Offenders, which I really like. Then I did a smidge more on the poos and kidneys work for my Chiswick pals. Then another short walk around the block a couple of times, listening to another Robert Aickman story, The Next Glade to get me up to 10k. Felt tired at the end of it, but am definitely improving. That was a particularly draining cold.

Cooked a curry, with some parsnip in whose sweetness works surprisingly well with the curry flavours, particularly the fresh ginger. Tom staying to night, so a chat with him about drinking in mini golf clubs and drones among other things. To bed.

A sense of having made a few inches of what hopefully will build into some forward momentum.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Weirdly positive

A better day. Got up and started work on my Waiting Rooms project, then was given work by my pals in Chiswick, picking up comments on the poos and kidneys work I did before Christmas. Client ver prescriptive about what they wanted, but then when we provided it, they discovered they want something different. I simply did the job and was grateful for it.

Facetimed with Mum today, her paranoid next door neighbour has set up an array of state of the art security cameras, for fear of foreigners stealing his concrete dogs.

Went for three walks through Blaker's Park today, gradually edging up the amount of exercise I am doing. Felt happy to be outside, and on my last walk saw the sliver of the new moon. Still not what I would call well yet and had a headache all day. Pretty bushed by the evening, but cooked for Lorraine and I for the first time in a while. Went to bed, and I found some supposed lessons from Confucius on the internet. This bit spoke to us about events over the last few weeks.

"As Confucius puts it, “To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.” Like the rest of us, you may have struggled with setbacks and heartbreaks in life. Remembering the evils done to you will make you stuck in life and will prevent you from living your best life. Instead of seeing the wrongs done to you as negative, you can conquer it by seeing the wisdom it brings. Someone or something might be taken away from you because it was not meant for you."

Weirdly, for a January where I am broke, and have spent the month so far with an exhausting cold, I feel weirdly positive.

Monday, January 07, 2019

The squibs are moist

Up after Lorraine brought me a cup of tea in bed. Wanted to spring up and surge on with things, however after a while of actually being up I still felt drained and lifeless. A bit of a damp squib for the first working Monday of my year. There was the possibility of work from two directions today, but neither of them coughed up. I did a bit of year planning, and then simply read afterwards. I started reading a contemporary horror book called The Chalk Man, which I downloaded for 99p onto my kindle. It was a best seller and has the likes of Stephen King saying how horrific it is.

I went for two short walks around the block. It was good to suck in some fresh air. Lorraine home in need of a glass of wine. I read her some more of The Box of Delights tonight. It has been years since I read it, and there are parts of it I had completely forgotten. It is an almost lost classic. It is a good deal more disjointed than many of the Children's books that followed it, such as the Hobbit, or the Narnia books, but it is full of magic, and often beautiful writing and humour too.

Sunday, January 06, 2019

The great outside

Slightly better this morning, and had a good night's sleep. A little more active today, and I even ventured outside into the great outside. Lorraine and I walked the tree down the road to the recycling area just in the park. This and a bit of pottering about in the house made me tired again. This is not flu, but it is the most draining cold I have had for a long time.

Lorraine went to see Dawn and some other this morning, and I watched The Larry Sanders Show till I had finished it. I really like that show, which was very funny and way ahead of its time, and leaves you with great affection for the characters, despite most of them having huge flaws.  Did not fall asleep today, and am definitely slowly improving.  Lorraine feeling a bit down today, with only a wretched sofa slug for company, and the prospect of work tomorrow.

However I was able to resume reading duties tonight, and we pressed on reading from my new copy of A Box of Delights.

Hurrah! My first trip into the outside world. The graveyard of Christmas trees.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Sofa Saturday

Up fairly early for Saturday. However I was soon feeling rubbish again. I spoke to Mum and then had a sleep on the sofa. Lorraine taking down the decorations around me. She was feeling antsy and went to the gym, and I watched my Larry Sanders DVDs and slept again. Another sofa day. But by the evening I was feeling slightly better, and clearer headed. All a bit boring.

Friday, January 04, 2019


A bit of a non-day. Feeling ill with the same bad cold Lorraine had. I waited for the briefing I had been told about yesterday, with tissue stuffed into my nostrils as my nose was streaming so badly. Did various bits of work, until at about midday I felt too tired to do anything. The briefing, however, never arrived nor was there any explanation about why it might not appear. But by the afternoon I was glad at this, as all I wanted to do was sprawl on the sofa and watch Larry Sanders.

Spoke to Sonia, who showed me views from a mountain property in Bulgaria her son wants to buy.  Tom chatty and cheerful as ever. Lorraine home again fairly early from school, and cooked for us. A quiet night in.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

A cold coming

Attempting Iron Discipline this morning, despite very little sleep the night before. Getting a grip with various bits of correspondence, some dealing with Janet, plus other bits more forward looking. Went for a walk through Blaker's Park and then down into Preston Park. In Lucerne Road I saw a congregation of Corvids, an angry jay shrieking at a pair of magpies, who were then joined by a rook, all in a bare roadside tree.

A turn around Preston Park, and then home again feeling wan and lifeless.

Good news from Anton, who had returned from his cardiac checkup with the news that he has been released back into the world, not needing another checkup in five years, nor does he require any medication. Wonderful news, which did not stop Anton moaning about having paid for two hours of parking, when the consultation took ten minutes.

As the day wore on, I began the properly streaming cold that Lorraine had. Then, as always seems to happen when I am feeling rubbish, I was then offered some work for tomorrow.  I said yes but it has not been confirmed. Lorraine home early for her, but feeling worse and worse, I went to bed at around 8pm having watched the last two episodes of Bleak House. I had found my copy of the book during the day and re-read its opening chapter. Dickens was such a peerless writer of English, the prose teems with imaginative ideas, and his prose is rhythmic and full of fabulous word choices.

I went to sleep, trying not to worry about the work that might come tomorrow, and trying not to be too galled by already being blown off the Iron Discipline course by a cold.

In another of my fabulous photos, four birds in a tree.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

A test of discipline

Lorraine working from home. I tidied up my office and caught up with this blog and started writing lists of things to be done. A trip to Sainsbury's, using a list which seemed to take us longer than when we just do it on autopilot.

Annoyingly my sinuses and throat chose today to hurt lots, and I felt washed out. Slept on the sofa for an hour in the afternoon, which definitely does not accord with principles of Iron Discipline. However rallied somewhat after sleeping. Lorraine said I was fighting off a cold, which is made it feel more rigorous.

Lorraine cooked a lovely dahl this evening, with curried cauliflower and we ate this watching more episodes of Bleak House. This was a brilliant series, which I missed when it was first broadcast. Makes me want to read the novel again.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Iron discipline

Woke up with my head buzzing with ideas, as Calliope and Brian walked on me. They are no respecters of hangovers. Fed the wretched weasels at about eight thirty and then made tea and crept back into bed. Cheery and optimistic today. I am usually dubious about January, and use the turn of the year to brood on my own shortcomings. This year I am simply not going to do that nonsense.

Lorraine and I discussing in bed the iron discipline that we will employ to make a success of this year. I feel the need to heft myself up by my bootlaces. I am not fit, I am overweight (as ever at this time of year) and need to generate cash, and push on with my projects. Today, however, was about gently starting the year. Drank no booze today, for which my liver and kidneys are profoundly grateful. Lorraine cooked a rather marvellous turkey pie, as we were chatting to Mum on FaceTime.  Spoke also to Anton, who had watched all the Indiana Jones movies last night at home with a cold.

Lorraine and I then found the 'boxed set' of Bleak House on iPlayer, which we binged watched this evening it was about thirteen years old. Excellent it was. I must read Bleak House again, having not read it since I was doing A Levels. Anna Maxwell Martin was brilliant as Ester Summerson, making one of Dickens's typical wishy washy heroines into someone loveable and strong.

Tom staying tonight, and we had a good chat with him too. He had to go off to lapland the other day for work, and the planes all safely landed, he was able to go skiing, and message his engineer mates with photos of himself on the slopes.

And on this first day of the year, Janet's obituary from Sue Kay, appeared in the Guardian.

Monday, December 31, 2018

The dancing elephants of love

New Year's Eve. Lorraine much brighter than I have seen her of late, which was lucky as she had a meeting in Middle Street with Catherine. I walked into town to meet her afterwards, and we had a quiet coffee and made plans for the coming year. The buzz phrase is Iron Discipline. And both of us laughing about this but making plans to get more of a grip in 2019.

From there we called around on Anton, still nursing his cold, and spoke to my Godbairns who both seemed in good form, Klaudia sporting the converse shoes we had bought her, and Oskar thanking us nicely for his present too. Anton, Lorraine and I then sauntered gingerly down to the emptyish Batty for a beer or two, and a good chat. Nice to be in the Battle of Trafalgar again. I am very fond of this pub, and very fond of Anton. And lovely to be out with Lorraine too, for the first time since before Christmas.

Home by bus, and then later we bused to Hove where we went around to Rosie and Innis's place, where Beth and John were. A cheery evening chatting, listening to tunes, and playing games, rather hilariously. Then watching the fireworks exploding over the South Bank. A nice way to see in a new year. I found 2018 a difficult year.

Below, while waiting for Lorraine I noticed lots of interesting street art plastered near the derelict Hippodrome Theatre, by street artist Minty. I liked the idea of the dancing elephants of love on new year's eve. Shame that an initiatives to save the theatre have so far failed.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Up to see Mum for her birthday

Mum's birthday. So I zoomed off this morning, leaving Lorraine snuffling and coughing in bed. Train up to Mill Hill Broadway, fairly event free, although I managed to drop my ticket on the platform, but spot it a few minutes later. Listened to more stories by Aickman.

Arrived at Mum and Mason's house, having diverted to buy a cheery bunch of flowers. Mason chatting to me as mum was getting ready, telling me about how his mother had thwarted all his plans when he was young, and how he had to pay for his own father's burial at the age of sixteen.

Then mum, who has a cold today, drove us off to the Waggon and Horses, and we parked up and went in but they were not serving food. Gradually disentangled Mason from the people he'd instantly begun talking to and made off not far to The Battleaxes, where we strapped on the nosebag. I chose a 'festive burger', Mason had Hunter's Chicken, and was disappointed it wasn't a burger, and mum had duck but did not eat it. Christmas pudding to follow.

Then back home, and we swapped Christmas presents and sat about chatting. Mohena one of their neighbours came in bringing Mum a birthday present. I had met her before, but this time realised just how nice she was. Mum and Mas are blessed with excellent and friendly neighbours (except for their increasingly hostile-to-everyone next door neighbour). This all quite cheery for a bit, and then I could see Mum was wilting with her cold and, as it had taken a few hours to get there, I decided to leave late afternoon. Mum drove me to Mill Hill, and then I trained slowly home.

I found Lorraine on the gold sofa, having snuffled her way through a spreadsheet during the day. She cooked ups some pasta and mushrooms, and after we watched Match of the Day, we shuffled off to bed. But not before we had spoken to Toby and Romy, who were on a balcony facing the sea in Hawaii in the bright sunshine already in the morning of New Year's Eve, to the backdrop of the breaking of Pacific waves. Nice to chat a bit to Romy, and Lorraine and I are looking forward to seeing her and the Tobster in the Summer.

Below I am forgetting to take photos properly. So for Mum's birthday there is no photo of Mum, but instead these reflections on the brushed metal walls of St Pancras caught my eye as I waited twenty minutes for the train.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

An interlude with old pals

Sam left today, getting up fairly early. I discreetly left him and Lorraine to chat for an hour or so, and later we took him off to the station, and sent him, well-hugged by Lorraine and I, off London to stay with Jade and her Mum.

Lorraine still struggling with her cold and feeling pants.

I met my old Warwick University pals David and Amanda who had met up to see The Rocky Horror Show. We were talking about the future of humanity, which is a topic in philosophy now, and David has been in discussions with the philosophy department at Oxford about possibly working with the team, bringing real world business experience with computing and artificial intelligence. I enjoyed picturing the business card: David Morgan, Future of Humanity. Mandy said darkly that it wouldn't matter too much if humanity had no future and life on earth ended. This going on against a backdrop of playful transvestitism in the bar next to the theatre, which was pressed with hairy chested men in black bodices and high heels, and ladies in fishnets etc. all dressed up as Rocky Horror characters. I saw the original production of The Rocky Horror show in London, which I think was at the Royal Court Theatre, as a teenager on a school trip. An eye-opener, and no mistake guv.

Fond farewells, as they zoomed in to see the show. And I made off home, calling Anton en route, who is ill with a cold.

Below a snap in the pub, cleverly missing anything too interesting. Also didn't take a photo of Dave or Mandy either. Boo.