Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Slipping off the surly desk manacles

Vivid dream just before we got out of bed this morning. I was trying to stop a child from falling, held onto his Guernsey jumper, but he slipped out of it and tumbled onto a harbour floor at low tide and was horribly injured. I blame Anton for banging on about Guernsey jumpers the other day. Feel like Frasier Crane this morning. What did the little boy represent? Me? My inner child? Something precious I was unable to hold onto, and if so what? Or did it mean absolutely nothing?

A chat with the Tobster this morning, now safely at Mum's place, and having tramped about in Hampstead with Mum yesterday afternoon. I am meeting Mum and Toby up in London on Friday, which I am really looking forward to.

I sketched out a new idea for a short story, but far more seductive was the idea of slipping off the surly manacles of work and walking about in the sun, a spot of 'if in doubt tidy' tidying, reading and watching Apollo documentaries. Too much of this sort of thing, however, and I begin to feel like a bloke sitting around pointlessly at home. Feel a pressing need to rejoin the human race again and stop being so self oriented for a while.

Went for a walk up to the hill fort and round and about. Just a couple of streets before home, I bumped into Clem who had bartered a boiler repair for sorting out a friends front garden trees. Admired his handiwork.
L and I had salmon and bulgar wheat tonight. I am still gradually losing weight, with no sense of hardship or missing out. This is not a diet it is a way of life. Had a small can of beer tonight, while watching an episode of Catch 22. I savoured it for ages. This is progress.

Below Blaker's Park reminded me a little of Georges Seurat (Bathers at Asnières) this afternoon. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Emptied out

Absolute bloody final edit of Magnificent Grace completed. But I will read it through again a couple of times before it is uploaded in September just to be sure. One of those moments, of no importance to anyone else, but nevertheless feels significant. I feel excited at the prospect of being able to think about something else tomorrow. After this was done I made off to the gym in London road and walked back through the park. I feel emptied out and uninspired.

Home, and disinclined to stare at any more pages, blank or otherwise, I watched documentaries about space travel, what with it being 50 years since Apollo 11 blasted off for the moon.

An entirely psychological tiredness over me this evening, and Lorraine, who was late due to the school show, drained too. To bed early.

Monday, July 15, 2019


Editing and housework. A Sainsbury's delivery, including a broken bottle of wine that ruined things and made the house smell of booze. Searching for a lens that popped out of my glasses cannot be found despite me Pooterishly creeping about on hands and knees in various rooms. No gym. No French work. Nothing happening but editing. Gah. Happy to see Lorraine.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Over the Moon

Lorraine working on school reports all day. I walked down to the gym, and then had a relaxed day, reading and listening to the This is Horror podcast which I dip into from time to time. Also saw the last few overs of a truly remarkable ODI world cup final between England and New Zealand, which England won in fluky nail-biting style. Long gone are the days when you could watch cricket on TV without subscribing to Sky but today's match was on C4.

I have been looking at photographs on the Nasa website about the first lunar landing. In the evening watched a documentary about Neil Armstrong. Can't get enough of this Apollo stuff at the moment. I was nine when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and remember the space race and The Vietnam War as being a constant news backdrop. I have an idea the family were on a  boat in the Hamble the day they touched down, but I may be mistaken.

Below Brian waiting to biff people through the bannisters, and Neil Armstrong inside the lunar module having just touched down on the moon photographed by Buzz Aldrin, after a hairy race against time as they searched for a place to land that wasn't too rocky, after computer that was supposed to help them land had gone offline.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Village people

Up and Lorraine off to Specsavers for an eye test, that ended up dragging on and on. I went back to the London Road gym again, and did another modest workout. Then home, and once Lorraine was back, having had to pay out for new specs, we drove off to Bolney where the village day was in full throttle. We have been to this a few years on the trot now, and find I quite enjoy it. Was in full Dennis Thatcher mode as people chatted to Lorraine. However a few know me too. Dan, Sarah's husband called me over, and invited me to play a game where you have to hurl boules onto a stump with an egg held in it. The idea is to smash the egg. I managed this and won a bottle of wine, which pleased me a disproportionate amount. Then much mooching about with L talking to a variety of parents and village worthies as children periodically ran up to her, some wanting hugs. Dogs being shown in the middle of the field when we arrived.

I availed myself of a beer in the beer tent and chatted to various folks some of whom knew me. Lots of gentlemen in dresses which seems to be de rigeur for the denizens of Bolney. One of the parents at Lorraine's school, a nice largish man called Luke, with a ginger beard was sporting a fetching blue dress behind the bar for example, while the two blokes who normally commandeer the mics were dressed as Liza Minelli from Cabaret one with his big toe poking nastily through his fishnets.

Home again, and Beth came around this evening, and we had a light dinner of sea bass and salad and couscous and played Scrabble in the back garden and drank gin and slimline tonic. A really nice day.

Below the tug o war, and Beth and Lorraine in the back garden.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Duck salad

Made good progress today on the editing. Two, maybe three days work left on this absolutely bloody final edit. A chat with Sonia, before pushing off to the London Road branch of my gym, which I found I could simply enter with my pin. A spacious well equipped gym on two floors and, above all, pleasingly cool. However did a couple of exercises and stepped on the cross trainer and felt a bit shaky and odd. Simply got off and got changed and left. Once outside I felt more myself again, as I had drunk lots of water. I bought a banana ate it, and simply went back to the gym and completed what I wanted to do without an issue. This was good for my self respect. 

A second note from Thomas Krecht in Hamburg today, who L and I met in La Barbarie. I had mentioned that I had been listening to King Crimson now its all on Spotify, and he said he had been listening to the track Starless and Bible Black, which he said is the saddest of their songs, and in my opinion the best of them too.  

Lorraine late, she has had all kinds of IT hassles and a power cut in the village over the last couple of days. Home, and we simply went down to The Park View, where we had a carb free salad with bits of duck in it, and shared a small portion of chips. Felt like a feast. This is the future.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

More of the same

More editing. More calorie counting. Took delivery of new scales. Walked. A sense of plodding on relentlessly and feeling a bit bored with it -- but the end is in sight. Lorraine and I both looking forward to her finishing school again. Not long now.

Watching some video links that Ben sent me on Transhumanism and NeoDarwinism and mankind's striving towards immortality. I surely can't be alone in thinking the idea of having to be, say for example, Peter Kenny for millennia is a bit dispiriting.

Meanwhile a snap of the meadow flowers part of Preston Park. The bees love it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Out with Anton

Back to my own work today, editing the children's book and still finding various imperfections. Made off to the gym in the afternoon, which was sweltering as the air con is being repaired. I overheated, and was happy to step back into the breeze outside. Met Anton at six in The Batty, and having exercised all day and eaten little, I was able to imbibe many of the day's calories in a sparkling, lagery form. I have read that The Battle of Trafalgar is going to be refurbished, and the interior changed under new hands soon. This will be a great shame as the Batty, once the nearest pub to my front door in the Twitten, reminds me of first coming to Brighton.

Not seen Anton for some time, as he had been away with work in Hungary, and then on a few days walking break. He was full of excitement about a Sherlock Holmes style game he had been playing. We drifted to a few other pubs, dropping in at The Caxton and the Sun and Moon and Stars and The Foundry before going our own ways. Walked briskly home and went straight to bed, where my lovely Lorraine was already tucked up.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Pootering on

Pootering on unremarkably. Slipped on the desk manacles at 7:30 and worked on the rabies stuff, (known in France as la rage) sending concepts off to Paris at lunchtime. Heard back that they were happy, and they will get back to me in a few days. Went for a couple of brisk walks to exceed 10k. Had scales delivered to replace the others which speak with forked tongue. Chatted to Anton, who I will see tomorrow.

Started doing final edit of the Children's book, but found I was in the wrong headspace for it and mucking it up a bit, so I simply stopped and will start freshly tomorrow morning.

At a loose end late this afternoon I watched The Sky at Night, the monthly astronomy show, which was talking about efforts to return to the moon, of which there are many going on now. I find my interest in astronomy rekindled lately, and The Sky at Night has always been pitched in the right way, clear and not condescending or slow. The programme has been going since 1957. Lorraine home tired and hungry, but with the end of her academic year in sight.

Monday, July 08, 2019


Up early and making my weekly list. Then I was sent a brief about rabies, and spent the day looking attempting to come up with a campaign. Unlike poor rabid dogs the job has yet to have me foaming at the mouth with excitement. There is a target to eliminate rabies from the planet by 2030.

Two walks, to keep the cobwebs off and do my 10k. Raging at the bathroom scales. Wildly different readings within seconds. The important thing is that I am now used to counting calories and have kept under the required amount for two and a half weeks, and it is becoming a habit. I don't feel underfed or hungry but am definitely eating less, so this has to be good. Sent off for new scales.

Otherwise Mum called to talk about the ghost goat of Guernsey, which they were talking about on Facebook. And when Lorraine got home we ate, and then did some gardening. Clem handed us a bottle of pink elderflower wine they had made next door from the tree in the garden, which was kind.

Later we watched an episode or two of Killing Eve. I liked the first series but whatever it was that helped you suspend disbelief has flung itself overboard for series two.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Bobbing and bubbling

Up fairly early for a Sunday. I scamped up two designs for the banner for Lorraine's school, sitting at my desk in the craft room.

Then L and I zoomed out to a garden centre, where we bought a few flowering plants, including a  chocolate cosmos which smells strikingly of chocolate.

Then into the Lorraine's gym, which is a lot posher than mine. Trouble is that it is out in the sticks and hard for me to get to without a car. We spoke to them about joint membership, which they do not have. Amusingly, they call their joining fee an 'integration programme', and you get some slight discount if you complete their 'integration journey' (i.e. allow them to pitch various courses etc. while they show you the ropes).  The place itself, Wickwoods, is lovely. The people in the changing rooms were all around my age or even older. Usually I feel like some kind of coelacanth in the changing room of my own gym. We did a good gym session, then had a swim and we bobbed and bubbled in a warm jacuzzi for a while, and then sat in a steam room. After showering and getting changed, we had a coffee in a nice outside area, somewhat marred by a woman with a face like an angry bulldog on a distant table speaking so violently loud that I could barely hear Lorraine sitting next to me.

Next we drove to see Beth and John for a cup of tea. A fire in a ground floor flat in Tisbury Road where they live requiring the road to be blocked off by police cars. No one was hurt. John has lost lots of weight. Everyone sat about naming foods and showing each other photos of food in recipe books. Home hungry. We hurriedly cooked food, and relaxed in the evening.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Good clean fun

Lorraine in recovery mode today, however we did squeeze out to buy another little garden table and chairs, plus a power jet cleaner to clean our decking. Lorraine recovering on her lounger and I put the table and power jet thing together.  Started to clean the decking which was rather fun. We really need to have an outside tap for that kind of thing, as we have a weird kitchen tap which the hose keeps slipping off. I did the spraying and Lorraine got periodically drenched and furious in the kitchen. Still the decking looked lots better afterwards.

Lorraine smoothed, we had dinner and happily watched a cop show on TV.

I have decided that black and white is the future. Look at this one I took in Guernsey.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Big day

Lorraine off and out to work extra early as it was a big day for her school. She was waking up in the night and making notes.

As a consequence I was at my desk a smidge before seven, and finished the major edits on my children's book. Very pleased with how much better going this extra mile has made the story. Next job is to go line by line through it with a fine tooth comb for fresh errors that may have slipped in during the reworking, using Charlotte's editing style as a template. I have decided on a name for it too, which is Magnificent Grace, with a subtitle The Witch Grace Brown Adventures #1. Now all that's left to do is get the cover design sorted and I am ready to launch it, as a 'back to school' offering in September. So a big day for me too.

This done by 1pm, I decided to not flog the horses this afternoon. Chatted to Sonia, and took two short walks which added up to 10k. My French clients also requested some of my time next week, which is pleasing.

Lorraine home at her normal time, and we sloped down to the Park View where I had a pint of Guinness and Lorraine had a gin and tonic. Then we popped across the road to get an Indian takeaway, Lorraine carefully chose bits to stay low in calories, I damned the torpedoes reckoning I had stayed within my limits for the last 14 days and had a chicken jalfraizi with plain boiled rice.

Home and tucking happily into this as I had been craving chilli heat. Little did I suspect I would be ambushed by a very hot chilli which, when I bit it, contrived to squirt fiery chilli juice into my lungs. This, alarmingly, sent my throat into a weird spasm where I could not breathe for a while, which was alarmed both of us. Lorraine thought I was choking and sensibly thumped me on the back. Luckily I was able to start getting my breath after about thirty seconds and after slugs of cold water was able to continue none the worse for wear. The second thing was that I was unable to finish my food, because I was far too full. This surely is a good sign.

Below the bit in Preston Park where the wild flowers are, a new poppy. Just loved the vibrating colours.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Working and walking

Working well on the story this morning. Went off to the gym at lunch and had arranged to meet Innis for a coffee afterwards. Instead, however, he picked me up and we drove to Stanmer House where we had a coffee outside in the little cafe, while listening to some kind of meeting with a P.G.Wodehouse Aunt type on a nearby table hectoring on about conserving woodland and talking about bats and trees and birds. I agreed with everything she was saying, but the way she was saying it was a bit trying. She had an extinction rebellion sticker on her notebook, I noticed when we walked past.

Then a bit of a walk in the woods with Innis chatting about things, and he took lots of photos. I like watching him take photos.

Then he drove me home, and I got back to work. As Lorraine was very late home tonight I worked till nine then watched episodes of Tales from the City, and drank a gin and tonic till she was safely home.

I'm liking snapping in black and white at the moment. This dead tree looks cool in B&W. Below Innis looking at his camera.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Sliding in Time

A couple of walks this afternoon, the second of them in and around the hill fort. A glorious day. While doing so I was sliding back and forth in time while listening to the end of The Time Machine, which I had first read it when I was about twelve. I'm not sure if I have read it much after that. Lots I had forgotten, an interesting and influential story.

Worked otherwise endlessly editing my own story. I have accepted this is going to take a while, but I feel certain now I am improving the story as I work, which is a good feeling. Based on comments from the editor, I have looked for similar problems in the text and have found them. Fixing these is really making the story sing. Slow but good work. Broke off to watch the second half of a documentary about the rise of NeoCon Fascism in the USA, and those who oppose it. My story -- against that sort of thing -- is well timed I think.

Salad tonight. I weighed myself and am still losing weight which is good. Lorraine having a tricky time at work, having to do more this evening. I did some billing, then as Lorraine wanted to read her book in bed, I watched another episode of the Tales of the City. Two blokes at it like knives when Tom arrived.

Below, a tree on the golf course.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019


More self discipline today, and made discernible progress on the editing. Gah. In the afternoon off to the gym. En route I stopped off at two pubs, as I am still trying to find a location for my birthday bash. The Joker, where the manager couldn't be bothered to speak to me until I insisted, and the Nelson. My two favoured venues having already gone. Neither of these today were right. A good session in the gym. Home and showered and worked more.

Chatted to Mum who was going out with Mas to a country pub tonight, and Toby who had a major health MOT today in Canada, and all is well.

Watched Netflix tonight, as Lorraine has gone into reading mode, with J.K. Rowling's detective novels. I watched two episodes of Tales of the City, based on Armistead Maupin's stories of the same name. I read some of these in the eighties when I was living with Janet and Ken.  

Briefly enraged today thinking how the idiots in the Brexit party turned their back on Ode To Joy in the European parliament. That's just offensive and portrays Britain as a nation of louts. I can't bear it. 

Monday, July 01, 2019

Forgotten pond

Another gorgeous day -- and frighteningly we've now started the second half of the year. Got up had muesli and made a short list and got working on the children's book. In the afternoon I mooched about around Hollingbury Hill and bits of woodland there. There is something healing to the soul about walking in woods. It is certainly an antidote to editing the same text for the 100th time. Listening to The Time Machine for part of my walk. I had to give up on First Men on the Moon, as I found it strangely unlistenable. TTM far better. But there were big sections of  the walk, especially in the woods, where I just pulled out my ears and listened instead to the wind in the trees and the birds, and thought that life is sweet. Home and back to work.

Salmon and salad tonight. L and I press on. This is not a diet, it is a way of life. L and I reading in bed tonight -- I'm on Arthur Machen still. 

Below, the pond near the hill fort.  I had completely forgotten its existence till I stumbled on it again.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

A cornfield

Lorraine having to work on end of year reports today, I pottered about doing my own bits even starting a new poem which I had not done for months. Fresher and more like English temperatures today, although it was a gorgeous day. Late afternoon Innis and Rosie called around in their mini and took us up to the upper bits of Stanmer Park, for a second day with a gorgeous walk among trees with Pippi the dog bouncing about like an ebullient lamb. Nice chatting with Innis and observing what a proper photographer looks at when he's stalking about armed with a camera. Came to the edge of a big cornfield at one point, and we all loved the wind moving in it like waves in the sea.

Home again and a quick drink in the Park View. I had a gin and slimline tonic, the booze of the more slender gentleman. Fond farewells with Innis and Rosie, and then to the kitchen. Lorraine has bought a hairy bikers cookbook, which has the hairy bikers in it holding out the waistbands of their trousers, for it was all about diets. A low calorie chicken jalfrezi made by my lovely wife, which felt like a feast after the salad days.

Watched a bit of 'Glasto' on TV, The Cure's performance. Their early song A Forest, has a weird dark power to it and is still my favourite.

Below Shadowing Innis to photograph Lorraine and Rosie and Pippi, and the cornfield, which seemed to call for black and white, which I increasingly like.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saharan day

A bubble of Saharan heat that had lain over Europe causing the hottest recorded temperatures in France drifted across the channel today, losing some of its ferocity, but still pushing temperatures into the mid 30s. Lorraine and I sensibly decided it was not a day for excessive exertions, so we went shopping and then found shade in our garden. Good to see Lorraine relaxing on her lounger reading and listened to meditation tapes.

In the evening we drove to Hove, to pick up some dieting paraphernalia from Betty, and then onto Steyning to see Dawn. A gorgeous summer evening there, we had salads and seabass and I drank gin and tonic made from Dawn's pomegranate and rosewater gin. Lovely. Realised I was feeling a bit braindead and lethargic, and think I may have been overdoing the diet having lost over 4 kilos this week.

Then, as cooler breezes sprang up, we had a walk in the woods on the side of the hill behind her house. A lovely walk in the woods, magical despite lots of trees felled due to ash dieback. Beautiful views, and a lovely dusk with pink and purple skies, and rabbits hopping about on the paths.

Back to sit in Dawn's garden for a cup of tea before heading home, the night much fresher than the day. I love visiting Dawn's little house.

Below a selfie of me keeping cool in the garden, the sky in black and white, the English idyll of a village cricket match, Dawn's back gate, snaps from the hill.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Grass and almonds

Once downstairs, Calliope crept through he catflap yowling, then made an exhibition of vomiting grass. Having cleaned this up, I poured a generous splash of almond milk onto a carefully measured bowl of muesli, to which I had an allergic reaction (this being my first carton of almond milk). My lips and mouth and throat tingled weirdly and my stomach soon felt fiery. Naturally, I pictured my stiffening corpse being found my Sonia this afternoon, having died of anaphylactic shock. Couldn't help thinking that my dæmon Calliope's actions had been a precursor.

All this not conducive to writing and editing, so I found things to do around the house until it became clear that I would survive. Spoke to Lorraine mid morning, which of course helped and helped me simply pick up the threads, do some writing, have a haircut and go to the gym.

Lorraine home, and we ate in the sun on our terrace and drank a gin and slimline tonic. A beverage that is a boon to slimmers, and played a bit of scrabble before we both got tired and slumped indoors, bracing for tomorrow's heatwave borrowed from the continent.