Monday, October 14, 2019

Folding back into my desk

Monday. Back to teetotalism and calorie counting. Battened down the hatches and made lists for my ancient self to work on. All nice things to do, apart from my accounts and stuff like that. Lorraine off to work early. Beth making phone calls and sorting stuff like water bills out before setting off to work in the afternoon.

A sense of folding back into my desk. On the buff and polish stage of two stories, The Hounding, and The Bestie, which is now called The Meat It Feeds On. I read short stories by Algernon Blackwood, Ray Bradbury and Thomas Ligotti.

Anton called to discuss the blackwing pencils he had bought me. They are very nice. I sense the dawn of a new stationery obsession.

As the day was rainy and uninviting I just popped out once or twice to local shops. Lorraine home with a cold and feeling poorly after work.

An early night for all.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

More birthday business

Up feeling slightly fragile after a lively night yesterday. Off on the bus to Hove to see Rosie my near astrological twin, plus one day and a truckload of years, whose birthday is today. Innis, Eve, Emily and Tim, Phoebe and Lyra and Sue, Rosie's mum and Pippi the dog. Rosie and Innis house sitting for a friend and taking care of a chirpy little budgie that had a fly around at one point outside of his cage. There was also a bubble tank with a solitary red Betta Splendens in it.

We had breakfast of pancakes and croissants and fruit and lots of coffee, and even a few sips of bubbly. All very pleasant. Made Lorraine and I both wonder why we don't meet people more for brunches. It is very civilised.

Home again by bus, and a degree of snoozing and generally regrouping before we made off to the Preston Park Tavern, to meet Anne and Anton and Klaudia and Oskar. A nice roast there and a splash of wine and a Guinness or two. Lots of nice cards and presents for me, three books and some magnificent Blackwing pencils and Blackwing pencil sharpener, and Anne got me a book token, which is always very useful. Played a card game called Dino Dump 'a speedy card game about dinosaurs and poo' that Beth had found the other day. I really enjoyed seeing them all, and chatting to the lovely godbairns. Now both firmly teenagers. Oskar now taller than Klaudia and is getting quite handsome.

Fond farewells, and Lorraine and I returned home to slump happily on the sofa and zoom fairly quickly to bed. I had a wonderful last few days. So far, being 60 is fine and dandy.

Below Innis and Rosie on Rosie's birthday, and Oskar, me Anton and Klaudia. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

60 not out

A truly excellent birthday today. Tea and breakfast in bed, and a slow start. Many birthday messages coming to me from lots of folks, including Tobs and Mum. At no point did I feel like screaming sixty! at myself repeatedly in a mirror. It is, like all these so called big birthdays, much better to be it than be on the cusp of it. Maureen sent me a huge and slightly tormenting badge with 60 on it and phoned to wish me a happy birthday.

It was however raining steadily all day, so Lorraine had planned a short walk in the country but we biffed that, and went onto phase two, which was afternoon tea at the elegant (if David Lynch sounding) South Lodge, which was like a tasting menu of lovely but bad things, gorgeous little sandwiches and patisserie and scones and all the tea you could drink. It was lovely stuff and a hold onto your hat sugar rush.

A short regroup at home, and then Dawn came to collect Beth, Lorraine and I off to the Bottom's Rest for thali dishes and several beers. We four were joined by Anton, Rosie and Innis, Hus and Kata, Ben Conti and Richard Gibson. Just an exceedingly cheery night, with everyone mixing nicely. Beth had secreted a cake with her too, which was surprise, and there was a round of happy birthday sung. Good to catch up with Hus and Kata, who downloaded a copy of Magnificent Grace on the spot, and talk to Hus about philosophy, and Ben about glass being a membrane of magic, and to Richard about many and various bits. A bit weird for Beth having a social occasion and being newly single again, but she enjoyed herself too, which I was very pleased about. Lovely cards and a gorgeous book from Dawn, and a bottle of good Italian wine from Hus.

Eventually, the last cups being drained, Lorraine, Beth and I grabbed a cab home. My top hat somewhat askew after a lovely day.

Below... Being sixty is a piece of cake. Beth took these candid photos on my phone of Lorraine and I in The Bottom's Rest just chatting for a moment. I really like them. Lorraine did everything she could to make sure my birthday was a lovely one.

Friday, October 11, 2019

An interlude of quiet

A quiet Friday, just what is needed for a gentleman living, as Lorraine pointed out, the last day of my fifties. Did some billing to my French clients, who payed later in the day, which is kind of unheard of. Ate little during the day, and had a nice little curry tonight with Lorraine and an early night. Chatted to Sonia, and worked on my various projects. Rather mentally exhausted by the end of the day.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Up early, with Lorraine, who scuttled off early. Beth off for another day of flat clearing. I worked quietly in the morning, and then went to the gym. Did my usual round of lightish weights and then started on the cross trainer. After about four minutes stabbing chest pains began, which I put down to indigestion. After a few minutes of this I made myself rather alarmed, to the extent I climbed off the cross trainer and mooched towards my doctor's surgery which, now it has moved happens to be across the road. However by the time I got near its door I was fine, and then burped, curing everything. I went straight back to the gym feeling sheepish, and picked up where I left off. 

Lorraine home a bit early today, and we had a nice chat before I travelled to Lewes on a windy night to the needle makers reading. There were four readers among them Clare Best, and Robert Hamberger, both of whom were excellent. Another chap read prose, and there was a woman reading the sort of poems I find it very hard to like. Cheery evening though, I sat with Stephen, Charlotte and Robin, and I chatted to Janet Sutherland, and Robert Hamberger, and Clare Best and said howdy to Jeremy Page and Catherine Smith and a few others, while forcing down a few pints of Harveys served from the barrel in the John Harvey Tavern all of a few yards away from the brewery. Made it home quite early too, and crept happily into bed, while Lorraine's iPad played Masterchef to a sleeping wifey. 

Below the rankings of Amazing Grace on Kindle, this morning... This is after selling half a dozen copies. When I start taking it into schools who knows what lofty heights I might reach.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Lunch with Mum

Up and attending to various tasks first thing. Beth starting a couple of days of evil flat clearing, poor thing.

On the train up to London I felt briefly like a proper writer, with three recent stories published, Magnificent Grace on Kindle, and today was contacted by someone doing a Guernsey-based anthology.

I made off to London today, to meet Mum in the Salisbury for a bite to eat and a few drinks. Great to see her of course, and we had fun chatting and did lots of reminiscing. She gave me a lovely hardback copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and quoted a few thing from it. It was an excellent present. I was bemoaning being as old as 60 in a few days, and then I said it must be worse to have a son of 60. 'Good job I had you when I was twelve,' she said.

Fond farewells at Embankment station, and then I headed back to Preston Park just in time to beat the 4.00pm deadline when my super off peak saver would no longer work. Lorraine and Beth back at the same time, and we had a quiet night in, which was good. Lorraine having a highly challenging week of it.

Below Mum tries on my new Harry Potterish spectacles to squint at the menu.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Magic tree

Magnificent Grace related activities most of the day, and also doing some other work on the short story The Hounding which is taking a while to get right. Apart from my walk I worked like some kind of workaholic dog on various bits. Mentioned Magnificent Grace on facebook, and got a lovely response from many people.

Lorraine home very late tonight, and Beth was late too, and she and I went to the Preston Park Tavern for a quick drink and a chat, and then were joined by Lorraine a bit later. It was a nice end to the day.

A cobweb blowing walk up to Hollingbury Hillfort today, through the scraps of woods around the golf course. Saw strange, somewhat magical decorations around a particular tree, found the triangulation point on top of the hill, and snapped this view.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Pink Monday

Up with the larks this morning, as Lorraine set off very early. The dawn was rosy, and I looked out at our pebbly garden and everything looked slightly pink. Worked quietly from a bit before seven till lunchtime, then went to the gym. I need to do things every day now into the foreseeable future to promote Magnificent Grace. Getting the ball rolling will take steady effort. I will give it that. Ellie putting the cover on her instagram and facebook with a link to Amazon which is excellent.

I discovered an album by Joan Armatrading called Into The Blues recorded in 2007, and love it. Apparently it topped the blues charts in the US for weeks. Enjoyed watching a documentary about her on TV the other day. It reminded me yet again how her 1976 album, just called Joan Armatrading, is one of my all time favourites. It was given to me by school friends as a birthday present for my 17th birthday. I went to see her live in the seventies too.

Lorraine and Beth home from various works and we had supper catching up with Masterchef. I felt as if I were getting a cold and was snuffling this evening.  Lorraine had a very tiring day, so we were both in bed early. Lorraine reading Magnificent Grace on the kindle, which made me feel a bit paranoid that she would find some terrible mistake in it. So far she hasn't.

Pinkness at dawn, looking east from Kenny Towers.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Magnificent Grace

Up after a good night's sleep. Beth and her pals Emily and Eliza fragile after a long and lively night, and needing breakfast. Otherwise a fairly quiet day. Went for a walk in the park with Lorraine and excitingly dried clothes in the launderette.

While sitting about in the kitchen this afternoon, Lorraine and I started playing the Sherlock Holmes game that Anton had lent us. Involved lots of reading, and thinking about clues, which led to drinking some wine the girls had brought us. A nice interlude.  Match of the Day was watchable tonight too, with Chelsea winning, and the bonus of the Manchesters City and Utd both losing.

Spoke to Toby, who said there was a strike affecting his school tomorrow. My dratted phone ran out of power as we talked.

More stressing this morning over getting the layout right for the kindle book. But it is now okay I think. After I texted Ellie this morning, she finally revealed to Carl that she had done the cover for Magnificent Grace. He was really chuffed, which was excellent, and was surprised at the pair of us keeping it a secret. It was worth it! It is now buyable on kindle at a knock down price.

Below... Ellie's cover.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Destination gold sofa

Saturday morning, and Lorraine and I eventually got up and took Calliope to the vet. My cat was not herself, and barely even yowled in the car with any feeling. Luckily the vet says that it seems nothing is broken, but she has strained her shoulder, (there was a point when she pressed Calliope's shoulder and got a definite response yelp). We came away with painkillers, and I felt reassured.

Into town this afternoon, Lorraine with a bit of shopping to do. I went to the barbers and got a trim, and generally caught up a bit on football gossip from the chaps there. All in a good mood as the day's early kick off had resulted in a surprise 3-0 victory for Brighton over Spurs, whose team, the sages of Clippers said some of the Spurs team had been fighting over a woman. Afterwards Lorraine and I mooched to Sainsbury's and laden down, cabbed home. A quiet night in tonight, Lorraine absolutely shattered after the week.

Beth home and joined by Emily and Eliza, getting ready for a night on the town tonight. They are staying overnight, and so kindly brought us some wine. Lorraine and I happy to take, blissfully, to the gold sofa tonight.

Friday, October 04, 2019

A fine night out

Working like a dawg today, getting Amazing Grace uploaded onto Amazon, and so on. Didn't quite get it all right, and more to do.

Reading Supernatural Tales, some really good work in there by other people. I look at my story, and see so many things I would like to tweak. I am beginning to realise that the stories that end up being published are not too rigorously edited. The only changes made in my story by the editors was to change all the speech marks to old school double ones, and remove italicisation. Supernatural tales is available on amazon here.

A happy evening. Lorraine returned in one piece from the Isle of Wight. I had missed her. It was weird to wake up in the night being outnumbered by cats.

And speaking of cats, Calliope now limping badly, so I made an appointment at Top Cats tomorrow. Worried about her.

 however with my glass people. Went off to new friends Sally and Marek's apartment on the seafront in Kemptown, there we met Adele and Patrick, Yvonne and Brian. A stunning room, really high ceilinged and covered in portrait pictures, and looking down on the sea.  Marek and Sally ordering curry for everyone, and we drank beer and chatted, and Patrick played guitar and sang and it was all very jolly as you can see from the photos....

Below: Marek (standing) Patrick and Lorraine; Sally playing guitar; myself with Adele; myself with Yvonne; Marek, Brian and Patrick; Sally, Lorraine and Brian.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Thursday and working well

Up and working on some stuff that I'd been sent from mes amis in Paris. Then setting up a landing page for the book, which meant  rebuying, creating a skeltonyawngrave twitter account, and generally getting things organised for the kindling of the kids book.

Anton called to wish me happy poetry day, and have a chat.

Beth in for a bit today, going to bed this morning, and then out again this afternoon back to work. Brief chat with Lorraine, her time on the isle of wight going well. Feeling tird by the end of the day, and went to bed early after watching a BBC broadcast documentary about the Spitfire and episodes of Dear White People on Netflix.

Calliope suddenly limping this evening. She had been slightly funny on her foot a day or so before that but had been happily haring about the house between then and now. Somewhat concerned about her.

A bracing walk late in the afternoon, up to the top of Hollingbury, looking down on the steely blue sea. Due to my dodgy ears I have not been listening to audiobooks much lately, but I risked listening as I walked, and finished Paul Tremblay's book A Head Full of Ghosts, which wasn't bad, and was a bit of a postmodern take on an Exorcist type story, with reality show and bloggers blended into the story.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019


The thud this morning of my copy of Supernatural Tales coming through the letter flap, with my story The Inheritors in. Takes up 14 pages. Not taken up 14 pages of any meatspace publication before, and it was a very good feeling. Feeling cheerful, and far less queasy today.

Working on some work for the French agency first thing, which was then cancelled as their client had decided to design the whole thing himself. Slightly despairing note from Val but I was able to support her a bit. Then able to do work on my own bits and pieces, and then I was sent with some stuff to do tomorrow.

In the evening slipped off the desk manacles and walked off to see Anton for a cheeky drink at eight. We met outside the Shakespeare's Head, but there was a quiz night on so we went to a couple of other places, and ended up in The Evening Star, drinking beer similar to the kind he was drinking in Dresden recently. Anton liked the beer,  but didn't love the clientele of beardy and sandal-sporting geeezers talking seriously about beer. All the beer and no idea. I walked home and watched a bit of TV before sloping into bed.

Anton and I walked past this window tonight. Looked like a laugh. It is called A Room Full of Laughter by Andy Doig. A better view that what was on offer a few shops down. I squinted in a window and I got an eyeful of a gentleman's privates as there was a nude drawing class going on.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019


Unpleasantly surprised by a bout of  bad diarrhoea and a generally queasiness this morning. Cancelled an afternoon coffee with Chris, and instead worked all day and most of the night as whatever it was righted itself.  A year today since Janet died -- and notes back and forth to Madeline, assorted Canadians and Goodwins. All in all though, a much better day than the one I had this time last year.

Weird to wake up in the night, without Lorraine. She had been zip wiring, and the trip is going well.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Home Alone

Walked off with Lorraine this morning to be picked up by Max and driven to school, and then she was to go to the Isle of Wight with a coach load of nippers for the week. Beth then drove off in Lorraine's car a bit later to stay with Rosie, and sort things out at her old flat.

This left me home alone. There was plenty of work to be getting on with this week. Went to the gym at tea time, where I spoke to Lorraine to hear they had all arrived safely. Went to bed shepherded by cats, spoke to Lorraine, and read some horror.

Popped out to the garden to snap the flowers that have come out now that the rain is utterly torrential.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Reading day

A day of reading. I read Why You Should Read Children's Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise an excellent essay by Katherine Rundell that Rosie had recommended I read. Really stout defence of the value of children's literature and why adults should read it too. A couple of pleasingly anxious short stories by the horror writer Shirley Jackson, from my new collection The Lottery and Other Stories. I finished a group of four short stories by Thomas Ligotti called In a Foreign Town, in a Foreign Land. At one point I went to the laundrette and started The White Book by Han Kang, a book which I took from Janet's things last time I went to her flat with Madeline, as nobody had wanted it.

There was a one-armed older man in the launderette.  I felt bad that I had nipped in and, without realising, used the only free drier before he had finished. A woman helped him load and unload the tumbler at one point, which was good. He pointed out I had dropped a  sock, and I wanted to talk to him but he would never catch my eye.

Otherwise a quiet day. Lorraine has put Betty on the insurance for the car, and they went off to test drive. Lorraine said Beth is an excellent driver now, and Betty enjoyed driving it.

Chatting to Mum this afternoon, and telling her how important her Skelton pictures had been in the development of my children's story. Otherwise I did bits of writing this afternoon. As Lorraine did a spot of schoolwork, and packed for her trip with a couple of dozen school kids off to the Isle of Wight tomorrow.

We had a roast chicken with lots of vegetable for supper. Jolly nice it was, and we watched Antiques Roadshow, which the older I get the more I find curiously comforting and interesting.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

You want a hand with that?

A quiet day, weather raining or thinking about raining all the time. Lorraine and I mooched across the park this morning, and on the way back bought tasty but dear Sussex produce from a little stand and vehicles that appear there on Saturdays.

In the evening Dawn, Innis and Rosie came around for dinner and a few drinks. Lorraine cooking an excellent pie made with filo pastry and spinach and feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes -- and bread and butter pudding! (One of the allowable puddings.) Lorraine and I had a really nice evening catching up with everyone.

Rosie, who is steadily recovering from her horrid time in hospital, being very encouraging about Magnificent Grace, and about getting me into schools with her to discuss writing and so on. Very happy with this. Lovely to see Dawn of course. She has had lots to cope with recently too, the death in a year of both her parents, and the breakup of a relationship. But she is unselfish and lovely woman. Innis seemed in good spirits. Employing the little plastic hand I offered Lorraine in the kitchen, 'you want a hand with that' etc. to great effect and using it like a tiny hand to scare Rosie with.

Below Innis and the hand.

Friday, September 27, 2019

After work drinks with poets

Working well today, had a nice chat with Beth this morning, and a good chat with Sonia before I loped off to the gym where I had a decent session. Think I have sorted out the cover using the image I got from my secret squirrel artist.

Happy to be mooching off to the Preston Park Tavern for 5:30, where I met my best poetry buddies Robin, Sarah, Charlotte and Stephen for a beer and long chat. Lovely to see everyone. I always feel uplifted and reassured by these folks. Having other writer chums essential if you are not to go mad. Not much actual poetry discussed, as we mainly talked about life. Stephen, arriving a little later said he had already read The Dream House in Frogmore Papers, and it had scared him, which pleased me lots. I told him how much I liked his erotic curry poem too.

We all got stuck into a drink, and Beth and Lorraine joined us a couple of hours later as the poets were beginning to think about melting away. A happy evening all around. Will be seeing the poets again soon in Lewes for Clare Best's book launch. Sauntered home with Lorraine, Beth opting for an ABF in the pub.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Back to the 70s

A quiet morning working on my new story and writing emails. Wasted time putting together an email about Janet and Ken's interment on 28th October, and when I emailed Caroline to get some details, she said she was sending one out today.

Then to the gym which I enjoyed,  while Beth was seeing an acting student. After I sat in a cafe in the park down by the newt pool and started drafting a poem. I had not done this for months. On the way back I bumped into Simon in the park, and had a chat with him. He is still looking well and keeping really fit after a major heart attack a couple of years ago.

Home and I watched The Daily Politics, as I ate my post gym sandwich. Shameful scenes in the reconvened House of Commons yesterday. Fuelling the kind of crap I saw when I strayed onto a pro-Brexit page today on facebook: Greta Thunberg a poor retarded girl being exploited by socialist parents, (global warming naturally all lies) Corbyn, Sadiq Khan and Diane Abbot hate figures. People wanting to go back to the seventies when it was still 'our country' etc. support for figures like 'Tommy Robinson', Johnson and Farage. I have often wondered about the rise of National Socialism in Germany in the 30s. With Johnson's naked the people vs the parliament tactic, he is playing with fire. It seems that it is depressingly easy to tip whole swathes of the population into a collective madness.

More work this afternoon, toying with the typography on the cover. Beth out doing improv this evening having done more flat clearing. Lorraine and I stayed in watching Scandinavians murder each other, then the first episode of Life On Mars, which I never saw. It is a time travel cop show with John Simm finding himself in a version of the seventies as viewed through seventies cop show The Sweeney. As usual they drain the colour out of the seventies, as if colours weren't the same now as they were then.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Almost full circle

A poor night's sleep, so happy not to have rush off anywhere. I caught up with various bits of my own work this morning, looking at the cover for my kindle painted by my secret squirrel cover artist on canvas-like paper. Flattening it now, as it arrived curled up in a tube and has been painted on a canvas like paper. Very pleased with it.

At lunchtime off to meet Madeline at Fourth & Church in Hove, for a long chat over a glass of wine and a delicious bite to eat. Madeline was saying that the seasons always remind her of previous ones. Then we went into Janet and Ken's house to read the meters and tidy things up a bit. With the Brexit crisis the viewings have been thin on the ground and the price keeps dropping. Personally I have no skin in the game whether it sells or not, but we did decide to clear the fridge and freezer of stuff that was left over from Janet and Ken's time, as well as remove assorted medications that had been left in the bathroom. Year old food and medications of dead people may just put people off a bit. Members of the family who might profit from selling it had not done this is a mystery. Sad to be back there, almost a year after Janet died with so much being the same. This business seems to drag on and on. There will be a burial of Ken and Janet's ashes together late next month, which I will go to having not attended Janet's cremation last year.

Home again, and cooked salmon and stir fry for Lorraine and I. Lorraine had managed to pack all her stuff to go to pilates tonight and got so involved in work she forgot to go. Beth popped in briefly after work before going out again. Lorraine and I both tired, and slunk off to bed early.