Thursday, December 08, 2016

First Night

A bit of a limbo during the day. I slept this afternoon for an hour, and otherwise pottered about not doing too much of anything, other than wasting time humble bragging on Facebook, in an attempt to get more people through the door tonight.

Lovely Lorraine arrived home early and she, James and I cabbed down to The Marly for six. Dylan, Beth and Kitty already there. Lurked in the green room a bit, and then as soon as we could get into the theatre, boshed in and set up rapidly. Bloody great white flats left in the room, and we had to dissemble them with the help of Marly folks before the seats could be done. A bit of nervous hanging around beforehand. Went to sit in the bar, nursing a half-pint. I met Ptolemy who Beth has taught, and had brought a posse of his drama A level class with him, having seen A Glass of Nothing earlier in the year. He congratulated me on the writing, and Beth says he can recite bits of the play. A very promising 16 year old I think, who clearly has marvellous taste.  Then Anton and Mari arrived to see the show. Lovely to see Mari again, and we hung about a bit before we kicked off.

A bit of a delay in starting, with Beth waiting in the tiny backstage area. Then finally we got going. Lots of younger people in the audience, and as soon as We Three Kings got going they were laughing and engaged the whole way through. Beth held it all together as the Mary figure, Marybeth, and the three kings did brilliantly. I wrote Melchior for Dylan and he just shone in it. That boy is like sunshine on stage. Kitty did the cross dressing Drag King Caspar very well, and the fact that Beth is romantically drawn to Caspar went very well indeed. James was superb as Balthazara. I thought he might be put off by the laughter, but he kept it going really well, swirling melodramatically about the place. A Glass of Nothing ran smoothly Beth's transformation into the world's most beautiful woman brilliantly acted. Kitty and Beth confident enough to ad lib around a falling over chair. Dylan word perfect and brilliant. Kitty brilliant too, always finding ways to add more,  my tiny but menacing part as the prompter even got a laugh. But Beth, who is onstage for all but a few minutes in A Glass of Nothing was a real powerhouse driving both through, and acting fabulously. She was very nervous tonight, but carried it off like a star and I felt really proud of her.

Immensely pleased to see that We Three Kings worked so well in front of a live audience. On my favourite Kermode and Mayo podcast they talk about films passing the six laugh test, i.e. if during the whole film there are six laughs. We'd done that inside the first three minutes of We Three Kings.

What was fascinating was that after the applause at the end of the evening, the audience simply didn't want to leave, but hang about talking. I had to eventually drag the actors out from backstage otherwise we wouldn't have got out. Anton and Marie who were sitting next to Lorraine and I said they really enjoyed it. Ptolemy, who was sitting behind me, said he liked We Three Kings too.

Felt really proud of everyone, and -- a rare moment this -- proud of myself too. A few cheeky and highly relieved beers downstairs in the bar of the Marly with Lorraine and Beth, James, Kitty and her friend Nick,  Anton and Mari. Then cabbed home with Lorraine and Beth and James. Ate toast. James drove home, and Lorraine went to bed. And over the last bits of toast Beth said, We did it didn't we? And we bloody had too. Went to bed, crawling in beside a fast asleep Lorraine. And fell asleep almost at once, looking forward to tomorrow.

So preoccupied, I didn't take a single snap. D'oh! 

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Tech rehearsal

Bit of a free floating day today. To the gym this morning to dispel tension, which worked but made me sleepy in the afternoon. And spoke to Mum, who said Mas was feeling a bit more himself, and they are talking about moving him from intensive care again soon.

Otherwise a bit of tinkering with things to do with the play. Beth in bed most of the day. When James came we set off for the Marly in a cab. Nice Pakistani cab driver who I ended up discussing Pakistani politics with. He is optimistic about the future, which is good to hear.

Did the tech rehearsal tonight, suddenly lots more real once the stage lights and sounds were sorted. A solid tech, who new her stuff, which helped. Being on a lit stage really brought out the energy in Dylan particularly. He is such a natural. Beth conserving her voice.

Lorraine came tonight too, and her presence was really welcome. Touching how much strength Beth derives from her being there. Lorraine thought We Three Kings was good too, and seeing as she is the first person to see it, is a relief.  Lorraine and I drove home with James, who was parked outside our house. Beth went off to see John.  Lorraine and I had a glass of wine at home before bed and talked, not having the opportunity to speak much in the last few days.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Long day at the thesbian coal face

Up early and doing few bits in a somewhat unfocused fashion. Then the afternoon spent in our last rehearsal in the Duke of Welly, before walking across town carrying a hatstand, (kindly lent us by the folks in the Duke of Wellington) down to the Marlborough.

A supper of sorts in Starbucks, because it was near and we needed food, then a first dress rehearsal in the Marlborough. Spoke briefly to David and Tariq who were both there. First time I'd been in the theatre there for some time. The stage has been enlarged, and the old sticky carpet taken up and it's come up trumps.

A good rehearsal, and we finished up at 9:45, and had a quick drink downstairs in the Marlborough's bar with Beth and James, having a wee in the urinal of the gender-free toilet. The Marlborough is mainly a lesbian pub serving vegan food, and has a good atmosphere, but I can't help feeling a bit of an interloper there sometimes, but I must remember this is the third time I have written stuff which has brought punters into the theatre, and drinkers into the bar. A taxi home, after a long day.

A couple of snaps, Dylan, James and Kitty: our Three Kings, and Beth being transfixed by a duck bill.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Spooning the mauve

An abominable night's sleep. After lying completely awake for a couple of hours with a merry-go-round of thoughts dipping up and down I simply got up and did some work, with Calliope which was helpful. As a consequence I felt pretty shattered this morning, and instead of travelling to London which had been my plan A, contented myself with phoning Mum a couple of times. Mas about the same as yesterday, Mum still bearing up.

Did props and sound effect organising things with Beth, and ran some of her lines, this afternoon after snoozing for a bit.  In the evening before Lorraine came home, Beth (with me kitchen portering) made a strange mauve soup from yesterdays leftover vegetables and a bit of chicken. It tasted really nice, but mauve though.

Beth printing off duplex checklists for the props and gathering everything together. We will be dropping it all off at The Marlborough tomorrow, in a marathon rehearsal day at the Duke of Welly, then a dress rehearsal in the Marly in the evening.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Rehearsing on a Sunday afternoon

Lorraine and I had a late breakfast, with Beth and James arriving in time for toast. Phoned Mum who said Mason had been taken back into Intensive care, which was somewhat concerning. When I called her in the evening, however, she said that he was noticeably better than he had been.

A cab into town, and Lorraine and I did a smidge of shopping, before I joined the others at The Duke of Welly, where I had to collect my computer and simply come home again, to transfer the show playlists onto the laptop, and then return.

Had good day's rehearsing, and it was generally quite fun, if a little gruelling. Kitty had been filming all night, so was a bit shattered, but did well nevertheless. Everyone else firing well. We Three Kings feeling much better now. Ended after six and had a quick drink under an electric bar fire in the beer garden, watching the James and Beth smoke. Nice chat with the owner, and I thanked him again for his kindness in letting us use the rehearsal room. Turned out he was former stage manager, so understands the needs of thespians.

Then home, and Lorraine was with Dawn in the kitchen. A fun evening, with a large roast dinner, featuring beetroot in a white sauce. We were all pleased to see Dawn and catch up with her news.

To bed late, after watching Chelsea's lesser rivals fail on Match of the Day.

Below James, Dylan, Kitty and Beth eating cookies after rehearsing for seven hours.

Saturday, December 03, 2016


A peaceful morning. I got up and bought some bread and bacon, and Lorraine and I had bacon sarnies in bed, which was decadent. Lorraine had to go off to her school this afternoon, as it was the school Christmas fair and she had to be sociable and mingle with folks. I spoke to Mum, then received a poetry rejection for a MS I'd been rather hopeful about, and then went to the gym for the first time in ages. It helped and I wasn't too tired afterwards.  I went into my ideologically unsound Starbucks for a coffee and a vile blueberry muffin, and thought about doing some work, but found I wasn't in the mood for poems, or doing much.

Reading a book of Ancient Egyptian writing. Although I was taken to the British Museum at an early age and Ancient Egypt has always been no my radar, I never feel I know too much about it. The fact that the first great dynasty started just shy of 3,000 years before Christ in a civilisation that continued till well after Christ's birth really is remarkable. I don't think I'd ever really clocked this before.

Walked home and cooked some sausages and made the Lorraine comfort food of mash, with fried onions, peas, carrots and gravy in time for Lorraine when she came home brandishing a bottle of Bolney champagne and a Christmas cake, she'd bought at the fair. This sausagey fare went down very well. We had a happy night indoors watching Expanse, our SF series, and then Chelsea beating Manchester City on Match of the Day to pull a little clear at the top of the table.

Spoke to Mum again, and Mason now moved out of the ward we saw him in yesterday, Toby texting too this evening.

Friday, December 02, 2016

An Announcement and visiting Mas

Best news of the day is that Sam and Jade have now officially announced their engagement. Lorraine and I are really chuffed about this, and Beth is too. Sam and Jade are coming for Christmas, so it will be a double celebration.

In other news, an overdue billing session this morning, and I finally got my invoices up to date. Then set off to Farringdon to meet Mum at Barts. Mason now out of intensive care, and in a room of his own, close to the nursing station. He is still very tired, and falling asleep mid-sentence and then waking up with a disoriented start. Mum and I sat with him for a couple of hours, and then left. Had a one fast drink in the Butchers Hook and Cleaver, posh Pie and Ale pub, and then we walked to Farringdon. Mum bearing up well with the travelling and visiting, though I am urging her to take a day off.

A wearyingly slow train home, but Lorraine picked me up at a little before seven, as she had worked late, and we went home, and then walked down to a very busy Shahi. A nice meal there and a welcome bit of time together, before we walked back up the hill again to reach home. We are watching an SF series called The Expanse, which is a little bit like Blade Runner in space.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

As nice as pie

Made a layer pie today, one of my mum's old recipes, where you layer onion and pork luncheon meat in a pie, then pour in beaten eggs. You bake it, and when sliced it appears in attractive strata of pork and oniony egg. It is not a thing of great sophistication, but very comforting on a cold day with baked beans and baked potato.  Fed this to an appreciative Lorraine this evening. I like to be able to cook for her in the evening. She brings me tea and breakfast in the morning quite often. It is a beautiful thing a cup of tea in the morning.

Went off with Betty during the day to London road to a poundshop to buy bits of Christmassy stuff for the stage set of We Three Kings. Beth also prepared the music for the show. Not going to London, nor having any work, nor a rehearsal meant I had the luxury of a sleep this afternoon for an hour. Beth sorry to be missing the pie.

Nice to speak to Matty this evening, having sent him some of my Chad poems, which he received while sitting in The Bull's Head in Chiswick, one of my old haunts and in the seat that Matt and I last had a drink there together. He liked them lots, which was good. Also sent a version of a poem I am writing about Mochi New year's rice cakes to the Tobster. Of course as soon as I sent it I started reworking it. All I want to do is read and write poems at the moment.

Beth wanted a photo of my pie, which I sent to her as she travelled off to see John.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

In want of sharpness

Up early, and my brain not at its sharpest, and feeling generally tired. Bits of writing, and did a smidge for my French clients. The work I was expecting from my pals in Chiswick did not materialise, but I am happy with that.  Spoke to Mum before she went off to see Mason.

Worked doing lists and stuff with Beth and the Tech script for We Three Kings. in the afternoon.  James collected us in his car and we spent the evening rehearsing with James and Dylan their scenes in W3K in the room upstairs of The Duke of Welly. Dylan making big strides today. James's comic timing very good I think. Maybe because he's a musician too.

Very cold tonight for Brighton. Luckily James gave us a lift home too.

Home to Lorraine at 9:30, chatted with my lovely wife before we shuffled off to bed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wards and theatre

Up for toast and lots of coffee, and hung about with Mum, who was taking calls and did a couple of emails. I did a spot of hoovering before we went off again to the hospital. Somewhat to my surprise we found Mason much more alert today, his voice stronger and able to speak in sentences. He's far from out of the woods yet, but it was good to see him a lot brighter. The sister talked to us before we went into the ward, saying he'd been saying strange things about California, and the pacific ocean and so on, and they wondered if this was normal. We assured them it was.

I left Mum and Mas in the ward, and went to meet Betty on the platform at Farringdon Station. She'd been up to Mill Hill to have photos taken at an extras agency. Slow train to Brighton, then once in the home of the seagulls, we bought some Japanese style takeaway, then rehearsed A Glass of Nothing with Dylan and Kitty till 9:30pm in the Duke of Welly. Everyone a bit low energy, and it was hard work. Managed to grab a cab just outside the pub, and Beth and I were soon home to Lorraine.  Very tired, and it was good to be home.

Below a section of one of Mum's paintings (not the whole thing), which is the view from upstairs in my Grandparent's house on La Rue des Grons, done as if taken by a fish eye lens on a rare day of snow. This is now my desktop picture on my mac.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Back to Bart's

New kitchen stools delivered this morning, and I did a few scraps of work. Up to London today, and I met Mum at Bart's hospital where we spent the day with Mason in intensive care ward. He is not making much progress, and not in a particularly good way. He is, however, receiving absolutely outstanding care. I am really impressed with the staff. They are friendly and professional and communicative. A long afternoon, watching Mason's screen full of various traces, and numbers which you find yourself looking at all the time. He has a lot of swelling of his limbs. He is not able to talk much, and is in and out of an uncomfortable looking sleep. He is hooked up to an external pacemaker which is steadying his heart rhythm, which they are gradually turning down to see if his heart will pick up the slack.

We went off for cups of tea in a little cafe, and had a piece of chocolate and honeycomb diabetes on a plate. The square outside has a few autumnal trees, and twice we saw people feeding the nearly tame squirrels, which mum liked.

Eventually we left, and caught the train back to Stanmore, where we wandered down to Pizza Express and had some food and a drink. Toby messaging while we were there. Despite everything Mum and I had a good time, and talked lots. Then home to the pampered cats, and we sat by the fire, watched some TV and had another glass of wine before bed.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rehearsal day

Mas has been back in intensive care and Mum found him still rather out of it and not comfortable. This is concerning and I am going to hospital tomorrow with Mum.

Otherwise it was a day of major rehearsals, from midday till gone six at the ever-hospitable Duke of Wellington. A good day's work on We Three Kings with a few moments of hilarity. Beth very good at driving the day. Made a couple of cuts to the text, both of which helped.

A fast drink at the pub after, and the round was bought us by the owner, which was surprisingly kind of him. Then Beth and I caught a cab home. Lorraine had cooked us a roast chicken and lots of nice veggies, and Beth's pal Laura came around for a sleepover, and we had a cheery supper. Lorraine drank some wine, and I had a brace of beers and sank happily into the sofa watching some SF series on Netflix.

Below, James's silver shoes for the part of Balthazara.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


A day of doing things. I got up to buy some bread and then took breakfast up to Lorraine in bed, and we lurked there for some time before daring to face the day.  I spoke to Mum before she went to hospital to see Mas.

Then a burst of practical activity. A bit of leaf sweeping in our front garden, driving into town to look at costume bits for the play that Beth had, and buying things like lightbulbs, and gas canisters for the soda stream, and did a shop in Sainsbury's, and went to the Japanese store.

In the evening, Lorraine and I went off to see the movie Arrival down at the Marina, we really enjoyed it. An intelligent piece of SF that showed communication winning over a military response, with the linguist as the protagonist. But it nicely balanced a human story with a momentous historical moment for humanity with its first contact with an alien species. It also played with time too. Lovely stuff. And the central performance by Amy Adams was particularly good I thought.

Friday, November 25, 2016


In a strange state of mind, very tired and I look haggard, but poems are pouring out of me at the moment. Only time will tell if they are any good. Just had my head down all day. 

Preoccupied with Mason at the moment too. Spoke to Mum in the morning and later. Was phoned by the hospital to say Mas was being moved from intensive care.

In the evening, a delight, seeing The Shakespeare Heptet playing to a good sized audience, listening in rapt attention at St Mary's Church in Kemptown. Lots of chums in the audience, including Glenn over from Greece, we chatted to him and Steve Cartwright, and Maria-Grazia Richard's wife and Claudius. Lorraine also spreading out on the tables flyers for the Christmas play.  It was very atmospheric, and the band though a bit nervous at first played beautifully. They've also taken to projecting the sonnets onto the wall so you get to really dwell on the poems as you listen to the music. 

Then Lorraine and I walked with Steve and Maria off to the Evening Star, where we met  Glenn, Richard and Dipak. A really convivial atmosphere, and lovely people. Lorraine and I cabbed it home and straight off to bed.

Below the Shakespeare Heptet, currently a four piece, playing in a lovely atmosphere.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Seeing Mas in hospital

Off to London to see Mason in hospital. Met mum at St Bartholomew's in the lobby of the hospital, and we went for a quick cup of tea before visiting hours started.

It is a very modern building, and when we got to the intensive care unit, it seemed really well run, clean and the staff and equipment were all excellent. Mas himself was groggy and uncomfortable, but this only to be expected after such a big operation.

He was very tired and sleepy, so after a while, we left him to rest and repair.

Mum and I went to a posh ale and pie pub near Smithfield for a chat, and a quick drink.

Then I trained home in fairly good time, early enough to cook for Lorraine. Both of us very shattered today, and we repaired to bed at a very early 9:30.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bypass day

Mas had his triple-bypass today. The hospital called mum and then me, to say he was back in the ward, at around eight in the evening. I'd been speaking to  Mum a few times during the day, who was naturally relieved to hear he was back in the recovery ward.

Otherwise, I did bits of writing, but not in a very focused way. Also we had a rehearsal this evening at The Duke of Wellington. After this, at eight, I spoke to Mum and the hospital, then met Anton for a cheeky few beers in the Shakey Head. Good to catch up and discuss many and various subjects, including his recent trip to the US.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

An uncooperative crow

Attempting lots of work, but my brain not quite clicking, and everything taking a long time.

Mason admitted at Bart's hospital this afternoon. Mum went with him and there was a good deal of tiresome waiting in waiting rooms and so on. Took a walk down to the sea, good to stand there in the wind, with the sea quite rough and looking at a crow hopping about using a stick and possibly a stone. I wanted to take a photograph of it against the white sea, but it moved in mysterious ways.

I then popped in to see Janet and Ken, armed with some chocolate cookies. Janet looking forward to moving house, down to Hove, close to the sea at a very swanky address. She's been sorting through in preparation to move, and has uncovered a stash of fabric which she is going to give to Lorraine for the school. Walked home from there, and then got ready to go to Lewes. Was late due to rubbish strike-bound trains.

A Frogmore press reading  with Clare Best, Jeremy Page and Catherine Smith. Robin and Charlotte there, and Stephen Bone.  Missed most of Clare's, but caught Catherine and Jeremy. Had a quick beer after with Robin, Steven, Jeremy his wife and pals.

Had clocked up 16000 paces by the end of the day, which was good.

Below a few blurry snaps of the sea, the wind was blowing the phone in my hand. And the iSore.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Slow Monday

A sadder and wiser man this morning. Up early after gratefully draining the cup of tea Lorraine brought me, and proceeded in a state of some fragility. Quietly and ineffectually did stuff at my desk. Received a poetry rejection. Chiefly grateful that, unlike John, I didn't have to immediately get up and head off to a studio to play drums. Beth thin on the ground most of the day till she went out for food with Laura this evening.

Flyers for the play arrived, looking good.

I went for one judicious walk creeping about the neighbourhood. Luckily I had no freelance work today. I cooked a chicken stew, which was my chief accomplishment of the day, along with speaking to Toby, experiencing the first snow of the year. Romy's eye improving thankfully. Spoke to  Mum and Mas. Mas is off to hospital tomorrow, and all being well will have his op on Wednesday. Him and mum just wanting to get it over with.

Lorraine home and tired. I fed her chicken stew and we chatted on the sofa all evening. Wind and rain beating down outside, a glass of water in hand.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Betty's birthday

Beth's 25th birthday today. It started in traditional (for Beth) style with Beth, and John, sitting on the end of our bed to open her presents. And as usual Betty very excited. At lunchtime we all got a cab with a very friendly driver to take us to The Eagle, where we had the room upstairs which was soon full of Beth's pals, including Dylan, James and Kitty and Sarah and Matt and their bairns -- and some folks who were in Annie that Beth has known for years.

We had a good Sunday roast in there and a few beers during the afternoon. I was particularly pleased to see  Matt and Reuben who are all chuffed at their engagement. Lorraine, sensibly went home at tea time, but I stayed out with Beth and John, John's pal Matt and James. We went up the road to the Brighton Tavern, where Matt and Reuben had gone a bit earlier, for another drink with them. Then off to The Mash Tun, which was noisy and full of idiots. Then we went to another pub where there was an open night for musicians, and Matt played a few songs, and James sang an a cappella song.

At the end of the evening, Beth, John and I taxied home, and ate the chips we'd bought. Rather a lively day and evening, and my top hat was definitely askew. Felt like I was letting off steam, however, after feeling grotty for a few weeks, and that was great.

Below, Betty waiting for presents. Betty opening presents.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fantastic beasts and lots of rain

Stormy weather today, with loads of rain. After a morning enjoyably pottering about in the dungeon, and ordering things on the internet, then Lorraine did her work and I worked on a poem I'm writing about the Nomura Samurai House in Japan.

Lorraine and I walked into town to meet Beth and John in the teeming rain. As we did so, I realised that I was feeling better than I'd been feeling for weeks.

This being the day before Beth's birthday we went for a nice and attractively priced pizza at Franco Manca then after a swift pint, into the Kommedia to see the movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them -- as Beth is a big fan of all things Potterish. This is the new film from J.K.Rowling, and I thought benefited from being written for cinema, rather than being a translation of a book. Charming, escapist entertainment in the Rowling world, but without Harry Potter and his mates.

A deluge as we left. Eventually we found a cab, and came home.

Below, the a street in North Laine when it wasn't raining for a moment.