Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Launching the day from bed

Started working at 7 in bed, sipping tea that Lorraine had brought me before going off to work. But soon I was sprinting out for another productive and varied day for. Playing Creative Director briefly to feed back on ideas for my Chiswick pals, sending ideas to Paul the guy I met last week, working on poems and sending some to magazines, a spell in the gym and so on. A few calls and chats with folks too.

Also I finished listening to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I loved it this time. When Beth came home and we cooked together for Lorraine, and chatted about the play and so on. An amazing red sky at sundown. Lorraine fine, but nearing the end of her half term tether. Almost there, and then we zoom off to Guernsey at the weekend.

Below, the colour of the sky.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Weirdly Mondayish.

A very poor night's sleep. But I sent out poetry manuscripts today, worked on poems, had a quick teleconference and did some work with my chums in Chiswick, which seemed to use up the entire day. Felt weirdly Mondayish.

Beth out all afternoon and evening rehearsing for the production of Annie she is in.  Spoke to Mum, who had a stress test on her heart and so on today, and was fortunately found to be in very good shape. She didn't mention that she'd already walked three miles before she'd arrived at the hospital.

Went for a few short walks today, listening to the audiobook of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, which although I have read it already and it is very short, is a treat.

Quietly stayed in tonight, instead of going off to a poetry workshop, which I couldn't face at the last moment. Cooked for Lorraine who is reaching the end of her half term. Lately children have been worrying about clowns, with the scary clown craze coming over from the US.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The moon is a pizza

A sober day of working. I had bits of freelance to do this afternoon, and various other things to do with the upcoming Telltale reading.

In the evening Lorraine and I drove off to see Anton, where he had one of his spectacular pizza nights. I ate enormous amounts of pizza, and suffered through the night for it. But if it is a thing, death by Anton pizza isn't the worst way to go. After eating enormous amounts of pizza, Anton produced a delicious Dorset apple cake, and I had to eat two slices of this too, and then take a couple of slices home. I'm unbelievable. Enjoyable hanging out and listening to tunes too. Under Anton's tutelage I am trying to like Being Boiled by the Human League.

Met Beth at the car, as she had been rehearsing all night in Beastbourne. Home under a full moon, like a big pizza pie in the sky.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Masks and baskets

Saturday. I got up early, and bumped into Dawn outside after a futile attempt to buy bread at 8.00pm. Got up and worked, then cooked bacon and egg sarnies and took up to Lorraine, and went back to bed to eat them with her.

Later we went off to look at front doors. We went off to R & G Goatley a firm of door purveyors who have a commercial whose tune is aired on local radio and Lorraine sings when she drives past it. We looked at doors. Bloody expensive things front doors. Chastened we went home via some other shops and simply relaxed in the afternoon. Innis sent me a link to all the photos he'd taken of me, and there were lots of really good photos of me in glorious black and white. I was well pleased, and told him he'd managed to turn a pig's ear into a silk purse.

This evening we went off to The Fountain Head where we met Innis, Rosie, and Beth, and were later joined by John and Emily's Rosie's lovely sister. We were all off to see Nina Conti's In your face tour.  Lorraine and Betty absolutely love her, and I think she is really funny too, really quick thinking and most of the show is improvised. It was a good show.

After we all went to The Basketmakers for some beers and a chat. A good fun evening, and always good to be there.

Below Lorraine, me, Betty and John in the theatre sporting the cardboard representations of the masks that Nina Conti makes her victims wear. And Emily, Innis and Rosie in the Basketmakers. Innis trying to appear gangster-like.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Assorted birds, lovely books

Got up with Lorraine and after working for a couple of hours went to the gym, for the second day in a row. Only trundling on the cross trainer on a low gear, but it feels good to be back in the groove. Then to Starbucks to do a bit more work, and join a teleconference with my pals in Chiswick about a work thing.

The cafe was too noisy, so I had to conduct most of the hour long conversation walking about in Pavilion Gardens, with squawking seagulls and cheering Italian students, and a man smoking a large skunk spliff adding to the local colour.

Then I walked to Hove where, feeling hungry after the gym, I bought myself a small pastie in the co-op. Sat in Norfolk Square and started it, benignly throwing a crumb to a pigeon nearby. Soon I was surrounded by several dozen pigeons and half a dozen gulls. To my amazement a pigeon few onto my hand and started eating my pastie, while another climbed onto my arm. The most Hitchcockian pigeons I have ever encountered. I managed to dispel them, but ended up throwing my pecked at pastie away.

Then to see Helen, and a couple of hours with her working on the Centaur Project. Good to see her, and hear the latest part, which is a Fugue, where lots of folks all sing together in different parts.

This done, home on a 5b. A quick shower, an email to mes amis in Paris and then the day was done. I luxuriated in a quick snooze on the sofa before Lorraine came home.

Lorraine started preparing two delicious curries, and Anton and Dawn came around for a supper and a few drinks. Then we went to the Preston Park Tavern for a very late drink, before Anton went home. Anton gave me a deluxe copy of Lord of the Rings, printed on Indian paper, so that the whole thing is in one lovely book. Very happy. And Dawn brought me a book about favourite pieces of classical music, which is excellent as I enjoy making new discoveries.

Below, Helen and a big A in the sky I snapped early this morning.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A little quiet time

Still feeling particularly cheery, in the aftermath of my birthday. Decided to return to the gym, really pleased I did so, even though I approached it gingerly. From there, I popped into see Janet and Ken in the afternoon for a good chat and a cup of tea.

Otherwise lots of bits and pieces to get done to do with the play, and business stuff such as sending non-disclosure agreements. Also texted Sam to congratulate him on getting a distinction. Cooked for Lorraine tonight, and was happy to have a quiet night in watching The Great British Bakeoff.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

In which I have a very happy birthday

An unusually happy birthday. Lorraine brought me tea, and banana porridge in bed, as I got happy birthday texts from my godbairns and Anton. Lorraine bought me an art piece by Nikki Ward I'd admired earlier, a box containing a matchbox, exploding with paper butterflies. A very poetical thing, as well as cards from Mum and Mas, and Pat and Maureen.

Off up to the smoke, to a cafe called Bad Bean (a silent place where three or four people drank coffee and stared at their macs. One went off in a huff when Paul and I started an exploratory chat about his business. It's a potentially very interesting and different project.  I liked Paul too.

I got an unexpectedly large stream of well wishers contacting me all day via facebook, which was unexpected, as well as calls with Mum, Janet and the more unusually, the French Bloke too.

Back to Clapham, and after they had ineptly tested their emergency procedures, and people left the platform I was on, back easily to Brighton.  Arrived home at two after walking back, and Beth cooked us a late birthday lunch, and gave me a present of a lovely blue shirt, that fit me well.

When Lorraine got home we repaired to the Preston Park Tavern for a cheeky beer, before walking down to a restaurant called Semolina, where I was taken for my birthday feed. We had spoken to its owners when they worked in the Shakey Head bringing style to sausages and mash.  I had cider, mussel and clam chowder with crispy shallot rings. This was a triumph in a bowl. Then I had roasted pheasant, salsify, kale and bacon, very nice indeed (I added a side of cauliflower cheese and chips, both immaculate) and managed to find room for and a plum and porter cake, with quince sorbet. Just a top notch meal and a very reasonable price.

Taxied home. Full of a rare contentment and happiness. A very happy day.

Below, the piece by Nikki Ward Lorraine brought me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A hand of kings

Working hard early this morning to complete the first draft of We Three Kings. Felt good to have got there. I'm pleased with it, and I think I have left lots of room in it for the actors to expand and add their own flavours. We Three Kings the carol was written in 1857 by the Rev. John Henry Hopkins. Here's the verse about Frankincense:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume 
Breaths a life of gathering gloom; 
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying, 
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

Cheery eh? Also a smidge of French work, with Val phoning my from Bamako in Senegal, for reasons unknown.

In the afternoon Innis called round, and took lots of photographs of me. I have been to a fair few shoots in my time, but being the thing being shot is different. In the rare times I'm called on to supply a photo of myself, I always look a bit of a chump in them, so I thought it would be good to have Innis do me a proper shot.

Luckily, Innis, who I'm liking more and more as I get to know him, was really patient and really puts people at their ease. I think he took some excellent photos, but he'll send them to me soon.

Beth came home, and started readying things for the arrival of the company. James came early, as arranged, and we had a good chat. I looked at his illustration portfolio, and he is doing some interesting work with ink and vinegar, mixing very precise drawing and allowing more abstract accidental swirls to occur. He finds himself at artistic and personal crossroads at the moment, and I know what that feels like.

Then a cheery meal with the company, and we read through the full play. Dylan delighted I'd written a rap for him, and the others enjoying what I'd written for them too. Beth will be playing the pivotal role again, as Marybeth. Dylan, an urban King Melchior bringing gold. Kitty will be King Caspar, a cross dressing king and bringer of Frankincense, while James is Balthazara, an Eyoreish king in drag.

Lorraine arrived home late, and after chatting we sloped off to bed tired but happy.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Writing and walking

Working on the play this morning, then doing some work for my French pals in the afternoon. Taking myself for three walks during the day, trying to step up the amount of exercise I am getting and refresh myself from being manacled onto my desk. In one I bumped into Simon Bottrell, and arranged to meet up next week. In others I walked through woods. In a good frame of mind at the moment.

Below a glimpse of sea beyond Blaker's Park.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Assembling an Antonn

Today Lorraine and I assembled our Antonn, which is a big bookcase type unit. It came in three boxes and we were able to put it together simply and easily, without raging. It took us a couple of hours, but we felt pretty pleased with ourselves afterwards.  Lorraine working in the afternoon, and I was supposed to be working on the play, but the force was not with me.

Saturday, October 08, 2016


Into town with Lorraine, who went off to get her hair cut. I did the same, with Stacy the perfectionist cutting my hair again. He does a really good job. Expertly flashing past the spreading continent of the area of concern when he shows me the back of my head with the mirror.  Sitting next to me was a young lad whose dad had brought him in, after he'd attacked his hair with beard trimming shears.  The lad, weirdly, started talking about The Beatles (his dad clearly a vinyl nut). Strange how if you've just read a book about something (The Beatles) how Beatles stuff comes at you from strange angles.

Then into Starbucks to do some work, then off to meet Innis and Beth. Innis is going to take some photos of Beth for her portfolio, and I fancied a decent pic taken so I could use it as an author pic when necessary. Nice chat with Innis.  Beth very clear about what she needed, like a proper actress should be. I'm hoping for a miracle.

After, I popped into M&S to buy some underpants, and saw a really nice three-quarter length coat, rather a good length for me, and simply bought it there and then. My last similar coat had been sprayed on by Brian, and despite being dry-cleaned three times still smelled intolerable. I'm hoping this one won't meet the same fate.

Lorraine found me, sporting slinky hair. And then we did some shopping together before walking to Fatto a Mano where we had a pizza, and watched a sudden downpour heated by the warmth of their wood burning pizza oven. Nice pizza too. Home, and a happy and relaxed evening in.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Blasting through

No more needed from my French pals, so was able to dedicate the day to working on the play, the necessity to get it ready is now pressing. Spoke to Mum, and chatted with Sonia. Otherwise blasting through, and We Three Kings now falling into place. Bought some fish and chips and ate them watched by Lorraine, who was going out for a meal with two of her pals. Read some poetry magazines, including The Long Poem magazine, to whom I am going to send A Long Poem. Also listened to John Lennon's first solo album, Plastic Ono Band, which I'd never heard before. It is rather amazing, a couple of tracks featuring full on screaming as he had been doing primal scream therapy.

Feeling a bit tired and ratty by the end of the day, however. But this fixed by going out for a few cheeky beers with Anton tonight, meeting up with him in the Good Companions, near where he lives. Cheap beer there thanks to a loyalty card. Anton had got me one too, which is smart. However we needed a change of scene and drifted down to the Shakey Head for an absolute bloody final or two. Nice to hang out and chat about the matters the needed chatting about, such as bizarre new bands Anton had seen, the history of the Beatles, and so on. Nice to simply have a booze.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Voices from Guernsey

Up early and galloping through my French stuff, and sent it off to Paris and had a quick chat with mes amis there and did some more. I like working this way, and my colleagues always seem so pleased with things I send them. A quick walk into town at lunchtime and then back to work. Happy just to be spending the evening in Lorraine and Beth watched watched The Great British Bake Off.

Listened to the JKT show on Radio Guernsey just before bedtime, and heard Richard reading a poem about La Gran'mère  for national poetry day. It was a fine poem. With my poems on the same subject, she is fast becoming the most written about menhir I know. Good to hear JKT, Richard and Jane again on the airwaves.

Calliope in a moment of protest today, as I worked.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

I found myself in a strange town

Up early and working on stuff to do with animal antibiotics for my French clients today. A short walk during the day, and slogging till I had to zoom off to Tunbridge Wells in the evening. Journey there wouldn't have been bad, other than the fact that I stupidly got off at Tonbridge which is two stops before Tunbridge Wells. Wandering about Tonbridge raging at Google Maps for not working properly, when in fact I was in the wrong town. Till I asked a man to put me straight.

Arrived, breathlessly just in time to introduce the pamphlet launch for Jess's The Swell Telltale pamphlet, and take money from punters for a while. Jess is a bit of a force of nature and assembled a large audience, and got Robin and Sarah Abegail Morley and Mara Bergman to read with her. A pleasant enough evening, good to see Robin looking well. Hared off with Sarah at nine. A tiresome God-awful journey home via St Leonard's Warrior Square, but had a good long chat with Sarah. I taxied home well past eleven, Lorraine fast asleep.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Biffing through a Glass of Nothing

A cup of tea from my lovely Lorraine, and once up I was hard at work today on sorting out a few play bits first thing, then working on the French brief all day which was quite interesting and enjoyable. Bit of honest concept work guv'nor. Butterflies an' that.

After this malarkey, slouched down the hill with Betty to The Duke of Wellington where we met up with Dylan, Kitty and James, and slunk up into the room upstairs. Read through the start of We Three Kings. Felt a bit exposed as I like to have things complete before I show people usually. But it was a useful exercise in pinning down what's working and what's not. Then they biffed through A Glass of Nothing, and they surprised themselves at how well they had remembered it. All quite buzzy afterwards which was good to see.

A cheeky beer outside in the beer garden afterwards with James, Dylan and Betty. It was Kitty's boyf's birthday, so she had to go. I enjoyed talking to James lots. An interesting man. Home just in time to catch Lorraine and slope off to bed.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Hard at work

No longer streaming with cold this morning, rather miraculously. Hard at work on the We Three Kings play and took a brief at lunch time from my french friends on a pitch. Even managed to go for a walk this afternoon in the sun, listening to my Beatles audiobook. John Lennon not in a good way when the book was being written, interested to hear him quoted on how all the people that read things into his work are all conning themselves, which is quite an egocentric way of looking at art. His self-loathing shines through from time to time. This was shortly before he met Yoko I think, who pepped him up one way or another.

Cooked for Lorraine, who had set off for school early. We settled down to watch the traumatic last couple of episodes of Orange is the New Black. We have now watched all of them till they make a new series.  Lorraine and I shifting the furniture about this evening as we are about to take delivery of an Antonn, which is both a shelving unit and a source of quips for years to come.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Roaming up the Roman road

Up to Edgware today. Fairly untroubled drive, and arrived early. A quick conference about where to eat with Mum and Mas, and we decided on The Waggon and Horses, which is almost due North of Mum's house, on Watling Street as the Roman marches. A decent Sunday roast there and a couple of pints. Mum and Mas paid for me as an early birthday present, and got me a pudding of apple pie (one of the allowable puddings, a pudding that is not a bourgeois frippery of a dessert, but a decent upstanding thing).

An enjoyable meal Mum saying that she doesn't like it when Felix one of the cats sleeps on her face because she doesn't like to share her air with a cat. It had been a week of medical tests for Mum, and Mas still awaiting a date for his consolation and by-pass. Mason up and making friends with the new owners.

Lorraine and I left at teatime, after Lorraine had helped join up the video player with the new TV so that both videotape and DVDs would play. We arrived home in time to beat the worst of the traffic back to Brighton, and we listened to the Kermode and Mayo podcast. Both of us began  sniffling on the return journey, and had streaming noses by the time we got home.  Hope that I didn't inflict a cold on Mum and Mas. Lorraine did some school work on the sofa, and before bed we watched a traumatising and horrid episode of Orange is the New Black.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

A walk in the rain

Up fairly early and brought Lorraine breakfast in bed, before getting into my walking gear and being collected by Anton. As we drove to West Hoathly down wooded roads, Anton's sat nav went into night mode a few times as it was so dark under downpour of dark clouds. We walk into the lovely wooded landscapes around West Hoathly. Now transformed into a relive the Somme experience.

Beautiful country, however, and we were soon lost. Finding ourselves in a forest at a time when the deluge was at its strongest. Still we had a really nice walk and a good chat. Something wild and lovely about walking in bad weather, and there is no better way of letting conversation fall out slowly.

After a couple of hours, having accidentally found West Hoathly again, we neared Anton's lovely BMW convertible for the return drive home. As we did so, the clouds absconded.  A dreamlike return journey sitting in heated seats, with the roof down narrow rainwashed lanes, everything gleaming with sunshine including the still-dripping trees, a few drips pinging off my head. The sky almost completely blue.

A hot shower once home and a cup of tea. Drifted to sleep for an hour on the sofa, then Lorraine and I had a very nice evening with Beth and John round, playing Euchre and drinking wine and listening to music. John and Lorraine beat Beth and me at Euchre for almost the first time, which John seemed rather pleased about.

Below an E.H. Shepard Anton, a path, a ghostly plume of steam Anton spotted drifting out of the tunnel at West Hoathly from the Bluebell line, with no sign of the train that had left it.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A surfeit of Airs

Working on the play this morning. It is progressing slowly but I think surely. Also did some billing. I have some French work lined up too for Monday.

In the afternoon I sauntered down to the Plenty cafe at Preston Park, for a pot of tea and some writing. The cafe seemed to have a surfeit of older blokes with MacBook Airs like myself. I'm not sure how that made me feel. Then I dropped in on see Janet and Ken. Ken looking better than I've seen him for a while. Lots of good chats with Janet as usual, who is a beacon of clarity in a muddled world sometimes. We talk about politics a bit, she is quite keen on the idea of a progressive alliance that Caroline Lucas our admirable MP is trying to promote.

Waled home listening to my audiobook, which is The Authorised Biography of the Beatles, by Hunter Davis. Am enjoying this.

Home to another rejection, I sent out a big tranche of work in the late spring and everything from that batch has been batted back. The stars must have been in some wretched alignment. Although galling, I am not too disheartened (I have already sent lots of new stuff out) but it helps to have the play to look forward to. And I have generally the feeling of a fresh start, and am quite optimistic for no good reason at all.

When Lorraine came home we sauntered quickly down to the Shahi, where Beth was waiting for us outside and had a cheery dinner, friendly chats with Sabir as usual.  Then we marched up the hill, chatting with Betty as Lorraine had a long conversation about with her cousin Kay.

To bed early for a Friday, but not before watching another episode of Orange is the New Black. Only a few more to go, and we can watch something else. That'd be weird.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A room full of actors

Another quiet day of working on things I wanted to work on. So a very happy day for me. Up as Lorraine was leaving. Spent to day working on various projects, including tweaking another poem as well as cutting bits out of A Glass of Nothing and looking at We Three Kings. Ate the last of my bean jar today. It really was the most successful bean jar I'd made in ages, with beef too.

Again wandered down to the Plenty cafe, for a pot of tea, and to get another perspective. Something about dislocating yourself that lets you see things afresh.

In the evening Beth and I cooked a pasta bake. Then Lorraine came home,  and Kitty, James and Dylan came around to do a read through on the cuts I'd been making, plus doing some more tweaks. Nice to be with them, and I like James too.

I took this snap of them around the dinner table. Dylan, Beth, Kitty and James.