Monday, October 19, 2020

Not one of the pack

I wrote a list and managed to tick a few things off it. Luckily Robin had been able to connect our podcast with Apple. This is good news. Walked to the local chemist, who when I asked about flu jabs, said 'Over 65?' to me. When I rather primly said I was under 65 they said they had none, but might have some in a while. Also set up a dental appointment for December 10th.

Walked my 10k paces, into the autumnal woods, encountered two women dog walkers, walking together with a pack of  11 dogs all off their leads met me in the woods. Two of the dogs began barking at me. I don't know what it is, but dogs have been barking at me this year. The more they do it, the less I like it, and the less I like it the more they do it. I don't mind the odd dog, but 11 in one go makes you feel like a fox.

Down to some writing this afternoon, but one of those anti-Midas days when everything I touched, especially the most promising things, tarnished instantly. Gave the afternoon up as a bad job at 4:45 and simply read Naples '44 instead till Lorraine came home.

Another episode of The Wire. Went to bed early, Calliope came up to the bedroom and vomited copiously in the wardrobe. 

Another snap of the same bit of woods as the other day.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Productive Sunday

On a bit of a mission to get stuff done. Lorraine completed switching us onto a different power supplier, we cat herded the cats and protected them from worms with a spot on treatment. Then we assembled the sentry box style wee garden shed we had sent away for. Worked well as a team. Just as we finished this I went into the dungeon lent over to do something and evilly did something to my back which went into a painful spasm. However I kept moving and put a hot pad on it, and it loosened up again. In the garden we cut down the tomato vines, and put them in the compost, moved some pots about and generally got busy.

Then a more leisurely afternoon. I am reading Naples '44 at the moment, a brilliant book by Norman Lewis, that Anton got me for my birthday.  It is Lewis's diary when he was an intelligence officer in Naples in 1944. One of the scenes of going down into the Catacombs to look for Nazis among the ancient skeletons worthy of any horror story. Just brilliant on all fronts however, on the interpersonal politics of the liberating armies, the locals and the still active threat of Nazis.

Spoke to Mum too, who had an excellent day out with Mas yesterday sitting by the fire at the pub, with lots of people talking to them. Mas has been cooking in the evening too, which is helpful for mum.

Roast chicken dinner, and we watched again the sad but brilliant series After Life, by Ricky Gervais. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020


Dreadful nightmares. Up fairly early for a Saturday, and we drove off to Hove. We stopped at the small parade of shops on Richardson Road not far from Betty's place, and Lorraine went into a flower shop to buy a a sort of mid autumn Secret Santa pressie they were doing at work. I loitered outside, finding myself looking at Lion Mews, the name of which made me smile somewhat, ('mews' being a cat noise to me.) and even more when I discovered there was a Cat Grooming service in one of units.  

I was still Pooterishly chuckling about cat grooming at Lion Mews when a cheery Betty hove to, and Lorraine came out of the shop and we wandered down to the seafront.  Betty was in good spirits, helped by her and James going nicely. She was off in the afternoon with James to see his mum and cousin. 

You could really see the sky there, with occasional minutes of blue skied sunshine, when it grew surprisingly hot, and then bands of ominous cloud. Beautiful light. We ambled along and sat on the pebbles and had a takeaway coffee from one of the stands outside the refurbished Whitewater.  

Then Lorraine and I ventured to Shoreham M&S where L brought a bra, and I selected some much needed underpants and a sweatshirt as gifts from Mum and Mas and Pat and Maureen. As I buy by underpants all at once, five or six pairs are falling apart at the same time. We ventured into the Asda next door too, and bought a few bits there. Felt weird to be shopping. 

Then home, and a relaxed afternoon. Lorraine declared an interest in watching The Wire again, which we never got through completely. Started again at the first episode tonight. Lorraine cooked one of her curries with the special Persian rice.

Heard from Robin that she had tried to upload the podcast onto apple, and there was a problem.

Below Beth and Lorraine, and two people on paddleboards. 


Friday, October 16, 2020

A curate's egg

Good in parts. Somewhat galled to learn, via Keith first thing this morning, that the job for next week had evaporated.  Now they want Keith for to work for two days with an in-house writer. Naturally the agency said nothing to me till I chased them. Inconsiderateness which to be industry standard for 2020. 

More positively, the Planet Poetry podcast, is creeping forward, and we now have a trailer that is listenable to here. We will link to iTunes and so on shortly so that it can be downloaded like any other podcast.

Sonia telling me about her visit to Stirling and Edinburgh. They went by plane which made me feel a bit twitchy as she edged into my study to share the experience. 

Went for a walk and drifted into the edges of Wild Wood. Feels happy to be among trees in autumn. Everything feels precarious, but the sheer freedom of being able to walk about in woods is not to be underestimated. There has been many an autumn day over the years, when I have had my nose to some sort of grindstone, where a walk in the woods was something I yearned to do. 

Lorraine home in one piece after another week. A small curry I collected from Red Chillies. Everyone masked except for the man who hands the bag to you with his nose hanging out.

Below fungi that have sprung up in our little stumpery. A fallen tree, one of many in Wild wood, and the leaf-strewn path. Both the wood pictures make me think of stained glass, with the branches being lead.


Thursday, October 15, 2020


Have been pencilled in for more work next week, working at home for an agency up in town that I worked in with Keith for a few months a few years ago. If all goes through, I will be working with Keith again.

Otherwise all the usual things. Wrote some PK stuff, edited episode 2 of the podcast and went for another walk up and around the hill, pausing to look at the engine parts in the woods. Listening to a highly intelligent podcast by The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, a podcast about horror and gaming.  They had  two podcasts about current conspiracy theories, and I learned all about the madness that is QAnon, the far right conspiracy that is every kind of blended madness: democrats and celebrities, particularly the Clintons, are running a global Satanic pedophile ring, the Trump is fighting a battle against the deep state, children are being farmed for blood products, time travellers are going back and forth in time to speak to tell presidents when they are children that they will be presidents and so on... Turns out Trump is courting these lunatics, because they support him and they exist in their millions. (Later on at a candidates election Town Hall meetings, Trump was quizzed on his support for Q-Anon and he claimed to know nothing about them, except that they are hard on pedophiles.)  

Home again, and a quick chat with Mum who was doing her hair at the time. Made an excellent chicken stew. Rick had called me late in the afternoon saying Ben would be around at his house helping him with a project and invited me around for a curry. I passed on the curry, as I had just started prepping food, but after I had eaten with Lorraine, I popped around for a couple of cans of beer and a long chat all at a distance from one another. 

One minute and I was home again. In bed I finished reading the Steve Howe book. My god, talk about writing about everything except what was important. The death of Chris Squire a friend and band mate  on and off for at least 45 years is breezed over in an unheartfelt paragraph, turn the page and there is plenty of time for a paragraph detailing the fact he can't get his favourite blend of tea on the road in the US.  

Below I like these engines in the woods, and the big field east of the golf course towards Moulscombe. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Veiled squabbles

Pressed on with poems -- the new one about Hollingbury Hillfort good I think, and may be the sort of poem you can enter into a competition -- and editing of episode 2 of the podcast. Took down the masking tape and touched up a few bits of the bathroom and made good, also went for a long walk.  cleared my study of the mountain of DIY stuff that had been in there. Made a cheeky stir fry with grilled salmon this evening, Lorraine home early but then into a long zoom meeting. 

I sat in my study armchair and read more of All My Yesterdays, by Steve Howe. He comes across as egotistical, meticulous, and private. There is precious little insight into, or appreciation of, other musicians he played with. A few veiled mention of squabbles. However I did learn that my boyhood hero Chris Squire struggled with alcoholism, which saddened me.

When Lorraine emerged we watched another unchallenging and vaguely comforting episode of Death In Paradise

Views on my stroll today up and around the hill. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Up to the temple

Started writing a poem about something, which quickly morphed into a poem about Hollingbury Hillfort, the pandemic and so on. It arrived almost completely formed and has promise. Had a meeting with Robin, and pressed ahead and rerecorded some bits. I worked out how to use Audacity to remove the worst of an irritating whine from the interview I recorded with Pascale. We are going to go live soon. 

Painted the ceiling again in the bathroom. Spoke to Mum this evening, who had been to have a MRI checkup, the MRI machine is now in the car park and she was pleased she have her coat on as all the doors and windows of the hut were wide open. She had taken the tube there, for the first time in months, and she said it was okay as it wasn't busy, although there were people without masks.

When not writing or editing or painting I mooched about looking with new eyes at the Hillfort today. The top photo is of a little rise in the land, which apparently is where the original fort wall was. I read the site has bowl barrows in it, which I have not looked at properly before and may there may have been a Romano-Celtic temple here too.  A long thin slope indicating a wall photographed below. The photo flattens it so you can't really see it. Also some lumps in the ground that I fancy are the remains of barrows, from afar and nearer. 

Monday, October 12, 2020


My actual birthday. Sixty blinking one. This one however not at all traumatic. Lorraine gave me another pressie, which was Steve Howe's autobiography -- which certainly reveals, ah-hem, a lot about his personality and guitar geek side. Also a Molesworth book from Richard and Jane in Guernsey, and a card warning me against the evils of drink from Pat and Maureen.

The outside world somewhat grey and dour.  A bracing lunchtime walk however, after eating a cheese and tomato toastie which I snapped and sent to Beth. Dozens of lovely messages from people on Facebook, email and so on. Maureen and Pat phoned this morning, as did Anton and Katie.

Lorraine home early today, which was nice. A very pleasant day, after a cheery birthday weekend.

Below a snap from the wall of the hill fort looking slightly southwest in gorgeous black and white.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

Rosie and my birthday meal

A cup of tea brought to me in bed by my lovely wifey this morning, before we surged up and at the day.  I am enjoying this extended birthday weekend immensely.

Lorraine cooked a roast dinner par excellence, with me as sous chef. In the afternoon Beth and James come around, brandishing pressies and bottles of nice wine, and so did Innis and Rosie.  Rosie and I have come to share our celebration being born a day (and many years) apart. 

A fun afternoon, a little bit like Christmas, with Rosie and I opening pressies. Innis and Rosie got me a gorgeous little collage with a human body and a cat's head.  Beth and James got me a toasty maker! As when Beth moved away she naturally took her toasty maker with her. Very pleased with this. Rosie got a bottle of gin that is like a snow globe with bits of edible gold in it, and a little light underneath it. Lorraine and I gave her the lovely cross stitch Lorraine had made, with a little butterfly in it and the name Rosie and two Orla Kiely pieces.  

A cheery afternoon. Lorraine excelled herself in the lovely vegetable department, and also cooked me an apple pie, which I love. I had two slices of it, plus another generous helping of Anton's cheesecake. 

Fond farewells with everyone, and a quiet and cheery evening sipping mineral water. 

Below we popped into the back garden at one point, and Innis snapped Calliope who had raced up into the tree on my phone. It's what you get when a paper photographer takes things. The light was utterly gorgeous, and set off Calliope's colours beautifully.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

A cheesecake named Hate

A pleasant morning, getting out of bed late and popping around the corner to score some Chewy Brown, which is now put aside for me on Saturday mornings. A small queue outside the shop. A woman said to me, 'a Guernsey jumper, that dates you'. To which I replied sniffily citing why my Guernsey jumper wasn't just a style choice. Another woman in the queue perked up and said that her parents had moved to Guernsey, St Martin's of course, and her brother lived there too, and she had been there for a couple of years. Made me miss the place even more.

Home and Dawn came by this morning, for some coffee and a bit of brownie that I had bought with the bread. Because it is my birthday on Monday, she gave me a book too,  Cast by Isabel Wilkerson, which seems fascinating. Lorraine showing Dawn how to present things on zoom, as Dawn is chairing meetings about green initiatives.  She told us about a date she had been on recently, when the man spoke for hours with only once asking her a question -- about what her daughter did. Broadcast only people are tiresome.

When Dawn left, Lorraine and I drove off to have a walk in the woods. A cool wind blowing over the Downs, but it was nice to walk in some woods at the top of the Stanmer Estate. Noticed lichen in white roundels on the trees, we walked through a thin stretch of woodland there that had an odd familiarity to Lorraine. 

Both felt a little sleepy afterwards. I had a good chat with Mum, and later a cheeky doze. We both perked up when Anton came around this evening. He had made me one of his utterly delicious cheesecakes, and had used a stencil so that the word MATE stood out in the poppy seeds. When cooked, however, the M had morphed into an H. The A had gone a little funny too. But the idea of a Hate cake was a winner. Tasted marvellous too. He also brought three cards, and three excellent books: Berlin Finale, by Heinz Rein, Lucifer Unemployed by Aleksander Wat, and Naples '44 by Normal Lewis.  

Spent the evening playing three handed euchre, eating a curry and washing it down with a few beers and listening to some tunes. Simple pleasures and a really good night. 

Below, a cheesecake named HATE, and white lichen. 

Friday, October 09, 2020

Cloud Mountains

Another chat with Pat and produced some more ideas to round out the concepts Keith and I had come up with. Also painted the ceiling of the bathroom. Still a tad patchy, so will have to repeat yet again. Infernal thing. Also reworked a poem. 

Otherwise walked up to Hollingbury, and a couple of turns around Blakers Park listening to lectures on Mesopotamia, which I am finding a little confusing but nevertheless absorbing. The history of that region seems less clear cut than Egypt.

John Lennon would have been 80 today. He was shot in 1980, when I was at University. I am not too affected by celebrity deaths as a rule, but his death and Bob Marley's death six months later, certainly registered with me. Lennon was certainly an interesting character. I think McCartney was more musical, but Lennon's creativity was more restless and interesting I think. They were great together.

Lorraine pleased to be home. I rustled up some grub and we had a pleasant evening, with Lorraine and I  unwinding to Death In Paradise. 

Below a black and white photo to bring out the clouds that were gathering like a distant mountain range as I mooched today by the golf course.


Thursday, October 08, 2020


Slightly perplexed by an absence of contact from Pat about the work I'd done for him yesterday, eventually we spoke and he'd not received my emails. The agency server again took it into its head not to deliver messages from my business email address. We had a long on-screen chat and I sent the email again and all was well. Pesky tricknology. Turns out I have a smidge more to do tomorrow. 

Pat still donating plasma to the hospital, as he still has lots of C19 antibodies. Said howdy to Judith too. Despite seeming cheery, they had a bit of a horrid spring, both with the virus, then they've had a legal problems slowing the building work they are having done down to a snail's pace. 

Not much other news. Reading M.R. James's ghost stories, although a tad creaky, the scary bits are imaginative. 

Lots of rain off and on.  Blaker's Park is only five mins away, and thus a good place to stroll if I need to get back to my desk in a hurry. 

The cat flap on the blink today. Went out and bought new batteries and cleaned up the optical sensors.  Brian and Calliope getting miserable and stressed this evening with Lorraine and I grabbing them and poking them through the flat trying to reset it. It is still not working. 

A glimpse of Blaker's Park.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020


Read a ghost story by M.R. James last night in bed, The Story of a Disappearance and an Appearance, which was rather good and hinted at a Satanic Punch and Judy. I had ghost story dreams and woke up horriblised at 1 AM. Soon to sleep again however... 

Lorraine worked from home for the first few hours. This is a boon which means she can lie in a little bit before starting work. A good midweek tonic. I was closeted in my study, with Pat and Keith on the screen, then just Keith and I. Working the rest of the day. I liked the concepts we came up with. The day ended vaguely, with a lack of clarity about whether I had finished, was to continue tomorrow or if I was going to pick it up again next week. I suspect I've completed. 

Lovely flowers delivered today from Jess and Andrew. Posted in a thin box that was able to slide through the letter flap.

Spoke to Mum, she has had her eyes tested lately. Because her eyes are changing, she no longer needs them for driving, but for reading. Spoke to Anton again at lunchtime. The weather has been rainy and unpleasant. 

Cooked simple stuff this evening. A quiet night with Lorraine, we watched a dinosaur cartoon film called The Land Before Time that Sam and Beth apparently liked lots when they were kids. Lorraine and Beth say yep-yep-yep! very brightly every now and then to each other. Over the years I find I have caught it too. Turns out it is from a cute dinosaur in the film.

And so to bed.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Imps and guinea pigs

Up early working for an hour or so on the job I am doing with Keith and Pat, it only being 8:30 I took a quick turn around Blaker's park, before settling down to work, with an impish Keith in a window on my screen. Managed to nip out for few subsequent strolls around the park during the day, even if it were just ten minutes missing the extremely heavy rain in the afternoon.

Really it is easier if anything, working like this. Keith and I discuss the concepts and work through them as if we were face to face, and once Keith starts mocking them up, we see the same screen as he's doing it and I can tweak lines etc. and grow the concept together in real time, just like you would if you were physically sitting next to one another.  It all helps. A virtual meeting with Carolyn, Pat and a pleasant planner in the US this afternoon, where Keith and I presented the work.

In other news I received the lovely print of a pencil drawing of Bob Marley from Ellie. I was her guinea pig, to see if her prints could be received through the post in one piece. 

Fast chats with Anton and Mum.

Otherwise a fairly straightforward day with little to report, other than utterly torrential rain showers, and the delivery this evening of a sentry box style garden shed flatpack.

Below Ellie's lovely picture, still in its cover, and a cat that lives near the park that, despite its face, is friendly to everyone, and the morning sun at the top of Blaker's Park.

Monday, October 05, 2020

The philosophy of clowns

 Woke up at 5:30 drenched in sweat, convinced I had a temperature. However I took it and was actually a degree colder, i.e. the perfect temperature for someone waking up at 5:30. Felt much better as the day progressed, and began sniffing slightly this afternoon. I now believe I have had a slight coldly bug, but as the day wore on I became convinced the grim reaper was not lying in wait for me.

Otherwise a Microsoft Teams meeting with Pat, Keith and Carolyn to get a briefing this morning. And spent the day chatting with Keith in a little window on my screen and coming up with concepts and having a bit of a laugh. Managed also to do several short walks too, so that I felt more alive and had reached 9k paces by the end of the day.

Lorraine home late, but I had cooked. Watched some more of the Gone Fishing show with Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer. Beautiful TV shot in gorgeous places, little touching essays on friendship, and full of the philosophy of clowns.  

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Brighter later

Exceedingly upset stomach this morning. I hesitate to say there was something wrong with the food, as we have had it loads of times, but... Lorraine fine, however, and we spent the time companionably listening to music and relaxing. The weather foul and raining hard off and on all day. 

I had a cup of miso soup for lunch, and Lorraine cooked us the plainest food for dinner. I even had a sleep in the afternoon, after I had gone to my desk to complete the extra bit of work for mes amis in Paris. Luckily, I felt Bryter Later in the words Nick Drake. A wonderful album from the seventies.  

Chatted to Mum this evening, tearing her away from a John Wayne movie they were watching. Lorraine and I repaired to bed early.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

A sleepy Saturday

Both Lorraine and I in need of quiet recovery time. And the weather was very wet. I did some more work for my French client in the afternoon. Lorraine doing cross stitch, and listening to music.

Spoke to Toby, who was sitting looking at his garden which now looks very nice indeed in the sunshine. He was good, and pleased to be able to teach virtually, a bit strange looking at the screen instead of teenagers, but all good.

In the evening Jess and Andrew came around, and we had a delivery meal from the Shahi. Had to wait ages for the delivery though. An enjoyable night, and I seemed to want to drink beers quite a bit. Nice to see them, as we had not met up since February. Between them they now have three grandchildren, all of which have emerged into the world recently. Andrew lost his sister this year however. 

News today that Donald Trump is in hospital with Covid 19 -- a precautionary measure. While I think he is the poster boy for evil, I can't bring myself to wish him dead. Although his refusal to wear a facemask invites schadenfreude. I want to see him defeated in the election, and be ushered quietly into the dustbin of history. If only he were up against someone more convincing than Biden. 

Friday, October 02, 2020

A nip into town

The force not with me today. Faffed about editing podcasts this morning, chatted to Sonia who says Barry is looking dismally at the temperatures in Bulgaria, given that it is cold and rainy here. She had also taken a citizen test lately, and failed it much to her chagrin. 

Late in the afternoon wandered into town to collect a prescription, and meet up with Chris Williams for a coffee. I felt unrelaxed. Walking along London Road (a.k.a. The Jeremy Kyle Mile) is at the best of times often an outlandish experience,  was an education. Quite a few people with masks, but about a third of them wearing them around their necks, with their noses hanging out, or in one case, as a nose-only covering. 

I walked into Bond Street, and met Chris Williams sat outside Caffe Nero. I asked to move however, as the people were too near. It was better to sit inside near the open door with nobody coming close. Chris is full of interesting travel stories, and told me about seeing the dawn on top of an Egyptian pyramid, having slept there for a couple of hours. He took photographs but says nobody believes him. Apparently a little before dawn a man came to tell him to get off, but being young and headstrong he refused. 

Walking back through town with my mask on, having a hypochondriac moment as I was feeling a bit washed out, when Lorraine phoned on the way home, and then simply collected me. Almost home, feeling myself again, I nipped out to Jenny's fish and chips, where as usual I was undercharged and also given an extra fish as the ones he'd given us were a bit small.

Pat confirmed some work next week for me, which is welcome.

Lorraine survived another week, tired and needing to decompress. This accomplished by sitting on the sofa with fish and chips and watching another episode of Death in Paradise, and some cross stitching and chatting.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Black and white clouds

October already. Up early to work on the Paris brief. Lorraine working from home for the first hours, before zooming off to school. I sent off the work, after working for a few hours on it, and then heard nothing. Walked my 10k in two bouts, and painted the bathroom ceiling, another coat tomorrow perhaps. 

Went for a walk and was shouted at twice, one after glaring at two teenage boys who were play fighting and almost ran into me, and the second by a driver because I was walking in the road to avoid people on the pavement. I put this down to the full moon in Aries. Otherwise very enjoyable. Love looking at how quickly the grass has turned green again and is sprouting back. Beautiful clouds today too.

There is another possibility of work in the pipeline. I have several possibilities now, which is a good deal better than nothing but tumbleweed and crows which has characterised most of the rest of this glorious year. 

I assembled a new office chair, which was achieved with only light swearing. Lorraine had bought it for me. I am pleased with it. 

Lorraine subdued and tired tonight. Stew, cross stitch and Death in Paradise on the gold sofa all seemed to help.

To bed early, torrential rain on the Velux windows, a sound that I love and makes me feel lucky to be in the warm.

Below some clouds in gorgeous Black and White.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Tarot, and the wild rain

Working on the French brief about cat vaccinations all day. My old pal Keith called me, and we may be doing a wee bit of work together one way or another soon. Out this evening to see Anton, at his house. Just catching Lorraine for a bit, before I left. 

Walked there in the teeming rain, but I had a big golf umbrella so was fine.

We just hung out drinking a few beers and eating Anton's amazing pizzas. A board game set up, based on the Lord of the Rings, and Anton had spent forever painting each character individually and there seemed to be hundreds of them, everything from Oiliphants to Orcs, Nazguls to Hobbits, all painted in meticulous detail. More surprising than this, that after listening to some tunes and eating till I felt like bursting, was that Anton got out his Tarot pack and did a tarot reading. Just writing that last sentence makes me feel I have fallen through a tear in the fabric of reality into another world. Lovely cards though. And also he had an oracle pack, where I drew a card. They had been made by an American couple and they are beautiful and thought provoking. 

Home in the teeming rain too. I walked through Preston Park in the dark, with the rain rattling on the umbrella and really enjoyed it. There is something about being outside at night in heavy rain, as if the rain was a wild thing. Walked past a car parked in the park, with just its side lights on and four men smoking joints inside. The car light was on inside and even through the rain it looked exceedingly smoky. 

Crept gratefully into bed next to a sleepy Lorraine.