Monday, March 31, 2003

Blue sky and sunny this morning in London.

In a much improved mood despite a ghastly journey to work. No trains at all from Kew Gardens but was told there would be some at ten o'clock. Deciding not to be stressed by this I enjoyed a coffee and a read of my paper as I foolishly waited for the Kew Gardens station to reopen. I returned to the station where they said they actually meant one o'clock in the afternoon when they said ten earlier. Then walked to Chiswick Park after an empty bus zoomed past me despite my waving at it in the approved manner from the bus stop. At Chiswick Park there was no staff and only one machine worked. One guy after queuing for his ticket got to the gate to read about how half the line wasn't working and shouted "I fucking hate the tube" and looked like he was going to burst into tears. Such is the stress travelling places on us from time to time. And the funny thing is that it is so familiar to everyone that travel stories are like hearing about other people's dreams -- really boring.

Bike saga continues. Someone had given my bike six punctures as it was chained outside the pool. Spent an hour repairing it on sunday afternoon only to have it puncture instantly as soon as I put it back on the bike. Grrrr. Felt a John Cleese moment of wanting to stamp on it repeatedly. Have overcome this -- for now.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Reading more about multiple personalities. Don't know how I can use this properly yet, but absorbing anyhow. Experimenting with a story where the protagonist is someone who has "alter-personalities". There's some interesting links to be made with the business of being a writer, but I'm not sure yet how it fits together. When you have someone like Charles Dickens who created hundreds of fully drawn characters... you have to wonder where they call came from. Maybe writing itself is a way of legitimately unifying many different strands of personality -- or at least giving voice to certain sub personalities. Someone like the poet Pessoa who invented a series of poets through which he wrote was probably doing this.

Other than that, and spending more time in Kew Gardens I have done little.

Managed, however with the help of Alan, Mrs Kenny's foster brother, to free my bicycle at last. The angle grinder went through the bike lock like a hot knife through butter. When I get my mobile phone replaced (again as the first replacement was faulty) the repercussions of the robbery will have finally stopped.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Went with Maddog to see The Adventures of Hamza exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum. Hamza is a legendary figure and hero of an epic, which I think is partially lost. The illustrations were commissioned by the third Mughal emperor Akbar.

Even though Maddog and me were both feeling ratty we still enjoyed the exhibition.

One of the first things you notice is a nice faintly spicy smell in the air in the exhibition rooms.

The illustrations were fantastic, with a cast of heroes in all kinds of situations. Lots of people getting their heads cut off, and one unfortunate actually being split in half by a single sword blow. But they were incredibly beautiful nevertheless, with landscapes, bizarre animals, "devs" (strange ogre like spirits like the one emerging from water below) foliage and patterns that you could lose yourself in.

The first few pictures were more classically Islamic, with breathtakingly precise patterns and the most minute patterning that I could barely make out with the naked eye. The bulk of the exhibition was the Hamza pictures, which were comparatively looser (although still mind-bogglingly detailed) and more expressive.

After this, off to Strand on the Green to the Bull's Head that was my local pub at one point. Then after a beer on to make bid to free my bicycle from outside the swimming pool with a hydraulic jack. Naturally this failed too and the bicycle saga drags on like that of the boy Hamza.

Then went to the City Barge on the river for the first time in years, and discovered that an old friend Eric Gilchrist was playing saxophone there. He kindly gave me a copy of his CD which I've not yet listened to. MD and me phoned Martin from the Barge and he then joined us. We drank beer and generally caught up, as lots of blokes got to jam in a mild mannered way at the end of the evening. Good fun though.

Inspired by beer and Moguls we went off to eat an Indian meal just before midnight. MD and I then had an inflamatory row about the war. Maddog stormed off for a bit into the night before either of us had forked down a grain of pilau only to return shortly after, and of course we made up. Home later and Bob stayed the night, we played some jazz and I retired to bed and a sleeping Mrs Kenny.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Just found out by idly surfing that a friend of mine, Victor West died one year ago yesterday. He was 82 but I remember with some fondness seeing him at countless readings and sharing many a beer with him. I'd not seen him since about '93. But I had a lot of respect for him. I remember a night in Chiswick at a group called the Wooden Lambs where I was hosting the night, and I said to the people there that of all the poets in the room that we would one day be proud to tell people we knew Victor. He was already quite old then, but I never felt he got the respect he deserved. But his obituary in the Guardian last year by Alan Brownjohn did him some justice.

After yesterday back at work -- and the least said about that the better -- I am back on holiday. Spent it thinking about writing stuff and doing some research on multiple personalities for a story. Oh and wasting hours playing snood.

My ambition to have an SF story published this year took a step closer with a note from the editor of The 3rd Alternative saying that a story I'd sent him was "very (underlined twice) tempting -- very nearly accepted it" which is excellent. Naturally I wish he had accepted it, but at least my ambition doesn't seem too ridiculous in one editor's eyes. He said the writing was good and so on and added "but instinct tells me to wait for something -- the next story you send hopefully -- that'll really blow me away. But if I took this , you might not send that." Got to come up with something cracking soon then...

Monday, March 24, 2003

Cheered by an email today from Andy Duncan in Glasgow, who is a drama student and is doing a piece of mine called Wrong for his drama exam. Apparently the big day is April 1st where it will performed to an audience of about 50. He said his tutors had enjoyed it too. He contacted me after seeing the piece on my sixthfingers site. The Internet has the capacity to bring people together like nothing else.

In the afternoon I went for a walk in Kew Gardens which was beautiful. Banks of daffodils and crocuses, and in the Princess of Wales hothouse dozens of spellbindingly ornate orchids. Read on a note that one orchid grew best in graveyards, and one was collected by a mad Victorian actually still attached to a human skull.

Sat in a cafe feeling more relaxed than I have done for quite a while. Pleased to be out of work, and out of the house. Being in glasshouses sparked off the beginnings of a poem too, which I wrote in my brand new Molskine notebook.

Have a bad back, but the swim I had didn't make it worse. Still investigating how to free my blasted bicycle from outside the pool. Spoke to a man today about hiring an angle grinder and extension leads and other bits and pieces. The whole business drags on. I was let in the pool for free though, which was nice.

Mrs Kenny meanwhile had been to her first physiotherapy session, and returned able to put a little of weight on her foot for the first time which cheered her up.

Back to work tomorrow -- for one day only. Marvellous.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

Woke up grinding my teeth. The sun shone, but I resentfully wrote about trucks for work. Fabulously, however, I have tomorrow off as a holiday -- so am cheery for a Sunday night.

Spent the day listening to the radio about the war. Very incomplete information. Otherwise a somewhat disappointing day creatively. Lethargy rules. Confined myself to laundry, cooking and taking care of Mrs Kenny a bit. Someone let off some fireworks nearby. Thought for a moment it was a real explosion. But didn't sound like the IRA bomb in Ealing I heard quite clearly a couple of years ago.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Saturday lunchtime and have been hacking away in the agency for the last couple of hours -- making up for the time I lost this week drinking with Spooner. Unfortunately my will to work has evaporated and I will soon walk out into what is a beautiful spring day and damn the torpedoes.

Yesterday quite lively as S the old gargoyle left. Had to send strong men to extricate him from the pub to give him his leaving present and card and so on. Given his infinite capacity for difficultly this was fine. I found at the last minute that I had to give speech to him saying how top he was and so on. Which of course he is, but it doesn't do to actually tell him very often. Ended up somewhat later pouring said S into a cab having a nice quiet Thai meal with Paula and Marcella.

Otherwise I have been lurching through a fog of tiredness. Home now. Ah I have a mobile phone and some days off. O joy. What mischief will I get up to free as a bird to wander where I will?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Hurrah! hot water at home at last, and Mrs Kenny has first shower since she broke her leg. I also got my crime number from the police. A sense of slight movement. I will get a new moble phone soon too. Amazing how essential it has become.

Blakey showed me the finished version of the cartoon today. It was top and will be launched to the agency tomorrow. Otherwise today spent looking at copy about trucks and erectile dysfunction and trying not to appear as exhausted as I felt. Decided on taking some time off next week.

Meanwhile the dogs of war are being unleashed. Horrible feeling. First time that there has been military action by the UK since I've been alive that I have seen not one shred of justification for. This will start more trouble than it can possibly hope to finish.

Left for Birmingham and the train stopped on the track en route for an hour and twenty mins without moving. Tried to use the time usefully to write poetry but there was no Adlestrop moment.

Sitting in the Virgin train no such luck. No gasp of real air or any sound of a bird, only people moaning intermittently into their mobile phones.

Arrived in a sweaty dishevelled state. Then wandered into a vast stale soulless caverns full of blokes in suits talking earnestly about trucks and vans. Later went out with Catherine and Nerissa to fork down a Chinese meal laden with msg and talked earnestly about anything other than trucks and vans. Had set up meetings in the evening but they didn't happen. Instead had a pint of mild in the sordid station bar. And chatted to the girls. Very nice they are too, C with a dreadful tale of a spate of crime against her. A robbery, an intruder in her house, then another robbery by a crackhead who left a bloody teeshirt there, and was then caught through DNA tests. All in the space of a three months. Finally a stone was put through her window. She is very resillient.

But the best thing about Birmingham is leaving it. Preferably at high speed. Finally got back to Kew where both N and me live, at one in the morning. Our cab driver exploding into such a spate of comedically heartfelt and violent swearing at the fact our road was blocked that we couldn't help laughing. An apt end to tiresome day.

Monday, March 17, 2003

First moment to myself all the sucky sucky day.

I look out of my window and it is beautifully sunny, mocking the utter gloom and madness on the news front. This is a black day for the UK and the world.

Anton phoned me to talk about turntables. He will not rest until I own one for some reason. Mrs Kenny and I spoke about the boiler. The right part is still elusive -- but then I don't even miss hot water and heat now. They are but bourgeois trinkets.

I am going to pause a while on my way home and sit by the river and have a glass of cold beer. The very notion of it is a thing of beauty.

I learn that tomorrow I will have to travel to Birmingham tomorrow for the Commercial Vehicles show. O frabjous day! Birmingham, the big battered skip of the universe filled with whiny adenoidal miseries. What a hole to be stuck in when WW3 kicks off.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Disappointed with my output this weekend.

Was put off my stroke by the robbery. However, I recovered my rucksack and fleece from the sports centre today -- minus mobile phone, keys and one or two other bits. But unable to free my bicycle from outside the pool. Phil, the helpful centre manager tried sawing the bike lock with a hacksaw to no avail. Also had the locks changed on the house as a precaution -- as I can't be sure there was nothing with my address on it with the stolen keys.

Saw the boy Bob this morning. Started in the Pagoda Cafe with a pleasantly slimy breakfast, then walked for a couple of hours in Kew Gardens sorting the world out. As we did so, the world got on with having itself a beautiful spring day and the crocus carpet was in full bloom. Bob seemed much cheered having spent a few days cycling in the countryside with his wife.

Otherwise did little of use today. Had a long chat with my mother -- who now is grappling with a new temptation: jigsaws.

Surfed for a bit, thinking about the cover art of Bitches Brew by Miles Davis which I remember my mother bought in 1970 when I was ten or eleven. Read more about the artist Mati Klarwein today -- and a good article about the cover here. Amazing cover. I'd love to have a print of it. It includes with some of the mirror image stuff that Miles Davis often played with too.

I need a holiday I think.

Just watched an extraordinary film called Atanarjuat, the fast runner on TV. A struggle of good and evil set in Igloolik which is apparently a community of 1200 people located on a small island in the north Baffin region of the Canadian Arctic. A legend about the danger of putting your interests above those of the community.

Went for a swim looking forward to a lengthy shower in hot water afterwards too -- as still rubbing sticks together at home for heat and hot water.

Returned to locker to find it broken into and my rucksack stolen. Fortunately I realised later that I had left my wallet at home, but my mobile phone, keys and all my clothes apart from my ancient trainers were all gone. I'd cycled there and so my bicycle is now firmly locked outside the pool with no means of unlocking it.

Luckily the thieves left me my towel so at least I could dry myself. The people at Brentford Fountain were quite helpful, although I didn't enjoy waddling around the place in trunks as they searched in a futile way for things, till they took mercy on me and found a tee-shirt that was very tight on me, and a pair of bright green tracksuit bottoms. These gave me the look of a partially successful transsexual. Minced home in this get-up in the freezing cold, fetchingly offset by a sodden towel. Particularly pleased there was a traffic jam along most of my route, so afforded bored drivers an enjoyable distraction as I walked over Kew Bridge. I had phoned Mrs Kenny and told her (erroneously) that my wallet had been stolen so she was already cancelling my cards by the time I reached home.

I didn't even get the hot shower... And of course I'd also been carrying my whole get up along with me, razor, deodorants, hair wax, various shampoos and shower gels. I am now left with a toothbrush and a strong aroma of chlorine. D'oh. Then the tedious business next of phoning the police and cancelling phone and so on... And also we have no spare key for the back door so we'll have to get the locksmith in. Grrrr to it all.

And now blogger's frozen so can't even paste this it's actually 12:50 am and a new day awaits.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Stopped ranting now for a bit about the forthcoming war.

House still cold and with no hot water. Amazing how easy it is to get used to comforts like central heating. Probably for the majority of my life I've lived in houses with no central heating -- but I've got soft. Coldness and damp is really depressing and I'll always remember waking up for the first time in a dank room in Leamington Spa and turning my head to see a large brown slug on the wall a few inches away. I was rereading "Something Wicked This Way Comes" by Ray Bradbury at the same time. I reached down to pick the book out before I got out of bed and a bright orange earwig slid out of it onto my chest to compound the whole thing.

Have been busy at work, in meetings and then hacking away at copy in between and into the evenings. I've been forcibly reminded this week that I work with some really nice people. Have been getting in early so I can use the office showers too. Have been very work focused. Been listening a lot to What's Going On by Marvin Gaye. An almost perfect soul album, and somehow right for the state of the world at the moment and how I feel.

More later I think.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Too cold to write much now. Turns out the boiler in our house had caught fire last night and we are plunged into cold water and cold nights. Mrs Kenny free at last from her cast but bemoaning the fact she cannot have a shower or a bath because we have no hot water.

Work busy but a very good day in some ways. My big problem is being apologetic, and I am trying to move away from this.

Was my penpal Mary Jane from New York contacted me to say that she and her poet mates were against the war too. I am delighted.

My disgust with Bush and Blair grows more incandescent every day. One is an evil terrorist fool and the other is a follower of an evil terrorist fool which has to be even worse. Both will soon have the blood of the innocent on their hands. My disappointment with Tony Blair is profound. I held him in so much regard, and had so much goodwill towards him when he was elected. And now he has disgraced himself, disgraced Britain, undermined the UN and the EU and disgraced the Labour party. As a lifelong socialist, his fanatic's warlike arrogance disgusts me. My prediction is he will shortly be forced from office. Perhaps replaced by Gordon Brown, who has sensibly kept a low profile in the whole matter. Blair has thrown himself away like a Shakespearian hero.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

When I reached home tonight the house was smelling of a mysterious burning. After bloodhounding it about the place I isolated it to the boiler, which has subsequently died. Which means no hot water. Particuarly irritating for Mrs Kenny, who is going back to hospital tomorrow to have her plaster removed. Which of course is great news.

A bit jaded today after an excellent night with work chums featuring an enjoyable burst of spontaneous salsa dancing in the agency bar before settling on the OSP on Fulham Palace Road. Learnt that a nickname for me seems to be "the care bear". Not exactly sure why, something to do with a brown fleece I wear a lot I think. Homeward bound, and was so absorbed in squinting at my new palm pilot that I gallingly missed my station.

Crept into work today to discover Blakey is doing a fantastic job with the Marvel-style comic we are working on. Otherwise another bout of discussing the feedback from focus groups on copy I'd written about Erection Dysfunction. Apparently a bloke didn't like the word "action" in one of the headlines. That whim results in folks in the agency sitting about and stroking their chins for hours working out what to do about it.

Slipped out for lunch with Damian to the Riverside Studios where I ate a fortifying bangers and mash. Fine fare. D interesting company as usual. He was talking about his daughter Isabel who is too young to be able to tell the time. I've never thought about what a step that is. Tell the time and your world can never be the same again. It's a step towards recognising your mortality.

Monday, March 10, 2003

Art Garfunkel hair controlled by Nicky. I've been going to her for about eight or nine years now and she's never put a scissor wrong. Because we know each other quite well I get the feeling that I go there for a chat, and the hair is a pretext. I liked her from the moment I walked in and she pointed at my head and said "hair bear bunch". She was only 19 at the time and I feel like I've seen her grow up. Funny how you find yourself telling your hairdresser so much -- must be the fact they're grooming you that lulls you into feeling of ape-like security.

Managed two blubbery swims over the weekend. Maybe it's the war business, but there seems to be a current of madness in quite ordinary people at the moment. Even in the pool people were being agressive and strange. One man looked like he wanted to murder me simply because I asked him to step aside so I could use the mirror to apply the necessary hair wax to my fine new bedhead.

Zoomed home on bicycle after swim on Sunday, pausing to steal bay leaves from a neighbour's garden and got into lengthy conversation with nice people from next door who were struggling with their plants in the garden. Turns out Janet was on the peace march too, but Phil declined having some rugby to watch. My mother and Mase came around and I cooked a big chicken. Made schoolboy error of drinking too much wine as I cooked and it was only hours later I discovered cold and unappetising spinach on the side where I'd left it rather than simply serve it with the rest of the food.

Even Mase, who is an ex US marine has no time for Bush. Otherwise had fun with my family. Then snuck out as Mrs Kenny slept on the sofa and had a beer with my pal Martin in the Ship at Mortlake which fine pub though it is was a bit morgue-like on a Sunday. Then home to watch a programme about Phillip Pulman and his dark materials trilogy. He is probably the most important writer in Britain today I'd say.

Unaccountably I found myself eating chocolates and chicken sandwitches at midnight. This has to stop.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

This morning I altered the look and feel of this blog. In so doing, I obliterated all the links and so on that Mrs Kenny had sorted out for me. It's strange with this online stuff. It's a time vampire. After about two hours Mrs Kenny, who was sitting next to me and is good at all this stuff, felt moved to violence as I stared blankly at the html, opened and closed all the wrong windows and so on.

Reflecting this morning how my job is occasionally fantastic. Yesterday I found myself working on a four page Marvel comics style strip cartoon with Pete Blake and then progressed to the pub at lunchtime and conducted an enjoyable interview for our internal rag with Matt and Paul who are spearheading cause related partnerships for our agency. It's a simple idea: you get a business and a charity to work together for mutual benefit and profit. Sometimes with all the stress and deadlines I lose sight of how lucky I am.

This morning I was sent from a bookshop in Berkeley CA the edition of Leopold Sedar Senghor's Selected Poems/Poesies Choisies. This is the version I've been looking for and it arrived in a matter of days. I am never going to lend my books to anyone again. I can't stand it. I lent this edition to someone ten years ago, and as it is completely out of print I've had to pay $60 to get a remaining copy shipped from the States. And I bet the swine never even read it.

Just about to get my hair cut as the Art Garfunkel thing is happening again.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

Basked in some sunlight this morning waiting for the tube at Kew Gardens Station and realised that my unspeakable miasma of depression had melted away. Likeable day at the agency where I paraded about like a fop. Then shot off into town with Spooner, Mel and Steve. Had a good lunch and hectored two guys in a meeting afterwards for having the barefaced cheek to offer us some good advice. Spooner particularly glinty-eyed with his little red "devil" badge pinned on his denim jacket pointing out a greengrocer's apostrophe in their copy as an icebreaker.

Walrussed about again today in the swimming pool, as my inner sumo is trying to express itself. It's climbing into a 25 metre pool and seeing the water level rise that upsets me.

Listening to Mahler fifth symphony -- the wonderful adegietto.

Went to my mountebank on Wednesday morning and they are going to give me a 24hr blood pressure test. Boo. Being a complete hypochondriac I have white coat syndrome so every time my blood pressure is taken it is higher than it should be. This makes me feel even more stressed when they take it, which contributes to an escalation of neurosis on my part, which feeds into increasingly ridiculous readings. So they are trying to find out what my real blood pressure is like, and I will probably spend the whole 24hours stressed.

Mind you my doctor is the best GP I've ever had. Empathy is a great gift in almost every profession and she just makes me feel calm. Empathy for a writer too, of course, is essential. And I can tell you've had enough of this now.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Vile and unspeakable day. Things which were speakable: swam tonight and watched a documentary about Frieda Kahlo and it pleasantly reminded me of being in Mexico City. Must go back one day.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Poor night's sleep. Tubed it to work this morning, I felt a strong sensation that my brain and body were barely on nodding terms. Not a feeling I liked. As this was going on I was reading (aptly enough) the first few pages of The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa. I've been trying to write something about visiting his house in Lisbon early last year. I've not connected to his poetry particularly yet, but he was a fascinating guy, and fixated with Astrology (as I once was) too. As you walk into the museum they've made of his house you find yourself standing on his horoscope which is carved into the marble floor. He famously wrote poets, not poems. He invented several poets with very different styles -- and cast horoscopes for them all too.

The first section of the Book of Disquiet is called A Factless Autobiography. Actually not a bad description for a blog.

Odd coincidence: Anton called me this morning and mentioned in passing that he'd found his signed copy of Tim's book that had been in storage for about 4 years.

The toad of work squats on me. I feel disquieted. But I have done one good thing today, which is apologise to two friends I have been shoddy to recently. I feel better for it. One was Reuben, and the other Bei Li -- to whom I made a very wounding remark about a month ago. Every time I have seen her since then I have felt ashamed. Making a proper appology over a cup of coffee and a carton of Ribena this morning was a very good thing to do, and she was graceful enough to accept it.

This is the story so far on the Pessoa poem... Bit of a holiday snapshot really.

Pessoa's house
Your shoes eclipse the leo moon
In the doorway; a stone starchart
And you step from his own tenth house
(Auspicious for enduring fame)
Into the poet's empty museum.
Traveller, you stepped from your tram
And you climbed up this hill to observe
His remains, but instead you disturb
Fame's deadness and poems you dislike.
Horoscopes web the outside wall
Not the product of chance and fate
But three careful calculations
Cast for these imagined poets:
Caeiro, de Campos, and Reis.
But there's nothing here to speak of
Nothing upstairs when you get there
But yourself and the character
You have constructed today
Who may or may not be you,
And might already be forgotten.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

Listening to Nick Drake. Not ready for Monday yet and Nick Drake's depressing loveliness is spot on.

Got an email today from someone wanting one of Timothy Gallagher's books Narcissus Goes A-Courting. There is an chapter from it on my site called To The Lighthouse (Prison Spell), and an appreciation of Tim by me too. It brought some of the memories of him and his death back to me today. It is always tough when one of your best friends dies young. He had an amazing lust for life, and there was so much more to be written. Once the book was published I think he gave himself permission to die.

Remembered hanging out with him at the London Lighthouse (refered to in the title of the piece above). Afternoons drinking coffee and making up incredibly complicated plans and schemes, which would result in our fame, fortune and literary immortality. Unfortunately I've not yet been able to do much to assure that for him and I do feel guilty somehow. I wonder what he would have done with the years I've had that he never did. Maybe fate took the wrong writer.

Otherwise another quiet day doing next to nothing. I had a swim and small bike ride to wake myself up a bit and sent some poems to rival but v. cool website called Zuzu's Petals. Also laundry and shopping. Otherwise I felt somewhat empty and devoid of inspiration. I need to do something interesting SOON.

My long lost schoolfriend Shaila who now lives in Hong Kong sent me a story by her son Chris, which was an enjoyable parody of Lord of the Rings. I read LotR young too, but to me it was a kind of sacred text the idea of parodying it wouldn't even have occurred to me.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

Having a brilliant day lazing about reading papers, cooking, chatting to Mrs Kenny and dozing.

Went out last night with Anton. Top to see him. Had a few drinks in various pubs in Chiswick, and a Chinese meal. One of the pubs we strayed into a nice friendly place called the Birdcage. We were so engrossed in our coversation that it was only after we noticed two rather unconvincing transvestites at the bar did its nature sink in. Actually I suspect we fitted right in... Two guys engrossed in an earnest discussion of watercolours and the glories of Brighton. After scarfing some nice Chinese, we went back to my place to listen to some jazz as Anton's suddenly getting into it. Played him some Bill Evans which he seemed to like before he began snoring.

Earlier he'd shown me, on the screen of an ultra slim digital camera, some of his new paintings. These were surprisingly good. He's been doing a watercolour course and is apparently the star pupil.

Meanwhile an ambition to have a science fiction story accepted this year still remains unfulfilled. Got a rejection from Interzone magazine this morning (in fact I had to go to the sorting office to pick it up as the stamp had fallen off). This was the second of two cracking stories, both of which have been returned with a standard rejection slip. Being an excellent sf mag they must be inundated with top work. Left to reflect that it is probably good for me as an editor (in a small way) to get a rejection from time to time. But I won't give up for a while. Although I've no sf track record, writing the stories is great fun.

Took me years to be able to get a rejection without feeling upset about it. These days apart from a few seconds of momentary irritation it doesn't affect me. It's to do with making a distinction between who you are and what you make. Invariably as a writer you will write loads of things during your life, and some of these will be better than others; some will be accepted others rejected. But what is being rejected is the work and not its writer.

Sometimes it seems a poem has its moment, which might not be immediately after you write it. Last year I had a couple of poems published in Poetry London one of which I'd written about fifteen years ago. That was quite satisfying.