Sunday, December 26, 2004

Things have moved on since the last report of Kafkaesque gloom I am delighted to say. I move into my new house in Brighton on 6th January. This is brilliantly good news, but also hard to credit that this process could have taken so long. The psychological benefits of this unblocking are hard to overstate. Immense relief. Finally my life can move on to its new phase.

Having an extremely quiet christmas, with my Mother and Mase. Went for a walk in the woods this afternoon, and in the context of the social whirl of the last few weeks this quiet time is really pleasant. Have been working on my writing too for the first time in a long time. I really do feel optimistic and cheery, and looking forward to January and change.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Today finds me at work and thinking about Kafka. Although I started both The Castle, and TheTrial I was unable to finish either as both books made me feel anxious and depressed. I am thinking of Kafka chiefly because my wretched house move is making me feel like this too. Dates and promises are drifted temptingly before you by the human tapeworms which are lawyers and estate agents, only to be moved and revised when you reach out for them. Meanwhile the months fritter away and you end up impotently moaning in your blog about the Kafkaesque nature of it all. I don't know much about Kafka but I can only imagine what a bitch life must have been for him to write those books.

Life otherwise is cheerful. This time of year is fantastic in agencies. Clients are chiefly to be schmoozed, parties are to be had, and generally everyone hooks up with their old muckers. Much gormandising and drinking to be done and this is all good. Time to bury the hatchets with your colleagues and clients and get trashed, only for the whole ghastly rigmarole to start again in January.

On another note, my ex-wife is going great guns at the moment, appearing on TV and radio and so on. Looking forward to catching up with her next week to get the inside story.

Meanwhile I living with my folks still like some overgrown teenager. But thank goodness for their generosity. It means I don't have to fork out immense rents while waiting for the house business to be resolved. Being treated royally to toast and porridge and coffee every morning. And the elves steal into my bedroom during the day and straighten my duvet and do my washing.

I need to go for a swim now, all this partying is taking its toll. Ventripotence, as Dickens called it, is not a good look.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Saturday finds me working in the office. Or more appropriately having fixed one urgent job experiencing a severe motivation bypass. Yesterday we had our Creative Conference and all the creatives were allowed to have a day of most stimulating activities. We carved clay to make a mould of our faces. We listened to a variety of talks.

One from a man who looks after wolves but who avoided eye-contact with people, and another from a brace of young fashion designers. There was an interesting talk from Professor David Canter styled "the leading pioneer of criminal psychological profiling". He described the geographical patterns that burglars, murderers, rapists etc. make in their crimes, and from this pattern it is possible to infer the likely area they live in: usually somewhere in the middle. I can't say that my hair was blown backwards as if in a wind tunnel by this revelation but it was nevertheless interesting how extremely practical this was. There was no talk about whether the man liked red, or hated his father. What you got was a likely address, which has to be handier in the long run for the Old Bill. He showed some film of an ex-burglar describing his modus operandi. He was drawing a map of his activities and his route was as entirely predictable as that of a postman. My pal Pat made a good point in that the burglar was motivated by fear -- that he had to be near to base and there was an easy escape route for him.

The other speaker of note was Chris Moon who was a former army officer, who survived being kidnapped by the Khmer Rouge and was later blown up while working in Mozambique in mine clearance, losing part of an arm and leg. Subsequently he has run marathons and generally bounced back in an amazing way. He made a good motivational speaker talking about never behaving like a victim, and always being positive and so on. Afterwards I chatted to him briefly wondering if he knew about a pal of mine who had worked in mine clearance too.

This was all interesting. Otherwise I am buried under work, am taking an increasingly hard line with my solicitors but all house moves and so on in cold storage. Having to rely on the good nature of my mum and her husband, which makes me feel like a chump at 45.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Still no sign of a date for moving to Brighton, but the move from Chiswick has been profoundly good for my mood. Despite going back to live with my mother it actually feels like a step forward. And I have been fed porridge coffee and toast in the morning which is a fab way to start the day.

Have been burning the candle at both ends lately. Last week, for example, I went to see pop group Keane in the Brixton Academy. They were inoffensive enough with some tunes. Not knowing their stuff I very much enjoyed watching the keyboard player rolling about about on his stool like someone from the Muppet Orchestra. Worth the entrance fee alone.

Daunting morning, working over the weekend on a piece for some junk mail magazine, which I have been told this morning isn't what they are looking for so back to the drawing board. Meanwhile a tsunami of work is roaring towards me, and I don't feel like doing any of it. Bah.

I don't know whats' going on but Shaila, yet another old pal from school, got in touch with me and I'm looking forward to going out with her next week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Blissful day today. Having moved all my belongings from my flat and put them into storage. Leaving my flat in chiswick was a fantastic feeling. I associate the place with a period of uncomfortable transition and quite a lot of straightforward gloom and misery. I walked out laden with four bags, after the removal guys had taken the rest, and did not look back.

It was amazingly hassle free and I felt tired but cheery all day, even as I was cleaning fridges and toilets and so on. The removal guys were fine and I also got them to pack my stuff. One reeked so strongly of garlic that I could smell him in the flat an hour after he'd gone. I love garlic and eat it all the time, but I don't think I exude garlic like that. Reminds me of when Maddog reeked of garlic for a week after getting home starving hungry and drunk with nothing other than a raw bulb of garlic to eat. Anton was working with Maddog at the time and I remember him moaning about it.

I was absolutely shattered when I turned up at my mother's place like a narcoleptic, albeit a hungry one. As I travelled on the tube to North London my friend Mark called me. We have been friends since we were 11 and were at school together. We'd lost touch some time ago but he found me on the internet and contacted me. This is brilliant, and I can't wait to put the world to rights with him over a beer somewhere. This followed hot on the heels of a University friend of mine Sue doing the same last week. Typically my battery died on my mobile as we were speaking, but he called me again later when I'd recharged.

Today I had a day's holiday, and was absolutely free. Nothing to organise, and no work to be done.

Had a bit of an Edward Thomas morning. I walked for two hours some of it in woods on the edge of London near where my mother lives called Stanmore Country park. Came across a pond that gave me a sort of haiku moment. White swan ghosting slowly towards me on a surface carpeted with duckweed and dotted with floating golden leaves. The swan made a small wake of black water which was rapidly reclaimed by the green. It stopped about six feet from me and we looked at each other for a couple of minutes till it pushed off again because I wasn't feeding it.

Back to my mother's place this afternoon. Spent time restringing Bianca my guitar and reading a pal's manuscript for a children's book, and it is very good so far. Allowed myself the luxury of more sleep and as a result beginning to appear slightly less cadaverous today.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Have had a great time over the last few days. Spent time with comedians this week. Saw my friend Di perform in a venue called Pear Shaped in Fitzrovia. I think I enjoyed myself more than anyone else in the room. There were about a dozen comedians and seven actual audience members. The comedians were busy not laughing at one another, and the audience were assailed by a variety of material (with Di's being rather good I thought). After this I repaired to an unremarkable soho dive with three comedians, which was mildly diverting. They spent time talking about who was good, and who wasn't. Bitching like a bunch of poets. I sloped off in a cab after realising that it was gone one.

Following night went out in town again on an agency jolly. I showily consumed snails and had a lovely chat with a lovely woman who'd just started. We all went to the Comedy Store where there was another night of comedy to be had, with a real audience. After this it was to another soho bar and another taxi home.

Crept into work on Friday and, it being Paula's leaving day, went off for lunch at the Brackenbury french restaurant. Ended up partying from then on till gone midnight. Paula told me the best joke of the week... What's the most dangerous insect in the world? The hepatitis bee.

Went off to see Bridget Jones on Saturday night with a lady. The film was mush but Rene Z was watchable and funny.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Now clear I will have to move from my current flat. The deal for the house I am buying is stalling so I'm forced to put my stuff into storage and stay at my mother's house for an unknown period. This is extremely trying.

Celebrated Paul's birthday at Le Boujoulais in town, in the members-only restaurant. Michel is a member and went into full French mode on entry. Marvellous food though. And Paul touched by a good showing for his 40th birthday.

The night after I went to see Kate and Gavin in Wandsworth. Gavin cooked Brazillian steaks and we gorged happily on these. They appear very happy together in their new flat.

Like most of the world, was plunged into a gloom about Bush being re-elected.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Have started swimming again. Went yesterday and today. Amazing how a stupid flu stopped me swimming for a month, and what unspeakable physical degeneration can happen in this time. Waddled about like a sumo wrestler. Ever since I had the flu I have been feeling run down and somewhat depressed, so swimming again sends a good signal to myself.

Monday very groundhog day. No progress on house. Work marginally less vile, leaving now in darkness as the clocks have gone back.

Dealing with an aberrant stray threat from the tax office demanding money in error, which my lovely accountant says I will not have to pay. I will have to move out of my current flat in two weeks, so it seems that I will have to put everything into storage and rely on friends and relatives for a roof over my head. In moments of abject gloom I can see this dragging on past Christmas.

Watched a wonderful dvd yesterday of the film Cinema Paradiso. Top film. Was invited round to Michel and Matty's place and ate roast pork with the boys, Eva and Maxine. Had met Matty in the North Star an hour or so before where Matt had bumped into an Italian student who lives above him. She had two student friends. They seemed to me like such sulky children. I wonder if Simon and me were like that 25 years ago. Pub was nice, with halloween lights suspended from helium balloons among other decorations, and loudly playing seventies soul and disco which took me back way before these students were ghoulish gleams in their parent's eyes.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Another busy week. Had my old pal Simon turn up unexpectedly this week for a couple of days, which was great. With his wife Lindsey he runs Gairnshiel Lodge in Aberdeenshire, which I have not visited yet. It was quite shocking to realise that it was 25 years ago in October when as two callow youths we met in our first week at Warwick University. Even though we'd not seen each other for a year it always feels like no time at all when we meet up.

Also went out with Paula accidentally after work. She is fantastically good value, especially after a few glasses of wine and when she laughs like a seagull. Got Matty along too when we passed inevitably to the scarfing Thai grub phase of the evening, as Paula is joining his agency.

Last night I lurked into the Dove where I met Matty again and four American pals, Craig, Jeff Sarah and another Sarah who'd flown over to visit Craig. I had a splendid night.

I was in sparkling form. Literally. This due to Andy who sits diagonally opposite me at work suddenly deciding glitter is really important for some concept or other. He tipped glitter on me a few times during the day, and while I was on the phone Alice happened by and began helpfully to smear it on my face. It is amazingly difficult stuff to dislodge. The carpet all over the agency is now glittering too.

House stuff has hit another obstacle as the vendors are now stalling over the completion date. This business can't end a day too soon.

Ah... And I finished Pride and Prejudice. Lovely book.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Have kept something of a low profile this week. Have been sneaking off home after work and keeping out of trouble and nursing the cold that has returned with gusto. However this has given me the opportunity read classic novels soberly in the evening like a Victorian vicar.

My friend Mary Jane in New York says that Pride and Prejudice is her favourite book and a straw poll among some women friends revealed that almost all of them had read it. I am about a third of the way through now and finding it quite funny. It is obsessively about relationships and women jokeying for power. Most of the male characters are saps. In fact it is very like a superior soap opera.

My ex-wife's book One Stop Short of Barking is now on sale, and I saw it prominently in my local bookshop. I texted her to let her know. I am really proud of her for it. She is getting quite a lot of coverage in the press, TV and radio. With any luck it will do excellently.

Last night I saw Maddog in town and we had a few drinks and ended up sitting in a comedy club that we'd found our selves in by accident. Sat through the first half and then left to catch up on chatting. Good as ever to see Bob. We only caught four comedians, nothing really noteworthy. Ended up scarfing pizzas both rather drunk.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Have mercifully been able to sleep and stop drinking for a few days now. Naturally the sore throat interpreted this as encouragement, and has returned with gusto.

I have reached agreement on a price to move into my new place in Brighton. Still much to be done and it feels like an interminable procedure. I still have no date of moving. However it must only be a matter of weeks now... Surely to God?

Had a funny chat with Trace today who has come back shiny eyed from a week in Turkey. She also mentioned that she is going out with her martial arts instructor and they break into fighty stuff with no warning as they move about the kitchen and so on. A bit like the Pink Panther films.

Have finished Madame Bovary by Flaubert. Cracking read. Lovely descriptions of Normandy and amazing psychological insight. Quite a dismal story ending in Emma Bovary poisoning herself, her cuckolded husband dying of a broken heart and her unloved daughter being left to the fates. Emma's vanity and yearning for excitement and sex, and above all to be adored makes her seem to me quite a modern character in this era of celebrity worship. She can only exist properly when she sees herself through the eyes of a lover.

I am pleased, for a while I wasn't reading much. It is so much more rewarding than sitting in front of the idiot box. I've been getting a real pleasure from Flaubert. I read a short story by him today called A Simple Heart, which was also pretty dismal but masterfully written.

Went out with Paula for a thai today. She is just about to announce that she is leaving the agency. It'll be a great thing for her. We've been through lots of mad times together over the last four and a half years so I will miss her, she was a true ally in difficult times.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Friday night was very nice. Went into town with Michel and Max, who played a game of pressing each others bladders as we walked through Berkeley Square.

Met up with Matty and Paul in Fino's Wine Cellar for a glass of wine. Then we went to another pub called The Guinea where Matt had booked a table. We ate excellent Dickensian meal of oysters and steak and kidney pie. Award winning pies apparently, and they certainly were marvellous. Dickensian effect only mitigated by the excellent Italians who ran the restaurant and served with friendliness and aplomb.

Taxi home and a blessed sleep till ten. Out again to my mother's best friend Diane's for a dinner party with her, my mum and Mason. Diane is busy starting to be a stand up comedian, which is excellent. I will go to see her next month.

Then the evening given to counselling people. Mason was in a funny mood and uncharacteristically started saying how miserable he felt, and really opened up. This was very good, as we were able to give everything a good airing, as he has been unhappy of late. I think this was very good for him.

Home and feeling sleep deprived at 10. Then one of my pals contacted me who had fallen out with his partner, and she had been thrown him out of the house. Ended up talking and drinking conciliatory beers till 2:30.

Had the latest haggles on the house and I may just stop it now and buy the fucking thing.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Ah Friday morning. A blessed bacon sandwich and coffee at my desk. I have been celebrating my birthday, which was on the 12th, all week. I am now 45 years old, and so far being 45 is cool. I feel surrounded by affection and have met some brand new people too in my travels.

On wednesday night I was invited at the last minute to a charity event held in the Science Museum in aid of Starfish, a charity that supports children in South Africa whose lives have been affected by aids. Went with a bunch of chums from work. Aids is cause I have been particularly affected by with one of my best friends Timothy Gallagher and his wife Rosa having died of the disease. See some of Tim's monologues here which allude to the condition.

The starfish event was held in the Science museum, and was a black tie event. I like swanking around in black tie, rather than the standard issue jeans/ironic teeshirt that I sport as a creative. All the women looked extraordinary and jewel like. The most jewel-like of these were constantly tempting you to buy raffle tickets, to which I succumbed easily. There was a cool jazz band playing, and a speech from Gary Bailey the ex-Man U goalkeeper and, apparently, the face of soccer in South Africa. We dined in a room underneath vintage aircraft suspended from the ceiling. I had my back to a merlin engine, which powered spitfires and other ww2 aircraft. Food was very good, as was the company.

My evil twin Paul Kenny emerged however when a clot of stage school hellspawn called west end kids started giving vent to unspeakably perky numbers from musicals, neatly combining two of my pet hates in one gurning pushy-parented mob. When this abated there was a vulgar shouty auction to which people on other tables bid in a frenzy. After this we danced a bit, and I had a really nice chat with a friend of Mel's called Ellen about art.

Meanwhile I have put in a revised bid for the house I am trying to buy, and I await the outcome with interest.

I finally have thrown off the dregs of my flu too, so am not feeling constantly exhausted.

Out last night to the White Cross in Richmond and met more pals, and yet more drinks. Heard more about Katie's kiting accident. Poor thing was plucked up by the wind and landed on her head. Unsurprisingly she is sporting something of a stiff neck.

Off now to an interminable meeting. Oh joy.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Lurked in the Dove yesterday at lunchtime where I had a pint of guiness and a fine pie with the French Bloke and some other chums. Such a lovely pub on the river when it's not too busy. Walked back to work for the afternoon in bright rainwashed sunshine and returned at six to locate the French Bloke who was somewhat worse for wear and rambling about not hiding your hobbit in someone-else's burrow... He rallied magnificently however and we migrated up to the Stonemasons to hook up with Katie, Matty, Paul and a funny girl known as Whitefang, who having journeyed around the world for a year or so, was busy denouncing Australia when we arrived.

Damn fine to have an evening out, after self-imposed quarantine. Good especially to see First Matie again and be part of the hubbub.

I rallied quickly this morning after a lethargic start, the thought of seeing my delightful French client bringing a little cheer.

Al showed me her scan photo of her baby, which is now revealed as a girl. Al had wanted a boy but I'm sure will adapt. She did joke about leaving it on the roadside like they do in China. We toddled off to score some noodles for lunch from a place on the fulham palace road. These surprisingly nice. But must return to sushi again soon.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Back at work but still not feeling well. Monday fairly unspeakable. My alarm woke me up at 7:30, and I got out of bed to turn it off. Next thing I knew was my doorbell going at 8:30. Got dressed etc. in four minutes and climbed into cab.

Then futile two hours in cab ride heading out into the country and listening to Afghani driver muttering to himself. After superhuman effort of translation, I discovered he was complaining about me telling him the wrong way to go. As a non-driver I had not offered an opinion, but he plainly felt the traffic and rain was all my fault. Running impossibly late for meeting, phoned the wonderful Paula who was arriving at the client's site. She helpfully explained I wasn't needed there anyway so turned the cab around and headed back to civilisation.

As a break from grinding teeth in cab I phoned up estate agents. After waiting on tenterhooks for a week to hear about my house I find the estate agent hasn't spoken to the vendor about my new bid at all. Dumbfounded, I heard how they are now recommending I wait till I get mortgage valuation before I kick off negotiation. So... still not sure if move to Brighton is on or not.

Otherwise life quiet and restrained. Quietly watch episodes of Twin Peaks on my DVD in the evening. Also saw a mouse in the house and dispatched this poor soul with a mousetrap and a piece of white chocolate.

Feel somewhat isolated and trapped and waiting impatiently to burst into a new phase in my life. Not being creative at the moment, and doing no writing for myself, only churning bits out for work in between fretting about houses. Being a dull boy.

Reading and very much enjoying Madame Bovary. It is amazingly well written.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Moan moan. Unspeakable flu finally passing. Flu is a much devalued term these days, anyone with a bit of a sniff says they have flu. Not quite like the week of raging temperatures and cactus scratchy throat, coughs and nightsweats etc I've just experienced. This punctuated only once by going to see my mortgage advisor (fortunately just around the corner from my current abode) while sweating profusely and feeling delirious. God only knows what I have signed up to, or what she thought of me as I was unable to string two thoughts together and was staring numbly at her with bloodshot eyes for two hours.

Meanwhile the wretched house negotiations drag on. Am paying people money but am not convinced that the move to Brighton is finally in the bag.

Last week's misery compounded by people calling me from work wringing their hands and offering to email me work so I could do it at home. A kind offer I declined.

Bought a boxed set of Twin Peaks yesterday on my first shopping expedition for seven days, was a bargain too at half the listed price. Watched episodes last night and marvelled at the oddness of it all over again. Brilliant.

Feeling isolated, and am looking forward to plunging back into the hurly burly.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Little to report… #1 hobby is still paranoia. However this is abating. Doomy feelings off and on recur, and funny how this makes you notice things like a few groceries costing £6.66.

Boiler stopped working at the beginning of the week and had to wait 4 days for it to be fixed. This forced me to shower after swimming and at work and wash up with boiled kettles of water. Needless to say kettle stopped working after a few days too under the extra strain.

Unbelievable how infuriating this was, and how frustrated it is easy to become over how people are prepared to lie to you about when they are coming to fix the dratted thing.

Talked to a woman about mortgages this week for an hour and a half. This made my head explode. But at least I am becoming clearer on the subject. Otherwise house stuff seems to be progressing as far as I can tell.

Went out several times with various friends during the week. Met Katie, Gavin, Sarah and Fraser in the White Cross in Richmond. Had a nice beer too in Ealing with the delightful Florence and Eddie, some new friends. They had both given up smoking recently so were a bit twitchy. I am so pleased I don’t do that any more.

After guzzling some oysters with Matty boy on Friday night, I had a relaxed weekend travelling up to my Mum’s place. Took a long route through north London going on the 83 bus from Alperton to Kingsbury, which went past my old school and was my school bus as a kid. Amazing how much things have changed. Alperton looks very Indian now. I was astonished to see a beautiful temple being constructed there. It was lovely. And then the new Wembley stadium arch is an impressive new element to the skyline now. Felt nostalgic as the bus passed Copland, on Wembley High Road, my old school.

At my mum’s Mason played me a tape of Le Diner de Cons. Marvellous film. Set up is that a group of friends each bring an idiot to lunch on a Wednesday. The person who brings the best idiot receives a prize. What a fantastic premise.

A pleasant walk this morning with my mum discussing life the universe and everything.

As a footnote to the last entry...Gallingly received a text yesterday from last girlfriend. Deleted it. Bah. I no longer have a heart.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Went out with Paul and Matty Boy on Thursday night where Paul made public the fact of his immanent fatherhood. Naturally we needed several beers to discuss this. He also is in touch with my ex-girlfriend and said he’d also seen her mother, who was a very nice woman. A kindred spirit in fact. He’d told me this on the phone when I was in Germany, and it has been niggling me somewhat. My ex-girlfriend has been, quite understandably, avoiding me somewhat in the last few months.

After some thought I sent her a note suggesting we meet up. I’ve not seen her for about six months, and not spoken to her for about two. What I wanted to do was to say goodbye, as we don’t seem at all to be able to follow our plan of remaining friends, and I will be moving from London soon. This was rebuffed. I was made to feel like some kind of stalker for even suggesting this. I resolved to not contact her ever again, and found myself acting out something from a novel I’d written (which did not see the light of day). She’d given me a box full of pressed flowers, one for every day when I was away. I’d kept this token till now, but decided to throw it into the river from Hammersmith Bridge as a symbolic act of closure. But instead of it sinking or being carried out the damn thing floated merrily upstream towards where we’d first met. However it did feel good. I also deleted her from my mobile phone, this struck me as quite funny, quite childish and quite modern.

This contrasting with me seeing my ex-wife at a party on Saturday. It was down at Anton’s again (as part of his never-ending season of birthday celebration). My ex-wife and I are on very good terms and it was really nice to be chatting to her. I showed her the details of the house I am hopefully going to move into. It always feels a bit painful and strange seeing her though. We were in a party in the afternoon and surrounded by babies and friends who were feeling a bit awkward as many of them hadn’t seen us since we’d split up, and there we were chatting like old friends.

Meanwhile the dreaded sea monster is still pursuing me. She now no longer works with me, but and sent me an email saying that she has been lurking in Brighton. This is making me feel seriously hunted and I would rather gnaw my own hands off than reply to the note.

I am desperate to get to Brighton however, which will help me in my feelings of a having a new start. Have spent a long time licking my emotional wounds and am frankly tired of it now.

Meanwhile have been surrounded by affection and friendship elsewhere. I have such excellent friends. I had a good time on Friday going to a leaving do, where Paula and I Nick, who was leaving, and Tracey were left at the end having a good old goss.

Last night went out with Maddog. Gave him his birthday present of a hardback Rilke which he seemed to like. It’s great going for beers with Bob, on occasions we both splurge out our concerns and then feel a great deal better. Had a great night, despite the misfortune of ending up in one of those dreadful west end curry houses called the Spice Bazaar.

I had to send two of the dishes back. They simply had no food in them. The small side dish of okra was literally half empty, with more onion than okra in what was left.. Likewise with the lamb madras, a thin content free gravy with literally four or five exceedingly small bits of meat. Repellent restaurant, repellent staff and almost inedible food even when, with encouragement, they produced something like a fair portion.

Monday morning. Time to go to work. It is raining heavily outside. Oh joy!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Beautiful walk into work today. 15 of my 30 minute walk is by the river, and it was fresh and sunny this morning. Just a touch of autumn in the air this morning.

Work was fairly galling. One of the worst bits of agency life is raging politics, and I feel that I am falling foul of it. Felt somewhat sorry for myself today again. I despise myself when I am like this -- a misery. However I went for another swim after work which made me feel a good deal better.

My lovely landlady, who lives in Ireland, phoned me with the option of being able to stay in the flat for an extra month. This is great news as it simplifies my move at a stroke. Brilliant.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Good news today, my offer has been accepted for the house in Brighton. Very happy about this, but this time I'm not counting my chickens. And this evening I have been brooding about organising the move, packing, storage, utilities, mortgage etc. etc. all over again. It will be great to be able to call somewhere my home soon. Got a surveyor lined up this evening which is good. The one I used before is on holiday.

Mercifully, work was quiet and uneventful. A friend's partner had a masectomy yesterday, which put my restless feelings in perspective.

Woke up early this morning and was reading Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals for what seems like the hundredth time. It's such a lovely, escapist book. I went to Corfu a couple of times and still there are glimpses of Durrell's idyll among the tourist hellspots.

Another day shunning drink in pennance for my immersion in the Munich beer lake. Still restless this evening, and went for an evening walk which helped.

Monday, September 06, 2004

So... Had a splendid time in Munich. Went down to Brighton on Thursday morning, met Anna Anton, Christian, Jane and Brian. Anna's parents were there too, on duty to look after baby Klauds. Drank Champaign and shortly climbed into the stretch limo that Anna had organised to take us to Gatwick.

The flight to Munich took something like an hour and a half. We took the train from the airport into the city centre where we stayed in a hotel called Hotel Germania. Once arrived we sped out into the city. It was beautifully clean and the centre was extremely attractive. Had an evening meal in the Rathaus. This was the first of the sausages and beer. The Rathaus is the town hall, and we ate inside a beautiful courtyard. After many beers Brian got talking to a German woman who was somewhat worse for wear.

Brian, who explained who the two couples were and then for reasons best known to himself introduced me as a cross dresser known as Annabel. This something of a surprise to me, perhaps even more so because the German woman completely believed this. She shook hands with me after saying goodbye Peter and Annabel.

The Friday was a lovely day. Wandered around town rubbernecking, particularly enjoying the Viktualienmarkt, the food market which smelt of a mingling of lovely cheeses, aromatic sausage, flowers and the fresh smells drifting up from the colourful fruit and vegetable stands. Also the whiffs beer coming from tables of the Beer Garden. This led us to slipping into the nearby Hofbrauhaus which was apparently the venue for an early Hitler rabblerousing speech and a punch up, referred to as the Battle of the Hofbrauhaus. We sat in the garden drinking lunchtime beers and picking at sausages.

After attending to the above, I left the others and found my way to the modern art gallery, called Pinakothek Der Modern. There was some of my favourite artists there. Especially Klee and Ernst, plus Max Beckmann and other Neue Sachlichkeit painters. Fantastic to see paintings I'd only seen in books. There was an exhibition of recent American art too, but I found this dull. Was wandering alone in recent German art when my mobile went and I got in trouble. Apparently it was verboten.

Joined the others again in the Augustiner another immense Beer Hall with a nice garden for more drinks. Lurched back to the hotel before we set off again. Had food in Frauenplatz. When I say food, I mean sausages. Had an immense platter of sixty sausages on a bed of sauerkraut. We all felt sick after this and retired to the Hofbrauhaus where we had an immense Stein of beer. These emormous glasses had the effect of making me feel that we'd all shrunk to hobbit size. There was a traditional Bavarian band playing and the place had an amazing buzz about it. Crept home in taxis after.

My pedometer told me that in between drinking beers I'd walked 15km, which slightly balanced the damage I was doing.

Another terrible night in the hotel. Couldn't sleep and it was quite noisy as I was near the stairs and opposite the lift. Things were going around in my head such as whether the tough negotiating stance I'm taking on this new property is the new one. Worse though, Paul, who'd phoned me in the gallery had, when I'd called him back, talked about my last girlfriend and this sent me into a churning gloom about my love life. I had to get out of bed and write it all down before I had any peace.

Saturday was another beautiful day. I felt like death in the morning but improved as the day progressed. We went to the Olympic park and to the BMW museum (which I was forced to go to because I can't drive, and don't want to drive). The others all enjoyed it however. Then we zoomed up the tower nearby which was about 200 metres high and had spectacular vertigo inducing views. Satisfyingly, Anton was even wussier about this than me.

We then went for a pleasant walk ending up in a peaceful beergarden and eating ribs and drinking more beers. Then another walk and more beers, and then another walk and yet more beers. Yep. It was all about beers and walking.

In the evening we repeated the night before except I would rather stick needles into my eyes than eat another sausage at this point. We did have an incredibly tasty apple pancake at the end, which everyone loved. Then off to the Hofbrauhaus again. This time the place was absolutely pumping. The band playing some traditional tunes and some utterly ghastly ones. Such as the birdy song, and una paloma blanca. But these people from Munich seem to know how to enjoy themselves. Singing and lurching around, but all in a peaceable way. Joined in by drinking more fishbowls of beer to the point where I could not drink another drop, and found the whole prospect of beer appalling. Felt a sense of massive exhaustion combined with an immense bon homie for Anton, Anna, Christian, Jane and Brian.

Taxi home again. The drivers getting lost and arguing with each other at a traffic lights.

Another 15km, and another terrible night's sleep.

Felt dire the next morning. The others looking fairly cheery. Got a taxi to the airport and, unbelievably, Anton insisted on a beer once we'd arrived and gone through customs. I could manage about three sips.

The journey home was fine, and it was a relief to be back. Felt dull with tiredness so the only thing was to have an early night, not drink and sleep blissfully.

This morning back to work. Spent much of the day struggling with Caples entry forms. Had sushi for lunch and went for a swim after work. Drank mineral water at home tonight.

Spoke to the estate agents and things may be okay, and they will go with my offer. Fabulous.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Felt full of manly vigour today. Had some blood taken first thing then went to work feeling fine.

Saw a fox dead in the gutter on Fulham Palace Road this morning.

In the afternoon went for a meeting in the Cotswolds to see my charity client. Nice meeting. Stopped after in the lovely town of Burford, beautiful old stone fronted buildings. Sat on the sloping main street with Mike, Emma and Penny and 14 wasps. The other three flapping wildly at them, Mike succeeding in batting one incredibly hard with a teaspoon so that it flew like a bullet at a screaming Emma. Another dived into Penny's coffee and she dragged it out and squashed it. We noticed a bulging bottle suspended over the front of the shop with a slop of poison in the bottom, and full of dead or dying wasps.

Felt like I was witnessing a wasp holocaust. But managed to force down two scones with strawberry jam butter and cream.

Negotiations proceed with the property I put the offer in on. At an impasse tonight, but still looking promising.

Phoned my mother who said that Mason had the operation on his eye yesterday which was painful. But at least it's over. Spoke also to Janet who was asking how I was getting on with my move to Brighton.

Tonight I've been packing and getting prepared for Germany. Here I come!

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Back to work today via the quack. Trotted out my bestiary of minor ailments, and I'll have to go for a routine blood test tomorrow. As expected the lump in my arm was not dodgy but it's nice to have a bona fide quack say that.

Taking a more dispassionate view of work today, which is my new policy. I had a water-and-food-only lunch with Michel at the Riverside. Black pasta and crayfish. Very nice. Michel has sent off to the States for a fuel injection system for his pimpmobile. Nice. Also told me how the delightful Eva was decorating at the weekend at their flat and shortly after the roof caved in due to a burst pipe above.

After lunch I called the estate agent and made my offer on the property I saw at the weekend. Second time around it seems somewhat unreal, and as she hasn't got back to me I've no idea what has happened.

Then I stepped into a time machine where, on disembarking at the very desk I had been sitting at, had conversations about starting sentences with conjunctions and why contractions are okay in junk mail. Ye Gods.

Walked home after work along the river. Sat in the evening sun in St Peter's Square talking to Maddog on my mobile. Very pleasant, and I am feeling quite cheerful.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Another day of enjoyable self-imposed isolation. Woke up at an astonishing 11:15am today. The longest I'd slept in for as long as I can remember. Spent the day pottering about getting myself organised for moving. Given that I will be in Germany later this week and next weekend I needed to get myself organised a bit as time is running out before I will have to move out of my flat.

Have resolved to put in an offer on the property I saw on Saturday. The more I think about it, the better it seems.

In the evening watched a dvd I'd just bought Wings of Desire. I love this film, I find the gradual transition of the Bruno Ganz from being an observing angel to a participating human extremely moving. A film I can watch time and again.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Thankfully feeling somewhat perkier today.

One of those days which -- like a few lately -- make for dull reading but were actually pretty enjoyable. In fact I went for a walk of what my trusty pedometer tells me was 11.33km, or 13,656 steps. Walking is very good for me. As I was walking around through Chiswick and down to the Thames and across it to Kew and back along the river path. I realised that I’d been getting over anxious lately -- especially work, and flats falling through and so on. By the end of my walk I had definitely felt clearer. I think I’ll do it again tomorrow, God knows I have plenty to get clearer about.

Bought some DVDs today because I fancied a quiet night in. Got Buffalo 66 which I really enjoyed. Surprising use of Yes music in the film score. Coincidentally I also watched the DVD of Yes unplugged today. I enjoyed this too -- if only because they had to rethink some of the standards and breathe a bit of life into them.

Arrived at a rough first draft for my Ontario poem. It’s derivative and sentimental and I doubt I’ll try to get this published. On the up side I quite like some of this, and I’m thinking of it as a “loosener” -- i.e. a wayward first attempt -- hopefully I will be writing again soon more fluently.
I’ll park this poem here for a few weeks now. Time is the best editor.

a colour sketch

Somewhere off Deviation Road, Ontario
On the farm, sometime after thunder
Your brother’s kite poised in the air
Like a quaver escaped from its staves.

Miraculously the sky has been restored
To its original renaissance blue
And you crouch low by the canola
To juxtapose the sky and singing yellow

For the field is told of in the dance of bees
And is full of their murmuring industry.

By the red gates in the weathered fence
Primary colours exude on your paper,
Balanced on a barrel near the barn, and are
Investigated by dogs and a critical donkey.

Everywhere are fields, groundhog-dotted, while
Down the track is a sea of wind-blown wheat.
And you, you foreigner, even you know
Something of the forested escarpment

Some spirit in the deer-haunted dark nags at you
Like the mosquitoes do when you move in its gloom.

And your trouble, like a big bird stationed in the sun,
Wheels away as you walk among trees
After all, it’s always there and it’s always nothing;
Some quick shadow of a city and work and lost love.

You learnt euchre half a turn of the world away
And you play it now with new-found family
And respectfully you deal-in the gathered ghosts;
Your Grandparents from half a life away.

You turn up joker so you look at your brother,
His wife and her family. It’s your call; a blind call:

Hearts you say. Hearts.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Still brooding hypochondriacally.

Today I went down to Brighton to look be shown more properties this time by a useless
Saturday guy who was late, didn’t have the right information with him, and ran out of time. This left me seething, having dragged myself down from London. He left me at the last property and I spoke with the owner at some length. This last property was a distinct possibility, so the journey wasn’t wasted. Felt somewhat tired after all this and went home again without dropping in on anyone.

Despite myself ended up watching a bit of the Olympic games today. I can’t bring myself to care about who can throw a stick further than someone else, or can run in circles faster. But it seems to be important to some people.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Another day of feeling ill, although less washed out than before. Was solitary today, sneaking out early to buy some food rather than gnaw at my own flesh for nourishment. Other than that spoke to one or two people on the phone and received a couple of texts.

In between sleeps, I have been working on a poem for the first time in ages. Really enjoying writing it. It's about Dick and Joan's farm in Ontario and is a compensation for my photos only being in black and white. It is a kind of colour sketch really. And I'm writing it just for the fact that thinking about a sunny day on a farm is better than thinking about feeling rough listening to heavy rain in London.

Otherwise I read some of Mary Oliver's poems in her New and Selected Poems. These were leant to me by Tracey. Not sure what to make of them yet, although I already approve of the fact she is a nature poet and has appeared to have damned the torpedoes and written what she had to write.

Also read some of a version of the Gilgamesh epic in a verse version by David Ferry. Enjoyed this so far too. Muscular stuff.

Reading and playing dratted tetris (which I have discovered a week or so ago and am now addicted to) are keeping at frustration at bay. I hate being ill, and being ill on your own is doubly boring. Spoke to estate agents in Brighton, and will creak off there tomorrow to have another session of looking for somewhere to live. I'd like to be able to sort this out quickly. The idea of having no fixed abode in a month is not an appealing one.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Rattiness explained by being ill. Have been feeling ill and out of it all day. Very sleepy and achey. Listened to the radio and ventured out only once to get some chinese food. Read, and in between bouts of feeling wussy fiddled with a poem.

Spoke to Anton briefly. His new diet is curry only. He's found that by eating curry every single day this week he has lost weight. Can't wait to try it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Decidedly ratty today. But sat in with the Dutch contraceptives people again and they were positively happy, which was cheering. Otherwise ratty. I'm finding that people are largely in the wrong today. All of them.

On Monday I had a splendid time with Michel and Matt and others, and ended up crashing at their place. But this has led to more self-recriminations. I seem to be drinking too much at the moment.

Took a day off work yesterday feeling out of sorts. Haven't taken a day off work through being out of sorts for a long time. Found myself cleaning the bathroom and floors, and wasting time and listening to the radio.

Toby arrived in torrential rain, and after a bit we went out to Tandoori Nights. There are few proper curries to be had in Canada. Always sad to say goodbye -- but walked home after seeing him to the station feeling pleased to have spent so much time with him lately.

Received some excellent photos from Ontario on Monday from Joan. Pictures of dogs and fawns and other images that bring the great outdoors to a stuffy Hammersmith office. It's ridiculous but I'm getting itchy feet already. But I do have a trip to Munich planned for the week after next, which will be my first time in Germany.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

A good weekend. On Friday I received the surveyor’s report about the flat I want to buy. It is riddled with damp and not to be touched with a bargepole. Brooded on this somewhat over the weekend and have decided to pull out of the deal. This means I am looking at the prospect of having no fixed abode in October. However am very relieved I did not already buy this place -- and curiously feel right about this falling through.

Spent Friday drinking again disgracefully. I travelled up to north London in the evening and zoomed off to my folks, where my brother is staying too having zoomed over from Canada. Had a good time celebrating Mason’s birthday. On Saturday I simply hung out getting over my second hangover of the week, and going to a second hand bookshop with Toby. Felt like we were the Crane Brothers (from the TV show Frazier) as we peered at their literature section. I bought a book of guitar tunings and a translation that I hadn't seen of the epic of gilgamesh. In the evening we went out for a very moderate drink in a pub near St Albans called (I think) the Prince Harry. Then Toby and I were joined by mum and mason and we strapped on the nosebag in a pizzeria.

My family are great at lurking about with, and I enjoyed this on Sunday morning too. Mason cooked enough noodles for an army. After gorging on these I had a good journey back to sunny Chiswick in the afternoon and have been writing lists about all the stuff I have to do tomorrow. Bah.

Mindful of it being an interesting passage in my life at the moment. I feel happier than I have felt for some time since my marriage broke up last year, and am now really looking forward to making a new start in my life. The flat falling through is just a blip. I feel that the tide has turned at last.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Had a brace of drinks with Katie, French Bloke and others. Carried box of stuff to bus stop with Kate and headed for home. She already looking chilled and relaxed not having worked for a few days. Suddenly felt a bit sad as the bus drove off. Realised how much I rely on Katie for emotional support and friendship at work, and have done for years.

Decided to call Martin for a drinks, as I was in a drinking mood. Ended up back home where we played guitars (with me howling too) and drank beers until very late. Great to catch up with him and to jam. Wonder what we’d sound like if we were both sober and able to play?

Woke up with a bit of a headache and feeling somewhat sheepish about the neighbours.

One of those days when I’m suddenly aware of how good some of the people I am working with are. Today seemed to mostly be about congratulating people for excellent ideas. I quite enjoyed this.

Eating sushi at lunch as wretched canteen food no longer acceptable. Went for another swim. This is the third time this week, which is good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Entering a bizarre Kafkaesque world of trying to organise finances for buying my flat. Discover, for example, that my bank has no address for me. And cannot explain how they have mailed me. The cheque I thought I enclosed for my solicitors at the weekend has also mysteriously evaporated. However, I appear to be making gradual progress.

I have been leading a healthy life, swimming again yesterday, getting early nights and avoiding boozes. Meanwhile, by day I work on cancer treatments, cats and dogs and a concept involving the Invisible Man.

Meeting Kate after work today. This will be good.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Day started well, with me springing from Anton's sofa early and making Brighton Station in plenty of time. It transpired that I had the wrong ticket though, and after a heroic effort to get a right one I missed my train. I faced an hour's wait, so I caught another train which took me to Blackfriars and I was only about 25 minutes late in the end. And the journey was quite enjoyable.

Work was uneventful, although it felt odd without Katie, and my art director is on holiday too so I have been rattling about somewhat. Slipped out at lunch to buy sushi from pret a manger and sloped off after work for a swim. The pool was busy with lots of men attacking the water and creating fountains and splashy surges. I prefer slow and steady myself, as it is more relaxing that way.

Home, and listening to Gorecki.

Friday afternoon proceeded well until 5pm when my computer crashed and I lost my afternoon's work. Hurriedly left before I killed myself, and headed off to Brighton. The train had four carriages only and so was very cramped, but fortunately I had a seat.

Trotsky swiped at me through the banisters in greeting as I entered Anna and Anton's house, but one sight of the catfood brought a rapid change of mood. After catsitting duties performed, I nipped off down to Seven Dials and scored what turned out to be a vile takeaway curry while talking to my mum on my mobile. Opted for an earlyish night and discovered that Trotsky had already claimed half the bed.

I had vivid dreams about a tiger during the night, which I think is a good omen, and nothing at all to do with Trotsky scowling at me from the duvet all night.

Saturday morning, and I decided to walk. Posted some stuff to do with buying the flat into the solicitor. Then ate a hearty breakfast by the sea and ended up walking what my pedometer told me was 16km along the seafront and around and about in Brighton. Felt like I needed time to myself and a bit of exercise, and this was a great way of doing so. The next day I walked another 10km or so.

Nothing beats walking for processing lots of thoughts. Walked near to where Tim and Rosa lived in Hove before they died of aids. Reminded how Brighton is one of those places that has crossed my path several times in my life, and it seems inevitable that I should wind up living there at some point.

But for this weekend I felt like a tourist, walking past beach huts being lovingly painted in gaudy colours, wandering on the remaining pier (which vibrates horribly when the fun fair machines of torture are going full blast), milling about in the lanes buying second hand books and a teeshirt, and watching people fishing from the old harbour wall. Saw one guy catch half a dozen mackerel in five minutes. Had visions of myself doing the same soon, and reliving my childhood fishing off the white rock in Guernsey.

Sunday evening saw Anna Anton and baby Klaudia return after a gruelling journey from Manchester. And we set about drinking beer and ordering more curry. Meanwhile Trotsky bit Anna in the ankle in a very premeditated way, and I felt compelled to explain that I hadn't been abusing it or anything. That off my chest, we ate and listened to Anton's records on his beloved deck.

Decided to stay overnight, as the curry was delayed, and the beer had made me feel tired. Suddenly sleep seemed exceedingly big and clever...

Friday, August 13, 2004

Suffering from the effects of Kate's leaving do. A mob of us drank enthusiastically outside the Blue Anchor all night, and consequently I felt extremely shoddy by the time I reached work this morning. The effect was made worse I think by the fact that my tube home last night didn't stop at my station. I got off at the next one feeling decidedly irritable, and decided that it would be big and clever to run all the way back home. I simply do not run normally because I have dodgy knees, and a physique more sumoesque than fleet but managed to make it, wheezing horribly.

After feeling dreadful all morning, mobbed off with the gang for lunch today where, almost unbelievably, I drank two bloody marys which have made me feel temporarily better. Kate looking green at the gills but Andy and me presented her with her leaving gift in the Riverside Studios.

I will miss Kate enormously, but as we are friends in real life as well as at work it's not like we won't see one another.

Now I am looking forward to creeping off to Brighton tonight where I am catsitting Trotsky, and having an extremely quiet and restful evening. Trotsky has largely ingored me lately, but now she will have to buck her ideas up and be a bit friendlier or she'll have to live off sparrow takeaways.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Had vivid dreams about a haunted house last night. Looked this up in my dictionary for dreamers in the middle of the night to no avail.

An uneventful day, full of people, but I was in an introverted bubble of tiredness. In idle moments I made a little time for hypochondria, as I have been feeling drained and have had a strange taste in my mouth.

Woke up to see my favourite client (a delightful French woman) to present concepts just after lunch. This made me have to blow out my lunch date with Olivia, who has now left the agency to go back to Milan. She gave me a bottle of wine and a little thank you card. I felt a bit rubbish as I’d done almost nothing for her other than listen for ten minutes.

I felt a strong sense of some sort of missed connection. Feeling a bit jaded, I went for a swim after work and felt somewhat better. Bought some cod and pak choi and made a nice if unorthodox stir fry when I got home, the aroma of which lingers with surprising persistence.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Finally back to my blog. Dragged myself off to work late today in teeming warm rain. Main business of the day was having a big meeting to show concepts about female contraceptives to some Dutch clients. This time they appeared to like our work, as opposed to looking like they were eating cactus sandwiches which they did the last time... This took up the morning. After, one of the art directors showed me a drawing he'd done of me during the meeting, which of course looked like a huge lummox. Bah.

The afternoon was more leisurely, and I did little of note apart from talk to Olivia from Milan, whose English needs work, but is still streets ahead of my tatters of Italian. She has decided to go back to Italy so I am lunching with her tomorrow. She said she wanted to keep in touch by email when she goes back to Italy which I was rather flattered by.

Later, went to a talk in the agency about interactive television. Uncharacteristically I could not keep my eyes open. I was sitting in the front row and jerked awake violently at one point. Good job.

Got a note from Romy. I'd sent her some photos from my recent trip to visit her and my brother in Toronto. When we were out there we spent some time with Romy's aunt and uncle on their farm in Grey County. They live on a road called Deviation Road and surrounded by beautiful land. I took gaudy shots of the blue skies and yellow rape fields (canola they call it). Was disgusted when I slipped the film out from my camera at home to find it was black and white. But there were some good shots.

About to slide off to bed, after a sensible night in, listening to some jazz and enjoying a glass of sparkling water, compensating for the several impromptu beers with Matty boy and Paul Minett in the North Star last night. As he was showing me his agency in a rucksack again a woman who was sharing our table started chatting him up.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Budapest - scrap of a diary I found in April 2011

Another enjoyable day today. Went to the fine art museum in Victory Square by metro -- the MI. Very fast journey. Just went with Mum as Mason went to the US embassy to investigate things to do with his website. Lots of interesting art there, but only managed to see a small amount in an hour and a half. Bruegel (older and younger) particularly top. Some Goya too. Ghastly queue to get in with no apparent organisation for half an hour. Also strange Stasi like way the attendants shadow you as you look at the paintings. I took my Berghaus off at one point and slung it over my shoulder. I was told firmly that I had to carry it under my arm.

Back to the Kommedia for a bite to eat and some coffee. Mason had been to a tea shop to talk about business and come back with a bag of exotic teas they'd given him. Mason then went back to the hotel to talk to the embassy guy on the phone and Mum and I took the metro to the Buda side of the river. Got confused and flustered en route and had irritatingly left my map in the restaurant. Easy journey nevertheless and got out at Moskva Ter and walked up the hill to the castle area. Wonderful views of Pest especially from Halaszbastya - the fishermen's bastion. Very cold and windy however. Got back to Opera within 15 minutes of getting on board the tube at Moskva.

Then next door to the Opera to see McBeth by Vivaldi. Fabulous opera house. Really enjoyed the opera too, or at least the experience of it.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Budapest - scrap of a diary I found in April 2011

Much better mood this morning. The consequence of a decent night's sleep and no hangovers. Felt dreadful yesterday morning. I managed an hour's sleep between writing my last entry and getting up.

Things didn't start too promisingly. Had breakfast (a nice one) and forgot to call Mum and Mase to say I was doing so. Then we went to the Opera House around the corner and brought some tickets for Thursday night. Then there was a big anxious chat about what to do next. Mason had spent nearly an hour plotting things. I decided to split off from them and meet them for a boat trip at two. Feeling anxious, horrid and tired I began a two hour exploration of Budapest on foot (on the Pest side of the river) mostly in unrepentant rain.

It was fine though, and by the time I had walked for a couple of hours I was much better spiritually, emotionally and physically. Nice city. I remember thinking at one point that you can tell something about the soul of a city by seeing it in the rain.

Got a boat trip to which was fun with a tape of a woman being and a guy being Buda and Pest which was quite fun. Stopped for an hour at St Margaret's island where Mum and Mase found toilets and Mase ate something. I went for a short walk with Mum. Nice place with lots of busts of unknown (to me) writers dotted about the place. And there was also the ruin of St Margaret's Abbey. Wandered back to the hotel.

Then off to see a Tango show. Went to see a Belgian tango show. We got "extras" tickets which meant we had to cringe at the side of the circle, but it was fine. Starving by the time it had finished at 9pm as I'd not eaten since breakfast. Went to a cafe bar called the Comedy and had chicken and chips. Not over keen on veggies here for some reason. Home and quick read of the Longshoreman by Richard Shelton and slept. Was overtired.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Budapest - scrap of a diary I found in April 2011

Drank too much yesterday. Started off with three gin and tonics in the airport after I'd met Mum and Mason. And continued after that. Mind you the flight wasn't great towards the end so I was happy to have been anethsetised.

I arrived in Heathrow early - too early - and Mum and Mase were late and arrived looking flustered. Budapest is raining and grey so far, but we had a niceish meal in a slightly touristy restaurant called Nostalgia. I left Mum and Mas and went for a walk at night - feeling slightly drunk. I came back to the hotel bar and bought some cigarettes, smoked one and retired.

Have been feeling horribly heartbroken again today. Probably just drunken maudlin. I feel old, sad and unhealthy right now in the middle of the night in a strange town.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Deer Path - scrap of a diary I found in April 2011

Really tired now. Went for a walk after a fairly nasty breakfast with Mel and Chloe along Navy Pier. Icy wind and quite good views of the city. Returned and Mel and I took a cab out to Deer Path. Getting on well with Mel. Arrived - finally - at Deer Path Inn, which styles itself as English in "Historic Hotels of America" strategically left in the room it says it is modelled after a mid-15th Century Manor House in Chiddinghurst Kent, England.

Each of the Inns guest rooms purports to be named after a National Trust of England site. Mine is called Ormesby -- two big rooms with armchairs and two big tellys. Curious absence of soul however.

Then work. Went to Abbott with Mel and Kristina and prepared for tomorrow's presentation. Client pleased I think. My campaign is going mental.

Back to Deer Path at 4:30ish. Mel went to her room and I decided to go for a walk. Loads of churches, huge houses and virtually nobody to be seen. I picked up some curious looks as I walked about, and a police car slowed down near me. I Deciding to go to sleep I think for a bit. I'm shattered and feeling a bit weird through sleep deprivation.

Chicago - scrap of a diary I found in April 2011

One of those longer than ever days yesterday. Spent the first half pottering about in a considerable amount of fear. I tidied up. I went around the corner and bought myself ten fags smoked two nervously in the back garden. A couple of phone calls to Mum and Mas, and Bob and packed and set off.

Once I had set off I felt better, although entirely still like a condemned man. On the plane reading a book about luck that Mike lent me. I was actually fabulously lucky on this journey. I only realised after the event that I had been upgraded. My seat number was 1A First Class. So the flight was even more restful than business class. I had been able to go to the Red Carpet lounge in Heathrow and drink free gin and tonics and smoke some nervous gaspers. The flight had its turbulent moments but with judicious gin and tonics I kept the horror well at bay. I was able to get quite flat in my seat and had my legs up in front of me all the way. It was fabulous. In fact I did find myself laughing, watching a stupid film called Johnny English. Laughing? On a plane?

Chicago looked absolutely amazing from the air. Warm yellow grids and twinkling lights. I got a momentary sense of the nobility of the human project. The grandeur of the city against the black patch of the lake was, to use and Americanism, awesome. I wasn't looking forward to getting hold of the taxi at O'Hare but I called the toll free number after sailing through customs and immigration. I simply found a phone and called - no cash required.

To my amazement a black stretch limousine appeared where they had told me to wait. I felt a surge of sheer cheeriness of having survived the flight and finding myself being conducted into town in such style. I was staying at the W Chicago Lakeshore. I have a view of lots of huge towerblocks outside. I'm staying on the 24th floor and when I look outside the other buildings tower above my head. Called Mel and arranged to meet her and her pal Chloe in reception. Actually reception was like a club. I did wonder if I was in the right place at first -- really loud music and bits of bling on show. Quite a nicely mixed black and white crowd too.

Met Mel and Chloe who was very pretty in a gamine sort of way -- and we jumped into a taxi to go to a fairly nearby restaurant. Sat at the bar having yet another G&T with Mel and Chloe. These SA princesses have good manners and apart from the human rights issues and whipping blacks they are fine. Quite giddy with tiredness but the euphoria of survival and the amazingness of being in Chicago eating a nice steak with two attractive intelligent women took over somewhat. Which brings me up to the moment. It's now 5:33 and I've had a brace of teas made with their coffee maker as they don't have a kettle. My body thinks it is almost noon. Listening to sirens makes me feel like I am in a movie. The room is cool and stylish. Maybe I'll try to have a bit more kip.

Bah. Still here. have been watching the grey daylight in Chicago. No dawn as such, merely a cold greyness. Tops of some of the towers lost in misty cloud. Saw one bird flying and realised there was hardly a scrap of green to be observed from my window. There is something terrifying about all these towers. I could see in one near me a woman having a cup of something. And in another a TV flickering in a darkened room. Little domestic things but in the sky, in a huge block.

Of course I've seen skyscrapers before but I wonder just how they stay up. The engineering is terrific. Perhaps 9/11 also keyed into something else; that these buildings are in some way unnatural and precarious and when 9/11 happened their frailty was revealed.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Back from a weekend spent with my old school pal Paddy in a village called Medbourne in Leicestershire. Had several drinks in Medbourne's solitary pub on Saturday and walked home under the stars -- objects not seen in London -- in the fresh air. The village was largely built of the local yellow stone due to the iron in it, or so Paddy said. Sunday morning, with some degree of hangover, we went for a long walk into the country. This initially gave me a spinny head and then made me feel oxygenated and strangely alive. We then played bass and guitar in his kitchen before going to his next door neighbour's for Sunday lunch.

Also saw Lost in Translation on Friday. Tokyo was the star, although Bill Murray ran it a close second.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Enjoyable night last night. Went to a private view at the Tom Halford Gallery to see Peter Stowell's exhibition -- a survivor's art Part One '...Before...'. He is actually my mother's half brother, and I'd not seen him for 20 years. I also met his brother Alex and his wife Pivey, plus two cousins I'd never met called Nina and Sarah, who I liked a lot. Complicated families....

Peter's art was interesting. Really good titles to his paintings. I particularly enjoyed "Playful ghosts of my former girlfriends" as a title, or "Visions of myself and Glenys escaping from the Green Gate pub and finding places of safety". And there were series of odd mechanical looking drawings. One particularly I liked was of a called "Pen and Ink mystery". Which had labels like a scientific diagram but they were written in an invented language. The idea of labelling is supposed to make things clearer -- and I enjoyed the fact these labels only added more mystery.

Last weekend I went down to Southsea to see my pals Anton and Anna. Played about a lot. Played pool with Anton in the Pub, plus a bitterly contested Trivial Pursuits -- Lord of the Rings version. Had to help Anton move a sodden futon from his back garden which had been used by the cat as a toilet. After struggling with the dead weight for a while and loading it into his car I noticed we smelled quite strongly of cat urine. This -- Pooterishly enough -- I had got on my new coat, which made me feel like a tramp as I travelled back in the London bound train.

The Midwife turned up when I was there and so I was able to hear the beating heart of my future godchild. Any day now...
Anna is radiant and really happy. I find myself really looking forward to the event too.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Time to start this again in ernest. Happy to see Christmas and the New Year go by. Now I feel that I am starting afresh. Found out on the first day back at work that we'd won a pitch, so had something to celebrate straight off. And yesterday Maddog called to say that he'd just become a father to Amelia -- 10lbs 4oz. Hopefully will be wetting the baby's head with him in the next day or so.

Meanwhile will go down to the seaside to stay with Anton and Anna this weekend, who is about to become a father shortly too -- the baby's code name is Loki (norse god of mischief) to whom I will be a godfather. Looking forward to waddling about in a Brandoesque way shortly.