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.