Saturday, April 30, 2005

The delightful Mr and Mrs Pie Posted by Hello

MJ and Johanna in Jane Austen's garden Posted by Hello

Lovely MJ feeling the power of the stones Posted by Hello

Here I am on Saturday morning listening to Summer Sun by Yo La Tengo which I bought yesterday remembering that Nathan had reviewed it in AnotherSun for me a couple of years ago. Nice murmury stuff and perfect for an early morning. And for remembering what I was up to last Saturday...

* * *

Saturday 23rd

There was a window in our schedule for me to zip down to Brighton with MJ and we seized it. Was hoping that Brighton would look lovely in the sun, but it was a dull, rainy and overcast. However we successfully contived our own fun. Showed MJ my little house in the Twitten and then slipped up to Anna and Anton's and down for a bite to eat and a polish beer in the Tin Drum. Much warmth from Anton and Anna, with Anna most excellently extolling the virtues of Brighton to MJ, and Baby Klauds busily being adorable despite having a cold and pooing explosively. Shame we didn't have enough time to really kick back.

Then a fast tour of Brighton through the Lanes, down to the Pavillion, the seafront, pier and through the twittens back to my place and back into the train. MJ sleeping on my shoulder transforming my normal commute into a source of contentment.

Back to the hotel, and out for a really enjoyable Italian meal and much cheerfulness. The Pies really are wonderful company, although I was definitely being investigated by them. Johanna Pie asking incisive questions and listening carefully to the answers, as Michael speculated fabulously and at length about the things Brighton Boy wasn't saying.

* * *

Sunday 24th

Another action-packed day. We set off for Heathrow where Michael and Johanna picked up a rental car and from there we drove to Alton, Hampshire. Johanna in the front passenger seat putting her glasses on the back of her head to keep an eye on Mary Jane and me.

Stopping at a pleasant pub called the Poacher for a good Sunday roast followed by spotted dick pudding which MJ viewed with suspicion.

Then off to one of the holiest of grails for MJ and Mrs Pie... Jane Austen's House. I really enjoyed the place too, even though I have only read Pride and Prejudice and half of Persuasion. Lovely old house, although by no means a stately home. Was interested by Cassandra too, her sister who painted the only contemporary likeness of Jane -- which looks like a quick sketch. Quite a strong look to her body, and her big eyes set quite far apart and looking rightwards as if imagining something in what I think must have been a characteristic look.

Also amazing to see her tiny table where she worked, listening for the creak of the door ready to hide her manuscript if interrupted.

Then back into the car and Michael drove us to Stonehenge. MJ and I left the Pies drinking coffee and we took a quick turn around the stones. An energising and arresting place with the skylarks bravely making themselves heard above the traffic. MJ liking this a good deal. Felt significant for us to be walking around Stonehenge hand in hand.

Found out later that they are going to build a tunnel to hide the road near Stonehenge, which I think they should.

Then the final leg to the Combe Grove Manor hotel just outside Bath set near the top of the beautiful Limpley Stoke valley. A heavenly place.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Splendid day so far... Snuck off for secret meeting this morning, which went well. Then the IT at work had a freakout and all the systems had to be taken offline, including phones as there was a fire risk. Which meant leaving work at 2pm and returning happily to Brighton, doing a spot of shopping and catching up on my blog a bit...

* * *

Friday morning (22 April) and pacing about impatiently waiting for MJ at Heathrow, as MJ's plane was delayed. This followed by an emotional reunion. My life with MJ is like a movie. Our relationship conducted in bursts against all kinds of picturesque settings with proper ends and beginnings.

From Heathrow we got the fast train to Paddington and a cab to our hotel in Bloomsbury where we met MJ's guardian angels Michael (a.k.a Sweetie Pie) and Johanna. Mr and Mrs Pie were exceptionally nice people -- funny, warm and generous, and by the end of the holiday I had made two new friends.

There was a Schedule to be abided by, and MJ had just enough time for a shower before we were handed a printout of said schedule (printed in gothic font) and information about Dickens in London and we four plunged into the streets past the Old Curiosity Shop and down into the Temple which I'd not been into for ages. Michael positively encyclopaedic on London and making sure MJ didn't miss anything. Fortunately it was a beautiful day too, and I felt proud of the old town, and MJ despite the jetlag, was really happy to be here.

Then up to Fleet Street to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which MJ loved. Happy memories for me too of lurking in there with Bob. We ate there which I had never done, and it was perfectly nice sitting where Michael said Dickens had sat when he strapped on the nosebag.

Then on to The Charles Dickens Museum. Penty of good stuff to look at, I was rather struck by what was evidently a popular print of the time of Dickens' empty desk after he had died. Typical mawkish Victorian stuff, but I like the Zen-like idea of defining something by its absence.

Then a scamper back to the Hotel. Our room was lovely, with a four poster bed and a view over a square of gardens leading right up to the great walls of the British Museum.

Much-needed snoozing followed by more to be seen. Popped into the portrait gallery to see the group portrait of the Brontes by their brother.

Then through Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall past St James's Palace and Buck House and doubling back to be by Big Ben when it struck nine. Then into a cab to the Tower of London for the ceremony of the keys. Lots of satisfying shouty theatre in the dark, from the chaps in scarlet coats. Good to be walking about near the refreshingly unambiguously-named Bloody Tower and Traitors Gate and so on.

A lovely, whirlwind day full laughter, and me being fantastically happy to see MJ again. She really is the best of ladies.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

So... Thursday night. Have just returned from my first day back at work. Remembered on the morning train that I was due to present to the agency the brand work I had done on the cats & dogs charitythis afternoon. It being in the local theatre I felt quite at home and to general satisfaction managed to begin the presentation with asking the difference between weasels and labradors, which amused me. After the rally, most of the agency then went to the Rutland where I had a good few chats before being summoned by the call of the seagull.

Saw that my piece on Taboo had been published in that august journal European Pharmameceutical Executive.

A sniff of interest in New York for my CV. Which is worth following up.

Best thing was Mary Jane calling me this morning. Have got my new phone and a photo I took of MJ is the screen saver on it, which is nice. I am missing her horribly. I attach the image which I took using my new phone and surprised her by snapping her under an umbrella in Lacock.

Will have to update this blog with details of the wonderful holiday I had with MJ and Michael and Johanna, aka Mr and Mrs Pie.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Have been rushing about today like a blue-arsed fly with a cocaine problem. Have taken delivery of my sofa at last. Looks nice although a little large. I now calculate that my house is now about 37% sofa and when things calm down a bit I will apply myself to sitting on it. Did vacuum cleaning, did laundry, reorganised my living space to accomodate sofa, and so on. Also replaced old toilet seat with new one. The new one took about one minute to fit, however, the old one required violent swearing for 40 mins till it freed itself.

MJ will be at Heathrow tomorrow morning, necessitating me bolting from my twitten at 5 am to set off to meet her. Needless to say I can't wait. Feels like all my Christmases have been rolled into one.

Late last night, caught up with Christian and Anton towards the end of the night. They had been playing pool and being lively. Had a quick beer in The Great Eastern, during which I was phoned by the divine Tenerelli, and then home for coffee and impromtu guitar lesson for Anton. Very good to see the Xtian gentleman again.

Banished the boys and phoned MJ back.

Tonght, I am going to Anna and Anton's for some supper. All is well!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Stealing a few minutes during lunch. Just sloped back from the Chinese takeaway with Pat and we have been guzzling Singapore noodles at our desks. Work largely benign, and I am feeling irrepressibly cheery today due to the imminence of MJ's visit.

Bumped into the Reubster with his bicycle at Victoria.

A good night last night, after a fairly dull day punctuated by a short swim. Had an exploratory beer with the FB in the Blue Anchor, then salmoned upstream to the Dove. Michel told me an enjoyable story from his nursing days, about how he persuaded his pal to pose as a corpse who, as the porters were removing him, suddenly lurched upright sending them yelping away.

Joined by besuited Paul fresh from first day at new job. Always good to see him balancing unorthadox faceparts with smart clothing. Unlike the day he turned up at work with his masturbating nun on crucifix teeshirt creating widespread horror and affont.

Matty Boy being cheery and having a reprehensible twinkle in his eye borne out recent amorous encounters. Lovely to see Katie again despite her being under the cosh at work and forced to be late. Didn't get significant First Matie facetime as suddenly we were joined by nice bouncy Max, as well as half a dozen pals of Paul's I'd never met and the evening became altogethery.

The call of the seagull was strong in me so bailed early. Called by my darling as I was on the tube and had garbled conversation before disappearing into London's labyrinth. Slept like a baby on the Brighton train.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Little mind-boggling today. Got out of bed at 6:30, curiously anxious and twitchy, a feeling which dissipated once I'd reached the smoke. Made phone calls to incompetent NatWest bank & arranged to have my sofa delivered on Thursday. Lunchtime to Riverside Studios with Michel, Maxine, Maxine, Carole-Anne and Angela. Ate dead lambs and drank a little wine.

Michel on spectacularly good form as is Max. The French bloke looking like an mutant insect once he'd got his bike gear on. Meanwhile the other Maxine being very nice to me about Foreign Affairs, as her situation mirrors mine. Bizarre boomerang effect now endured by my friends. Start any conversation in any direction and it will end up back at Mary Jane. A couple of weeks ago the FB started a conversation with "look! A window! I bet Mary Jane has windows..."

MJ called me at work in the afternoon and conveyed a story from Weezer Jr. about midgets.

Went for a swim after work, pool the most crowded I have ever seen it. Hard to tell if people are enjoying swimming. Perhaps they are snickering privately when their faces are underwater. Nobody looks like they are enjoying themselves, but I found I was drifting off into boomerang thoughts as I was doing backstroke, which can be dangerous when you run out of pool.

Home, and I talked to the divine Mary Jane again. I adore her. Did I mention that?

Really nice weekend in Brighton. Carried new container of white paint up the hill and employed it with abandon in bathroom and in alcovey bit of living room. Seem to have vast amount of other stuff to sort out suddenly. Chased sofa delivery. Did lots of houseworky stuff, laundry, in between talking to MJ.

Still fondly remembering being mentioned by MJ as "her boyfriend" on the radio. Quite surreal to be listening to a local Long Island station and hearing people discuss me.

Jubilantly phoned by Paul on Friday who has a job at last. Delighted for him. Now have to write artful reference by Tuesday. Also jubilantly phoned by Sarah on Friday, she was made redundant despite being pregnant. She is going to make them pay and was relishing the fight ahead. She really is a warrior woman.

Most jubilantly of all, phoned by French Bloke on Saturday on a private matter which hasn't reached press release date yet.

Janet, when walking to the station along the twitten had been disapproving of my roses. She appeared in the afternoon brandishing pruning implements and soon my three rosebushes were neat stumpy things which she assures me will burgeon later. Plus she gave me clear instructions about other flora in my microscopic garden.

There's something about pruning that Janet loves.

Had cups of tea and a lovely long chat with Janet that ran into a couple of hours. She is such a good friend to me. Then a quick shower, and up the road to eat a meal with her and Ken. Good to see Ken too, always good value, and he and Janet warmly invited me to Aix later in the year.

Met their new cat called Rossini, which being compliant and willing to be held like a baby, is utterly the opposite of Oscar who I always thought should have been called Lucifer. Remember the time I was catsitting Oscar and woke up in the morning to find a dead woodpigeon with its guts eaten out and the berries it had been eating scattered all over the carpet, merely because I'd opened the wrong tin the night before.

MJ in my thoughts or on my phone or computer screen all weekend. Thanks to her pal Johanna, who has been sending me very funny emails about our schedule and "Merry Jane", I now discover that the Siren of East Northport is actually arriving on Friday morning, and not Thursday as previously thought. I am really liking Johanna, despite her slippery grasp of history and idiom. She seems to have cheekiness in common with the nicely bodiced one.

Beautiful day today. Felt a bit spaced out this morning, and after replying to Johanna went out to the market and bumped into Anton and Anna and Baby Klauds.

Bought vegetables and wild boar sausage from French traders in the market. Then I went shopping for a bit, bumped into Charlotte in the mall, bought food, lightbulbs, shoes. Defeated by bathroom cabinets. Seem unable to buy them for some reason.

Home and a procession of talking to MJ, painting, cups of tea with Anton and Anna listening to soul music, phonecall with Mum discussing diverse matters such as relatives who smell, love, and the employment of dogs as throwing weapons against vertically challenged former colleagues. Then making good after decorating and then long message conversation with MJ before slumping to bed.

Felt like there weren't enough hours in the day.

Friday, April 15, 2005

So here am I listening to MJ on the radio. Like an idiot I put the wrong time down on the blog for UK folks. Fortunately I was tuned in anyway. Mary Jane was late being stuck in traffic, but she is outstanding!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Mary Jane is on the radio tonight! At 6.00pm in New York and 11 pm (not midnight as I said earlier) UK time.

Click here and you can hear her wherever you are!

Woke up this morning with a start in Ealing having stayed overnight with French Bloke and Matty boy. I'd responded to this emailed crie de coeur from the French Bloke:

I am hiding in the deep, dark, safe place at the bottom of my soul. The area above I have allowed to be filled by a humunculus of my own creation, an automaton that can go through the motions and yet feel no pain. This empty doppelganger seems to be all that is required to fulfill the role expected of me by the vacuous husks of humanity who have me surrounded. The only way to reach my withdrawn soul is maybe to allow the fumes of ethanol to seep slowly by my vapid creation and into the refuge in which I have imurred myself....

So we went for a drink. And ended up at the boy's house talking nonsense to them and poor Eva.

Yesterday was fine. Attended inaugural board meeting of my part of the business which was full of nosebleed-inducing figures, and little else of consequence.

Got a lovely email from Romy, who is a big fan of Persuasion too. Romy and MJ are ladies who like the same books.

MJ is doing a reading on the radio tonight. Which is streamable over the internet. I will enter link here later when I get home as I don't have to hand. One week till she is in London!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Persuasion again on the train. Really enjoying it now. Email with lovely MJ about the scene where Captain Wentworth is talking about his first ship the Asp to an adoring audience of young ladies. He is describing how decrepit the Asp was and how he was happy to get rid of it, but what he is really talking about is Anne who has to listen while feeling old and wretched. That Austen chick could write.

Lunchtime haircut. Nicki virtually my only link with Chiswick now, but going to anyone else would be an unthinkable betrayal. Disturbed when she was doing mirror thing at the end by the slight gleam at the crown. Thinking again how Carl and me were short changed by Bob who showed early promise of becoming pilgarlic but depressingly his hairloss seemed to abruptly stop. It would be justice if I became a total slaphead.

Sunny day, but Brighton was full of thick sea mist when I got back. Set off to the Tin Drum at Seven Dials to meet Mark. Feels like we picked up just where we left off -- despite a 15 year hiatus. Work is stressing him horribly at the moment, and I was able to lecture him on overwork in the way that you can if you have known someone since we were eleven. He is such a nice, practical man who is full of ideas and sensitivity. We drank some unspellable Polish beers and then went a few doors down for some Japanese food. Had sushi and were presented with a large soft shelled crabby thing that resembled HR Giger's baby alien in batter.

We ate it anyway.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

One of my manhattan pics Posted by Hello

Monday, April 11, 2005

Lovely sunny morning and positively cheery rattling up to London with Reuben on the acid rain talking of many and diverse matters. Stepping onto the platform at Victoria a trace of burning brimstone in the air and we noticed Spooner choking down a gasper. We three sloped along briefly. I mentioned my trip to Yeats's grave to S and as he was coming up with some erudite allusion, I wondered (not aloud for fear of getting an answer) what the collective noun for three hacks slouching off to do our filthy business in town would be. A flourish? A gloom? A sore?

Work itself not bad. I wrote copy, and left on time. In the morning I got caught up in a spate of lateral thinking about what I could do with myself, which made me feel cheerful. In the afternoon I rejected a brief. It's excitement like this that keeps me going.

Suggested to Andy and Mike that they were in fact gnomes as they come from Cornwall and Wales respectively and they should get back down their tin mines like the pixie half-breeds that they were. Nobody rose to bait though, which was a bit tiresome.

Email from First Matie who was bored.

Missing MJ who has been training for her new job all day.

Still hobbling piratically due to rubbish ankle.

Home and rehydrating shrivelled and raisin-like kidneys with mineral water. Ate healthy stir fry. Mucked about with my photos of New York and added them to my sixth fingers site here. Phoned mum and talked at some length about wide-ranging matters.

Me and Willie  Posted by Hello

Matty boy and Paula skimming stones Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Green grass, and cloud over the mountain Posted by Hello

Met Matty boy at Gatwick. Claustrophobically squashed into the back row of the Easyjet aircraft. This necessitated gin. Matty keeping me company in this matter out of decency. Another large man squeezed next to Matty also turned out to be going to Marcella’s party too, as were the people in the row in front of us -- and Phil and Ash who we’d bumped into in the departure lounge.

Marcella had arranged for us to be collected at Knock airport and we were driven in a small coach to Westport. Matt and me were sharing a room at a nice B&B run by a very friendly lady called Mary. After dropping our stuff off Matt and I set off into Westport, and a beautiful little town it is too. We tried a few pubs, the first one, Bould Biddy’s, being rather strange (but the barmaid later turned out to be a lifelong friend of Marcella’s however). But we settled on a pub called Matt Molloy’s which was exemplary in every way.

We opted to eat at a place called Mangos and were later joined there by Phil and Ash and a pleasant friend of Marcella’s called Jo who we’d met on the coach. I had meltingly good sea bass. Later went back to Matt Molloy’s bar for more drinks and to watch local musicians playing some fantastic local music. Great night.

Oddly, and despite looking exceedingly healthy, at 11:30 Matt suggested we have an early night. Which turned out to be very big and clever of him. Back at Mary’s B&B I called MJ and talked to her in the way a man talks to a woman, with Matt laughing at us from his bed.

* * *

Next morning a discussion of the description by Kingsley Amis of the small creature of the night which uses the mouth as its latrine, then its mausoleum. Later, and feeling surprisingly fresh, we headed downstairs for huge Irish breakfast with both black and white blood pudding.

Gallingly, my ankle was impossible first thing but improved during the day as I ate horse pills.

This inability to walk much prompted Matty to suggest hiring a car. I replied half seriously that we go to see the grave of WB Yeats in Sligo. To which Matt agreed. The garage man told us it was impossible to hire a car on a Saturday. Having said this, however, he gave us a car within minutes.

Shortly after we were stopped at a Guarda roadblock as the tax disc on the car was out of date. After Matt showed the policeman proof we’d hired it from a garage called Hastings, the policeman with a big smile said we should “tell Mr Hastings that the Guarda are most displeased" and let us drive off free as birds.

Felt very happy as visiting the Yeats’s grave has been an ambition of mine for decades, and, thanks to Matt, suddenly here I was doing it. In fact this seems to me to be a time when dreams are coming true.

If I was cast onto a desert island with only one poet’s collected works to choose it would be William Butler Yeats because I know his work so well, and it would like be taking an old friend.

Reached the old boy’s grave at Drumcliffe Church “Under bare Ben Bulben’s head". Saw with satisfaction the famous inscription “Cast a cold eye/ On life, on death / Horseman, pass by!” which I do, however, think was one of his feebler efforts. And not as good as Keats… “here lies one whose name was writ in water.”

Travelling around here you can see how this landscape really permeates his work. The landscape of Mayo and Sligo is fabulous. The colours are extraordinary. Perhaps most surprising were the strong blues of the mountains under clouds, and the sky huge and full of changing cloudscapes, and great dramas of light breaking through and bursts of thick oily rain and then the cleanness of the rain-washed world and the road gleaming as it rose to meet us. The light changes so quickly that it would be impossible to paint it.

After some tea in the little gift shop, Matt got possessed of the unnatural desire to eat prawns. We drove around the coast for miles without luck. Ended up in an Italian restaurant in Sligo with Matt munching unhappily on chicken.

Returned to Westport in the late afternoon. Matt providing an elegant argument for returning to Molloy’s and we walked into town feeling most cheery. Me talking to MJ on my mobile as Matt, for reasons of his own, stole up behind some ducks to try to touch their feathery bottoms.

Then joined by Paula. Excellent to see her, and caught up with the all the goss. Happily she was a new set of ears for my MJ story and she reacted in true Paula style by giving me a big hug. Then joined my Phil and Ash, Jo and a nice lady called Sarah, also one of Marcella’s pals. From the exemplary Molloy’s we went to eat and then headed off to Marcella’s party. Incredibly this was being held at a pub called “Blouses”. Matt and I happy to note that the place was full.

Excellent party. Finally got to see Marcella, and had huge fun with Matty, Paula and the rest. Talked people’s heads off, and did dancing on rubbish ankle and so on.

Weaved home at two o’clock along the little dark river that runs through town. Talking about love, and Paula saying again how much she loves Pete, her husband, and me blaring about MJ.

Later, Matty and I burbling tiredly together for a bit before passing into a deep sleep.

* * *

Matty and I repeated small creature of the night conversation and joined Paula for breakfast.

Feeling quite shoddy this morning but we three decided to take the car and find the beach. Drove to a breathtakingly beautiful beach near Westport. And skimmed stones and larked about. It was tremendously gorgeous as photos should attest. Really incredibly beautiful morning in which I felt radiantly happy.

And Paula, part mermaid that she is, revelling by the sea.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Off to Westport in Ireland. Will meet Matty boy at Gatwick and fly to Knock International and from there travel to the west coast for Marcella's 30th birthday party. Also be looking forward to getting outside a few Guinesses and brooding about YB Yeats and hearing Paula laugh like a seagull again.

Otherwise have had a reasonable week, where I began swimming again, and generally taking care of myself. Yesterday, however, ended up in a slightly ill-advised pre-drink-in-Ireland drink last night with my boss, Michel, Hazel, Robbie and others, and woke up in Brighton being prodded by a cleaner having fallen into a blissful sleep. Home, and gabbling to MJ on the phone for ages. The bailiffs will be coming for my stuff shortly after phone bill.

Have played chess with Anton this week. We won one game each and abandoned the third (although I would have won it easily). He has nasty and aggressive way of playing chess -- nothing elegant at all about it; just a bloodbath -- which is quite revealing of evil inner Anton.

Back intermittently on horse pills as ankle has broken down again thanks to overuse and banging it on the side of swimming pool like a chump. Don't know what is up with me as I am normally rather balletic and graceful in my movements for a larger man.

Election date has been announced for 5th May and for the first time I am considering not voting. Remembering again being shouted at by anarchist who was saying "don't vote -- it only encourages them".

Spoke to Toby Kenny this week and am really looking forward to seeing the house he and Romy have bought in Toronto. Will try to slide over there at some point.

Feeling very happy and surrounded by friends, have arranged to see Mark again rather than leaving it the full fifteen years like last time. Also invited Paddy down to stay too.

Missing MJ, however, is like some hideous medieval torture conducted in foul oubliette with loads of spiky things. This is slightly mitigated by the internet and telephones. Not the same as being able to see the whites of her eyes though, or that strange smiling thing that I like so much. However there is now less than a fortnight before these demands are met.

Apparently she and Johanna are planning sock theatre version of Pride and Prejudice for car rides, although there is a difference of opinion about who gets to be Elizabeth Bennet. Am reading Persuasion at the moment in the hope of not appearing to have a small brain and be a total Austen dunce, as I have only read P&P before. Silly, galling parents and relatives in both books. She does embarrassment and saintly rising above irritation really well I think.

Beer badgers have been again last night. Need to wash up things and pack and prepare myself for (groan) the flight. I wonder if there will ever come a time in my life when I don't dread flying.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Moanday. Up at 6:30 for some reason. Downstairs and cooked myself some porridge which tonight I discovered completely untouched and still in the pan.

Work uninspiring. Went for a short but walk with Pat at lunchtime along the river towards the Black Lion. Then a swim after work to compensate for accidental consumption of entire Easter egg found on desk. Pool beset by a team of keen and muscular swimmers surging up and down.

Home and talked to lovely MJ about top-level and private matters. She has found out about Guernsey Gâche and wants to eat some. Yum... Too long since I had my laughing gear around some Gâche, might have to arrange to have some sent over.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Anton and Anna's cute Baby Klauds Posted by Hello

Sunday started late, and shortly after I got out of bed Anton, Anna and Klauds came around as I was eating Guernsey Bean Jar for breakfast. My grandfather used to tell me about children running down to the bakery to collect the family Bean Jar wrapped in brown paper on Sunday morning which had been slow cooking in the baker's cooling Saturday night ovens.

Was asked to take Klauds out while Anton and Anna worked on their house. We set off and she was asleep in the push chair before we reached the end of the road and slept like a baby for the next two hours. I went for a long walk down by the seafront. The air very fresh, and it was a beautiful day with warm sun, blue sky and the sea sparkling and darting with little yachts. Everyone looking cheerful in the sun, and here and there the smell of fish and chips, and coffee and later beer warming in the sun.

Suddenly I was overcome with happiness again. Something about the combination of the beautiful day, feeling trusted by Anna and Anton, seeing Klaudia abandoned to sleep, and happy thoughts about Mary Jane all combined to produce a kind of elation.

Back to Anton and Anna's place and I sat about in the sun in their garden for a while and took a photo of Baby Klauds, and Anton made coffee and we all ate pizza left over from last night's midnight homemade pizza fest.

Then a bit of humping things up and down stairs with Anton before their carpet is laid tomorrow, then home.

Spoke to Mary Jane again. We are both counting the days like a pair of teenagers. She makes me feel ridiculously young, and very very happy.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

So back to real time today. Saturday night and I am typing this on Anton's computer and babysitting for Baby Klauds who is, thus far, sleeping like a baby. Poor Anna's grandmother has been seriously ill in the last few days and she and Anton have escaped for a few hours for some down time.

A blurry week since I have been back in the UK. Full of friends who I have wanted to corner and talk to about Mary Jane and my New York trip. Serial debriefings with Mum, Anton, Maddog, Kate & Gavin, Frenchbloke, Tracey, Paul and others.

I am exceedingly happy and am impatiently counting the days till MJ is over here.

Today have been trying to get a grip. Beer badgers, or close allies, have disrupted house and had to spend hours this morning washing up and sorting things out. Body clock is still shot so woke late.

Bumped into Spooner in Trafalgar Street and he and Ali invited me back to his place for tea and biscuits. Later sloped off into The Lord Nelson for a fast drink. Spooner these days confining himself to a large cigar and soft drinks. Met Anton there too. Back to my place and fed Anton a bowl of bean jar which after initial suspicion he seemed to like.

* * *

Easter Party at MJ's was good. Easter Bunny thing was great with kids sugar-rushing outside searching for eggs, while a mixed bag of adults picked at things like cherry winks as the food was themed poor white trash. Unfortunatley Weezer Jnr far to good a cook to carry this off.

Also met W Jr's husband Troy and went for a short walk with him before the party. Both he and Weezer Jnr are artists. Troy also works with recovering addicts too and has many interesting things to say about this and other subjects. Several other guests including MJ's great pal Steven, very dry and funny man. Enjoyed meeting Steph and Maureen too. Friendly and welcoming people. Lodger downstairs, whose useless metal sculture of MJ declaiming her poetry was on show, saw me as a rival and burned me a CD of the 60s pop combo Dave Clarke 5 which when played backwards said "Die Limey".

The next day, heavy steady rain in Long Island. Enjoyed playing intense and involved game of Lord of the Rings on a Gameboy with Jack and generally hanging out.

Later, talked through the night with Mary Jane till a sherbert, driven by a talkative Private Investigator/cabby/international affairs expert collected me at 4:30am. The flight home via Newark excellent and I had two seats to myself. In fact I almost found myself enjoying sprawling in them watching The Incredibles until I realised I had left something very important with Mary Jane in New York.

My heart.

Friday, April 01, 2005

So let me tell you a little about the divine Tenerelli.

First, a few facts. A year younger than me, MJ lives in Long Island with her two children, Jack (9) and Kate (7). She is a wonderful poet. She also makes money through work as a writer and editor.

She is five foot five inches, and I find her feminine and very beautiful. She has arresting hazel eyes, high cheekbones, a nice full blouse and a shy and heartfelt smile.

Next is the laughter she creates. When we are together laughter is always close. She has a sense of the absurd which is like mine. She has a smart mouth. And astonishingly she has the gall to tease me.

MJ is also a handful. She has black days, and rages and getting on the wrong side of her is not something to be undertaken lightly.

Nor is her mind full of crows and tumbleweed. She is full of thinking.

She likes poetry, Godiva chocolates, and the supernatural.

Finally there is a palpable and electric connection between us that is at once spiritual and sensual.

* * *

Saturday afternoon in Manhattan. MJ glows with her love of the place. We wander about in Chinatown and strap on the nosebag and eat some Vietnamese food. Everything normal seems charged with the strangeness of the place and the mingling of newness and utter familiarity with MJ. After collecting my stuff from the hotel we go to a horror movie called The Ring II. I am not very good with horror films.

Me: What happens if I scream?
MJ: (Sternly) You'll have to toughen up.

The temperature has dropped and we head off to Penn Station, where we are attacked by a cockroachy thing that MJ calls a waterbug. We board the Northport train and I reflect how insects mean worries in dreams, and I am worried about meeting MJ's children and her sister. Everything has gone so perfectly and romantically thus far. The woman checking our tickets in the busy and noisy train drops a confetti of star-shaped clippings over the floor.

At MJ's house Jack welcomes me in. He is the best of boys, very sensitive and imaginative and, at 9 years old, is actually making conversation with me and trying to put me at my ease. Kate is younger and is okay with me, but will later become concerned about this interloper and will tell her mum that that she is not ready for her mother to have a boyfriend.

MJ's sister Diane aka Weezer Junior is an instant friend. And oddly, after a short while, I begin to feel at home. A strange thing to feel thousands of miles from where you actually live.

Ground Zero Posted by Hello

Ground Zero Posted by Hello