Monday, October 31, 2005

Little news: Halloween but I was unhaunted.

Quite a quiet day at work, which was welcome. This gave me the opportunity to slip out at lunchtime for an enjoyable swim. In the evening met the old Dell crew Ash, Phil, Arno, Emma, James and Marcella in Soho. Queen Paula missing however through illness. We met in the Crown and Two Chairmen, and then went to the usual curry house. Left early but had another poor journey home.

Reading Lamia this morning which I can't remember reading before. As ever Keats' descriptions resonate... Found myself loving this, which had me imagining reflections in marble:

While yet he spake they had arrived before
A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door
Where hung a sliver lamp, whose phosphor glow
Reflected in the slabbed steps below,
Mild as a star in water...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Woke up early and it felt enjoyable and familiar sitting in my room with the window open to the grey and rainy morning, drinking instant coffee and writing yesterday’s entry.

After a large breakfast, Sophie and me went for a walk in the teeming rain and lurked about on the campus. Then back to Scarman to dry off before the taxi to Coventry. Gallingly realised at the station that I had left my ticket in the hotel.

Sophie on the train getting in the Buddhist mood.

Arriving at Euston we went straight to Friends House to join a Rigpa event. Rigpa is a Tibetan word with connotations of the innermost nature of the mind as well as intelligence and awareness.

It was a two day event but we were able to sneak in for the last quarter – with several hours of teaching by Tibetan Buddhist Minguyur Rinpoche who was 29 and had a funny as well as a wise old soul. He spoke in English, with a translator to help with the trickier bits.

Although I am no expert, one of the things I love about Buddhism is the fact that there is room for laughter and the absurd. Minguyur Rinpoche certainly used animals in his examples quite a bit, which I enjoyed.

On entering the hall we were given a handful of rice as an offering. I had no idea what it was for, however. When the master arrived, everyone stood reverentially and once we had sat down again there was some chanting. Suddenly everyone threw their rice in the general direction of the stage. As I went to bed that night I was still discovering the odd grain in my hair.

I was very interested in what he had to say – about using the natural activity of the “mad monkey” mind and its stream of thoughts as itself a way of meditating.

He showed us a rosary-like string of beads. He explained that each one represents a thought going on in a circle forever. He showed us that if you feel and notice each thought as if it were a bead passing through your fingers you create a way of meditating without having to struggle to banish all your own thoughts.

Then Sogyal Rinpoche who is the founder of Rigpa said some words. There was much reverence from the crowd to both teachers.

Teachings went on till 7, and then Sophie and I went for a quick drink to discuss the weekend and the teachings we had heard, before bidding her a fond farewell.

Journey back to Brighton turned into an ordeal, taking me two hours to get home from Victoria. Despite my injection of Buddhism I felt very ratty about during this journey. However, I managed to score a late Chinese meal and chat with MJ before heading for bed.

An excellent weekend however. And really lovely to connect with Sophie after such a long time, and hear so many interesting thoughts.

Today was the day of Martin Warner’s official retirement. At Euston I met Sophie with a case containing enough clothes and belongings for two weeks. Off to Coventry – and loads of news to catch up on; it was extremely nice to see her again.

At Coventry we visited the Cathedral which was far more beautiful than either of us remembered. We sat for some time looking out at the remains of the old fourteenth century cathedral, destroyed in November 1940, through the beautiful window full of etched angels, loving how the light collects in them. (Below only a small section as the angels go up to the roof. )

Regeneration is a big theme for Coventry which was bombed to destruction in the war. The new cathedral was consecrated in 1962. I also enjoyed seeing Graham Sutherland tapestry of Christ in Glory which is also wonderful.

Thence off to eat and wander about town dragging Sophie’s case with us as she did some shopping. I also made Sophie and MJ talk to each other on the phone for a bit.

Then by taxi to the university, where we were staying in the Scarman building, which didn’t exist when I was a student. Which was conference facilities and a hotel. Pleasant rooms.

Sophie and I then off to Martin’s do. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Martin, looking almost unchanged from when I’d last seen him, delivered a bravura lecture full of many of his trademark mannerisms. My favourite was a little hunch-shouldered crouch gripping the lectern with his legs at 45 degrees behind him, his spectacles glinting enthusiastically at the audience. Alas he didn’t wrap himself up in the curtain that was draped invitingly behind him as he has done in the past.

The title of the lecture was, rather unpromisingly, was something like 35 years of philosophy and literature. What we were treated to was a breathtakingly erudite discussion of the tension between the two disciplines from Presocratic period to the 20th century. This took some 40 minutes through a hundred references and what Rick later called “a rage for connection”. Then, pausing for effect, he said, “This roughly speaking is the context I found myself in 35 years ago.” To which there was much applause and laughter.

Then we shuffled off to a sit down dinner where many handsome tributes were paid to Martin, who was compared to an angel and to Aristotle amongst other things. Realised that I belonged to a strange tribe of Phil Lit alumni and, even more shockingly, that I was proud of this.

Was happy to have a brief chat to Martin and told him that although I was an unremarkable student he had actually set the agenda for the things I have thought about for the rest of my life. He seemed to like this. And for me thanking Martin felt like a strange sort of closure.

Sophie and I mingled a bit – although we were the only people there from our year. It was amusing to see Sophie gladdening the hearts of the more grizzled lecturers. We had an interesting conversation with Rick Gekoski who was, with Martin, one of the founding fathers of the Phil Lit course, and was a judge on the 2005 Booker prize panel. I asked him if there were any patterns in the glut of books he read. He said there were more set in Africa than in England, lots about terror and catastrophe, and a dearth of the Hampstead novel on the neuroses of middle class folk.

A really good evening and I was so glad that me and Sophie were part of it.

Tired and happy we returned to Scarman and, after calling my beloved MJ, I addressed myself to the pillow.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Unwilling and unable to drag myself out of bed this morning. Fabulously and unapologetically late into work, an effect only enhanced by learning en route that we had won the first pitch. A fact that makes both me and the Gnome officially big and clever.

Probably psychological, but very tired today after slogging for two weeks at work. Decided to work in small bursts.

Went for a swim too in the afternoon where I stood before the mirror slapping my thighs in a cloud of chalk dust: for the sumo thing is happening again. Spoke to MJ on the way back from the pool. She and Weezer are still fighting about mullets.

Did some work with the Gnome but he was looking a bit rubbish having slept at the hospital a few days this week as his son is still needing observation.

Began to write to the message board about about great bees in history, such as that great bee general Honeybal who crossed the Alps with elephants in 210 BC but the bee muse fled. Perhaps this is the end.

Hilarious and complicated discussions about travel and hiring a car with Sophie. She doesn't have a licence and said she would be afraid to drive. I have a rule of thumb: if the driver looks scared then you're in the wrong car. In the end we decided to go by train to Coventry station and play it by ear.

Left work stunningly early too. Got home to Brighton at an unprecedented 5:30 and, as the acid rain pulled into the station, Anton called to invite me to have a curry with him and Anna. I gladly accepted and ate large and enjoyable curries, with a guest appearance from a non-speeping Baby Klauds. And had fun playing tunes with Anton sulking and refusing to choose records by the end of the night because I raised an alarmed eyebrow when he was about to play The Euroman Cometh by Jean-Jacques Burnell of the Stranglers.

Walked home in the rain, feeling full and happy and very tired. Spoke briefly to MJ before heading for bed.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Late into work where the Bees reigned again. Feeling end-of-pitch-ish and prone to hysteria which give way to tiredness. Today's post on the agency intranet was this:

Dear Noticeboard

Still broodin' about bees. Wonder if you can help?

(When I refer to bees, of course I mean
Apis mellifera or the common honey bee, not filthy and depraved bumble bees such as Bombus subterraneus or Bombus ruderatu.)

Anyway. Does anybody know if London Wasps RFC, now based at Causeway Stadium High Wycombe, has a bee team?

I need to know.

Buzz buzz!

Large regards


PS: Thank you to the people who pointed out that Hepatitis b was actually a medical condition and not a dangerous insect. Imagine how stupid I felt!
In short I was in a fairly absurd mood. I looked out of the window and saw half a dozen parakeets flying by the building -- there are a few exotic colonies of them in west London -- as I have noted before on this blog. I pointed at the window shouting parakeets! but not one soul believed me, and all refused to look.

After work met First Matie in the Blue Anchor and had a quiet chat as the sun set. I had imagined we were going to sit in the sun, as it was one of the hottest days on record for this time of the year, but the sun had other ideas. Anyway, First Matie and MJ are mates, a word that MJ likes to pronounce in a strangled "English" way, but they both seem to be tight-lipped about what they are talking about.

Then Kate and me off to the Thatched House where we met Matty Boy, Taranjit and Craigy. Matty and me had a repast of minty lamburger, chips and a tasty salad, while the others looked on with saliva leaking from their mouths. Very loud tonight in the Thatched House so none of us heard a word of what the others were saying. We shouted bee jokes at each other such as What do you call a bee with an Afro? A frisbee! etc. Matty having a complicated one about musical bees living in a bee flat. He also told us about going out with a woman who had a facial tic, which put him off as she was winking at him at odd times.

The Seagull's insistent yarping forced me to journey home and drop to sleep on the train. Talked to my beloved MJ before creeping gratefully into bed. MJ explained that I had misrepresented her, and that the 11:11 stuff was not about UFOs, that in reality it was about angels.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bee-tastic day today. Kate started it by sending me a cleverly targeted joke about what kind of bees make milk... boo bees. This set the Gnome and me off into a bee-based joke frenzy which lasted quite a while, fuelled continually by Kate -- and MJ too. The Gnome a bit of a joke factory when he gets going.

There is a new intranet at work where you can paste messages. Inspired by the excellent Timewaster's Letters book Kate gave me the other day I decided to post this:

Dear Message Board

Never mind about bird flu and sneezing sparrows.

Its well known that the most dangerous creatures in the world are hepatitis bees.

Just wanted to clear that up.

Large regards


In other news my darling MJ has been conducting investigations into the meaning of 11:11 numbers which are cropping up in her life. Turns out she is not alone! There are people out there who believe that seeing these numbers is a way for extra-terrestrials to get in touch with us.

All quite alarming.

Feeling stabs of jealousy about photos on First Matie's blog.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Windy today and enjoyed a brisk and breezy walk along the river at lunch. Pitch work coming to a conclusion too which is a relief. My positive thinking regime is working well for me. I am now definitely enjoying work more than I have done all year.

Today MJ taught me a song called "Mr Turkey" sung to the tune of Frère Jacques which is to be sung at Thanksgiving (apparently an American celebration of how large birds were first bludgeoned in New England in 1620) and involves jawlike snappings of the hands. I look forward to vigorously participating in this one day soon.

First Matie has started a blog. It is called Shiver me timbers and as our paths cross quite frequently it could be interesting to read her take on the same events.

After work saw Simon, currently eluding a stay in the Tower of London over his dispute with Prince Charles and other local worthies about his plan to have a wind generator on his land. Someone put a sign on his land which said "No Wind generators" and Simon replaced "generators" with "bags" to gall the locals. Excellent to see him, having a laugh about student days and talk about lively developments. He plans to buy a new property by a loch.

He was a fresh victim for me to talk about MJ to. (They are astral twins being born on the same day and year.) We ended up having a downmarket curry and sitting next to a brace of friendly and upmarket Californians, one of whom was a pathologist who had returned to the restaurant for sentimental reasons.

Snoozing on the train after Simon baled out at Clapham, then messaging my MJ, and then bed.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Poor night's sleep. Got up at four o'clock and emailed MJ and Weezer. Later...a proper Monday morning. Rain, darkness and grey and me yawning and tired but my positive attitude still in place.

Spoke to Simon today, who has not yet been dragged to the Tower for his stand against Prince Charles. I am going to see him tomorrow. Also booked my ticket on the Martin Warner retirement do at the weekend up in Warwick.

Spoke to MJ tonight for the first time in what seems like ages but is in fact only a couple of days. Missing her horribly.

Wild and windy night tonight in the Twitten. I like it!

Left work on Saturday and travelled up to Edgware to see Mum and Mason. Feeling pretty tired but had a very good time there. Mase excelled himself cooking nice Thai style food as Mum and me had a brace of G&Ts.

Mum has been knitting socks with bamboo needles. I will append a picture of one of the socks which is scientifically engineered and has many colours.

Mum and Mason also gave me a wealth of socks as a very welcome present. But this had me again pondering socks. If there is one item of clothing that can reduce me to a rage it is socks. Where do they go? You put them in the washing machine. You take them out and dry them all within your own house and yet I would estimate that some 12 of them have disappeared this year alone. But never in pairs.

Slept deeply and soundly on Saturday night, and had breakfast. Over breakfast Mum posited a theory about how some people were louder than others because like certain dinosaurs they have chambers in their head which resonate, allowing them to unnaturally project their soundwaves. Mason also gave me a colourful account of the Great Toronto Sikh caper.

Journey home carrying my money plant which Mum has been looking after since January. I love this plant which I grew from a single leaf about 14 years ago. Went via Blackfriars bridge and enjoyed crossing it and glancing downriver at Tower Bridge, Tate Modern and the Gherkin.

Anna called me today as I was on the train to invite me for Sunday Dinner. I readily accepted and we enjoyed a lovely roast chicken meal. Meanwhile baby Klauds outdoing herself with being totally adorable. I took my shoes off at one point and she marched about the place in them for about half an hour.

Anna showed me scans of the new baby. Amazing how the jawbone is already formed and how you can see a profile. Anna's pregnancy is very different this time, so I think they both think it will be a boy.

Baby Klauds and Anna retired and Anton and me played a few records and then repaired to the Tin Drum and The Eddy, discussing The Silmarillion which he is listening to on his ipod, and what should be the subject of my next novel.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Baby Klauds clumping about in my shoes.

A sock created by my mother. The knife is for scale only.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Not the usual joyful Friday spring in the step yesterday as the work continues now. I am sat at work again. It has been a long week, with me and The Gnome, and others hard at it at. I was so busy yesterday that I forgot my back-cracker's appointment too, which I will still have to fork out for.

Pat, the boy Robbie and me off to Froody's leaving do in Putney after work. Froody is a Tiggerish person, cocky and maddening but also bracing and fun too. Some ex-agency people there to catch up with. Home late, sleeping on the train.

Jack's birthday yesterday. Sent a copy of My Family and Other Animals to him which should arrive soon. His party a great success according to my darling MJ.

Meanwhile my birthday month continues unabated, with a Bill Evans Jazz LP arriving from the US, which I listened to this morning and is cool.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I feel the need to confess. There's something about Milly that's not quite right, and that's because she is an invention. I have been playing about with her for a while. Quite an interesting exercise to get people's feedback on her. I need to adjust her slightly so that she doesn't come over as being mentally ill... just lovably eccentric.

Mary Jane is the Queen of my Soul. But she is scaring me as she wants me to have a mullet. Weezer is a rock on this important issue for I would rather plunge a Mohican of daggers into my own skull than sport a David Hasselhoff.

Meanwhile, as I always suspected, Anton wants to date me. Tonight in the Eddy he revealed his long-nurtured plan. Him and Brian have agreed that we three are going out in Kemptown for the evening. For Brian is going on a manhunt and Anton and me will chaperone him as a couple. According to Brian I am going to be a bit of a bear, which I think is a good thing, but I am not sure.

Anton mentioning the Area of Concern quite a bit, and staring at my head.

Brian was also talking about a man he'd met recently and was laughing in a new and coy way I'd not seen before.

Work life is a double pitch, and me and the Gnome are faced with the dire prospect of having to work through the weekend. Spoke to the plumber, who can only come next week. Spoke to Warwick about rooms. Spoke to Sophie about our plans for Martin Warner's retirement do. She is also coming down to Brighton at the weekend with Electra and Christof, so if I am not working I will hook up with them and head for the pier which Sophie says is one of her children's favourite places on earth.

A walk at lunchtime for an hour along the river. Tracey came too, telling me about her birthday plans in November, and wondering if her boyfriend is going to comply with her requests for it to be properly honoured. MJ has changed my view on these matters. Birthdays should be celebrated roundly, and I said as much to Trace.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Brainwashing CD on the train. Work considerably better than yesterday, despite the simultaneous pitches. Late lunch, sloped off to Chiswick where Nicki cut my hair in the time honoured fashion. But as she held up the mirror to the back of my head I again noticed the Area Of Concern.

Spoke to MJ as I wended my way back to the office. Afternoon doing a certain amount this and that, which it included a chat about a Christmas version of my hospital ad. Thunderstorm over the office with pelting hailstones, and I watched a seagull high up being battered earthwards by the ice.

Working late again tonight. Ended up having a quick drink in the bar before commencing the long slog home. Reading more popular poems on the train... Always loved the beginning to Ode to the West Wind from Shelley, which is suitably autumnal:

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o'er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odors plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh, hear!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Not sure, in balance, whether work today was more vile or tiresome. Plus I had to work late too.

However in the short times I was not working life was good. Loving the misty fields in the morning, and was able to vividly imagine what it was like to be outside in the country rather than speeding towards London. Even the crossword I found myself doing had words like "briar" as answers.

Also enjoyed talking to my beloved MJ.

Every now and again I get this overwhelming urge to look at a particular colour, and today I found myself drinking the pink from a felt tip pen, which took me straight back to childhood. This receptive mood continued and I ended up buying a poetry anthology to on the train. Had forgotten all about this from Bill the Bard...

Where the bee sucks, there suck I:
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Into London again. Snatched a bit of lunch with the FB and Phil. Otherwise talking to lots of people who were irrationally demanding work of me.

One quote today from Leo: "Good is the enemy of Great".

Got an email from Simon last night which mentioned that he was planning to put in a wind turbine near Garnshiel Lodge. Text today from him saying to look at tory rag the Daily Mail. There was an article about how Price Charles, ecologist that he is, doesn't want it in the backyard of one of his retreats. The paper carried an aerial photo of Simon and Lindsey's place, and the nearby "Teapot Cottage" where the Prince of Wales lurks when not slinking around looking for grouse to slaughter.

A note from Andy today who has come through his "rebore" operation last week and is back at home.

Home and conversations with my lovely MJ and Weezer. Bungy, missing feral(ish) cat has been found by MJ, after disappearing when they left their house, which is nice. It will soon be shipped off to Brooklyn and into the hands of Weezer.

Sleep is stealing over me like the shadow of a Nazgul. I must away.

As requested by anon... Lucky Jim (L) and Meatball (R). Toby and Romy's new cats. Toby says Meatball is a worry because she has been very ill and has had to be taken to the vet. AND she is being attacked by the sinister Lucky Jim.

Coffee and sausage sandwitches with MJ for breakfast. MJ pointing out the skull and crossbones mysteriously acquired by the Marmite label.

Then MJ packing and us zooming off to Gatwick. A spot of shopping and a brace of smoothies at the airport and then the ghastly goodbye part. Sadly watched MJ walk throught security and off into the distance. Mum called me as I was leaving the airport, which cheered me up a little.

Home to Brighton, and felt rather tired and a bit miserable. It started to rain. However cheered by speaking to Toby for a while, telling me about the cats and so on.

House rebelling again. I have to sort my toilet out. It is only flushable now using a bucket as the valve in the cistern has come free and snapped away from its moorings.

Later Anton came around and we went out for a couple of beers and then sat at home scarfing the Chinese food that Anton had ordered for 14 and listened to the new album from Brighton-based soul diva Alice Russel.

Baby Klauds and Anna now TV stars, having been filmed doing baby signing for a show with British daytime TV Queen Fern Brittain.

Spoke to MJ late, after Anton had gone. She'd made it back safely to Weezer's place. Modern travel is amazing. But I miss her.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Talking half the night, and all morning. MJ and me seem to have a great deal to say to each other. Eventually I cooked us a large English breakfast. In the afternoon went out for a walk near the church where we bumped into Milly, who seemed preoccupied.

Down to the sea again, because it was a beautiful day, with some people even swimming. The seafront still busy and active. MJ found a necklace made from mother of pearl which she liked. Later went to Bill's to meet Anton and Anna and Klauds where we had some rather tart smoothies. Klaudia was busy empting the shelves of speciality goods, and carefully handing them to Anna and MJ. Heading home, Anton failing to persuade me to take over pushing the pram just before we turned left and started the long climb up the hill.

Home and a quick turnaround before the five minute walk to see Ken and Janet, and for MJ to meet them. Ken particularly on excellent form and making MJ laugh with renditions from snatches of arias to nautical favourites such as Three bastards from Baghdad. Looking forward to Ken's 75th birthday party in December.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A late start, but scouring the lanes for food, opted for the speciality pie shop where we ate pie and mash and drank ginger beers. MJ had a nice pie of chicken and butternut squash but balked at mushy peas.

Thence to the jeweller to collect the ring. The nice jeweller very accomodating, and took MJ into the back of the shop to show her pictures of him and his sister in Central Park. The new stone is sparkly and is nicer that the first one. MJ really happy with it, and it feels good to have this all sorted out. Just like the first time, we went from the jeweller back to the Quaker garden and sat there cheerfully for a few minutes till meanaced by a cloud of gnat-style bugs, and two small spiders.

From there to the sea, and onto the Pier where MJ had her fortune told by a man called Ivor lying in wait inside his gypsy caravan. Enjoyed watching MJ and the seer looking keenly into each other's eyes like two chess players. Ivor was extremely good value: a tremulous voice given to occasional swoops, and theatrical gestures. My favourite was a twice-repeated purposeful jab of his finger over MJ's shoulder towards the open door of the caravan and Brighton crying "it is out there!". MJ wondering if she was supposed to be owling her head around to look behind her.

An interesting reading, and from my superficial knowledge of Tarot, I thought he knew his stuff.

From there off to see the Lord of War which was rather good but somewhat depressing film about an arms dealer, which had MJ in tears at the end of it. Cheer rapidly established when we repaired to the nearby Heist bar and MJ had a martini and I had a Guiness.

Then in the evening, up the hill to see Anna and Anton. Had a really fun night lurking at their house eating a traditional Friday curry and quaffing sparkling wine. Anna and Anton gave me a birthday present too. A t-shirt to Anton's design which said VIRGO (I wish), and from Baby Klauds a packet of Turtley Nuts, which are chocolate Tiny Tasty Turtles.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Off to work... work fine although I was wanting to fast forward it! Went off site with Mike to focus on a couple of pitches. Left at 4:30pm however as MJ was waiting for me at home. She had cleverly found Brighton, the keys, the chocolate milk, and chocolates and had slept deeply and was waiting for me bright as a button when I got home.

Extremely happy to see each other indeed. Off into the Lanes and ate a feast of tapas and drank a couple of glasses of cava. Lots of fun, although MJ a bit disturbed to discover that she was sitting under a pig's trotter projecting from a basket near her head. She'd thought it was a stick of bread before I helpfully indicated its toes.

Home, and lots of catching up to do, over which a veil of discretion must be drawn. Very relaxed and happy, even watching some TV with MJ enjoying the differences.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My 46th year to heaven. I suspect it is going to be a lively one. Things have been very lively of late.

Felt somewhat sluggish after last night's enjoyable feast in the Anglesea. But nevertheless cheerful. Off to work. A busy day but went off with Mike for a slow pint of Guiness in the Blue Anchor at lunchtime. We sat in the window looking at the slightly murky weather over the river, discussing how to be more positive at work. Getting on well with Mike these days.

Got emails from Romy with jpegs of Meatball and Lucky Jim, who are two kittens who have arrived from Deviation Road with their belongings tied in hankerchiefs on sticks, and are now stealing hearts at Romy's place. Joan also emailed which was lovely. Also called by Mum. Variously kissed at work too, and felt surrounded by affection.

Home journey a bit gruelling with a fatality on the line earlier in the day dragging my home commute out to 2.5 hours. However reading The Timewaster's Letters that Kate gave me and was hooting with laughter on the train. It is an extremely funny book.

Home and I rushed round getting things ready for MJ's arrival. Spoke to MJ and Weezer ensuring MJ knew which bush to look under for the keys. Latter chatting to MJ on her mobile phone in the Newark airport.

Modern technology is often a very good thing. Very excited about MJ coming tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Onto the train with a few seconds to spare and discovered Anton. Chatted all the way up to London where I had an enjoyable day at work. Mike and me are starting on two pitches, which is usually fun.

Wonderful suprise in the afternoon... Got a plane schedule in my inbasket -- MJ booked a ticket and will be here on Thursday morning. Fantastic! I can't wait to see her.

In the evening as the day-before-my-birthday celebration, went to the gastropub the Anglesea Arms with the FB, Max and First Matie. There we enthusiastically embarked on beer, oysters, venison and wood pigeon and the like.

Kate gave me a book for my birthday... The Timewaster Letters by Robin Cooper which is very funny.

Journey home excellent. Got onto the train at Victoria and put my head on the headrest and woke up 30 seconds outside Brighton station with the sensation of no time having passed at all.

Got home to a card from Mark and a tunefully barking puppies e-card from Weezer. Quick message conversation with MJ and tumbled into bed after what had been an excellent day.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Misty this morning as the train was moving through the fields. I love the faint margins and edges of trees in mist. Listened again to my brainwashing CD and felt very relaxed and motivated by the time I reached the smoke.

Walked by the river at lunchtime in the sun talking to MJ and Weezer, who are persisting in their "anthropological studies" and asking detailed questions about things like garden gnomes.

Left on the dot and went out for a walk in the very mild evening down by the sea for an hour. It's nice there, with a little wind the old moon slightly blurred by high cloud. Standing by the sea I saw further down the beach a man juggling with fire in the dark, which was quite an arresting sight. Then I walked along the out-of-seasonish pier, which looked a little sad and quiet in comparison to the bustle of summer.

Really nice day today. Woke up fairly early and pottered. Pottering is one of the noblest human activities wherein I did a mountain of laundry and ironing, and then engulfed a small shoal of health-promoting kippers.

House is on the brink of rebellion: alarming but so far irregular banshee screetch coming from the boiler. And the toilet too is no longer flushing properly despite protracted (ah-hem) ballcock fiddling. I feel a call to John the Plumber coming on.

Off with Anton and Anna and Baby Klauds to Sheffield House Gardens, a gorgeous national trust property. We had a small picnic and wandered about by the ponds and lakes and waterfall and through the manicured autumn garden. Wonderful colours from bright cerise through dusty reds and golds. Struck again how orientalist these gardens are in their aesthetic. Perfect placement of things, water and so on. Almost like willow pattern designs.

Learnt today that Anna is expecting again next May. This is excellent news. Baby Klauds being variously adorable today. Laughing like mad in the back of the car on the way home.

MJ called me while we were in the gardens, and she spoke to Anna and Anton too. She would have loved the garden. I then called her in the evening talking to Weezer too. They are very funny girls.

Spoke to Mum and learned that Mum Mas and Toby had been to Sheffield House before, when Mas was showing an interest in property. Spoke also to Carole and Mark. Got an email from Andy Smith too, who has not been well. I will reply shortly.

All is well.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

In Sheffield Park Garden

Klaudia about to feed a duck at Sheffield Park Garden.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I had a really nice day today. Spent the morning doing bits of writing, and enjoyed pottering about at home. I talked to MJ first thing who had been a bit down in the dumps, but soon got in back in touch with her inner cheekiness.

Best thing was going to the jewellers and seeing MJ's new diamond which is exceedingly sparkly. The jeweller said he was going to put lots of work in it to make it even more lively. What was potentially a difficult situation has resolved itself in a spirit of friendship. In fact I was in there for a good twenty minutes chatting. Turns out he is Hungarian, and he escaped with his father during the failed revolution leaving the mother behind in Hungary, who he then didn't see for years. His sales colleague (and clearly good friend) is Swiss. She had a similar situation to the one faced by MJ now. Lots of chat and left on good terms with me picking the diamond up shortly. I will safeguard it by sporting it as a blinging nose ring till MJ gets her marmoset hands on it again.

Called MJ again as I was getting two lungfuls of the seabreeze then did food shopping out and about in Brighton. Bought some miso soup tofu etc. I wonder if sumo wrestlers drink miso soup?

Home and spoke to Janet for some time. And will see her at some point next week. I have also to write 3rd December in my diary as it is Ken's 75th birthday party.

Later called by MJ and Weezer who were reading a book on English manners aloud to each other in great amusement. My case however not helped by the fact some morris dancers coincidentally appeared on the TV in Brooklyn waving their hankies at the same time. Was compelled to write to Johanna Pie to explain that the book she had sent, clearly intended for quiet self-instruction, was being abused.

Spoke too to Anton who is returned with a cold having had a very successful trip to NYC.

Scandalously late in for work today and discovered that, after the Oktoberfest, much of the agency quite subdued in the morning.

Mum and Mase have returned from Toronto. Spoke to mum and caught up with some of the latest news. Including Mase losing Toby and Romy's address en route and having an adventure with an angelic Sikh taxi driver who put him up for the night. Mum also visited Joan and Dick down in Deviation Road and really enjoyed herself. Tobs and Romy's place sounds excellent and I am looking forward to seeing it.

Otherwise, for me, it was a day of two Maxes.

Went out for a late birthday lunch for bouncy Max and some of her posse at The Old Fire Station in Hammersmith, which fortunately is no longer a fire station but a bar and restaurant. Very themed, even down to the urinals which are red fire buckets. The FB unable to make it due to work commitments. I was sitting next to Max who was making me feel her baby when it moved, and when it didn't she was jabbing at it to get it kicking and headbutting back as befits a Max/FB hybrid. As the food was served the girls began an earnest conversation about how you can tell your baby has defecated in your womb as your waters break, which had me toying unenthusiastically with my spaghetti.

After work much chatting again in the bar, I was led there by the bad FB who left shortly afterwards with Max. On bicycles. Max is an astonishing person really, cycling to work seven months pregnant. From behind she looks absolutely like her old self, but from the side it is a different matter.

Then fell into conversation with Max the Mentor, Mike Ferg and Nick. Eventually me and Max the M decided to make an evening of it and had a curry. Max the M and me are in a very similar position in that our partners are in New York. In fact Max is off to NYC soon to see her partner, and was asking if she could meet MJ.

Was blissful to be at home, though. Fridays are fab.

Bouncy Max displaying her bump as her pal Emma looks on.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Felt very cheerful and optimistic today. And a joke I told yesterday in the all-day-meeting gained some currency.

We were asked to think about something that obsesses us, and few were invited to share their obsessions with the floor, which tended to be things like football teams, rugby, and holidays. I said that for me it was silence, "and here's one of my favourites". I then looked at everyone hard for a while before carrying on with an explanation.

Turns out the joke had a life of its own, and the hallowed board meeting the next day was opened with a mention of silence. Also led to my chairman and me having a long chat and him printing off my A little quiet time story and showing me some of his drawings.

Mike and me are doing some tiresome work at the moment necessitating a slope off to another agency in Paddington. A meeting, and some chat before I was forced to abandon Mike there as I couldn't bear it. Arf arf.

The agency had a small Oktoberfest in the evening. There was an oompah band of three blokes from Yorkshire standing about in lederhosen, and beer being served in large steins. And couple of manly heart to hearts with the Chairman and other chaps. All good fun.

Eventually I dragged myself away and what felt like an interminable journey to Brighton. Once at home I cleverly sat up till 2.00am messaging my MJ.

Random cameraphone snap in Victoria station on Thursday morning. Hell is other people.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Two days of listening to the reprogramming CD on the train. This is quite relaxing and has led me to start the morning feeling positive. Although one time I did fall asleep and wake up with a violent jerk that startled the woman next to me who was reading a Christian magazine.

Yesterday briefly saw the French Bloke and then met Marja, who I'd not seen for a year or so, in the Thistle hotel in Victoria. Much news back and forth. Poor Marja has had a very difficult year, but it was extremely good to see her.

Asked her if she could take me in a month or so to the Finish pre-Christmas market which we went to once in east London. Lots of unusual foods and Christmassy bits and pieces to be had. Funny how last time I went there with her I felt nostalgia for a place I have never been.

After a drink in the hotel we went for a curry. Then home to Brighton arriving at midnight, but finding strength to email Weezer, replying to an email she had sent me about cyclamen.

Work today given over mostly to a long strategic meeting where a depressingly vague strategy for the business was being unleashed.

Home and beginning to snuffle slightly down the phone to my beloved MJ, who was being licked by a large dog. Missing her horribly now.

Am pleased to be writing a poem again, however.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Lovely morning in Brighton. Late into work via the doctor and the pharmacist which was just opening. Several guys waiting anxiously for their methadone.

Work tiresome. Trains disrupted on the way home so had to stand from Victoria to Brighton. Arrived home feeling glum, but soon cheered up talking to MJ about W.B. Yeats among other things.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Had a nice Sunday morning. Went to Bill's Produce Store with Anna, Anton & Baby Klauds for breakfast. It has just opened, and reminds me a little of a larger version of a place I went to in Barcelona. Interesting food too. I had something called a cheddar buck rarebit, which was cheese on toast with added bacon and egg. You walk through the fruit and vegetables to a cafe section where the walls lined with enjoyably petty bourgeois goods including pickles, vinegars and oils, expensive honey, Anna even found jars of pollen. Creates a good backdrop however to the noshpit. Bumped into Spooner and Ali who were off to the aquarium with their nippers to find out what sort of noise seahorses make.

Anton off to the airport this afternoon to fly to New York today on business, staying in Time Square. Hopefully he can meet up with MJ.

Spoke to MJ who gave a poetry reading yesterday afternoon, and then returned for a meal for an early celebration of Troy June's birthday. Weezer told me that MJ had been incredibly rude about her vegetable pie, asking if Weezer had washed the vegetables and laughing in front of their guest. That poor little Weezy.

Sean of the Dead being played loud in the background. Funny to hear those English accents in Brooklyn.

Not much else going on. Had an ah-ha! moment on Friday about coming second. The FB said that if he loses at anything he hates it and makes sure that whatever happened to make him lose never ever happens again. I realise that I am the sort of person who sometimes finds it difficult to win, especially if it is a head-to-head competition. I want to give myself permission to win things more often.

Ash has decided to leave work, so had a bit of a drink in the bar at work on Friday with her and others. Ended up having a serious heart to heart about love and the Atlantic Ocean with Max the mentor. Then home and tried out a local curry takeaway place. Sat waiting for my food and one of the young Muslim delivery guys turned to me and said ruefully that women these days didn't want to settle down. I must have the sort of face that attracts people who want to talk to about love.

Yesterday had a major tidy up too, which was A Good Thing, and resumed brainwashing CD.