Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's eve. Slept in for hours, and then twinged my back painfully taking a shower. This must be a new tradition as I did almost exactly the same thing at the same time last year.

This put a brake on doing much. Had a laugh sitting around chatting to Mum and Mase. And Mum pursaded me to let her try her healing powers on my back. Eventually I succumbed.

We watched The Ring DVD together which I thought was quite stylish and scary, but I seem to be a bit hardened to horror films these days. The Ring 2 was the first film I'd saw with MJ.

MJ called me on the moment of the new year. She was at Weezer's place after a scary drive there in the snow and sleet.

2005 was a lively year all right!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Awake at 5:30 and MJ , pre-coffee, drove me to JFK airport for seven. She took a lot of the stress out of things by getting me there and keeping me calm before the flight. Horrible to say goodbye. I hate saying goodbye to her.

Flight not too foul. Ended up with a window seat towards the tail, having been moved to accommodate a family. Sat next to two utterly taciturn women. They might as well have been ghosts. Some turbulence but managed to doze for a while. Nothing to watch onboard that I'd not already seen.

We were flying east and I was interested to see the thicken indigo smudge on the horizon, which was darkness coming to meet the plane.

London looked lovely and we spent almost half an hour circling it to get a good view. Running late I got a cab and managed to get home to Mum and Mason's house by 11 pm and so was able to glug a couple of glasses of wine, and eat banana cake with them to celebrate Mum's birthday.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Off to see The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, quite faithful to the book. MJ and the kids really liked it too. Unlike the book, the film opened with German bombers blitzing London, and the children being evacuated.

I have been surprised at the sometimes vitriolic criticism in the UK press about the film because of its Christian overtones. This is an absurd basis for criticism. Is Dante's Divine Comedy usless, because it is overtly Christian? Nonsense.

Told Jack that Mum had been in London during the blitz, which he was interested to hear.

After dropping the children off at their father's, MJ and I enjoyed a Thai meal. Then some shopping, where I bought her and Anne flowers, and a bargain case to replace the one that had fallen apart on the way to Baltimore.

Then I had to pack. Having done this felt quite sad, and spent the remainder of the evening drinking red wine and chatting with MJ.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Busy day getting practical stuff sorted out. Kids squabbling in the car. Had lunch in the incredibly busy restaurant in Walt Whitman mall.

Enjoyable evening -- got MJ to read American poetry to me in her American Lady's voice. Jack sitting nearby playing Runescape on the computer and half listening in. Discussing the greatness of Sylvia Plath and the mysteriously good reputation of Robert Creeley. I was underwhelmed by him once in Leamington Spa when I was a student, in an audience swollen by sycophantic lecturers from my University.

Talking about poetry made us both want to get down to writing again. Also I have never read much of Emily Dickinson, and she read me a couple of her favourites that I really liked, like this one, which is one of her favourites:

There's a certain slant of light
Of winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the heft
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where meanings are

None may teach it anything
'Tis the seal, despair, -
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 'tis like the distance
On the look of death.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A beautiful blue sky, and us off into Manhattan. We took the train to Penn Station. The conductor on the train said hello baby to me, by way of asking for my ticket which I rather liked. Disappointingly MJ refused to become jealous.

Walked to a subway station which took us to Central Park Zoo, to look at seals, penguins, polar bears, snakes, tropical birds and so on. Liked the strange juxtapositions... Snow monkeys sitting on a rock surrounded by water, with the big buildings of New York City behind. I like central park. Kids really enjoyed the zoo.

Went to the zoo cafe afterwards, though Jack went on a brief hungerstrike. Then caught a bus down 5th Avenue to the West Village. 5th Avenue beautifully decorated for Christmas, and we glimpsed the big Christmas Tree outside Rockerfeller Center. Then a walk around MJ's old Manhattan haunts till we went to The White Horse, a very pub-like bar, frequented by Dylan Thomas -- and MJ Tenerelli. Here we ate nice burgers, Jack overcoming his hugerstrike with a hotdog, and I gulped down a couple of beers.

Back home and we all had fun playing a four-way computer game Super Smash Brothers Melee, and Mario Party of Seven for at least two hours.

Kate and Jack in the children's zoo in Central Park.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing day. Having no servants to give boxes of food and gifts to MJ and me made our own amusement.

Had a nice feed in the Greek diner... both of us have overdosed on the Hokey Pokey now. I had a Greek salad, which threw in half the Gross National Product of Greece.

We decided to go to the movies, to see a comedy called The Family Stone. Although a bit stupid and very manipulative I think we were both enjoying it, although in some of the touching Christmassy bits, there was some sniffing from the audience. Unfortunately the mother character played by Diane Keaton dies in the movie. This made MJ very sad and glisteny eyed afterwards because she misses her mom. So if you are looking to be cheered by a movie, this may not be the one.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas day for me and MJ with a first cup of coffee at 6:00 am. Soon a bleary-eyed Jack and Kate tore happily into their presents under the Christmas tree. Fun to watch, and as far as I could tell they seemed very content with their Christmas haul.

Called Mum and Mase, and also spoke to Anton and Weezer during the day and Johanna Pie finally got through to MJ.

MJ gave me an excellent book of Neruda poetry and watercolour pictures. While the perceptive Pies gave me an admirable teeshirt decorated with a chick and a magnet .

Very mellow and enjoyable day after the children had been collected by their father. MJ and me had bagels with Mike and Anne, and took the opportunity to go back to bed to catch up on some much needed sleep.

In the afternoon off to Lia's house in nearby East Northport. Driving along with MJ I experienced, for the 400th time, the odd contradiction of how normal it feels for me and MJ to be spending Christmas together, and how odd it is that I find myself in Long Island.

Mum had given MJ a shawl which she wore to great effect and looked lovely.

Lia had cooked an exceptionally nice Christmas dinner, with lasagne, turkey and baked ham, salad, vegetables, mashed potatoes and loads of cake later. Lia's twin daughters Jordan and Marrissa, I'd last seen in the summer, playing charades with Jack and Kate. Then Marrissa lay rigidly on the floor being a speed bump, which is an image that has stuck with me ever since. Lia's mother was also there, having driven in from Queens.

Had a nice long chat with MJ and Lia, drinking wine and listening to old Prince hits. Home and enjoyed watching MJ playing with the celtic tree divination cards that she got for Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Much of the morning spent wrapping presents. Loved the name of one of Jack's: Mount Doom Gift Set.

Then off to Wendys for a quick burger-based feed.

Set off in the afternoon to see Weezer and Troy. Nice drive west into the setting sun till we got into Brooklyn and the traffic dragged. Spoke to Weezer from a traffic jam and worried her by saying we'd got her another cat. Once there we were joined by Kathy Velmar and Keith and their son Mark. Also a neighbour called Rich.

Took the opportunity to re-photo Troy too, against his backdrop of paintings.

Became acquainted with Neptune, Weezer's new dog. Got into a horrid loop where it kept dropping its drooly pig's ear on me, which I would fling away in disgust, only to have it continually returned. Troy put a muzzle on it at one point, which with its glittering sinister eyes made it look like Hannibal Lecter.

Weezer cooked a most excellent beef Wellington with meltingly good beef. We watched Charlie Brown on TV and generally hung out and had fun. Troy and Weezer gave me some bluegrass music which I was particularly pleased about.

Then back to Kings Park, and MJ and me stayed up late, conducting the elf-like business of secreting presents under the tree.

Photos:Troy above, below Neptune, me and MJ, Weezer, MJ and the Mighty Velmar...

Friday, December 23, 2005

Not much to report today. Feeling very happy to be with MJ again, and had good fun sloping about the place. We sloped off to the Walt Whitman Mall, for example, where MJ chose some nice boots in Macy's as a bit of a Christmas present. Kate off with a sore throat today, but she was largely recovered by the time we had collected Jack from school, brandishing a gingerbread house that he'd made at school.

Out locally for pizza slices and ice cream. Was forced to run from the pizza place to the ice cream place as I was challenged to a race by the children. Luckily I won. Being generally delighted with how I am getting on with the children. As far as Kate is concerned I have successfully recovered from the mysterious invisibility I was afflicted with a few visits ago, and she and Jack both chat and play happily with me now.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Getting some practical stuff sorted today -- then more shopping.

Spoke to Toby this morning, who is getting ready to shoot down to the sunshine of Cuba on Saturday. Sounds like it's exactly what's needed for him and Romy.

Since I have been on the plane I have become strangely charged. I have received half a dozen strong electric shocks a day. Returned to Toys R Us. Found myself in a queue containing children and yelping bastard! as I received yet another painful zap from a gameboy. Somewhat embarrassing, especially for MJ who is forced to accompany a delegate from the British Tourettes Association.

Also hunting Tamagotchi for Kate. MJ managed to bag one, despite being told there were none to be had. No idea what they are, but I know one thing: they are elusive.

Collected bairns from school and we made off to Commack Multiplex to see King Kong. We all enjoyed it. I'd never seen anything like the wonderful brontosaurus stampede scene before & the best giant ape versus T. Rex punchup ever. The love that could never happen element was good too, as was the otherworldliness of the landscapes, and the recreation of 1930s New York.

Kids fractious and fighty after the film, were then dropped off at their father's place. MJ and me then enjoyed a sedate Japanese meal before heading home.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Off to a chilly but picturesque Northport. Another day, another diner: ate a hot bowl of porridge, and then lots more knife and forkwork. MJ ordering a steak for breakfast, something I have never seen in the UK.

After this we drifted happily around the Northport shops, including MJ's favourite new age store, where she becomes very happy, sniffing the aromatherapised air and browsing thoughtfully around the divination tools and special stones. Noticed that in the concrete of the pavement nearby someone had written Jesus is God and Jesus is the true Lord, probably to counteract the sinister new age forces nearby.

I'm just loving being with MJ again. The simplest things are great fun. Went to the Stop and Shop supermarket, and enjoyed messing with her Virgo head by forbidding her to push the shopping cart.

Later, collected the bairns, car chock-full of shopping. Jack had a book of disgusting jokes about snot and poop which he happily shared on the drive home. Then more games. Heroscape with Jack, which he quickly won. Then had a game which seemed to consist of me being jumped on by Kate, Genny and, punishingly, by Jack who is surprisingly solid. Then quick stories with Kate and Genny.

Kate off to her friend's for a birthday party. MJ, Jack and me went then to the Chinese restaurant for a big feast.

Have been enjoying Shadow of the Wind which Anton lent me. Reading it when the jetlag leaves me wide eyed at inappropriate times.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Happy today, but zombie tired. Off with my MJ to the Hokey Pokey for a cheeseburger breakfast, lots off coffee and making plans. Then off to toys r us to investigate presents for the bairns.

Then collected the children from school. Home and a couple of hours of playing a video game with Jack. We were lying on the floor piloting Star Wars racer things, and little Genny stood on me and used me as climbing frame until we embarked on various shrieky monster games with Kate and 4 year old Jenny joining in.

More diva wars with Kate being Queen of the Mermaids and Genny being Queen of the Dolphins. It transpired that the Queen of the Mermaids had suspicions about the Queen of the Dolphins, and accused her of stealing gameboys. Falsely as it happened as I found it under a chair.

Decided to eat out at a little Italian place we'd been to before in Comack. Big food, and as far as the kids were concerned it was an excellent choice being near the big pet store. Spent some time there looking at ferrets, rats, spiders etc. Began a detailed, hour-long conversation about fish varieties with Kate. All happily home and watched the Peanuts Christmas special on video, which MJ and me seemed to enjoy more than the kids.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Finally in Long Island with my MJ.

I was woken up in Baltimore, city of crabs, by Mad Dog. I'd been asleep for ten hours. Nice to talk to Bob, and made me feel like I wasn't so far from home. Had been dreaming about my Grandmother for the third time this week. Perhaps she is trying to tell me something. Went downstairs to the bar/breakfast room with 56 (I asked) televisions in it. I was the only guest there to begin with and it was quite surreal having all these giant screens tuned to three different stations.

After my "all American" breakfast, worked in my room getting my ducks in a row, and struggling with housekeeping to get my complimentary tea and coffee for the room. Very odd woman in the hotel giftshop -- astonishingly rude, and trembling with rage when I asked her if they did the pink crab t-shirt in children's sizes.

It was clean but otherwise a fairly badly run hotel, but it was almost opposite the meeting place. Met the Creative Director from California who was chatty and affable. More crab-based snacks: a scoop or two of cheesy crab dip, and a small cup of crab soup then off to present.

Very friendly Catholic charity. Meeting lasted a little over two hours. Good presentation and I didn't embarrass myself, and managed to work in a quotation from Rilke which pleased me if nobody else. One of the half a dozen people I presented to looked like an old friend, which somehow helps. Only one of them was black, despite the fact that most people I met outside were black.

Back to the hotel to collect my bags then a short and taciturn taxi ride through town to Baltimore Penn station. Central Baltimore quite attractive in parts but frankly I was on a mission to get outta Baltimore like I stole somethin'. Just missed the NYC train but there was another in an hour that took us up through Philadelphia and New Jersey to Newark Airport, Newark Penn, and finally to New York Penn in two and a half hours. Why are half their train stations called Penn?

Then the LIRR. The last leg? But no...Standing in the dark in biting cold with my broken cases waiting for a train to go in MJ's general direction at the aptly named Hicksville took me dangerously close to a massive sense of humour failure. I was unable to reach anyone by phone. Being very tired and in transit for 36 hours can do that. Next train terminated at Huntingon which is only a few stops away and I caught a cab from there through streets full of gardens twinkling with Christmas lights and illuminated inflatables.

Taxi driver had no idea where MJ lived, however he did know the Hokey Pokey diner... and I directed him from there. Home at last and almost too tired to speak. Lovely to see MJ and the bairns. MJ also very tired after a gruelling day, having to go to court again this morning.

It was Kate's birthday today, which had been celebrated over the weekend, and I gave her the huge semicircle of art pens Mum and Mase had bought her, which made her very happy.

From what Kate was saying looks like I'll have to reprise duvet monster again tomorrow with her, little Genny and Matthew.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Off we go to the States again. Up to Victoria where I popped into the drop in medical centre to get some more antibiotics -- and blagged some emergency anti hysteria pills for the flight. Absolutely no queue and walked straight into see the doctor.

Then off to Heathrow, arrived in plenty of time. Got a window seat with legroom too near the wing, which was a distinct improvement. Flight not too bad. No drugs or drink needed. Boredom allowed to leak through the usual existential angst. Watched a stupid film about a 40-year old virgin which nevertheless made me laugh. Find that on planes the only thing I can tolerate is comedies -- and nothing with fiery explosions please. Got chatting to the Spanish stewardess who sat opposite me on landing, I told her about the extraordinary circumstances surrounding my trip and she told me about the delights of Madrid.

One of my cases trashed en route.

Baltimore airport seemed to be deserted. Nobody at the single information desk. No taxi to be had. Opted for the Baltimore Light Railway. Rather alarming journey, being the only passenger from the airport and travelling through the arse end of nowhere to get to the city centre. Dark little stations and the train filling up with purposeful-looking urban youth.

Got out of the train dragging my broken luggage. I was lost.

Stopped a cab. Turns out I was about 200 yards away from where I needed to be. The Angelic Nigerian driver drove me there anyway and charged me nothing.

Hotel not too bad. Went downstairs for a crab burger and fries and a brace of beers. Then sleep, merciful sleep.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sprang from bed at 9:00pm and had breakfast with Mum and Mase. Mase on loquatious form before even sipping his coffee. A parcel arrived from Toby and Romy containing, among other things, balls of wool for Mum to make her patented free-standing socks. Mum and Mase gave me some presents for Jack, Kate and MJ and I had to shoot off back to Brighton.

When I reached Brighton, I spoke to my MJ who was phoning from Weezer's place. We are very excited about seeing each other next week. Meanwhile Neptune, who it transpires is not a New Orleans dog but a rescue dog from Brooklyn, yipped in the background and Weezer talked to it lovingly.

Popped up the road to see Anna and Anton and Baby Klauds. Klauds walking about and looking quite grown up with her hair in bunches. Anna gave me some chocolates for Jack and Kate and Klauds looked momentarily traumatised by this, repeating Peter, nock nock, which means Peter Chocolate.

Home again and faffing about getting ready, and wishing I could fast forward through what will be the 11th flight of the year for me. Listened to the weather forecast for tomorrow. Force 8 gales coming in off the Atlantic. D'oh.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Somewhat slow in the head after the office Christmas party last night. Played myself the brainwashing positive thinking tape on the train, and picked up the passport of a surly-looking criminal at Victoria.

At work raced the clock all day long. Mystifyingly, there was still more fighty stuff. And for comedy value people were disassembling furniture and desks and IT around me and the Gnome as we worked -- for they are moving the creative department yet again. This time we will have an excellent view of the river. Left work at 8pm with what I feel are three excellent scripts and concept boards. I won't feel like I have my trousers around my ankles and a comedy nose as I present on Monday.

Spoke to the French Bloke today, sounding excellent. He said admiringly that Bouncy Max was as hard as nails -- sipping at a little gas and air before popping out the bairn, who is being referred to as Fi, as in Female Infant.

Then to see Mum and Mason. Tube trains snailed frustratingly. Finally made it to Stanmore where Mase was waiting for me at the station. At Mum's had a large glass of red wine and snacked into the Mexican tacos Mase had made. They had been out last night to see Stomp, which is people dancing and playing drums with things like dustbin lids, which they enjoyed.

After much catching up, watched the DVD of War of the Worlds. Go Tripods!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

At lunchtime to the passport office in Victoria, and was duly processed. Hate those official places and felt concerned that if I'd not completed the form properly, then the trip to the US would be in trouble. As I handed my old passport over, I overheard this from the next booth.

Passport man: How did you come to this country?
Applicant: I have been in this country six years.
Passport man: No...HOW? ..... HOW? By airplane? By boat? By lorry?
Applicant: Yes, lorry.

Back to work & more mad slogging culminating in the Gnome and me having a long teleconference with the Creative Director in California who seemed very nice.

Meanwhile the agency was making merry at the Christmas Party. I decided to show my face and make an early exit. Four hours of talking everyone's head off, and having mine talked off (say one thing for agency types, they like to talk) I arrived home in Brighton at about 12:30.

I conceived the idea that fish and chips were to be eaten. There no food to speak of at the party. As I was expertly buying these, the fish and chip guy refused a spoon to a rather simple-minded couple as they'd been "causing trouble". I suggested helpfully that it was a matter of human decency for someone to be given a spoon to stir their coffee with, which caused them all to roar at each other. I left them to it, clutching a bag greasy with aromatic goodness.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Ah. 11:00pm and a glass of wine.

Heroically late to work. Having missed the morning train I went into a passport photobooth. Pumped coins into the swine but 20p pieces arbitrarily didn't count as money and were simply swallowed. Now have four identical tooth-grinding Peter Kenny faces. One of which will grace my passport for ten years. Funny how that happens. My last passport always made me look like a Bulgarian dissident.

Slunk into work to discover that, overnight, the most excellent Gnome had conceived an idea for the Baltimore job. Perhaps at last he is adapting to life on the surface. This took some of the pressure off me as now we have three good ideas. Spent the rest of the day slogging against the clock on scripts and treatments. Breaking off only to e-moan with Kate, and e-mail my MJ.

Random tetchiness in the office today, and this afternoon Mandy flew into a poisonous rage with me about upsetting her forward planning as I forgot to tell her I wouldn't be working on the 28th. She has been having a wretched time lately and I found her crying in the office one night at 7:00pm recently and gave her a hug. And now she hates me. So it goes.

Stayed late at work to have a teleconference with some of the people I will meet on Monday who are based in California. Seems I will meet up with my American agency confreres in a coffee shop in Baltimore to get our ducks in a row. The presentation seems to be to dozens of people, but we should be done and dusted by 3:00pm. This means I could be hopping on the train from Baltimore to NYC fairly rapidly. This is plan A. There are ghastly moves afoot, however, to get me to look at video and stuff over there, which I am passively resisting.

And so to thoughts of bed, and of not being late tomorrow on pain of a death. Tomorrow sees more slogging punctuated by slipping out to get my passport sorted. Then a lengthy teleconference with Americans while the rest of the agency will be starting a huge party.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sluggish start to the day, almost impossible to drag myself from bed. The train left Brighton in low winter sunlight and headed towards a big bank of dark cloud that made me wonder for a moment if the noxious fumes over Southern England had drifted this far south. A team at work produced a concept using the cloud for one of our clients. With any luck, and if the client buys it, it will be quite a hard hitting press advert in the next day or so.

My working day was conducted in a daze, and thinking about the third world aids crisis, poverty, war etc for the Baltimore visit. This did not prevent me from breaking off in my pampered office to moan weakly but persitently. The Gnome, however, helped me prioritise and I grew more bearable as the day wore on.

Arranged to renew my passport urgently on Thursday. E-moaned to Kate and MJ.

Home, yet another Chinese takeaway. No more for a while. And then popped up the hill to pick up a passport application form from the useful and somewhat recovered Anton, he also lent me The shadow of the wind to read. Then spoke to Toby, who was coincidentally awaiting the appearance of Romy and a large Chinese meal.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Had an appointment at the local hospital for some minor tests today, and so worked from home. Walked back along by the sea, and on a whim enjoyed a pizza and salad buffet for lunch.

Spoke to mum who said that yesterday's big explosion sounded like someone breaking in the back door. She said that Tanya and Robert had been thrown from bed. Also talked to Anna who is a little better, but Anton not.

Messaging MJ who said that Johanna had used the word haruspex, which I'd never heard before. According to the Wikipedia is A haruspex was a sort of Roman augur in who practiced divination by inspecting entrails of sacrificed animals, especially the livers of sacrificed sheep. Baarbaric I call it.

Was sent booking confirmation for my direct flight to Baltimore on Sunday. It will be an adventure. So will trying to get my passport and work sorted out in time. Yikes.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Baby Klauds has given Anton and Anna a spewing virus. They were craving fizzy drinks so I took them up some and let myself into their house. Quite sweet seeing them all in a line in bed, made me think of the "three in the bed, and the little one said, roll over, roll over"... song.

Quiet, gusto-free day today spent contemplating the enormous amount of organising I have to do in the next week. And somewhere along the line I have to come up with some ideas to take to the US or else the deal is off.

Spoke to MJ and Weezer again this morning. They are funny girls.

In Brighton we missed the huge pall of smoke that was visible from space from the explosion at Hemel Hempstead just north of London. Apparently the explosion at some sort of massive oil depot was the largest peacetime explosion in Europe, and was heard over 100 miles away.

Below is an apocalyptic image I just stole from the BBC website. Just noticed that First Matie says in her blog that the London sky today was full of fumes and smoke.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Needed a slow quiet day. And had it. Popped out briefly to buy a cheap microphone for my computer, and passed 20 Santas walking down Queen Street, with some URL or other on their backs. Gallingly I didn't have a camera with me, as it would have made an excellent photo.

Found that I could drop the microphone into Bianca, my white steel stringed semi acoustic guitar, and after downloading some music editing software I happily played with set up, recording bits and pieces for several hours. Found that the software could reverse the sound and this sometimes was really interesting in an old-school Beatles-ish way. Boys toys.

Spoke to MJ and Weezer. Much talk about Neptune which MJ saw for the first time with her extraordinary and powerful eyes. Arf. No Netpune is Weezer's rescue dog from New Orleans. And it is apparently incredibly intelligent so it is probably worrying about something like global warming as it slavers over its pigs ear in the morning.

Anna and Anton wanted to go out for a meal to celebrate Anton's success so I went around to babysit Klauds. Anton floating the idea of calling me Special Needs. Anna explained that unlike her or Anton I don't have a postgraduate qualification.

Watched boxing on the TV while they were out and as the bout finished there was a peeping from Klauds. She was sitting bolt upright in bed crying and looked distinctly short changed to see me but suffered to be cuddled and sung to till her parents returned. It's a nice feeling when she puts her arm around you as well.

Took advantage of the recent change in licensing laws to have a quick Polish beer down in the Tin Drum with Anton before heading home.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Nice day today. Had the morning off supposedly for Xmas shopping. Used this time to sack my plumber. The worst thing about sacking the plumber is that you can only do it once. I wanted to sack him over and over for about half an hour. Anyway now I need another plumber to sort out my wretched plumbing. However at least this is better than being strung along, lied to, and being forced to listen to pipe dreams.

MJ's spy Anton has failed again as I went to Nicki in Chiswick who cut my hairs in the approved manner. And talking of Anton... he called me today to say he had just received notification that he had passed his MA. He was understandably pleased about this and it is a good reward for the literally hours of work he put into it.

Back in the office this afternoon, and had to step in to be pitched to by two lots of graduate employees -- bright young things, and then give them feedback. Amazingly professional and they took the exercise incredibly seriously. All quite diverting, and the winning team was each given a bottle of champers and the losers kissed them and looked brave.

After this diversion had to get on with the rash of pesky work I've been getting lately and was thus late to leave.

Spoke to Mum and Mase. Mum's back is still painfully playing up, which is far from good.

Best news, and a sort of Christmas miracle, is that my tickets to present a to a brand new client in the US have been approved. This means I get a free trip to the States and so will be able to see MJ for Christmas. Me and MJ are very cheery about it. The Gods must be grinning down on us. I will be going to Baltimore in Maryland for the business part. I certainly will have seen a lot of the US this year.

And hurrah! The opportunity to go on more flights! Sweet Lord.

Two excellent jokes:

1) A man goes to a zoo, but is disappointed with the fact that all the cages are empty, except for one small cage in the corner. Walking over to it he discovers a small dog: it was a shitzu.

2) How do you kill a circus? Go for the juggler.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Bouncy Max and the French Bloke and had a baby girl this afternoon, weighing in at 7 lbs 8 oz. The baby was at least two weeks overdue. Spoke to the FB briefly this evening and he was sounding very cheery, saying that Max and the baby were fine.

Work quite quiet today. The Gnome away at a shoot and me fractiously dealing with pesky bits of boring stuff. Felt rather twitchy for some reason but went for a lunch with Trace in the cheap Thai place. She was on excellent form and she nicely reframed things for me.

She had the best definition of stress I'd ever heard: responsibility without control. We had a long talk ranging from the CS Lewis books from a pyschological and postcolonial standpoints, and her time living in Colorado.

Afternoon... more pesky bits. Then went for a swim, happily finding the trunks -- untouched by human hand -- that I'd left there yesterday. Then went on to meet Shaila for a tasty vegetarian meal at the Gate as it was her birthday two days ago. She is off to France shortly with her husband and sons. Nice to see her too. She gave me a christmas newsletter of what the family had been up to over the year.

Then the long ride home to Brighton, reading my Recent Continental Philosophy book and dozing despite the persistent blaring of a silver haired man sitting next to me.

Text from the FB this morning: still at home progressing slowly but steadily. Max still full of pep apparently.

Out of the blue, the possibility of me being flown to the US for a work thing. Trying not to get too excited as yet because there is many a slip twixt cup and lip -- but it could mean a business trip to the US just before xmas.

A rather subdued Creative Department this morning, after yesterday's excesses. The Gnome and me quietly going about our work. Quite happy that I'd left at a reasonable early the night before, otherwise I would have felt as shabby as some of the more enthusiastic creatives appeared to be.

Stole away from work slightly early to go for another swim. Felt very tired beforehand but it perked me up somewhat.

From there walked off to the Thatched House for a feed and drink with Matty boy, Katie, Paul, and Bryony who I'd not seen for ages. Young Bryony is now doing very well working in film production, having once been Kate's art director. The agency forced me to sack Bryony, which was nothing to do with her ability. It was really traumatic, but we went to the pub afterwards and she gave me a hug and it was all mended. I am very happy to say that her career has been extremely successful ever since.

Great to see Katie and Matty boy too. Both looking well and perky in their various ways. Saw pictures of Kate's niece, who sort of looks like her I think. Paul brandishing pictures of his son Andy. Much discussion and thought about the FB and Max.

Paul was also pleased having got a new job too, but became increasingly voluble and emphatic as the evening progressed. All too quickly, after eating piles of food, and a late guest appearance from Taranjit, it was time to head for home. I took this photo of Bryony and Kate on the street after.

Just missed my train home so had to get a late slow one. Home and messaging my MJ till very late.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

First Matie just called to say bouncy Max is in labour now -- she is at least two weeks late.

Otherwise... This afternoon a creative dept xmas meal and drink up. Went to an Indian restaurant on King Street, Hammersmith called Agni which was okay. Crammed into a long thin room upstairs on a long table.

Smitten with tiredness, I closed my eyes for a split second which attracted the attention of half the creatives on the other end of the table who all laughed at me. Bastards.

Went to a couple of pubs afterwards, and drank beers in the approved manner. Lots of chatting with people I don't normally talk to too much. Nick told me of a court case where he was charged under terrorist legislation having sent, as a student, a mailpack to a leading magazine. The concept was that it was a bomb. He was arrested and, traumatisingly, it went to trial. He was also suprisingly interesting talking about Napoleon too.

Escaped fairly early, ate a Chinese takeaway and watched some football on TV then.... Bed.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Monday. Reading an admirably clear chunk of The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir on the train this morning in my modern continental philosophy reader.At work and nothing going on for me and the Gnome but tumbleweed and crows. However had my earphones plugged into my computer listening to the wonderful Pandora, which allows you to create your perfect radio music station. It’s fab.

Ally B wrote to me again today. Her excellent blog is called wordhead, which is about life in Dubai and other musings, and is well worth a visit. Another swim today. Felt virtuous if a little bit bored, but I am nauseatingly fat again. When I got home tonight I went out for a walk for getting on for two hours, as I was feeling restless.

Nice being down by the sea, saw some very distant lightning towards France.

The Gnome called me up when I was down there to say he won’t be in as there has been some more difficult news about his son. It just goes on and on.

Mary Jane sent me this picture today which she’d loved when she visited the Metropolitan Art Museum yesterday. Turns out this was one of the three or four I’d identified in March as blowing me away. It’s called the Weeders by Breton. MJ said she thought it was very mystical, and I agree. She also told me that Weezer has a new dog, rescued from New Orleans, called Neptune.

The Weeders.

Making photos again... Two today... Leaf prints on the Charing Cross road, and the fishpond outside Charing Cross Hospital, where I go for my swims.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Bright and cheery afternoon in Brighton. After speaking to MJ, who was having her morning coffee with her pal Kadabra in snowy Brooklyn, I went out with Anton and Baby Klauds for a few hours. We lurked in the lanes and then walked down to the sea in bright low sunlight.

Baby Klauds in a very grumpy mood, and when she woke up and discovered we were in the Tin Drum at the end of the afternoon, she made her feelings felt and we went back to Anton's place to watch Pingu together for a few minutes. Pingu is a lively gibberish-spouting penguin who seems to transfix Klaudia. After some of this, I left Anton and Klauds to it, and loafed happily at home this evening. Watched a programme on BBC called the Story of God, a sort of comparative religion series of documenties which was absorbing.

Got an email from former colleague and AnotherSun contributor Ali B today in Dubai who stumbled across this blog.

Suddenly able to use my digital camera again. Two down by the sea, and the other of a decidedly stormy Klauds above.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ambushed by a random gloom today. Used this inertia to do laundry etc. Fortunately gloom was dissipated this evening by Ken's 75 birthday party.

I enjoyed Ken's party. With Ken obviously enjoying having lots of family and friends around him. After a lovely spread of grub, and quite a bit of wine it came to the time to sing Ken Happy birthday. Quite a bit of wine being drunk, and his son had made an excellent cake which was decorated with French Sparklers (which sounded to me like something you'd find in an Anne Summers catalogue).

We sang happy birthday to Ken with the sparklers setting off the fire alarm. Enjoyed chatting to Janet and Ken and their guests. I tuned into a few bizarre conversations going on round and about including Simon, Ken's son in law, breaking a long and rather wine-soaked silence to announce that next year "my age will be the reverse of my wife". His wife is Ken's daughter Rachel. Turns out that next year he will be 73, and his wife will be 37.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Strange night in which I slept lightly, a gale causing lots of unfamiliar noises. Fumbling with my mobile phone which I use as an alarm clock, I managed to accidentally call Anton twice at 7.

Today, was a day of birthdays... Anna, the French Bloke and Reuben. And Ken's birthday party tomorrow. Spoke to the FB who was in a pub in Soho with Max. Emailed Reuben. And saw Anna this evening.

These clusters seem statistically unlikely. Like my September cluster of Anton and Maddog on the 2nd, and Simon and MJ on the 4th.

Reading the work of Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) on the train. Never read any of his philosophy before, but it seemed quite slight (on this skim through) compared to the mighty Heidegger. The excerpt I read this morning was reminding existentialism of the validity of science, which I am sure is very important philosophically etc. but not terribly interesting to me.

Rushed into work in time for a meeting which did not occur. Did work hastily this morning and then again after a couple of hours had very little to do. Went for lunch in the Dove with The Gnome and Mike Ferg, but wasn't really in the mood for it. In the afternoon ended up going for the third swim of the week.

Was told a good joke today... What is the stupidest marine mammal? An imbiseal. Not a joke that works in American, according to MJ.

Home and straight up the road to babysit Baby Klauds. Windy and rainy again. Anton and Anna were out to dinner for Anna's birthday. Luckily, and yet again, Klauds peeped not and I quite enjoyed being a couch potato. Home, and I talked to my delightful MJ for a while, and am now magnetised by the thought of sleep.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

An email from Weezer saying that her nice dog Louie (whose picture has previously featured on this site) had died. Weezer and Troy are naturally very sad about it. And he was much loved by them. I enjoyed seeing him only the other week wearing small socks, which Weezer had made him wear to stop him falling over.

Dozing fitfully on the train, and once at work there were mysteriously sudden & urgent deadlines to meet. So most of the day spent slogging. Turns out most people who went to the flashy Bluebird restaurant last night had upset stomachs except for me.

After work I travelled to Portsmouth for Jane and Christian's leaving for Australia party. Met a few ex-colleagues I'd not spoken to for over five years which was quite fun. Anton then drove us back to Brighton. He finally got closure on his recent musical huffiness by blasting Jean-Jacques Burnell's wretched Euroman Cometh on the CD player of his car as we aqua-planed Brighton-wards in heavy rain. Picked up a bleary looking Baby Klauds from the baby minder then home.

Got in and drank tea and spoke to my beloved till late, a gale howling noisily down my Twitten.