Monday, May 30, 2005

Bank Holiday Monday and besieged by gloom. Spent the morning sullenly throwing things away and filing paper. Had gloomy conversations with MJ three and a half thousand miles away. And slightly more cheerful ones with Mum and Mason.

Went for a gloomy walk in the afternoon by the sea, then more cheerfully down to meet Reuben and pick up the Is this you? painting I'd bought, which I am very pleased with. The Outside In show being taken down this afternoon after what appears to have been a justly successful run.

Snap of Reuben's "Is this you" picture that I purchased.

Bank Holiday Sunday. Somewhat anxious and out of sorts today.

Spent the morning cleaning and organising my house, and shuffling through reams of paper -- but with the result of feeling like I'd accomplished very little.

Beautiful day outside. Sarah, who is quite heavily pregnant again, and her pretty daughter Amelia who is approaching two came by today. Felt sorry for Sarah who has a mountain of things to cope with... Court cases; fighting her own unfair dismissal; trying to sell her house; being pregnant; and the aftermath of having been very worried about Frase after his heart operation. Her daughter is clearly a source of joy to her parents, being very sweet-natured and cheerful.

Later we went with Anton, Anna, Brian and Baby Klauds down to the sea. The weather meanwhile had turned cold and it was quite chilly as we sat outside a cafe eating. Anton and I played with the kids on the swings. After found a cafe venue called the Sanctuary, which is a venue for fringe plays and poetry readings, which I shall return to.

A momentary scare as I thought I had lost my credit card, but was later able to reclaim it from the shop I'd left it in.

Spoke to MJ who was stressed and not having a good day.

Then a nice evening with Brian, Anna and Anton eating Antonburgers which were delicious.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Wandered out to buy bread and a newspaper as the shops in the Lanes were beginning to open, and just kept walking. Feeling really happy with Brighton. Love all the music drifting from shops and cafes, and with few people about it was easier to notice the little eccentricities that make up the Lanes; a building with zebra stripes, odd carved faces, the graffiti art commissioned by shops, and all the quirky displays in the windows. Wondered into one selling graphic novels and comics because I have been working on my Mighty Thor monologue again, and the guy at the counter and a customer older than me having an informed and passionate discussion about the genre. Nice to be in a place with its own identity and enthusiasms.

Borrowed some tools from Anton, and then ignored them all day, focusing instead on doing laundry, and sorting out the mounds of paperwork that I seem to have accumulated. Mike told me recently that Alan Sugar says that he regards every piece of paper left on his desk at the end of the day as a decision not made. A piece of advice I have taken to heart.

In this spirit have been decisively throwing things away. It is part of the massive mental clear up prior to applying myself to the house again for the next stage. Or maybe it is just yet another displacement activity.

Hours on the phone... To lovely M.J., Toby, Mason and Sarah. Sarah will be visiting tomorrow, which will be nice. Told Toby that I want to see him soon in Toronto soon.

Amazon delivery -- Ojos de Brujo's Bari. From Barcelona and mixing flamenco with scratching and hip hop flavours. Good stuff. Alice Coltrane's album Transfiguration which on first listening has its moments but inclines to blissed out noodling, and a Budapest poet's Attila Jozsef collection called, in translation, Perched on Nothing's Branch which I will fall upon tomorrow.

Ended the day in the Tin Drum with Anton drinking the unspellable Polish beers and both chatting to MJ on the phone. Anton and MJ forming some finicky Virgo alliance based on a shared alarm about vegetables. And then drifting home to continue the conversation with her alone. We can't stop talking.

Gypsy Rose Kenny mode... The frustrating square aspect from Saturn to my natal Sun & Mars conjunction is today finally beginning to abate -- causer of work setbacks, things like rubbish ankles, and general glooms for well over a year. Good riddance!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Max in blonde wig and the FB excitedly watching drag act

Chairman being ritually humiliated by drag queen

Amit, one of the party organisers

Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday lunchtime and all is well. Weather very hot outside, inside the agency an air of slightly jaded cheeriness after large party last night, on an S&M theme and organised by my chums in finance.

After yesterday's evening of steady quaffing, and heroic efforts with the knife and fork, plan A was to melt away after showing my face.

However it turned into a fun evening, with an excellent drag artiste providing ritual humiliations and songs, plus other fun to be had licking vodka from pornographic ice sculptures and on two occasions being attacked by Max with her leather flay, despite the fact that due to prengnancy she stuck to drinking coke. And it was only while dancing with a six foot inflatable penis at about 9:30 did the call of the seagull assert itself again.

Managed to return home on the train without exposing genitals to anyone which made a welcome change to the night before.

Anton working in London today, so commuted in with him this morning. He told me about his new craze which is "smoking", a form of carcinogenic advanced barbecuing apparently.


First Matie & Matty boy

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Damned ankle broke down again, so have temporarily resumed orc like loping. Despite this I had a splendid night last night, after what was a rather hectic day at work.

Met Matty boy and Kate and the French Bloke and sat outside the Blue Anchor by the river in what appeared to be sunshine. Matty boy has just taken a voluntary redundancy, and is cheerfully contemplating weeks of summer idling before being snapped up by some species of forward looking organisation or other. First matie on good form too sipping rose, and pressing a copy of Jane Eyre on me which I will read after I have finished the Obama book. The FB having to slope off back to work after a few minutes.

The tractor fancier then went home leaving Matt and me to go to the The Bridge restaurant where we ate food outside in the garden, and both burbled on the phone to long-suffering MJ. I ate venison despite it being rather dear. Arf.

Matt kindly guided me into a sherbert to head for Victoria. Vile interlude on the train where I used a toilet with a faulty automatic door which treacherously opened twice, appalling those unfortunates who glanced in en passant.

Then sat next to a very refreshed gentleman...

RG:(apropos of nothing) So how old are you?
Me: Er... I'm 45.
RG: No you're not.
Me: I am.
RG: Fuck. No you're not.
Me: Er...okay.
RG: You're 45?
Me: Yes.
RG: Fuck.

People are strange.

Home and messaged lovely MJ till 2 o'clock and then headed for bed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A bit brain dead lately. Reading and enjoying Obama's book on the train.

Listening for the second time as I type to the talk by the Buddhist Sogyal Rinpoche that Sophie gave me. About how fundamentally happiness and suffering depends on the mind and the heart, and how the mind perceives through the five senses. Which is a pretty nice thing to give someone.

In fact I shall give it my full attention.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Baby Klauds nose on the pier

Anna & Anton busy vomiting today so I took Baby Klauds out for a long walk so they could get some sleep. Klauds looking at me, as Anton readied her, in a penetrating and slightly disapproving way. But as soon as we hit the pavements she slipped into an untroubled sleep. A lovely day to be walking around in, with the sea very green, and the pier busy. Did a spot of shopping in the Lanes which I brought back to the twitten, where Klauds woke up and silently resumed disapproving look till I took her back home to an ill and wussy-looking Anton.

Very enjoyable anyway, with only a faint dash of paranoia about her howling at some point and the police taking turns to cosh me in a cell for abducting her from her parents.

Otherwise talked to mum who was making a copy of an earlier painting to sell, and talking about her Spanish teacher who is also a fan and want to buy her work.

Then exceedingly enjoyable conversations with MJ about ghosts, among other things.

Told her that Jack's interrupting cow joke went down well. It goes...

Person 1: Knock knock!
Person 2: Who's there?
Person 1: Interrupting cow!
Person 2: Interrupting c...
Person 1: MOOO!
Person 2: ..ow who?

Which is very funny and involves talking animals, so is clearly superior.

Very cheerful Saturday night with Sophie in Highgate. Sophie and I met at Warwick University where we studied Philosophy and Literature, and shared a place.

For some reason we'd not spoken to each other properly in years, and it was only the second time I had met her husband Andros. I had never spoken to her children Electra and Cristof either. It was a big day for Cristof, who is eleven, and had just bought an electric guitar which he was playing enthusiastically when I arrived. Electra was very funny, chatty and full of life, recruiting me into doing cats cradles, which I was useless at, and talking Greek... Ditto.

Andros put the kids to bed leaving Sophie and I to drink some wine and talk. I was fascinated to hear that she has become very interested in Buddhism, and gave me a cd to listen to. She showed me her office upstairs where she runs a successful PR business. She has persuaded me to go to the retirement party of our old Personal Tutor Martin Warner, which will be interesting.

It did my heart good to see her again. Just like seeing my old school friend Mark in a way. I have hooked up with two dear old friends this year and in both cases it felt like the intervening years were nothing. Both are such accomplished and interesting people that it makes me proud to think they are my friends.

London journey to and fro not too bad either. Discovered a train at five past midnight which returned me to Brighton reasonably quickly. And gave me a chance to press on with an absorbing book I bought in Newark airport called Dreams from My Father -- a story of race and inheritance which is a memoir by Barack Obama. The blurb says "... the son of a black African father and a white American mother searches for a workable meaning to his life as a black American." It is a very well written, and thoughtful book. Obama is a US senator apparently.

Anton, Anna and baby Klauds called around today too. With Anton's encouragement, Klauds helpfully emptied many CDs onto the floor.

MJ off to the launch of an Anthology with her work in it last night. She seems exceedingly perky.

Baby Klauds takes a break from redistributing my CDs

Friday, May 20, 2005

Jetlag fog beginning to abate.

Extremely sad to wrench myself away from Mary Jane and Jack and Kate in the sun at Northport railway station. Already badly missing MJ. Had a good holiday, but inevitably it felt too short. Found myself getting on really well with the kids too, which was clearly a good thing.

Easy journey back to Newark however, and the flight home wasn't too traumatic. Sat next to a chatty ex-nurse who now worked as a flight stewardess, which I considered a good CV for someone obliged to sit next to me in full flight horror mode.

When I reached the UK I turned on my phone and discovered I was supposed to meet Mike that morning at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Made my way straight from Gatwick to London, arriving in London early. Ate breakfast in an Italian cafe in Fleet Street and walked up to meet Mike past the Old Curiosity Shop, which of course made me think of MJ and the Pies.

Mike and I were given a tour around the hospital. Both of us genuinely inspired by the positive attitude of the staff. An amazing place, and we walked through several wards talking to people who worked there. In the coronary ward a little boy in a wheelchair stuck his hand out to be shaken as we waked past, his hand like ice with poor circulation. And we spent some time in the chapel too, noticed there were teddybears and stuffed toys dotted about the place, which once belonged to children who have now passed on.

Had a couple of Polish beers with Anton the day I arrived, and last night strapped on a curry nosebag with the French Bloke. Otherwise have been falling asleep a lot, mainly on trains. Yesterday, unavoidably, nodded off in the middle of a big meeting opposite the MD and next to the Chairman. Brilliant.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Weezer & Troy's place

Weezer & Troy's place

Weezer and some of her paintings

Troy and some of his paintings

Getting ready to head back to the UK. Have had a fun time here doing quite family oriented things.

Have built bridges with Jack and Kate, who are definitely quite relaxed with me now. Enjoyed, for example, sitting in Penn Station waiting for the train to Long Island eating hot dogs. Especially when I decided to use the camera function on my phone to take photos up the kids' noses.

Travelled into Brooklyn to visit Weezer Jnr. and Troy. Amazing apartment covered in art. They are both painters with hugely contrasting styles. Weezer's (aka Diane June's) art has representational elements which are flattened into an almost silkscreen effect. She uses house paints, and her choice of colour is for me one of the most striking aspects of her work.

Troy June seems incredibly prolific, painting on wood often. Lots of small paintings which climb in one huge group up the walls in the high walls of their apartment in a converted chocolate factory. Mostly representational in style, Troy's subject matter is very wide-ranging with faces, biblical scenes, nudes, landscapes, abstract patterns and so on.

We sloped about their apartment watching horror films and generally hanging out with Weezer and Troy, Steven (MJ's long term pal) and four cats and a dog.

On Sunday we went to MJ's brother's house not too far away. Michael and Ann were nice and made me feel very welcome. Michael took me to the coast nearby and we watched people fishing, and not catching anything while the fish leapt provocatively from the water nearby.

Mary Jane and me drew a mindmaps and spent much time plotting and scheming.

Feeling now the customary pre-flight twitching. This time however after new medication obtained in the US I will not be toilet mapping to anything like the same extent.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Kate pretending to have a mobile phone


Friday, May 13, 2005

So here I am in Long Island, MJ is off at work and Jack & Kate are at school and I have a couple of hours to gather myself.

Lovely to be with MJ, she raced down to Northport station with wet hair to collect me and leapt out of her car, left in the middle of the road, to hug me.

Journey was execrable due to some species of bladder infection which flared up this week. At last I had finally found the one thing that could make flying suck even more. Despite being more than half way through the pills, not much seems to be improving. However is a useful insight for when I am next writing about incontinence at work. I understand toilet mapping like never before.

Considering writing a user's guide to US public conveniences. Under Another Sun's gold award must go to the platform 1 toilet in the Amtrak waiting room at Newark airport station. The waiting room was empty bar me and the man who had elevated toilet cleaning to an art form. He watched with narrowed eyes as I walked into one of them. Wondered if I was worthy of defiling the splendour within. As someone who has cleaned toilets for a living, I doff my imaginary trilby to him.

Penn station bewildering in rush hour, one man walked into me and called me a fag out of the side of his mouth, which made me laugh. Journey fairly easy from there. Passed through stations called Kew Gardens, and enjoyably, Hicksville.

So happy to have reached Mary Jane. There is so much love between us. Jack and Kate seemed happy to see me too. They are very different, Jack really likes hanging out and talking, Kate is what MJ describes as a Diva. She often seems to be on a important mission. Both kids are very bright and I am hoping to get to know them a little better this visit.

Audrey the cat fawning on me and every time MJ and I are together she sits on my lap. Suspicious that she is MJ's familiar, or at least evolving opposable thumbs as it appears she can turn doorknobs too.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Hart is the rather taller one with horns

The Moris dancers brandish their sticks...

Monday night, and writing this just before I slide off to bed as am feeling unusually tired.

Had a nice Saturday night and Sunday staying with Mum and Mason. Blurted at them about Mary Jane for quite some time, which they took in good heart. Went to Hatfield House again on Sunday for the craft fair. Lots of good work, and things to do and see, and pies to be eaten.

Best of these was the Punch and Judy, which I absolutely love. It is so barbaric. Feeding the baby into a sausage machine, lots of whacking with sticks and so on. And mobs of little kids all shrieking at Punch when the crocodile appeared. Also Morris dancers, which Mason was busy laughing at for skipping about waving their white hankerchiefs in the air. One of the Morris dancers was dressed as a hart, and looming humorously over bystanders.

Sunday was beautiful, with the odd shower. Mason telling me that when his cataracts came on that the thing he most missed was green and trees. We were looking at the grounds of Hatfield House alive with hundreds of verdant hues.

Saw a flight of Spitfires and Hurricanes fly in the distance for the VE celebrations.

Teeth-grinding journey back to Brighton, with a train which stopped at every outpost of civilisation in the South of England. Finally made it back to the twitten and discovered that someone had carefully cut the lily from my front garden which was a tad galling.

Monday fine, although I wanted to slump into a deep sleep by lunchtime. After workign a little later, I bumped into Paul who is now unemployed again after his wretched new company had to lay off half its staff. He was in fairly good spirits despite this.

MJ had been punched in the face by two different kids today at work, which was poor. I suggested getting her punches in first.

Evil Anton sent me a text alluding to the fact that today was Liberation Day in Guernsey. "So I see today's the anniversary of your surrender". I employed photo function of my new phone to send him a picture of me demostrating correct V sign.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A phonecamera snap from Reub's show showing the immortal "Is this you" face.

Reub's private view of his show Outside IN -- bringing street art home at the Open Gallery, Windsor Street, Brighton. Reuben is in profile behind the guy with the white jumper

Friday, May 06, 2005

Just returned from the show that Reuben has curated called OutsideIn -- bringing street art home. Went with Anna and Baby Klauds and we really enjoyed it. The place was as thronging as you'd want a private view to be. Reub every inch the dashing curator.

The art had a real street art flavour and spread out beyond the usual confines of how art is shown, climbing up the walls and generally covering surfaces. Most interesting to me were two installation-like zones that were like a living room and a kitchen, which had been interfered with. Lightswitches and fridges graffitied over, for example, rather decoratively. And bizarre wallpaper. Lots of little “Is this you” canvasses done by Reub too, of which I asked him to red-dot one for me. As Reub's ticket invitation said "there's broken glass on the bathroom carpet. The smell of spray paint hangs in the air. And someone's done something very nasty in the living room."

To the uninformed viewer like me I was also interested how you couldn't really work out which artist had done what. I imagine this was easy for others to decode though.

Anna and I also met Reuben's mum and dad, Adrian and Diane. Really enjoyed meeting them, they were really good to talk to and friendly. They had read this blog which still feels odd when I meet people who do that before they have met me. Reuben is the spit of Pa Turner -- also said hi to Reubs brother and his pal Marcus who I'd not seen for quite a while.

One of the street artists a very benign looking chap called Pure Evil was pointed out to me. Reuben said as the exhibition was being assembled there was one wall which had a sign on it saying "reserved for pure evil".

Anna was really pleased she had brought Baby Klauds as she enjoyed herself and was particularly taken by a woman with retro punk hair in big black spikes. Anna gave her to me for a bit to give her arms a rest and I was surprised by how heavy she now feels.

Walked Anna and Klauds back up the hill, and poked my head in on a wild-eyed Anton, miserably cramming a year's worth of MA course assignments into two days.

Home and chatted to the divine Tenerelli about wide ranging issues before slumping lifelessly into bed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Andy in Sri Lanka

Back to work yesterday. Another office shuffle and we now have been moved to the part of the office I used to workin with a lovely view of the river. Little actual work going on, a momenatry lull, which is nice.

General Election here on Thursday. The ward of Brighton I live in has a slim possibility of electing a Green MP. However old tribal loyalties are still making me want to vote Labour despite the conduct of Blair. Read a persuasive piece in Prospect by Matt Cavanagh to the effect that the left shouldn't cut off its own nose to spite its face because Blair has had the dirty business of actually leading the country. It is easier to be a purist out of power.

Missing MJ really badly now. However have just booked another sneaky trip to New York, which I am greatly looking forward to! Remembering this morning on the train our lovely times in the West Country and swimming in a heated outside pool on the hillside with MJ and Johanna under a clouded English late afternoon sky. The ladies swimming up and down doing English accents which necessitated them pulling ridiculous faces and sticking their tongues out. I said at the time that this would be a mental snapshot to remember, and it is proving to be so for me.

On another happy note... two old friends from my university days both emailedme in the last day.

Andy's email contained a fantastic photograph of himself, which I will post later. He has been overseeing land clearance in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami. And then this morning I recieved an email from Sophie, which was brilliant too. Hoping to see her soon.

Andy's note yesterday rather pricked my conscience. What am I giving back to the world? MJ is working with children with autism, Andy is literally preventing people being blown up. And me? Nothing much. The Buddhist part of me thinks that it is not so much what you do, but the way you conduct yourself is the important thing. But just going about trying to be a nice person is not amazingly dynamic.

I felt quite strange yesterday when I was asked for money on the train by a guy from Eastern Europe saying he was homeless. There were a few of us in there but he fixed on me, because I gave him eye contact. But these days my response is an automatic No. For some reason yesterday I felt quite bad about this.

The reshuffled desks at work now mean I am sitting opposite new people. One of them Linda told me about her son being autistic this morning. Quite funny how certain issues begin to present themselves at the edges of your life.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Bank Holiday Monday evening, and enjoyably lurking at home, doing a bit of work, and chatting on the phone to MJ, Mum and Anton after a lively weekend.

On Saturday Max called me and arrange to meet her, French Bloke and Max’s Aussie pal Michelle in Brighton that evening. Had a previous with Anton and so neatly combined them.

As a precaution before I went out I had pitta bread stuffed with tuna steak. Anton and I had a quiet beer where I may have mentioned MJ a couple of thousand times. Grey faced, Anton grew insistent about food so we sloped into a Chinese restaurant where I managed to fork down a second supper. Off then to Kemptown, which is a part of Brighton I’d not yet been to, and a pleasant pub called the Sidewinder, which was lively and had its own DJ. Soon joined by French Bloke and Max, and Michelle. All good fun. Unusually punctuated by two women having to be separated from scratching each other as the FB was getting a drink in. Though the two events weren’t provably linked.

Ducked off to another pub where MJ called me on my mobile. Stood outside the pub talking to her for a bit being ridiculed by Anton poking his head through the window. Then passed the phone to Anton and the French Bloke who chatted to my lovely. Anton, encouraged by MJ, apparently discussing his history of mistreatment by me.

Drove back to the Twitten after Anton had shot off having to work on his MA, and played some tunes and chatted with the FB as Max and Michelle went round the corner to return with fish and chips, which I found able to eat hungrily. Shortly after was unaccountably overcome by a need to retire to bed, after burbling happily at the unfortunate MJ yet again.

My poor guests sleeping on my sofa and on the rug downstairs which I felt bad about the next morning.

Sunday was beautiful to begin with in Brighton. Bought milk and orange juice, and made tea for the floor dwellers. Max and Michel a comedy double act first thing. Max particularly energetic and prone to spontaneous vertical take offs and landings

Then a nice walk along the seafront till we found a place to have breakfast, over which some hilarious talking animal jokes were revisited including: What goes Mark-mark? An Alsatian with a hare lip. Sea mist rolling in gradually until it became really thick and the temperature plummeted just as the people surging down from London arrived at the beach.

To London, pausing to buy First Matie a nice pen as a present for her thirtieth birthday. Turned out that was last year but never mind. Drive up fine, guided by onboard satnav with the FB making only half-hearted attempts at land speed record.

Arrived at Kate and Gavin’s nice flat in Wandsworth. As ever excellent to see them, and First Matie’s pal Lou and Daryl who I‘d not seen for a year. Gavin had put on a feast with lots of yummy beef. Enjoyed Kate and Gav’s special chart on the fridge (shown below). Apparently stars are awarded for exceptional behaviour.

Much wine and gormandising and chatting, with Kate showing some of her very good South African photos. Then off to the local park where we spent a happy hour in a huge circle zooming a strange Frisbee in each others general direction. Although flow of the game interrupted by outbreaks of wrestling between Max and Michel. Gav also attempting valiantly to get a boomerang working, although later it was pronounced “ornamental”.

And we all retired to the pub, fairly briefly, before I slipped off to catch the Brighton train to go home to phone MJ after an exceedingly cheerful day.

First Matie and Gavin's good behaviour chart