Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Off this afternoon to see Charlie and The Chocolate Factory with MJ, Jack, Kate, and Kate's best friend Christine. Everyone enjoyed the movie but missed the crucial section due to toilet emergencies.

Leaving the cinema we discovered the car had a flat battery so while MJ waited for a man to come and jump start it I took the kids for a slice of pizza. I appeared to be talking some kind of Martian dialect when I was ordering. But was only mildly stressed by Kate and Christina locking themselves into the toilet, and only walking calmly from it as I began to negotiate with staff (in Martian) for their release.

In the evening went shopping and for some more grub with the same cast of characters. Getting on well with Jack, which is nice. Ate in an Italian restaurant and felt a bit Hugh Grant-ish when the waitress told me I had a nice accent.

Being driven around a lot by MJ and for some reason this makes me feel very cool, not to mention big and clever.

Wednesday morning in Northport, and MJ and me are sad. The diamond from her engagement ring has fallen out, which we noticed after returning from a trip to the supermarket yesterday. Hours of searching to no avail. No trauma at all to the ring setting, the stone simply dropped out. MJ phoned the Magpie Jewellers in the Lanes Brighton who say it is a matter for our insurance. I on the other hand think they have some responsibility to design rings where the stone doesn't simply fall out after a couple of months. A depressing feeling of yet more wrangles in the offing.

Other than this MJ and I have had an excellent time together. She has been reading my poems and making some insightful comments. We have taken a trip eastwards to The North Fork of the Island, where there are vineyards, and had some lovely meals and endless talk.

Yesterday I met Mr Porter. He had just returned from a heart operation and was looking remarkably chipper, plus others of the family who all seemed friendly and nice.

Also watching CNN about the horrible storms and floods going on down in New Orleans.

The children came back from their father yesterday. We ate icecream outside Chilly Willies but their return somewhat overshadowed for the diamond business which we discovered shortly after.

Was pleased to hear, in a science fictional sort of way, that my short story "A little quiet time" will be appearing on the Quantum Muse site when it is updated for September.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Another cheery and rather lazy day which was exactly what we needed. Went to lunch in a diner, which I find one of those archetypically American experiences. The portions are enormous and you soon realise that finishing everything you are given is not an option. We were laughing a lot there, and I was mocked for ordering jello for some reason.

Just driving around is fun for me too. I find Long Island very green and beautiful, and the houses, baseball diamonds and some of the stores somehow remind me of Charlie Brown cartoons.

Quite a hot and muggy day. In the afternoon we bought flowers and went to put them at the grave of MJ's father and mother who died in 2000, and 2001 respectively.

Underneath her father's name her mum had put Mambo King, as they were both keen dancers. Interesting looking at all the names from all over Europe on the stones here in Long Island. Felt quite moved by being there, and wishing I could have met MJ's parents. As we left one or two spots of warm rain fell on us like tears.

In the evening, drove off for some Thai followed by an early night.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Saturday in Northport. Woke up cheerful and early. MJ phoned a breakfast order to the deli nearby, and I went with her as the man on the phone has designs on MJ.

Strange little place, as we picked up our breakfast order and I noticed a long baguette proudly placed on the countertop held at either end by alligator jaws. Lots of fishing tackle and so on interspersed with the deli items. Home and ate with little Weezy before she returned home.

Lovely relaxed day, catching up with each other.

Went to the Mall like a brace of Mall Rats and bought clothes and smelly stuff and Godiva chocolates for MJ, whose birthday it is on the 4th. Had a really lovely time. MJ saying that she'd forgotten how much fun shopping for clothes was. Rather an alarming admission for a lady, and soon rectified. In the evening we drove down to the Crab Meadow Beach to a beachside restaurant called La Casa and a table overlooking the sea and Connecticut. MJ and I actually talking about poetry as we scarfed a lovely meal.

Then on to Huntington to catch a movie, aptly called Must Love Dogs. A well acted but poorly written romcom. By this time I was fighting to keep awake. Driving back home listening to the radio and feeling really happy and foreign.

A wonderful day that did us both a world of good.

My MJ at dusk on the North Shore near Crab Meadow.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Safely arrived in the USA. Managed to outdo myself in flying neuroses yesterday, not aided by Mike saying helpfully "at least there have only been three plane crashes in the last two weeks - and there were even some survivors in Peru".

Despite being full of foreboding, the flight itself was much better than could be expected. The plane was not full and I was able to stretch out across three seats. As I drifted into a reverie a small Greek child passed in the aisle and tickled my feet. At first I thought I had imagined it but after a few minutes she -- or one of her two comrades -- returned and did the same thing.

Was met by MJ and Weezer at Newark. Wonderful to see MJ and that nice Weezer too.

Funny how there was not one second of strangeness between MJ and me. I always have what I think of as an "of course" feeling. There is something in MJ that says home and completion to me. And I love this.

Everyone was starving so we ate at a vaguely Mexican restaurant and me and Weezer drank some sort of Margheritas. The ladies had performed heroics as MJ had never driven to Newark before. We did get lost on the way home for a bit in some rather dodgy area with lots of people hanging about on corners that necessitated the locking of car doors. Soon however we were driving to Manhattan which does look stunning when you approach it at night. Also saw the Statue of Liberty lit up.

Finally made it home. An amazing loud fizz of crickets at MJ's place. I sat like a bit of a zombie for a while with half my songline still midway over the Atlantic, listening to the girls continue their divergent accounts of how we got home, and whose fault getting lost was and so on till I eventually crawled happily to bed at about 4am UK time.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Broken off from running about trying to get ready for my trip to the US tomorrow, having just returned from babysitting Baby Klauds for a couple of hours. She peeped not. Anna and Anton off eating Japanese food.

Very tired, but nothing too extraordinary happened today. I presented the Great Ormond ad to the all agency meeting this afternoon, giving me the opportunity to be momentarily big and clever.

Noticed again this morning the hilarious and rather wild looking man who lives on the Fulham Palace Road in the Guiness Trust Buildings. He is about two storeys up, and cheerfully sits by his open window drinking from a can and listening to his headphones and bawling the songs out at the top of his voice into the snarl of passing traffic. He always makes me smile.

Still being brutal with poems, but they seem to like it. And still playing tennis game on my mobile phone. Was poised for my first ever victory today when the man sitting next to me got up to leave the train at a crucial moment, and I lost again.

God willing, the next blog entry will be from the colonies... Looking forward to the flight as much as one would to a minor amputation.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mike back in work today, and apparently happy to be so. His son is responding well to chemotherapy, and is now being allowed back home for a day every few days. We went out for lunch with Mark, & Mike Ferg. Ferg spent his birthday on his back with excruciating back pain...

Ended up working late, looking out of the rain falling steadily on the car park and the river, and writing about medical tests and computers, and thinking about seeing MJ in Long Island.

Being brutal with poems on the train today. Murder your babies, as Pound said. Still, in between cutting poems like mad, made time to play the wretched tennis game on my phone. I am trying to limit it to about half a dozen goes, because I end up wanting to hurl the phone from the train after that.

Home and vital pre-packing activities such as ironing, laundry and listening to Bill Evans playing his jazz piano.

A bike in the river bed. Kind of a sister picture to the gazelle bike earlier.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The morning given over to hypochondria sparked by a blood test and feeling out of sorts and twitchy. Work nondescript. Email from Katie keeping me sane.

MJ phoned in the afternoon and in the evening reading bits of the Fortean Times to me and laughing like a drain. Meanwhile the bairns fractious and bored...

Working on poems on the train. Finding myself quite liking some of my old ones. When not doing noble poetry things, I obsessionally play a tennis game on my mobile phone. I just can't win at it, but I play it until I have to stop through being too furious.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Not much sleep, but a nice start to the day travelling into London with Anna all smart and professional-looking in her business garb. Inexplicably she had neglected to bring Anton's folder so we were forced to chat pleasantly instead of having to pore over his birthday choices.

Otherwise I had a successful enthusiasm by-pass, mitigated only by talking to my MJ early in the afternoon and cheerful thoughts of being met by her and Weezer on Friday in Newark.

Otherwise more rain on a drab highly-Mondayish Monday. I went for a short walk along the river for twenty minutes at lunchtime, although I felt draggy and as if I were getting a cold as the day wore on. Found myself looking out of the window at the greyness thinking about poetry and escape.

Woke up at Mum and Mason's place in Edgware. Lurched downstairs at 9:45 which is probably one of the longest lie-ins I have had all year. Downstairs for coffee before setting off for St Albans. Mason drove us to Tanya and Robert's house and from there went off to eat at the Golden Elephant as another celebration of Mason's birthday. The restaurant does an all you can eat buffet on Sunday and we certainly gave it a good go.

I enjoy Tanya's stories of growing up in the Philippines in the jungle, today she told us about climbing up tamarind trees and getting covered in rashes from caterpillars on the trunks.

After we went for a walk in an area very close to the centre of St Albans that had been reclaimed from railway workings. It is now a small sanctuary for butterflies, with a pond and orchard and areas given over to wild flowers. We also came across a sleeping figure of a woman sculpted from mud in the undergrowth. Quite magical. Tanya arranging a bikini from clumps of moss over her as we left. A tranquil place in the sun.

Plucked then crunched on an enjoyably tart apple before Robert drove me to St Albans station where I only had to wait a few minutes to catch a train direct to Brighton.

Home, and finally reclaiming my mobile phone, I ended up talking to my beloved MJ for a while, and reading an email from Mrs Pie which mentioned "the Kenerelli clan" which made me smile.

Then up the road to see Anton and Anna for some pasta and crisp glasses of white wine. Anton mentioning his "birthday folder" several times. It contains print-outs from the internet of items he wants for his birthday. His tone darkened and grew more insistent when I mentioned I'd be in the US on the day itself.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Snap of Anna and Anton's road. Wonderful peachy sunset colours that don't come across here.


Mason's birthday today so off to Edgware to see him and Mum.

Long slow journey to get there. However we had a nice evening going to a local cafe restaurant. Mason giving the owner a video tape of an old Mike Tyson fight when we entered, and discussing the history of Poland with the Polish waitress for he is well known there.

This was the reason I was also given a double-sized meal, as the owner did the last time we were there. Much talking. Mum offering her services as an assassin should I need one, which was nice. Also learned that Diane had got whiplash from walking into a glass door.

Home and I managed to speak to lovely MJ before sloping off to bed, her yard sale was rained off, which was a bit galling for her.

I left my mobile phone in Brighton, which bugged me all day.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Rain. Nothing but the wild rain on me in my teeshirt all day.

Slouched off to Paddington with Greg this morning in the pouring rain to show our water-streaked faces in a meeting. Despite the fact I cleverly looked at a map beforehand, we got lost finding the place and so were sopping by the time we got to press the flesh. Greg and me talking about love on the tube and how he had found a lovely new relationship. I may have mentioned MJ, I can't remember.

Back to Glamoursmith walking from the station in the rain. Al had came in to the office with baby Mia, and we went out in the drenching rain to Pizza Hut with Sarah and Hazel. Al is thinking of migrating, perhaps as far as to Australia or New Zealand, her husband Michael has sold his restaurant. Al looking well and now seems to be getting over her post natal depression, and has been off the pills. Mia is placid and is seven months old and was eating lots of beefy stuff that Al was poking into her.

A mini work lull this afternoon, and I snuck off in the rain for a rather tiring swim. Walking back to the office in the rain I spoke to Mike again, Dan has definitely turned a corner, though he will be on chemotherapy for 8 weeks. But he is being allowed home for a day tomorrow. This is great news and Mike sounding much more cheerful.

First matie sent some photos she had taken yesterday which I will put here. Also Matty Boy gallingly had his bicycle stolen from outside the Thatched House last night -- all the locks expertly sawn through. Matt H's bike, which was chained next to it, unharmed however.

Lurked in the galley for a bit afterwards trying to hold conversation with Phil and Ash and others above the din of noisy baby creatives who are being trialled at the moment. Reminded me of a Larson cartoon where someone finally invents a translator for dog barking and all they are saying is "me!" "me!" "me!". Tiresome.

Zoomed back feeling exceedingly tired, talking to MJ on the phone as I stepped out into a rain-free Brighton and scored a Chinese.

MJ has talked to her solicitor today, which is excellent.

Matt's superlative idea... Gin and Tonic with cucumber. Wrongheadedly this is considered aberrant by Kate.


Paul talks to Matt and sparks spontaneously shoot up from Matt's ears


Me and Matty boy. A picture of innocence and purity captured by Kate


Kate & Taranjit, lovelies both.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Up with the lark in Edgware with Mum and Mas. Toast, coffee and multivitamins. Managed to scarper for work before Mason's second cup of coffee took hold and the conversation really flows. Still a surprise that the journey from North London to work took a few minutes longer than the journey from Brighton.

Walked past the scene of a drugs related murder near where my mum lives. It happened when Toby was over. Horrible things happen in the blandest of places, and over a very small sum of money. A poignant scene.

Work busy, and me snappy and stressed most of the day. Best part was snatching a conversation with MJ who was staying with Weezer after their vigil in support of Cindy Sheehan who is waiting patiently outside Bush's ranch for an explanation of why America is at war.

In the evening went out with Kate, Matty and Paul -- with Matt H and Taranjit coming too -- to the Thatched House where we ate piles of food. Me and Kate sawing into steaks, which Kate said were as big as her face. Paul on fairly good form having picked up a bit more work lately. Matt H and Taranjit jolly company. Felt full of glowing affection for my friends especially Katie and that nice Matty boy.

Eventually the seagull on the wind was heard and I set off for Brighton, dozing on the train but having enough energy to message my baby before climbing gratefully, and very late, into bed.

Urban wildlife. Gazelle-like bicycle parts chained to a wall in Hammersmith.


Scene of a murder: a few bunches of wilting flowers


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Decided yesterday to do something about the porkiness which I am again inclining to. Although William Leith has gone several steps further writing The Hungry Years: Confessions of a food addict which seems to be going great guns -- even being serialized on BBC radio. We were friends at Warwick University, where I remember him playing, and possibly inventing, a game called shitbag where you had to create inedible food combinations and feed them to each other. The eponymous black bag in the middle of the circle was for losers to gag into.

I just went for a swim. And enjoyed it.

Off site this morning I had to suppress an urge to lean over the table and squeeze a man's head till his eyes popped out like corks. I just want to shout into his face to stop it, and to look at himself sitting in a room round a table in a big, big office, in a country full of other people all sitting in their offices in a world crammed with offices like this one stuffed to retching point with self-important toads like you... etc.

I decided I needed a holiday.

Safely back to Hammersmith, and after haggling and negotiating, I decided to get a grip and booked a holiday and a ticket to see my beloved MJ. Suddenly felt a wave of cheerfulness and MJ was delighted too. I will have a holiday. I will see my baby. All is well again.

After work I met Bob at Charing Cross. We found a quiet corner, watching the last few minutes of the knife-edge finish to the third ashes test match, and had our laughing gear poised above our pints when Carl called. Carl said his business was going well, and Ellie was fine having won a school competition. A shame we could not spirit him down from the north to be there as the three of us have not been together in a pub for a long, long time now.

Then off to the Salisbury for another beer and then to Pacifico's for a Mexican meal. Generally put the world to rights with Maddog till the call of the seagull grew strong in me.

Maddog in the Salisbury -- a wonderful pub in central London. Its small back room has mirrored walls on all four sides.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rebuilt my bed. Then shopping, laundry, and a short cycle ride down by the sea in the slightly spitting rain which was fun.

Also spoke at length to Mum and Maddog, who I'll see tomorrow. Plus MJ of course (& Weezer in the morning) who had been clearing out MJ's house and discovering all kinds of family relics, including holy water and bullets both of which belonged to their colourful father.

Otherwise quite bored, which is unlike me.

Beach huts under the blazing English sun...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Woke up in Chiswick. The music of the previous night going around in my head meant I got up, played some guitar. After some time, a sickening realisation: nobody was going to get out of bed and make me a cup of tea.

Letting myself out I walked past Thornton Avenue where I lived last year, feeling absolutlely nothing other than relief that my life had moved on so much. I think I left a lot of gloom behind me when I closed that door for the last time.

Back to Brighton and then hooked up with Anton, journeying to Havant where we were to be collected by Anna. Waited near Havant station in one of the worst pubs I have ever been in. Noticing our strange foreheads, the fascinated Neandertal clientel eyed us balefully, hopeful for an opportunity for a punch up. Cleverly, however, Anton and me avoided ordering Pims with an umbrella or talking loudly about our watercolour techniques and so escaped without harm.

Then the three of us, plus a welly-wearing baby Klauds, off to see Jane & Christian for a barbeque. Also there were Jon and Sally Nation and their baby Sophie. I hope they have a son and call it Juan. Needless to say, despite wonderful weather all week, it rained remorselessly all afternoon. Christian glowering and tending his barbeque under an umbrella. Hung out scarfing bits of animal for a bit in the kitchen before hitching a lift with Brian to a station and caught a train which took me to Hove, and then a walk through a cloudy and damp Brighton to arrive home.

Talking to MJ today of course. The nice Weezer round with her too. We have resolved to be as positive as possible under the circumstances of having all our plans delayed by her ex-husband. I am going to go to the US as soon as I can to be with her and draw soothing mindmaps.

Friday and off for an overdue lunch with the French Bloke in the riverside. Snickering and lurking in a corner discussing shady matters. He and Max are now happily living together in their new place and the FB seemed pretty happy about this.

After work, in the evening went to Chiswick to meet Martin who I'd not seen for over a year and Young Cy, his stepson. He is about 18 now looks like a youthful cross between Marc Bolan and Carlos Santana having come up from Cornwall for a holiday.

Along with an old school pal of Cy's we went to the George IV in Chiswick and saw some comedians, last up was Gina Yashere who is simply a very funny woman. She has a nice simple but funny skit about her mother who is Nigerian looking at a map of the world and all its tempting destinations until she settles on Tower Hamlets.

After we retired to Martin's place and we played guitar somewhat, and ate chicken and rice. Cy who had three of his pals with him, is a sickeningly fantastic guitarist. Did these kind of things until about 3:30am and well past my bedtime.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Two matters today which I can't write about too fully. The first was that I had a secret meeting after work which went fairly well.

However the main news of the day is that, at the last moment, MJ's ex-husband has reversed his decision to allow the children to leave. The timing for this is extremely poor, not least for the children who are due to start school here shortly. Further negotiations are to be had, but this now scuppers our plans for the time being.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Little to report today. The Great Ormond Street Hospital ad goes out at strange times on odd cable stations from tomorrow. Was featured here this morning.

Work fine, if unremarkable. Spoke to a cheerier MJ at lunchtime and in the evening. Yesterday she spoke for a long time to a Colombian psychic who told her among other things that I was a nice man, and it was her time to be happy, and some things about her mother which made her cry.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Unspeakable Laurel & Hardy moment in the night. Imagined I heard a scuffing sound outside and, being awake, shuffled over to the other side of the bed to peer from the window. Bed then mysteriously collapsed. This was unexpected as the bed is quite new and sturdy. With middle of the night logic, I slept fitfully in the debris rather than sleeping downstairs on the sofa or in one of the bunk beds.

Two bits of bad news today. Mike's son is seriously ill and has been taken to a different hospital. The poor lad is now having chemotherapy. Spoke to Mike today who sounded very concerned indeed. How dreadful that only just over a week ago Mike was preparing to go down to Cornwall with young Dan for a holiday. And now this.

Also MJ and I are running into difficulties about her and the kids coming over. The kid's father is understandably, but unfoundedly, worried about access.

Otherwise work another no-nonsense day of slog, but not too bad. Managed a half hour walk in the strong sun by the river at lunch. No bird wars today. Bumped briefly into the French bloke who moved into a new place with Max at the weekend. He was with his daughter Francesca who has suddenly morphed from teenager to assured young woman in the few months since I last saw her.

In the evening went out for the first time in ages with Anton. Had a game of pool and a couple of beers. Anton talking about the rubbishness of Don Quixote which he is listening to on his ipod. He only listens to books on his ipod as he refuses to listen to digitally recorded music. Then home and Chinese food, and me speaking to MJ on the phone.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Random shot by the river

Listened to a meditation tape on the train this morning and felt reasonably relaxed although wasn't able to fall into the full stupor. Still feeling ropey and free of energy.

Kept a low profile today, head down all day. A sleepy sounding MJ called me at lunchtime, with Weezer industrious and cheery in the background. Later I slipped out for twenty minutes and walked by the river. There I saw the exciting business of a Canada goose savaging a gull by beaking grimly onto its wing. Then the same goose beaking onto a duck, and various seagulls beaking onto one another.

Nature is so calming.

Thanks to isthisyou I ended up reading a chapter of a book called Thinking in Pictures by Dr Temple Grandin, who by coincidence I'd heard talking on Radio 4 recently. She is a person with autism, and a prolific inventor who describes how she thinks in pictures which are then translated into words.

This is very interesting to me. I have for a long time failed to finish a philosophy essay on silence, which if I ever finished it I would call An octave of silence.

The difference is that Dr Grandin talks about seeing in pictures, and what is lost in translation, which is something that Shelley describes somewhere. This prelinguistic space has always fascinated me. To address it through philosophy though you have to allude to other philosophers lest you doom yourself to repeating their arguments. Here are some of my notes for the beginning of my essay, talking about Wittgenstein.

"What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence."
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is a strutty construction, a bit like an English pier extending into the sea. And because the Tractatus has been bolted together from words, the pier's end is important for this is this point where everything which is not the Tractatus begins. For the sake of argument, we shall in this instance call the stuff which is not the Tractatus "silence".

Silence, of course, is the last word of the Tractatus. I imagine the younger Wittgenstein brooding at the end of the pier, perhaps being nagged by the sense that what is important lies towards the horizon and outside not only his Tractatus, but outside language itself. His readers may have done their best to have followed his description of how "The world is everything that is the case", through his inimitable terse style and oddly obsessive numbering system, until we reach the final point of facing the unsayable.

In the preface to Tractatus, Wittgenstein summarises his ambitions:

"... in order to be able to draw a limit to thought, we should have to find both sides of the limit thinkable (i.e. we should have to be able to think what cannot be thought).

It will therefore only be in language that the limit can be drawn, and what lies on the other side of the limit will simply be nonsense."

So let's sit down next to the younger Wittgenstein. His legs dangle over the edge, beneath him is the slapping choppy sea. But instead of engaging him in some light philosophical banter about the state of affairs, you have a far more dangerous intention.

You force him to stand up, and then very quickly, without thinking, you both leap unprepared into the bracing, dangerous water. You plunge into the element of silence and -- who knows? -- nonsense.

Silence exists in an indescribable region beyond the realm of everything "that is the case". It cannot yield its secrets to the younger Wittgenstein. The pier of logical speculation cannot extend enough to reach it.

Yet silence has been reached.



Many people sincerely claim to have experienced a state of silence through meditation. And I am one of them. I spent more than two years going to a meditation class. And like many of the people I meditated with had the experience of struggling with a voice chattering in my head. It seemed to me that our brains are tuned by default to some kind of "Radio Self". When you try to be really silent, your mind chatters, and asks tiresome questions like a bored child. With practice at just "letting it go", however, you can at least turn down the volume on this voice.

I'm convinced I got somewhere special with meditation.

Here's what it was like: I suddenly felt physically empty. And I had a clear sense of myself that I can only describe as being like a bell with no clapper. It was not a case of picturing myself as this, but of feeling it with all my senses. The chattering radio in my head had been switched off, and I felt blissfully serene. Oddly I felt as close to the people passing in the street outside, as to the person who was sitting next to me.

This sensation, which I guess must only have lasted for a few minutes, was accompanied by a feeling of intense elation and meaningfulness. While the business of feeling like a bell was extremely specific, and I was reminded of it with some force when a few years later I walked into bell-shaped Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka.

* * *

Of course by now, as a good philosopher the indicator should be in the red on your scornometer. "Mere anecdote", you will be thinking to yourself. But I include this anecdote to let you know that my interest in silence isn't entirely abstract.

Why is silence so central to the experience of Franciscan and Buddhist Monks. What are they supposed to gain from the practice of silence? Is it -- as Wittgenstien says -- is a barrier to something?

Presumably Franciscan Monks distrust language as a distraction, and a barrier to God. Buddhist monks find language a distraction from the emptiness they seek in silence.

* * *

When you paint a shape on a canvas, you cannot help but create a countershape. I think of the later Wittgenstein again and his famed duck/rabbit. The duck is the countershape of the rabbit. It all depends on what you are predisposed to see.

And I am predisposed to see silence is the countershape of language.

Exactly what is meant by silence? Is it merely an absence of noise? I would like to narrow down what I mean with the help of Heidegger. It is the pre-linguistic state. It is the world waiting to be articulated into language. With Heidegger we are the language animal, and we dwell in the house of language. Language is what differentiates us from the rest of creation. So what is contained by silence? Something that is not human perhaps?

My interest in silence is due to a quirk, but not a particularly unusual one I suspect. It's this: when I am trying to think hard about something, I think visually. And when I write, I frequently (but by no means always) have the conscious sensation of translating a visual image into words. My contention is that these pictures I see in my own mind are not nonsense, nor are they language. They are visual in character, and arise in silence.

Bearing in mind the final "silence" at the end of the Tractatus, I would be tempted (with some cheek) to posit this Wittgensteinian utterance:

Silence is not an event in Language. We do not speak to experience silence.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sunday evening, and in Long Island MJ and Weezer are throwing a party, as a kind of engagement and farewell. Recently got off the phone talking to various guests, including Mr and Mrs Porter, who are old neighbours and were touchingly protective. And then there was Kadabra, Sephanie, Sheila and Kathleen... Talking to MJ longing I was there with her.

Quiet weekend for me. Felt ropey and illish yesterday which brings out the worst in me. Saw Brian, Anna and Anton and managed to buy myself the portfolio that I need to showcase my stuff for work. Gay Pride day in Brighton yesterday but I cleverly managed to miss the parade seeing only the trails of glitter on the street.

Funny threeway conversation with Weezer and MJ in the morning though. Poor Weezer getting stuff ready for the party like Cinderella and MJ grumpy about being woken early.

Today I felt perkier and more energetic. I had breakfast with Anna and Anton in the park, and then we went for a long walk into Hove, popped into the farmer's market and then down to the sea front, and walking back into Brighton, winding up in Pavilion Gardens. Baby Klauds stealing the show as usual by beginning to walk with real confidence.

Otherwise I have been stunned by Martha Wainwright's debut CD. Wonderful voice, wonderful songs, just wonderful - and unlike music I normally like. She has a song called Bloody Mother F***cking A**hole, which manages to transform the swearing of the title into something that moved me to tears.

Saddened by former Foreign Secretary Robin Cook's death yesterday. His resignation over the current war marked him as a politician of integrity.

This evening invented a new artistic genre... horror bitmaps!

Friday, August 05, 2005

The weird cloud of stress that had engulfed me yesterday dissipated. But still not entirely with it. After reading my newspaper for ten minutes on a train at Brighton Station I noticed with some interest the train on the adjacent platform pulling away for London. The emptiness of my train suddenly explained itself.

Feeling slightly overwhelmed in Victoria Station today. Frayed by the awareness of so many people surging through the big enclosed space of the station down into the tubes or out to the buses and taxis. Police still standing about in twos and threes, one whose eyes flitted about from person to person in such an animated way that I had to laugh. Selfishly I wanted Mary Jane to step out from the crowd in Victoria so I could hold her. It was a thought that made me happy.

Out for lunch with Trace in the Ruen Thai who was telling me a little about her holiday in Telluride in Colarado with her boyfriend Russ. She used to live there and clearly loves the place. I saw some photos recently to do with a job I was doing at work and it seems very beautiful.

Spoke to Mike whose son is iller than first thought and will have to be in hospital for what the doctor estimates to be up to three months. He has picked up something which has sparked off a previously dormant genetic immunity glitch, and he is now on steriods. Mike sounding fairly philosophical, but it all must be a horrible worry.

Another nice note from Joan. A keen eye for detail:

Our old cat, Bob had a huge abscess on the side of his head. So big that it looked like he was growing a second head. Dick anaesthetized him and lanced it. Took 60 cc's of pus and fluid out of it and flushed it out with hydrogen peroxide. It foamed!
A fact which made me choke on the cup of tea I was drinking at work when I read it.

Returning to Brighton I spoke to Toby who is back in Toronto. Fortunately he avoided the recent lively business of the Air France jet sliding off the runway in a thunderstorm as it landed at Toronto. Toby has his arm in a sling after stubbing his toe in the shower and then falling over and fracturing his left arm. He says it is not bad, and doesn't require plaster and he is painting using his good arm.

Home and I spoke to MJ and it was her last day at work today. The wheels are in motion.

A lovely photo Joan sent me of a rainbow in Ontario.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Filthy stress themeday.

Working at home, which should have made it a great day, but felt wound up and under heavy deadlines, particularly on one job which was driving me utterly insane. Computer freaked out at the critical moment, so I ended up having to leg it up the hill to use Anton's computer, with him talking me through logging on etc. on the phone, just to send a file to work. Blah blah.

Later, a moment of sanity, having a nice cuppa with Anna and talking about finding the perfect job. Baby Klauds, meanwhile standing up and walking about. Wearing a dress and very much the little girl.

Increasingly talking to my neighbours, and a likeable lot they are too. Latest encounter this evening was sparked off by some scuffling in the Twitten and then the sound of two kids scarpering. Apparently trying to climb into my garden, or that of Tom's next door. Had a chat in the Twitten about this with Tom, as someone had knocked on his door to let him know about it.

Spoke to Mike my partner today. He was supposed to be off this week on holiday in Cornwall with his son, but his son is in hospital with what everyone thinks is a serious case of glandular fever which has interfered with his liver, so that he has turned yellow. That's what you get with kids, Mike said ominously.

MJ and me unable to contact one another till late... Was it something I'd said? No, it transpires. She told me about having horrid anxiety dream about trying to catch planes to get here, and being impeded and frustrated.

I need to be with her. This being apart thing offends the gods.

In the evening a welcome night out. Met First Matie and Matty boy and sat in the sun outside The Blue Anchor. Matt back from hols in the Scottish Islands and looking chilled and cheery. Kate crunching happily on pork scratchings.

Then Matt and me off to the Stonemason's Arms for some nice grub and wine. Matty introducing me to an extraordinary invention. Gin and Tonic with a cucumber slice. Full of inspired ideas that man.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Made it satisfactorily onto the train on time, but due to another train breaking down in South London the wretched thing was delayed by an hour on the track. Late again to work. But was amazed by reading another Chapter in the Shambhala which addressed the idea of prelingustic thought (a notion which has always fascinated me)in a few matter-of-fact pages.

Sometimes when we perceive the world, we perceive without language. We perceive spontaneously and with a prelanguage system. But sometimes when we view the world, first we think a word and then we perceive. In other words, the first instance is directly feeling or perceiving the universe; the second is talking ourselves into seeing the universe.
It then goes on to describe how perceiving the world and reacting to it, before translating things into words is at the heart of developing fearlessness.

For me as a writer I have always been conscious of the process of translation. I think of things visually usually, and then try to convert them into words. I have always been amazed by philosphers who suggest that thought is impossible without putting it into words. I would argue, from intuition alone, that good writers actually have a heightened awareness of this process of translation, which is why they spend their currency wisely.

Work tolerable. Bought a big book about dinosaurs for the kids from a booksale held at work. Otherwise the home journey fairly pleasant and easy, working on old poems on the train.

Submitted a story to Quantum Muse website and also discovered that there are Shambala meditation groups all over... Including in groovy Brighton.

Once home talking to lovely MJ who was hot and bothered in 90F in Long Island. Seeing the photo below made me miss her really badly all over again. I want to feel how her head fits under my chin again.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Nice First Matie sent me this photo today of MJ and me that she took at our party. Despite rather depraved face I feel this picture makes it clear that we rather like one another.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Having cunningly hidden my train pass from myself this morning, I missed my train. Late, at Victoria, I caught a bus to Oxford Circus. I noticed that I was the only person upstairs for most of the journey, while the top decks of buses I passed looked empty too. It seems that since the bus bombs were both detonated upstairs people have tended to sit on the lower deck.

Went into The Mill to see how the "on-line" edit of the advert was getting on. Called on to contribute a nod or shrug every half an hour or so as Sam and the editor did things that I didn't understand. Instead I sat on the comfy sofas and took the opportunity to drink coffee and talk to Sandra, who is a mine of information about making television.

Back to Glamoursmith to discover the poem I wrote for the Cancer pack at work was considered too long and complicated.

A low profile tonight, speaking briefly to Mum and then to MJ. Told them both the a joke I'd heard on a children's programme on the radio yesterday...

Q: Why are pirates called "pirates"?
A: Because they ARRRRRH!
Mum didn't think it was funny and MJ couldn't understand my accent. I think was the most enjoyable joke since the excellent Matty phoned me with this the other week...

Two chimpanzees climb into a bath. The first one goes...(cue wild chimpanzee shrieking and hooting). Chimp 2: "Well I did mention it was rather hot..."
Laughing at how MJ and Weezer are tormenting one another over poor Louie by posting messages to his photo on this site.

Alarmed that MJ and Anton are increasingly alike. Already I have recieved detailed verbal instructions from MJ about her birthday and what must be bought and done. Must be a Virgo thing. As their birthdays are so close will be interesting to watch events unfold in early September with MJ up against Anton's Only Child Birthday Month.

During interminable on-line editing session this morning (and having listened to early Pink Floyd on my headphones) I discovered the "solarize" function on my camera phone and employ it to capture Sam's back for posterity.