Friday, September 30, 2005

Hurrying for work. Bit of an odd one this morning. Somebody called Milly emailed me the other day. Milly said she was looking at blogs from people living in Brighton and she stumbled across this one. Turns out she lives close to the station too, as she said she recognised the photo of my house I put on here earlier in the year.

Anyway she asked me how I got my blog and I sent her a link to blogger and told her one or two things. Last night she sent me a link to her new blog which is about ghosts. It's called Milly Umbra's ghost log. It could be interesting, but I am a bit worried about her.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

After talking to a bloke called David who came to work to talk interestingly and motivationally about pitching, I bought Paul McKenna's Change your life in 7 days.

I have listened to the hypnotic cd twice and read a bit of the book. It is all about reprogramming yourself and the CD is extraordinary. I listened to it last night for the first time. It put me into a relaxed trance from which I emerged from right on cue as he said "one" counting in reverse at the end of the tape. Soon I will burst Nietzsche-style from this tatty chrysalis and achieve world domination -- if I finish the book and listen to the CD a few more times. Allegedly.

Next I may attempt his How to stop being a porker through pies and mindpower one.

Otherwise work okay, although I feel tired. The journey into Hammersmith seeming quite reasonable after Tuesday's Mission Unspeakable to Birmingham. This morning I listened to my hypnotic CD too which almost put me to sleep, but in a Peter Kenny Uber Alles kind of way.

Today quite slow at work. But was called up by Marja for the first time in ages, and am going to meet her next week.

Also called Sophie too about going to our old personal tutor's retirement party at Warwick University at the end of October. Could be a bit of a wheeze.

Maddog called too, sounding understandably twitchy waiting to go to for a third interview for a new job. Contemplating another earlyish escape as I am babysitting that Baby Klauds tonight.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

To Sutton Coldfield in Birmingham and some more market research. Today not nearly as obnoxious as yesterday. And found myself liking my client (there was only the woman today) if only for her NY accent which reminded me of certain acquaintances.

Started drawing people through the two way mirror. You can stare without them feeling self-conscious. One youngish bloke wore a red "no fear" teeshirt and it emerged during the research interview that he has heart surgery tomorrow. Suddenly the shirt seemed poignant.

Journey back to London with my client who insisted on writing a report about the research with me on the train. Finally free at Euston, and travelled back to Brighton arriving at 9:30ish, whereupon I bought yet another Chinese takeaway and fizzy mineral water.

Spoke to MJ who was cheery on several accounts. I had, quite unprompted, sent her flowers and chocolates. Meanwhile Kate has today eaten asparagus and salmon which is a truly amazing event.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Deeply repellent day. Started quite well. Up in the night unable to sleep but felt quite cheery walking along Oxford Street today, on my way for a day of research.

Clients were utterly obnoxious, and humiliated me. Spent 10.5 hours locked in a darkened room with them trying to account for poor work which I had little to do with, being forced to run around doing photocopying and so on like some work experience yoof, in between the stultifying ennui of hearing people drone out their tiresome opinions on the other side of the mirror. The best bit is where the consumer wanders in and looks at the ads on the walls. It is like some Samuel Beckett play for free.

Finally escaped at about 8:00pm, but only after being blackmailed into doing the whole execrable thing again tomorrow except this time in that nest of adenoidal miseries: Birmingham.

Walked back through the west end, the only bit of the day that didn't suck, and then onto the Brighton train where an obese stinking man who was drinking beers and having an hour long bullying conversation with unfortunate colleagues sat opposite me. Wanted to stuff phone into his throat.

Home and spoke to the delightful aerial-headed MJ who was at Lia's, and suddenly life seemed considerably better.

Sluggish start today but hooked up with Matty boy in East Croydon. Climbed aboard a tram from the station and headed off to Paul's son's first birthday. His son is a delightful boy. Only me and Matty there for some time. Good to see Paul and have a chat with him and see his boy, but the when it began the party didn't bring out the best in me. Found myself disliking people somewhat and when the Picasso-faced Morris dancers began to arrive the call of the seagull (heard by both me and Matty) grew urgent.

Back to Brighton and up the hill to see Anna and Anton and Baby Klauds. Was fed some belly of pork that was gorgeous, and generally enjoyed Anna teasing Anton.

Klauds said "Peter" for the first time.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Craig and Chiara with whom I spent an impromtu Saturday evening. Excellent company, the pair of them. This is in my local The Battle of Trafalgar. They seem to love each other.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Sickening writer's dream: I'd had 32 pages of poems published in a book. (I remember the time I used to dream of entire books being published but that's another story.) But when I looked at the book the poems had been chopped and changed, and the stanzas wrongly ordered and half the poems disappearing from the foot of the page etc. Felt utterly galled.

The dream recalled the The Cream of the Troubadour Coffee House incident. When I looked at my poems in this anthology they had been "edited" so that for example my reference to hearing the Jerbourg foghorn in Guernsey got changed to Cherbourg in France, my biography had been largely invented, and the book's cover was verging on the gratuitously pornographic.

Theo's leaving do in The Dove. Slipped away early from work with Tracey. Had a quiet chat with her in the terrace by the river before the mobs descended. I keep thinking she and MJ would really get on, and telling her this I snapped her with my cameraphone for posterity.

The Dove is a great little pub with its dark unspoiled interior, and its fire in the winter. Always makes me feel as if I should be discussing smuggling or something vaguely piratical. It also has what claims to be the smallest bar in Britain. Nice altogethery night with about 18 of us out, mostly from the creative department. Theo being really positive and cheery which was nice to see after having been "let go".

By satisfying co-incidence Rosie was reading from printouts of very funny story about pirates she'd found on the internet. I will ask her on Monday who wrote it.

After what was a lively last day Theo and his wife decided to leave and somebody started singing for he's a jolly good fellow. He was then sung rousingly and rather touchingly from the pub. The party broke up shortly after and Ash and Phil, me, Benny, Hazel and Liz swooped on a nearby Thai restaurant. Lots of scarfing followed by a very late surge to Victoria station. Said goodbye to Phil at Victoria and had to lurk unhappily till 1.00am before I could climb aboard the train and sleep like a overfed baby till I reached Brighton at 2:30.

Tracey outside the Dove.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Slow crawl to London in thick fog, with a visibility of 20ft in places.

However the whole carriage laughing at the guard and driver's conversations which were accidentally broadcast repeatedly throughout the train without them realising. The discussion of whether to talk to the passengers or not was quite funny, and then hearing the following "proper" announcement. The train was halted in a tunnel for some time as somebody had driven into a bridge somewhere and all the trains had to stop.

Work okay, although ended up staying late, but broken by an enjoyable swim at lunchtime.

The French Bloke in the doghouse today for drinking with me after work yesterday and meeting with a less than rapturous reception on collecting Max from her nightclass.

Spoke to Mum from Heathrow airport on her way to see the Tobster and Romy in Toronto. Phoned Mase this evening who was telling me about some excellent Cossack Dancing show they'd seen the night before in St Albans.

Spoke to MJ a couple of times today. She is being cheeky again, demanding chocolate and flowers, which a good sign. She is now also armed with an old-school mobile with an aerial. For some reason I am enjoying the mental picture of her with an aerial protruding from her hair.

Reading more of Joy Harjo on the train. I do like some of her work a lot.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Work fairly reasonable. Went for a walk with Pat at lunchtime along the river, talking about how to manage stress. I am making it my business to try to get out of the office for some species of exercise every day, even if it is just a walk.

Left work on the dot, but was intercepted by the FB and ended up having a few exceedingly enjoyable drinks with him before leaving for home. Talking of many and various matters.

Back in Brighton and an unimpeachable meal of fish and chips and mushy peas. The fare of the gods. Fell asleep for a bit then enjoyed speaking to a cheerier-sounding MJ till 1.10am. I love her.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Went for a walk by the river in my lunch hour. Discovered a memorial to the International Brigade volunteers from Hammersmith and Fulham who died fighting the Fascists in Spain in 1937. Looked quite new, and I wondered how it came to be there. Also saw a mud-covered laptop computer at the edge of the river, which will make a strange fossil one day.

Spoke to MJ on my return to work. She was in the throes of moving out of her house and feeling very upset. In the background was the snarl of a chainsaw chomping through the garden. Wish I could have been there for her.

Work dull and frustrating, and was happy to leave. Once in Brighton walked down to Kemptown where Kate had stayed and collected her phone charger from the hotel. Nice area, and I did some food shopping there and walked back past the Pavilion all lit up through the lanes to my twitten. Ate noodles and watched TV like a zombie before talking to MJ, now at her brother's place, before sloping off to bed.

No pasaran.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Very nice Sunday. Got up early with the sun streaming into my bedroom. Pottered about drinking coffee tidying things for a while. Decided to write, but the coffee made me too antsy so I lurked in my front garden deadheading roses and sawing at a buddleia bush which had grown from nothing in a few weeks.

Kate, who'd been catching up with friends in Brighton this weekend, called around and we went out for a walk. Saw some doors into vaults in a graveyard which I'd not noticed before. Then down to the seafront in the sun. Katie excellent company as ever. Generally put the world to rights, and this having been done, fell on a large Sunday roast of beef, Yorkshire pudding and nine vegetables in the courtyard garden of The Black Lion.

Kate back to London, then phone conversations with Mase, Mum and MJ. Anton and Baby Klauds called around. She is now walking about all over the place, scattering raisins and conducting the business of being adorable.

Popped out late with Anton to The Eddy for the last shreds of the weekend. He said that he was going to note major events, timings, sports winners, so that should he get transported back in time he would be able to capitalise. Strange man.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Beautiful day today. Breakfast and the paper, then off to down to the lanes and started haggling over the lost diamond. Jeweller apologetic and I am confident we can come to an agreement, well worth talking to the consumer advice people beforehand.

Thus buoyed, walked down to the pier and drank a coffee looking at the sea and the blue sky. Then down to the beach. Momentarily fascinated by a steaming pile of edible crabs which had just been removed from a vat of hot water. Watched a couple of lobsters being popped in and felt quite sorry for them.

Outside the mall was an operatic group singing extremely well to promote their forthcoming concert. They'd attracted quite a crowd, hung about a bit enjoying the singing, and thinking again what fun Brighton is. Standing next to an older lady who chuckled with glee when they began a popular classic, and nudged me happily saying "that's more like it!".

Off to buy some spiky star-shaped lightshades. Home later, had a long chat with Toby, daubed a watercolour painting, and slept on my sofa for an hour. Feeling very chilled.

Before bed spoke to MJ who was shattered after having worked all day at her sale.

Drinking bleary cups of tea with Kate and the FB in the morning, me smelling like a marshmallow after randomly selecting a shower gel. Early to work from Ealing, travelling in with the FB. Faintly autumnal morning, me and the FB walking through a crowd of small children in school uniforms and talking about stepfathers.

Once at work, I snuck off to the chiropractor to receive a damned fine cracking. Enjoyed the walk by the Thames, feeling pleasantly philosophical and returning with a snakily flexible spine. Bumped into Mike who was off to the pub to commiserate with one of our sacked colleagues. Joined them briefly and, this done, back to work.

Extremely happy to get home early after three nights out in a row. Spoke to my lovely MJ, and headed upstairs for an early night.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Work... Slugged in late due to abject inability to catch the train on time.

Reuben sent me a link for his new site with photos of his son Serge, which is excellent. A Bag of Helicopters.

Work fine, and left with the French Bloke and Max for their excellent new home in Ealing. Went off shopping with the FB for food and wine. Returned and First Matie had appeared and we had a splendid night centred about the FB cooking prawns and beef in a Chinese-style frenzy. The best thing was the broccoli which he cooked with ginger and lime juice and was the nicest broccoli I have ever tasted. Also Kate was seen eating exotic stringy japanese mushrooms without gagging.

The four of us sat about in the kitchen drinking wine while Michel cut up the food. Max absolutlely radiantly cheerful about being pregnant, and still managing to forget herself and spring vertically into the air from time to time.

After much feeding the FB showed Kate and me the photos he and Max had taken in Croatia. And it looked extremely cool. Loads of chat of course and at one point the FB and me becoming sorrowful at the demise of the Library of Alexandria.

To bed, and the chance to phone my lovely MJ who I am missing horribly, and who is engaged in the arduous and emotional business of clearing out her things from her home. One of the worst things about this long distance business is not being able to help in a crisis.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Early to work for a client meeting. Spent lunchtime beginning my investigation of how to recover the diamond. Got some good advice and am ready to go into the lanes and have a conversation this weekend about self-destructing jewellery.

After work the fine sight of Matty Boy standing outside the Blue Anchor in the sun munching twiglets laced with marmitey goodness, and reading the fab new Berliner-style Guardian.

Gradually moving inside to our favoured dim and furtive corner. Joined by Katie and the French Bloke, Craig, Ciara and Taranjit. Had lots to say to Craig, what with him being American. Always enjoy his company and he is particularly well-informed about international affairs. A certain amount of jollity in there, followed by the long lurch home to Brighton, where I availed myself for the second day running of a Chinese takeaway.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Feeling much improved today. Big all-agency meeting late afternoon at the Riverside Studios, thence to The Rutland where I enjoyed hanging out with various work people and toadied appropriately from time to time. Home late to Brighton and a Chinese takeaway.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dragged myself kicking and screaming from bed and set off to work. Picked up a copy of the Berliner-format Guardian today which was excellent. Reading a book of New York poetry and gazing from the train.

Work actually was fine, although as I got into the lift there was someone waiting for me so I was diverted to a meeting before I'd even reached my desk. Nice, however, to see Mike and chat briefly to the FB and lovely blooming Max.

Male members of the creative dept sneaking around to the TV dept. to watch the final day of The Ashes, which unbelievably England has won for the first time in sixteen years. This is a cricket game played over several weeks between England and Australia. And derives from this mock obituary placed in The Sporting Times after an English defeat.

In Affectionate Remembrance of ENGLISH CRICKET,
which died at the Oval on 29th AUGUST, 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P. N.B. - The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.

Left work like a greyhound from a trap and made it home just as MJ was calling me on my mobile. We were discussing how nice it would have been if she was waiting for me in the Twitten. Oh well. One day.

Ate a pile of pasta tonight. Although tired and sorethroaty still, I feel considerably better than last week.

Some silliness at Anton's house. Brian, me, Christian and Anton.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Recovering well now. Went up the road last night for Anton's official birthday celebrations. Brian, Christian and Jane were also guests, and we had a really good time. Anna cooked an exceptionally nice Caribbean meal with two chickens -- one with jerk seasoning and the other with tamarind seasoning, plus there was rice and peas, plantain, cornbread and so on. Yummy. And a matter of pride for Anna having lived in Barbados when a child.

Then a vast chocolate and fruit cake.

Sunday morning and Brian, Anna and Anton were banging on my door. Cup of tea and then out to the park, picking up Christian and Jane en route, for breakfast. After eating Anna persuaded me not to go back to bed but to go to the Brighton & Hove food and drink festival, "a Taste of Sussex" event. There I bought some nice fishcakes, a jar of lemon marmalade, and Japanese tea.

Home and set about some chores have piled up since I was ill. Poked about in my tiny front garden for a while.

Spoke to MJ, and this afternoon she is going to read three poems at a 9/11 event, and leave some flowers in memory of her friend Joyce who died that day.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

To the doctor. Told I had a virus. And that recent blood tests were normal. She also gave me a lecture about stress and taking deep breaths and then blood pressure taken and this normal "for a nervous patient like you". Grrr. But oddly reassuring. I know, however, that I am heartily sick of hanging about at the quacks.

Otherwise the day spent snoozing, listening to the radio, messaging MJ about a wide variety of things, and reading. Which would have been an excellent day apart from feeling dire.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Still a bit rough. Stayed at home. Spoke to Anton this morning, and was called by work who said there had been some redundancies but I was okay. Glad I wasn't there today. Slept off and on till noon. Temperature gradually coming down to normal as the day went on.

Spoke to Janet this evening, who has got back from visiting her sister in BC. Arranging to meet up when I am perkier. Also spoke to Mum who pointed out that there was a new moon to be seen today so I should steal out to howl and dance in the approved family tradition. Imagining the resultant Fortean Times article... The Terror of the Twittens

Actually I couldn't see it so walked down to the station craning at the sky till I glimpsed it over the rooftops and thought of my grandmother in the back garden in Guernsey bowing and circling and rattling coins in her cupped palms.

We never stood a chance of turning out normal.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Back in the UK. The plane flying at dawn over a misty and mysterious-looking land. This soon developed into a lovely bright morning, with an Autumnal freshness.

Developed very high temperature in Newark airport and felt dreadful on the plane. So dreadful that I hardly noticed the turbulence. Zombied my way home, climbed into bed and slept most of the day waking up occasionally to discover I was drenched in sweat. Feverish dreams of being lost in North America and wondering where I could stay, and then of earthquakes, and most bizarrely that there was a self proclaimed King of Brighton.

Spoke to Mike, Anna, Mum and MJ, who I am missing horribly.

Back to bed now. Will fill in the gaps shortly...

Went a few doors down the road to have coffee and cake with Mr and Mrs Porter, who gave me a big hug and a kiss when I came in. They are old friends of the family and are very warm and loving towards MJ and the children. I really enjoyed meeting them, and they made me feel very welcome. They have many of their children and grandchildren on the block, in some ways it must be nice being at the centre of things and being surrounded by your loved ones.

Mr Porter is a retired policeman who worked in New York, and I enjoyed it when the conversation drifted to dogs and he told us how one of his partners was off work for a month after a lapdog bit him in the rear. He also described telling the owner of the big and rather evil dog on the block that he would shoot it if it attacked him or any of the children locally.

Unfortunately we were only able to stay for a short time before we had to leave. Mrs Porter observed that the perfect blue of the day was a 9/11 sky. It is on the mind of many people including MJ of course. And this other disaster unfolding in the South is bringing those feelings to the surface again.

Bade farewell to Jack and MJ at Northport station. Didn't want a long drawn out goodbye. Saw them drive away and waited in the sun for the train and to start the now familiar journey to Penn station, where I managed to get lost but still make it just in time for my connection to the airport.

My ticket had the wrong terminal on it, but apart from this checked in fine. But in the space of about twenty minutes I went from feeling like I had a mild sore throat to burning up and feeling shaky.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Start of the journey... The train at Northport station

Last full day in the US. Met MJ's pal Kadabra today, who I liked a lot. Very interesting, sunny and friendly. Then Lia who is also very nice, and I'd met once before came by with her twin daughters. Lots of talk about New Orleans and the horrors of the week over a glass of wine.

Eventually the children decided to play chirades, which was generally hilarious. One of the twins lay face down on the floor and explained after a while that she was a speed bump. Inevitably Jack and Kate's were Gothic. Kate was first the grim reaper, then later a dead cheerleader. Jack was his dead grandmother, and then gave a most inspired rendition of Isadora Duncan at her moment of death.

In the evening we dropped Jack and Kate off with MJ's brother Michael. Then MJ and me stole some time alone, trying not to feel sad about tomorrow's separation.

Monday, September 05, 2005

MJ's birthday today. Weezer came from Brooklyn armed with a Shamanic Soulmate Wand, which she said she'd hung over Troy's bed for years with the crystal pointing down at his sleeping head. The wand has the aforementioned crystal, swans' feathers and little bells on forked antler-like branches. Weezer had placed this in my safe keeping and I am to return to the UK with it.

Weezer, MJ the kids and me then zipped into Northport. Weezer and me bought a cake, even having them write happy birthday in blue as per MJ's detailed instructions. Then more shopping and back home. MJ and I settled happily in the kitchen drinking wine with Weezer who prepared a delicious beef wellington. Really enjoyed this part of the day.

MJ and me took a short walk to the seven eleven and MJ picked up a crucifix from the sidewalk. It had the word FRANCE on the back.

Then MJ's guests arrived. Kathy aka Velmar, Keith and their son Mark and Bridie and her boyfriend Peter. Lots of lovely food and good cheer. A bout of ladies arm wrestling broke out with MJ putting up a suprisingly good show against the mighty Velmar, despite her sparrowy attributes.

Meanwhile Jack, Kate and Mark thrashed at the piƱata that Jack talked Weezer into buying at the supermarket. Soon the floor was covered in corn candy through which the kids scampered and slid happily.

Later after our guests had gone, MJ, Weezer, and me became engaged in examining our hands while consulting a palmistry website. None of us were any the wiser after.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

To the Walt Whitman Mall. I'm sure the boy Walt, who comes from these parts, would have been proud.

There we sang the body electric and bought sneakers for Kate. I enjoyed the shop called Athlete's Foot for thoughts of itchy fungal conditions always make me want to spend money. But mainly we looked at a plethora of rings until MJ spied one made of CZ to act as a temporary replacement. Also ate in a restaurant there too, which was fun. Later we stopped at a 99 cents store where Jack and Kate bought presents for their mother. True to form Kate made a beeline for the dolphins, she also chose a scarf. Jack bought a cut glass bird to reflect the light and a statue of a horse, in the style of the dragon he bought her last year.

Jack was coveting a long grabby device with pincers. I made the mistake of buying this only to watch him tormenting Kate with it for an hour until it was confiscated.

Then to the Stop and Shop supermarket where I bought flowers for MJ, and the nice woman behind the flower counter gave Kate a rose. A woman from the bar yesterday said hello to me in the supermarket, which made MJ look momentarily dangerous. I liked this.

Home and in the evening we played scrabble again, with MJ managing a win, and spoke to that nice Johanna. Used my camera phone to film clips of everyone which Jack and Kate enjoyed.

My story now to be seen at Quantum Muse, but they have not put in the italics so it reads a little strangely.

Kate with monster bag of candy in the Walt Whitman Mall.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Anton and Maddog's birthdays today. Texted them both from afar.

Yesterday got MJ to bury her sparrowy elbows into my shoulders and stiff neck which gave rise to the idea that I should get a massage. Went off to a place called The Emerald Door where I was relieved of $90 and a good deal of stress. Had a deep tissue massage and enjoyed the dissonance of the therapist asking me if I played baseball in her forthright New York accent amid the sandalwood fumes and new age wave music. But when I was collected by MJ and the bairns I was so relaxed I could hardly speak.

In the afternoon off to The Shack and ate a burgery chicken thing under the trees by the side of the road. Driving there Kate and I played I spy for a bit, which was good as I have been afflicted with a mysterious invisibility until that point.

After we dropped the kids off with their father we spent the evening looking at costume rings to put on MJ's finger till we can get another diamond, none fit however apart from one in the children's section.

Later we went to see a horror film called Skeleton Key which had me shifting uncomfortably once or twice. MJ however won a Top Cat and what may have been huckleberry Hound (which MJ says is called Droopy Dog) from one of those snatchy crane games before the show.

Today, Friday, MJ's back was terrible, but she received a birthday voucher for a free chiropractor visit through the mail and used this. We are reflecting one another's afflictions.

Reading MJ's poetry books today. One I liked was by a woman with native American influences called She had some horses by Joy Harjo.

The pseuds corner style blurb on the back made me want to laugh out loud.

This is not a book. It is an opening into woman light, into hatching, into awakening... Who touches this book touches a woman. etc.

However some of the poetry inside was really good. Fresh and direct. I liked this from Skeleton of Winter a lot:

These winter days
I've remained silent
as a whiteman's watch
keeping time
an old bone
empty as a fish skeleton
at low tide.
It is almost too dark
for vision
these ebony mornings
but there is still memory
the other-sight
and I still see.

In the evening I went to Main Street bar to meet Chris, the children's father. He didn't show up. I enjoyed being there, however, and was talked to in a friendly way by some of the locals.

Then home to play scrabble with Jack and MJ. MJ replaced by a highly-competitive being bent on destroying the opposition, and who had the gall to challenge the veracity of my words. Fortunately I thrashed all comers. This burned MJ so we had to stay up late and yawning until she fluked a win.

Audrey on my lap. She loves me and woke me up one night licking my knee