Monday, July 31, 2006

Woke up very early, and watched the pink dawn through my window. Decided on an appropriately lazy Sunday. Went with the family to Moulin Huet Pottery again, where Toby and Romy bought a bean jar, and I bought a pale green mug and a thing for keeping garlic in.

Quickly walked down to the top of Moulin Huet before going for lunch at La Bella Luce. Feeling very tired today for some reason. Sloped off towards my hotel taking a few photos en route, and then slept for a couple of hours, finished a poem for the first time in months, and did some more meditation.

We collected Betty Tostevin, and old friend of the family tonight for roast beef in the Les Douvres.

Below... Pink dawn; a view of Moulin Huet; Mum and Toby and Romy; leaf shadows on the lane.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Everyone into town this morning. Mooching about and talk of spending sprees but nobody bought anything much.

After a quick lunch served by a cheerful Latvian waitress. There are loads of Latvians in Guernsey at the moment for some reason. Toby, Romy and me decided to go for a walk. Walked from St Peter Port to Jerbourg along the cliff path. Quite a pleasantly cool overcast day, with some light rain.

Lovely walk, but when I got to Jerbourg I got really out of breath and slightly vertiginous again walking straight up the cliff from sealevel in the rain. But then went to the Jerbourg hotel and enjoyed a cream tea, before setting off again down the back lanes until we reached the wishing well at the top of the waterlanes.

Made a wish, but looking back it was a bit of a wishy-washy Buddhist-influenced wish. Romy made a wish too, but Toby didn't. The water was a bit rank it has to be said. We went down the waterlanes and back to the hotels. Home for a shower and another bob in the pool before meeting up with the others we all went out to La Croix Guerin and had a very cheerful night there. Afterwards Toby, Romy and me snuck off to the Captains for a Pony Ale, and a Baileys for Romy.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

What could be nicer than kippers in the morning? Scarfed these then a quick scoot along the cliffs from Icart and then to the Barbarie to meet Mum and Mase.

Today Mason was forced to do walking by Mum. We walked down towards Moulin Huet and popped into the Pottery place. I earmarked some things I would later buy as Mase fell into a deep conversation with the owner, as he used to work in ceramics when he was a teenager.

Mum and I left him there still talking and walked down to Moulin Huet beach. It was high tide, and we paddled painfully on sharp rocks and stones for a bit. Lovely to be down there however.

Back up the steep hill to find Mase in La Bella Luce who was drinking coffee and deep in conversation with one of the staff. Had two halves of shandy, then walked through the little lanes past my old school, and the Nazi bunker that stood in the playground when I was a nipper.

At the Old Post I popped into Ogiers. The rather flirty ladies there told me the larger sizes were upstairs. Indignantly asked them if I looked like I needed the larger sizes but went upstairs and found a very nice blue sweater.

Back to St Martin's church. Mum rubbing the head of the Gran'mere. I wanted to look inside the Church again having mostly been in it for funerals. A nice little place, and I took some photos of the light falling through the windows. Then food! Over the road to a cafe called La Criox Guerin which has normally been a magnet for ladies drinking tea and gossiping. It now has a new chef, so everyone gets nice food too. A very pleasant homemade steak and ale pie there, and we all liked it. Especially Mase.

We walked back to the hotel and after a bit Romy and Toby appeared looking surprisingly fresh. Very nice to see them of course. I had a quick walk with them along the cliffs till we got to my hotel, where I stopped for a short snooze and a shower.

Back to the Barbarie later, for another cheery feed. Toby and Romy doing well against the jetlag. Walked home and stood again in the dark at Icart Point before returning home. Lovely way to end the day.

Below Toby and Romy looking like they are on an album cover; Icart Point in the morning with my shadow; Moulin Huet.

A cliff view with the dog and lion rocks; Moulin Huet again; window in St Martin's parish church.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Woke up having slept like a large baby, due to the deep quiet of this edge of the island at night. Sloped downstairs to consume a full English and coffee and returned to my room to be booted and out by 9.00am.

A shining, fresh and bright morning. Walked to Icart Point again, alongside the field full of rabbits and magpies. Called First Matie with an aural postcard (her and Gav having stayed here on holiday recently).

Having walked these cliffs on and off all my life I was a bit surprised to be gripped by a paralyzing surge of vertigo after walking on the path for a few minutes. Took me a while to get a grip and walk back to the headland. Once in a blue moon I am ambushed by a sort of agoraphobia but usually when I am really stressed. This dates back to when I was four or five, when I was living in Guernsey. I went through a patch convinced I was going to fall up into the sky and so had to walk about holding onto the hedgerows.

Anway, I walked inland for a while, but later in the afternoon returned to the cliffs for two hours and was fine again. Apart from that one minute, a had an incredibly nice day. Walked to St Martin's Parish Church to see the Gran'mere. I only feel like I am properly back on the island when I've said hello to her. (Photo coming shortly).

After walking for 4 hours or more, went back to the hotel and made some time to meditate with my eyes open. I spent half an hour or so by the open window of my hotel room looking out over a potato field, with the wind catching the curtain. I think the process created an indelible mental snapshot.

Made me feel good, but I am mindful of what the Rinpoche said that beginning your practice again is like taking a shower, and a lot of dirt comes off you to begin with.

Then had a quick snooze then had a quick bob about in the bath-hot hotel pool before showering and going out again. As I walked down the lane I saw the plane coming into land which I knew had Mum and Mason on board.

Wandered up to La Barbarie hotel where they were staying and sat in the bar quietly quaffing a cold pint of bitter and reading a pocket copy of the Tao Te Ching given me by Liz till they arrived after half an hour or so.

Really nice night in La Barbarie, eating big food and having a few drinks. M & M insisted on walking me back to my hotel after down the dark lanes. As they left I nipped out around the corner to Icart Point again, listening to the soft seethe of the wind passing through the pine trees. The sky moonless, with the swathe of the Milky Way and crowds of stars over the dark sea, and all this poetic stuff left me feeling very happy indeed.

Below, Jerbourg from the cliff path.

Two views of La Gran'mère du Cimétière outside St Martin's Parish church

Thursday, July 27, 2006

After a very few hours of sleep woke up early and was surprisingly organised. Got to Gatwick in good time. The hop over fortunately very brief although I did have the obligatory bout of existential horror for a couple of moments.

Nice taxi driver to the Saints Bay Hotel, talking about what it is like to return to the island. He worked at sea for years and had his own rituals for returning. I checked in quickly at about 1:45pm and soon had my boots on, then marched up to Icart Point to begin a big walk. Very still hazy weather, and all afternoon there was the rumble of distant thunder that never reached the island.

Despite being in the place I love the most, I found myself in a violently bad mood. Not quite sure why. Perhaps triggered by yesterday's tomfoolery at work. But I think it suddenly hit me how incredibly stressed I'd been feeling for months on end. If meditation is about bringing the mind home, there is something doubly powerful about bringing yourself home physically and mentally too.

Took this strange mood out by stumping up and down the cliffpaths hardly noticing anything. Pausing only for a slice of Guernsey Gâche at the kiosk by Saints Bay and then from then hurried in the stifling heat over the cliffs down to the beach at Moulin Huet. This is where I learnt to swim as a child. Perhaps it was because I got so hot climbing the cliffs but the water felt freezing. Shamed by some pensioners happily swimming about I plunged into it. My ribcage completely seized up and I could not breathe for several seconds. When my breath returned I used it to yelp in horror. I ended up in the water for about 20 minutes though.

Much clambering and and cliffpaths and stairs later I returned to the hotel for a quick snooze. Got up to have a single beer and a plate of Guernsey crab salad, which was excellent. After this walked back throught the little roads and ruettes heading for the graveyard to sit with my grandparents for a bit, which I always do when I go back. Walking here sets off so many tripwires of memory. This evening noticed a distant uncle's initials in a wall he'd built in 1952.
Strode up the lane where the ghost of a she goat is supposed to lurk, and past my grandparent's old house. The plants in the hedge are the same, and I found this comforting.

After sitting in the graveyard for a bit, opted for an early night feeling very tired having been so stumpy on the cliffs. Me returning in twilight from the graveyard and my favorite "door into nothing" on the Icart Road at twilight too.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

For some reason, the Gods conspired to give me a wretched day at work. I slogged for ten hours without break on copy, pausing only to be part of a half hour argument/meeting that made me so angry I could hardly speak. Stupidly I have pointed to an elephant in the room, that a big communication stream we've created is simply wrong in strategy, tone and content, which didn't make me very popular. The thought that I will be in Guernsey tomorrow sustained me.

Evening not quite as planned. Plan A was to have a copy shop reunion on wheels, i.e. having a drink on the Brighton train with the copy shop. But both Reuben and Kate had to cancel. But all was well, after stomping late out of work I met Matty and American Craig and Matt and his friend Sophie outside the Blue Anchor for a few glasses of Magners cider over ice and at some point I stopped wanting to murder everyone, which was nice. Matty is a magnet for silly jokes that I love. What's this? he asked me, twisting his wrist and making brmm... brmm... noises. A moto(w)rist! I think he is funny anyway.

Ended up with Matty boy in the Agni. He's doing well despite all the sadness over T and him not working out. We fell into conversation with one of the guys at the restaurant, after I asked him about a Hamuman monkey god/clock combo on the counter. Photo below.

Next stop Guernsey. Am not taking my laptop but may find myself able to update at some point in the next week.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Chilled Sunday. Anna, Anton and the bairns called around and we went to the Sunday market by Brighton Station. Lots of tatty stuff, but plenty of interesting bric a brac, and odd objects too. I ended up buying a record for 50p and some sandalwood beads from the stall of a Tibetan Buddhist. Very nice guy. Turns out Sogyal Rinpoche was known to him and a friend of his family.

After this we all went off to Bills for breakfast. Read papers and drank coffee and excellent fruit juices and salmon and scrambled eggs. Klaudia making me laugh by picking decorations from a fairy cake, licking each individually, and pulling a disgusted face.

After this I spent a happy day pottering at home. Slipping out to order a new leaf green rug for my bedroom and looked at some furniture made from driftwood but couldn't work out where to put it in my house.

Also started packing for my trip to Guernsey, which I am looking forward to immensely. Confession time: spoke to Mum today and told her about the chocolate Romy had given me for her. It is still in my cupboard. If you read this Romy, I am hanging my head in shame.

My friend Aimee has started a blog, which I have added to the list on the sidebar -- called Notes from a Sandy Country well written and an interesting insight into Dubai life.

Matty boy texted me that he and Taranjit are not a couple any more this weekend too. That's a shame.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Anton said that Baby Klauds wanted to go to the Farnborough International Airshow today, so Anton, Brian, Baby Klauds and me went today. Klaudia, Anton said, was particularly interested to see the new Airbus A 380.

A drive of about an hour and a half, listening to a CD of nursery rhymes and children's songs. By the end of the journey The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round etc. had become a firm favourite.

Arriving at Farnborough the sky was a dark grey and occasionally flecked with lightning. We walked from the carpark as the red arrows started their display. A short bus hop to the airfield and the rain began, and it continued to rain heavily for the rest of the time we were there. Nicely, a woman in the ticket booth lent Anton a pink brolly. As we lurked about the place we bumped into Mick Ginty, a friend I'd not seen for years, who was there with his dad.

There were planes flying around against the thundery grey sky including the A380. Then there were some military jets which were so noisy that they made Baby Klauds cry out in horror. I happened to be holding her at one of these moments and she flinched into me. Made me think of Buddhism again. These incredibly sophisticated and frightening war machines are our fear of each other made into terrifying objects; engines of samsara. Just hearing them displayed was bad enough. If you were in Lebanon right now and they were screeching in to bomb you it must be absolutely terrifying.

We decided to escape from the noise a bit and hung out in the restaurant, where we paid exorbitantly for some horrid food. Despite all this we had quite a good laugh. The canteen restaurant quickly flooded with deluge dodgers till it was standing room only. To its credit, the airshow managed an impressive recreation of an airport when all the flights are cancelled.

We decided to cut our losses as Klaudia was loathing it. And we were all quite relieved to leave. Back in Brighton I returned home and caught up with housework before going back to Anton and Anna's place for an excellent evening with them and Brian. Anna cooked a lovely roast chicken and we chatted and drank and listened to records till late.

Above the Airbus A380. Below the Godfathers -- me (employing the pushchair's parasol as an umbrella) and Brian with Baby K in pushchair; Baby Klauds deciding she thinks airshows suck (random man with cowboyish hat in the background turned out to be Mick Ginty).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Working from home today so no sweaty schlepp up to London. It allowed me to focus on the breast cancer writing, which I did for most of the day. Slipped out at lunch to buy a can of paint and worked till five. Then at five, after a brief chat with Steve my next door neighbour I walked straight down to the sea and jumped into it.

After days of sweltering heat the water was warm (for the Channel) and I could have happily stayed in for longer, but I kept eyeing the sea advancing towards my clothes and had to come back in after a quarter of an hour or so. Heaving myself out I dried off in the sun watching people on the beach and in the water, and listening to the band playing nearby. A nice end to the working week.

Then off up the road to see Anton who had just returned from New York, Anna and Brian. We sat in their garden all night eating obscene amounts of Chinese food. Watched the recording of Anna and Baby Klauds talking about baby signing on TV. Anna very relaxed and normal seeming when she was interviewed. Klaudia being adorable of course.

Here is a snap of Brian with (a momentarily-horrified looking) Oskar.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Into work early wearing a crisp white shirt. The heatwave continues. I have been writing material for women who have breast cancer most of the week and although this is interesting it is something of a slogging copy job, and quite saddening subject matter.

Instead of a swim this lunchtime, I slid off for lunch at the riverside with Liz. Over some nice fishcakes we discussed creative writing. She is very keen to get going and have some advice. I have set her the exercise of describing the same event five times, using the different senses. I gave her the homework of reading Perfume by Patrick Suskind, a book which forefronts a sense (the olfactory) more than any other I can think of.

Back to work and one of my bosses told me to work at home tomorrow as I have thousands of words of copy to edit and write.

Had a chat with the Chairman and we got to talking about meditation. He said when he was doing martial arts, which he did to a formidable standard, he was taught to envisage a still mountain pool reflecting a mountain. The mind had to remain unrippled even in the middle of fighty stuff.

Off after work to meet Mad Dog in the Auberge at Waterloo. Had a sensible night walking off throught the back streets of the South Bank to Doggetts to play some pool. I worked hard at not attaching myself to the outcome of actually winning, and envisioned a mountain reflected in a mountain pool to reflect my steely resolve and unruffled calm. Got thrashed by Mad Dog as usual.

Then over the River to lurk in Fleet Street for a bit having several heart to hearts. Had a cheeky beer in the Cheshire Cheese too (built 1667) before drifting off for a quick curry. Then the call of the seagull grew strong in me and after snoozing on the train I was back in Brighton.

Here is a picture I took on the tube looking like the entrance to a black cathedral.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thanks to global warming the hottest July day ever in England today. It was bloody hot, and didn't feel like England at all. Lurked in at work today, keeping a low profile, scuttling out only to go for a long swim in the middle of the afternoon having broken off from writing about breast cancer.

Discovered that we did not win the car pitch I worked on lately. Apparently the strategy and creative was wonderful, but they couldn't agree on how much we wanted to be paid. Some of us a bit cheesed off at this, especially me as I wanted to be able to brag about winning a car pitch and never having driven a car. Lurked at work late this evening.

I played table tennis for a bit and ended up having a few drinks in the cool with the FB and Liz and several others. The FB passionate about the situation in Lebanon. But I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't think that Israel's response isn't entirely disproportionate.

First Matie phoned me from the Mulberry Bush in the South Bank where she was with Bryony. The Mulberry bush is a fairly grotesque boozer but was where Reuben me and Kate had our first ever drink together.

Strapped on a pizza nosebag with Olga and Liz afterwards, which was fun.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In good cheer as I walked through Hammersmith Graveyard to work, noticed some plots have been planted with red pelargoniums which really blaze out beautifully. Had a laugh at work most of the day, and contrived to slip away for a 40 minute mid-morning swim to beat the crowds that are increasingly driven to the pool by the heat at lunchtime. I am so lucky that my job can be flexible enough for me to just do that.

Worked through lunch but broke off to play some table tennis. There is a fiercely competitive league in the creative department and to my amazement I managed to beat the current champion. The last time I played table tennis was with Toby and he used to explode with rage if I won and there is a Toby-type personality in the league who smashed his bat the other day after losing.

Slipped away early and walked up the river to the Dove to meet Sarah. The heat made it feel like we were in somewhere like Greece. Had a lively evening of enjoyable argument with her while forking down another curry in the Agni and drinking intoxicating lime-flavoured drinks.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Hot day today in London. Quiet this morning, and had a nice swim at lunch for 40 minutes. In the afternoon I travelled into central London to present ideas for a childhood cancer job to a room full of earnest young women from a cancer charity. The ideas went down well fortunately. Cheerfully left the meeting at 5.00pm and decided to walk across central London to Victoria. It took me an hour but was preferable to squeezing myself into the sweltering tube trains.

Imagined myself to be a sightseer. In fact seeing London in a heatwave is a bit like seeing a completely different town. The parks full of people sitting in the shade of trees in the early evening. Walked down Old Bond Street and its shops full of impossibly expensive clothes and jewellery, and paused in a doorway to feel the cool blast of A/C. On the way to Victoria Station I passed Buckingham Palace too. Became taken by the scale of the statue of Queen Victoria dwarfing her visitors.

On the train back to Brighton listened to a downloaded BBC documentary about survivors of the tube bombings last year and their struggle to overcome the trauma. One woman with a bomb-blasted leg ran a marathon, another guy ditched his job as a salesman as he struggled with the aftermath. He become a Junior school teacher and sounded a good deal more cheerful with his life.

Been looking at a fascinating blog called Dancing Goat in Iraq which is of a US soldier who has just been posted near Baghdad. Well worth a visit.

Below, a street scene and Queen Victoria outside "Buck House".

Sunday, July 16, 2006

So much for a good night's sleep. Four youths chose the twitten to start copying a new rap at 1.00 am which one of them was playing on his phone. At one point they were all rapping at the top of their voices. My next door neighbour ended up asking them to stop because of his babies. They did, which I guess was nice. Would have all been quite funny if it hadn't been so bloody LATE.

Walking around town for two hours this morning. Boiling hot. Lurked in bookshops and looked at chairs and unsuccessfully sought a tin of exterior paint. Bought nothing.

Home and enjoyed listening to the first of an excellent two-part a dramatisation of the Name of the Rose on BBC radio. Later I decided to meditate with my special eyes-open Tibetan technique. After one minute was interrupted by my neighbour who had discovered a (probably stolen) spade in my garden. All these strange happenings don't make me feel very secure, and in some ways I am pleased Jack and Kate aren't here.

Resumed meditation but it made me want to sleep, despite my best efforts. I simply gave in and lay down and was spark out for a while. Then spoke to Mum for a bit who was drained after speaking to her Welsh neighbour.

In the absence of anything decent on TV apart from ghastly news from the Lebanon I found myself watching a The Lord of the Rings DVD. The orc-slaughtering is curiously comforting.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Another beautiful morning. The Channel looking an almost Mediterranean blue when I walked down towards the sea first thing to score a futon for my embryonic spare bedroom/study. I can pick it up in time for Toby and Romy to have something to sleep on when they stay.

Light food shopping, which included seaweed for miso soup, and then home. Very introspective day but exactly what I wanted.

A spot of sunbathing sitting reading the Guardian and then did jobs such as laundry, or waxing my floor. Then I struggled ineffectually with a poem. Research for the latter made me start reading about The Lighthouse of Alexandra one of the seven wonders of the world. I hadn't realised this was as high as a 40 story modern building.

Also consulted the I Ching which gave me as usual some very sensible advice. Then listened to the demo CD the soul singer gave me on the train the other day, and it was good. His name is Jawahall. You read his name first here.

Peaceful day apart from one interlude. I was listening to the radio at about tea time and a woman started screaming immediately outside. Went into the Twitten and discovered a young woman, swearing at her mother and I think her boyfriend. As I stood there she swore at me too for good measure as she stormed off screaming again. The other two apologised for her. I think she was drunk. Sudden uninhibited screaming, I decided, can be quite unnerving. Perhaps I will try it at work.

Going to have an early night. I must be getting old, but I am really looking forward to it.

Beautiful day again. Bumped into an art director pal called Yuk I'd not seen for some time. He showed me a clip filmed on his phone of a mutual friend Jez dancing the first dance with his wife at his wedding. Amazing really just how blasé we all are about having all this technology in our pockets.

Then into work and a last mad scramble of work till 3 o'clock, and then done at last. I went straight off for an enlivening swim before returning to the agency, which was in a very Fridayish mood. Sat chatting to Trace on the sofas but we slightly depressed each other talking about the failure of our last relationships. I then joined in the fiercely-competitive ping-pong frenzy which still grips the creative department and said farewell to the Gnome who is off to Spain.

A bit of leaving do tonight, and so lots of people lurking about in the work bar and sitting outside in the sun. I decided to join them, and had a few drinks with Phil, and then mingled more generally and getting talking to an interesting new Vietnamese guy called Tan.

Home late having tiresomely just missed my train, feeling empty and looking forward to sleep and simply being at home.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Working in a bit of a frenzy again today, but on some fun things. Made a good joke in the Blog I an doing for the agency: Spreadsheets and figures give me a nosebleed. Absolutely no idea about maths and stuff. I think it was something to do with a childhood dream about being chased by the number 20.588888888888... It was a recurring nightmare.

Anyway... you've got to make your own amusement these days. Seemed to be infected by a rash of poor jokes today. Discussing with a new client about his logo which is of flying seagulls and asked how they came up with it. He said they just asked a designer down the road: and birds was the result. So, I asked, the birds were going cheap then? I was told to leave the meeting at that point, but I remained.

After work off into Soho with Phil. A quick drink beforehand outside the Crown and Two Chairmen, the people spilling out into the street, and Soho so thronging and lively that it reminded me forcibly that London is a great city to be in. Then off to our traditional curry house with Arno and Ash, and found Marcella and Miranda waiting for us there. Much gossip hearing about Miranda's baby, and looking at photos of Marcella's cat, and hearing about Arno's partner's pregnancy and loads of industry gossip. All good fun.

Taxi back to Victoria and dozing on the train home.

Below, and somewhat randomly, and ice cube in Soho.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Early into work and a bit of preparation for the pitch. Brief chat with Trace about her week away meditating in a Greek island, then off in a rented car with the French Bloke, Rick and Hazel. Hadn't seen the FB for a while as he had been on holiday in France. Much general snickering in the car, arriving early and sitting in the car park. Then we presented to three women with dull cod-like faces for a couple of hours, and then set off again. Our presentation made all through lunch and we were offered nothing at all to eat which is just rude.

We diverted to the Bridge after the drive home where I was last Friday night. Copied the young brainiac Hazel and was rewarded with a nice tuna burger and sweet potato chips. Then back to the agency to take two new briefs. Glanced at the transcript of a telephone interview I had done recently. I don't seem to speak in anything resembling sentences. Left late and tired, after having had a beer in the bar, which only intensified another dratted bout of gloom. In Brighton late again, got a Chinese takeaway.

Listening to Piper at the Gates of Dawn as I write this, as Syd Barrett died recently. I remember being quite surprised when I discovered the title was the name of a chapter from Wind in the Willows. It's an innovative album, much wilder than all the turgid Brick in the Wall stuff that came later from Pink Floyd, and most of it written by Barrett. But it's disturbing too, like one big acid trip. Poor old Syd had a complete nervous collapse, probably due to too much LSD, and became a non-musician recluse for the rest of his life.

In other more cheery news Anna and Baby Klauds are on TV tomorrow. 1:30 pm on ITV1 doing their baby signing interview. Exciting stuff! I predict this to be the first of many Baby Klauds TV appearances.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Getting ready for the pitch tomorrow. Managed to sneak off for a swim, however, which was 40 minutes of pleasantness. Back to work, and then a pitch rehearsal, and got home at 10:00pm. I had to cancel my evening out with Caroline and James. At least I am doing the wretched thing tomorrow. Then I have to hurry back to the agency to accept a new brief with another mad deadline. I need a break.

Caught up with Alice for a bit. She showed me pictures of her baby girl who is very cute. Also spoke to Anton who is considering buying a hi-tech walking stick.

After the train slid over the Thames I looked east and saw the big Canary Warf Tower reflecting the fire of the setting sun. It sparked off a fleeting 15 minutes of tranquility and cheerful stillness. Then I listened to my iPod a download of a Radio 4 programme about pastoral poetry.

Eating cherries after standing in my tiny yard, which smells of jasmine and freesia. I need to be able to actually spend some time in it. But now I must go to bed as I have to be up with the sparrows tomorrow to do this sodding pitch.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Troubled by a series of dreams in which I calmly awaited my imminent death. After this motif had been repeated several times I woke up and discovered it was only 2:45. Feeling a bit disturbed, I got up and had a glass of water and began to read one of the appendixes of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and about how an admirable Buddhist dies with lots of meditation etc. Eventually I decided to risk falling asleep again, and more attentive readers will have already noted that I survived.

The morning found me wanting to stick needles into my eyes rather than schlepp off to London. But the next pitch is on Wednesday and I am presenting the creative work, so it was a reasonably good idea for me to be there. Didn't swim again though. Meanwhile The Gnome fell asleep while I was talking to him today. Twice.

Home shortly after 8:00pm and pottered about deadheading roses and cutting back the fuchsia which had prevented my gate from closing. And as I did so I could hear church bells as well as the usual constant yarping of seagulls. It was all so English and I felt like one of the bit part characters in an Inspector Morse episode, later to be found horribly mutilated in a potting shed.

Summer nights are very noisy in the Twitten. The seagulls shriek constantly all through the night. Then there is a cat who yowls persistently and piercingly outside the house opposite till he has woken up his owners. Usually this process takes ten minutes or more, invariably around 3 o'clock, and the powerfully-lunged feline never seems to give up or get bored.

Then there are the people. The late revellers lurching along the alley and talking too loud; or the night when I heard a strange rustling which, when I looked out, there was a man sleeping on a bed of plastic bags. He was a gent too. Leaving me and the people opposite a bag of buns each for letting him stay there. Then there was the startling groaning that echoed along the Twitten last summer which turned out to be a middle aged couple pleasuring one anther in my next door neighbour's tiny patch of front garden. Or then there are the police chasing villains, or people choosing the Twitten as a venue for explosive arguments.

Despite all that... I love it here.

Below a nice crop of the viaduct shot from the weekend.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Enjoyable day of doing almost nothing. Largely as a consequence of two lively nights out on the trot. A smidge of shopping, a spot of thinking about shelves and of course the world cup final between France and Italy. This I watched with Anton while sampling some of his admirable home made pizza.

Terrible Shakespearean business tonight of Zidane, the inspirational French captain being sent off for headbutting one of his opponents in a moment of madness. His intention was to retire from Football after the final, but instead arguably the best player of his generation leaves in disgrace, and France are beaten. No more world cup for four years. What did men talk to each other about before the world cup?

Sarah sent me a football link today from Monty Python which made me laugh. Sunday pre-work gloom descending, so an early night beckons...

Up this morning feeling slightly jaded to meet Anton and a new friend of his called Martin in the station. I began to feel better after gulping lots of water. We got the train to Haywards Heath and then a cab to the pub where Anton and I had left off on our Ouse way walk a couple of months ago.

Today the conditions were ideal, and we had a wonderful five hour walk under a spitfire sky; blue with big puffy clouds.

Martin was a nice bloke and also proved useful. He was, for example, skilled in dog management, dealing decisively with approaching hounds. He also claimed to be a mosquito decoy too, which was vindicated shortly after when he was bitten painfully by a horsefly.

The most beautiful view on the Brighton to London track is when the train goes over a viaduct which spans the Ouse Valley. The walk took us through this lovely valley and under the imposing brick structure, with 37 arches. It was completed in 1841, and made from 11 million bricks imported from Holland.

Ended up hours later sitting in the beer garden of a pub called The Sloop Inn while we waited for a taxi. As we climbed into it a rather refreshed older regular poked his head out of the door and said "Why don't you walk, you lazy gits", which was odd.

Easy journey back to Brighton and I had a short sleep and a shower and then Anton and me had a night out in Brighton. Anna and the bairns being up in Burton at her parent's place. Brighton in full swing, and everywhere busy getting on with being the party town it is. Seemed to be lots of hen nights going on. In the restaurant where we settled there was one group. The bride to be was wearing something faintly humiliating, while her girlfriends endured matching teeshirts.

We drifted around the lanes popping in here and there for a drink. Went into a Polish bar, where we drank a brace of those Zywiec bad boys and talked about Anton's Polish dad and how Anton is becoming less exotic now that the diaspora of young Poles includes many settling in the UK. Ended up at 12:40 in the Eddy which was was like joining a party.

Home. And definitely not needing to be rocked to sleep, Below a farm we passed, a field of sunbleached grass and horses with the viaduct in the background.

Underneath the viaduct. Martin. Anton with a pack of dogs behind him, and the penny coloured trickle of the Ouse.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The anniversary of the bombings. The tube was fairly empty this morning. I don't think there was anyone in London who didn't think of the 52 people who were murdered a year ago as they went to work.

Friday thank God. During the middle of the day it became clear that me and The Gnome wouldn't have to work through the weekend on our incontinence pitch, which would naturally have badly peed us off. Still, we did spend time discussing what people would think if they spotted two middle aged blokes running at high speed through the agency's revolving door while screaming.

Again no time for swims or lunch today. But I was sustained by the idea that suddenly it was a real Friday and a Friday in which I would go out with Matty boy and T and First Matie for a drink. And during the day cold beers kaleidoscoped in my mind like something in Homer Simpson's brain.

An excellent evening out. We all met up outside the Blue Anchor and we sat by the river, where the four of us were briefly joined by Craig. We then crossed the river to the Bridge restaurant where I dittoed Kate's order and ate a steak, and we drank chilled and exotic pink wines. I have most splendid friends.

Home on the late Brighton train. Decided to sit in first class (naturally without paying) next to an aspiring soul singer. We had a very funny chat. And he handed me a copy of his CD as he left, which I have yet to listen to.

Below Matty and T, Taranjit, and First Matie.

Friday, July 07, 2006

I declare today to be Samuel Beckett theme day: in which there is nothing to be said. Travelled to work. Worked all day without a break. Travelled home. "Nothing," as the crinkly faced Irish wonder said, "is more real than nothing."

For no reason, a picture of the inside of a London Piccadilly tube train tonight. This one quite empty as it was later than the rush hour.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Heavy rain and distant thunder in Brighton at 6am this morning. Turns out that the lightening had struck something to do with the railway, and resulted in a snailing 2 hours 40 mins journey into work. Funny how bad journeys come in spates. Must be Mercury going retrograde or something astrological. Just checked... Mercury went retrograde yesterday. Just call me Gypsy Rose Kenny.

Eventually into work and some dullard had cloned yesterday: The Gnome & me working on the incontinence pitch: a swim at lunchtime and a tetchy mood.

Homeward got on the same Piccadilly line train and everything was fine. Spoke to Anton who was wondering if he should download Paradise Lost to listen to as an Audio Book. And Di who called this evening which was a nice surprise, she is doing okay during her on-going separation.

Started a book called Nadja by Andre Breton, which is "a frankly autobiographical book", and the "quintessential Surrealist romance" according to the blurb. Looks quite interesting. Loved this bit from it, which is a riposte to what Breton calls "psychological literature":

"I insist on knowing the names, on being interested in books left ajar, like doors: I will not go looking for keys.....I shall myself continue to live in my glass house where you can always see who comes to call; where everything hanging from the ceiling and on the walls stays where it is as if by magic, where I sleep nights in a glass bed, under glass sheets, where who I am will sooner or later appear etched by a diamond."

Made me think how I try to be as transparent as possible in this blog. I live in a glasshouse and scratch my life on the panes, I thought in one of my more pretentious moments on the crawling train this morning.

Home and had a bowl of miso soup, which is a cleansing new dieting idea. Except after I finished I also ate almonds and strawberries and yoghurt as I watched France get through to the World Cup Finals by beating Portugal, who had the gal (arf) to overcome England in their last game. Now France will meet Italy in the final on Sunday and football will be over.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Emotional this morning on the train. Brooding about how MJ and me were engaged a year ago on Thursday, and this time last year she and the kids were over with me in Brighton. I still don't understand how something begun with such love could have ended so badly.

Anyway. Work not too bad. Locked myself away with The Gnome working on concepts for our incontinence product. Went for a swim, had a quick chat with Max and then melted away from work as fast as humanly possible.

Thinking about my engagement also makes me think about the tube bombs in London which happened the day after.

Coming home, I had one of my personal worst-case scenarios on the tube. Was in one of the smaller Piccadilly tubes and it got stuck in a tunnel as the preceding train had a fault. Absolutely airless, as it was the hottest day in London today. I was wearing shorts and sweat was streaming from my legs in the carriage. The paper said that due to 50% humidity on the tubes the temperature feels like 105 degrees in some of the tubes. I felt okay for the first five minutes or so but as it stretched towards 15, with no air and no movement in the silent and crowded carriage, I began to feel very claustrophobic and shaky. Thank God it moved before I began to climb the walls but horrible, horrible, horrible.

Home and there was an invitation to Caroline and James' wedding. And I am going to see them both next week, in Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which should be fun. Also spoke to Mad Dog today, who I am going to see next week too.

Thanks to swimming, I have a verruca. New treatment available these days. It allows you to freeze it off using a contraption that allows you to put a supercold pad on the offending wart. Amazing.

And a sad cybernote... The comment attached to yesterday's entry is from Badgerdaddy. He has deleted his blog, which is a great shame. I enjoyed reading Badgerdaddy's frank accounts of the the goings-on in Bungay.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Another strange night. Dreams that seemed extremely important about getting messages from dead people. I'd meditated before I went to bed, and I wonder if that had anything to do with it.

The heatwave continues. Wore shorts and a teeshirt into work. I had a moment this morning just as I was set to walk into the station of looking back down the road to the sea and feeling a tremendous loathing for the idea of going up to London. However, I have had a good Seagull-based idea for a longer prose project and started to scribble bits down on the train.

Work not too bad. People despondently discussing footie. However, Alice saying that she'd talked to Mark and was coming down next weekend to Brighton with baby Mya and her husband Mike.

The Tubes were packed and very hot. Apparently temperatures in the deeper tunnels reached 105 f, during the day which is not good. Went for a swim, and later interviewed someone who had cancer in her family for a charity piece I am working on.

Watching a programme about obesity this evening, while scarfing into some fairly modest noodles. Anna called saying that she and Anton had just bought some enormous pizzas... Found myself in no time up the hill eating pizza and drinking cold beer in their back garden on my personal obesity fast track.

Nice to be there with them. It is almost idyllic sitting in their garden. Anna feeding young Oskar. Baby Klauds being adorable, Trotsky the cat lurking about in the undergrowth waiting for moths, and Anton talking about our next walk, which should be this Saturday. We're hoping the heatwave abates. And Anna talking again about investigating becoming a life coach, and using her NLP skills. I want to be the first client.

And home to the Twitten and blessed bed.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Lazy Sunday in a heatwave. Late gorging of curry and gin and tonic meant that I was wide awake in the hot night from about 3:00am. Got up early and the bunk bed guy came and I helped him load the bits into his big car. Pottered about hoovering and dusting and stuff till mid day when a friend from work Mark turned up, having picked up a new motorbike nearby.

We went for a walk along the seafront. Really very busy, and crowded with baskers in the sun. Mark a nice guy, a writer too, and refreshingly thoughtful. Discussed the football for a while, deciding I think that it was a bad thing. Ended up going to a pub and drinking a pint of shandy and eating a roast beef Sunday lunch, which was a bit mad for a such a hot day, but tasted really nice. The veggies, beef and roast potatoes were served inside a circular Yorkshire pudding.

Mark very easy company, he'd lived in Brighton when he was a student, and liked my place. When he zoomed off to London on his new motorbike I had a very laid back evening.

Spoke to mum, who is toying with the idea of walking along Hadrian's Wall with her walking buddy. Hadrian's wall was built as the northernmost limit of the Roman Empire in the British Isles by the Emperor Hadrian. It was intended to separate the Romans from the Barbarians and was begun in AD 122. On the other side of the wall were various Picts and Celts and prototype sweaties of the worst sort.

On a family holiday as a kid I remember being driven alongside Hadrian's wall, and a big Vulcan Bomber emerged from the mist flying very low like an angel of death. One of those memory snapshots that will stay with me forever. I nicked this picture of a Vulcan from the interweb... They were finally withdrawn from service in 1984.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Up early and set about unbuilding the bunk beds ready for collection tomorrow. Much easier than assembling them was a year ago. Having done this, I went down to the seafront to see Barney and Robbie, work colleagues who were setting off to do a sponsored cycle ride for a children's charity. Robbie particularly impressed me by his "preparations" i .e. a massive hangover. I gave him the big bottle of water I had just bought as it was a blazing hot day, and he was totally dehydrated.

I walked about for a couple of hours, nosing in the Futon shop as I will need something to use as a spare bed now that the bunk beds are no more. Got a haircut too. Not too bad actually, although it was a large bald bloke who did it.

The afternoon given over to England's world cup quarter final against Portugal. I popped into the Eddie, one of the pubs very close to me, to sample the atmosphere just before going up to watch it with Anton on his big flatscreen TV with his pal Rick.

The Eddie, and Brighton, and the whole country was buzzing with happy anticipation. And inevitably it all went horribly wrong. The captain, Beckham, off injured, wunderkind Rooney sent off for stamping on someone, heroic rearguard action and -- unbelievably -- losing, yet again, on penalties. Just like they did in the European cup two years ago to the same opposition. Just like they do every other world cup tournament. Thank goodness for Buddhism.

After the game we sat in the garden in the beautiful weather. Got to hold Oskar for quite a while. Nice little chap he is. After the babes were put to bed, we ate delivery curries outside and drank cold wine and chatted. The football induced gloom quickly banished.

Below Barney in skeleton gear, Robbie with hangover.

There's something about a Friday which makes it easy to be well-disposed to the world. Beautiful sunny day, reading the newspaper on the train and revelling in the idea that I had a whole weekend to regroup. Was thanked for the slogging I had done recently and after finishing a few bits off, was briefed on another pitch. This one is for an incontinence product.

I had all the motivation of a planarian worm. I was able to respond to light however, so I slipped off to get an eye test. My eyes have been a bit rubbish lately and wanted to make sure all was healthy. Very thorough test, especially after eye pressure was on the high end of normal, which means tests every year in case I develop glaucoma. Very nice young Indian woman eye person. She asked me if I drived, and I said that embarrassingly I didn't. "I suppose," she said without a shred of malice, "that is a bit unusual for people in the older generation". Ouch. Anyhoo... Doddered about choosing some new frames and was relieved of cash by a buffoonish sales person.

Had some of those eyedrops which relax the eye and give you expanded, drug-crazed pupils. (Sounds like a day in the life of Toby.) Sitting opposite a mirror I looked at myself in a new blurry stylee and realised that my hair had tipped into ridiculousness. I felt a wave of panic envelop me: Nicki has selfishly stopped cutting hair to have a baby. I am clear I don't want a man cutting it, but I feel desolate and with nowhere to turn.

Went back to the office, Mr Magoo-ing it to the max, and didn't take my shades off, having the perfect excuse to do no further work. Watched smudgy footie instead, nursing a cold bottle of corona beer in the works bar. Argentina v Germany. Shame there wasn't a way that both could lose. Argentinians started a mass brawl (clearly a case of Argy bargy) after they were defeated on a penalty shoot out.

Wandered up the river to the Dove to meet Sarah. Lovely to see her. Lots of talking as usual, she claims to have new DNA, as she had recently been on a guided meditation. This has allowed her to reprogramme herself on a cellular level, which is nice. She also asserted that she has invented a new word "wh'evs". This is a contraction of the ubiquitous "whatever" (usually pronounced in a tiresome voice and a glottal stop replacing the t). Making it plural was a masterstroke. As a mature student she is excellently placed to feed this into the zeitgeist via impressionable young uns. You read it first here.

We went off to for a nice bite in the Agni on King Street, and then I set off to Seagullgrad (sorry humans I mean Brighton). Home and caught up on the footie - my eyes now functioning again, before tumbling happily into bed and becoming a Z-factory.