Friday, September 29, 2006

The tribes are in great danger

Heartily glad to have reached Friday. Work passed quickly and fairly easily, despite an extended transatlantic teleconference last thing with an obnoxious client. The bad news is that I am going to be locked into the living hell of a research group with him next week.

This cartoon by the Perry Bible Fellowship in the Guardian this morning made me snort with laughter on the train. It made me think of my late friend Tim who used to complain about whales and their regressive whining. I just love the way this cartoonist creates complete worlds in just a few frames.

Face time

Sociable day. Off at lunchtime to The Bridge restaurant to celebrate Liz's leaving. Lots of my favourite work people there, including Max the Mentor who I sat next to. Our numbers forcing a huffy rearrangement of the tables by the waitress. Had my first glass of wine in ages, which went straight to my head as I ate a microscopic and leathery rib-eye steak. Seized however the opportunity to repeat my joke about tree hugging and beeches.

After work I met the splendid Sophie at the National Portrait Gallery and at random we examined various portraits of Tudors. They all looked a bit ruff. Noticed Queen Elizabeth's peculiar hooded eyes, and how Mary Queen of Scots looked strangely sour. Then we went upstairs to the restaurant, which is a hidden treasure I'd never been to. It has a beautiful view of Trafalgar Square, down to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey all lit up and lovely. Had wine, snacks and coffee, and talked for hours. We got off on the wrong floor coming down and I briefly tormented Sophie with visions of being locked into the museum with all the eyes sliding around in the portraits.

Finally finished Jane Eyre on the train home. I find scenes of forgiveness get to me, and the ending is very satisfying, despite poor Rochester being symbolically castrated by losing his sight and his right hand. I can see why it has been such a popular book.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Thor and Dragan

Fortunately a quiet day at work as my energy was low. This, however, gave me a chance to work on the new radio play a little at lunchtime which was good. I have now completed a full first draft of The Secret Life of the Norse God Thor, and it is cohering nicely and for the first time has a completed plot. It is an idea I have been kicking around for ages, and have gradually added to in the last couple of years. Suddenly I can finish it though.

Andrzej Dragan, an excellent young Polish portrait photographer brought his portfolio into the agency. He says that he often takes several shots quickly in natural light, then spends days merging the different elements to create a composite photo. For example the base shot of one image was a portrait. The eyes were closed, but he took another one seconds later with the eyes open. He has superimposed the the open eyes onto the other image, and so on. Some extraordinary and edgy images.Look at the portfolio on his site.

It occurred to me that this technique is a bit more like painting, which layers time into the process of making an image, while you can argue that a normal photo is an instant captured.

Was emailed by Caroline, whose wedding I was sadly unable to go to last month, with some photos. She looks really good in them. There's a glamorous black and white one of her and James below. Skype with Toby tonight just before bedtime. And... Now yet another early night.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Gnome at the feet of Giants

Reading more about the root chakra at lunchtime, and I think I need to open mine up. And one of the ways to open it up, I discover, is to hug trees and imagine their roots. Perhaps I shall steal off tomorrow lunchtime for a quick cuddle with a conifer in the graveyard. Nothing eccentric about that is there? No sir.

There was a free folk CD with Mojo magazine last month called The Quiet Revolution. I don't know much about folk music, as it seems perilously close to Morris Dancing. And waving hankies and brandishing sticks at one another while dancing like white people is an offence against nature.

Anyway, there was track by someone called Davy Graham on it who was, I've learnt, a guitarist trailblazer in the sixties. The CD features an amazing, previously unreleased, track called Blues Raga, which was recorded in 1967. This reminds me slightly of some of Alice Coltrane's work. And as its name suggests, the tune is a bit like a raga, but played in a slightly bluesy way (hope this is not too complicated). Anyway, Blues Raga has been subject to heavy rotation in the Twitten since I got it at the end of last week.

Imagine my surprise when I played it to The Gnome today. The Gnome said it was rubbish because it didn't go anywhere, but he also mentioned that Davy Graham had been his guitar teacher. Apparently Graham was rather wild eyed, and starey. In their first lesson he wandered off for about twenty minutes having told the young Gnome to carry on. He returned some time later, evidently invigorated by some substance or other. The Gnome was still playing earnestly, until Graham burst out in wild laughter, which I don't think The Gnome liked very much. He never returned.

Off to bed now.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sent to Coventry

Listening to a hypnotic meditation on my iPod this morning, drifting towards London in a dream.

I met up with The Gnome and an account handler called Matt at Euston, then we set off for Coventry to present our first job to our new client. Their offices are near Warwick University, where I'd studied, and fortunately our concepts went down well. We then had to busy ourselves smiling as we were shown around the office and have empty seats pointed out to us and be told things like "that's where Jill sits".

I didn't really know Matt, before today. Interesting guy. He has converted to Judaism and is very sincere about his beliefs. The process took three years and lots of study, and six months in Jerusalem.

Back to London and Hammersmith, feeling brain-dead, tired and a bit sorry for myself. However walking to the station after work with Ferg made me feel a bit ashamed, as he is going through chemotherapy and is dealing with it with a lot of dignity and strength.

Lovely twilight: watching a jet land against a backdrop of a mauve, orange and purple sky as the train passed Gatwick airport, as I listened to an enjoyable BBC podcast about the Persian King Darius.

Home, and Katie and Gavin later called me to plan a trip down to Brighton to look at engagement rings.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Plotting on Sunday

Reworking another half-finished play this morning, and feeling cheerful about making some good progress. It's a good sign, I think, when the material makes you laugh as you write it. The plot suddenly has become clearer and how to finish it seems obvious. I may not have much energy at the moment, but what I have is being well used, and I feel creative.

After a few hours I needed to get out of the house, so I took myself off for a walk about town and to the seafront for some fresh air. The water was both dark and sparkly when I first saw it, and the tide was high. As I was walking about I had a long chat with Sarah today who, having got her first, is now deciding whether to do a PhD.

Very relaxed afternoon and evening. Watched the first episode of the dramatisation of Jane Eyre on BBC. Nicely done, and beautiful. This version charges through Jane's childhood and schooling in early part of the book. Some liberties, which are only to be expected, but fairly faithful I think. Have to hurry up and finish the book now, which I think is amazing. Mr Rochester's mind games are really strange, dressing up as a fortune teller, pretending he is about to be married to Miss Ingram and so on. It seems very modern somehow.

Bad hair day

More insomnia. However a productive morning, and beautiful weather. Did laundry, food shopping and got a bad haircut. I was rooted with horror unable to find the words to avert the bald man as he gave me some sort of strange womanly curl of a quiff. Some emergency work back home made it bearable. My nerves can't take this. And baldness is a bad sign in a barber; like a thin butcher.

A little later, walked up the hill to have coffee with Anton and Anna, and - vitally - be lent some more Frazier DVDs, as well as books on interior design. We went into the garden for a while, where they have a vine which has produced many bunches of small, sweet grapes. Also their peach tree which has lost a big branch under the weight of its fruit.

Spoke to Mum who had returned from her holiday. Among other things, they'd driven to her grandparents' old house outside Folkstone, and she sounded like she and Mase had a really nice time doing things like going to Canterbury by bus. In the evening, I laid low, conserving energy, and watching Frazier and football on TV.

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Gnome amongst clouds

Interesting clouds obscuring the tops of the low hills of the North Downs. And there were ridges of pale grey cloud against a dark background over the Thames as the train crossed over the bridge to Victoria. Very pretty. Other than gazing poetically at water vapour, I was snorting with laughter at an offensive article about Banksy the artist in the Guardian, which you can read here.

Fleeting interactions with people other than The Gnome today. Anton called to discuss his new object of desire: a Leica digital camera. And Matty called me too as I was coming home. Saw the French Bloke who has a cold, chatted to Max the Mentor briefly, and Trace.

The week ended in a pressurised slog, with The Gnome suggesting we use a garden gnome in one of our concepts. Sadly we were too stressed for me to exploit this for comedy purposes. Very pleased to have managed a full week at work though. It has been very productive considering I have been operating on half steam.

Home, and cracking through Jane Eyre which I am liking for all kinds of reasons. I'm really enjoying her use of language, its Gothic elements, and the descriptions of nature.

Bliss. No alarm to wake me tomorrow. But will have to source another haircut as it has gone past the tipping point into buffoonery again. Each non-Nicki haircut I get, is another remove from the Platonic ideal of a Peter Kenny haircut. Strange things are beginning to happen... Like hair sprouting from the back, and other lobe-like aberrations on each side of my head.

Over the shoulder of a talking head

A hurricane in the Atlantic resulted in very hot weather being dragged over London but I spent the day cooped up with The Gnome. We've been told we have to present the work in Coventry at 9:30 Monday morning which will mean getting up at the crack of dawn to schlepp up to the West Midlands. This sort of thing is worrying me a bit as my health is still ropey, but I find it hasn't interfered too much with my ability to do my job so far.

Arrived home in darkness tonight. Only one unwatched Frazier episode meant that I ploughed through quite a bit of Jane Eyre. Odd girls those Brontes. And also saw something on the BBC about Nero, which was absorbing. He didn't fiddle while Rome was burning, apparently. A frustrated actor, he kicked his wife to death for mentioning a mistake he'd made on stage which, though understandable, was a bit harsh.

Email with lovely Sophie today, who is planning another trip to Brighton soon with Andros and the nippers. We are also planning to go to see a film. I've only been to the cinema once I think since I broke up from MJ.

Made to feel wistful by glimpses of Brighton on the TV screens in reception this week, as there has been a Liberal Democrat convention there. And the reporters use the sea and pier in the distance as a backdrop.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The camomile-sipper's notes

Missed the train this morning and was disgracefully late into work after another night of poor sleep. I finally fell under the spell of Hypnos (after camomile tea and another chapter of Jane Eyre) only to be woken again at 4am by two men in the Twitten loudly debating outside my house if they should phone a friend to go around for a couple more drinks. 4am! But then, of course, I am a camomile-sipping sort of bloke at the moment.

Work surprisingly okay with The Gnome. At lunchtime, while munching a crunchy salad from a bag, I managed to send another poetry manuscript off too. Also emailed Aimee in Dubai - her Notes from a sandy country blog entry for the 19th was really funny. She suggested we have yin and yang blogs, as mine has been more of a herbal tea affair of late while her one has been very lively indeed. I put it to her that if she needs a few quiet nights in, so that mine will liven up a bit.

Trace was telling me about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which I know nothing about. She said the way to combat a narcissist was to hold a mirror up to them, and tell them the truth about their actions and who they really are.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Name that tune

Stupid insomnia last night, which contributed to the feeling that there is some kind of veil between me and reality. However... Sent my play off to the BBC. Tomorrow I aim to get another poetry MS off. Just need to keep casting them and hopefully someone will bite.

At work, took a new brief for a cholesterol drug but otherwise (mercifully) not much going on. The Gnome amusing me today with a new name that tune game. It goes like this: He plays a single note on the guitar he keeps at work, and then looks at me expectantly. Today I failed to get Close to the Edge by Yes, and Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin played in their single note versions.

Paris November 1979

The Gnome scanned in the photo below today at work. It is a photo of me in Paris when I'd just turned 20, and is probably the best ever photo of me. Giddy with the freedom of being at University, I went with some of my new University friends to Paris for a long weekend. A trip well worth getting into trouble with Martin Warner my personal tutor for. (And I was in trouble when I returned.)

Because we were doing it on the cheap, we had to share beds. The first night I shared with a Californian guy called Scott who took this photo. The next day I was asked by another guy (who we were unkindly calling Captain Sensible) to swap with him. Oddly Captain Sensible had been sharing with a beautiful girl called Julie who was on my floor at my hall of residence. Naturally I was only too happy to help him out.

In the middle of the night (everything had been very proper between me and Julie) I woke up to a sound which I took to be the ceiling caving in. Very soon, however, I noticed Julie sitting bolt upright in the bed, flashing her black eyes at me and the noise was of her demonically grinding her teeth. Suddenly I wondered why the other guy had chosen not to share with her, and the fact that we were in room 13 seemed horribly meaningful. I was so freaked out that I said the Lord's Prayer to her. This seemed to work, and she fell back into a calm sleep. I remember lying awake for some time afterwards, listening to a couple arguing in shouty French on the cobbled street outside and feeling slightly disconcerted.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Back to work

Up to the smoke today, and back to the agency. Stupidly, my first morning back was accompanied by an astonishingly bad hangover. Everything was okay, but I missed being at home. Recently I seem to have an immense need to be on my own, and I don't understand why.

Getting the radio play ready to send off. Worked on it at lunchtime and on the train going home, I feel enthusiastic as I have a lot of new work to send out. Home. And a couple of Frazier episodes and an early night.

A 25 year return

A cheerful morning lurking about, putting some finishing touches to the new version of my play. Sarah texted me to say that she had just learnt she'd got a First, which is clearly big and clever.

Met Anil today, for the first time in about 25 years, and he looks much the same. It was very good to see him. Obviously, there being some 25 years of stuff to catch up on, this required some enthusiastic drinking, which I'd not done since Anton's birthday. Turns out that he is thinking of moving to Brighton next year too.

We met at the Seven Dials Restaurant which, despite it being only around the corner from me, I'd never been to. Some very good grub to be had there. We then migrated across the road to The Tin Drum.

It's funny seeing someone from such a long time ago. In some ways you have to tell the story of your life. And even when we thought we knew each other at school, there was other stuff going on that could not be talked about. I have had the same experience with Shaila too recently. It is a great relief to be an adult (well... of sorts).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Fortress

Though I was tired, a relaxed and cheery day in which I enjoyed tinkering with the play.

A constitutional down by the sea again today. Another of those warm days when the sky and sea blend into one another. I spotted a WW2 Flying Fortress circling in the distance, presumably on the way to some airshow. Amazing how constructing all those Airfix kits as a kid gives you excellent veteran plane-spotting skills. I snapped it in the distance, so the photo is poor.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Two Wrongs might make a right

Woke up with a realisation that has been staring me in the face for several years. While off sick this week I have been listening to radio plays, and the first thing I thought this morning was that my play Wrong, which has seen a couple of low profile-performances, is ideal for radio given a few minor tweaks. The play lasts half an hour and there is a 30 minute slot on R4 three times a week. Converting it is a matter of hours, and I did a little of that this morning.

Anton dropped in for a cup of tea, and showed me on the map the route of a long walk he did last week starting at Devil's Dyke. I can't wait to be doing the same soon.

Sophie phoned too. She said she had thought of me in Greece when she attended an open air reading of Cavafis poems. I love modern Greek poetry, and miss Greece. I've got to take myself off again one day.

In the afternoon Sarah came down. She has firm opinions about how to get better, which involves targeting the root chakra with sound. To this end, we went down to the shore and expressed C notes out to sea as loudly as possible. I found this embarrassing (as well as making me feel a bit light headed). I was left to reflect there is something incredibly inhibited about being embarrassed about making noise just because there were a few people around. I also asked Sarah that if you stood on some glass while expressing noise, would it come out as a C#?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Happiness is a Frazier DVD

Monastic life continues. Fiddling a bit with a poem about Hammersmith Cemetery first thing. Frazier fixation thankfully fulfilled again after a brief return to the DVD shop. Jane Eyre keeping me fairly cheerful too.

Mum skyped me to say she was off to Kent with Mase for a holiday & may track down her Grandparent's house outside Folkstone.

The sandcastles in yesterday's entry were bulldozed today. According to the local news they were made from imported Dutch sand and their going signals the end of summer.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Hypnosis and sandcastles

Morning, and a urine sample to the doctors, then spoke to Anton whose advice on the Frazier crisis was simply to buy a cheap multi-region DVD player, which I did. Can't get the swine to play Frazier yet though.

At lunchtime I went back to the hypnotist. Very nice man. To tackle a phobia you need to bring the circumstances that scare you to mind vividly. And here's where an odd thing has happened. Since I had the first session with him, I have been unable to feel the fear when I try to bring to mind flying, or standing on the tops of hills - and this is not through lack of imagination. He said that sometimes that making one change can take your phobias out like dominoes. Instead he taught me a few relaxation techniques and did a guided meditation for me.

To test this I went afterwards to a place that usually makes me horrible and exposed, above the marina on the cliff road, and I was fine there. If this has worked it would be brilliant, and imagining myself as a person who does not feel gripped by existential terror on planes, for example, feels very good.

As I was walking by the sea I took some snaps of the sand sculptures exhibition, which was being dismantled. It looked surprisingly good I must say, as you can see from the photo below. Also, beyond the sandcastles, the sky and sea were the same pearly grey colour, presaging the violent and lovely thunder that would come this evening.

Home feeling very tired again, but in good spirits.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A start with thunder

Thunder and heavy rain at around 6pm early this morning. Quite nice to hear it lying in bed.

Otherwise the monastic life goes on. Started to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and am finding it absolutely excellent. There was a trailer this evening on BBC, and they have made an adaption of it to be screened soon.

The sunny weather restored, I popped into the doctor's office for a prescription. Picked it up at my normal chemist, where there are always people collecting methadone.

After went and sat on the pebbles by the sea for half an hour and expressed a noise in C out to the waves (as recommended by Sarah). It felt good. In the evening lamented the end of Frazier as the episodes Anton lent me are American DVDs and won't play in my machine. The world is a dark place without the Crane brothers.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A happy announcement

Walked to Stanmore station from Mum's place and the morning air had the barest hint of Autumn about it. Went to work, felt wretched, and went home. The quack has signed me off for a further week. I have to say I am very bored of all this now.

Biggest news of the day however is that First Matie and Gavin, having just returned from a holiday in Portugal, have announced that they are getting engaged. Spoke to both this evening and gave them my hearty congratulations. Both sets of families very happy for them too which is nice. They are thinking of coming down to Brighton to buy a ring.

Also was called up by Anil who I've not spoken to for some 25 years, and he is going to be in Brighton and we have arranged to strap on the nosebags on Sunday. Also successfully completed first Skype call with Mum. Skype rocks.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Off up to Edgware today to see Mum and Mase. Caught the train up to London and walked from Mill Hill station in the sun. Feeling a bit of a zombie, I sat about in the garden crunching on salad and watching sparrows gorging messily in the bird feeder.

Mum showed me a sculpture she'd made from shells and stones pilfered from the shores of Guernsey (see left). Also she gave me a flowerpot painted to look like houses reflected on a green sea.

After sleeping and sipping reviving cups of tea in the garden, Mum and me got her Skype up and functioning so she can keep tabs on me and the Tobster. Nice meal in the evening chatting with Mum and Mase.

Told Mum about my plans to visit Japan this Christmas. It am very excited about the prospect, but hope my planned hypnotism is successful so that the flight is a pleasure rather than an ordeal. It is a wonderful opportunity.

Received an email from Anil, my old school chum and we may meet up soon.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lost at sea II

Walked down to the seafront at about 4:30. Lively as usual. Today there was a skateboarding demonstration on one of those immense U-shaped runs, complete with rappers and booming music played by a DJ. Most of the skaters seemed to be mostly falling off their boards but I suppose that's only to be expected.

After this I paused to buy a cup of tea and sit by the sea. The tide was very far out today, with the sand showing at the foot of all the pebbles. As I did so I noticed several police standing around by a pile of belongings on the stones. In an odd echo of yesterday's blog entry, I watched as the coastguard boat, and a big airsea rescue helicopter started a search the sea. Found myself watching this for least half an hour and as far as I could tell they found nobody. After a while the police removed the items on the beach and later the helicopter flew away for good.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Lost at sea

Happiness that I'd got through the week tempered with the return of a peeving sore throat. Work not too bad, however, and gripped with a consumptive's desire to work on poems. This I did after I left work early.

UK's news media full of Tony Blair's battle to hold on to his discredited Premiership. The spectacle of the two most powerful politicians in the country (Blair and the Chancellor Gordon Brown) locked in a struggle for power is unedifying.

Also the bizarre story of Matthew Harvey a Guernseyman (and from his surname possibly a distant relative via my Grandmother) was also in the news today. He was supposed to have been lost at sea for three days sparking a major search involving hundreds of people. Turns out during the three days of the search he caught a ferry to the UK for a couple of days, then returned to Guernsey and apparently slipped back into the sea. He was fished out of the water near Fermain Bay by some people in a yacht, while claiming to have been stranded on rocks.

You have to feel a bit sorry for him and his family. A bit of a freak out, possibly, which then became national news. Cringingly embarrassing.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A different time

Okay so I lied about Hammersmith Cemetery. Ended up taking yet another picture, and going for a short walk there with the French Bloke this lunchtime. It's like stepping into a different time, and we wandered around in it talking cheerfully about mortality. The FB's opinion is that the thing that remains after we die is not our spirit but actually the chemical elements that have made up our bodies, in the reverse of the usual religious orthodoxy.

Left work at 4:00pm again, and made it back to Brighton very early. It's amazing the difference actually having an evening makes. As I left work I felt a wave of optimism about the future, and about poetry of all things.

Arriving home I was surprised to find a hand-delivered envelope with a note from Anil, an old school friend, in it. I have not seen him for at least 25 years, but there were no contact details.

As I type I am watching a recreation of the events of 9/11 on BBC tonight, due to the upcoming five year anniversary.

Seeing Ground Zero last March and having been to New York several times since then has made it all even more horribly real. The programme is traumatising but very compelling. Of course I remember the day very clearly, watching the events at work in the TV department with American Craig, and my utter disbelief as a second plane flew in. I thought of MJ (who was then my penfriend) instantly. Before I left for work I had swapped emails with her as she was wide awake at an ungodly hour of the morning. I emailed her when I got home and still remember how traumatised she was.

Banal things too come to mind too: running in to Nev my then art director and yelling at him about what was happening. He refused to come because he was sulking over a layout, and probably because planes flying into NY skyscrapers just didn't make any sense.

Below... Last one I promise.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Out of the trench

On the train with Anton this morning. He is in what he called a trench, which is a sort of lifeless vacuum between crazes. He is unhappy and listless as all his recent crazes (such as wood fired pizza ovens or wet on wet watercolour technique or camping) are now ashes and dust to him. He callously rejected poetry as a potential craze, and the the only thing that instilled a gleam of cheer was talk of eating meat.

Happily I am not in a trench. I have Hammersmith Cemetery! This looked particularly fine this morning and I was compelled to take even more photos, two of which are below. I will stop banging on about the cemetery now in this blog.

Actually had work to do today, which involved me reading up about polio. If I get over my hypochondria, will this mean I won't have to do the disease stuff all the time I wonder?

Otherwise had a chat with Reuben first thing, and simply got on with work. Had a short stroll by the river at lunch. And some futile headscratching with the Gnome in the afternoon.

Home and Frazier... Then watched THIS which was sent to me by Sarah. A rather fascinating conspiracy theory about the London bombings from David Shayler, famed MI5 whistle blower.

Anyway... Here are two more pics of one of the statues in Hammersmith Cemetery. I just think they are exceptionally beautiful.

The cemetery and the sea

Bad nightmares which I attribute to some fine cheese at Anton's place. Then into work, and luckily it was another slow day. This gave me a chance to quietly print off and post a MS to Poetry London. I have a backlog of poems I've not submitted anywhere and so am going to start sending them off.

At lunchtime I took myself off to Hammersmith Cemetery again. I'd never spent an hour walking about in it, despite working in the same location for five years. Actually very peaceful, and poignant. I was taking notes for a poem, and jotted down some of the ornamentation: stone flowers and leaves, stone lilys, crosses, Celtic crosses, artfully broken pillars, anchors, scrolls, open stone books and bibles, Cleopatra's needles, tombs, urns, throne like chairs, a marble bed with pillows, angels with downcast heads, or looking up to heaven, and cherubs on the graves of children.

There is an enormous amount of subsidence in the graveyard and most of the stones are not standing true, but I like it when they lean together conspiratorially. It was also alive with squirrels, I counted seven near me at one point. And haunted by an elusive jay, and several rooks. Wandered about taking photos and noting some of the phrases. I liked one that said, God's finger touched her and she slept.

Left work early again today, and made it home in good time. Noticed yesterday how green the land is again after the rain. It had got very sun bleached a while ago.

Home and I walked down to the sea and sat on one of the groynes looking at the low sun and listening to the waves. Spoke to Sarah on my mobile who is resting after a marathon effort that sees her having completed all her University work. Sarah suggested I express noise at the sea (as she had done the other week) as a form of therapy. She recommended a C note. Surrounded by people, as I was, I found it difficult to comply. But I am going to try it.

Did a spot of shopping and then returned home. Learned an amazing trick from Anton the other day. On his birthday we had a glass of champagne at my house. This left me with a fairly full bottle and nothing to stop it with. He recommended I hang a teaspoon in it. I looked at it today and it was as sparkling as it was on Saturday night. Science compelled me to taste a glass too, and it was fine.

More Frazier tonight. And a quick chat with Mum who is on the road to sorting herself out with Skype. It is the future! She also indicated that the photo I had on my profile made me look like I had a huge and malformed jaw so I have put another one on. Of course, no mere photo is able to convey the sheer dazzle of the charisma I am blessed with.

This slipped angel took my fancy from the graveyard. Then those omnipresent squirrels.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Of work and pork belly

Train, tube then through Hammersmith Cemetery into work. Thinking there is a poem in that ole boneyard. Felt shattered by the time I arrived at work though, but the workload was fairly slack, which was a boon. My boss has agreed that I will leave work early this week to speed my recovery from virus from hell. Sat about feeling like a zombie during the day, but chatted intermittently with The Gnome who I'd not seen for ages.

Left work a little before 4pm and was back in Brighton at around 5:30pm which was fantastic. Lurked at home quietly for a while. Toby called me from Toronto on Skype and we had our first ever Skype conversation. which was clearer than a phone. Strange to hear the Tobster's voice coming out from my laptop. I particularly enjoyed the bit where when every time Tobs spoke the little toby.kenny icon gained a blue flare on the screen.

Then off up the hill, as Anton and Anna had invited me for supper. When I arrived Anna called me upstairs to read Baby Klauds a story about Elmer the multicoloured elephant. Cunningly the story ends with Elmer going to sleep, and this was a cue for Baby Klauds too. She is such a sweet little thing.

Then downstairs to engage with a nice belly of pork that Anton had cooked to his usual high standards, with roast potatoes cooked in goose fat. Anna and me impatient as Anton kept pulling out the roasting dish and going into a Virgo world of pain, as the crackling wasn't bubbling up just so. Needless to say, it was delicious.

As I left Anton lent me the next two series of Frasier. Frasier cold turkey is postponed, thank God.

Both MJ and Simon Gray had their birthday today.

Below... Elmer.


Perceptive visitors will notice my blog looks different. I have gone to something called blogger beta, which allows you to customise your blog more than my old one, the design of which dated back to Jan 2003 (which in cyber years is decades). And I will probably be fiddling with this for a few days till it is right.

The immediate result of going to blogger beta, however, was that under another sun completely disappeared. Surprising how narked this can make you feel. However I went to a help group and eventually a solution was found.

Just a few minutes before I catch a later London train to creep into work for the first time for two weeks. Wonder what sort of reception I will get...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Still reading up on witches for a poem I am fiddling with. Today I got a book from Amazon called The Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the witches) which was published around 1484. One of the things that interests me is comparing the witch craze with the War on Terror. It was translated by Montague Summers and this is from his 1948 introduction:

"Jean Boudin the famous jurisconsult (1530-90)... gives it as his opinion that there existed not only in France, a complete organisation or witches, immensely wealthy, of almost infinite potentialities, most cleverly captained, with centres and cells in every district, utilising an espionage in every land, with high-placed adherents at court, with humble servitors in the cottage. This organisation, witchcraft, maintained a relentless and ruthless war against the prevailing order and settled state. No design was too treacherous, no betrayal was too cowardly, no blackmail too base and foul. The Masters lured their subjects with magnificent promises, they lured and deluded and victimised...."

Which gives me the impression of a climate not too different to now.

Today was Anton's birthday (and Mad dog's too). Went out in the evening for the first time in weeks with him and Anna and Brian. Very good to see them all. Also met Martin that we went on a hike with and his wife Sam and a few others. Had a few drinks and a nice meal, and enjoyed myself -- though I will pay for it I think.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tampered ineffectually with some poems then went for a walk about town. This lifted my spirits somewhat as I'd been gloomy about feeling ill again over the last two days. Spotted through a junk shop window this Tufty Club badge (see below). As you can see, Tufty is boldly poised mid-stride and appears alert as befits a famous road safety squirrel. Toby was a Tufty Club member.

Just found a bizarre site about the Tufty Club here.

On another nostalgic note read that Airfix, who produced plastic kits of planes, boats, tanks etc. are to finally cease trading. Made dozens of their airplane kits when I was a kid, also had platoons of the little ant-like soldiers. These often sustained heavy losses when mum got the Hoover out. I read somewhere today that it was only with the preparation of making Airfix model Spitfires that a whole generation was later able to assemble IKEA furniture.

More than anything I loved the Airfix catalogues. Reading about all the planes, and other kits, and coveting them. Experiences which help me understand Anton to this day.

Spoke to Mad dog today. It is his birthday tomorrow, (as well as Anton's). Also spoke to Anna and briefly to Baby Klauds.

Cooked a Guernsey beanjar and am this evening full of beany goodness, and still involved in a Frazier couch potato festival. What will happen when I run out of DVDs? The horror.