Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Shook the lark awake, as I was working from home which meant no commute. Looked at a bit of a poem first thing, and then settled down to working on a newsletter, for work, about chronic pain. Is there a message in this I wonder?

I wants it... I succumbed to my unnatural desire for Anna's camera. I got an excellent deal for it on the internet. Mine is black and so is the tiniest bit cooler than Anna's silver one. Golluming over it today.

Meanwhile.... First Matie is copying me. She has a blog (copying). She is buying a new camera (copying). She is going to Guernsey this weekend (copying). I rest my case -- till tomorrow's CSR that is.

Remo came by at lunchtime, having checked the pipes in the toilet and got comfortable over a quick coffee and a long chat. Eventually I had to encourage him towards the door as I had work to do.

This afternoon I went to the hospital to talk to the consultant about the sensitive subject of chronic prostatitis, with two students peering at me over his shoulder. Nice guy, and we ended up discussing poetry, after he asked me what I did for a living - as I knew some of the medical jargon. He saying that being a doctor exposes you to all kinds of things worth writing about, if you had time to get it all down. Anyway, seemed to know what he was talking about and was hopeful I'd get it sorted, so I left fairly cheered.

Walked back along the sea as the clouds of starlings began to fill the sky by the pier, where they roost in the evening. Fortunately I had my precious with me. After this I popped into a toyshop (with freezing hands) walking past the jewellers I bought the engagement ring in, and got involved in a lengthy Thomas the Tank Engine conversation.

The day peppered with conversations with MJ of course. She is a cheeky monkey and I love her.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Lurked at home with a touch of a cold, but steadily self-medicated with food. Other than this I diligently read throught the helpful list MJ sent me of items to consider for Valentine's Day, and an excellent new poem she'd written. And of course spoke to her too.

Put off my food fest with Anna and Anton till next weekend, which was good as Anton was struck down with man flu. Spoke to mum too. She had been for a three hour walk with her new Czech pal the day before and was feeling fairly perky.

Downloaded a few tunes from iTunes with my new broadband. Very easy to buy music this way and they're really easy to put straight on the iPod. The idea of buying the one track you like from a CD for 79p rather than paying the full whack for loads of filler is splendid.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Jaded. New broadband, coversation with MJ, and the effects of too many beers meant I accidentally didn't go to bed till three last night. Bitingly cold today. Did nothing noteworthy. Shopping, bottle bank, fiddling with computer. Invited Anton, Anna and Baby Klauds around for grub tomorrow.

Mary Jane told me that Weezer is thinking about a getting a new dog. Unfortunately she had to give Neptune away because he bit the hands that fed him.

Discovered tonight a leak from the pipes behind the toilet, which has forced me to turn the water off at the mains again. This bathroom business is making me want to tear my clothes into shreds and run in my rags down the Twitten to war against the Gods of plumbing. But I suppose that's not an entirely practical solution. Perhaps Remo can fix it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

My good luck with poems this year continues. I seem to be writing in an uninhibited way which is lovely to experience.

I got my moleskine out on the London train out of habit and wrote a love poem. I am going to break my resolution of not putting drafts on the blog as this seems fairly complete at first take. I was talking on this blog a while ago about Ted Hughes and how people didn't believe he wrote The Thought Fox quickly and easily. This may not be up to his standards but I scribbled this in my moleskine in under twenty-five minutes, followed by another twenty typing it up and tinkering when I got to work. Had Keats at the back of my mind... hence the title, and the darkling reference from Ode to a Nightingale.

My muse, as ever, is Mary Jane and this is about the walk we took on Thursday November 17th. (Having a blog is amazing for pinpointing things.) I am proud of this poem, and MJ likes it too. It may change a bit once I've let it lie for a while.


Romantic


We waited till November to walk by the Sound
We slam the car doors and crunch along the shore
Into this remnant of a lost forest.
Strangely, the leaves have not fallen,
They’ve retained their glory for us:
Two people who walk in a poem
Like an ode’s two darklings
Who’ve criss-crossed the sundering sea
With phones and email and aircraft.
We walk deep into the fall
Of gilded foliage flecked with red.
The wind is freshening from the north
But our hands grow warm with walking.
Know this my lover, my promised one, later
I will wrap your body in breath and fire,
And nightingale all my hidden heart
In the hazel forest of your eyes.


Oddly, at work I couldn't muster the same enthusiasm for writing about computers, chronic pain, and business processes. I took a late lunch, however, and went for a swim, I am lucky that I can manage my work to be able to steal away to do this. I had the pool to myself for ten minutes at the end which allowed me to slip into an empty mind.

After work I went to the OSP with some of the lads from creative. Had a couple of beers which went straight to my head.

Home and my broadband had arrived. Assembled it and revelling in the speed of it. Spoke to MJ and then we played via the internet mad drawing games and so on. Broadband is very cool.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A talk today at work by Marc Michaels, a Hebrew scribe. He gave an absorbing insight into his unbelievably painstaking craft and the tools of his trade, such as the oak apple ink, vellum, turkey quill pens and so on. We all had a go scribing on a worksheet afterwards. I think being a scribe would push me to the edge of sanity, but there you go.

I swam today. Need to get back in the habit. It was good, and I felt virtuous.

Email with Reuben and Katie today. A Copy Shop Reunion (CSR) is brewing.

After work I donned my suit and took part in a short film being made by Paul, a newish colleague in the creative department. I played the deathless part of a man awarding a cup and cheque to a crazy golf champion. I was flanked by Emma and Camilla who were playing my glamorous assistants. A bit amateurish, but fun nevertheless. And, as usual with any kind of filming, this took longer than estimated.

As I walked up to Hammermsith station with Emma and Camilla, Emma mentioned that her sister was playing Celtic Harp in the nearby Irish Centre at the launch of a photographer's exhibition. We three popped in to hear her, and have a glass of wine. There we enjoyed photographs, mostly of people making music, and talked to the photographer. Nice spontaneous fun, before heading off to Brighton.

A few chats with MJ today, and emails. She sent me some photos of her as a baby... She was an exceedingly cute-looking thing as you can see. Baby pictures make me feel odd. Like MJ's... A little unformed person looking out at the world, with a look that is still recognisable in her now. Amazing eyes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Saw little George today. A year or so ago she came on a work placement, and I was drafted to take care of her. Since then she has graduated, but is not working in an agency and unfortunately I have not been able to offer her much help. It's tough getting a start as a writer.

Her parents are from Kerala in South India and she is a tiny little thing with a big personality, and I really want her to succeed. She'll have her work cut out though, as a large majority of agency creatives, despite all the trappings of difference and trendiness, are mostly male, white and middle class.

Home and talking to my beloved, and seeing signs of the Italian's thorough handiwork in the bathroom.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Read more of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell today on the train before growing heavy lidded about the eyes.

Work fine and I was momentarily big and clever with the Chairman and MD.

I wants it. I needs it. Precious... Gloating over Anna's camera online today after Anton sent me the link and telephoning advice.

This caused me to look at my bank balance on-line, which turned out to be very fortunate because some wretch has duplicated my bank card details and has used them nine times in restaurants in the Hammersmith area. Have had the card stopped and will get a refund, but still rather disconcerting to think that a sinister faux Peter Kenny has been wandering about the streets of Glamoursmith racking up £175 in Thai and Indian takeaways over the last week or so.

Sent a submission of poems to a New York ezine. Also looked at a bag of helicopters again today. It is brilliant. The link is over there =>

Tonight Remo came around to discuss things such as the wrongness of Milan and its natives, the badness of children these days, and the Greek octopuses. We eventually talked about the work that needs doing too. We had a bottle of wine together while we were at it. Very nice man.

Monday, January 23, 2006

One advantage of having several time zones between you and your fiancée is that when you wake up filled with nameless dread in the middle of the night, you can go online and speak to her.

January, as I have noted severally before, is the Monday of the year. So a January Monday is a surfeit of bleakness... I had to stand in the overcrowded train this morning from Brighton to Clapham Common, thus robbing me of my writing, reading and thinking time. Don't the swine care about stifling English Letters?

Some ribaldry at work about Mark Oaten, a liberal democrat who has just withdrawn from his party's leadership contest after what he described as an "error of judgement": that of paying for sex for two years with a rent boy. Not a great look for a married father of two. Found myself entering the gents today with the Gnome. We passed large Graham who looked at us meaningfully, saying that he hoped neither of us would have an error of judgement.

Off to Paddington this afternoon with the Gnome for discussions about one of the accounts. Then managed to catch the early train home, dozing fitfully despite it being so early.

Cold night. Talked to MJ, who is very busy getting things sorted out, and Anton. It was Baby Klauds birthday today, and Anton's mum and dad had been down for it. Spoke to Remo too.

Have been sporting a hair shirt about how slack I have been about sending poems out.

Being gnawed with a Gollum-like desire for Anna's camera. I am rationalising it by thinking that if I get a nice camera, I might be able to sell some of my pics on a stock shot site, thus paying for the camera and also launching what's called, in these parts, a nice little earner. What could be easier?

Got a mysterious text from Spooner tonight saying "I have made a top film in shed "GEORGE II".

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Poor whale croaked it in the Thames. Or as our cockney chums would have it... That whale was more than moby dick... it was brown bread. It had a pal it was spotted with earlier, shame they couldn't reach each other. Perhaps the authorities could have made some kind of podcast.

Up with the lark and sensibly eating marmite on toast with Diane. Showed Diane the skull and crossbones drawn on the jar of yeasty goodness by MJ. This can be explained by MJ having wandered into the kitchen (she may have been lost) and scooping a teaspoon of it into her mouth a few months ago thinking it was a kind of chocolaty nutella spread. This followed by astonishingly wrongheaded Ew! noises and gagging in the sink.

Di and me then nipped up the hill to see Janet and Ken for a nice cup of tea and a chat. Both on good form. Ken enraged by a TV programme yesterday about the French roots of Romanticism. Also talking about the translation he is working on. Janet on fine form too and very pleased to see Di after many years. I tried to claim a finder's fee but nobody listened.

Their newish ginger cat Rossini is a nice cat, and was being decorative and playful.

Fond farewells to Janet and Ken, and a fast Thai meal, a bit of a walk in the sun down on the seafront, and then Di and me went our separate ways for a bit. Me on a futile search for dressing up clothes for Baby Klauds, and her inspecting more of Brighton. I don't care what anyone says, it is a bit odd for a man of 46 to be scrutinising pink fairy wing costumes.

Fond fairwells with Di, then spoke to Mum and Mase. Had bought a cheap address book to put all my addresses and phone numbers in one place, should I lose my mobile or diary. Wrote the wrong numbers in so phoned Weezer thinking I was calling Toby. MJ there so spoke to both Weezer and her -- they were watching March of the Penguins with the bairns.

Then spoke to Romy which was really nice. She was telling me about her exercise routine of going to the gym and simultaneously watching food programmes while plotting what to cook.

The Tobster at a cafe marking school books.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A lovely day in Brighton. Tinkering early with poems, then striving to achieve first world hygiene standards before Di's visit. After all, I'm still in the first flush of having a functioning toilet again.

Shortly after arriving, and imbibing quick coffee, Di set off to inspect Brighton. I headed off to the YMCA (where it's fun to be) in Hove.

There Baby Klauds and several of her mates were having a party. Most of the adult attendees were members NCT group, and Anna had organised a party for them all as their babies' second birthdays were coincident. There was a mini playground set up with slides and little cars and things to bounce on and crawl through, and many nippers.

As I walked in, Anton imperiously handed me Anna's camera. I took loads of photos of children with it and conceived a horrible yearning to have a camera just like it. I broke off only to eat multiple sausage rolls and cake and quaff fizzy pop. Managed also to talk to Brian (and co-dote on Baby Klauds with him) and some of the guys I met in the pub a couple of weeks ago. Anna using a pump to make bubbles that gave off a puff of smoke as they exploded.

Later Anton imperiously handed me the broom to sweep up, but this time wasn't so successful. He drove us back to his place where we had tea and he demonstrated his new headphone amp and we hung about chatting for a bit.

Shaila called me in the car, back in the country again, and saying she was buying a house near Basingstoke.

In the evening Di and me slid off to The Caxton for martini and beer. Chatting about her impressions of Brighton, and discussing subjects that were both a) lofty and b) deep. She is doing another comedy class and looking afresh at her stand-up act.

After this, Di took me for a meal at Indian Summer. Delicious tucker, and good service. I had exceedingly nice chicken cooked with pomegranate. Home, and after cups of green tea, Di sloped off to sleep in one of the bunk beds, and I spoke to my beloved MJ. She was cooking, and I took the opportunity to torment her with tales of tamarind sauce and homemade samosas.

Friday, January 20, 2006

This week's preoccupation with the river ended with news of a disoriented bottlenosed whale swimming up the Thames through central London. Didn't make it to Hammersmith, although it was only a few miles downstream. It was front page of the Evening Standard, tonight and featured on the national news. Picture I stole from the BBC below, with the whale swimming past the Houses of Parliament.

As for me, somewhat foggy headed today. Stared blankly at the Guardian crossword on the train this morning, which I can usually complete. Managed to bluff my way through work, taking a walk down to the Crabtree with Pat to have a single beer with Sue and Paul who left today. Very happy for it to be Friday.

Mary Jane inspired to write today and read me the start of a promising new poem. Her head is full of watery images at the moment. And dressing the children as snowflakes for their winter ball.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Late for work and irritable. However finished The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon on the train. Enjoyable, well-plotted story set in Barcelona -- although having been there I didn't find myself forcibly reminded of that city, despite the blurb playing this up. Mind you, my recollection is of a rather blurry place. But I was there on a very enthusiastic boozy, sleep-deprived, stag weekend. However I am proud to say that I played guitar in a flamenco bar, something I can't quite believe I did.

Another walk along the river where I saw half a dozen noisy parakeets near Fulham's football stadium and briefly worried about the vocabulary these innocent birds will acquire.

Quickly talked to MJ as I walked back to the office, who was looking at fluffy Valentine's toys in a shop.

An absolutely mind-numbing meeting this afternoon. People sitting about with dead cod faces wishing they were a million miles away. Fortunately this torture was conducted on the fourth floor with a wonderful view of the river, and I watched the night steal over the water and tried to block out the futile droning. Some days I think the Thames keeps me sane.

Back from work, a proper chat with MJ who has an interview shortly, and has lots of things to organise in a virgoish way -- including sending me links for appropriate chocolates to be received on Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Woke early this morning, and had time for an enjoyably civilizing cup of tea. Phoned on the tube by a panicking suit with some micro-crisis that had to be fixed in minutes. Amazing how a piece of junk mail can become a life and death matter.

Close reading of the Jorie Graham poems. She has a way of tentatively testing and flexing the flow of what she is saying, that to some I am sure represents an exciting nearness to the stream of poetic thought. But for me it is just hard work with little reward. A randomly chosen bit... The opening to a poem called Philosopher's Stone shows this off (and is by no means the most extreme example).

It's like this. There are quantities. There's on-
goingness--
no--there's an underneath. Over it we lay
time--actually more like takes and re-
takes by
the mind (eyes closed) then clickings of
its opening-out and the mind fills
with gazes--thousands over some visualizations--or some
places if you wish--I wish--a few or no gazes over some
(because there must be a meadow with just such
grasses
no gaze has touched)--(because it is
touch)--(and other places where millions have laid down
their mental waters in this manner). Above and
below our gaze, I don't know for sure--although I
believe there must be a truth--gravity lays,
is laid... etc. etc.

I am hard pressed to work out what was being discussed here. A meditation on time, and the phenomenology of perception perhaps? None of this is made easy to imagine, and has little in the way of usable images. How do you lay down your "mental waters" for example? I am enjoying her work, but it makes me impatient.

Took another constitutional along the river this lunchtime which was nice. Spoke to MJ in the afternoon. She is lovely. And I am feeling very positive about us.

Left sharpish and managed to avoid travel horrors from Victoria with the trains doomed because there had been a gas leak near the line somewhere. I managed to get home a mere 15 mins late. Reuben called me stranded at Victoria, but at least he had the presence of mind to go to a bar.

Remo has done an excellent job with the toilet. At last the medieval horror of it all is behind me. Also spoke to Diane, who is coming to stay with me this weekend, and will inspect Brighton.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Remo started to fix my bathroom today. What a relief.

After work and a walk at lunch went to Sue and Paul's leaving do in the evening, which was at the Fire Station. They are currently sitting opposite me and the Gnome, reeking of freedom and the cheerfulness of a new start.

I want one soon.

Home late, after sleeping again on the train, and scored a Chinese meal.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Lively protest outside Brighton Station today by bicycle riders who are no longer allowed to take their bikes on the train to London. Asinine new ruling from the train company which has justly inflamed local feeling.

On the train reading a book called Bad Thoughts, A guide to clear thinking, by Jamie Whyte. He is a philosopher who uses his training in logic to prick balloons of bad argument in a spirited and entertaining way.Enjoyed the bit about empty words, attacking jargon and meaninglessness in academic and business writing. This is a bête noir for me too. Whyte saves particular scorn for the word leverage, which is used constantly by saps in business. Personally I get more incensed by obfuscational academic writing. When the writer appears to be trying to prove their intelligence (or hide the paucity of their ideas) in high falutin' language, rather than pass on knowledge, which is surely the point of them being academics in the first place.

Work, and the office is not being heated properly for some reason. Cracked through quite a bit of work with Gnome, despite feeling decidedly irritable.

Read one of two poems from another book I bought yesterday with Anton, called Never by Jorie Graham. I bought it on impulse and her work seems excellent. It is top when you discover a poet you like.

MJ doing flipper the dolphin impressions today, and claiming that flipper could speak like humans.

Walked at lunchtime along the grey overcast river and took the photo below.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Long sleep last night. Got on with things busily this morning.

At midday spoke to MJ and Weezer who were, in their charming accents, talking about going to something called the BOtanical gardens. Neptune menacing MJ as we spoke, muttering about fava beans despite him sporting the muzzle.

I am feeling exceedingly proud of MJ. She has had a difficult week and come through with flying colours.

That nice Weezer sent me a photo of the snowy conditions in Brooklyn, which you can see below.
Meanwhile on the European side of the Atlantic after fiddling about with poems this morning I went out this afternoon with Anton who is off to France tomorrow. Walked around Brighton and down by the sea and popped into book and record shops. We called into the Lion and Lobster for a couple of beers and intensive chats. Anton lecturing me that I should get a fishing rod and tackle to catch mackerel, which I'd mentioned when I moved here a year ago. Seeing the pub with fresh eyes, and noticing how all the walls are covered in paintings and objet d'art and how this can't be faked convincingly by chain pubs.

Meandered back to his place, via the Tin Drum. At Anton's place we ate Chinese food (Anton ordering enough for 4 people) and played Anton's Jam and Stranglers records. After some time I left him to pack. Anna & Baby Klauds being away and him having to get up at the crack of dawn.

I have been typing up all my poems, regardless of quality, to put them in the computer rather than on hundreds of yellowing scraps of paper. It is a bit bittersweet, like looking through an old photograph album.

I found this this poem Autumn Wood today, which I wrote when I was 19.

It makes me think these things:

  • I must have been a strange teenager
  • the vaguely mystical, religious, philosophical stuff that preoccupied me then is pretty much the same as now, and that my journey has taken me not far from its starting point
  • Walking on Hampstead Heath shortly after my birthday- a horrific 27 years and 3 months ago.


Autumn wood (1978)

There is no stopping the season's wheel
We cling to its rim as best we can
And fear our departure, that centrifugal
Fling out into lifeless dust.
Today it seems the heart
Must make a choice, between plain facts
Or a faith; to choose a new life
Now that death's new rehearsal has begun,
Or to fill the dust with angels
And stare and stare until we touch them.

Now Death's rehearsal has begun
-- there is winter stiff in Autumn's bones --
Now that the loamy air is moistened
And the rotting has begun,
Now an Autumn has come
I'd like a wood to walk in
Where the windy air is crowded
With the leaves the trees have shed
As a bribe to the grey future
Wept in gold.

If I could I'd still the wind
I'd jump an old fence
And scrump a piece of time
Like an apple from an orchard
Perfect to its core;
Then keep it untested, savouring
The guesses at the sweet and bitter
Essence of the thing you possess --
Much better than a cold quiescence
To Winter's oppression.

There is no stopping the season's wheel
I must go, I must make do with moments
Memories of the beginning of belief;
Of evaded choice. I am a true sceptic
And as such I half hope for conversion
Or at least the strength to stay more still
Like those Christians who can winter
Near a hill where the thorns all point
To watch the tip of a human finger
Describe the slow circle of perfection.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday 13th. Fortunately, despite all other superstitions, the day holds no foreboding for me.

Had fun working with Andy again. After an absurd mini brainstorm, we decided to use the green glow in the dark pigs which have been bred in Taiwan with a jellyfish gene. Handy for eating a bacon sarnie in the middle of the night.

I was told that this blog was used as an example of the genre in a brief talk given by a colleague the other day. Fortunately I always avoid describing work or breaching client confidentiality and so on. I hope. Yikes.

Popped outside to talk to MJ who was making me laugh a lot. She is very funny.

After work walked with the French Bloke off to the Thatched house for a drink and meal with Kate and Matty boy. Really enjoy our gang. The FB doggedly and with little evident pleasure, quaffing diet cokes and mineral waters. Lots to catch up on, and I hadn't seen Matt for ages. Kate slogging on a pitch all week. Taranjit also dropped by later shortly before Kate and me left.

The call of the seagull was strong in me. Zoomed home and spoke to MJ before bed.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Little sleep last night. However, I wrote a draft of another new poem I am pleased with in the train this morning. I am having quite a prolific spell. It is strange, but my commute is actually good for my writing. Best not to look the gift muse in the mouth -- and just get on with it.

At work everything in bits and pieces and I am not feeling in control of my workflow. Queued in the bank for half an hour at lunch and spoke to MJ on my mobile as I walked by the river. I was pleased to hear that she was much more cheerful today.

Decided against the Buddhism talk today. Had a strong & primitive urge to be at home, and couldn't face dragging across London and getting home really late again. Feel a bit bad to have missed this opportunity though. Home, and I found some vitamin pills that Mum had sent for me. They were from Guernsey, which is clearly good. I shall eat one tomorrow morning and be transformed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Worked all day with Pat, Andy and the Gnome on a couple of projects. Spent the morning off site, and we four had lunch in the little Thai place again. Good fun, and we made some progress. Worried by MJ today, however, who was low and unhappy. This makes me feel very frustrated to be so far away from her.

In the evening, however, I went off to Ealing to meet baby Tahlia and hung out with Max and the French Bloke. Tahlia is very sweet, and has a very expressive face. Michel said she is at the stage where lights and contrasts fascinate her, he also said she makes noises like a strangled orc, but sadly I missed those. He is very proud of her and was speaking to her in his mother tongue a bit.

Lovely to see Max in such excellent shape mentally and physically. I enjoyed seeing her getting so much pleasure from bathing Tahlia, which they did downstairs and what they laughingly called "greasing the baby". That is massaging oil into her skin. Apparently when babies are late their skin can get very flaky for a bit.

Max is struggling with options for Tahlia's middle name.

Was excellent to hang out with the three of them, and seize the opportunity to fork down an excellent chili that Michel had made too.

Was handed Tahlia severally and when this happened she was sick and contrived some astonishing eructations from the other end. When Max took the photo below she was also briefly bawling. Actually she seems an exceedingly well-behaved baby.

Then back to Brighton, and a very late chat with MJ and I called Weezer junior too.

Photos: Max with Tahlia... and me with the poor mite Tahlia howling in horror.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Gnome back from his long holiday today. Strangely reassured to see him. All is well with his son, and his family had a good Christmas which I was pleased to hear. Otherwise fairly busy today at work.

Hannah and Rosie had their leaving party tonight, which I'd forgotten all about. It was in the bar at work, and as well as hearing Rosie's eccentric and circular leaving speech it was a good opportunity to get to talk to some of the new young creatives. One of them, young Rob, I discover is going out with my friend Little George. Had a nice chat with Abi too, and we are being less guarded with each other now.

Avoided going for a large curry with everyone, and headed off back to Brighton. Fell asleep and had the dreamlike experience of waking up in an empty train, and stepping from it onto an empty platform. Thank God Brighton is the end of the line.

Home and I ate toasted crumpets with marmite, and listened to my bluegrass CD from Troy and Weezer, and phoned my MJ before bed.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Terrible sleep. Seemed to wake up every hour or so with my mind squirming like a can full of maggots over nothing in particular. Angsty on the train too, one of those mornings where the newspaper was hard to read.

Work fine, however. Bits and pieces to do, but still nothing substantial. Enjoyed lunch in the local Thai with the French Bloke and got news about Max and the baby, who they have called Tahlia, which I think is an excellent name. I am going to meet Tahlia on Wednesday. Max taking it all in her stride apparently, and thinking about the next baby minutes after this one was born. Tahlia is born under a wandering star (as all good Sagittarians are) and has already spent a third of her life, the last ten days, on the road in the Winnebago.

Michel is having a dry January, so we had two large bottles of Perrier with our Thai soup and noodles and so on. Despite having a restrained festive period, I am feeling very jaded so I need little encouragement not to drink either.

Back to the office and a quick chat with a slightly-poorly, but very clever, MJ, who is applying for jobs in a frenzy. Also talked to her in the evening. She is a bit better but washed out. I wanted to take her tea and crumpets. But of course she is 3.5 thousand miles away.

Spoke also to Sophie. I will go with her to hear more Tibetan Buddhists speak this week. I was very interested to hear them last time. I also found -- which I find odd -- is that their deportment and bearing is something that keeps popping into my mind. There is something about their being in the world which is quite distinct, and reassuring.

At home, and I met Raimo from Rome tonight, who has done some work with Janet and Ken. Seems a very nice guy and happily he thinks he can sort out the medieval stuff going on in the bathroom. If he can, I will be very happy.

Relaxing writing this, drinking tea, smelling lavender from my aromatherapy oil burner, and listening to Brian Eno and Harold Budd.

Here is another photo I took yesterday of Brighton Pier looking somewhat drippy.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Slept late till almost 10. The weather grey and rainy. Got up and returned to a poem I had a couple of lines for on the plane, and I arrived at a fairly complete draft within a couple of hours. I am working fluently at the moment which I am pleased about.

Later ventured outside into Brighton to do some shopping. I bought myself a cheap essential oil burner, and am writing this listening to Miles Davis and enjoying the soothing aroma of orange oil. Okay it is not the butchest thing I have ever done, but there you go.

Phoned Mary Jane from the pier cafe today, where I sat drinking a warming cup of coffee. Her phone was hidden under the bed and she was grateful to find it when it rang. She told me that she'd been around at Lia's yesterday and the kids had made fortune cookies, which Jack had written sinister and funny messages. Today they are returning to Northport, where Jack was looking forward to stalking the bunnies in the graveyard. I suggested to MJ that he should read Watership Down.

There is a sort of revelling to be done once you accept that things are going to be entirely grey. There are shades of grey after all. And I enjoyed lurking about in the rain, and took some grey and rainy photos.

In the late afternoon I spoke to Mum and then headed off up the road to see Anton and Anna and give Baby Klauds her Christmas presents. Good to see Anna again. She is looking blooming. Anton cooked some wonderful belly of pork and we had a really nice time. He is still strangely paranoid about the letter, which Anna refers to as an article, in the Hi Fi magazine. And he got touchy when I innocently asked Anna in which magazine the article features.

Baby Klauds enjoyed the mooing and baaing farm I bought, and the American children's books I chose with MJ. Anton and Anna gave me Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the novel by Susanna Clarke which Anton listened to on his ipod, and Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries, which is about food and is clearly big and clever. His idea for the 8th of January is rhubarb. A splendid idea. I've not eaten rhubarb for ages.

Having an Italian guy come around tomorrow to look at my pipes. God bless him.

Nice call from Di, who is toying with the idea of a move to Brighton. Also email from Weezer. And messaged The French Bloke who'd been travelling around the country in the pimpmobile and will see him tomorrow and see the new bairn later in the week. He said he was not drinking this January, which Matty boy seems also to be doing. Last week he emailed me with a last minute invite to eat cheese in Shepherds Bush. He said he has been drinking so much tea that he can't sleep.

Photos... Brighton pier above, and Baby Klauds -- just for a change!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Working quickly and easily on new poem on the train this morning. I was listening to the radio the other day about Ted Hughes. Someone was saying that they thought Hughes exaggerated how easily he wrote The Thought Fox.

I didn't agree. Occasionally, like one of the two first poem I got published, a frightening 23 years ago, they come in one blurt. There seems nothing strange about this, sometimes ideas gestate without you being aware of it happening, and they just seem to write themselves.

Keats often wrote very quickly.

Brief work lunch with a few creatives and two eager and offensively talented new starters straight from college.

Work and then quit for home as soon as decently possible, and then at 9.00pm after eating went out to find Anton in the Great Eastern pub at the bottom of Trafalgar street in Brighton. Had a good night with him, and some of the dads from his and Anna's ante-natal group. Nice bunch of guys.

He has had a letter published in a hi fi magazine, but refuses to tell me which one, or anything about its message. After a while Anton and I left and had an absolute bloody final in the Eddy before I returned home to burble happily and at length to Mary Jane.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Managed to get up early, feeling somewhat nauseous on the early train into London. Worked on a strange new poem trying not to think about vomiting.

Arrived in time to go for a brainstorm with a charity client. As a warm up to the meeting we were invited to play a brisk table football tornament. Sometimes I think my job is quite cool. Then discussed the 1966 World Cup Final as part of the brief we were creating.

This made me remember watching it with my grandfather David in Guernsey. He was delighted that England won. The occupation ended in 1945 so this was 21 years later, but I still think he especially enjoyed seeing the Germans lose. He gave me a shandy to celebrate.

Compelled to work hard all day, and after hours a bit too until I hurried to the Blue Anchor to meet First Matie. She is a good friend and jolly good company. Enjoyed hearing about her trip back to the Forest of Dean and her Christmas. Really like the Blue Anchor on a winter night. We had a couple of cozy beers there before heading up to King Street for some Thai grub.

Home and snoozing on the train before calling my baby and bed.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My mobile phone, which I use as an alarm clock, did not detonate this morning. Woke up late at 8:20, so cleverly decided to turn a vice into a virtue and go to the quack. Having consulted the quack I sped into work off to work, arriving very late.

After 40 minutes I headed out with Tracey for lunch. Her: a coffee, a water, and two cigarettes, me: a bowl of nasty natchos and a pint of Guinness.

Swapped Christmas stories and moaned weakly but enjoyably about returning to work. Trace said that the day before, the 3rd of Jan, was statistically the most depressing day of the year. As if to confirm this, in the Metro newspaper there was a photo of a woman, a senior executive at Rolls Royce, mid air as she jumped from a tall building.

Back to work punctually. The unreasonable swine have started to give me work to do again. As the Gnome is away still, it is all piecemeal bits of nonsense. Broke off to call MJ.

Home and slipped up the road to see Janet and Ken. Lots of talking as usual, and a nice meal and a big plate of cheese after featuring Roquefort, the king of cheeses which is impossible for Peter Kennys to resist. Lots of wine too, of course, to wash it all down in a gouty swill of goodness.

Much holding forth. Their flat in Aix, my adventures in America, the various natures of plumbers etc. And children. Ken said that most people treat children as if they were subnormal adults, and he thought of them as adults without a much experience. Ken had five of his own, and so can be listened to on this matter.

Very nice to see them both. Ken adding a big beardy kiss to Janet's on the way out. Went down the hill feeling very cheery and fond of them. Then home to talk to MJ again before slipping gratefully into bed, conscious that I have to get up at the crack of dawn to get into work early tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Arrived fashionably late for work, but as there was nothing much to be done this morning it didn't get me in trouble. Buried the hatchet with Mandy, so things less fighty than I had imagined. Otherwise wrote a smidge for a utility company, and went out to buy a farm set which electronically moos, oinks and baas.

I also got a nice email from Joan with a photo of Canadian snowiness, contrasting nicely with the view from my new desk: pearly grey mist over the Thames. This a vast improvement on my last desk where I had two bald blokes to look at.

And talking of the foliclly challenged, spoke to Anton today, who was telling me about going to see Brighton Football Club play against Southampton. Apparently the Saints fans were singing "Does your boyfriend know you're out" as a reference to Brighton's Gay community. While the Brighton fans replied with "You're too ugly to be gay." Not been to a footie match for years, after a short spell of going to see Brentford (the bees) some years ago. Brighton are called the Seagulls, for obvious reasons.

Home and did ironing, which is a zen like activity, which is how Joan describes sock knitting. Then spoke to my Mary Jane before bed. She was sounding quite perky and has been busy applying for jobs.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Awake for an hour in the middle of the night reading The Shadow of the Wind. Back to sleep and a anxiety dream of being lost in a strange town, trying to understand how to use the local subway to find a hotel. So tired this morning that I had to have about three cups of coffee before I could speak. Mason advancing theories about generating power from the sea at some length.

Cheery breakfast with Mum and Mase then travelled back down to Brighton.

Lovely to be home after living out of a suitcase for the last two weeks. Relieved that the place hadn't flooded or something ghastly hadn't happened. Did lots of laundry and bought some food. Had a chat with MJ, now back in Kings Park with the children.

Went out in the evening to the Food for Friends vegetarian restaurant, just around the corner from the Friends Meeting House. Sophie and Andros and their nippers Cristof and Electra were in Brighton and they took me out for a nice meal.

Cristof is 12 and Electra will be 8 in February. Felt very comfortable around them having spent so much time with Jack and Kate lately. Electra playing with one of those Tamagotchi things. Enjoyed meeting Andros again too.

As we left the restaurant I showed them where I proposed to MJ.

Home, and dozens of drying clothes hanging from hangers.

Work tomorrow.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

My resolution is the same as it has been over the last few years: wholeheartedness.

Very nice day spent with Mum and Mase in Edgware. After breakfast I randomly picked up a copy of Tennyson's poems which I stole from my school library when I was twelve, and discovered in it my Grandmother's funeral notice from the Guernsey Press in summer '91. My mum had put it somewhere safe and it had been lost. Felt quite odd coming on the back of the three recent dreams I've had about her. Perhaps she is trying to tell me something.

Mum and me went for an enjoyable hour or so walk and talk around Edgware, which also freed up up my back nicely -- and returned home to watch an afternoon film called Hello Again with Shelley Long, about a woman who returns from the grave after a year and a day.

Spoke to MJ and Weezer who had returned from Coney Island having seen Troy plunge into the water along with members of the Polar Bear club. Also spoke to Janet and Anton and Sophie. Ate loads including steak in the evening, and felt very sleepy most of the day.