Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wandered off with The Gnome this lunchtime and found a really nice pub called the Queen Victoria, pictured below, where we woofed down a steak and ale pie with vegetables. If you look at the picture you will see Queen Victoria on the wall. Nice atmosphere. Its menu claimed that Churchill and Dickens and Charlie Chaplin had all been there.

After a few hours of work, I quit Paddington, leaving The Gnome to the fates and a ticket tied to his button saying please look after this art director. But busy glaring at people in seats all the way from Victoria to Brighton, as I had to stand all the way.

Call from Anton saying he likes The Box of Delights, and that Klaudia keeps taking it, saying "mine" because it has pictures in it.

Odd not having to panic tonight as I am already packed. Doesn't feel right. Trying not to think about all the bucking and plunging in the sky tomorrow. Note to self... Find the flight socks that mum gave me for Christmas, and cram into mouth to smother any screaming.

God willing, MJ will be meeting me at JFK tomorrow. I am exceedingly happy to be seeing the sparrowy little thing because I love her.

Tomorrow... New York. But for now... A nice old English boozer.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Paddington again today went for in seach of magic at lunchtime armed with my camera. Walked through some back streets, through a few Mews and ended up in Hyde Park where I found a golden bouquet of artificial roses poking up from the grass. If you look for strange stuff, it's abundantly there.

Began reading my old personal tutor Martin Warner's paper Philosophy & Literature: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow on the train. It was sent with a letter from him to the alumni that attended his bash last year, and another asking for money for future Phil Lit students. (One of the things about being a philosopher is that when you are broke and can't find work and nobody wants to employ you, at least you have the training to stoke your chin and say, well... that's life.) Martin's essay starts with a quotation from Lamia by John Keats on it which I enjoyed incanting to the Gnome...

Philosophy will clip an Angels' wings
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air and gnomed mine--
Unweave a rainbow.

Actually The Gnome was a mine of information today, and we had a business brainwave this afternoon, in a hiatus from doing the execrable stuff.

Got home and packed my case, which is normally done at 1.00am the day before I fly or 5.00am in the morning. I am a reformed character.

Spoke to my beloved MJ, and then called Anton.

Anton and me had a cheeky pint of Harveys in the Battle of Trafalgar at 10pm, followed by a nice cup of tea at my place. Gave him the wonderful The box of delights to read by John Masefield as he was seeking a reading book, by variation to listening to the entirety of the Lord of the Rings on his iPod.

New craze has begun... Bored with cameras now, he has been looking into the paraphernalia associated with walking. Hard shells, soft shells, layers, maps etc. He is a bit bitter however about having boots which are excellent, so they don't need to be upgraded.

Later discovered that Anton had emailed me complaining about having the least descriptive cast description on this blog.

And I thought it was a big nippy here in blighty. Joan sent me these contrasting pictures, saying she is hermetically sealed into this beautiful scene in Ontario. This is her farm house in snow - with more snow on the way.

The cat is Lucky Jim. One of the two that Toby and Romy had, before he was sent back to the farm in disgrace for doing bodily harm to Meatball the other cat. Now a reformed character, Joan says he insists on going with them when they walk the dogs and has the advantage of being light enough to stay on top of the snow.

Proving the superiority of felines yet again, in that a good cat is as good as a dog, but significantly better at being a cat.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Decided today was too big and cold to venture into. I preferred instead to Greta Garbo it indoors, with laundry, ironing, hoovering and the dedicated munching of hot cross buns. These bought from Marks and Sparks and not a seller like this one sent me by my American researcher.

Started another poem first thing this morning, after dreaming the subject matter. It was partially about my great-grandmother Mignonette. Made me dig out yet again the fabulous picture of her at what seems to be some sort of fancy dress party on a veranda in India. Pored over this photo this morning. Noting how the other woman appears to be Indian. Mignonette was the nanny of an important Indian family, possibly even minor royalty. She is the lady in the curly Turkish shoes on the left.

I always thought she seemed incredibly exotic in this picture. Interestingly, her cheekbones and the shape of her face is very similar to MJ's.

Otherwise did little today, and this was damn fine. Spoke to Aimee in Dubai via messenger today, and MJ and Mum who has been doing cross country walks again.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Today's project was to do next to nothing. This morning replied to Weezer on the subject of the inevitability of me kissing the ears of her new beagle called Lulu. I changed the sidebar of this blog, reasoning that people surfing in have no idea what it is all about. Also am investigating ways of using my new camera to make money.

My friend Phil from work turned up out of the blue, on a day trip to Brighton. Ended up going to the Battle of Trafalgar, and the Great Eastern in the afternoon, and then on to have a nice bit of seabass. Phil was down for a large day and night out. He is a very funny man, as befits someone who has done stand-up. He described, for example, his 80 year old father's wind problem as the sound of two leather sofas being forced past one another in a tight corridor.

Spoke to the funny MJ later, who is better after feeling nauseous yesterday. Counting down the days before I see her now, and am very cheery about it.

Ray of light in the Great Eastern today. Not a scene which will be duplicated for long, as the smoking ban kicks in next year.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Tubes, curse them. Shuffled into the Paddington cell late, and grinding my teeth about a journey that took more than three times longer than it should have.

Then was banged up again with the Gnome, and given execrable work to do. One of our jobs today was a nasty full page press ad whose sole brief was to sell computers at Easter. We did a version dotting yellow chicks on the page between the computer bundles with the headline Everything going cheep this Easter. Spleens thus vented we then did the real version and trudged through what work there was. Virtually the only conversation we had was with a geezer in one of the nearby cells poking his head into our peter and asking the rebellious Gnome to turn his music down.

By noon I was raving at the Gnome on the theme of asking Michelangelo to paint your toilet walls. He went to the pub and I scored a pastie and returned to the cell to mutter to MJ. Too damnably cold to lurk outside, and I was not in the mood for beers.

5:30 and blessed escape. What a contrast to last Friday when I was on an exhausted high, today I just felt exhausted.

Mercifully home and munching hot cross buns and talking to MJ. Poor thing has only read of hot cross buns in her American books, and not experienced their toasted goodness. Perhaps next week I will bring a couple of buns over and, if she's good, show them to her.

Below, view from the cell...


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Baby Tahlia, and in Paddington Station.

A large museli breakfast with the FB Max and Tahlia. Tahlia looking a lot less like Winston Churchill now, and being all smiley. Meanwhile her parents conducting a recreational and stylized Kabuki argument about things they fundamentally agree on.

And talking of arguments, Matty called to say that he had been sidetracked last night by one with T. Apparently T was not being logical. Much rolling of eyes from the FB and me at this, piercingly brilliant as the boy Matty undoubtedly is.

Powdery non-settling snow off and on all day. The FB and me sauntered through the park to Ealing Broadway where I caught the fast train to Paddington, and he the tube to Hammersmith.

In the Paddington agency the Gnome and me have our own office, where the phone does not work, and as nobody knows who we are, nobody talks to us. At lunch we sloped off to Paddington station to scavenge for food, and returned to sit in our office with its view of thin wet snow falling on the rail tracks.

Later I called MJ who was sounding very cheery and lovely. Then straight home, and mightily pleased to be here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Straight to Paddington today, and then after a fairly cheery day headed back to Hammersmith for a meeting about sick cats and dogs, before shooting off to Ealing to see the French Bloke.

He was in surprisingly good spirits, and we had an excellent night. Max was getting ready to go out when I came by, and me and Michel shared a bottle of wine and talked about many and wide ranging subjects, and scarfed some Chinese grub.

I asked him what he thought about magic, and he said that he thought it was about people not understanding each other's contexts. Colonial explorers for example would seem to be possessed of magical qualities, because they were alien to the cultural context of the people they encountered. He told me about Cargo Cults, which I'd not heard of before.

Somebody reached for my off button at about 11:30 shortly after Max had returned and I retired gratefully to bed. Much better than going all the way back to Brighton.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Thinking about magic again today, and my owl photograph. Copying Reuben, I started a photoblog yesterday, which allows me to upload one picture a day. I decided to call it everyday magic, on the premise that we are surrounded by magic and I would use photographs to evidence that. Told the Gnome about it and he rather annoyingly said that magic was too broad a brief. And what was magic anyway?

This of course made me try to define it -- not satisfactorily so far. But when something strikes me as magical it is often about strange juxtapositions. Like the painted owl on the bricks, or the twenty santas I saw walking out from Brighton station last December. But I want it to be more than that. I want deep magic too; a childishness. In philosophical terms it is about feeling astonished about being in the world.

Thinking of magic I stepped from the train in front of Reuben. Magic is unexpected and surreal, like the pigeon that flew out at me tonight from the tube train at head height.

A contrast today from the sunset over the river views of yesterday. An ugly view over train tracks at Paddington. But we were taken out for a business lunch/briefing, and walked back from the restaurant in a short hailstorm.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Intimations of mortality. Walking with the FB by the river at lunch discussing his heart problem, with various rooks, seagulls etc. picking at stones at the edge of the water and yarping peevishly at each other. It may be that he has a Tony Blair style zap to get the thing back into a proper rhythm again, or munching medications for the rest of his life. He has tests later on this week.

Being a hypochondriac I have contemplated my own non-being on a regular basis, whereas the FB is bullet proof. (Apart that is from the broken ribs Max gave him when he was tickling her.) She is naturally very worried, what with little Tahlia being but a couple of months old. She now has a thermonuclear option in their discussions about how much red wine he drinks.

He is able to laugh at it, which is very impressive. He is a good bloke and it is at times like this that you find out who your mates are. And I am one of them

.
MJ has the deposition tomorrow, which was postponed from last week, and a job interview. No stress there then.

Otherwise a quiet day at work, with me still being big and clever. The Gnome back too, which was very welcome. Here is the view over the Gnome's shoulder, out onto the river from the window by our desks.



Sunday, February 19, 2006

Skip this entry if you hate poems.

Here is a recent batch of new stuff as yet unfiltered by time and the whips and scorns of editors. Any feedback gratefully received -- these mainly written on the train in the last few months. Apart from the last one, which was written about going back to my old university with my old friend Sophie last november.

All the rest are sparked directly or indirectly by my MJ.

Winter Train

The London train
Slinks through snow.
Tired commuters
Settle down; drift
Into themselves.


Face at a window
I hatch these crazy theories:
That the track is a snake totem
A Peruvian spaceship runway.
And all the grey stars
Of these English towns
Were built to summon you.

I print your name
To be read from space
Letter by letter
On each passing
Paperwhite field

For you are the woman
Who would fall to earth
Supergirl, correspondent,
My Aphrodite.

With all your graces
I believe
You’ll bring me something
Like spring
But everlasting.


Annunciation in Manhattan

Fifty stars bleed.
I walk down Broadway
Towards the wound.

New York
You are bandaged with flags
And glory.

Followed by the full moon
I moved across the water
Like the word

Through unburst clouds
For rain falls in its own time
Like hard glass or now

Now that there is you
There is also hope
Of a blessing

To visit us here
To be bigger than
The terrifying sky.

Love, uncover your wounds,
For from this bleeding
Our love was born.

We are naked
Holding like strangers
Looking at an angel.


A sparrow at 30,000 feet

Cattle class, in clear air turbulence,
This shuddering is perfectly normal.
Through the window of a plunging jumbo,
You see the horizon thicken into indigo.
There is something horrific about this
Something about death in the way
Night accelerates to meet us.

Life, you recall, is a sparrow
That darts through the fire-lit mead hall.
On bending wings we swoop
Through the last slantings of the light.

You lurch your return from the musty box
Of the toilet at the back, while
The steward is dreaming in the galley,
And you take your place again
Among the ghost-faced sleepers.
There is nothing to fear
For we share the same journey
And the crew seems certain
We’ll get there.


Ophelia

You write your name on water
And then you sink
A wet halo shrinks
Around your face
And you sink
Lips last.

Ophelia
Why didn’t you float like the others?
Why didn’t you drift downstream with a glut
Of Pre-Raphaelite flowers?

I’m terrified that you’ve stopped breathing
Or that you gulp the dim, death-gladdening murk
Where everything’s refracted
Bending the sticks and searching arms.

For you are not where you seem to be
And your ears are full of sand
And there’s a stone in your soul so big
I’m not sure if you want me
To lift you up or hold you under.


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.

The Green King’s Wife

You leave the imprint of a star in the snow
Then lie there, dormant, as the snow falls
You have crawled somewhere between the trees
Into the shallow grave of a lost child.

But one day your fingers will poke like crocuses
Your tongue will unfurl like a fern frond
To rake the fractals of ancient air
And make the Spring speak your phrases.


The King of Starlings

A smudge on the pearl horizon
The starling flock is piloted
Through the clear dusk to Brighton Pier.

Each bird in flight describes a line
That thickens calligraphically
In its flow of curls and swoops

Before it settles by the sea surge
Under the thundering funfair
Under the amusement arcade.

And for one shamanic moment
With a boundless dreamer’s ego
I have made the wild incantation

That draws this cloud; this starling throng
Beneath my blunt, brown-booted feet
So that the cheesy old pier twitters

With ten thousand winter songs
That make me wonder if I stand
Above a cold and raucous heaven.


This is not a love song, it is a true love song

I can write that the streets are sheets of cardiac muscle
That George Bush is really a mermaid
That I can fly just by saying the word “fly”
I can write anything, but it wouldn’t be true.

Instead I attract lies
I coax them like cats from bushes in Brooklyn
I poet them from bridges and sunsets and leaves
Because truth is repulsed by me; truth and me
We slide apart like the wrong ends of magnets.

This morning, I swear blue dogs mounted the sky
Like starlings or angels or passers-by
And on 5th Avenue, Venus stepped from her shell
And left with the fishes still flapping and gaping.

New York? Christ yes! I shouldn’t be here.
They called us inventors, perverters:
This internet boyfriend, your English amour.
Those damned Platos would have poets deported.

So I won’t write that I love you, though you know that I do.
I’ll write about things we know that aren’t true
Like terrorists in teapots, and that genius tosspot
And feeding your kids to the snakes in the zoo.

Let’s talk about clowns that are evil
And sinister wall weasels
Because they’re all porkies, and stories and lies.

And there you’ll be, my spellbinding baby,
Bulls-eye, unscathed in the middle,
All starry and stripy, indescribably lovely
With the truth of your soul and the truth of your heart
Unscarred by the thorns of the things that you aren’t.


Above two cathedrals

for Sophia Toumasiz

Ranks of etched angels scoop the light
In the moon mouths of their trumpets.
Airborne prophets and apostles;
A scrambled Coventry squadron
Above crowds of weekend shoppers
Above the cross of salvaged nails.
With ranks of angels at our feet
In the floor of foot-smoothed marble
Inside the new cathedral
In the city where we studied
I found you were we lived before:
In the dancing thoughts of heaven.

Steady rain in Brighton today and I went out for a walk in it for an hour or so, by way of working up an appetite for my traditional Guernsey Bean Jar. It's a great winter warmer, but takes more than six hours to cook. So its aromatic fingers were drifting about my place all day, making me feel hungry and nostalgic for Guernsey. My bean jar (a deep sort of casserole dish from which the meal gets its name) was brought from Moulin Huet pottery in Guernsey, i.e. just down the road from the family home.

It is a rustic sort of meal. My grandfather said that the bean jars used to be taken to the baker on Saturday night, cooked overnight in the cooling baker's ovens and retrieved, wrapped up in brown paper, by older children on Sunday morning to be eaten for breakfast.

To cook a Peter Kenny bean jar you need dried haricot and butter beans soaked overnight and boiled for an hour, beef or lamb (traditionally on the bone), lots of fresh parsley and a wee bit of fresh sage, a clove or two of garlic and a very large chopped onion. Occasionally, if the mood takes you, a bit of carrot too. Essentially you put all these ingredients in your bean jar and slow cook for a minimum of six hours on a low heat. Serve it in a bowl with chunks of brown bread and loads of white pepper.

Otherwise gradually coming down from my stress fest.

Coversations with the French Bloke and Matty Boy today. Alarmingly, the FB has had a bit of a heart scare, so is having lots of tests next week for them to work out what sort of treatment he needs. Matty was with him when I called, and we three will get together this week at the FB's place.

Meanwhile Matty and Taranjit seem to be enjoying each other's company these days, which is excellent.

Mum had been out for a three hour cross country walk with her new chum yesterday. Perhaps I can subsitute her for me to go with Anton on our South Downs walk, and meet them in the pub later.

Spoke to MJ who was clearing the last of the stuff from Kings Park, trying to decide if things were bags of toys or bags of rubbish.

Here is another photo I took early yesterday morning, where I saw the arches as wings and the light as a head.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

There is magic in the world. We are surrounded by it.

Stepped outside at 7am to walk down to the sea, and to get some fresh air after being cooped up all week.

Down an unprepossessing sidestreet near the seafront, I glanced down a passageway and found an an owl, painted by an anonymous street artist. Owls are so full of symbolism that it seemed quite a magical find for me. Very nicely done too. Photo below.

It makes me think of another magical place in Hammersmith. There's a small gloomy passage through a small shabby 60-70s office building on the river. To get to it, you pass big steel garbage bins and a couple of people smoking. On one side of the passage is dirty glass where you can see (through the grime) a well-kept fishpond, with bright goldfish. The contrast is so strong it is like glimpsing another world.

Home after walking for a couple of hours. I had a day of recovery, talking to MJ, watching football on TV and working on poems, defrosting fridge, etc. Oh, and sleeping.

Anna out with Girlies tonight. So in the evening I went up the road up to pore over maps with Anton, and eat huge amounts of his brilliant home made pizza. And delicious home-made chocolate ice cream made with organic chocolate, which he "outsourced" to Anna to make.

Friday, February 17, 2006

All’s well that ends well.

Finally finished my pitch. There is an adrenaline fuelled elation that steals over you once it’s done, and it has gone well. You forget the the dark nights of the soul it takes to get there. This one went really well for me -- and, more importantly, I have reminded people that I am big and clever, so feel more secure in my job. Am completely exhausted though, and worried about one of my colleagues, a recovering alcoholic who started drinking again through the stress of it all.

Pitch up in Lancashire, so loads of travelling on Friday, and was unbelievably pleased to be back at home. Was astonished about how much the agency had to pay to get a train to Preston, booked a couple of days earlier. £220 each from Euston. It cost the agency £880 for four of us to do a five hour return trip to make this pitch -- and we were in standard class. Crazy. That is just under two thirds of the cost of the flight I have just booked to travel all the way to New York.

MJ also very relieved to have moved into a new apartment close to the kid’s school, and good to no longer be literally under the feet of her brother and sister-in-law. Lia being a great friend through the move.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's day and my beloved 3.5 thousand miles away. What is to be done?

My cunning plan was to fly into towering rages at work, and run about like a blue arsed fly with ADD, until I felt like scooping my own eyes out with plastic coffee spoons. This culminated in a massive tourette's outburst and tantrum. I looked at my watch and it was only 11 o'clock. Things went downhill from there.

Cleverly I broke away for a swim at lunchtime to try and rid myself of stress and anger. But I'd left both my two sets of goggles in my desk, which gave me bloodshot, child-scaring eyes for the rest of the day.

After working late, I left and encountered one of the bald blokes sitting alone staring hard at a pint with teary eyes. Turned out he had broken up from his girlfriend two days ago. So I had a mournful bottle of corona with him. There's not much to be said really.

Home and much nicer things started happening. Spoke to MJ who was in the new flat, and she and the bairns were sounding very happy. MJ also sent me another lovely poem by William Carlos Williams, and other messages of a romantic nature.

Email with Romy today about places to stay in Guernsey. I spoke to Toby last night too, he was sounding very cheery, which was nice to hear.

Finally, had a nice note from Badgerdaddy, attached to yesterday's note. He has an interesting and funny blog. I'm adding him to my links on the right...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Fighting off a cold today. First to the bank then more writing about chronic pain, and working on a pitch which will necessitate a trip up north this Friday. Braindead this afternoon, fortunately the idea I had at 5 in the morning last week seems to be the foundation of what we are going in with, so I still have a patina of big and cleverness.

Quick stride along the river for lunch. Quick chat to MJ who was taking the children in late due to the heavy snowfall in the North Eastern US. Few strange little snaps with my camera, and then back to work. Evening spent reading more of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell, and listening to Brian Eno's album Neroli, which is 53 minutes of ambient "thinking music". I love the idea of creating an gently stimulating but unobtrusive soundscape, "the edge of music" as the boy Brian describes it in the sleevenotes.







Sunday, February 12, 2006

Up earlyish with head free of crushing pain. Quietly read the excellent Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell before Mase came down and started making welcome coffees. The book is amazingly imaginitive, and it brings alive early 19th century London as well as dealing with magic.

Lots of chat with Mum and Mase. Mase talking about the book his father wrote called the Doxology. It was written before 1920 and ends with a scene of people flying in a plane which seemed incredibly modern then. Used my camera to take photos of masks Mum had made, and her cat pebble stone and other bits and pieces. My mum really is a creative person.

Long journey home, and long talks with my darling MJ when I got back. There is two foot of snow in New York. She sent me a great story about starlings in North America. This from the New York Times...

"In March 1890, a New York drug manufacturer named Eugene Schieffelin acted on his love for the playwright by vowing to release into Central Park all the songbirds mentioned in Shakespeare. Mr. Schieffelin loosed several species: thrushes, skylarks and starlings. Only the starlings survived. From the initial 100 birds released, flocks reproduced to the current hundreds of millions, making them among the nation's most abundant and ultimately most controversial birds."

I have pretty much finished starling poem now and can work on something else.

Here are pictures from Mum's house of the masks, and the stone cat...


Saturday, February 11, 2006

At seven a.m. woke with an uncharacteristically grim determination to open and file all the correspondence, bills and so on I'd been ignoring. On this evidence the most easily ignored (but persistent) correspondence comes from the water company. Probably trying to drip-feed information. Feel very happy to have done this though.

Then excellent news from MJ: she has found a place for her and the bairns to move into next week very near the kid's school and close to where they lived before. Will be cosy for my next visit.

Travelled up to Edgware to see Mum and Mason, and have dinner. Unfortunately in the afternoon I developed a vile headache which meant I had to slope off to bed early after food, and a quick chat to Mum, Mase and Diane. Spoke to my MJ.

Then pain, then sleep.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Quite a focused burst of work on my poem about starlings on the train this morning. Then had an excellent morning working with Andy on the pitch. He is a very brilliant guy and we cracked out about seven TV concepts in two hours, laughing uproariously at the ideas we were having.

Met a cropped haired Anton in the Battle of Trafalgar and we had a brilliant night, popping into some of Brighton's finest boozers. Later, over a brace of large pizzas in Zizzi's he unveiled his plan of us going for a one hundred mile walk. I seem to remember agreeing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A good night's sleep, and another very enjoyable swim today, so generally feeling manly and vigorous.

In the evening crammed into the clautrophic tube with Phil to The Crown and Two in Soho for our regular curry night with Paula, Marcella, Ash, Arno and James. Top to see everyone. Marcella two weeks into giving up smoking, which is great, Young James sporting strange hair, and of course lots of goss with Paula who has been having trouble with her stepdaughter running away from home.

MJ off to explore more about a job today in Queens.

Snoozed on the train home. Bed. Below 1) Phil, 2) LtoR Paula, Arno & James, 3) LtoR Ash & Marcella.





Me and the Gnome at our desks today.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Awake at 5pm and had a brainwave for a pitch I am working on. Got up then, as I had to be in work early anyway, so caught the 6:45 train full of even greyer-faced commuters than usual.

Extremely tired today, and found it hard to concentrate as the day wore on. Had good chats with the Gnome as we were taxied off to the other agency this afternoon, and sat in a glafter getting a few ideas down in a glass room had time to talk. Anton sent me a photo of his MA certificate with a message saying "Special needs", to reflect my own lack of an MA. The Gnome hastily mocked up a certificate saying Anton My Arse which I photographed and sent back to him. Anton wants to have an adventure and is going to tell me about it on Friday. I hope it is not the woman's clothing thing again.

Had to explain to the woman from Warwick University who kept phoning me that I wasn't going to send them money right now. Nor the man from Greenpeace who came in to talk about green things.

MJ busy looking at strange houses, and in a frenzy of activity.

Me working on the starlings poem again a bit. But too tired to figure it all out.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A nice day. Wallowing up and down in the pool this lunchtime I was passed by Barney and Geoff surging along in preparation for entering an Iron Man competition later in the year.

Met Mark in the Battle of Trafalgar back in Brighton. Over a couple of pints of Harveys I was particularly interested to hear him talk about his friend who is an inventor, and another who is related to John Masefield, who wrote one of my all time favourite children's books A box of delights. Later strapped on the nosebags at a newly-opened Italian restaurant called Carluccios.

After fond farewells, back home to speak to a cheery MJ who had been for what sounds like a very promising job interview in Manhattan.


Working on my starlings poem a bit.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sluggish start to the day. Had no energy, and bought a Guardian newspaper and stared at the crossword barely able to solve it. It makes me think of the classic SF book Flowers For Algernon, where a very unintelligent person is somehow made to become extremely intelligent, and then after awhile the effects of his treatment wear off and he becomes horribly aware of the atrophy of his brainpower before descending back into his old life as a labourer.

Work not too bad. Quite busy. Went out at lunch with Trace and drank chamomile teas and talked lots. Returned sharpish for a pitch briefing where I sat next to the MD. As we were talking I took the opportunity to draw a small glum gnome dressed in rugby kit, to represent the defeat of the Welsh team by the English at the weekend, so that only the Gnome who was sitting on my other side could see it. Later I noticed the Gnome covetly sketching a jackboot in an inflammatory reference to the occupation of the Channel Islands in WW2.

And talking of Guernsey Kate phoned me this evening to say that she and The Gavster had really enjoyed Guernsey, particularly the cliffwalks. And they had gone to see La Gran'mère too.

Impromtu night out with Bob. The old chien fou had been in town for a job interview and called me. Brilliant to see him. We played a couple of savage games of pool and then had a beer and then had some tapas, with our conversation being drowned somewhat by a guitarist. Restrained night though, as Monday is the mother of all school nights. Bob in Doggets below.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Alarms in the night Woken at 3:15 am by smashing glass and fighty shouting yobs in the twitten. Also they hammered on two people's doors, one of them mine. They ran away, however, when I started moving about in the house. I called the Police who had already been alerted. Took me at least an hour and a half to get back to sleep again. Spoke to my nice neighbours about it this morning, and they seemed to be of the opinion that it was not a big deal. And these things happen very rarely considering how central we are.Will definitely move little further from the station if I buy another house in Brighton..

Uneventful day. Tidied and prepared for Anton and Anna and Klaudia to come down for dinner. I cooked a roast with various trademark vegetables, such as mushrooms cooked with fresh sage and bacon and carrots cooked in orange juice, and we ate cheese and drank wine after, followed by apple pie (the king of pies) and custard.

Gave Klaudia her belated 2nd birthday presents of a Thomas the Tank Engine Railway Set, and a James Tank Engine. She seemed pleased with these.

Anna expecting her second on May 1st, looking very well on it too. She and Anton had brought a Pingu the Penguin DVD down to watch. Anton seems to know all the plots. Anton very delighted that when I put on Stevie Wonder, Klauds approached the CD player pointed at it and said "boring" quite distinctly. Anton also pleased with the brilliant idea of running a parallel blog to this one where Ken Peters goes about his life, with his fiancee Janie May, and asking if I would link to it.

Spoke to MJ who was at Weezer's place after A&A and Baby K had left. She had drunk a glass and a half of wine and was feeling relaxed. Lovely phone call with her. Also called mum for a chat too. I leave you with a picture of Klaudia spark out on my gold sofa.







Saturday, February 04, 2006

A day spent on my own, mostly very enjoyably. Wandered about town shopping and taking photographs, after working on a poem about starlings first thing. Spoke to Anton, MJ and the French Bloke.

In the evening I went to see Jarhead, directed by Sam Mendes, which I thought was excellent. A film about the first Gulf war. The protagonists, despite being brutalised and only suffering through friendly fire, don't get to fire their guns in anger. Lots of lovely visual touches in it.

Here are pictures of the pier, and the Bansky street art near my house. It depicts two policemen kissing, and the football player with a numer 7 leaving the pitch. This is George Best, who died recently and many thought to be the most naturally gifted soccer player produced in these islands. He was originally from Northern Ireland, and checked out recently after a long battle with alcoholism. The others are pier pictures taken today.



Friday, February 03, 2006

Rushing about today: bank first thing, suit returning, scoring a Thomas the Tank Engine railway set. What's more the dogs expected me to do quite a bit of writing too.

Was smug about having had such a moderate night last night. Some shoddy looking hungover types about. Calls with Anton about cameras. He is cheered by his success in hooking me on the camera, and is wondering if he can make me start thinking about turntables as I can't like music if I don't have the right turntable etc. etc.

Spoke to MJ while walking along by the Thames again this lunchtime. She has a job interview today, and I am proud of her. Returned to work bloody freezing again.

Quite a bit of work to do this afternoon. But finished at five and went for a swim, due to a Waterloo of fatness yesterday with the trousers falling down. Ate a box of sushi for lunch by way of hanging head in shame.

Started a new poem on the train back to Brighton. Marvellous to be at home tonight. It is the place to be sometimes.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

MJ involved in more legal stuff today, whereas for me, it was the day of our agency’s big client party.

Got off to a flying start by missing my train, then having boarded another train realising I’d left my mobile phone at home. Got off the train at East Croydon and watched it head off towards Bedford with my dress suit, shirt etc. still aboard. Realised almost immediately and actually slapped my forehead in disbelief. Made me remember why people living near Niagara Falls have flat foreheads… They wake up every morning with a start, saying "What’s That!?!" "Oh yeah…" Slap. "The Niagara Falls!"

Phoned up bizarre Thameslink lost property, who told me right away that my stuff had been handed in, but being a transport company it would take a day to be returned the several miles from Bedford. Gallingly had to hare off to rent a suit at lunchtime for the evening, with trousers that kept falling down.

Reuben and Kate won the contest to get their CSR photos uploaded first.

Agency driven off in coaches to a club in Mayfair called Tantra. Not a bad venue, with Saturday Night fever style dancefloor, beds to sit on, and surly staff. The night swarming with clients who had to be schmoozed. I mainly stayed off the pop as I needed to leave early to get back to Brighton to talk to MJ, and keep an eye on the trousers. Was entertained by a young guy wandering about doing a card tricks act he combined with robotic dancing.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Back to work. Took my camera with me and impressed The Gnome with it. Otherwise hard at it for most of the day writing about chronic pain. Sloped out at lunch for 15 minutes in the cold grey day and for want of something to photograph, took a snap of a cormorant cringing on a pile sticking out of the Thames. As I did so a couple stopped me and asked searching questions about it. Clearly I have the air of an authority on cormorants. After asking me if it was a cormorant the man, staring hard at it, said, “you don’t see cormorants do you?” which I quite enjoyed.

My hands were numb when I got back to the office.

In the evening the first Copy Shop Reunion (CSR) of the year. It makes me feel very happy that we were a team of three hacks ten years ago, and we still meet up regularly and with great affection. Kate was saying that it is coming up to ten years since she first met us, when we interviewed her, and Reuben famously wrote “steely” on his pad.

Reuben doing very well at work by the sounds of it, and is off to collect an award in NY in March.

Unless I’d seen it with my own eyes, I would have scarcely credited it, but First Matie had exactly the same camera as me, in the same colour too, which she bought today. Reuben got his out and we gloated over cameras for a while. Met in the Thistle at Victoria, and then sloped off to have some pleasant tucker at a Sri Lankan restaurant.

Then into The Bag O’ Nails for a copy shop lemonades. And after abandoning Kate, Reub and I shooting the breeze on the Brighton train. And the journey seemed to whiz by.

Talked to MJ. She calculated that we’d seen each other on 70 days since we’ve been together. Actually this is much more than a lot of people who live in the same country. We have been very lucky.