Sunday, April 30, 2006

Coming to the end of the book on Brian Bates' book The Real Middle Earth. Enjoyed his discussion about the importance of weaving:

"In England, the Anglo-Saxon word 'geweaf' meant 'wove' and its cognate word 'gewif' referred to fortune'. Weaving and destiny, in the imagery of our ancestors, was one and the same thing... Each life was a kind of knot in the threads, in which forces of energy were interlocked amid the shimmering, vibrating pattern of the entire web. The idea is based on the processes of spinning and weaving which were central to life in ancient Europe."

Made me think about how people still talk about weaving spells, and perhaps reassess Yeats' He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.

Also discovered the work of a poet new to me... Tua Forsström. The blurb on the back of her book I studied once at a wonderful faculty describes her as a visionary Finland-Swedish poet. At first glance it seems to contain some wonderful work.

Feeling extremely tired. Had to go to up to London for work today which was rather poor, and was unable to keep my eyes open on the train home. Although it did give me the opportunity to have another fascinating conversation with Sarah and learn more about her research for her degree on how people connect across the Internet.

Blessedly tomorrow is a Bank Holiday and although I have been waking up every day with monotonous regularity at 6am I am hopeful of a bit of a rest, and maybe a cheeky walk.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Seem to be waking up at 6am these days which is profoundly noxious but does enable me to get to work early. Unusually there was a baby in the carriage this morning. As we approached East Croydon it screeched and filled the carriage with poo smells. Indulgent smiles abounded.

And talking of babies... Anton called today to say that Junior now has a name: Oskar Andrei (this latter name in memory of Anton's dad -- hope I spelled it correctly).

Emotionally drained by work today. Will have to go to work on Sunday, but by the end of the day we were in reasonable shape. The Gnome off to Brussels on the Eurostar this afternoon to watch his son play rugby.

I stopped working at 5pm and returned to the creative department. Someone had improvised a table tennis table so took on all comers for a bit. They all beat me. Then went to find Marilyn whose last day it was (again).

Discovered her in a pub sobbing her heart out. Max the Mentor was there too and she had been set off by Marilyn and for a minute they were both sobbing on me. Only glad I had the manly self control not to be sobbing too.

Urgently need to do stuff now that has nothing what so ever to do with work.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Urgh. Another slogathon all day and me and the Gnome under a good deal of pressure. I also had to break off in the afternoon to present to the all-agency meeting, about the last pitch I won. Naturally revelled in blowing my own trumpet. Played it for comedy with a random monologue about pies. This went down well, so I was momentarily big and clever again.

Left work late and got back to Brighton at 10pm. Reading a book about the flora and fauna of Britain illustrated by photos which I bought for a fiver. Interesting and strangely soothing especially when read in conjunction with the Real Middle Earth book, which Anton is coveting.

Met Anton, and a couple of his babyfather compadres (who are all are handily named Nick apart from the one called Rick) in the Lord Nelson. They had been wetting the baby's head. I was braindead by then but I had a fast beer with them, and a conversation about cars, before returning home to catch up on sorely-needed sleep.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Work work work. Bah. In early then yet another unmitigated slog. Both me and the Gnome feeling pretty worn out. Too busy to swim, or break off, which was galling. Constant stream of people coming into the pitch room and asking when they can expect us to finish things, either to do with the pitch or other stuff, and having to resist the temptation to swear violently at them.

Left work at a reasonable hour and off to meet First Matie and Matty Boy in the Thatched House. Later was joined by nice Taranjit. Much catching up and sustained feeding. Slept on the train home.

Below a shot of the noble Gnome (life size) in the pitch room we are working in.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Off to Slough. Felt a wave of ennui and horror in the car firm's car park. I was appalled by cars. Somehow this was made worse by the soullessness of them all being the same brand too.

Rallied enough (see what I did there) to present tissues to client and in the moment was passionate about cars. Client poker faced and with a nasty tie.

When not working I busied myself losing things. My mobile phone, my wallet (left in the cab returning from pokerfaced car people), and my watch at the swimming pool. Miraculously all were eventually found and returned.

After work I had a cheeky swim, and went to eat Chinese food and chat with Sarah in Kew. Being in Kew made me feel a bit odd as I'd not returned there for some time.

Checked weight this morning. Despite walking miles every weekend and swimming most days weight entirely unaffected. Discussing this with Sarah. Perhaps weight is about protection and if you can find another way of feeling safe the body will adjust naturally to be stringy and whippet-like.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Moanday. Bad night's sleep dreaming of sailing into rough seas, and not making way against high waters.

Work... And The Gnome and me chipping away deep in the junk mines all day on this car pitch. The day interspersed with various banterings such as a brief chat with The French Bloke whom I've not seen for a while. He was in good spirits, and health and Max and Tahlia are fine too. His heart medication has caused him to form a tiny bald patch in his beard, and also to fry when he comes into contact with sunlight.

By a strange twist of fate The Gnome and me were asked to look after a new New York based charity, which has just come to the agency. So I may not have seen the last of The Big Apple just yet, and might have to zoom over again.

Went for a swim after work. Then home dreaming about lost forests as I looked from the train as it sped through Sussex. Among many other fascinating bits in The Real Middle Earth that the South Downs are so called because of the Anglo-Saxon word dun meaning hill.

Home and I called Anton to see how they all were: Anna fine and catching up on her sleep; while the new baby sleeps all the time except at night.

Gallingly Anton is claiming to have lost half a stone since the walking began.

An early night beckons. Have another slogging day tomorrow due to pitching. Have what's called a tissue meeting tomorrow. We are going to drive to vile Slough to blu tack ideas to the walls of a client's office. He then will be coaxed to give a little feedback. Hopefully there will be the poo-pooing of certian ideas or the liking of them. Then we zoom back to the agency for a blamestorm. After this we incorporate any intelligible comments & biff all the approaches that they hated.

Then the thing to do is to steer clear of suits for the next week who mainly will stand about proffering unwanted advice, wringing their hands and asking if the work is ready yet. Roll on Wednesday week when the deed will be done.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Much-needed day to myself. Briefly went shopping this morning, due to Anton hypnotising, and scored two pairs of Craghopper walking trousers in a sale in a shop called Track and Field. Felt quite rugged doing so.

Slept in the afternoon for an hour or so, and then started an enjoyable book called The Real Middle Earth, Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages. It is written by Brian Bates a professor at the University of Brighton and he mentions the area beyond the downs, where we have done lots of our walking, was covered in a mighty forest: "the Andredesweald, which was described in the year 892 as thirty miles wide and stretching one hundred and twenty miles from east to west". Anton and I have been walking through its fragments. The writer also refers to Tolkien quite a bit too, explaining the Germanic roots of Middle Earth and so on. Interesting.

Spoke to Mum and to Toby today. Planning to go to Canada to see Toby and Romy shortly. He has a new camera, and took these in the forest behind the farm in Ontario. Lovely close-up shots, either that or there are bees there the size of crows. Here are two of them...

As a bit of a detour, I walked along the seawall at Brighton Marina on the way back having walked under the white cliffs you can see. Full of men fishing, reminding me of the days I spent at the White Rock in St Peter Port as a boy.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Met Anton and Anna's son today. He was sleeping like a proverbial baby. Anna at home 24 hours after giving birth, and being generally full of beans. The baby has yet to be named. Both parents rightfully proud and a bit shattered.

Lurked around with them this evening and Anna's parents Stephanie and David, but left early as A&A were fighting to keep awake.

Klaudia being utterly angelic and kissing the baby lots of times and reading to him and so on, which was very sweet. And of course allayed fears that she would be traumatised by the new arrival.

The morning had started with working on a bit of poetry, followed by breakfast with Anton, Klaudia, Brian and Anne and Keith. We went to Bill's, which is a really good place if you get there early enough. Anton then off to the hospital and we pushed Klaudia's pram back up the hill.

Later, as it was such a beautiful day I had a long walk along the coast to Rottingdean, and ended up walking for about 11 miles. Below Junior, Pingu the Penguin, and Klaudia.

Locked away with the Gnome in the middle of an arduous slogging day, when Anton called to say he had a son!

He was born this afternoon. Both mother and baby doing well. In the evening I saw some photos Anton had taken. Anna looked ecstatic despite it being taken only 15 minutes after the birth. She only needed gas and air and paracetamol.

The baby looked exceedlingly baby-like.

Much enjoyment late tonight at Anton's house with Anton, Brian, and Anne and Keith (Anton's parents) as today is the Queen's birthday. Anne and Brian are both ardent royalists, and prefer today to the baby's good socialist due date of May 1st. Anton asked me to buy all the papers for today. Tabloids full of the Queen's birthday of course.

Otherwise, after a frazzling day at work, I went to the Chelsea Art Fair on the Kings Road to meet Mum and Mase. Beginning to turn into a bit of a grump at these things, feeling impatient with the predictability of the work. Although I did fall in love with a fine Japanese etching. Irritated by one ancient and vermiform exhibitor explaining to Mum how we shouldn't be worried if we don't like anything, because it is good for us to learn about art.

After we went off to a restaurant called the Gaucho, near South Kensington.

We're not having much luck with our choices these days, as the place was so noisy with fifteen or so rowdy Spanish-speaking nursery nurses, of all things, that it was hard to hear yourself think above their cheery singing, clapping and noisy smoking. Bah.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Up to London with Anton, plotting our next walk. Then I met Reuben on the platform at Victoria for one of our three minute chats. He was looking perky I thought.

Then a bit groundhog dayish. Work a bit of a tiresome slog; another swim; another tetchy conversation about the dog advert; etc. etc.

This broken by a brief trip to a car showroom near Chiswick Roundabout. The Gnome being the potential buyer and me trying not to say anything stupid. We wanted to experience what it was like to be sold this particular car. The result was underwhelming & I hate cars, and conversations about cars. The bored seeming salesman had a big scab on his head and I wondered if he got it through talking about cars too much.

Home at eightish and vegged out watching the TV feeling tired and, for no good reason, faintly cheesed off.

Good news was that a card sent by Kate and Gavin from Guernsey arrived today. They gave it to a hotel employee to post at the beginning of Feb. My card is a very tasteful depiction of a family of four Guernsey Teds having a picnic outside Sausmarez Manor.

And so to bed.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Up early to eat porridge and drink coffee with Mum and Mase. On the way to Hammersmith I paused for a wee at Baker Street where two men were cottaging, which seemed rather early. Each to his own I suppose. Bumped into Camilla on the tube, who I last spoke to when we were filming in January, and walked with her to the agency.

Work a slog all day. Had to turn my mobile phone off as I was being hounded. Me and The Gnome locked ourselves away to try to get a grip on the car pitch. We are slightly twitchy about this, but I was still surprised that he wasn't more reassured when I explained he could relax as I'd been on a dodgem over the weekend.

Managed to go for a swim at lunch. Today the shallow end of the pool was roped off to enable half a dozen larger ladies to perform aqua aerobics. Every now and again I glimpsed them underwater through my goggles. They looked like graceful hippos, but when this thought occurred to me I snorted water up my nose and almost drowned.

And talking of poetic justice the Rogue Scholars site has my poems on. Should be 30,000 feet and not 3,000 feet... and beginning of another poem they chose not to use got attached to the end of A sparrow at 30,000 feet. But I am sure they will sort it out soon.

Early to bed tonight, to try and shake off this dratted tiredness as there is another slogging day tomorrow.

Monday, April 17, 2006

While breakfasting enjoyably on a pork and garlic sausage (with a smidge of mustard) sandwich, I discovered that A Sparrow at 30,000 Feet, and Winter Train two poems which I posted here a month or so ago are just about to be published on a New York site called Rogue Scholars. I submitted them in December last year I think and on hearing nowt I presumed they had been rejected, so it was a nice surprise.

Left Brighton at 9:00am and off to Edgware to see Mum and Mase.

Listening to my first podcast on the train: the first of this year's Reith lectures by Daniel Barenboim. The lecture was largely about the relationship between sound and silence. He used the analogy of gravity. That to lift something up requires energy and if you no longer apply that energy the object returns to the ground. With energy sound is created, and with no energy it drops back into silence. This falling away he said was the origin of tragedy in music. Each note fighting against silence that wants to make it die.

All fascinating stuff for me, with my obsession with silence. Funnily none of the questions afterward delved into this further. It's as if nobody heard the silence stuff, despite it dominating his lecture.

Walked from Mill Hill to Edgware and then spent the day enjoyably hanging out with Mum and Mase, and Di who was also here. Return of enormous tiredness again after lunch and had a sleep in the afternoon. An early and blameless night beckons.

Sunday morning doing mountains of laundry, and pottering about. Found the box MJ's engagement ring came in, and something made me open it. There I discovered her mother's wedding ring which she had lost. Felt very odd. I sent MJ an email saying I would return it.

Much time spent in a futile and increasingly infuriating search for my nice secateurs to prune my roses. After about an hour I found a pair of scissors and strode about savaging bushes with them till I felt better.

My new pal Sarah came down to Brighton in the afternoon and we walked along the seafront, had a pizza and a go on the dodgems (to help with my forthcoming car pitch at work) and discussed extraordinary things while doing so. She is impeccable company and was born in the desert, and lives in Kew where I used to live and brought with her an aromatic bag of my favourite garlic sausages from the excellent butchers by Kew Station.

Ended the day with a brace of beers in the Batty before she schlepped back to the smoke. I watched a bit of football on the TV like a proper geezer, then sank Lethe-wards like a Johnny Keats who'd been at the pies.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Woke up on the sofa, with Sarah and Fraser and the two bairns upstairs. The idea of setting off on another major cross country yomp was an altogether appalling one after feeling so exhausted recently. But I set off to meet Anton in the station after morning cups of tea with Sarah and Frase and was ultimately glad I did.

Anton had naturally made a careful plan about the walk but this was screwed up by train delays and a bridge being closed, but we managed about 10 miles (as the Nazgul flies) around the Arun river starting and ending at Arundel, which looks very impressive with its castle.

Very pleasant walk again, different landscape this time in the river valley, and the surrounding hills. Enjoyed the rolling fields and stretches of woodland and the swanned river. Yellow primroses out everywhere. Very nice walking, and we found ourselves talking about Tolkien quite a bit. It's almost inevitable as so much of the book has the characters walking in English-seeming landscapes writ large.

Stopped for a short while in the churchyard of a village called South Stoke, which was very pretty. Loving the big grey splotches of lichen on the graves. Anton had left the gate open and we were soon joined by half a dozen bouncing sheep, and later by a young shepherd. Ended up helping to guide the sheep out again, which made me feel quite rustic.

Saw lots of sparrows and pheasants on this walk. Sparrow numbers in the UK have declined massively since I was a child. However it was good to see lots of them, particularly noisy around South Stoke church. Making me think of that line from Yeats's poem The Sorrow of Love which starts "The brawling of a sparrow in the eaves..."

Back on the train and changed at Ford. As we had to wait there was little around other than a big shop full of Model Railway paraphernalia peopled with dozens of men and boys. I suppose I am horrible, but there is something sad about grown men being obsessed with train sets.

Earlier I gave Anton a good deal of pleasure when my £5 rucksack broke, validating at a stroke all his accessories.

Back to Brighton and straight to the Battle of Trafalgar for a pint of Harveys. Then home and I fell asleep for a while before zooming back to Anna and Anton's place for a roast chicken supper.

No name for the baby that is going to burst out from Anna at any point. Klaudia has two baby dolls which she calls Baby, and More Baby, so the idea is being floated of calling the baby More Klaudia.

Below... two shots of Arundel. More tomorrow...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Pottering ineffectually this morning getting things ready for Sarah and Fraser and their nippers who were coming to stay. At some point I fell down the stairs in slow motion which was a bit painful. Managed to snatch an hours sleep before they came, as I'm still feeling very exhausted.

Fraser and Snaiirs' children are excellent. Amelia is three and says quite a lot, and Freddie is about nine months and is very sweet too. Good to see Fraser as I'd not seen him for some time and he was looking very well. We'd all been invited to see Anna and Anton. Klaudia and Amelia getting on very well. Anton barbecued some lamb outside which was very nice and had a smoky taste.

Baby Klauds was very sweet with me today. She wandered over and wanted to be picked up, and looking at me expectantly asking for water and later a tissue. Fascinating to see listen to her and Amelia having conversations.

Then back down the hill to my place and Sarah and Frase organising their nippers, and then having long chats with them till late. Fraser, who is a hack like me, now working freelance and enjoying it and his health after his heart operations has stabilized now, which is excellent news. Sarah cross examining me about MJ.

Interestingly Amelia was unhappy about sleeping in the bedroom with the bunks and said there was a man in it. Apparently she often describes her sightings in great detail, including a man at their house in what sounds like a tricorn hat. I have always found my house to be spook free, and benign in atmosphere -- although I spend the least time in that room.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Absolutely exhausted this morning. Discovered that I was very dehydrated when I got to work, and once that was fixed felt quite a bit better. Utter slog till 4:40 when I snuck out for a swim which woke me up somewhat.

Children about the agency today. It being Easter and there was some sort of egg hunt. Max the Mentor brought in her two bairns. Her daughter Robin, about 7, said pointing at me "That man's got a big head. It's a funny shape." I said it was big because of the brains and that I was the cleverest man in the world. This she cunningly refuted by asking me what country she was studying at school. Even her teachers (who were making her study India) were cleverer than me apparently. Made me miss Kate quite badly.

Air of release and joviality in the Galley after work and I travelled into Soho to see my old work posse. We went to the Dehli Brassiere in a tiny room walled with mirrors. Nasty to have to look at onself guzzling curry, but the reflections locate you in strange space. As below... Lovely to see them all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Up early and off on the early train, but feeling almost too tired to think for most of the day. However a swim at lunchtime perked me up a while.

Went to see Waiting for Godot at the Barbican Theatre, which is part of the Beckett Centenary Festival with young Hazel. It was both our favourite plays. Funny seeing something that I am so familiar with on the page. I thought the performance was very underpowered in the first half but they got more into it in the second half.

I was surprised at how strongly the character's faith asserted itself for me. Among all the futility of waiting was the idea that they "had kept their appointment" and this gave them a rag of dignity. And the power of the three leaves on the tree in the second act on what was an almost featureless stage.

Bless her, Hazel did it as a cheering me up thing: two hours on the unremitting bleakness of life and the absence of God. Funny.

A Beckett of a journey back in which I managed to miss the connections so didn't arrive home till 1am. Just remembered... I think Beckett was born on Good Friday, on the 13th. Will check.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Managed to dress myself appropriately today, which was nice. And on the train began to write poems this morning for the first time in weeks.

Took a brief for a car pitch that I will be working on. Had to confess to my colleagues that I could not drive, a newsflash they put a brave face on. I worked on a truck account once, however, and was told that I really knew trucks, which I was very proud of having only ever driven a fairground dodgem. In fact I have sat severally in the driving seats of stationary trucks feigning expertise and gripping the wheel with narrowed eyes.

Worked in a frenzy attempting to pack everything into a few hours. Then back to Brighton to the Hospital for grumbling prostate, which has settled down quite a bit now, and so they told me to go away, which was good. Although I was warned that it may be prone to the odd door-slamming tantrum from time to time.

In the waiting room I noticed an aquarium with a couple of neon tetras and a catfish in it. The tank emitted a persistent trickling noise, which surely can't be good for all those older men with dodgy bladders.

Walked back in the rain, and found myself inexorably in the Apple shop upgrading my iPod which will add many splendours to my commute. Happily loading tunes onto it in the evening, and then popped up the road to pore with Anton over a map of our next walk. Despite the fact I'd already eaten some grilled fresh tuna, he forced me sample a bowl of Boston baked beans he'd made, which was like a wrongly sweet version of a Guernsey bean jar, although quite tasty.

After I'd eaten it he happily explained that he'd only had a tiny portion himself as he was on his Benchmark Bob inspired diet. Unlike me who had now eaten two suppers. Bah.

I am going to see Waiting for Godot with Hazel. I know the play really well, having studied it at school and re-reading it -- she contacted me today saying she was just about to score tickets. Be great fun, although of course nothing happens in it.

The day looked sunny enough so I scampered onto the train wearing a thin fleece. As we rattled along I looked up from The Guardian and noticed that there was snow over the Downs and pockets of snow here and there in the fields, and that the strange sensation I had felt in my body walking along the platform was coldness.

Despite penguin bites I felt positively disposed towards the world. A manly swim at lunch, and was fairly productive at work.

In the evening met Sarah again. I like her. She is very funny and full of stories that are unlike other people's stories. Over a meat-based Iranian meal and sweet milkless tea she told me a fairly graphic account of female circumcision in Sudan for example. And about her appearance on a reality TV show. A colourful person.

Back at Brighton station I woke up the man dozing near me in the carriage. The camaraderie of the late trains.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Will I never learn about those unspellable Polish beers? Woke at 5am feeling a bit shoddy and in need of sparkling mineral water and a kidney machine. Mad Dog had impressed on me severally the night before that he needed to be up at 7am and off. I got up at 6:45 and sipped tea till 8am reasoning that I should let Mad Dogs lie.

Shambled round the corner with a subdued-looking Chien Fou and ate beans on toast accompanied by two cups of splosh in the Bystander Cafe. With a little time to kill we sauntered down to the seafront for a breath of air before I saw him off on his train to get to the start point of his 20mile walk. Bob has a tube coming from his rucksack so that he can suck water from a specialised plastic bag walking accessory. I didn't like to ask, but I believe it keeps his hands free so as to better tear the heads from the rabbits he surprises in the wilderness.

Lurked at home for a few hours, and Anton and Anna and Klauds came by wondering if I wanted to go for a light lunch somewhere. Anton happy as there is a new Polish delicatessen opening near him, which is excellent and I will be the first to visit it the next time I want to buy 10 types of cabbage. A nice lunch in the lanes, and a cup of coffee in the park by the Pavilion with Klauds running about after pigeons saying "go away" to them. Anton drinking water as he said that Bob was his new benchmark and would probably be drinking water.

Made Anton proud by buying some walking socks and a (walking) teeshirt. Have arranged with the excellent Anna to have another shopping day with her after the baby is born (and it was making its presence felt today by lots of kicking). By that time I hope to be stick thin and more like Benchmark Bob.

Spoke to Mum and will see her and Mase next weekend.

Lazy Sunday afternoons. The best kind.

What is this design fault that makes you unable to sleep when you are overtired? Felt shattered and sicky first thing, but nevertheless I found myself labouring up the hill to Anton's house.

When I arrived Anna revealed an unexpected talent as a bookie's runner, despite being nearly full term on her pregnancy. After all, it was Grand National day, and we all chose a horse to bet on while Anton and me would be walking. My choices revealed themselves later to be a brace of utter donkeys.

As we were driving to our start point Baby Klauds puked copiously over herself in the back of the car. This set Anna off and she had to open the car door to puke quite a bit too. As Anna recovered and Anton put sicky clothes into plastic bags, I found myself mopping vomit from shivering but placid Baby Klauds standing by the side of the road, and remarking cleverly that the family that sprays together stays together. Nobody thought it was funny.

And onto the walk. Four and a half hours today around Ashdown Forest and the Weald Way, which was originally a Roman road. Anton in full regalia, although having to be helped on with some accessories he called ankle gators, and stuffing the map in upside down into the advanced plastic bag accessory. Wonderful walking through the country that inspired A.A. Milne. Discovered a lovely church at Withyham with its graveyard full of daffodils. A perfect resting place in the English countryside.

Our trek ended in the village of Ashdown. As we'd walked we had envisaged a nice pub where we could wait until the train came. But there wasn't one, so we ended up having a beer much later in my local The Battle of Trafalgar (or the Batty, as Anton is now, questionably, calling it). Anton had also been harping on about how the perfect accompaniment to a pint of Harveys would be a bag of pork scratchings. Ate half a bag of these and felt like doing a Baby Klauds.

Mad Dog had phoned me while I was walking, and it turns out he was stalking about on the South Downs scaring the locals in a way that would interest Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Mysterious Hound met us in the Batty... Looking very healthy, carrying a incredibly heavy rucksack that contained a full sized-tent, having walked about twice as far as me and Anton.

Bob and Anton hadn't seen each other for 8 years, Bob having been Anton's lodger and colleague many years ago. They have the same birthday (though different years) and their daughters were born within a month of each other. Jovial reunion.

Then home for showers and me and Mad Dog went off for a curry in Preston Street which the chef for reasons known to himself had poisoned with sugar. Then off to the Tin Drum where we met Anton and drank those bad Polish beers again till I could hardly keep my eyes open.

From the walk today... Anton in full regalia...

A.A. Milne like trees at the top of a hill... View...

Withyham graveyard.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Braindead and overtired.

Journey into London with Anton. He said that his walking related purchase, to actual walk ratio was in the region of 26:1. On the train we had a moment to pore over maps for our walk tomorrow in Ashdown forest.

Work another slog today, but me and The Gnome have come up with some good stuff this week and we are still being big and clever.

A Gnome-related incident: Mike looked at this blog for the first time on Friday and was a bit surprised to find himself referred to as The Gnome all the time. I told him I mean it in an affectionate spirit, but I am not sure he wasn't galled by it. One thing about him which is really galling is that he keeps a guitar by his desk and he is about 12-14 times better at playing it than me.

Zombied home and, pausing only to shovel down a Chinese takeaway, went straight to bed.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Slogged all day till 7:30, so not too much to report. Tetchy political atmosphere gradually dissipating.

However me and the Gnome have had the go ahead to make another TV ad for the cats and dogs people. Looking forward to casting the dog (Brad Pitbull suggested by the Gnome) for the "lead" role. Arf!

Slipped away in lieu of lunch for a swim mid afternoon. I don't know if it is my imagination but I did seem slightly less porcine when waddling by the mirror, which is good. One day I may have ribs again.

Late home, reading about the 50 worst albums of all time in Q, the worst offender being an offering from Duran Duran. Pausing to eat a brace of fishcakes before bed, I headed upstairs to slumber on the Norway foam.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A day of two halves. A tetchfest at work. Got up early to get to get there, but was delayed on the tube. Stupidly forgot my work fob so that I had to stand buffoonishly outside doors waiting for people to let me in, then found I was locked out of the computer system for not doing my timesheets. Then some utterly galling work things put me in a pretty foul mood. I have to be careful though. I have a reservoir of anger after the MJ business which I am trying not to dump on other people. Had another swim, however, which is helping me keep a lid on it.

Spoke to Carl again during my lunchbreak. He sounded okay, if a little shaken up. I tried to stress the importance of prioritising things so that he takes care of himself, and he was laughing at me for wanting to nag him.

After work I met Sarah who is a regular reader of this blog. Strange to meet someone who knows several details of your life, while you know next to nothing about them. She told me fairly early in very enjoyable conversation that she is a synesthete, so that various senses are elided and attached to one another -- so for example words have colours. A former policewoman, she has travelled widely and has been studying Ethnography and Creative Writing recently. I really enjoyed meeting her.

Long cold schlep back to Brighton.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Little blogtastic today. Travelled to London with Anton again. He was discussing the necessity of waterproof overtrousers for the advanced hiker. (Total Anton hikes = 1)

A lovely morning found the Gnome and me secreted in a viewless room at Queen's tennis club working on the Cats and Dogs TV ad.

The highlight was being served by a strange Russian with bacon sandwiches and salad for lunch, precisely the same in every detail to yesterday's fare.

The Gnome and me escaped at 5:30 after presenting our ideas and walked back through the graveyard. I went back to work to collect my swimming gear. The pool again full of huffing people bumping into each other, and then some mincing buffoon roped off 40% of the pool for six people to do aqua aerobics to a soundtrack of Jump by Van Halen.

Gratefully home at 9:00pm and seeking a blameless and early night.

Spent today away from the office at Queen's Tennis Club, mostly locked in a room with the Gnome working on TV script ideas for a pets charity. The idea was to inspire us with different surroundings and we had a large room to ourselves with a view of a roof. Lengthy briefing this morning, from several people and a dog. When not taking up his stance at the head of the table, the dog lurked near the Danish pastries or, nastily, between my feet. At the end of the day they all reconvened (sans dog) and we had to present our ideas to a roomful of people. The Gnome and me managed to come out of it okay.

In the evening several of us took our client Julie out for a meal which was fun. Julie is the best of clients, excellent brain and a really decent person. Turns out she studied Philosophy like me.

However I was very disturbed, as I was about to fork into a fishcake, to get a call from one of my oldest friends Carl, who said he'd had a minor heart attack a week and a half ago. He is okay now, and taking tablets, but was feeling somewhat depressed. Felt very sorry for him, and somewhat shocked. He said he was definitely giving up cigarettes now, which is good. Took the wind out of my sails somewhat for the rest of my evening.

Below chairdog.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Day of rest and brooding. Cleaned the house, then popped out for a bit with my shades on to buy trousers and a piece of monkfish.

Stopped to chat to my neighbour, then Mum phoned to say she'd been for a five and a half hour walk yesterday. Spoke to Toby, and learned that Romy's grandmother died today in Japan, and Romy was with her having flown there from Toronto the day before. Otherwise Toby cheery and Meatball making its presence heard in the background. Toby has invested in cacti as "Meaty" destroys all other plants.

Later a Grey, a kind of alien, walked down my twitten and glanced in at my windows with its beetle black eyes. Okay. I made that up. But nothing much else happened.

Got on my walking boots and sauntered down to the not so lonely sea and sky, then off along the coast towards Rottingdean. Stunningly beautiful morning. Very bright, sunny and windy; the sea quite rough and lovely. I walked out past Brighton Marina under white cliffs where I poked about in a few tidal pools which were made of chalky, almost bone-like rock. Photos below.

After a few miles, I stopped at a friendly little cafe under the cliffs at Ovingdean and had the best cup of tea I can remember. Full fat milk, a white sugar and leaning against the seawall listening to the roar of the waves. Something about the sea, and the the fatty milk reminded me of the kind of tea my Grandmother used to make when I was a kid in Guernsey, and vividly brought her to mind.

Walking back I was adopted for ten minutes by a black dog with nice eyes carrying a plastic bottle in its mouth. Perhaps it was the fact its fangs were occupied, but I found myself quite warming to it.

Later I experienced The Bad Side of Seagulls. Normally Seagulls and Peter Kennys inhabit their own spheres of influence with little or no friction. But as I walked back through the middle of town three hours after I had set off, there was a fierce kerfuffle in the sky by the Natwest bank near the Pavilion. Suddenly I was being showered in bird shit by one of those screaming mad-eyed swine. Clearly on purpose too. The droppings were white and, surprisingly, brown. Walked back up to my Twitten through the Saturday lunchtime crowds, thus decorated, trying not to think about what unspeakable ingredient had made the guano in my hair go brown.

Perhaps it is some kind of Brighton initiation.

Finding it quite hard to relax at the moment, but all the physical stuff helping. Although in the afternoon I felt tired and twitchy and the brief return of my old enemy the ecoptic heart beat made me decide that taking it easy tomorrow might not be a bad idea after a gruelling week. I spent most of the afternoon cleaning and tidying. My bedroom now smells of polish and doesn't have rubbish piled in it any more, which is nice.

In the evening walked up the hill and had a lovely meal and plenty of chat with Janet and Ken. Always lovely to see them. Janet showed me some small bowls she had made from silk which were very unusual. She is plotting a nice piece of art for a project, which is a way of demonstrating the network of relationships people have, which is a nice concept.

Somebody unplugged me from the mains at 10:00 and I made my excuses and headed down the road straight into my bed.

Below... The sea. And looking down into a tidal pool made from white rock.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The combination of swaggering at work yesterday, and Marilyn's leaving drinks left me urgently needing to pull my finger out. Caught the early train and, once at work, disappeared with the Gnome into the Junk Mines. Bigness and cleverness seems to have continued today, however, and I have been asked to do another presentation next week.

Did manage to break away for a bit in the afternoon to zoom off to Chiswick and see Nicki and get my hair cut, which had tipped into buffoonery sometime last Sunday.

Nicki was looking quite tired and is heavily pregnant. Usual 20 mins of gossip. She is leaving in May -- one more haircut, she said when I left. Left me wondering what it would be like to measure your life in haircut intervals. After 13 years or more, not having my hair cut by her is unthinkable. I have demanded she move to Brighton but she ignores this.

Back to work and more meetings till quite late. Spoke to Max the Mentor after work in the bar, and a few others before pushing off. I am amazed how supported I have been at work -- right from how they haggled for me to get over to Baltimore before Xmas so I could be there for MJ and the family, to being there for me now that MJ and me are finished.

A long week, and pleased to be home tonight.