Thursday, August 31, 2006

Had an introductory session from a likeable hypnotist and NLP practitioner called Michael. I want to lose some of my extensive collection of phobias. The most pressing being the so called "white coat syndrome". I always get very anxious before my blood pressure is taken, so my readings are always high and it becomes a vicious circle. The hypnotist said he would have a go at fixing this in the few minutes that remained. First he asked me to imagine how I felt when the quack brandishes the blood pressure kit, and dwell in that anxiety. Then he swung his arm back and forth clicking his fingers and I had to follow this movement with my eyes but without moving my head.

Then got me to focus at a point in the air above his head. And imagine the feeling, it was instantly sunnier and more friendly, he was talking to reinforce the message. I felt fully conscious at the time although was aware that I had begun to breathe in a deeper and more relaxed way.

Afterwards he asked me to imagine the same scenario and asked if I felt anxious about it now. I was unable to recall any feeling of anxiety. Since then I have not been able to think of having my blood pressure taken without smiling and imagining cheerful quacks! The proof will be the next time I have it taken of course, but I'm optimistic that it will work. Quite amazing. I have a whole smorgasbord of phobias and neuroses this guy can sort out for me. Flying is definitely next on my list.

Felt a bit tired today due to a poor night's sleep. Was up early for a blood test, however, and later took a walk by the sea. A bit cloudier and blustery this morning as I had a coffee on the pier. This is a routine I could really grow to love, sat there drinking coffee on the vulgar drafty pier looking at Poetry London magazine and trying to work out which if any of my poems they might go for. They have published me a few years ago. Generally speaking I found the poetry well crafted but more cerebral and less emotional than I remember it.

Home and hacking viciously at poems. Spoke to Mum who was keen to find out about the hypnotist, then ate a mackerel and settled down to watch more Frazier DVDs. Tobs sent me this picture of the stained glass he and Romy had made for their front door in Toronto. Very nice.

Woke with two ideas for poems this morning. Also feeling better than I have felt for at least a week. Spent the morning getting these down. One is about saying things backwards (as in the poems by Pascale Petit and Joyce Harjo plus the one I had published years ago) the other is sort of a Pandora's box thing.

Walked again by the sea and had a coffee on the pier. Otherwise little to report. Hung out, spoke on the phone to Mum and to Sarah about her novella which she has only two days to finish.

Reading a grimly enjoyable book called Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda. It describes her life as an illiterate geisha who made her "debut" i.e. started sleeping with customers in 1940. Interested by how the war had little effect on her until in the week before it ended, the house she had just moved into was burned down in a firebomb attack.

I hadn't really experienced the war in any direct way, and so I didn't understand clearly what it meant for the war to end. But if this was what war was like, I thought, why couldn't it have ended a week earlier? Then our house wouldn't have burned down.


Interesting how the war was so completely separate from her experience.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Signed off work by the quack till the end of the week, but feeling marginally better today.

Surprised to hear my ex-wife in her Annie Mole persona on Radio 4 this morning, giving an excellent interview about blogs and the London Underground. Made me think it must be strange to have had a relationship with someone incredibly famous; if you'd gone out with someone like Tony Blair or Madonna and have references to them cropping up almost every day.

Before visiting the doctor, I went for a brief walk by the sea and took the two shots below. It was sunny and breezy; a lovely morning. I stopped to have a cup of coffee on the pier looking down at the sea, which made me feel momentarily very cheerful.

Not much else to report. Spoke to Matty boy for a while, and Sarah sent me this about the rubbishness of dogs.


Monday, August 28, 2006

I was fate's guinea pig today. Tracey trained it down to Brighton for a few hours, armed with her large Tarot cards wrapped in silk. After a cup of tea in the yard, and a roll-up cigarette for Trace, we got down to her very first reading for someone else. The cards did, however, uncompromisingly reflect my emotional landscape this year. I'm not sure what to do with that accurate reflection, though, other than listen to its advice on not idealising the past.

After, we walked down to the sea and ate fish and chips while sitting in deck chairs in the intermittent sun. I love being able to saunter down to the seaside and watch the bank holiday crowds. Trace brooding over last boyfriend somewhat. Apparently three psychics have said he will try to get back with her soon. While chatting with Trace, had an oddly comforting vision of a much older Peter Kenny happy to sit on a deckchair and watch the world go by with a flask of tea and a book and many long looks at the sea.

By the time I got home I felt weak and shaky. Given that I am a hypochondriac (everyone, after all, needs a hobby) actually being ill is an affront to human decency.

More Frazier this evening. And now bed.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

No noticable upturn in health, and rather gloomy about this. Sarah came down to Brighton. It was her birthday and she was escaping London for the day. We went to the seafront and sat on the pebbles and ate fish and chips from styrofoam platters, and among other things talked about her novella for her creative writing degree, which she'd emailed me yesterday.

As we picked at the fish and chips Sarah got the urge to throw stones and then had to fight an impulse not to pelt them at innocent people wading in the water. Left under gathering black clouds, and rain which fell upon the masses on Brighton Beach.

Home and I felt drained. Ate Pizza and watched Frazier episodes, I think Frazier should be my new role model.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A day's vacation for me. Health still rubbish, but apart from that fine.

I am writing a poem again, the first new one since I broke up with MJ. Not sure how publishable it is... It's about time, returning to Guernsey, and witchcraft. Between June 1550 and October 1661 upwards of 175 people appeared in court accused of sorcery in the Channel Islands. Forty-six were found guilty in Guernsey (36 in Jersey). In Guernsey they used to burn them in St Peter Port near the market. They hung them over a brushwood fire so it's likely that they were dead before they burned, but I dare say there were aberrations. Their ashes were thrown to the wind.

The main source for it is a book I've had for years called These Haunted Islands by Chris Lake. It has the court records as an appendix. Funny there are some years when they had crazes for it. In November 1563, for example, five Guernsey people were burnt at the stake (Francoise Regnouff, Martin Tulouff, Colette Salmon, Graçene Gousset, and Catherine Prays). Earlier, in August of that year someone called Collette Gascoing was punished by being Whipped at the crossroads. One of her ears was nailed to the pillory, cut off and thrown in the sea. She was banished for life.

The Chris Lake book also has a chapter about Salem - which I visited last November - and its connection with the Channel Islands.

Other than witch biz not much to report. Spoke to Janet and Ken and Ken's daughter Caroline and her two kids who were passing through the Twitten in the morning off to London.

Went out for a walk for an hour nosing in a few shops and getting a breath of fish and chip flavoured sea air by the pier. Sunny day today.

Watching Frazier DVDs on TV, which is a wonderful world to slip into. Funny and secure and amazingly well written. Funny to have spoken to Peri Gilpin in Hammersmith earlier this year... A lovely woman.

Moaned to Mum about feeling ill and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.

Going through a green tea craze at the moment. It's the new beer.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stupid cat yowling woke me at 5 this morning. I swear it has three lungs, able to hold a note like a feline version of Bill Withers singing Lovely Day. Got up at 8:00am and had a last cup of tea with Tobs before he set off to Gatwick. As usual, very sad to see him go.

Made my final decision not to go to Caroline's wedding up in Birmingham. Had to send my apologies and spoke to Christiane and Anton. Am sorry not to see them all.

Worked on a new poem, read, and went out for an hour, returning I felt less shattered than before. Watched a TV documentary about beating fear of flying. I may try some of the techniques between the bouts of frozen horror on my next flight.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Decided to go to work today. Got the train to Victoria and felt so poor that I simply phoned work and got on the next train home again. Can't seem to shake this dratted virus off. My colleagues okay about me being off however.

Home. Spoke to Matty for a bit. Did resting until Toby came to stay before zooming off back to Canada from Gatwick tomorrow. Lurked about chit chatting and watching TV, as I was not up to going out again. Also spoke to Mum too.

The poem I put in yesterday's entry had the idea of running backwards as a spooky element. The backwards thing also crops up in this excerpt from a poem called Call it Fear by Joyce Harjo:

Not that,
but a string of shadow horses kicking
and pulling me out of my belly,
not in the Rio Grande but into the music
barely coming through
Sunday church singing
from the radio. Battery worn down but the voices
talking backwards.

The backwards thing also appears in a poem I wrote in the 80s which was published in a small magazine called Bound Spiral. It is about making a wish in the wishing pool in Guernsey, which I did again just a few weeks ago with Romy and Toby.

The next wish

Climbing the waterlanes to the wishing pool
An eleven year old boy, his mother
And younger brother tugging the damp hedges.

On hands and knees they unwind time
Each writing three circles on the drinkable water
Anticlockwise, leftwards, sinister
But altogether familiar.
The older boy wishes a girl in his class
Will one day marry him: the mother,
Pretty and practical, unwishes her husband

While on the spot, the brother
Conceives some mercurial scheme.
All three, in sharing this ritual,
Strengthen the family.
Three circles, then the cool fingers are lifted
To drip one finalising drip
Into the still centre of the expanding rings.

Next morning the older boy returns
Having slept uneasily on his wish
Touches the cold water and revokes it.

The pool and the poem open time.

First to be said before it can be done
Every expression every wish or poem
Changes what is to come.

A wish alters everything, and this poem --
Having rewritten the past --
Informs me. I must one day take
my family to the wishing pool
To make tight new rings in the water
And watch with contentment
Their inevitable broadening.

This I shall never revoke
This is the next wish
This poem is the next wish.

The pool and the poem open time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sat in the doctor's office for an hour this evening as I needed to see him on another matter, and threw in the man flu for good measure. He also took my blood pressure which read high. This mainly due to my white coat syndrome and sitting about feeling anxious. Also weighed me and I am heavy... So that last six months of constant exercise has done the trick then. Waves of futility. Left the doctor feeling like I wasn't long for this world and significantly less healthy than when I went in.

Fortunately spoke to Sarah this evening who laughed at me and reminded me that I was chosing to interpret it as doomy.

Read some poems from the selected poems of Sophie Hannah. They seem quite nicely done, and a very confident style using a variety of forms. I also read most of The Huntress by Pascale Petit. Very different kettle of fish here but I liked it a lot. Loads of Mexican imagery in the poems (which I like having spent a few weeks there). The poems seem to be about a daughter being haunted by her mentally ill mother. Here is a short one, which doesn't use Mexican imagery.

The Spell

After Maman's first brainwashing session
I impaled a toad

on a thorn bush over an anthill
and watched the ants flense its flesh

until its croaks grew faint.
Then I threw the bones into the stream.

Only the key-bone floated against the current
back towards me

in a silence so deep I could hear it scream.
When that bone moored in my hand,

I repeated everything Maman had said
backwards.


Pascale Petit


A couple of years ago Pascale Petit accepted a couple of my poems for Poetry London, and suggested an excellent change to one of them too.

My flowers are thriving thanks to recent rain. Here is a picture of them and my front door and the end of the Twitten (as you can see the Twitten is not a stretch of Australian Bush).

Monday, August 21, 2006

Slept till 10am, watched my DVD of Return of the King and slept. Stupid man flu worse than yesterday. Narrowly avoided a gloomfest, and slipped out for some fresh air for half an hour.

Soaked some seaweed to put in a miso based soup, which made my kitchen smell like the sea.

Got an email from Nick who I will see at Caroline's wedding which will be great. (He's Caroline's brother.) He sent me a picture of him and his daughter Lily who I've not yet seen.

Nick and Lily.

Still feeling off colour today. Slept in late (for me) thanks to new thick blind. Spent the morning tinkering ineffectually with poems. Then met Hannah, a friend from work who was down in Brighton for the weekend, to a virtuous lunch of vegetarian nosh at Food for Friends. Ate excellent vegetarian sausages ("snorkers") and mash, accompanied by sparkling water and orange juice, followed by some species of pear tart. She's good fun, and it turns out she knows Guernsey well too.

After this I sloped off home and phoned Mas to wish him a happy birthday. He said that he looked up his age this year and realised that he was 72. He'd gone through the previous year telling eveyone he was 72 when he was really 71. This year he is going to be 71 seeing as he missed out on it last year.

Felt absolutely shattered after these exertions and slept for a couple of hours. Loafed about later ineffectually and feeling increasingly rough and achey and went to bed early.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Woken at 8.00am by men delivering my tumble dryer. As I let them in I discovered that I was feeling wussy and ill. After breakfast I called Anton to cancel our planned 12 mile walk tomorrow and ditched my plans to go to London in the afternoon.

Romy's three point initiative continues to bear fruit. The tumble dryer removes the stage where my house is cluttered with clothes for days on end. And today I had an orgy of laundry, which is now all dry and folded away.

I popped out to collect my framed prints, one of a picture Jean Howell gave me a couple of years ago, and it looks wonderful. Jean is the mother of an ex-girlfriend who I don't see any more, and so have lost touch. But I really liked her, and her work. My nightwork picture looks fine too.

Across the lane from the frameshop was a barbers and I and had my hair cut by an almost silent woman with a stomach ache.

Romy had also suggested that I replace my bedroom blind with one that actually cuts out the light. During the week I used a piece of cardboard to block the window and I have slept much better because of it. Today I got a new light-blocking blind from habitat and began to drill holes in the wall. But after about ten minutes I felt the job was impossible. And lay down for a minute. Almost two hours later, I woke up and continued where I had left off, and had the blind up in five minutes.

Quiet night working on my collection till the point where I felt that my poems were all tripe and I had to go to bed.

Picture by Jean Howell that I had framed today...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Feeling a bit rough: sore throat and ennervated. Met Anton in the station and travelled up with him, which always makes the journey more cheerful. Thinking about pitching for a film... Snakes on the Train... Horror at Burgess Hill! Etc.

Walked through Hammersmith Graveyard. The graves are subsiding, and so many are at increasingly strange angles. But I am growing to love the strange and ghostly Victorian grave sculptures. Like the two figures below.

Spent most of my limited mental energy on deciding what should be in The Nightwork. Otherwise kept my head down and made my way home as soon as possible. Slumped in front of the TV and watched something about gardens, which took in Kew Gardens in London and Central Park in New York. Two places with strong emotional resonances for me.

My bed must have an enormous Peter Kenny magnet in it, as I am being attracted to it as I write. Sweet dreams!

Walked through Hammersmith graveyard this morning talking to Mike Ferg who I met at Victoria. He is being treated for some early signs of cancer but is remarkably cheerful and upbeat about it. Makes you remember that people all around you are dealing with all kinds of challenges all the time.

Work was composed of sporadic writing about breast cancer, a swim at lunchtime and a few bouts of ping pong, in which I lost every game.

Had a very nice evening with Marja and Snairs. Met them at Victoria and went off to eat some fishy Sri Lankan food. Marja arrived first, looking more relaxed and happier than when I last saw her. She is just back from Finland recently and is house hunting as she and her husband are on the verge of divorce.

Fortunately she has lots of capital and so is looking at some swanky places, and has a business wheeze that I didn't quite understand, involving tablecloths and separating newly-rich Russians from their money.

We talked about depression, as her husband is experiencing a lengthy bout of it since losing his job as a master-of-the-universe-style banker last year. Depression can shrink your world down to yourself and you lose sight of, and empathy for, people close to you. I felt sorry for her husband even though I am far from being his greatest fan.

Stunned to hear that Matilda, Marja's eldest, is now eight.

Sarah arrived with a list of houses that Marja must see. She and Frase meanwhile have bought a warehouse which they are going to convert into a dwelling at some point. Sarah's description of "that trendy thirties, artisan warehouse look" made me guffaw. Sarah also complained that she wasn't on my cast of characters side bar on the blog.

They are both top birds and I am very fond of them. Farewells at Victoria after threading through an excitable mob of teenagers waiting outside a club having just received their A level results.

Dozing on the train.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Quiet day at work broken by a satisfying swim at lunchtime.

The evening much more interesting, however, and I met one of Janet's MA students, the delightfully named Naomi Trickey after work in The Battle of Trafalgar. She is working on a thesis examining how creativity and collaboration fit, and we had an interesting discussion. Quite nice to go straight from the train and end up talking about creativity.

It is a very strange statistical anomaly but every other person I meet these days is a Virgo. MJ is a Virgo. Anton is a Virgo. My new friend Sarah, even my recent "blind date" Penny was a Virgo, arranged by Max the Mentor a Virgo.... So it was no surprise that Naomi turned out to be Virgo too. She said her important relationships, including her husband, were all with Gemini people.

Then home for a brief bacon sarnie before Anton and Christiane called around. Christiane reads this blog in Australia from time to time. Strangely she had pictured the Twitten to be an area of bush full of wildlife. I confirmed that it was full of wildlife but mostly of the human variety. Oh and seagulls.

The three of us went to the Eddy for a late drink (where I got called sweetheart by the man at the bar again) and had a good laugh. Christiane breaking off to text her new and apparently gorgeous boyfriend in Sydney. Her family want her to return to the UK but she is loving life in Australia. We were laughing about how Christiane's dad was dropping hints that I was single, and Anton's mum has had a prophetic dream that Christiane and me will get married. I think I will adopt the pose of the heartbroken suitor at her sister's wedding next week.

Am beginning to gather a few poems together for a self-published chapbook. I am going to call it The Nightwork and this will goad me into doing a few more readings, to try to sell some of them. I have wrangled long and hard with the idea that it will be a small vanity publication, but at least the majority of the poems in it will have been already published. But this is part of my new thinking... Making an investment in myself. As the I Ching says in some of its hexagram commentaries.... It furthers one to undertake something. You never know what happens.

Below is one of my old drawings (called nightwork) which I may use on the cover. In real life it is about three and half inches across. I came across it again recently and I am having it framed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Day started nicely as Anton was travelling up to London with me. We were overheard talking on the train by an old University friend of mine called Callum who came over and shook my hand. Got his number, and we talked about us meeting up with another old friend from Warwick, called Will.

Callum is a journalist, and a really decent man who once got me a job as a sub editor for the Architects' Journal where he was then working. The job, however, didn't pan out for me and I don't think I've seen him since then. Will is now the author of The Hungry Years: Confessions of a Food Addict so it will be interesting to hook up with him too.

Felt quite cheery going into work due to this, but by the end of the day any gusto had been leeched from me by stultifying meetings. Caroline and James unable to see me tonight, as Caroline is now in a frenzy of wedding arrangements for their big day in a week and a half. But was very pleased to come home, and have a much-needed evening of quiet time and tea drinking and ironing.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Off to work leaving Toby asleep upstairs. Bumped into Janet as I walked out of my front door, only to discover that I'd forgotten my train tickets and so on. Met her again briefly at the station with two women, one of whom being the splendidly named Naomi Trickey, one of Janet's MA students who I will be seeing on Wednesday to discuss collaboration and creativity.

The Gnome away. An email in my inbasket from him with an "I'm on holiday and you're not" message with 60 or 70 Ha-has in a column underneath. Wrote interminable breast cancer publications. But slipped away at lunch, not for the intended swim, but to hang out with the French Bloke and get a mental breath of fresh air.

Left work ultra punctually and got home in good time to meet up with Remo and have a discussion about shelves for my study, which is all part of the plot to gain control of my own home and become tidy and efficient. Had to hurry this process up as Anton and Anna had just invited me up the road for a bite to eat with the delightful Christiane who is over from Australia for her sister Caroline's wedding. Apparently the hen night was altered at the last minute as they were supposed to fly to Barcelona, but couldn't because of the security alert.

I'd not seen Christiane for some 4 or 5 years I think, and she has traces of an Australian twang about her now. Interesting to hear about life down under.

Lazy day. Toby and I collected by Anna and Anton and the bairns to go for leisurely Sunday breakfast at Bills. I had salmon and scrambled egg and a huge freshly-squeezed juice. Toby said that Romy would have loved it there. Tobs and I then struck off to score a couple of umbrellas as it was drizzling and wandered around talking for two or three hours, heading up along the coast to the marina and back. Toby spoke to Romy who was safely home in Toronto, with a very happy Meaty the cat for company.

Returning to Brighton we stopped off at the Mock Turtle cafe for soup and cream tea, feeling distinctly like the Crane brothers from Frazier, especially as we were complimenting them on the excellence of their pea and spinach soup. Anton, with Klaudia asleep on his back, turned up and we threaded about through Brighton some more doing a spots of shopping here and there before stopping briefly at the Tin Drum.

Toby and I went home and drank tea and listened to Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, as well as a interesting CD he persuaded me to buy by a band called Interpol. Reminded me of all those hours that we sat about listening to the radio together when we were kids.

Then I cooked an excellent chickpea curry and we sloped off to a bar called The Earth and Stars for another restrained beer. I noticed that there was some sort of poetry reading there on Monday nights. Then home and a documentary on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Below: ages ago Janet gave me a watercolour painted by her aunt Barbara, who I knew. I took it to the framers yesterday to change the mounting card from a slightly overpowering pink. It has transformed the picture. It is of Strand on the Green in Chiswick where I lived when I first moved to West London some 20 years ago. It was there I lodged with Janet and Ken.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

After toast and small dish of cherries, Romy set off this morning to Gatwick Airport. She managed to get through security fairly quickly and easily despite all the terror alerts. However the plane flying from Canada had something wrong with its wing, and had to have a new part flown in from somewhere. She was put up in a hotel waiting for a middle of the night flight, last we heard.

As for this whole plot to blow up aircraft, again the timing seems incredibly convenient. It makes me think of the tanks at Heathrow fiasco a few years ago. Who are the terrorists? If a terrorist is someone who creates terror and fear, my prime candidates would be those so called democratic governments of the UK, the US and Israel, who not only backing illegal wars that manufacture enemies, but are using fear to ensure they protect their own interests. Read an excellent article in the Independent by Robert Fisk who has lived in Lebanon for 30 years. I was amused to see Bush... still mendaciously telling us that the "terrorists" hate us because of "our freedoms". Not because we support the Israelis who have massacred refugee columns, fired into Red Cross ambulances, and slaughtered more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians.

Anyway, today there was weird and intermittent wet stuff coming from the sky, which some of the older folk were able to identify as rain. And today I had a day of getting my domestic act together. After saying goodbye to Romy, I sprang about and lined some shelves. Toby and I then went out and bought things: cushions, a light shade, a small vase and a small fern for the garden. Toby went for a snooze in the afternoon, and I went ape and bought a tumble dryer and a small freezer. This means that I will not have clothes hanging about drying from hangers all the time, which will help me be organised and tidy and more efficient.

Really nice day and evening with Toby. Hanging out with Tobs is good, we just read stuff, listen to music and talk about it, and let subjects emerge at their own pace. It's all very relaxed, and because we are both adults we don't even squabble over whose turn it is to make the next cup of tea. Spoke to mum too on the phone.

We went for a very restrained drink in the evening one in the Battle of Trafalgar, and then another in the Eddy where we were talked to by a strange and intense and slightly scary-eyed bloke for a while. People talk to each other so much more here than they do in London. And that's not always a good thing. However it was still fun. Especially the bit when the bartender was calling us both sweetheart. Brighton is fun.

A spot of junk TV and then an early night bed.

Up with the infernal seagulls, as today was a holiday. After breakfast with Toby and Romy. I went out in search of a haircut, but the barbers was so full of blokes with crap hair waiting about, that I lost heart. Instead I collected my drycleaned throws and met Toby and Romy in a coffeshop.

Then an enjoyable afternoon, mooching about here and there through the lanes. We had a bite for lunch at Al Fresco overlooking the sea. Later, after more wandering went to the Pavilion park, where we drank tea and indulged in flapjacks. Meanwhile an eccentric started talking to us about the shape of trees. Personally I blame Romy. They then went to explore the Pavilion while I went home, my mind buzzing with a new three point plan.

The three point plan came from Romy who says I need to have a darker blind in my bedroom, a tumble dryer, and also to line the shelves. Each proposal stands up robustly to examination and will bring a wealth of benefits. I also phoned Remo who will come to do shelves next week so I can put my books in places that aren't on the floor. I want to change things and make my home feel nicer.

In the evening the three of us hung out with Anna, Anton and the bairns. Walked to a child-friendly, non-smoking pub, then repaired back to Anton's place. Baby Klauds being adorable and getting me to play trains with her, the only problem is that you aren't allowed to touch the trains, which is tricky.

Then we ate a late curry, listening to tunes and drank beers. Really enjoyable night. Floated down hill to bed.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Big news this morning about a foiled plot to put 10 bombs on planes bound for the US, mainly by British citizens. An unhappy business - and from my perspective since 9/11 no progress has been made in foreign policy, and I can't help feeling we are reaping what we sow.

Romy is due to fly back to Canada on Saturday, we can only guess if this will affect that.

Travelled up with Anton again on the train. Discussing the terror alert, and the pressing matter of double glazing which I have noticed other houses in the twitten have. Anton, however, looked quite pained when I said I was considering it which may mean it is not right.

Work was fine. I did everything I needed to do in an intense two hour period, then went for a long lunch with the Gnome and others, and returned to play ping-pong with great fierceness and skill. I also booked tomorrow off as a holiday.

Met Toby and Romy at Victoria station to travel down to Brighton together. Unfortunately a smartly dressed but utterly disgraceful drunk (the worst case of exhibition class drinking I'd seen in a full year and a half of commuting) was sat across the aisle from Romy making slurred phonecalls which seemed to be political in tone. At one point he poured one of his several plastic beakers of gin and tonic over the floor, narrowly missing Romy.

Because Romy didn't do the "you are invisible" face, the drunk began to fondly explain to her the virtues of Brighton, between breaking off shamelessly to vomit in the train. Nice.

A good laugh in Brighton. I enjoyed hearing about Prague and watching Romy rapidly data collect as we walked through the closed shops of the North Laines.

Crossing over to the old Lanes, we had a brace of beers and then went for lots of tasty tapas at Casa Don Carlos. Me revelling in the fact that I had tomorrow off work. After this, we walked down to the sea to throw some stones into the water under a just-past-full moon. Turned for home sloping back up through Twittens and sidestreets, pausing only to stroke a cat.

Stewing over the Tetley teabag people. Being an inventor of revolutionary teabags is a strain, and after several emails, they rejected my idea.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A frenzy of ping pong was pretty much the only interruption to a day of writing about breast cancer. When I got bored with breast cancer and ping pong, I got in touch with Tetley, famed maker of tea bags, to offer them my design for the revolutionary new teabag I invented yesterday.

Home and pushed beyond the limits of human endurance by my new futon. I stopped assembling it the other day beaten by the fact it needed two people to build it. But as another human was not forthcoming I persisted and after failing about 10 times and going to a dark place in my soul, managed to balance everything on books (I knew Ezra Pound's Cantos would come in handy one day) and, with brute force, I eventually managed to slot it all together. Then there was the business of working out how the cushiony parts work and putting the cover on. A struggle of 15 minutes right there, and I am still not convinced I have done it right.

Other than that, a fairly cheerful day, but with little going on externally. Internally however I am fabricating plots, a few plans, and some wheezes.

Note from Tetley:

Mr Kenny

Thanks for your email and for thinking of Tetley.

Initially, please send an outline of your idea, it may well be that this is something we currently have in development or have previously considered.

Kind regards

Charlotte Moss
Tetley GB Consumer Services

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Shortly after I woke, Anton called me on my mobile, setting off half an hour before the train leaves the station as usual. Met him in the queue for coffee, and we travelled up to London having a bit of a laugh on the train. New camping phase in full bloom.

Off to work and a board meeting this morning for the part of the business I am associated with. Sat next to the FB and spontaneously invented a revolutionary tea bag product before the meeting started.

After the bored meeting (arf) back to breast cancer for a bit before creeping out with Tracey for lunch. Well I had lunch, and she had a coffee and a few cigarettes. Lately I have been having dreams about Little Kate, and waking to feel pretty wretched knowing that I would never see her again. But I had a very useful conversation with Trace -- and suddenly feel a good deal better about my post MJ life.

Back to breast cancer, and then I went for a 40 minute swim before zooming off to Kew to meet Sarah. Being in Kew again is very odd. Sarah wanted to interview me for the ethnography she is doing, looking deeply into how the internet is affecting the way people communicate. All very interesting, and a very good chat was had.

Have had quite a few good ideas today about my next steps in terms of my own writing, and suddenly feel quite fired up. Was talking with Trace and Sarah about how many people, myself included, would happily support someone-else's needs but making a similar investment in your own needs is much harder to do. I have resolved to invest a little in my own dreams, and try to rid myself of some of my English diffidence.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Monday. Off to work like Shakespeare's

"...whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school."
Decided the journey this morning was for Thinking. The combination of the end of my relationship with MJ, attending the Buddhist retreat, and going home to Guernsey have combined to make me realise I need to reassess my life and be more positive about what I can do with it. The trouble is that this requires keen powers of organisation, and organisation is not necessarily my biggest skill set. However it can be done, and I suddenly feel quite excited by the idea of change, but not sure quite how this will manifest itself yet. Definitely want to get to a stage where I have more time to my own writing, and spending less time in trains.

Anyway. Work was fine if uneventful. During the day I did more on the interminable breast cancer stuff. Swam for 40 mins and generally kept a low profile.

Quick Caesar salad with Max the Mentor after work in a bar called Beach Blanket Babylon in Notting Hill Gate. Very trendy place with an almost baroque flavour to it. Lots of guilded looking candelabra, and antique-style portraits, and ersatz antique furniture strategically placed here and there. Quite pricey but fun too, and we enjoyed watching a comedically pretentious French waitress/bar manager as we chatted.

Max dropped me at Paddington and I had an easy journey home to a cup of tea and my last nostalgic slice of Gâche and then gratefully into bed.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Up early a leisurely breakfast, eating a couple of slices of toasted Guernsey Gâche and then went to feed Trotsky, who was positively delighted to see me.

Vigorously employed new broom for the garden. Then painted the wall of my garden that faces out into the twitten. The buildings are mostly a gleaming white here and my wall was looking decidedly seedy and soiled by the various denizens of the night. Fortunately I did not botch it up too much as I was putting on a public performance. People really enjoy the sight of other people working, and quite a few comments of encouragement from the occasional passing neighbour.

An Italian passerby stood for a moment watching me repaint the white wall, and said "That is white. Very white". "Yes it certainly is," I replied. You know where you are with conversations like that.

Very hot morning and sweat pouring from me just from a bit of sweeping, preparation and painting. Then generally tidied about in my garden. Everything has shrivelled from the heatwave and there seems to be a million microscopic white flies in the corner of the back bit. Janet says I should eradicate them. But the white roses, gladioli and the pink fuchsia still going strong in the front bit.

Up to see Janet and Ken at 5:30. Janet had prepared a margaritas for us in ice cold glasses and salty brims. Sat in their garden drinking these and generally catching up. Ken just back from Aix. Really enjoyable evening, and lovely food and wine.

Janet showed me some silk banners which she had made on her textile course. They are to be hung close to one another, and have the theme of people's interconnections. Very nice indeed.

Rossini their ginger cat is recovering nicely from being run over and having his pelvis fractured in four places. Poor thing dragged himself home but was well taken care of by a local cats and rabbits only vet.

Feeling tired, I trundled home early, for an early night.

Just remembered this bit of a poem I wrote when I was 21 about the little stretch of road around the corner from the Saints Bay Hotel where I was staying last week. Still feel the same all these years later.

A return
Near Les Fougères D’Icârt

Raucous in the little lanes
A drunken sea-wind
Blew me here
To listen and belong again
To a soft rhetoric
Catching through the ferns
Where the wind will bind
My burning hand
To pine bark
- It clings like ivy -
To feel the wind
Touching its current
To feel the wind
Breathing through the tree
Teased by its needles
Into the softest music
- The song I’ve been silent for -
Eased by the wind
Into the slightest dance
The shudder
Of root into rock
That barely trembles
The message of the wind
Down to the wild widow sea.

Happily and carefully repotting cacti this morning, and taking throws to be drycleaned (at astonishing cost) and with long lost pyjama bottoms falling out from among them as I was handing them over at the dry cleaners, feeding Trotsky (ungrateful), and buying a mat, and a garden broom and other practical things.

Off in the afternoon to Cheshunt in Heartfordshire where Phil and Ash where having a barbie/housewarming. As I left for London, there was a real party atmosphere in the station due to the Gay Pride march today in Brighton. In central London I was supposed to hook up with Liz, but the bus was rerouted due to an anti-war demonstration -- found myself completely in the wrong place. Liz collected me in the car, however, and we drove me off to Cheshunt. Nice barbie with several pals there, like Paula and her husband Pete who I'd not seen for ages.

Fighting gloom all day, however, and opted to slip away from the party early. I was simply not in the mood for people, which is unlike me. Got a lift back to Victoria from a nice couple I'd not met before, however, and had a nice chat to them about stained glass windows and the role of the stepfather in family relationships.

Slept on the train home again. Very happy to be at home.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Working from home today, slogging at the breast cancer material. Began work a little before 8 and was done by 4. So much easier to concentrate at home, as working in a creative department some days is like trying to work in a youth club.

I paused only to go up the road to feed that little weasel Trotsky, as Anton is in the grip of a new craze: camping. He has taken the family away for a few days to haunt a wood outside Swanage. Trotsky wasn't there the first time, and her food was untouched, so I was rather pleased to see her in the evening. I was her new best friend, and she demanded strokes, food and attention.

Happily, my futon was delivered today. In boxes. Frustratingly one stage of assembly is a two person job & I need access to another human.

Spoke to Mum now back home and feeling a bit sad, as I was, about leaving Guernsey. Mad Dog called too and in contrast he was sounding decidedly cheery.

In other news from the blogosphere Kate has a new blog the turning rooms the title of which I happen to know is based on a dream, which resulted in an intriguing short story and can be found here.

Otherwise caught up with my blog and uploaded lots of photos which are under entries below. This followed by an early and blameless night in, after yesterday's rather lively one with Matty.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Head down all day writing about breast cancer, till I met my deadline at 4.00pm and then went for a 40 minute swim by way of a late lunch. Cunningly arranged that I work at home tomorrow, which was excellent.

After returning to the office for a while, met up with Matty Boy in the Stonemasons. Proceeded to put the world to rights with him over several drinks and a meal. He had with him a just-published novel by a friend of his called James Scudamore. What an amazing achievement at 29. No envy here at all. No sir.

Rather drunk, and slept like a baby on the train home.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Back to work today. Not too hideous. My time has been blocked out on the breast cancer project for the rest of the month.

Had a nice chat with Janet this morning, and will pop up the road on Sunday to see her and Ken. Went to lunch with Max the Mentor, which was good fun. She's had to buy a small new fridge to house the maggots her kids are using for fishing. Felt disinclined to work today. Home and trying to catch up on the blog... I took over 200 photos, obviously these will not all be on here! But you'll see some more loaded below.

Turns out that First Matie has "killed" her blog. People at her work, possibly Dead Fish Eyes herself, were looking at it. It will resurrect phoenix like soon, and when it does I will put a new link on my site.

Last day in Guernsey. Quite happy to leave the Saints Bay Hotel which, despite its lovely location, was disappointing in terms of service. Walked along the lane and got rained on heavily till I got to La Barbarie where Mason had hired a car. After breaking into someone-else's car we found the right one. Back to the S.B. Hotel to collect my case and then off on a day of adventures with Toby and Romy. Drove to the north of the island to see the dolmen (see pics in separate entry for today).

After this we drove to Chouet Bay which was sunny and the sea blue with white horses. Watched some amazing paragliding surfers launching themselves into the air and then land on their surfboards. Mum went for a paddle and then we had a coffee in the beach cafe watching sparrows taking dustbaths.

Later we went to Oatlands to look at giftshops and have a meal in a hot restaurant then off for a drive through the middle of the island before stopping at the Little Chapel which is beautiful to photograph. Built in 1914, mainly from broken china. Then off to the airport via the Strawberry centre featuring Aubrey the Strawberry, and the woodcraft centre.

Sad to say goodbye to the family and leave Guernsey. The flight however was very comfortable and it took off at 6.00pm. I was at home in Brighton by 7:45pm. Not bad!

Went out with Anton this evening for a quick and cheeky beer in the Eddy, as I didn't want the holiday feeling to end. He told me that there was something in the newspaper in Brighton about a seagull stealing someone's mobile phone. Feels quite nice to be home. Below, the main altar at the Little Chapel.

Mason at Icart Point, Romy among flowers taken by Toby, and Mum at Chouet Bay.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A family expedition today to the dolmen in the Vale in the north of Guernsey. Here are some photos of the exterior of the site, the plaque outside, and Le Guardien du Tombeau. This face reveals itself when the light shines at a certain angle. I took this photo on my back looking up. Only in the central part of the tomb was I able to stand upright. (Click the pics to see them bigger.)




The five of us off to Sark today. Down in taxis to St Peter Port to catch the tub-like Sark Venture ferry. Not too choppy and we all really enjoyed the trip across, chugging past Herm and numerous rocks until we reached the Sark. Was reminded of Dave, my Grandfather saying: "you're going round Sark to get to Herm" (i.e. taking the long way around or being incredibly laboured).

No cars are allowed on the island of Sark We caught a bizarre tractor drawn-bus up the hill and instantly found somewhere to eat. A nice chowder for Romy and me, apparently fantastic hamburgers for Mum and Mason, and scampi for Toby. From there we clambered on board a horse drawn cart (the horse was called Toby) and were driven around a bit. Apparently Toby the Horse and the Queen opened the island's single Doctor's surgery a few years ago. Cheery local woman guide who told us about the feudal system there, and some interesting facts about the island. Mason added that it had the best hamburgers to the list about the small population, the land split into 40 tenements, and so on.

Got off from time to time and wandered about. Mum finding a curiously huge white moth at one point which clung onto her finger. After an hour our tour was over, and we were delivered back to the centre.

Toby Romy and me then rented bicycles and zoomed about the island. Romy said she thought she was in a Famous Five adventure. We reached la Coupee, which is a bridge with a sheer drop on either side crossing over to Little Sark. Happily, I was immune from vertiginous feelings.

Cycled vigorously on till we reached La Sablonnerie where we went for yet another cream tea in the tea garden. Romy instantly fell in love with the place and said she wants to stay there next time. This tea absolutely perfect, and thanks to some various English eccentrics, it felt like being back in the 30s. We were served triangular cucumber sandwiches, a big pot of tea, six still warm scones, yellow butter and cream and strawberry jam. Fantastic.

After this we cycled down to look at the abandoned silver mines and the southern tip of the island walking on a path through thick bracken with two kestrels stationed in the air nearby. Looked out across at Jersey, which is best seen if you look at it through two fingers held vertically.

A fast cycle back, much of it uphill. And then meeting Mum and Mase we went down to the harbour on the back of the strange tractor bus. They'd bought Toby and Romy a present for their house. While on the tractor bus I got a text from work to say that we'd won the account I was writing the blog for.

Back on the Sark Venture, Toby and me sat outside in the back wearing our Tilleys against the rain. Got quite blowy and rainy as we neared Guernsey but I found this to be really exhilarating.
Finally beginning to become relaxed.

Made our way to a new Chinese restaurant called The Confucius, where there was some serious chopstick work done. Managed to outmanoeuver Romy to pay, and had a nice chat with the lady who was running it as we waited for the taxi to take us home. She gave us fortune cookies, mine said "You have many stories to tell" and so did Mason's.

Back to St Martin's and me and Toby sloped off to a slightly morgue-like Captains for a brace of Pony Ales and a good old chat about things. One thing that is quite upsetting is that Pony Ale is a Guernsey Beer, but it turns out this is now brewed by the crapauds in Jersey and exported back here. Is nothing sacred?

We then walked back in the seamisty dark towards my hotel. Suddenly in a few seconds the mist was gone and the night was clear again. We walked out to Icart point and stood in the dark blast of the wind for a while. Really lovely end to a great day. Below two shots of la Coupee the first shows Romy and is looking towards Little Sark and the other looking in the opposite direction is of a man galloping his horse on it.







Toby the horse; ventilation shafts for the doomed Sark silver mines; a mysterious moth; a field.