Saturday, December 29, 2007

There's only one thing worse than the humbug

Still in the grip of the humbug. I can't remember the last time I felt quite so ill, for so long. Ear ache like being bayoneted in the side of the head, coughing all night, fever, a throat so sore it wakes you up if you swallow, all resulting in an exhausted kind of insomnia. I'm being the least festive guest imaginable for Mum and Mas.

Still, it could be worse.

Actually, it was worse yesterday, after the appalling assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The facebook group I had created called (and this does not seem at all big and clever now) I secretly fancy Benazir Bhutto caused me some anxiety, especially as a rabid Canadian reporter tried to get me to sell my story.

There were concerned email too from some of the group's members so the only thing to do was delete the group. This, thanks to the humbug's ability to scramble thought, I completely bungled - deleting myself as administrator before I'd deleted all group's membership. Cue visions of justly inflamed supporters hunting down me and each of the group's members.

I had to resort to emailing facebook, who fortunately emailed me back within a day, and today I have been able to resolve the matter. For some reason this whole business gave me the horrors.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The humbug strikes

Bloody hell. On Christmas eve, after swapping presents with Lorraine, and Anna and Anton, and the babes, and popping around to Janet and Ken for a festive cup of tea I left for London.

On the train I discovered that the tiredness I was experiencing was not solely the result of an enthusiastic day's drinking with Matty, but was in fact "the humbug" - a virus that times itself perfectly to wipe out Christmas in a blur of fever, exhausting coughing bouts, and the sorest of sore throats. The humbug? Bah to it.

I feel sorry for Mum, as Mas also has the humbug and so she has been surrounded by stereo man flu all Christmas, which must have been unendurable.

Watched some DVDs - Apocalypto, which was a film purporting to be about Mayan history but actually was mainly about the director's disturbed obsession with the pornographic violence. If I had more energy I would rant more about this. I also watched I Robot, which was mindless and undemanding fun.

Being fed lots of vitamin pills by Mas (and narrowly avoiding being given laxatives too). This morning discussed how when he was a marine fighting in the Korean war, if the enemy had only thrown spiders at him, all would have been lost.

Off now for yet another lemsip.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Quaffing Harvey's in fog-shrouded Lewes

Off today to Lewes to meet Matty, and his sister Tash and her boyfriend Dunc, and Graeme who lives near Matt down on Strand on the Green. Leaving Brighton on the short hop to Lewes was quite magical. A couple of minutes from Brighton Station the fog began, and as the train climbed up through the mysterious outline of hills, the sun swathed by fog, visible as a low white disc.

In Lewes laboured up the foggy hill to meet Matty et al in the Lewes Arms, and from there we all went on a pub crawl through half a dozen of the finest pubs in Lewes, with Matty being greeted fondly in many of them. Excellent to be able to walk through this fascinating historical town in seasonally Dickensian fog. Lots of beer was drunk, and by the end of the evening Matty, Graeme and I played some pool and had many many earnest and enjoyable conversations. Finally I was collected by the lovely Lorraine who, like a guardian angel, drove me home.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The burning of the clocks

Most of the day surging up and down on the emotional rollercoaster that is shopping. It is exhausting to dither about between shops, and trying not to get side-tracked. Shopping is NOT my strongpoint, but I cleverly avoided going into a pub instead, and made some steady progress by the end of the day.

Shortly after six I met Anton in the Eddy for a cheeky beer, and then we shot off through town down to the seafront to meet Rick and his bairns for the burning of the clocks. Compared to last year there didn't seem to be so many clocks, but still it was a good thing to watch - culminating in the burning of a Tower of Babel (a good idea) and fireworks. We were standing at the Terrace bar, with a good view of the procession, and handily able to sip a second beer there too.

Then Lorraine arrived, just in time to see the fireworks, as Anton began to slip into hypothermia - then we taxied back to Anton's place for champagne, a tasty pasta carbonara and apple pie with Anna.

Below three snaps from the burning of the clocks.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Of time and My Little Pony

Wonderful to be able to wake up at 9:00 and know the Christmas season stretched before me. Christmas, and of course, the pre-Christmas scramble to do all the things that each year I promise myself I would do in November.

Spent hours hunting addresses to send some cards off. The e-revolution has killed snail mail. I can text my friends, I can email them, I can facebook them, I can connect telephaticallly with some of them, but do I have their actual addresses?

Then off to get a haircut, as the sheep thing was happening. He didn't make the top so short so the Area of Concern wasn't gleaming through too much. Lorraine came into the barbers and we walked down the hill to the shops.

I went off in search of a purple My Little Pony and found one in Woolworth's. Then went to a couple of other shops. Depressingly quickly, my sensitive artistic temperament was in tatters - so I had to have a beer, and Lorraine joined me before sneaking off to get hypnotised. Post hypnotising we went to an execrable Thai in Seven Dials called the Little Buddha, where the chefs were strangers to coriander, chili, and lemongrass - and turned the food into a ghastly tasteless gloop. An amazing talent.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Gnome, imps, and Clangers,

Back to London this morning, rewriting the last four lines of my magisterial Moth Display poem on the train. I rewrote about 20 versions of the closing lines but yet there is not one that is right yet.

Waves of weirdness abating slightly about being in the agency again, and I enjoyed myself, and very nice to chat to people. Though the suggestion that they have another whip round for me as I left today fell on deaf ears.

It felt very comfortable to have worked with the Gnome for a couple of days; like putting on an old and extremely comfortable cardigan. We went for a fast beer at lunchtime at the dubious OSP pub, and he then left to go to Denmark Street buy guitar accessory Christmas presents for his musical family.

I repaired back to the agency to write about ailments of one sort or another, and chatted intermittently to another freelancer called Diane who was sat opposite me. She was very nice, and it turns out she and her husband live in Brighton, very close to Anton -and my next door neighbour (who moved last week) is one of her best friends, and she'd heard that I was a writer and lived next door - and even knew I had been burgled. Small world.

Declined an offer to go for drinks after work, and zoomed home feeling very cheerful. It really is the end of my working year, and I am booked to work on 2nd of January, so I will be starting the year on a working note too - which is always nice when you are self employed. Listening to the Amulet of Samarkand as an audiobook on Anton's recommendation. And this enjoyable, and well written, although it is in familiar fantasy territory: set in London, with imps, demons, wizards and non-wizards (known as commoners) etc.

Home and a cheeky Chinese meal, talking on my mobile as I picked up my free polystyrene crackers, to a gloomy work-ridden Anton. Lorraine braved the chilly night to drop round some software for me, and we spent a couple of hours listening to my randomiser on my iPod. Some of the music she said was plinky, and there was one she said was weird non-music like the Clangers. Charming.

After Lorraine left, I spoke to Mum who was back from holiday in Madeira, where she spent some time trying to catch lizards. Then, under many layers of blankets and my duvet, cringing onto a hot water bottle, to sleep the untroubled sleep of the righteous.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Off to London to start a two day spell of freelancing in my old agency for two day. For some reason I sprang from bed feeling very dubious very early in the morning. And so by time I arrived in the agency I was already tired.

Boomeranging back, makes you feel like a Shakespearean ghost, with people double-taking at you from time to time. Aren't you dead? But all was well, and the day was spent locked away with The Gnome working on concepts for the needles/eyes work for the client I'd pitched to in Switzerland. Pleased to see The Gnome again, and we did some good work, and ate chocolate biscuits and drank numerous teas.

Then elbowing my way home. I was pleased to get this work, but it makes me wonder how I was able to do it every working day for getting on for 3 years.

A couch potato in the evening, every show seemed to be about food Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay, are amazing (and completely different) characters. Bluementhal has been written about as a Willy Wonka-ish personality and his approach to food is scientific and deconstructive. While Ramsay is pugnacious and honest. Then as a counterbalance, a documentary about a guy in Runcorn who was 48 stone, and how he slimmed right down over the years - and confronted the reasons to do with a monstrous father why he had gone off the rails.

Then early to bed.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A change of clothes

Woke up on a comfortable mattress on the floor at the FB's house. All up and a nice cheery porridge breakfast. Little Tahlia, who has just turned three rather melting my heart by playing with a cardboard box in which she pretended to get stuck, and saying "help me Mr Kenny". Adorable little thing.

Then, after fond farewells, Matty, Kate and I left, walking off in the frosty morning to Chertsey station. As we did so I felt an immense feeling of wellbeing, life just seems to be full of possibilities at the moment, and I don't feel trapped or hindered by anything. We all got the same train, before Matty left at Kew Bridge, and I got off leaving Kate at Clapham. Then to Brighton.

Nice to be home and change out of the clothes I had slept in for two nights running and have a long shower. Then out for a roast Sunday lunch with Lorraine, and thence to the Eddy to watch Arsenal v Chelsea in the pub. Unfortunately the forces of wrongness prevailed and the unspeakable Arsenal fluked a win over the brave and noble Chelsea. But it felt good to be doing something so frivolous and fun, and pleased to be with Lorraine who is perfectly at home watching football.

Slightly jaded in the evening, and early to bed for me. And, excellently, it was my own bed too. A really enjoyable weekend though. Life is sweet.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Up fairly early, as Electra and her little pal called Bliss, ran in and began watching the Incredibles. Had something of a sore head, which I blamed on the Metaxa. Sophie said that I had drunk lots of French wine too, and yet I was blaming the Greeks. Much tidying up, where my helping involved following Sophie and Andros like a large sheep, and talking to them. Sophie putting on music, including a sorrowful epic about the Greek repatriations from Turkey in the 1920s, which made Elektra pull faces.

Also met a children's book illustrator who is a great friend of Andros who dropped by, and was interested to hear his experiences in light of the project I'm doing with Mum. He had also made a bust of Christof, which was very good. Will be strange for Chirstof to have this representation of himself as a 13 year old when he is 50.

After some time Sophie and her two bairns, plus Bliss, and I went for a walk in the park chatting. The kids went to Bliss's house and Sophie and I repaired to the cafe in the park and drank coffee and ate blueberry muffins. A cold frosty day, and it was all making me feel very Christmassy. I love Sophie. After 29 years of knowing her, she is one of those people who always makes me feel cheerful and stronger every time I see her. There was, as ever, loads to talk about and we had spent hours catching up. Then back to Bliss's house to collect Elektra.

We were invited in by Bliss's parents who were very nice. Very enjoyable too, to hear her dad bellowing BLISS! up the stairs at her. Turns out that Bliss's mother has produced lots of wonderful art, which was on the walls. Her name is Julie Major. To my eyes her work looked organic, like sea urchins, or massive representations of pollen. But she mentioned being inspired by Elizabethan clothing and the body - an unusual mix of plaster and fabric.

Then fond farewells to Sophie and Andros, and off to Strand on the Green to meet Matty and Katie who were in Annie's across from Matty's house with lots of chums steadily quaffing champagne. Then across to the Bull's head to wait for the taxi that was to take us to see the French Bloke and Max. Me a very interesting guy who was a journalist and folk musician.

Then a taxi ride from hell. The driver, barely able to speak English, got completely lost and turned a 25 minute ride into a 90 minute exploration of Surrey. It was only after I had a bit of a tetchfest after an hour of aimless driving, that he reached into the glove compartment to turn on his satnav. Ye Gods.

Then finally arrived at Chertsey meads. And we had an excellent night with Max and the French bloke, eating a damn fine chili, drinking beer and watching the logs in the fire. And having a big laugh, at some rather off colour stuff. Matty and the FB deriving an unfeasible amount of enjoyment from the name of the Liberal Democrats stand-in leader Vince Cable for example.

The weekend turning into a massive antidote to being locked away in my study all week in terms of seeing lots of affectionate friends.

Below, one of Julie Major's pieces. Visit her site.

Friday, December 14, 2007

My big fat Greek Christmas

A slogfest today, had my head down doing my freelance all day in my study struggling to meet a deadline. Have another three days work next week too, however, so this is good. Once done, at 5:30 I set off to Highgate to see Sophie.

For the second year in a row, I went to Sophie's "my big fat Greek Christmas" party, where she manages to collect all kinds of interesting and likable people: I spoke to several writers and journalists, and a dancer who was feeling horribly old at 29 and wondering if her dance career was over. But mostly it was lovely to see Sophie and Andros and Christof and Electra. Young Christof lent me a DVD of the Mighty Boosh to further my comedy education.

There were mountains of food, of course, including an impressive and yummy spanakopita, spinach pie. At some point Sophie also pressed a large glass of Metaxa brandy on me too to complete the experience. Just had a lovely time all night. The only moment that wasn't excellent was sitting down, after pontificating about something or other, on a kitchen chair. This collapsed, legs splaying, and I found myself on the floor on my back looking at the ceiling. A moment that lacked dignity.

After everyone left, and a conversation with the bitter-enders about the middle east with Andros on sparky form, Sophie and I tidied up a bit, and sat chatting till 3.00am, suddenly struck by some ideas for business. Eventually it was definitely time for bed, which for me was a surprisingly comfortable sofa.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Of parsnips and axe murderers

Hmm. I'll have a parsnip with that roast Xmas lentil yet. I sent out my first invoice in my new freelance guise, and it felt good. And I have been working this week too, writing about cholesterol again for the last two days. And tomorrow too. Also I have a little work lined up for next week. More importantly, I think it is beginning to sink in that I will actually be okay, and life as a freelancer could be very big and clever in its own right - as well as giving me time for my own wheezes. It is, so far, a fairly painless transition.

However I have been getting moments of cabin fever - especially as the work I have been doing is of the brain shrivelling variety - not only writing website copy but tweaking its architecture. It requires three dimensional thinking and makes want to turn into Jack Nicholson in The Shining, typing All work and no play makes Peter a dull boy, thousands of times. As a writer this was always the most frightening scene for me: Jack losing his grip on sanity but still being driven to type endlessly.

Fortunately just outside my door is Brighton to escape into (yelling "Here's Johnny") and the sea not far away. Just knowing it is there somehow keeps you more level headed and keep the axes out of sight.

Loving the idea of Christmas this year. It will be the first one in England for three years. Last year I was in Japan, and the year before in Long Island. Both wonderful experiences. Christmas is such a concoction of memories and associations, happy and sad. It is easy to become sentimental for lost childhood too. For me Christmas usually meant my Grandparents' little 16th century granite cottage in Guernsey, which is probably why I still love Christmas to this day.

Below... The manuscript in The Shining.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Golden Compass

Off in the evening with Lorraine to see The Golden Compass, based on Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman. As expected the film completely bottled the religious themes. Good to know that Milton's influence is still subversive. Despite enjoying the gorgeous CGI and top performances by the young Dakota Blue Richards playing Lyra (from Brighton apparently) and Nicole Kidman, and liking the alternative London. But generally felt somewhat short changed: it was all fighting bears, rather than the huge moral complexities of the book, and the severing of children from their souls. It all ended shortly after a bloody good punch up.

Otherwise, being a Monday I did Monday stuff. And I'm pleased to say there are some promising developments on the freelance side.

Also I bought a Christmas tree and decorated it, which was lovely. Something about a tree that takes me back to all kinds of Christmases Past. And made time for a walk in the afternoon, in a fresh and cold wind and the sun coming out in a radiant Decemberish way.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Free as birds to wander where we will

A deluge of wind and rain. Drove around Brighton looking for a parking spot with Lorraine, having to park miles from anywhere, then walked off cheerfully in the rain, to eat a belly-busting mash of hash potatoes, beans, sausage, bacon, mushroom topped with a fried egg and melted cheese at Billies. I'm pleased to say that I left quite a bit of mine. Very nice in a 5,000 calories on a plate sort of way. Then a fond farewell to Lorraine, and I set off to see Anton.

We'd long planned a massive 15 mile walk today, as the bairns were at Anton's mum and Anna was on her coaching course. However, the weather was so unspeakable and as neither of us was feeling on top form physically, that we decided to forgo it.

Anton instead was very busy taking his turntable apart and installing a new and heavier platter with all the anxious concentration of someone performing a heart transplant. Once reassembled we had to roadtest a few records. Anton's face was glowing with Virgoan pleasure, so there must have been quite a difference.

Then off in the rain to the Caxton pub for a few games of pool. Having played well against Mad dog the other night, I was keen to take to green cloth again. Had a very close game with Anton, but Stirling friend that he is, he was compelled to taste the bitter pill of defeat in one of my very few victories.

Then off for a light Chinese snack, followed by a spot of intense record shopping in the Lanes, then back to Anton's to play records. Sadly enough I bought an album of Yes remixes by Virgil Howe (aka "The Verge") which is an interesting curio. Can't help feeling there is a brilliant album to be made along these lines. Then more hanging out listening to records, before Anton and I went our own ways for a bit.

Later in the evening we went in search of live music, found none and ended up having a cheerful beer in the St James discussing among other thing's Anton's aristocratic monocle-sporting Polish grandfather, author of a two books, one of which being a history of Poland.

Then finally, via the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, to the Eddy for a last drink after an excellent day. There is something magnificent about being as free as a bird.

Friday, December 07, 2007

My lance is carefully removed from its packaging

So off to work again in London, and today my career as a freelancer began - a few weeks ahead of schedule. Today I went to Katie's agency not far from where I used to live in Kew. Had to get up early to be on time, and this seemed an affront to nature. And I almost had someone's eye out struggling onto the train with a 12 foot lance.

Actually I felt slightly nervous, but things were quickly okay, and working around Kate seemed like business as usual. And she made me cups of tea, which is always something I enjoy seeing. And we went out for lunch together, and had a cheeky Friday beer after work with some of her pleasant colleagues.

It is a very different mindset freelancing I think. I went in today, determined to do the best work I could, it is a strange feeling though being able to walk away afterwards realising that you have no responsibilities in the agency other than doing a good job as a visiting creative.

It is probable that they will ask me back next week, so all in all it was a good day. Plus my old agency also called me about some work for them too. This is all good news and made me feel very cheerful.

Then zoomed home, to experience some oxtail stew that the nice Lorraine had made as I have never tasted this in my life. Hmm. Oxy. A real winter warmer, very nicely cooked with pearl barley potatoes and other veggies. Not sure about the oxtails though. They may fall into the sparsely-populated Foods that are Wrong group, the chief culprit of which is marzipan, food of Satan.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Don't stand in the hold

Here is the beta version of my new site - more to be added, especially to the portfolio part - it also links into the nightwork, which will be my revamped personal site, with lots more new stuff added. Any feedback welcome. Just as I finished working on this for the day, First Matie called me to ask if I'd do some work with her, so tomorrow will see me zooming up to London for my first official day as a freelancer: nice of Katie to sort me out on that one.

Bob crept off early this morning before I got up. Just before I got out of bed, I had an extremely vivid dream about looking from the back door of a house set on the top of a hill. A short distance away was a man standing in the collapsed and rotting remains of an old boat. Someone on my left was shouting "don’t you know it’s bad luck to stand in the hold?" And in the dream this seemed self-evidently sensible to me too. Then an enormous and beautiful sepia coloured thundercloud gathered flickering with lightning. My brother Toby was suddenly outside talking on a mobile phone, and I shouted for him to come inside because the storm was racing towards us. And then I was awake, remembering everything.

I'm feeling a bit Agent Cooperish about it. I can normally decode my dreams, but this one is interesting.

At six o'clock Lorraine drove from work and took me to the opening party for a shop called Kitchen Station that her pal Wayne has just opened. The business designs, builds and installs kitchens. They looked rather good - I particularly liked the grey granite work surface. Nice party, with a variety of interesting people. In the corner of the shop was a woman in a red dress playing a harp and singing excellently. She should have worn a white dress and had wings.

Then Lorraine drove me home, where I supplemented the finger food with cheese on toast - and failed to get in the early night I promised myself.

Work tomorrow. Yikes!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pool with Mad Dog

In cyberspace again for much of the day, working on my website. However recharged spirit and soul with a long walk down by the sea. Beautiful blowy afternoon and it is just wonderful to be have the time to be able to stop and stare at the enormous flock of starlings swooping about above the old pier, or the parasurfers speeding over the waves.

In the evening Bob came around to stay overnight. We went out for many games of pool and a few pints in the Caxton. Unbelievably I managed to win four games in a row, against the old Mad Dog which was more than satisfying - I have only managed to fluke one or two games against him, whose misspent youth was spent entirely lurking in pool-playing cider dens. However Bob found some form and we drew level, but we left it at that. It is a little known fact that Mad Dog got this nickname after running about growling alarmingly in a pool room of a pub full of dodgy and violent types with a pool cue clamped between his teeth.

Then a light Thai meal, a discussion on global warming, and a walk home via the beach - Bob loving being near the dark sea.

We also discovered, after all these years, that we both loved the books of Andre Norton as kids. These were SF books I read when I was about 11 and 12, at the time I thought they were suffused with a genuine strangeness and alien feeling especially in Judgement on Janus, Catseye, and Star Man's Son.

Below Mum sent me the first picture in our project. Here is the first sighting of Jake, plus a parasurfer and a peachy cloud.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Two babycinos please

I found myself in a parent and toddler group this morning keeping an eye on young Oskar. Held at St Nicholas's church, the place was swarming with toddlers and under four year olds generally dancing around and singing and playing with toys. Rick and my next door neighbour Steve there too. And apart from young Oskar howling for about 20 seconds, all was well, and he fell asleep in my arms. If you want to talk to ladies, it transpires, having a sleeping baby in your arms is absolutely the way to go.

Then Rick and I went with three babies and two buggies to a cafe. Rick telling me he is getting a band together and that their rehearsals are going well. Anna met us in the cafe, saying that the school she had been checking out with Anton for Klaudia was good. Klaudia ran up and sat on my knee, elegantly drinking her babycino, (Rick's daughter had a soya milk babycino) and entertainingly engulfing and regurgitating entire marshmallows, which made her hands sticky and forced her to wipe them on my trousers.

I had a peppermint tea, which is one of the few things that I can drink that don't make me feel nauseous at the moment. On that note, spoke to Lorraine who is still feeling vile. This evil queasy bug must go. It is draining my energy.

Went back home and worked again. I have set up a work-orientated blog called Peter Kenny: the daywork. In its early days yet, but will link into the other site I have now almost finished.

Heard from Katie in Romania, who is shooting a viral film. Being drafted into the cast too apparently.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rough seas and queasiness

Feeling a bit queasy this afternoon I took myself for a walk along the seafront to get some air. Wonderful rough sea and powerful waves the perfect antidote to cyber staleness caused by three days of website building.

On the pier noticed again the tarot card reader's green covered waggon, looks like something that escaped from Dark's Carnival in Something wicked this way comes by Ray Bradbury. It made me feel almost compelled to go in, because it seemed so incongruous on this bleak and rainy grey day. The pier was almost empty, and glancing into its warmly lit interior you could spot Ivor the fortune-teller squatting at the back like a toad.

In the evening walked up to Lorriane's house in a massive downpour with an unaccountable need to listen to Led Zeppelin on my iPod. Very pleased to have my new waterproof berghaus anorak. I had killed the previous one by putting it in the washing machine, which removes all of its waterproofing at a stroke.

Once there I was fed very nicely, played Uno with Lorraine and her two teenagers. Sam and Beth. Sam has got the horrible spewing bug that is going around at the moment - not a great thought as I queased around. Uno, however, is a card came that requires you to exclaim "Uno!" every now and again and is quite good fun. Of course I prefer Euchre (played to Guernsey rather that Deviation rules naturally).

Below the sea.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Bacchanals

Worked on my website all day - broken by a few conversations and emailing here and there. Then in the evening went up the hill to babysit for Anna and Anton. Spent some time watching The Peep Show, which is an farcical and toe-curling comedy. Very funny. Fortunately, as I watched and guffawed, the babies peeped not.

Kate sent me a link about the pub we'd been in last night which was interesting. From E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897 in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898:

Some hundreds of years ago there stood in the Tyburn Road, Oxford Street, a public-house called The Bacchanals: the sign was Pan and the Satyrs. The jolly god, with his cloven hoof and his horns, was called “The devil;” and the word Bacchanals soon got corrupted into “Bag o’ Nails.” The Devil and the Bag o’ Nails is a sign not uncommon even now in the midland counties.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Emergency beers at the Bag O' Nails

Single-minded day today. Worked from 8 till 4:30 on a new me me me website which will showcase all things Peter Kenny for freelance purposes. I am pleased with the results so far, and I will naturally post the link here when it goes live in a few days. It is also forcing me to revamp my old sixthfingers site and refresh my cyber presence generally, which is no bad thing.

In the evening, however, I went off to the Bag O' Nails at Victoria for emergency beers with First Matie who has broken her engagement
with Gav. Although upsetting and horrid, one of the few good things about such crises is that it reminds you that you have lots of pals and they all care about you, and Kate's pals are naturally all rallying round. It was good to see her, and she is doing okay.

In one way it's all quite reassuring. First Matie and me have had emergency beers many times over the years, and it feels part of the natural ebb and flow of things.

On a random note, read some promotional material at the pub and discovered that the had been called, until 1905, The Devil & Bag O' Nails which sounds rather intriguing.

Then home and a slightly disgraceful midnight pizza, while watching Scrubs on TV.
Below the Bag O' Nails.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Official: I am not attention seeking

It's not often I say a stern "no" to attention, but I had to today.

Was approached by someone writing an article for the women's section of The Observer called the Ex Files. This allows you and an ex to discuss, for the benefit of its female readership, why your relationship ended, and what you learned from it. Apparently, the pitch went, people can find this therapeutic. So I eagerly forwarded it to Mex for her opinion.

I went for a late lunchtime walk and, thinking about it, it suddenly dawned on me that I would rather plunge knitting needles deep in my own eye sockets than be part of it. When I got home there was a note from Mex saying much the same. What was I thinking?

Otherwise I worked on my new poem, provisionally called The Moth Display, and felt tremendously cheerful.

In the evening popped up to Victoria for another enjoyable and funny evening with New Biz Liz. Had quite a few drinks and then we went to strap on a Sri Lankan nosebag. After the builders have been in her new flat for months, she is now able to start decorating and has tasked me to source some words which she is going to paint on the wall.

Then home to watch Scrubs at midnight, as Scrubs is my new craze and one of the channels is showing Scrubs several times a day. I even woke up with the Scrubs theme tune going through my head the other day. Perhaps I should be worried.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Flint and moth

An excellent day. Did some business-type stuff this morning, then talked to Mum at some length about a wheeze we are working on together which mainly involves her doing some painting while I spin idly around in my chair.

Also during the morning I sent the pictures of the flint scraper to the local museum, and was invited round to show them, as the Booth Museum is only a short walk away from where I live.

Mad place, featuring the collection of one Edward Thomas Booth, whose blatant ambition was to slaughter and stuff every last species of British Bird. Fine examples, as the museum would have it, of The Victorian Art of Taxidermy. A quirky and fascinating place, and well worth a visit.

So I walked past all the baleful cases of dead birds, to have a conversation with a bearded man called Jeremy. Stifling a yabadabadoo! I held out my stone age scraper. Sadly, after peering keenly at this artifact with his magnifier, he said it was a piece of flint.

Although perfectly shaped for a scraper it didn't have the tell-tale scallopy chip marks from either side of the edge to show that it had been worked, nor had it any other signs that it had been hammered or shaped. Very interesting to talk to him, however. He said it was a pity I hadn't been there last week as there were some real stone age finds brought in. Still, nevertheless, I will keep my flint as a curio. He didn't want to comment on the hair-like stuff but didn't think it was significant.

I then had a longish wander through the museum, peering in at flocks of stuffed birds, all set in dioramas that recreate their natural environments. Then I was stopped in my tracks by their extensive collection of butterflies and moths, all pinned in ranks in big cases.

I have written at least two poems that have a museum setting, but never successfully. However today, staring at the display of moths, a penny dropped and I made a few notes and hurried across to the cafe in the park opposite. There I had a cup of tea, avoiding an older man who was singing a bizarre pop song and trying to talk to me, and cracked out the first draft of a new poem.

I am delighted with this and it could be the best thing I have written all year. After walking home, I worked on this for most of the remainder of the day, pausing to watch my new favourite TV show (Scrubs), and talk to Lorraine and First Matie on the phone.

Below some appalled-looking stuffed birds and a photo of death's head hawk moth (stolen from this excellent site on UK moths). Apparently the French believed that dust from one of these moths could blind you.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Thanksgiving

Started the day learning that my poem A sparrow at 30,000 feet will be in the first issue of a new magazine from Guernsey called Written In. The editors have also kept hold of other poems to use them in subsequent issues, so this is all good. It is important to me to have work appear in Guernsey.

Also I recieved a note from Joan who has been talking to Dick about my megalithic find, (see previous entry) and thinks it is a stone age scraper used to scrape hair and fat off hides. He was familiar with this instrument because he just read a book dealing with the prehistoric natives of Ontario. I have sent my jpegs off to a local museum to see if they make anything of it, or simply tell me it is a piece of stone.

Then up to Edgware for Mason's tradional late Thanksgiving supper. A cheerful gathering there, with Tanya and Robert, Ben and Poppy (over from Guernsey) and Diane who is looking remarkably good after her recent radiotherapy treatment. Nice to fork into some turkey, and meatloaf too. Mase has brought us the taste of America for decades now. I remember the apparent wrongness of bacon with maple syrup which now after my US experiences seems totally acceptable - and those brownie bad boys which Mum and Mase now forbid themselves, simply because they lack self control.

Nice to meet Poppy and Ben again. They are a lovely couple. And Poppy has some interesting insights about Iran, having been born there. Generally the conversation was not of the small talk sort but dealing with big issues over the pumpkin pie. Or punkin pie as Mase always calls it.

I left fairly early, as Di gave me a lift back into Clapham. Quite a long journey home, and in the end I had to walk from Hove under the streetlights and full moon. Walking wasn't a bad thing though given my waistline.

Listened to a fascinating discussion about Wordsworth's Prelude chaired by Melvin Bragg. Never been wild about Wordsworth. I remember in my mid twenties going on a Withnail & I style trip with my old friend Andy Smith to the Lake District, and standing with Andy in Dove Cottage looking at the Wordsworth's ice skates, while Andy steadily cursed them and all their works.

But there are a few bits in the Prelude that certainly butter my parsnips, however, such as the opening nine lines which always remind me of getting back to Guernsey.

Oh there is a blessing in this gentle breeze,
A visitant that while it fans my cheek
Doth seem half-conscious of the joy it brings
From the green fields, and from yon azure sky.
Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come
To none more grateful than to me; escaped
From the vast city, where I long had pined
A discontented sojourner : now free,
Free as a bird to settle where I will.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A small axe

Really enjoyable day today. Got up and spent several hours working on my poetry manuscript and feeling that I am makings some real progress. The luxury of being able to concentrate on it for a while is wonderful. At this rate I should have a finished collection to send off in a few weeks.

Attended to a few bits of interesting correspondence, then after a light and unorthodox lunch of fish fingers and noodles, I decided to take advantage of the blue skies and go for a walk. Took my camera with me of course and snapped as I walked down through town and past the marina to the undercliff walk taking quite a few detours en route, ended up walking for getting on for three hours. Al texted me about a pitch win my old agency had won, and said she was missing me which was nice.

Contact with various people during the day, and an email from Simon who I've not heard from for a while. Just checked and there was a text from Carl last night well after midnight, asking about the Carlbasket, which was a big wicker basket my Mum had which had bedclothes and so on Carl used to use when he stayed over.

Really cold tonight, and I have stayed warm indoors, watching lots of TV and eating prunes and custard.

Below I discovered on the shore a perfect flint axe which fits snugly in my hand, and has various chip marks on it, and is very sharp. I can't decide if this is some relic, from several thousand years ago washed into the open air again, or merely a random stone, or something that was fashioned by someone last week demonstrating what stone axes looked like. I attach a photo so you can make your own mind up. What is weird is that when I took these photos I noticed it had hair like stuff on it... Bizarre.

A walk by the sea

Below A fisherman doing unspeakable things to crabs. (Also see 15th Nov for more on crabs); a graphic looking post thing in the harbour; part of a rusted fence; two of the chalk cliffs; one of the harbour at dusk (click on it to enlarge it and you will see some starlings) and a shot of the patterns underneath the pier.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spaghetti con Sophie

Tuesday mostly doing Monday stuff still. The weather still doing Monday stuff too. Late afternoon saw me shooting up to London to meet Sophie. Waited for her outside the National Portrait Gallery underneath two fire-gouting torches which hissed slightly in the rain, and while I waited I calculated that we'd been friends for 28 years.

On arrival her first move was to buy some sushi because she was hungry. The sushi uneaten, we had a quick drink in the Salisbury and then dived into a nearby Spaghetti House where we gossiped for hours and forked down pasta and pizza, and drank wine. Along the way, we agreed to meet up again soon, to spend some time planning wheezes.

Then fond farewells in the rain and Charing Cross, and for me a fast journey home.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The unalterable essence of Monday

Mondays are Mondays whatever you happen to be doing. There is no use going against the grain, so today's focus was on generating work - and doing dutiful, Monday-ish stuff - emailing people and speaking on the phone. I took a break for a walk a couple of hours in the middle of the day.

Invigorating to walk in the wind by the rough grey sea for an hour or so, despite the rain. But the grey eventually made me feel gloomy. But my mood was dispelled by an Agent Cooper style - excuse me - DAMN fine cup of coffee and a quick phone call with Sophie who I am going to see tomorrow, and I zipped back home to recommence the tedious stuff with new heart. Spoke to one of my fellow denizens of the Twitten, who told me he had taken a few months off last year at the same time, and had loved it, which was good to hear.

Spoke also to Max the Mentor and Bob, while I was out and about. In the evening had a bit of a spring clean in my study, which felt good, and I ended the day feeling positive and cheerful.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Enabling higher thinking

Had a crash course today in children's books. Met Lorraine at the library where she selected several children's books for me to look at, that were used successfully in schools. And there were more in Waterstones later. Children's books generally have such beautiful production values.

Lorraine explained in detail how the books were used in the context of a lesson, which was great. It was an excellent briefing, and soon had me thinking about a story for 7 year olds. One of the things I noticed about several of the stories was that there was some form of moral dilemma, and that - which surprised me - that there were lots of unanswered questions. This is the space that prompts the questions that "enable higher thinking" as Lorraine called it.

Went home and wrote and drew for several hours, seized by a simple idea.

In the evening went out with Lorraine, Brian, Anna and Anton. Anna making her way down to the restaurant with a crutch. We had a quick drink then had a pleasant and authentic seeming Mexican meal in a restaurant called La Cantina. Brian on very good form, and good to see him. I had a Tequila Sunrise and apply cinnamony pork thing which was pretty good. Then all back to the Eddy for a cheeky last beer before scurrying home out into the cold.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Passage graves, accountants, and crab deaths

Leisurely morning. Dealt with some of my "networking" correspondence and now have at least one interesting meeting lined up for next week - plus some with headhunters. Breakfast with Mum and Mase, and then with Mum looking at the excellent book: The Archeology and Early History of the Channel Islands by Heather Sebire, which I bought in Guernsey last month. This is a most excellent book and I am learning enormous amounts from it. Such as the fact there are ancient earthworks protecting Jerberg Point. I can't believe I have only just learned about this.

And I am fascinated with this detail about bodies taken from the passage grave in Le Déhus (see this blog August 1st 2006 for pics) which were placed upright in a kneeling position and packed in with limpet shells and earth. This happened no more recently that 2000 bc, and could be as distant as 3500 bc. The detail about the limpet shells is playing on my mind. Why limpets? As food? As a symbol somehow of holding on?

After some chicken soup I zipped off the Hammersmith where I had a cheeky swim (forgetting yet again the piece of paper that entitles me to a prepaid swim) and then, smelling of chlorine, saw my accountant. I am certain that my accountant Seana is actually the world's sexiest accountant. There is something inherently sexy, of course, about a woman who understands numbers and is organised and can use a spreadsheet, things that are as mysterious as the sphinx to me. Under her Scottish spell I quickly got over my disappointment that she wasn't wearing, as usual, something with a leopard skin print, contenting herself with a eye-catching top. But unbelievably, she manages to make talking to someone about tax a pleasure. And cleavage has nothing to do with it. Nothing at all.

Tearing myself away from this taxing tête à tête, I returned to Brighton and had a quiet night in, some of it spent watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall eat seafood such as pollack and crabs in Scotland. Nasty bit of him killing the crab by poking it between its eyes with a sharp thing and stirring its brains. I remember as a child in Guernsey seeing Little Peggy put one in a pot of hot water and hearing its reedy little scream as the air escaped from its shell as it boiled. Nice.

And so to bed.

Below spectrums cast by my mum's crystal that she hangs by the window.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Frogs legs and fanatics

Off to Mill Hill to be met by Mum and Mase and driven straight up to St Albans for a Thai lunch with Tanya and Robert. The four of them are planning to go to Madeira soon. Robert and Mase talking about businessy things, and Mum Tanya and I talking more broadly. Rats was one subject, but a word which Tanya refused to say aloud, and instead mouthed each time mysteriously (and slightly randomly in terms of phonetics).

As we chomped on chicken satay, Tanya told us more about her childhood in the Philippines: about how frogs being seized in heavy rain, and everyone would breakfast on their boiled legs the next morning. But sadly, it no longer rains like that anymore, presumably due to climate change.

After the meal, the owner of the restaurant gave Tanya and Mum a pomegranate each, and was very friendly - telling Mum that she was still very pretty and asking how could she have a son like that. Mum pleased with this, but I wasn't quite so sure.

Then a bit of cold lurking in the market where they sell bowls full of fruit and veg... A bowl a pahnd.

Mase drove us back to a relaxed afternoon in Edgware, where I strategically seized a siesta. Then looked at mum's brand new blog amongst other things, and also marvelled at the stats for the hoards of people visiting her art site. Then a nice supper, and some strong South African wine. As we did so, I was surprised by a call from Bob and Carl who were having a cheeky drink in Liverpool. It has been ages since the three of us last got together.

Went to bed and listened for an hour or so to my audiobook, Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, which is excellently combative. Although I largely agree with him, with my philosophy head on I thought it contained several weak arguments. But hats off to him anyway. Its about time the atheists got militant too - having had a slow start in the fanatic stakes.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A wooden horse called Peter

Began work this morning at eight on dragon-related stuff. Anton came around for a cup of tea at lunchtime and we had some dragon-related chats, and as I type this I am waiting to go off to the Eddy with him to further discuss this and other important matters over a pint or two of Harveys bitter.

Otherwise still busy planting seeds for next year's income. Talked to another headhunter and have made an appointment to see my accountant on Thursday. Also chatted to The Gnome to see how he was getting on, and talked to Sophie, and emailed with Katie who sent me a useful contact.

Cooked a beanjar today so was able to warm the house from the oven and fill it with herby and comforting beanjar smells all day.

Took myself for a couple of walks. I am becoming slightly obsessed with the pier. I started writing something the other day that is set on it, and so have been drifting back to check the details. Something about places that are out of season that I love. Somewhat windy and slightly rainy today, the sky dramatically dark. I took some photos.

Below some views of the pier. I really like the first one. There is something brave and castle-like about it. Then part of the rollercoaster structure; a Peter with the brains of a rocking horse and some starlings.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A cloud of starlings

A quiet but industrious day. Felt anxious to get started on my plans and schemes - so I can make some money early next year. I worked for about five hours on rewriting my CV and sending it off a couple of times, making mind maps, and researching various sources of work on the internet and so on. Felt much better after doing this.

Then at about three I went out for a longish walk by the sea. Stopping at a seaside cafe called the Meeting Place for a cup of tea and looking at the sun on the sea. It was considerably colder today than it has been recently, but it was nice in the sun. Then walked back along the sea to the Pier where I lurked for a while taking some writing notes. The starlings are back, big cloud-sized flocks speeding over the sea, to settle in their twittering thousands under the pier as the sun sets.

A quiet night too - doing some of my writing, and watching Twin Peaks.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Traveller's tales

Rather tired after being disturbed by a 2am shouty drunks v police match at the end of the twitten the night before. Saturday however great fun, and after talking to Anna yesterday, I am much clearer about what I need to do in this new chapter if it is to be a success, and my head is full of next steps and Important Things To Do.

Had coffee with Lorraine in the Lanes and then headed back up towards the smoke before making a detour to see the FB and Bouncy Max in Chertsey Meads. Was met at the station by Max with the two babies sleeping in the car. Had a splendid night with them, and Max the Mentor, eating the FB's excellent home made-curry and quaffing wine. All of us pretty restrained after Wednesday's leaving do.
Bouncy Max had something like 8 years travelling and backpacking around the world so is a mine of good travelling stories. She kept a diary all the time, and we have talked two or three times about how this could be the source material for an amazing book.

For example, she was telling us about Zoroastrian Parsi sky burials in India, and the way the bodies are prepared so that when they are left on ledges on the towers of silence so that they can be easily taken away by vultures and eagles, while their juices can drain back to earth. A magnificently poetic thing to have done to your remains.

Below not for the first time I ended up sleeping in the Winnebago (aka The Pimpmobile). This time in a shelfy bit over the cabin. Amazingly comfortable.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A new start

A wonderful blue skied day in Brighton. Without a hangover, off this morning to buy a new Berghaus anorak much of it paid for with the whipround from the agency, and then wandered down to the sea. Passed a doorway on West street and walked down a passageway into St Paul's church. Beautiful interior and I spent a few minutes sat in this well of tranquility while a small service was being conducted at the altar.

Then down to the seaside for a walk, feeling exhilarated and happy. Walked onto the pier and had a coffee and took some photos of the strange zombie, skeleton witchy people that pop out from the windows of the Horror Hotel, which houses the ghost train. As I walked on there was a kerfuffle in the air and half a dozen squawking young seagulls one of which dropped something on the boards before me: a small and flapping flatfish. I managed to snap this in a wildlife photography moment.

Feeling tremendously cheery today. Went to visit Anna this afternoon and we did a coaching session. This is tremendously well timed, and I came from the session feeling much clearer about my immediate priorities. Anna is going to be brilliant as a coach.

Then a very pleasant evening chatting with Lorraine over Thai food.
Below the roundabout, a young gull with a flatfish, and denizens of the horror hotel...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hangovers and longnoses

Fragile and badly hung over this morning. I think my new life officially begins next Monday. I can't start it with a hangover. For a bad hangover makes simple things very complicated. For some reason my mobile phone wasn't working, and it took most of the morning to work out that if I turned it off and on again it might work.

Managed a spot of light shopping, including going to the Chinese store and buying a bag of dried black fungus, beansprouts and a tray of small but meaningful chillies. Probably because I was creeping about hypochondriacally, I was asked three times if I needed help. And then was given lots of cheerful but unasked-for advice about how you can freeze chillies, and that the beansprouts needed washing before using and so on while I was standing about blearily wanting to plunge needles in my own eyes.

A quiet night indoors virtuously sipping sparkling mineral water with a squeeze of lemon. Watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's new series River Cottage: Gone Fishing, which explores all the kinds of fish that we could eat instead of picking on a few traditional varieties. The first episode saw him catching and cooking fish in the Channel Islands. Including him fishing for longnose (garfish) from the lighthouse in St Peter Port. Nice to see him standing in the very spot where I caught a longnose as a young whippersnapper. I have never tasted a longnose though. Maybe soon. It looked nice, despite its bright green bones.

Below a longnose.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

All's well that ends well

An excellent last day at the agency. Arrived late, attended a meeting and then simply went to the pub for lunch with the FB and the Gnome and other creative chums. The FB bought me a nice plate of sausages and mash and we drank some boozes. Then back to the agency where I had a last minute meeting, and had a few chats - and read a few friendly emails.

Then a trolley of drinks was brought in to the creative department and some of the agency drifted up. Barney made a really flattering speech and I said a few things, chiefly about the pride I felt in the agency and the people who worked there. Felt very touched. I was given a card with a picture of Frank Bough on it, which was fun, and they'd had a collection and there is enough money for a proper walker's anorak. I feel I have ended well, and with great affection and was tremedously pleased I didn't blub like a big girl.

Then all down to the works bar to socialise with lots of chums. These included Max the Mentor, and Olga who were also leaving and we had a joint party. There are many people I have really enjoyed working with at the agency and I am going to miss them.

Katie came too. It is the law that at agency leaving dos you must get drunk, and in such matters I am not one to mess with tradition. Ended up in a curry house with Max and Katie and the FB among others. By this point, however, I really was quite refreshed. Finally I heard the call of the seagull and, after what Kate said was kissy action with Max, I stood up, informing Katie that she could pay for me, and headed off into the night. I arrived some time after one o'clock clutching my belongings and longing for bed.

An excellent and enjoyable day.

Monday, November 05, 2007

All at sea

Full of the sense that this is the last Monday I will be commuting for a while. This an excellent feeling.

Strange experience these last few days at work. A kind of phony war. Nothing much happening, apart from me zipping about collecting a few bits and pieces. Meanwhile there are lots of irritating bits of work to be done - which left me feeling a bit bad tempered.

Home and watched an excellent documentary called Deep Water about Donald Crowhurst. Crowhurst ran into difficulties as a participant in the first single-handed Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, but then decided to fake his around the world journey. However, he committed suicide rather than face the humiliation of being discovered. The race was won by Robin Knox-Johnston in 1969, who donated the £5000 winning money to Crowhurst's family. There is some evidence that Crowhurst had gone mad. Hundreds of days at sea alone can do that.

Made me feel a bit similar to after having watched Control the other night. The sense of a tragedy arising from someone's inability to take a difficult decision.

As I type this, there is a distant thunder of immense fireworks.

Below Donald Crowhurst

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A cracking evening

Fairly idle Sunday. Spoke to mum for about two hours, and helped her set up a blog, which she will soon loose on an unsuspecting world. Naturally, I will link to it from here too.

Otherwise, I slugged on my gold sofa all the afternoon watching telly, particularly enjoying the Wookie in some Star Wars nonsense.

After dark out into the twitten, and the clamorous night. Guy Fawkes is tomorrow, but the Brighton sky was already alive with bangs and flashes and the sparkle of rocket trails.

Went to see Janet and Ken, who had invited me, and their friends Ray and Cesare, for a meal. Particularly enjoyed chatting to Cesare, a young history lecturer at the university, who has been following in my footsteps by lodging with Janet and Ken. Very enjoyable night, with various topics getting an airing: but mostly the degeneracy (or otherwise) of social networking sites such as facebook. Great to see Ken on much improved form, after receiving a few zaps from a laser recently, which corrected the clouding of the plastic lens in his one good eye.

Much good food, and that lethal PK bait: Roquefort cheese. All in all a delightful evening.

After, I rolled home down the hill with a fair amount of wine on board, conscious that I have work tomorrow... But not for long. This should be my last commute to London on a Monday morning for some time.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


A lovely relaxed morning down by the seaside. A hot sunny day, crazily for November, and enjoyed lobbing big cobble sized pebbles into the water and hearing the big plop as they fell into the sea.

In the evening Lorraine and I saw Control. This is the film about Ian Curtis of Joy Division. I read Touching from a distance by his widow while I was in Guernsey, and enjoyed it. The film stayed very close to this. Wonderful film although depressing. The music was genuinely exciting, played by the cast apparently and not from record. And it dramatised the fate of a talented guy unable to make decisions about his own life, a problem enhanced by the medications he was taking for his epilepsy.

Shot in glorious black and white by Anton Corbijn. And wonderfully acted, especially by Sam Riley as Curtis. Came out feeling depressed though, and full of memories of the late 1979 and 1980.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Peace and The Dove

Friday and feeling very cheerful on the train going to work this morning. Had one of those peaceful Buddhist-type revelations: I have everything I need in my life to be happy. It is just a matter of shuffling the proportions, and looking again with gratitude at what I have.

Working hard this morning on various documents and brochures, and then went to lunch with the French Bloke in the Dove, one of my all time favourite pubs. We scarfed a yummy comfort food lunch of sausage and cabbage and potato mash with gravy. Then there were a few pints of London Pride, and some plotting - for the Dove's old bar demands it - and chatting. The FB also telling me about The God Delusion by Dawkins, which I am going to download.

Looking at the carved bit of Portland stone on the fireplace which had to be rebuilt after the war thanks to the effects of time and "Mr Hitler". The carving is of a dove with an olive branch in its beak and the ark on the horizon. I love that image. The Biblical dove image lay behind my poem about my friend Tim that I wrote shortly after he died of aids, which goes:

After death, at dawn
I.M. Timothy Gallagher& Rosa Neary Dos Santos

Her arms encompass your chest
Your slack ribs the beached remnants
Of a vessel abandoned.

Perhaps you blunder dove-like
Not thinking of this far ark

Because you seek the undrowned;
The olive on a sparse mountain.

Sunless, the flooded morning
Your wife sobs in. God stop her.
Make her dream of olive leaves.

Returned to work in good time, and wrote a bit more copy. Left five minutes early passing as I did a meeting about how my workload would be managed. Eschewed more beers after work, in favour of zooming home to Brighton, and heading off for some tasty Thai food on Preston Street with Lorraine.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Red drips from the stone

The agency is squeezing the last blood out of the stone. I'm having to finish lots of work, and am still taking a lead role in talking to our clients. I attended a meeting where I was supposed to just be there as a backup, but had to take control for a while as it suddenly went a bit awry. The graveyards are full of indispensable people of course, but it makes me wonder what will happen...

I found time, however, to sneak off for a 40 minute swim. After swimming at the pool for many years, you get to know some of the regulars. The man with dyed red hair said hello to me today after three or four years of swimming up and down in the next lane to me.

After work, I had a chat and a swift beer with a freelance colleague called Rory. He is flying back to Australia this weekend, and his descriptions of beach hut life back home were full of longing. As we looked out at the dark, with him conjuring an Australian summer in a beach hut full of cheery mates brandishing tinnies of beer and looking out at the surf almost made me want to go down under.

Then off for the main business of the day which was to meet Mex for a long-overdue catch up in Victoria. We had a few guffaws, a big gossip fest, a few drinks and a Thai green curry. She is looking, and doing, very well and is enjoying life - and it was very good to see her.

Fond farewells to Mex and then train hell for almost two hours.

On one train with some African guy who obviously had mental health issues. He was blasting music and muttering objectionably - but was harmless. He was then taken to task by lots of middle class, "politely" aggressive commuters and this was not an edifying spectacle. It didn't get out of hand, but it was pathetic how these stuffed shirts felt - in numbers - brave enough to have a go.

How I am looking forward to not commuting for a while.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Memory of a mule deer

Out to lunch with the Gnome today for a Thai meal. There are going to be several farewells soon. I am having my leaving drinks on my last day next Wednesday, and as my friend Max the Mentor is leaving the agency too, we're going to have a joint party. If nobody turns up at least we can have a beer together.

Otherwise I'm being kept busy by Al, with lots of work. On my way home was contacted by a headhunter, who had somehow got wind of me leaving. No idea who tipped them off... But whoever it was, it was a nice thought.

Home and had a Twin Peaks festival. Series two is much better than I remember it. Twin Peaks is my favourite TV series. It manages to be funny, creepy, touching, gruesome, philosphical, and plain strange all at once. And despite all the murders going on in the town of Twin Peaks it is a place you'd love to visit. Years ago I visited the Rocky Mountains at Banff, and I can still remember the dry, pine scented air - and whenever I watch Twin Peaks I can smell those mountains.

I have a vivid memory of opening my curtains one morning to see a big mule deer a foot or so away outside the window.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Jazz and head injuries

Off to the City this evening to meet Paul in his jazz Svengali mode. He has been doing some sort of work with a Jazz group called Vox City 5. Went to a pub where they were playing, and there were three of the five there. It was one of those hard-to-resist parping trombone, electric piano and vocal groups. They were very accomplished but unfortunately my least favourite type of jazz.

It was, however, an entertaining night. Turns out the pub we were drinking in, called the Watermark, was Paul's local. He had primed the barmaid to aggressively sell the band's badges and CDs. I found myself browbeaten into handing over one of the Queen's pounds for a badge with the band's name on it.

A little known fact about Paul is that he is a kind of guardian angel to Dave who had a head injury many years ago. Paul sees Dave most weeks. Paul had invited Dave's retired dad Norman along for the jazz, and he and I companionably swapped anecdotes about jazz and head injuries as Paul importantly smoked cigarettes outside.

Fortunately Paul had also invited Ali B and Bryony who appeared with their respective pals. Not seen either for about a year, and it was nice to catch up with them, and introduce one to the other.

Ali B, who appeared with two rather surprised looking girlfriends, whispered to me that the whole thing was like a play. This reinforced by the band taking an interval - in which their CD was played. Ali also set me up discussing some gorgeous friend of hers, who I was supposed to have once met. I replied airily that I had no recollection of her at all. Warming to my theme and including Ali's two pals in the coversation, I said she couldn't have been that fascinating and gorgeous to have been so forgettable, and so on. Turns out one of Ali's pals was her sister. Good job.

Later I enjoyed gossiping to Bryony about relationships, film producing, Brighton etc. We were chatting over a buffet laid on in the pub, which I hadn't expected. I left at 10, brushing the crumbs of pork pie morsels from the front of my hoody, as the yarp of the seagull grew insistent. Home walking through the city at night to Farringdon, then training it to Brighton and beddy-byes.

A code

QR codes. I've just discovered them... Read about them here in Wikipedia.

Here's the one for Peter Kenny


And Under AnotherSun


Find your own here.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A man cold

I have one. A a severe one: and it makes me watch Twin Peaks. Odd isn't it?

Dans Le Noir? II

After I went to the Dans Le Noir? restaurant, I remembered the poem I had written about blackness which was printed in Poetry London a few years ago. I wrote it after thinking about the Dark Ages, and how not much is known about them, and how there is a lot of conjecture mixed in with history. So I imagined a time in the distant future where there is no light, and how their scholars will make up stuff about our time, which I called the Light Age.

An adumbration
of the Light Age

Scientists classify six creatures that lived in light:
Aardvark, elephant, carp, bee, bee-eater, and tern.
Their eyes were adapted to blinding conditions
Pupils clenched to pinpricks, eyeballs squeezed in sockets.

Life, scientists suggest, will persist in peculiar places
For this so-called Light Age stretched for millennia
Reigned over by a species of squinting hominid
Who flinched from blackness, and the comforts of night.

Their aggregations of rubble are irrefutable
But other signs of their passing are slight; token scraps
With unbreakable codes, unknowable categories
And glossaries of nonsense such as bright, colour and sun.

These perplex us with hints of a primitive ritual
That shunned shadow, and linked dark with death,
Bizarre beliefs which allowed no evolution, no self-expression,
No feeling for the two thousand and twelve textures of dark.

But surely they’d not recoil from the blaze of a sable fire?
Or hate the velvet days? And how in light did they stay sane?
Their light is gone, thank God; a static crackle that passed once,
At dark speed, into the vast pale voids between stars.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dans Le Noir?

Interesting night out, with the healthcare homies from the agency. Went to Dans Le Noir? a novel restaurant. When I was told that we were going to go to a restaurant where you ate in complete darkness I thought it sounded like a terrible night out, especially as I was feeling rather tired. But it wasn't.

The start of the evening was pure David Lynch: led in by a blind black waiter wearing shades. We walked down a short corridor lit by a single red light. We were walking in line with our hands on the person in front's shoulder. Mine was on the waiter's shoulder and Al was behind me. Shuffling on we pushed through sets of heavy black drapes into a room of absolute dark.

Although I collect phobias like other people collect stamps, I am not actually scared of the dark. But something in me quailed momentarily on entering the pitch black room, full of chattering diners, where you literally could not see your hand before your face. Al laughing nervously behind me. I just thought of Guernsey and how I like the dark and was okay.

Then we were shown to our seats on a low bench table. I found that it was important to talk to people. Talking to people feels safe. Mike F and I happened to be sitting at the end of our group next to another group of women. I got chatting to a nice lady called Natalie. Quite strange to have what was quite a wide ranging conversation and have no idea of what that person looked like. Her party left well before we did so the mystery will remain forever.

I suppose there are millions of cyber encounters like this. Although you can't actually rub shoulders with the person over the Internet.

After a while I began to forget I was in the dark. By the end I was actually really enjoying the experience and felt a bit sad to be leaving. If nothing else an insight into what it must be like to be profoundly blind. The food was nice too, but again it made you realise just how much of the enjoyment of food is visual.

After this we all had a fast drink in the pub next door, and then I walked to the station with Helen, and jumped on a train and headed home to Brighton, noticing how even at night the world is full of light.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This is funny

A Chiswick Tanuki

This week is becoming rather lively. Work a bit fraught for the first couple of hours and then settled down. Innocently about my business in the afternoon when Matty called. He'd been in the River Cafe strapping on an expensive nosebag. I met him from work. He is between jobs at the moment, and has a new one starting in the new year. And there was lots to tell each other.

As Matt lives next to The Bull's Head we zoomed to Chiswick and had a meal in there. However I was scalded in the mouth by some mashed potatoes which had been microwaved to the temperature of molten lava. When I mentioned this to the Hungarian waitress who Matty had been flirting with, she began to argue fiercely that they did not microwave etc. until it made me briefly very cross indeed. She came back later with an apology and some free wine, so all was well. And Matty and I had a good time chatting. We are planning a tour of Lewes boozers in the not too distant future, as Matt has a wealth of experience in them.

Then Matty, who'd been refreshing himself steadily since noon, left suddenly for bed. Fortunately we'd been joined by a nice guy called Graham who I chatted with about Japan for a bit.

Below I walked to the station in Chiswick feeling somewhat refreshed too, when I saw a nice hedgehog hurrying across the pavement. This made me think of the hedgehog's cousin the Tanuki, which in turn made me think of this photo I took of Hiroko in Japan with two Tanukis. Tanukis are jolly drinking things that bring you good luck, and I noticed them everywhere I went in Japan.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pop on a schoolnight

Into the agency, worked. Went for a swim at lunch, which was excellent. And then hurried home as soon as decently possible. For tonight was a poptastic night.

For a complicated reason Sarah Freems put me on the guest list to see a band called Huski at a venue called the Barfly in Brighton. Took Lorraine with me as she likes all that music stuff. Cool to get in wearing my hoody and have my hand stamped and so on.

Huski were fun. A little bit like later Goldfrapp, with a good lady singer, and an interesting soundscape behind her. I also particularly enjoyed the bored looking lady bass player. I am attracted to people who look bored. After, I spoke to the alpha male Huski to mention that Sarah and Fras had put my name by the door, but he hadn't heard of Sarah and Fras at all.

After Huski were three ladies with bad hair called Robots in Disguise who were a bundle of shouty fun and attitude. After about seven or eight shouty songs Lorraine and I decided to repair to the Basketmakers, where we fell into conversation with a waspish but funny hairdresser who'd been to the same gig. And asked why two people in their 40s were at a pop concert. He was in his 40s as well, which didn't stop it from being cheeky. We explained that we liked music. Now there's a thought.

A nice pub, The Basketmakers Arms. There are tins of all kinds attached to the walls, and sometimes people leave messages and bits of paper, and in this case a conundrum about oblongs and lines which gave me a nosebleed.

Then home, for it was a school night. Especially for Lorraine. For she is a school teacher.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

An evening with New Biz Liz

A proper Monday with gloomy dull weather. I have lots of work to do. The creative department scratching away in uncharacteristic quiet.

Had a swim at lunchtime although managed to lose my sheet of paper with nine prepaid swims on it, which made me feel like grinding my teeth. Perhaps this ire made me feel more energetic and I swam for 40mins. After a two week walking holiday, a couple of long walks in the last two weekends and many swims I think I may have lost about 0.5 cm from my waist. Good to know all that effort is paying off. Bah.

Biffed into the Thistle Hotel at Victoria again, where I met New Biz Liz for a drink, a bite to eat and a chortle. She was stressed and on sitting down slid under the table to demonstrate exactly how rigid her stress was making her. She is a funny girl. We swapped lots of gossip, and she was being helpful about my imminent freelance change too. Then I snoozed on the train home, but fortunately did not need to be roughly shaken awake by burly station staff when I reached Brighton.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Afternoon in Arundel

A slowish start this morning, due to the rather lively Saturday night. But a really nice lazy afternoon.

Lorraine drove us to Arundel for a walk and talk in the country. Lovely to amble near the river in the slanting sunlight of autumn. We reached South Stoke village, and then returned along the winding Arun river to The Black Rabbit pub. Here we sat outside on a table by the river. I drank a pint of badger beer and forked down a hearty plate of roast beef and various veg, Lorraine had a beef and ale pie. Both of us feeling mellow and cheery.

Looking at the river had me struggling to remember this bit in Ode to Autumn by Keats:

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

A quiet evening in, chatting to Mum on the phone and generally feeling mellow and fruitful.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A sunshine day

Off this morning to finally get myself a new portfolio, after my last one disappeared when I was burgled last year. Then a spot of tidying up and generally feeling excellently cheerful.

In the afternoon I popped up the hill to see Anna, who is mainly sitting on the sofa recovering from her double knee operations, and give her some chocs and flowers. Anna's brother Mark was over from Dublin, and he has a definite Irish lilt to his voice these days. Anton complaining that he didn't get chocolates and flowers as he had had man flu all week, had a difficult work time of it and had to look after children and a recovering wife etc.

By a brilliant stroke of timing Anna is just about to embark on her coaching course - and I am going to be one of her guinea pigs. While I was enjoying a cup of tea there I heard from the French Bloke who has been on holiday. He gave the phone to his toddler Tahlia who called me Mr Kenny on the phone very cutely.

Then home again as Lorraine was coming around. Had an excellent night out. We first met Anton and Mark in The Eddy to watch the rugby World Cup Final. An excellent game, though sadly England lost but the chaps played very well and were I thought extremely unlucky to lose. Quite fun to stand in the Eddy which was absolutely packed with people roaring their support. Most there seemed to take England's defeat fairly philosophically as nobody had imagined they could get to the final at the beginning of the competition.

Then Lorraine and I zoomed off in a taxi to Joogleberry in Kemptown where we saw someone called Gregg Kofi Brown. It turns out that Brown plays with the immortal Osibisa - who are (naturally) still going - and will soon release a new album. His band played some really enjoyable music, and Lorraine and I had a great time drinking gin and tonic and listening to them. Then they played the deathless Sunshine Day, one of my all time top tunes. I had a chat with Gregg afterwards, who not only being an excellent musician is a very courteous and pleasant man - I mentioned that Toby had gone to school with Courtney Pine, who had close connections with Osibisa.

Then a late taxi home, as it was pretty nippy.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sartre in a swimming pool

Not only was it a Friday, but it was a beautiful morning and I felt happy and relaxed going into agency. Quite a bit of work on my plate at the moment but that's fine. Managed to have my fourth swim of the week at lunchtime.

At the end of my swim I just floated in the pool for a few minutes, feeling good and staring up at the light streaming through a couple of trees outside. Increasingly, I'm getting stolen moments of happiness like this.

In the pool I decided I am getting the psychological reward from having taken my decision to leave the agency. For better or worse my life feels in my own hands again, and mentally that is a far healthier way of living. I'm with Sartre and his buddies on this one. When you take a decision, you prove to yourself that you are alive.

After work I met Bob in the West End. Good to catch up with the old Mad Dog. We lurked happily in Soho in The Nellie Dean and forked down a curry afterwards, leaving no stone unturned in our conversation. Eventually I heard the call of the seagull.

Later, a member of the railway staff woke me up in the train in Brighton. Always a curious feeling walking down an empty platform from an empty train. And then merciful bed.