Saturday, March 31, 2007

All's well that ends well

Off to work feeling very cheery today. Tinkering with poems and feeling happy on the train.

Pitch day. And it was nice not to be presenting this time, but as the pitching team set off we gave them a round of applause as they left the agency. This gave me a timely reminder of how good working in my agency can actually be. Later in the day I got lots of reassurance that I had made a good contribution and my dark night of the soul on Wednesday seems rather silly now. It's a rollercoaster ride.

After this, I spoke to the Lanie the radio lady, and slightly rearranged the time to meet on Monday. I went to the pub with the rest of my colleagues and I felt strangely Christmassy, knowing I had a holiday coming and everyone being together.

Anton being a pest about a new Stowa watch he is gloating over on the Internet, and trying to involve me in discussions about whether to go for an Airman or a Marine. Having made me look at them I realise they are really nice. I like watches that have numbers, that are simple, and don't have a million redundant functions on them. Digital watches of course are all wrong, as are vulgar watches that look like big chunks of metal. Also metal straps are wrong too.

Later in the afternoon the non-presenting members of the pitch team (including me) jumped in a taxi to join the others to a joint in Chiswick for a bite to eat and a few drinks.

I was very chilled and relaxed today, but those that had presented had to let off steam. And after some time things got quite messy. And as one very senior lady suit started dancing on the tables, and another suddenly burst into tears (on me as I happened to be sitting near her), we were invited to leave.

Home very late, fell asleep on the train, so the journey seemed to last about ten minutes, and after scoring a Chinese takeaway, I IMed the lovely Sprinkles. And now 10 days of not working stretch before me. Life is deeply sweet.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

No accounting for it

Nine hours sleep certainly helps things. Felt happy and cheerful this morning and simply got on with things. One of the things I simply got on with was popping into see my accountant who has an office near my work.

Seana is a splendid accountant, and gave me lots of free advice. I did feel slightly short changed that she wasn't wearing the leopard skin leggings, but then I haven't had a chat with her in some time. My Florida correspondent has taught me all about nail technicians lately, and looking at her nails, I suspect that Seana is intimate with one. She talked with passion and at some length about tax and the Chancellor's recent Budget, in such a way that it almost made me wonder why I hadn't opted for the fascinating life of an accountant instead of being a writer.

Into work, and only a few bits to do today. Regained my equilibrium thankfully. I also called the radio station. Spoke to the producer, and Anton and I will pop in next week to see what's what.

Went to the very quiet Blue Anchor at lunchtime, with the Gnome, Mike Ferg and Canadian Mark. We discussed briefly that they filmed a scene in Sliding Doors there. Mike Ferg said that his favourite book was Treasure Island and that he had 14 copies of it, including a version in German.

Worked on my poems on the train home, and then chilled out by swapping you tube tunes and chat with the lovely Sprinkles.

Below Canadian Mark and the Gnome pulling a David Lynch tribute face.

A storm in a teacup

As you know, I normally parade about being big and clever. Today, however, I was small and stupid. This despite waking up in the middle of the night and working on pitch stuff between 3-4am. Turns out I need not have bothered. All our stuff got sidelined or reworked. And the result of three weeks oppressive slog was zero. Felt humiliated and left the office to go to the graveyard where I satst brooding on the vast Abyss.

After a while I realised that nobody had died, and that I have lots of holiday coming up (paid for by the agency) and so there are many reasons to be cheerful. But this storm in a teacup did not prevent me from going around with a face like a smacked arse for rest of the day.

But the day wasn't all bad. I had a short walk with Trace during the day, telling me about her forthcoming trip to China to do martial arts which was nice. And getting home at a reasonable time was wonderful.

But then I heard the results of the Front Row 100 word story competition and, in an affront to all that is right-minded and decent in the world, I had not won. For some reason this was final confirmation that I was destined to a life of mediocrity, obscurity and failure.

However I had a short but immensely heartening conversation with Sprinkles, and then went to bed at the unfeasibly early time of 9:30, for I was dog tired.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Heart of darkness

Caught the train this morning with Anton. As usual he was in the station about twenty five minutes before the train left. Usefully though he buys coffees to drink on the train and we chatted nicely all the way up to London.

Shortly after arriving at work the horror set in. I woke from a trance and realised that I was daubed with primitive body art and was rocking myself gently in a dark hut. The two orbs of the Gnome's brown eyes were staring balefully at me from somewhere in the dark. All our ideas have bitten the dust and we have a pitiful amount of work to show for it. And even this is deemed largely wrong due to the frenziedly moved goalposts. Fortunately our colleagues have had a more profitable time and are shining with youthful brilliance and talent. Bah.

Explained to my boss that I wanted to hang myself, but he took me for a beer instead. Then I saw the French Bloke unaccountably quaffing in the bar, and it would have affronted gentlemanly conduct not to have had a beer or two with him.

On the way home mumbled at a foul burger at Victoria. This was the tipping point however, and there will only be wholesome things eaten for the foreseeable future. Then home, and IM with Sprinkles, who burst from my computer like a ray of sunlight with a rather nice hairdo.

In other news, had an email from Joan out in Ontario who had fallen nastily in the snow, but is now recovering well. And from Mum who had an encouraging meeting with an art dealer yesterday. I am banned from blurting out anything about this on this blog however.

Below from Joan the intrepid Pinkie (L) with his new amigo Stan.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Jabba Jabba Hey

A rough hack slouching towards London to be scorned. My holiday like a golden carrot gleaming at the other end of the week. Bah to sore throats, bah to pitches, and double bah to trains. And work like pulling hen's teeth, but me and the Gnome laboriously assembling our scraps into shape.

Left work late, and my train was cancelled at Victoria, so arrived home a little after 9:30pm. Nice IM with Sprinkles, who had sent me some more immaculately-coiffured, and gorgeous photos of herself for my private collection.

Gnawing at foul food all day, including chocolate biscuits. The Gnome has a chocolate reflex when he is feeling stressed and he keeps buying them for me too. And I eat them in a gorging self-loathing way. And because I was late I scored a pizza from M&S to cook in the comfort of my own home too. By the time Sprinkles gets here I will resemble Jabba the Hut.

Below your favourite blogger pictured earlier today.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Two flying children

Below Rupert and Matilda both mid-air.

Several Finns and a nice fish pie

Off today to Wimbledon by train and tram to have Sunday lunch with Marja and her family. I'd not seen her daughter Matilda, and her son Lucas for many years, and the youngest boy Rupert never. The children are bilingual and bright and cheery.

They live in an enormous house in Wimbledon Hill. Her husband Dimitri was there, as well as her cousin and his partner. The cousin was a Captain in the Finnish army and was serving in Afghanistan with the UN forces. Fascinating to hear about his experiences there. Massive extremes of temperature. It is freezing now and will be 50 degrees celcius and higher in a few weeks. He was telling us about the various roles of the UN forces, such as "Look and Cook" i.e. standing at an observation post in the blistering heat.

He said the main priority for safety was to make sure that everyone in the locality knew that they weren't Americans. Apparently once this is established, they can go about their business helping the local village communities and so on. Very nice man. The force he is serving with has Danes, and Swedes and Norwegians in it. I committed a faux pas by suggesting that times have changed... "Relax everyone... We're the Vikings!" But it was pointed out that Finns weren't Vikings at all and so my remark made no sense.

Interestingly the English food found most repulsive by the Captain was steak and kidney pie. I'd never thought of this as a challenging dish before, but Marja assured me it was. Sarah Sprinkles thinks it is very English too and something to be avoided. But I remember the time as a student (with slightly mixed feelings) when a snake and pygmy pie with chips was a staple.

Coincidentally I am reading a classic travel book about Afghanistan called A short walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby, which is funny and interesting.

Lovely to see Marja of course. One feature of their house is an grand piano, a Steinway, in the drawing room. Matilda who is now eight played me "The Campbells are Coming" on it, and Lucas played a song called "I'd love to be a teabag", which seemed slightly incongruous on such an impressive grand piano.

Marja served a nice meal, and a fisherman's pie. And we had fun chatting after lunch watching the children bounce with abandon on a big trampoline in the back garden.

Then left for home fairly early, where I had a quick chat with Mum, who is seeing a gallery owner tomorrow, before another long chat with Sprinkles whose English accent is amazingly good despite it making her face hurt.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Sprinkly Saturday

Well thank God for the weekend. Feeling drained and sorethroaty, and slept for two blessed hours in the afternoon after attending to a few minor chores.

Best part of the day was reserved for speaking to Sprinkles. She is expanding my database with new information about certain delicious sounding items of Philippine cuisine, and introducing me to some new words in Tagalog such as beer for er... beer. Spoke for hours and we are very much looking forward to her visit at the end of April.

Saw Anton in the latter part of the evening. The family are home from skiing where everybody got ill. I didn't see Anna as she had gone straight to bed, and the bairns had been a bit poorly especially Oskar who had to have cold flannels put on him to reduce his temperature due to an ear infection.

We ate a delivery curry and planned and schemed about the Dragon business. Anton cleverly wants to put in a list of the worst ten types of dog, which I think is an excellent idea. Sloped back down the hill and blissfully to bed again.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The dragon wakes

Regular readers will remember Anton and I planning a Dragon Quest, which will be on a route invented by Anton. Unfortunately we took time off work to start it, but both were ill. At the time I sent a proposal to the local BBC station about it. I got a response today, and the good news was that they love the idea.

I called but missed the producer who gets in to work at 5.00am and leaves early, but spoke to a colleague and will follow up next week. I texted Anton and we are having a planning meeting tomorrow night on his return from skiing.

Really excited by this - but of course it means me and Anton will have to do the walk now.

Otherwise dead tired in the morning, and working on the pitch. However I had a nice oxygenating walk along the river at lunchtime for an hour with the Gnome. He was telling me again about being knocked over by tram in Wimbledon, and laughing at himself because it's not as if trams move in unpredictable ways. He said he was lucky not to be brought home in a bucket. We then discussed horrible ways of dying, after he told me about his grandfather being killed in a mining accident in Wales, and then went on to describe in some detail a recent news report about a man having his head cut off. I felt positively sick by the time we reached work again.

And then put the world to rights in the work's bar with the other creatives working on the pitch for a bit. Mercifully I won't have to work this weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pitch slog blog

Snowflakes over Hammersmith as I slunk hungover into work surrounded by a air of alcohol-induced wrongness.

Strange phony war style pitch lull ended today and the Gnome and me hard at it again. Tends to narrow down other activities. You end up working with a team of people all growing increasingly tired and emotional. The sense of release when it is all over is fantastic though. The prospect of working through the weekend has become a reality now though.

I stole out at lunchtime, however, and bought a grey-blue v-necked jumper, which I discover (preening myself in the "gentlemen's lounge" as Sarah calls it) is the same colour as my eyes. Had to break off mid-preen when somebody burst in for a large wee.

Afternoon drinking coffee and slaving over a hot layout pad with the Gnome. I then worked late writing the pitch blog. Missed my train at Victoria by about five seconds due to tube evil. Listening to BBC podcasts on the trains, about religion and humour, and the other about the epistolary novel form (i.e. composed of letters written by the characters). And after going up the hill to check on Anton's house, went home buying some fried fish and, in a startling move, opted to accompany these with chips.

Skyped with Sprinkles till quite late. I like the way she "totally digs" things. Then I slumped gratefully into a hotwater-bottled bed. Still no sign of Paddy the ghost cat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Oblique strategies

Managed to fling myself onto the train as the doors were closing and then had to stand all the way to London. Lovely morning however, and I was cheerful. Our big pitch at work has hit a temporary lull so I went for a walk at lunchtime along the river. There is a big building site next to the office and The Gnome and I have been locked away a lot in a room which overlooks it. Fascinating seeing cranes and diggers about their business like big yellow insects. There was even a flash of an explosion the other day from the site, which I took to he lightning at the time as it was raining heavily. This morning the shadows of aircraft were passing over it which I thought was strangely filmic.

In the afternoon, during this lull I suggested the Gnome and I use some thoughts from Eno's Oblique Strategies to reframe our thinking on the pitch. We found it quite useful and interesting to think about stuff like: "Short Circuit (a man eating peas to improve virility shovels them into his lap)" for example, but we sent the results to some of our colleagues who were underwhelmed.

Got an email from First Matie inviting me to meet her in town with her pals Peter Love and Lisa, which I happily accepted.

Peter Love is a very nice man, but I couldn't help feeling that somehow he got my name. I asked him what it was like being called Peter Love and he said that people became better disposed towards him when they found out his surname. Lisa is an old friend of Katie's who I had met once or twice and is extremely nice. There were a legion of their pals there too who were very pleasant indeed. A cheerful but rather drunken evening ensued.

One of the things people don't warn you about is not drinking. Through not really drinking much these days I became quite quickly drunk. So for any young people reading this... Drinking heavily and often is the best way to maintain sobriety.

Below a blurry snap passing through Trafalgar Square, Peter Love, Lisa and Katie.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ditto day

Mostly a ditto day. Except I slept deeply at home, and then worked on poems on the train. Another pleasant day at work with the "big" idea we had yesterday being received well. Spurned offers to go to the pub to slope off for a walk at lunchtime. I am trying to get a bit fitter as I still feel woozy and throaty after the flu.

Walked by the river, enjoying the blustery cold. Took photos but none of any interest. But it was great to escape and look at things. Sent an email to Lakshmi whose birthday it is today. Got emails from Mum about things like what font to use on the website. Read an interesting philosophy essay by the Gnome's son on Laughter.

Left work promptly. Once in Brighton I walked up the hill to check on Anton's house as they are away skiing at the moment. Then home to eat cheese on toast again, and talk to the fabulous Sarah, before an early night.

Below the excellent (and very hard to pass) The Dove. I have never succeeded in walking past the Dove with the French Bloke. Mum sent me a link to a simple print by Morna Rhys which I noticed at the art fair, and really liked. It is no bigger than this in real life.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Insomnia and Alcazar

A single hour's sleep left me feeling a bit sorry for myself. But was pepped up by a fortifying breakfast of crumpets, toast and tea with Mum and Mase, before Mase drove me through the sleety rain to Stanmore station.

Work pleasant and I contributed to a good idea with the Gnome and Nick which we were quite cheerful about. Worked on my poems on the train then hurried home out of the cold.

Got an email from the editor of Skyline magazine about ordering copies. From this it appears that Skyline is nothing better than a vanity press, which at no point was made clear. This leaves me very irritated to have wasted my time on it.

Best part of the day was talking to Sprinkles in sunny Florida as I lurked indoors away from the cold and dark. Saw this music video today while working on some concepts. I defy anyone not to have a smile on their face after watching Crying at the Discoteque by Alcazar. Turns out Sarah likes it too.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Affordable Art Fair

Slept like a log, untroubled by undead felines, and went downstairs to eat crumpets and toast with Mum and Mase. Then I wrote a little bit of copy for her website and we set off for the Affordable Art Fair. Tubed it down to Sloane Square and stopped off at the Oriole for a glass of wine.

Then off to the venue in the free bus. Spent several hours browsing about. Enjoyed the show a lot more than the last one I went to. Found myself drawn to a couple of forest pastels by Sarah Bee not my usual bag, but I found they reminded me slightly of Emily Carr (without the totem poles of course). Actually her name was Sarah Bee P.S. - the initials stand for her membership of the Pastel Society. I have no idea what they get up to in the Pastel Society, but I imagine several eminent figures ranting against primary colours. Okay I know it is really about using pastels... But I bet they have secret smudgy handshakes.

Mason uses the AAF to talk to lots of people who can't escape because they are on the stands, and Mum was looking at the art, and also carefully watching how they wrapped things and other technical bits.

Home and we were all quite tired. Despite this I used my laptop to inflict my complete Japanese photo collection on them, before slinking away to catch up with this blog.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Enter a cat ghost

Thanks to late night curry and drinking too much I lay awake starey-eyed from 3.00am to 6.00am. I have been reading a book about Vikings, so I read about folks chopping each other up in the name of Odin before I finally managed to drop to sleep again. Shortly after, however, I was awoken by the sound of a cat running into the room, jumping on the bed and springing over me to head towards the window.

Now this would have been fine and dandy if I actually had a cat. But I don't. After a fruitless search for the mystery invader, and feeling a bit odd, I went downstairs and had a glass of sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon which seemed to help. I then returned to get a couple of hours sleep.

Up woozily and soon was having a delightful conversation with Sarah Sprinkles, the Eastern US being only 4 hours behind us at the moment and she gets up unspeakably early. She is coming to England at the end of April, which I am looking forward to immensely. We'd not talked properly for a few days so there was a lot to catch up on.

I also had proofs of the contents page of Skyline to proof, and to send Dan, a work pal, the text of a poem which (if he likes it) he may play with for an ambient music thing.

Then off to sunny north London in the afternoon. Took my computer on the train and tinkered with poems. Then made my way to Mum and Mason's house in Edgware, arming myself with several flowers as it is Mother's day tomorrow. Me: Mum I've brought you some flowers. Mum: Oh no.

Lots of chatting with them both on Family matters and that Mum and Mase had found themselves laughing like hyenas in bed the other night. Looked at Mum's portfolio and designs for website. This all looking good. Mason's massive website plans are all but finished now too.

Had a nice Mason cooked turkey-based meal with a little wine, and caught up with a substantial amount of gossip and reminiscences with Mum, as Mason watched something involving lots of murders and screaming on TV. Then off tired to bed, texting Sarah, and wondering if I should call the cat ghost Paddy, as he was discovered on St Patrick's day.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two days in a blur

Thursday and Friday in pitch frenzy. The Gnome and me barricaded away going slightly mad. However lots of people steamed in to help and eventually me and the Gnome got things organised. I ended Friday seething with anger though about another work-related matter and I had one of my rare taking no prisoner half hours which ended up with me being roundly placated.

Despite this there was some fun to be had. Spent Friday lunchtime with the Gnome and my boss Nick and Canadian Mark and a new nice team sat outside by the river in Spring-like sun. Suddenly there were people sporting shades and as Nick observed, almost 50% of people are ladies. Me on suddenly loquacious form, which I enjoyed anyway.

Heard from Anton on Thursday sounding incredibly relieved, as he did not have the lung cancer he had become certain he had after chest x-ray. Anna has been away and he was explaining how it is when you are on your own and ill. He claimed the Doctor had told him that he was still iller than I had been. Meanwhile the French Bloke has scored me a home blood pressure monitor so I can bring the paranoia and ghastliness of the doctor's surgery into my very own home!

For one reason or another, I ended up drinking in the evening on both Thursday and Friday. On Thursday talking to Nicoletta's opera singing boyfriend again. I know next to nothing about Opera so it was interesting to learn more about this. I asked him what he thought of Peter Pears who was Benjamin Britten's favourite singer (and partner). Mum really likes him and used to play Britten chunes when me and Toby were bairns. Nicoletta's boyf, however, thinks he had a poor voice, and sings out his head. I think he was talking out of the top of his head, but I am no expert.

On Friday night I was bought a conciliatory beer (after The Big Strop) and then had a couple more drinks before heading for home. Was woken up by a kindly man on the train at Brighton station. And discovered in my mind an unassuageable desire for a curry. Sensibly ate this at 11:30pm so that guts would be assailed full force in the dead of night.

O blessed weekend and a chance to talk to Sarah in calm and human circumstances. She sent me a card for St Patrick's day complete with sprinkles. I found another sprinkle in my shoe. They get everywhere.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A day of no ideas

Took my laptop on the train this morning to work on my poems and had a productive session. But at work the story was opposite. It was pretty hellish, with The Gnome and me finding ourselves unable to crack a concept for this latest pitch. I can't remember the last time I felt so stumped - and at one point simply left the office to walk by the river and think of reasons not to chuck myself into it.

Stayed a late and ended up having an enjoyable glass of wine with the FB among others, which soon helped get things in perspective. Then phoned Sarah Sprinkles walking to the tube. She sounds strangely young and different on the phone.

Then had an altercation on the Brighton train. I was sitting fiddling about on my computer and one of the two gay men behind me repeatedly kept kicking my chair. I asked the kicker to stop it, and he said annoyingly that he wasn't doing it consciously. I then asked him to ask his subconscious to stop kicking my chair. He said I was being aggressive etc. Gawd.

After dragging his dead body from the train at Brighton, I scored a Chinese takeaway, and then skyped Sarah before slumping fairly irritably into bed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Not a bomb but a damp squib

Somewhat stressful work day caused by work demands with the usual combination of urgency and lack of clarity. Relief provided by a bomb scare to the business next door, and we all had to shuffle out for some time past the three police cars that had arrived and stand by the river. Had an impromptu meeting over a pub table with our boss, and then returned to work for an ennui-inducing meeting that dragged on for hours.

Made a break for home, and got the tube and sat on something unspeakable and very wet, which I don't think was urine. Just managed to catch the train listening to podcasts of BBC foreign correspondents, to be in time for home delivery of food. Chatted to the lovely Sarah, and found myself channelling the ghosts of dragonflies she had de-winged as a child. They forgave her. Worked on poems and went to bed.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A squeak in the blogosphere

Fairly uneventful day. Bumped into Reuben this morning, and we had a good gossip standing all the way from Brighton to Victoria. A beautiful morning. And in between working, I was thinking about poetry, wrestling with the eternal problem of how to make my poems, which are so disparate, fit together in a coherent collection.

Took a new pitch brief this morning, and struggling to get my head around that with The Gnome. Popped out at lunchtime for a half an hour's stroll, and the park was dotted with people sitting in the sun. Arriving home, I spoke to Anton who had been for his chest x-rays, and was now looking after the babies single handed.

Discovered in the evening that yesterday's mention of Inland Empire got picked up by the Guardian online. Cyberfame at last! IM chat with Sarah at the end of the day. And then lost track of time writing, and didn't get to bed till late.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Inland Empire

Pleasant Sunday. Something of a lie in. Then chatting with Sarah who introduced me to the delights of Hawaii's own Don Ho amongst other things. And looked at Hawaii recipes for pork "butt". Apparently standard US nomenclature. I learn lots of odd things from Sarah.

Spoke to Mum who is finalising her website. I will have a link here as soon as it is up and running. Pottered about for a bit in the afternoon, with an eye to the Chelsea v Spurs FA cup match on TV, with the noble Chelsea recovering from a poor start to force a replay with the upstarts. Also applied for some ISBN numbers.

Took myself off to see Inland Empire the new David Lynch film, at the Duke of York's Picturehouse in Brighton. Excellent venue, grand and slightly shabby. They seemed to have pumped all the oxygen from the cinema however, which made me almost nod off at one point. The film however was stunning, gruelling and mystifying all at the same time.

It features Laura Dern as an actress who becomes involved in a remake of a movie which was never completed as the two leads died. The film is like falling through a series of trapdoors, and half of it Dern seems to be walking down sinister corridors into increasingly dark and mysterious rooms. Time seems to completely fragment, and there are moments when she seems to be glimpsing herself at earlier and later times. You are not sure either if the action is part of the film she is making or happening to her, or is all a dream. It is all so layered it is frankly difficult to say what on earth is happening. And not to mention the segments that are a bit like a sitcom, scripted by Samuel Beckett, with people wearing rabbit costumes. Or the Polish subplot. Confusing, but fabulous. I want to see it again. Laura Dern is brilliant in it.

Felt a bit creeped out and disturbed walking home. Back to an odd supper of cold chicken and crumpets and then chatted more to Sarah, with Cabal the dog whistling piteously in the background, before bed.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Holding the babies

A text from Anna this morning to say Anton was ill. Went up the hill a bit before noon to discover Anton in the grips of the lung-attacking flu I had last week. Anton assured me, however, that his was much worse, and he has to have an x-ray on Monday for pneumonia. This may trump coughing blood so I had to be sympathetic.

Anna was off to run a charity clothes sale, so I was on hand to amuse the babies in a Godfatherly fashion.

After feeding Oskar who is an unbelievably sweet natured and placid baby, I took Klaudia off to the park in her push chair. She loves the swings and enjoyed the small slide. She had her eyes fixed on the big slide however, which made me feel a bit twitchy but she managed it several times but she was fine with it as long as I held her hand as she went through netting and over little chain bridges and so on.

I felt like thrashing a slightly larger child who barged her: it must be hard not to shout at other people's kids if you are a parent. However, we both had an extremely nice time, despite the fact that she had made me carry Baby her large baby doll with a red ribbon with shoes that constantly fell off. Funny how the sex of a child seems to be an imprint deeper than socialisation.
Even at three, she was really careful not to get her pink shoes dirty, as she pointed out that the edges were already dirty. Later she stopped mid scramble to show me she had mud on her hand and wouldn't continue before I wiped it off.

Then to the cafe in the park which was quite busy. Klaudia asked me where we were going to sit and we had a beaker of milk, a large cup of tea and shared a chocolate brownie. Klaudia also shared some of her opinions on the superiority of the big slide to swings, and on the badness of balloons. There was a helium filled one on the ceiling which she pointed out, and said she hadn't liked the balloons at her party. Poor thing is traumatised by the sound of balloons bursting.

Klaudia insisted on walking all the way home, and holding my hand, while chatting to me and singing. It is impossible not to be enchanted by Klaudia and slightly humbled too. However big and clever I may think I am, it doesn't add up to a hill of beans compared to the fact that my Goddaughter likes me.

Then back to see Anton and play with Oskar till he fell asleep on Anton, who then passed him to me as it hurt his lungs. I had Oskar sleeping on me and gently dribbling into my sweater for an hour. Then feeding time. Anton struggled up again to prepare food, and I spooned it into Oskar with Klaudia sitting on my knee eating yogurt, and I felt very much the godfather.

After Anna had returned from a successful afternoon, I went home to roast a chicken. Thanks to my pies are bad brainwashing, I even managed not to gorge on the whole thing.

After this spent the evening on yet another hot cyberdate with Sarah Sprinkles on skype. She is exceedlingly nice, and talking to her was a lovely way to end a lovely day.

Below Klaudia in the park.

The big slide

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday, Skyline and more Lynching

Up surprisingly easily this morning having been entirely sensible the night before. Off to work, and met Max the Mentor not far from the office, who linked arms with me and we walked companionably into work. Today was her twentieth year in the agency. Made me think how one of the things about working at the same place for seven years is that you do make some good friends.

For me, not a bad day, worked on another pitch blog, and was taken out for some Italian grub by a nice suit called Nicoletta to discuss the overarching strategy for a new pitch. I like her and we had a nice chat. Her fiance is the pleasant opera singer I met a few weeks ago. I am going to get sucked into a world of pitching again for the next couple of weeks.

Back to work and the Gnome and I were slightly bogged down. Felt enervated and so I focused more on coughing impressively. However I encountered an even more jaded-looking French Bloke in a meet during the afternoon. He is simply not used to drinking any more.

I was happy to receive proofs of two more poems in my in-basket for a US magazine called Skyline, which is cheering. One of them ancient, called Exorcism, and the other a newer one the last year or so called Romantic.

Home after a slow seeming journey home, and I watched some of Mulholland Drive again after reading all kinds of interpretations of it on the Internet. Makes a lot more sense the second time, and is even more enjoyable. Luckily my Lynch craze has coincided with brand new Lynch film Inland Empire being screened in Brighton this weekend.

Then sleepily talked to the deeply excellent Sarah for an hour before slumping into bed thinking how two day working weeks are exceedingly civilised, and should be the norm.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Back to work

Back to work and enjoying the company of humans after my recent flu-enforced solitude. Listened to my pies are bad brainwashing tape on the train, and enjoyed walking through a sunny and springlike Magravine Cemetery.

In my absence the French Bloke, Matty boy and First Matie had arranged for us all to meet today. I agreed to go along for half an hour as it was the first time the four of us had been together for at least a year. And of course I ended up staying with them, and drinking a couple of fairly restrained wines. Soon we went in search of a curry. Finding the Indian restaurant closed, we opted for a restaurant of dubious provenance next door. Starters were a few tapas bits, and then Katie and me had Moroccan tagines, and the Michel and Matt had other things.

There was much to discuss, for example Katie was proudly sporting her engagement ring. There was work to be moaned about, Michel's new house to described, Matty and my love lives to be dissected, and various other business ideas to be had. All good fun. Friends are a great antidote to flu.

Home listening to a podcast about religious books, and I biffed straight into bed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pies are BAD

Walked today down by the sea at lunchtime, after stocking up on sore throat pastilles and Lemsips. The tide was high, and it was sunny and it felt better to be alive than it had done for a while. A man was playing with a yellow toy airplane with a little engine. This drew half a dozen onlookers as he made it do aerobatics against the blue sky and something about this was very cheerful.

Bright clean light. I crunched down on the pebbles for a while just breathing in the sea air mixed with the honey and lemon of my sore throat sweets. Noticed half a dozen cuttlefish shells washed ashore, and an unusual amount of people taking photos of the sunlit sea.

Went home via Waterstones and enjoyably lurked about about buying some books, including a Poetry Writers Handbook which mentions my dormant e-zine. Makes me wonder if I should resurrect it. Also bought a book by Paul McKenna called I can make you thin. A while ago I bought one by him on changing your life in seven days, and it certainly made me feel more positive for a few months. If I do have hypertension losing weight will certainly help. There is a useful brainwashing CD that goes with it too, which intones Pies are bad, pies are BAD but cabbage... Cabbage is GOOD.

Actually the only good thing about being ill is that my trousers feel a bit more roomy.

I also bought a gloomy book of French poetry, A short walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby a Reuben recommendation, and a gothic book called The Green Face by Gustav Meyrink.

More vivid dreams: flying to Guernsey but the plane would not gain altitude and landed again at Gatwick. Worrying about my grandparents until I realised with relief that they were dead and would not actually we waiting for me.

Talking to Mum who is gradually sorting out her website and taking her paintings to a grateful public. Offered to help with any copy on it.

Last day of tormenting the delightful Sarah at work on her IM as I renewed my travel card to return to the dark place tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

More Lynch

A good deal more lively today, and able to walk further without feeling unsteady on my pins like some sort of Victorian maiden. I decided I am going to go back to work on Thursday after what has been the worst flu I can remember having.

The night before full of strange dreams. Of standing by an orchestra which was playing such a protracted deep note that it was making the air lumpy and tactile. Also dreams set in Guernsey which happen all the time.

Watched the David Lynch film Mulholland Drive. Quite Twin Peaky in some ways. Difficult to interpret, very dark and dream-like and with conflicting narrative threads and just lots of stunning scenes and disturbing bits flecked here and there with humour. Looking forward to watching it again, which I don't often feel with films so soon after. I really admire the strangeness Lynch is able to inject into everything - just like no one else.

Looking forward to being able to focus better. Feeling frustrated to have an agenda for change, but just having to sit about being ill instead. Luckily I have Sarah to talk to on IM who is full of positivity and sunny cheerfulness, which is helping me enormously.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Under pressure

Crawled out of bed and arranged to see the doctor. Lovely Anna picked me up and took me there. Waited for an hour to be seen, while Anna bless her sat outside in the car. Was given precautionary antibiotics, and had my blood pressure taken, which was very high. This means I have to get their home testing kit next week and sit about taking my blood pressure to work out if it is white coat syndrome or if I actually have high blood pressure. I can hardly wait. You go into the doctors with flu and spitting blood, and come out with a morbidity. Bobby bargain.

Actually felt a bit more compos mentis today which was about time. And went down to the shop later in the day without the repeat of yesterday's wussiness. I need to get back to work. I need to get my health sorted out. I need to get a grip.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The grapes of scoff

Still ill. Went to the shop and suddenly felt submerged. I thought I was going to pass out like a Victorian maiden. I had to put my basket down in the shop and stand outside to gulp some air. Stuff like that can get you a reputation for strangeness. Rats to this flu.

Otherwise a very low key day lounging on my gold sofa picking at a bunch of grapes like a chubby Caesar. Mum told me she has been asked to show her paintings to a dealer which is exciting.

Also spoke to Sarah at length. She was similarly holed up at home. Skype is a great invention for invalids. And at the end of our last conversation she had the idea of creating a Wikipedia entry for me, which is something that would never have occurred to me. She is full of nice surprises.

Anna called offering to give me a lift down to the quack's tomorrow. Trying not to think about the work implications.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Muffins for breakfast

Aroused from bed by Anton and Klaudia knocking on the door, and bearing some tasty home made muffins with blueberries. Klaudia had drawn a card too -- an abstract design with lots of purple and plenty of tasteful white space. Anton explaining how the blueberries were healthy and packed full of vitamin C, and the virtues of Internet radio.

Feeling disconnected today. More coughing blood, and more telephone reassurances from doctors. And if anything I feel less lively today than yesterday. Spent the day on my gold sofa, watching DVDs on my laptop. The last of my Twin Peaks episodes and the film Don't Look Now by Nick Roeg, which is a wonderful film. Hungry for beautiful images at the moment, although they made off season Venice seem very washed out and sinister.

My only positive activity of the day in between dozing and feeling wussy was writing a one hundred word short story for a competition run by BBC Radio 4's Front Row programme. The hundred words have to include six from David Lynch which were bacon, bodies, experiments, fire, paper and organic. I sent something in. I took the Twin Peaks coincidence as a good omen.

Agent Cooper is one of my all time favourite characters. On the extras on the DVD they have an interview with Mark Frost who said the original idea was to have a sort of Sherlock Holmes character, but they then added in the Jungian and Freudian bits to his modus operandi. One of my all time favourite scenes is the one where after lecturing the Sheriff, Hawk, Andy, and Lucy about Tibet he throws a series of rocks at a bottle to determine who is the most important suspect beginning with J.

Sarah also ill, so there was a good deal of companionable transatlantic snuffling and snickering during the day.

Tess, who was my girlfriend when I was 16, called today. She was in Brighton with her husband, but I was unable to meet them for obvious reasons. Apparently, however, they are enjoying Brighton and will be back which is nice.

Friday, March 02, 2007

It's not the coughing that carries you off

Felt a smidge brighter and breezier this morning and bumped into my nice next door neighbour and her nippers who had just returned from Australia where they had seen kangaroos. Felt good to be out and went as far as the patisserie to buy some chewy brown loaf.

As the day wore on my joire de vivre wore off still feeling very ill and hot with an intermittent but painful cough. In the evening when I came over all John Keats and coughed some blood I phoned the medical types. I have been that there is nothing to worry about, but I may like to pop into outpatients tomorrow. I'll see how I feel in the morning.

Otherwise I quite naturally laid low. I hugely enjoyed watching more Twin Peaks and did next to nothing. Quick conversations with The French Bloke, and Anton and long IM chats with Sarah who was hard at it at work. And I now await Sarah who is going to skype me.

Then I shall head for bed and wait to be wrapped up by the soft embalmer of the still midnight.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Escaping into Twin Peaks

Still very rough, but was able to stand up long enough to have a shower and lurched down the fifty yards to the shop with a spinny head to get a few provisions. Told work I wouldn't be in till next week.

Migrated from bed to sofa this evening to watch the Twin Peaks DVDs. It is perfect feverish viewing because it is so easy to drift into the bizzare and beautiful scenes. It remains one of my all time favourite shows because there are scenes and an atmosphere about it that you have never seen anywhere else.