Friday, August 31, 2007

On cracking and drumming

Off to my chiropractor again, she is very sweet. She told me to stand on one leg facing into the corner of a room, as an exercise for my ankle. When I laughed, she looked at me sternly as chiropractors are immune to the absurd.

Otherwise nothing much going on other than lots of work. Had a chat with Max the Mentor this evening - who I'd not caught up with for some time. Then I had a cheeky beer with John a very talented colleague who is an absolutely brilliant drummer. He has been on a variety of records, including this by Suncoil Sect. I've listened to this a few times, and think his playing is the outstanding feature of the record.

Did my presentation today and managed to work weasels into the story. Not just any weasel, the symbolic weasel of high cholesterol, pictured below.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A lively hore

Off to work listening to Alias Grace again by Margaret Atwood - which I gradually getting into. A beautiful woman in prison for being a murderess, with various Victorians studying and commenting on her in various ways. Grace has amnesia so doesn't know if she was party to the killing or not. Fairly intriguing stuff. And set in Toronto but I'm finding it a bit slow.

Much more relaxed today than for some time, but very disinclined to work.

Puzzling note from Trace in Hawaii, especially when speed read first thing in the morning. It said: "Dont know what ele to tell you that doent involve tale of how I'm befriending wild pig or teaching the hore not to run away when I try and catch him." All of which I thought had a colourful 17th century feel. Closer inspection revealed that her keyboard has a missing s key.

Spoke to Bob today to cancel an evening out, due to feeling tired, but I woke myself up a bit by going for a swim, then left at the regulation hour and zoomed back to Brighton.

Found myself looking at fish again in a new aquarium in my local Chinese takeaway. Home and I did little or nothing apart from watch two Futurama episodes I'd already seen while eating a takeaway Chinese curry and sesame prawn toast. God I need a rest.... However tomorrow I have to present to the whole agency in the afternoon. I think I shall work the idea of weasels into it somehow.

Below a fire seen from my office. A bit pall of smoke hung in the sky for about two hours from a fire a few miles away.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Below a few stolen moments in an overcast Basel: ranks of windows across the river; the current-powered river crossing boat attached to a wire that spans the river; relaxing at lunchtime; the hotel from the river; green trams; market square; fish and seahorse.

Pitch day

Rumbling from the Basel trams woke me in my soft bed in Le Trois Rois. Had a fairly reasonable night's rest on pillows soft as clouds. Up to have a light breakfast with my colleagues, sitting by a big open window of the restaurant overlooking the river. This would have been extremely enjoyable if there wasn't a pitch to prepare for.

The four of us crammed into the FB's room for yet more rehearsals till it was time to get the taxi off to the offices of our potential client. We crammed in with all our bags, including a massive portfolio and easels. The pitch went very well indeed and we were pleased with ourselves.

Back after a few hours to the hotel where we left our gear and followed the FB to eat sushi on the street in Switzerland. An unlikely choice but the fish was very fresh and nice. Sitting outside was ideal for a spot of people watching. Managed to follow this with a variety of apfelstrudel and vanilla sauce for a pudding, which was excellent.

The other two having some more business to attend to, my colleague Lucy and I wandered over the bridge to sit on some steps by the Rhine. A tranquil interlude followed, watching little fish swimming at the edge of the green and clean water. Then back to the hotel and off to the airport. The return flight not too bad with only a solitary moment of existential horror as we bumped up through layers of clouds.

Home in a taxi, with a nice driver who told me about his grand kids and how much he loved his wife, and then began to tell me about his two episodes of thrombosis and his wife's operations and things got a bit more somber.

Great to be home and simply to have a cup of tea. Then I popped up the road to see Anton and Anna, and nipped out for a cheeky beer with Anton in the Eddy, where he told me about his new walking equipment. A light walking stick with a jabby point to stab at hounds should they menace him.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

To Basel

So off to Heathrow by cab and I arrived unfeasibly early. Managed to have my shampoo and conditioner confiscated as dangerous weapons. Also, when I found the business lounge, I rather vaguely asked a man at the counter for a beer. He looked appalled and said that it was a self service counter. So it was. And the international executive I had thought was a barman looked fairly huffily at me after that. Soon joined by the others, including a strangely grouchy French Bloke.

The flight was just how I like them, short and uneventful and travelling in business class. Arrived in Basel at about 10 and got a taxi from the airport to Les Troi Rois hotel in the middle of Basel. Strangely we drove through a bit of France for a few hundred yards to get to Switzerland.

The hotel was rather lovely, with sumptuous rooms, and situated on the bank of the river. After dumping our bags off in our rooms, we grabbed a late drink on the terrace overlooking the black and viscous looking Rhine. A black mood had descended on the FB. He sat there looking sour over the rim of a gin and tonic, and said the river looked like blood. We remarked on the niceness of the nearby Mittlere Brücke bridge, and the FB said that he had thrown his and his ex-wife's wedding rings into the Rhine from that very bridge. The other two repaired to bed, while I and the FB refreshed ourselves with another drink and he described, in some detail, the sordid underbelly of Basel, and enlarged on the general fear and loathing the place generated in him.

And so to bed.

Below the sinister Rhine.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Off to Switzerland

A taxi will be calling for me in a few hours. Am flying to Switzerland to stay there just long enough to have a meeting quite literally about sticking needles in people's eyes. It is a curious life. Am taking my camera so may be able to get a shot from the taxi.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Greece burning

Very unhappy to see the fires in Greece. Olympia, which I visited with Mex several years ago, was just saved from the flames today. I love the Greece and I find seeing clips of it burning away on television distressing.

Wasted the day on my gold sofa nursing a migraine and sleeping. Shortly after getting up the lights started dancing in my eyes and I knew I was in for one. Slept for hours and am now feeling a good deal better.

Kippers in the garden

Overtired, and unable to relax. Woke up at 6 and got up shortly after. Did lots of cleaning, laundry and rushing about. Enjoyed sitting in my back yard for the first time in ages, however, drinking coffee and eating kippers, and catching up on this blog. Beatiful sunny morning.

Crashed out in the afternoon after chatting to Mum. Had a nice low key evening however, as my friend Lorraine came by to chat, watch Withnail & I, and scarf pizza.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ready to hang wit' the Gnomies

In the office early again, and spent much of the day rushing about getting materials ready for Switzerland, and doing pitch rehearsals. Hoping it will go like clockwork (arf) when we get to hang wit' the Gnomies. Asked the Gnome if there were differences between Welsh Gnomes and Swiss Gnomes, a matter on which he declined to comment.

Fortunately the FB is on this pitch team too, so at least there is some light relief. He is using part of a poem by Dylan Thomas in his part of the presentation, although he insists on combining this with glances in my direction and slurs on the sexuality of all poets.

Otherwise a good deal of hunching over mac computers with designers in the studio, and getting on their nerves by correcting spellings, and tweaking designs - a process which lasted intermittently into the evening. Took the opportunity to have a beer with Pat and Nick while we waited. Nick busy doing Groucho Marx impressions.

Managed another swim at lunchtime, and quite pleased that I managed three this week, though on the flip side, I seem to have been comfort eating for England.

Finally being home, and boofing down on my gold sofa to watch half of Withnail and I, was indescribably brilliant. Then, suddenly, sleep was a must.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another slog, another nosebag

Another early start. The hideousness abating as the day wore on. Left work shortly after 7 however, and met Lou and old friend I'd not seen for three years.

We had a Vietnamese meal in a restaurant called Saigon Saigon, and I heard about her new business as a self employed consultant, and a recent trip to Viet Nam. Then a quick drink on the street outside The Raven watching her smoke a couple of cigarettes. You can't smoke inside pubs these days of course.

Soon the call of the seagull grew strong in me. And I was on the train beginning my new audiobook Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood. I heard MA on a podcast recently and thought she came across as witty and interesting. Enjoying it so far, although Dune is a hard act to follow as a book to listen to while commuting.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

An evening at Claridge's

An absolutely hellish day at work. Got to the office extremely early, for what was easily the most horrible day for a year. I managed to slip off for a swim, at one point, which offered the sole respite.

Much more cheerfully, however, I went out in the evening with a colleague Lisa to Claridge's - where we took one of my clients Florence out for a meal in the reading room.

Florence does sculptures in her spare time and is one of my all time favourite clients, who is moving back to France with her husband Eddy. I have been for drinks with Flo and Eddy in dodgy pubs in Ealing, so it was really excellent to be able to create a mental snapshot of us sitting in Claridges spooning creamy amuse bouche from an eggshell in an art deco jewel of a room.

The food was very good generally, and there was an excellent wine too. Dislocating to hear the Japanese wine waiter in discussion with Florence, who is French. Florence went for a reassuringly expensive French one.

On the train home I was remembering one of my first encounters with Florence as a client. She was earnestly talking about her customers, and saying firmly "We need to think about the Baziques." This was rather alarming as the briefing I had received had mentioned nothing about this Bazique product. I nodded along encouragingly. It was only on the way back from the meeting and after discussing it with the Gnome that we worked out that the Baziques were in fact the basics.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Managed to catch the 6:17 train from Brighton. Dozed a bit and found the train pulling into London Bridge instead of Victoria, so had to schlepp across London grinding teeth. Got into work and everything was a hideous and urgent frenzy.

In the afternoon, however, I had to stand in for a colleague at a client meeting and zoomed off in a taxi to Surrey. Our senior suit had to leave halfway through the meeting, and then the excellent Lucy and I were ambushed. The clients who are under a lot of pressure, started interrogating and ranting for an hour about issues and deadlines (none of which were actually in my remit). Lucy put up a good defence, but as the senior agency person I had to gracefully accept the kicking. Eventually escaped in a taxi, pausing to have a fast drink to steady our shattered nerves while dealing with the messages that had stacked up. As we sat there Lucy, who is freelance, got a call about a dream job she'd been for an interview for, and told me she's leaving next week. Brilliant.

Home and watched the DVD of the Larry Sanders Show I picked up as a bargain £5 the other day. I absolutely loved this show, and it was a great to spend a couple of hours chortling in the evening.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Carpy Diem

Friday! Into work and full of cheer. Bolted through meetings/tricky conversations etc to escape early in the afternoon. For the French Bloke and me were off to go fishing. Went to the FB's new house on the edge of Chertsey Meads, which is 170 acres of riverside land and a habitat for a wide variety of birds and wild life including deer. The FB was also selling a car to a windbag tirekicker, which dragged on somewhat. This gave me the opportunity to talk to Max, her pal Judith, Francesca (the FB's grown up daughter #2), Max's mum, and also hold the babies. Both very sweet - the new baby called Zemirah, and their adorable toddler called Tahlia, who made me wear a broad-brimmed lady's hat and spent fifteen minutes rubbing my cheeks and eyes with a wet wipe.

Then off in the FB's big new land cruiser to Hatton Cross tube station to collect Matty. The three of us then saw to the necessaries of buying rod licences, bottles of cider, a writhing pint of mixed maggots and so on. Thirsty work, so we paused for a cider in a pub too.

Eventually we found ourselves by the river. There was a slight competitive undercurrent to the fishing from the FB. This not improved as I set about pulling a steady succession of Behemoths from the deep. When I occasionally remarked on my good fortune, the others looked quite galled, and the FB venting with some feeling.

Idyllic late afternoon. Sun setting across the river bank, cheery chatting with a local who was fishing from his wheelchair, and some cider drinking. Then we returned across the meads to the FB's house.

From thence we drove off to get a take away curry and had rather a restrained but cheery evening indoors before Matty and I retired outside to sleep in the Winnebago.

Below my haul included this magnificent roach pictured in the FB's hands after he had disgorged one of the tiny hooks these riverfishermen use. And me with baby Zemirah, and little Tahlia.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Ebbs and flows at The Blue Anchor

Working on stuff for my new pitch with my boss and we flew through it. We went to the Blue Anchor pub for lunch and had a chat about my career and to swirl some cloaks. I have decided not to go part time now, as by a strange twist of fate it looks like I may be promoted. It has been my constant refrain in the last few years that when I decide on a course of action, something else happens. But this could be an interesting challenge. More details here later. Then phoned the FB to join us in the pub to run some concept ideas past him, which was fun.

In need of coffee after, as I rarely drink at lunchtime. Managed to bluff my way through the afternoon. Bit of a Mexican themed party in the agency this evening, which I left early to meet Liz, who I'd not seen since she left the agency a few months ago. Loads of gossip to catch up on. Went into an Argentinian restaurant where we were served a huge lump of nearly raw steak which although tasty, and billed as medium rare, was more of a biology lesson than a meal. Lovely to see Liz as usual. Also bumped into Large Graham this evening, looming over me in the subway, and he looked exceedingly well.

Then home in good time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

May you live in interesting times

Over my migraine this morning. Which was just as well as work was very busy. Forced a cheeky swim at lunchtime however.

I think there will be a concerted effort to get me to stay full time at work, and this may result in a new job position. I will hear more about this in the next day or so I think. I am living in interesting times.

Also turns out I will also be flown to Switzerland to present some work for a pitch in a couple of weeks. Probably will have next to no time to see anything of the country, but maybe a few fleeting glimpses between being ferried between offices and airport.

I have booked some holiday at the end of September. So at least I have some time off in the future.

Coming to the end of Dune by Frank Herbert, as an Audiobook. Published in 1965, it is interesting how the book is so resonant at the moment. The idea of desert power, and people motivated by a combination of religion and politics to resist exploitation of their unique natural resource by foreign powers seems very current.

Worked late and then straight home to the guilty pleasure of fish and chips.


Went to Chiswick High Road today. Literally round the corner where I used to live before moving down to Brighton. Walked past my old flat and felt deeply glad that I wasn't there. It was a lovely flat but I was miserable in it. Because I was early, had a cup of splosh and a bacon sarnie in a cafe and felt cheery about how things have moved on considerably since then.

From there to a basement room with several others from the agency, a cast which fortunately included the French Bloke. Spent the day talking about sticking needles into people's eyes, as a treatment for macular degeneration. Apparently there is quite a popping when the needle goes in, which made me gag just thinking about it. Down the development pipeline there should be an eyedrop treatment for this condition, which is deeply good to know.

Session ended at 6 and then home. Developed a migrane on the train home, and got the strange sparkling sickle of light again, which went away after an hour or so. Grey in Brighton, like a wet Autumn day.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Chalking-in the sunshine

Walked through Soho this morning, as it shook off its late night sleepiness under a sunny sky, on the way to a rival agency for a creative directors' conference with our mutual clients. In the meeting I bumped into an old friend called Phil Morley who I've only seen once or twice since going to his punishing stag weekend in Barcelona some years ago. Barcelona I remember as an exciting but rather blurry place. Turns out Phil's got his own small agency now, not to mention two little girls.

Then I took a short stroll through town, and noticed for no particular reason a pavement artist on his knees chalking a cyan arc to begin a picture near the National Portrait Gallery. Made me wonder if the rainy summer had interfered with his trade, and I thought that most of the blue skies he will have seen were the ones he'd chalked on paving slabs.

Then off to Glamoursmith for a lively and trying afternoon of work.

Met up with Mad Dog in the evening, who needed an emergency beer in the Auberge in Waterloo. There I bumped into Jane, an ex-colleague I'd not seen for seven years. After a couple of beers Bob and I went off to find a curry house where we had a decent feed and enjoyably discussed the rubbishness of conceptual art, before leaving for home sensibly early.

Sleepily listening to Dune on my iPod. Not read the book since I was about 15, and it really stands up.
Below the pavement artist.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My alter ego is taking over

I have become obsessed with Skelly my alter ego. I have found the proper voice for him. He started off too posh and maudlin. And now Skelly's talking properly he seems to be wanting to share his opinions about everything. I have always hated people with opinions. But I have found myself making time late at night to laugh madly to myself and bark outlandish opinions in my study. Should I be worried?

Otherwise the day was fine. Had to go off to my pharmaceuticals client from home, which actually meant a late start for me. Was early for the rendezvous with my colleagues and enjoyed an Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks moment, drinking a damn fine cappuccino in the sun outside an Italian cafe and felt a strong sense of everything being right with the world.

Another yapfest, but really warming now to my client, which is nice. Then made my way back to the agency, where I caught up with the French Bloke who was back from his holiday. He has moved tantalizingly close to the river and we, with Matty boy, are planning a splendid day of fishing on its banks in a week or so.

Listening to Dune the audiobook, which as Anton predicted is pretty excellent.

Below: Skelly is bullied by a talking dog.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Another Monday

Toast and smooth jazz for breakfast with Mum and Mase. Then Mase gave me a lift to Stanmore station. Drizzly morning, but curiously I felt fairly cheery all day, despite the fact I'd dreamed about work the night before.

Work itself was fairly reasonable, and managed to get through the day without discord. I had a lunchtime swim, which helped a good deal. Still hobbling but much speedier now.

Managed to leave work on time. A spot of middle class nastiness on the Brighton train, with a posh bloke ranting about paying £3,000 a year for the seat and the cases belonging to an American woman opposite hadn't which is why she should move them. The American was rescued however by some of the drinking commuters; a core of people who drink and chat "entertainingly" to one another on the way home. The young guy was told off by another woman who said he should have respect for his elders, an expression not necessarily the most gladdening to the woman's ears. A comedic moment as the American started talking quite animatedly about Scientology to her rescuers, whose faces quickly fell.

Home and a bit of work on soundfiles, and then finished the next Skelly epic, which is here.

Monday, August 06, 2007

With Mum and Mase and their stripy chums

More welcome sun. I headed off to London to see Mum and Mase. Spent a happy afternoon chatting, sipping beers, and eating pistachio nuts in their wasp hide. This affords you the opportunity to observe at close hand the behaviour of wasps, which Mum says have nice faces. Mase cooked some excellent ribs which we all ate outside, the wasps preferring the sweetcorn.

Thanks to the recent lightning strike, which blew up various electric goods in their neighbourhood, Mum and Mase now have a new silver coloured stereo from the insurance. I spent time in the evening listening to some of my old records on it, which Mum always says I should take but never do. Then early to bed.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Of peace and tuba parping

Much needed day to regroup. Gay pride today in Brighton, and although I didn't fancy hobbling off to see the festivities, there was lots of energy and fun in the air. People in all kinds of costumes streamed from the station to the sound of a large tuba played by a busker. This was perfectly audible even in my study as it essayed bits of James Brown and other unlikely tuba music.

Lovely, lazy sunny day. Limped off to have a haircut and did a small amount of shopping, before spending the afternoon with the windows open busy doing little or nothing of consequence and loving it.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Bomb was poorly

Thank God for Friday. Beautiful weather, but a lot of work to be done, and yet more presentations of things to the same clients as I'd been with yesterday - but this time they came to the agency. Then, mercifully everything was done by 4:30 and I simply left.

Great to be home early, and after a bit of a rest and a shower I went up the road to check on Anton's place, and went thence to the Tin Drum to sip cold beer. There I texted Anton to let him know everything was okay and he replied with the mysterious message that "bomb was poorly but better now". Terrorism in Normandy? How come I'd not heard anything about it? Took me a while of looking at my phone keys to realise Bomb was Anna.

I was meeting a friend in the Tin Drum, and to go on for some Thai food. I was early which became a perfect moment in a fraught week. I loved being able to sit at a little table sipping a cold beer and having half an hour to think about poetry and jot in my notebook, while surrounded by a throng of cheerful Friday people. I also decided, feeling very cheerful, to go back to Guernsey very soon too.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A major yapfest

More able to walk today, which was lucky. Swapped texts with Liz on the train (last pictured on this site being strangled by me) and be good to catch up with her soon. Hurried to work, as the big client meeting was due today. Dickensian hobbling between tetchy internal meetings before several of us bundled into a people carrier to be transported to the client's HQ. Fantasising about getting to client's office and then bolting into a small cupboard or cranny until it was all over but manfully overcame these.

A massive yapfest all afternoon with me being the main agency yapper. Folks from another agency were in the room too who, as I yipped through the presentation about information architecture content and information flow, waited for a flash of underbelly to nip at. Meanwhile the clients were disagreeing with one other too about other issues. All told a tricky day but I managed to get through it with dignity intact.

Then a complicated and largely standing journey home, wobbling about on the orc foot and grimacing. Home a blessed relief.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Orc foot 2

Throbbing ankle kept me awake and was still very painful and swollen this morning. Decided to work from home. Other than a spot or two of hobbling, nothing much else to report, apart from lots of sucky work stuff.

Below two of Toby's shots of a very Gothic looking Estancia, which is a large estate in Argentina where he and Romy stayed.

Orc foot

Argh. Orc foot returns... After twisting my foot yesterday, woke up this morning with a really bad ankle again and unable to put weight on it without pain. Much laughable limping today, appreciated by my colleagues, one of whom remarked I looked like a wounded bear. Felt tired and out of sorts today, and not at all in the mood for work which is making my head explode. Stayed put at my desk when I was not in interminable meetings.

Toby sent me some excellent photos of Argentina this morning. I will put some on here shortly.

Having kept my sunglasses for some months without wearing them, I walked into the agency reception this morning, and they simply fell apart on my face as one of the tiny screws dropped out and was lost forever. Most annoying.

Home to a rejection of one of my stories from wretched Ambit. Will I never learn? They have rejected my work for more than 25 years. Briefly glimpsed into a dark well of rage and despair, but decided not to go there. Instead made a pork and lentil curry and simply ate this. Very nice. Sat on my sofa wishing I hadn't watched all the Frasiers and put a bag of peas on my ankle wrapped in a dishcloth or "pea cosy".

Did another Skelly thing here...