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.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The dangers of yellow Play-Doh

Cheery but busy today - working on a pitch. Working with Andy again, one of my old art directors. He told me a funny story about Play-Doh. Apparently shortly after a birthday where he had been given lots of Play Doh by his colleagues (for art directors are always fiddling with stuff like that) he was in bed trying to get to sleep - he had a big presentation the next day.

Sadly there was an enormous amount of noise coming from his next door neighbours. The idea of some kind of ear plug came to mind, and he wadded cotton wool up but this didn't work. Then he had the inspired idea of fashioning ear plugs from Play Doh. When he woke up the next morning, he went to pull the plugs out. Unfortunately these simply crumbled a bit and he was left deafened with dry and hard yellow Play Doh wedged in his ears. Ghastly visit to his doctor, who was unable to remove the plugs, but sent him to the hospital with a letter. He had to visit several departments before they were able to extricate the stuff. And everyone who read the doctor's letter sniggered.

To Wimbledon with the Gnome after work. We stopped at a bus stop where a young, smallish and very drunk Irish lad singing and offensively shouting the N-word to the world in general.

Once safely in the land of the Wombles, the Gnome and me had a much needed drink and a chat. As my current art director, me leaving affects him too. He is a lovely man and we had a cheerful time chatting. Then I crossed the road to Wagamamas restaurant for a gossip fest with Marja and Sarah Freems, and scarf some fusiony oriental food.

Caught a tram at Wimbledon which took me to Croydon. There are not many trams in England and it feels a bit of a novelty to be sliding through strange backstreets on one. Then, after buying a cardboardy cup of tea at the East Croydon station, home on the train.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Hullaballoo

Busy day at work, with the dust settling somewhat. Had a nice swim at lunchtime.

Really enjoyable evening out in Brighton. Zoomed off to St Peter's Church to see Lorraine sing with the Hullaballoo Quire (yes the do spell it that way) in an event called Epiphany, as part of the Brighton Festival of World Sacred Music. The first half of the evening was an excellent kora player called Linos Wengara Magaya from Zimbabwe who mixed reggae-flavoured tunes and some traditional Zimabwean sacred music with great soaring kora runs.

The Hullaballoo choir were excellent too. I wasn't sure what to expect despite Lorraine telling me a lot about it, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The arrangements were absolutely top and, because the choir was made up of non-professional singers, it made the sound somehow more real. Lorraine did well and she and I sloped off with various Hullaballoers to the Basketmakers pub afterwards where they cooled their singing throats with beers. Had fun chatting to everyone, and the evening made me feel inspired as they had used lots of poetry in their show.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A dropped watch

Downloaded Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury last night and began listening to it on the train this morning, standing all the way from Brighton. I loved this book as a kid and quite fun to hear it read, especially as it is set in October.

Into work and had a swim at lunchtime, managed to drop my watch as I was getting changed. It fell face first and its glass shattered. After my swim went back into work and finally had the meeting where my resignation was accepted. All very amicable. I was pleased it is finally done, as the whole thing was dragging somewhat. Something about the watch and the forthcoming end of my time at the agency seemed apt. I will finish work in November... So I will need to get my act together for a fresh start in the new year: the old time is over.
Spoke to Mum and Mase and also called Anton to see if Anna was okay. Fortunately she is improving after having a bad reaction to her anaesthetic after having her knees operated on.

Met Paul for a drink at Victoria afterwards and he was talking at length about various projects, and a fascinating personal life.

Below had to slink outside by a fire escape to watch Paul smoke a cigarette by the carved side of the hotel.

A dull Monday

Back to work. Everyone reading about the rugby on the train. Work fine, and I had a swim at lunch. Spotted an extraordinary transvestite on the way back from the pool with a mostly bald head apart from one tuft of hair which grew about a foot long, and very high heels and fishnet stockings. Another meeting about my resignation today, and had to work a bit late to take a late pitch briefing. I felt tired and gloomy by the end of the day.

Talked to Anton who was worried about Anna. Her pulse and blood pressure were fluctuating after the operation on her knees this morning - although the nurse had been reassuring.

I got home to watch an enjoyably mad Twin Peaks episode and eat a pizza, and catch up on a bit of correspondence. Also got a card from my old friend Paddy which was a nice surprise.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A step into Autumn

An 8:30 start. Up the hill to be driven by Anna off to the edge of St Leonard's forest with Anton. As we drove, we listened to a CD of nursery rhymes, as the babies were also in the car.
Anna dropped us where we had to stop our walk due to my migraine a few weeks ago. Today was very different, fortunately, and we walked into a perfect English autumn morning - warmish with a hint of mist. We walked for hours between woods and through fields and down country lanes. The woods tapping with the sound of falling acorns, conkers and various nuts including sweet chestnuts. I collected a pocketful of these to take home.

The trees are though still predominantly green but the bracken was rusty orange. And we came upon lots of molehills too, with fresh turned soil the colour of milk chocolate.

Fairly incident free walk, apart from Anton feeling hounded by dogs, and one of my knees feeling a bit ropey. Anton had a new gadget to distract him too: a big bag inside his rucksack containing litres of water, with a tube that led to his mouth so he could gulp from it like a Fremen from Dune. A new gadget has to be used, which meant we had to keep pausing for Anton to pee in the bushes. I, meanwhile, was wearing my birthday present rucksack which was hugely better than my last one.

After about 11 or 12 miles we stopped outside a pub called Ye White Heart Inn in a village called Cuckfield. Here we drank two rather fine pints of Sussex bitter before getting a taxi to Haywards Heath station where we caught a train home.

Once home, I had a nice siesta and a shower before heading off to Lorraine's house for some very nice Sunday fare before we zoomed off to see The Invasion (a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers) and- I found this nonsense to be very enjoyable. Some of it filmed in Baltimore (city of crabs) which I recognised from my visit a couple of years ago. Fun to be had stalking up on Lorraine like a bodysnatcher in the foyer afterwards.
Below two glimpses from the walk... And the end in sight: Cuckfield.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Siesta addiction

A low key day today. Lots of sitting about reading the newspapers this morning. In the afternoon I pruned roses while talking on the phone to Toby, sat in my new chair and developed a ghastly upset stomach. Slept in the afternoon too as I am addicted to siestas.

In the evening, babysitting for Oskar and Klaudia. However this gave me the perfect opportunity to watch the semi final of the Rugby world cup on TV. Amazing match where England beat France in an incredibly tight game, and are now in the final.

When this finished Oskar kicked off and howled for the best part of an hour, arching his back when I picked him up. He only paused when a bottle was poked into his mouth for a bit. Eventually he fell asleep exhausted on me, and he was sleeping angelically when his parents returned.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

My Birthday

A day off spent mainly rushing about. Looking at poems first off, but my house was so vile and messy that it demanded hours of cleaning and organising - although this was actually curiously theraputic. I went into town to pay for my new stripy armchair/sofa hybrid which was then delivered a couple of hours later.

Had lots of calls and good wishes from people today, which made me feel nice. As did the cheeky siesta I took in the afteroon. All in all felt fine about my birthday. I tend to get gloomy about age and mortality and so on the week before. When it comes around all is well.

An enjoyable Frasier Crane moment sitting on my new chair, in my extremely tidy house, sipping mineral water with a squeeze of lemon, playing guitar and waiting for Anton and Anna and Lorraine to come around. Then all out into Brighton for a few cheerful drinks and a curry.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fog and chocolate cake

The train nosing through a tunnel of dense fog. As usual this reminded me of Bleak House by Charles Dickens, especially as the train slid over the bridge into Victoria station. I did some good work on my poems on the train.

Meanwhile, at Victoria, I went to the ticket office to renew my oyster card and pay the man back for the free ride he gave me yesterday. He was surprised, but he declined payment, and said it came from the heart and said that sometimes this sort of thing makes the world a better place. This philosophy, delivered in a sunny West Indian accent, entirely renewed my faith in humanity. And I found his small and random act of kindness to me genuinely moving.

Had another swim at lunchtime, which I enjoyed and was much less frenzied than yesterday which was barging and elbowy and too full.

Meanwhile the great resignation saga goes on. The agency may has well have been lost in the fog as no new deal was forthcoming. I ended the day sending written confirmation of my resignation to focus everyone's minds. This was shortly after I had been sung happy birthday to, and given a card and a big chocolate birthday cake. This was all organised by Al. The cake was lovely but so rich. After lots of lady suits milled around getting stuck into the chocolaty goodness.

Home and happy that I have a vacation - the agency lets you have your birthday off which is very cool. So I watched some Twin Peaks weirdness and spoke to Lorraine. After I finish this blog I can go to bed, and not have to get up tomorrow. This is exceedingly big and clever.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A lull

Realised on the morning train that I had left my wallet at home today, and my stupid oyster card had run out so had to beg a free ride on the tube from the guy in the ticket office. To my amazement he agreed.

Not much happening today. No word back from the agency about an offer for me. Made time for quite a good swim at lunchtime. Finished Saturday by Ian McEwan, which was fine, though not my favourite of his books. And came home for a relaxed evening, catching up a bit with my blog. And generally chilling out.

Heard from Trace today. She is back in Blighty.

I resign

Off to my nice chiropractor first thing this morning. Because of the timing of my appointment I had a nasty mug of splosh in a working man's cafe in Chiswick (not many of those), while a man in overalls on the next table made a prank call about delivering horse manure. Then off to walk about in the rain in a leafy Chiswick square with the trees turning. I picked up a couple of conkers under a horse chestnut tree, and these seemed to be a good omen.

The nice chiropractor gave me a good cracking and mostly solved my neck problem. As she worked I started to wonder, a bit madly, what would happen if you were an invertebrate and needed help. And while she was crunching me, and I was reading things upside down from the couch I was diverted by a book on her bookcase called OUCH. Disappointingly it was actually called TOUCH but the way it was typset though the T was part of the design and almost invisible.

Then into the agency. Much to-ing and fro-ing, but nothing had changed since I had refused their offer yesterday, and so - with a bit of a gulp - I resigned from the agency. However, this wasn't accepted, in that they are going to "see what they can do" and get back to me tomorrow. Either way I feel fine about it all. Resigning ended the months of being stalled, being lied to, and being held in limbo, and it makes me feel I have control of my life again, which is excellent.

However I went out in the evening to meet First Matie and her pals Lisa and Peter Love in the Captain's Cabin for a few cheeky beers. Nice to see them all again. And also met Lisa's friend Francis, who told us about going to a cabbage festival in Bratislava. All the cabbage you could ask for apparently, and lots of singing and dancing.

Then the call of the seagull was heard, and I went home on the train and boofed eagerly into bed.

Below a rainy St. Peter's Square in Chiswick.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yes and no f***ing way

Back to the smoke this morning, cringing into the carriage feeling caged and unnatural. Odd hunger pangs at 11:30 having not engorged a major breakfast this morning. Felt tetchy at work most of the day.

This rounded off by finally being offered the job the agency has promised me for the last few months. Except they didn't. Their package was a zero payrise, and they changed the creative directorship they were offering me to a Micky Mouse job title that would mean nothing to my clients, or anyone else in the industry. I have invited them to think again. But think that I will have to leave instead, a prospect that's quite appealing.

However this wasn't unexpected and was at least confirmation that my recent paranoia about delays and stalling wasn't unfounded.

Home and then went up the road to eat fish and chips with Anton, and listen to music through his new speakers while sipping some beers. These included The Yes Album by mighty prog legends Yes, which Anton bought in a rare moment of musical exploration. Anna has been away for a few days on an NLP course and Anton has been looking after Klaudia and baby Oskar, who has chosen these few days to have explosive diarrhea and vomiting.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A pain in the neck

Up early to pack and have my final La Barbarie kipper. Mum and I then spent the final morning walking again. First to Icart Point and round to Saints Bay and Saints Harbour. The tide low and a early a blue sky which blurred into the blue water. The cliffs busier than I'd seen them for the last two weeks, with people running half-marathons. At Saints Bay we paused to eat a slice of gâche and drink a cup of tea before walking the final stretch of the cliffwalk to Moulin Huet, as the clouds began to encroach.

Back up the lanes to La Barbarie to order a taxi and we had a fast drink in the bar. Enjoyed sitting on a table next to a family who were talking about sport. The rather posh Grandmother, who was easily in her 80s said she hadn't seen the rugby, but had seen Imran Khan boxing. Someone said that it wasn't Imran, but Amir Khan. She replied "Oh yes, that's right. But it was jolly good," for some reason I really liked this. Then Anton phoned me to ask when the Luftwaffe was flying me back.

Then off to the airport in a taxi. For some reason the people at the airport wouldn't accept £5 notes which sent me into a rage. Mum went off to talk to Roy, was my granddad's brother in law, for a quick chat before we got on the plane. Nice flight. Said a fond farewell to Mum at the station, then had a nightmare session with trains at Gatwick. All disruption and no information. I ended up getting into an argument with an idiot station person who watched the milling confusion benignly. When I suggested he might tell people what was the best route home using the loudspeaker equipment handily provided for that purpose, he replied that I hadn't asked him. This made me see red. Unfortunately this backfired as my neck seized up and sent evil jabbing pains into my head. Welcome back to Blighty.

Lorraine rescued me from Haywards Heath station, like an angel with a good haircut, and dropped me home. But not before getting into an altercation with a mini car full of v-signing boys in a small town. Then I unpacked, did some laundry and took pills for my new headache. Chatted to Anton again on the phone, bought some milk and then went to bed a bit later. But, despite everything, it was very good to be home.

Below a nice butterfly on the cliffs, and Saints Bay from its little Harbour, with Mum in it.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Into an ancient tomb

Breakfast with Mum and then a bit of writing, before we headed off to the west coast. Really making progress with my poetry manuscript now. And it seems much more that the sum of its parts and I am finding it enjoyable now, after having a bit of an annoying time with it earlier in the week when I seemed to be going backwards the more work I put into it.

We caught a bus to the west coast of Guernsey, which is flat and rocky, with big sandy beaches. After pausing for a cup of tea, we walked along a coastal path for several miles, occasionally falling into conversation with people. At 4 o'clock we found a stand where we bought chips. Mum had hers with cheese. We got talking to the owner and her friend and a Guernsey biker. The owner loved flying, while the other two had only been as far as England. Then we walked onto L'Ancresse Common which is grassy and gorsey and doubles as a golf course. It is also home to all kinds of ancient tombs.

We climbed into one, La Varde, a megalithic passage grave (built somewhere between c4000-2500 BC according to the sign next to it) which looked inky and dark at its mouth. I had to crouch to get through its low opening. As usual in these places on Guernsey there was some vaguely occult graffiti inside.

Otherwise I enjoyed the views from L'Ancresse, which is far less familiar to me than the South of the island.

Then a slightly galling business of waiting for buses which after some time we worked out did not come to this part of the island at this time of year. But we got home easily, after I had shared with mum some of my opinions about waiting for buses.

In the evening out with Ben and Poppy again at the Bella Luce hotel. They are both very nice and interesting to talk to, as before. However for some reason I was feeling rather nauseous, and was wondering if I would have to break off from our meal and chat, to rush into the toilet to spew. So was happy to get home.

But a really good day.
Below a view north from L'Ancresse Common, the entrance to La Varde, and shots from inside with Mum entering in an intrepid way. Interior shots taken with a flash as it was pretty dark in there...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

National Poetry Day

After working on my poetry manuscript in the morning, Mum and I met for breakfast and then went for another walk. Walked up the water lanes to the wishing pool and made a couple of wishes, and then we walked from Jerbourg down to St Martin's point and then along the cliffpath to Fermain bay, where we had lunch, amid interested ducks. Then up the Fermain valley, which is steep and Mum reminded me that my Grandmother always used to walk backwards up hills. We tried this for a bit, which later resulted in oddly achey shins.

In the evening off in a cab to go to the Princess Royal Arts Centre to attend an evening to celebrate National Poetry Day. There is now an active poetry group on the island, called Poets in Motion and, in something of a dream come true, I got to read a couple of my Guernsey poems to an interested local audience. I met several local poets and heard some really good work. One poem that stayed with me was a poem by Maurice Sangan about the end of the second world war. He had been evacuated from the island as a child, and lived in the north of England. He felt anxious and sad coming home to the Island at the end of the war. Made me think of a definition of poetry I heard years ago, and I don't know where it comes from: the precise expression of mixed feelings.

Interesting stuff. Had friendly chats with them afterwards - along with another stranger like myself, a Nigerian called Chuma whose poetry was excellent. A pleasant painter gave me a lift back to the hotel. Met mum in the hotel bar for a quick drink, and felt very cheery and bouyed by the evening.

Below a picture postcard lane in St Martin's, St Martin's Point where I once caught an excellent rockfish (aka wrasse) as a lad, and what is called the Pine Forest on the east coast (in truth no more than a small wood).

A long walk to Torteval

Again in my happy routine of writing first thing, and then going for a long walk. Mum and I went to Icârt and then turned west, and walked for miles along the cliff path, guzzling blackberries as we went, knees groaning because of the dozens and dozens of stairs. We had lunch at the Hollows restaurant just up from a rocky peninsular called Le Gouffre. Here we had some Greek food with teeth-squeaking haloumi cheese and giant beans, and I also reacquainted myself with retsina.

Then back on the cliff path towards Torteval through Le Bigard and La Corbière and up and down many more stairs. I had never been on this path before. At one point we passed a hidden house with a spiralling snail shell roof in slate. Eventually we decided to head onto the road, and climbed through a hedge past a Satanically enormous goat and Mum began scrambling over a large fence before she spotted a gap in the hedge instead.

Eventually, after hours of walking, and I was feeling pretty tired. Mum seemed fine though. Then we caught the bus which took us around the island before returning us home. We'd had a massive walk and in the evening ended up in the Captains strapping on the nosebag, and gulping a glass of pony ale.

Below west from Icârt, on a path, near Petit Bôt, a Nazi gun emplacement, a horizon.