Friday, November 30, 2007

Rough seas and queasiness

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

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

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

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

Below the sea.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Bacchanals

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Emergency beers at the Bag O' Nails

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Official: I am not attention seeking

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 26, 2007

Flint and moth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 23, 2007

A small axe

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

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

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

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

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

A walk by the sea

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Spaghetti con Sophie

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

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

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

Monday, November 19, 2007

The unalterable essence of Monday

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

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

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

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Enabling higher thinking

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Passage graves, accountants, and crab deaths

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

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

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

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

And so to bed.

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Frogs legs and fanatics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A wooden horse called Peter

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2007

A cloud of starlings

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

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

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

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Traveller's tales

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 09, 2007

A new start

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hangovers and longnoses

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

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

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

Below a longnose.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

All's well that ends well

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

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

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

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

An excellent and enjoyable day.

Monday, November 05, 2007

All at sea

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

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

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

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

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

Below Donald Crowhurst

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A cracking evening

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 03, 2007


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

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

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

Friday, November 02, 2007

Peace and The Dove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Red drips from the stone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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