Thursday, May 31, 2007

A passing gloom

Life through a veil of dratted gloom, despite having no good reason for it, and everyone being nice. I read Ryszard Kapuściński's book The Cobra's Heart in the Penguin Great Journeys series which I enjoyed. His travels in Sub-Saharan Africa and observations on Idi Amin among others. Now started on Marco Polo's The Customs of the Kingdoms of India. Hope tomorrow presses the refresh button.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A tiresome Tuesday

Appalling dreams all night, woke up and had to turn the lights on at one stage to dispel the night terrors.

Nice note from Sprinkles this morning designed to cheer me up. And being on the train with Anton this morning managed to stave off the gloom for a bit. I realised today that I have some kind of stomach bug, which is making me feel drained and peculiar. Work a tedious slog all day, and left at 8:00pm after being given some extra work at the last moment.

However had a pleasant interlude: lunch with Max the Mentor who was telling me about her weekend in Cornwall and a romantic dilemma she finds herself in. All good gossip.

Also cunningly booked Friday week off to do more of the dragon walk.

Finally finished A short walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby on the train going home tonight. Interesting but I agreed with one of Anton's friends who had said his attitudes were a bit maddening. Newby is very much a product of his time, depicting most of the foreigners he met in a very patronising way.

Home late, and pizza and sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon.


Below this photo of me was taken for work... by an ex colleague called Ralphie. It came through today, and despite the fact my eyes are going in different directions I am quite pleased with it as I don't look like an utter buffoon as I do in most photos. But then I am sure others might disagree.




A rainy Bank holiday

Another day of unmitigated rain. I worked on my poems first thing for a couple of hours. Really feel like I am making progress. Then went out for a mooch in the drizzle where I was randomly raged-at by a driver as I walked along the pavement which made me want to punch his head.

After walking for an hour or so down by the sea I began to feel curiously queasy and out of sorts. In the drizzle, home was a big and clever place to be on a dire, cold day.

The rest of the day much pleasanter and enjoyed hanging out with with Anton and Anna and the bairns. Finally took the package Sprinkles had sent to me for them up the road. Photos of Anna and Anton in their kitchen, and a strange photo of me and Anton in clashing loud shirts, which I have too.

Anna cooked a roast chicken and Jersey potatoes and organic greens and asparagus. Heard all about her work trip to Budapest, and Anton and Anna's anniversary trip to Bath. A bit later as the kids went to bed, I was invited to read bedtime stories to Klaudia. One about farmyard animals, and the other about a polar bear and a seal. Anton and Anna and Baby Oskar were all listening too and it felt quite primeval somehow.

Anton and I then slid off for a short time to the Nelson pub where we spread Ordnance Survey maps of Sussex out upon the table. A pint or two of Harveys were sipped as we discussed our quest and the project. We aim now to try to finish it off in three consecutive days.

Home and I was rather brain dead, and spoke to Sprinkles for an hour or so before heading off to bed full of gloom about having to go to work tomorrow.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Into the open houses again

Two happy afternoons with Janet snooping around Open Houses in the Brighton Festival. Some incredibly variable stuff on show. Found myself suprised by liking most two things I normally don't like.

Particularly enjoyed some meticulous, witty and surrealist collages by Maria Rivans. I normally despise collages but her's were excellent. And she seemed very nice too. Janet wanted us to go to see Alison Hermon's strange dresses made with reclaimed and recycled plastic bags. You walked into a darkened room with taped birdsong, and there were half a dozen illuminated plastic bag dresses suspended from the ceiling, to represent family members. Strangely good.

On Saturday night I had supper with Janet and Ken and lots of chatting and cheeryness - not to mention vast amounts of food, and some wine.

Working on my poems quite a bit too. And caught up with Sprinkles a few times too.

Below a Felon on my wall (there you are Romy x)




Sunday, May 27, 2007

Diane June

Yikes. There's a felon in the house! Here's my new painting by Diane June called Felon. Diane is based in New York. Last time I was there in 2006, I went to see the Generations 5 exhibition at the A.I.R Gallery. Despite Diane being a friend of mine I can honestly say I thought her work was the most interesting there.

You can see more of her wonderful work at re-title.com at neo.images.com and availableart.com

Below Felon, and Diane June at the Generations 5 exhibition last year.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pop stars and zoo keepers

Friday at last. Much cheerfulness, and significantly fresher in body and sould today, despite trying to breath life into a crushingly dull brochure about savings accounts all day.

Over lunch, Anita, a nice work colleague, told the story of how she and young Aja had "met" Marilyn Manson on Wednesday. Aja was waiting outside his changing room door, having blagged her way there during a lunchtime television shoot. The door had a code lock on it, and Aja slightly madly suggested they punch in 666. Trying this plan, they found the door was already open, and they pushed through. After gawping, star-struck, at some of belongings, Manson came in behind them with two of his security guys. Fortunately instead of a nasty scene, it turns out he was really pleasant and Aja, who was a big fan and reduced to a blubbering I love you, had her photo taken with him.

And talking of fans, I put my mum's website on my work intranet, and lots of people have looked at it in the agency, and have told me how much they like her work.

Been quite a good week for talking to old friends; my old school pal Mick, and wonderful poet, Rhona McAdam. She has an excellent blog called Iambic Cafe. She is in Italy at the moment, learning all about Italian food. It looks mouthwatering.

After work I hung about in the agency and sat on the terrace outside watching the clouds gather in preparation for the weekend, and gossiped with various colleagues over a beer, and played table football, and then a session of excruciating jokes. Still liking this bee joke Kate sent me the other day a lot...


A man starts his new job at the zoo and is given three tasks. First is to clear the exotic fish pool of weeds. As he does this, a huge fish jumps out and bites him. To show the others who's boss, he beats it to death with a spade. Realising his employer won't be best pleased, he disposes of the fish by feeding it to the lions, as lions will eat anything.

Moving on to the second job of clearing out the chimp house, he is attacked by the chimps who pelt him with coconuts. He swipes at two chimps with a spade, killing them both. What can he do? Feed them to the lions, he says to himself, because lions eat anything. He hurls the corpses into the lion enclosure.

He moved on to the last job, which is to collect honey from the South American bees. As soon as he starts, he is attacked by the bees. He grabs the spade and smashes the bees to a pulp. By now he knows what to do and throws them into the lion's cage because lions eat anything.

Later that day a new lion arrives at the zoo. He wanders up to another lion and says "What's the food like here?" The lion says "Absolutely brilliant. Today we had fish and chimps with mushy bees."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pink wine at night, a hangover's delight

A mixed sort of morning. On the one hand I woke up with a brain like a painful raisin. This was caused by the dread pink wine, but as I crawled from bed the phrase "Bad Matty" sprang unbidden and entirely unfairly to my lips. On the other hand, my computer had healed itself, proof again that vigorous swearing actually works, and what's more I discovered my shades having been convinced I had lost them forever. They were in an incredibly obvious place.

Work was fine, and through judicious applications of green tea, mineral water, and light salads I began to feel human again quite quickly. Imagine my surprise when Matty sent me and Katie an email about Vietnam. It came back to me then that we had all solemnly sworn to go there together last night. Matt is already researching flights.

Very happy to be going home today. Once home I copied all the files onto a memory stick and posted it through the door of the BBC, and sent them emails. Thank gawd. I spoke to Anton about this briefly.

Then IM with Sprinkies, and sent her a joke about mushy bees.

Then a long search for my cheque book as yesterday I took a brief on a kind of electric toothbrush, and after talking about it for an hour and a half, I was sold on it. I can take in a cheque to work tomorrow and next week I will enter a world of teeth cleaning machines that brush at 33 thousand times a minute. If you experience some sort of absence while brushing I wonder, when you come-to, if there will be nothing left but a set of gleaming stumps.

An evening of pink wine

Sprang up in the morning to copy the soundfiles to deliver to the radio station, and my computer simply froze before I could do so. Had to rush off to work after swearing violently at it. Swearing can often help I've found, and machines frequently respond to threats. Not this time though, and so I left for The Smoke feeling somewhat doomy and enraged. Being unable to find my brand new shades didn't help either.

Listening to an excellently-read Audiobook of Lawrence Durrell's Bitter Lemons of Cyprus. Interesting description of a the last few years of British rule there when Greek Cypriots begin guerrilla war against British rule, seeking enosis (unification) with Greece. More enjoyable is the loving portrayal of characters and wonderful language. He clearly loved Greece and Greeks enormously. He is somewhat out of fashion now, but an amazing writer. It has filled me with a dreadful yearning to go back to Greece.

At work I got a funny email from Romy, reporting Toby's unspeakable Settlers of Catan board game behaviour out there in the wilds of Ontario with Joan and Dick. And he won too.

After work, I met up with Matty and Kate for a gossip in the Riverside and out of nostalgia and simple good manners we refreshed ourselves with pink wine and ate on the terrace as the sun set behind Hammersmith Bridge. There was lots of pink wine and general bonhomie as you'd expect. In fact I surfed home late feeling very refreshed indeed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Margaret Hamlin

Margaret Hamlin happens to be my mum. Achievement enough for anyone, you might think. But she is also a painter and, with help of Russians, has carefully put together a website of some of her work.

She has painted all her life, and her pictures have for years been salted away in private collections in the most unlikely places.
Her art has always been inspired by natural forms, and the magic in places like Guernsey where we used to live. Some of her work is often super-real, literally painting in every petal in a garden of flowers. Her colour sense is stunning, and she lately she has evolved a strong trend towards abstraction - but natural forms lurk just under the surface.

It would be bad manners to not to visit her site at www.margaret-hamlin-artist.com

Below one of Mum's abstracts.





A welcome Felon

A bit of a Moanday. Dreary weather, and I felt a bit dreary too, despite work being fine. I worked through lunch and left promptly.

Finished the audio book about Samuel Pepys, enjoyed it and learned quite a lot too. I read it partly because I am one of the millions who keep blogs. Pepys wrote his in a type of shorthand and left the six leather bound volumes with the rest of his books which he bequeathed to a university library. They were found much later, and were initially rewritten and badly edited. And they were not published unmolested and in their entirety until the 1970s, about three hundred years later.

When I started this blog a few years ago, I had in mind some sort of lofty literary journal, but it has turned into more of a diary. Obviously there are a few things I cannot talk about in it, but these are few.

When I arrived home there was a note to say that a package had been left with my next door neighbour. It was the painting from Diane June, called Felon. It felt very cool to have a piece of art sent to me from New York. I am absolutely delighted with it, but have not yet settled on a place for it to live. I will post a picture and more info about Diane's work in a day or so.

Spent the evening editing down the soundfiles, and am a few hours work away from sending them off to the radio station. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Anton's humour comes across very well, and I think we have the makings of a good double act.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Garlic and guitar strings

Even though I got up early to work on my poems, there seemed too few hours in the day. I had a scrambled head so worked steadily for a couple of hours but achieved little.

However, I had a nice chat with Sprinkles, before sloping off for a walk around town, and to do some shopping. I bought a new shirt, some pumps, and a pair of leather sandals. Then some new guitar strings, which later made Bianca my white semi-acoustic sound better than she had done for ages. I gave the fretboard a long-overdue clean as well. Nasty how dirty it gets.

Also bought some tahini so I could copy Sophie and make some home-made houmous. I blended the chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, olive oil and water and it tasted okay, although it seemed exceedingly garlicky, making me wonder if the cloves should have been cooked before and not raw.

Untroubled by vampires, I spent several hours editing the soundfiles. This interrupted only by chats with Mum, and Sprinkles again, who was telling me about hurricane preparations in Florida. She is on high enough ground where she lives, but an extreme weather warning means she can't go to work as this is near the seafront.

Then to bed, after watching a bit of a documentary about rock music on the BBC.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Blue is the colour

Awoke early at Andros and Sophie's place. Got up and had a long chat with Andros. I was interested to hear that he had once known Steve Howe quite well. Howe is the legendary Yes guitarist and one of my all time heroes. Andros had nothing but nice things to say about him - a very modest and likable man apparently.

Off to the park for breakfast. Electra took me to watch her swing about on parallel bars, do handstands, and tell me about a debate about cats and dogs they had at school. She was on the side of the dogs, but took a dim view of a big Afghan when it appeared. Cristof and Electra are good kids.

A nice breakfast in the open air, then Sophie and Electra came with me on the tube, and we played twenty questions, before I got off to catch the Victoria line, and headed home cheerfully

A wonderful afternoon, watching the FA Cup final. Didier Drogba with a skillful one-two with Frank Lampard and a glorious goal, proved what centuries of philosophers could not: that there was a God. What's more he is a Chelsea supporter. I felt obliged to text this observation to Anton, Manchester United supporter as he is. But annoyingly crowing opportunities were few, as Anton and Anna were in Bath to celebrate their wedding anniversary.

Enjoyed hearing the early 70s Chelsea anthem "Blue is the Colour" sung lustily, and couldn't help thinking of Dave, my grandfather, who would have enjoyed the result greatly too. But sadly he is not textable.

Feeling a bit drained so opted for quiet night in, where I had the opportunity to speak to Sprinkles at some length, followed by an early night.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Maxed out


Bouncy Max was leaving to go on maternity leave, and me and the French Bloke (judiciously, as he was responsible for the said pregnancy) attended a leaving lunch with a large accounts posse, which also included Max the Mentor. I found myself happily sandwiched between the two Maxes and opposite the FB.

After work I hurried to the tube station, where I bumped into Mick. He was wearing his policeman's uniform (during the conversation I could see a young agency creative creeping past looking alarmed). I had not seen Mick since Paddy's wedding, and he was a great schoolfriend of mine. Mick has recently separated from his wife and claimed to be living near a leper colony in Brentford. We will go for a cheeky beer soon so I can establish the facts.

Then I zoomed up to Highgate in north London to see Sophie and Andros, and their bairns. Arriving was a bit of a relief as I was gripped by claustrophobia deep in King's Cross station, squeezing down a twisty passage crammed with people. And had to escape. When I finally got on the tube train it was really dehumanisingly crushed. Ghastly. At Highgate station I got off the train, and saw a woman being helped who seemed to be having an epileptic fit which added to the slightly hellish feeling.

Almost as soon as I arrived, Sophie and I walked off to the local supermarket, through the big woody park behind her house and talking about Buddhism. Going shopping with Soph reminded me of when we were students. Then we walked back to Sophie's house, and sat about for the rest of the evening shooting the breeze, and eating some of Greek themed food. I stayed late, and opted to sleep on their sofa, as someone had muzzled the seagull and I did not hear its yarpy Brightonward urges till too late.

Instead I watched a TV show called Shark which young Christof likes with Christof and Sophie, and then boofed out happily on the sofa which Andros had made comfortable for me with pillows and a duvet.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A beer with the boys

An early knock on the door just as I got up, and two parcels with photos in frames from Sprinkles, one for Anton and Anna and the other for me. Wonderfully wrapped and presented as you would expect. She really is a tremendously thoughtful person.

Worked cheerfully on my poems on the way to work, and feel that at last, there is a strong thread of connection between them. At work The Gnome were cooped up all day, as we had a teleconference at lunch with a lady from Coventry with a cold.

However I left work early with the French Bloke as he had an evening pass. We met Matty boy in a pub called the Admiral Codrington for a drink, prior to him going on a date. It felt very altogethery to be in the company of the chaps, although both of them are looking gallingly whippet-thin and healthy. Enjoyed Matty enquiring quizzically of the barman "would it be possible to buy some beer?" as if the idea had just occurred to him.

After Matty left for his date, the FB began talking about how much he loved Max which was quite heartwarming, and quite handy given that another baby girl is due in the next couple of weeks. The way he was talking about her made me showed him one of my old love poems called Exorcism, and he surprised me by being genuinely moved by it. We then repaired to a Thai restaurant where we chatted lengthily.

Home late and I got a note from Diane in New York saying my painting, called Felon, has been dispatched. I am very excited!

Here is the old poem I showed the FB. Was published first in a magazine called Acumen what seems a hundred years ago.

Exorcism

Between our bodies we have made in darkness
A place of warmth and quiet breathing

Almost disowned, our hands moved across the sheet
And their meeting held us to gently begin.

Even in this moment we are not alone
Part of the people we are is other people

And day to day, often and uncomfortably,
Their references intrude

Some expression that she'd used
I said just before I'd kissed you

And with an inclination of your head
You still reflect his pet gesture.

But if, in this act, we can make amends
For those who have hurt us and those we have hurt

And if, in this act, we can reaffirm
The hope that had grown weak; a hope for love

Then we have truly begun and our love will come
To exorcise this chosen moment

Like a priest in an old house sending sour memories
Scuttling through every door and window.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Eating animals in Chinatown

Left my iPod earphones at home, which is fantastically annoying. Working on poems on the way to work. Little to report at work other than that I received a nice email from the Romy containing lots of links to things like the inside of her new bathroom (strange but true), the apartment they will stay at in Argentina and various appealing kittens who are plotting to weasel their way into the Kenny-Bowers abode in Toronto.

In the evening went off to town where I met Lakshmi in the Salisbury, where I'd been with Sprinkles a week or so before. Wandered off for a bite to eat in Chinatown. Lakshmi is preparing for various adventures, such as going to Russia via Finland for a party, which partially explained why she is on a fierce Atkins diet and mainly ate animals. Nice to see her again. I am pleased that Aimee put us in touch as you can never have enough friends.

Homeward bound, and feeling most peeved that I had nothing to read, and nothing to listen to due to an absence of earphones. A woman sat next to me and swore volubly over the phone before slumping to sleep. Her head came to rest on my shoulder before she jerked up and stared at me accusingly. Marvellous.

The journey back to Brighton seemed to take a lifetime. Then blessed home, and a doses of sparkling mineral water to try to flush out the dratted MSG which never agrees with me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Audiophile

Today was all about listening to the sound files from the first stage of the Dragon walk and editing all the more obvious drivel out to then send it into the radio station to see what they think. Actually I came away feeling fairly pleased at how natural we sounded, as opposed to our Cholmondley-Warnerish first attempt.

The irritating editing program took some getting used to, and I found myself grinding my teeth as I worked on my laptop going into work. I also worked on it during my lunch break, and then at home in the evening. It is even more time-consuming than doing the walk itself, but interesting nevertheless - and is giving me all kinds of spin off ideas.

It also makes me feel like going around collecting sounds for their own sake. Like the tapping and whistling sound of the wind through yacht masts, or the wind surging like a soft sea through trees which we briefly caught on the walk. I could listen to those sounds for ages.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sweeney and the Scientologists

Managed to work on a poem on the way to work, and at my desk during lunch. A quiet day, where the most exciting thing was working with the Gnome on mailing to encourage people who are already in debt to "top up" their loan, i.e. borrow a bit more. You feel like you need a shower afterwards.

Watched an interesting and scary BBC Panorama documentary about Scientology. The Gnome showed me the "video ambush" on You Tube posted by the Scientologists showing their own film of reporter John Sweeney completely losing his rag. The Scientologists appeared completely barking and paranoid, but we learned very little about Scientology. The Scientologists also completely undermined the documentary, and knocked the BBC's credibility. Having a forum of millions instantly on You Tube has really turned the tables.

Later, spoke to Sprinkles via IM, and fiddled on my computer which had freaked out in the morning, and sensibly backed things up.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Cutting out the dead wood

Up with the lark on Sunday morning, although feeling pretty worn out. Began listening to some of the recordings I'd made with Anton yesterday, and I think there is enough (despite some fierce blasts of recorded wind) to be fine. Did bits of pieces of writing too, before catching up with Sprinkles on Skype. Spoke too to Mum, who is going great guns with her site, which I should be able to link to in a few days.

Sawed down the dead bits of the tree in my yard. Amazing how many branches and twigs of wood it produced. Also ran about town in the rain, doing things and looking at shelves, buying an extension lead for the aerial and other real life stuff.

However, I had a nice interlude watching a DVD a French film called Le Goût des autres which I bought on a whim as it was on sale, and really enjoyed. Funny, quite sad, and very well acted.

Spoke to Sprinkles again later, who had spent the day updating her blog with her trip to England, including being unnecessarily positive about Anton's cooking ability in her foodgasm posting.

Before bed I spoke to Toby who said that nothing much was going on. Apart that is from Spring coming and cheering everyone up in Toronto, the school year being on the wane, a forthcoming trip up to see Joan and Dick at Deviation Road, as well as the preparations for trip he and Romy are taking to Argentina.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Following the serpent to Burpham


Met Anton and we went to Marks and Spencer’s in Tilley hats, Craghopper trousers, Berghaus anoraks, proper Swiss walking boots. Anton was also sporting gaiters strapped around his calf. In his rucksack were Ordnance Survey maps, a compass, the first aid box and a nicely constructed baguette with bacon, lettuce, tomato and I think a dab of mustard.
My rucksack contained an emergency banana, a camera, information about dragons Anton had found, and the Bone of Contention - the small MP3 recorder which had so treacherously let us down last time.

Off to Littlehampton on the train. Today the weather was very different from when we walked it before, dark clouds, very strong wind and sun over a greenish and choppy sea. There was a moment when walking to our start point Anton suddenly felt really ill and wussy, and I thought the curse of the Dragon had struck again. However he felt a bit better after a sit down and some food. He had a snuffling cold and has not been eating properly lately. This is because he has lost interest in food now that he's teetotal.

This time we knew how to work the equipment and everything worked pretty well. I was checking what we had en route and was fairly pleased. We just decided to relax and be ourselves and for better or worse this is what will come out.

Not incredibly eventful walked up to Arundel (making it four times now that I have walked the particularly agoraphobia inducing bit) but felt pretty good. It was windy and a bit bleak, but this seemed much better dragon hunting weather. We walked inland as before following the undulating line of the river, and then crossed the bridge at Arundel and then Anton had a secret route, which led us towards Jacob's Ladder, which is the site of an Iron Age fort.

We climbed up the stairs and by way of an omen I almost trod on a lovely bronze coloured slow worm on the path. Slow worms of course are not snakes but legless lizards. A bit further on we were briefly assailed by a dense cloud of flies, and then we were into the eructational but beautiful village of Burpham. Burpham? Pardon? Etc.

Anton's destination for us, which was a surprise to me, was a nearby pub called the George and Dragon (from whence the legless lizard had repaired methinks). We had two good pints in there (Anton allowing himself a drink) and I took a photo of a sign behind the bar which I enjoyed.

Then home. I rushed off to collect a piece of wood to mend my bed which has necessitated me sleeping on the floor for some weeks. And then mended my bed, which meant taking the cursed thing apart and screwing it together again. That bed has never been right since it spontaneously collapsed in the night a couple of years ago.

Spoke to sprinkles cheerfully for a while, despite a lousy Skype connection. She was off in the evening with her aunt to a Japanese restuarant. I spent the rest of the day rushing about as I seem to have ants in my pants at the moment.

Below: The Sign of the George and Dragon, the slow worm, Anton by the Arun in the wind, pub print.



Thursday, May 10, 2007

That's why they call them the blues

Plunged into a wormhole of work with the Gnome. Locked away all day, and some of the evening, weaselling out the reluctant conceptual rabbits for a job that had to be done today. Meanwhile I was feeling bleak and paranoid but the Gnome was steady which helped.

I did manage to lope off to a new chiropractor called Claire. My back has been giving me unspeakable gyp over the last couple of weeks. She was the first English chiropractor I've ever had, and did a great job. My favourite chiropractor so far, however, was an Australian called Belinda who although scarcely larger than a wallaby managed to crack and womanhandle me better than any of the others, often by literally bouncing up and down on me.

Work all day, and ended up having some late drinks in the office bar, gradually feeling less paranoid and shifty.

Had to stand most of the way home on the late train. It was full of blue: glum-looking Chelsea fans, one of whom I talked to, after he told me about having endured a tedious nil-nil game with the accursed Manchester United. United in a mockery of all that is decent have just managed to become Champions this year, taking the title away from Chelsea. I told him about how Dave my Granddad had become a Chelsea fan, on the spur of the moment just as he served a Chelsea bun in his parents' cafe in Guernsey, and how he had gone on to name his house "Chelsea". But soon I realised that I was boring the living daylights out of the poor sod, so we continued the journey in silence.

Home late, via the Chinese takeaway, then slipped into bed with my back feeling better than it had done for a long while.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dove and Serpent

Back to work but, as the earlier Wittgenstein says, what we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence. It was nice, however, to see the Gnome, and Trace who told me a small amount about what sounds like an amazing trip to China.

Sloped off with the FB at lunchtime for two plates of hake and a few chortles in the Dove. I love that place and it was good to be there shooting various breezes with the French Bloke in the darkest corner of the old part of the pub.

Listening to a new book on my iPod called Samuel Pepys: the Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin. Fascinating listening, which puts Pepys in his historical context at the time of Cromwell and Charles II and so on. Absorbing stuff, especially as this is one of my blank spots in history.

In fact I'd say that my worst blank spot was roughly 1300-1800. It is amazing to have only a sketchy knowledge of entire centuries. I blame my school. I dropped history as soon as I could because it was so appallingly taught. My last history teacher, one Mr Silver, simply opened the text book at the beginning of the lesson, droned it aloud 40 minutes, and then closed it before sending us away.

Home and ate some lumpia, large spring rolls filled with both meaty and vegetable goodness. Sprinkles had made for me when she was over, and taught me how to roll them. They were exceedingly nice, and the fiery sauce was still on lively form, and I told her as much when we IMed briefly.

Then I was up the hill to see Anton about dragons. When I arrived Anton was ostentatiously drinking mineral water, and declaring that he was now a non-drinker, and was refusing to listen to Anna because she had drunk half a glass of wine and was therefore unreliable. Anton's teetotalism has lasted three entire days, a fact in which he is revelling.

Much less annoying was that he had been to Horsham Museum and bought a copy of a just published limited edition booklet on Horsham's Dragon, which includes the "True and Wonderfull - A Discourse Relating to a Strange and Monstrous Serpent (1614)".

Reading it we learnt about "black letters" which is a type of Gothic-looking font which at that time was reserved for important tracts, bibles and so on. The Discourse was originally printed in that font, possibly indicating the importance of the news it contained. The dragon was actually described as a serpent, and we discussed this at some length.

Then sleepily home, with the dragon book in my man bag.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Yellow day

Decided an entirely new wall could do with being yellow. Felt a bit like Mr Pooter and his famous red paint in Diary of a Nobody but at least I managed not to paint the inside of my bath.

Anton and Oskar called around and we went for a mooch around town. Weather returning to type now that it was a bank holiday: cool and grey with some rain. We pottered about looking at various books and CDs and chocolates for a while. Oskar is such a golden looking baby, especially now he has caught the sun.

But returned home, feeling on the edge of a gloom. So on the last day of my holiday I kept busy painting, applying new coats of red and yellow, and listening to the radio. Also sawing dead branches off the small tree in my yard, and experimenting with a spray which cleans carpets and so on.

IM with Sprinkles who had her first day back at work today this evening. She was urging me to wear my Vera Wang for Men to work tomorrow. Seems a bit of a waste.

Canned sunshine

Up early and decided that today would be all about painting. I have decided to warm up the colours in my house. Have a rich warm yellow and a dark red. I put the red in my study (influenced by my recent trips to Arundel Castle and Brighton Pavilion) and some yellow in my bedroom and in the living room. Felt a bit like a murderer afterwards stuffing red paper and rags into the bin. But the yellow is like painting sunshine on the walls and I love it.

Spoke to Sprinkles briefly a couple of times, in the morning and last thing at night, but I was being a bit brain dead both times. But she is home safely, and doing Sarah type-things like having her nails done and seeing her Uncle and Aunt.

Meanwhile in the evening, feeling tired and a bit coldy, I watched Fire Walk With Me, the Twin Peaks prequel by David Lynch. Got genuinely creeped out by it at some stages. Laura Palmer's descent into destruction was genuinely horrible, and reminded me a bit of a prototype Inland Empire. I understand the film got terrible reviews but I really enjoyed it, having as it did all the disturbing Lynch hallmarks.

Looking at Weezer's aka Diane June's camouflage pictures on her NeoImages webpage and am going to buy one called Felon. I have always loved her use of colour, and her artists statement about her work is worth reading. I've always been interested in how she depicts small, often despised, animals and insects blending in, and the tension between hiding and revealing.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sprinkles goes home

Up early and sadly took Sprinkles off to Gatwick. Miraculously she seemed absolutely unaffected by our lively night last night, whereas I found myself wussing about with a headache.

We had to force her suitcase shut after it was loaded with all kinds of odd presents and English souvenirs for her pals, and there was an entirely separate bag for chocolate.

Sprinkles' English accent is now excellent. And it was a shame she had to leave as the Brighton Festival is now starting. As we were rushing through the gates I noticed a man in a dragon suit pushing through the gates into Brighton like a harbinger of mayhem.

We got the train on time, and checked in quickly at Gatwick and sat around drinking coffee and laughing about all the good times we'd had. It was an amazing adventure really, and we got on really well, and I am going to miss her. Then a large hug and kiss goodbye and Sprinkles headed off towards security, and I sloped back towards the train. Turns out she bumped into Brian on the other side as she was heading towards her gate.

I then zipped up to Clapham, just two stops from Gatwick to meet First Matie. Lots of gossip with Katie as usual. Gave her a belated birthday card. First we went into a noisy sports pub, but soon left in search of a restaurant. After a false start in an Indian one (we bolted from a balti) we ended up eating tapas and gossiping lots. She is looking forward to the Gavster's return from Senegal tomorrow. Lovely to see her.

Back to Brighton and feeling tired and washed out. Snoozed on my sofa and then shot up the road to see Anton and Anna and baby Oskar who was staying up late and was busy tipping things on the floor. Meanwhile Anton was cooking a gourmet version of sausages and mash. If Sprinkles had been there she would definitely taken a photo of all the sausages with little flags sticking out of them, to denote the species of sausage, as well as special gravy, and mash with mustard seeds and so on. All very wonderful.

Home early, as we were all tired, and I was watching some football on TV when I spoke to Sprinkles now safely home in Trampa, and in the car with the T Bird. She was sounding entirely lively I must say.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A trolly full of chocolate

A fairly quiet day today, with Sprinkles getting ready for her return tomorrow. We did have an amazing trip to Waitrose today however, where Sprinkles bought £45 worth of "Cadberrys" and other chocolate bars to take back to her pals. You like your chocolate, observed the lady on the checkout. I contented myself by scoring a jar of limited edition Guinness Marmite.

Then home to drop the tons of chocolate off and off to Riddle and Finns where we had a late fishy lunch. Sprinkles getting her knife and fork into some brill for the first time. Good service, and fresh and herby food. I noticed the owner of Mama Cherry's happened to be in there too, which must be some sort of recommendation.

In the evening Brian Anton and Anna came around for a big night out. Sprinkles getting people to smell the Vera Wang for Men fragrance she'd bought me. There is something utterly disreputable about asking people to smell your Wang, but it does smell rather nice. Then off to a couple of pubs for a brace of cheeky beers (Sprinkles acquitting herself well and cackling with laughter with Anna) before heading off to the St James bistro in Kemptown.

More mountains of lovely grub there and we had champagne and a bit of a feast to celebrate Sprinkles' last night. Anna busy trying to play cupid for Brian and the flirty waiter. We got talking to a bloke in the restaurant called Sean whose partner had abruptly got up and left midway through their meal. It turns out Anton and Sean knew each other in Ealing when they were teenagers.

Then, with Sean in tow (but sadly not the waiter), we all got cabs off to the Eddy for a final drink late at night. Very altogethery and fun, and I think a fitting last night in England for Sprinkles.