Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pine feet

Up with the sparrows this morning. The Tobster dormant, I did hours of work before he got up. I have targeted a new publisher, Hay House, for my pamphlet project - and this morning I made a few amends to it, and sent it off in the afternoon, to try my luck.

I took Toby a nice cup of tea at 11 and, when he had surfaced I cooked peppered tomatoes and mushrooms fried in olive oil on toast. Toby said that his favourite vegetables are tomatoes and mushrooms. Toby is very easy to cook for, something that Romy tells him too apparently. The top Toby accolade for food is a pause for one beat then tasty said with some feeling. Same thing in Japan except that he used the word oishii instead.

He then set off up to the Smoke to see Mum and Mas. I did more work at home, before an afternoon swim. The pool full today, and a seemed to have dozens of staff rushing about. One of whom poured a fair amount of industrial strength disinfectant over my feet as I walked towards the pool. A mistake apparently. Despite the thrashing crowds in the pool lanes, I felt loads more relaxed and focused after a half an hour or so of surging along with my feet smelling of pine.

Walking back from the pool bumped into Cathy (twice in the last week - nothing the previous 13 years) and Sam out of Sam and Martin who was springing from a taxi and off to a coffee meeting with Anna. Brighton feels even more like home now when I bump into people.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon catching up with documenting my expenses, and washing laundry. Till Lorraine called by after a back cracking. Her spine is worth its weight in gold to those back crackers at the moment, no wonder they sent me a free massage.

I made her watch a Vic Reeves Big Night Out, which she said was interesting but didn't laugh much. Needs beer I think.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rolling up the trouserlegs

Up at seven, and a spot of admin and payment chasing, and writing for a few hours before Toby surfaced, enticed by a cup of tea.

As Toby groggily regrouped, I went off for a haircut, where I mentioned that my brother was over from Canada. The hairdresser quizzed me as to whether he had come over for the Pride parade in Brighton this weekend. Saying that he hadn't, made me feel curiously homophobic. So I had to add perhaps over-eagerly that I for one would certianly be enjoying the parade, which wasn't quite right either.

A few nasty moments this morning having discovered I no longer had my manbag and, much more importantly, my camera. I called Zizzi and after describing its ink-stains, was told they had it.

Returned home fully manbagged again, Toby showed me his excellent Argentinian photos. Some beautiful images.

Then I went for a massage, which was free - having introduced Lorraine to my back crackers. I had a huge knot in my shoulders apparently, I felt a good deal better afterwards, despite the whole process being quite painful. These massages do me a world of good.

Toby came with me this afternoon as I dropped my poetry manuscript The Revolution of the Eagles off at The South's buildings which billed as The Place for Writers. A psychological Rubicon that felt excellent to wade across.

Toby and I then spent a happy couple of hours wandering about on the seafront talking. The tide was low, exposing a smidge of sand at the base of all those pebbles. The sea was full of swimmers, and I would have happily plunged in if I had my swimmers with me - as the sea was very warm, for England. Instead Toby and I rolled up our trousers and paddled about for a bit, only missing our knotted hankerchiefs. This was actually really enjoyable and cooling. Toby was wishing Romy was there too, rather than being manacled to a desk.

Tobs and I also had a chat with Mum today, who is sounding bright and cheery. Also I spoke to Sophie, who apart from chiding me for not calling her, is revelling in the prospect of a holiday.

In the evening Toby and I went out for a drink in The Battle of Trafalgar with Lorraine. Toby enjoying his manly pints of the unimpeachably nice Harvey's bitter. Toby and Lorraine seemed to get on well, and were naturally talking about education and schools quite a bit.

Lorraine off in a taxi, and Tobs and I then settled down to watch some Vic Reeves Big Night Out before bed, which was my idea.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Return of the Tobster

Feeling somewhat seedy this morning, curse those ABF (absolute bloody final) gin and tonics.

However was up early and siphoning coffee and sparkling water into myself. Have confirmed my poetry surgery on the 30th August with Brendan Cleary. This means my last tinkerings with my poetry manuscript were made today. I am going to print out the results and then park the whole thing for a few weeks, till I get this feedback.

Toby arrived from Canada in the morning sporting the Platonic ideal of a green leather manbag from Argentina. Apart from the couple of hours where he crashed out, we spent the entire day talking. Tobs playing music by his and Romy's new favourite band, Argentina's Babasónicos and telling me more about their recent trip to Argentina, which sounds vibrant and creative place. This despite him seeing a 2-0! teeshirt detailing the moves involved in Diego Maradona's Hand of God world cup goal against England.

Toby crashed out for a couple of hours, and I took the opportunity to simplify my business website a little. Otherwise little happening on the work horizon today other than the brisk passage of tumbleweed, and the flapping of one or two crows.

Then after Toby revived with the help of some coffee, several hours wandering about through Brighton observing seagulls gathering in plotting knots and impromptu meetings. Also listening to the strange sound English people make when they talk on the streets. Spent some time hanging about on the splendidly cheesy pier.

We then had a quick feed at Zizzi's this evening and rounded off the day watching an episode of Vic Reeves Big Night Out, which can still make me laugh.

We also spoke to Mum who began a new dose of chemo. They have lessened her dosage, so I hope the experience will be much better this time.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A happy Monday

Aimee and Princess Lakshmi hit Brighton today, popping into the Twitten. Lively ladies both, and I had a splendid day with them. A brief tour of places of interest: looking at famous graffiti by Banksy, Madhatters, threading through the Laines, Pavilion, etc. which Aimee really enjoyed. Then sitting under a parasol in the hot sun near the doughnut sculpture on the seafront drinking cold beer and picking at antipasti, and having a protracted gossip about romances and jobs and other good stuff while looking over at the pier.

From there off to the Cricketers where we were joined by Romy, who is Aimee's cousin. Romy has just graduated with a degree in anthropology and, interestingly, spent much of her studenthood living in a treehouse.

Returned to the Twitten, to rendezvous with Aimee's taxi which was taking her to the airport and back to Dubai, where she is currently the second or third most important person, and doing some very high profile work to do with the oil industry. The taxi driver didn't seem to understand this fact, and was annoying and late. Fond farewells then to Aimee, and Romy.
Lakkers and I went off for tapas, followed by gin and tonics, before she caught a late train home. Lakshmi may have to return to Dubai herself soon as her job has ended, and she doesn't have another one lined up, which would be a shame.

Home, and feeling rather well refreshed. Got a text from Sprinkles who had heard that Brighton Pier had burnt down, luckily it wasn't us, instead it was the one at Weston Super Mare - which heartbreakingly had just been refurbished. But when those piers go up, they really burn.

Spoke to Lorraine and decisively headed for beddy-byes. You certainly don't need rocking to sleep when Lakshmi and Aimee are in town.
Below Lakshmi and Aimee at the seaside. And a shot by Lakshmi of their humble and rather warmish guide sporting my hat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Phasers set to chill. A couple of hours work on my stuff, and then a long overdue chat with Janet, who was just about to call me for advice about buying an iPod, to take on a cruise. She's also getting over a nasty fall on her knee in the garden, but fortunately nothing was broken. But she said being white haired and travelling to a conference with a suitcase and a cane got her lots of spontaneous help from people.

In the afternoon, off to a garden centre with Lorraine where she spent her leaving present of garden centre vouchers on various sombre plants, including one with dark ruby, almost black flowers which was gorgeous, but I can't remember its name. Vulgarly, I bought some orangey yellow marigolds, and a blue pot to put them in.

The garden centre was just outside Ditchling village, and we drove up to the top of Ditchling Beacon for the world's shortest picnic. I got the heebie jeebies again and waves of vertigo, which was all a bit embarrassing. I managed a couple of snaps of the magnificent views. Felt slightly gloomy about this, as it betrays that my background anxiety levels are higher than I thought.

Helping to combat all that, however, a spot of gardening in Lorraine's cat-patrolled garden. She instigated a decisive uprooting of an immense rosemary, and hacking a big patch of woody thyme - these herby atrocities were accompanied by lovely smells, which took me involuntarily to Greece, and memories of walking by sun-baked, thyme-smelling mountains.

Then home and did next to nothing, apart from watch Spielberg's War of the Worlds which, when I don't think of HG Wells, is a movie I quite like. Although as has been joked elsewhere, why Tom Cruise should worry about aliens is a moot point given his belief in Thetans.

Below two views from Ditchling Beacon.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Suntrap and chill

Breakfast with Lorraine this morning in my garden. We sat about drinking coffee, my eyes gladdened by my colourful pelargoniums. Actually I got too hot, as my microscopic yard is a suntrap on a summer's morning.

Then I spent a couple of hours doing various bits of work. Just tidying up and completely reworking the very last poem of my collection. Only the title of the poem now remains unmolested: Chaos and the Cockroach. I applied today for a poetry surgery with Brendan Cleary - as it will be very useful to get some expert feedback.

Read through my giftbook pamphlet, and discover with surprise that I am very proud of it, and that it works really well. A proper marketing push coming on that soon.

Later Lorraine and I went off shopping. The town surging with tourists. L looking at dozens of filofaxes for her new job, opting for a large A4. I'm always happy to browse in stationery shops, but contented myself with buying some new yellow card. As it is a little known fact that the best way to do a mind map is on yellow card with blue ink.

I ended up spontaneously buying a navy blue jacket which not only fits, but is rather cool, and was in a sale. These rigours over, we sat in the sun eating some fairly good Thai food in the late afternoon.

Then a very chilled evening, despite watching a very tense film called Flightplan. The plot made little sense if you start to unpick it, which many film folks have done on the IMDb have done - but viewed from the perspective of a Kafkaesque nightmare it worked rather well. Jodie Foster running about on a Jumbo searching for her stolen child, to the point where she wonders if she really did have a child with her.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Among the antiques, an old friend

Up early and made coffee for Bob, and we sipped it dolefully, somewhat sadder and wiser after what proved to be too many beers the night before. We are not as young as we were. Mad dog woke with a stiff neck which he blamed on swollen glands. He got a bit tetchy when I pointed out the fanciful nature of this diagnosis, and we bickered weakly till it was time for him to get his train.

Worked for a few hours, then decided that more than anything else in the world I needed a new pot for one of my cacti. Nearby there is a shop with old fashioned beautifully coloured pots with a Kew Gardens stamp on. But something in me balks at paying £20 for a flower pot. Passing the antiques auction place I decided to pop in there to see what was what. There was no useful pots, however instead I found an old friend working in there.

Cathy was a very good friend of my old friend Tim Gallagher. We'd not seen each other since shortly after his death. It was really good to see her, but we knew each other from a very difficult and painful time. Tim died of aids, and just the other day I heard a news item that in the UK people with aids can expect to live for decades, and made an equivalence with diabetes. For Tim, and his wife Rosa and lots of other people I knew these developments came way too late. Still life goes on, and it was good to chat to Cathy, before I spent quite a bit of time nosing about among the antiques, although to no avail.

After repotting my cactus in a tasteful indigoish pot bought cheaply from a flower shop, I spent hours cleaning my house, and poking bits of things into the loft, while listening to my audiobook of Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange, which I now acknowledge as being rather brilliant. Although this has the disappointing consequence of having to admit that Anton was right.

Met Lorraine this evening for a bite in the tin drum, poor Lorraine had further adventures with Beth being in hospital due to a spell of a trapped nerve and fainting combo. Sometimes I'm rather relieved not to be a parent.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mad dog and mindgamesmanship

This morning, in between working on poems and other matters, found myself scowling at the thought of money. However this Gordon Brownish glowering quickly turned into a bout of heel-clicking yippees, when an anonymous envelope poked through my letter flap turned out to be a sizable tax rebate.

Skipped merrily down to the bank, inducing the bank employee to talk wistfully of a tax rebate he'd once had. Then for a swim, my first for a while and surprisingly, considering the heat of the day, not excessively busy. Breached up and down for half an hour, before returning home to a spot of light tiding, and a longish chat with Simon.

Then Bob arrived hot foot from Eastbourne where he had been training people. After the old Mad dog had washed his feet in cooling water, there was some tea sipping and listening to the soothing murmury rock selection on my iPod. It was good to chat, before Bob and Claire and Millie move to Salisbury.

Then off to the Caxton to play a few games of pool, which were conducted with a undercurrent of mindgamesmanship. As we played, for example, Bob made the observation that I only played well when he gave me permission to play well. This was not true, but was a galling and effective distraction. My advice to novice pool players is to avoid selecting, as your mail pool opponent over the years, someone who is a) a lot better than you, and b) has studied as a counselor.

From the Caxton to the curry house, and after to The Cricketers where we met Lorraine, who had a drink with us. Bob and Lorraine talking interestedly about training and teaching and children. Disappointingly, my attempts to draw the subject round to the life and works of Peter Kenny were only intermittently successful.

We bade farewell to Lorraine and the old Mad dog and I sat about drinking sparkling mineral waters till it was time for bed.

Below Brighton's Pavilion Gardens in the sun today.

Three interesting shots

Below Mason in Korea. (in the middle of the picture). He says: "as I recall that was dirty work: lots of mud. Thank God we didn't get stuck doing it for very long. Of the time I was there, it was cold, damp and mostly snowing. That's why the term for fellows like us was "Grunts", somebody had to do the dirty work. Anyway they needed me elsewhere as I was a sniper so I got moved on. The chap with me (Martinez) was a good friend and came home with me once along with around three other guys. That was after we returned. Those were the days......I was really thin then. Funny part was I think basically I liked the Marine Corps."

The second photo is of Toby and Romy in Toronto several years ago, not too long after they were married. I took it in black and white at night (obviously). I spotted the Lucky Dragon sign and as Toby is a Dragon in Chinese astrology, I asked him and Romy to stop. I just really like this photo.

Finally I think this was taken in the seaside town of Collioure in the South of France, near the Spanish border. I was on holiday with Mex and Ken. As I remember this was a tiled design in the port area, and its sun and the ship on the blue sea made me think of Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis. Thanks to modern software, I have been able to correct the perspective. But this was the original sun I used for my old e-zine AnotherSun (and sparked off its name) which eventually led to the name of this blog too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chips with Hitchcock

Hot sunny day here in Brighton. Sat typing at my desk for a few hours in my dressing gown before I decided that I had to be doing something a bit more physical. Spent a happy couple of hours scraping flaking paint from the windows downstairs, and giving them a new lick of paint.

In the afternoon made off to my usual cafe where, supping an Americano, I had an excellent idea for one of the last poems to go in the collection. Excited by this, I hurried home to work on this again for a couple of hours.

When Lorraine came we decided to sit on the pebbly beach, in the orangey pink evening light, and eat some fish and chips. This sounds idyllic but we were surrounded by Hitchockian seagulls beading us with their mad yellow eyes, and crowding too close. We'd already seen a few minutes earlier a seagull swoop down to a table and grab a half-eaten pizza and, finding it too big to flap off with, tore wildly at its cheesy topping.

There are two tribes in Brighton, as I have previously stated, and the gulls are glimpsing a dominant future.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What the doctor ordered

Mum's appetite has returned but for odd things. She breakfasted on yeuchy frogspawny tapioca accompanied by a steaming mug of Marmite. Mum and I then pushed off to the Royal Free Hospital. First to the blood test department, and then to visit oncology to pick up a special yellow slip with "urgent" stamped on it and then back for the actual blood test. Before returning to Oncology. I must say the staff were very friendly, and the patients seemed mostly cheery and upbeat too. There was even a young volunteer there who was handing out cups of tea as you waited.

Mum's doctor was pleasant, as was the chief colorectal nurse, which as job titles go leaves something to be desired. The doctor recommended another week off chemo before starting again, to get mum stabilised more. We all thought this was the right decision. Then Mum was sent up to Vascular Studies where a tetchy woman scanned Mum's ankle and confirmed that the slight swelling there wasn't a blood clot.

The whole business had only taken the morning, and so we were free to zoom off for lunch, snickering for the last time past a sign for the "Discharge Lounge", which sounds an appalling place. I was also pleased to leave as I was wearing my Skelly's monologues teeshirt that Sprinkles had made for me, with its dancing skeletons, which on reflection wasn't entirely the best choice to wear in a huge hospital.

Mum is craving saltiness at the moment (hence the cups of Marmite). So we ducked into ASK and Mum and I snacked into Stromboli and Vesuvio pizzas respectively. We enjoyed the hot and bright conservatory, with triffidish greenery pressing in against the windows.

Then back to Brighton. Feeling relieved that the right things, to my mind, had been done at the hospital. Nothing much happening on the work front, so I spent an hour pottering about in the front scrap of garden, deadheading roses and tidying the pelargoniums.

In the evening Anton and I went out for a few beers, which we'd not done in quite some time. Wandered happily about in Brighton and towards Hove, dropping in here and there (including at the keynote Eddy) to have a cheeky beers and talk about all kinds of nonsense, which was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hollyhocks and cat-butts

Slightly lacklustre and twitchy today. This morning doing invoicing. In the afternoon slugged up to London to stay with mum and mase. Listening to Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange on the train going up.

Pleased to see mum a good deal perkier and with the appetites of a lumberjack. She's able to think a lot straighter too, with not being dehydrated and drugged up to the gills. Spent a quiet late afternoon and evening chatting. In the evening, enjoyed getting my fork into a tamale pie that mase had made.

Toby is arriving next Tuesday, which is splendid. It is the day after Aimee and Princess Lakshmi come to Brighton. So I may be feeling a tad delicate.

First Matie called in the evening to say that she had been made redundant. This quite outrageous, but she seemed rather pleased about it. I told her that she was way too good for that place, which she was. She was heading off to the seaside instead of going to work. Bargain.

A half complete text from Lorraine this evening, due to one of her cats head-butting her. I must investigate if there are any historical events had been precipitated by the barging of cats.

Below I'm fascinated by these dark hollyhocks in Mum's garden. And I found another face in Mum's stones sculpture.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

To Kent

A trip to Kent with Lorraine and Beth off to Lorraine's parent's home on the edge of Ashford. Met her brother, disconcertingly called Kenny Peter, and his two daughters, his partner and her mother. As Lorraine and Beth entered the front door, Beth turned to me and asked if I'd brought my pepper spray, which was funny. We all sat down to a proper English Sunday roast of beef and potatoes and parsnips, and beans and cauliflower cheese. This was followed by the triumphant bread and butter pudding Lorraine had prepared the night before.

I have had a conversation with Lorraine to clarify that there are only three legitimate puddings: apple pie (which of course is proverbially nice: "as nice as apple pie") bread and butter pudding, and lemon meringue. Other than the unimpeachable Christmas pudding (at Christmas), liking other puddings, with their fripperies and foreign stylings, betrays moral laxness and ought not to be encouraged, especially among children and one's servants.

Then quite a bit of sitting about chatting. Talking with Beth in the back garden watching sparrows and blackbirds scarf crumbled digestive and rich tea biscuits. She said that they were studying how to cry in her acting classes. Turns out it is not about remembering some dismal event. Instead you recall what your body does when you cry, and re-create those physical feelings. This allows you to cry without being taken out of character.

Lorraine's mum and dad Maureen and Pat showed me photos from their recent trip to visit their other son in Finland. Looks a very interesting place, and made me think of Marja.

Then we all watched the culmination of a golf tournament on TV, and I drew some scorn when I mentioned I couldn't see this birdy they were all on about. Pat, who is Lorraine's father, with a chess-based quip explained that there was a gathering of bishops this weekend at nearby Canterbury, but they kept moving sideways.

Then a drive home through a beautiful countryside, lots of massy mauvish clouds but full of sunlight too, making everything that wasn't green take on orange and gold. Then, after being dropped off, a quiet and blameless evening in the Twitten.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eggs, chips and vampire zombies

Working for several hours writing a thousand words article about Glyndebourne, and pinging it off to Kate at the magazine. As I typed about opera and sustainability, I was secretly thinking about egg and chips. For this morning I awoke with craving for a platter of those bad boys. Lorraine as usual came to the rescue. She knew where to source a decent lunchtime plateful, with three eggs tastefully arranged over a nest of chips. Afterwards I felt that whatever had driven the egg and chip craving had been sated. Probably for the next decade.

An ex-colleague Mike Ferg and his wife Sandra, were down in Brighton. I met them and a Brighton based pal called Chippy. Mike has been fighting cancer for two and a half years, and the latest manifestation is chronic leukemia. He said that he makes the most of the good days, and this was one of them. And as he was in Brighton, we met up for a quick drink, and a catch up. Really good to see Mike, and his wife, who I'd not met before. They are really great together, and it was actually heart-warming to see them.

In the evening watched I am legend with Lorraine and Beth. It starred Will Smith. The leaping vampire/zombie things made me jump and emit girlish shrieks. I enjoyed it, however, but I just looked at wikipedia, and there was a much better alternative ending to the film, rather than the lame ending that was on general release.

The SF novel of the same name by Richard Matheson, that this film was loosely based on, is well worth reading however.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A private triumph, and a trip to Glyndebourne

Had an interesting day today. In the morning reworking a poem about Paul Klee which I am herding like an independently-minded cat into the collection. A eureka moment, and it finally fell into place after fiddling with it off and on for several years. A private moment of triumph that would mean absolutely nothing to anyone else, but YAY! anyway.

In the afternoon off to Glyndebourne for an very interesting interview with Gus Christie who is the executive chairman of Glyndebourne, and grandson of its founders. I really liked him. Turns out he was passionate about the environment as well as opera, and had studied zoology, and made wildlife films before returning to the family business. We talked a lot about the new wind turbine that is going to be erected nearby to power the opera. It has created a lot of controversy, but he seemed to me to be very sincere about trying to do the right thing.

Even the cab driver who took me back to Lewes station said he was a good bloke.

Home, and started to write up my notes. Then ended up listening to Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange, the audio book, which Anton persuaded me to download. Actually really enjoying it.

Then at about 10:30 went off to meet Lorraine in The Cricketers for a cheeky beer. Lorraine had been for a Greek meal as a leaving do, and had drunk ouzo and wine, and so was rather excitable and talkative.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The soft bongs of history

Mum is feeling and sounding much better. She can think more clearly, and even went out for a pub lunch. This is all most excellent progress. For me a quiet day, involving a few bits and pieces, and a bit of moving things around at home.

One of these things was my grandparents' clock. It used to hang on the wall of their 16th century granite cottage in Guernsey. This cottage was an extremely spooky place at night. And if you happened to be lying awake, the fact that you could hear this clock strike sonorously from the fathom of darkness below was reassuring and strangely rational.

When I was five I stood on a chair to reach its hands. I wanted to move them so that I wouldn't have to wait so long for a children's television programme to appear. When my grandfather died Mum gave it to me. I remember her and Mase, having driven around to my house, carrying it indoors like a child's coffin. I've had it repaired at some cost once, but it doesn't take kindly to being moved about and it's not working properly again, and I've had it stored under the stairs in a cardboard box for some time.

I had to move it today and it shifted slightly, and once or twice gave out several admonishing bongs. I'm used to it doing this, despite the fact it hasn't been wound up for at least five years. The bongs took me back in a Proustian involuntary way to all kinds of happy memories.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The propaganda of cats

Crawled from my airnest to gulp cups of coffee with Mase. Mum breakfasted lightly on water and ten pills followed by a bit of pancake with sugar and lemon.

I started sneezing this morning and began cringing at the thought that I was about to introduce a cold into the house. So I set off for Brighton, threaded through the tubes to Victoria, where I missed my train by under a minute, the third time in a row this has happened. This for some reason made me feel infuriated. In fact there was a distinctly tetchy undercurrent to my last 48 hours.

Sneezing abated however, which was good. Once home, several calls with Kate the new ON TRACK editor. And one with Emma, the pleasant press officer at Glyndebourne. I will be doing an interesting interview there on Friday. Also called Mum in the afternoon, and she sounded in good spirits, having just spoken to our Toby, who is coming over soon to stay with me.

Also made an hour or so to work on my poems.

Complex cat propaganda: Mex has been replaced by an alien. This new "Mex" has a grumpyish-looking cat called Bolli, which she adores to the point of inciting all her mates to get it voted pet of the day on a Purina website. Mex sent Bolli pictures to Mum, who forwarded them to Romy, who sent me a note saying "Take a look at Mex’s cat pictures. Even Mex has a cat. You have to get a move on!" Meanwhile Anton is trying to get me to take Trotski, who is a fighty, moth-eating cat with an attitude problem.

In the evening after having her back cracked, Lorraine called by and listened to me moaning weakly for a bit, before we sloped off and had a cheery Chinese meal and a cold beer. I am becoming increasingly rubbish at drinking these days, one drink affects me. This is certainly economical! We met Beth and Mark at the station, from where Lorraine drove them all home after popping into my place, which Beth and Mark had not seen.

Below the famous Bolli.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

King Pippin's legacy

Up to the smoke this afternoon, meeting Simon at Brighton Station, for a meeting in the Grosvenor hotel at Victoria - with is nicely tranquil after the melee outside. After a coffee and wait of half an hour or so, presented our brand thinking for a couple of hours to the Cat with the Hat and Kate the new magazine editor.

From there I tubed it to Stanmore station, from where I walked in the sun to Mum and Mason’s place. They were not long back from hospital. Mum certainly a bit better than she was, although still not fully recovered. We sat in the garden and talked. The doctors are now saying that it is an adverse reaction to the chemotherapy, and are saying that when she gets back on a more even footing, they will lessen the dosage. Right now the idea of taking any more is anathema to Mum. I suggested the time for decision was not right now. I will go along for the conversation next week.

There are over 30 pills to be taken every day, and some of them induce tiredness, and general fuzzy-headedness. So I prepared a pill chart, of which pills needed to be taken when.

While Mum and Mase were watching some TV in the evening, I managed to catch up with a little business in the evening. I had to amend the French bread work. A tad eccentrically, and rather charmingly, the client wanted a reference to King Pippin the Short (714-768) who, in the middle of the eighth century, allowed bread making to be considered a trade, and sowed the seeds for great bread making in France.

I’d taken my computer up to London with me, and Mase and I sat about late in the evening, after mum had gone to bed, chatting and looking at some of the photos I’d taken over the last couple of years.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A swallow tale

Withdrew like an ammonite into its shell today, working on something which should have taken me a couple of hours, but ended up taking all day. Otherwise all quiet - several phone chats including with First Matie and Mas - and some business chat with Simon, and Mex contacted me with some useful connections in Brighton.

In the evening finished Day by AL Kennedy which I really enjoyed. All about a Lancaster rear gunner who, in being an extra in a movie about POWs, begins to relive his war, and work through the damage it caused him.

Just lovely, fabulous writing. AL Kennedy is a woman of many talents including being a stand up comedienne - and she handled this story with enormous authority and brilliance.

Mum may be leaving hospital tomorrow, either way I will go up to visit, after attending a minor business meeting.

Below this in from Joan. They are baby barn swallows in Ontario, which are exceedingly cute. They obligingly waited 45 minutes in the forest behind the farm for Joan to return from her walk to be photographed. I love their grumpy-looking faces. The sound of the camera eventually made them take flight.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The magic never stops

Feeling antsy today, so went for a walk by the sea at Hove with Lorraine, along with most of the population of the City and some Great Danes, which seemed abundant in the city this weekend. They wear yellow jackets with the logo of a Great Dane charity on them. This all made me think of Nev who owned two of the monsters when I worked with him.

As leaden clouds eventually took over we then went to see Prince Caspian. I have loved the C.S. Lewis Narnia books from childhood, and I thought this was a pretty good adaptation of what was my least favourite story of the series. A bit Lord of the Rings lite in the fighting, but it also had a few moments that were its own mainly revolving around Aslan and Lucy. The Spanish-flavoured baddies were enjoyable too. I have absolutely no problem with the Christian undercurrents either. Dismissing a work on this basis is buffoonish, as if you'd have to disallow half of European culture in the last millennium too.

Then I went home and spoke to Toby about Mum, and also about his fab sounding Argentinian holiday from which he and Romy have just returned. Spoke to Mase a couple of times today, and Mum is bored in hospital but is not too bad. Mase not too bad, but a bit tired. I will visit both shortly.

In the evening settled down to watch Shadowlands on TV, sipping a small glass of Armagnac, in a rather Frasier Crane manner. Mad dog bought me the bottle about two and a half years ago, and it's still two thirds full. Very nice though. This is a lovely film with splendid performances from Anthony Hopkins as C.S. Lewis and Debra Winger as Joy Gresham. One of my favourite movies, although fairly ghastly and miserable in some ways, and rather over romanticised.

To round off my Narnia-themed day read a couple of chapters from Prince Caspian too, in the lovely full colour reissue editions I bought a few years ago.

Below the real Jack and Joy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A hullabaloo in the park

Mum still in hospital today, but is a little better and more stable. Talked to Mase a couple of times, and I think everyone is a little relieved that Mum is receiving treatment. Horrible to think of Mum back in hospital which bores her to distraction. Gave most of the day up to work, as I wanted to make sure the decks were clear to return to London early next week.

Lorraine called and said that I should go into town to hear some singing as it was good for the soul. It was the National Street Choir festival which was held in Brighton this year. The town was full of choirs. Until recently Lorraine was heavily involved in the Hullabaloo Community Quire and we watched them singing in the park by the Pavilion. And very excellent they were too. Their inspirational musical director (and a Lorraine chum) Kirsty was in full force and conducting with her entire body.

Back home, passing several choirs. The city full of song. Paused to see one from Manchester outside the Library, and bumped into Spooner and Ali, and their bairns who are now little people capable of running in a big circle with ballons around the choir. Brief chat with Spooner and the lovely Ali, then I headed home to do some more work and speak to Mas.

In the evening to Lorraine's house, where she was cooking. Anton and Anna came around and we had a feast of L's fabulous home made lamb and spinach curry, and her chutneys, dhal, aubergine raita and other delights. Had a really pleasant night eating and drinking. Anna in very good form and enjoying her new work as a life coach. Some effort put in to persuade Anton to have a dog, but this fell on deaf ears.

Then a postprandial spot of Wii (the Nintendo games console), Anton poor at several games, especially ten pin bowling, thus generally scorning it until he found some Wii pinball machines. He delighted in forcing me to play so that I could humiliate myself with them, just like in real life. He left talking about buying a Wii tomorrow.

Below Kirsty Martin conducting the quire in the park.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mum in hospital again

Slept in this morning on my airbed nest. Had breakfast with Mum and Mase and then did a few bits a pieces around their house, working out how to use the VCR with Mase, and hoovering, as well as squeezing in a few business conversations. And one with Anton, which wasn't very businesslike.

I was still worried about mum, who was not significantly better today. Although her back was much less painful. Shortly before I left, we had another chat about how she was feeling and we decided that she should call the hospital, especially as I only then realised that she has been experiencing persistent diarrhoea. She called the hospital as Mas dropped me off at the station to head back to Brighton.

My mobile phone ran out of juice on the way home, and when I got home there was no reply when I called them, and I guessed the hospital had asked her to go in. Mas called me in the evening and said they had kept her in overnight. Mase said he and Mum were both relieved that she is getting some proper attention, and I was too.

If I had thought it through properly, I would have stayed in London, and I felt stupid that I'd not suggested calling the hospital the day before. But I will be back up to see them, in any case, in a couple of days, and at least she is now being properly looked after.

Lorraine came around this evening, and she is very reassuring and supportive. And the fact that she is an ex-ward sister is good too. But I'm afraid that we broke our week long detox, and had a couple of cheeky beers. And I have to say these were very big and clever.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mum is unwell

Off to see Mum and Mase today. Had a few bits to sort out first, and was feeling sluggish. Quite enjoyed the journey, and used it to work on my poems.

Arrived at Mum and Mason's place, and I was concerned to find her not well. Her nausea has not abated with a change of pills, and she is feeling constantly sick, and actually was sick when I was there. I'm not sure if this is the chemotherapy, although she is on her week off now, or a worse version of the queasy bug that is doing the rounds. Mason anxious because he is trying to tempt her with food, which is difficult when even the thought of food makes her feel bad. As if this wasn't bad enough, she'd also badly hurt her back the day before and was in a good deal of pain.

I did my best to take stock, and we had a recap of the pills she was taking, and I made sure she was taking the anti sickness ones which had slipped off the radar that day, because of the back.

We did a fair amount of chatting, however, and Mum cheered up somewhat. She went to bed early. Mas and I watched a Harrison Ford movie then turned in too. I made an airbed nest, which was surprisingly comfortable.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

TV in a rainstorm

A taxi this morning to take me to Simon's house, as the rain was falling heavily again - set to be the pattern for the rest of the summer apparently. A really nice taxi driver, however, who had a passion for steam engines and other hand-built objects such as wooden barrels. I've not personally lain awake with my mind racing over the features of hand made barrels, but his excitement and interest were infectious.

I spent the day with Simon working at his house, as the rain dripped persistently outside. We were working on a branding exercise again. More spreading sheets on the floor and pages of mind maps. Although it was a complicated project we worked fairly painlessly and productively through it. We also had a little time about another project, once the branding work was done.

Caught a bus back home and walked up Trafalgar street, feeling simultaneously hungry and spewy. The tiring queasy bug seems to have returned. Lorraine had it back at the weekend too. It's not too bad, but just enough to make things draggy and arduous.

Home and, after eating, felt better for a bit. Lorraine called around after visiting the chiropractor and we watched the excellent Tribal Wives (you can click through to see the programme on the BBC iPlayer). It's a great format, which gives you the untold half of the story: about the tribe from a woman's perspective. This week a woman stayed with the Himba tribe of Namibia. Apparently a very cheery people, but here was what seemed a distressing scene of a twelve or thirteen year old girl being dragged off to be married. However it transpired that she would be returned home to finish growing up before she actually lived with her husband - and that marriages weren't necessarily for life.

When Lorraine left, we noticed that the television had gone from the twitten. I regret not taking a photo of it now, as there was something slightly David Lynch about it. Especially as it still had its plug. One of those enormous box like TVs, tuned to nothing in a rainy twitten.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

And the stars look down

A decent run at my manuscript this morning, then a few calls. Including with Mum. In the afternoon I left home on an astrological matter, passing a massive dead television left in the twitten.

I met Diane, Reuben's mum, in my usual cafe. She had asked me to look at her horoscope, which I did although I have officially retired as an astrologer. It is an odd PK fact that when I went through my Marxist warehouse hand phase, shortly after I left university, that I had a sideline as a professional astrologer.

I had taught myself how to cast horoscopes in my teens (which now can be done in a split second on sites like astrodienst) and consulted various reference books to write accounts of people's birthcharts. In my experience when you accurately cast someone's horoscope it can seem accurate, though I think it would be a big mistake to live your life by it.

Still, it felt very Brightonish to be discussing things like the nature of rising signs and the influence of Saturn in somebody's life in a crowded cafe. Although I know this stuff, it felt like being possessed by a ghost of my former self. But I enjoyed meeting Diane again though.

After this went down to Adrian and Diane's studio and saw some of the work Adrian had shot lately, including of some fresh fish, and shots for a charity campaign. He's a truly excellent photographer. And he and I had a good chat, including about the wonder of Guernsey bean jars.

A late walk by the sea, and an early night. "Detox" still going well, apart from the cup of coffee Diane bought me which was the size of a goldfish bowl.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Après moi le Deluge

Ghastly night's sleep not helped by a gale which rattled the windows, and Lorraine's cats which kept interfering with me. One of them, Basil, has a habit of patiently resting one of her paws on you till you wake up. This is her cue to step away, sporting an expression which says, in cat language, "that was my idea".

Experimenting today with podcasts. As a pilot I uploaded my podcast of this site. As I love the sound of my own voice so much, I may try other bits and pieces.

A while ago I added a blog link to Mandy's blog. Mandy, who now lives in NZ was at the same school as me, Copland High School in Wembley in the year below mine. As you can see from her blog which carries a photo of her from 1978 that, unlike me, Mandy looks exactly the same. Galling's what I call it. You may notice that Mandy rather likes Bob Dylan.

Also working on my poetry - but in a slightly disorganised way so the day slipped through my fingers with little to show for it. Chats today with Anton who is happily on the cusp of a new craze of bicycling, and Simon and to Lorraine, who is now reunited with her daughter Beth, back from a Corfu holiday.

Am on a bit of a detox (which I refuse to call a diet, even though it is). In the evening, I went for a long and happy walk by the rough sea. Feeling pleased with myself and cheery. Ended up at the far end of Hove watching the parasurfers being snatched up ten feet or more into the air. When they drag themselves ashore to struggle with their gear, they reminded me of broken butterflies with their black rubber suited bodies struggling with flapping colourful kites. I lurked about photographing them for a while as the light grew dimmer.

Walking home, an absolutely torrential rain began. The streets were streaming and the gutters like brooks. Walked down through the twittens up to my own, listening to the rain thudding on the hood of my Berghaus that I was luckily wearing, and the glug-glugging of gutters. Thanks to my Berghaus and walking boots, I was fairly dry - apart that is from my corduroy trousers, which were like wet flapping carpets by the time I got home.

Below rain, and people sheltering from it.

under another sun - the podcast

This blog is now a podcast too. Yes folks. As recorded in my study just this weekend, it's me reading my entries for June. What could be nicer than having me chat away to you about the minutae of my life as you travel or sit at your computer? Er... Don't answer that.

It's a bit of a pilot obviously and I expect it will get slicker if I continue it. But let me know what you think...

To spark it up just click here which will take you onto an Internet Archive page. Technophobes should then simply click where it says "underanothersun_june click to start."

More advanced users can select one of the other formats. When I tried one randomly it appeared in my iTunes right away.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Red flags

Decided not to work on my poems today, and have a Sunday simply doing nothing. Went to Nia for a breakfast with Lorraine, and then spent a happy several hours mooching about. Went into a new gallery called Blue Dog which was mainly showing art from Poland. Some extremely wonderful throne-like chairs in there made from metal and glass. Then off through a variety of shops. I bought a pair of sneakers in a sale.

Went down to the sea, which was wild and stormy. The red flags were out, reminding lunatics not to swim in the wild khaki waves which boiled with foam. The sea was clapping into the groynes and sending spray up, as the seabirds flew low and into the wind above the beach.

I lurked about in the spray and rain taking a few photos. This, as my Grandmother would have said, blew the cobwebs off. Lorraine enjoying this despite having her hair plastered to her head.

Then for a spot more shopping this time in the mall, where I bought a sheet. We went to the cafe which had windows looking out to sea, which were all blurry with rain blown inland. There enjoyed a cup of tea and a sit down, despite a very well dressed woman on the table behind us swearing in an unhinged way at child noise.

Home, and a restrained afternoon and evening, watching the Wimbledon tennis men's final. I'm not much of a tennis fan these days, but what was nice was how, after a titanic struggle lasting well over four hours, Federer and Nadal were extremely graceful, both in victory and in defeat.

Below stormy weather, a lifeguard, and one of several children's dance crews about town today, obviously down for some kind of competition. Plus the loneliness of a man waiting in a lady's clothes shop - in this case me, shooting into a mirror.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

An evening with Anil

Working most of the day on my poems. Talked to Simon, and looking forward to getting our heads together next week on special marketing projects. Also spoke to Mum, who I'll see next week.

Thinking of making this blog into a podcast too...

In the evening went off to meet Anil, an old schoolmate, in the Tin Drum. We quaffed some beers and picked at vegetarian mezze and generally caught up. And there was a lot of catching up to be done with someone you have known since you were 12, and have only seen once in about the last 25 years.

Anil is in love with a lady in Hove, and thinking of moving down here. Interesting to see him, as we've only met once a couple of years ago, since shortly after being at school together. He was on fine Woody Allenish form. We were joined by Lorraine later, who gamefully experienced some of the nonsense. So that we could hear each other more clearly, we shifted venue to the Battle of Trafalgar, which was thankfully but a short lurch home, as Anil and I drank too much.

Anil off in a taxi. Er... safely I hope.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Cursing in the coffee shop

Made more good progress on my poems, but am worried that I am turning into barking grouch. I was in costa coffee this afternoon, having my afternoon cup of jo (as Agent Cooper would have called it) and treating the place as my own private study, when in walked some teenage girls. These girls saw some other girls and the most over the top greeting ritual began, with them all flinging their arms around one another and giving vent to piercing screams of simulated joy and amazement.

It is all harmless attention seeking of course, and being unable to hear myself think, I was forced to listen to them. It transpired that they hadn't seen each other since last week.

Sadly the screaming forced me to involuntarily and quite loudly curse aloud, which is exactly how reputations for being mad start. You can innocently be sitting in a cafe working on your poetry manuscript, and seconds later be dragged off to a laughing academy.

As for the poetry manuscript, called The Revolution of the Eagles, it is on the home stretch. Reading it, now that it is almost fixed, I notice its prevailing mood is a kind of beautiful sadness, an Autumnal feeling. Left to my own devices, I am fairly jovial by nature, but it seems that my poetry aint.

In the evening met Lorraine again, and we sauntered off for a cheeky Friday beer and to the Agra restaurant where we were greeted with warm handshakes. Lengthy discussions about astrology with Lorraine for some reason, before it was time to go home.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A hot knife through butter

A fabulous day's work, with a strangely fresh and clear mind. I suddenly could see instantly what was improvable about several poems, and which poems should be dropped from the collection. Real clarity which left me feeling elated, and with a significantly improved collection. I even managed a doze for an hour in the middle of the day, which rebooted me for another fruitful session in the cafe.

After this I went for a walk along the seafront in the strong wind and sun, the sea choppy and blue, and I felt tremendously validated. Met Lorraine, who'd parked down by the seafront, and after a short walk we had some Japanese food at seven dials, which gave me the opportunity to be a world authority on Japan for a while, which was nice too.

Feeling that I must not become distracted. Times like this are rare, I must exploit it. Back to work!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Pressing on

Woke up at six and, as it was a me day, I simply got up and began work on my poems. Slightly dreary weather today, but I spent hours making some excellent progress. Odd to look at your watch at 10am and think that you have already done three and a half hours work. In the afternoon I shifted operations to Costa Coffee as this small change of scene seems to work disproportionately well, especially as my eyes are tired, after almost unbroken squinting at my computer since Sunday.

This evening, I had a long chat with the Cat with the Hat who is going to force me to wheel out my shabby French as his Francophone son is coming over to stay shortly. He was yearning after the kinds of philosophical debate he had in his youth in France, and threatening to reinstate them here which is slightly alarming.

Went out with Lorraine this evening whose kids are both abroad. She'd just had had her back cracked , and we slid off to have a pizza in Zizzi. I felt brain dead however, and was less than the full Oscar Wilde when it came to quippery.

So instead we vegged on the sofa watching an excellent TV series called Tribal Wives, which transplants British women for a month into remote communities. Fascinating stuff, especially as each woman has some sort of issue she wants to confront during the visit - for example in this episode Lana was a recovering alcoholic. Well worth a watch.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

One of my ideas

Generally big and clever today. Sent my proposals for the French bread business off early, and then met Simon at Brighton station, from where we travelled to Croydon to meet the Cat with the Hat, who was sporting his elegant brown straw. We toddled off from there to have an hour and a half meeting nearby with some pleasant marketing folks in a rail company. I did a certain amount of holding forth, and warmed to their lady marketing manager instantly, which helped.

Then Simon and I travelled back to Brighton, and we are going to meet up next week, in combats and bandannas, to discuss some guerrilla marketing.

Home and did a certain amount of light faffing before going off to a cafe again to fiddle with a poem for a few moments before my nice French client called.

We chatted for at least half an hour, and it turns out she was very pleased with the the work I'd done. A nice way to earn a crust/dough/bread etc. (So many bread words are money words.) My French English dictionary has seen lots of thumbing over the last couple of days, as I am poor at French. I remember a French conversation tutor at my school saying that our head of languages spoke French like a Spanish cow, which always intruiged me.

Home, and worked in the evening finishing off with rationales for the bread branding business. Was called by Paul who wants me to give him a reference, and Mum who suggested I simply stand about in the dark and tell my moths to go, then open the windows, and to Lorraine who is trying to identify which of her cats is covertly vomiting. And to the Cat with the Hat who was sounding chuffed with my client schmoozing abilities. You can take the man out of the agency... etc. etc.

My back curiously much better today, and I was able to parade about just like a homo sapiens all upright and everything. With any luck tomorrow will be a Peter Kenny day and I can do my thang, which, as Vic and Bob used to say, is one of my ideas.