Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Frasier Crane moment


Had muesli and coffee with Mas, and did some work this morning, before heading into town. Met a guy called Steve in a freelancer's haven called One Alfred Place quite near Goodge Street. He was held up, and as I waited, I had a Frasier Crane moment enjoying the club-like atmosphere with nice sofas and so on, reading Prospect magazine and sipping tea.


From there I went back to the Royal Free Hospital and met up with Mum and Mason. Mum's operation is tomorrow. Had a nice chat under the circumstances, and Mason took the opportunity to talk at some length to the Prison Officers about fingerprinting and the FBI. Mum and I talked quietly about captive audiences.


Returned to Brighton tonight feeling somewhat emotionally drained. Will be back up after Mum has had her operation, and staying with Mas at the weekend. Nice to be home, and listening to Chelsea beat Liverpool to reach the European Cup final. Hmm. Must email Nev.


Below a picture of Pinkie The Walking Cat of Ontario, resting mid trek, sent me by Joan.


Mum goes to Hospital

Up this morning and had breakfast with Mum and Mase, and classic fm. One of their neighbours Mohena popped in to wish mum well, and Oktai came by with some books to read. Then I had then to push off to Hammersmith to see my glamorous accountant. Had a hour's conversation about if I should become a limited company or not. She gave me her advice in ear wilting detail.

Then back home. Mum fortunately got the call from the hospital, and the three of us travelled off down to the Royal Free and checked in. The ward she is in looked clean and the nurses seemed cheerful and pleasant. She's on the ninth floor so there was a view over rainsoaked north London. Turns out that her operation is not until Thursday. Her room of the ward has three other people in it, including mum. Another woman who'd been admitted today, a younger and quite talkative woman, and a prisoner. When I walked in I wondered why one of the women had two prison guards visiting her, but it turns out this woman, who seemed dazed and very slow on her feet, is from Holloway prison and is attached by a cufflink and sturdy chain to her "visitors".

Mason talked to everyone of course, as well as telling the prison officers a story of how he had a military prisoner who escaped from him while they were travelling by rail. Mason could have shot him with his .45 as he legged it off the train, but at the last moment decided not to.

Soon, thanks to Mas, we were speaking to everyone in the room.

Mum being brave and pleased to be getting on with it. At least she is checked in now. But it felt very horrible to be leaving her there, despite the fact that apart from the bizarre circumstances it was a clean and friendly place. But the sooner it gets done, the sooner she can be home again, which is the main thing.

Mase and I then walked back in the rain to the tube station, it had been grey and rainy most of the day. When we got to Edgware quite late we opted for a pizza and a beer, and spent some time chatting. By the end of the day I had a headache and simply went to bed early.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An acorn of friendship

Up to the smoke today as Mum is going to hospital tomorrow for her operation. Also had a lunchtime meeting in The Acorn of Swinton Street with Mike, who is the publisher of On Track amongst other things. I arrived early and took the opportunity to wander about the area a little, which I'd not been to for ages. Near The Acorn was The Water Rats theatre which, in another life, I performed one of my plays on a double bill, the other being by my old pal the late Timothy Gallagher. I'm fairly sure I'd not been inside it since then.

Had a heroic lunch with Mike, starting at 1.00 and lasting till about 7 o'clock. Had a bream on a bed of complicated salad with two bottles of wine, and discussed our business, and generally shot the breeze. Found we had loads of interests in common, and I came away thinking that I'd made a new friend. Also I will be doing lots more interviews, and Mike mentioned some very interesting names, which will be great.

Eventually we left the restaurant, and pausing for a final drink together at St Pancras (which looks much improved) I hopped on the train to speed off to Mum and Mason. Where I managed to down yet more wine and chat till late.

Below light in St Pancras station; The Water Rats.





Sunday, April 27, 2008

Adrian Turner's photography of the sea


Went to see Adrian Turner's pictures which he was showing at the launch of his new website. The pictures were of seascapes and were genuinely fab.

I wanted to take a photo of Adrian for this blog, but he refused. I was granted, however, a snap of his hand clad in a white glove to protect the huge glicee prints of his photos.

Really interesting to talk to him about his photographs. He doesn't use digital cameras, and much of the film he is using is becoming hard to find. On show were many of his seascapes, and often he stands in the water wearing waders to get the feeling of being part of the sea. And he usually takes shots first thing in the morning, when the light is beautiful and the beaches are empty. I really envy Adrian's ability, his photos are brilliant - capturing all kinds of moods of the sea, sometimes mysterious and ghostly, and one or two with waves that look set like glass.

You can see some of his work for yourself at the open gallery the site is still a work in progress but it gives you an idea.

Below a portrait of the photographer, not drowning but waving.



The road goes on forever

Up early to set off for a wonderful day's walking with Anton. Got to West Hoathly , to begin again from our last stopping point, the Cat Inn. Today we headed broadly eastwards, walking most of the way across the OS map to a village called Groombridge, straddling the Kent border. We skirted the Weir Wood Reservoir and then had a hobbit's second lunch in the village of Forest Row, under a plaque which told of President Kennedy's visit on 1963. Our last two hours were a straightforward 8 miles along a disused railway line, which is now a cyclists' and walkers' highway through East Sussex.

Beautiful spring day, although many of the tracks were bootsuckingly muddy, especially around the reservoir. We walked through woodland often carpeted with bluebells, and the edges of fields adorned with primroses. Lots of rabbits about, and we saw a herd of deer, which Anton thought were a pack of Alsatians at first, a fox streaking red through a lush field full of sheep and lambs. I was made to walk quickly as Anton became concerned that we'd be attacked by "big mother sheep" as we walked among them and their lambs. Miraculously, we emerged unscathed.

We walked from about 10:20 to 5:30 with two ten minute breaks, and were pretty stiff and footsore by the end. But there had been plenty to divert us, loads to catch up and hear about - including all about Anton's three weeks in Australia. Lorraine thoughtfully texted me during our walk with news of Chelsea's win over Manchester United, which because Anton is a Manchester United supporter, we discussed in some detail as we walked.

Both very happy but stiff and footsore by the time we reached Groombridge, dreaming of a cold beer. Anton had this brilliant idea of catching the Spa Valley Railway to Tunbridge Wells and having our post walk pint aboard this. However there was a wedding party on board the old train so there were no boozes for us.

Our carriage, however, was entirely full of trainspotters, and it was like stepping back into the 1930s, complete with four young lads from the village bunking their fares in Just William mode. The train chugged slowly through the countryside, with spotters everywhere: standing in the middle of lonely country fields, and clustered on platforms to film and photograph the progress of our train.
The train line has several volunteers staffing it. One of whom was about sixteen who was clearly loving his role, handing change back to Anton with a "here you are young sir". Arriving at Tunbridge Wells, shortly after a large explosion from under the train just outside (not sure what this was, but the on-board spotters were all discussing it knowledgeably) we clambered stiffly out, and hardly able to walk, crept into town.

Just then a bus appeared to Brighton. We hobbled for this and, as I was collecting the tickets, I asked how long the journey would take. Turned out it was about an hour and three quarters. So we got something of a scenic view of the county. Eventually we arrived in Brighton and crept up Trafalgar street and finally had our post walk beer in the Battle of Trafalgar, where we were joined by Lorraine.

Home, and enjoyed watching Chelsea on Match of the Day, while refuelling on takeaway Chinese noodles and ribs.
Below a dog headed rock, lambs, primroses, and a much-photographed train.






Friday, April 25, 2008

Waiting for that Friday feeling

Slightly fraught today and not feeling very Fridayish, lining up meetings for next week, and struggling with my Skelly story. Also recieved a rejection for my pamphlet project, although an extremly kind and nice one. Spoke to Mum too, who I will stay with next week before she goes to hospital.

Also saw Anton briefly, as he dropped a book about norse mythology round (as I have been thinking lately about Yggdrasil) just as I was leaving the house. We walked into town, chatting and I went off for a pleasant swim. We'll catch up properly tomorrow.

In the evening, I walked up to see Lorraine who cooked a healthy supper. Drank beer, which - though bad when it comes to belt tightening - was big and clever and finally made me feel like Friday had arrived. Ended the evening losing badly at Uno with Lorraine, Beth and Mark.

The rain rains in its own time

All day banging my head against a brick wall when it came to making any serious progress. Ended up folding all my jumpers, and clearing out my linen cupboard and other non-essential stuff. Thankfully, I got my mojo back in the evening and wrote till late.

There's a bit in the I Ching along the lines of the clouds are all here, but the rain rains in its own time. Writing has been so easy for me, that I must remember this.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Langoustine with Lorraine

A quiet day. Working better on the Skelly stuff today. Had some good ideas, and made some decent progress.

Have been sticking to diet very well, but tonight I made an exception and took Lorraine off to Riddle & Finns to celebrate her birthday. It being an Oyster and Champagne restaurant it was rude not to have oysters and champagne.

I’m not actually a big fan of oysters. I am troubled with the idea that they are still alive, but I tried two of them. One was served with Japanese stylings – a touch of ginger, spring onion, soya sauce, and wasabi, and the other nicely seasoned with little bacon grits and pickled cucumber. Lorraine, who grew up big and strong by eating seafood, sucked down four of them with only a squeeze of lemon. I don't think they taste of much really. But Lorraine said they were really good. The champagne helps take the edge off the horror of sliding the oysters down.

For my main course I had a fish pie, while Lorraine had a biology lesson. A plateful of the mournful faces of a langoustine, and a crayfish – as well as razor shells too and other denizens of the intertidal zones. Nice fruity afters too.

Below discovered the kaleidoscope function on my photography software. Some kaleidoscoped shots of I took of decorations during Chinese new year.



Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dem bones

Getting back into the skelly groove today. Reading through the 40k words or so that I have of my Skelton Yawngrave story. Very happy with what I've got so far. Head like mush today however and thoughts moving sluggishly. Unable to cope with googlies such as a door to door salesman talking to me about phone tariffs. I gawped at him and said I wasn't interested. He said, when he left, that he wasn't interested either.

Out and about though, popped into the Booth Museum to look at the moth display and all the stuffed birds. I could almost write an epic poem about that place. I also dropped a card through Lorraine's letterbox as today was her birthday. And a glorious day it was too.

The evening given over to watching football, and Chelsea's exceedingly lucky draw with Liverpool. In the last minute of extra time a hapless Liverpool defender John Arne Riise (may his name live in legend) managed a potent header into his own net. A place in the European Cup Final is now one home game away for the noble Blues.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Belt tightening

Starting a diet. I am close to my all time worst weight, and self disgust has now at last kicked in.

I know what to eat to keep a lid on my weight, but lately I have been snacking and comfort eating. And last week I went out for three or four meals in the evening, and drank quite a bit of beer too. So it's being sensible for a bit now till I drop a few kilos.

Brain like absolute mush today, making it hard to think straight or focus. One of my usual bouts of non-specific underpar wussinesses. Worked quietly on the French business and kept out of trouble. Went out to buy a cabbage, and ate some of it in the evening. Curried, with a few other veggies and a small amount of brown rice. Sigh.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The strange case of... Me going to a musical

Saw Jekyll and Hyde the musical today. I consider musicals, by and large, to be the yodelling of Satan, and so avoid them at all costs.

I put aside such prejudices to see Lorraine's daughter Beth, in the last night of a production locally at the Barn in Southwick. The musical itself trampled on the Stevenson original, and focused instead on two women not in the original: one that Jekyll is engaged to, and one a prostitute that he befriends and later interferes with (in the guise of Hyde). The song lyrics fairly banal at times and at least two songs were so generic that they could be plucked from this and put into an entirely different one without anyone being able to tell.

However the mostly teenage cast was fine and young Beth, although not given much to do in this production, has a genuine stage presence. So I put aside my curmudgeonly ways and quite enjoyed it, although at one nadir I accidentally groaned aloud. I thought they should have made the production more dangerous and more Victorian and swirly moustached. But afterwards Lorraine and I waited in the bar with all the cast running in and being full of excitement and happiness, I felt chastened for my scornful thoughts.


Below a walk by the sea. Although the seaside was crowded, people are still able to capture a few quiet moments.



Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flickr and fish soup

Sluggish today. Sent off the French stuff this morning, and under Mex's influence tried to get to grips with Twitter and starting to upload some photos onto Flickr, including quite a few of my Japanese ones.

At lunchtime I met Paul who was in Brighton doing some business with a Dentist, and he was wearing his pinstripe suit and looking slightly gangsterish. We shot the breeze over a couple of beers in the Battle of Trafalgar, where he helpfully outlined some of the principles of direct marketing, before I made my excuses and got back to work.

Emergency goldfish advice for Reuben, who called this afternoon as his were going through a crisis. Especially one of them whose sole is now in heaven. I kept fish for many years so know the basics pretty well, despite my last episode of fishkeeping ending badly. Returning home to find a weird penetrating smell in the house, which I traced at last to the aquarium. The thermostat (from a very reputable dealer) had malfunctioned and the tank was full of warm and noxious chowder.

Recovering only slowly from that trauma, that I have been toying with the idea of sparking up a big aquarium I have stored under my stairs. That and getting a cat. Swapped emails with Romy today who was advocating cats. In fact, there is a transatlantic cat plot going on. I also told Romy that I had glimpsed from my study window the trickster cat that had tried to move into my house on the 29th March gloating on my neighbour's sofa.

Had a snooze in the afternoon, which was only interrupted by my French client who I spoke to groggily, but convincingly, for some time. A quiet evening watching a documentary about The Who with Lorraine and eating duck pancakes collected from the local Chinese takeaway, where there was obviously only a small bill.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Herons and cyberstars

Up to the smoke today. Went to see Mum and Mase to hang out chatting and eating tuna sandwiches and apple strudel mit ice cream. Discussing such things as their next door neighbour who is painting a dead tree in their garden brown. He has concrete dogs which he waters too. Each to his own.

Mum and I then discussed the children's book project we're working on. Using her artistic skills she is going to make me rich and famous beyond my wildest imaginings. Heh-heh.

Mum and I went off then on the bus and had a bit of a ramble across several fields near Elstree in the sun and cold wind, while Mase did some ghastly things to do with tax. Mum is going to have her operation on the 30th and we were planning various strategies. I will hang out with Mase off and on while she is in hospital, and maybe afterwards when Mum is recovering at home. We saw a nice heron at one point very close. At first Mum thought it was a sculpture of a heron (one of the many scattered across the countryside) until it took flight. I like herons, there is something a bit pterodactylish about them.

Met Mex in town later. Lots to catch up on. Had just enough bandwidth to take on board all her plans and schemes, and learn about things like Twitter, and being an outlyer - which is what she is according to Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirkey which I have just ordered on Amazon. She is going from strength to strength in her career, and it was great to hear. Mex taking a photo of the food we were eating for Qype. She is a cyberstar.

Then off on the train to Brighton, which broke down at East Croydon - cue mass carthorsey gallop across the bridge to the other platform. A nice bonus though. Bumped into a well-refreshed Reubster on the train shortly before we reached Brighton and had a nice chat with him.

Very tired but watched an epsiode of Scrubs. And then bed was a blessed thing.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Meeting Mark in the Cricketers

Working on French stuff this morning, and all going well. Still enjoying the work, even putting together the PowerPoint presentation. Also painted my door again, scraping off bubbly bits and putting a new coat on inside too. If I had waited passively for long ages for door atoms to spontaneously assemble in the outer darkness and coat themselves with paint, before plunging unharmed through the layers of our atmosphere to land miraculously in my yard, painting this bloody door could not have taken longer.

In the afternoon fairly chilled. General tidying and so on. Amazing how you can tidy up for hours and yet your house looks a smidge messier than it did before you started.

In the evening off to the Cricketers to have a couple of beers with Mark and then slope off for a spot of chop sticking in a nice Chinese restaurant. Great to see him - and as usual he seems to be working very hard. Heard all about the family, and his daughter Melissa who is going to do Philosophy at A level. In my day they didn't have Philosophy at A level and I think it is a dangerous development. We can't have young people thinking for themselves, as they are there simply to decorate the commercial expression of corporations.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gauling and galling

Working today on a job to do with France, which made a change. Much of the day in my study enjoyably scribbling concepts, and intermittently leaning out of my window in a roll necked sweater to smoke a Gauloise and think about the reality of nothingness within existentialism. In short a pretty fine day.

Also put another coat of paint on my front door in the early morning sun before I got down to my work. Returned to look at it a couple of hours later and it had about two dozen bubbles, each about a centimetre-round, standing proud from the paint. Sigh. This door is galling.

At about four Lorraine called by. She is on a school holiday at the moment, and we wandered down to the sea, and sat on a groyne with the sun at our backs, and waves gradually encroaching under our feet - and all was well.

After a busy half an hour doing this in which my decision to go freelance yet again seemed powerfully big and clever, we sat outside listening to a singer play lots of soul classics with his guitar, and sip a beer or two. Then we shot off to eat a curry in a cold restaurant and home where I listened to Smokey Robinson.


Below a singer in the April sun.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Son of Rambow

Getting my own house in order today. Alf the nice plumber fixed my boiler which was seriously doomed, and needed a large chunky bit replaced, and replaced the jammed valve on my study/spare bedroom radiator. Meanwhile I was painting and sanding the front door again for the 17th time, receiving a supermarket delivery, and generally restoring order to my house which I'd been treating like a hotel for the last few weeks.


In the evening Lorraine and I went off to see Son of Rambow, which is a little gem of a film. Two great central performances by children who were not stage school brats (the director went out of his way to get proper kids). Two boys start making a film together loosely based on the first Rambo film, which is the first film one of them had ever seen being a member of the Plymouth Brethren and forbidden to watch TV or movies, or have a record player and so on. A gentle sentimental and heartwarming romp with some funny moments. Lorraine and I both liked it.

Home to discover Chelsea had effectively lost the championship after dismally drawing with the lowly Wigan. Shortly before I went to bed, I received a message from Anton, still in Australia, innocently saying he had an idea for a present from Oskar's birthday. Fortunately I saw straight through this shameful use of his son's birthday pretext to gloat, and simply did not reply.

A trickle of tranquility


A lazy Sunday. Spent some time sitting in Lorraine's back garden, which has a water feature. Drifted off peacefully into a meditative state with some sun on my face, my eyes closed, and listening to the music of the trickling water. Profoundly nice.

Meanwhile Lorraine's cats roamed and raced about as Lorraine picked at the bushes in her garden. One of them, namely Brian, is very pretty indeed.




Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yippee!

Friday! Yippee. A lovely day arriving like a spiritual spring. Able to listen to my iPod again as they fixed the problem. Lorraine has put me in touch with a good plumber, and my heating will hopefully be sorted out on Monday. Best of all, by a long chalk, is that Mum's test results have come through and are good.

Work itself quite good fun, enjoyed being filmed on my opinions about creative work for charities and got positive feedback from my stint, so again left on a good footing. Felt like doing snoopy style skips leaving Hammersmith. Went straight from work with Ed, and scooted down to Strand on the Green to the Crown and Anchor where Eva and Matty had arranged a surprise 40th birthday party for Craig. Ed being Craig's old art director. An excellent sunny evening, with the sun sparkling on the river outside. Then lots beers and catching up with folks I'd not seen for a while, and meeting some nice new people.

Left with First Matie and we decided on a cheeky ABF drink before I went home. (ABF = absolute bloody final, which may or may not be the last drink of the night). Home late on the late train. Fell asleep and woke up about fifteen minutes from Brighton. Every person on the train that I could see was asleep.

Blessedly home.

Below the scene of the crime, some discarded dummies I snapped on the way to Strand on the Green with Ed. Craig, Eva and Ed, and me and First Matie who did self an arm's length shot.





Friday, April 11, 2008

Blowing a gasket

A different kind of boring today. To be precise, a workman drilling and grinding into my wall at a completely unreasonable 6:25am. Stormed out in my dressing gown, which flapped nastily, to roar at him. On returning to my house he began drilling again. Moved quickly into furious mode, and, returning, left him in no doubt that he was in personal danger. Things quietened down, and at least it was an early start to the day. Onto the packed train and sat opposite a man who coughed on me all the way to Victoria, had fantasies of stoppering his mouth with a 15thC mace, or a fetishist's rubber bung, or a cactus, or a live ferret etc.

Walking through the graveyard I decided to reboot the day. And did so successfully.

An enjoyable day in the agency, and working hard. Surprisingly they asked to film me talking about a charity for a mood video - a long shot of me and Ed talking over concepts today, and an interview tomorrow. Managed too, to have a chat with the right person in the agency to allow payment to flow unhindered into the Kenny coffers. Spoke to Mike briefly at On Track.

Cheerfully home, but quickly discovered my boiler has died. Always fascinated how something can work fine in the morning. Then nothing happens, and after nothing happening it no longer works. Machines and Peter Kennys have been warring this week. After a futile attempt at boiler fixing, I went to the Eddy instead, which was a much better idea than swearing at inert pieces of metal swinery. While I waited I read my copy of Written Magazine which arrived from Guernsey with a short essay and a poem in it by me. Then Lorraine arrived, and after a brief moanathon to her, I got busy with a couple of beers and a relaxed and cheery hour or so. I am so lightweight these days that the beer went straight to my head.

Forgot to mention a note from Australia from Nev, my mucker and former art director. Regrettably Nev is a long term Liverpool fan and wrote to share some controversial opinions about their chances against Chelsea in the semi final of the European cup.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Argh

Will this week never end? I almost never feel bored, but I am bored rigid. For me boredom is such a rare emotion, it is almost a novelty, but not quite. That would make it almost interesting. God I'm bored. I'm Waiting for Godot bored. Nothing to be done other than slump under a tree and watch its three leaves fall off - the week yawns open like a chasm. I have no motivation to do anything other than go to work and sit at home typing about how bored I am. Next week will be an oasis of non-boredom, a glittering edifice of interest. But today a soul numbing ennui fest. Argh.

Bah

Hanging about for hours waiting to be given work at the agency, chasing payments (not pavements), being paid the wrong amount, more computer glitches, one which seems to have doomed my iPod, all snowballed into a general peeve today. It is funny how a series of random events can combine to make you feel got at. Feel like I am holding my breath until I can start life again next week.

On the plus side Chelsea got through to the semi finals of the European Cup. And Sophie called while she was cooking some Welsh Rarebit, which had made her think of me, and eating it in Brighton's fine tea shop The Mock Turtle. It's nice to be associated with something, even if it is only a cheese-based toast snack. Sophie sounds hard at work, but made time for a Buddhist retreat over two weekends recently. She was wearing a dress that one of the attendees had spontaneously given her, after Sophie had complimented her on it. Give you the dress off their backs those Buddhists.

Nice chats with Mum and Lorraine too. Then chose an early night over stamping repeatedly on my laptop with my walking boots, which is what I felt like doing.

Monday, April 07, 2008

A Moanday

A real Moanday. Got to work and discovered that I'd been blocked from the IT system. All kinds of hurdles to go through to get reinstated: which took an unbelievable 4 hours. This not helped by the PC I was using malfunctioning. A frustrating and annoying day. Home late. Can't wait for next week when I'll be working from home again. Yay!

Snow and a dogfish

Having been about its secret ministry, there was snow this morning. Woke up envisioning a cup of tea with beaded bubbles winking at the brim, and thinking of John Keats. Followed this with a lovely breakfast of smoked salmon, kippers and scrambled eggs. Then I spent some time playing with Paddy the small dog, with a tennis ball which it returned and then did a fair amount of growly stuff as you wrenched it from its mouth, and repeated x 50.

Dogs and Peter Kennys have over the years reached an uneasy entente cordiale, but this was rather a nice dog. Amazingly it went for a swim too, after we'd taken a short walk past the local church and along a long hedge up a hill, then down cloying mud tracks towards the valley of the river Avon. Apparently it likes swimming so much it has to be dragged back inland before it drowns of exhaustion. There was one exciting bit when Paddy almost disappeared over the weir, but John reeled him in with the extensible lead.

The sun was nice, and Lorraine and I, sat with Sue and John and their daughter Harry outside the Fish and Anchor, which had been half submerged the year before in the floods. The sun was warm, and the snow retreated to the shadows of trees, and the high hills nearby.

Later in the afternoon we all went off to another pub not too far away in Bretforton called The Fleece Inn, which was a gorgeous old place that smelled of woodsmoke. We had a late Sunday lunch there and it was excellent.

Lorraine and I, after fond farewells to the wonderfully hospitable John and Sue and their girls, then headed back down to Brighton, having a smooth and excellent ride back singing along to CDs and eating Starbursts, which used to be called Opal Fruits.

Home to find an email from Bob Grove, an old pal I've not heard from in many years.

Below snow, Paddy swimming, hills and snow and the Fleece Inn at Bretforton.



Sunday, April 06, 2008

The mouldering accumulations of the ages

Off to a spectacularly bizarre place called Snowshill Manor with Sue and Lorraine. It was a Mervyn Peakish treasure trove of mad collections of objects (over 22,000 of them) from all over the world, and from many periods. It is a lovely house, parts of it dating back to 1500, in honey coloured Cotswold stone set into the side of a hill. It is surrounded by picturesque cottage gardens.

The mad collector was Charles Padget Wade, who was also its last owner. He was an architect, who eventually ended up living in the house next door when he had stuffed the place with his own enormous collection. There were some of his paintings there too, which were quite good, and he was clearly an excellent writer too. There was a quote from his journals on the wall which described his passion for collecting, which culminated with: "with dim mysterious interiors, heaped high with the mouldering accumulations of the ages", which perfectly described the effect of the dimly lit manor house. Not to mention the eccentric and knowledgeable National Trust volunteers.

Beautiful gardens too. Lorraine snuck off to hug a tree at one point as is her way. Then we spent time in Broadway, a lovely little town with its main street lined with honey coloured buildings. We stopped off for some tea there, and we had fun with Lorraine and Sue talking their early experiences in the London Hospital, which at the time required them to wear full length purple cloaks.

John and Sue later also drove me out to see the sunset from Dover Hill, which was stunning in orange and purple. Massive view down into the Vale of Evesham. I really like John and Sue. John has a good sense of humour, and he pointed out for example the Sea Cadets building (in what is about the furthest away from the sea you can get in the UK). And we a good laughing, and bantering with John about football. He is a wrong-headed Arsenal supporter. He is quite interested in Flash, and showed me the very basics in the evening. I am thinking of learning enough to do simple animations with it. In the evening we tucked into excellent Beef Wellington that John had also cooked. Ended the day with a spot of football on the television and a few beers.

Below vintage bikes parked at Snowshill, the sunset under threatening clouds from Dover Hill, Lorraine caught mid-tree hug, which due to the perspective and size of the tree makes her look gnome sized. (Other snaps to come).



Saturday, April 05, 2008

The getaway

Tired by the end of the week, but feeling quite pleased with myself. One more week to go at my old agency. Picked up a copy of On Track, the freebie railway mag that had published some of my articles, and felt quite cheery looking at these. Spooner had tipped me off the day before, when I was out with Bob, by texting me a message that said "Your name is all over some ghastly promotional tat on my train. Are you a journo whore now? x". More about that on my daywork blog.

Also had a really nice chat with one of my old bosses, who mentioned a job I might go after. Really nice to be thought of that way. Today, there was lots of work to be done, and I slogged all day - to ensure an early getaway.

Back to Brighton, packed in 10 minutes and then was picked up by Lorraine to drive up to stay with her pals who live in a converted pub in a small village near Evesham in Worcestershire, quite near the Cotswolds. Arrived at 11:30 and were fed with stew, and given a large glass of wine by Lorraine's pals Sue and John. And I did a good impression of a narcoleptic before bed.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

An amp called Marsha

Another day in the agency. Will be working next week too and then working from home on another project with my French client. Went for a nice walk at lunchtime with The Gnome heading up the river. He told me about a painting project he was thinking about - painting an extremely realistic picture of his guitar. We had a conversation about guitar names. My white semi acoustic Washburn is called Bianca. Mike's guitars have no names, but he has an amp called Marsha (on account of the 'll' having broken off).

Off in the evening to see Mad Dog. Decided to explore Shepherds Market again which tonight was thronging and busy. We arranged to meet in a pub called the Shepherds Tavern. However Bob gave me some mystifying directions about where he was in it. After a futile search it turned out he was in an entirely different pub. We went to L'autre a friendly, if unlikely, Polish Mexican place with a French name. I had a Mexican starter, and a Polish main course, both of which were okay rather than spectacular.

Then, rather refreshed, we went to another pub where Bob took it upon himself to have a pedagogic conversation with the manager, explaining to her how to pour pints of beer. We went to Victoria where Bob waited with me till my train came.

Taking Hitomi for a ruby

In the evening off to Park Lane to meet the lovely Hitomi who has been touring around Europe on business. She looked very businesslike when I met her, and I think her work is going well. After I left work, I went into Harrods to get her a little present. Not been in there for ages. It is a fantastic place. I want to go back just to look at everything properly.

Then I walked around the Shepherds Market an area I didn't know. Then I sat in the lobby bar of the Intercontinental with a large gin and tonic (which went straight to my head) fiddling with some ideas, and scarfing the free nuts and crisps. Called First Matie when I was waiting to let her know I intended to steal one of her ideas. She was in Annie's when I called, and she told me that I owed her a beer.

Hitomi came shortly after, and I decided to take her out to Shepherds Market. Trying to think of a typically English night out - so I took her for a curry (aka, in rhyming slang, a Ruby, short for Ruby Murray which rhymes with curry. Pay attention you non-Brits!). I have a nice photo of her with a glass of beer about to tuck into a curry which I will upload when I get a chance.

As my vast Intercontinental gin and tonic wore off I realised with horror that I'd taken her to a grimy dive of the worst sort. The meal when it came was an abomination and an affront to human decency. When the rather refreshed businessmen in the corner started being shouty the authenticity of the night was confirmed.

However, we still had a really nice time, and it was excellent to see her. And I learnt that okra is the same word in Japanese too. Walked her back to the hotel and after fond farewells, I made off for Brighton, arriving home at about 12:30 listening to the audiobook version of My family and other animals and thinking about Greek sunshine.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Small news

A text this morning just as I was about to head into to work from Alice, who has had a baby this morning, saying "so much for maternity leave" as it had arrived three weeks early. It is a testimony to Al's mischevious personality that at least one person in the agency thought it was an April fool.

Otherwise a busy day. Lots to do at the agency. In the evening trying to reverse what looks like the after effects of pigs having barged about the place. This interspersed with telephone chats with my Mum, First Matie and Lorraine. I also sent off my giftbook idea text to Matty's pal Silvia who is an editor in a good publishing house. Then early to bed.