Saturday, May 31, 2008

Under a penny farthing

Sleeping on floor was much better than last time, and felt fine after a several cups of coffee and chatting.

Mum enjoying the package that Toby and Romy had sent her containing, amongst other things, wool made of 30% sea cell. Much discussion about what sea cell could be, but the wool was lovely.

I undertook a bout of manly and vigorous vacuum cleaning. Then, after I'd taken a couple of business calls, off to Stanmore and had some pub grub. Mason strangely keen on pubs these days due to the fact they are no longer full of smoke. I keep telling him he is becoming English. Sadly, though, the pub was busy and strangely loutish today, the food was poor, and an insufferable penetrating-voiced bore on the next table grated on my nerves.

It was almost a relief to leave for a spot of shopping where mum bought a digital thermometer. Then I enjoyed the luxury of a short nap. After a reviving lemon tea, I was walked to the station in a suprisingly springy fashion by Mum.

I stopped in Hampstead to meet Bob, and we had a drink in The Flask, in Flask Walk. An ancient haunt of ours and Carl's and it felt nostalgic to return. Built on speedy greyhoundish lines, the Mad Dog looked even more annoyingly fit and slim than usual. He did show me however the secret of his success: a very small Tupperware container into which each day he stuffs a mix of lean chicken and Quarmish mix of chili based vegetables. All about counting calories, he said sagaciously. All this talk quickly sharpened our appetites and we were soon in a splendid Indian restaurant called The Bombay Bicycle Club sat under a penny farthing, and busy with our knives and forks.

Bob and I parted company early, and just after Mum had called with news of potential disruption on the Tube network tonight due to a booze party protesting against the altogther sensible ban of boozing on the tube. I met none of the revellers fortunately, and contented myself with listening to a programme about the Black Death on my iPod.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Enjoying dismal jazz

Quietly writing all morning. And in the afternoon got my back cracked again, and went down the road to Mad Hatters where I spoke to a very nice woman called Clare who took some photos of me wearing hats. I forget now why this seemed such a good idea. Something about how I am wearing many hats in my business these days. Anyway an enjoyable business, with me on my knees in a hatshop and Clare snapping away.

Then up to Edgware to see Mum and Mase. Had a really nice evening listening to "Dismal Jazz" the compilation CDs that Toby had made for Mum. After doing this for some time we watched a couple of the Frasier episodes. I've lent mum the first three series for when there is nothing worth watching on TV. We all enjoyed this. Always amazes me how they got Frasier right, straight from the pilot epsiode.

Below if the cap fits...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pork and pig

Up with the sparrows this morning to start work at seven to finish off the emails and websites. Thankfully these were completed by noon. Spoke to First Matie afterwards, who seems to be doing far too many jobs.

Afternoon spent fiddling with The Moth Display, and making a few calls and catching up on my emails. Sometimes working on a poem is like playing with a Rubik's cube, you get it to the point of having one square that's the wrong colour but then have to mess it all up again to get it right. Dispiriting to get so near and yet so far.

May be writing again about impotence products. Yay! Expecting a brown envelope, stuffed with erection enhancer information for me to peruse and rewrite, any day now. Never a dull moment.

Talking to mum on the phone and glancing out of the window saw a girl tearing off roses from my bush, and then legging it. My flowers attract all kinds of reactions.

Sloped off to see Lorraine tonight, feeling a tad low in energy. But was revived with excellent roast pork. This followed by a spontaneous drive down to the seafront for walk by the sea with Lorraine and her daughter Beth. The sea was lively and beautiful, and lit up by low sunlight. Refreshed and feeling slightly less jaundiced, back to watch the second half of England beating the USA at football. The noble John Terry was made England captain and scored England's first goal. Some repayment for his twist of ill fate last week, and full marks to Capello the new England coach for psychology.

This followed by a short card game called Pig, which involved touching your nose when you had the right cards. I lost unfairly and became the Pig. Humph.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Multitasking and kippers

Working at home for First Matie today, on 18 different emails, six different web pages employing six different documents as source material. Sadly I was having a bit of a small brain attack and several hours of juggling all these windows on my computer made me feel like screaming. Men and multitasking: it's problematic.

Paused to engorge kippers for lunch, the odoriferous herring permeating my house questionably through the afternoon hours. Far more pleasantly I got nice calls from Ash about a Dell curry night and other matters, and from Bob and Mum and Lorraine.

Then in the evening, after turning off my computer with a sigh, a boys night in with Anton. Playing records and CDs including a stormer by Brigitte Bardot on his wonderful stereo. We forked down some excellent pasta and cheese, and sipped wine. Listened amongst other things to some Johnny Cash, my interest piqued a little by the Walk the Line film I saw the other day.

Lay in bed listening to thunder.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Poems and a symphony

Up early and returning to the long poem The Moth Display that I started several months ago, and have steadily added, and reworked it over the last six months. A slow process, but I want to enter it for a particular competition which is coming soon.

Met Lorraine for a light lunch at the Tin Drum, then from there we went to see Galactic Symphonies, more on this on my daywork blog. To be honest I wasn't expecting too much and ended up being blown away by it. Splendid stuff, and an experience for all the senses - all in a sparsely populated school hall.

Before the show we started looking at the boards covered with dozens of names of those "sons of the school" who died in the first world war, several clearly brothers. What a shameful business that war was.

Lorraine went home to her place to cook plaice for her pals, while I returned home to work more on The Moth Display. Later I watched a C4 TV documentary called Life After People about what would happen to the world if people suddenly became extinct overnight. A fascinating premise, but the programme itself was thin, and became increasingly disappointing with a repetitive CGI overload of buildings falling down.

Then blamelessly to bed.

Monday, May 26, 2008

A fragrant afternoon


An idyllic few hours spent at Leonardslee lakes and gardens this afternoon. There was an enormous amount to see there. On the edge of the Sussex high weald, much tramped by Anton and myself, is this fragrant valley full of what Lorraine informed me were rhododendron and azalea species of all kinds and colours. Their sweet fragrance hung everywhere in the truly beautiful little valley. Lots of trees too, and geese and goslings wandering about, and koi carp and goldfish, and a pheasant, not to mention a couple of dozen wallabies lolling sleepily in their enclosure, and other fish in the ponds. Simply a very beautiful place. Lorraine happily going about knowing the names of plants, fondling leaves, and rubbing tree bark and doing various Taurean things.

Also there was a small exhibit of vintage cars, but perhaps surprisingly what was considerably more interesting was a Beyond the Doll's House which was a miniature market town of great and witty detail.

Home and a chat with Sophie whose parents have both been in hospital over the last few months. She was returning from having taken her kids to see the Dalai Lama in Nottingham.

I had a chilled evening in, watching Walk the line on TV. Johnny Cash doesn't particularly butter my parsnips but this was an excellent film, with Reese Witherspoon putting in a fine performance I thought. A great love story.

Below Lorraine happy among foliage, the rock garden, a pond and goslings, dolls house doctor's surgery complete with a pipe smoking skull on the pillow, a garden sculpture of what appears to be cardinals. As ever, click the pic to enlarge.








Sunday, May 25, 2008

A dancer in the park

A queasy start to the day today. Although at lunch I tried a Romy recommendation of Miso soup for dodgy stomach, which definitely helped. Lorraine came around in the afternoon and she saw a poster for a free outdoor gig in a local park, as part of the festival fun. St Ann's Wells park is one I've been to several times, including once and memorably with Klaudia and a couple of hours of heart stopping fun watching her zip down slides and be barged by bigger boys and girls.

Several bands of a generally ambient and trip hoppy disposition. Most enjoyable of these was the first band we saw called Pan Electric who were mellow, excellent and rather groovy. We sat on the grass in the overcast but warm weather for a few hours drinking tea and watching the continual dancing antics of a lone dancing man, who would often magnetise other dancers, generally under five, to join in. A typical Brighton afternoon. I absolutely love this town sometimes. And I like it that these days I know more people. I bumped into Rick buying some more tea for example.

Below the excellent Pan Electric and dancer. The general scene shortly before leaving as another band called Channel ?? (can't remember, were playing). See dancer to the left of shot.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

A morning at Mad Hatters

I am a lapsed hat wearer. I mentioned this to Mike a while ago and, appalled, he insisted on rectifying this situation.

Off to the Nia cafe for breakfast. Mike charming to a waitress, telling her that she had a lovely open face asking her name, and then singing a song with her name in it. Our choice of Nia was strategic, however, as it is next door to Mad Hatters, Brighton's premier hat shop on Trafalgar Street. It opens at 10:30 but this proved no barrier to Mike who simply knocked on the door 45 minutes early and we gained access from its owner Lucy who must have noticed the fanatical gleam in The Cat with the Hat's eye.

Then a masterclass in hat buying. Lucy, Mike and myself were busy passing hats between us like the Marx Brothers. Mike meticulous in his choices and there was much bobbing in front of mirrors, and discussions about hatbands and colours and sizes and squinty-eyed appraisals of hats, which he was buying left right and centre. Mike came away with four or five, and left Lucy with the specifications of several hats he'd like. I bought one too, a nice panamaish straw, and an agreement that I could come back soon and take a photo of myself with hats, particularly the large topper, as I have an idea for a publicity shot.

I must admit as soon as I put my hat on as we walked back up the hill, I felt very Peter Kennyish. Home again and some discussion of business for a couple of hours before Mike left, though, gallingly for him, without his keys.

Then happily pottering about for a few hours, until out of nowhere I suddenly felt violently nauseous, was sick, and then spent the rest of the day and night feeling decidedly unpleasant. I felt bad, because I was supposed to babysit for Anna and I had to cancel.

Lorraine came around in the evening, at the risk of me vomiting on her, and we had a lovely time chatting and sipping water and playing iPod randomiser, where you have to sit through whatever it randomly comes up with. Even, distressingly for Lorraine, early blues.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Yellas


Below My old pal Nev pictured painting yellas upside down in Australia. "I've still got the skills!" he says. As a very senior and talented art director when people asked him what he did outside of an agency context, he would persistently say that he painted yellas (ie painted yellow lines on the road). I don't know where he got this from.

I stole Nev's line from him once to excellent effect. I was sitting in the front row with Mex and two other friends at a comedy venue in Chiswick. Some obnoxious Scottish comedian came on and started berating everyone for being English and middle class, with poncey London jobs. As I was sitting right at the front he seized on me as his first victim.

"And what do you do?"
Me, borrowing Nev's line (and sensibly not explaining that I was, uh, a creative in an advertising agency) said: "Paint yellas."
"What are yellas?"
"You know. Double yellas, single yellas..."
One-nil to me. Much audience laughter as the comedian had no comeback to this.
He turned to Mex, "What does he really do?"
"Paints yellas," said Mex without missing a beat.
More laughter from the audience. Comedian getting really hacked off. He then picked on our friend Mark.
What do you do?
"Install stair lifts for old people," said Mark completely truthfully.

That comedian hated us.

Squid, mackerel, lions, hatted cats and Cranes

Interesting day. Went for a swim after working, which I enjoyed despite painfully banging my knee on the stairs into the pool. After slumb'ring on the Norway foam for a bit, left the pool only to encounter a noisy demonstration about giant squid. More on that in the daywork.

Lots of telephone chats today, including with Louisa a neighbour who has suggested that we gate the Twitten by night to prevent some of the nocturnal rampages.

Then round the corner to the station to meet Mike, the Cat with the Hat. We jumped into a taxi and sped down to the Brighton Dome to see Gore Vidal in conversation with Andrew Marr. I bumped yet again into Andrew Comben as I did so, because I am stalking him. For some reason I'd not been inside The Brighton Dome before. A lovely venue.

I must have been one of the few people there who had never read any Vidal, so I had no preconceptions. He did the literary lion stuff, and donated various entertaining opinions about Bush being stupid and so on, informed by his background of senatorial purple, as Andrew Marr called it. Vidal briefly mentioned James Baldwin, who I had at least read, and said there were two sides to him, and you never knew what you were going to get when he came to dinner: either Martin Luther King or Bette Davis. Afterwards Mike confirmed the truth of this as it turns out that he knew Baldwin when he lived in France.

Then an enjoyable evening, feeling exceedingly Frasier Crane-ish scarfing mackerel and a bottle of Fleurie at Riddle and Finns, with Mike speaking his impeccable French with the waiter about the wine. Then a drink at the bar of the myhotel, which I'd not been to and was rather metallic and cool with marine fish tanks. Mike, having long missed his train, stayed at my house where we played many tunes and talked late into the night.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A slip of fate

A good day, fairly low key. Started with some work on my skeleton story for a few hours, and then had a swim in the afternoon. This I followed by a spot of clothes shopping. I had been putting this off till I stop being so porcine. But this is proving a long wait, so I have bought some fat clothes thinking if you are fat you may as well be smart and fat.

Evening entirely taken up with watching the Champions League Cup Final between Manchester Utd and Chelsea with Anton. Anton is a Utd fan and so one of us was destined to be gloomy. We got some takeaway Chinese food and sat on the sofa and watched an epic confrontation which went to a penalty shoot out. Unbelievably the excellent Chelsea captain John Terry only had to score his penalty and Chelsea would win.

Due to the downpour in Moscow he slipped on the drenched pitch just as he took it, which caused him to miss the goal by a whisker. United went on to win by the narrowest possible margin. Thus a piece of wet mud can make the difference between what would have been a much deserved and historic victory for Chelsea and failure. The forces of darkness have prevailed and beautiful lofty things have been thrown down.

Some species of cavorting dance from Anton when they first scored, but he quietened down and became full of doubts and horror after Chelsea equalised, and outplayed United for the rest of the game. And when it looked like Chelsea were going to win, he prematurely congratulated me and hexed the whole thing. A fair amount of crowing and renewed dancing at the end from Anton. He also snatched my mobile phone to film the disastrous moment of their triumph. I suppose it could have been a lot worse.

Anton went off cheerfully into the night as I cleared up the Chinese fortune cookie wrappers, reflecting on how football can dramatise the tiny pivotal moments of life.

Below a Getty image stolen from the BBC. Poor John Terry watching, mid slip his penalty shot go wide.




Spam face

Large coffee then writing. This time a magazine piece about the connection between railways, Brighton and its festival. Sustainability - being green - is my new thang. And I got a joke in it too.

After sending off the article, I felt rather restless - as well as jaded after what had been rather an unexpectedly lively Monday evening. Crept off at lunchtime to buy a medium Cornish pastie from a new pastie place around the corner from me. Felt somewhat better after eating this.

Later went out for a spot of shopping, wandering about vaguely. Bought myself some dunlop sneakers, which were rather nice in a retro way.

In the afternoon talking to Mum who, after discussions today with her oncologists, may now choose to have chemotherapy.

Had a blameless night in, sipping mineral waters and watching a little TV about what people ate in the war. Cue presenter saying with disgust "spam!" and making ghastly face eating it. Made me wonder what planet they were from that they'd never tasted spam before. In my schooldays, after biffing off various pterodactyls archeopteryx etc. on the way to school, we were quite pleased to eat spam fritters and chips. The thing to do was to cut features in the spam circles as you ate them, cutting out eyes and mouth and nose. Cor. I fancy a spam fritter right now.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Good vibrations

Up at seven to start work immediately on a brochure which new colleague Simon was going to design. This done, the afternoon fairly chilled. Visiting the back cracker, as my upper back is a zone of evil. Some satisfactory cracking, although he described what was going on as "complex". Repaired home to work on my Skeleton story.

Two pieces of good news today: Mum may not have to have chemotherapy after her operation, which would be excellent. And Lorraine got a splendid new job after laborious job applications.

Then, at six thirty I trotted across the road to the station to meet new colleague Simon and get a couple of quotes from Geoffrey Theobald a Brighton counsellor and former mayor of Brighton, Andrew Comben CEO of the Festival, and Chris Hudson from Southern Railways while Simon took photos and generally took care of business.

Simon and I repaired to the Battle of Trafalgar for a cheeky beer and a chat. When Simon left, Lorraine arrived for a drink to celebrate getting her job. She was really happy and full of her own big and cleverness, which was very good to see.

Just as we were leaving, we bumped into Steve Wrigley, my former next door neighbour and co-founder of The Brighton Beach Boys. He had with him Stephen Kalinich, an American poet and lyricist who has worked with, among others, Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Had a fascinating evening chatting to them, and hearing some great stories from Stephen who seems to know everyone from the sixties scene and beyond.

Home to some stunningly good Guernsey bean jar. Added half a spoon of mustard to it while cooking. Made all the difference. Lorraine, who had not had bean jar before really liked it. One day I will make the Platonic ideal of a bean jar.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Strange meeting

Difficult to progress my own projects this week. And I find today that I may have to speak to the local radio as a spokesman on sustainability for On Track early next week. This may or may not happen, of course, but I'll have to dust off some bon mots just in case. Also interesting chats with Simon today, who I met recently through Mike, the cat with the hat. A nice guy. I'm making lots of Brighton connections these days, and I'm putting down deeper roots in this city.

Late afternoon walk for a couple of hours today, talking to Mum on my mobile and plunging my arm in seagull guano. Walked down to where the white cliffs start the other side of Brighton Marina, got involved in the chalky rockpools. Sitting quietly I saw what appeared to be a strange meeting between a crab, three shrimps, and a blenny. Also noticed how the big nodules of flint are wearing out of the chalk. It was only when I went to the Booth museum that I learned where flint comes from.

Walking back through Brighton encountered a rooftop gig. Then home, and played guitar for some time before going out with Lorraine for a cheerful Friday night curry and a couple of cheeky beers in The Cricketers pub which was crammed with folks in their 40s and 50s behaving like 20 year olds.

Below starfish on fishermen's boats. Head to head: a crab and a shrimp (click on it for a closeup). Flints appearing from eroding chalk and an unknown - to me - rooftop band.










Friday, May 16, 2008

Daddy Long Legs

Low tide reveals the course of the Volk’s Daddy Long Legs - or Volk's Electric Sea Railway. It is a tram on stilts that went through the water from Brighton to Rottingdean. In my shot you can see Roedean school above on the cliffs. Visit the link above for a fascinating glimpse of Victorian engineering.




Snails and spreadsheets

Drenched this morning, caught in a downpour with an umbrella the size of a dinner plate. Bah. However a very good day getting on top of my business stuff. Found all the figures for rates, utilities and other payments which can be claimed back and emailed them to my glamorous accountant - finding them put years on me. Also making spreadsheets. There is something sexy about spreadsheets. The fact that you can put stuff in rows and columns and so on. Organised, that's what it is.

Also did a cheeky bit of writing work for my French client and the prospect of more on the horizon. So all in all a good and productive day which makes me feel on top of things. I also mistakenly made a layer pie, which I ate the majority of.

Once it had stopped raining, and I had done all my work, I poked about in the snail sanctuary that is my back yard, and tidied and put clippings into bin liners. Picked up one particularly large snail and threw it into the Twitten in disgust.

Noticed how my arum lilies are continually admired. A party of about 15 people on a guided tour stopped outside my house and photographed them today. My blinking lilies are more famous than I am.

Spent some of the evening reading Alison MacLeod's book The Wave Theory of Angels - not been able to focus on reading much lately. But now that I can I find this to be an impressive and strange tale. My reading was interrupted though by a little tapping on my door, looking down I saw a peeved snail, "what did you do that for?" it said.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The day that smelled of lemons

Arose weakly from my floor nest of pillows and duvets in the morning to slurp coffee, and watch Mas, as ever, assemble his vitamins and other pills into a military formation before eating them. Mum had to pop into the GPs so I vacuumed the house while they were gone.

Mum lively and springing about. She's planning a series of short walks that she is going to force Mas to go on too. When I had to go, Mas drove me to Stanmore from where I travelled aromatically home to Brighton , clutching a bag of lemon scented pelargonium cuttings that Mum had given me.

Talked to Mike, the cat with the hat, on the train to plan a pow-wow about branding on Monday. Then the train waited outside Brighton for 30 minutes due to a fatality at Preston Park. My bag made the carriage smell nice though.

As I'd not nested well the previous night, I decided against brainwork and had a haircut instead. A nice one, it turned out, although the mirror at the back of the head showed that the Area of Concern is spreading. I don't seem to be receding from the front, but monkishly as befits one of my benign and studious disposition. Talking of benign dispositions I bumped into the Vicar at the barbers too. Wasn't quite sure who he was, at first seeing him reflected and walking into the barbers, but at least I said hello.

Then did some work in my tiny back yard, which is unruly and poor at the moment, and potted the pelargoniums for indoor use. In the evening I sauntered around to see Lorraine and share some rather nice meatballs made by her daughter Beth.

Tomorrow needs to be a major work day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seen to be believed

This is the dead tree next door to where my mother lives.
It's owner hacked at it with a blunt axe until it was mutilated, and then painted it brown. Next time I am there I am going to paint a smiley face on it in the middle of the night.




A garden interlude

Up to London, to take some stuff into my glamorous accountant Seana. Fortunately just about to go through the barriers at the station when I realised that I'd left the folder at home.

A lovely day, and quite nice to be out and about, even if it was to just around the corner from my old agency. Dropped the stuff off, and had a good chat with Seana, some of it about accountancy and tax but not enough to give me stabbing head pains.

Then caught the tube up to see Mum and Mas. Mum looking very well indeed much to my relief, and we sat in the back garden admiring the flowers and the dead and brown painted tree next door. The contrast between seeing Mum here to being in hospital was immense. Had an enjoyable night sitting about talking to Mum and Mas, about many and various subjects, and sipping wine. Her hospital stay seems like a bad dream.

My head is buzzing with plans and schemes again, and the sun is out, and Mum seems a hundred times better. All is well.

Monday, May 12, 2008

No need to gild the lily

Blazing day in Brighton. Up early to work on book-keeping, a poem, and some business stuff, plus had a damned good back cracking a the the chiropractors. After the bone business, I sat by the sea, supping a coffee, only to quickly return home as it was too bright and hot to concentrate. The beach was also thronging for a Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock.

In the evening off to a night of Finnish poetry. Not every day you can say that. Attendees sat in the top room of a pub and sweltered, as outside was noisy with shouty types returning from slowly lobstering on the beach. Someone had shut all the windows. This Finnish poetry will be the end of me, I thought fantasising about sparkling water. When it was over, a sudden and self defeating urge not to network and not to talk to people surged over me, so I zoomed home early.

Spoke to Mum who has had the staples taken out of her today, which must be something of a relief. I'm up to Edgware again tomorrow.

Below my arum lilies are the floral stars of the Twitten. None has been stolen yet - which is a surprise, though I have seen many folks looking at them covetously.

Don Kenny


Today I became a Godfather. Sicilian hot day in Brighton, I wondered up the hill clutching my bag of two bibles to Anna and Anton's house where Anna's mum and dad, and brothers and sister, Anton's Mum, the Godparents to be Brian and Anna and her family, and Lorraine all met up before going off to St Nicholas church. As befits a church named after the patron saint of sailors, it is set on a hill overlooking the sea with views of Brighton. Lovely interior too, and generally quite a lively and friendly church. But there was lots of aromatic smoke, which incensed me (arf).

I sat on the front pew with Brian and Anna, the two other Godparents. Only the lovely Christianne who lives in Australia and is currently on her honeymoon was missing. None of us on the front pew knew exactly what to do, and Brian told Anna that they might end up married by the end of the ceremony. For some reason I get a bit twitchy in important church ceremonies. I keep thinking something embarrassing will happen: that I will faint extravagantly or succumb, at last, to Tourettes.

Thankfully none of this happened, and I really enjoyed the Baptism. Oskar not terribly impressed with the water, which trickled from a shell, onto his head and cried briefly but with gusto. Klaudia being four now was picked up and perched on the edge of the font, where she tucked her dress up from the water in a way that was more 24 than 4. Then there was a new wide eyed little thing called Angus. The vicar, after conducting the baptism, and saying a little about what the children's names meant, then showered the surrounding children with some water just for fun.

I enjoyed the church service. And though the ceremony was lovely, it was simply a public enactment of what I have always felt - that I love Klaudia and Oskar and if it's in my power will do anything I can for them. It is a great honour and I did feel quite moved in the church.

Then all off to a local seven dials restaurant for a roast beef Sunday lunch. Lots of chatting in small room which was just right in size for our party. I sat next to Anne, Anton's Mum. Keith Anton's stepdad has not been well lately, and was very sad to have missed today, as he dotes on his Grandchildren.

Enjoyably, however, Anne told me about Anton's first career as a baby girl model. Some stories, I find, you can never tire of hearing and I listened again with great interest. Anton, sitting on the other side of his mother rolling his eyes.

Brian making Lorraine and I laugh hearing about his worst ever work day when the Olympic flame was carried through London. He works for a Chinese owned business, and is an official sponsor of the games. Managing the PR fallout was horrendous.

Then a long afternoon where we all sat in Anton and Anna's back garden sipping cool drinks and chatting in the sun. Eventually all the guest but me had left, and I helped with some light tidying. Just before I left The Wizard of Oz DVD was put on the TV. This sparked Klaudia into dancing and singing the Follow the Yellow Brick Road song, and Oskar into doing a funny little stampy dance.

I left, following the road down the hill, wondering about the paths my Godchildren would take, and feeling very happy.

Below Anton, Anna and Oskar, with Mark and Luke in the background - my co-Godparents Brian and Anna, and the old font at St Nicholas. Amazingly I didn't get one good snap of Klaudia.




Sunday, May 11, 2008

The cat with the hat

Up late. Beautiful day, and I had breakfast with Lorraine and then we did a spot of shopping. Brighton now in festival mode and even more full of life than usual.
Lorraine suggested I buy Bibles for Tomorrow's christening of Klaudia and Oskar - and this seemed a very good idea. Especially when I found a nice pink one for Klaudia and a nice green one for Oskar. I have more Buddhist leanings than anything, but I do read bits from the Bible quite regularly, and need to refer to it in my work and reading so - at the very least - I think a Bible will always be useful.

This done we popped into Sejuice for some refreshing fruit cocktails and Lorraine and I wandered about enjoying the stilt wearing musicians and novelty burlesque acts, before going our separate ways. I went home and finished off a vast initiative to make the place spick and span for Anna's parents to stay and then went out into Brighton in search of my new pal Mike, who was in town again. He was busy buying hats when I found him, with another friend called Bruce whom he met while doing some undercover research for a story about Supermarkets. After eating bagels, Bruce left and Mike and I went back to the hat shop to retrieve the hat he was sporting originally before he'd bought two new ones. Then we wandered about, with him being much taken by Brighton and wondering past, say the Udderbelly, getting increasingly excitable and full of plans. Eventually we stopped to cool down in the St James pub.

Then leaving Mike at the station, after we stopped mournfully outside the hat shop on Trafalgar street, which Mike had completely missed on his expedition.

I then zoomed up the hill to have an evening with Anna and Anton, Anna's brothers Mark and Luke and their respective partners Dee and Paul. A jolly good evening, and we demolished three roast chickens between us. Anna's mum had been ill so it turns out they weren't staying with me. But at least I have a mighty clean house now.

Below some general Brighton monkey business and a picture of the udderbelly from their website.


Friday, May 09, 2008

An omelette and a poppadom

Great news today: Mum is back at home, and fairly early too, only a week and a day after her operation. She is sounding very happy to be home, and Mas is really happy to have her there. Her last day or so was spent opposite a man, with a highly contagious disease, shouting continually and loudly in German. Being home is clearly all good, and naturally I'm feeling exceedingly relieved and cheerful about this.

Mase cooked her a Spanish omelette which was, after more than a week of no food followed by dire hospital food, was the height of deliciousness.

This evening, after a promising day of work, I went out for a quick and cheery drink with Lorraine tonight in the Cricketers, and then we snuck off for a curry. They had opened the big window in the curryhouse as it was still quite warm. A bit previous for May I thought. However Lorraine, already pretty cheery on two beers, seemed immune to the cold.

Meanwhile I ate many celebratory poppadoms and chutneys. It is a curious fact that the first food I have a memory of eating is a poppadom.

Pleasantly floral

In Brighton today doing business billing and chasing payments, (still can't think of that without thinking of rather good recent pop hit by Adele chasing pavements) and avoiding confronting the stuff my accountant has sent me. Feeling much clearer mentally now thanks to Mum's big improvement - able to focus on tying down details about a new and very interesting interview piece, and talking at a conference (thanks to a Mex contact) in July.

Snuffling with a cold off and on all day. Feeling paranoid that I will have given it to Mum.

Things took an unexpected twist when my new friend and publisher Mike called and was in Brighton. As a sophisticated American francophile he is wrong-headedly dubious about pubs and pints. I took him to sit in the hot sun in the back of the Battle of Trafalgar and he ended up having some Harveys bitter, a splendid beer as I may have mentioned brewed locally in Lewes. He was surprised, saying "My! That's pleasantly floral," and going on to express surprise that it wasn't tasting of warm horse piss. We were joined by Simon, a pleasant Brightonian who had been doing some work with Mike at Brighton Station.

From there I hurried off to be picked up by Lorraine on Dyke Road with young Mark in the car, to go off to Beth's school to watch teenage drama performances.

Beth had told me about her piece earlier and I thought it sounded interesting. She was rather good. It had the mother-troubling theme of teenage death. In it Beth walked about as a ghost, looking at all the grieving relatives, which made Lorraine cry, and grip my hand. Meanwhile I focused on not disreputably emitting wafts of beer. Lorraine's ex-husband and partner was sitting behind us too, so all in all not an entirely unawkward experience.

Home to a Chinese takeaway, and brand new Scrubs.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Into the Vale of Health

Poor night's sleep. Snuffling with a rare bout of hay fever today. Woke up in Edgware, coffee and muesli with Mas and then working on some bits and pieces. Not to mention chasing payment from my old agency which is absolutely infuriating.


Then off in the sun to see Mum. Walked from Hampstead station today down the hill of the heath and through the Vale of Health to the hospital. A beautiful day, with people sunbathing, and sitting about by the ponds, and the Heath looking beautiful. I paused to take a few snaps.

Mum, thank goodness, massively improved today. All the trippyness and paranoid flashes are gone, and she was sitting up cheerfully sipping a cup of tea when I arrived. She's had soup too, and all the drips and oxygen have been taken away from her now. She was also walking about fairly well. Spent two and a half hours with her, until Mas came as he'd been struggling with crazy paving and a large root this morning, and then headed back to Brighton, streaming all the way.

Below some quick people snaps in Hampstead Heath; one a bit Seurat like, the last one solarized to look reeely smart.



Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Back to the Royal Free

Beautiful day, but running around this morning to try to get everything done, then back up to London to visit mum. When I arrived, she told me that she had a psychotic incident in the night and had ripped out the drip and oxygen tubes as she believed that they were all about to be killed. Fortunately now they have changed her anaesthetic and she is no longer having the trippy symptoms she was getting. Not before time.

Otherwise she is now heartily sick of the place, and the constant beeping and noise which keeps her awake. They told her she might be able to go home this coming weekend, which would be fantastic. Also on the plus side, she is able to walk a bit now.

Read her a letter that her pal Jana had sent her which made her smile, which was good.

Spoke on my phone to my old pal Carl who turned 50 today. The idea that Carl is 50 is appalling.
Mas and I then drove back to Stanmore, for a meal and a cold beer in a local pub. Had a nice time with him chatting about David my grandfather, and Mas telling me a story about having coffee with a young Arnold Schwarzenegger who'd come straight from Gold's Gym - apparently so covered in slippery baby oil that he was unable to open a sachet of creamer.

Brighton Moments and a rare honour

Today I discovered an email from a man in Poland requesting my date of birth. Turns out that he has selected one of my poems, which he found online, for the anthology of poetry published by the Auschwitz Museum. For more about that see my daywork blog. I think this is a real honour.

Otherwise, feeling very middle class this morning, breakfasting at Carats cafe. I was with Anna, Anton the bairns, Sam and Martin, and their flame haired nipper Charlie, plus Lorraine with her likable singing and dancing daughter Beth and her similarly singing and dancing boyfriend Mark.

Lots of knife and forkwork of greasy English breakfasts and general chitchatting. Princess Klaudia now zooming on a purple bicycle (with stabilisers) with silver streamers, wearing pink and purple clothes and a pink and purple helmet. Oskar pushing a car about, including dropping it down the front of my teeshirt and laughing when it appeared at my substantial belly. Anton, meanwhile, being peculiar and suddenly talking about CDs as if they were big and clever.

Working in the afternoon, as I will be travelling up to London tomorrow again. Lorraine came around mid afternoon to worked on one of her job applications, and I offered lofty advice about application letters. She teaches and shapes children's lives - but, damn it, I know how to write a letter.

I was phoned by the nice Alison MacLeod who reserved me a free ticket for The Brighton Moment, which was on this evening. There were about 18 Brighton writers reading their work to an audience of 300. A really good night out, and I fell into enjoyable conversation with some people sitting around me. Also bumped into Andrew Comben, who I'd interviewed recently. A short review of the night is on my daywork blog.

Home late, and not having eaten since breakfast, guiltily scored some Singapore noodles.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hospital and the smell of the Heath

Up early for muesli and coffee with Mas. Then Mas did a little gardening, and I caught up with a bit of correspondence. Got a nice email from Trace, who I'd not heard from for some time. Then we drove off to the hospital, our route took us by the Heath, which was looking green and lush and is full of good memories, not least going there as a nipper with Mum and Toby. As we left the car the grounds of the hospital smelled like flowers and late spring.

Mum a little better today, and we all were able to have a bit of a laugh and a chat. The anaesthetic is still confusing her though. I took her in a couple of postcards of Guernsey which she looked at quite a bit, despite not being able to focus too well. She is also in a different ward now, and the chained lady has gone. Mum said that she was a convicted child murderer, which is quite Gothic and colourful for a blogging purposes, but not necessarily your first choice of who you'd want your mother lying next to in hospital. After a couple of hours, Mas left, and I hung about with Mum for a bit longer before setting off for Brighton. I feel horrid leaving her behind in the hospital, but she is being well taken care of.

Then a half an hour wait for a train at St Pancras, and then boarded the world's slowest Brighton train. Felt pretty fed up by the time I'd snailed home. However, tomorrow being a Bank Holiday here, I went out for a cheeky beer with Lorraine in a pub called the Chimney House, and she cheered me up quite a bit. Then we went back to her place and ate noodles and hung out pleasantly with her family watching television.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The children's parade

The children's parade through Brighton this morning. Marching drumming bands which always seem to produce really funky beats, and children from every school. This year's theme was children's games, so there were hundreds of kids dressed up as, for example, elements from Mousetrap, or as noughts and crosses, or characters from computer games. It's the sort of event that's full of life and fun, which makes you feel proud to live in Brighton.

Lorraine and I met up with Anna and Anton and my soon-to-be-official godchildren who were watching the parade. Their friend Anna was there too, and she is going to be a godmother. I told her that with Christianne being in Australia, I was pleased there was someone sensible on the Godparenting team with me and Brian.

After the human crocodiles, and pirates, and skittles etc. went by, Lorraine and I snuck off for a brace of GSK burgers, I then got my stuff together and travelled up to London.

Spent a few hours visiting Mum in hospital. She is conscious and looking better than I had expected. When I arrived, Mas was talking to a south Asian family about American politics. Mum told me she had been having delusions, and was worried that if I came I was going to die. However after a bit of reassurance on that front, and working out that she was in a slightly dreamlike mental state, and we separated some odd ideas from reality. Mostly, however, we had a good conversation and I was really pleased I was there. By the time Mas and I left, I noticed that she already seemed to have more colour in her cheeks than when I arrived.

Having said that, I find hospitals a severe challenge. The staff seem very pleasant, and are doing a difficult job brilliantly. But I can't help tuning into the sobbing relatives standing outside, and people faces as they return bleakly from visits. It is good to know Lorraine at this time, as an ex-ward sister she feels completely differently about hospitals - as if they were a home from home. It is very good to get this positive balance.

Mas and I then drove back to Edgware stopping at a restaurant for a combo platter of ribs and chicken and a nice chat. He was pretty tired when we got home, so we watched some CSI programme about an estate agent-munching shark who was (unsurprisingly) poisoned by its meal. Then Mas went to bed and I watched Match of the Day before doing the same.

Below some scenes from the Children's Parade.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

A fragmented Friday

Feeling a little better, knowing mum has had her operation now. Still not very good at concentrating. Took a sack of old clothes to the Alzheimer's charity shop. The volunteer inside merely grunted rudely as I dropped them off, and I had to choke back the urge to say "forgotten how to say thank you?"

Then more swimming which is very relaxing. And then more filing and going through the dozens of unopened letters I've accumulated. Only one of them required any action at all. Finally got a pay slip from my old agency. They still owe me money. One of the few downsides of working for myself is having to chase payments.

Listening to gloomy news politically as I did so. Labour has taken a massive spanking in the local elections, and it appears Red Ken Livingstone, newt fancier and mayor of London is to be ousted by a gaffe prone, racist ("it is said the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies" see wikipedia for more) buffoon called Boris Johnson. Meanwhile Prime Minister Gordon Brown, after more than a decade of gloweringly undermining Tony Blair's premiership has proved himself plainly not up to the job himself. Labour need a miracle, and Britain's future, politically at least, looks bleak, unctuous and self-serving.

Putting aside political concerns, a nice afternoon. Popped up the hill and had a chat with Anna, belatedly dropping off Oskar's 2nd birthday present. Good gossip and catch up over a nice tea. Her plans for her own business are coming on strongly. I'm also feeling positive about my business too. But am also a bit frustrated at not being able to focus on much right now. I took a wrong turning in the last week or so on my Skelly story, and so have to go back, but at least I spotted it rather than charging ahead.

Then to an early evening gathering with Lorraine's neighbours. It is uncommonly neighbourly where she lives, and I chatted to some interesting folks including a poet called Peter, who has mainly written satirical poems, and chatting to L's pal Dawn again. This was followed by Lorraine and I hailing a cab and having an emergency Friday night curry and beer. Yum.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mum is okay

Just heard from Mason that Mum has had her operation and, although still groggy, had phoned him. This all good. She was last on the list for the operations today, and so there was always the lurking fear that her op would be bumped. But all is well - and hopefully now it is all about recovery and getting better.

Mas has loads of correspondence to deal with. So many people want to know how she is. And Mum's old pal Betty Tostevin got in touch with me from Guernsey too, which is nice. She said she would send Mum a little bit of Guernsey, which sounds just the ticket.

Otherwise I found it very hard to concentrate on much else. Spoke to Mas several times, and ended up going for a swim, and then doing filing for hours, which of course was ghastly but practical. Proper brainwork today was out of the question.