Monday, June 30, 2008

Two days in one

Worked a proper self-employed 15 hours. Infomedia booths to begin with, and then had to use my loaf on the French bread project. Working from home however makes it fine and entirely do-able.

Managed miraculously to do my back in without moving. Got up, had some tea and breakfast sat down at my desk on my new comfortable chair, and two hours went to stand up again, and could hardly move.

Crept Igor-like off to a coffee shop to work in the afternoon for a change of scene. Otherwise spoke to Anton, and to Mum who is sounding bright and cheery today, and at length this evening to the Cat with the Hat, and Lorraine.

The good news is that after tomorrow I should have less to do, and will have a chance to do some of my own stuff, which will be splendid now that I don't feel queasy and weird.

Below I had some interesting correspondence with Chris Allen, who is also obsessed with this door into nothing on the Icart road. Here's a snap of it I took the other day, and an older image below.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Moths again

Sunday, so it must mean work. Locked myself away for several hours writing a lengthy presentation about things called infomedia booths.

Noticed as I did so that there seems to be lots of moths in my house. A week or so ago I saw one or two lurking in my wardrobe wiping their mouths on the backs of their hands, and so bought a hanging moth repeller. Perhaps it is my own fault for writing a poem called The Moth Display this year, and lurking in the Booth museum ghouling at their boards of dead pinned moths. They have put their weird feathery heads together and decided to move in as punishment.

Then once I could stand no more of writing about infomedia booths, Lorraine called by, listening to Muse in her car. She likes rock music generally, as opposed to the diverse and lofty stuff I favour. We drove off to the sea, which was green and choppy, and full of white horses and people windsurfing, and para surfing and generally being hairy chested and manly.

I boldly took my shoes and socks off and stood at the edge of the water with my hat on, and Lorraine did the same sans hat. After this exertion we drove off to eat some Indian food. After which we watched the European final between Spain and Germany, which to my surprise the Spanish rightfully won.

Then a blameless and early night.

Below Brighton this afternoon.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

All white on the night

Inert. Spent much of the day sleeping, and actually doing things like standing up were a challenge. I managed however to collect my new business cards, which are cool, before crashing out again. However, by the evening had enough energy to go with Lorraine to Simon's 40th birthday party.

First party I've been to for ages which had music. It had a theme of white, so I wore mainly white clothes, and Lorraine wore green because I neglected to mention the dress code to her until the last minute. The dress code was rigidly applied by most of the guests so Lorraine, quite unfairly I thought, brought my big and cleverness into question shortly after our arrival. However this blew over and, sipping champagne, we talked to some friendly, interesting and arty Brightonians, which was just up my street.

We were clumped about outside for warmth, for despite it having been a hot day, the evening was cool and windy. Excellent party however, with loads of nice grub and boozes. There were splendid canapes, borne around by enthusiastic black clad teenagers, and a barbecue and champagne aplenty. One of these young helpers asked me if I wanted a drink. I replied that I would like a lager. She brought me a bottle and asked me if it was lager. Bless.

Moving indoors, Lorraine and I dusted off our boogie shoes and flung ourselves about to a variety of vintage tunes supplied by Simon and his mate Thurstan on the wheels of steel. Mainly groovy disco favourites such as We are family by Sister Sledge, which I for one immensely enjoyed, despite my currently porcine state being hideously magnified by gleaming white. Pranced about singing that I've got all my sisters with me and so on for a while. This punctuated by one excellent moment when young Josh, Simon's 6 year old, requested the Star Wars Theme tune and danced along happily to it.

After a while - and after being asked by a lady dressed as a white rabbit, with a little tail and painted face, if I had a nice carrot - I began to feel rather wan and feeble again, so grabbing Lorraine, I left in good order without embarrassing myself. Which was nice.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tetchy returns

Slightly better night's sleep. Went for a walk before breakfast, low cloud and cool this morning. Felt very emotional and weird, and weak and sick in my stomach. Went back to the hotel for breakfast. The place has few tables, several staff but grew enraged by having to ask for toast and tea three times. Amazing how simply being given tea and toast can turn into a 30 minute endurance test. Quite enjoyed the stay in Les Douvres, although amazing how inept breakfast service can colour your whole experience of a hotel.

The taxi arrived early to take me to the airport. However, arriving an hour early, I discovered the plane would be delayed. Felt cheesed off by this as I wanted to be home, as I was feeling weak and queasy. Eventually after a couple of extra hours another plane was found, to replace the one which had not turned up. They had cunningly hidden the replacement plane on the runway outside the airport all along. It was called A Sprint or maybe a Dash, either way, it spelled props and slower. One woman in particular got absolutely furious with the delay and was raging in a prolonged and exhausting way at everyone she could.

Always very sad to leave Guernsey and see the familiar fields and coast line slipping away underwing.

Arrived in a drizzly Blightly. Swooping low over the Sussex countryside, however, I realised I felt very fond of this too since Anton and I have tramped it, criss-crossing the county.

Home early, and slept a bit in the afternoon and am gradually getting my act together this evening. Nice to be in my own home. It was fart too short a visit to Guernsey - but I did meet lots of people, and had a thoroughly excellent time. Only I felt slightly shortchanged by feeling a bit rough during it.

Below a couple of murky shots on this morning's walk. Rabbits in the top one.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pens & Lens & Fotherington Thomas

Up early after a dreadful night's sleep full of nightmares. Had a full English breakfast and decided to take myself for a long walk. Started at Icart Point and walked to Fermain Bay along the cliff path. Felt nauseous and weak today for some reason, but decided today was not the day for to be ill in. Another beautiful blue-hot day with a cooling breeze. The cliffs jostling with flowers like in mum's paintings, and the sea was diamonding with the sunlight.

Stopped off at Jerbourg for a cup of tea, and narrowly missed encountering a member of the family who I have fallen out with, and last seen at my Grandfather's funeral. She saw me before I saw her, and I only recognised her by the look of her broomstick. Shaken, I phoned Mum and Mase, who expressed surprised that I'd bumped into so many people already.

Early in the walk I found a magpie feather. One of the poems being used in Guernsey for this Pens & Lens poetry/film business, is one of mine, called Headstone, that opens with the line: "A magpie feather, myself middle aged" and so finding this on my path seemed like a good omen.

Walked on to Fermain, where I stopped and had a cup of tea and a tuna sandwich, happy for the shadow of the sunshade. Then back to the hotel being somewhat taken with sunlight falling through trees, and all the flowers, and so on in a sort of Fotherington Thomas sort of way.

After about 4 hours I went back to the hotel feeling very weak and shaky. Lay down and rested consumptively before gradually getting my act together and catching the bus into town again. This time I met Betty in St Peter Port, hurrying off to see her niece perform.

On arriving in town the reading didn't go quite as expected. I arrived twenty minutes early only to find that they had started early. I was also looked on with some surprise for being there at all, despite having emailed to say I would be. However I was made a fuss of and invited to read too. So it all worked out fine in the end.

The event was very well attended, and in a room where everyone stood, and read in the round. Free wine too, which was welcome considering it was mainly poets.

They are using three of my poems in the exhibition and another in a flyer, thanks to Richard Fleming who is something of a kindred spirit in Guernsey. A real diversity of work being read out, and much of it of very good quality. I was very pleased with the reception I got. I read The Remembering Cliffs, Heidegger in the Forest, and Thought Daughter. Due to my unexpected arrival I read last, which is always best. Met some really interesting people, lots of other writers, some of whom I knew already, and others who I knew by their names only. Much chatting and networking going on.

I've never seen such a literary buzz in Guernsey: and the Pens & Lens event is from the Guernsey Arts Commission, and more power to it I say. Afterwards I went off for a meal with Adam Clayton, who edits Written, the Guernsey literary magazine, and Danielle who designs Written among other things. An interesting chat. Adam seems to be a slightly better organised version of me about twenty odd years ago, and I greatly warmed to him.

Then off by Taxi to Les Douvres, having had a really good day.

Below the dog and lion rocks, a bee, and cliffs near Jerbourg, and, top of page, Fotherington Thomas.

Moving pictures

Look lovely shadows, and from Icart Point looking west.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Little rituals

Flying to Guernsey has all the ingredients I like: a) shortness - a mere 35 minutes, and b) the fact that I know the destination inside out, so no wondering what alien hordes are going to sweep towards you as you land, wanting to relieve you of your cash and/or luggage.

The descent over Herm was lovely, banking over the greenish turquoise sea and through cotton-puff clouds. Windy and clear once we were down. Caught a cab and was soon at Les Douvres hotel, and shown to a pleasant room with that dubious delight - a twentieth century four poster bed. But clean and pleasant all round.

Soon I was about my usual rituals on getting to Guernsey, I went down to my grandparents Gwen and Dave's grave and put some tasteful white carnations there, and straightened the next door grave, whose vases had been blown over in the strong wind.

I also went off to pay my respects to the La Gran'mère du Chimquière and let her know I was back. She was looking fine, and adorned with flowers. From there to less ancestral matters, and had a nice baked potato in La Croix Guerin (site worth a visit for all kinds of reasons). Then off to Moulin Huet pottery to lurk briefly about before a short cliff walk from Moulin Huet to Icart Point. The cliffs full of flowers and windy, and I felt quite out of puff and tired. Stopped at Icart Point for a cup of tea, and after I enquired how his season was going, he looked at me a little wildly and said that he was suffering from mercury poisoning. But is getting better apparently.

Back to the hotel for a shower, and then off straight away to down. As I jumped on the bus outside La Barbarie, I literally ran into Betty, who gave me a big hug and a kiss as she got off the bus. Then to town, to meet Ben and Poppy. After some comedy moments, and being in the wrong places, we had a chat in the De La Rue. It was good to see them, Ben telling us a horrific story of falling off a stepladder onto his eye.

We were only able to meet for a short time as Ben had to zoom off to work. I repaired to The Ship and Crown to watch Germany v Turkey with a roomful of Germans. A good atmosphere. From there I treated myself to a quick curry, and then a cab back to the hotel.

Below La Gran'mère, the bit of the cliffs that inspired me to write The Remembering Cliffs, which starts "The cliffs are full of faces, great granite heads / Petrified just as they lifted from sleep." And some grass and sea action that reminded me of pictures Mum has painted. And the walk down to Moulin Huet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

When le pain is no pain

Took a briefing this morning for work on French bread products from my lovely French client Jeanne. After spinning about in my chair for a while thinking about what attracts Brits to French stuff I found my feet taking me the few steps down Trafalgar Street to The Real Pâtisserie. I scored a fresh baguette and then some brie and spring onions from M&S and had them inspiringly for lunch with a cup of coffee, flaking crumbs into an open copy of J-P Sartres' L'Être et le Néant.

Thus fortified, off to get a haircut down by Seven Dials. There was some sort of shouty altercation going on between a bicyclist and a car driver. This caused my barber to talk about how he had been recently cut up on a bicycle and wanted to fight someone. I quickly changed the subject as in talking about it he was jabbing my head and shearing the sides with barely suppressed violence.

Then an afternoon of faffing somewhat and vaguely getting ready for tomorrow's trip to Guernsey. Eventually settled down and did some good work on my poetry. At the moment I am veering wildly between thinking my MS is tripe, and one of the most original things ever committed to the English language. Won't be long now before I can send it off, and I'll find out.

Then spent a happy half an hour or so watering plants and deadheading roses. This done, I spoke to Mum, who'd just come back from her chemo treatment and was naturally feeling somewhat tired.

I decided to take myself out with one of my poems to work on. I was desperate for a change of scene so went for a solitary drink, worked quite well for a bit, but after a while felt fleetingly maudlin. So home, and cups of tea, and then bed. All well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Something almost being said

A beautiful summer's day. Up very early and working at home today - the briefing I was expecting didn't arrive, so I contented myself catching up with bits of admin, paying bills and other humdrummery and spreadsheets. Spoke to Anton this morning, who mysteriously burst a blood vessel in his eye during our walk and for reasons best know to himself is telling people that I punched him.

I just cannot settle at the moment, and have a restless and self-important feeling that there is something significant about to happen, although I have no idea what. Wandering about today with the sense of something almost being said.

Instead of hearing anything, I had an early afternoon swim, which helped with the restlessness. Then talked to a butcher about sustainability and plastic bags. Did nothing truly creative all day, all the while trying to remind myself that this is part of the ebb and flow of things, and spent some time looking idly out of my study window.

Spoke to Lorraine this evening who said that on her day's school excursion, she wore a lime green top, which attracted dozens of flying insects much to the horror of the schoolkids.

Have been reading Vic Reeves ME:MOIR Volume One. As the blurb says: "before there was Vic Reeves, there was a boy called James Moir, who was much the same as any other lad: obsessed with owning a pet crow, a master at writing his name and terrified of his father's immense moustaches." Turns out that this is a very entertaining memoir of childhood, and as he is a little under a year older than me, the details -- such as the rush of excitement of buying the NME on Thursday and reading it cover to cover -- are familiar.

Below a clip from the immortal Vic Reeve's Big Night Out, with Vic's comedy partner Bob Mortimer playing Graham Lister... And the view from my study at 8:53pm.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Under the Downs

Off for a long country ramble today with Anton. Regular readers know that I live within a minute from the station. Anton, straining at the leash, appeared the traditional 25 minutes early, and we had plenty of time to score coffees in the station. One stop, just the other side of the Downs to Hassocks and then a long walk of five hours with the long line of the Downs on our left. As I've mentioned in this blog, down derives from the Anglo-Saxon for hill, as the downs are most definitely up.

A strong wind today. Threading through green fields, and through farmland, among the tracks of disused railways, and through rippling fields of green corn with the first touch of gold about them was beautiful. It's amazing how much more balanced and cheery you feel after a five hour walk, as if all kinds of things have been processed and filed away without you being conscious of them. This is despite Anton interminably lecturing on SME arms for record players produced in Steyning, at the end of our walk.

We ended up catching a bus outside Bramber Castle after a very brief beer. Anton accidentally brushing the dusty mud off his walking pole into the top of my pint of Harveys which was galling, but not enough to prevent me thirstily gulping it down. Then a taxi home from Shoreham.

Sat outside in Anton's back garden, drinking another cold beer, and chatting to Anna who is really excited about her new business. It's infectious.

After a short doze, had a quick GBK burger with Lorraine, and then we went off to the Komedia to watch The Straight Story, which was billed as "David Lynch's entrancing and quirky Straight Story on a big screen, with a new live soundtrack by Big Chill favourites Animat." More about that on The Daywork.

Below I used the movie function on my camera as an experiment just outside Hassocks. The surly figure at the end is Anton.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Shakey moment

Last day up in London for a wee bit. I think my normal train was cancelled this morning. So I arrived late, hungover and hypochondriacal for my final morning. However all was well, and I had cleared all the work they'd earmarked for me for the week by about 10:30, so they gave me extra and I gave them good value.

Crept off with First Matie for a restorative lunchtime beer at The Shakespeare. This is a pub forgotten by time and civilisation, sitting unhappily near a major road, and a sprawling Sainsbury's. The folks in the agency call it, much more aptly judging by its jaded clientele, The Shakey.

It is home to about six taciturn middle aged blokes who stand at their usual positions at the bar. It has not much furniture, and what it has is strangely inappropriate. There is a decrepit and unhealthy ambience about the place, but it's handy, which is the main thing. This is where Kate's boss, who is quite a character, repairs to do most of his thinking. Despite all of the above, I enjoyed having a drink there with him and Katie. There is some glimpse of a smeary-glassed eternity in places like this.

Off in the afternoon home, having finished all my work early and was in a good mood. Lots of good stuff work wise on the horizon, and next week off to Guernsey for poetry, walking and other Byronic pursuits.

Tired and exceedingly pleased to be home and sitting on my gold sofa tonight. Persuaded Lorraine to come around and we scarfed crispy duck pancakes from a Chinese takeaway and watched Turkey versus Croatia, which -- for the non-partisan -- was a yawnfest until the last minute of extra time. Croatia having been the marginally better side scored, celebrated wildly waving their red and white checked flags about. Then seconds later Turkey scored too, with what would have been one of the last kicks of the game. This forced a penalty shootout which the Croats lost. Cue cavorting Turks and sobbing Croats. Football is a cruel game.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Matty's birthday

On the early train again this morning off to Mortlake and Katie's agency. Has been fun working with Kate again despite her teasing me, such as a get on with your work email. And No! pencil marks when she was checking my copy. This writerly banter aside, quite a quiet day writing about data storage issues till it was 5:30.

Then and Kate and I zoomed off in her car. I sat on her balcony attending to a cold beer and overlooking the river while Katie transformed into a glamorous thing. Then Matt, whose 32nd birthday it is, appeared, and we all jumped into a cab and headed off to Richmond. Here First Matie had booked a room at the Rock and Rose restaurant, and a splendid party was had with lots of Matty's pals. Very nice place, with friendly, helpful staff. I enjoyed spots of holding forth, and catching up with Craig, who is very happy in his new job.

Learned that Matty with Graeme and Gareth are about to embark on a three men in a boat style adventure down the Thames next week. Silvia gave him a vintage copy of Jerome K Jerome's book too as a present, which was really thoughtful of her.

Then for me a long zoom home, where I ended up watching some late TV, and seeing the Germans beat the Portuguese in the European Cup. You have to doff your green Tyrolean hat to those Germans for always managing to find another gear at crucial times.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Pizza, Prog & Rockabilly

Up with the sparrows and off to London. The sparrows, incidentally, sleep on their backs with their beaks poking from the duvet in a neat row.

Spent most of the day writing on a several page brochure about printers. At lunchtime First Matie drove me to Sainsbury's and, on returning, I mumbled on my sandwich and worked on the printer brochure again. Time hibernated. Some 100 years later, I left work the shadow of a man, after Kate had rewritten my brochure to stop it being rubbish.

Then a slightly disrupted journey home, but heard from Mex whose important job interview had gone very well. Also heard from Anton, who was sans Anna (on a coaching course). So on returning to Brighton, I sidled up the road, to gorge on Anton's own unbeatable pizzas and polish off some Polish beers. While thus engaged, I also spoke on the phone to the Cat with the Hat, who was pleased with our meeting yesterday, and to Lorraine.

Anton and I had an excellent evening, listening to increasingly erratic tunes. We ended the night assailed by mighty prog rock legends Yes, and several rockabilly versions of Clash songs. Both being tastes that, with the best will in the world, are difficult to acquire.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sustainable tagliatelle

Toby lad's birthday today. I'm looking forward to seeing him back in Blighty soon.

Up late this morning feeling a little groggy. Pottered about for a couple of hours before meeting Simon at Brighton Station and we headed up together to Kings Cross, and the Acorn House restaurant. All the Acorn's food is sustainably sourced and is very well cooked too. So there are mackerel and pork and lots of interesting vegetables such as samphire on view. I had pea soup and a light tagliatelle. We were there to meet Pooran Desai OBE who is responsible for the BedZED project, and a new development in Brighton. A very interesting guy, who I may do an interview with shortly. The Cat with the Hat, wearing a brown straw hat today, turned up and we all had a nice meal and several chin-stroking conversations.

After a couple of hours of talking we shot off to Victoria, where I met Mex for a cheeky beer and a pizza. (Fortunately I'd only grazed at lunch). Lots of news to swap, and various gossiping about the people she's put me in touch with lately, her colourful career, and watching the Eurovision Song Contest with pirates.

Then back to Brighton for a spot of footie watching on TV. Felt groggy and coldy this morning but curiously much better by the end of the day. Spoke to Mum who is having an expert in Harley Street work on her tooth. Every day is a dentist day at the moment which is poor, but she is getting excellent treatment.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Memento Mori in Mortlake

Off to London to work at Katie's agency again, listening to podcasts and yawning on the train. At least it is light, and sunny. Kate's agency are asking me in without telling her, allowing me to crop up like an embarrassing uncle at a wedding.

At lunch First Matie drove me to Sainsbury's in her car, which she has customised to sound like a small tractor. I hopped out an bought myself some lemon and coriander humus and oatcakes and then went to sit in the cemetery near Kate's agency which was lovely. I love graveyards.

I was asked back for Friday today too, as well as Weds and Thurs, and the extra day will help pay for my poetical visit to Guernsey which I am really excited about.

Home and I watched some football on TV: Germany versus Austria. Footie is so much less stressful when your own team isn't involved, mind you I felt frustrated by the Austrians who couldn't hit a barn door.

Heard from young Matty today, apparently he knows the owners of Corner Cottage, which I visited on Sunday. Lovely place.

In the evening a spot more of work on the interminable presentation. And now the thought of bed is wonderful, especially as I can have something of a lie in tomorrow morning too. Yippee! I don't have to leave home before 11.

Below memento mori at lunchtime.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Easeful gardens

Booked my ticket to fly over to Guernsey next week for two days. I am going to attend and read at the Pens & Lens event organised by the newly formed Guernsey Arts Commission. Very much looking forward to this. Got a package of material through in the invite, which all looked rather spiffy, and included one of my poems too which was pretty pleasing.

In the afternoon, Lorraine collected me to drive off to the village of Southease near Lewes. This is the point where Matty Kate and I started our walk last weekend, and home to Matt's family. The village was having an open gardens weekend. So as well as the open gardens, tea and home made cakes were served overlooking the village green and the 1,000 year old round-towered church.
We spent a happy afternoon lurking in these beautiful country gardens. One in particular called Corner Cottage was a wonderful maze of tiny paths, and leafy tunnels of burgeoning and dense growths of aromatic roses and many other plants including what Lorraine said was mock orange. I've never been in a garden where my nose was assailed by so many heavenly smells. Unfortunately Corner Cottage was hard to photograph because of the dense planting.

Below a flavour of the lovely gardens of Southease.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sex and the City

Working today, on the albatross-like report I was working with Simon on yesterday and feeling generally tetchy.

Beset by excitable teenagers this evening, and for want of something to do, Lorraine and I went with Sam and Beth, and Beth's boyfriend Mark, off to see Sex and the City. I quite enjoyed this film, even though it's bad in so many ways. It was just like an extended version of the TV show. As a man, the trying on wedding dresses sequence gave me a nosebleed, and the much commented-on touting of labels and product placement was fairly shabby. But otherwise I was able to happily check my brain on entry and enjoy it. Made me miss New York though.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Triskaidekaphobia is one of the few phobias I do not have. So I got a grip this morning, and sent out invoices and dealt with one or two business matters in a reasonably butt bruising manner. Then up to Preston Drove to work with Simon for the rest of the day on a stunningly laborious presentation document. Simon is a really good guy, which helped considering I felt braindead.

Trying to find some time to work on my own projects at the moment is proving very difficult. However financially things are not too bad, and I have some more freelance work at Kate's agency coming up next week. But far better to be busy than have nothing on at all.

Walked home at about six, and found myself desperate for a cheeky Friday night curry and beer. Luckly Lorraine was happy to oblige, and sitting in the Cricketers sipping a pre-curry beer, life felt several degrees more cheery.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Encounter with a wasp beetle and other animals

Sprang up from my airbed this morning for coffees with Mum and Mas. Then spent some time with Mum playing Carcassonne, the game that Toby and Romy sent mum. This was surprisingly enjoyable, and fairly easy to pick up, though I still don't know what the farmers are for. I've actually been to Carcassonne, and it does have a remarkable castle. Anyway we played it and it was fun.

Mum and Mas then off to the dentist, and I did a spot of cleaning and sorting out my emails. Then a really enjoyable lunch driving off to a pub in Letchmore Heath near Elstree called The Three Horseshoes. Mum got talking to the landlady who was outside with her dog Angel, which was some species of barking boxer or something with one of those evil grotesque faces and bat ears. Apparently Angel was scared of cats and handbags. Or cats in handbags. I forget.

Had a really useful conversation with Mas about business which helped me see the wood for the trees. Mum meanwhile befriending an insect, which I now learn is called a wasp beetle. It was inside the pub, and because Mum was looking sadly at it as we left, so I picked it up and took it outside on my finger. It is fine example of nature's mimicry. It looks like a wasp but is in fact a ungrateful biting weasel that gnawed at me while mum was photographing it on my finger.

Then back to Brighton. Lorraine came by and drove us to the beach where we simply walked about by the unusually calm sea. Shoals of mackerel came within feet of the shoreline, simultaneously breaking the surface with dozens of soft splashes. There were a few anglers casting into the middle of these shoals, oddly to no avail.

Below The Three Horseshoes, a very English scene, a cat face in mum's shell and pebble piece, and the bitey-faced wasp beetle.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Unknotting again

Up at seven and made coffee and got straight down to work on my Skelton Yawngrave story. However, gallingly, the muse had checked out for the morning, so after gnashing my teeth, I contented myself with editing existing material for a couple of hours, as this seems to come from a different part of the brain.

Opted for an early swim, feeling a bit sluggish going up and down, and quite pleased when half an hour was over. This followed by admin stuff, such as paying a fat fee to my glamorous accountant, and shopping for office paper.

A couple of hours later I went for another wonderful massage. Painful at times, but in a good way. There is one point, low down, between my shoulders, that makes me flinch like a whipped cur when she touches it. I asked her to have at it anyway.

After an hour of this, I felt drugged and woozy. Dozed for an hour before setting off for London, penning the start of a poem on the train, which was sparked off by the massage.

Up through London to Stanmore and walked from the station talking to Anton. Good to see Mum and Mase. With Mum looking and sounding perky and cheery, which was good to see. She is craving meat at the moment, so spent the evening eating some lovely ribby chickeny grub Mas cooked. Sat about and chatting and listening to the jazz compilations Toby made.

Then I boofed onto an air bed, watching sleepily a film about Stalingrad and people being blown to bits, and shot by fanatics and Nazis before deciding that this may not be exactly the most relaxing of pre-sleep viewing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vampires and twisters

Woke up in the middle of the night feeling extremely panicky, after - of all things - a Vampire based nightmare. I have never been scared of Vampires in the slightest, and even in the dream they were risible. But once awake I had to cover several pages with scrawled mindmaps to sort my head out.

When I eventually fell asleep again some two hours or so later, I had my recurring dream of twisters. I've never seen one in real life, but ever since I was a child I have often dreamt about them. Watched an immense black cloud gather over a mountain top and the funnel move down towards me, tearing at the roofs and fluttering fabrics of the far eastern mountain kingdom that my dream had taken me to.

After all that, having a cup of tea on Katie's terrace was a fine and rather reassuring start to another beautifully sunny day. We walked to her office over Chiswick bridge chatting, and I had a nice trouble free day quietly biffing out a fair amount of copy before setting off for Brighton.

Very nice to be home, though feeling a little tired. Talking to Simon, and Mum and Lorraine. And now bed. Tonight I want no stormy weather.
Below the view from Kate's terrace, Oliver's Island and Kew Bridge.

Monday, June 09, 2008

A fluvial interlude

A six thirty start today to head up to London to do a couple of days at First Matie's agency. Curiously cheery atmosphere on the train, due to the sun I suppose.

Very hot in Kate's offices today, and a strange keyboard glitch made typing a bit of a trial. But all in all a good day, despite feeling that I was wilting like a lettuce. After work headed off to Strand on the Green with Kate, in her little car, and had a cold beer or two by the river with a splendidly-shirted Matty and Sylvia and a meal which included complimentary apple crumbles, which was entirely excessive but very tasty.

Then spoke to Lorraine, who was having a difficult day, and Simon who was also having a difficult day. Kate and I strolled along the river to Kew Bridge and back, looking at a flotilla of 21 Canadian geese, and priest like herons, swans and other river birds convening at sundown.

A lovely summer's evening, but I was soon ready for bed after a long hot day, snoozing in Graeme's bedroom with its en suite bathroom.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sausages and strategies

Apart from dreaming about being on top of bald hills, woke feeling fairly fresh this morning.

Slow pottering in the morning, and in the afternoon off to work with Simon, who lives high on the other side of Brighton. Beautiful blazing day, and we worked together for several hours indoors getting to grips with strategies and shuffling bits of paper about on the floor. Then we enjoying a barbecue with his wife Caroline and lovely little daughter Jessica in Simon's nice garden.

We're working together on some of The Cat with the Hat stuff. And as a talented and strategic designer Simon is a really good contact for me, and a nice guy to boot.

Walking back through Brighton in a sunny summer evening was really pleasant. Home, and I watched some football and then spoke to Toby and the Romster. Good to catch up a bit, and looking forward to Toby's visit. Toby said he'd used my poem Heidegger in the Forest in a class of his, which was very flattering. Apparently the kids liked it too.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Falling upwards

Kate and Matty down on a day trip to Brighton, to take a bracing walk followed by some cheeky beers. We were going to do a walk that I'd done once Anton. Due to complicated train scenarios, however, we decided to go instead to do another walk which Matt and his family do regularly. The walk started well with competitive photography, some advanced hat wearing from Matty and myself, and poppies splashing the fields with colour, not to mention Guernsey cows pulling at the grass.

As you know, I collect phobias like other people do stamps. My occasional horror of wide open spaces, I think started when I was four years old and living in Guernsey. I went through a phase convinced that I was about to fall up into the sky, and would hold onto adults or hedgerows to prevent this.

Standing on top of high, grassy and treeless hills surrounded by the yawning horror of the existential nothingness affects me even today. Our hilltop route was essentially a Peter Kenny worst case scenario walk. One which had me cringing like the most eccentric mad person you can think of, from scraps of cover to scraps of cover, and blundering across the exposed bits as if all the hounds of hell were pursuing me.

This of course added interest and local colour to Matt and Kate's picturesque experience. Thankfully, with their great help and forbearance, after a couple of miles of horror, we began to walk in less exposed places and I felt fine again. Kate feeling free to advance certain theories about it all being an attention seeking ruse. But, frankly, I am the least attention seeking person I know.

The rest of the day was fabulous. We walked past floating hang gliders down into a beautiful valley with the wind ruffling the cornfields, into the village of Firle and its idyllic pub called The Ram. We spent a couple of happy hours there, drinking Harvey's beer and special cider, and scarfing their fine pub grub, Matt and I having half a pint of prawns each to start.

Then, sufficiently refuelled, we walked to the next village of Glynde, where we paused for a little more refreshment and some pork scratchings. Then the splendid Lorraine met us and drove us back to Brighton, where we all met up with Matty's sister Kate her partner Dunc, and pals of Matt's Anna and John in the Battle of Trafalgar. This all exceedingly jolly and cheery.

Rather well refreshed towards the end of evening, Lorraine and I bought fish and chips and I felt suddenly rather sleepy and it was suggested I go to bed. So I did.

Below the long suffering Kate and Matty, from here on a jolly time was had.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Took delivery of a proper Bonny/Verskam IKEA office chair today. Guaranteed to nip back gyp in the bud. This I assembled with minimal swearing, or without doing myself a mischief. Impressive. And manly. Not to mention surprisingly comfortable, with arms and the ability to spin, and thus complement the free spinning ideas I have.

Spent some time involved in circular business conversations and general end of weekishness, so it was nice to escape out with Lorraine, who'd been supervising a young children's drama day, which included parents (the hardest to manage) and her nerves were in shreds. A couple of cheeky cold beers in the Cricketer sorted us out. Then a nice meal curry, it being a Friday night.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The moth blunders madly into the light

Up with the sparrows. Spent my first four hours concentrated on a PowerPoint presentation, based on the conversations I was having yesterday with the Cat with the Hat.

This delivered, slipped off for a swim, and to collect a package from Amazon. I found myself being kicked by the surging crawlers in the fast lane next to mine. How can this be right?

Talked to mum, who is doing fairly well on her chemotherapy regime. Although certain foods are making her feel a nauseous when she has them. She has also been to the dentist, which she was advised to do before the treatment fully kicks in. I will be going up again next week to hang out with her and Mas.

In the evening went to an excellent poetry reading by Brendan Cleary. See my daywork blog for more on that. I also tried out The Moth Display, in one of the open mic spots. This I did with a slightly mad intensity. The poem sounds rather tortured soul-ish, and was against the grain of the rest of the evening. But still, there was some good applause afterwards, and even a solitary whoop which was nice. There's still some work to be done on it. But I am close to the Audenish point where I must abandon it.

Bought a book from Brendan Cleary. I liked him and his poetry a lot. Got chatting to a few people there too, including to Maria, who is on the South's committee and was reading translations at the Finnish night I went to recently. So, all-in-all, an interesting evening.

Home and chatting to Lorraine on the phone while she chased cats, then a guilty pleasure: watching my amazon-delivered DVD about mighty prog rock legends Yes.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Monkish business

A few decisions this morning. Wasn't going to speak at a festival, which I'd been invited to, but the organisation has been so shambolic I realised gleefully that I didn't have to put up with this sort of nonsense any more. Long conversation with Mex today too, whose career is facing some challenges, and also amazing opportunities.

Then off see the Mike, the Cat with the Hat. Naturally there was a bit of hat business to be done first, and before I left I popped into Madhatters to see if his hats had arrived (they hadn't).

A sunny day so I sported my new Panama straw with a black band, and travelled off to Longfield in Kent. This is an area I'd never been to before, and was quite small and countrified. Mike quickly turned up in an expensive open top car wearing an almost identical hat. I jumped in next to him, and the one white, one black combination of largish middle aged blokes wearing straw hats in an open top sports car proved rather amusing to two schoolgirls outside the station. Then to Waitrose where I followed Mike, who sauntered about buying bags of salad.

We arrived at his home, in an old converted farmhouse, with a large garden with apple trees and various crop vegetables, even grapes. I also noticed as he showed me around that there were seven hats to hand in his sitting room.

Spent many hours discussing business in his kitchen - we've come to an agreement that I am going to help him with the strategic marketing side of his publications business - and there is a lot to fix. But we also broke off for long bouts of Jazz, including Theolonious Monk, who I've never listened to properly and, it transpires, is absolutely fabulous. His timing is unlike anyone I've heard.

The Cat with the Hat singing along to the Monk's jazzy mad runs as he expertly prepared baked fish and salsa and salads, which later we fell on hungrily, sipping a crisp and cold white wine. Mike breaking off to talk to his sweet-sounding seven year old son in French on the phone about several matters including hats.

Then the longish journey home again to Brighton, arriving home at 11:30 and going quickly to blessed bed.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The back abates

For the first day in ages, a cracking day on my skeleton story. Also a few tweaks to The Moth Display, which is in the final flap. Then a swim. Feeling better than I have done for a while thanks to my recent massage. My back is not hurting all the time, which means I can sleep too. Yippee. Deep tissue massage rocks.

Up to London in the evening. Spoke to Mum on the train. She had just returned home after starting her chemotherapy. She was feeling a little sleepy when I spoke to her, but she said that the nursing staff couldn't have been better, and it wasn't too bad so far.

Also re-reading an old anthology called New Blood on the train. Rather than dipping into magazines, I'm forcing myself to be more methodical about catching up with anyone who is anyone in the last ten years in poetry. As I did so, an inky stain on my damp manbag printed itself neatly onto my brand new trousers.

Pouring steadily in London, as befits a British June. I set off to Goodge Steet to meet my old Dell posse. The tube claustrophobic, so I got off to walk the last stop. We had broken with tradition by meeting in a different pub, The One Tun, and going to a different restaurant, a Spanish one. Much catching up to be done with Ash, Phil, Arno, Paula, Marcella and James over tapas and wine. I'd not seen Paula for ages - and this year seems particularly grim for her and Pete. Losing her mother is just part of it.

On happier notes, however, young James was showing us his wedding photos, Arno mentioned dark horsishly that he'd married secretly, and Marcella is looking incredibly slim and cheery in preparation for her wedding in November. And I enjoyed seeing photos of Phil's new allotment, claimed back from the wilderness in two days and now crammed full of wondrous vegetable delights and small but interested Muntjac deer.

Lots of fond farewells, then for me a brisk zoom back to Brighton.

Monday, June 02, 2008


Up with the sparrows this morning, and finally was able to get on with writing about skeletons again, which was fantastic. Also worked on my Moth Display poem and made real progress.

At 1.30 I went for a deep tissue massage of my, back, neck and shoulders for a whole hour. It was absolutely wonderful, and also quite painful as I have stored a world of evil up in there.

I also experienced a passing surge of weird panic when Jule worked on the left side of my back. I firmly believe in this idea of tissue memory: that when you release the knots of tension you actually re-experience the emotions that caused the knots in the first place.

The first time I had a deep tissue massage was a few years ago, and it was not only agonising, but I felt terribly depressed for a few days after. But soon after, I felt better than I had felt for ages. And the next time I went for one, the experience was almost painless. It think massage precipitates some kind of a healing crisis.

Today thankfully I was actually able to take a nap right after. Slept like a large baby for an hour, and woke up feeling groggy but strangely refreshed.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Sunday gardener

Working on my The Moth Display poem first thing, then after some time spent mainly wanting to bang my head on the table, stopped. I also explained at length my new vision to Lorraine: 4 stone lighter the Peter Kenny way. Stage one involves lots of positive visualisation about what being 4 stone lighter would be like, and then stage two is to spurn & reject food. Simple but brilliant.

After a small bowl of muesli, and me refreshing her on key points of my plan, Lorraine suggested that we do some work in my garden. Then she drove us off to a garden centre in the afternoon just the other side of the downs, where I bought a few plants that can endure a shady corner of a Twitten snail sanctuary.

Garden centre doing enormous business, and it's hard not to go mad in there and return with an English jungle in the boot. Noticed it was quite a day out for the old folks too, who seemed to be enjoying its cafe and browsing happily among the busy lizzies. Home, and under Lorraine's supervision, undertook a general tidying of my tiny back yard. Lots of repotting going on too, especially of hostas reduced to ratty shreds by the gastropod hordes. Curse those insatiable sap-crazed fiends and their bestial appetites.

Lorraine in typical Taurean fashion, was positively itching to plunge her hands into the earth. And also seeming to know things about flowers and plants, such as their names and temperaments. She also has strong opinions about colours. Mainly that flowers should be white, or greenish white, or yellowish white, or bluish white. Or the colour of something stored in a dusty attic for many generations till appropriately faded. She also likes black grasses.

After spending happy hours about this business, we went off for an enjoyable and fairly restrained early curry in a place called the Ashoka in Hove. The 4 stone lighter the Peter Kenny way was not breached, as the only other thing eaten was the aforementioned museli.

Later I spent some more time alone tidying the front garden, and tending to the Arum lilies which despite some predation by passersby, remain glorious. Searching my soul as I did so, and realised that I must surely now be middle aged to find gardening so theraputic.

Below hostas.