Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Balance

Worked industriously and got five manuscripts off into cyberspace or in old fashioned envelopes. Two for the poetry collection, and three off to poetry magazines. Conscious that I am sending off some really strong material now, and this feels good and positive. This balanced and relaxed feeling a total volte-face from yesterday. I rewarded myself with a blueberry muffin.

I listened to the Allison Fearns show as I worked. I'm trying to judge the best tone of how to approach tomorrow's show, which seems very chatty and low key. Don't feel at all nervous and will prepare a mind map of stuff to glance at, and just show up.

Lots of people coming down to Brighton, all calling me today: Mad dog, Lakshmi, First matie, Mum and Mason will all be down in the next week. Maybe it's the magnetism of the kitten. Spoke to Sophie too, who said Calliope is a name she associates with old Greek women with gold earrings.

Lorraine came round this evening, and the kitten companionably attacked her sleeves, hair and necklace, and generally sprung around the place exhaustingly. Pleasingly she hasn't climbed up the chimney all day, which is an improvement.

I'm on the radio

For avid PK fans with time on their hands... I will be on BBC Southern Counties Radio Tomorrow Wednesday 1st October, talking about childlessness. I'm on the Allison Fearns show, not sure yet about the exact time, probably a little after 2.00PM UK time, which is currently GMT +1.

It is streamed live here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Year Zero and a jaded old hack

I was getting some poetry ready and pinpointing places to send it, when I suddenly felt completely sickened and fed up. I slouched off for a long walk in an autumnal park. What Sogyal Rinpoche calls the Monkey Mind was reminding me that I had my first poems published when I was 22 (which I did) why are you still having to schlep around like a beginner when you've spent over half your life being a published poet? Then I remembered all the rejections I'd ever had (ignoring all the acceptances). I also recalled my life when I had made poetry my priority in my 20s and early 30s. Poverty, Bleak House-like publishers delays culminating in sickening disappointments, such as just missing out at Faber & Faber, nicely rounded off by the death of my best writer friend.

However a walk in the park and a timely call from Bob, made me feel much better. I suggested to the old Mad dog that he set up a Zen guidance hotline. He helped me to realise that no wonder that simply sending off poems gets to be such hard work, if I have been carrying around all that crap too. Time I lost all that stuff, and acted like this was year zero.

This thought cheered me up a great deal, and I returned home much more cheerful. But even this mood put under some strain by finding a fresh, albeit pleasant, rejection of my pamphlet project which contained the advice "It may be worth trying some of the smaller publishers, or indeed a small press – some works need to snowball before they’re noticed by larger publishers. I’d also recommend getting yourself known as well, if you can. In the meantime, if you have any other works in the future, please let me know." The familiar Catch 22: get yourself better known as a writer, then we might publish your writings.

Otherwise nothing but work today. Went to the chiropractor who loosened me up nicely, but hasn't fixed the back pain that it is keeping me awake at night.

The kitten however is wonderful, and is making what seems to be a full recovery. Moaned by telephone to Lorraine tonight, who was fresh from singing in the choir. Thich made me feel better. Probably not her of course, but then today was jaded old hack theme day, and I was best left to my own devices.

Below Calliope helping out today at my desk.






Sunday, September 28, 2008

Matchstick people


Up early and working this morning. I showed Lorraine something I've written, as I have discovered that her instincts are spot on. Importantly she was also able to pacify the cat for an hour.

Poor Anna, who still has pleurisy, has had to go up to the Midlands as her grandmother had a stroke. So Lorraine and I spent the afternoon in Hove park with Anton and the kids. It was like walking into an LS Lowry picture, with lots of dogs, and people dotted about, and all of us small under the glorious September sun.

After a picnic, with Oskar alarmingly fitting an entire boiled egg into his mouth,we watched the children as they clambered about on slides etc. Felt that now-familiar rage when any other little kid barged Oskar on the slide. Good thing I'm not a parent. While I was monitoring Oskar, one little kid who must have been about three and a half introduced himself like a 40year old. His name was Joshua Wilson, and showed me some little rubber balls, and held them out to Oskar, and said "Oskar," (he had heard me encouraging the boy down slides) "I've got three, and you can't have them." Nice.

Ages since I'd kicked a ball around the park with jumpers for goalposts. Ghosts of my childhood running among us too.

Then Martin, and Nicki who I'd met last week, showed up too with their respective kids to join the free for all. Once the kids were exhausted we all squeezed back in Anton's car to our various homes. I went for a swim, and finally the pool is warm again. Home for a quiet evening, hanging with the kitten, who is now eating like a pacman, and whose sneezes are rare. Her new found liveliness is better than ever, judging by the hatching of fresh scratches on the back of my hand.
Below Lorraine and Calliope, and Oskar in the park.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

A sunshine day

Woke early with my mind buzzing about poetry and writing, after a bad night's sleep.

Calliope learnt today how to climb stairs, and celebrated by climbing up to my bedroom sitting in the middle of the duvet and doing an over-excited wee. She followed this achievement by scratching Lorriane's eyeball. Despite her many sins she is at least not sneezing so much, and eating like a horse all of a sudden.

Up, finally and working some poems for a bit. Then shopping with Lorraine. A glorious day today in Brighton. We mooched about feeling happy, visiting Beth at her Saturday job in a kids drama school where there were dozens of over-excited kids doing singing and dancing. What's not to love? And then shopping. Damn the doomed economy: I boldly bought a new duvet covers, and a new duvet.

A chilled night in, after a day in which I felt suddenly rejuvenated and cheerful. Beth and Mark called by to meet Calliope, who is utterly shameless and attention seeking when there are new people about. Later Lorraine and I watched Chronos, which was del Torro's first movie. Ate healthy stir fry and brown rice, and apart from squeezing eye drops into the kitten's eye all was peaceful.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Top cats, dead poets and a Mad dog

Taxi to the Top Cat vets at Patcham. The ride only became uncomfortable when the kitten decided that this was a good time to start pooing.

Nice Vets however, who discreetly took my carrier away and cleaned it. Calliope behaved well apart from pulling herself up by needly feet the woman Vet's bust before sitting on her shoulder, as is Calliope's wont. The kitten did have a respiratory infection, and also conjunctivitis. I was given eye drops, and two antibiotic tablets to quarter and told that she needed to be nursed. A bus home, and even the bus driver was charmed by the kitten.

A fast visit to London this afternoon. I lurked for a bit in the National Poetry Library in the South Bank, looking up a few bits and pieces and thumbing enjoyably through a few journals. The poetry library, however, makes me feel melancholy if I stay there too long: something about all those unread poetry books on the shelves, and the condensed lives they contain. And after sitting at a little study desk for half an hour, listening to someone dozing two seats away, I left for a stroll in the sun by South Bank which in contrast was buzzy and full of life.

Tubed up to meet Bob at Goodge Street. And we had a cheeky drink I have had few beers over the last few weeks, so an honest couple of pints with a good mate, was a curiously glorious thing. Then went to the average Indian restaurant The Palms of Goa, where the old Mad dog told me all about his move to Salisbury over the poppadoms. His daughter has begun school, and after a tricky start is settling in. As ever, exceedingly good to see him.

Back home and temporary cat nurse Lorraine sat cozied up with Calliope on the gold sofa. But the kitten still not eating much. On impulse I took her to her skeleton bowl, and lay on the kitchen floor and poked at her food with my finger. Suddenly the penny dropped and she began tucking in. Much to my relief.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

As nice as pie

Up early and did triage on the kitten in the twitten, who seemed perky enough then began sneezing heavily again during the afternoon, so I made an appointment with the vet first thing tomorrow.

I was busy tidying up in preparation for a dinner party this evening, and suddenly small pieces of soot and debris started falling down the chimney into my fireplace. My first reaction was that it was some kind of earth tremor (which you get these all the time in Brighton). About 15 seconds later Calliope dropped out of it, which gave me quite a turn. It then bounded sootily onto my beige rug. I remonstrated with her, only for her to do it again shortly after. I barricaded the front of fireplace but she makes sporadic attempts to batter her way through these.

I lacked focus today, but managed to squeeze in four or five hours writing, and a much needed haircut. I still miss Nicky in Chiswick. It was like visiting a friend who happened to cut your hair well too. The guys I go to now are reasonably priced, but their conversation puts you in a coma.

Had a lovely evening with Janet, Ken and Lorraine. Sat about happily chatting and drinking wine while the kitten gambolled about over everyone. Usual great conversation with Janet and Ken, and Ken talking to Lorraine about his early years, which I think he should write about - his father was born in the 19th century, and his mother died when he was five.


Seeing as it was a dinner party I had set aside my self-imposed diet and randomly made a fisherman's pie, as I'd never done this before. And it was fairly easy: poached the smoked haddock in milk. Took the haddock out and flaked it, then used the poaching milk as the basis of a white sauce to stir in prawns, haddock flakes, lemon juice and lots of parsley. Spooned this over a layer of wilted spinach. Then topped with a cheesy mashed potatoes, and baked for half an hour. It was a triumph, served with carrots and mange tout, and only my natural modesty prevented me from parading about insufferably.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cat sneezes, radio wheezes

Calliope is sneezing like a docker, and looking wussy. She had been sneezing a bit but it has got worse. I phoned Top Cat Vets. If there is no improvement tomorrow she is going there to be sorted. However she still had enough gusto to attack ears, dance on laptop etc. as I did my first hour's work this morning, and later on during the day.

Took Klaudia into school again as Anna is still feeling ill. Klaudia a bit difficult on the way to school: hiding her arms instead of holding my hand when crossing roads, and taking her coat off, refusing to carry her bag, and creative dawdling. Once we arrived at the school she was back to normal and holding my hand properly. Handed her on to the beautiful teacher with some relief.

Contacted today by the local BBC radio Southern Counties Radio and I will be going in next Wednesday to contribute to the Allison Fearns show. This is quite pleasing. After literally being grabbed off the street by her, I am on the show again.

Went for a swim, and wrote loads. Also popped in the library to borrow a Bob Dylan album, having been brainwashed by Mandy in NZ. But they didn't have the right one, so I will source it elsewhere. In the evening walked up to Lorraine's place to borrow her cat transporter and have a cup of tea, had chats with her and Beth and Cath who was visiting Lorraine. I walked back home carrying cat carrier to hang with the Kitten in the Twitten. We are sitting quietly on the sofa, or rather I am on the sofa and she is on my shoulder. And, of course, she isn't sneezing any more.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Walking to school

Up early, and was working by seven. By working I mean dealing with Calliope's attention seeking for an hour. Then up the road to collect Klaudia and take her to school. Anna does have pleurisy, so is taking care of herself at home.

We dawdled somewhat with Klaudia finding special things to do en route, like walking over every basement grill in the street. Reminded me of my first walks to school in Guernsey, how there has to be a special route to school. Arrived at school and lurked about for a few minutes trying to blend in with the parents. Klaudia showed me the book about ice cream she had been reading. From this I learnt that even spiders like ice cream. Then her "beautiful" (quote Klaudia) teacher turned up, and she went off happily.

Then home again to a rested Calliope, who gambolled about the place for a bit before falling asleep on my lap as I worked. Wrote the Skelton Yawngrave stuff for several hours, and broke off to watch Gordon Brown's conference speech, and simultaneously play a furiously paced and rather springy game of paper shredding with the kitten. I think GB did quite a good job under the circumstances.

I had cooked a bean jar during the day, and Lorraine popped by for a couple of hours this evening, had a bowl of bean jar and played with the kitten. Calliope is a chick magnet.

After Lorraine left a chilled evening watching a TV programme about anger with Griff Rys Jones, which was fairly good. I have quite a long fuse, but sometimes I wonder if not expressing anger, is as bad. I had a pacific kitten tucking itself under my chin, as I watched it. She bit me on the earlobe today on two separate occasions. Possibly for therapeutic reasons.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A cat foretold

Up early this morning. Calliope rather taking things over today. She is adorable. But very clingy and spent most of the day either playing or sleeping on me, or acting like a cat scarf and draping herself around my neck. Lots of walking about on my laptop keys, and generally being so attention seeking my only tactic was to play with her till she fell asleep, and then I could get on with my work. Tremendously entertaining however.

Apart from a great deal of cat handling, had a swim, and made some excellent progress on my book.

Heard from Joan who told me about a prophetic dream the night before I got Calliope, about a cat which played tricks, and its owner with a cat's head whose name was Pete. I can only conclude that the coming of Calliope was foretold.

Anna is sick, with possible pleurisy, I spoke to her in the afternoon. Last night she had to go to hospital to get help due to shortness of breath. As a result, Anton asked me to take Klaudia to school tomorrow. Mum sent me a picture of Skelton Yawngrave today, which was excellent. And Lorraine spoke to me shortly before pushing off to her choir. Spoke to Bob too.

I heard recently about E A Markham's death, in March. I met him a couple of times in about 1991. He was introduced to me as Archie, and I remember him as being a gentle and modest man.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Enter Calliope, from a manbag

At last something even more attention seeking in the Twitten than I am... Calliope the kitten.

A morning mooching around in Brighton, where Lorraine and I bumped into Anton and Anna, and my Godbairns. We saw some of the festival that was going on as the streets had been closed in part of the town. This included bands, and people wandering about with signs saying "free hugs" (I scored one), and lots of children's activities, like chalking the road, and painting Wendy houses. Particularly liked the big green elephants by the Pavilion.

Lorraine drove us to Eastbourne for the main business of the day. A visit a lovely Polish (I think) lady, and her family who had cats aplenty. In fact they were mad for cats: there were two litters of kittens, and ten adult cats. The kittens were all extremely pretty, but I handled a few before I chose mine on the basis that it seemed chilled and happy to be handled, and it has beautiful colouring. It is seven weeks old and so, appropriately enough, must be a Leo.

Then off to a nearby pets superstore to buy a cat bowl (pleasingly with a skeleton fish on it) and other cat paraphernalia.

I felt quite guilty for a short while, tearing it away from its family. Made me think of that bit in the Color Purple where the two sisters are torn apart sobbing. However, on the drive home it happily sat on my lap, and was generally purring and sleeping. Lorraine stopped the car at the end of my Twitten and I popped it into my canvas manbag for half a minute before getting indoors and letting the cat out of the bag. It seemed happy straight away, and wandered about assessing the place, and purring. I cooked and it fell asleep on Lorraine when I was cooking.

Calliope had not come entirely alone, however, and Lorraine de-flead her right away too with Frontline.

Lorraine left at tea time, it has for the last few hours followed me about, played with me, climbed up my legs as I did the washing up, played with a pencil, perched on my shoulders like a furry parrot, and repeatedly rubbed its face in mine. As as far as I can tell, it seems completely happy, and is dozing with its ears just touching my sleeve as I type this.

She was named after the Greek muse responsible for inspiring Homer to write the Iliad and the Odyssey. What's the point of being a writer if you can't be pretentious once in a while?

Below Calliope's first photoshoot... For some reason, she's looking a tad more fox-like and grown up in these than she does in real life. Elephants in Pavilion Gardens.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mermaid's treasure

Up early and off for a swim first thing. They have finally repaired the heater for the showers and the pool, although it was still not warm. Returned home to write a bit more on my Skelton Yawngrave novel before nipping up the hill to Anton's house to set off for the seaside with Klaudia and Oskar as it was such a beautiful day.

There was talk of rock pooling, but the tide was up when we got to the sea. Talking to Klaudia a lot, and discussing shadows and how they follow you. Then on to discovering "mermaid's treasure" by a rock, (mainly shells) as little Oskar boofed cheerfully about the place without fear. After two hours of this, and Klaudia deciding she wanted cuddles: code for being carried as the little princess had had enough of walking. Shortly after being returned to the car my Godchildren slept like babies as Anton and I drove home.

Sat in Anton's back garden drinking tea and chatting. Then Anton gave me three big bunches of grapes that are growing abundantly in his back garden. Home for a spot more work and a doze.

Met Lorraine in the evening, and we went out for Anton's birthday meal #2, except that this time Anna was ill again with a persistent stomach bug. Lorraine, Anton and I met up with Sam and Martin and their pal Nicky. Martin and Anton full of their walk in Scotland, which is becoming increasingly death defying in the telling. Then went to a bizarre Indonesian restaurant - which was like stepping from Brighton into a fragment of Barnsley, with karaoke going on, and numerous other birthday parties and a general air of vulgarity. I had lumpia, which having had cooked for me authentically by Sprinkles, I could tell were very poor. Food quite poor in general, although we all had a good time.

Home gratefully to bed.

Below Klaudia and Oskar by the sea.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Land of the living

I'm back in it. Thank God. Woke up and waited for the flashing migraine lights to kick in again. Wonderfully, however, this didn't happen. And I have gradually returned to the land of the living.

Once there I spoke to several folks including The French Bloke, Anton, Janet, Katie, and Matty boy and Mum. When not doing this got back on track with my Sketlon Yawngrave story.

Went for a couple of short walks in a beautiful early autumn day. It's almost worth having migraine to be able to totter about like a normal person again. After two days writhing in darkened rooms, returning to normal is wonderful. Even managed to straighten out my reading glasses, which I stepped on while lurching about in a migraine daze.

All's well again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ditto day

Sprang out of bed and looked at myself in the mirror. As I did so, the weird spangly migraine lights kicked in again, and the result was that today was another write off. Spent the morning sleeping on my sofa and listening to an audio book. In the afternoon watched The Two Towers DVD in between snoozing. Painful, and now profoundly boring. Bah.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Write off

Up early and eager and cheery. About an hour after I started working, got a migraine. The strange sparkling sickle kicked in disrupting my vision, and the rest of the day was spent feeling half dead, and sleeping for hours. Bah to a wasted day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Barbie combing

Great day' s work today. Making strides with the second draft of Skelton.

In the afternoon off to the gym, which is like some kind of Victorian public school. The pool is still as cold as the English Channel and the showers freezing. I am going to get some money back.

Spoke to Anton, fresh from a challenging walking adventure in darkest Scotland and popped up the road to babysit Klaudia for twenty minutes. She started school yesterday, and is remarkably chilled about it and said her teacher was "beautiful".

Klaudia busy with her dolls, and as Anton left he told her that I wanted to play Barbies with her. I was not alone. The kittens Lenin and Pinkie Barbie Ariel found themselves repeatedly being dumped in the doll's bed, and lifted about the place, which they endure with complete resignation. I was told to comb a Barbie's hair with a brush. They do get in a tangle those Barbies. Klaudia showed me Ariel, who is a mermaid doll. I needed to know as I was fairly confident her kitten wasn't named after the character in The Tempest.

Anton back with Oskar, and it was quite a scene with the kids strewing toys about, (or in Klaudia's case carefully putting all the barbies and Ariel to bed) and the kittens hareing about after a fly with Anton attempting to tell me about the walk.

At bath time I made my excuses and resumed writing, after an omlette and salad, pausing to speak to Lorraine, and break off to watch Chelsea win a football match.

Read Gray's elegy in bed night, which I'd not looked at for ages. Some very nice bits in it. Especially the first few lines. And technically, I love the way he modulates the vowel sounds. Definitely a poem to be spoken aloud like a melancholy spell.

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The mopeing owl does to the moon complain...

Monday, September 15, 2008

A little Twister

Up before seven, and straight to work. Busy ticking things off my mindmaps, which are now blu tacked to the wall by my desk. Completed my article, did some billing, caught up with some correspondence, finalised my poetry manuscript, submitted some work for the little Guernsey magazine Written... All before 12 noon. The poetry manuscript is absolutely bloody finally finished, and it is called Twister and is a mere 21 poems long. But every one a winner.

Bob called and he is worried about his daughter who has started school and some of the other little girls are being horrid to her.

In the afternoon off to have a 45 minute deep tissue massage. Fantastic. I am a complete convert, despite it being a little painful at times. It does tend to make me sleepy though. And after lurching home, I slept heavily for an hour.

In the evening walked across town to Simon's house, where we had a nice supper with his nice wife Carol and then talked business for a couple of hours. A fairly productive session, they are nice folks. Walked home late and under the full moon, talking to Lorraine on my mobile, and feeling cheerful.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A cold shower and a happy day

Up with the sparrows to work on my Pooran Desai piece. Though the sparrows contributed little. Then, after a long chat with Lorraine, got a grip on about fifty things whirling around my brain and produced three mindmaps. These instantly decluttered my head, leaving me feeling calm, in control, and clear.

Lorraine has taught me in the last few weeks that when you create a to do list, put everything in the past tense. So it would be something like "established a target figure for income" or "finished laundry". Somehow it really works.

After all this worthy stuff, a very chilled day indeed. A phone call or two re cats. But no luck. Perhaps I should be new age about this. I have asked the universe for a cat, and simply believe that one will manifest itself.

Went walkabout in a sunny Brighton, pausing to pick up a book for Anton by famous cartoonist Gilbert Shelton (of Furry Freak Brothers fame) who was doing a personal signing session in Dave's Comics. More about that in my daywork blog. He seemed a lovely, and gentle character.

After this we drifted through the open air food festival, with a great many stalls, then down to the beach, which was thronging with people in the sun. Passing a jazz band, we had a cup of tea at the Meeting Place, and I felt more relaxed than I have done for some time.

After Lorraine left I went for a swym. The pool and showers are not heated, due to some mechanical failure which has lasted most of the week, but has at least provoked talking among the gym's denizens. And more involuntary yelping from me. Even I had quite a nice chat with a bloke with enormous biceps after I emerged grey faced, but Spartan, from the cold shower.

Then home, to a veggie chili and brown rice. Have eaten exceedingly healthily this week. And as for my week's drinking: a mere two pints of beer and a small glass of wine, which for me is low.

Working more in the evening, and a talk with the Tobster who is getting back into the swing of teaching, and managing a tricky class. Also we were gleeful about the harvest (of tunes and audiobooks from one another's collections).

Below the very pleasant Gilbert Shelton drawing on the book I scored on behalf of Anton.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A wild cat chase

Today was cat day. Scored a local advertiser rag, where there were cats aplenty. Fortunately Lorraine was with me, and drove me off to one place where there was a kitten, a fluffy little tabby, which looked nice enough, but was a bit scabby, and something about this slightly repelled me. Other kittens contacts proved elusive. Amazing how many folks will advertise something only to be unobtainable.

Lorraine then drove me to the RSPCA where I filled out a form to possibly adopt a second hand cat. (Or as I used to write for The Blue Cross pet charity "a cat that through no fault of its own needs another start in life"). Before I can adopt a used cat however I have to have my house inspected by an RSPCA visitor for catskin rugs etc.

Quite heartrending to walk past the dog pens. I don't even like dogs much. But unlike the rehoming centres I had visited before, where all the dogs had long faces (lurchers, greyhounds and the like) these were likable dogs with normal faces.

The cats were all quite grown up however, and I think I want a kitten.

Exhausted by futile cat searching, Lorraine and I ended up back at my house, where I made a Greek salad, and drank sparkling water with a judicious squeeze of lemon, and cups of tea, and had a couch potato fest: The X Factor (guilty pleasure), del Toro's utterly fab The Devil's Backbone, which I have seen several times. Then Match of the Day, to watch Chelsea win, and Manchester United lose. All's well with the world.

Friday, September 12, 2008

One Planet, two beers

Up early and preparing to interview Pooran Desai of One Planet Living. He is a sustainability pioneer, I'd met him once before, at a meal instigated by the Cat in the Hat. There is a new housing development on the other side of the station called One Brighton, which has been built to One Planet guidelines, and is the UK's (and possibly the world's) most sustainable residential development. It is zero carbon, and has a host of features that make it utterly spiffy, even the concrete it is made with is the greenest concrete available, made with recycled aggregate.

I met Pooran at the marketing suite, and he quickly showed me around the show appartment, then popped around the corner so I could interview him in a quiet cafe. Tremendously nice man. And very positive too, saying Martin Luther King didn't say "I have a nightmare", but "I have a dream". Among lots of other stuff, I cheekily asked him about his OBE, and laughing he said it had pleased his mother.

Fascinating stuff. I then sloped home briefly to attend the opening, where the Deputy Mayor Carol Theobald cut the pink ribbon to officially open the show apartment. Some light schmoozing after, in which I learnt that the dining chairs in the show appartment were partly made from recycled computer games consoles.

Sloped off after to the same cafe to chat to Simon, who I'd me there, for half an hour or so. We were both really excited by One Brighton. We agreed to start nailing down various projects we have been talking about, and I'm going around to his place on Monday evening to get going.

Then off home to write up a few notes, and go for a short swym, where they still hadn't mended the showers. Had felt leaden and twitchy today, but the swim brightened me up a bit. In the evening Lorraine came around, exuding calmness and cheer, and we went out for a curry. I had my weekly beer intake: two beers. I had low fat tandoori chicken and some rice and vegetables. We were given free poppadoms in the Agra too, to as its owner, Ash, said, we were VIP customers, which made me smile.

Have managed to lose two kilos in the last couple of weeks, and trousers sitting better, which is nice. Soon I shall be lithe as a young grass snake. What is pleasing is that I didn't feel like falling on the beers like I'd been in a desert either.

Home to watch Stevie Wonder singing on the Jonathan Ross show. Amazing stuff.

Below Inside the One Planet showroom... So highly designed that the only books on show were colour coordinated with the rest of the design, the view onto the little balcony, and the achitectural model with some attendees of the opening.














Thursday, September 11, 2008

Too cute

Up early and thinking of New York. Got to work, and now a smidge away from having my slimmed down 22 poem ms ready to send out and get cracking with. Spoke to Simon at some length this morning too, about various sustainability projects, and we'll see each other tomorrow - after I've done my interview with Pooran. Apparently the Cat with the Hat will be down in Brighton too.

Sloped off for a swym, the pool was freezing, and the showers had no hot water. I spoke to someone in the gym and the spoke back, which is a bit of a first.

Now listening to Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami as an audiobook. I love Murakami's work, but this one seems to have slipped through the PK net. So I need to get it read. Good so far, and has a cat, albeit a dead one. His work makes me feel strangely calm.

Got a note from the local radio, and a producer is going to call me about an idea I wrote to them with. Watch this space.

In the evening Lorraine came around for a short while, and she came with me up the road as I was babysitting my Godbairns. A surfeit of cute tonight, with Oskar bouncing up and down copying his bouncing Tigger toy and laughing, and the kids sleeping in the same bed, and Klaudia chatting happily to me. It took them a while to settle, even after Lorraine read them a story. Once they did, and Lorraine left, I was left in the company of the kittens Lenin and Pinkie Barbie Ariel (Klaudia's kitten) who decided I was a climbing frame, and then a dormitory and sat about licking each other's faces.

This while I was watching a TV documentary about a Tania Head who bizarrely faked a 9/11 story, and became president of the survivor's group. Turns out she wasn't a US citizen, and wasn't even in the US at the time. An amazing and cruel fantasist.

Anton and Anna returned early and I pushed blamelessly off home.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Queen of Higgat

Sprang out of the airnest at a little after eight for breakfast with Mum and Mase. After the first cup of coffee Mase talking at length about films, including the one about "the gorilla guy" aka King Kong, which he rates (I do too). He also lent me a DVD of V for Vendetta, which is a film, I'd never seen.

After breakfast Mum and I pored over her sketch of Skelton Yawngrave, which I want to use it in the forthcoming Skelton Yawngrave website, as part of my world domination tactic. She also read the first couple of chapters of the first draft, as it describes what Skelton looks like. Pleased to hear her laughing a bit when she read it. Although in fairness she is not 10.

Then off down the Northern line to see Sophie in Highgate (which today she was pronouncing Higgat). I collected her from her house, where she works with her assistant doing important PR stuff. Then we set off for lunch in a cafe restaurant in Queens Wood, the park behind her home, and had grilled salmon on a bed of green beans. Enjoyed seeing how she walks through the park, greeting all the keepers, and being very familiar and chatty with the staff in the little restaurant in the park, bustling up to the chef's area and discussing directly with him what was good today and so on. I think she is the Queen of Higgat. As usual we had lots to discuss, and she told me how her business was doing, and about the holiday the family had taken in Greece, and Christof's new leather jacket and lots of other important stuff, and listened to me talking about my life and times. A good gossip, in a lovely setting.

Then back to Brighton to watch the V for Vendetta movie, which wimped out of lots of the darker stuff in the graphic novel, and so ended up being somewhat toothless, although visually quite good at times. The graphic novel is like a storyboard for the movie, no wonder so many movies get made from cartoon characters - the have the first draft of the film right there. However the writer Alan Moore had his name removed from the credits in protest.

Meanwhile in the outside world various boffins have delved deep in the earth to conduct an enormous physics experiment with something that would sit happily in a Marvel or DC comic: a Hadron Collider. Sadly it led to a teenage girl in India killing herself because she thought it was going to create a black hole and destroy the earth. I'm surprised only one person did it. At least two cheesy headlines in free rags saying that "if you're reading this then the experiment has worked".

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A click

A note from Richard Fleming saying that there was to be a new anthology of Guernsey poetry, which I will be in. Very happy about this - it has been a good year for my work in the island.

Up to see Mum and Mase today. Avidly reading V for Vendetta on the train, and the time passed with me absorbed by the paranoid, post-apocalyptic gloom of the story. Happily the headache caused by a seized up neck, disappeared with a "click" as I turned abruptly to look out of the window. Mum once cracked her neck on a tube while her mouth was open, amplifying the sound alarmingly.

Lurked about with Mum and Mase, chatting lots this afternoon and evening. Mum looking really well, and we three spent some time looking at her paintings, a few of which had been expertly framed by her former dealer.

Everyone off to bed early, and I finished V for Vendetta, before clambering into the airnest.

Monday, September 08, 2008

England prevails

This afternoon, took advantage of a non-raining day to go for a walk by the sea, then lurked happily in a second hand bookshop. Also popped into Dave's Comics to buy V for Vendetta which I ended up reading avidly this evening. Graphic novels are for grown ups too. I never really believed it when people said this before. This one is very bleak and is set in a post nuclear war England, where a Nazi-like Fascist government has taken over the remains of the society. An anarchist weirdo dressed as Guy Fawkes starts attacking the government, whose say "England Prevails" to one another in a "Heil Hitler"ish way. Strangely compelling. The graphic novel form is great because you can show images which are not immediately connected with the words - so you can get a film like voice over effect. This dissonance then creates something in between, a third meaning, which gives the graphic novel format a richness.

I've always liked strip cartoons and have tried to draw them myself. At University I drew a sarcastic cartoon strip attacking a tedious philosopher lecturer called David Holdcroft, called "The Alternative Holdcroft threatens the universe" and talked about the longueurs induced as he repeatedly paused mid sentence for several seconds. Poor bloke, and what an ungrateful wretch I was. Anyway, my friend Andy Smith photocopied it and thoughtfully posted it into the entire philosophy department's pigeon holes, including the lecturer concerned. Fortunately everyone suspected the turbulent Andy of this thought crime as I had cleverly used the nom de plum of Cedric O'Boogie.

I used to read Marvel comics when I was a kid, chiefly because the kid next door in Neasden called Ajit collected them. We used to have superhero themed fights, I always got to be Iron Man because I was the youngest of the gang and others chose the more glamorous heroes such as The Mighty Thor. In some ways Marvel artwork was the first art that I found for myself. Some youthful scribbles of mine below, which I recently disinterred show this influence I think.

Below: JRR Tolkien and an orc bite the dust near Isengard, some other waffly stuff, and a nice little fish leaping design. Click to enlarge.




Sunday, September 07, 2008

Return of the fishes

Woke up at five this morning. Eventually, got out of bed and did some work.

After a brief snooze later, Lorraine and I went for breakfast with Brian, Anna, Anton and the children to Bill's: a great place for Sunday breakfast. Lovely fresh fruit juices of their own devising, and handfuls of herbs decorating each plate of high quality breakfast snap. Anton, Brian and myself feeling a little subdued, but it was lovely to see Anna and the children. Klaudia is starting school next week, and this is hard to imagine. She told me she likes Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and I enjoyed seeing her plop a tomato, which Oskar had been playing with alongside his Wall-e toy, into Anton's juice.

Walked home from Bill's with Klaudia on my shoulders, which was surprisingly tiring. As we progressed, Klaudia made up a song which went "nose on your head... you're dead!" (repeat x50). At my place I gave my Godbairns some small wooden turtles I bought in Crete.

When everyone left, and with Lorraine's prompting, I dragged a big aquarium out from under my stairs and to decide whether I should set it up. I have been browsing the Practical Fishkeeping website a lot lately. We went with Beth and Mark, to Maidenhead Aquatics shop (a well known chain of fish shops) near Ferring I felt the ghastly yearning for fish started again. Until recent years I have kept fish off and on since I was about 10. I have a hobbyist's deep knowledge.

Looking at all the tanks full of familiar jewel-like fish, and more beautiful discus than I had ever seen in one place. It took me back to being ten again, and living in Neasden and then Kingsbury in North London, and walking up to Blackbird's Cross to the first fish shop I used to haunt. It was owned by a rather taciturn man who grew to recognise me, as I would spend hours in his small shop, which I think was called Pets Galore, transfixed by the two rooms of fish tanks, and plotting which would be the next member of my community aquarium. I seem to remember him offering me a cup of tea during one day of particularly absorbed browsing. Then the trip home on a bus (so I could get home as quickly as possible) with a plastic bag in a brown paper bag, with two or three fish twitching inside it - and me anxious to get them home as soon as I could.

The last time I kept fish I returned home to a disaster. There was a horrible smell in the house, which I traced to the aquarium, a lovely one, established for about three years. What I found however, was a tank full of evil smelling chowder. The thermostat had mysteriously malfunctioned and the heater had been heating the water continuously all day. This memory is sufficiently faded now for me to now be considering setting up another aquarium.

After the fish trip Lorraine dropped me off home, and I pootled down to LA Fitness for a swym (in a gym).

Home and I finished Engleby by Sebastian Faulks. I really liked this book, which was about a man with a personality disorder. Curiously gripping, and also rather sad. I found it a real page turner (despite listening to it as an audiobook).

Below I was sitting opposite Oskar at Bill's, and snapped this. The tomato ending up in Anton's juice a few minutes later. Klaudia and Oskar on my stripy one and half person chair, looking blurry in the slow shutter speed.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Happy days

I'd set my alarm early and got up to complete and file my piece on Crodyon, before returning to bed. Then after a light breakfast with Lorraine, off to the gym for a swym. It felt great to be swimming, although they have the water quite coolish in their pool. Anton told me this was good as it burns off more calories, but the involuntary yelping as I got in wasn't very dignified.

Then met Lorraine again to do a spot of shopping. Home again I made a large salad and attended to one or two bits while Lorraine read the Guardian. Then a long afternoon sleep, where I woke feeling rested and generally cheery. Watched the X Factor, which is despicable junk TV etc. but nevertheless compulsive viewing, and Lorraine likes it too.

I suddenly realised that I felt happy. Recent glooms and twiching seem to be abating, which is rather nice.

In the evening went out with Lorraine, Brian and Anton as part of Anton's ongoing birthmonth celebrations. Incessant rain tonight. Two drinks in the jolly butchers, where I lost my umbrella and spent some time searching and quizzing the barmaid before discovering it on the back of my chair. Then some pizza based knife and forkwork in Strada. Lorraine pointed out to a couple sitting outside in the teeming rain, and the woman was cutting the man's hair. Rather surreal. Then a final drink in the Eddy, which was in one of its boisterous lurching around nights. Brian going into buying shots mode, but left with Anton before damage was done.

Home to a large sparkling water. All in all, a very cheery day.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Friday feeling

Friday, and my last day at Reuben's place. Off to Waterloo with violent stomach cramps and experiencing waves of nausea, to the point where I nearly got off the train. Perhaps it was the large slabs of American style meat. However things settle down enough to go into work, and although I felt very sick off and on during the day, I did not actually hurl. This was fortunate as the creative department of Reuben's agency went off for an ironic sit down fish and chips and chapagne for lunch. I was invited too, which was nice, although I passed on the champagne, as my guts were not yet ready for this. Curiously the F&Cs seemed to lessen the quease.

Had fun at lunch, and there are some nice folks at this agency. Talking to a lay preacher on one side, and a woman who had lived in Japan on the other. And Reuben being funny and cheery as usual. Bob called just as we were leaving the restuarant, and he told me about how Millie has had her first day in school this week in Salisbury. Worked hard in the afternoon, but was quite pleased to head for home, being absolutely riveted by Engleby by Sebastian Faulks.

My gold sofa was particularly seductive tonight. I detached myself from it only to let a wet and cheerful Lorraine in, and then to slip off to with her to buy some Chinese grub. Then happily ate this while watching a little junk TV as the rain fell outside.

The weekend. Splendid. Not had that Friday feeling for a while...

Thursday, September 04, 2008

In The French House

Finally had a good night's sleep, and so felt much brighter today. Into Waterloo and had a pleasant day in Reuben's agency - working on stuff to do with arthritis, autism and fundraising. Seems nice and very natural to be working with Reuben again. Like it was with Kate. Also negotiated a weekend deadline for my Croydon article (which I have found impossible to finish on the train) and also set up an interview next week with Pooran Desai, who is a eco-housing pioneer in the UK, which should be interesting. I have met him already and he is a very nice chap.

Talked to Mum too, about what Skelton Yawngrave looks like. She is going to do a picture for my Sketon Yawngrave website.

Suddenly much more relaxed, as after relaxing so much in Crete I felt capsized by obscure stresses since my return to the UK. Met up with Anton in Soho after work in The French House on Dean Street. I'm sure I've mentioned it before on this blog, but it is a lovely place, and one of my favorite pubs in London. It sells beer in halves, as a concession to its Frenchness, and is small and crammed with interesting people, and its clientele often spill out onto the street, although this is not unusual with Soho pubs. Photos jostle high on the wooden walls, and I noticed Francis Bacon looking down from one of them.

Had a nice evening with Anton, who was sporting a rucksack he had just bought himself, which when he bought it was cooked in an oven for twenty minutes and then moulded to his back. Naturally he was very pleased with this. We then went to an American style restaurant he'd read about. And we ate some big meaty things, and had a bottle of Dos Equis beer, which I'd not tasted for a long time. A quick half in The Sun and Thirteen Cantons, and then a taxi back to Victoria, and a train back home fairly early.

Had a cheeky drink in the Battle of Trafalgar before going our separate ways after setting the world to rights on things like graphic novels, rucksacks, Anton's role as my personal marketing strategist should my Skelton Yawngrave novel take off, his career, and the correct way to research and purchase a fishing rod. All in all a splendid night.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

White rabbit day

Cursing myself as my alarm did not ring, and I woke up late and feeling exhausted and still vaguely coldish after a terrible night's sleep. Threw on some clothes and headed up to Waterloo, head hanging in shame and trying to work on my article on the train.

Nobody really cared that I was late, in fact it was a mild mannered day with Reuben back in the office, and we went out for a fast Thai lunch and catch up. It is heartening to see him be an excellent creative director and fielding calls over yellow curries. Although there wasn't much to do this afternoon, I've been asked back for the rest of the week which is good for the Kenny coffers.

Home fairly easily and working on my blasted Croydon article after watching the US version of Hells Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay swearing at unfortunates in New York. He made his reality show chefs sift through garbage bins of discarded food at to demonstrate how much they had wasted. Amazing the humiliations people will endure to be on TV. It took an hour of this before I grew a bit tired of watching other people get bullied. Up to my study to work. But after an hour or so I felt so tired when I got around to working again on the wretched Croydon article that I made little progress.

Feeling depressed that the potential Republican vice president of the US is a creationist and believes that evolution and creationism should get equal weighting in American schools. Religious maniacs everywhere are trying to drag us back to the dark ages.

Listening to a splendid audiobook called Engleby by Sebastian Faulks - which is reminds me a little of my student days - although set a bit before before my time - and is quite disturbing at the same time.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Waterloo and cat terrifying

Up with the sparrows, feeling vaguely coldy, and headed off to Waterloo to Reuben's agency. I am doing a couple of days freelancing, though Reuben wasn't there today. Quite nice to be back in the South Bank, near where I worked in my IBM years. Pleasant agency and nice people, and interesting work too. Also spoke to Simon, and the Cat with the Hat today.

Walking back to Waterloo station after work, I discovered Brian outside the Fire Station pub with some chums. He was quite well refreshed, and trying to entice me to stay to drink with them. However I didn't, as I was being a responsible Godparent as today is both Bob and Anton's birthday (they are like two peas in a pod) and I had promised to babysit for local Virgo Anton.

Sat downstairs at Anton's place trying to finish my Croydon article, but feeling braindead and continually diverted by their two new kittens tumbling about the place. Fortunately the bairns upstairs slept like babies, so the babysitting part was easy.

Anton and Anna returned home - Anna feeling a bit sick. Anton showed me his book of Cold War military aircraft, and played a few tunes. One of these, by UB40, has a noise at the beginning of the record (Tyler on Signing off) which has always terrified Trotsky the cat. Anton demonstrated the effect on all three cats. As soon as the record started, there were instant frantic cat scrabblings - Trotsky bolting upstairs as usual, and the kittens both shooting under the cooker.

A hilarious sight. I wonder what they think it is? It is the only record that does it. After, Anton lay on the floor and slightly guiltily coaxed them out from under the cooker.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Good vibrations

A slightly sluggish start. Coughing a little in the night and feeling non-specifically wussy today. However, after a spot of shopping, and a few calls, I made off to Croydon after lunch. I've never had anything other than sucky times in Croydon. But this time I met a very nice woman called Kia who is head of environment and sustainability, whom I interviewed for ON TRACK. She almost converted me to Croydon and the surprisingly green agenda of its council. Almost.

Home and gripped by a sudden heavy lethargy, and slept soundly on my sofa for an hour at five. Then sprang up again to start writing up the interview. I had met Kia in a cafe and recorded it in there. Fortunately I can just hear her, but my own wafflings are almost inaudible. Good thing it wasn't the other way round.

Then off to the Hanbury in Kemptown with Lorraine in her car. I had no real idea where it was, so we spent some time wandering about in the far reaches of Kemptown, fortunately Lorraine is of a relaxed disposition and didn't mind to much. We parked randomly and walked for some time. We were to see the Brighton Beach Boys, featuring my ex-next door neighbour Steve Wrigley.

I'm not particularly keen on the Beach Boys but the Brighton Beach Boys were so good, it was hard not to be swayed. Also chatted to Stephen Kalinich, actual Beach Boy collaborator, and poet. Sadly we had to leave early before he came on for the second half. Managed to chat to the Stephens and Naomi (Steve W's partner and my ex-neighbour) before I left though.

The Hanbury is an attractive little venue, with a high domed ceiling, and it was really good fun. Lorraine drove us home, after a sensible and restrained night out. I suppose it was a Monday, and I have work in London tomorrow, and Lorraine has her new job to attend to.

Still thinking about cats.