Saturday, February 28, 2009


Much improved this morning. General wheezing and bad chest has abated. Lorraine drove me and Calliope to the vet to get her stitches taken out. More venting of throaty yowls in the car, but she was chilled in the vet's place and her wound is neatly healed with a little scar.

Home, and more website referencing work for my Pfizer client for a few hours until this was done. Then spent some time shouting at the TV the rugby. The ill disciplined England team are especially infuriating this year. However I was delighted to note another Chelsea victory, and that the tentacles of darkness which have held them back this year seem to be loosening their grip.

Lorraine and I zoomed off to the Hanbury Club, where we met Jess and Andrew to celebrate Jess's birthday. Also met Kate, Jess's daughter who is studying Law. Good food, especially the Thai style crab starters. Music provided by Ska Toons who did a particularly excellent ska veering into jazz version of Wichita Lineman. Some creaking about the dance floor afterwards (me going one step beyond with one or two of my suaver ska moves) before bundling into a taxi home.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The somnambulist

Woke up at 4am to Calliope fighting in the Twitten. Got up and went downstairs for a glass of water, coughing chestily and feeling rough. Sleepwalked to the station and caught the train to London. Arriving at Victoria I felt shaky, and exhausted so I resolved there and then to get on the next train to Brighton. Luckily the agency I am working with at the moment were okay with this - as taking days off like this is not a great idea, and of course I lost the day's wages.

Home and after an astonishing five hours heavy sleep on my sofa, felt vastly improved. So much so that I went out with Lorraine in the evening to our usual Friday night haunts feeling fairly human. Enjoying a curry in our usual place, with Lorraine being spoiled by Ash the owner as usual.

Calliope seems to boss this end of the Twitten now, despite being a very small cat for her age. When I returned home in the morning, I saw her chasing off a white cat literally twice her size, which was loping in front of her like an alarmed lamb. It's all about attitude.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Memories of Maggie

Mental clearout as I took a lunchtime stroll down the river, and made a few decisions about future directions, and to get back on track with my own plans and schemes.

Couple of bracing notes from Randolph today. Looking forward to seeing him again and putting the world to rights. He was saying that his current thinking is that he traces all that's wrong with, say, Opera and is that art is being ruined by intellect. He told me about going to a horribly spiky modern Opera at Glyndebourne and longing for the parole of intermission "and then everybody I encountered if they were ENJOYING it - a small straw poll, no doubt - but did not meet A SINGLE PERSON who said they were."

More delays on the trains going home tonight. Home, and I watched a drama about Margaret Thatcher's last days in power, which had a great central performance by the slightly too gorgeous Lindsay Duncan.

Much as I detested Thatcher, this showed nicely the loathsome lickspittles that clung around her, and the sexism waiting to barge into the Cabinet. It suggested she was such an "Iron Lady" because this is the only way she could see to wield power over men. Although I have the impression she had the capacity to be rather charming on a one-to-one basis, before she went completely mad of course.

During my lunchtime walk I discussed with Mum and Mason the reasoning which resulted in the palatial catflap below. Mason explained that it was because Salty didn't like the wind blowing in his face. And that the white pelted fiend trod mud in the house. This edifice (complete with its own garden, is the result). You can read more in Mum's blog...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Munching with Marja

Another wound day with Betsy. Up to London listening to Dune Messiah again, although it is nowhere near as interesting as Dune. Looked at some poems I'd been fiddling with lately on the train, and had a stern-minded cull, a curiously enjoyable process. Work fine, and had another Plum lunch with Betsy and Betina, a likeable German woman who is married to a Brit and has lived in the States.

In the evening met Marja in the Salisbury pub. I'd not seen her for almost two years I think. She was looking great and it was good to catch up with her, and hear about her kids and so on. We went for a bite to eat in Browns, which wasn't too bad. Unusually I opted for a burger based meal, which was rather good. Marja of course had some species of delicate salad.

Among other gossip, I always enjoy asking Marja about Finnish things. As she is Finnish and teaches the language and culture in the Finnish School. I learned about Kalevala Day on the 28th February, which is a day of celebrating Finnish culture and their national epic poem, The Kalevala, or Old Poems from Karelia telling the Ancient History of the Finnish People, which is a distillation and collection of folk stories and so on made in the middle of the nineteenth century. I must investigate.

Marja also mentioned that she had enjoyed Beer and Trembling, the unpublished novel I wrote about ten years ago. I had forgotten she had read it. Always good to hear.

Home late, and straight to bed, noting only a large envelope sent by my glamorous accountant with a surviving the recession document in it. Curious.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cotton wool day

Snuffling off to London, where my day's work was conducted with a cold-induced cotton wool blur for a brain, and seemed to go on forever. Much of the day spent with Betsy and Anna talking about the brand we are creating for the wound business. The three of us to Plum for lunch, which was as busy and unsmiling as ever. 

My other pharma client told me that more referencing needs to be done. My soul is groaning, and it will have to be done this weekend if it can't be done at night.  Sigh.

Caught the tube with Betsy tonight, who was off to pilates, which, she says, is freaking awesome.  Then on the train listening to podcasts, and have started Dune Messiah as an audiobook. This is convoluted although quite enjoyable in an escapist sort of way. There is something really impressive when an author creates a world in such detail that some of the sentences are almost entirely composed of invented names and concepts, all of which you have been taught to understand. 

Home (after the obligatory half hour delay on the train) and my cold moved into its streaming phase. Spoke to Lorraine who was feeling anxious, and played with Calliope, who was clingy again. I have been using the laser light toy on a keyring to amuse her. She is now addicted to laser spot to the extent that this evening she actually found the keyring, and brought it to me in her mouth. Sometimes I wonder if there isn't a person trapped in my cat's body. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Four kinds of English grey

Challenged by this morning. In the night I had turned over in bed, and a minor tweak in my back suddenly became a sudden yikes!-inducing pain. Drifted back into sleep until Calliope thoughtfully rubbed her face into my open and drooling mouth at 6.00am. Up snuffling, and loping like an orc off to London to get fangs sorted.

Off to Strand on the Green where, being early, I took the photos in the entry below. Then late into the agency. Curiously, nothing much to do once I was there. Had a fruit smoothie with Betsy at lunch, and sat about with my head full of Paul Klee images, longing to be released back into the wild. Doodled Paul Klee style pictures while attending an interminable meeting this afternoon, listening to a teleconference of clients giving their opinions about creative work.

Home to a clingy cat who is balking at food in protest at my absence, and cold chicken sandwiches for me. And then a nice chat with Lorraine... Then bed... Bed calls me with its siren voice.

Below some shots of the Winter river on a mild morning: under the railway bridge, Kew Bridge, A detail of Oliver's Island, and a coffin like outlet into the Thames.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The red gate

Sluggish day. Spent the day with Lorraine, with both of us feeling a bit wussy, and did not stray far from home. However spent a happy hour or so looking at my books of Paul Klee paintings. Every time I look at these pictures I see a new one as if for the first time.

Today it was Gate in the Garden. The commentary by Douglas Hall says "the motif of the entrance... hangs in space like a portent, while its red colour conveys a warning to the heedless who might stray through it." There is something compelling and sexualised about the gate, like a frame from some horror film. What will emerge? What will happen if you step into it?

What could emerge, for example, is the frightening black beast known as the Panther of Preston Park which I am keen to learn more about.

In the evening watched Lark Rise to Candleford, which Lorraine absolutely loves. Julia Sawalha has a splendid face. In fact there are many good faces in this production.

Below Gate in the Garden painted in 1926

Saturday, February 21, 2009


An offline sort of day. Lorraine who was staying at my house, was ill with bad cold. Made sure she was okay and fed, and watered and appropriately drugged as she dozed or read the papers, making no fuss, and not feeling particularly sorry for herself either. The gold sofa something of a recovery zone with Calliope sleeping next to her with her little stitches poking out.

Had a nice chat with the French Bloke and Max. Max now about six weeks away from having their new baby, which is apparently in a breach position. Also spoke to Mum later on, and received a note from Joan, whose also just read The Secret Scripture and admired it too. Joan also approves of me getting Calliope sorted out too, which is good to know.

Buying bread this morning, had my eye caught by a vibrant leaf green rug. Gaff, the rug shop, has a special rug lending service for locals, so I was able to bring it home and look at it in situ. However it wasn't quite right and made everything else in the room recede. I have bought two rugs from there however so I didn't feel too bad when I took it back.

Otherwise I did next to nothing today, and had a sore throat and sinuses this evening too. Bah to it. Watched most of a film called Vera Drake, which I had to stop watching about two thirds of the way through after Vera got arrested. I don't quite understand why I felt like this, and I like Mike Leigh films. Instead watched Match of the Day and watched Chelsea return to their winning ways under their new manager Guus Hiddink. The last couple of months have been like watching Samson get a haircut, and I hope Chelsea's form can turn around properly under the Dutchman Hiddink, who is also currently managing the Russian national team.

Below Calliope sporting a bald patch and two neat stitches.

Friday, February 20, 2009


At work fairly early on some new stuff my pharma client sent me and I was done by midday. Then my computer's email connection died and I spent two hours on a single phone call to BT to try and sort it all out. Having a shoulder full of claws from the rather clingy Calliope while on the phone to India, and trying to follow faint or intermittent instructions was enough to test the patience of a saint.

The phone line was so bad I could only hear about 50% of what was being said. British Telecom I kept repeating to myself. Eventually after almost two hours, the fourth person sorted the problem inside 2 minutes. Left reflecting how my last three days had been eaten by plumbers, vets, IT crises and extra bits of work. Agreed with a slightly heavy heart to go back to London for another bout of MS and wounds next week, having achieved little on my skeleton work.

Walking to Lorraine's house this evening, I decided I needed a holiday, which suddenly seemed a penetratingly brilliant idea.

At a snuffly Lorraine's house, I changed to water in Beth's aquarium.

Then we went to Dawn's house for supper a few doors down the road. It's a very friendly street, and I've met all of the other guests, who are Dawn and Lorraine's neighbours before. Angie and Patrick and Sarah and JD are all interesting people. JD is a leading French music journalist, Sarah works in Banking, Angie has her own consultancy business, and Pat is a designer. I felt that I had taken my rightful place among the chattering classes.

And there was some extremely nice lemon meringue too. I don't know if I have ever explained this before but there are only three legitimate British puddings: bread and butter pudding, apple pie (which is of course proverbially nice) and lemon meringue. All other pretenders to pudding legitimacy are either morally lax, effete or irrelevant, with the golden exception of Christmas pudding at Christmas time

Lorraine and I back to my place by cab, where Calliope was delighted to see us.

Below I forgot to post this yesterday. This is what I mean by steampunk computer.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Calliope and the Friar's Oak

Calliope to the vet to be snipped. Normally she is cheerful in Lorraine's car and looks out of the windows at people. Today, sensing something was up, she was on the floor giving throaty yowls of affront.

Lorraine kindly then dropped me home again, and I worked on Skeletons for a couple of hours, but mainly attended to a variety of non-skeletal tasks: paying contributions, doing some business writing and calls, having lengthy conversations with Alf the philosophical plumber about how my shower unit is doomed. Also made time to start my scrapbook, by sticking in some images I had been collecting, while thinking about the Skelton Yawngrave story: a photo of girl with hair tangled in branches, two postcards of Snowshill Manor, whose mazy wooden rooms are full of eclectic objects such as antique musical instruments, clocks, and assorted oriental treasures, a picture of the Norns dowloaded from the Internet, as well as steampunk computers.

Collected a chastened Calliope in the afternoon, the operation having been a success. Told to give her light food this evening. Calliope had other ideas and gorged more food in a couple of hours than I have ever seen her eat. She was also tugging vigorously at her two stitches, which was a bit alarming.

On the way back from the vets, diverted by an emergency call from Beth. Lord Ripples the male guppy had gone to his long home on the gravel, and we stopped at Lorraine's house and pronounced it dead, and looked at the two baby guppies that still live among the thick plants.

As the Kitten in the Twitten dozed, Lorraine and I went off to meet some of her old work colleagues for a meal in country pub. Collected her pal Jess and Andrew and drove off towards Hassocks to the Friar's Oak and a slightly toe curling evening of ex colleagues and their taciturn partners mostly called Andrew. Food grimmer than the Brothers Grimm. I pity the poor grilled sparrow that gave up its life to cover a few square centimetres of my plate.

Lorraine with a bad cold soldiers on in an uncomplaining fashion. Is nothing of me rubbing off on her? We watched some late night TV with Calliope being very clingy, and rubbing her wound in my face several times, which is a mixed experience.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Home at last

Mercifully home today. Calliope working hard to completely wake me and Lorraine up at seven. I left Lorraine dozing and was about to start work, when the connectivity gremlin meant I had to spend the next hour or so on the line to a lady somewhere in India. Something about Vista, BT and McAfee updates spells doom. And there is something too about the branding of an organisation that calls itself British Telecom having all its telephone staff in a different continent which is slightly confusing.

Off then to buy catfood having achieved nothing at all. Lorraine off to see rellies. Me back home to do the work for my pharma client and some other bits. All in all a good session today though no skeletons. Also sidetracked this evening by a computer game called Combat Wings, based on the Battle of Britain. As a person who constructed dozens of Airfix kits as a boy (as did any other right thinking lad of the same vintage) being able to "fly" a Hurricane and shoot down assorted Stukas, Heinkels and Messerschmitts is hard to resist. If these games were available when I was a nipper I don't think I would have ever left the house.

Spoke to Marja to rearrange yet again meeting up. And after another ghastly connection went for an hour's walk around Brighton to de-tetch by the sea - and pay a cheque in the post. Also bought a scrapbook. I have lots of scraps of visual things I find interesting and then need to go into one place. Mum has one which is very good. Lots of creatives I know keep them too. Not sure why I never have.

This evening Alf, who is Brighton's philosophical plumber, called round and fixed my plumbing, which is a great relief. A very nice chap.

Feeling a bit sad about Calliope. I am taking her tomorrow to the vets to be snipped. The vets say it is a good idea, and I'm not sure I could cope with six more cats in the house. But it does feel a bit like playing God.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Life. Death. Hammersmith

London again. Bumped into Reuben in Victoria and we had a chat walking through the station. Discussed the redundancies hitting creative agencies. Thankfully, his agency seems to be okay.

Walking through the graveyard to the agency I delighted in a few crowds of little crocuses here and there. The gleeful beginnings of the year. Reaching Fulham Palace Road by the hospital I saw a team of dark funeral horses with black plumes. Surreal in the shabby street. The patient horses like death waiting in the wings. The circle of life in Hammersmith.

Into another day of MS concepts and a bit of wounds thrown in for good measure. Went for a late lunch with Betsy and the CD and head of art, who are both likeable guys, to the OSP. This is an old agency haunt and so feels like yet another time warp. I've had nightmares where in the dream I am back at University and doing my course all over again, except this time I fail it. It's messing with my head being back working in the building. And they are having to make people redundant too - so it reminds me of some of the most stressful times there. I keep having to remind myself that working with Betsy is great, and it is nothing but a random coincidence that I a working there.

Feeling tired on the way home, and the heart-sinking sight of mass cancellations again at Victoria didn't help. However I was lucky and managed to escape, despite arriving at a platform to see one Brighton train suddenly close its doors and leave, leaving me and a dozen others stranded outside it. Several men rounded on the poor whistle blower on the platform, and at one point I thought I might have to step in to protect him. Commuting, when it is constantly going wrong, literally drives people crazy.

Home and a lovely lazy evening, feeling like an escapee, in the knowledge that I will be working from home for the rest of the week, and not caught up in the train hell for a while. Lorraine came around, as she is on holiday for a few days too, and cooked a couscous delight.

Below a rather poor photo of the horses.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The loneliness of waiting for Lakshmi

Up with the sparrows and off to London again, working on MS and Surgical Site Infections. Managing a little Skelton Yawngrave work on the train. My wee crotch top computer is a boon, and I worked well despite being sat next to a weird woman who radiated psychic pollution as she tore through various files.

After work went to The Salisbury to meet Lakshmi. While I was waiting for her and gratefully gulping a pint of Deuchars, I was rather surprisingly accosted by a young man called Tom. He worked in recruitment and thought I looked lonely on my own. Rather odd, as I had only been there for a few minutes and am not prone to looking lonely. Anyway, he was with a friend and they were charged with chaperoning two clients who had wandered off. I ended up sitting down and having a chat with them. Very nice guys. 

Lakshmi soon appeared looking smart but having had a rotten day. However after a large glass of wine she cheered up somewhat, and we wove into Soho and ate some nice duck of a Peking persuasion and drank Tsingtao beer, and had long chats about London and the nature of rootlessness. 

Back to Victoria and a fond farewell to Lakshmi who is heading off to India and Dubai over the next week or so, and I climbed aboard the Brighton train. After a cheery conversation with Lorraine, I fell into a doze and woke shortly before arriving in Brighton. Home, and Calliope wasn't there. A new development, as she is choosing these days to have nights out on the tiles. 

And so to bed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spring cleaning

Up early to do a few hours work for the website stuff for my pharma company, then scarfed a large breakfast Lorraine had made. Under Lorraine's leadership and direction, did two hideous things today. First was hook up my new security porch light. This involved standing on a chair and fiddling with wires, and drilling holes and other manly stuff. As the daughter of an electrician, Lorraine handled the tricky bits as this kind of ability is genetically transferred. Janet and Ken passed while we were doing this on the way to the station, Ken in a good hat, and Janet in a nice beret.

Then did a Hurculean Spring clean of kitchen cupboards and fridge and so on, and threw out lots of things. Lorraine teaching me that it is not necessary to scrabble in the back of Narnia deep cupboards for important pans when you can simply reorganise them so they are to hand. Amazing how good psychologically a major clear out can be for you. 

These labours took many hours, and eventually we stopped and had a very late Sunday roast lunch in The Sussex Yeoman. Great food in there, and we had a multiplicity of veggies. Home for a chilled evening, and after Lorraine went, I played my new shooting aircraft computer game for half an hour or so before bed. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Owls and a jar of sunlight

Valentine's day was very nice. Got up early and bought some flowers and heart shaped pastries and chocolates for Lorraine, and then we had the same pastries and bacon sarnies in fresh bread for breakfast which was jolly fine. And I started the day feeling happy and content.

Imaginatively, Lorraine bought me a little black stone owl for Valentine's day. I love owls and already have a box of owls. Also later in the day when we were mooching around in Brighton we went into a charity store, where I seem always to find something, and Lorraine spied another owl carved out of some natural wood so that it looks like an owl in a tree trunk. I bought this and a sturdy blue pottery vase for about seven pounds. Bargain!

After a walk along the busy seafront we decided that the strategy of having a Valentine's meal in the afternoon rather than packing in cheek by jowl in the evening. Opted for Japanese and ate in the Oki-Nami restaurant which launched last year, and is owned by Brighton luminary Norman Cook, aka Fat Boy Slim. Lorraine and I had a glass of plum wine, which I don't remember tasting in Japan. It was sweet and rich and falling just short enough of wrong headed cherry bubblegum, marzipan flavours to be lovely. The chopstick wrappers also come with instructions on how to make origami animals, and Lorraine who is one for puzzles and sudoku-style brain teasers, got to work producing a nice bird and a sort of dinosaur from a rabbit blueprint. A nice restaurant, but the service is nowhere near Japanese standards.

Sloped home after this, and boofed onto my gold sofa where Lorraine, who is coming down with something, had a doze. and I happily watched rugby internationals on the TV. Beth and Mark popped around to pick up a bottle of wine Lorraine had bought for them and we had some discussion about Sweeney Todd. The production they were in had a professional set, and the star of it was the barber's chair from which, after Mark had slit his victim's throats, they slid down a chute ready to be made into pies. I did like this musical, particularly a song in praise of pies called God, That's Good!

Telling Lorraine tonight about a strange mental phenomenon. Was reading The Secret Scripture the other day and there was a description in it of how the colours of flowers bloom in sequence for the spring: white yellow and purple. It was rather throwaway piece really, but it opened a jar of sunlight in my head. And the same thing happened this evening looking at a stone wall on the TV. I don't know what it means, maybe it's a longing for Spring, but it is nice.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A face by the river

Something about walking in the back door of my old agency's building is horrible, and made me feel momentarily as if leaving was just a happy dream. Bumped into a couple of former colleagues who'd been told lots of redundancies are in the offing. Very happy to have resigned 15 months ago, and be well out of it: just another face by the river.

My day was tolerable, but slow. Had a laugh with Betsy about things such as baloney sandwiches. Was delighted to head off for home. Yet another nightmare. Left Victoria at 6:15 and arrived at Brighton three hours later (usual journey time about 1hr 10m). And I was on the fast Gatwick Express. Tedious beyond belief. The driver was told to reverse the train back down the track at one point, and had to walk the length of the train, only have to return to the front cabin a bit later. Poor guy.

I finished The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. The big plot twist at the end was obvious from about a third of the way into it. But this wasn't a problem, as it was a painfully lyrical and moving book. I'd heartily recommend it. It won the Costa award, but the judges said it won despite being flawed, presumably by this ending - and apparently some of them didn't like one of the two narrator's voices (which I didn't agree with at all). Read it.

Anyhow eventually arrived home. Lorraine had let herself into my house and arriving home to see her and Caliope sitting on my sofa, made all well again. Out then for a much-needed beer and a curry at the usual place.

Below the cover for the scaffolding covering a church not far from the office, and a billboard eye, which looks at me on the desk I have been sitting at; a lovely little stencilled face I discovered on a lunchtime stroll by the Thames.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Songs about pies

A good night's sleep, and Calliope not waking me for a change. In fact I did not see her at all this morning. I am beginning to worry that she's falling into bad company, and may return home barefoot and pregnant. Another trip to the vet is called for.

Up to London and working on the train on MS and then a day in the agency, punctuated by a visit to Plum with Betsy and Anna from NZ. Nice food: dour staff.

Broke away early to ensure I arrived home early. Off to see Beth and Mark in their college's (BHASVIC) production of Sweeney Todd, with Mark playing the eponymous antihero. Surprisingly I enjoyed this musical. Regular readers will know that musicals are in general Kryponite to Peter Kennys. But a musical about pies and murder is a sensible thing. Seeing the generally sweet natured Mark playing the murderous Sweeney was fun, and Beth was in most scenes, if not acting then being the force behind conducting the scenery changes. It was good though, the songs were not too dire, and there was a good melodrama about the story. And pies full of human flesh is dark enough to be enjoyable.

Lorraine's parents where there too, and Sam, who I walked back with afterwards and had a cheeky pint of Guiness with in the Battle of Trafalgar. This was a bit of a first, and went well. Sam discussing music with some authority.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A bit of a drip

Awake at 5 in First Matie's flat in Chiswick, and had a million ideas running through my head. Such as what would be in an anthology of literature about Guernsey, or exactly how much was my outstanding billing, or why exactly am I working in bloody Glamoursmith again. Did some sums in bed, and then felt rather awake. Up early and after saying farewell to First Matie sloped off to Gunnersbury station, which of course feels very familiar to me as I once lived about two hundred yards from where Katie now lives.

Into work at 8am, and was the first to arrive. Worked on bits and pieces during the morning: on MS and psoriasis. Had a chatty lunch with Betsy in a cafe called Plum, which is nearby and unsmilingly staffed. A bit slow and brain dead in the afternoon. I had to make my excuses to leave early to get back to Brighton in time to let the plumber in. When he did not appear, I called him only to be told that the booking was for next Wednesday, which was not my understanding at all. Galling, not least because I had also bumped seeing Marja after work.

Nice to be home. Fortunately the shower drip seems to have got no worse. Also retrieved my phone with lots of messages on it. Calliope delighted to see me, which was nice. I felt a bit sad when I thought of her all alone this morning.

And with a phone, I was actually able to speak to Lorraine too, as well as Marja to arrange a new evening.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Back in the Bull's Head

Calliope has perfected a new technique. Crawl into the end of the bed, and insert one or two claws into the soles of your feet.

Up to London, and I had cleverly arranged to spend the evening with First Matie and Matty so took a bag with things in it. As soon as I sat down in the train I realised I'd left my mobile phone at home, which had me grinding my teeth.

Spent the best part of the day waiting to be briefed. By the time the briefing happened, I had lost the will to be creative. I did however have a nice walk along the river at lunchtime, and I was also able to catch up on correspondence with Nev in Australia, who is has decided to set up on his own now as a freelancah. Still talk of us doing a project together from opposite ends of the globe, like Elton John and Bernie Taupin, as Nev said. I'll simply note here that I can't play the piano.

Also was asked to contribute by Catriona Stares in Guernsey a few ideas towards a brainstorm happening about what's happening in the arts. I cheekily suggested that I would like to edit an anthology of writing about Guernsey, which would include everyone from Victor Hugo to Guppy the cartoonist.

After work headed off to The Bull's Head to join Kate and Matty in a beverage. Then the three of us went back to Katie's and a hearty lasagna (I wolfed two portions) and we all drank wine, looked at photos of Kate and Matty and gossiped until bedtime.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A were gull in Brighton

Busy day. Went to the quack, cancelled dentist, booked Alf the plumber, went to the chiropractor (just for the craic), scored a new security light, and then worked on atrocious website referencing for six hours straight, broken only by a call from Bob.

Outside, it poured steadily. Just before I was due to set off on my various morning missions I heard a strange clunk, which also had the cat looking wild eyed. On leaving I found broken pieces of a coconut by my gate; the white flesh odd in the puddles. It could only have been a monstrous were gull seizing a pier coconut to head inland to shie the Twitten.

The news of the fires in Australia is horrible. The fire moved so fast, and some of it said to be set by arsonists.

Off to the station this evening to buy at ticket to travel to London for the next week. The ticket office man looked shifty, and I said, "you're compensating for something." And he said, "what?" and I said, "my travel last week." Arf. I was advised to hold onto my completed comments form, till a decision on compensation had been made.

Lorraine phoned to complain that I'd said here that she'd stayed in bed till mid day yesterday. Apparently when you are in your forties this is not allowed.

I'm off to London again tomorrow to work on more stuff to do with MS. I am cleverly going to stay in Strand on the Green overnight, and hang out with First Matie and Matty which will be excellent fun - and save hours on trains.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Venn diagram of practical successes

Calliope woke me at 8.00am, so I got up and spent a few hours finishing the interview piece, then woke Lorraine up at mid day, and had breakfast.

Then, with Lorraine intervening when I began to sob, looked at my shower. This is leaking slightly and steadily and there is nothing I can do about it. Also the security light above my door no longer works. Spent some time trying to repair this, until it was clear a new one needed to be bought as the sensor has failed. The security light I bought (thankfully on sale) turned out to be wrong and only works when aligned vertically, and not horizontally so as to shine down on the murderers, muggers, rapists, drug addicts, burglars, etc. as they approach my door. Luckily Lorraine needs one too, and took it.

The Venn diagram of PKs and current practical successes looks like two moons.

Nice call from Matty and Kate who were refreshing themselves after a bike ride in the Blue Anchor. And talked to Mum too.

After Lorraine went back home, I went out for a cheeky beer with Anton in the Eddy where we failed to agree on the rules for a competition about who has more of the albums in the 1000 best albums you should hear before you die book I gave him for Christmas. Anton is a difficult person to negotiate with sometimes. Then home early, as Anton wanted to watch the infernal Manchester United on the television, to chat to the Tobster before sloping happily off to bed, only to wake up a hour or so later worrying about the dripping tap.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A night in the Tavern

So Saturday, felt a bit downcast when I read my emails and discovered another from the big pharma client with more changes to the references of the website: the vision of my weekend evaporating was depressing. I went for a much needed haircut and as the sheep wool disappeared, I came to a brilliant solution: that I would take Monday off from the agency. Phoned Betsy and explained. Then on returning home, set to work writing up the interview I did yesterday.

Noticed with alarm water coming out of my shower unit. Some species of new plumbing horror, but it is only slowly dripping at the moment.

A splendid evening out with Lorraine, also newly haircut. Her pals Matt and Wayne were celebrating Matt's birthday party in the Brighton Tavern. We had a really nice night out, with lots of interesting people and a really good atmosphere. In the general melee, I was delighted to meet Lorraine Bowen, (I urge you to visit her site) the hilarious lady with the ironing board I'd seen at The Dolly Parton Tribute night a few months ago. I told her I was a big fan. Also met a percussionist called Adam with whom I had a long and interesting conversation. And then Lorraine and I talked to a nice man called Guy for at least an hour. A great night out there with some surprisingly nice fingerfood too.

Was surprised to look at my watch at one point and see that it was well past midnight. Amazing how lively a good night out and a few pints of Harveys can do for the soul.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Trains and tubes and interviews

Up before the throats of sparrows could thaw, and got the early train into London. Another terrible journey meant I arrived no earlier at the office. I worked hard till 3, chipping in with lines and concepts. Betsy coming up with some lovely visual stuff. If I had my own agency I would hire her instantly.

Then at 3pm, off to Merton Civic Centre. A ghastly tube ride there, at Waterloo I asked a member of staff why there were no Morden trains and he told me to keep waiting. As I began to grow late I discovered that you had to travel to the next stop and cross the platform before you could get the right train. Argh.

Fortunately I was only five minutes late to interview Sarah Tanburn, Merton's Director of Environment and Regeneration in an empty fairtrade cafe across the road from the Civic Centre. Yusuf the photographer for On Track, who I'd not met before, taking shots as we talked. Sarah, and her colleague Bronwen were pleasant people, and Sarah was clear and easy to interview. Turns out that she has ultimate responsibility for dealing snow in the borough too, and so has had a lively week of it, and saying that her teams had been working till 2.00am for nights on end to grit the roads, pointing out that because this weather has become so unusual for the UK that we're not really geared up for it like the Scandinavian countries.

Given that I have been ranting about travel this week, it feels slightly odd to be writing for Southern Railway's magazine.

On Sarah's advice I took a tram to East Croydon, and trained home from there. The trams are great.

Rallied enough to go out with Lorraine out for a lovely couple of beers in the Cricketers, where we bumped into Dawn and some of her pals. Then Lorraine and I had a hot curry, where Ash the owner sitting with us for a while, and showing his child scaring eyes, after having an operation on a torn retina a couple of days ago. Lorraine gave him lots of good advice on taking care of himself, which he lapped up.

Toddled home through the cold streets with Lorraine, and thanking God for Friday.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Late to bed, and a poor night's sleep compounded by Calliope deciding that I should be woken at 5am. When she was rebuffed and booted out of the bedroom, she scratched and yowled at the door like some domestic goading devil for the next hour and a half. I think she is feeling neglected.

Off to London feeling braindead. Have been using my wee crotchtop computer to work on Skelton Yawngrave on the train in the morning, so at least the whole day isn't wasted. Into the agency for an unstructured day's work, where Betsy and I seemed to produce little in the way of tangible results. Felt frustrated and tired. Things like having no proper scamping up pads, and still not being able to get onto the agency system after two days of requests not helping. Why, wherever you go, is the IT department's default setting unwilling to help?

Was emailed by my nice pharma client Jamie, and I have to do some fiddling with the references, which is going to be like plunging needles in my own eyes.

Nice to bump into my old pals Alice Lee, and Emma today who both seemed spiffy in their various ways. At last an day of travel which didn't completely suck. My train was delayed this evening, but I was late so I could actually catch it. Result!

Had to biff a night out with Bob the old Mad Dog this evening, as I was too pooped and I also had to get my ducks in a row for an interview I am doing tomorrow afternoon with a Director of Sustainability and Regeneration in a London borough. So will need to pack my sustainability head into my man bag tomorrow. Sustainability had been knocked off the hand wringing charts by the recession at the moment, but must not be allowed to fade away.

Home at 8:45 after buying a Chinese takeaway to fiddle about getting things ready for tomorrow. Thank God for Friday, and no sodding trains for two days. More snow is falling over Blighty. Be interesting to see if I can actually get into London tomorrow anyway.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Soul sapped

Working on Multiple Sclerosis with Betsy, and the creative directors at the agency I'm working with. Once or twice, I had to remind myself that in this scenario I am a freelancer and that wearing so many hats can be tricky.

Travelling home, I arrived at a completely doomed Victoria station. Some kind of massive points failure. Crowds of people crammed onto trains which never left the station. No information, and everyone stressed and angry - or even crying. I managed to laugh about it, so was okay. Eventually I had to go to another station, and got a slow and delayed train home, arriving at a tired 10:00pm. Listening however to The Secret Scripture and rather enjoying this. Thank God for audiobooks. It has been a miserable week's travel, and it's only wednesday.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The slightly different offices of the future

Tales of commuting woe are tedious, especially other people's. Suffice to say that I left home at 7:30 and arrived at the office in Hammersmith at 11:30 rather fancying a cup of tea. In that time I could have made it two thirds of the way to Toronto. Nice to see the white landscape though, and gangs of stumpy snowmen in London parks. The side streets still like ice rinks and at times I was grateful for some railings to cling onto, remembering how Mex broke her leg in just such circumstances.

Working with Betsy again. This time it is Multiple Sclerosis, which I don't know much about. Being with Betsy means working in an office right next to my old agency. Betsy's agency want me to work more regularly with them, which of course is good news in these recessionary times. Despite the fact I am itching to get on with Skelton Yawngrave stuff, only a churl or a buffoon would spurn money at a time like this. It does feel weird, and not particularly in a good way, though being so close to the old place.

Went to the OSP with Betsy and Anna where I bumped into Cliffy and Mike Ferg, so we all sat about together while we had some lunch. Mike full of cheeriness, which is always good to see given that he has been fighting cancer off and on for years now.

The journey home not anywhere near as soul sapping. And I was listening to the enjoyable The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry, which at times is almost Yeatsian in its language.

Home to a slightly resentful Calliope and some urgent admin. Got a call from Beth wanting to clarify a word I used in our interview. Lorraine safe and well, after driving around the county all day.

Monday, February 02, 2009


So a snow day then. I did not spend the day pondering how a few inches of snow in the UK can cause such incredible paralysis, instead I cheerfully worked on my Skelton Yawngrave story and cooked a bean jar. Went out for a slide around town this afternoon. People quite cheery and chatty when you bumped into them.

Below a line of snowmen near St Nicholas Church.

Commute fail

The heaviest snow since the early 90s has put paid to my journey into London this morning, not to mention my freelance day's wages. No trains at all to London.

Seems like it is a snow day. It is still snowing in Brighton (though the snow isn't particuarly thick in the protected city centre where I live). A few shots around the station and of my Twitten. Feels like risking life and limb to walk in Brighton's sloped streets.

Below my Twitten, around the station, and Calliope, on my return, rejecting the snow and all it stands for.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The musical winged Barbie horse goes down well

Up the road this morning with Lorraine to give Klaudia her birthday presents, which Lorraine had wrapped in minutes. Brian was there too, which was good and am pleased to be hearing that he is thinking moving to Brighton. Klaudia seemed to quite like her presents. The flying horse makes many noises and flashes, so seemed to go down quite well, and she was walking around in her pink Barbie shoes too. I can't believe that that little thing is now five. It seems like only yesterday that I held her in my arms on her first day, just in time for her to have her first poo.

Anton (looking gallingly thin) nicely gave me a vinyl 45 of the immortal Uptown Top Ranking, by Althea and Donna, which he found at a car boot sale. This definitely one of my all time top twenty singles. (Not that I have been nerdy enough to list them. Yet.)

Home and with Lorraine's help I moved the aquarium. In so doing I managed to shatter the heater thermostat. As this aquarium system is no longer manufactured and all the bits are integral, this entirely preventable buffoonery may actually nix the whole tank.

Felt furious with myself for this, and it sparked a short bout of detestable moaning and fury. The underlying theme of which was about my protracted bout of prostatitis and a three month diet of antibiotics, which has made me exhausted and prone to stupid mistakes etc. etc. etc.

Humour repaired by some manic kitchen cleaning (breaking a nice glass for good measure) went out with poor Lorraine to meet Beth at Gourmet Burger Kitchen for lunch. They do proper burgers, which do not contain reconstituted noses. We sat by the window and watched the first snowflakes falling on the eccentric people of Brighton, and a few clumps of tourists, threading through the North Laines. Then we all went back to my place so I could be briefly interviewed about writing by Beth for a college assignment.

After Beth left, Lorraine and I sipped tea on the gold sofa, and watched the emotional elephants. Lorraine off home and I sloped off to the station to buy at ticket for next week. As we walked down Guildford Road, the station looked like it was in a snow globe. A fond farewell to Lorraine, and I felt bad for my über tetch.

Repaired home again to gloat over my new computer and speakers, while Calliope snoozed a few feet away. She is takes a dim view of the snow. Now that I have my home office set up perfectly at last, I'll naturally be working in London all next week. Snow allowing.