Sunday, May 31, 2009

High on Sunday

Relaxed brunch at Bills with Lorraine, Anna and Brian. Luke-warm cucumber juice wasn't great, but the rest of it was fine. The place thronging, and good to gossip with everyone. Brian between jobs at the moment, but not panicking.

In the afternoon, Lorraine and I went up to Devil's Dyke, which is like the top of the world for Brightonians. Very clear to the distant North Downs, and south to the sea. It was busy with people sunbathing, and having picnics and flying kites. Being surrounded by emptiness on both sides makes me feel like falling upwards into the sky of course, but I still enjoyed it.

Home again to do some work, and then watch the DVD of the first series of The Inbetweeners, which Anton lent me. It had me hooting with laughter. Wonderfully observed, and hilariously offensive in a totally authentic 17 year old boy way.

Below a shark kite, and picnics for all.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In my cups

Up early to write for a few hours, and then the rest of the day, Dylan Thomas style, given to booze. Went to the Eddy with Lorraine and Cath to watch the glorious and noble Chelsea win the FA Cup. Slightly traumatic as Everton scored first in a record 25 seconds with a freakishly good goal. The pub clearly supporting "the Toffees" as Everton are known to their few admirers. I made no friends celebrating Chelsea's two glorious goals from Drogba and Lampard.

Cath and Lorraine also enjoyed the game but were mysteriously able to intersperse the experience with conversations about sandals and such like. As Chelsea were being handed the trophy I phoned Anton, but he was unavailable for comment.

Home to sleep and regroup, then up the hill for a barbecue in Anton and Anna's garden. Brian was there which was a nice surprise. As I arrived, however, I was quickly siphoned upstairs to read stories to the children, Oskar's was about a racing car called Roary, and a version of Peter Pan to Klaudia. My Godchildren are adorable.

A warm evening, so Anna and Brian had rigged up a television so we could be outside and still watch Britain's Got Talent which Lorraine was also pleased about. Anton and I in a minority over this matter. Lots of lovely food, including a complex satay sauce that Anton had made for some chicken, and lamb kebabs which Anna had made. Lots of gossiping and drinking. And I showed some restraint by only rarely steering the conversation around to football.

Below the righting of several recent wrongs. Despite what cameras revealed as a clear goal for Chelsea being disallowed their luck holds for the first time in two years, winning 2-1. It was temporary manager Guus Hiddink's last game. He did an amazing job for Chelsea.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A personal landmark

Barely got two or three hours sleep due to excruciating back, however spent the night working out my presentation to Guernsey Arts. Walked back from Lorraine's house in the lovely sunshine and--curious this--did a killer day's work, finishing the third draft of Skelton Yawngrave.

This draft involved some significant rewriting, and now stands at 81,701 words, heftier than I planned. Several things to hoover up in draft four, which may trim it a wee bit. But in a couple of weeks it will be ready to show people, and I am immensely proud of what I have achieved - and also quite nervous. As I typed the last few words it made me wonder again where all these characters, plotlines and words have come from. They seem to have been given me fully formed, and my only job was to get it all down without messing it up. Most odd. And I already know what is going to happen in the sequel.

Sensing it was a big moment for me, Calliope sat on my desk for much of the day looking at me like Eddie the dog in Frasier.

As a footnote to the day, did some Alsace advert copy too.

Lorraine came by this evening, having spent the day with her folks in Kent, and we went to the Batty for a drink and then had some fish and chips. She bears up very well, having me blare on at her about Skelton Yawngrave for over a year, which must be quite tiresome to constantly hear about a story you've not read. And for that, I apologise too for readers of this blog.

Below Eddie and Calliope separated at birth. (Kinda.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Football, dodgy politicians and poets

In pain again all day, making work difficult. Went to have my back massaged, which was agony but then completely removed the pain. For half an hour. Frustrating to be so close to finishing Skelton Yawngrave but unable to type for more than ten minutes at a stretch.

In the evening Anton came around and we scored a Chinese takeaway from a restaurant next to the usual takeaway, which was a revelation. Then we watched the European cup final. Anton's beloved Manchester United put in a surprisingly abject performance against Barcelona, who Chelsea went out to in the last round thanks to a corrupt referee. Anton looking tormented and fidgeting about the place, and unable to watch half of it. I of course was able to view it with a dispassionate eye, while Calliope quietly supported the Catalan side.

After, and NOT talking about football, Anton and I went to the Battle of Trafalgar for a consoling pint of Harveys, and a change of scene before he shuffled up the hill under a cloud of gloom. Watching football is pointless and heartbreaking. A fact I hope not to be reminded of when I'm installed in a pub on Saturday, watching Chelsea win the FA Cup final against the unspeakable Everton.

The UK now in a frenzy of recrimination over MPs expenses, and daily updates for the last few weeks in the Telegraph highlighting expenses fiddles, and using public money to clear their moats, buy duck islands, pay non existent mortgages (all actual examples) and so on continues unabated. At best these people are incompetent and at worst they are blatant thieves. There is a talk about growing anger among ordinary voters, but this being the apathetic UK not much will happen.

Now it seems that Ruth Padel, the Oxford Poetry Professor is about to step down as it has emerged she used smear tactics to prevent her rival for the post, Derek Walcott, getting the job. The politics of poetry are fierce. Walcott is a Nobel laureate, but accusations about sexual harassment dating back to the eighties were floated. In the eighties I once attended a poetry masterclass at South Bank run by Walcott, the best that can be said of the experience was that I got my book signed. I am admirer of Walcott's work, but he was an uninspiring teacher.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pain and reward

A day of two halves. The first part rather grim as my upper back has gone into one of its paroxysms which involves very bad pain in my arm and shoulder, which no painkiller touches. That and my six maddening mosquito bites did for my concentration. Instead I went to the gym just to do the treadmill and cross trainer for half an hour, as sitting typing is excruciating.

On returning home phoned Sainsbury's to complain having seen an elderly lady of perhaps 90 being disgracefully bullied by two of the checkout staff for creaking along with her trolley in a basket zone. Thinking about this on the way home made my blood boil so I called and made my feelings clear.

In the evening however, things very good indeed. Had a long chat with Catriona in Guernsey and will have the opportunity to do a final presentation to the arts guys next month. Apparently everyone excited by the proposal, which combines literary flair with business acumen, even though I say it myself. Catriona has even offered to put me up, which was very kind of her. Felt very pleased with this and paraded about feeling rather big and clever afterwards. Catriona is so enthusiastic to work with, it is completely refreshing.

Went to see the Star Trek movie tonight. It was exciting and entertaining escapism. Splendid stuff and highly recommended.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Smelling the ragged roses

A bank holiday in the UK. So off this afternoon with Lorraine to Denmans Garden, near Fontwell. It is a four acre garden belonging to John Brookes who I learn is a renowned landscape gardener. And a beautiful garden it was too, very subtle and full of muted lovely colours and the wonderful aromas of roses and other fragrant flowers, and a few little ponds with bright damson flies around them.

Lorraine loves this sort of thing, and it's a pleasure to walk about with someone who is sniffing every flower and admiring the textures of everything. A really nice restaurant there too, and Lorraine and I had a nice fish based foods on a table under a tree. Very warm and sunny, till thundery clouds gathered and it was time to drive home.

Below Alium and poppies, a shot I took inside a poppy and some flowerpots.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In the Open Houses

Off this morning to go to some Open Houses with Lorraine and Diane. This is part of the Brighton Festival, where dozens of houses all around town open their doors becoming temporary venues for art exhibitions. First off to the other side of town to one of Diane's pals Caroline Ying who was showing some jewellery, including a beautiful four fingered ring. Diane treated us to cake and coffee in the garden. The sun was out in full force. Then to several other Open Houses where there was some nice stuff, though none that made my eyes pop out. Lots of average photography although I was drawn to some papier-mâché clocks by Juliette Pearce. Good fun, and nice walking about looking at all the art on the trail. One of the stops was a Catholic church, and it was quite odd to walk into church, which smelled strongly of incense.

After a taxi ride back to the station, fond farewells with Diane who returned home. From there to Seven Dials where my favourite collage artist Maria Rivans was showing her work. I purchased one of her small postcard collages called Home Sweet Home which I will have framed. I'm an enormous fan of Maria's work.

Then Lorraine drove us, collecting her pal Cath en route, to a party at her pal Naomi's house out in the sticks. Naomi very pleasant, and she had a lovely big garden which backed onto the downs. Got talking to a man who having half finished a short story explained to me about writing at some length, while another explained what a poor place Brighton was to live. Decided to simply drink beer at this point and talk to Lorraine and Cath who were sitting with a funny woman called Haley, while listening to an eclectic mix of old music, watching children cavort all around swinging on a tree swing, and bouncing on trampolines. As the sun set huge and vicious mosquitoes got to work and I have a souvenir on my knee. Very enjoyable however, although Cath and I drank rather enthusiastically.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Diane arrives

Up early to continue work on Skelton Yawngrave. Then running about clearing the place up as Diane was visiting. Feeling somewhat weary after slogging for much of the weekend.

Diane on good form, and had been looking at a house in a mews in Hove. Coffee and lots of chat. Then we were joined by Lorraine sporting a new hair cut. Took the opportunity to play some Jazz which Diane sensibly likes being of the same vintage as my Mum. Then a walk through through the lanes, Pavilion, Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror it the gardens. Then from Brighton down to the sea, where Diane took the opportunity to crunch through pebbles. Then to an Italian restaurant called Picasso's. Not sure why this Italian restaurant should name itself after the Spanish dauber, but there you go. Food and wine were fine though. Home to give the newspapers a good read before bed.

The new aquarium has some sort of clear scum on its surface. Apparently this happens sometimes and is not a sign of anything, despite the water being crystal clear. I don't like it though, and I'm hoping it will simply go away.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Finished writing at midday today. House like a bomb has hit it due to working in a mad frenzy all week. My back and neck are hurting badly too.

So instead I did tidying, washed the last bits of gravel and took the bits of bogwood from being soaked, and filled up my new aquarium with water. This took some time, but was good fun. Have also ordered lots of aquarium plants over the internet too. Will be nice to have a few decorative fish browsing through a large and heavily planted tank.

Lorraine cheery today, as she is now on half term. We went out for a beer and a curry to celebrate at the usual places. All splendid.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sitting at the feet of Sol Stein

Monastic working today, but making steady progress.

Went to babysit Klaudia who was ill and unusually quiet, while Anna took Oskar to his nursery, and then went to the GP in the afternoon. Klaudia and I companionably watched an hour and a half of CBeebies. Klaudia particularly enjoying The Large Family about elephants. Amazed to see almost every programme carried some green messaging in it about recyling, and explaining what pollution meant. Hopefully it is seeding a generation of eco-warriors.

Spoke to Mum today, whose cat has finally had its prospects curtailed. Hopefully its neutering will keep it out of all the punch-ups it has been getting into, latest injuries include a savaged tail. Diane called and will be staying with me this weekend in sunny Brighton. And another chat to Bob as he walked home in Salisbury. He was sounding positive, and like a man with a plan as the birds tweeted in the background.

Spent the evening listening to my Sol Stein audiobook On Writing is proving extremely practical, and is providing lots of different ways to assess my manuscript. Have already made a several tweaks thanks to his remote tutelage. Perhaps more by luck than judgement my book seems to do a lot of what he suggests, which seems to me a good omen. This is the best book on writing I have ever read.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moan-free zone

Up early to get to work. I was feeling most excited about the Guernsey Anthology business, which made it difficult to concentrate. So took myself off to the gym early, to sweat on the Hulk legs machine, which helped a lot.

Back to work, and I am now on the last lap of the third draft of Skelton Yawngrave in the second kind of darkness novel - the last ten thousand words - and this is the bit that needs most work and a few threads to be pulled together. Once this is done I will go through it all again to hoover up broken bits of grammar, spelling and any rubbish bits I have missed. Then, thank God, it will be ready to show people for some feedback before the absolute bloody final rewrite. Then I start to market it, followed quickly by international publication, glory, fame etc. Lorraine said she might be able to run bits of it past some actual real life children too.

Only a smidge of the Alsace stuff to look at to interrupt my flow today, which was good.

One of the challenges in Feel the fear and do it anyway, which I'm reading now as a kind of pep talk is not to moan about any person or thing for a week. So I'm designating myself a moan-free zone. A toughie. As someone posted on Amazon. Feel the fear and do it anyway is one of those books whose spine at least should be always visible to you.

Been watching 1066 The battle for Middle Earth. It had a chilling juxtaposition of matter of fact butchery, with the gentle English countryside. It seemed to me to be historically accurate: no vikings with horns here. It was rotten luck for King Harold to have a major punch up with the Vikings up north, just before the Normans invaded down south.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A late yippee!

My day ended on a happy note with an email from Catriona in Guernsey saying the Commissioners had liked my idea for the anthology of Guernsey literature. Will have a detailed chat about next steps this weekend, and Catriona has asked if I'd like to meet the commissioners to talk it through next month. So - in short - yippee!

There's lots of things to still be sorted, but it all feels good.

Otherwise a quietly productive day. Up early writing to Richard in Guernsey, then bashing on through Skelton Yawngrave, with a bit of Alsace tourism copy thrown into the mix.

After working for about seven hours took myself off for an hour's walk in the sun. Headed down to the sea, which was made greenish by the wind. At one point a man approached me, explaining that he had to touch a pole before talking to me. He then asked for "bus fare", but when I did not simply hand cash to him, he retreated to the pole explaining he had to touch it again. I couldn't work out afterwards if he really did have some form of OCD, or if this was part of a scam.

Below Brighton Beach today.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Final escape

Last day of The Great Escape - Lorraine and I off in the evening to Horatios. This is a pub on the cheesy pier, which I'd never been to before. Inside there were stools to sit on, which was nice after two nights of standing for hours. The Black Box Revelation kicked us off. Great drummer/singer guitarist band rather unexpected in this cheesy pub at the bottom of the bill, and much the best band of the night. Then a band called S.C.U.M. slightly doomy gothic young things who were visually good, finally Ipso Facto a trio of women who didn't really butter my parsnips musically.

Phew. Three days of rocking over, and eight acts seen. Jolly good fun it was too. It's like having a crash course in new pop music, and the only act I positively didn't like was Emmy the Great. No doubt she'll be the most successful of them.

Below I got quite into taking photographs of the bands, but not using flash and so having ghostlike blurs and graininess and double imaging. Here are Jan Paternoster from the excellent The Black Box Revelation, S.C.U.M., and Ipso Facto.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Holy Fuck

Blame the Canadians, for Toronto's Holy Fuck played the Kommedia tonight as part of Brighton's The Great Escape. This was a fantastic fourpiece who, as I believe the parlance goes, mashed up the place. Excellent beats and mad sound textures generated from Heath Robinson nests of wires and retro technology keyboards, plus things that aren't even instruments such as a 35mm film synchronizer that one of the guys was pulling film through. Easily the best of the five acts I've seen so far. Crowd cavorting and leaping, so it was all rather lively. Hugely enjoyable.

Also, from LA, we saw Gran Ronde who were like a more cheerful Interpol. Very tight and professional. Huge chiming walls of sound.

Lorraine and I sloped home tired but happy after day two of being rock people. Love this opportunity to see first hand new musicians and bands. It's like a refresher course in rock music. Although there not much in the way of music of black origin.

In other news, much disrupting faffing over the French ad, the concept such as it was is now dead, but the client's happy. So it goes.

Calliope brought in a bird today, after a tetchy morning of biting my feet under my desk. Something horrible and wrong about a live bird in the house. Must get a bell for her neck. I also have bites,which could be fleabite so she was urgently re-frontlined. Dire visions of house fumigation, flea-based ostracisation etc. The murderous flea-ridden weasel in my bad books today.

Below the exceedingly splendid Holy Fuck, one of their weird non instruments I snapped after the show, and Gran Ronde from LA. Rock on dudes! Etc.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A small escape

Up early to write some advertising copy for the region of Alsace. I make it sound top, must go there one day. Then back to skeletons before going off to the gym. I have been working 14 hour days the last two days, so I needed an escape from my desk.

Help was at hand. Lorraine and I went down to the seafront to score our The Great Escape wristbands, which you wear for three days, and they give you entrance to dozens of venues in town. Tonight we went to a club called Digital where we met a cheery Sam. Had a couple of cans of Red Stripe beer, feeling rather rock and rollish, especially when we bumped into Rick and Pete from the Hi-Sides who'd come to see Evan Dando. Enjoyed hanging with popstar mates (and got a small insight into First Matie's early years). Not talked to Pete before, a likeable guy from near Boston.

Lorraine meanwhile in her element. She likes nothing more than going to gigs.

As for the bands - This Tawdry Affair were unsigned and had an interesting guitarist, otherwise bass and drums were barely on nodding terms. Their worst tune by a country mile was announced as their single in waiting should somebody want to sign them. Oh dear. I found Emmy the Great to be shambolic and annoying, but she had her fans. Topping the bill was Evan Dando of the Lemonheads. Clearly much loved, and his songs were strong and he seems a natural storyteller - one of which Rick sang word for word in my hearhole (totally in tune to his credit). An enjoyable set.

Home and good to sit down after standing for three and a half hours. Ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Below the splendid Evan Dando.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A great day for working

An email tonight from Catriona in Guernsey saying that the Arts Commission are meeting in Guernsey on Monday and will discuss my anthology idea. So if you read this and happen to remember, please beam positive vibes towards the Channel Islands for me.

Otherwise I worked till 10pm on Skelton Yawngrave, pausing only to go the gym (slightly more energetic than last week on the hulk legs machine) eat, snooze for half an hour, go food shopping, play with Calliope, and make some work calls. A perfect working day in fact.

Spoke to Sophie who told me Andros had a minor stroke the other week, but seems to be okay now and her mother is confined to bed with a crumbled vertebra. The children are good, and we are all planning to get together soon. Sophie managing to sound buoyant, however, and says a recent Buddhist retreat has helped.

Chat to Lorraine planning which gigs we are going to see this week on The Great Escape. This is a festival of lesser known bands in venues in Brighton. You buy one ticket and have to wear a wristband for three days and see as many bands as you can in that time. Some splendid band names such as : Last Mango in Paris, An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump, and We Were Promised Jetpacks.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Disco Jesus

Up early and a day's work on Skelton Yawngrave. Made some good progress, but felt tired and worn thin by the middle of the afternoon. By five I had retreated to reading and enjoying my Bill Bruford autobiography again.

Diane called, and she will be coming down to stay soon.

In the evening met Lorraine, and we saw Beth and Mark in an interesting play called Interview by Jean-Claude Van Itallie, which they were doing as part of their drama exam. It was an excellent play, with Theatre of the Absurd elements in it, which took me back to reading Martin Esslin and studying Waiting for Godot at about the same age as Beth and Mark.

A good performance by the students, and good physical acting conveying a crowded tube train by crushing together and so on. Beth the best I have seen her, putting genuine emotional oomph into her part. Mark convincing as ever, with one brief tableaux having him as a disco dancing Jesus, which I wasn't expecting. Mark's folks where there too, and chatted to them briefly.

There was another play on before the one Beth and Mark were in about breast cancer, which while a perfectly good subject the dialogue was stilted, and the characters telling you what they were doing rather than showing it. Felt sorry for these kids trying to breath some life into some DOA lines.

I then walked home with ideas of doing more writing, instead I read my excellent but slightly depressing Bill Bruford autobiography till 11:30 with Calliope sitting under my chin.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In a dark wood, where the straight way was lost

Off early up the hill to Anton's house in my walking gear. Klaudia opening the door to me like a proper grown up girl. Both Godchildren on good form today. Anton drove us then to Ashdown forest. We got lost on route due to Anton not listening to my navigation, or my navigation not being clear enough. Some discussion about this, which came as a relief from Anton frequently steering our conversation to Manchester Utd.

We arrived at our starting point for what was going to be long circular route through the forest. Ashdown forest had inspired Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories. Unusually for us we got repeatedly lost, but the forest was so beautiful that we hardly bickered at all. This despite Anton having to repeatedly consult maps and compass, and taking several wrong turns.

The forest is mixed woodland and patches of heath and today the conditions were ideal. Cool but bright and sunny, and the bluebells were out in force. Anton claims that England has a quarter of the world's bluebells, which may or may not be a fact. There was flowering gorse on the heathland, and sometimes this would be close to a patch of bluebells, making the colours vibrate nicely.

Both of us were slightly underpowered today, but we enjoyed being on the trail for about four hours. Saw a windmill, and a swarm of bees, and a team of half a dozen strapping ladies with a wet dog, which Anton stared at frozenly. God knows I have an extensive collection of phobias, but Anton now quite speedy when walking near animals, all of which he regards as potential enemies. Even fields with the most benign sheep and lambs must be sped through, though not as speedily as when we were approached by the legendary big mother sheep of a year or so ago.

Back to Brighton and a cheeky beer in the Eddy. I then sloped home for a bit of a doze. In the evening had a good Chinese meal with Lorraine at Gars. Here among other things we talked about mental blocks. For Lorraine spent today sorting out downstairs in her house, which seems to her like the most difficult thing in the world. I have even noticed mental blocks about opening up another page on my computer screen to cross reference something. It can seems like too much trouble even though it is half a dozen clicks away. It's a bizarre phenomenon.

Below Anton, and various forest scenes, including a swarm of bees. As usual click the pic to enlarge.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


Feeling very upbeat today. Particularly about Skelton Yawngrave after reviewing the opening few chapters through Sol Stein eyes. The end is in sight, and I am proud of the quality of what I have written.

Got a good old fashioned snail mail letter from Richard in Guernsey, with a wonderful poem called Deaf about his late father. I can't remember the last time I got a flesh and blood letter from a friend. He also mentioned that I have another poem on the buses in Guernsey, which is pleasing. This one really is an antique, called Dusk at Icart Point and it goes back to when I was 23; more than half a lifetime ago. As before when I saw the last poem they used, it was as if it were written by someone else. But lovely that they have this odd little afterlife.

After working this morning (Lorraine preparing us a hearty brunch) I felt a little braindead. But we went out walking about in the afternoon just catching bits and pieces going on in the Brighton streets, such as a contortionist, various musicians, and generally bumping into folks which is happening more and more these days. After four years I am at home here. Then we walked down to the busy seaside and had a coffee looking at the sea.

Today I had an Amazon delivery, which included Bill Bruford The Autobiography which I began to read avidly. This is the single most interesting book by a musician I have read since A Year with Swollen Appendices by Brian Eno. For the uninitiated Bruford is a drummer, but this is a little like saying that Picasso painted a bit. The book so far is full of insights into the nature of drumming, music and the music business, and absorbingly written anecdotes. Whenever I have seen him in interviews, he has always come across as particularly coherent. What I wasn't expecting was this great book.

Friday fun

At last a decent and uniterrupted day of work on Skeleton Yawngrave. After a week or so I had finally got to the end of sorting out a horribly thorny chapter (chapter thirteen, funnily enough, which is called unlucky for some).

Listening to Sol Stein Stein on Writing on my iPod. Interesting, no nonsense advice from a very famous US editor. Good to hear his advice and many examples on good openings of novels. As I remembered it, the opening to Skelton Yawngrave seems to meets his criteria, but I will have to check again though.

Up to London this evening for Barry's retirement drink. He was an ex-colleague who'd worked in my old agency. For me the evening was a who's who of past agency colleagues, many of whom it was excellent to see. First Matie and Matty were there, Marcella, Imogen, Fraser and Jez and his wife Anna, Yuk and Diane - who got married six weeks ago - Bob Nash, Maria, Mick Egg, Pete Blake, Theo Pike, Robbie and Bee to name but a few. There was also a fabulous tribute film put together by Nick Couldry for Barry, who was his long term writer to his art director.

A couple of friends had run into problems with jobs at the moment, and I came away thinking that life for me is pretty good, and that I have been lucky. Good gossip to catch up on, and beer to be drunk.

I left at around 10:00 and luckily the evening was held in a room in a pub called The Cardinal, close to Victoria, so I was home fairly promptly. Lorraine had let herself in and was on the sofa with Calliope on my return armed with a pizza.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Pompatus of love

Up early to start writing copy for a French tourism campaign for the first few hours. Once completed I went to the gym, however was curiously underpowered today, so had a light session. Then back to work on Skelton Yawngrave, and have a few slightly tiresome business chats.

Mum called to say that her scan results were fine. This is excellent news for a smorgasbord of reasons.

Robbie told me via Facebook about Spotify, which is a splendid music site. He'd been listening to Steve Miller, whose famous song The Joker has the lines "Some people call me Maurice, because I speak of the pompatus of love." I'd always thought I'd misheard this line but apparently Miller is one for neologisms. I like pompatus (just one of the spellings I have seen of it on the Internet) a good deal.

Spent the evening finishing The Missing Person's Guide to Love by Susanna Jones. Gripped by this book which is full of existential uncertainties. I was reminded of Haruki Murakami. It this was full of ambiguities and things unsaid.

Anton phoned to share many of his opinions about the excellence of Manchester United.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Blues

Lately returned from the Eddy watching Chelsea miss out on the Champions league cup final by a goal in the fourth or fifth minute of extra time. At least two stone cold penalty decisions not given by a visually impaired Scandinavian referee. Unbelievable. Wrongheaded non Chelsea fans cheering in the pub too at this last minute twist of fate. Intolerably robbed again.

I hate football.

In other news a mixed bag of work today: some pharma stuff writing about incontinence and high cholesterol, a briefing on a little French tourism stuff from my lovely French client, and a fair amount of Skelton Yawngrave too.

The Government's swine flu leaflet was delivered. Bland but informative. I think it's the only non-letter pushed through the door this year I've read, which just shows you that if it's talking about something relevant, the creative can be as dull as spuds.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Rubbish job

Child scaring eye slightly better. Lorraine with me this morning, as she was heading off to the smoke. Lorraine's phone alarm is a disembodied Beth singing happy birthday. When this goes off unexpectedly it feels like you're waking up in a movie about poltergeists.

Making a cup of tea this morning my phone spontaneously sent Kate two XX kisses. Was rather suprised to get a text from her a bit later wondering why.

To work early on Skelton Yawngrave then the day derailed by a call from Southwark council press officer and had to interview their head of sustainability.

The last time I had discussed the subject with the editor I was told to forget it, so this all came as a bit of a surprise. This irritation compounded by then being hassled for copy a few hours after I'd done the interview. However it was another opportunity to learn more about sustainability, and I talked to a very pleasant and professional woman called Mary Morrissey about recycling and waste management and so on. Writing this up took a surprisingly long time.

Noticed the cat had diarrhoea. Later she seemed fine, but ate at least four juicy and freshly-tortured flies during the day. This can't be a coincidence.

To the gym in the late afternoon feeling irritable. Gym helped a great deal. Then back to finish the article and eat a chickpea and vegetable curry with brown rice, while watching Manchester Utd start to beat Arsenal. And have intermittent chats with Anton by phone about football.

Monday, May 04, 2009


A May Day holiday here in the good old UK like some welcome fossil of socialism.

This just as well as after the previous day spent drinking with a cast of thousands I felt rather groggy. First Matie came to collect Lorraine and I and we three went for a slow but large breakfast at Bill's, complete with live yogurt and rhubarb smoothies.

Then I went off to Boots for eyedrops to combat a childscaringly sore eye. Lorraine went home and First Matie and I hung about for a while drinking tea, before she zoomed back to London.

While I was going about the business of the day, just down the road there was a fighty May Day protest of people making trouble in Brighton. This on the pretext of there is an Arms Factory a couple of miles away. Some of the trouble was literally down the road from me. Some blogger me. I was oblivious to it all.

Then later in the afternoon met Matty and Craig again, and two pals of Matty's Richard and John. The other three left and Matt and I had a few cheeky final beers in the Bricklayer's Arms discussing Twitter and people, and the rightness of beer before Matty set off home back to the smoke.

A quiet night in reading books with Lorraine who stayed over. I'm reading The Missing Persons Guide To Love by Susanna Jones. An excellent title, and a strangely hypnotic style. Susanna is one of the people who was at the writers' night I went to recently. I'll have to let her know how much I'm enjoying her book.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Beers and friends

Up early this morning and writing, before Lorraine and I had a large brunch. I had just about got around to finally fixing my aquarium up, when I was called by First Matie. There was a posse heading Brightonward. Before long Lorraine and I were in the Battle of Trafalgar, a difficult 20 yard trek from my door, with First Matie, Matty and Craig. Some Twittering and iPlayering from the boys. Soon to be joined by Matty's sister Tash her nice new boyf Steve. Then Betsy texted and said she and her pal Paul were in town too. Soon there was quite a crowd of us in the back garden of the pub and a fair amount of ensemble chatting.

After some time this group broke up, and Lorraine and I took the skippy Betsy and Paul on a lightning tour of Brighton before heading to the Cricketers pub to meet Craig and Matty again. From there off to our usual curry house for a decent bit of snap. It was good to see Craig, who I'd not seen for some time. His career has taken a good turn lately, and he is full of confidence which is great to see. I learned that was an excellent middle distance runner, and Matty asked him what he had learned from this experience. One thing he said it was to sprint when the race got hard.

Below Paul, Betsy and my local Banksy.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Brighton bursts into life

A great start to the day, getting a note from Catriona in Guernsey saying that my Guernsey anthology proposal is well received so far, and will be taken to the next arts commission meeting. Fingers crossed. Also worked on my Skelton story for a couple of hours.

Anton, Oskar and Anne called around and we all went to see the Children's Parade. Anton had to double back to get his camera, and I ended up having to carry Oskar after he fell down and bumped his head. Quite touched that he turned to me for comfort.

Brighton sunny and full of life, on the first day of the Brighton Festival. This year's theme was the elements so there were people as fishes and birds and insects and clouds and so on. Loads of drumming and dozens of schools parading through, and half the town out to see them. Noticed Spooner pushing a pushchair cigarette in hand as part of the parade. I bumped into him and Ali afterwards and had a brief chat. He is looking very perky and well. Lorraine and I went to the Dome in time to meet Dawn and see a version of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen played on Steel Drums, which is not something you hear every day. Supped coffee and then went to the Pavilion Gardens where to see a piece by Anish Kapoor called Sky Mirror, which you can see below.

Then off to get my hair cut and have a fairly chilled afternoon and evening with Lorraine, watching a very silly movie Dodgeball movie, which I rather enjoyed.

Below from the kids parade, and Anna and Klaudia (dressed as a bee) Sky Mirror by Anish Kapoor.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Fly crunch

Up early to cat business. There is a black cat who seems to be sporting a magnetic collar, and is thus able to dive through my magnetic catflap to ingest Calliope's food. Calliope is unbelievably fussy with her food, and acts like she hates everything I give her. So when her plate is suspiciously clean in the morning, I know it's not her. These two cats seem quite friendly but there is politics going on between them, which led to noisy batting of opposite sides of the cat door at 5.00am.

Up again at 7.00pm and got ready to head off to the gym, but instead felt alarmingly dizzy, very hot and unable to think straight. Lorraine called by on the way to work to quell hypochondria. I sensibly shunned work and slept. By evening, my temperature had cooled off and I felt fairly good. A brief but weird and disturbing wussiness.

While I was flaked out on the sofa, Calliope bringing big juicy flies home in her mouth. Sometimes they can still fly, and make their escape. She charges around the house, yowling with fury until they come in reach again. She ate one today with a nauseating crunch. Immediately after this Calliope ran over to me to rub her face on my lips. Urgh.

Decided not to cook, and when Lorraine arrived, and we toddled around the corner to the Chinese takeaway and had a glass of Harveys in the pub next door for twenty minutes. Ended up chatting to a guy who knew Guernsey really well, and as far as I could tell travelled in women's clothing selling to Creasey's and so on. Ended up talking about The Book of Ebenezer Le Page to him which I he loved.

Home to scarf Chinese grub and have an earlyish night.