Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Nightbook

Looking out at the teeming rain, and listening to my chesty cough, Lorraine and I decided that maybe another day's labouring wasn't the best idea. Had a chilled out day instead, scarfing a lovely roast at the Sussex Yeoman. Lorraine did not complete her move as planned at the end of last week, and is now hoping to complete the deal on Monday, and move the following week, which gives us some time. Lorraine's move has been hideously protracted.

In the evening off to see Ludovico Einaudi at The Dome, tickets for which Sam and Beth had brought Lorraine and sealed in a envelope. When unsealed, it contained money for a pre-show drink too. So we sloped off to get a gin and tonic in The Basketmakers. There are many advantages to being Lorraine's arm candy, such as getting in for free to see this Einaudi. The concert notes: "The music of composer/pianist Ludovico Einaudi has been described as minimalist, classical, ambient, contemporary and deeply touching, the welcome sound of stillness in a hectic world".

I'd never heard any till today, and the music from his new The Nightbook album was beautifully played by him and his band. Lorraine uses it to drift to sleep to at night, and some of it was soporific but in a good way. I really liked the music. But found the whole encore thing rather tiresome. They ended with at least a third of their set to go, and went through the charade of leaving two more times after that. When the encores are so choreographed it just makes me feel manipulated. They received standing ovations each time though, so maybe it is just me.

Home and a long chat with Toby afore bedtime. Although this winter is still mild by Canadian standards, Toby longing for it to be over.

Galling football related text from Anton, as Manchester Utd won the League Cup.

Below Ludovico and his mates. I like the noise and pixellation in this shot.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Bah to sore throat and cough. But no rest for the wicked, to Lorraine's house for a bacon and egg sandwich and to work, packing and cutting things to car carriable size with a vicious circular saw. Lorraine also has some paving slabs which I am going to use to replace my rotten decking, so I moved some of these about, and then when Sam came around, we all cuddled black bags encrusted with snails, mud and cat pee up to the car. Then to the tip. Some part of me quite likes gruffly saying MDF here mate? etc. to recycling men.

To Dawn's house, a few doors from Lorraine. Dawn had also invited Mark and Jane, Denise. Really liked Dawn's guests, Mark really likeable, Jane at one point describing what snow smells like and I wish I had my pen and notebook, Denise a really lively lady from Brum. Between courses Dawn supplied a peashooter game with proper cardboard tubes and animal targets and pre-rolled spitballs, which got rather competitive and out of hand as they were teachers. Delicious food too, including a triumphant lemon meringue (one of the three allowable puddings, along with apple pie and bread and butter pudding). Thanks to Dawn, Mark and I also talked about me going into his school with Skelton, which looks like it will happen later in the month.

A lively night in general, and I'd laughed a good deal. Lorraine and I tottered back to her place a little before two and we boofed into bed.

The only sinister thing to o'ersickle the day was Chelsea's loss to Manchester City. Nothing good comes out of Manchester.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Work abates

Spoke to Richard on the way to work about our Doubles business, and heard at the end of the day that our paperwork is all done, and the application in.

I was left ticking over today, so I had a few minutes to sort out some of my French work. However this meant there was time for lunch with Matty boy in The Distillers an old haunt now with a French twist. Good to catch up with him. He is zooming between countries every week. We opted for traditional fare, I had a nice plate of sausage and mash, done rather wonderfully, and Matty had fish and chips. I drank sparkling water, and Matty on fruit juice. Much unlike the debauches of yesteryear.

I was allowed to leave 'Glamoursmith' early, with a genuine sensation of something lifting from my shoulders, despite enjoying the work and people there. Headed home cheerfully, despite the drearily compelling The Nightwatch on my iPod.

Lorraine and I went off to The Cricketers which was full of middle aged blokes and ladies dressed to look available. Off to our usual curry house where as usual Lorraine was fawned on. Ash has changed the menu and we had freshly cooked balti which was a distinct improvement. Home through the streets of Brighton and at last some rest... All good.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A change is gonna come

Another cheerful day's work on gut hormones with Jerry and David. Not filled with such horror now, and quite enjoying a brief sojourn in London. Another teleconference with the US, and this time they liked our ideas. A short ten minute walk by the river for lunch. Home and flung myself into the first door just behind Spooner. Walked behind him towards the front of the train, grabbing him when he looked balefully out of an open window. Neither of us wanted to talk much though. Later spoke to Pat who called to ask me to do a bit of work with him and the FB again next week.

Home feeling exhausted. I have had a cold all week and a rough throat, but had some more work for my lovely French clients. However, despite things being a bit of a slog, I am thinking of the money, and this making me cheery. Also Richard has handed over the Guernsey Arts Commission stuff and all is well.

The woman whose house Lorraine is buying has, after seven months of delays, decided she needs a little more time before moving. So a move next week is not going to happen now. But at least they have completed, so a move is gonna come shortly.

Below a solitary man protesting about online gambling site Betfair who have offices nearby. He paced up and down looking at his phone for an hour or so before walking off into the distance, with his bright placard visible from afar. David, The Ark and Jerry, random photos.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scampering through the rat race

Up to London in the rain, not liking this new spell in the rat race, elbowing my way through the surges of the tube. However after walking through the memento mori of Magravine graveyard towards the monolithic Charing Cross hospital, work itself was fine, and I happily sat about concepting all day with Jerry and David. Spent several hours in an office thinking about gut hormones and looking through the glass wall onto wet rooftops and towards the Hammersmith Ark, one of my favourite buildings.

Sloped out to buy humus for lunch and bumped into Matty boy for two seconds, enough time to promise a cheeky lunch with him tomorrow. Left work at a civilised time, listening to The Nightwatch again. So far a downbeat portrait of London in 1947, with a lesbian element. I like it. Had no French work tonight, instead caught part of a Chelsea game on TV. They lost. Then tweaked the splendid Richard's CV for our Guernsey Arts Commission submission. Looking good. Richard going to pass on our proposal tomorrow.

Lorriane now in a frenzy of activity, is hoping to complete tomorrow, and move into her new home next Wednesday or Friday. Everything happening at once, and she is fiercely organising.

Below a tube train retreats into the dark under London.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

All work

Up to the smoke this morning again, like some milt bloated salmon seeking the high shallows. Locked in the little capsule of me-space on the train listening to my iPod. Raining most of the day in London. Met a former colleague Jerry and worked with him and another nice art director called David, coming up with lines and concepts. The day ended with a teleconference with Americans in the agency's New York office. Back to the drawing board. However it keeps me in work for another day at least, so mustn't grumble guv'nor.

Home on a delayed train at 8:30 listening to my audiobook, The Nightwatch by Sarah Waters. Once home began work on stuff for my French client, done in under an hour. Spoke to Lorraine this evening. Her move seems to be on for next week. I will help her where possible.

Calliope bored and tetchy when I got home. Soon to bed after watching some TV I think.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Rain and Lorraine

Looks like Lorraine is going to move house next week. She is trying not to get too excited, but it is great news.

Utter deluge this morning. Fortunately all I had to do was put out my recycling but returned utterly drenched, and treading mud into the house having cleverly taken up all my decking.

Wrote like a maniac today about French wine regions, with only a short interlude talking to Bob. After the French work, some more work on billing. Followed by more work on the proposal for the Guernsey Arts Commission, which I posted tonight to Richard for him to stop it being rubbish. Spoke to Richard this evening, and briefly to the lovely Jane, before their trip to The Fermain Tavern. Wish I was there with them.

Calliope fractious and bored due to the rain.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My mum is cooler than your mum

Off to meet Dawn for coffee this morning, she is reading Skelton Yawngrave, and is organising me to do a session in a local school. Really good opportunity this to get some appropriate feedback and possibly open some new doors. Ate buns and drank coffee at Lorraine's house. Dawn has only read the first section of the book but picked up every thread with amazing thoroughness just from this. Lorraine too has this ability to get to the nub of a poem for example with speed and clarity. It's very impressive.

Afternoon spent compiling the application for funding from the Guernsey Arts Commission. Basically a form and some other stuff. Form filling makes me want to self harm. I've never encountered a form that doesn't ask round hole questions when you have only square pegs. I hate them. This form is not designed for literature for example, and the questions are not appropriate to it. Lorraine helped me, and then after a few hours I gave up in disgust, but with the process almost complete. Lorraine meanwhile steadily slashing through her work email backlog all afternoon.

Mum is here on the BBC...! Her paintings are used as a backdrop on ClickBits (screen grab below) and she is given a namecheck and there's a bit about her at the end. Splendid, and thanks to outlier Mex who tipped her off about the opportunity. Mum fairly level headed about this, and not bragging insufferably as I would be doing in her shoes. Mum's portfolio site is here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Under rotten decking

Much of the day spent in the garden, led and supervised by Lorraine, who likes this sort of thing, pulling up rotten decking to reveal an uneven concrete base with a water drain cover which had lain illegally concealed beneath the decking. At least there were no skeletons.

Also cutting back rampant honeysuckle, full of ancient birdsnests, and which rained a fine sort of dust that inflamed my already coldy sinuses and sore throat. I just don't think I have the temperament for sustained labouring.

A spot of shopping and then an evening spent blamelessly in front of the TV with Lorraine eating a roast, and watching the splendid Wallender with Kenneth Branagh, who I've always thought of as a bit of a tosser (technical critical term) being absolutely mesmerising as the conflicted Swedish sleuth, who radiates waves of aloneness. Also Match of the Day, with the mighty Chelsea winning and, even more enjoyably, Manchester United losing. Texted Anton with a humourous quip, but to date have received only silence in return.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Freed up on Friday

Suddenly things seems to be happening. Even Lorraine's horrendous house move seems to be suddenly more likely.

Another day on the French work, which makes me want get on the next ferry and drift about gormandising and glugging fine wines in welcoming villages. Love this client as the more flowery my prose gets, the more they seem to like it. Also I have been asked to work up at a healthcare agency for a spell next Tuesday for some concepting and copywriting. This all helps to back the slavering wolf from my door, and some way down the Twitten. Naturally rather pleased about this.

A quick chat with First Matie who is close to buying a large Ridgeback dog to go with the large Subaru.

Also got the pricing through from the printer for A Guernsey Double and talked to Phil about laying it out. Emailing Richard, who has sent his latest batch of poems through. All rather exciting. It is going to be an excellent book. Now forms to fill in for the Guernsey Arts commission.

Met Matt shortly before five in The Basketmakers. Lots to discuss, and he is now writing variation ten of This concert... The words for the refrain I sent him seem to work too. And we were talking about the practicalities of staging the concert, what is being played in the first half and various theatrical wheezes and stunts, and decided to ask Beth to help us so that we don't all bump into each other on stage. These discussions conducted over a few beers, next to a table where a lesbian couple were passionately cuddling. It's the This concert will fall in love with you vibe.

As The Basketmakers got increasingly loud so we repaired to The Brighton Tavern. It bills itself as Brighton's friendliest pub. Matt wants us to have our aftershow party there, and I think it is a good idea. As long as Mr Coombes the rat doesn't show up.

Then off on our separate missions. Matt off to find Wayne, while I made the mistake of ordering a takeaway Indian meal and went to the pub nearby where there was an R&B duo playing to wait the half an hour or so before it was ready. Sensibly had another beer. Food horrid when I got it home, but I'd had enough to drink to fall on it hungrily anyway. Lorraine arrived, with her top hat slightly askew, having had a night out with her girls. And so to bed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Met First Matie behind the station in her new green Subaru and we sped in the rain up to Chertsey to see Max and the French Bloke in less than an hour.

Both on splendid form, and we spent the afternoon playing with their children Tahlia, Zemirah and baby Elijah. All beyond adorable. Zemirah making a classic entrance - walking in all cherubic blonde curls with a large plastic electric guitar which was cranking out some species of heavy metal riff. Kate and I entranced.

Then a very splashy walk across the nearby meads, through every available puddle, and setting off rockets powered by a small plastic air chamber and a tube. When the rain was utterly pouring, we repaired home I was used a good deal as a climbing frame and trampoline by Tahlia and Zemirah. After the chilren went to bed, the FB showed me his pet project of a 900-odd cc motorbike he was building from scratch in his garage from things parts from ebay. It will be an entirely unique vehicle, wasp waisted with a single fork holding the rear wheel. The FB said, with a gleam in his eye, that it would be a challenging ride.

Home in the rain with First Matie generally putting the world to rights as she drove. Back to Brighton and an earlyish night. Managed also to pick up an offer of more work next week too. All good.

Below Tahlia and Zemirah in puddles.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Up early to work on some press ads about a French construction company for my French client. Interesting how they are forefronting their green credentials -- and expending great energy in reducing carbon footprints and protecting wildlife and so on.

After I did some work in my garden. The tree is dead and the decking rotten, and the whole thing looks horrid. So I spent a couple of hours cutting things back, and was able to simply pull the boughs from the ground as they were so rotten at the base. I have visions of creating a stand of lofty black bamboo there, and will pave the part currently covered in ratty decking. Felt very good to be working outside. Grounding.

Following the story of Ray Gosling, a BBC journalist who admitted on film to having murdered a lover who was dying in great pain of aids, and followed it up with a frank interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. He has now been arrested by the police in Nottingham. I don't know why, but his story didn't ring true to me. I'm sure this kind of mercy killing happens all the time, but to me his particular story seemed vague in detail, and seemed to me to have the air of an invention.

Below a no news day, so a picture of Calliope at my desk. Most days she spends time asleep on my desk, or making trouble by biting my mouse hand and headbutting keys. She is persistently attacking my feet in the middle of night too, the weasel.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Little paper pieces

A new technique inspired by something in the Guardian at the weekend. Write all your tasks and worries on tiny pieces of torn paper, select today's ones to be dealt with, and bin the rest. Not sure if it made any difference, but I did all the ones I hadn't thrown away.

This meant more Skelton manuscripts off to agents -- I am persisting in this but am beginning to think that traditional routes to market are futile. Many agents are not considering new clients at this time, and just to be one of many envelopes slewing through their portals is not the right way to go about things, even if what they contain is wonderfully written and presented.

Also have been reading articles by at least one agent who talks about how traditional publishing is dead in the water. I have some good ideas now about alternative approaches to readers. And on this note I am going into a local school next month to do a show and tell about Skelton, which will prove educational for me, and possibly for the nippers too. It stands to reason in difficult times that publishers only want a proven concept, to feel sure that what they publish has an audience. When Mex published her book on the underground, its content was based on her amazingly popular London Underground website, with over 100,000 visits a year, which proved the concept. I also need to prove my concept first.

Heard from my old agency who have decided that as they are imposing a freeze on freelancers, they don't want me to write some specialist healthcare newsletters. I pity the poor copywriter who has to try to get up to speed on degenerative arthritis, and plough through the research. But looking on the bright side, at least I won't have to think deeply about malaises for weeks on end. Am working tomorrow on a French construction project however, so that door-troubling wolf is being kept at arms length.

Another long walk by the rough grey sea. I plodded along dwelling on worst case scenarios, but then gradually optimism returned. Exercise, even just a walk for an hour and a half, can make a big difference in how you look at the world.

In the evening Lorraine came around and we repaired to the Batty for a chat, a glass of beer and a packet of Twiglets. Then an early night.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Unidentified floating object

Frittered time, but managed to contact printers and do quite a bit of other admin. but nothing creative. Walked after lunch by the still sea for an hour and a half.

Later I met Phil, and his pal Mike in the Battle of Trafalgar for an hour or so of funny chat. Phil, who is generally a very funny man, on good form in general and out for the first time since his daughter was born, and Mike a funny man too who has written comedy scripts. After a bit, they pootled into the night in search of the perfect one liner. I repaired home quietly.

Below a large and mysterious unidentified floating object on the horizon as I walked above Marine drive towards the Marina. No idea what this is, but have speculated that it may be a warship painted with some special outline baffling camoflage. I zoomed my wee panasonic as far as I could. Click the pic to get a better look.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gee Wisley

Off to Wisley, the Royal Horticultural Society garden today, about an hour's drive from Brighton. It's still inescapably winter, and it was dripping and rainy. However there were signs everywhere enticing us to the butterfly hot house, where they house their tropical collection. A small notice informed us that the Butterflies were few at the moment, but those that were there, were being photographed like celebs.

More fascinating was a chrysalis incubation case, where rows of chrysalis grouped in the different colours of their species were hanging down like coats on a rail, from greyish and leaflike to metallic golden. A couple of black and white Tree Nymph butterflies had recently emerged and gradually inflating their wings. It made me think of a library.

Then out and about walking in the grounds. Lots of big trees, Lorraine hugged a pine, but didn't like it as much as much as a broad leafed tree. Lorraine got me fired up to transform my own back yard. My tree is dead, and festooned with jasmine at the moment, but it needs to be taken out. At the moment I am favouring a stand of tall black cane bamboo to replace it. I will also rip out all of my decking this year too, and replace it with something better. God knows what.

Dinner tonight in Gars Chinese restaurant. Nice food, if over sweet and a pleasant ambiance. But judging by my itchiness afterwards, laced with MSG. Then home to boof on the gold sofa.

My fortune cookine: Success does not come to you, you go to success.

Below an owl, a postman, and a malachite at Wisley.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fish faces

Up this morning with the words for the sung refrain in This Concert... in my head, sparked by a half remembered line of Dante. Winged this off to Matt. I had been drawing a blank on this for two weeks, and then it emerged fully formed in minutes. Hope he likes it.

After a quorn sausage sandwich, a long walk with Lorraine along the seafront, the sea still calm, but it was cold and face chilling. And it was good to let Lorraine off the leash. We paused to buy a very reasonably priced fillet of fish from the local fishmongers next to the Fishing Museum on the seafront: the vestige of the local fishing industry. While Lorraine was discussing recipes with the fishmonger, I was distracted bya tank full of edible crabs hunched into corners. But he had some good fish: flatfish, mackerel, herring, a couple of big cod and two morose gurnard on the slab.

After a reviving coffee, and blueberry muffin in my magic cafe, a mooch in Brighton, bumping into Anton in Resident records, who had momentarily been distracted from Valentine's day shopping.

Home, and in the evening Lorraine took over the kitchen, and cooked heroically, producing a coconut, tomato and fish curry, with a side plate of dhal. The evening cold and uninviting outside, so it was footie (a chelsea FA cup victory) and Wallender on TV, and a crisp glass of Belgian lager. All well.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Seeking divine light

Having earmarked today for actual writing, found myself stuck. I don't believe in writer's block, but today was a day where I clearly needed time to think. Matt needs a few lines to be sung as a refrain in the latter parts of This concert will fall in love with you, and puzzling out what needs to go there is tricky. Also am writing another short story, which is linked to the one I wrote a month ago, but this is proving tougher.

Lorraine happy to have reached half term, she came around and cooked. Then we watched The Fifth Element, which I'd never seen before and loved it. Eclectic cast which included Tricky, Lee Evans as well as Bruce Willis. Stylish and funny. Sam came by to pick up a parcel from his mum and have a gin and tonic. Otherwise nothing to trouble cyberspace with.

Below my walk was heavily overcast, with shafts of light like divine revelations. When I reached Hove the beach was spotlit, leaving Brighton grim and bluish in the distance.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A turn with the Turners

Working on my French tourism work for the bulk of the day. Managed to sneak off for an hour and a half walk by the sea in the middle of the day. Brightness and fresh air work wonders.

In the afternoon called around to see Diane and Adrian Turner at their studio. Had a nice coffee with Diane in Cream Tea in New Street, Diane's new favourite haunt for meeting and thinking. Good cakes apparently, and the young woman working there had a slightly floury apron which is always good to see. A nice wide ranging chat with Diane, and then back to the studio where I peered over Adrian's shoulder at many photos on his giant screen, including some excellent ones he took as a young boy in Paris. He always wanted to be a photographer. You'll find some examples here.

Diane pressed a copy of The seven habits of highly effective people on me as I left.

I had a quiet night in, and Lorraine came around to be fed and sleep on the sofa in front of the TV. All well.

Below a shot of mine a bit like poor man's Adrian Turner, the West Pier, which has just had lots of dangerous tangled metal removed from the scene, and a random wire.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Up to the smoke

Crammed in a bit of work for my lovely French client, and received some handy advice from Ash with some top tips today on sourcing a digital printer. Caught a train up to the smoke, and then to Hammersmith. On entering my old agency's doors I bumped into the French Bloke who was also meeting Max and Matty boy, and three of the FB and Max's lovely children, all rather greatly grown up since I last clapped eyes on them. That bouncy Max is looking fab.

I went for lunch with Keith in the Distillers, and had a good agency gossip. Bumped into Mike Ferg. I told him he was looking well. He told me I was looking jowly. D'oh.

Then off to meet Pat and the French Bloke in their agency for a long chat and a coffee. Was a little early, so lurked about looking at the street Carl used to live in. And took the opportunity to talk to Richard by phone about A Guernsey Double. So nice to talk to Richard as I walked among each chartered street. He'd been going through one of those temporary glooms that affects all writers, which makes you look at your work and decide it doesn't add up to a hill of beans. In his case it this is an illusion, and I told him I was proud to be in the same book as him.

A good laugh with Pat and the FB over a large Americano. Both looking well, and sporting colourful shirts. Pat nursing a broken bone in his elbow, rather ironic that as a confirmed and expert biker boy, he managed to fall off a bicycle.

From there I walked through London down to Soho where I met Phil in our usual Soho boozer The Crown and Two Chairmen, for a fast beer and to discuss some business, and hear about his and Ash's new daughter Lilyanne. Flakes of snow drifting past the window.

Home and was pleased to discover what seems to be an offer of a couple of weeks work in my in-basket. The day was a great antidote to the feelings of stir-craziness that have afflicted me lately.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Meeting Mr Coombes

Working on French stuff a little this morning, and other bits. Decided this afternoon, as it was bright and sunny, to go for a long walk. Walked for a couple of hours along the coast and back, and felt decidedly good for it.

In the evening off to see a processionally staged adaptation of plays by Pinter, with Lorraine and Sam by Beth and Mark's college. Forgotten how bleakly funny Pinter can be. "If you tell me one of our dogs bit this woman without giving his name, I will have that dog shot," made me laugh in an excerpt from Mountain Language. Some of the acting done outside, with Beth flinging herself to the floor with great gusto in moves she choreographed herself. She also ended the show with a long solo song. Very good.

After, and as it was Matt's birthday, Lorraine and Sam and I went to meet him in the Brighton Tavern for yet more drinking. He appeared with Linda and we gave him a dinosaur birthday card. Much chatting and we were joined by an older and very entertaining gentleman called Spike who had a tattooed face and took rather a shine to Lorraine, and told her he was a wizard. He also had a rat called Mr Coombes in his pocket, and a little dog scampering about. For reasons best known to herself Lorraine started cuddling the rat, and then it began burrowing under her clothes, which made her squeak at me to grab it.

Matt given a lift home, Linda and Lorraine left and I finished my beer with Spike before going home, his little rat forlornly poking its nose out of his pocket.

Below Mr Coombes, cliff and cloud, and a ladder.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Links and cycles

Busy making decisions about the A Guernsey Double book today. Catriona has pointed me in the direction of the Arts Commission forms and it's time to get started with a costing. I also found that asking my LinkedIn connections about sourcing digital printers and had lots of helpful advice within an hour. A revelation.

Snowflakes again, but they only made the streets greasy. Took myself out in the afternoon for coffee and a different perspective to my magic cafe.

In the evening Paul called me as he wasn't gigging tonight, and he and I spent the evening catching up in the Batty and swapping some headlines from the 20 years that have passed since Paul and I used to perform regularly in the Troubadour Cafe in Earl's Court. Paul told me about the long years as a wandering Troubadour himself, and what living in Paris is like as an artist these days, saying that Paris has a soul but its people don't. He also talked me through his Dr Spacetoad incarnation. Apparently he hosted a regular night in Brighton some years ago, and was something of a local celebrity. As evidenced by a random guy who'd been a fan, and enthusiastically greeting him in the pub.

Then we repaired home and shot the breeze about life in general till 2:30. It felt significant, I think for both of us, that we'd bumped into each other again. Paul's persistent sticking to performing was my path not taken. Interesting that now that I'm focusing on my artistic projects that he has reappeared in some kind of astrological cycle of happenstance. There is a comfort in meeting old friends.

Calliope shamelessly disporting herself on Paul's lap while we talked. She loves men that one.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

The Moon is a Dandy

Rather run over feeling this morning, and a sluggish start to the day. Lorraine and I off to the Abergavenny Arms in Rodwell to meet First Matie, where I had the world's slowest pint and a exceedingly good Sunday roast dinner. From there we zoomed to the gorgeous village of Southease a couple of minutes down the road, with its roofs yellow with lichen. Good to see Kate in her new environs, utterly looking the part, and seeming very much at home in a little fairytale cottage, with a view across the road to the beautiful round tower of Southease Church, and the graveyard dotted with snowdrops. We took a cup of tea with us and wandered into the church. Inside a block of stillness, with only the sound of woodpigeons and other birds in it. Light tinged by coloured glass here and there. Fond farewells to Katie, then Lorraine and I zoomed home.

In the evening I took myself off to the nearby Evening Star for another bout of Dr Spacetoad. A crazy night with bursts of wild uninhibited dancing, which included mock bullfighting,self flagellation with rolled up newspapers, and much hooting and springing about drumming and singing. Especially from one man who I think was called Roy who is with the band, but was tonight in the audience. A natural comedian. The whole thing also being filmed by Roy's friend, a charming Scandinavian lady, who also interviewed me briefly about Paul's early days. Paul, for some reason, spoke and sang only in French for the first third of his set. At some point Sam and a pal turned up too, though I'm not sure what Sam made of it. Paul was joined on stage by Captain Sensible playing bass, and he dedicated his rendition of his ancient and still rather splendid song The Moon is a Dandy to me.

Paul asked me to read a couple of poems in this maelstrom. I managed to be a bit waffly, but the audience listened with surprising politeness given the earlier wild capering, and I was clapped. Much chatting with all and sundry afterwards, before heading home (all of two minutes walk) chatting to a sleepy Lorraine on my phone. And so to bed.

Below Captain Sensible and Dr Spacetoad start to play The Moon is a Dandy. Scenes from tranquil Southease with Katie and Lorraine.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Warts an' all

Busy day today. Off in the morning to take a long look at St Michael and All Angels church, which has some beautiful glasswork including examples by William Morris and Burne-Jones. Two ladies were on hand to talk to about the Church, and lend me a pair of binoculars to peer up at the glass. I mentioned that Matt and my concert would be on there, and so fell into lots of conversations, and said hello to one of the curates. A lovely place.

Then back to my place where Matt arrived, and we had a brief discussion about our This concert will fall in love with you project and I fed him some bean jar. He was amusingly disapproving of the state of my study, mentioning tidy minds and so on. Then off to the now traditional Basketmakers, where Sam and Lorraine had met. Found them with Lorraine tucking into a big pint of porter. We had a lovely afternoon shooting the breeze there. Matt mentioned, as an aside, that he thought our next project would be an opera and that we would get us a commission to do it. Writing a libretto is a tremendously exciting thought. Also in the Basketmakers was Glen Capra who is the pianist of the Tacet Ensemble who will be playing the piece. Nice to chat to him.

Also got drunk with Sam which was really fun, and we had lots of full and frank discussions. Sam, Lorraine and I off to the Brunswick Tavern to see the hugely enjoyable The Doctor Spacetoad Experience. This is a band fronted by an old friend from my Troubadour days Paul Francis. Had a few chats with him before they kicked off, and it was great to catch up a bit, he's now living in Paris and has amassed a huge amount of experience, and quite a following if the showing here in Brighton is anything to go by.

I was however rather well oiled and downing rum and coke with some abandon, and found myself with Sam shouting "Spacetoad" somewhat loudly in the crowd, decided that on reflection a taxi home was a penetratingly good idea, and the lovely and exceedingly patient Lorraine shepherded me and Sam home.

Paul is playing tomorrow in a pub a few hundred yards from me, and wondered if I would read a poem there. A lively day.

Below Paul in trademark top hat, and the Dr Spacetoad Experience.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pain free

Migraine abated today, thank goodness. A beautiful mild afternoon, full of sunlight. Amazing how the absence of pain can make the world so wonderful. Went to my usual cafe and had an idea for another short story, which I set to, and began to write in the early part of the evening. Walked about in town and onto the pier until the single cloud in an otherwise clear sky got in the way of the sun for half an hour.

Got up early and prepared a bean jar, and the house full with the aroma of herby beany goodness. Had bowls of this with Lorraine when she came by this evening, and a quiet drink. Poor thing was shattered after an arduous week.

Much news coverage of John Terry the Chelsea captain who has been sacked as England football captain for having an affair with a girlfriend of a team mate while being married. English culture oscillates effortlessly between prim censure and crass vulgarity. I feel quite sorry for him. It was an easy mistake to make, I explained to Lorraine, who didn't see it quite the way I did.

On another football note, Anton called me during the week "needing to pick my brain" and asked me what the underside of a ship was called. I replied a hull, which led instantly to a discussion of Chelsea's disappointing midweek performance against Hull City.

Received a copy of Island Ink with a notice about the Anthology of Guernsey and a poem of mine in it. The poem was crammed on a page with two others, and in the gutter (i.e. in the middle near the fold). Not very impressed, although I understand the imperative to cram as much in as possible.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The bright lights abate

Wan and post-migrainey. Luckily my freelance work was stuff I do at home. Spent the day puzzling through the brief and reading up about the Languedoc-Roussillion region, and then trying to sum this all up in a few words. Also luckily Mex and I had stayed with Ken in this region in a village near Limoux, and he drove us to see many of the sites such as Carcassonne castle, Perpignan, and old haunts of the Cathars, while almost continuously singing arias at the wheel. So for once I was writing about something I'd experienced.

In an effort to stave off a third bout of flashing visual disturbance, meditated and slept when I could, and went to bed early before migraine could get a grip again. These efforts paid off and I was okay all day. The visual effects, if you strip them of the pain and their disturbing nature, are actually incredibly beautiful, full of prismatic bright colours in angular crystal-like shapes. They travel from the centre of your vision, and then move gradually over half an hour or so to the periphery before slipping away, leaving you feeling generally washed out and hurty in the head parts.

Listened with eyes closed to an audiobook this evening, Sarah Waters The Night Watch. Some lovely, intriguing writing.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dodging Migraine

Slinking about trying to shake off migraine today -- fortunately these days when I get it, the pain is nowhere near as excruciating as in former times. Feeling generally okay by teatime. However a new bout of spangly horrors struck in the evening, so clearly not got rid of it quite yet.

Between all this had a mildly productive day, with several telephone chats. I have been offered a few days freelance on various French projects which is welcome and timely.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Blunderbuss communications

Got to grips with my Guernsey projects this morning discharging a blunderbuss of email in all directions - the Chief Librarian of the Prilaux Library, to Catriona, the This is Guernsey website, The official Denys Corbet website and so on. Plus Richard of course, and copying Matt as I'd like to take This Concert to Guernsey.

A cold rainy day and I walked to The Brunswick at Hove to try to buy two tickets for The Dr Space Toad Experience show this weekend. Dr Spacetoad is Paul, an old friend from my days performing in the Troubadour Cafe. I have recently got in touch with Paul again who now lives in Paris. Annoyingly I turned up at The Brunswick slightly dripping and wearing an unflattering beany hat. The pleasant guys there told me that you can only buy an advance ticket over the Internet. I must have been looking particularly slack jawed as his colleague asked me kindly if I had access to the Internet, and talked me through the web page as if I were some sort of shaggy hunter gatherer. Sloped enjoyably home along the drab seafront taking photos.

In the evening I recorded six takes of myself reading the second half of This concert will fall in love with you and sent them to Matt. Matt's also asked me to write the words for a choral refrain based on the main theme of the piece.

Watched a documentary about children with selective mutism this evening - it is an intense anxiety-based condition which prevents the children from speaking. I found it quite heartbreaking.

Then my vision went weird and the familiar spangly sickle of a migraine started to flash in my eye. First one in a couple of years. At least it was bedtime.

Below "seaside fun", the wet bandstand, a wet groyne, and a random motorbike suddenly silhouetted by a patch of bright.

Monday, February 01, 2010


Spent hours mind-mapping out all my activities this morning. Stepping back from it, it seems I have an astounding number of things to do, without including freelance work.

Went for a walk this afternoon to photograph the Church. But on arrival, gallingly discovered that my camera's battery had run out. Went instead for a brief walk by the sea and did some shopping when I was called by Beth. She and Mark had discovered a chair in the street near me that is perfect prop for a play. They dropped it round, and I invited them in for some tea. It is a sort of leather office chair, which Lorraine will pick up at some point. Not long after they left Calliope sicked some cat biscuits down one of its deep puckered button holes.

Otherwise a quiet day with lots to think about.