Saturday, July 31, 2010

Basket cases

Awake annoyingly early this morning. Seagulls were stamping about on Lorraine's roof, and dropping things which may have been stones or small skulls onto the tiles, and walking smearily on the Velux windows. Brian and Basil the cats taking a dim view of this.

Beth was going to use Lorraine's house for a big rehearsal today, so we sloped off back to my place for breakfast. I then was possessed by a housecleaning bug, and spent two hours vacuuming under beds, deep cleaning the bathroom and so on. Lorraine who is absolutely exhausted, slept on the gold sofa.

In the afternoon we met Matt and John in The Basketmakers for some beers. I was drinking refreshing summer ale. Amid general banter, Matt moaning again about the war between seagulls and foxes going on near his home which generates a maelstrom of fox screams and gull yarps. Despite these trials he has finished composing the music for Found, and will upload it soon.

From here Lorraine had some cheap Chinese food, fretting over our calorie intake as we did so.

Below Matt, right, in The Basketmakers. Note all the little tins on the walls, which are full of messages. Also, fresh in from Joan, a picture of the intrepid Pinkie in Deviation Road. Very sad to see him in this state.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Nazguls, seagulls

Final day in London. Actually felt brighter today than the rest of the week. Had to finish French work at lunchtime. Ended up rather liking Ken, who I'd worked with for the last four days, and going a bit mad this last afternoon, and snickering at silly things, having spent the last four days slogging at a particularly thin brief.

Going back to Hammersmith has seemed at times like returning to the past, and is full of negative emotions. However these last few times I have not felt under the Nazgul's wing any more, and have quite enjoyed it.

Felt a joyful surge of happiness and was able to leave work on time and zoom back to Brighton. Listening now to A Passage To India by EM Forster. I have always thought of this as one of my favourite books, although I've not read it for at least 25 years. It is every bit as nuanced, bitingly observed and philosophical as I remember.

Home and after cleaning myself up, off to Lorraine's house where we, plus Beth and Mark went off to their local curry house for a meal and some cold beers. Beth and Mark doing The Tightrope dance en route. Lorraine had a particuarly foul week, and so there was some steam to be let off. Beth made me laugh by flapping one arm and curling the other against her, saying what's this? The answer was a seagull coming back from the library. This very much a Peter Kenny joke.

A nice end to a trying week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A surprising offer

Feeling utterly tetchy by the time I arrived at work this morning. However I meditated at lunchtime and felt rebooted afterwards. I was less tired today, and also less illish than I have been all week, which was nice. The afternoon much better and Ken and I getting on fairly well after a sticky start in the morning.

Rather surprisingly the nice new MD at the agency floated the idea of me becoming its creative director. I told him that I am having way too much fun at the moment, but if an offer came along with lots of singing and dancing girls attached I would have to at least think about it.

Naturally quite flattering to be thought of in this way, and shows that the work I am doing with them here is not completely wasted.

Home, having to stand much of the way on the train. Finally finished the Stieg Larsson trilogy. The end was excellent.

Then got on with some French work in the evening before going out to meet Anton for a drink. Calliope followed me to the end of the Twitten and as I waited around the corner for Anton, I could hear her heartbroken yowls. It is really atrocious emotional blackmail. It's like having a furry and teetotal wife.

A few cheekies with Anton. Just really nice to be out and shooting the breeze, and not commuting or working. He said that going to the beach with children is like going to the pub with a ThinkPad. You're continually on the lookout. A rather unusual analogy.

Calliope not home when I returned. I went outside too look for her and shook my keys, she was still waiting for me at the far end of the Twitten and raced back miaowing.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Writing with a white pen

Mercifully my ankle didn't seize up in dreaded orc foot style, so made off for work reasonably adroitly. Lorraine, who had stayed overnight, made me a large cup of tea, which seems in the morning the kindest thing a human being can do for another human being.

Up to London and another day frustratingly, blood-out-of-a-stoning with Ken the art director. Felt dizzy with tiredness for much of the afternoon, rectified only by a diet coke, and a word with myself. Only moment of creativity, writing on a window with a white pen, and taking photos of the words against the sky. Will upload later. May has well have used a white pen on white paper for all the use the afternoon session was.

Home listening to the Girl who stirred the hornet's nest. As I sat on the tube, and the woman next to me had the paperback, and the woman opposite was reading The girl with the dragon tattoo. Shame Stieg Larsson, who died prematurely, did not see what a monster success his books were to become. I'm looking forward to reading something different, however, having read all three on the trot. They are excellent, but baggy in parts, and I think were in need of a harder edit.

Some French work to do when I got home. Feeling dead beat. Calliope interrupting me for urgent face rubbing while I sat at my computer. She also did howling at another cat in my yard, and drove it off her territory while I was talking to the lovely Lorraine.

Listened before bedtime to a midi file of a beautiful choral piece Matt has written, that needs some words. An interesting challenge.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blood out of a stone

In blinkers on the train and tube, just getting through the day. Up to the smoke again to create concepts for a treatment for conditions such as adult spasticity, with a talkative guy called Ken. Moments of reprieve walking through the graveyard looking at squirrels and orange poppies. Feeling hot and bothered in the office, but fortunately found myself in a small air conditioned room for most of the day, and worked alone in the afternoon. Ideas like blood out of a stone.

After work a drink with people from the agency as Andy, a pleasant planner, was leaving. Talked to Keith a bit, and a few others before quickly zooming home, listening as I did to the absolutely bloody final few hours of the Girl who kicked the hornet's nest. Aching ankle and general malaise tonight. Ate fish and chips as I arrived home late, and Lorraine came by to cheer me up, and Mum called to cheer me up too. All well, just suddenly very run down and needing a holiday.

The good news is that Matt and Wayne will catsit Calliope when I am away, which she will enjoy as she loves men. Also Matt sent me a midi file so I can write some words for a piece he's already written.

And so to bed. Sadly already greatly looking forward the weekend.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Mix of hypochondria and depression. Seething heartburn (not something I am prone to) plus having pulled a chest muscle over my heart meant that I sampled a range of stabbing chest pains at four in the morning. Dead tired but wide awake for half the night, with Calliope barging about excitedly with round eyes. Full moon sending us both crazy.

First order from Amazon Advantage today (even though the page is not fully up yet). After doing some billing, worked on a poem, I spent the day feeling over hot, lethargic and unable to string two thoughts together. Walked up the hill to feed Anton's cats, the second time in greasy rain, but with keys. Deadheaded dripping roses. Talked to Lorraine about how rubbish I felt. Bed. London tomorrow.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Something unexplained

Massages have a strange effect on me, especially if I have not had one for a long time. I read a study given to me by a masseur about muscle memory; and how the body locks up feelings, and when the muscles are relaxed the feelings emerge. This time the feelings I have locked up seem to revolve around apathy, if my lack of get up and go is anything to go by. Lorraine with a sore throat and tired too, so our weekend was less than dynamic.

There is one area on the left side of my back under the shoulder blade, that when given a good thumbing and unlocked, releases a sudden flood of anxiety and sadness. In fact on one occasion it has made me start to cry. It feeling only lasts a few seconds, but the emotion is profound. Even yesterday I felt a panicky surge when she released it.

We did go to see a colleague of Lorraine's called Nora Young, who was having an art show in one of Worthing's Open Houses. I could tell at once that Nora is a really interesting and creative woman, and I particularly liked short filmed moments, which were on her TV screen. One was of an old cobweb blowing and catching the light, another of the movement of leaf shadows on a wall.
Others she did were of the sea, but turning the camera on its side, so that the moving light on the waves became more abstract. These film fragments were remarkably beautiful, and I found one or two of them intensely moving and could have looked at them all day.

Lorraine brought one of her pieces, a coloured etching I think, which she will collect soon. Nora's work made me crystallise something that I have been half thinking about lately. I am increasingly attracted to art that is unexplained and enigmatic, and leaves an unexplored space for the viewer or reader etc. to step into. I have been guilty in the past of over-explaining things in my writing. I am finally beginning to realise that what many people respond to is ambiguity. I think it takes confidence as an artist to know when to stop, and that in a sense no art should be complete, for it needs room for its viewer/reader/listener to step into it, and still be left with questions.

Lorraine talking about he piece she had bought in the car afterwards. It had figure with a heart. Lorraine said this symbolised for her a new and healed heart, which was rather lovely.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tender buns

Off for an early whole body massage today by the lovely Jewel. After an hour of somewhat painful but hugely beneficial stuff I found it took me almost half a minute to get up from her couch. She had spent some time working on my buns too, which were surprisingly tense. Never occurred to me that you can carry tension in the buns, but surely they are better clenched up than hanging behind you like curtains.

Home, feeling beaten up, and went straight to the sofa where I spent the rest of the day, with Lorraine and Calliope watching random TV about Auschwitz, WW2 bombers, Arvo Part, The Incredibles, etc. etc.

In the evening off to the Red Snapper as it was Cath's birthday, and we had some pleasant Thai food, with nice folks. I managed to inhale a chili in my hot and sour soup so had to barge outside choking, which was rather dramatic ( I was sat by the open door). The waiter brought me out a glass of water, which was nice of him.

Then got talking to Cath's friend Tina who is a music therapist, and I found her rather interesting. She works with children who find talking difficult or are locked in one way or another. Often these people can find singing a powerful route to self expression.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wrong again?

Gym again, that's three days in a row which must be a good thing, surely.

A fortuitous meeting. Late in the afternoon, I took myself to a new cafe to work on a poem, but instead talked at length to the guys that run it. They are unusually receptive to new ideas, and the owner is a former event manager.

I suggested that they put my half-hour play Wrong on at lunchtime as I am tweaking this for Beth and Mark to perform at the moment. Wrong is a play I wrote over 10 years ago, and did with Mindy as a one off, later some other folks performed it in Glasgow.

It's a small farce: two people are bored, so decide to become actors and 'put the show on right here'. They discover an actor playing a corpse under their table. After a furious row, however, they accidentally kill this actor. 'Oh fuck, I've killed the corpse.' Then there is some corpse dragging and a resolution involving the corpse returning to life.

The cafe guys were sold on it, and once I can finish the rewrite and get Beth, Mark plus corpse up and running, we may be able to do it there. Quite pleased by all this. Talk also of perhaps launching AGD there too.

Somewhat buoyed by this serendipity, (and buzzing on three cups of coffee) met Matt and headed to The Basketmakers, where we had a hugely enjoyable drink (despite the slight awkwardness of finding ourselves sitting next to Lorraine's ex), and Lorraine joined in too as soon as she was able. Lorraine and I ended the evening with a curry - thus in one night neatly negating three days of the gym. So it goes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Amazon soothes my nerve

A note from Amazon today with instructions. The page for A Guernsey Double should be fully functioning in a week or so. More online form filling, then off to the gym to sweat on the hulk legs machine for half an hour.

On the way back, a long chat with my neighbour Wan. He is between jobs as a company treasurer. Instead he is restructuring his garden, a process which involving sacks of topsoil and rubble being moved and new sacks being delivered. His garden was the nicest in the Twitten already. The consequence of time on his hands.

A text from Anna today, who has just got new coaching job, which she's really pleased about. Also phoned by Keith - back up to the smoke next week, but mercifully not on Monday.

In the evening I went to the North Star for a late drink with Glen Capra, or Glen 'Fingers' Capra as I like to think of him given that he is a fabulous pianist, and played in This concert etc. Matt and Wayne were also there, and a man called Richard who was chatty and friendly. Good to see Wayne.

Glen, Matt and I discussing making a proper demo recording of This concert, as technical glitches affected all our recordings, if you can count Glen's laptop being stolen while on an examining trip in Northern Ireland as a technical glitch. Basil in the choir recorded it too, but while you can hear all the instruments, but I sound as if I am talking through a sock in a different room. Meanwhile the camera mysteriously stopped filming so we have little visual record of it apart from a few photos. I have been cursed by this kind of thing all my life.

Matt also not too far away from finishing Found - the song for the Rainbow Chorus. Very excited to hear what Matt's done with it. Be the first time I will have heard a song to which I have written the lyrics (apart from the sung bits in This Concert).

Nice to be lurking with friends on a Thursday night.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Amazon works my nerve

Despite Calliope's manic attempts to get me out of bed by attacking my feet, I managed to snooze in till 8.00am this morning. Fantastic, offering praise to my barbarous deities that it wasn't a London day. I busied myself with practicalities. A hair cut, thankfully not by walrus-face, combined with a lengthy discussion about the nature and habits of kittens. Startlingly, a conversation not initiated by me. Then a remarkably sweaty session on the hulk legs machine in the gym, and then home to do a smidge of French work, and various admin.

An Amazon page has already appeared for A Guernsey Double. Not sure how, but anyway as comments are already appearing on it, I have created an amazon vendors account. Linking the page to this account is proving problematic, but will result in an amazon window for the book, which is a good thought. As I set up the account, I marvelled at how much content there is, which to read thoroughly would literally take five days. How much time do they think people have? I wanted to simply attach the pre-existing page to my new account, and it won't let me. So I have mailed their helpline, as it was workin' my nerve, to use a Sprinklesism.

And there is fab news from Sprinkles: her cancer is in remission.

Also Anna uploaded a film of Oskar winning a race at nursery. The children were supposed to duck under a hoop and then make for the finishing line. Oskar simply tossed the hoop over his head and won the race. Inspired.

In the evening cooked a vegetarian chili, which Lorraine came by to help me eat, after booking a break back in Guernsey, repaired to the Batty for a cold beer on a warm night: of such little things is happiness made.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Night yowl

Colossal cat fight just outside my open window at about 3:30. Made me jolt awake, as Calliope and some other cat wailed at each other like Satanic babies for a couple of minutes, before the violence started abruptly. Calliope returned soon after full of smug purrs, so I think she won. This kind does my sleeping patterns no good at all, and must have woken neighbours too.

Work fine today. The train palpably hotter as it approached the great furnace of London. Arrived at the agency, and simply got on with things. These days people seem to be happy to leave me to it. I end up as art director and writer all in one, and I prefer this. My work went down well, and all satisfied. Strode off at 5:30 with the sense of a difficult job well done. Luckily for me Keith is using me more, as I told him I was in the business of doing work, which is good for the Kenny coffers.

Listening to the interminable Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest again on my iPod. Halfway through the third part of the trilogy now. I have to finish it, but it is laborious despite being sometimes absorbing.

Home reasonably early and - shockingly - the trains were only delayed by ten minutes this morning, and by nothing returning home. When everything runs as it should, the commute is bearable.

Calliope usually runs up the Twitten miaowing when I come home, or thunders downstairs as I open the door. Today however she ignored me, and carried on snoozing. I felt like yowling in her ear.

Tired tonight, but finding it difficult to relax. I need a holiday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Out of focus

Squinting all day as had I forgot to pack my specs. Luckily I was working with a drawing pad and a black felt tip, coming up with lines and concepts about the MS treatment, so wasn't dependent on computers. Largely left to get on with it under my own steam again.  I was invited by Keith to a drink with a new guy by the river outside the Blue Anchor.  Nice to sit in the sun for an hour, with pleasant people in an old haunt. Very hot today in London.

Once home (train delayed due to a fire on the track near Gatwick) I had slightly galling (arf!) copy comments from the French client, so had to fix these. Then a chat with Anna Cowie the designer as she had sent an SOS, and I supplied a couple of lines for a project she is working on. 

Lorraine and I trying to organise a holiday for a week or so. Everything a bit last minute-ish. La Barbarie booked out sadly.  

Bit low on energy today.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Carp kisses

After breakfast at Lorraine's house I returned home to feed Calliope, and sloped uphill to feed Trotski, Lenin and Pinkie Barbie Ariel, then went to the gym to labour on the Hulk Legs machine for half an hour. The afternoon I worked on some mindmaps with Lorraine to plot possible courses of action precipitated by the new Government's slashing of education budgets.

Then a car trip with Beth and Mark off to PC World, a Garden Centre and then to Woods Mill under a beautiful blue sky, with the big downs brooding nearby and a breeze in the trees.

The mini nature reserve was idyllic and empty, and the four of us wandered about it, Mark sporting a sling, due to a dodgy shoulder. By the small lake we could hear the slobbery kiss of carp mouthing at the surface, and we spent some time hanging from a bridge looking at dozens of of fish high in the water, and lit by the lowering sun so that you could see the red fins of the roach, and the big greenish scales of the mirror carp.

Some time later to a pub for a fast cold beer, before dropping Mark off at his house, and having supper at Lorraine's. After, the city looked beautiful in the low bright light as I walked home.

Below some snaps of Woods Mill, and a snap on the way home.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Empty cranium

A slow start, followed by a spot of shopping with Lorraine. People in the shops were driving me a bit mad, perhaps because I was a fragile after the pizzafest.

Met Matt this afternoon for quite a businesslike chat over a beer in the back garden of the Batty. He is writing Found now, based on some lyrics I wrote a few weeks ago for the Rainbow Chorus. The lyrics are, Matt says, sweet, and Matt has alarmed himself by writing something in E flat Major. He has a savage insect bite too, which had given him blood poisoning, and he has been taking horse pill antibiotics, but thankfully he was in better shape today.

Also discussed a piece for singing voice and trombone (which we are going to talk to my neighbour Mark Bassey about) based loosely on a monologue I'd written a long time ago about having a sinister double after talking with Toby who was studying Doubles in literature at the time. Matt and I also made a bit of a next steps plan, which we both felt rather cheery about. Lorraine joined us as we were finishing what had been an exceedingly restrained drink.

After feeding Anton and Anna's cats, Lorraine and I had a fun evening at Lorraine's house with Beth and Mark. After a great meal cooked by Beth, we ended up playing Uno and a board game called Cranium which I was a bit rubbish at, as by that point there was only tumbleweed and crows inside my cranium.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pizza night

Short of sleep due to the cat barging me in the night, and onto the train. Feeling waves of cheer this morning. Friday, I suppose. A spell of commuting is a good reminder of the workaday world, and allows me to catch up on audiobook and podcast listening, and makes me feel utterly grateful not to have to do it every day.

Work fine and enlivened by popping briefly into my old agency and selling a book or two. Nice chats with some of my old cronies there. Rather brain dead by five thirty, and was pleased to find the ejector seat button. Once back into the comparative civilisation of the Twitten, bumped into Mark Bassey my neighbour, and he said he would be happy to meet Matt and I to discuss the trombone piece Matt is planning based on a poem of mine. It turns out that Matt is a huge fan of Mark, knowing his work for some time. Matt very impressed and pleased that he was my neighbour and had come to see This concert etc.

A fast shower and Lorraine called around, and we zoomed up the hill to experience one of Anton's famous pizza nights. These are easily the best pizzas in Brighton and the four of us sat about shooting the breeze, gorging on Anton-customised pizzas and drinking wine and beers, and generally catching up with the gossip. Anna's coaching is going from strength to strength, and Anton enjoying his new role. Lorraine and I feeling little pain as we floated downhill to bed afterwards.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Strung out

Up to the smoke again on a short train from Brighton. I stood up for a pregnant woman, and imagined a scenario where my leg was actually broken, and one jolt would result in it suddenly coming loose and hanging by bits of stringy stuff in the carriage.

Off to the usual place in Hammersmith to work on a slightly dull campaign about Multiple Sclerosis. A day when having a decent idea was hard work, and left to get on with it alone, which is always better. Bumped into a few chums, Rick and Perky, leaving work.

Then off to Wimbledon village up on the hill, to meet Marja and drink gin and tonic, and graze on overpriced bar snacks. Long and involved gossip: her life changing a lot at the moment. A fond farewell, then down the hill explaining to Lorraine about the leg/string business, but she seemed to be experiencing a mysterious compassion fatigue. Catching the tram back to East Croydon, and the train to Brighton.

Loving this track at the moment.... Listening to it 9o times on the train, arriving home at an unpleasant 12:20.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Booed no geese today, allowing knees to recover. Curiously fragile after last night's accident, and wanted to sleep this afternoon. Although this occurred to me Pooterishly that it was a limp excuse. One still somewhat lumpy but I can walk, which is just as well as I am off to the smoke tomorrow.

Working on poems about my American adventures, now that I can recollect those emotions in tranquility. Meanwhile Richard and I got our first Internet order for AGD (why have I not abbreviated 'A Guernsey Double' before?).

The sound of rain as I type this. There is nothing cosier than the sound of rainfall when you are indoors. I love the sound of rain against glass, and wind moving through trees. It is beautiful and lucky to be able to hear these things.


Imagine my suprise when a few seconds after writing about First Matie's accident, I simply fell down the stairs myself. My method was to simply omit the final step and land heavily on my knees. This hurt like mad, and one of the legs went ominously numb. Luckily my personal emergency service, Lorraine arrived shortly after. L thought it was possible it was broken, but as everything was aligned and I could stand on it these were promising signs. After painkillers, coldpads etc, swelling went down somewhat.

Lorraine then off home, after sending me to bed, feeling shaken and rather foolish.

This morning much improved, and I was able to gingerly creep off to the bread shop. Still feeling jarred. Perhaps another quiet day is called for.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Flea glee

At last, the fleas abate. I have found only two flea corpses about which Calliope and I capered with glee.

Saw First Matie for a coffee this morning, after she had returned from a MRI scan of her wrist, which she'd hurt falling downstairs at her home. Luckily (given that she is starting a two month writing gig tomorrow) is not broken, and she can drive too. We sat outside a cafe for half an hour, with the long-faced Puffin straining at the leash and generally seeking attention.

Then, for me, gym and the Hulk legs machine for half an hour, and home to the news that one of my clients paid me early which means I have was able to pay my tax bill and live this month. Yippee... Result!

Began tinkering with poems. No stomach for anything resembling work yet.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Message from the middle ages

Urgent vet call this morning. As I am still picking at fleas like a medieval monk. The cat mountebank says that it can take up to two weeks for all the fleas to die once you have sprayed them with your potions, and dosed your familiar till the poor thing is so strung out it starts meowing Moorish crumhorn solos.

Bah. Still the atrocious weasel Calliope was more lively this morning, and attacked my feet and hand by biting it with savage headshakes once she’d sunk her teeth in.

Plenty of errands to run today, altering my websites, doing some French work, combing fleas out of Calliope’s fur, sending letters to musicians, going to the bank, supermarket etc. And bah to admin. I want to write something fresh now. With the publication of A Guernsey Double I have cleared away quite a few poems, and it has left landscape less cluttered. It is great.

Computer tricknology acting up: this blog’s sidebar has disappeared to the foot of the page. Broadband sluggish, computer acting weird.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spitfire in a blue sky

Off into the countryside this afternoon, to Borde Hill. It is a heavenly English garden with some quirky dells and ponds. Annoyingly my camera battery ran out the second I fixed on a scene. However Lorraine, Beth and I wandered about happily in the mysteriously empty gardens. There were old fashioned roses that I could have smelled for hours, lavender, mock orange, and all kinds of fragrances, including a strange deep red, poppy-sized flower with an unmistakable aroma of chocolate.

We sat the dappled shade under a stately tree, and listened to the wind moving through the trees all around. The sky was faultless blue and the day had a timeless quality, only enhanced when a wartime Spitfire flew low over the green valley.

Later went to the fish shop, and I bought some bloodworms for my fish and also eight red eyed tetras which were divided between Beth's aquarium and mine.

In the evening watched the world cup final. A fairly dour uninspiring affair where Spain narrowly beat Holland. Much more fun was Paul the Psychic Octopus, who was proved right in his prediction of the winners yet again.

Home again, and discovered another flea. Calliope still has them (in much reduced numbers) but the whole thing is horrific.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Back to the Basketmakers

Woke up after dreaming I was visiting a new Channel Island a little to the north west of Guernsey. It was almost flat, and very French, and its waters were full of beatiful fish I'd never seen. Then I was on a ferry which ran into a suddenly freezing sea, and I was the only person with a coat.

Once L and I were up and breakfasted off to the Supermarket, and went our separate ways. After doing a few essential things such as hoovering and straightening my house up after the flea traumas, and watching the sea mist roll into town from my study window, went back to the pub. For a belated celebration of John's birthday with Matt and Lorraine. Great fun of course. But I have officially now drunk enough for a while, and want to get on with stuff again.

The evening lolling about at home. To my distress, I discovered a flea on my trousers, which depressed me greatly. However I vacuumed a myriad flea corpses today though, so perhaps one flea does not make a summer.

Below in Ontario... Recieved a lovely note from Joan, who enclosed a photo of Toby playing the new game sweeping Deviation Road -- Washertoss. I'm not sure of the rules, but it is, naturally, highly-competitive. Toby throws like "A Carnie" apparently.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A release of tension

Train delays. Into work feeling irritable after what had already proved an almost two and a half our journey. However my working day was fine. Went out at lunchtime and it was sweltering. I did all the work and was left sitting on my hands in the middle of the afternoon and so, and rather amazingly, Keith released me back into the wild at 4:30pm. With all my French work done I was free and zoomed yarping like a seagull back to Brighton.

Stepped out of the train, and the sea air a welcome blessing. Decided tonight was a night for A DRINK. After feeding Calliope and attending to one or two bits was soon in The Basketmakers Arms enjoying a refreshing pint of cold lager with Matt and John. From there to meet Lorraine in another pub where she was meeting her pals Jess and Andrew. I like Jess a lot. She teaches children who are severely mentally and physically handicapped, and I am thinking of going in to visit her one time to learn more about what she does. Lorraine and I ended up eating late in an Indian restaurant. All good.

And so to bed in Lorraine's house. Except that at 3:30 people in a nearby house broke out the instruments and started a party with singing etc. Lorraine bellowing out of her window at them had no effect. Sleep arrived mercifully soon however.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The undead

Mercifully bite-free night. Off to the smoke. A fairly chilled day, and my stock is high with this agency, as the work I did for them won them a big pitch last week. Went to the nearby Plum cafe with Keith and another guy at lunch, and bumped into Alice and Helen and was kissed by both. Found myself having an exotic lamburger and a coke. Felt all north American. Afternoon ditto to the morning, but working with Keith which is always fun. Spent some time searching for photographs of cityscapes until my eyes bled.

Home at last, and cooked some grub and sat on the gold sofa and saw a flea jump onto my trousers like some awful wer-flea or flea zombie. Cue another bout of spraying and laundry. Meanwhile, Calliope is subdued and sleepy. I'm wondering if the new anti flea drops have affected her. It's all a bit of a nightmare, skin crawling tonight even though there is nothing on me.

Did some more French work till late, for there is no rest for the wicked. Then downloaded some tunes by Speech Debelle and The Invisible as a kind of reward.

Below Brighton train late into Victoria as usual, and the tube crowded. Nothing remarkable in this, but with my fresh back from Guernsey eyes it was pretty vile, airless and humid. I felt a bit dizzy, then lifted my hand above the multitude and snapped the shot below: a typical hot day at Victoria.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Twitten Chernobyl

A poor night's sleep being crawled over by fleas. Up and showered for some considerable time, feeling oppressed by having to schlepp to London, while simultaneously doing some French work, and addressing flea problem. Phoned vet this morning, and then persuaded Beth to pick up the flea spray and new flea treatment for Calliope. This she dropped around at my house.

Had an inspiration on the train for the French work, and so as soon as I had half an hour at lunch was able to sort it out. Luckily not too busy at Keith's agency so I could leave on time. Back home, and treated my poor little itching weasel, and then unleashed clouds of evil flea killer, reassuringly called 'RIP' with a picture of a flea on it, into the house. Calliope, who was following me about the place interestedly, eventually having to be shut out of the house as the noxious cloud did its deadly business.

The angelic Lorraine turned up just as I was finishing this sweaty furniture shifting business, took me to the Battle of Trafalgar where I soon felt much improved despite Calliope doing her new projecting yowls at us from across the road as we entered. After a nice chat Lorraine left for home, and I returned to do several loads of washing, and sorting things out, and flea checking, till I felt I was able to go to bed.

Listened again to Richard and I on the internet. I like being on the radio.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Richard and me with JKT on the BBC

After saying a fond farewell to Jane, Richard and I had a slow morning drinking coffee in the Victor Hugo cafe, and reading papers. We had been asked to bring any stories that were interesting to JKT's show in the afternoon. When we arrived we found that there were just us two on the show for two hours, and it turns out we never mentioned the news stories once. Amazing publicity, and really good fun. Turns out Jenny's grandparents were Mr and Mrs Samson who ran the corner shop on the Saints Road where my Grandmother had a part time job, and I was sent to for bits of last minute shopping, and packets of my Grandmother's Du Maurier fags.

Really liked Jenny and Richard and I found it easy to chat to her. She asked me to let her know when I was back on the island, and was talking to Richard about being one of her main poetry contacts on the island. Listen to JKT, Richard and me here. Really professional person, who was also great fun. Obviously two hours coverage was beyond our wildest dreams too for A Guernsey Double. The only difficult bit was when she asked us to write her a poem about her show, but we acquitted ourselves well enough.

Back to Richard's place to pick up my bag,swig a quick beer, and then zoom off to the airport. It had been another really successful day for us. As usual felt sad to be leaving the island, and saying goodbye. But at least the flight was fine, and I was home quickly.

Stroked Calliope, marvelled at how tidy Beth and Mark had left my house, and then off to the pub to meet Matt and later Anton - to extend my 'holiday' feel. However they had no ears for Richard and my tale of world domination, instead choosing to talk in mind-numbing detail about vinyl. Luckily James Turnbull was there and I had a more civilised chat with him. Anton and I then popped into the Eddy for a last cheeky before home fairly early. Only then did I realise my house was infested with cat fleas. And I soon found one or two on my legs, and then in bed imagined them crawling over me. Turned on the light at 4 o'clock and found two. Ugh. Poor Calliope a flea-bitten wreck.

Monday, July 05, 2010

A Guernsey moot

Lorraine up early and off to the airport. No fog today, which was a boon. I made my way downstairs and tucked into a full Guernsey breakfast, then went for a walk for a couple of hours. Leaving some flowers at the Grandparent's grave, I'd bought them from Brouard's on Saints Road, which has been there a good deal longer than I have. Noticed Sadie's (my Grandparent's sister-in-law) gravestone had been added since I was last there.

Then I collected my case from the hotel and bussed into town, meeting Catriona and Richard in Hojos. Catriona always makes me feel cheery for some reason, and not just because she bought five of our books. Some exciting stuff in the Guernsey pipeline. After, R and I mooched into town, where we had a meeting with a man in a bank, who had strong opinions about literature.

The evening given over to Le Vieux Marché in Saumarez Park. About five and a half thousand people attended, and a good deal of creaky Guernsey dancing, queuing for local cider, paper cartons of bean jar, gâche and other local delicacies. Being with Richard was an education, as every other person seemed to know him. As the cider got to work, I felt impeccable, and enjoyed Punch and Judy, and browsing among books and chatting to one and all.

Off to Cobo for a Hobbit's second supper, to eat fish and chips in addition to the carton of bean jar, and watch the sun go down in a almost cloudless sky, the disc shape discernible until it slid into the water, thinking of Richard's poem in which he compares the sun to the fat diva singing her final aria in a "wondrous final scene", which all three enjoyed a great deal. Then Jane drove her car home, and Richard and I followed in the van brooding enjoyably about mortality, sunsets and twilight.

Below maypole dancers, crown and anchor, vats of bean jar, Jane and me eating fish and chips at Cobo. The sunset.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Anther mooch about in the morning. A beautiful day today, and we stopped off at the wishing pool at the top of the Moulin Huet waterlanes, and made our secret wishes with three anti-clockwise circles in the water. The waterlane down the hill looking fabulous today, with the sun dappling through the overhanging trees in tiny patches, and the stream trickling. Back to La Barbarie where Richard picked us up, and we drove up to the Vale and had a lovely afternoon, eating mountains of barbecued delights. Lorraine visibly relaxing in their lovely little garden bursting with blooms, and enjoying Richard and Jane's conversation immensely.

Two buses home, and I made us leave the bus early and took Lorraine to La Gran'mere and wander past my old school. A snooze once home, woke up to the sound of wind moving through trees. In the evening took some sandwich material off to the cliffs and Lorraine and I had a snack of cheese and olives and tomatoes in the magical twilight, with the misty sea below.

Then back to the hotel for a glass of local cider, and then bed, and some preliminary packing for Lorraine.

Below a waterlane, and two of my personal favourites...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Cabou in their pools

After a nice breakfast in Les Douvres, simply packed and dragged our cases down to La Barbarie, where I normally stay (it had been booked for Friday night). Felt like coming home. Then ambled to Icârt Point. We sat down to take in the view for some time, and Lorraine cried she liked it so much. Having had the week from hell at work, this escape was exactly what was needed. Ambled slowly through the flowers of the cliffpath to Saints Bay, feeling happier by the second, and then stopped at the beach on which were perhaps four other people. I paddled for a bit, but the water seemed bone-numbingly cold. I have been spoilt by the Mediterranean.

We had some tea at the tearooms, where we got chatting to the young guy who runs it, and older man from Guernsey and the lady visiting for the first time in 48 years. The Guernseyman had heard me on the radio. Fame at last! The sun came out and we sat about chatting for half an hour, before Lorraine and I walked back up the hill to La Barbarie. Slept for a while, and half watched Germany impressively slaughter Argentina in the world cup.

Had an early supper in the hotel and then walked down to Moulin Huet, and wandered about startling cabou (gobies) in the rock pools. Then we sat on the bench overlooking the sweep of the bay as the tide was coming in. Lorraine asked me to read some of my poems to her. And so I did.
Then puffing up the hill, and back to the hotel to sip a couple of drinks before bed.

Below the cliffs spotlit by the sun, Lorraine among flowers, in Moulin Huet bay, sail by the Pea Stacks, and the shadow of a cliff...

Friday, July 02, 2010

Book signing

More leisurely day today, the island covered in low cloud, and rain. Richard and I slightly delicate (even for poets) this morning. Jane on surprisingly good form. Richard, retrieving the dogs from the kennel, dropped me in town and as the weather was not good, I sat in my usual cafe: the St Pierre by the old market, read my Guernsey Press (searching in vain for any mention of our book, weasels) and made some notes, even starting a poem about fog. Sipped cappuccinos, and sparkling water and trying to find a news item to discuss on the radio next week as I succumbed to a cheese and ham toastie.

Met Richard again, looking spiffy in the Pollet and we went to the Guernsey Press shop were there was a fine display of A Guernsey Double in the shop window. Old family friend Betty Tostevin was waiting for us impatiently when we got in, who gave me a firm kiss and bought a book. Otherwise a rather quiet book signing. Left to reflect how our publicity for this bit had gone wrong. However this did not puncture our feelings of big and cleverness, and we had a good laugh. Apparently Cherie Blair managed only to sell six or eight books when she came to Guernsey for her book launch.

A cuppa and a snack afterwards, and then Richard drove me to Les Douvres hotel in St Martins, where I had a relaxed afternoon, pottering about my parish in light rain saying hello to La Gran'mère and visiting Gwen and Dave, my grandparents, grave. My part of the book is dedicated to their memory.

Snoozed in the hotel for an hour, half looking at football, after what had been an tiring week. Annoyingly, Lorraine's flight was delayed, and I had to get very angry with staff at Le Douvres to ensure she had food on her arrival as the chef stopped at 9.00. A glowering beer after with much placating by staff, but all sourness this banished when Lorraine turned up all smiles in the pouring rain at about 9:30.

Below the press shop in Guernsey where we did our signing. Dave, my Grandad worked there once.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

A Guernsey Double launch day

Up feeling wretched about the contents page, but there was little time for brooding. Before long Richard and I were climbing into his van and driving off to BBC Guernsey. Jenny Kendall-Tobias was standing in for Jim Cathcart the usual presenter (whose show R and I had been on a while before) and we had a great interview with her. Really liked her. To my surprise she read three poems out from the book herself, and was decidedly moved by them. Of mine she read Clameur, which is a simple exile's poem from the perspective of a Londoner about Guernsey which almost brought her to tears. She was also tearing up reading Richard's poem about Rufus, who is a poorly dog at the moment.

Off for a rather-pleased-with-ourselves cup of coffee afterwards, especially as Jenny asked us back to the studio for Tuesday afternoon. Spoke to Mum who had been listening on live stream, who told us we did well. Mums are good things to have. Home, to rearrange my return flight to accomodate the 'JKT' show on Tuesday. The dogs were staying overnight in a kennel, so R dropped me at St Sampsons and I had a mooch around the island's working harbour, looking into the water at a big grey mullet and at a largish crab caught and eaten gingerly by a gull, who sensibly removed its legs one by one before spearing into its body. As someone who lives in Brighton unusual to see them actually not eating rubbish.

Amazingly was phoned by Jenny from the BBC who said a later guest had left a silver 8 Double coin minted this year, for us at reception. Putting this in our float box seemed like a very good omen.

The launch proper started at five-ish. Richard in trademark white shirt, me in a black one, Jane looking glamorous. Quite a few people in the Greenhouse, and lots of movers and shakers on the island. We read about five poems each, after an excellent introduction by Jane, and these went down extremely well. R and I both on good form. I read a new one called The Little Chapel, which is about David my Grandfather, which slightly choked me up as I read it, which added to the drama of things. Sold quite a few books afterwards too, and we sat at a table writing dedications for some time. A resounding success. And a indefinable sense of closure and happiness for me.

After the launch was over went up to see nice display of our books in the window of the Guernsey Press Shop where we will do a signing tomorrow.

Off then to Christies for a large meal and another cold beer or two. All rather pleased with ourselves. Received a call there from Keith, offering me work for when I get back, so all in all a tremendously successful day.

Below Richard enters the BBC, me in reception, JKT and Richard chatting, people gathering in the Greenhouse, Richard and I standing by our book display in the book shop.....