Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Woke up at 3:00am to the sound of a small tractor. Downstairs I found a leaves had choked the pump and filter system of my aquarium, having taken the filter apart and repaired matters I found myself staring bleakly at the ceiling for a couple of hours.

A dusting of snow on the rooftops first thing, and then it snowed off and on all day without settling, unlike most of the country. The jetstream running west to east over the Atlantic has kinked northwards, and so is dragging Arctic air down to temperate climes bringing the earliest snow I can remember.

I got down to reworking the Doppelganger libretto building on what I'd started after conversations with Matt, which took most of the day. We're trying out the idea of adding more voices into it. Porlocked twice by two sales people from a mobile phone company. The first time having torn myself away from my desk I found they had walked off, the second time one said once I'd opened my door. "Are you okay?" which managed to infuriate me, perhaps as I was interrupted minutes before by an Indian call centre and a man claiming to be called Sean. When they lie right off the bat, it brings out my tetchy side.

In the evening off to the Basketmakers for chats with Cath. She is going to go onto a dating website and was asking me for a male perspective. I gave the matter some sagacious thought and advised a picture with a low cut top. Then I wandered off to Lorraine's house where she was snuggled under blankets on the sofa sniffing slightly. Drank tea and drifted off to bed after Beth had returned from a babysitting mission.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Just plain cold today. Thanking my lucky stars I did not have to commute into a tube-strike-hit London. Instead off to the shops and the gym. Bought some spoons and forks, to complete a green handled set I'd bought recently, and envelopes to send another book off to Amazon. Then a spell in the gym, and straight to Sainsburys where a man started joking about panic buying. The unusually early snow which is afflicting much of the UK still hasn't been seen in Brighton. It is coming later this week.

Began revising Skelton Yawngrave today, after about 93 displacement activities, and I think my amends will considerably strengthen it.

Feeling hungry and a tad coldish as the afternoon wore on. Spoke to Anton who was keen to discuss football, and to Lorraine, who has managed to vault the first hurdle towards a possible future headteachership which was big and clever of her.

In the evening off to St Michael and All Angels church to sit in on a Rainbow Chorus rehearsal. Fingers at the piano and Matt being authoritative and showing everyone how to relax by tensely waggling his shoulders. I find it curiously moving to listen to the choir singing, even with all the revisions and reworkings going on in their practice session. Every now and then there is a passage where it all comes together, and it is rather lovely. After a while Matt moved them on to rehearsing Found, the piece Matt and I did together, and Matt introduced me to the choir (although by now I know quite a few of them). The usual nitty gritty rehearsal stops and starts, but when the sang it right through at the end it sounded fantastic, and I felt proud and admiring of Matt's beautiful composition skills, and the words didn't cause me to toe curl hearing them sung by 40 people.

A swift beer afterwards with some of the singers before Matt and I were left to chat about the opera before going our separate ways in the cold still night. The pub we'd adjourned to has a pub cat which is fed at the bar. This means it can regularly seen standing on a stool with its front paws on the bartop looking about it expectantly as if waiting for a drink. Of course the dialogue would be... Cat: Can I have a... lager. Barman: Why the small pause? Cat: Hurry up I want to get ratted, and so on.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A thanksgiving

Today in Edgware, and the now-traditional thanksgiving meal cooked by Mason. As well as Lorraine and I, Mum and Mase had invited Ben and Poppy, and Robert and Tanya. We all sat by the fire shooting the breeze and eating pistachio nuts. Good to see Mum looking much improved and back to her usual self again. Her latest craze is Spotify, and wants to put Spotify on her Blackberry for some reason.

Mason cornering Lorraine to talk about his wheelings and dealings. Robert, who edits an investor's publication called Trendwatch, is a passionate advocate of the view that the hysteria around global warming is bunk. Interesting to hear this side of the argument made coherently, as a professional watcher of trends he thinks the global warming bubble has burst. Tanya talking to Mum about wool and vivid colours. Ben radiating bon homie as usual.

Poppy however was not herself and slipped off home, luckily just across the road. But the rest of us strapped on the nosebags and had a jolly time until I heard the call of the seagull. It was time for Lorraine and I to drive off into the night listening to OK Computer. Thankfully it did not snow and Anton texted me as we drove back to say that Chelsea no longer suffer from vertigo, which was his way of letting me know that the blues are no longer top of the league, having been replaced with their nemesis Manchester United.

Mum showed me the page torn out from GBG magazine (Guernsey's glossy) with poems by Richard and your favourite blogger in. On the reverse was an article about nits on which Betty in Guernsey had helpfully written NOT THIS SIDE, which made me laugh.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ken's 80th birthday

This morning a few last minute tweaks to Ken's poem, and a nip around the corner to score a bottle of Blanquette de Limoux. Then Lorraine and I scurried in the bitter cold to Casa Don Carlos in the Old Lanes to meet Ken and about 20 of his closest mates and family.

We all sat at a long table and plates of tapas appeared in droves. Chatted to some nice new people including Yoshi, a Japanese who had moved to London and is an enthusiastic baritone singer. A lusty rendition of happy birthday from all in the restaurant then all out by taxi or stiff uphill walk to Janet and Ken's house where the party continued. An additional swathe of guests, including Remo last seen as my loquacious guardian angel fixing my locks after my burglary. I had a long chat with Caroline, Ken's daughter who had flown in from Italy for the party, and who is now a singing teaching in a school in Milan. She is also performing, and writing church music.

When it was time for Ken to blow out his candles on what proved to be a wonderful chocolate cake made by his son Nick. I then read my poem, which went down better than could be expected, with laughter and a tear in Ken's eye. Ken at the centre of a ring of affection. Very good to see.

Fun talking to Ken's five grandchildren, ranging from 22 to about 10, and their dad Nick. Really good fun, the older two girls, both funny and chatty, warmed a great deal to Lorraine, and joking that Lorraine and I go out clubbing with them after.

My poem, which was really a long-winded toast, started with this depiction of Ken's love of opera, which I think worked quite well.

Let’s have no kitchen sink drama
for, if life’s a joyful song, Ken sings it.
I’ve heard him perhaps a thousand times
lending his tenor to some libretto
or essaying a buffo in the bath.
For Ken’s passionate heart throbs opera
and I believe that sometimes when he smiles
it’s because he attends to a stage
where a tuxedoed trove of tenors
is emoting con brio in his head.

Bless him. Another lovely day with Janet and Ken.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Penny drop

Finished the poem I am going to read at Ken's 80th birthday party, I am rather pleased with it and I hope he likes it. Then crept off to the gym again but only briefly. Returned to do an hour or two of French press ad work while before putting my long coat and hat on to go out and meet Di Turner for a coffee. I don't know what it is about her, but she seems to spark off penny drop moments every other time we meet up. We pushed off to a teashop in New Road and sat in what has become our usual table by the window.

Diane helped me realise three things. First was that I needed to separate my identities as Peter Kenny poet, librettist, all purpose airy literary fop from my hard-nosed business side. At the moment I am presenting myself as a hybrid, which makes me seem a bit of a dilettante to business types, while the arty types have no interest in how I make money at all. This results in me watering down both sides to meet uneasily in the middle.

Second was in talking to her I realised how bored I am with my current paid work: the same clients, the same kind of work. I clearly saw a need for a flagship project to take me onto a new level of big and cleverness.

Third was that Diane told me how she had used Linked in to build an impressive portfolio of contacts, and this made me realise that I have been timid about networking -- essentially just relying on people who know my work to hire me.

Anyway these things left me with loads to think about, and it was just about the most useful cup of coffee I can remember having.

Then home to do some more work before Matt called around and we drifted down to the Basketmakers. He has started right away getting stuck into the new piece, which is provisionally called ï -- an I with two dots, to suggest a split identity. Matt had a vivid dream in which he saw the bridge between sections five and six, and it turns out to be a rather brilliant idea. Good to get things rolling. Working with Matt is so inspiring and ego-free it is just great.

Lorraine came then and Matt left shortly after. Eventually we went back to my place and ate a bowl of bean jar I'd made, which was one of the more delicious ones. All well, and Lorraine tremendously pleased to have reached the end of her trying week. All well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wrong headed

Some miscellaneous writing this morning, once Lorraine had roused her sleepy self and mueslied. After a while I pushed off to the gym finished Stalin ate my homework while doing a knee protecting workout on the Hulk legs machine.

In the afternoon met up with Beth and Mark to discuss putting on Wrong. We are earmarking it for late February - and pairing it either with a devised piece or something else of mine. We met in the basketmakers for a late lunch, and Betty and I both had toad in the hole with mustard mash, which was a winter warmer as today it was despicably cold. A fun and businesslike meeting. I intend to be fairly hands off in the process, and just give them some notes once they've start to rehearse. I have no doubt Mark and Beth will make an excellent job of this two-hander and a corpse piece.

Meanwhile I got a text from Matt saying the libretto I sent him was "v suggestive. I've had a strong vision for the climactic part..." Exciting to get things rolling.

Stopped by one of my neighbours for a chat in the Twitten on the way back. Blooming cold, and found myself rudely straining to get away indoors. A quiet well-behaved night reading a new graphic novel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lorraine has a job

Cold night. Frost on the rooftops. Woke up to a text from Lorraine saying she is so anxious she feels sick. Poor thing had a hideous day, as they announced the new slimmed down structure of the local authority education department, but ended up with a job -- one different to that which she applied, a process which necessitated a further telephone interview this morning. She is hugely relieved, especially as the new job has a data and maths element in it which plays to some of her numerous her strengths, so the whole thing may have a large silver lining.

As for myself, a very contrasting day of idle foppery. I worked this morning, including a poem for Ken's 80th this Saturday, and then after a walk about town, read Maus, by Art Spiegelman in one large sitting. I'd been meaning to read this for ages, and found it simply the best graphic novel I have read. Essential reading for any sentient entity.

Lorraine stayed with me tonight, and indulged in a spot of casual surgery. I have had a skin tag on my arm for about 15 years and this week, being a quiet one, I decided to ask Lorraine to tie a piece of cotton around it on Sunday. By today it had started to throb occasionally, and swell up. Naturally I had visions of it infecting my arm, and ending up with gangrene and an amputation. I got her to simply cut it off with a pair of boiled scissors, which she did without batting an eyelid. I was preparing for all kinds of theatrical hemorrhaging, but in the event it barely hurt and there was no bleeding.

And so to bed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Burned at the stake

Completed the first draft of the libretto for the new doppelganger piece with Matt. Pleased with the results so far, and emailed it off to the maestro to see what he makes of it. At least the weird chanting I've been doing will finally abate.

Sloped off to the gym listening to more of Stalin ate my homework on the hulk legs machine. Really like Alexei Sayle's uncompromisingly honesty. Knee holding up okay, but called the hospital today to discover I have an appointment with knee doctors in a week or so.

Seem to have shot my bolt this morning and was low on inspiration. As the day wore on I indulged in various displacement activities: went to Sainsburys, unblocked sink, did laundry, watched Frasier and phoned Mum. Betty in Guernsey had sent her a page from Guernsey's glossy GBG magazine that features myself and Riccardo with a poem from each of us.

Then played a computer game while listening to a podcast about Foxe's book of Martyrs first published 1563. This is a book I'd only vaguely heard about. It contains illustrations of Christian martyrs in the act of being executed. My ears pricked up when one of the contributors started talking about Perotine Massey, a Guernsey woman burned, who gave birth during the awful procedure. The baby was tossed back into the flames too.

Lorraine texted me about the moon, and I legged out into the cold to look at it. Beautiful big thing hanging low. Otherwise stayed indoors and blamelessly watched a bit of TV. Including an episode of Coast where they visit Chausey, the tiny French channel Island, more or less half way between Mt St Michel and Jersey. At high tide it is little more than a collection of rocks, with one with a few inhabitants. At low tide, it becomes a much larger sandy island. I'd like to visit it one day.

Below Just found these pictures of Guernsey burnings from the Book of Martyrs. Perotine is the top one. "A lamentable spectacle of three women, with a sely(?) infant brasting out of the Mothers Wombe, being first taken out of the fire, and cast in agayne, and so all burned together in the Isle of Garnesey. 1556 July 18." Something for the Anthology.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Trip

A walk after lunch for almost two hours along the sea front, mostly thinking about writing. The sea calm again and the sky clouded and then peachy in places. All this space is a feature of Brighton life that comes into its own once the summer's done. For me being near the sea is theraputic, and it is healthy to have a sense of yourself as a speck on a vast horizon.

Otherwise a quiet day. Wrote for a while first thing on the Doppelganger. Spoke to Lorraine who has done her interview and must wait a couple of days to discover if she has a job in the newly restructured education service.

I have been watching a TV series called The Trip. Two comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon go on a tour of some of the best restaurants in the North of England, on the pretext that Coogan is writing an article about them for The Observer Magazine. The series seems almost completely improvised, and the comedians, who are playing themselves, or versions of themselves, have a bickering dysfunctional relationship. Well worth looking out for if you've not seen it. Coogan I find a very interesting screen presence and his character is teetering on the edge of a yawning precipice. Learned today that he lives in Brighton.

Below the sea this afternoon.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brighton Bradbury

Lorraine and I both hard at work this morning. Me in the closing stages of the Doppelganger piece, and Lorraine preparing for her interview which is 9:00am tomorrow. Also discovered another surviving neon and saved this. The neon massacre took four souls. Of the two survivors one looks as if it might pop its flippers at any moment.

Off to the Shakespeare's Head for a quick bite of lunch and a chat with Matt and John. Prompted by Lorraine, Matt and I may do more of This concert will fall in love with you around Valentines Day. I have a feeling next year is going to be rather busy.

After Lorraine left for home clutching surviving neons and to do more prep for tomorrow, I was left feeling rather antsy. Walked down to the sea and a stroll on the pier. Chilly and it being a Sunday night the funfair was closed. Dark with a full moon above and I enjoyed ghosting about by the ranks of parked dodgems, the closed Haunted House, rollercoaster and so on. I saw a figure with moonlight glinting on him and it turned out to be a lifesize plastic cowboy by the bucking bronco ride. The sea very still and hanging over the pier near Ivor's Tarot waggon, there was a patch of reflected moonlight, beautiful, slightly creepy and very Ray Bradburyish.

Below the pier on a cold November Sunday night. A shark, fragile cows, the sinister cowboy, a black marriage, Ivor's tarot, moon and seafront reflections. I kept thinking of Ray Bradbury.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Beth's birthday

Beth's 19th birthday today, but Beth overnight had been in a time machine and was about 10 when she bounced into the bedroom at 6:30am. Soon after she bought cups of tea and her and Mark sat on the end of the bed like talking cats, until Betty's present opening ceremony began.

She got a Crackberry from Lorraine, Mark got her a useful combination toy aircraft/fork and some Cath Kidston oven gloves, which matched the Cath Kidston cook's pinafore I got her. Luckily we'd bought the same colour and pattern too. The Cath Kidston shop was where I was accused of shoplifting last weekend. I found it migraine-inducingly stuffed with kitch and flowery stuff in pink and baby blue. I suspect, however, I may not be target market.

Beth off to work at the stage school to be sung happy birthday to by small children, and then have a drink with her dad and lots of presents and a party with her mates in the evening. Klaudia now goes to the stage school too and took a card for her, which was a lovely surprise. Mark put huge effort into hiding her presents around the house, and I helped him cram a wardrobe full of balloons so that they would tumble over her, and so on. Beth is fond of a small flashing yellow duck called Beans, and Mark organised a Beans-decorated cake for her. I suspect Beans of a secret significance.

Lorraine and I later off to the garden centre (this shortly after nine) to buy cat food. I bought some cat biscuits for 'difficult cats'.

And then I did something I badly regretted. I bought six large neon tetras for my tank. The angels decided, when they were young angels, that the other small fish in my tank are too big to eat. But the angels have grown a lot since then, and new fish are treated on their merits.

These neons were quickly eaten despite being a similar size to other tetras in the tank. The angels seeming to work as a team. A fact which appalled Lorraine as she watched a dead neon being snatched from one angelic mouth to another. I felt terrible. I have had few deaths in my tank, and most of the fish in it I have had for two years. I managed to rescue one - but this so traumatised and shocked it may not pull through. A horrible business, and I can't believe I was so stupid.

A gold sofa evening but lousy television, till Match of the Day. Anton had earlier texted a thoughtful reminder to watch it. Chelsea were a long way clear of the pack, but have suddenly imploded and lost the last three games in a row, and now have the same amount of points as Manchester bloody United. Bah.

Below my first Santa of Christmas, this one being inflated outside the garden centre.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nice as pie

Feeling happy again. Rather worn out, but definitely happy.

And yippee! Suddenly the end is in sight for the first draft of the Doppelganger piece. Obviously Matt's not seen it yet, but I am quite pleased with myself. Now seeking a killer title for it.

Did some French work in the afternoon, writing copy about Christmas holidays in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Have nicely been promised a bottle of Blanquette de Limoux by Alex for putting her in touch with Betsy.

Evening at Lorraine's house where I was fed an extraordinarily good fisherman's pie. The fisherman clearly not happy about this. Lorraine and I slouched happily on the sofa to watch a DVD of Julie and Julia, which to my surprise I heartily disliked. One of those movies where the fate of every character is a matter of supreme indifference. The evening enlivened by Mark having been offered a job at Riddle and Finns fish restaurant, and both were fed with oysters and nice boozes as a consequence, arriving home with their top hats askew.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy and lucky

Threatening skies and lots of rain. Forecasts of snow for next week and another, by UK standards, hard winter to come. I got on with working on the doppelganger piece, which is making slow but steady progress. Only nipped out to the corner shop between showers for milk and sparkling water. Feeling the joy that comes from working from home on something I love, and on days like this knowing that I don't have to cringe on wet platforms waiting for late trains.

It is Beth's birthday on Saturday, so Lorraine, Sam, Mark, Betty and I sloped off to start her celebrations in Chilli Pickle. This is the lovely Indian restaurant we'd been to last month. Delicious food and everyone cheerful. Sam now sporting a pipe, which he puffed at as we left the restaurant. I had a pipe too at a similar age to Sam. It is a philosopher's rite of passage.

Betty and Mark have read Wrong my short play, and seem quite keen to do it and already have had some funny ideas about how it could be acted. We'll get our heads together next week.

Realised today that I feel very happy and lucky. Sometimes it is good to count your blessings, and discover just how many you have.

Below Sam, Beth looking glam by candle light and a crab claw.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spidering about

Up in Edgware after a wine befuddled sleep, and scoffed hurried toast and tea with Mum and Mas, interrupted by a sizeable spider legging out of the sleeve of Mason's fleece. It bolted onto the breakfast table amid some uproar before Mum trapped it in a cup and set it free outside.

Arrived at my Chiswick dentist early. The receptionist, who has been there for more than the 20 years I've been going, treated me for most of this time with a deep and motiveless suspicion. But now I'm greeted as a long lost friend. I've had the same nice dentist too in all that time whose name is Lucinda. Between her filling my mouth with scrapey sucky things, we had a conversation about electric toothbrushes. Apparently the Philips Sonicare I have is highly recommended. I told her that I had at one time written the copy for Philips about the Sonicare. Did my words persuade my dentist to convince me to persist with the Sonicare toothbrush? It's enough to turn a chap all Bishop Berkeley.

Off home to Brighton to resupply one of my invoices to the French - and then was paid the rest of the money into the Kenny coffers, a process which took 78 days to achieve. Alex my new client has done a Stirling job in getting it all sorted. Bank account officially in reasonable shape now, so feel like taking up cigars and waddling around town like a bloated Plutocrat.

After spots of work I met Matt briefly to discuss our various wheezes. He was far more cheerful than I'd seen him of late, having moved out of a terrible flat into a nice one, and told me about a great idea he has for the presentation of Found. This is the choral song we wrote together which is having its world premiere on the 1st December in a concert in support of World Aids Day in Brighton. I am going along to hear the Rainbow Chorus final rehearsal a day or so before. Rather excited by this. Also we discussed the doppelganger piece and seem to be on the same page here too. All well.

Then home for phone call to Lorraine, who has managed to get all her applications in despite running a full day's conference.

Anton came around and played my combat flight simulator game for a while, before we sloped out to discuss things like valves in amplifiers, and pressing dilemmas such as would you kill Adolph Hitler if transported back in time to 1929? We drifted into the Evening Star and suddenly I had a great idea for a new writing project sparked by what Anton and I were discussing (not the Hitler thing, something else). Then Richard Gibson and Glen Fingers Capra turned up at the last knockings. Richard and a friend called Dipak had been playing some of his Shakespearean sonnets set to music, and I was sorry to have missed this.

Have arranged a gentleman's music night with Fingers, Richard, Matt and possibly Anton where we sit about frowning intently, and listening to chin stroking music. Should be an education.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Misty and mysterious

Up to London today to meet Sophie in Highgate. We sloped off to the park just behind her house and ate a light lunch of tooth squeaking haloumi cheese and couscous and drank several coffees and cranberry juices. We were having a business brainstorm, as well as the usual gossip that results from knowing someone for 30 years. Despite that, I had not realised that Sophie's PR business has such amazing clients.

Then back to Sophie's place where she caught up on some work and I talked with Andros and Christof and Electra for an hour or so. Andros had just seen My afternoons with Marguerite, and liked it too. Andros is an authority on film as he worked with Stanley Kubrick. Christof also on good form and looking oddly stylish. Electra recovering from hockey this afternoon, and readying herself for Sophie and Andros going to her parent's evening. She told me she is studying Mandarin at school.

Then jumped on a slightly more random bus than I'd intended. It seemed to crawl for an eternity through the wrong parts of North London. Felt vaguely anxious and trapped on board and was releived to escape. Also having problems with my trousers which were phoning Betty by mistake on my Crackberry.

Finally at Edgware, where Mum was fortunately waiting with a carafe of wine, as my imminent arrival seems to trigger a drinking reflex in her. Odd wine, which Mason said wasn't too bad once it was 'aired out'. We had a nice meal and I shot the breeze with them till bedtime. Delighted that Mum is still pain free and feeling chipper. A cold night, and was grateful for the hot water bottle Mum insisted I take to bed.

Below Sophie in a misty park on our way back from our long afternoon's chat, looking slightly like someone from a Nick Roeg film.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Come the glorious day

Checking my bank account this morning to find tax rebate had appeared. I blessed my accountant Seana's little tigerprinted socks. The French however, have only managed to pay a third of what they owe me, the rest will come 'later this week'. I have sent about 20 emails about this already, had various conversations etc. Their lateness is due to inefficiency, not malevolence however.

Hamstering at the gym earlier than usual today, listening to Stalin ate my homework. Louisa, one of the Twittenites, shaking her head from inside a taxi as I crept home, saying I looked exhausted. Home to work on the doppelganger piece: and was rewarded with a major breakthrough, and a fresh direction now seems achievable. In my interview for Guernsey's Island Ink I said something about turning up at your desk regularly and inspiration will come. I felt vindicated. On that note I heard back from the editor Gabi, who was delighted with my piece.

In the evening off to Lorraine to morally support her with another lengthy application statement - this for a job in the organisation she now works for. This is being restructured (i.e. people will lose their jobs) thanks to the new government cuts. Luckily Lorraine's previous job was unique in the organisation, which puts her in a stronger position than many.

Meanwhile reading a little, prompted by Anton, about Vodaphone who has allegedly dodged taxes of £6 billion. Meanwhile Dickensian media attention on the undeserving poor: the dole scroungers, and people who need to claim sickness benefit who are being blamed for the excesses of a failed capitalist model. Compare this to the financial cost of funding the illegal war in Iraq and a war in Afghanistan which even the dogs in the street could tell you was unwinnable. Even the right wing Daily Mail puts this cost at a very conservative £20 billion, and that's before you factor in the needless deaths, and the long term care these soldiers must have. These cuts will make a class warrior of me yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An afternoon delight

To the Duke of York's Picture House this afternoon with Lorraine and Dawn to see My Afternoons With Marguerite La Tete En Friche)with Gérard Depardieu playing a lumbering odd-job man, who strikes up a friendship (over 19 pigeons) in the square of a small French town with the 95-year-old Margueritte (her father misspelt her name on the birth certificate). She is bookish and he barely literate. But it is a relationship that transforms him. It is tremendously sentimental (and the 60 year old Depardieu's shambling character, who lives in a trailer in his mother's garden, oddly attractive to a twenty-something French babe) still an excellent film for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Lorraine and Dawn both sniffing happily by the end.

Lorraine sloped home to continue with a new set of hideous forms. I returned to my house to fly my computer game ME 109 while listening to podcasts and audiobooks before watching Match of the Day. An appalling turn of events with Chelsea being swept aside imperiously by lowly Sunderland.

Below Gérard Depardieu with Gisèle Casadesus.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Knife and forkwork

After sending to the text of Wrong to Betty: a spot of shopping. Met Lorraine and proceeded to buy some new knives, forks and spoons. I'd bought some bargain ones a while ago, and these proved bendy and infuriating. Now I have new ones with lime green enamelling, perfect for a sturdy knife and fork man such as myself. Also went into another shop to buy a small gift for Betty, whose birthday it is next week. I found myself being eyed suspiciously by a weedy security guy as I left. Then to my surprise I set off the alarms. Naturally I wasn't actually stealing anything, but being ordered to open my bag brought down a momentary red mist.

A chilled afternoon, followed by a nice evening at Lorraine's house with Anna, Anton and the bairns. Lorraine cooked one of her splendid curries: made of blended red peppers, chili, onion garlic and ginger, plus chicken and half a dozen spices, spiced cauliflower, and an aubergine yoghurt. I was kitchen porter. Much shooting of the breeze with A and A. Anton briefly trying to teach Klaudia how to play Peaches by The Stranglers on L's keyboard. Oskar fascinated by Beth's fish tank and delighted to discover a dead neon.

Time to go: and I marvelled at the children's ability to sleep through being ejected from bed, carried about in the rain into a taxi. Once they had left, I began an exhaustive exposition of the life and works of John Keats to Lorraine, before sleep broke over us. To some it was more welcome than others I suspect.

Friday, November 12, 2010


An excellent frame of mind today, in high contrast to yesterday morning. Realised I had been forcing the pace too much on the Doppelganger. Once I decided to put it aside, and decided to relax I found myself tweaking the play Wrong (my two hander plus a corpse piece) which I am going to show to Betty and Mark to see if they think it is worth staging.

Took myself to the gym again, despite having a slightly sore throat, which made me hard as nails, and banished my throat in hours. Listening to Stalin ate my homework as I trundled on the hulk legs machine. It is read by Alexei Sayle and he is a lovely writer. It describes a childhood in Liverpool in the 50s and 60s as the only son of a communist couple. Sayle's trades unionist father worked on the railways enabling them to get cheap travel by rail across Europe. They spent lots of time in the Eastern Bloc. A really good read.

Part of my reframing was also taking stock of my financial situation: I discovered today that my earnings after seven months of this year have already exceeded those of entire previous year. This in a tax year when I launched a book, staged This Concert, and have written lots of other bits. No wonder I 'm knackered. So this afternoon I allowed myself a moment of contentment. I also did a pie chart for my sources of income and got all scientific about it. No surprises, but worth doing.

In the evening off to Lorraine's house where we went for the usual curry. Betty and her pal Kayleigh came too. Nice meal. Lorraine under a lot of strain at the moment due to Government cut backs, so need to look after her. Everyone where she works has to reapply for their jobs, and there will be something of a culling. Shepherded her back home and put her on the gold sofa.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A day of two halves

By the time I had sent off my biography to Island Ink this morning I was busily detesting everything I've ever written and viewed life as a heap of rotting beans. When the storm outside abated I went for a walk in the rainy Laines and bought, in a slightly self-flagellating way, excellent books by Mario Petrucci and Mimi Khalvati, poets I knew well who have gone on to become quietly famous.

Things started to cheer up moments later when I randomly bumped into Cathy and we went for a coffee and fairly wide-ranging discussions about life and portfolio careers.

I went for a cobweb-blasting walk by the sea. I loved being on the wind-lashed pier. The fairground rides were all closed, and I stood by the merry-go-round, which creaked and shifted in the wind. My clothes were flapping, the wind roaring in my ears, closed shutters rattled, and the sea seethed below the boards. Quite suddenly all my petty concerns were blown off like a clump of sea spume, and I felt myself again. I popped into the gents and my hair had been blasted upright so that I looked like an ancient and portly third member of the atrocious Jedward.

Then a series of emails from the Gem of the Sea to further brighten my day. A teacher in a Guernsey school has picked up on The boy who fell upwards, and wants to use my poems in school, and put them on a Guernsey teacher's website. Then a note from Catriona booking me for next year's literary festival to run Skelton Yawngrave sessions, and for Riccardo and I to do two poetry readings. I was also contacted by Tom Hicks, a Guernsey-born pianist and composer at Chetham's School of Music, about doing some work together.

Finally the money I am owed by my French client is being paid into the Kenny coffers tomorrow, and I am now officially in better shape financially than I have been for at least a year.

The evening up the road to babysit my Godbairns as Anna and Anton went off to parent's evening. Anton worried and apprehensive about it, but the kids proved to be exemplary. Anton showed me two paintings by Klaudia they have had framed. She is a natural artist.

Anton and I went for a cheeky beer in the Eddy, discussing the funny book by Alexei Sayle Stalin ate my homework he had made me buy and I am now reading. Then off to the Batty to meet Lorraine, and her pal Lorraine Miles who I find very funny and likeable.

Below some seaside snaps.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


A bit of a struggle on all fronts today. Writing like pulling hens teeth, and putting me in mind of John Keats: That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all. I am questioning the whole business of the Doppelganger. It is not enough to set up a situation dramatically where a Doppelganger exists and the whole dilemma is about whether the protagonist is having a breakdown or not. This is the territory of Dostoevsky. Conrad in The Secret Sharer (Toby made me read it) is more deftly handled but still ultimately you are left with the same question. My Doppelganger poem published in Iron magazine years ago Someone-else's patch was more about the overlapping claims on territory. This gave it a slightly different edge. But I think Matt and I need a fresh take.

Went to the gym where the psychological and overall fitness benefit outweighs the knee gyp. Home to send wrangling emails to hasten a long overdue payment from the French. I am losing patience, however the new UK boss is very helpful and with today's prompting there should be another payday soon.

Met Matt briefly in The Basketmakers who is troubled by the idea of dancing lesbians at the moment. The theatre we have earmarked for this project is over a pub mainly used by lesbians. Apparently they insist on pumping up the volume of the speakers to dance with no regard for the show going on upstairs. Matt has visions of his music being interrupted by a Sapphic bacchanalia, and so we may look elsewhere.

Chatted also to Rich a writer who shared some of his wrong-headed opinions about literature and writing. He did however tell me that he had tried drunkenly to lift JH Prynne (a difficult but rewarding poet) from his feet after attending a series of seminars led by him. A wonderful Lucky Jim style moment. Would have been great to have seen this.

Home and quiet cups of tea.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


Working for a few hours first thing. Then to the doctors (to have an identical conversation to last week) and before my buns had grazed a waiting room seat a woman started talking to me about how her boyfriend was on holiday in Thailand and that he hadn't phoned her, and how, 'as a bloke' did I interpret his actions. A theme she enlarged on with great anxiety and without stopping for a half an hour like some character from Dostoevsky.

Purchased a large bottle of Gordons sloe gin from Sainsburys along with other vittles. My first nod towards Christmas. Then home again to work on the Island Ink interview, which is taking an infernally long time and I seem to be emerging from it as a self-inflated buffoon. I can't waste much more time on it. Also working, painstakingly, on the Libretto. Everything seems to be taking ages.

Below More Antigravity. I'm always pleasantly surprised when people find this blog. Steve Geliot, creator of Antigravity which featured in the Brighton White Night festival got in touch the other day, and I sent him some more snaps of his UFO. Here are three more. It really was spectacular.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Bedraggled bairns

Anna had an early business meeting in London, so my Godchildren Oskar and Klaudia had breakfast here this morning. Anna looking both glamorous and businesslike, bringing a bag of cereals and some milk. The bairns raided the pirate box for chocolates dug out their toys, played my guitar, feed the fish, etc. After 40 minutes of this off into the teeth of the gale and rain to school. The children bedraggled when they arrived, and I was happy to get them back indoors. Klaudia not wanting to wear her hood, and skipping along happily in the rain. Oskar less happy with it as we struggled to get his hood on. Found myself pulling his ear by mistake at one point, but Oksar endured this stoically.

Home and work on the Libretto, some French work, and some accountant and bill-paying based admin. Late in the afternoon finished The Double by Dostoevsky, which although interesting ends less well than it started: as if the double scenario has been established, and Dostoevsky wasn't certain how to resolve it. In some ways the whole double idea can be a cul de sac. Then headed to the bookshop. Enjoyed two students in the poetry section pontificating hilariously about literature. There is a kind of pomposity that only the young can get away with, but their excitement about books threw my own fruitless trawl, through several floors for something interesting to read, into sharp relief.

Watching my Frasier DVDs again. A sure sign that winter is coming.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Off to Kent

Off by train to Kent to see Lorraine's parents. Lorraine breaking her usual on-train silence on the journey there to speak to me. Collected by Pat at Ashford station and a lovely afternoon hanging about eating a lovely roast lamb dinner with tons of vegetables.

Maureen draping microwaveable bags of hot things over my back as I happened to tweak it shortly after arrival. Their tropical aquarium well established now, and I was pleased to see Lucky the Betta splendens (Siamese fighting fish) still alive and well.

Studying two photos of Lorraine's grandmother on the walls. They look very like each other.

Home again, a few pages from finishing The Double now. It is an uncomfortable toe-curling experience. I hate reading about humiliation and frustration, and have never been able to finish The Trial by Kafka for the same reason.

Home to watch Chelsea be beaten on Match of the Day by Liverpool. Fernando Torres, who has wandered about the pitch in an abject and aimless fashion all season, chose today to suddenly find his form and bang a couple of fabulous goals in to the goal of the noble Chelsea. An appalling turn of events.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Cut some slack

Saw the Brighton Photo Biennial exhibition, held in the empty building which had been the Brighton Co-op. In floors above and below were fringe exhibitions too. The biennial had loads of good work in it. Slightly overwhelmed by the number of images in the Fringe, some great stuff in the deluge.

Lorraine got a flicky new haircut, and cooked a splendid chili. I wrote a bit. Otherwise a day given over to cutting ourselves some slack, and keeping a very low profile this evening.

Below Photographs by Suzanne Opton of Returning soldiers from Iraq or Afghanistan. Liked the effect of this series seen as a whole, although thought the pose of the soldiers lying their heads on the ground rather heavyhanded.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Breakfast with Mum and Mase: coffee and crumpets and various compulsory vitamin pills. Mum scorning her usual muesli. Then some chatting and resetting Spotify on Mum's computer and making her listen to smidge of screeching Schoenberg. Also showed her facebook. Then off for a steak and kidney pudding in the Man in the Moon in Stanmore, parking in the Sainsbury's car park, as Mum and Mase are at war with the jobsworth in the Lidl's car park. Mum sporting a butterfly ring she bought, and her enforced starvation over the last few weeks has resulted in the silver lining of her having lost weight.

Avidly reading The Double by Dostoevsky on the train back to Brighton. It is definitely about someone having a nervous breakdown, and then there is the issue of whether the double is really there or not. In the evening met Matt briefly over a beer to talk excitedly about doubles, Schoenberg, etc. and how we could make ours distinctly different. A farewell outside the pub, and on either side the sky was thundering with fireworks. It felt like an omen as my monologue Someone-else's patch which got us talking about this project (and was published donkey's years ago) was set on Guy Fawkes night. Guy Fawkes, as us Brits know, was a catholic who was hung drawn and quartered after attempted to blow up the houses of parliament on the night of November 5th 1605. Ever since his effigy has been burnt amid fireworks on November 5th.

Then I sloped off to meet Lorraine, the road skittering once or twice with spent rockets falling out of the sky. The end of a demanding week, and I me Lorraine in our usual curry house, to download the week, and then slope home to my place to boof splendidly onto the gold sofa.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A different nosebag

Up early to do a spot of French work then listening to Schoenberg's Erwartung which is a one-act opera, a monodrama with one woman singing in a frankly disturbed way in German. The action happens in the middle of a forest, against a challenging atonal array of textures and orchestral tones. As Matt and I are working on a smiliar one act monodrama it is required, if challenging, listening. I love the fact my listening is being stretched so much lately. It is an education.

Off up to Norf Lunnon to see Mum and Mase. Very pleased to see that Mum has started a 'low residue' diet, which is composed of entirely of plastic white breads, cake and various processed foods without fibre, which couldn't be more different to the oaty stuff in her normal nosebags. What is great though is that it seems to be working, and she is having respite from the constant pain she has been in. We sat about in the evening having a glass of wine and chatting lots and eating ribs and mashed potato. Toby called and was pleased to see that his prompting to find out about different diets had bourne fruit. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Double talk

Working on the Libretto this morning, slow but steady progress I think. I am finding it helpful to 'sing' the words as I write them. Brooding about doubles. Matt brooding about doubles too, and we were full of double talk this evening in the Evening Star. I blame Toby, who turned me onto doubles in the first place as he studied them for his MA.

Fingers Capra and Richard Gibson were there too, and Fingers about to make a new record with a cellist of 18th century Russian music, while Richard's project of setting every Shakespeare sonnet to music is coming to fruition, and he is beginning to try them out in pubs.

Not a gym day today, but my knee ballooned and hurt after a stroll around town. Weirdly the thing that seems to keep it under control is excercise.

In the afternoon writing an interview for Guernsey's Island Ink magazine. Have been sent some questions and all I have to do is answer them. But trying not to sound like an egotistic buffoon is a stern challenge.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Big Issue

As per yesterday. That is: work hard on doppelganger piece, and go to the gym. Also spirits somewhat elevated due to getting paid. Wolf now cudgeled away from the door, and is set to be driven off even further shortly. Reading The Double by Dostoevsky.

A mooch about town in the afternoon, winding up in my normal cafe. Outside was stationed a particularly forlorn looking Big Issue seller. I brushed past as usual, without answering. As I queued for my bourgeois overpriced cup of Americano I thought how, by ignoring him, I had projected his own non-being back at him. It was as good as dealing out a little death. So I went outside and scored one for the first time in ages. Actually a better magazine than I remembered it. Glancing up from time to time, and watching him being serially ignored was quite sobering, and, in one of my more Frazier Crane moments, quite put me off working on my libretto.

Spent the evening sorting out some photos. Found two from back when the world was black and white. One of the four and a half year old me with the Tobster. I'm still scarred by how much Toby howled in that photographer's studio in St Peter Port. And the other with the frozen smile was I think a school photo from St Martin's school in Guernsey taken within a year.

Monday, November 01, 2010

At the double

At last, an undistracted Monday. Worked on a little more haemophilia for a couple of hours, and devoted my main energies to working on the words for the Doppelganger piece. Luckily I am making some progress. For me there's a different mindset required writing a libretto to poetry. Poetry lives primarily on the page or read aloud. While I am writing the libretto I am thinking of the physical theatre, narrative and singability. Also immediacy: I think the audience needs to understand the narrative rather than being bamboozled and confused.

Slipped off to the gym. Am having the first of a few good weeks, and am cutting down on food and boozes and ramping up the exercises. A quiet and blameless night indoors. All well.