Sunday, January 31, 2010

Arundel

Off to Arundel today for a general mooch about. Lorraine looking at it as a possible location for her to live. But she decided against it, despite it being a very beautiful place. Into the St Nicholas Church and the Catholic Cathedral where I lit a candle, thinking of Sprinkles and our visit there.

After we wandered about town a little before finding Martin, who had been painting in his studio for a quick chat in the Eagle pub near an open fire. The fire a tad warmer than the welcome. The temperatured dropping, we returned to Brighton, where we bought a takeaway curry for supper.

I spoke to Matt, who is now on variation seven, and has recruited a new violinist for our concert.

Below noticed one of the Romantic Poets series the Guardian published this week in a bin. A great idea but they were printed on such uselessly thin stock that it didn't work. Poems are to keep. Inside Arundel Cathedral, in the grounds of St Nicholas church.
















Saturday, January 30, 2010

Catnip bananas

Received a note from Rufus explaining that he and his sister are not Highland Terriers but Border Terriers. I always thought there was more going on inside that dog's head than he let on.

A busy day with Lorraine. Off to Top Cats this morning with Brian and the bulky Basil squeezed into the carrier. It is relaxing going to Top Cats, drenched as it is in plug-in cat pheromones. You can browse in Cats magazine, and chat about the ways of one's naughty torties with the nurse receptionist. Calliope, apparently, has a genetic reason for her willful behaviour.

Lorraine brought two cloth bananas stuffed with dried catnip. She threw it to Brian who indeed went bananas writhing about, kicking and biting.

Then to Hove Town Hall, where I got some visitor's parking tickets. My Twitten did not appear on their lists, as it doesn't have a road on it, so I had to point out exactly where it was. Unlike Top Cats, I was not among my tribe - all these people could drive, and the pleasant lady made me have discussions about species of parking bays.

Lorraine led me, visibly upset, off to a nearby Gallery Cafe where we broke our fast at noon rather pleasantly. Back to Lorraine's to discuss things with her new buyer, and Sam appeared. He is looking good and sounding positive, focused and very sure of his own opinions. Really good to see. He was talking about trying for Oxford, and is doing lots of debating.

We popped into the Booth Museum. Its collection is largely an obsessive collection of Victorian stuffed birds, and other curios. Marvelled again at the displays of moths and butterflies. It has two stuffed bears just by the entrance, which Beth as a child was too scared to get into.

Calliope driven to orgies of violence and delight with her catnip banana, springing about on her hind legs with it in her front paws. A sight, as Lorraine observed, that was worth £4 of anyone's money.

In the evening out with Dawn for a cheeky drink in the Batty. She's a lovely woman, Lorraine and her are quite similar in some ways, which is probably why they're such good friends. Dawn had just graduated her MA the day before, and was feeling justly proud of herself.


Below a butterfly display, and a jar of snakes.






Friday, January 29, 2010

Under Mars

Woke up with an idea for a Guernsey based story this morning, and got it down quickly. Then paid my tax via the interweb: a sobering business. Received a call about an appointment for a bowel check up, which is sensible if somewhat lacking in the glamour normally associated with this blog.

Spent the afternoon tidying up. I have the psychological need to get everything straight, so I can slice efficiently into next week.

Collected Lorraine and we walked out into a cold night, under a bright full moon with Mars near to it, at a mere 55.7 million km away from earth. It was so close that it is visibly red when glimpsed with the corner of your eye.

To the Engineer for a drinks and a cheap and tasty bowl of chilli. To meet Roland and Jay, the couple we'd met on New Year's Eve, and some of their friends. Nice pub and pleasant people, every time I opened my mouth however, I had the sensation I was alienating someone. A disconcerting experience. However Roland a nice chap, and easy to chat to. He told me he'd been to his son's football match during the week, and one of the parents had become so enflamed that he had headbutted one of the team's coaches. Police were called. Madness. Roland shocked that such a thing could be done in front of 13 year old boys. Meanwhile Lorraine sucked into a lengthy conversation about transvestism with two random gentlemen as she returned from the bar.

Everyone left early, but not before I managed to pour some beer into the lining of my coat. Rather gratefully home.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Guernsey underwing

Up and packing, fond farewells to Jane, a rumpling of terriers, then Richard was kind enough to drive me to the airport. A bit blurry headed with lack of sleep. Really sorry to be leaving Guernsey as usual, but very happy to have had such a good time with Richard and Jane. I am really lucky to know them.

The plane took off into the west and banked north to follow the west coast, and I could look down on Lihou and places I'd just been. Then the sea and islands disappeared beneath a blanket of white cloud. An uneventful flight (just how I like them) and after collecting strangeface from the carousel I was home at 12:30. Calliope pleased to see me, and the house in one piece and the fish alive thanks to Beth and Mark. Off shopping. Then a big wave of tiredness, having slept less than two hours the night before, and a snooze on the gold sofa with the cat purring on me. Mum called, she has a cold but is otherwise fine. She heard me on the radio and thinks Richard and I didn't make utter buffoons of ourselves.

Lorraine called by to collect Beth's case and chat. I missed Lorraine, and for some reason my phone wasn't working in Guernsey. Despite doing everything right, he house selling story drags on. Poor thing.

Pottering about and doing laundry after she left. Bed is calling with a siren voice. Or have Beth and Mark taught the cat to sing?

Below Rufus and Holly pictured waiting for Richard in the van. I suspect Rufus is a name that a dog could actually pronounce if it put its mind to it. Nice dogs.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Joyful Cliff Path

Joyful Cliff Path is the name of a new coffee from Guernsey. It is hard to imagine anything that could so neatly dwell in the intersection of the venn diagram of my Twin Peaks/Guernsey obsessions.

Some nervous pacing about this morning. Richard and I were due to appear on BBC Guernsey's Jim Cathcart show. Got into the van with the dogs and sped off to the studios. We were listening to the show en route and hearing their continuing series about an objects which tell a special story. Arthur from the Vale brought in a spring jumper, which was used in shaping quarried granite. As we waited in the reception area, Arthur emerged wielding a heavy rusty two ended metal spear like a character from Stone De Croze, the Original Guernseyman. This apparition made Richard and I laugh a tad hysterically after he'd left, explaining in a slightly downbeat way that it was only the second best spring jumper on the island.

Jim was extremely professional and made me feel relaxed right away. You can hear Richard and I chatting about the Anthology of Guernsey to Jim here. We're on at 1hour 37 for twenty minutes or so. We worked well as a double act I think, and talked about the Anthology fairly coherently. We also got the opportunity for a couple of quick poems at the end. I did a lighter one about Zombies.

And we felt fairly big and clever as we drove off to unleash the dogs for a scamper in the sun and wind at Chouet bay. As we walked we found ourselves very close to an unconcerned kestrel, which seemed to me to be a good omen.

From there we zoomed to St Peter Port to meet Catriona in Hojos. Over snacks we discussed the Anthology, our Guernsey Doubles project, plus I mentioned This concert will fall in love with you. Good to see Catriona who is always enthusaistic and cheerful.

From here we drove to St Martin's and we took the dogs for a brief cliff walk from Icart Point. I felt as usual that deep respiration of the soul that this, my favourite of all places makes me feel. Here and there were dots of yellow on the gorse bushes. Can Spring be far behind? Richard not having done that walk too often was feeling it too. From there we drove to back to pay our proper respects to La Gran'mère.

Then north again for coffee at costas, and I bought three packets of Joyful Cliff Path in the supermarket next door.

In the evening, having scooped up Jane, we three went off to Christies in Le Pollet. We had a pleasant meal, a bottle of excellent wine and several laughs. Richard having to melt away at one point to inject Rufus, who was waiting in the van. Home, and I enjoyed hearing Janes poems over an absolutely bloody final wine, and discussed Ebenezer Le Page.

Another great day. Jane and Richard have been fabulous hosts - both Jane and I flying back to the UK tomorrow, Jane off to Glasgow for business, and me home. Richard feeling glum about being left alone.

I was unable to sleep. Bookshelves in my room groaning with great books. But I read Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, and a book by Alan Coren until it was almost morning.

Below the excellent Jim Cathcart in his studio, a kestrel on the west Coast, Saints Bay in subtle January colours from my own Joyful Cliff Path, my favourite Granite head, and La Gran'mère.












Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Busy being poets

Richard and I spent the day in the company of Rufus and Holly the Highland* Terriers. We were discussing important matters such as our Guernsey Doubles collection while driving around Guernsey. A day wandering free as birds about the island is one that's hard to beat.

Joan Ozanne had invited us in for coffee. She is a genuinely fascinating woman, a mine of information with a speed of thought, and twinkle in her eye, which completely belies her age. She introduced me to some work by Denys Corbet, another Guernsey poet of the nineteenth century, and told me about a play she was writing set in Costa Rica. She said she'd lived in her house almost all her life, apart from when she joined the evacuation, as a teenager, just before the Germans came. Her father had hastily buried liqueurs in the garden, and found them years after the family's return, still drinkable.

We then sloped off to The Farmhouse, a place new to me not far from the airport for lunch of incredibly fresh cod and chips. Here discussed finer details of our collection, next steps and so on. Then off to the west coast to look across at Lihou Island, and delve into Le Creux ès Faïes, a place redolent of dark magic, and then took a walk under the grim Nazi tower built on top of a Martello, and looked across in a bitter wind to Lihou Island as the dogs mooched happily about us.

After stopping off for a Costa coffee, where we gossiped for some time, and after a smidge of shopping (much Rioja, prawns, a red pepper, and Toulouse sausage) we repaired home. Jane cooked up a paella, including her speciality, sex-in-a-bowl recipe of chestnut vacheran. Jane's pal June also came along. June considering a move to Eastbourne as her licence to work in Guernsey is almost up.

Eventually, after a nice lot of wine and food, it was time for bed.

* Turns out they are Border Terriers as any fule kno.

Below the delightful Joan Ozanne, Richard and I in Le Creux ès Faïes, the Nazi tower, and looking out at Lihou island.
















Monday, January 25, 2010

Off to Guernsey

Felt curiously exhausted and nauseous this morning. Rushed about in a disorganised way until it was time to leave. Beth arriving just as I left, to accept the furry cat shaped baton. Flight fairly execrable. Bouncing in the air, and a long climb through drizzly clouds to a short sojourn in the sun. I was on Mr Beanish form, trying to oust a nervous flier from her seat thinking she'd taken mine, dropping stuff out of my bag, and repeatedly getting up to grapple in the overhead locker and making the man next to me tut.

Richard collected me from the airport in his van, and we headed to where he and Jane live behind Bordeaux Harbour up in the Vale, in the north of the island. Strange not to be going instead to St Martin's. The afternoon spent talking and walking around the harbour, and looking north at the grey, white horsed sea. The dogs running about gleefully in the rain, and rolling in the seaweed.

Jane back from a hard day's work. Despite this, and me lurking in the kitchen chatting to her about island news, such as a local school rumpus with children refusing to wear their school uniform she produced a hearty beef casserole. Richard told me that when he first moved here he cut out a story from the press about a man being knocked off his bicycle by a seagull. Fortified by food and wine, Richard drove us off to the Fermain Tavern. Richard giving Rufus one of the terriers, his insulin injection in the back of the van before leaving them to snooze happily.

Much discussion about today being declared the most depressing day of the year, and this contributing to a lower turnout than normal. Nevertheless, there was some excellent poetry from Jane and Richard. Lester Queripel ran the night in an engagingly casual way, and read from his collection 50 of the best. I also met Joan Ozanne, and Catriona popped in too.

Although somewhat rusty, I enjoyed myself reading some of my newer Guernsey poems, and later a short excerpt from This concert will fall in love with you. Richard finished with his werewolf poem, which invites the audience to howl periodically in the style of wolves. Lester's guitarist brother Lindon taking the opportunity to miaow and so on. Jane reads excellently, and treated us to some funny and absorbing poems, I particularly enjoyed one about patron saints and a translation she'd made from the Italian, about about Venetian masks.

Home and in the tiny car park behind their home, which is overhung by rock with a warning about falling rocks on it, and sniffing the good sea air on the tip of the island before bed.

Below on the horizon from Bordeaux Harbour left to right Herm, Sark in the distance, Jethou, and distantly Jersey. A rock, a warship in the rain, white horses, Richard and Jane reading.















Sunday, January 24, 2010

A twitching

After a sluggish morning to Woods Mill this afternoon.

Walked about the wood and squelched across some nearby fields with Lorraine. Snowdrops emerging in the wood, which was nice. In the small wood, which is used as an educational resource locally, we sat in a bird hide and hunched forward to look at blue tits, great tits, long tailed tits, chaffinches, robins, tree creepers and robins about their avian business. I don't think I'd seen treecreepers, which are small brownish things with white fronts, which methodically creep up trees, starting from the bottom, in search of insects. The long tailed tits were I think also new to me. Lovely pinkish colouration. Eventually tore ourselves away from this curiously wonderful interlude.

Home to a spot of packing, and getting myself sorted out.

Writing this before seeing a documentary about another of my heroes... Brian Eno. Yippee.

Below the afternoon also gave Lorraine the opportunity to hug trees. A shot of winter trees, and hang gliders near Devil's Dyke.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Firewalk on the sofa

After a late start, got up to buy a present for Klaudia. Lorraine and I dropped a big pink box of Lego and a birthday card off and chatted with everyone briefly before they started their busy weekend. Those kids are excellent. Klaudia seeming to like her lego. More bits of small stuff for the vacuum cleaner to ingest.

A very chilled day. I made Lorraine watch Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me. I enjoyed it even more the second time around. David Lynch is one of my heroes. Funnily enough this movie was panned on release but it is splendid and dark. I think Mark Kermode says it is his favourite Lynch film, and I can see why as it seems to sit bull's-eye on various Lynch tropes. Laura Palmer's descent into an abused darkness is horrible, and utterly brilliant. It was good to watch it in the afternoon sitting on my gold sofa, so not to be too scared afterwards.

Below David Lynch at random. On the iPone.What a guy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A drink with First Matie and Nick

Swipe me, finally paid by my old agency. Also Matt sent me a postcard of an angel in St Michael's church, which looked amazing, and hopefully can be incorporated into our publicity.

Fiddling with poems in preparation to seeing Richard and Jane next week. Really looking forward to going across to Guernsey. Late in the afternoon I received a call from First Matie, which was very well timed as my head was ready to explode. Met her and her pal Nick for a drink in the Eagle, just like a normal person, having a drink after work. Nice to see them. Nick about to leave Brighton for Bristol. First Matie looking well and on good form. After, chugged sparkling water until Lorraine arrived. Another swift beer and a takeaway Chinese meal later, we slugged on the sofa watching crap TV.

Here is the latest version of one of the poems I have been working on. Guernsey is a spooky place sometimes, and this is an attempt to capture that feeling.


Night walk

The whine of the moped’s engine
diminishes in the dark parish
and stupidly I spook myself
imagining the scuff of shoes
in the lightless lane behind me.
It is a moonless night, motile
with satellites and Perseids
that skid across the starry sky
like momentary omens.
Black bats burst the halo
of the streetlight I have reached
and my shadow is elastic
it dials its dark around me
yearning down the crow black lane
where my feet can only follow.

Guernsey, you were my safest home
but I know there are black books
stored under the floorboards
and Le Gardien du Tombeau
looks down on many secrets:
your soil is the ash of witches
dead slaves lie in labyrinths
the Nazis groined in granite.

I can’t stop this crazy thought
that there’s someone else out there
with eyes black-barred like those of goats
who would lead me to descend
stumbling past the closed café
to the uneasy midnight sea.

But what scares me most is me.
I’m half laughing, half afraid
for tonight is not the last night
that I’ll be drawn into the dark.
I still have time. I can return
to my room and its bright desk light
and type and type and type till dawn.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Probed

Off to the quack this morning to arrange to have a colon and bowel check up. Gyp of this sort runs in the family (like noses) so it is seems prudent to establish regular check ups. In the waiting room I bumped into Anna (Klaudia and Oskar's Godmother) and it was good to chat instead of reading the ghastly ailment posters.

What is worse than a DRE (digital rectal examination) I thought, staring shyly at the wall in the corner of the surgery, must be having to conduct them on a regular basis. I thought of those kids at school who wanted to be doctors, and then pictured them repeatedly having to stick their fingers into people's bottoms.

Soon I was in the magic cafe for coffee and a spot of poetry before getting on with the rest of my day. In the evening off to see Beth acting again for her A level drama exam. Three devised pieces. Beth excellent in her one. The last piece was really good drama with an "existential" theme, and I was particularly moved by a shy redhaired kid in specs who gave a mighty performance as a doubting priest.

Then off with Sam, Lorraine's folks, Lorraine, Beth and Mark and their posse to a nearby pub. Nice chat with Maureen and Pat, before I sloped home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Jumping giant mushrooms

First thing this morning, the strange sensation of my brain scrambling back in my skull having been out clubbing for a couple of days, or having weird brain-only sex in a carpark. Consequently found myself able to form sentences and work on poems about Guernsey, and various blogs and sites in preparation for my Guernsey trip next week.

In the evening went up to hang out with Anton. He had cued up Marquee Moon by Television, and The Yes Album by Yes. Good to hear those ancient 70s favourites on vinyl through Anton's superduper stereo. Both the products of people trying their hardest to do something different, and so they sound quite fresh still. After a fine repast of toad in the hole we repaired upstairs to play the Wii driving game, without the interference of children. Anna found us driving furiously on the sofa some time later, jumping over giant mushrooms on the screen. I drive a pink car with a girl driver and wings, as this is Klaudia's car I got used to the other weekend.

Lorraine still going through horrid house businesses, after a sleepless night. I have talked to her a few times today with steely advice. Easy to hand out, much harder to actually do. And so to bed accompanied by cat screaming in the Twitten. There is a new moggie on the block, and Calliope isn't impressed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Brain fog again

Brain fog continues. Most days my concentration is excellent. I am very lucky. But today, I was losing the thread every three or four minutes. Even mindmaps and listing things weren't helping. A boring day of dealing with tax, accountants, my old agency (wanting me to out forms before I can be paid for the paltry two days they still owe me). Unable to focus, apart from a brief spell in the magic cafe. Stared dully at TV in the evening watching Manchester United get beaten.

I hope the brain business lifts before I arrive in Guernsey.

Poor Lorraine undergoing ghastly house moving stress. Not much I can do to help, other than listen.

Shaila gave me some Buddhism books she picked up while in Hong Kong. I was reading one in bed last night, and the calmness and lack of judgement that exuded from it is so refreshing. Religions other than Buddhism seem to me increasingly absurd. I have no problem with the idea of God - I love God - but religious hierarchies, or people who set themselves up as unique conduits to God or enlightenment, nauseate me. Of course Buddhism has these too, but not to the same extent. As Sogyal Rinpoche said when I went to that retreat with Sophie, there is no such thing as a Buddhist Fundamentalist.

Below some proper Ontario snow. Joan told me that the temperature climbed to zero, and so here is a picture Joan sent me of Dick, Nico the dog and the intrepid Pinkie cat going for a walk. A wee bit more snow here tomorrow too apparently.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fog on the brain

After working through the to do list, I took myself for a walk down by the sea, where it was mysteriously foggy. Perfect conditions, in fact, to rage at your camera as its battery gives out after two shots. A plethora of deathless photos untaken. Then to the magic cafe for coffee and a tinker with poems. Brain foggy today too, however, so not to much avail.

Tried to stay up late tonight to watch a movie called 24 Days Later featuring turbo-zombies (one of its innovations were that zombies could move very fast). Scary and it was late so I went to bed halfway through.

Below the burnt down old West Pier, emerging from the fog like a kraken.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Avatar

Finally saw this today with Lorraine. It is utterly breathtaking. It has moments of more intensely realised alien beauty than I have ever seen. It is even more thoroughly influenced by Roger Dean than I'd thought. The islands floating in the sky, the huge arches, the dragons in the forest, and their vivid colouring and spatter patterns are all straightforward lifts from Dean, as are some of the vehicles and animals. Roger Dean has been trying to get a movie underway based on his floating island concepts, and I can't imagine what is going through his head. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it must be utterly galling to have been so robbed of your concepts without acknowledgement.

But there is so much more added into this Dean template to bring it life, the movie can be forgiven. It is a spellbinding world. The story is predictable, straightforward and heavy handed, but because of its fabulous context this is easy to overlook. It is a must see movie. First one I've seen in 3D too. For the first ten minutes I wasn't completely comfortable with it, but I enjoyed the novelty, and it certainly added to the feeling of being at dizzying heights.

Emerged blinking back into this weird sunlight stuff, having seen it in the afternoon, after a walk by the sea. Want to see it again, to lose myself in its wonderful world.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Friends and variations

Busy day today. Matt came around at noon, shortly after Lorraine and I had emerged, and we had a meeting about This concert will fall in love with you. He also played me through parts of the first five variations. It is incredibly exciting to hear them take shape, and how they interlace and enlarge on the words I've written. Even at this early stage, it is clear just how accomplished he is, and how this work will shine. We also discussed how we were going to promote it, and I've come up with a look and feel Matt's happy with. We were sat on my round table while we were talking and Calliope insisted sitting with her nose an inch away from Matt's pad.

From there off to the now-traditional Basketmakers where we met Lorraine, Matty boy and Craig who'd come down from London, and Matt's pal John. A cheery afternoon in the pub, with great gusts of chatting and generally hanging out and catching up. Matty and Craig both looking splendid, and on fine form.

Eventually we walked to the Nelson to see Spooner and Ali and their bright as buttons bairns. Hadn't had a chat with Spoons for some time. I told him that he had ruined Dylan Thomas for me, as he does a wild eyed and very Welsh Thomas impression, which every time I look at Thomas, comes to mind. Matt much liked by Matty boy and Craig.

Lorraine and I crept home shortly after Craig and Matty boy had left in dramatic style to catch their train, and Matt sloped off to see some other pals. Ate pizza on the gold sofa, and watched Chelsea score seven goals on Match of the Day, while drinking much needed sparkling waters. All well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

In the magic cafe

Calliope woke me up by treading on my head, then knocking over my bedside water and drenching two Sylvia Plath collections, The King James Bible, David Lynch's Catching The Big Fish, and Ghost Stories by Edith Wharton. All of these had to be dried on radiators. The appalling weasel made herself scarce for half an hour afterwards. But the fates were not on her side, as the battery on her catdoor gave out and she was stranded outside for some time. Much chastened when she was brought in.

All good today. Feeling positive, and managed to get through to the right people at my old agency, and so will be paid what I' m owed. Also had a nice chat with a designer friend, about doing some work together, and Mum asking her about the colour of the sea in Guernsey when you paint it. It has two tones, a turquiose where the sand is, and a darker colour I thought was Prussian blue, but Mum says is more of an indigo (having painted it several times).

Even better, in the afternoon I returned to the magic cafe. Here I drastically reordered two of my Guernsey poems and they suddenly are working better than I'd dared hope. One I started seven years ago fell into place.

A large Americano with a splash of milk did the trick, I think the Guernsey Double poems that Richard and I are putting together will be something to be proud of. Richard's poems are wonderful, and mine are taking shape in a way that pleases me. Later got an email from Richard, who has got us an appearance on the Jim Cathcart show on BBC Guernsey, talking about the Anthology and other stuff. It should be fun.

In the evening Lorraine and I imaginatively repaired to the The Battle of Trafalgar for cheeky beers. Lorraine has a new buyer in place for her house who wants to move in in three weeks, so she was much more cheery, but trying not to get her hopes up.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From the bubble

Haiti is hell. Watching TV with waves of horror and sympathy for those broken people, wandering stunned in streets of cadavers. I will send money from my little bubble of English safety.

I popped briefly into the gym. And later back to what I now think of as my lucky cafe and, despite a baby screaming for twenty minutes, managed to completely review my poems. I made some exciting progress. Tried and failed to get a response from my old agency about the money they owe me. It's not malevolence, just inefficiency. But wasting so much time chasing is galling.

Took myself out late this evening for a quiet beer and to read Dictée, by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. My old university friend Michael Stone Richards has written a paper about it. With a first skim it appears to be about the struggle to speak, and how individuals' lives have been dictated by forces beyond their control, the struggles of nations, the impositions of foreign languages and so on. MSR has a fascination for what is difficult, and when we were students, introduced me to one of my all-time favourite poet Paul Celan, as well as the tricky JH Prynne, I am persisting with it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"You know this is, excuse me, a damn fine cup of coffee. I've had I can't tell you how many cups of coffee in my life, and this...this is one of the best."

Perhaps inspired by watching Agent Cooper imbibe coffee with amazed delight (as I watched the first series of Twin Peaks again over the last couple of weeks) I have been taking myself for coffee. In fact my latest short story, Where the beauty is, is mainly set in a cafe.

I went to my new coffee house today, the Caffè Nero on Prince Albert Street near the sea. A change of scene is incredibly good for the brain, especially as one under siege where the forces of snow and gloom combined (it was snowing steadily this morning, but by the evening was melting again).

However with two damn fine cups of coffee I unleashed a couple of mind maps, and a much-needed session of prioritising my various plans and schemes. After this was done, I felt that the tanker of gloom had suddenly come about, and I was back on course.

Home and I had a cheery conversation with Richard who has kindly agreed to put me up, when I visit Guernsey at the end of the month. I booked my Auringy flights. Once over there, apart from talking about poems with Richard, I hope to read poems at the Fermain Tavern, have much needed chats with other Guernsey allies. Richard will also try to get us onto the radio.

Also sliced through a backlog of correspondence, and suddenly feeling much better in the brain department.

Also had a bit of a brainstorm about marketing This concert will fall in love with you. Matt and I are meeting on Saturday, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Below my hero. What a fabulous creation Agent Cooper was. Part Sherlock Holmes, part intuitive mystic.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Mammoth

Odd beach like sensation in bed. Gradually worked out that now that there's a thaw, Calliope is trotting grit into my sheets.

All day I have had this image in my head of a mammoth in a glacier. The mammoth stands for progress and my joie de vivre which is resolutely sealed away. It's the January Blues. I hate January. January is scum.

The media is full of finger-wagging. An article on the BBC: a sedentary life spent staring at screens will kill you. As this is pretty much all I have done over the last few weeks, and I am morbidly obese, I decided to have a day of moving to stave off an abrupt demise. Had a longish walk by the sea, in nose-pinching cold. The pier almost deserted. A keen wind biting through the rides and stalls, and hardy men mending things out of sight with power tools. The merry-go-round horses stored in a pile under canvas sheets, and above them half a dozen silent seagulls stationary in the sky.

Then to my new cafe to work. As I walked in the two people behind the counter were having a cappuccino making competition, and asked me to judge. But before I was mouth deep in my latte I was thwarted, phoned by my French clients, wanting copy changes so had to return home. Worked for a few hours, then went to the gym only to emerge half dead soon after. I am so unfit.

Moving about tonight, tidying, playing with the cat, trying to avoid the murderous screens.

Lorraine has put her house back on the market, as her buyer had dropped out. A blessing in disguise I think, and the vermiform estate agent confident of getting another buyer soon. Also chatted to First Matie who has at last returned home after weeks on the road.

Thinking about Sprinkles in Florida who was having her operation. I bet she'd swap a blue day for what she has to go through today.

Below a beach crow in snow ;-) pier dodgems and an icy groyne.






Monday, January 11, 2010

Norman morning

Up early and working on headlines for my French client before eight. A small part of what I was writing referred to the Festival of Impressionism in Normandy this summer. Looking at some Claude Monet, and drinking in the sunshine of another century for a few minutes. At noon I was all done with French copy, and I bolted outside. Still despicable underfoot, but made it as far as the supermarket where I panic bought three packs of Quorn sausages and some catfood.

In the afternoon recorded myself reading the first bit of This concert will fall in love with you. Matt had gently nudged me by text. Despite the fact he only wanted a rough guide, it took twelve attempts and I was a bus ride away from being happy with the results.

Downloaded Crazy Talk software, which Lorraine suggested to me. You can use it to animate paintings and so on. Investigating ways of bringing Skelton Yawngrave to life. But it seems to be a world of fun.

A Twin Peaks fix tonight. Got to the point now where I am listening to directors' voiceovers and so on. I never consciously realised how red Twin Peaks is. Everything is filtered to make it red, if it isn't red already.

Watched a Dear Diary presented by Mariella Frostrup. She looked at Virginia Woolf's diaries, which sound as if they are worth reading in a waspy way. I prefer keeping a blog to a diary. My diaries have always been full of the worst kind of self pity and whining, and whenever I have found one I despise myself. Don't have the same thing with blogs for some reason. But lately I have been toying with the idea of ending this blog. But writing it has become so automatic that, when push comes to shove, I can't quite do it. Not for nothing is Diary of a Nobody one of my favourite books. If you've not read it, you must.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Little monsters

Lorraine and I took care of my Godchildren Klaudia and Oskar this weekend. The children by and large exceedingly adorable, and as good as gold. Lorraine, of course, brilliant with the kids and I'm not sure I could have done it without her.

But I really enjoyed swirling them upside down around the room by their ankles, reading stories, playing Super Mario go-cart things on Wii and so on. After a fairly relaxed Saturday afternoon, and a spot of Horrid Henry on TV, the children went off to bed nicely, Oskar falling asleep half way through his tea, and both bairns peeped not all night.

Klaudia walked brightly into the bedroom at 6:20am on Sunday and turned the light and TV on. For a variety of reasons I'd hardly slept the night before, so had mixed feelings about this. Lorraine resolutely snoozing. But soon Oskar followed and I had a child snuggled under each arm as we watched CBeebies. After breakfast, which was accompanied by the children walking around with saucepan lids for cymbals, we set about the serious business of being monsters.

I spent some time being a roaring monster that attacked knees. Eventually the children caged me behind chairs and fed me bananas and biscuits and cups of tea. After some time, they became monsters too (Klaudia decided she was Monster 1, Oskar Monster 2, and me, who'd come up with the whole monster thing, a mystifying Monster 3). We all ended up on an imaginary beach where Klaudia told us a monster story. Who needs drugs when you've children?
However by the middle of Sunday afternoon, I was rather pleased to see Anton and Anna. I had just confiscated a rubber ball Oskar had been persistently attempting to ingest, and Klaudia was insisting I hold her upside down for the 214th time.

Lorraine utterly fab in her entertainment of the children.

It all left me how do parents do it, day after day? Crept home with Lorraine, and settled on the gold sofa listening to the heavenly hush. Klaudia and Oskar are clearly the best little kids in the world though.

Below I was too busy playing to get a good shot of the kids. But this has Klaudia on the Wii and a rather unflattering one of Oskar.


Friday, January 08, 2010

Sub-zero

Friday and crunched back over the ice and snow from Lorraine's house. In her street, this being Brighton, a snow version of the Eiffel Tower was taking shape.

The steep Guildford Road, onto which my Twitten leads, a deathtrap and I was lucky not to fall, even though I was digging in my walking stick with its bitey metal end. Safely home, I worked on copy about Normandy for the lovely French client.

All this sub-zero life makes me think of Toby and Romy and Joan and Dick. I'm now only beginning to be able to vaguely imagine how isolating months of real Canadian snow might feel.

Below construction in Lorraine's road.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Into the white wilds of Brighton

Calliope woke me sliding her catfoody chops on my face. Hard frost overnight, and a little more snow. Worked on my poems this morning, finishing one about the clock my grandparents had in Guernsey, which disconcertingly dongs when you pick it up, even though it is not wound and now lives in a box.

I was contacted by my French clients with a brief on some digital work promoting Normandy, which at least is a part of France I have been too. Quite a handy drop of work right now, while it is virtually impossible to get out there and schmooze.

In the evening off to see Lorraine. Walked there, feeling rather adventurous, and grateful for my walking stick with its jabby end, and wore many layers and a fleecy hat and walking boots. Some treacherous stretches, and the ice cracking underfoot, and the snow and air sparkling on the edge of the park.

Really nice evening with Lorraine and Dawn. Dawn brought some mulled wine with her, and we drank this and ate a Christmas pudding and custard. Another little Christmas. A fair amount of enjoyable gossiping. And Lorraine and Dawn giving me lots to think about when we were discussing Skelton Yawngrave, including the possibility of reading it in schools. Also learned this week that Janet was Dawn's tutor when she studied arts management.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

On ice


The media full of snow and an ill conceived attempt to unseat Brown, our hapless Prime Minister. The Brighton streets less lethal than last time, and the snow slushy. Emerging from Tesco Metro I heard a peeping of my name and saw Anna and Klaudia and Oskar. I crossed the road and right away, and rather peskily, Oskar threw some slush in my face. Remarkably well aimed for a three year old. They'd obviously had loads of fun today.


Back in my Twitten, and there was some effort being made by its denizens to clear it, so I got busy with my spade too. Had a nice chat with my trombonist neighbour Mark as we worked. Indoors to a spot of turkey curry, and an episode of Twin Peaks.

Below Royal Pavilion at slushy dusk.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

An evening with Ken and Janet

Working on Guernsey poems today, and I am planning a scoot over to my beloved island later this month (which is gripped in snow today) to see Richard and Jane to talk about our poetry project. Also tinkering with some new poems about the island. It's time to change up a gear with the Guernsey stuff I'm doing. To the gym. A few folks in the virtuous first flush of January. I waddled about for half an hour or so and, if nothing else, felt much warmer.

Supper at Janet and Ken's house. I met Lorraine there. Janet showing us some very good work she is doing with fabrics. She has taken a big step forward. Her latest piece features Canadian rain forest, which Lorraine loved right away due to tree hugging tendencies, and reminded me of the Canadian art I was loving so much last time I went to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The answer to my French malaise was also staring me in the face. Ken is one of those annoying people who can get by in a dozen languages. He has finished a vast project of translating letters written in eighteenth century French. Ken is saying that he will be 80 this year (in November), which is hard to credit. He is a shining example of how keeping an agile brainbox is good for you.

Among other things Janet served a wonderful homemade tiramisu, which became a sudden contender for the list of allowable puddings, currently limited to the holy trinity of bread and butter pudding, apple pie and lemon meringue.

While we indoors eating and chatting, the slushy rain had turned to snow, and Lorraine slithered me down the hill to my Twitten before driving gingerly home. All about Brighton begining to grind to a halt like the rest of England under a few inches of snow.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Undeck the halls of boughs and holly

For many, today is the The Great Monday of the Year. But I just want to get stuck in again, and feel very grateful to have the opportunity to do so.

But first... Spent the day on admin of all kinds: chasing freelance payments (my old agency again), working through emails, hoovering, and taking down the tree and other fripperies of Christmas, with Calliope diving noisily into the bauble bag.

Had a long chat with Matt about This concert will fall in love with you. Both very excited about it. Before the concert I need to start strutting about on stage again. But I feel rusty, and need to get back in the saddle somehow.

Had a much needed quiet night sipping Japanese green tea. Very cold, so I sat on the sofa under a blanket (and a strategically placed Calliope) and started watching my all time favourite drama series Twin Peaks again. Poor Laura Palmer, wrapped in plastic.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The last of Christmas


Talked to Mum, Anton and Janet today. Lorraine thanked mum for the painting she had made of the view down to Moulin Huet. Arranged to see Janet and Ken in the week, and also, gulp, agreed to babysit my godbairns next weekend, which will be an experience.

Lorraine and I off to stroll about town. With the tsunami of work surging towards everyone, we clung onto the last afternoon of the holiday. Stopped for coffee and then decided to eat some lunch at The Basketmakers. On walking into the pub we bumped into Lorraine's ex and his partner, plus Sam. We took over their table when they left, me mincing across the pub on slightly curled toes.

After a hearty meal, we were joined by Matt who happened to be seeing friends nearby, and had a drink with him. He has written the second variation of This concert will fall in love with you, and has now embarked on the third. Will have to start getting my promotional rear in gear for this soon. Exciting stuff, can't wait until we begin reherasals in March. Musing about whether to take it to Edinburgh too... But first things first.

Home later than intended, and with rather more booze on board than I'd bargained for. The stern regime of sensible drinking and meagre eating starts tomorrow. I am entirely ready for it.

Below the sun sets on Christmas, and the Brighton Doughnut.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

An end of indolence

Slugging had to end today. Up early in the sun and off to the supermarket, and then for a much needed haircut. Philosophical feelings about seeing the grey hair in my lap, remembering the black curls of yesteryear. Searching again for the mute button on the barber.

Lorraine and I strolled down by the sea, which was bustling and fun. Eventually we stopped at the cafe, where we shared a hunk of rock cake and had coffees. A clear day and Worthing distinct in the distance.

In the evening off to see Where the wild things are having failed to get into the 3D Avatar. Where the wild things are, is based on the Maurice Sendak book. It's director Spike Jonze says is not a film for children but "a movie about childhood". Some beautiful surrealistic moments and fantasy. But to me it seemed 20 minutes too long,despite only coming in at about 1hr 40mins. But well worth seeing.

Home and a long chat with Toby, who had just returned from Deviation Road which is under thick snow. Telling me about his holiday in St Lucia, floating in the warm sea at sundown.

Below a scene from the beautifully shot Where the wild things are

Friday, January 01, 2010

Indolent

First day of the year, (the cool 01/01/10) spent nursing a hangover and slumping before the TV with Lorraine. It blurted past happily enough with its stream of Dr Who and Gavin and Stacey and a plethora of other instantly forgotten stuff, while grazing on food and sipping teas.