Monday, May 31, 2010

Scree!

More gardening, and Lorraine being her incredibly helpful self, and driving us off with bags of recycling, and purchasing sacks of slate scree, and sharp sand, which can be used as scree. My new garden is taking shape, however. Lorraine working herself to the bone. And I did a good deal of heavy lugging, and saying scree! to myself and Lorraine in a rather manic way.

Weird to spend so much time away from my computer. Like coming off drugs. Talked to Betsy about covers, while buying scree bags. After labouring, and some snoozing I put a chicken in the oven, and had a couple of quick Harveys with Lorraine in the Batty before we ate. Watching a programme on TV about Verdi, which was interesting, what with my new found interest in Opera. Sparked me to think about a piece Matt wants to write for a large choir, and I had an idea. Possibly a good idea.

Lorraine home, me to bed. All well with the world.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gardening with stones

My second entirely computer free day, spent manfully setting about my yard under Lorraine's adult supervision. We cleared sackloads of rubbish, and emptied the storage space outside, which is really an old fashioned outside toilet, which still has a bowl and cistern in it. We are remaking and reshaping the flower bed, and giving it more verticality.

We drove off in the afternoon to the tip, and then to the garden centre where I bought three big pieces of rock, one smooth egg-like piece and two jagged sharpish vertical bits. I almost opted for two smooth egg like stones and one pointy one, but stopped as made it look like some stone phallus. Also some shale and wooden edging for the beds. Lots of carrying of heavy things all day.

Bumping into folks today as we were about our business. Janet and Ken by the station buying a ticket to see his grandkids, one or two of my neighbours, and a new friend Guy at the Garden centre. I really like living in a town were I can meet people in a way that rarely happens in London.

After this up the hill to see Anton and Anna and the bairns for a bit of a barbecue and a relaxed and chilled evening, eating some yummy food and chatting. Teasing Klaudia by picking up and "reading" a story about her having to go to sleep, in five different variations.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Basketmakers

A bank holiday weekend, and naturally nothing but the wild rain hosing down on Brighton. Lorraine and I went to see her Bulgarian friend Romina, who had two newish sofas to sell as she is moving to Switzerland. We were given slices of cake and cups of tea and had a really nice chat. Romina's son Vas was a superconfident 14 who from his own account is a gifted drummer, and Michael Jackson devotee. They are moving to Switzerland soon.

Out into the rain, and from there to the cozy Basketmakers where we met Matt and John for some grub and a few beers. A jolly good time. We got talking about Mark Bassey, one of my neighbours who is a trombone player. Turns out that he is a big hero of Matt's so I will try to arrange a meeting. Matt very pleased that Mark had come to our show.

Home and snoozing on the sofa, woken by a new neighbour called Merlin wanting to borrow some kitchen scales.

Then watching the enjoyably awful Eurovision Song Contest. The UK entrant was justifiably last. The unknown 19 year old sang it well, but the song he'd been given was quite possibly the direst drivel I've ever heard. Meanwhile the German 19 year old sang a very English sounding song in English and won easily.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The countdown begins

Was phoned by Catriona asking me to do some more work for the Guernsey Arts Commission, which is rather good, promoting Guernsey's first ever Literary Festival. Chats too with Richard and Betsy. Brilliantly, Richard has played a blinder, and secured a splendid venue The Glasshouse bang on the front in St Peter Port for our book launch.

The official book launch day is 1st July, but we hope to have sold a few by then. All good. Meanwhile Betsy beavering on the book cover, and me still tinkering with one poem. But the countdown has definitely begun.

Off to the gym again, feeling Butch and Manly on the hulklegs machine. After a while Butch and Manly asked me to stop (arf). Am definitely feeling better about my corporeal being for being back in the gym.

A quiet night, Lorraine out with her girls watching Sex in the City 2 at the Duke of York Theatre. Apparently tripe, but they had fun anyway. Afterwards Lorraine came back to my place, and we went to bed amid hideous yowls and crashings as Calliope flung herself vertically at a large moth.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jersey

Up early to finish off some work for the lovely French clients. Then long chats with Richard and Betsy about the book cover. A nice surprise as Sophie emailed to say she has already talked to some folks at BBC radio about the This concert shows, and is now following up. Crikey. Would be cool bananas to get the show on radio.

Up the hill to babysit Klaudia and Oskar. They are adorable. Looked at a book about swinging monkeys with Oskar, and then read chapter 13 of a book by Enid Blyton called The Faraway Tree, while having Barney the green dinosaur lovingly squished on my head by Klaudia. Once read to and told to sleep, they kept getting up, and I had to be stern with them to make them stay in bed.

Anton came back from London after a couple of days being schmoozed by his agency. We hung out chatting for a while, and he told me that they were going to Jersey for their summer holiday. Jersey!?! It is hard to type about this. I am full of turbulent emotions.

Then home talking to Lorraine on the phone, who is feeling a tad down in the mouth and overworked. Me, I simply went to bed early listening to The girl who played with fire audiobook.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Roll over Metivier

Calliope, no respecter of late nights, sprang onto my pillow, and dragged me from sleep hideously early. Once up, I lurched about working on bits and pieces, making and labelling a map of Guernsey for the centre of the book, as well as tinkering with poems. Then made off to the gym, which livened me up somewhat. This recent gym bout has made my trousers seem a bit looser.

Betsy has some great thoughts for the cover of A Guernsey Double. Much relieved by this, as I couldn't see the wood for the trees on it any more. Amused by Richard writing: "Really excited about the Double. We are the new kids on the block. Roll over Metivier, tell old Corbet the news!" referring to Guernsey poets of the 19th century.

Another night blamelessly sipping mineral water and teas, and enjoying this picture of a marine blobfish, from Practical Fishkeeping.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A telescope

More unspeakable nightmares. No idea why any more. Spent the morning working, and then broke off to have an eye test. Nice man who spoke a mangled ophthalmologist's language. I've written extensive websites about eye health, but found him hard to follow. The upshot, as far as I could tell, was that my peepers are no better or worse than last time. This was something of a result as I didn't have to buy new ones. Spectacles I mean, not eyes, that would be grotesque.

Met Randolph for an overdue and rather jocular coffee this afternoon. Good to talk to a fellow writer, and hear about the ordeal of getting his new play staged, makes all my projects sound like a walk in the park. We got to talking about the comedies of the election, and literary quarrels where he told me about Dostoevskyand Turgenev. This from the New York Review of Books:

Dostoevsky quarreled with Turgenev because they resented his “foreign” leanings and habits. Meeting in Baden-Baden, Dostoevsky told him that if he was trying to write about Russia he had better buy a telescope. “A telescope,” said the startled Turgenev. “What for?” “Because Russia is a great distance from here. Train your telescope upon Russia and it will not be difficult to see us distinctly.”


Miaow. And I hope people won't say this about me in Guernsey.

And on that note, Charlotte my next door neighbour's sister who frequently stays, says that her little dog is afraid of Calliope, who apparently provokes it every chance she gets.

Early evening, met Lorraine on the seafront, tracking each other down using our phones, while I adopted a loping walk to be noticed. Strolled about happily, and stood looking out to sea on a groyne, watching a fisherman about his lugwormy business. Very relaxing, despite the seafront being full of furiously exercising people, and footballing fatties who looked like a Beryl Cook people. Drove off to pick up Beth, where Lorraine got an appalling road rage at a woman who nipped into the car parking space she had earmarked.

Home and got sucked into a much-needed revamp of my personal site, which I have neglected somewhat. Spoke to Sophie half way through the evening, who fortunately hadn't been appalled by my gargling of ouzo like a thirsty sailor. I didn't mention the ghastly toilet door business.

Then I worked for a bit, until it was suddenly 2:20am. D'oh.

Below Beryl Cook people.

Monday, May 24, 2010

And so on

Humiliation dreams: people laughing at the badness of my writing. This blinking book is playing on my subconscious. Up early and working on some copy for Catriona about next year's literary festival in Guernsey. Fortunately she liked it a lot.

Then I wrote a front cover design brief for Betsy, and went to the gym and sweated somewhat. In the afternoon chatted to Betsy for an hour or so about designs, and sent her poems and photos, and laughing about her new relationship with a fellow designer, and imagining the conversations they have about interesting ampersands.

Made some time to look at my poems and spotted two or three howlers. Spotting howlers at such a late stage is uncomfortable to say the least.

Nice chat with Toby tonight, and with Lorraine, and watched a bit of football. Otherwise all quiet, spoke to a couple of neighbours, and apart from nodding pleasantly at the three young dealers hanging about at the end of the Twitten, kept myself to myself.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spellbound

Feeling shabby this morning due to ouzo excesses. Compounded by Mason and Mum getting up at seven thinking that Lorraine had told them she wanted to get up at this time. There must be something in the stars.

A breakfast of crumpets and much gulping of coffee followed by a lurch about in the garden. Another beautiful day. Mum gave me a painting of Diana Yellyface, the death's head moth Skelton Yawngrave character. This will prove useful when I go to another school next month. A long hot drive home not listening to Chris Squire. Half of southern England decided it wanted to visit Brighton today, so the roads were very busy on the way home. Lorraine's arm caught the sun through the car window.

A quiet and reflective afternoon. Calliope pleased to see me, running half the length of the twitten miaowing at me happily. I paused to stroke it and say my usual cat endearments, at which I heard a snickering from behind my neighbour's fence.

A really watchable BBC documentary today on Salvador Dali, in which I learned lots. Chiefly that the rocky coastline near where he lived is full of such crazy shapes (e.g. a crocodile and a rhinoceros, and upside down human faces) that he was constantly drawn to them for inspiration, and based the compositions of his paintings directly on them.

Used to have a postcard of The Metamorphosis of Narcissus on my wall as a kid and was rather fascinating. There is something so clear about his work. They had a clip of Hitchcock, who'd chosen Dali to direct the dream sequence of a film called Spellbound which I have never seen, saying that dreams were clear, and the then Hollywood convention of showing them as being blurry was all wrong.

Below an image from the dream sequence of Spellbound.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sophie's party

Drove north with Lorraine through a hot central London to attend Sophie's party, while forcing her to listen to Chris Squire's mighty Fish out of Water as well as Amadou and Mariam's classic Dimanche à Bamako. Lorraine less keen on the 1970s prog for some reason.

We arrived at least two hours before the party started. As I had independently decided it started at 3 o'clock, rather than the actual start time of 8pm. Sophie and Andros kind enough to take this in their stride. But it gave me a chance to talk to Sophie's parents who also arrived early, and who I had not seen for about 25 years. Sophie's father almost completely unchanged. A splendid party and a few people I'd not seen for the same amount of time. Good to see Christof and Electra, Christof funny as ever, and Electra at 12 turning, seemingly overnight, into a young woman. Lots of lovely food too. Christof trying to make me do "the bear", which is some sort of impression I did several years ago, but apparently is still remembered fondly in North London.

Appallingly though, I failed to lock the door properly in the downstairs toilet. This was opened vigorously and I was displayed about my labours to half a dozen people nearby, a fact which, even as I type this, makes me want to bury my face in my hands and groan in horror.

I also drank too much, and discovered a bottle of ouzo towards the end of the night, which I persistently enjoyed. Lorraine then drove us to Mum and Mason's place, with me offering helpful directional advice and playing Chris Squire. Lorraine has the patience of a saint. Home to share various opinions with Mum and Mase before boofing into bed.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cover story

A beautiful day. However I had a frustrating few hours getting nowhere on the cover for A Guernsey Double. Late in the afternoon I called Betsy, who has to my relief agreed to contribute some starry and stripy design elegance, and a fresh set of eyes. Talking to Catriona in Guernsey this morning, who has asked me to do some copy for the literary festival next year.

Otherwise, I sloped off to the gym where I had slightly more energetic workout than yesterday. And repaired one of the poems which had fallen apart after I'd been tinkering with it a couple of days ago. If the poems are like a set of teeth, one rotten one will ruin the whole smile, but I'm hoping I've fixed it.

Calliope bit me hard this morning as I was taking too long to get ready. She jumped repeatedly onto forbidden kitchen surfaces, shredded a toilet roll, and crept into the drier and made a nest there for an hour, coating all my clean clothes in hair. This punctuated with her going outside and rolling about fetchingly in the Twitten for people to coo at as they pass.

At 5.00pm repaired to the Battle of Trafalgar's garden to sun myself, and sipping a cold beer, and finally having a moment to look at Mario's book i tulips -- it seems excellent and just as I was settling in some unbelievably noisy people nearby made it impossible to hear myself think. A little later, Lorraine joined me for another cold beer in the hot sun, then we sloped back to her place and, lassoing Beth and Mark, went for a curry, after what was their last day at school, as they only have to go in now to sit their A level exams.

Lorraine and I both dead tired. To bed at 10.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Perking up

Pep and manly vigour gradually seeping back today. Went to the gym, for a cautious session listening to my audiobook. Managed to keep cool when new French employee of French client sent back my copy saying she had "improved" it for me. Fiddled with the layout of a Guernsey Double, also a few urgent last minute tweaks to the poems, and some detailed emails back and forth with Richard. We share a determination to make A Guernsey Double be the best it can possibly be.

After work met Matt in the Basketmakers for a bite to eat, a few beers and a general wash up meeting. Overall pleased with the reception of This concert. There are many next steps, and a variety of projects on the table: taking This concert on the road with Tacet, writing a new piece for the Rainbow Chorus, and working on an Opera. Oh and we are going to put on another show in October. As ever we seem quite in tune, and both keen to press on.

I feel very lucky at the moment!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A glowing endorsement

Edward Chaney sent me his introduction to A Guernsey Double. Towards the end he says, which has pleased Richard and I no end: "Not since the extraordinarily poetic Book of Ebenezer Le Page has a single volume made the soul of the island so unremittingly its focus".

This is rather fab. Richard sent the quote back to me in a note simply because he wanted to type it out.

Otherwise shattered and somewhat achy, making work arduous. Luckily the work for my lovely French client is for a website designed to encourage Brits to visit France to glug wine. Not the most challenging assignment.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Photos and poems

Big steps forward with A Guernsey Double, Richard and I are close to agreeing a cover. I took myself out to the magic cafe in the afternoon and worryingly found about five things that needed to be fixed in the poems. The perspective of not looking at them properly for a couple of weeks. But I am comforted by WH Auden who said something to the effect that he never finished a poem, only abandoned it.

Also popped in to see Adrian Turner's photos in an exhibition in Kensington Gardens in the laines. His seascape photos look fantastic at a larger scale.

Lorraine came by this evening, and we occupied the gold sofa and did nothing, which was almost perfect as I am feeling under the weather.

Below some shots by Jane Wrin of This Concert will fall in love with you Matt conducting, Glen on piano, Adam on vibraphone, Ellie on violin, me, and Tom on marimba. Lorraine third from the left singing.







Monday, May 17, 2010

Down to earth

Come down today from the high of last week & feeling about 90. Performing takes a lot out of me, which is why I am so fab at it ;-). Grrr, though. Some malfunction with the camera meant, typically, there is no film of the event, but there should be recordings and photos coming through soon. Meeting Matt later in the week to discuss next steps. The whole thing went far too well to let it lie.

Reflecting on the show for much of the day. I am really pleased with how it went, especially on Friday. It's good to realise I've still got it on stage, because I have to stretch back to pre-blog days before I did any significant performances. Seem to have rediscovered my performing passion, which is just in time for the book launch. All good.

Up in the morning and working on some French stuff, then fiddling with covers for A Guernsey Double, and doing things like airbrushing masts from photos of the already annoyingly suave and photogenic Richard Fleming. More work through from Les Français for later in the week, which is great. All well.

Call from Anton, who explained how he liked my poems the other day. In fact more keen to discuss poems than football, which is a first. Spoke to Lorraine who is tired too.

And so to bed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Marimba magic

Woke up after an hour our so and spent quite a bit of the night overtired, with my brain churning. Consequently was still exhausted and braindead today. Managed to go to some local open houses with Lorraine and her parents. Mostly tripe, but in one I saw some not for sale works in the house owner's private collection by Jim haldane. They were fantastic. Am going to find out more.

Maureen cooked us a nice roast dinner, and that was me zombied. Slept some of the afternoon, and then Lorraine and I went to see a gig by Adam and Tom, the percussion duo who had powered This Concert...

Great to be able to watch them without having to think about lots of other stuff. They were hugely enjoyable, and towards the end they also played Matt's Weelkes Despatched which sounded great. They rounded off their set with a storming Nagoya Marimba, a marimba duet by Steve Reich. Adam said Japan is full of wonderful marimba players. Completely uncharacteristically, Adam lost his line in it and they had to start again. This added to the drama of what was a kicking piece, and the audience completely loved it. Lorraine, Glen and I slipped away after their set, only to find an aghast-looking Adam outside, thinking he'd blown it. Curiously however it only made the performance more powerful.


L and I sat next to Glen Capra, and I walked some of the way home with him, after Lorraine left. Turns out his sister used to go out with Doctor Spacetoad. It is a small world. Arriving home I downloaded Nagoya Marimba, and while a fine version, it wasn't as kickass as Tom and Adam's version.

Below Tom Norrell and Adam Bushell.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Aftermath

An early rise, hung over but happy. Shaila, Lakshmi, Lorraine and I all got up and drank tea. Then went to Bills where we were joined by Andros and Sophie, and Sam for a long and rather funny breakfast, despite moments of feeling like death warmed over. Feeling very rich and lucky in my friends. Afterwards fond farewells to all, a quick shower and out again, locating L's parents eating sadwiches on a bench in the middle of town on New Road. Lorraine and I went back to her house where I watched the first half of the FA Cup final which Chelsea won, making it almost a perfect week by winning the double.

Then collected by the angelic Dawn and driven to Jan's house in Worthing, where she had a proper English barbecue with rain and sausages. However it was a fine time, marred only by the fact I was roundly exhausted, and faced by a man talking to me about recylcing bathroom tiles, found it impossible to locate any words to reply with. Dawn drove Lorraine and I back to her place, where we watched TV companionably with her parents, and I managed to watch the repeat of the FA cup before slouching off to bed ready for twenty centuries of stony sleep.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last night of the This Concert run

Up early, having been gleefully bounced by Calliope. Cups of Joyful Cliff Path coffee with Mum and Mas this morning. Then they went for a walk around town and I seemed to be on the phone half the morning. Had lunch at the Sussex Yeoman with Mum, Mas, Pat, Maureen and Beth and Mark. I had one of their tasty but enormous hamburgers that sits in the stomach like a stone. Everyone got on well, and it was generally fun.

After Mum and Mas left, I grew increasingly nervous about this evening. There were so many friends in the audience that I hid myself away emerging only to perform. It had the potential to be like a scene from a nightmare, where friends from all stages of my life were to witness a humiliation.

Luckily, however, it was a storming night despite one of the sopranos, having to be replaced at the last moment by Matt's composer friend Nikki. We biffed into This concert with some style. The only blot on my landscape was that my purple cummerbund slid down about my ankles. Only thinking about writing about it in this blog prevented me falling apart with laughter. At the end of the piece I have to stagger into the audience, snatch a rose from the vase and dash it to the floor and bellow "remember me" into the dark before striding away. I managed to step rather elegantly out of it the purple silk noose around my ankles while the music was still playing.

There were about 70 people there tonight, and we got a standing ovation from them at the end. Much, much happier with how it went tonight. Afterwards able to chat to people, and we went to the Brighton Tavern for an aftershow party. Anton, Anna, Brian and First Matie were there. Lots of my new Brighton friends, plus Pat and his wife, Sophie and Andros, Fraser and Sarah, Matty boy and Craig, Mindy and her sister Lucy and her boyfriend, Shaila, Lakshmi and Betsy all travelled from London or further to see the gig.

A very lively night in the Tavern followed, with me having my 15 minutes of fame. I'd chosen to walk to the pub on my own from the church just to get my head together, and entered to some applause. A great night, and chatted briefly to lots of folks. Shaila dancing on the tables somewhat. Back home rather in my cups, with Lorraine, Shaila and Lakshmi, eating disgraceful chips and worse, and then to bed by 3.00am.

Below caught my reflection pacing about nervously in a rehearsal room.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This concert day two

Began to get an insight into the lives of proper show folk. The day is a hinterland of the night, and it was difficult to achieve much. Managed to grab a cat nap with Calliope on the gold sofa. Mum and Mas arrived in the afternoon, and I had a quick soft drink with them in the Yeoman before going back to the Church. Janet and Ken, Mum and Mas, Lorraine's folks Pat and Maureen plus Randolph and a few other friends in the audience, which had grown by another dozen or so from yesterday. And Bob was there at the back beaming support.

Didn't feel quite in the zone tonight -- slightly too relaxed and a bit flat. The first half poems went well again -- Our song the last of the poems about love is proving a good performance piece.

Slightly disconcerted by the opening theme of This concert which fell apart a bit, and sounded rather nice, if not exactly the music we were supposed to be playing. However the performance after this went pretty smoothly. And there were some standing applause at the end. I wasn't as happy with my reading tonight, but Matt and Adam reassured me afterwards that it was fine.

I am absolutely loving being in a show again. I love all the backstage business, hearing Ellie tuning up her violin, the choir warming up, having Beth, who is incredibly reassuring and efficient, tucking in the purple frills of my costume and quietly production managing the show.

After packing away, off to the nearest pub, for a very altogethery post show gargle with performers and audience. Mum and Janet having a good chat, Bob talking to Maureen, Mas talking to Pat, Ken buttonholing Adam, just a really nice evening out. Bob, Mum and Mas and I floated back down the hill and drank tea at home, before Bob left, Mum and Mas went to bed and I boofed out greatfully on my sofa being too shattered to bother sorting out my futon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

This concert will fall in love with you

The first night -- sorry the world premiere -- tonight. Off to the gym this morning, and a long steadying chat with Richard. This followed by some sustained faffing before Lorraine and Beth pulled up at the end of the Twitten, and I loaded my stuff into their car.

Then setting up the venue, moving the piano, chairs, Tom and Adam assembling their marimba and vibraphone, people dressing up. Beth and Mark being invaluable fixing clothes and stands and microphones for me. Lorraine as usual seeming to be key to organising everything. The only thing downside was that the venue was cold. We hadn't bargained for the chilliest May temperatures in years.

Tonight was always going to be the quiet night in terms of attendance, so there were only a little over thirty people. Was pleased to see Mark (who I've known since I was 11) and his wife Carol. Also pleasantly surprised to see Alex and Jen from next door, and Cath who snapped some of the shots below.

First half went well, Glen playing two gorgeous piano pieces by Lizst, and him and Ellie on violin playing Elgar's Salut d'amour, which seemed especially apt. Then Nikki Cassidy's composition You may want to be here played by Adam and Tom on percussion. Nikki was there, and is a big pal of Matt's. Lovely stuff, thoughtful and reflective. Then I biffed on and read three poems, which I read well, to surprisingly warm applause. Then Adam and Tom played Matt's Weelkes Despatched piece, which is lovely. Then we moved into the two madrigals, with Lorraine singing alto and looking sweet.

Interval, I added my top hat and purple frills, and we biffed into "This concert..." Yikes this was it. Fluent, powerful performance from Tacet, and I benefited from having a microphone at last, so that I could add more colour and dynamics to the words. Hanging on greedily to Matt for cues in the difficult parts. It seems to me to be a great melodrama, and me seizing the rose I'd placed in the audience and dashing it to the floor at the end. Some standing applause at the end.

Massive surge of relief that it had gone well, and that I hadn't screwed up. Funnily enough I didn't feel too nervous. I think playing as part of an ensemble makes you feel more supported. Really happy with how it went.

Now have got to try to make it go well tomorrow too.

After defrocking, off to the nearest pub for a couple of cheekies with everyone. Then home after scoring a despicable late night bag of chips.

Below on stage, Matt and me about to take applause (I'm looking at Matt because I don't understand how classical musicians bow) and me backstage sporting my Victorian melodrama kit. Note excruciating pointy shoes, and a hat which divided people.





Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Portly Prince

To Specsavers to get my reading glasses bent back into shape, after I sat on about a year ago. Can't believe it has taken me so long. Put into a fury today by a person unknown, who parked their rucksack in my front garden crushing loads of plants. I hurled it venemously down the Twitten, and when I returned from Specsavers it was gone.

To the costume shop again, where I met Beth who helped me, with the excellent Jessica, sort out some remarkable purple and black clothes for the concert. A 100 year old black silk top hat with purple filly band, black tails, purple waistcoat, some species of purple frilly cravat, pointed shoes, and a cummerbund. Suave, like a large portly version of Prince.

Then Beth and I off to Sussex University for the final rehearsal with the Tacet Ensemble and the choir. All went fairly well, I think. Though I was not using a microphone, which I will do at the concert, so was always at the top of my voice, which meant I lost some of the colouring. All seemed happy enough with me, which was fine. The choir now singing beautifully, and the madrigals in the first half were splendid. Lorraine drove us and Matt back to her neck of the woods, where we had a bite to eat and a glass of beer in The Signalman, before going our separate ways.

Spoke to Edward Chaney today, who is perhaps still most well known as GB Edwards' literary executor. Edwards wrote The Book of Ebenezer Le Page. Edward discussing what to put in his introduction to A Guernsey Double. He read me some out, which seemed to be a survey of the current state of western culture. We decided it may need focusing on Guernsey again.

Meanwhile Wheeling and dealing concluded. We have a new Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, fronting up a Tory Liberal coalition. Brown has also resigned as leader of the Labour Party.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A joyful path

A cup of Joyful cliff path, Guernsey ground coffee, today while working on Richard's poems. Getting quite excited now. It is feeling like a real book now, and is packed with, excuse me, some damn fine poems. A glitch in the file, however, and it was some hours before I could persuade Adobe that I wasn't writing in Korean.

Gym again: and more gas in the tank. Spent the afternoon muttering and barking my lines. Calliope knocking over a wastepaper bin and watching me intently from inside it, before persistently trying to sit on the score. Is she trying to tell me something? I responded by tightening up the middle section. Feeling happy: the idea of music haunted by a spirit that possesses it, and pleads to be loved is very different, and exciting.

Matt came around at tea time clutching a big tin of heart-shaped biscuits prepared by his friend Guido, before zooming off to his conducting job with the Rainbow Chorus. We are going to offer the biscuits to attendees.

Lots of phone chats today. It seems many friends are attending the show, which intersperses my quiet calm with butterflies the size of death's head moths. Talked to Anton about football, in which he has lately lost interest. Mum who says Mas has a bad back provoked by lifting beds, under which assorted species of wildlife had bolted, having been introduced into the house by Salty their cat. Also my lovely French client.

All this against a backdrop of all kinds of undignified wheeling and dealing, and the effort to establish a UK Government. I've never seen anything like it, certainly in my adult life. Gordon Brown signalled his resignation, which was the barrier to a Lib-Lab pact. Suddenly the Liberal party which had been flirting with the Conservatives, has turned its attentions to Labour, and it was revealed they had been playing footsie under the table all along. Fascinating stuff.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Blue heaven

After breakfast, to the gym for more gentle trundling. So hideously unfit and overweight at the moment. Later, pushed through a door decorated with Myleene Klass's boobies to buy some sensible black trousers in M&S, prompted by the show.

In the afternoon Lorraine and I off to a bluebell wood, having stopped en route at a garden centre where we bought a large artificial rose. Once in the wood, it was surprisingly cold, and overcast, but it was a beautiful interlude. A carpet of bluebells in swathes of misty violet blue. Lorraine pausing to hug a tree as usual. A happy hour spent wandering here. Shortly before we were leaving, treading quietly in the wood, a big buck rabbit blundered through the undergrowth about ten feet away, followed by a large red fox in hot pursuit. An amazing sight, but also a weird intrusion of a life and death struggle over the heavenly carpet.

Then Lorraine drove me home where I discovered that Chelsea were winning their must win final game by a thumping seven-nil, which later became eight-nil. Anton texting me that I owe him a curry. (A tradition that goes back to a Man U thumping of Chelsea in the 1994 FA cup final). All well in the world.

Below Chelsea win the league. Bluebells and Lorraine tree hugging as usual.











Saturday, May 08, 2010

Friller

Hideous nightmares: tsunamis.

After breakfast was taken by Beth with Lorraine to Masquerade Costumes. Here for half an hour or so tried on various clothes, under the tutelage of a decisive woman called Jessica. Dressing for This Concert -- a Victorian theme so a black jacket with tails, a Top Hat with purple lace, and whorl of purple frills around my neck, and some species of purple cummerbund. This seemed to me to be an appalling gut sling, but the others seemed to think it was okay.

I was wearing light chinos at the time, and was handed a pair of black trousers to see how much better I'd look in black. These were black Lycra dancing pants, into which I dutifully changed. I glanced at myself in the mirror, top hatted, befrilled and puffed up, with nastily crotch hugging stretchy black stuff, and thin legs dangling below. When I opened the cubical door, Lorraine, Beth and Jessica greeted the Max Wall spectacle with quite a lot of laughter.

However, the lady in the shop is going to come to the show, put a poster up in the shop, and will give us a discount, which is all a result.

L and I back to my house to feed Calliope. Then an SOS call from John to go to the Basketmakers. Matt was supposed to be in Edinburgh, as one of his oldest friends was getting married and he was best man, and had written the wedding theme. He got the first train out of Brighton to go to Gatwick, on board were a gang of crazed lads who were starting fights. They were about to attack the ticket conductor when Matt intervened and got punched hard in the sternum and completely winded. Someone pulled the emergency cord and spoke to the driver. The train then stopped at the nearest station, was boarded by the police. Matt and others got off to give statements, and receive medical treatment. The thugs all arrested. But this meant that Matt missed his plane to Scotland by five minutes. Shaken he then zoomed up to Kings Cross in London, getting a taxi across London to try to get a train to be there in time for the wedding, and missed this by minutes too.

Somewhat shaken, he arrived back in the Basketmakers where he was given a whiskey on the house. John, Lorraine and I whiled away Saturday afternoon with him. Matt soon in good spirits, despite his ordeal. Evening spent snoozing on the gold sofa with Lorraine.

Below the cosy and healing interior of The Basketmakers Arms on a Saturday afternoon.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Morning after

The Election resulted in a widely predicted hung parliament, though slightly short of the workable majority I thought the Tories would get. All politicians looking exhausted. God knows what's going to happen now. A Liberal Conservative pact, is the early indication. In my Brighton Pavilion constituency the UK's first Green MP, Caroline Lucas, was elected.

I had some more French work to do first thing, which I started very early and was done by mid morning. Gingerly, and rather exhuastedly, off to the gym again where I am now listening to my iPod audiobook while on the hulk legs machine, and then home via the printer to view the proofs for the words for This Concert which I am having fairly cheaply printed in a limited edition of 100 to sell next week.

In the afternoon, laying out Richard's poems for A Guernsey Double. Some absolutely gorgeous work in here, and I am proud to be sharing the book with him. More on this in the next few weeks.

Fairly drained by the end of the day. It has been a demanding week -- and not helped by staying up late last night. Went around to Lorraine's local curry house with L and Beth. Had a good laugh with both discussing costumes, and enjoying the fact that they were making a list of things that needed to be sorted for the show out over the poppadoms. Made me feel taken care of, which is a very nice thing.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Election day

Broke off early to vote. Returning from the polling station, I passed one of my Twitten neighbours who asked me if I'd voted. I said, yes, but that none of them deserved it. And he said he was off to choose the best of a bad bunch. Hardly startling, but the kind of conversation I suspect was played out a million times around the country. The reputation of politicians has utterly nose dived in this country in the last year.

In my constituency of Brighton Pavilion, the leading candidates were Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green party, and Nancy Platts for Labour. I overcame my Brown nausea to vote for Labour, tribal loyalties proving impossible to overcome. But I am sympathetic to the Greens too, and Lucas has had an enormous amount of publicity lately, and seems a competent politician and likely to become Britain's first Green MP. Not that that is any kind of recommendation. Contacted twice by wild eyed Labour canvassers during the day, which clearly means it is tight.

Otherwise my day spent slogging on a pitch. Broken only by a few calls, and Matt calling around. He is conducting the Rainbow Chorus tonight, and tomorrow night. Tried to get a ticket but they were in the enviable situation of having sold out. Calliope loves Matt and flirts with him constantly when we are here. Matt took a couple of hundred flyers cat-rubbed flyers to leave on tonight's seats.

Remembered it was Carl's birthday and texted him, wishing he was near enough to take out for a pig's ear or two. Finished work at 7:30 and zoomed off to Sainsburys and then settled down eventually with a can of beer to watch the election coverage. A wave of third world mayhem at the polling booths. One actually ran out of voting slips, dozens of others closed the doors on queues of angry voters unable to be processed before the 10pm deadline. Police were called, some stations were occupied by sit ins. Unprecedented chaos, which hit so many constituencies that it practically invalidated the election in my opinion.

Cyber chat with Mandy in NZ about the election on my Crackberry while sitting on my sofa. Technology is an amazing thing.

As predicted, the Tories doing much better this time, and eventually at 1.00am I sloped to bed feeling depressed about Labour's failure to prevent the Tory kraken rising up from its abyssal depths. Bah.

Below the Tories return.



Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Post 2000

Blogger tells me that this is the two thousandth time I have described a day in this blog. Amazing what a habit it has become.

Up early working on the pitch all day for my lovely French client. Also managed to sort out the printer for the libretto, went to the gym, and attended to many chores.

Richard has now sent me his poems too, so we are inching closer day by day to getting it all sorted. One very nice thing, was back in touch with Mario Petrucci, an old poetry friend who is now rather famous in poetry circles. And we hope to link up again soon, Mario saying we should do a reading together which would be cool bananas.

In the evening escaped my screen and made off to meet Lorraine. We had a quick drink, and I had a bowl of asparagus soup in a pub called the Open House. Both rather exhausted. Matt phoned, and we have the microphone sorted now for the concert, this is good as this was definitely in my top ten gig worries list. Home, and brain dead. Feel like I have been out on the campaign trail. And on that note, odd to see how much Gordon Brown has woken up in the last few days. Gone is the cadaverous gurning, and replaced with a fiery outrage. Too late of course. The general election tomorrow, and it is genuinely hard to call. But I'd be amazed if the Tories didn't get a squeakily narrow parliamentary majority.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A happy worker

First several hours work for my lovely French client, and also given a brief for a new job to do over the next few days. Chatting to Jeanne was difficult due to the hammering and drilling going on in her office, till it emerged that it had been burgled over the long weekend.

After the French work finished, I finalised the a press release and programme with Matt. I sent the press release off to the local paper and radio. Also sussed out a printer nearby to print my words for This Concert. These will be available at the concerts in a signed limited edition of 100. Then down to the Brighton Tavern to put up a poster. Home to write invites, and lay out the libretto booklet before I get it printed.

Chatting to Randolph today, who I'll meet for a coffee later in the week. Also to Lorraine, and to Mum who told me an appalling story about Salty bringing a live rat into their bedroom, which then ran up mum's trouser leg, and was later carried struggling out into the garden in a towel, before making off into the dark.

Also spoke to Richard, who was croaky but happy to be back with Jane in Guernsey. And to Jane who gave me some feedback on my poems. It's all good to go, and Richard sending me his final selections. A Guernsey Double will arrive kicking and screaming later this month. This month is a personal landmark.

Monday, May 03, 2010

An idyll of England

Lorraine and I went off to Southease to visit First Matie today, and mooch about the village green where plants were being sold on stands. We all came away with some, and repaired to the Abergavenny Arms for a fast drink. Puffin vastly entertaining and mostly seems to be legs. People loving her in the village. It whines when Kate is out of sight.

Home early. Lorraine home to have a girly posse, and me to pot two pelargoniums with gorgeous leaves and brood on the million things to be done next week.

Below the scene on the green. Almost idyllically English. Puffin's nose. And a beautiful garden owned by a nice man called Adrian, who first Matie introduced me to.




























Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hexing

More football hexing from Anton this morning. "Hi mate just wanted to be the first to congratulate you today you will be deserved champions well done." A policy which dates back to this moment, when he prematurely "congratulated" me just before John Terry slipped over in the mud, missing a penalty which cost Chelsea victory in the European Champions League cup final against Anton's unspeakable Manchester United.

Bank holiday weekend... So naturally teeming with rain all day. Lorraine a little under the weather. I went back home for a bit to feed Calliope, do some work, and go to the gym. Rather underpowered even by my currently underpowered standards, and felt rather worn out afterwards.

Steady rain all day. Guiltily abandoning poor Calliope, and L and I went to Sainsbury's and then back to her place to pot plants, and eat roast chicken and become installed on the sofa to watch Hellboy, Del Toro's superhero film, on TV. Full of his splendid touches. Looking forward to his version of The Hobbit when it it comes out.

Then the glory of Match of the Day. Watching Chelsea win their penultimate and trickiest game against Liverpool. Manchester United won too, but if Chelsea win their last game against lowly Wigan they are Champions, whatever United do. Anton unaccountably bitter when I tapped a friendly text to him this afternoon.

Sank into Lorriane's tempur mattress with some glee tonight.

Below Hellboy. An acceptable Red Devil.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Sizing up the venue

Up fairly early working on stuff and things. Lorraine went off to watch the children's parade, then came back at lunchtime. I was working with Matt, and we put the final touches to the programme notes. Then to the venue with Lorraine. We met Beth who is going to stage manage and be an experienced directorial eye (I have complete confidence in her. She and Mark have been in more productions already at the age of 18 than I have had piping hot dinners).

Walked around the Church again, and decided to alter where we are going to place ourselves. Turns out Glen Capra had just been giving a recital in there of piano music in the main part of the church (he is also in the Tacet Ensemble). He said that due to the cavernous acoustics he had to slow down some of the fast parts, so that individual notes could be heard. Our concert is in the older part of the church, with different acoustics. We spoke to Phillip who is director of music, and he has music stands with lights on we can use, which is fab and means I will be able to see the score (number 6 or 7 on my worry list).

Then back home to finalise some more bits on my computer, then out to the Basketmakers where we three met John, and then Tanya (Matt's pal who is singing alto with Lorraine) and her partner Catherine. Much talking about the imminent election, amid general gossip. Decided in advance on a restrained drinking policy, and we paused fairly soberly on the way back to Lorraine's house for a meal. Then much needed snooze.

Anton, who Lorraine had met earlier in the day, sending football-based hexes at me.

Below walked past this woman making a phone call and simply snapped her.