Awake unnecessarily early. Made the best of it by getting on right away with some French work. Writing about spas in Southern France was a refreshing change from blood clots. After, I made chicken and vegetable soup and bought bread and looked blearily at my backlog of correspondence and admin and decided that I wasn't man enough for the job. Apart from a note to Richard and one or two other bits, I did nothing.
Instead I slept peacefully for more than two hours in the afternoon and read the paper. Absolute luxury.
Early evening, I met Matt in The Basketmakers. We made something of a breakthrough in the doubles project and we are now clearer about how it should be staged, we're thinking lots of mirrors and splintered reflections, the instruments to be used etc. Will do it in next year's festival, and we are going to look at venues this weekend. Matt wanting to get home and start writing, which was good to see.
Less worthily, I took myself for a plate of MSG in a Chinese restaurant. Came home and ate a chicken sandwich out of a weird sort of comfort eating.
Sorrowful about how I have got fat again thanks to gluttony, bad health and no time. I am resolved to turn the tide, and take care of myself. I'm starting tomorrow.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Train hopping to get to Brentford this morning, not far from where I once lived in Chiswick and Kew. Went to a vast office building owned by a major pharmaceutical company, to present concepts with The French Bloke, Lucy and Anne.
After trailing about the perimeter trying to find the entrance, I entered a typical high end pharmaceutical building: running water, trees, coloured glass set into the floor, canvas shapes hung in the air, and its own shops and cafes. Making medicines is big, big, business.
The presentation itself, however, challenging and protracted. I presented to clients physically present in the room, and other cliques dotted about the globe who had a variety of opinions and weren't afraid to use them. In fact one woman shared her thoughts about the creative work for 25 minutes without having seen it. A new benchmark.
Straight home after and was back in Brighton mid-afternoon. Thankfully I now entering PK time, and will repair and renew. Have booked flights for two days in Guernsey next week to brood on the cliffs and think about poems, and hopefully drink some boozes with Richard and Jane. All well.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Mum has returned home from hospital this afternoon. I'm very pleased and relieved. Otherwise a dreary Monday up to London, the top of buildings like the gherkin, and the BT office tower grazed by clouds. Reading my paper about the election of the unappetising geek Ed Milliband as leader of the Labour party. Miliband E narrowly beat his older brother Miliband D to the job, which should make for some lively family gatherings.
Working hard all day on the blood clot site. Almost done, thank God. Walked up to buy a sandwich with Katie at lunchtime, and then I took a short stroll around Tavistock Square snapping a few shots. And feeling momentary flares of cheer remembering that I am going to take some PK time soon.
Home tonight before eight which was fantastic.
Below All from Tavistock Square the BT tower, statue of Gandhi, and a peaky neurotic looking Virginia Woolf.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Spoke to mum, who is hoping to be released back into the wild on Monday. I hope so. Otherwise Lorraine and I had a leisurely time of it before Lorraine drove us up to Chertsey Meads to visit The French Bloke and Max. First Matie and Matty boy were there too. Greeted by the four children barking like dogs, as they had been playing with Puffin. It was the first time Lorraine had met them Max and the FB.
The FB showed me the inside of his Winnebago, which I have had occasion to sleep in over the years. It has been gutted, and Michel is rebuilding to his own specifications. I wondered how he gets the energy and time to rebuild immense vehicles and assemble motorbikes from new pieces. He is the CEO of an organisation, has small children. Great to see Max too, looking bouncy and cheery as ever, and clearly being a wonderful mother.
I was asked to tell the children a bedtime story, and I riffed around some Skelton Yawngrave material. The girls all very bright. Zamiera an angelically blonde curled little thing of three, kept looking at me round eyed asking are you reading this?
Then out to sit by in the warm by a big firepit barbecue in the cool night, onto which the French Bloke sizzled pieces of meat and sausages. I enjoyed sitting outside around a fire with my old friends. Everyone talking and even some reading of my poems, and naturally a good deal of drinking. I sloped off to bed, supervised by Lorraine, rather worse for wear, but having had an excellent night.
Below photography and framing skills hindered by drink, but here is The French Bloke talking to Matty, sadly not framed.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Yippee. The ghastly website business is mostly over. Pleasant people in the French Bloke's agency, which now include First Matie with whom I snuck off for lunch to the nearby all-you-can-eat Indian Buffet place. Rather pleasant and good value. Katie on the cusp of changes in where she is living, the work she is doing and so on. She is also training Puffin, with the help of a dog psychologist, to get over its separation anxiety and neediness. I really never knew that dogs could become psychologists, so this was fascinating news.
After work up to the hospital to visit mum. She was looking brighter than yesterday, and standing up chatting to another patient when I arrived. The ward chaotic, with a new patient being brought in and beds being replaced, and more than a dozen people milling about besides me and the inmates. Opposite Mum was a new patient: a luxuriantly-bearded lady with an abrasive personality. All the curtains being swooshed around the beds and the woman with the Van Dyke face furniture added up to a pure David Lynch movie moment.
Mum now on soft foods, and I left her looking at an unappetising plate of soup, mashed potatoes and custard.
The journey home faster and easier than yesterday, and I was in Brighton at a decent hour. Half an hour of playing football with Calliope before going to The Batty with Lorraine to put the world to rights over a Friday night beer.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Relieved to hear Mum had her operation last night after all, and is okay although I didn't see her today. Spoke to Mas now has a bad cold and conjunctivitis. He is too infectious to visit mum. I didn't see her either.
Instead, I was mercifully working from home. Slogging through the website about blood clots I am assembling from a variety of dull as ditchwater sources. I'm having to do the dreaded referencing too, but one of the sources is a study is by someone called Blech, whose name I find myself barking Tourette's style while I type.
A chat with Sophie who is anxious about the business climate, having had lunch with a gloomy client. Gloom and uncertaintly is like a virus that passes through the business community.
My cold has now peaked, and I began to feel a better as the day wore on, and late in the evening slipped for a late and mild mannered drink with Anton in The Eddy and then The Batty. Good to catch up. This is traditionally Anton's Birthday Month, but it has been unusually quiet this year.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Up at seven, seeing the world through the fog of a streaming cold, working from home on a big website about blood clotting. The world outside my study window, was misty first thing and rather beautiful. I had Bob Marley's song Misty Morning in my head for the first hour or so.
Mum's operation was scheduled, we thought, for today, but it did not happen. I feeling bad that she was there and I was in Brighton. She may have the operation tomorrow, but hard and fast information difficult to come by, and Mase phoning repeatedly to establish what is happening.
Mase has a cold too, and as well as Mum being in hospital, is at a critical time in his deal, which is falling into the usual pattern of the other parties are behaving dubiously as the deadline looms.
I stopped work at 5:30 revelling in the fact I was at home. Lorraine came over for supper after and we ate chicken and channel hopped.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Out of the house and slipped and fell over in the road, landing yet again on my knees. My knees are not having much luck lately, nor was it a dignified start to the morning. Chugged up to St Pancras and, once out, liking the way the leaves from the London plane trees are beginning to be pressed into patterns on the tarmac. A lovely harbinger of autumn.
At work writing a dreary and difficult website for healthcare professionals. But it is all money coursing into the Kenny coffers so must be considered A Good Thing. Struggling a little, and beginning to snuffle with a cold.
After work up to The Royal Free, where I discovered Mason having a quick restorative cup of coffee in the cafe outside. I then went up to the ninth floor visit mum, and was pleased to find her in fairly good spirits. I gave her a couple of magazines and a copy of The girl with the dragon tattoo on Joan's suggestion. Had a nice chat for an hour and a half, watching a pair of mating pigeons on the rail, the ward full of the setting sun. Mum has not eaten for many days now and is having uncharacteristic fantasies about roast beef sandwiches with horseradish sauce.
Then the long schlepp home, the 46 bus to St Pancras, and the train home, arriving a little before 10pm. Listening to Never let me go on my iPod.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Mandy steps out from cyberspace
Slept really well, and woke feeling fairly refreshed. Great not to go anywhere. Instead, after buying bread from the patisserie, and cooking a breakfast for Lorraine and I, went to the gym for a fairly gentle session. My knee is a zone of clicking, slidey, swollen evil but it felt good to be doing some exercise again.
Lorraine had met Cath and gone shopping and we met up for a coffee in the afternoon after I'd dome some chores. We met in the Just add the colour cafe, and I had a chat with the owner, and then the girls turned up and displayed their various shopping trophies.
In the evening off with Lorraine and Cathy to meet Mandy an old school friend who I've not actually seen for about 32 years in The Basketmakers. She was with her partner John and John's daughter Jas and her husband Mark who are working in Hove for a while. Just another example of how all this blogging and facebooking and emailing can reconnect people even if they live on opposite sides of the globe. Strange and satisfying to see a slightly jetlagged Mandy step out from cyberspace into the meatspace of the Basketmakers, and it was great to see her, and meet her family. Lorraine and Cath really liked them too.
Eventually they made off for a meal, and after chatting with Lorraine, Cath and Matt, Matt left, and Cath and I persuaded Lorraine to let us go for a curry.
A really nice day ending at Lorraine's house, with me falling asleep repeatedly on the sofa.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Friday at last
Lots of pleasant chats with people during the day, but all through a fog of tiredness. I was discussing the sleep deprivation experiment I was conducting on my self with a writer called Karam, who explained how he'd actually done this himself for seven days and seven nights when he was about 20, after reading about how prisoners of war were able to endure all kinds of unspeakable things. He said that there were two bouts each day where he felt he absolutely had to sleep, but if he ignored this for ten minutes, he was able to carry on. As the days progressed these two bouts increased in intensity. Both laughing at the madness of inflicting this upon yourself.
I decided to leave the agency at a little before two, to visit Mum. Mason was there when I arrived, and I was pleased to see Mum looking a lot brighter than yesterday, which was a relief. If I didn't feel so sorry for all the irritation her nose tube causes her there is something slightly comical about the beaky wad of bandage hanging off the end of her nose with a tube coming out of it, especially when she smiles. Mum has a really nice nurse, who just seems like a lovely person, and is completely proactive in helping. Mum joking with her about having a solid paracetamol, which thus far is the solid she has been allowed to have.
Went for a long cup of tea with Mason, then headed home on what seemed an interminable journey. The end of the week saw me overtired and tetchy, had a swift and bad tempered beer in The Basketmakers with the lovely Lorraine, and then some Chinese food before slouching home to bed.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
A long day
Up at a wretched 5:30 to catch a very early train. The sun rising over the countryside in a beautiful purple sky. Up to Paddington Station where I met Lucy and Pat to travel to West Drayton, an unlovely area slightly to the northwest of London. Thence to a major pharmaceutical corporation by a bus containing a fantastically loud screaming child, to meet the French Bloke who had arrived by motorbike to present concepts in a slightly tiresome meeting for two and a half hours, but the client was 'in a happy place'. Then back into London, Pat pausing to buy a bag of chips and a nasty looking sausage from a chippy.
After the afternoon was done in the agency I went to the Royal Free where mum is now on a routine which Lorraine told me later is called in the trade drip and drain, a standard treatment for adhesions. Uncomfortably it involves having a tube inserted through your nose down the back of your throat, which Mum was finding very uncomfortable. Otherwise she was fairly philosophical, given the circumstances.
After a while chatting I pushed off back to Brighton arriving home at about 8:45. Lorraine came by later and cooked some supper for me, which was rather nice. Talked to Mase, who had spent a few hours with Mum earlier in the day, has a deal coming to a climax in the next few days, so Mum's illness is not well timed for him.
Zombied off to bed.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Mum in hospital
More yawning on the train this morning, due in part to episodes of night catfighting. Calliope like some weasel baby who wakes me from the deepest sleep when she screams. Listening to Never let me go on the way to St Pancras. A fascinating, claustrophobic novel. Working with the Basque again today. A respite of lunch with Pat. More work, and them some minutes of French work I decided to do in the agency before leaving.
Phoned by Mason just as I stepped into the street who told me mum had been taken to the Royal Free Hospital, after vomiting violently through the night and not being able to keep water down today. Worried by this, but nothing I can do until I hear more tomorrow. Mason doing his best to be reassuring, and it is likely to be a bug or possibly food poisoning, although Mase ate the same things as Mum did.
Home and phoned Janet who, due to working in London, I am going to have to cancel seeing this week. Yet another person I have let down in the last few weeks. I hate it.
Met Matt briefly in the Batty tonight before retiring home.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Sunny Sunday afternoon
Off to the Abergavenny Arms today to meet Matty boy and First Matie for lunch. Also Tasha, Matty boy's sister, and Steve fresh from a holiday in Jamaica, with Tasha sporting an engagement ring, so it became a bit of a celebration, with Matt buying some bubbly.
An afternoon outside in the sun in the country. Blue sky with a few puffy white clouds, and us on a wooden pub table, eating a lovely Sunday lunch, with Puffin Kate's dog, plus Tasha and Steve's two hounds tangling about around us while we caught up with the gossip: First Matie about to move but she's not sure where yet, Matty boy embarking on an MA in Psychology part time with the Open University, and of course Tasha and Steve's plans.
Then home via the train station with Beth, to send a PK mugshot to Richard who has cunningly got us into GBG, Guernsey's glossy lifestyle magazine. I am hoping they can photoshop us to glamour. Tough one. Now girding my loins for more London journeys.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
O soothest sleep
Sleep, blessed sleep. Lorraine and I both up late. And, having ingested scrambled eggs, I had a damburst of ideas for new poems. Plus I'm elated by having a new umbrella concept for my next lot of poems to sit under, but I am going to write no more about it, for fear of hexing myself.
Beth called around this afternoon with a dimpled 10 year child actress, who Beth had taken up to London to audition for a part in a commercial.
Early evening off to meet my old friend Mick Ginty and his wife Lucy, who I'd only met briefly at their wedding last year. Lucy is now expecting a baby, which clearly delights them. Lucy very nice, who among other things has excellent Spanish skills having lived there twice, including a year recently in Madrid, so when we were in Casa Don Carlos, she was able to order with elan and discernment. Mick sherry sipping, but otherwise seems very happy and settled.
Then briefly with them to The Basketmakers before seeing them off to their carpark. Lorraine and I then popped into The Great Eastern pub to meet Matt for half an hour. He and Wayne are now living back in Brighton, which is excellent. However their new flat is incredibly damp.
Then home and more wonderful sleep.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Statues and liberty
Up to London on a sort of autopilot. Working with Aseir today, who is really into film, and told me the stories of about three movies he wants to make during the day. Also he is exceedingly well up on the cutting edge novelties in marketing, and seems genuinely creative. An education to work with him, although there was a faint whiff of cat herding about our process.
Delighted that it was Friday, and when I finally got home went off to see Lorraine, and had a meal with her in our usual Friday night curry den. Then returned to settle on the gold sofa. Ended up very late watching a good documentary about an old rock band Dr Feelgood who came from Canvey Island in the Thames Estuary.
Bed. Merciful bed.
Below the statue of poet John Betjeman in St Pancras station, and the Caryatids of St Pancras church I've been walking past again this week.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
I built a house in the middle of the ocean
Up to the smoke again, still plodding about like a zombie. Still working on the gargantuan piece about how product x now comes in a larger vial, but am now able to laugh at it a little. Contented myself with a banana and slimline sandwich at lunch. Have been teamed up with a bearded Basque (not Spanish) freelance art director called Aseir for a brief on something completely different.
During the brief by Lucy (who I have worked with several times before) and a chic French Tamil woman called Anne, my stomach was growling really loudly. Watched a filmed focus group. Luckily we were able to fast forward through it as it was on a DVD, which is fortunate as there is nothing in all of marketing more liable to spark self-harming that sitting on the other side of the one-way glass watching people in focus groups being asked the same questions for an entire day.
Reading Guillaume Apollinaire on the train. Beginning to really like his work. I re-read one of his more famous poems poems which, half-remembered, has been haunting me lately. Ocean de Terre, which in the translation I have by Roger Shattuck begins:
I built a house in the middle of the ocean
Its windows are rivers which flow out of my eyes
Octopus stir all around its walls
Listen to the triple beat of their hearts and their beaks
which tap on the window panes.
I have an idea that's been brewing for the last few days, and this is one of its seminal texts. Its one of those poems I wish I had written, and feel that I had been left like a Shakespeare-typing monkey for a thousand years I may have written myself. I wonder if it owes anything to the octopus in The Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo. I just love this: I built a house in the middle of the ocean. So simple, but the building of something supposed to be secure and rooted, but in the water with all the currents and disturbing things surging through is just brilliant.
Home before 8 tonight, and a low profile, and just as soon as I go finish this, I'm off to sleep.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Up to Tavistock Square again. Feeling slightly brighter today than of late. Lunch with Pat we walked to a restaurant called the Palms of Goa. Pat full of bounce, and in good spirits. A whiff of sulphur from the restaurant as we approached, and there was Spooner and his art director, and we were soon joined by Bob Nash who first hired me for my old Glamoursmith agency over 10 years ago. Nice to see them, and Spooner always glinting, but the agency gossip seems all a bit remote these days.
After work, still writing the unspeakable haemophilia document, met up with the old Mad dog, between heavy showers, by the dripping statue of Gandhi in the centre of Tavistock Square. Someone had put a little jar with two or three marigolds from the flower bed by his feet. Bob tetchy at first, but soon mellowed. Had a quick rain-dodging drink before we ducked into another Indian restaurant. Good to see Bob, and give him a slightly belated birthday card.
After fond farewells at St Pancras at 8:30 found I had just missed a train. The next one was delayed (as was every single First Capital Connect train on my platform) and I didn't get home till 10:40. Flopping wanly on the sofa with Calliope and speaking briefly to a sleepy Lorraine before bed.
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Faced with possibly the most boring piece of writing I have had to do for some years, my brain went AWOL. Every time I tried to work I felt my resolve melt like a lump of butter being pressed into a hot pan. While I was trying to force myself to work, and battling fatigue and boredom, I had a great idea for a written project nothing to do with haemophilia. Thanks to having a snooze, cups of tea, playing with Calliope, a trip to sainsburys, and looking at funny but offensive websites like this, I have only just finished my day's work at 10pm.
Spoke to Matty boy and Bob at some length. And in the morning Anna and Oskar came by briefly, offering yet another respite from the ghastly haemophilia. Oskar likes my fish, and was about to have his hair cut before starting school tomorrow. It's hard to believe that that the boy is off to school already.
Monday, September 06, 2010
Thai with The French Bloke
To London today to write about a brand new ailment: haemophilia. Reading about people with bleeding problems made my inner cockney snicker I'm afraid. Apprehensive about the day as I am feeling exhausted and am still hobbling. Tried a direct route into St Pancras, however, which is close to Pat and the FB's agency. This turned out to be faster and cheaper. Out at St Pancras station, along the Euston Road and was soon passing the tireless caryatids at St Pancras church, before turning down into Carl's old stomping ground of Tavistock Square.
Good to see The French Bloke again (Pat out for much of the day). At lunch we snuck away for an authentic Thai bite in an empty little Irish pub with Thai food. Had a fab Thai soup. The owner Michael had a map of Ireland in rocks from every county among his pub decorations, and a 20p coin glued to the bar counter. Great to see the FB happy and on such good form, and it seems both he and Pat are going from strength to strength running their new agency, and its population had grown since I was last there.
Home easily and without incident. Tired but pleased I got through the day okay, and can work from home tomorrow due in part to a tube strike set to half-paralyse London.
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Feeling flat and irritable today. Went shopping with Lorriane, bought some cushion covers. Had coffee with a tired-looking Mark and Beth. Stupid knee seizing up again, the ligaments all feel wrong and it is all slightly puffy and painful. Must take all this to the quack again once I've finished working in London next week.
Was supposed to go to a party at Reuben's house tonight, but was 180˚away from a party mood and didn't feel like hobbling about. Yet another social event I have blown out lately. Instead watched watchably bleak Swedes on TV (Wallender).
Friday, September 03, 2010
The Bleak Swedes
Pressed on with the story and also more admin. It's amazing how much admin can snowball in a few weeks. Now almost completely up to date. A text from Pat this morning, and I will probably be popping up to London to work for him and the FB next week on some ailment or other, which should be fun. Also doing stern tidying, and taking off my shelves books I no longer have any interest in. I will create order if it kills me.
Off to see The Girl Who Played with Fire movie in the Duke of York early this evening. Mistakenly sat in the expensive seats, but we were let off as the cinema wasn't full. The Duke of York is great, mainly because it is independent and shows interesting stuff, and you can take in a from the little balcony bar. We sat on a faintly aromatic sofa right at the back of the cinema, sipping a cold gin and tonic as the Swedes got on with their bleak business onscreen. Enjoyable enough, and well cast, but I am not sure how much sense it would have made if we hadn't read the book.
Thursday, September 02, 2010
In search of the perfect sausage
Completed the first chapter of new story, which has the working title of The Echo. And then got busy filing, opening piles of unopened envelopes, tidying and generally organising and throwing stuff away. A bit like a spring clean, but in September. Suddenly, and uncharacteristically, clutter and untidiness are my enemies.
Today is Anton and Bob's birthday. I'd spoken to the old Mad Dog yesterday, and I joined Anton, Anna and the Bairns in The Batty to sit in the garden in the sun. Anton's Birthday month has officially begun. Sadly I had no present yet for him, but he is in a happy place: on the cusp of a new craze. Mincing meat and fashioning your own sausages are now de rigueur for Anton has started a quest for the perfect sausage. This sparked reminiscences of our trip to Munich with Jane and Christian and Brian, where we ate, with no exaggeration, hundreds of sausages between us.
The children full of beans, Klaudia now able to play all sorts of complicated games on her parents' iPhones. The family off to find food, and I sloped back to resume ironing, while brooding about my next literary steps, breaking off to speak to Janet and Lorraine and pour over a jam recipe that Mum has sent me.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
Gripped by a story idea in the middle of the night. Had to get up and write it down for half an hour before I could go back to sleep.
Once awake started to write the story. I have been searching for another 'quick win', in my authorial campaign, and this may be it: very simple plot, few characters and a mystery at its heart. A 20-30k words piece. Then onto more mundane stuff. A French tweak as the client irrationally took against the word 'astonishing', chased money which resulted in a firm pay-by date. Also wrote to Radio 4 Excess Baggage about A Guernsey Double. Then to Maureen Irvine who is a writer in NZ who was a mutual friend of my late friend Tim Gallagher, also to Mike Vermeulen in Guernsey who has written some children's stories based on the Islands.
Then a knocking on the door - Anna with Klaudia and Oskar. The children raced to a black box decorated with white skull and crossbones on I keep near the fireplace, which is full of unusual sweets left by a mysterious pirate. They took the sachets of stuff that fizzes in your mouth, and then stood on the sofa to get a close view of my fish splashing the surface as I fed them. Anna with lots of work to do, so it was only a brief visit.
Wild arguments and swearing in the Twitten this afternoon and early evening. Three different incidents of people using the Twitten to settle their differences. Infuriating.
A call from First Matie tonight, whose Puffin dog had recently swallowed a fish hook causing enormous trauma and vet bills. Then off to see Lorraine (and my first time setting foot outside the house all day). Cath was at her house, and told us about her excellent Scottish holiday. Sunny as anything apparently. Bah.
And so to bed, I could see stars through the skylight in Lorraine's room. Lorraine herself talking unusually excitably last thing at night which was tiring.
Below: an interesting photo from Anton taken in Jersey, a place I have never been. It is some sort of primitive totem to their Crapaud god. I think Anton had claimed it was dressed in a Chelsea shirt but this is blatantly untrue.