Thursday, June 30, 2011


Hard disk passed away in the night. A few words were said, followed by an arm-thrashing dance. (Typing this on old steam-driven laptop I'd given to Lorraine). Limbo-ish day. Rehearsed my lines for This Concert for some hours in the morning then followed Brian Eno’s advice: if in doubt, tidy up.

Spoke to Mum and Mas. Mum said she had been working on her heads. This summons several images and only after some time do large painted big cat heads come to mind.

In the afternoon I went to see Adrian and Di. Adrian showed me the shots he had taken. Miraculously, given there were minuscule amounts of light in the place, he has created some wonderfully evocative images for us. In one or two I don’t look too porcine, which is nice. Some lovely shots of Matt conducting and looking intense. Enjoyable chat with Adrian. Di saying that this month would bring abundance for a Chinese feng shui reason. I hope she's right.

Chastened by man mountain pictures, sped off to the gym for another sweaty session.

Mark arrived at five and I took some photos of him for the poster for Pack of 3 which needs to be supplied to the theatre pronto. Some excellent shots of him looking imperious and mad in a pirate hat. Will upload these when I am able.

Sloped off in the evening to Lorraine's place where we listened to a R4 programme featuring Alan Garner, the author of The Owl Service, and Elidor, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, all books I lapped up as a child.

An early night, to bed reading some poetry before snoozing. Read Robert Frost's The road not taken again. This is such a deceptively simple poem, but haunting because it deals with something unresolvable. For me the short story The Door in the Wall, by H.G.Wells is like this. I don't find it particularly well-written but the concept keeps returning to me. I've asked my new friend Catherine Pope to recommend a book for me on Wells.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Getting stuck in

Calliope rudely walking along the length of my body at 3:30am. Woke up late for me, at 8:30. Spent the morning backing up every email I have ever sent on my computer. Was phoned by Dell and they have sheduled an engineer to conduct a disk transplant for my computer on Friday morning. Naturally, my computer has been behaving unimpeachably for the last day or so.

Gripped by a desire to hoover and clean floors. Then to the gym for a sweaty 45 minutes, it is a very mentally clearing thing to do.

Later on I spent time quietly rehearsing This concert and copying and copydexing in Matt's amendments to the score. My copydex glue is ancient and smells like rancid fish. Doubtless this will add to the recording ambience. Very excited by the prospect of recording, but hoping I dont' screw it up, and have something that makes me cringe every time I listen to it. I hope I can do a good job. Finding it hard to think about much else now that it's only a few days away.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hard drive

An eye test first thing this morning. Nice optometrist who said he started off as an electrical engineer, but married to an optician who, he noticed, was earning a lot more money than him. No appreciable deterioration in my mince pies and their insides good too which, having written at length about eye injections, is pleasing.

Dell helpline: call started at 11am and after four phone calls, the problem was diagnosed as being as a doomed hard drive at 4:15pm. Felt like Dante in Purgatorio with an Indian call centre Virgil. Cheekily having diagnosed a hardware problem, they tried to sell me software support for a year. An engineer will come to replace my hard drive, which of course means I will have to set up my computer from scratch again. The problem also prevents an automatic backup so I am forced to laboriously copy everything across to my external hard drive, file by file, email by email. Gah.

While I sighed in my study, there was a huge end-of-the-world thunderstorm over Brighton, but everything smelled fresh afterwards.

Walked to St Michael & All Angels at 6:30 and after much faffing about got on with rehearsal. Adrian Turner arrived and we arranged lights, and he prowled about taking shots. Meanwhile Simon the engineer did the same dipping a long wand-like microphone into the soup of sound, to work out how to mic the recording. Once we got going, the musicians were sounding nuanced, as Glen said afterwards. Cem on violin is excellent and this is lifting everyone. I feel there my own performance can be better, but it is getting there. Often I have to focus really hard on not missing the cue, and as I have no amplification I am projecting at top of my range and this tends to flatten things. I will have a mic for the recording however. Matt overall was pleased though. The choir still tentative, and were tired by the end of the night. They ran through Clameur as a last thing, and this has the potential to sound fantastic.

Repaired briefly to the pub afterwards with Fingers, Matt and Tom, but only for a throat soother, as everyone is being sensible this week.

Below snatched shot of me pulling some species of face. Rather atmospheric place to rehearse.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Inspiron rage

Hot night. Woke up and trying to fix computer today,which at least turns on again. Infuriatingly after running various diagnostics I stupidly ended up buying a fix online which didn't work. Realised only then that it was a dubious at best company and so, feeling foolish, had to cancel my credit card. Managed not to become furious which was an achievement. And also followed up a promising business lead.

My computer is a Dell Inspiron, and when I used to work on the Dell account at my old agency I used to write an ongoing soap called 'Rage of the Inspirons'. They are getting their revenge.

Otherwise little to report. Started to design the promotional material for the plays in August, which we are calling 'Pack of 3'. Sloped off to the air conditioned gym in the afternoon. Spent an hour or two this evening rehearsing This concert will fall in love with you downstairs while Calliope looked on with interest.

Not my most productive of days. But thank God my computer is working again, albeit hanging on by a thread.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Swings and roundabouts

Finally the summer returned with a beautiful hot day. I woke up conscious next week is a big one for me. Once up though, my desktop computer did not start this morning with what appears to be a terminally doomed hard disk. Immensely depressed by this. Thank God though that I recently did a massive back up. However will have lost everything I have been working on for the last couple of weeks, and God knows how long this is going to take to sort out.

Off to Lorraine's to, as Lorraine put it grimly, fill some ant holes. I briefly envisaged thousands of microscopic operation but I soon found myself up a ladder plugging two tiny holes from which ants are entering Lorraine's house. Lorraine not too happy with these ants and inflicting death on them at every opportunity.

Anna and Anton and the bairns came by and we went to Preston Park, looked in the pond for newts and fish, had ice lollys and sat chatting in the packed playground. I was called upon to push both Klaudia and Oskar on rubber tyre swings. Klaudia, tired after a sleepover, lost in her own investigations as she swung clutching a strawberry bear (which also smelled of strawberries) while Oskar chatted continuously. I love these little times with my Godchildren. Anna better after a hugely annoying sore throat marathon, and Anton cheery. Beautiful hot sun.

A much needed nap after this, and Lorriane and I went out in the evening for a bite to eat in the local restaurant, discussing my move. Each of the waiters coming up to Lorraine to chat. I feel curiously invisible there, and I'm not sure why.

Newsflash: turned on my computer at 11pm with no hope at all, but instead of beeping at me every second with a black screen for ten minutes actually started. It soon crashed again, citing a hard desk error. But this second time it seems to have stayed on for long enough for me to back up my key files, and start diagnostic checks. If it could last even a few more weeks this would be a massive boon.

Below a sleepy Kaudia, Oskar, and the blue sky of evening reflected in a car.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Kentish interlude

Off today to Ashford in Kent by train to see Pat and Maureen, Lorraine's parents. Nice journey reading the paper and looking over the landscapes as the train headed into Kent. Picked up by Pat who took us home, and Maureen had cooked us a big roast dinner.

Spent much of the afternoon, watching Wimbledon. Suddenly found myself drawn into it for the first time in years. Enjoyed Novak Djokovic V Marcos Baghdatis, especially when the robotic Djokovic destroyed his racquet by hammering it repeatedly into the court. An enjoyable incident which I wished I was watching with my brother. Enjoyably relaxed day, as I was rather tired by the week. Enjoyed being briefly in the garden, Pat showing us his beans and strawberries and so on as, at last, the summer sun re-emerged.

Journey home seemed long. The carriage was freezing due to over-enthusiastic air conditioning. And Brighton cold and full of sea mist when we arrived. My boiler refused to spark up much to my irritation. Lorraine and I watching TV from Glastonbury Festival, and seeing a rapper called Big Boi we noticed Tarik from the Marlborough Theatre in one of the shots. Janelle Monae featured too. She is going to be a global superstar. Watch this video which I loved as soon as it came out last year.

And so to bed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Barbecue of beers

Lots of admin this morning. Fairly satisfying to biff through things, including working out at last how to send email from, which involved a week of helpdesk emails. Met Mark for coffee to discuss the Marlborough theatre dates at the end of Tuesday. Mark's pirate idea sounds very funny. Discussed Betty the Spacegirl too, and talked about the branding for the show. Both came out in a happy place.

In the afternoon off to Di and Adrian Turner's studio to discuss the photoshoot next Tuesday. Adrian is going to mooch about during the rehearsal and snap candid shots of us. Always enjoy popping into see them, Adrian printing off prints of his beautiful seascapes as we were talking. Really looking forward to having a proper photographer work on the project.

To the Marlborough Theatre to drop off an envelope, before repairing to the inevitable Basketmakers. There had been a planned barbecue, but the unreliable weather put the kibosh on it, so we all went to the pub instead. Had a laugh talking to Matt, Irish Tom, Jess and Andrew, Dawn, Cath, Betty and her pal Laura, and Linda who arrived with an immense shopping trolley. Found ourselves leaving the pub late in the night rolling home full of beer and cheer.

Rolled home late having had a rather good day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Music to my ears

Working on the haemophilia newsletter this morning. Later, while in the gym, I had an interesting, and musical, thought about the new piece while on the Hulk legs machine.

Meanwhile news from Guernsey: Jane and Richard's wedding certificate has gone astray in the Guernsey Post which, quite rightly, Jane is less than impressed with.

Off in the evening to Matt's place in Hove. Helped him move furniture around to make room for the choir. Adam arrived with his marimba too, which looks like a nest of giant's pan pipes and wheely struts before assembly.

Once the music started I felt oddly like Inspector Morse, an onlooker in the corner of Matt's high-ceilinged room with a lump in my throat as I heard the choir rehearsing Clameur. Something thrilling about hearing nine people sing your words, and feeling rather awed by the quality of Matt's music. This is hugely beautiful piece. I am so lucky to be able to work with him.

Once rehearsal was over, I suspect to the relief of Matt's neighbours, Matt and I had a fast pint to discuss many and various business matters. He liked my gym idea too.

Reading a note from Barney on the way home. His ten-year-old boy had enjoyed Invaders of Guernsey. And spotted two typos. Like father like son, as Barney said.

Found Lorraine on my gold sofa when I got home and she was, by sheer coincidence, watching an old Inspector Morse rerun.

Below the plinkmeister Adam, and the choir with the Maestro.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


And so... Working all day on a newsletter about a haemophilia conference. A job that requires ten files simultaneously open on your screen. Thank the lawd I invested in a big wide screen. Had to keep taking half hour boredom breaks, so ended up working on it till ten. Still this is work, and I am very pleased to have it.

Below for obvious reasons I have taken the client's branding from this image, but it just made me guffaw. A momentary glimpse into the strange world of pharmaceutical marketing... And while we're at it... A friend found this website that you must look at. Bad weasels!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dark ambience on the longest day

Interesting start to the day as I was sent a note by Marc Broudie who wanted to share his CD, and sent me a link to download from. It is called Medicine and is a genre called Dark Ambient. It sounded like a nightmarish version of Brian Eno mixed with David Lynch soundscapes. A good, if unsettling, way to start the day.

Also pondering the advice given me by Joan about cat politics, she thinks Calliope will be dominant when put together with Brian and Basil. Later chastised (or should that be 'chat'sised?) by Jane for feeding Calliope prawns for breakfast. Jane and Richard now recovering from a ghastly lung lurgy.

Pressed on with a newsletter about a conference to do with haemophilia during the day. Nothing much to report there, but it is work, and I am very pleased to have it. Managed to slip off to the gym at noon.

Spoke to Di Turner about photography, and in the evening met up with Steve, Richard, Glen and Claudius to drink some beer and discuss various projects. Richard handed me a CD with some new Shakespeare's Trio songs. Last week he had done the same to the other guys, and Glen had left his copy in the pub. When Glen and Richard arrived the stray CD was being quietly played by the landlord much to their bemusement. I am talking to Richard about releasing his CD on the same label that Matt and I will create to release ours, which makes marketing sense for us both. Jolly good to see these guys, all of whom I really like.

Below a nice pic of Romy's knees and baby Ewan, who is going to be tall, sent to me by Joan.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tense buns

Out this morning to do a spot of shopping and the weather felt positively autumnal. Noted balefully that the price of prawns, which Calliope eats for breakfast, now rising. Food is becoming more expensive by the month.

Fragmentary work for much of the day, although I took a briefing from Karam on the newsletter I am going to write about haemophilia, a welcome spot of work over the next few days. Enjoyed talking to Karam who had been to Japan recently, and was raving about it. He liked, among all the fascinating things how drivers on the buses the driver said goodbye to each person as they left.

After this off to get a massage. Tension in my shoulders had been giving me a backache. Apparently I had tense buns too. Felt the traditional runover feeling afterwards, but it is definitely a healing thing, and wasn't as painful as it had been, and I didn't feel like sobbing this time either which was an improvement.

Gloomy and bored tonight. I am so rarely feel bored that it's almost a novelty. Mum however sent me new pictures of her new head. I really like this one of a mountain lion. Also have been tweeted by Ellie, Carl's daughter over the last day or so, which was a nice surprise.

Below Mum's photos of her mountain lion heads.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Slow Sunday. Caught up with some correspondence, and a then a walk down by the windy sea with Lorraine. Big threatening clouds, and the sea green and rough. Red flags out and nobody in the water. Cobwebs blown off, home to roast a chicken and watch King Kong on TV. Lorraine crying at it. It is an overlong film, but still some excellent moments. Betty popped by for a few minutes to scarf down some food on the way to her job, otherwise a quiet, pleasantly introspective sort of day.

I did buy myself an electronic tuner for my guitar. They are dirt cheap, and you clip them to your guitar and they tell you when your strings are in tune. Hours of fun right there.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Kew Gardens

Working on the premise that necessity is the mother of invention. So up early and back home to feed Calliope, and a think about what I could send Matt for our last-minute piece, and duly pinged over three options.

In the afternoon Lorraine and I caught a train to Kew Bridge, to visit Kew Gardens, which I had not been to for years. I lived close to it when I was married, and my return had a slightly bittersweet feeling, but I really enjoyed walking about it again with Lorraine, despite the weather constantly threatening rain. We stayed until closing time, and for the last hour felt almost alone as the garden was reclaimed by squirrels and the miaow of peacocks. I noticed the incessant planes flying over far more than when I lived under their flightpath. Tried out the treetop walk for the first time and it was empty among the trees, and quite windy too.

Also enjoyed lurking in the hothouse, and taking snaps. The buildings of Kew Gardens seeming a little shabbier than I remember them.

Then we walked across Kew Bridge to the Bell and Crown one of the pubs on Strand on the Green where Matty Boy was having a birthday booze up. Lots of chatting to Matt's nice friends and indeed Matt himself. Graeme, Craig, Melanie, Matt Hindley (who told me a terrible story of how his brother died of an allergic reaction while on holiday last year), and lots of other people I knew, but less well. Tash and Steve offered to drive us home too, which meant we could enjoy the evening and not leave early for the train. Journey home pleasant and Eric the enormous Great Dane good as gold in the back.

Ate bad pizza when we got home as we'd had no supper. Bed gone one.

Below a wet Kew. Summer in England. Curiously, I took no photos of people.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Breathing Space

Toby's birthday today. Sent him a message and am looking forward to seeing my bro' back in Blighty one of these good days.

Otherwise foot down on the pedal today and finally thanks be to God finished the first draft of 'Betty the Spacegirl'. I have found a funny and convincing end for it, using the the reliable trick of circling back to where you started. Quite nice to have elegantly sewn it up. There will be tweaks but it was in good enough condition to hand over to Betty herself later in The Basketmakers at the end of the day.

Also have obtained a bit more work next week from my chums in Tavistock Square, which I am able to do from home. Am keeping a wary eye on the Kenny coffers, so this definitely helps. I don't want to come out of this creative period skint and playing banjo for beer money in the underpass of Trafalgar Street.

Met Matt this afternoon to discuss the CD project. We are dropping one of the tracks, Adam, as this is proving too complex for the singers to master in the time we have. It is gorgeous, but dense and multilevlled. However, necessity is the mother of invention and Matt, Glen and I will work on something speedy to plug the gap. Perhaps a spoken word and piano piece.

Collected Lorraine who had come back from London at the station, and Matt L and I walked down to the Basketmakers, where we soon joined by Betty and Cath, and talking to the various boys at the bar. Also Lorraine's pal Lorraine was there too and said hello. A few well earned beers, and a plate of hearty pub grub before sloping off for an early night and three pints of sparkling water. All well.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Enjoyably pointless

In the morning I had a note from a lady in Canada outlining a copy project. Anna had kindly tweeted me a note about her, and here I am a day later corresponding with someone in Halifax NS. Not sure anything will come of it, but the interconnectedness of everything is nice.

Inching along with Betty the Spacegirl the end is in within sight, also working on poems. Feeling a bit antsy (unlike Lorraine who with Betty had got on top of the ant invasion) and did another, albeit fairly mild mannered, gym stint.

In the evening went for a random beer with a new friend called Ross, I met at Kayleigh's 21st birthday the other week. Went to the St James pub and spent the whole night chatting enjoyably. I said I liked the idea of going for a pointless beer, with someone with no reason than to just hang out. A nice guy who makes me laugh. Had the distinct feeling that I knew him already, and had just bumped into him again, as opposed to being someone completely new to me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A trapped bird

A cup of tea in bed this morning, as Lorraine had been driven across town to my bed by invading ants. Up and working early. Appalled by Calliope who crept in behind me into my study, to release a bird. It then flew at the window and Calliope sprang after it before I'd even had a chance to put my cup down. Much roaring at the cat, and ferreting out the sparrow which had found a tiny niche next to my paper reams. Managed to tip the poor thing out onto my window ledge where it hopped about and flew off, apparently not too much the worse for wear. There is something really disturbing about having a bird in your room. Calliope in disgrace afterwards, but was more resentful than contrite, and was later climbing in the airing cupboard: a forbidden zone so was in trouble again. Forced to get a ladder to remove her. Relations were cool in the afternoon.

Ant updates from Lorraine today: she has been murdering them. Otherwise a quiet day for me. Pressed on with a few bits of admin and working on Betty the Spacegirl, which seems to be like pulling hen's teeth, but I think it is going to be funny. Working on poems too. Been feeling obscurely anxious and full-moonish. These new poems go into some difficult areas, and Lorraine pointed out that these two things may be connected. She is good at pointing out things that are entirely invisible to me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Up early working on yet another new poem this morning. Then on with business. Managed to firm up the Marlborough Theatre booking for the end of August. This good news, and now gives us a date to hang everything from.

Went to the gym and then zoomed up to Lewes to meet an old colleague Barney, who has been on 'gardening leave', in his case quite literally as he has been volunteering to help tidy wild places, and learn about forestry. We met in the Lewes Arms and sat in the high garden next to what I think Barney said was the old castle wall. We had an enjoyable long chat, stroking his lurcher's head, and then I came back to Brighton to have talk to Tarik about dates.

In the evening off out with Lorraine, Dawn, and a really fun pal of Lorraine's called Rosie. Off to The Hartington where The Shakespeare Trio, aka Dipak and Richard were playing. Beautifully as usual, although they were miced too quietly, and as the place was full there was a lot of chitchat in their set.

My occasionally-annoying 'zero-tolerance for not trying' policy made me persuade them to let me read three poems. Not the best environment, but it gave me a chance to give some of the new ones an airing. Most people listened really politely, and Dawn said that I should be a teacher because I made people quiet and was quite warmly applauded at the end. I came on after Richard and Dipak, and before the tapdancer I saw last week.

Then all bundled off in Dawn's car. Lorraine stayed with me, because antisocial ants had invaded her bedroom.

Below the tapdancer (quite proud of this photo), plus Richard and Dipak aka The Shakespeare Trio. The place looks empty but it wasn't as they were all behind where I was sitting.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Footfalls echo in the memory

Up early and started a new poem. Quite amazing to have so much new stuff. Only time will tell if it is any good.

Spoke at length to my old friend Al who was after some advice.

Then off to The Sussex Beacon. Decided to walk, which involved two very steep hills so I was quite sweaty when I arrived. Lovely lunchtime meeting with a woman called Juley, about the CD project. But we also started talking about marketing and branding and we might do some work together in that way too. Really took to Juley, and after a salady bite to eat in the canteen, she showed me about the garden and the rooms. The Beacon is beautifully located, and looks out across the downs, and it brought some memories back of visiting Tim there in the mid-nineties. Now the emphasis is completely different, and is about helping people who are managing HIV to lead normal lives. There is a weird healing of hurts that I thought long scabbed over about this.

After the meeting I and found myself on the hill of Bear Road where I crossed over to enter a door in the old flint wall, and discovered The Woodvale Remembrance Garden. It was beautiful with lots of trees and huge beds of roses that smelled absolutely gorgeous. When you looked closely each plant had a little plaque of remembrance to it. Found myself a little bench and listened with my eyes shut to the wind passing through the trees and some birdsong. A lovely moment, or as as T.S. Eliot said,

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday afternoon

Drought having been declared in several counties of England a couple of days ago, naturally it has been raining ever since.

Worked on my poems at 7, then simply went back to bed not getting up till after 11. Looked into my loft and bought a new room thermostat online. Actually Lorraine did this for me, as I was too enervated by the whole process. Considered this enough for a Sunday and decided to go for a walk. After a few minutes in soaking rain, but Lorraine said 'shall we just go to the pub instead' and so we repaired to The Eagle, where we ate roast pork, mountains of veggies, and supped pints of fine bitter chatting through the afternoon, looking at a tropical marine aquarium, and the rain falling on the street outside. Lorraine is a person who will happily talk about poetry even though she doesn't write it. Amazing really. I have read her nine of the new poems I've written as works in progress, and she is still talking to me.

Home again in the soaking rain, and we watched Edward Scissorhands on TV. Tim Burton is the man who should turn Skelton Yawngrave into a movie. Lorraine sloped off into the wet night, and the weekend drew to a close.

Below in the rain skipped by an image of Aung San Suu Kyi painted in a a walled in window frame in Vine Street Brighton by Mike Edwards. The portrait was made solely out of text from Aung San Suu Kyi's speech 'Freedom From Fear'. Aung San Suu Kyi was Director of the Brighton Festival this year, although what this meant in practise I am unclear.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Look at the black rock

Had such vividly remembered dreams last night that I got up and wrote them down. I am concious that some people think other people's dreams are the most boring thing imaginable. But here is one of the dreams.

I was in a library looking at a volume of Bishop Berkeley, and trying unsuccessfully to read the spines of other books. The library was full of beautiful paintings, and one corner of the room was covered in huge paintings of a cliffy coast. I hurried over to them, thinking they were of Guernsey. But some people, who were somehow my ancestors, were speaking a Scandinavian language I could half understand. One of them said, ‘look at the black rock’, and I looked behind me and saw a standing stone that was grey against the sandy white background of a beach. Then I walked onwards and away from it into what had become a real landscape with my new Scandinavian people.

It seems like a new start, and the dream felt very positive. I was intruiged by the fact I was reading Bishop Berkeley, the idealist philosopher who thought we were all an idea in the mind of God. And Scandinavians? Why? I felt I belonged to them though, which was odd. Plus the black rock, which wasn't black it was grey.

Im usually quite good at interpreting my own dreams, but this proved elusive. Home with Lorraine, fed cat, cut back suddenly rampant jasmine with Calliope climing inside the huge bush and trying to swipe me as I worked on top of the ladder. Otherwise going into cupboards under the stairs to clear things out.

Feeling stressed under a mountain of things to be done. Sort out the CD, the play, and generate more cashflow, and move into Lorraine's house all to be done in the next month or so. Sat down and had a brain dump, to remind myself that I don't have to do everything instantly, and that if I take thing steadily I have time. Felt somewhat calmer after this.

Below a shot I took on Friday of a man sitting by the rainbow of a fountain.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Karma and cat conmingling

Another excellent start with poems, after walking home from Lorraine's place. I am devoting the first hour of every day to poetry and this morning I wrote one from scratch, and converted a never satisfactorily completed old one into a second poem. I have never had such a purple patch, and I am rapidly assembling a new body of work in what is a different, freer style for me. Felt as if I had done a day's work by 10.00am. However pushed on with Betty the Spacegirl and I am about two thirds of the way through it now.

Spoke to Juley at The Sussex Beacon, who I'm going to meet on Monday and visit The Beacon for the first time in ages. In return for our donation they are happy to help publicise the CD and launch event (as it will result in increased money for them) so it is a win-win, and brings good karma.

Also spoke to the vet about cat politics, and the conmingling of Calliope with Basil and Brian.

Off to the Marlborough to try to finalise the days for the play in August, but the people I needed to talk to are busy and elusive. So met Cath for a coffee and then tried again, with Cath, to the same effect. After this Cath and I sensibly repaired to the Basketmakers where we met Matt, John and Betty and Mark and Lorraine. Then Lorraine and I had some tandooried chicken, and an early night. Feeling that I had made some good progress today.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Beacon

Up early thanks to Calliope. Felt run down, blocked up, and with a persistent sicky headache. Did however have another cracking hour or so on poems, which I am so pleased about I don't really want to say more in case I hex myself.

Also pushed on slowly and surely with Betty the Spacegirl and have agreed with Di and Adrian Turner to take some photos of us for the CD - which is spendid as Adrian is a top photographer. Phoned The Sussex Beacon who Matt and I want to give a proportion of the earnings from the CD to. Not only is this good karma for the project, but it is also the place where my friend Tim Gallagher found some real respite in his last months.

Spoke to Mum who was 'working on her head', another cat head as it transpires. Also to Matt to discuss various business things.

The Barbarie's email newsletter, Barb Wire, mentions Defenders of Guernsey which is rather nice.
In the evening off to Lorraine's house where we popped around the corner to pick up some light Chinese food. Sam there, barking World of Warcraft instructions in the corner, and Betty going through one of her drawers interrogating every piece. Mark arrived early from work and has just bought a smart Chinese semi-accoustic guitar with a snake design on it.

Very tired, and L and I repaired early to bed. Looking up at a star and moonlit clouds through the skylight before falling asleep.

Below a grab from the newsletter. Fun to see Mum's ghostly goat face cropping up here and there.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Back in the band

A wad of cotton wool in my head instead of a brain today, perhaps due to a slight cold.

Worked on amends to the atrial fibrillation work, and a bit of time on poems, which are going amazingly well at the moment. In the afternoon going through the score of This concert will fall in love with you and feeling rather nervous about the rehearsal due to the aforementioned brain.

Off to Sussex University rehearsal room to meet Matt. Was introduced to Cem Muharrem, who has replaced Ellie as she wasn't available for the recordings, but Cem seems to be an amazing violinist. Adam, Tom and Fingers Capra there too. Felt happy to be back with the gang. A little insight into the life of a musician, and the feelings of camaraderie that can go with it. For me all this is like being in a band for a few weeks, which as so much of my time is spent alone is rather nice. Rather sadly it makes me think of Yes, my favourite rock group, and helps me understand the stuff I've read about them. For example how the drummer Bill Bruford got utterly maddened by the bassist Chris Squire being continually late. We were all on time, but I can imagine how infuriating it is to hang about for two hours waiting for someone to turn up when you've set up.

Anyway, we biffed on through TCWFILWY and although I was a bit rusty found myself better at finding the cues than I'd hoped, and really getting into the performance. The music is very beautiful and to be in the presence of such amazing musicians is a bit gobsmacking. All of us were feeling good about it afterwards. Jumped into Glen's car after with Cem and Matt, and was enjoying being a passenger in the high-level musical conversations about composers, only half of whom I had even heard of. To the pub, and rejoined by Adam. A few beers, and then... To another pub for a few beers. Home late, feeling shattered but strangely relieved to be finally getting on with it.

Decided with Matt that we will call the CD Clameur. Matt has already started rehearsing the choir for the recording, and they have taken to the song Clameur greatly, and it sounds fabulous.

Below didn't have time to take photos, but here is a snap of L-R Fingers, Cem, Adam and Tom setting up.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Moment of confusion

Up early finishing off a some copy on atrial fibrillation, having first jotted down a new poem which suddenly popped out from what my new and abundant seam.

Was just making myself a self-satisfied cup of tea when Cath called round. Had an deep chat about Cath having just returned from a huge pilgrimage across Spain and landing with an inevitable bump. She is now looking for a job having taken voluntary redundancy from her last one, but wants to make some big shape ups too.

Off to the bank this afternoon, to pay in expenses from Guernsey, which lessened the sting of recent adventures. Walking to the gym I had a very disconcerted moment. I glimpsed Lorraine's doppelganger, bumped into my neighbour Ronnie, received a text about atrial fibrillation, and a clearly-deranged young guy, having walked unhindered, began shouting at Ronnie and I to 'get out of my town' and 'don't block the pavement'.

I had to cut short the gym to do some more work. And then a quiet evening with tired eyes, feeling listless and braindead watching a documentary about soldiers in Afghanistan, and reading Akhmatova. Haunting and deft work, she is fast becoming a literary pin-up. It's not often you fall for a poet's work so thoroughly.

Below Akhmatova by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (which is also on the cover of Richard McKane's translation).

Monday, June 06, 2011

Droves of nothing

Ooof. Up at seven this morning, rather blearily with an idea for a new play. But all such matters had to be set aside as I spent the cold rainy Monday writing about atrial fibrillation and strokes again. Nothing happened in droves during the day, and at 5:15 I went for a walk for an hour or so having been cooped up.

Found myself wandering into the pier, all the attractions closed and a few cold looking tourists on it. Spent a happy ten minutes watching two men in a small rubber dinghy spinning unsuccessfully for mackerel.

Home again, watched a documentary about the history of Ireland, then did more atrial fibrillation work, before watching All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace. This is a very provocative and interesting documentary series. Among the other ideas it propounded was that it is dehumanising to think of ourselves as machines designed to transmit DNA (the selfish gene). Also that as an unexpected outcome DNA can be seen as a soul correlate, cut to Dawkins talking about the prehistoric inheritance of DNA. It also suggests that to make war on those who are considered genetically disparate is inbuilt in us. Reasoning a bit impressionistic here and there, but still fascinating.

Below the weekend's dodgems looking like discarded slippers.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Mr Blue Sky goes AWOL

Hugely needed rain for most of the day today, after yesterday's blaze. Off to Nia cafe for breakfast with Lorraine and First Matie. Unfortunately Nia had reverted to its usual shambles and breakfast took ages. However if you are with First Matie and Lorraine a slow breakfast is no bad thing.

Dodging through the rain in the Laines popping into a graduate show of photography, one shot of the inside of a doll's house with the disproportionately large cobweb in it was very fairy tale and lovely. Then off with Kate to buy a fetching silk dress, and a listen to some banjo-plucking buskers sing Mr Blue Sky in the rain. One had a bass banjo, which is something you don't see every day. Either way Mr Blue Sky was going through my head all day, even after Lorraine was playing a folky album by The Unthanks.

Fond farewells to First Matie at the station, before going home for an enjoyably leisurely rainy Sunday afternoon. Lorraine reading books about leadership, me tinkering with poems, and roasting a chicken and steaming many vegetables. Betty came around to scarf with us in something of a rainy mood, but perked up before long. Later Mark popped by too, having been working at Riddle & Finns all day. Beth soon cheery again before heading off to work at Eastbourne.

After Lorraine went home, a quiet and blameless night lapping at sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Phew what a scorcher!

Matty, Craig and First Matie down for the day. Craig introduced us to Mel, his fiancee, who Lorraine and I warmed-to instantly. Mel is an American anglophile like Craig.

The weather was in phew what a scorcher! territory. And half of London had emptied out into Brighton. We meandered through the Lanes, which Mel had not been here before, and popped into Casa Don Carlos for tapas, and from there to the cheesy delights of the pier, where First Matie joined us. Lorraine keen on the coin rolling game, and the arcade catnip to Matt, Craig and Mel. Personally I think those arcades have a dedicated ring of purgatory, so enjoyed the sun with Kate looking out to sea till they were done, Matt clutching a small furry orange and purple prize.

Then a go on the dodgems, which I love, zooming about with Matty boy, Craig and Mel. Then the ladies went off shopping, while Craig, Matty and I repaired to The Cricketers for a couple of steadying beers. Heard how Craig had proposed to Mel on New Year's Eve without any premeditation, and that Matty had overheard this and surged through the pub on Strand on the Green spreading the good news, which resulted in Mel being given a false engagement ring with an LED light in it, and a free bottle of champagne from the pub. Only next morning did Craig and Mel re-examine the moment, to discover they were both really happy about it.

Then rejoined by the girls and off to The Basketmakers for a solitary beer before heading off to The Sussex Yeoman (actually the sign saying Y OMAN which is almost better) where we met Matty's sister Tasha and Steve, and their enormous spotted Great Dane called Eric. Tasha and Steve soon to be wed too. We talked about doing some theatre work with Tash later in the year which will be excellent as my current stars will all be off studying.

Dawn and Cath also arrived in The Sussex Yeoman (where I snarfed another Mason-inspired burger). Cath freshly returned from her five week Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, and looking tanned, fit and full of effervescent positivity. Dawn being cheeky as usual. A festival of chatting till late, and wended home with Lorraine and First Matie who stayed overnight.

Really enjoyed a day full of talk and people, not to mention some serious knife and forkwork, and several drinks. Lovely to have so many friends in town.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Freezing in the sunshine

A summer's day. Up and working on poems first thing as sometimes you have to ride that poetry pony. Into an editing phase now on the latest crop. I love this kind of tinkering, replacing individual words in poems you suspect are pretty good.

Called by the agency up in Tavistock Square, which pleased me greatly as the Kenny coffers need a new influx. Schlepped up into London, working on new poems, for a late afternoon briefing, London much hotter than Brighton. Somewhat disappointingly the brief turned out to be a day, day-and-a-half job. Still, better than nothing and nice to see some old friends again. Train home freezing due to exuberant air conditioning, reading Ahkmatova describing snowy Russian scenes and forlorn lovers.

Sudden mental exhaustion and depression when I got to Brighton. Wanted to go for a cheeky beer, and went around to Lorraine's house where I was fed, then we drove off to pick up Betty, who had been chaperoning two naughty children up in London for auditions all day, and who had a face like thunder when we arrived to collect them. Home again, having dropped off kids x2. Beer at last! But no, Lorraine had to move the car and another delay. Then to The Signalman. Halfway through my pint the world seemed suddenly entirely manageable again. Sometimes a simple beer, and the company of a most excellent woman, can penetrate the worst of glooms.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Poems and virtue

Seem to have poems pouring out of me at the moment. As to whether they are good or not is a completely other thing. Though I am also hacking into older poems that have been half finished for ages and simply finishing them. Also reading the poems of Akhmatova today for an hour or so. Some lovely work, and a major poet who to my shame I have not really got to grips with, beautifully translated by Richard McKane.

Otherwise a sluggish day, which even another trip to the gym did not fix. Arrangements flying about for a big get together in Brighton this weekend. Spoke to Anton today just after I had left the gym, on the important matter of calculating how many words could be formed from his own name without changing the order of the letters. A, an, ant, to, ton, tong, tonga, gal, etc. there are more if you include his middle name. I can't remember what that is as I type, but it's probably something like Adolf. Apparently my name was poor for this kind of thing, which in an obscure way reflected badly on me.

Long chats with Matt, who is starting to rehearse the choir today who will sing on our CD. Yikes... Things are all starting.

Another virtuous day of sipping water and teas and eating veggies.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Machines of Loving Grace

Rather trepidatious about my computer this morning. But whatever I'd done yesterday seems to have done the trick. As it is online, and running much better, which is a huge relief. I rely so much on my computer these days. I'd be lost without one.

Watched recently the first two episodes of fantastic documentary series 'All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace' by Adam Curtis on BBC2, which is a series of films about how humans have been colonised by the machines we have built. Can't stop thinking about the questions it raises. Have started noticing how things like facebook are actually a way for people turn themselves into data for example. If you get a chance to see these films, you should. The title is taken from this poem by Richard Brautigan which is good and new to me.

On with things today. Betty the Spacegirl mainly and some poetry. Also a long chat with Janet, followed by going collect Mum's artwork from Janet and Ken's place with Lorraine in her car. Janet worried about Rachel, Ken's daughter who stayed with them lately and is unwell. Otherwise an overdue trip to the gym, and a rigorous regime of food and water, as I am porking out again.