Thursday, March 31, 2011

New gizmo, no mojo

New gizmo today. I decided to treat myself to a flip video camera. These take good video, and operating it is idiot proof. It is about the size of a mobile phone. This means that I will pepper my blog with video soon. As this year seems rather extraordinary, what with performances and recordings and so on, it might be nice to have glimpses of what is going on for posterity.

Otherwise plodding on with the story. Mojo temporarily absent. My brain is drained. I am pleased with the plot, however. I sent what I had to Mum who is going to do a cover painting. Had a long chat with her today and was sorry to hear that her pesky shingles were being painful.

Biffed into the gym, and had a good session. I am doing 45 mins: a moderate 35 on the hulk legs machine, and 10 on the rowing. The machines tell me I am burning about 400 calories a session. This has to be better than nothing.

Had a hair cut today. The area of concern is going on the offensive, and boldly annexing new territory. Podgy barber butchered my hair too, and taking long call midway through the cursory cut.

Have downloaded some Indian ragas by Ravi Shankar. They are great to work to.

Lorraine's house this evening to have some supper with her, Beth and Sam. Sam busy on World of Warcraft and set off early sporting an amazing oriental hat with thick ribbons coming down from it. He has now settled on going to Leeds to study philosophy, exam results permitting. Nice sitting with Lorraine on her sofa sipping a bit of wine and vegging before the TV.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sonneteers

Another very broken night's sleep full of crazily violent and horrific dreams, leaving me feeling wan and tired. What is my subconscious trying to tell me?

Otherwise a quiet day working steadily on the new Skelton story. Off in the evening to the Marlborough to see Richard and Dipak playing thier Shakespearean sonnets set to music. Absolutely wonderful stuff, with today's selections hard to describe, a sort of timelessly beautiful music with hints of English folk, blues and bluegrass in it.

Over a beer with Richard afterwards went into a technical description about playing with firsts and fourths and so on, which I didn't really understand. They really impressed me tonight though. Steve was there too. Increasingly liking him, and he liked the lyrics I sent him, as I had wondered afterwards if he would have considered me a bit mad, sending him lyrics before seven the morning after a casual pub chat.

Below Richard and Dipak sitting in at the Marlborough Theatre open mic session.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A right royal lunchtime

Up early, turning on my phone having turned it off mid-quiz last night, and discovered a text from Jane, who is over in Blighty working as a Camilla lookalike. Took the opportunity to zip up to the Poetry Cafe on the edge of Covent Garden to meet her this lunchtime. We sloped into The Salisbury a favourite haunt of mine when in town. There we had a large glass of wine and some pub grub.

Enjoyed hearing about a remarkable turn of events which has seen Jane on national news, BBC in Guernsey (both TV and radio) a new book, not to mention a gazillion images, and a new book by Alison Jackson Kate and Wills Up the Aisle: A Right Royal Fairy Tale. Apparently the lookalikes refer to each other as the character they are portraying, rather like actors do. She quit a long standing education role in Guernsey last month, and has been super busy ever since. Also found time to discuss her own wedding plans, an event which is a mere two and a half weeks away.

Saw Jane onto her Gatwick express train, before jumping into mine where I finished reaing at last The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams which is the most exciting book I have read in ages, which examines the art in caves, the development of the human mind, the difference between Neanderthal and H. Sapiens, the beginnings of shamanism and religion in paleolithic people... Fascinating stuff.

A touch of narcolepsy this evening. Just plain tired for some reason. A blameless night tonight of sparkling waters and small foods.

Below Jane papped in London today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Questionable

A good day working on Skelton, a good session in the gym. Heard that the bipolarity pitch I worked on was successful, which is always good to hear. A nice note from Keith and from Graham the Van Gogh faced creative director.

I went late to the pub quiz and fell in with an odd assortment of guys who became increasingly dysfunctional as the night wore on. One or two of the people I was with last week arrived late. My new team came second and repaired to the Eddy and I went out of curiosity. There the arguing in the team grew increasingly fractious. I ventured to wonder aloud what might have happened if they had come third. Soon joined by a highly drunk gay married couple. The one with the potato face spent some time fondly massaging my shoulder, and that of the rather tired and emotional quizzer sat next to me.

Meanwhile an earnest youth, who had been showily reading Crime and Punishment at the bar joined us. I said I noticed he'd been reading Dostoevsky, and he asked if I had been spying on him. Mad as anything. Someone's dog then did the most astonishing fart. Disentangling myself from the potato faced fondler, the wild eyed Raskolnikov, and the arguing quiz posse, I left, pausing only to shake the hand of the barman who I pulled out of a fight last year. The evening air was cool and refreshing.

Just another night in Brighton.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jane on national news shocker

A quiet day, lurking about with Lorraine. Strange night of dreams - me dismembering bodies. Did little, watched TV in the evening. As we were watching the news a text from Richard that Jane was just about to be on it.

Watching the final Wonders of the Universe episode. Enjoyable stuff. A very clear description of the big bang theory, which to me, clearly not an expert, seems mindboggling and counter-intuitive. But it does make this tiny flicker of life on Earth seem an event so vanishingly small as to be irrelevant.

Below Jane on Channel 4 news today, in her lookalike mode as Camilla. Alison Jackson, who specialises in photographic sessions with lookalikes is satirising the forthcoming wedding. Some images from the report. I texted to Guernsey that Jane was the most famous person I know.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cave of forgotten dreams

Saturday, sloped home after a nice breakfast to potter about before Lorraine left for another huge rehearsal session for the un.sung show the Hullaballoo Quire are doing. I contented myself with a bit of work on my Guernsey story, and an hour or so mucking about on my guitar. In the evening met Lorraine for a cheeky beer in the Basketmakers, where we bumped into Matt. Then on to the Duke of York to watch Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog.

Wonderful film, and perfectly timed as I'm still reading The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis Williams. I wonder if Herzog was aware of the Lewis-Williams book. Take a look at a typically beautiful clip here. The 3D worked really well too, giving you a sense of wandering through the Chauvet Cave in southern France, which is not open to the public. They had to squeeze through some dire little holes to get there, so it was great to claustrophobia of course.

Annoyingly sitting in the balcony in the Duke of York was airless and a bit soporific and I fell asleep for a few minutes. D'oh. All the dreadful films I've kept awake through... I may try to see this one again.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Between a rock and a nice place

Strolled back to my house this morning, feeling happy in the cool morning sunshine. Finished some of the French work early. Then onto the Guernsey Skelly short story, which is going well. It will come in at about eight thousand words I think. But the plotting is mostly done, and weaves in two Guernsey legends.

Raised voices coming from outside my neighbour's house and I went out to investigate. A mad man had decided to squat on Jen's front step, and when she asked him to push off, he started shouting and abusing her. Jen had slammed the door and called the police. The gentleman, clearly not well, armed himself with a large rock and began berating me. I was very calm, and said nothing inflammatory, and eventually he cast the rock down heavily and shambled off down the Twitten. Jen rather shaken by all this aggro literally arriving at her front door, and we had a chat afterwards, till she was feeling a bit better. A little later some police called by and talked to her. Slightly put off course by this myself for a bit, but after a steadying cup of tea slipped back into the world of Skelly.

Met Matt this afternoon, and we repaired to the Batty, where we had a comprehensive costings meeting for the recording of our CD in July. It will prove an expensive business, but I figure the stars may never align in this way again, I am going to damn the torpedoes and go for it. It will also involve a CD launch concert in September.

Business concluded, we repaired to the Basketmakers, where we got into various conversations with the locals. Richard Gibson came too, and discussed his project of the Shakespearean sonnets set to music, which are quite lovely. He asked me to think of a name for the project and advise on their marketing.

Then to Lorraine's where L, Beth and I sloped off to our usual curry house. Lots of chatting and good fun. And then to bed, in rather loquacious form. Despite the occasional interjection of wild maniacs, my life is in a lovely place at the moment. And my old agency actually paid me today too - after a mere two months of badgering.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Game on

Woke up at 6:30 with my mind full of a fully formed lyric for the Sumerian Kyngs. It is called The dance of horses, and I simply got up and wrote it down and it was done in two minutes. It certainly is deranged enough for the Kyngs (stimulated by cave art I have been reading about). I sent it to Steve before 7am, and he wrote back at 9.00am saying they would try it out at their next rehearsal. Left me feeling I had done a day's work before most people get started - but there is always the possibility that in a day or so I will realise it is complete rubbish.

Working on the short Skelly in Guernsey story. Followed by another lively session in the gym. Enjoying the rowing now. In the late afternoon did some work for the French agency - a balanced and altogether satisfactory day. Perhaps it is the spring, but I feel like a kid in a toyshop at the moment.

This evening sloped down to Lorraine's house for a nice shepherd's pie with Lorraine and Betty. Lorraine served broccoli with it, over which she had squeezed lemon. Really nice touch that brought out the flavour.

Below something about this invitation made me snort decaf out of my nose. Something which I don't think has really happened to me before.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring

Biffed straight into writing schemes today. Had a good think about the Guernsey Literary Festival in May, and what I can do about the Children's workshops I am doing. Decided that I need to write a short story based in Guernsey starring Skelton Yawngrave, which I can give to the kids. Will include in it La Biche, which is a ghostly nanny-goat which was supposed to live a couple of hundred yards down the road from my Grandparents. Began writing straight away, and spent two hours in the cafe plotting it in great detail. Also phoned Mum to get her to paint La Biche for the cover.

After this goat-related business, and a lunchtime chat with Lorraine, and working in the cafe, I went for a walk by the seafront, feeling a swelling happiness and optimism. A beautiful day, and Spring has come at last. Hordes of people sitting on the pebble beach, young girls with blue legs in the breeze. People everywhere playing volleyball, strolling past strumming buskers and dozens of boys and youths on skateboards doing rubbish tricks in loose teeshirts. Seemed as if a great pent up longing for outdoor life had at last spilled out.

Home and more work on the story, and then summoned by text by Richard Gibson to the Evening Star to have a beer with my musician mates. Enjoyed chatting to Steve about his Sumerian Kyngs gig, while Richard and Dipak where wheeling and dealing with students who will record Richard's Shakespearean tunes. Glen (aka Fingers) was there too having been very busy of late. Chatting to Steve it turns out the lyricist of the Kyngs has left, and I half-jokingly said I'd try my hand. A good night. Joined later by Stu, who is harmonica player in the Kyngs and it turns out knows my old friend Paul aka Dr Spacetoad, and that I had briefly met him once when in the pub with Dr S. Another interesting dip into the world of Brighton's musicians. They all seem to know each other.

Below part of the seafront now that spring is here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Likely lads

Woken annoyingly early by Calliope rubbing my face with her cat-biscuity snout. Feeling cheery, but caught up in business admin, housekeeping, and shopping. A good spell in the gym though, iPod on random, rediscovering Won't get fooled again and Who are you? by the Who and that I liked rawk music again. At least for ten minutes.

Spoke to Mum to find out how she is doing with her cursed shingles. She is infectious and must carry a bell and shout unclean when abroad on the streets until the weekend, according to her doctor. Spoke to Lorraine who is working too much, and also to Beth who asked me to go with her to see one of her universities in April. It will be fun and induce a spot of time travelling as I look around a campus.

Below I found this photo of three likely lads l to R Bob, Carl and me. Not sure from when... Maybe 98. Me still sporting an earring. Crikey. Miss those kind of nights, and Carl and Bob.

A bite to eat

Here's one of the sketches from the first half of the Wrong show.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Ah-ha!

At the risk of sounding like a self-help book.... Over the last few years I have been in two modes. For the most part I have been positive, seeming to be lucky, and attracting good things into my life, and making enough money. Occasionally I been negative, and entertained fears of falure, poverty and so on. In this mode I become fixated on security, even becoming anxious about jobs that I could do in my sleep. Talking to Lorraine this weekend I realised that since the middle of January I have been driven by the negative motor more often than the positive one.

So today I simply decided to swap motors. Even when the train I had boarded simply broke down before it left the station, I kept a smile on my face. Once at work, I decided to be as positive as possible with the new Van Gogh-alike creative director, and was rapidly rewarded with the first smile I'd ever seen him have. Working with him we cut through the remaining work in minutes. A happy client.

Then I called in at my old agency in the same building, and instead of exploding with anger, I approached them in a positive and friendly way. Just as well, as it turns out they had paid me last Friday, but to a sort code I had supplied in error. At last that is being sorted out. Additionally I was paid for my Atrial Fibrillation work I did for Pat's agency on Friday too. So I am bouyantly solvent. Also was phoned by the French Agency who liked some work I had done for them at the weekend.

Then in the middle of the afternoon, all pitch work done, Keith told me to go home. As I was being carefully released back into the wild I called out a cheery goodbye, and to my suprise was given a spontaneous (and non-ironic) round of applause by everyone in the room.

Home and looking forward now to getting on with PK stuff. Late in the evening toddled off to the Batty for their pub quiz where I met Ronnie from the Twitten, and some of her mates - including one who was a murder detective. We came second again. But a spot of harmless fun.

It seems Spring arrived today, both in the weather, and inside me too. Amazing how, time and again, I seem to have to learn exactly the same life lessons.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Mound

Lorraine and I called in at the Mound, variously described as a community garden, on a patch of land in the centre of Brighton which has been unusued for 14 years. Some community gardeners have cleared it out of the years of accumulated dumped rubbish, and are starting little raised beds and trying to coax some life out of the stony ground. Just read that the developers have sent strong arm men in there to rough them up, although there is no intent to build on the land for the foreseeable future. It is going to court next week. I hope the gardeners prevail.

Then a spot of shopping: or rather Lorraine trying on various dresses to wear at Richard and Jane's wedding and me offering opinions. Nothing bought. Then off for an amble by the sea, which felt warm in the sun, and a sit in the Pavilion gardens for a cup of tea.

Mum called and I was sad to hear that she has shingles, which is affecting her leg, and is at least pleased that it has now been diagnosed. Looking forward to getting Monday over with.

Below the Mound on Church Street.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A spot of psych swamp grooving

Flash a-ah he'll save everyone of us! Lorraine sang repeatedly in my face in bed this morning, along with a mad sort of musical laughing. Both from a Queen song her choir are singing for their forthcoming show called 'un.sung'. Lorraine in the bowels of a cold church hall for five hours this afternoon in rehearsals. Having returned home to bask in the warmth and feed Calliope, I did little and loved it. After a text from Matt, like a salmon skipping upriver, I headed to The Basketmakers where John was with half a dozen members of his family, plus Matt and Ma and Pa Pollard. John and his family left fairly quickly. But later Wayne and Lorraine joined us after six when she had finished her singing. Then up the hill to Brighton Tavern for another quick drink and for Matt and Dave, his dad, to be seized by a drunken young woman.

Lorraine and I cabbed to Hove to see Steve Cartwright in his band Sumerian Kyngs. We were late for the first act which was Tim's Wild Orchid Slideshow. I was sorry I missed this as what I saw was intriguing. A man projected images of wild orchids, to the accompaniment of freeform improvisation. The lead instrument was a saw, which when we entered was being rubbed and banged on the floor to the accompaniment of strange soundwashes, and then bowed.

A good crowd, mostly in their fifties (as were the bands) and beyond, but with some young folks too. Before he went on stage Steve pointed out the writer Robert Rankin in the crowd, who is a fan of the Kyngs. 'Psych Swamp Groove' was exactly right for the grooves were swampy, with washes of various psychedelic keyboardy treatments, cut through with some excellent guitar work, mouth organ, and from Steve some authoritative and exploratory saxophony. Their frontman was quite charismatic and, like Jesus, moved in mysterious ways. Wild freeform music.

Lorraine and I then slipped off home. The moon at apogee, closer to the earth than at any time in the last 18 years, and looming huge and beautiful in the cloudless sky over Brighton. Home in time to watch Match of the Day too.

Below The Sumerian Kyngs... Just found this on You Tube. The band has a different line up now, but gives you an insight into psych swamp groove. Steve is the one barking in German, and playing sax.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Fast forward

Unable to find the fast forward button. Work dragged interminably and I was longing to be at home. This unlike me. The Van Gogh-alike creative director returned from a two day absence. He is good at his job. But this experience has confirmed, if any confirmation was necessary, that I have to be my own boss or work collaboratively.

When six o'clock came around at last, and I bolted from Glamoursmith as if pursued by enraged pitbulls. Elated on the train, as I have only one more day in Glamoursmith (Monday), and then I am going to focus on PK stuff. Plus the French client coughed up what they owed me, which made me feel that some celestial log jam may at last be freeing itself.

Richard and Jane are getting married on the 15th April, and so Lorraine and I are going to zoom over to Guernsey for a few days of spring niceness and a celebration. I'm really looking forward to it.

Home and Lorraine was at my house, having worked there this afternoon while Alf the plumber did his business. Boiler working again. And there is blessed heat in my house! Lorraine had also tidied and done some washing up too, and mopped up a slight flood caused by a tap dripping in a plugged sink. Then out with Lorraine. Snapping into a few poppadoms, and sipping a crisp Cobra lager suddenly all was very right with the world.

Back to Lorraine's for a bit of banter with Beth and Mark and Kayleigh before boofing happily into blessed bed.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Long day

Up to Glamoursmith again. Locked in rooms with Keith, and lunch at the nearby Plum cafe which specialises in a patented brand of unsmiling service. Nice meal there though, and a good chat with Keith, who is a nice guy, and a really good art director, so working with him is a pleasure.

However the day dragged on for hours, later hunched over an industrial strength Mac putting ideas together. I did not get home to my cold house till ten, feeling stressed, hypochondriac and tired during the journey, dimly aware of people in Hammersmith pubs celebrating St Paddy's day. When I finally got home, heated up a bit of frozen bean jar and scooped it down crouching with Calliope around the heater.

Below an arty shot of the light shade in the room Keith and I were working in. You can just see Keith as a splash of green in the corner, and it gives you an idea of the, um, creative process.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

An old haunt

Shallow sleep. Woke for the third night in a row at exactly 4:10am. Very tired by noon again. Nowhere near such a fluent day's work on bipolar mania. Managed however, to sneak away at lunch into a room and find a comfortable seat and listen to a guided meditation tape which rebooted me enough to carry on. I can't remember enjoying listening to it more. Slumped on an butter yellow bean chair cube thing, wedged into the corner of a meeting room. Eccentric, moi? I am weirdly twitchy at the moment, but nothing that can be particularly pinned to anything, which is annoying.

Bullying the French clients to get them to pay for a day they owe me in January. I hate having to be objectionable just to get the money I'm owed. Home some time after eight. House cold. Calliope tetchy. I bought a self-harming pizza from M&S and ate it, not being bothered to cook fresh food. Mum sent me pictures of a Jaguar she is making. Really good. Now: a hotwater bottle, an early night, a quick read of Paul Klees' 1916 diary, and then a sleeping pill.

Below a few snaps of my walk through the Magravine Graveyard. I am fascinated by this oasis of interest in ghastly Glamoursmith, and it was slightly misty and lovely this morning. I had to tear myself away to work, and could have haunted the graveyard all morning.





Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tipping

To Glamoursmith again today. Sunny morning, train chugging through a countryside that's on the cusp of burgeoning. Listening to Tolkein and feeling reasonably cheery. Once in Hammersmith, walking through Magravine graveyard which was full of spring flowers among the tipping angles of its headstones.

Enjoyed working with Keith today. Had lots of ideas and quite a few mad laughs about things. The new creative director seems quite good, if short on laughs, and reminds me of the self-portraits of Van Gogh. Also managed to pop into my old agency to 'discuss' my payments. The poor girl I was going to talk to actually hid by the photocopier when I arrived, and was grassed up by someone who happened to be standing there. Some of what they owe may be paid this week if I am to believe what I am told. I am not sure I do.

Went for a walk into Hammersmith at lunch, and felt as if I were saying goodbye to it. So many threads of my life have been woven into that stretch of West London, and today I was walking among memories, and part of me quite pleased to push off afterwards.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blue Anchors

Up to London today to work with Keith on bipolararity. Sitting about much of the day trying to get my head around manic depression, and reading testimonials from people with the condition. Making me think of Mark an old University friend who died in a motorcycle accent, who in retrospect must have had this condition. Had lunch at The Blue Anchor, an old haunt by the river where I had bits of salad and some nice thai style salmon fishcakes and generally caught up with agency gossip with Keith. At one moment thought about Mark as a Blue Anchor too, a catch of sadness somewhere deep inside when I thought about him.

Nice few chats with people before leaving at a very reasonable hour to get home. Listening to The Lord of the Rings again as an audiobook, which Anton is doing too. Even though I have read that book dozens of times, I still find new bits of description in it that have never registered before. Journeys today all without incident, which was unusual and nice.

Otherwise still watching with horror the situation in Japan. Having been to the country, and knowing people there makes me feel more keenly what an awful thing it is.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Two turkeys

Another good night's sleep, this time without drugs. Weighed myself this morning, on Lorraine's prompting, and pleased to learn that I have now lost the equivalent of two turkeys - 9 kilos (almost 20lbs) this year. Quite pleased to learn this as I worried that I had simply put weight back on during the play and so on. My target is 20 kilos for the year, and I seem to be on track.

In the afternoon off with Lorraine driving up into the Downs. It was a foggy day, and the horizon disappeared and isolating the trees against a depthless grey. We went to Alfriston, a perfect little Sussex Village with many flint walls, and visited the Clergy House which dates back to the 1350s. Lovely little building with nice gardens. Rainy and misty while we were there, but fun.

Lorraine drove me back home and I went to the Twitten meeting. Lots of chatting about poos (canine and human), nocturnal micturators, drug dealers, forming a reading group and generally having a laugh, which seems to be the normal business of the Twitten. Went to the Batty afterwards with Alex and Jen from next door, Alex's sister Charlotte and Justin from the other end of the Twitten. Met a nice guy from Toronto, who was a friend of Justin's. Anon arrived with a posse from his street, meeting about their street party to be held during the Royal wedding.

I returned home to do some bits and pieces, then met Anton for a late cheeky in the Eddy, as usual fun to catch up.

Below Alfriston The Star Inn, a detail of carving on the pub, The Church on the village green,and a glimpse of The Clergy House in Alfriston, oak beams dating back to the 14th century, as does the carving detail of the oak leaf.


































Saturday, March 12, 2011

Roadrunners

Thanks to another sleeping pill aided night, a good night's sleep. My mood swung around 180 degrees too. Lorraine off with Beth to London today, and I sloped home and went to the gym, where I did a mild mannered workout. I am much improved and have concluded my strange nightmares, gasping for breath etc were a result of exhaustion caused by insomnia as my nights have thankfully suddenly reverted to normalcy.

Generally got my head sorted out this afternoon, which was not before time, and felt much cheered come this evening. Lorraine and I went off to a local pub where we met Dawn, and some of Dawn's pals for a fun evening listening to a band called the Roadrunners. Very competent musicians with a good saxophonist called Mick, who Lorraine and Dawn knew well, and a general Little Feet type swing to them, which dragged some women up to dance. Although tempted I didn't join in as I would have looked like a big chump. Matt turned up too, which was nice. He'd spent five hours recording songs with The Rainbow Chorus, with Steve the engineer who will record our music too later in the year. Apparently the choir have not sounded so good ever, and Steve is a really good engineer, which bodes well for us.

Had a good laugh with lots of ladies and my lovely Lorraine. All good fun, and a consciousness that I am surrounded by friends in a great little town where even the bands that play in pubs are extremely talented. All well.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Amateur hour

Awful news about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. The TV full of film of the tsumami surging across fields and towns engulfing all before it. I am worried for Hiroko and Raine who live on the east coast of Japan in Makinohara in the Shizuoka area. It seems though that because it is a long way south, it would not have been hit as the fault ran parallel to the north eastern coastline, and the tusnami went straight inland or out to sea. So as far as I can tell Makinohara, where Hiroko lives, wasn't affected by the Tsunami. Romy has not been able to contact her mother and sister yet. Facebook coming into its own with an ex-colleage posting stranded in Narita airport, and uploading photos of people sleeping on the floor.

Otherwise I was more animated today thanks to the sleeping pill last night. Managed to get into the final stages of my poem The Moth Display which I have been tinkering with for about four years. Also began writing a new play, an SF spoof, which is starting very well.

Unaccountably tetchy by the evening. Not helped by tiredness, and two of my clients showing no signs of paying for work I did in January. House without heat or hot water, other than my shower. Japanese events however make my petty gripes seem like nothing.

In the evening off to Lewes for the snappily titled Root & Branch, The Moss Rich ‘Sounding the Site’ Poetry Prizegiving at the Foundry Gallery. The event also had some film and music, involving choirs. Turns out that there had been lots of people 'shortlisted' for the poetry prize, presumably to build up the numbers. Many had schlepped there to receive no prize nor even a namecheck, which must have galled.

I was runner up in the 'general public' category, as this was done in league with the university. I loathed being a runner-up. It was a very mediocre field, judging by the poems read out. The winner in my category was a nice piece about having a new garden. Dragged myself to the stage, to be handed a piece of paper with 'Runner Up' written on it by the very sweet Mrs Rich. Her husband Moss Rich sent us a message by film as he is in hospital but is a rather sparkling 101. Meanwhile the evening's host congratulating poets on their ability to just get up and read. I read my poem very well, which made me feel a bit better. But runner up? I've spent all my life being a good loser, and I am sick of it.

There was new music by Helen Glavin called Anthem for Trees. This was melodic and rather lovely. But I think Matt's influence has got to me and I found it rather unchallenging. The choirs were newly formed but were very likeable for all that.

At the end there were some short filmed sequences. The first called The Lonely Queen was about a mermaid, which when it mentioned trees, the film showed us trees, and when it mentioned a river, the camera showed us a river. I wish someone would explain that far more interesting things happen when you do not duplicate what you see with what you say.

By now I was in a hateful faultfinding mood, with my positive principles having checked out for the night. Stomped up the hill to the Lewes Arms with Lorraine where we had a restoring pint of Harveys before returning quickly to Brighton, bag weighed down by the Pighog Poetry books I'd won as my prize.

Below: reading my poem. Lighting showing off jowls nicely.



Thursday, March 10, 2011

Into the arms of Morpheus

Another bad night staring at the ceiling till dawn. Off to the mountebank this morning and was given sleeping pills. Too braindead to do anything much, managed two hours of sleep on the sofa this afternoon, which made me feel human again.

Simon aka Alf the plumber came by and took my boiler apart. It is like waiting for the outcome of a serious surgery. Will it pull through? The fan which draws the gas up to heat the water no longer works. I am looking at a hefty bill plus a week without a boiler. Simon however a lovely chap, and he even knew about the play having done some work at John's house lately. Calliope very much involved in the pluming action.

Have been using Lorraine's blower heater, however this was pointing at my best shoes, and has affected one so that the sole has begun to come away from the shoe. I can't believe how much money I can hemorrhage by sitting quietly at home.

Actually looking forward to being in bed. Maybe the pill will help me slump into the arms of Morpheus. Perhaps I should give the cat one too.



Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Bean-based comfort

Slightly less exhausted this morning. Walked home from Lorraine's house, stopping at Sainsbury's to get some meat and fresh herbs for my bean jar. Then got on with some French work in the morning, which took about twice as long as it ought.

House cold, but the cooker busy with bean jar all day took the edge off. Lorraine has lent me one of those small convection heaters that warms your ankles at the desk so all is well. Used facebook to propogate the PK bean jar. And my bean jar did not disappoint when ready. It does fill the house with a lovely smell when it cooks.

Chased payments, with my old agency the worst offender as usual. I may be working in the same building next week for a different agency, however, so I can lean on them in person.

Worked on poetry, as Skelton seemed like too much of a rockface today. It is frustrating because the new version is so much better, but I can't seem to get a proper run at it.

In the afternoon to meet Betty and Mark for a wash up meeting. We met at the Marlborough, but none of the theatre people were there to corral and discuss the theatre's availability with, so we walked around the corner to little red rooster and discussed our options over coffee. New plan is to put on Wrong, plus two new half hour pieces in June. This gives us time to prepare a new show, ditch the first half and write some new bits. I have in mind a spoof SF piece, as a companion piece to Wrong. When I can I will post up the zombie sketch 'A bite to eat' here.

In the evening popped into the Evening Star to meet Richard and Steve. But after one pint I felt exhausted and came home early. Steve was telling me he is in a 'psych swamp groove' band called Sumerian Kyngs who have a gig in a week or so, which I would be interested to see. Steve also knows my old friend Dr Spacetoad well. It is a small world.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Down to earth with a bump

Woke up feeling wretched and exhausted. I will have to talk to the doctor about sleep apnoea as I have been waking up as much as twelve times a night, sometimes gasping for breath and having dreams about drowning. Apart from the health implications, it has left me exhausted and unable to concentrate. This has come on acutely in the last two weeks but its effects really hit home today. It is provoked by being overweight, strange then it should happen when I have in fact lost weight. Being overtired seems to make it worse, and of course being unable to sleep makes you overtired. Not good.

Stared uselessly at two pages of Skelton Yawngrave for four hours until the boiler stopped working. I tried and failed to fix this for a couple of hours, before realising there was a flood in the kitchen as the boiler overflow was incorrectly positioned. When I had altered the water pressure about a quarter of the water had simply poured into the kitchen below. House freezing, spent some time sopping up cold water with the oven on for warmth.

The angelic Lorraine collected me on the way back from work and took me back to her house to eat sausage, mash peas and gravy, and drink sparkling water. Brooded on her sofa thinking about Newton's Third Law of equal and opposite reactions.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Riding the lucky streak

Delighted to get a phone call this afternoon from Pighog Press. They are a Sussex-based poetry publisher who are running a poetry competition. I entered it primarily to raise my profile with them in the unlikely event of winning.

Luckily I have been shortlisted for a prize, and they invited me to nearby Lewes on Friday night to the prize giving. It is unlikely I would have been invited without a placing so this is good news. I entered my poem a month early as I had misread the closing date and as a consequence it was undercooked, but surprisingly it seems to have done the trick.

Otherwise a slightly out of focus day. Went to the gym, caught up with emails and in the evening went to the Battle of Trafalgar to join various denizens of Twitten in entering a pub quiz. We came second with 113 points, while the winners had 114. Still, we made our entrance fee back.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Gold sofa day

Yippee! Busy doing nothing today. Lorraine and I reading the paper on my gold sofa. At one point I decided to clean the filter of my aquarium, but this necessitated moving the sofa, then vacuuming all the appalling things that were under there. Lorraine noticed spiderwebs and soon we were seeking specialised nozzles and hoovering the ceiling, as well as carrying buckets of water for the tank.

I cooked a large Sunday roast with six veggies and we ate this. Later Betty came by to collect Lorraine. Beth has just been selected to sing a solo in The Royal Albert Hall when there is an orgy of 100 stage schools performing bits from musicals. It will be her last stage school performance and she is going out on a high, even though the event sounds like a species of Dantesque purgatory to me. Things are going well for her. She and Mark are well up for more performances of Wrong, so we will sort those out in the coming week.

In the evening I sat on the sofa in an improving way, reading more of The Mind in the Cave and watching The Wonders of the Universe which was all about time and entropy. It is rather beautiful to watch the elf-haired Dr Brian Cox stand about amid some amazing landscapes. Photography lovely, except for vignetting him from time to time. Then Match of the Day, where Manchester United were roundly beaten by Liverpool. I had texted Anton to be sure not to miss it, but heard nothing back.

And so to bed.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Spaniel's teeth

The Tempur mattress in Lorraine's bed is marvellous. Best night sleep for at least a week. Had a cheery breakfast with Pat and Maureen, who gave me a cactus before I went home.

At 4:30 I went off to The Basketmakers pausing in the Twitten to pat the head of a spaniel owned by Ronnie, one of my neighbours. The dog was audibly chattering its teeth, and when I smoothed its head the chattering got worse. Ronnie said it does it out excitement.

Basketmakers very busy. There to meet Matt of course, who is over his temporary enthusiasm bypass, and is now full of purpose and biffing on with things, many of which we discussed at length, until interrupted by Tom one of the locals who, being Irish, is putting on a night called Tomfoolery on St.Patrick's day. Lorraine, meanwhile, singing for several hours this afternoon with the Hullaballoo choir, in a church hall very near the Basketmakers. She collected me after soothing her mellifluous pipes with a pint and, with some regret on my part, we left the pub.

In the evening off to Donatellos Itallian restaurant which was so noisy that you could barely hear the person sitting next to you even if they were bellowing. Here we met Jess whose birthday it had been that week, and her partner Andrew and I met Sandra and Karen their pals. Enjoyed the company but the restaurant sucked.

Home, and Lorraine asleep the instant she hit the gold sofa, so I had time to watch a little footie before bedtime.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Strolling about

Mum, who had been drinking wine steadily last night as she chatted to everyone, was bright as a button this morning. Her #1 son in contrast felt rather shabby. Things improved with a large bowl of muesli and a refreshing walk by the sea. Stopped at The Meeting Place for a reviving cup of tea in the sun looking at the sea and dogs hurtling about over the pebbles. As we did this I completely forgot to help Betty remove the props from the theatre. Luckily she managed it on her own and forgave me.

Later after walking back into Brighton lunched at The Giggling Squid. Rather nice Thai tapas and fruit juice, with an entertaining gurning baby on the next table. Home, and I escorted Mum back to the station (due to a Police request) and made sure she boarded the London train.

In the evening strolled down to Lorraine's house. Let myself in to find Lorraine, Pat and Maureen all asleep on the sofa. Out soon for a curry (diet starts again next week) with Pat and Maureen, Lorraine's folks, plus Betty and her pal Jo. Everyone rather tired, but good fun. The waiter wanting to send Lorraine his PhD thesis for her to read, which was rather sweet - if a little above and beyond the call of duty.

Watched the video recording of the show before going to bed. The critical side of me kicking in and wincing here and there. But really happy there is at least some record of the night.

Sad to hear yesterday that Spike, a real Brighton character Lorraine and I had spent an evening with in the Brighton Tavern last year, had died. Spike had a rat called Mr Coombes he kept in his pocket and made sexual advances to both Lorraine and me during the evening. He was catholic in his tastes.

I'm happy. There seem so many possibilities and opportunities right now. But first... I need a little quiet time.

Below a seagull looking at a starfish prior to eating it. Unclear if the starfish is looking back, although it may have been preparing an armed response.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Another fantastic show

Cat on a hot tin roofing it today waiting for the show to arrive. In the morning a spot of work, gym, then Sainsburys and was busy contemplating the two hour cleanup I needed to do before my Mum arrived, when she arrived. Afternoon mooching with Mum down by the sea, spotting dozens of starfish being pulled from the sea by gulls as it was a very low tide. Then a warming coffee before a plate of morale stiffening fish and chips on a seafront cafe.

Arrived at the Marlborough Theatre at six to find Betty and Mark there drinking a nervous pint, along with Paul who'd come down from London to see it, despite having his ears talked off my Lorraine in Ye Old Cheshire Cheese. I left Mum and Paul to it, and scarpered upstairs to help set the stage and wring my hands. Betty and Mark both extra nervous tonight, which I thought was a good sign.

Then downstairs to drink steadying beers and chatter nervously to friends. Much relieved by Lorraine's arrival as she makes me calm.

Then it was time again. The theatre was almost at capacity lots of friends and family. Nice to see Richard Gibson and Steve and Dipak there, plus Matt and John. Interestingly different audience tonight -- picking up on different laugh lines -- but laughing and attentive.

Mark gave a powerhouse performance, but Beth was the biggest revelation. Whenever I have seen her act she has had to make do with fairly uninspiring roles. I had always suspected that she had real comedy talent, but I had my expectations greatly exceeded: she is fantastic. Her timing is impeccable and she has an outstanding comedic presence. And people were full of praise for her afterwards. Mark and Beth work together exceptionally well. Callum put in another Stirling performance I couldn't have asked more from any of them. There was a camera running during the show, so I may at some point be able to post some excerpts.

I felt proud of myself too. Wrong was originally written about ten years ago, and its time has come round at last, helped by perfect casting. Suddenly I realised that it is a tidily constructed and funny piece that works as drama. And this is a tremendous boost to my confidence. Tarik who runs the Marlborough came to watch the play and told me loved it, and we're going to have a meeting as he was keen for me to do other things there. Handily I have at least two strong plays almost ready to go: success happens when preparation meets opportunity.

So many people were complimentary about the show afterwards that it was impossible to evade the conclusion, once again, that I am exceedingly big and clever. Had a lovely evening afterwards with cast and most of the audience in the side bar at the Marlborough. Mum had a great time, much of the time spent chatting to Pat and Maureen.

For me it was an evening I won't forget.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Down time and two dates

A slightly slow start to today, after last night's liveliness. Had to do some work for my French clients in the morning and then, after another futile attempt to get my old agency to pay me, applied myself to some loafing and idling. General cheeriness about how the play went last night.

News about the literary festival in Guernsey. I shall be leading a session on writing for children in a large tent erected in the town square. There is a school party of 60 booked on it I am told that the children 'have complex needs both physical and mental'. Again I'll be out of my comfort zone but I am quite looking forward to this. I also have a secret weapon in my glamorous assistant Lorraine. Not at all worried by the fact it is happening on Friday 13th of May. No sir. Not me.

Also Matt sent me the date of 2nd July which is our recording date for This concert will fall in love with you. We will be doing this in the evening. Matt has decided we record it in St Michael and All Angels as the quality of the sound was so good there. Weather is going to be a factor, and if it is really windy, for example, this could affect the recording or lend it a certain atmosphere. I can't wait for this to be in the bag so people can hear how beautiful it is.

Spoke to Lorraine this evening. Who apart from having to cope with the luvvie fest is having an incredibly busy work week. Her uncle Steve was taken ill on Tuesday with what appears to have been some sort of thrombotic event, however he is out of hospital.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Wrong goes very right

The big play day today. Rushed about doing a few jobs before going to meet Beth, Mark and Callum at Lorraine's house. Beth and I taxied to The Marlborough with props and we met Amy there. Much of the day spent setting things up, running the play, making phone calls, while Amy fiddled with sound systems and the lights. Nice to see the actors with costumes, make up, fake blood and wounds etc. plus slices of turkey and cranberry to eat off the corpse.

I was also liaising with Tarik, who runs the Theatre with David.

Everyone behaving professionally and well all day. Much relieved to see Beth and Mark run through Wrong unscathed in rehearsal -- it was great to see all three just go for it in a very uninhibited way. Broke for a late pizza in a local restaurant at 3:30 as everyone was suddenly starving.

Lorraine and Glenda, Mark's Mum, arrived early bringing calm and organisation. I repaired down to the bar for a steadying few drinks. Learned about people dropping out at the last minute before the show. Tarik, trying to cheer me up, said that an audience of ten was good for a Tuesday. However we had over thirty which filled up the little theatre quite nicely. I am expecting many more on Thursday, however, when we do it again. Surprised to see my neighbours Alex and Jen arriving as well as Marja and Sarah Freems driving down from London.

Every piece worked. Lots of laughs in my Zombie piece A bite to eat. Beth and Mark doing appalling zombie noises from behind the curtain before it started. Lovely stuff, and B&M injecting comedy at every turn. Then Callum performed my fragment Mistake with chilling excellence and went straight into a caricature piece Mark had written called Amdram Timmy, performing it brilliantly. Then they segued into my late friend Tim Gallagher's piece Job Application. (A bit like seeing a ghost hearing Tim's words performed again -- and of course the reason why the corpse in all the pieces is called Timmy in tribute).

Wrong went off like a cracker. Both Beth and Mark hilarious in the part, and bringing out loads of laughs. I felt fantastic, because the play really emerges as an excellent piece of work with them performing it. Callum a great corpse too, adding deft touches here and there.

Down to the bar afterwards, the cast delighted, and lots of people saying how good the evening was. I had a couple more drinks and arrived at the notion that I was, in fact, exceedingly big and clever. An insight I was not afraid to share with people. Ended the night having an absolutely bloody final beer at midnight with Sam (who is coming on Thursday) and a buzzing Beth and Mark. All well.

Below some snaps I took during the dress rehearsal. Amy being 'production elf', Callum rehearsing Mistake, Beth rehearsing A bite to eat, and Mark in a lovely shot, also rehearsing A bite to eat.