Saturday, April 30, 2011

Satnav Saturday

Lorraine up early this morning to drive Betty and Mark off to catch their coach taking them to the Royal Albert Hall where they were performing an excerpt from Chess. Lorraine returned bearing teas and coaxed your favourite blogger from bed in time to drive up to London, partially guided by the new satnav I bought Lorraine. This all well and good, but took us twice from the main motorway up sliproads only to return us the motorway we'd been just left a few minutes earlier. Lorraine already quite clear that the satnav she calls Gabby Gita is not the boss of her.

Arrived at Mum and Mason's, and before long we piled into their car and heading off to St Albans where we met Tanya and Robert in their usual Thai restaurant. Nice meal and then walking back through the street market and Mase and Lorraine scoring large bags of vegetables. I like St Albans and its Roman roots.

Kidnapped mum and drove her and a good deal of her artwork back to Brighton, her struggling subdued by playing extraordinary loud Philip Glass music to her in the back seat. Arrived in time to have a bite to eat and sneak off to meet Anna and Brian who were having a cheeky beer outside the Dorset. Everyone rather surprised to see it raining as we sat outside under a canopy and one of those outside heaters. Mum having a laugh, and once the rain had died down we three sidled home, cleverly avoiding the round two of cocktails that Brian had teed up for Anna and himself.

Home with no harm done.

Friday, April 29, 2011

An angtröm of interest

If you peer down the world's most powerful electron microscope in the USA's Department of Energy's National Center for Electron Microscopy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Library you might just be able to locate the interest I have in The British Royal Family.

So instead of gawping like a peasant at the wedding I was writing Defenders of Guernsey till mid afternoon, but as I ate some species of noodle at lunch I did watch them kissing on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. Jane Mosse (now Fleming of course) was there too cleverly disguised as Camilla and I particularly enjoyed seeing the Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire fly over a rather lovely looking London. Only a churl would wish them anything but happiness as individuals.

Anton and Anna's street involved in a large party, requiring them all to wear hats, so Anton dropped by to borrow my straw. Matt also dropped in later once I'd finished work and we discussed our harmonious business, before repairing to The Basketmakers, which in collaboration with The Eagle was having a street party. Sat in the pub much as usual, observing how women were dressed in wedding gear, and others were toasting the royal couple with sparkling wines. People were having enormous fun and this was great to see. Bumped into Glenda (sporting a Union Flag top) and Richard, Mark's folks, in the pub. Lorraine arrived too and watched Matt and I drink a couple of beers before we returned home to Lorraine's place to have supper with Betty and Mark and their pals Amy and Jo.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Eagle day

Slightly monomaniac day. Worked continuously on what is now called Defenders of Guernsey, the 12k word story I am writing for the festival. It is a race against time, but I am pleased with its density of action and event which I think works for 10 year olds. Took a gym break in the afternoon, but feeling hot and had no gas in the tank.

In the evening sauntered down to Lorriane's place to eat supper with her, Betty, Sam and Mark. They went their various ways, and Lorraine and I went for a walk dropping into The Signalman for a sedate glass of beer before returning home to her place and a welcome early night.

A new sign that I am becoming middle aged: I downloaded Their Greatest Hits 1971-75 by The Eagles and am really enjoying it. I found them a bit boring at the time, but find them toe tappers now. Maybe it's all this sun.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Working from the early morning to 11pm on the Guernsey story. This did include a rather idle afternoon. It is coming together well but this is going to go to the wire. I should have it ready in the next few days, to have it ready in time to be printed for the Guernsey Literary Festival which is beginning to loom. Curiously I seem to work better to a deadline.

In the afternoon popped over to the Marlborough Theatre and have provisionally booked more nights in June for Wrong and Betty the Spacegirl.

Nice chat with David and Tarik along with a new person called Jess. David doing a show a few yards away in the Nightingale Theatre next month, so it will be rude not to watch it. Felt happy to get the drama things rolling again.

Otherwise a quiet day. Spoke to Mum, and Lorraine. Kept out of trouble.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Calliope woke me very early this morning and I got up if only to retrieve the two pairs of balled socks she had transferred overnight from my sock draw to the sofa downstairs. I put this cat-induced start to good use, and pushed on with the second draft. The first draft is just a blurt, and for me the second trawl through is where you turn it into something which seems to be a story. This followed by protracted and therapeutic ironing.

With still-rigid neck, I opted not to go to the gym, but instead had a two hour walk late in the sunshine of the afternoon. Sauntered along the seafront and then up above the sheer bit behind the marina. Noticed You are not alone signs with telephone numbers for The Samaritans, so I guess a few have quietly chucked themselves from it. I did not take a camera, nor an iPod and actually found this pure thinking time very useful, walking along in a world of my own listening to the jukebox in my head.

A quiet and blameless night indoors. Read yet again the HG Wells' story The Door in the Wall, which is simply haunting.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Ridiculously stiff neck today. I can't look upwards, nor move my head from side to side. Walked about for most of the day as if someone had slid a plank up the back of my shirt. Worked on the Skelton story, which I have now to focus on unwaveringly to get done in time. Weeding out longueurs and generally tightening. Also want to get writing Betty the Spacegirl, as I keep having ideas for that.

In the afternoon sauntered back to Lorraine's house in the sun, where she drove Beth and I to the garden centre and then to Maidenhead Aquatics. Beth bought six harlequin tetras, I confined myself to buying fishfood although was sorely tempted by Congo tetras.

Lurked at Lorraine's chatting with her, and was fed a lovely supper before I slipped home. Listening tonight to some music Fingers Capra gave me... A mad piece by Mosolov called Iron Foundry, and Prokofiev's Symphony No.3. Muscular Russian stuff, and liking the more gentle Andante in Prokofiev. Plus the French born Varèse's piece Arcana. The Mosolov piece actually sounding like a titanic foundry in operation. An education on a CD so it is.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hot under the collar

Up early to complete work on writing answers to some questions I'd been asked for a Guernsey Literary Festival blog. The amazing weather continuing. Feeling much repaired today.

As I worked, new second home neighbours opposite using noisy and unnecessary garden tools. A blowers on for minutes to convey three leaves and a piece of paper across their small decking. This soon replaced by the continuous sound of protesters just outside Brighton Station. An unpleasant neo-fascist group called March for England had dragged their knuckles to congregate outside The Railway Bell, Brighton's worst pub, and outside the station there were dozens of policemen, some mounted, plus police helicopters flying overhead. There was also a sizeable anti-fascist counter demonstration, singing things like Racist Scum... Off our streets, and Police protect the Nazis. Eventually the marches were fed through town in separate directions.

Lorraine and I dragged bits about in the debris of what was once my garden, and generally tidied it up under the relentless helicopter flying almost overhead. However it was good honest work. Then to Lorraine's house where we painted the second white coat on the long wall facing her house.

Sadly Lorraine learned today of the death of an old friend, who was Sam's Godfather, so was rather sad this afternoon.

In the evening Lorraine and I with Betty off to Wayne and Matt's for their party. I was not in top party mode but still managed several good chats with folks. Interesting talking to Catherine and Tanya about books and other matters. Tanya I knew from her singing in the This concert will fall in love with you gigs last year, while Catherine who is an expert in Victorian literature, and republishes out of print Victorian novels - one recent example being The Light that Died by Kipling which I had read.

Music, food, friends and boozes as bats flew overhead. Nosed about on Matt's desk and good to see A Guernsey Double pinned open at Clameur on his desk. Betty had to leave to do a babysitting job, but returned later to cab it home with us. Nice to be home, though, eating a guilty round of melted cheese on toast. Bed, with the faint sound of a student party kicking off past midnight. Rather amazed, as I drifted off to sleep, to hear they were playing The Yes Album.

Note from Jane... Her viral video has now had an amazing 10 million hits.

Below police outside the station, blocking off the anti fascist demonstrators. Cops filming them and casting a cold eye on me as I walked about with a camera so I melted away fairly quickly.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gold sofa day

After working a little this morning, spent the day sprawled wanly on my gold sofa with a unpleasantly upset and surging stomach. Lots of things to get on with, but I did none of them and talked Lorraine out of all business. Instead we sipped mineral water with a squeeze of lemon, ate a little bland food in the evening, and watched some fairly entertaining TV.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cake in the bluebell woods

Ridiculously hot and sunny again today. Betty the birthday elf sitting at the end of the bed having brought cups of tea and presents and cards for Lorraine. I got Lorraine a satnav robot thing for her car and some vultures for Long Tall Sally where tall is beautiful. Betty also made breakfast, and then I hared back home to feed Calliope.

On my return Lorraine and Beth had packed a picnic and we drove off in a convoy with Anna and Anton and the bairns out to the magical bluebell woods. We followed a very narrow path deep into the wood and found a place to sit and eat. The sun dappled through the leaves, and all around was the mystical haze of violet blue bluebells with nobody to be seen. Anna and Anton had brought a big cake with them for Lorraine, and Lorraine had brought a cake for Oskar, whose birthday it was yesterday. The children and had been taken to Legoland the day before for Oskar's birthday so were armed with swords. Eating was followed by a good deal of charging about in the woods with swords. I became embroiled in a good deal of swordfighting and chasing the children down the little paths making monster noises. This I enjoyed a good deal.

Then to an open field with a view that stretched to the Downs. Full of birdsong and sunshine, and we had the place to ourselves. Here Beth Anton and I played piggy in the middle with the children for some time. Also some glider flying. Absolutely lovely time. Finished off by giving Oskar his Scooby-doo presents, which he was pleased with. It also came with a tub of scooby doo goo which made farty noises when you played with it which, obviously, was good value.

Satnav home, although Lorraine curiously ignoring its advice.

Early in the evening off to the local curry house for a bite of Tandoori chicken with Beth and Mark. Waiters as usual fawning on Lorraine and giving us free drinks as usual. Then to the Basketmakers for a very cheerful night with Wayne and Matt, Cath and her pal Cathy, Jess and Andrew, the mustachioed Sam putting in a rather lively guest appearance. Then off to the Brighton Tavern up the hill for an absolute bloody final drink before home at 1.00am. Lorraine being given a present from them of purse filled with sweeties.

Below Lorraine blowing out her cake watched by Klaudia and Beth; Klaudia Lorraine and Beth; Anna and Oksar; the Golawskis and Lorraine; Oskar playing with Scooby doo goo; Anton swordfighting with his daughter; me swordfighting with Oksar.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A white wall

More French press advertising work for me to do this morning. This done painlessly, off to shop for Lorraine's birthday tomorrow. This also not too soul sapping, despite being a poor shopper. Then Lorraine and I set about painting a long wall outside her front door. It is a dirty concrete, but with Beth and help, and the employment of Sam's long arms for a tight corner, we painted it white, which looks better and reflects light into her house downstairs. Quite fun to be doing something like this. It feels like doing something, whereas sitting about typing doesn't always achieve this.

My Godson Oskar's birthday today, his presents are ready for tomorrow. Home in the evening to potter about, while Lorraine met Gary, her ex-husband, to discuss Sam and Beth's forthcoming university careers. Then back to Lorraine's house, for the holiday weekend to begin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Faux gaspers

Working apace on the new Guernsey Story this morning. Then broke off at lunchtime to slope off to the gym. Have eaten and drunk so many bad things in the last week, that a hair shirt sporting, gruel-based period is in the offing. But I will get Easter and Lorraine's birthday done first.

Went to Lorraine's this afternoon and stood manfully on ladders cleaning velux windows. Then off to buy Scooby Doo based presents for Oskar whose birthday it will be tomorrow. Then a large Sainsbury's shop as the there was little to eat in my house other than biscuits and a chocolate Swiss roll left by Maureen and Pat.

In the evening sloped off to meet the my musicianly mates in the Evening Star. Lorraine came too. There was one guy who is there from time to time, who was smoking e-cigarettes. One from a packet that had a USB bit that you poked into your computer and charged. The cigarettes glow when you suck them, and release a mist of supposedly harmless stuff laced with nicotine into your lungs. I had a go, and it was ghastly. The whole notion of smoking gaspers seems completely absurd to me now anyway. How could anyone think it is a good idea?

Meanwhile news from Jane... "It's going crazy. I made the Hindustani Times and American TV today!!!!!" Here is a link to her in the Daily Mail too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Back to Brighton

Up early to write some copy for my French clients, this done there was admin and catching up with this blog to do -- not to mention looking at the 260 photos I have taken, and the film on my flip camera. Some of this on the cliffs has turned out beautifully and I will try to post some moving images here.

A nice surprise, as Janet dropped by for a chat, and left me some flyers for her open house, which will also feature some of Mum's work in it. Spoke to Mum who has sent me some pictures of La Biche for the cover of my children's story for the Guernsey Literary Festival.

In the afternoon off to Lorraine's to meet her and Pat and Maureen, we went to the cafe in Preston Park, not far from where she lives and had a late lunch sitting in the sun. Lorraine noticing how noisy everything is compared to the Guernsey cliffs, where the predominant sound was waves and birdsong. I wish I was still there. Another four months would have been perfect.

Repaired home as I was feeling suddenly very tired -- drank lots of water and felt much better. Stayed up late to watch a classic movie I'd never seen before: Godfather II. A fascinating film.

The Buddhist moment in Jane and Richard's wedding was very lovely. I mentioned to Richard that it also reminded me I need to get back to my own principles. I have found myself so wrapped up in my projects that I have become even more ego-centric than usual. In Guernsey it was such a relief not to write for five days, and to get outside my head and listen to birdsong. Lorraine and I several times just sat on benches listening to birds and the sea and feeling the sun on our skin, and thinking about important things like wild flowers and rock pools. Did me the world of good, and Lorraine seemed more relaxed that I can remember seeing her for some time.

Below Toby sent his photo of Romy, my lovely sister in law.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Last day in Guernsey... For a month only thank God. After a leisurely breakfast, and a thorough read of the Guardian, Lorraine and I went on a walk from Moulin Huet to Jerbourg. Today hotter than ever, and the cliff path utterly beautiful. The tide was out a long way, and the gleaming sands and turquoise water looked fantastic. By the time we reached Jerbourg we were sunburned and thirsty, so we sensibly repaired to the Auberge. It is a wonderful restaurant and we looked out at the hazy sea and Herm dreaming across the water as we sipped a pair of cold Carlsbergs. Had some lovely food, topped off by Banoffee Pie Mess, whose ingredients were fresh bananas, crushed meringue, Guernsey cream, butterscotch sauce, toasted almonds and pecans with digestive biscuit ice cream. And by God it was yummy. I don't bother too much with puddings, but this was fantastic.

Then a wending walk back to the hotel to pick up our cases. Lurked in the hotel bar, where I thanked Andrew the owner again for buying some Guernsey Doubles, which are now in the display cases in the hotel. A small, but very satisfying, thing. Managed to get to the airport without braining myself, and the flight home was lovely with no thoughts of death plunges.

Pat and Maureen at my house when we arrived with glowing faces. House much tidier than when I left it, and my airing cupboard wonderfully organised. Calliope giving me the cold shoulder. Lorraine left with her folks, and I pottered about ineffectually before bed, feeling far more relaxed than I had been when I left here a few days ago.

Below views from the walk to Jerbourg, a glimpse at our view in the Auberge, and A Guernsey Double on display in the hotel.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No strangers

Another stroll to Icart this morning, which was stunningly beautiful. Richard came to collect us this afternoon, and drove us up to the Vale for Sunday lunch with Mrs Fleming, June - Jane's lady in waiting - and Bob and Gina who we met at the wedding reception. Bob had gone to Copland High School like me, but a few years before. His opinion of that establishment the same as mine. We all scarfed an absolutely delicious salad with more champagne in the back garden. Really good fun and much chatting and the afternoon drifted by in good cheer.

After some time, Jane drove us back to the hotel. A quick snooze and I snuck out to take photographs of a local field. Then we had our final Barbarie feast. We both had roast duck leg served on a bed of red cabbage, and I am not sure what kinds of stuff they put in the cabbage, but it was entirely good.

Repaired to the bar for a Rocquette cider which is excellent. Listening to Frank Sinatra being played there, and had a sudden craving to hear Strangers in the Night, which wasn't satisfied. Both tired, so we drifted back to our room, which gave me the chance to watch highlights of Manchester United being beaten, which I'm afraid is almost as good as watching Chelsea win.

Below your favourite blogger in his favourite place, a hatted Richard and Jane, the cliff face which sparked the lines from my Remembering Cliffs poem 'The cliffs are full of faces, great granite heads/petrified just as they lifted from sleep', a hedge I am always photographing and a ploughed field.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lorraine has a scamper

A slow start for us this morning, but thankfully not too worse for wear after Jane and Richard's wedding. Feeling free as birds, walked down towards Saints Bay and took the cliff path off to Moulin Huet. Totally gorgeous day again. Very sunny and warm, and almost nobody about apart from two cheery but efficient German hikers.

We went down to Moulin Huet, which was stretching itself out to its fullest sandy extent. Wandered about happily, paddling and looking at things and listening to the quiet. Lorraine however decided that she wanted to see if she could run again, and joyfully bounded up and down the beach in the water looking delighted, and explaining that it had broken through something in her.

Eventually we scrambled up to the tea rooms which seem to have reopened, and had tea and an exemplary slice of Guernsey Gâche with thick Guernsey butter in the sun looking down at the bay. In the evening after the kind of doze you have after having a long walk in the sun, downstairs to eat bowls of moules with chips and some crisp white wine. These all rather delicious.

After this, as we'd eaten early I took Lorraine up the little path between gardens that used to lead to the La coin de la Biche, which is the nanny goat's corner, where the ghastly ghost goat used to live. This features in the story I am writing for the festival. Walked then along La Rue des Grons and around by the fields back to the Hotel. A quiet night in our hotel room.

Below another glimpse down the cliffs, Lorraine running on the beach, a random anemone, and a yacht moored near the pea stacks.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jane and Richard: Special Edition

Jane and Richard's wedding. Lorraine and I took a bus into St Peter Port, and then a taxi up to Bordeaux Harbour to join Jane, Richard and June. The ceremony in two parts, one led by Jane was quite lovely with Buddhist chants, and our symbolic binding together with string, and mindful readings. Not long after this the Registrar appeared, a pleasant unobtrusive man who conducted the brief ceremony indoors. Some crying as you would expect. I cried twice. The deed done, we repaired to the garden to drink Champagne and take photos, and slice the cake. General hilarity, and Richard appearing with Camilla and Charles masks.

Today was also the day of the launch of the secret viral video for T-Mobile shot by Saatchis that Jane had been part of, and we were the 310th people to watch it on YouTube. Millions were to follow. Rather marvelling at how Jane managed to simultaneously get married and become a global cyber celebrity.

Then we piled into a taxi to head to Christies in St Peter Port for an excellent meal, before heading up the hill to Les Cotils for a party, with musicians, and Lester Queripel on the wheels of steel getting many dancing before the night was through. Lorraine and I had a great time chatting to everyone, and meeting new people. As best man I make a short speech which I negotiated without pratfalls. I said that Jane and Richard's souls rhymed. Managed, however, to retain the envelope with the pianist's money in my jacket all night, showing that you can take the boy out of Guernsey... Most importantly I think Jane and Richard had a wonderful time. Even executing their dance with poise and elegance.

Taxis home. Returned to the Barbarie having had a great day, and I am profoundly delighted that Jane and Richard were married, and feeling very honoured to have been a part of it.

Below Jane and Richard cut the Game Over cake, confetti, a rather surreal moment, a group shot before the evening kicked off me (looking characteristically dischevelled, the immaculate Richard, Jane looking utterly fab in her outfit, June and Lorraine, who had just legged it back from the self timer camera. And of course Jane in a still from the T-mobile viral video.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Flying into beauty

Off to Guernsey this morning. Lorraine had her hair done and then we got an early train off to Gatwick. These days I am fairly relaxed about the short flight to the Gem of the Sea. Today however, I kept remembering a scene from a recent dream where I was looking out of the window and the plane was heading vertically for the ground. Gin and tonic seemed to help, as did Lorraine who has a generally steadying influence.

Arrived safely, although I did have my head slammed by a taxi hatchback, the driver being momentarily distracted as we were loading cases. Within minutes, however, I was feeling incredibly happy, sitting in the Barbarie sensibly supping a glass of Rocquette cider with a ham sandwich side dish a little after 1pm, and chatting to Jane by phone. Lorraine and I then sloped off to Icart as is traditional. The sun was emerging and the cliffs were devastatingly beautiful. Even from the plane you could see the yellow gorse, and once at Icart it zinged out against the blue sky and sea. Everywhere wild flowers in abundance, and a kestrel poised itself in the blue. All perfect and so full of colour the photos cannot do it justice.

A short walk around the headland then back to the hotel. Went by bus to St Peter Port where we had arranged to meet Richard and Jane at the opening of a new exhibition of covers of the many versions of the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society in the Greenhouse. There was also a side exhibition of local students designing covers for it. They were far better than the professional ones. Richard and Jane looking remarkably cool and collected considering the were about to be married tomorrow. Stolen chats with these two in the melee of island networking. Surprised by how many I knew in the room. This reception over quickly, and with farewells to Richard and Jane, Lorraine decided we needed to bus it home. We got off at The Captains for a couple of pints of Pony and some pub grub, before sauntering sensibly back to the hotel for an earlyish night.

Below Icart Point, Lorraine amid gorse flowers, a gap in the cliffs, and a detail of the large map that was part of the display in the Greenhouse, which utterly omits Jersey (and Alderney).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Evening stars

Spent much of the day cleaning some of the debased filth and grime of my house as Pat and Maureen, Lorraine's folks are going to take care of Calliope and the fish. Went shopping with Lorraine for wedding presents this afternoon, and then, after a cheeky holiday beer in the Basketmakers, we went our separate ways to pack.

In the evening I went to the Evening Star where I met Fingers, Steve and Richard Gibson, who I told just how much I admired his Shakespeare's sonnets. Really nice night drinking lively real beer with these talented men. The only goading moment in the pub came when I realised that when I went to the ATM earlier, I simply entered my pin, collected my card and walked away without trousering the cash. Gah. Hopefully there were few about so there is a chance it was reswallowed. Oh well... Holiday tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Another low profile day, but mentally I am already climbing aboard the flight to Guernsey I am taking on Thursday. Looking forward to Richard and Jane's wedding. Some work to do so forced to biff a trip to London. Finished in the afternoon, and wandered in Brighton looking in shops. Later I completed the first draft of the Skelton in Guernsey short story.

Football this evening. Listening to Radio 5 to hear Chelsea get beaten again by Manchester United in the European Cup. Chelsea having been replaced by malfunctioning clones, while their £50m striker the unfortunate Fernando Torres has now been on the pitch for 693 minutes without scoring. Some texting from Anton. Brighton however have been promoted, and are on the up. Football is futile struggling one of the distractions of what Buddhists call Saṃsāra, the ghastly hell of suffering that is this world.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Zombie crows

An event-free day. Worked on the story, and went to the gym to make amends for some of the vittles and boozes I engulfed over the weekend. In the evening sipped mineral water and watched the doomsday zombie film Resident Evil: Extinction. It was rubbish as you'd expect, but had one excellent scene when a flock of zombie crows attacked people in a Hitchcockian manner till the photogenic Milla Jovovich used an unexplained power to set them all ablaze in the sky.

Below: Zombie crows get peckish.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Let others set the pace

Another gorgeous day. Lorraine leapt up to look at the marathon runners, thousands of whom were running in Brighton's second marathon, scamper past the end of her road which is close to their starting point in Preston Park. I instead slept like a large baby, but one dreaming of cups of tea.

Drifted home after chatting to Beth and Sam. Later Lorraine and Beth shopping, while I met Paul and his son VJ by the seafront. This absolutely crammed as the finishing line was by the sea, and the freakishly hot day meant there were thousands on the beach too. Some runners looking like wet rags, others remarkably happy and springy. These people are like those of another species entirely. I heard one runner telling her family that many had succumbed to the heat during the 26 mile run.

Paul sporting his black shirt with flames. Off to the Black Lion which has a beer garden, but where we sat was a bit more like a beer tunnel full of cigarette smoke and coldness. VJ happily playing with his dad's iPhone as we discussed the important matters of charity publications and so on. Lorraine came by having shopped, and I leeched onto her body warmth as we had sat in the only freezing part of Brighton.

Fond farewell to Paul and his boy. Perhaps it was the flames on Paul's shirt but I found myself craving some Tandoori chicken, so Lorraine and I simply had some, with a certain degree of naughtiness. Went our separate ways then, me home to lurk with Calliope who has been feeling neglected. Toby called late and we had a long chat about the virtues of the hulk leg machines and so on.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Slow Saturday

A nice slow Saturday, listening to Richard Gibson's fantastic Shakespeare demo tape all day. Much pottering about, shopping and so on.

In the evening, supper with Anna and Anton. Lorraine cooked a lovely meal, with sea bass, sweet potato, chocolate mousse, goats cheese tart and various vegetables and cheeses. I whipped egg whites, scrubbed sweet potatoes and hoovered. Good to have a night with Anna and Anton. Oskar and Klaudia leaping about before creeping into a bed surrounded by a trove of soft toys they'd discovered. Oskar really chatty these days, and covered in bruises after various footballing and boyish barging around incidents. Carried the bairns out at the end of the night and poured them still asleep into taxis.

Friday, April 08, 2011


Beat the moths from the PK shorts today and sported them in the sun. Brighton milling with people, the beach crowded. Hundreds sitting in the parks, outside pubs and cafes with cold beers and coffees, buskers here and there and everywhere the pasty English blossoming into summer clothes. Spotted the first sunburnt noses of the year.

I went to the gym at lunchtime, and pressed on with the story. Talked to mum who is doing some cover art for me, and had a quick chat with First Matie, who I've not seen for ages. Listening to Richard Gibson's sonnets demo CD. Absolutely gorgeous. Met Matt outside the Brighton Tavern basking in the sun and having a glass of lager, a rare thing for a Yorkshireman. Dehydrated, I had two nice pints of water, and had a chat with a guy called Chris, who is a musician and journalism student.

Then to the Basketmakers where Lorraine and Betty arrived, soon followed by Cath. Enjoyable brace of beers then to Riddle & Finns where Mark was working. We had glasses of pink wine, complimentary bubbly, plates of fishy goodness, including some 'native' oysters, which I said looked restless but nobody thought this was funny. I then had the best banoffee pudding I can remember having. Then home to Lorraine's place fairly early for bed. Lorraine end-of-termish and very tired.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The sun on stilts

Another beautiful day. Up early and pressed on with the story making excellent progress. Now quite close to finishing the first draft. Feeling rather big and clever with myself for this.

Took a long walk in the sun through Brighton and onto the pier.

Some good news from Betty: she has been offered a place at the drama school we went to see last Saturday. She was very pleased, and we had a cheeky beer in the Basketmakers at tea time. Home again and I listened to the demo CD of Richard Gibson's Shakespeare Sonnets. Absolutely gorgeous music. Not least for making me turn back to the sonnets.

A splendid evening with Anton doing some research for his new map idea. This mainly involved going to some pubs on the other side of town, which was no bad thing in itself. At the first there was a serious belly dancing display to a focused audience, which we took as a good omen.

Below some snaps of the musicians on stilts who are always lurking about Brighton. I liked their silhouettes against the strong sun.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


Beautiful day. To the gym early today and spent the rest of the time on the story, scribing away with the blue pressing on the window. The results are positive, despite the fact I am feeling a little stressed. The gym is helping. Stress not helped by watching Chelsea beaten by the unspeakable Manchester United and a referee in need of a guide dog.

Tore myself away from the TV during the second half and Anton's crowing texts to meet my musicianly mates in the Evening Star. Richard gave Steve, Glenn and I a copy of some of his recorded sonnets and asked for feedback. I was tempted to make a high pitched whining sound, but didn't.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


A good writing day today - the first for some time. Had a big breakthrough this afternoon and raced ahead with the Skelton in Guernsey story and the first draft is almost complete. To my suprise there is quite a sad bit at the end, and tears came into my eyes as I typed it. In an adventure story, life is heightened, and it needs a corresponding bittersweet moment at the end to realise that amid all the action and dynamic changes, something is also lost. Classic children's fiction is full of it. The children return from Narnia back to grey England, the magic ends. In Toy Story 3 the toys are given away.

At night listening to the radio and beginning to revamp my website.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Survival Skills

Read a chunk of Skulduggery Pleasant and felt relieved that it is a long way away from Skelton Yawngrave. But it's good to know what the Derek Landy book is doing to overcome objections.

Working on the Skelton short story, but my writing brain is slightly scrambled. Very hard work, but I am getting there. Off to the gym this afternoon, which was a good antidote to the slight frustration that was building up in me.

Richard on BBC Radio Ulster this evening. He read his exellent poem Survival Skills from A Guernsey Double and plugged the Guernsey Literary Festival. Felt proud of him.

Popped up the road to talk to Anton this evening, who has had an idea about pub maps. Also nice to hear a few tracks from The Hi Sides CD. Nice to hang out and chat, and when Anna had returned, we popped out for a mug of ale in The Good Companions. This now a nice pub, once having been a horrid one.

Home and Lorraine was staying having been out with her singing Hullaballo pals. An early night.

Sunday, April 03, 2011


Lorraine rehearsing all afternoon and performing all night. I was left to my own devices, which were mainly about going to the gym, a spot of shopping, and a good deal of loafing.

I also bought Skullduggery Pleasant, the star of a series of acclaimed books in which the hero is a skeleton detective. I first became aware of this character after finishing the first complete draft of Skelton Yawngrave. I've dipped into Skullduggery Pleasant before, but I want to make absolutely sure that my character Skelton is nothing like this one. Felt sick when I was buying it.

Roasted a chicken this evening, and invited Beth over to help me eat it. Then off for two Cornish Knockers, a rather nice beer, in the Great Eastern before going to see Lorraine's performance. It has been fun hanging out with Beth over the last couple of days, and I told her so.

Unsung, by the Hullaballo Quire, was at the Salis Benny Theatre, full with about 200. Met Dawn and Jan there, bumped into Lorraine's pal Lorraine and Tariq from the Marlborough. Further evidence of having reached a tipping point, and almost always encountering people I know in Brighton.

Really ambitious programme from Hullaballo, with music and readings themed around the idea of heroes. Some good moments, with one or two bits seeming under-rehearsed. Lorraine's reading right at the start of the show, and later in the second half. She looks focused and rather sexy when she sings. Kirsty, the choir leader energetic as usual. Betty and I next to Dawn and Jan in the audience and filmed it using my new camera. However it ran out just a few minutes before the end of the concert. Empowering programme, however, and overall it was uplifting and inspiring.

Lorraine in some need of a throat soothing beer afterwards so we sloped off with Beth to the Basketmakers just before last orders.

Below Lorraine reading, and the choir as a whole.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

No dramas

A bad night's sleep at Lorraine's. A massive student party in a nearby house spilled out into the back garden at 3am, with people playing drums, saxophone, guitar etc. Even after complaining, we had to move room to get some peace. Rather poor especially as it was an early start this morning as Betty asked me to go with her to Kingston College drama school.

On arrival I imperiously asked the course tutor (who happened to be standing behind a counter) to make me a cup of tea. Then there was some waiting about in a room full of nervous auditioners busy filling out forms. The tension so great that even as a moral supporter it made me want to wring my hands. Then we were shown about some good facilities. After this rubbernecking Beth did her audition. She was first, and came out very pleased with how it had gone. We were back in Brighton by early afternoon. I had been filming the excursion which she has now loaded onto her facebook page.

Later I met Lorraine in the Basketmakers after her rehearsal, and had some tasty food there and a vocal pipe soothing beer, followed by a quiet night on the gold sofa.

Below two stills from my new movie camera. Betty on the train, and Betty looking happy after her audition.

Friday, April 01, 2011


Disinclined to do anything today. So I did lots of therapeutic tidying, laundry and hoovering, and a fair amount of throwing things away. If in doubt tidy is an excellent mantra.

In the evening walked down to Lorraine's house and we went for a walk in the park behind her house now that the evenings are light. I was desperate to use my little flip camera and employed it looking at newts in a pond. Then with Betty off to the local curry house. Where I enjoyed a mild mannered meal and several cold lagers. For some reason cold lagers were exceedingly attractive tonight. I had one or two more when back at Lorraine's.

Below newts and Lorraine on my new camera. Nice quality seeing as it was late and in low light.