Sunday, July 31, 2011

The packing starts

Lorraine asked if it were too early for a cup of tea this morning, to which the default answer is no, for there are few times when tea is not right and proper. It was 6:30am, however, and Lorraine fell quickly back to sleep, and so after lying wide awake for a while I got up and did various faffings on my computer. Once Lorraine was awaken she helped me to pack boxes with CDs and precious things.

Thence to the gym. L has cunningly Grouponed some cut price tickets and did the hulk legs machine next to me for a while, and then some lady stretching. Her plan is to go every other day for a while, which is a good thing.

Home again and Lorraine making pear tarte tatin and a species of banana ginger crumble which we took up to Anton and Anna's house. Anton had been slow barbecuing a chicken over fruit woods, which was rather delicious (as was the tarte tatin). Sat out in the sun chatting happily for several hours, and sipping an arcane collection of eastern European lagers to celebrate Anton having been promoted. Klaudia and Oskar playing around us with the lime green seven foot snake that Lorraine had given them. Interesting chat with Oskar about bees.

Then home and L and I went our separate ways on a Sunday, an event which may not happen again for a while.

Below a snap of Klaudia on her way up to bed.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A day's holiday

Spent hours wandering about in the sun with Lorraine. Across to Hove town hall to buy parking vouchers. Sauntering through parks and backstreets while I told the lucky Lorraine the entire story of The End of the Affair. Under my straw hat, found myself feeling as if I were on holiday, and more relaxed than I have been for weeks. The summer suck may be over.

We went into the Gallery cafe where Wayne was working, and as they weren't too busy spent time chatting to him sipping coffee and elderflower and apple juice, and falling into conversation with a Hungarian woman who was showing Wayne her art photographs. Wayne is one of those people who makes you feel at home and welcome, and as the sun streamed through the windows the impression of being on holiday was magnified.

Milled back into Brighton, via paint shops, to The Giggling Squid Thai restaurant, laughing it up over a cheap and tasty light lunch. Then returned to the Old Church Hall where I shall be moving next week, discussing shelves and colours and cat politics and other matters. Then back to the Twitten where Lorraine began constructing plans for shelves on a computer spreadsheets. We talked an incredible amount about shelves. Thank God Wallender came on, and we broke off from shelf talk to watch cops sigh a good deal as a Swedish femme fatale efficiently went about murdering people with a long knife.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Heart on a page

Working from home today, finishing off a dullish campaign implementation guide.

Ordered a new hard drive, contacted the LaCie the manufacturers of my dead hard drive but they propose asking 899 euros for the pleasure of retrieving my data from a hard drive that simply shouldn't have broken in the first place. Salauds. Popped into the Marlborough Theatre to leave some flyers and posters for Betty the Spacegirl. Also looked at rather nice shelves made from recycled scaffolding planks with Lorraine.

In other news listened to Richard and JKT do a splendid late show for Radio Devon. Excellent new poetry from Richard, and JKT on top form as always. Richard coming across wonderfully. Here is he is talking about fascination of writing poetry: "...I think the fact that it does require you to sit down with a plain page and put your heart there." Still listenable for a day or so here.

Lorraine and I popped into the Basketmakers to meet Cath where the agency called me unexpectedly at 6:30 asking me to go in on Monday. Matt has a heavy cold which won't shift. But Lorraine, Cath and I had some food there. Cath perky and she has networked her way into some promising work. Linda arrived too, along with her animated pal Ritchie who works as a drag Queen.

Home for a relaxed boof on the gold sofa.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A comforting ghost

Oddly, considering I woke very early after a short night's sleep felt grateful to be alive, and full of cheer this morning. I was listening to the The End of the Affair, watching the countryside and railway sidings slip by, full of purple buddleia and yellow flowers.

I had a vision on the train. Out of nowhere Dave my Grandfather was sitting opposite me and holding my hand. I guess he must have held my hand once or twice as I had a sense memory of what his hand felt like, and he was the same sort of age as I am now. A weird, passing thing, that at the time seemed natural and comforting. It was so real that it brought a lump to my throat and I almost cried. Very odd, like seeing an unalarming ghost.

Into the agency, and again rather a thin day's work to the point that I'm not required to go tomorrow, though some work may be briefed in remotely - i.e. I can stay in bed an hour longer, and no commute.

The French Bloke gave a talk to his agency like a kind of stand-up, and seeming rather short changed that his staff did not heckle. Most of the agency left early for their summer beano, but despite being kindly asked along by the FB I declined.

Home fairly early, finishing the truly excellent The End of the Affair, and gratefully loafed on the gold sofa, looking forward to an early night. Calliope was stroked for 30 straight minutes and was very pleased to see me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A penny drops

Up to the smoke again early. Been reading about passive aggression, which can I learn also be self-directed too, and manifest itself in self-sabotage, and snatching defeat from the jaws of Victory. Spent some time today combing through my life and times for examples, finding several dating back to childhood. As an example: I never did my homework at school. Year after year this led to me getting into trouble, and the exasperation of my teachers. But read as a self-directed act of passive aggression it makes sense. Suddenly I felt as if I had understood something new about myself, which doesn't happen every day.

Went out to lunch with Keith, who I always like, to a pub called Jeremy Bentham where we ate ham and eggs, which I washed down with a glass of beer called, confusingly, TEA, which stands for Traditional English Ale. Then off out after work for an hour or so with Slug and Chris. Slug talking about making a fund-raising film in Burkino Faso, and journeying out into what seemed to him to be the ends of the Earth, to film in a village with adobe huts.

One had a cross on and the other a crescent, leaving him aghast at the dog-eat-dog competition for souls. Chris, a Geordie artist who works as a visualiser, started talking about a murderer he'd sat next to at college, which made me think of the murderer that lived next to Toby in Sacramento, and the conversation veered off darkly.

Home well after 10 again after almost killing myself running for the train, Calliope running desperately at me as I turned into the Twitten. These 15 hour days take it out of you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cyber-yokel

Up to London again, working on a few concepts on the train, before turning gratefully to listen to my Graham Greene's The End of the Affair again, or at least I would have if the iPod battery hadn't instantly died. Listened to it on the way home, however. A wonderful book, a tortured mix of God and love, jealousy and bitterness.

Work was pleasant again, and pressed on with bits and pieces quite happily. Had a small walk in Tavistock Square looking at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi with a pigeon resting peacefully on its head.

After work I went down to the Salisbury where I met Mex for a quick drink, as we'd not seen each other for ages. She was detained at work, and this made me realise that the last few times I have met anyone there, they have been late. She was full of news about her new job, which is to do with haut cuisine online, and about social media in particular. So much so that I began to feel a bit of a cyber-yokel. It was good to see her, however, and she seemed on good form.

Tired this evening, and home at 10:30 with Calliope glum and attention-seeking. Ate the comfort food of cheese on toast, and sloped off to bed with the cat following.

Below the Gandhi statue.

Monday, July 25, 2011

London calling

To London early this morning. Started to listen to a Terry Pratchett book Anton made me buy, but struggled. Instead I began The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, which was rather splendid, and listened to the rough tracks of Clameur on my iPod.

A lovely sunny morning as the fields slipped by and London sprawled out to meet us. Stopped to snap the statue of Newton (after Blake) outside the British Library as I walked from the station to Tavistock Square.

A pleasant day. Lots of familiar faces there. Including Barney, with whom I had recently had a pint in Lewes, and Slug a former partner of mine who I'd not seen for years. Our relationship ended under poor circumstances, but the world has turned since then, and it was actually really nice to talk to him. Spent much of the afternoon with Keith working on a brief about teeth, which was in fact like pulling hen's teeth. Having a laugh as is usual when we work together. Other brief chats with The FB, Matty boy, Pat, CB and Lucy. Quite fun to be in the swing of an agency again when it is full of old mates.

Rather tired this evening on the train home. A chat with Betty who said I may have a hand in the local drama school's Christmas show, which could be a laugh. Also called by JKT wanting Richard's numbers.

Otherwise, an early night called for...

Below the statue of Newton by Paolozzi... And Newton by Blake.



Sunday, July 24, 2011

Read-throughs

Slept like a large log after last night's wild dancing. After returning to the Twitten and attending to a few chores and matters, I listened again to the CD recordings, and marvelled at what Matt and I have achieved. Very exciting. I returned to L's house where I met Betty, Mark, and Callum to discuss the new plays, and brief Becky who is going to be our production elf.

Had a first run through of Betty the Spacegirl, which will be excellent I think. Mark's play Pirates Anonymous coming on very well too. Mark is I think going to do extremely well when he slopes off to do a degree in comedy writing next term. Nice to see Callum, who I've not seen since Wrong in March. I am looking forward to our 'Pack of 3' night greatly.

Then Lorraine came back armed with loads of shopping. And after the others had left, and Betty had left for work in Eastbourne we ate lovely roast supper and sat watching the Swedish Wallander, before I returned home to ready myself for a week up in the smoke.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Big fun in big top tents

A quiet day, with spot of gentle shopping this afternoon supervised by Lorraine, in which we bought a small pressie for Steve and Tasha, I scored a much-needed new jacket and some shoes. Suddenly I get retail therapy.

Joan sent an email containing a picture of a lovely peach and currant pie she'd made, which had us both salivating and was slightly unfair given the pie was in Canada. I like pies. Pies and Peter Kennys are friends.

Off in the evening to Firle, where Natasha and Stephen had got married that afternoon to join in a rather wonderful party. It was a beautiful double peaked tent in a garden. Tasha was resplendent in a lovely wedding gown and greeted us as we walked in. Walked around the tent to find Stephen and congratulate him only to find the French Bloke and Matty Boy (who is of course Tasha's brother). The FB led us past the band but I was seized by Max and compelled to dance wildly with her for some time before I could even reach the bar. Rather set the tone for the evening. First Matie there too, and Graeme. It did my heart good to be among these friends again.

Spent a rather wild night dancing for several hours like Tom Jones on acid. Luckily everyone else was too. Hugely enjoyable fun. Tash and Steve having provided huge delicious cheeses for the evening, to be eaten with bread and fruit. Lots of general liveliness. Matty boy tore his trousers during some species of wild cavorting, and Tasha and a very lively fencing girlfriend conducted light sabre duels. Due to the very loud and very excellent band, and an excellent DJ most of the conversations were of the altogethery leaping variety.

Lorraine had a great time too, dancing and enjoying herself greatly, and as she didn't drink I had the bonus of being driven home. Both very happy to have let our hair down in a big way. Really nice night, on the edge of a village with the Downs and the stars looking down on it all.

Below a snap of the tents in a quiet moment, which I stole from The FB's facebook page.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Prevailing

Up very early and working on agency copy till noon, and chatting to First Matie whose job I shall be covering next week. Then down to the gym for another sweaty session.

Then a bizarre and annoying visit to the printers to collect the remainder of the leaflets, over which there had been a mix up. They attempted to overcharge me, and claim they had "spoken to your wife who knew all about it" about their misquote. A story they stuck to despite me explaining I wasn't married, lived alone and showing them my phone which of course had no record of their call. I prevailed.

Then a few yards down the road to meet Matt and cheerily discuss the recordings in The Basketmakers over a pint of Seafarers. Simon sent us the raw sound files today, and I listened to them again - finding it hard to be objective about hearing myself recorded.

I soon pushed off to Lorraine's house from where we went to the local Indian restaurant The Shahi to join Cath and celebrate her birthday with three of her pals. Due to the table placings I only sampled the conversation of Colin who had just started a new job in the field of alcohol and drug abuse. Nice to see Cath, and enjoyed some steady knife and forkwork, but both Lorraine and I rather bushed and grateful to slink home to snooze.

A week which was somewhat tiresome. Next week I'm up to the smoke to work with my pals at Tavistock Square. Of course this meant that I had another call today asking about my availability next week. Am clear now that the thing that most needs doing is simply to move.

Enjoyed this poem I was sent by Jane written by her pal Paul.

The Vulture (after Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven)

If you find that you are stopping for a paper close to Wapping
You’ll look up to see a vulture silhouetted in a tree:
“Karrr! Don’t jump, it’s not surprising. I don’t look that appetizing
But I am monopolizing so you’d best get used to me.
Only fair – I spend a million so I get the world for free
And my latest target’s BSkyB.

Gossip, titbits, smears and scandal is the sort of stuff we handle
And it seems that that’s exactly what the public wants to see;
Up till now nobody’s caught us; no-one’s safe - lock up your daughters
Or unscrupulous reporters will expose them ruthlessly.
Don’t go on about press ethics, they mean bugger all to me
What I care about is BSkyB.

Policemen ran investigations, reassured an anxious nation
‘Cos they knew who paid their wages and it turned out that was me.
Lists of numbers, all forgotten; eyes in blinkers, only spottin’
Just one apple, very rotten – all the other hacks went free
For our coppers are the best that cash can buy, quite easily
And now I’m buying BSkyB.

MPs angry, strong emotions, editor goes through the motions
Says the e-mails all went missing somewhere near the China Sea.
Was it something in the weather? Now they’ve found them, all together -
Could have downed me with a feather, knocked me over with a flea.
Of course we’ll help enquiries, that’s plain as ABC
Provided we get BSkyB.

Go back through our former glories and you’ll find that we do stories
On actors, rock stars, footballers, the occasional MP.
Now The Guardian is attacking, said our journalists are hacking
But they never had my backing so you can’t go blaming me.
I don’t care – we’ll close the paper, but first listen to my plea:
What I want is B Sky B.

There’s a fan with shit approaching, got to do some crisis coaching;
Our Rebekah’s something special and to me she’s family.
Later there may be a hearing but for now the desks are clearing
And the jobs are disappearing, makes more elbow room for me.
Need to wash my hands of newsprint; options open, access free
Let me have it – BSky B.”

So the vulture’s sitting, waiting, and we’re all anticipating;
The government’s not saying what the final choice will be.
If the vulture’s grasping talons get control, good bye to balance
And prepare to drown in gallons of a toxic cyber sea.
He thinks it’s private business but it’s down to you and me
And he isn’t getting BSkyB.

Paul Francis July 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not inappropriate seagull noises

Working on ailments again this morning, so making some money. I am still booked for next week in London too, which is excellent. To the gym just after lunch, and then to the printer to collect posters and flyers. This being a month when few wires remain uncrossed, the printer had got the quantity wrong.

Home and Matt called around and we walked up to the Hanover part of Brighton in the rain, slightly bickering about the baroque route Matt had chosen. Off to Simon Scardanelli's studio to hear and edit the recordings he'd made. I have to say that it sounded better than I had dared hope. This concert will fall in love with you sounds absolutely fantastic, and I was also very relieved to hear that my own performance was really strong too. Made choices about which ending to put on. We chose the less shouty one.

Clameur sounded marvellous too. It is in two parts and edited from two or three performances. Became aware of myself at one moment sitting in a underground studio as the choir sang Let me die at Icart. I wonder what the folks in Guernsey are going to make of this.

Found, however, may still not be right. There is tricky aural rainbow in the middle where the choir sing the names of colours, but I've not heard this sung confidently yet, and we may drop it. The last piece, Minotaur, which Matt finished on the day of recording, and Glen and I did first take sounded wired and crazy. If classical or art music or whatever it is we are making can have a punk moment, then this is it.

There was also the problem of background noise. Once or twice there was the sound of cars to avoid, and seagulls. However there are one or two moments when the seagulls will be faintly heard. The three of us sat focusing on a passage from This concert... and Matt said tentatively, and after deep thought, "Those are not inappropriate seagull noises". Dr Simon Scardanelli (aka Dr Scardo) was a pleasure to work with. A real perfectionist, in a good way, with ninja ears that heard subtleties and nuances that were way beyond me.

After five hours of this sort of thing, and all the work listened to and preliminarily edited, Matt and I sensibly repaired to The Basketmakers for a self-congratulatory beer. Here we came upon Irish Tom, and Sam and his dad. Chatted at some length to Sam about politics before I left them to it, sneaking into M&S to score cheese, and home to explain at length my big and cleverness to Calliope as I crunched into cheese on toast.

Below Matt and Dr Scardo attune their ears.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An old revolution

Off to Lorraine's place to wait for a glazier to arrive. He was two hours late, despite repeated phone calls. However this was good as, sans computer, I made a series of strategic mindmaps plotting timelines for the CD/record label launch, house move, literary next steps, poetic next steps, business next steps, banking next steps and so on. Sam arrived later to play on his powerful gaming computer, and we had a nice chat. After the glass man came, was berated, and left, I legged off to the computer mending people. These say they can't fix my hard drive and that it is making a funny noise and you can't access the data, which is exactly what I told them a week ago.

Also phoned by the agency who, unbelievably, cancelled the work for next week a second time, but offered me a day's work this week. Spent the afternoon feeling like I had lost a pound and found a sixpence, as the old folks used to say. Even more incredibly, on what is now the fifth decision, was called by the traffic person in the evening, to say next week is now back on. Treatment as a human ping-pong ball palling somewhat.

Popped into see Adrian and Di again, pouring over the black and white photos with Adrian, and getting lots of advice from Di about renting houses and so on.

In the evening met up with Richard, Dipak, and Steve and we walked up to the The London Unity, on the Hanover side of town, where The Shakespeare Trio were playing. And they played mightily well. It was organised by a pretty and persistent woman called Pelma (sp?) who persuaded me to get up and read some poems after Dipak told her I was a poet. I had nothing with me and so did Exorcism, which I made an ass of myself by memory glitching on. Later I remembered I had a blackberry and found two more online, including Revolution of the Eagles, which suddenly sounds quite contemporary again, and went down very well in the pub.

Enjoyable night all round, after what had mostly been a stressful day. However have reconnected with some old writing pals on facebook, which is good.

And so to bed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pied

Sunny morning and feeling more cheery this morning. Naturally, having decided to move next week, the job next week has miraculously re-appeared. I' did not have a very productive day. The truth is I feel somewhat jaded, and even a satisfyingly sweaty gym session did not increase my motivation. However I designed the CD label.

In the afternoon found myself sucked into watching the Murdochs giving an account of themselves to the House of Commons select committee. Rupert appeared near-senile, while his son did the obfuscating US corporate drone impression. The committee was amateurish and toothless with the exception of Tom Watson, allowing the two to get away with murder. James knew nothing before 2007, when he joined the company. Does this mean that nobody briefed him about what happened a few years earlier in his father's corporation? An absurd defence that was allowed to stand. I enjoyed the custard pie moment in retrospect, and Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng's visceral response to it.

Being sucked into this was far more important, apparently, than doing the million things I have to do. Not in a great frame of mind at the moment. Not writing, not being productive, and feeling jaded. In the evening went for a short walk by the sea. Beautiful sky out of which rain fell as soon as I got there.

Below an idiot 'comedian and activist' apparently called Mr Marbles in the check shirt about to be attacked ninja-like by Mrs Murdoch. And, frankly, rightly so.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ho-hum

Rain tumbling from the gloomy Monday sky. Another twitchy morning in The Summer Suck, and between twitching I sorted out posters and flyers for Pack of 3.

Learned next week's work in London is not now happening. I am going through a streak of this kind of thing. But this is good news as I can bring my house move forward by a week, which will banish this limboish feeling. Once this is done I have to seriously focus on generating doubloons, as I can see the wooden bases of the Kenny offers. Visited Di and Adrian to talk to them about the photos I need, and discuss many and several topics. Talked to Lorraine who has the tired/cold lurgy, and I had little cheer to bring her.

Worked till 11:30pm tweaking the CD cover. Design and art direction is a thief of time, you can be working away quite happily and realise that three hours have gone.

Below between rain had a quick walk down by the sea. Hard to credit this is July. And one of Mum's new cat heads. We had a long chat this evening.



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rain

Heavy drenching rain all day today, this being an English Summer. Was providing moral support as Lorraine sorted through cupboards, and Sam harvested the innards of an old computer. I enjoyed sitting under a velux window watching the rain tumble out of the sky towards it. I love everything about rain on glass. I suppose this is due to my Grandparents in Guernsey having a glasshouse running the length of their cottage, and I loved hearing the rain and, before they had it fixed, watching rain dripping into strategically placed saucepans and buckets, the air tainted with the astringent smell of geraniums and pelargoniums and my Grandmother's Du Maurier cigarettes.

In the evening found myself engrossed in the Women's World Cup Football final between the USA and Japan. Japan came from behind twice, and ended up winning on penalties. A hugely enjoyable game, and two never-say-die teams.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Breaking cover

Lorraine pulling the side panel from the bath and deconstructing her bathroom to look for the source of a blockage in the pipe early this morning. After a spell of this sort of thing, Lorraine off to get her back cracked by a chiropractor, while I repaired home. Listened to the soundfile of The Rainbow Chorus recording of Matt and my song Found. Matt added an organ part to the opening which was splendid.

Then Matt arrived in person, and once he'd done stroking Calliope, we spent some time in the ghastly business of looking at photos of ourselves, and okaying the look and feel of our CD which I'd been designing. Both very happy with the direction it is all taking. From there, the three of us went around the corner to the Yeoman for three of their devastating Yeoman burgers. I blame Mason, who started all this Yeoman burger business.

A quiet evening in.

Below I took an image of a cactus flower in Kew Gardens the other week. I have obviously cropped it, reversed it, treated it to be black and white and so on. But it is rather good I think. The CD front cover will look like this -- although there is some finessing still to be done. The cover and booklet will black and white photos, greys and gold, which I think will look quite classy.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sucky

Took my external hard drive to a local data recovery place, and told there was a 20% chance they'd be able to retrieve anything from it. However Paul in London swears by some bloke who can recover things. So I will try him next. Cheesed off by the end of the day. I've done no writing, made no money, lost half my data, and felt as if I have achieved nothing this week. It is a recurring theme of the Summer Suck. The summers are usually when difficulties arise. However I have made progress on the CD packaging and this is theraputic work. Long chat with Matt who has been feeling illish all week.

Lorraine smelling of rose and geranium essential oils this evening, having had a massage. We slunk off to the local retaurant for a mild-mannered feed, and a cold lager. Back to Lorraine's place where Sam returned from work. He has fractured one of the bones in his arm while 'wrassling' a friend at a music festival in Serbia. His part time job still insisted he work in a sling though on his return. But he is a cheery lad at the moment.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A bloody day in the technology wars

A rare earthquake under the English Channel at 8.00am today. Apparently buildings shook in Brighton, but I didn't notice it in the Twitten. No, for I was embroiled in technology wars.

The Dell engineer called me to explain that, as he couldn't find a place to park, he was bumping the appointment to fix the computer. Sauron-voiced I encouraged him to change his mind, and he arrived with a new motherboard and a long magnetic screwdriver and, praise be, my computer now peforms perfectly. Calliope again investigating everything he was doing with great interest.

However in the war against technology, one battle does not bring victory. For the knock I accidentally gave my metal-clad, Lacie external hard drive yesterday revealed itself as fatal. The data I'd been waiting to copy across to my PC is now toast. I have had the external hard drive for over four years, but the moment it is most needed, literally hours before reloading everything back onto my computer, is the moment it fails.

I need now to find specialist data recovery people who can to salvage data from it. Luckily I had already copied across most, but not all, of the essential stuff. But I have lost vital email, most of my photos and so on. Curiously I was very Buddhist about all this, for if my computer has taught me one thing, it is the middle way.

However I went for a soothing coffee with Anna this afternoon. Anna's coaching business is nicely gathering momentum too, which is good to hear. I was contacted by my chums in Tavistock Square about my availability too, which is a good sign.

In the evening off to meet my new pal Ross, for a few cheeky beers and a wide-ranging chat about nothing in particular. It was fun.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sophie and a CSR

Off up to the Smoke today. First to Highgate to see Sophie. We snuck off for lunch in a pizza place, where Andros joined us, full of information about anaesthetics. Sophie talking about a new insight that Buddhism has taught her: that we know we can influence our cast of mind for the good, because we can influence it negatively with such ease. Then back to Sophie's office. She is pitching for new business on Friday and we brainstormed with her assistant Suzie about this for a couple of hours before I left them to it.

I tubed down to the South Bank to go to the Poetry Library. Bizarrely, however, there was the Marks & Sparks AGM taking up the whole of the Royal Festival Hall. I felt vaguely affronted by this: selling off the cultural crown jewels for a spot of corporate lucre. But of course if it helps keep it all going, that's fair enough. I was told the Poetry Library was open but I had to go to the artist entrance. Rude security guards told me to wait to be escorted up to the fifth floor, and after waiting for five minutes for the guide to arrive, I lost patience. Instead drifted about the South Bank where I worked about 14 years ago. Peered into the side of the IBM building into the room I used to sit with Reuben, Kate, Anton, Marja and lots of my other folks who are still friends.

Chatted on the phone to Bob and Anton, and then went to the bar at the Young Vic where I met First Matie and Reuben. For a long-overdue CSR (Copy Shop Reunion). Great to all be together again, after some years, and threads picked up instantly. We popped into a couple of pubs and ended up strapping on the nosebag in a very good Indian Restaurant opposite Waterloo Station. Really fast service, and lovely delicate food.

After fond farewells with Kate who has decided to return to live in London, Reub and I caught the fast train with a minute or two to spare, and put the world to rights all the way to Brighton.

Lorraine and Calliope snoozing in my bed when I got home, L having larged it with some of her mates in the Sussex Yeoman.

Below some shots of the area around the IMAX theatre near Waterloo Station. This was when I first worked at the South Bank a cardboard city of homeless people, and it is still a place where people come to beg. But it looks beautiful now. This kind of planting always reminds me of one of my favourite Sci-Fi scenarios, when all people have been eliminated and nature begins to reclaim the cities.






Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Imagine

My week began to take shape today. And by simply putting my computer into sleep mode, rather than turning it off, I have been able to use it. The Dell engineer is now booked, I re-read Betty the Spacegirl, which has a dark patch towards the end, and I have decided I want to retain this unless in rehearsal it gets too much. I also paid my musician amigos.

Looking forward to being able to actually hear what we did. Not having done so or begun the edit feels anti-climactic.

To the gym today, but feeling jaded and yearning to spread my wings. I need a holiday. Excellent TV tonight: an well-adapted The Night Watch by Sarah Waters on BBC, followed by Imagine, a film about John Lennon's last few years in New York. He was a mess, but he got his act together in the end and discovered a kind of peace before he was shot.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tasks of small consequence

Dell think there is something wrong with the circuit that starts the computer, after I held the phone so the man in India could hear the persistently beeping but dead as a doornail bastard. They will send another engineer to replace it. On the plus side this means that all the important parts of the PC will have been replaced, effectively giving me a new computer. If only it would work. However the conversation was done inside half an hour which was a mercy.

With an imminent move, no working PC and no idea when the engineer will turn up, I began to feel myself drifting into limbo. So I repainted my green fence, chatted to Mark the trombonist about music, met Cath for a fast but enjoyable coffee as she was in town, had a haircut (skillfully avoiding the walrus-faced one and doging past the Police cordon outside the bookies which had been robbed), went to the gym and generally busied myself with tasks of small consequence.

Naturally my computer started perfectly at 9.00pm when I thought I'd give it one last try. Sigh. But by now my computer has taught me a Buddhist resignation. Randomly received an email from an old colleague called Sue, asking if I was single and trying to set me up on a blind date. These things never turn up when you actually want them to, and I declined politely.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The glowering stars

To the garden and fish centre, to get some plastic bags in preparation for moving my fish and for Lorraine to drift happily among the plants. We spent the afternoon in Lorraine's tiny narrow back yard painting a brick wall. This we painted white to reflect light back into her ground floor, which is large but lacks natural light. Turning dirty old bricks white was therapeutic, and it seemed to work, with the room seeming brighter even in the evening sun. I mostly used a brush and gave myself a finger blister on my first-against-the-wall-come-the-revolution hands.

After these labours off for a cheeky meal and cooling pint of lager. Explained to Lorraine how today is badly-starred (sun square sun). This vindicated when I returned home this evening to find that, having worked perfectly all week, my computer simply won't start again. I want to smash it with a hammer.

Tomorrow holds the prospect of another day wasted haggling with Dell. The computer has generous memory, a great spec, hard disk is brand new, there is no weird software on it, and the operating system has been reinstalled last week, and yet the bastard will not work. I have no idea why, nor has anybody else. It is utterly maddening to be back where I started two weeks ago. Progress blocked, and all the work I did on Friday lost.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Chips on their shoulders

Groggy this morning after yesterday's lively night. Soon off to Top Cats Vets at Patcham, where the pleasant cat-faced receptionist sold L and I some plug-in pheremones to smooth the nerves of cats, in what will be a challenging few weeks for them. I asked if they had them for people too. Lorraine also bought a catflap which works on the chips our cybercats have on their shoulders under their pelts. This will allowing them in and nobody else. I am apprehensive about how Calliope will get on with Basil and Brian.

After the vet business Lorraine and I walked through Brighton for an hour or so, Lorraine pausing to buy a dishwasher, and me popping into the Basketmakers to retrieve the card I had left behind the bar from the night before. Funny, because I am known there, I had no qualms or worries about this. Then some shopping, popping into the bookshop, and feeling galled at the entire shelf of Skulduggery Pleasance books, and had a mild-mannered afternoon watching TV. In the evening, after supper with Betty, Lorraine drove Betty to Mark's house. Fond farewells as Beth is off on holiday to Greece with Mark and his family.

A tea sipping night after this, watching Swedes murder each other in Swedish on TV.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Kung fu in the kitchen

After lots more sleep began to feel better this afternoon. To mark this renaissance, and to celebrate Friday, I sauntered off in the evening to The Basketmakers.

Matt suffering from a cold. But I had arranged to meet Steve Cartwright, who was on a high after what he said may have been the best ever Sumerian Kyngs gig this week. We also invited Dawn, who I felt Steve ought to meet, and Cathy. Nobody arrived on time, however Beth was there early waiting to meet her father (who drinks in the Basketmakers too) and we had a cheeky drink and a chat about Betty the Spacegirl. I quaffed pints of Seafarers with some enthusiasm, and gossiped at great length with everyone, I love evenings like this.

Home with Lorraine to cheese on toast, where in the space of two minutes I managed to drop the grill pan and all its toasty lode, smash a glass coaster that stuck to the bottom of my glass of sparkling water, and kicked the door of a kitchen cupboard, which stoved in as if I had kung-fu'd it.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Permission to flop

Snuffling on my way down from Anton's house the night before. Woke up disoriented and feverish in the middle of the night, and read for an hour and a half. Gave myself the day off, sitting on the sofa reading Alan Garner's first two books The Wierdstone of Brisingamen, and then half of The Moon of Gomrath. These children's books are rooted in Norse, Celtic and Arthurian legends, which creates a world that overlaps somewhat with Tolkien's. It has been decades since I read them, and they are nicely crafted. Garner's reputation deserves to be much greater: there are moments of great flair and real rootedness in Cheshire. Will re-read Elidor again next, I remember this one far more clearly as it is set largely in Manchester. The juxtaposition of things like bus conductors, iron railings, TVs with a disturbing magic from the past is wonderful.

Normally a coldy bug corresponds with working in London, or having a surfeit of work, it was an absolute luxury to simply be ill for a change, and read and sleep for hours.

Six years since the tube and bus bombings in London. I remember that day very clearly, although I was in Brighton. There was also a controlled explosion outside Brighton station, and I was told to stay indoors by police in the Twitten, and MJ and her children were with me. I feel much happier now than I did then.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Use your liberty to promote ours

Refreshing walk by the grey blue sea, followed by food shopping and was back at my desk by 8:30. Not an amazingly productive day, but have at least tracked down the right people in the bank to talk to about mortgates, bank accounts etc. And I am beginning to prioritise all the things I must do, thanks in part to a chat with Mum.

Chatted with Matt. He has a cold but is cheerful about our stuff.

Off in the evening to eat Anton's home-made pizza. But not before having half an hour with the children, reading Oskar a story about a brussel sprout, and listening attentively as Klaudia read me a story about all the nice things that are going to happen tomorrow.

Then a lengthy chat with Anton putting the world to rights, while scarfing some of his incomparable pizza, and listening to various tunes including The Wild Wild World of Mondo Movies Music which may come in handy for Betty the Spacegirl.

Below a new mural in Brighton, blending the Pavilion skyline, and Aung San Suu Kyi. Good sentiment.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Exploring limitations

After the exhilarations of the weekend, now turning my attention to Practical Matters. I hate Practical Matters. Talked to my bank (five people, ten minutes of incidental music) and have discovered I will have to change my mortgage if I want to rent my house. My task is now to re-evaluate my bank accounts, find a new mortgage, and rearrange my tax and business affairs. Pass me the needles.

Another long session in the gym, I cooked a dhal for lunch, and then Anna called for me and we went to collect Klaudia and Oskar from school (where we bumped into Anna their other Godparent). To St Anne's Wells Park, passing the sweet shop run by two older Indian brothers. They gave Klaudia and Oskar free sweets, and one of them, looking down at the children's scooters said that he and his brother could use them for the paper round.

Anna and I had a coffee and tea in the park, and shared half a brownie between us all. I was picking Anna's brains about forming a limited company, as I may do this as part of my general overhaul. Agencies prefer it if you are a Limited Company, and I think it might be a useful umbrella for the various schemes and wheezes I seem to be embarking on.

On this note met Richard Gibson and his friend Chris Cook in the Evening Star. Chris is involved in a think tank and was talking with some thoroughness about 'IP' intellectual property, and Limited Liability Partnerships. This all abated after a couple of hours, and I returned home

Monday, July 04, 2011

Unknotting

A relaxed monday. Spent time sending designing posters and flyers, and sending images and copy off to The Marlborough Theatre for our Pack of 3 show at the end of August. Mercifully the computer is working well, though I still don't trust it. Also bumped into David Sheppeard from the theatre as I came out of the gym.

A long gym session. Am working harder than ever there now as I have got very fat again. I get fat when I'm stressed, so whenever there is a big project going on where I am likely to be photographed, this will always coincide with chubbiness. It's sod's law.

I had cunningly scheduled a massage today, a whole hour from three. Floated out from it dreamily, today's one not having been too agonising, though there are a few places she kuckles that make you want to yelp. Came back and sat before my computer for a while but my brain was mush. Spent the evening toying inconclusively with ideas for the CD booklet.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Paddle Round the Pier

Slept the sleep of the just. Woke up to a cheery message from Matt who must have been up half the night buzzing. Lay in bed with Lorraine feeling very happy and relieved that the recording of the CD seems to have gone well. Later Matt forwarded me an email from Simon "Sounds great! Hi Matt I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's session, and checking the recordings back whilst backing up data today wanted to let you know that it all sounds very good indeed."

Beautifully sunny day, and after Lorraine and I had breakfasted (and I had re-hydrated) we sauntered down to the Hove Lawns by the sea, for the "Paddle Round the Pier" event. This is an event where people paddle around the remains of the old pier. As is usual in Brighton, this has grown rapidly into a massive event, and there were hundreds of tents, funfair rides and, from Beth and Mark, performances for Goldman's stage school (poignant because this is their last week of attendance).

We met Beth and Mark who were also working in the VIP tent. Lorraine and I allowed in, and Mark poured me a free pint of hair of the dog. VIPs were few, with the notable exception of the lady mayor and veteran comedian Ronnie Corbett, who at 80 looked exactly as he did in the 70s. He sported a luridly colourful tartan bazer. Betty had met him before as she knows the family. Richard and Glenda arrived too, Richard wearing an uncharacteristically restrained teeshirt (normally favouring Hawaiian shirts that force you to don your sunglasses indoors).

Then off to see Betty and Mark sing with other members of the stage school from a large tent. There we were joined by Anna and Anton and my Godbairns.

Beth kicked off with singing Cabaret, really ballsy vocals. Mark singing his heart out and full of confidence. I really enjoyed it. As the finale they sang a sad but rousing chorus from some musical and Lorraine began crying steadily.

Then a wander about looking at everything. Oskar repeatedly licking my arm, and Klaudia was always after the thing just ahead. Chatted to Anton and arranged to see him next week. He has plotted out the course of a new grand walk for us to do.

Then watched the school doing some exhausting dancing. Anna and Anton then left and Lorraine and I drifted off to grab a bite to eat at Zizzi's. I had a sunburned neck, despite sporting my straw hat all day. L and I beginning to plan the big move over large olives.

Computer still working.

Below shots of the general scene at Paddle round the pier. I think the first picture may be one of the best I have ever taken.











Saturday, July 02, 2011

Recording day

The morning of the day I became a recording artist sucked: beautiful sun triggering the release of pollen and other miscreant spores into the air making my throat sore. Then I felt like weeping with frustration as my computer, with its spanking new hard drive, failed again. Managed to start it and restore it to an earlier version (i.e. sometime yesterday) and it has been working since then, but I trust it as far as I can throw it, which will next be out of the window.

To St Michael and All Angels for 3:30. Dr Simon Scardanelli our engineer already busy with a nest of wires and microphones. Matt seething as the priests told him that we would have to interrupt our recording for them to say prayers, something which nobody had mentioned until we arrived. This being England, we all had a cup of tea first, and there were quite a few nerves flying around, although there was a very supportive atmosphere. Simon really nice guy, who was veru reassuring to me.

Adam and Tom assembling vibraphone and marimba, Cem playing dazzling violin runs, and Glen loosening up on the piano. Sometimes all playing different things at once. I rigged up a lectern and paced about trying to focus and get in character. Took a while to get everything in place, and Simon set himself up a little table with his equipment out of the way, and the rest of us were all clustered in semicircle around Matt.

We were behind schedule when we began recording. A few nerves first off, and mistakes by everyone. But once we got into it we picked up pace and began working swiftly, naturally there were retakes and parts of the music replayed. Matt rolling his eyes as cars passed, or seagulls cried in the skies above. The ensemble sounded beautiful, and their playing was fantastic. Overall I was very pleased with my own work on this piece too. I had a quick listen once or twice through Simon's headphones, and the vintage microphone he used, plus my slightly sore throat helped give my voice a pleasing richness. After an enforced prayer break, the choir arrived and we recorded the last few variations with them. They sounded great on this, and were as confident and clear today as they had been uncertain and wavering a few nights ago. Felt drained after the final emotional denouement at the end of the piece, which we recorded twice, and then one chord recorded about five times till it was perfect.

This done, Matt tirelessly led the choir through recordings of Found and Clameur. After a cup of tea, Glen and I worked on Minotaur which was a piece that Matt had completed a couple of hours before coming to the recording. It is based on a poem of mine of the same title, and the music is an intense wall of crunching piano chords, which Glen bashed out on the practice piano. When it was time to record Minotaur it was nine and everyone was ready for the pub. Amazingly Glen and I did it one take, with a kind of explosive energy. A really exhilarating end to what had been an amazing experience for me.

From there all of us, and many of the choir, repaired to the nearby Crescent pub. Lorraine, Rosie, Betty and Mark were there too and had ordered some food. Several beers were drunk, and everyone well pleased with the day's work.

Below Matt (avoiding being photographed) and Simon, Adam and Tom, Glen and Cem, my score on the deckchair-like mini lectern, and the vintage mic over it. Members of the choir.











Friday, July 01, 2011

It's alive!

Walked home this morning after slurping tea in bed made by Lorraine. A beautiful day. Busied myself rehearsing and tidying, until a nice Romanian man came to the Twitten at noon to replace my hard disk, like a heart transplant but less messy. He also fell in love with Calliope as she poked her head into the open computer next to him, and walked on the desk watching him typing. Now I have a Frankenstein's PC freshly loaded with Windows, and got busy downloading my bits and pieces, copying files across and trying to get on with all the business, and by 7.00pm had almost reassembled it.

The day interspersed with rehearsals and I am feeling more confident about being able to give a good account of myself tomorrow. Had many windows open and wondering slightly afterwards what people would have made of all the passionate bleating indoors. This interspersed by calls from Beth who had urgent faxes to send to secure a place in a shared house when she goes to college, and almost no time to sort things out. Lorraine uncontactable. Nice chat with Bob, who was sounding well and cheery - haven't seen him for some time now, and this needs to be fixed.

In the evening off to The Evening Star where Lorraine and I met Richard and Maria for a chat and an appropriately restrained beer, which after fiddling with computers all week was something I needed. Maria who we were meeting for the second time, is a very pleasant Italian woman, and Richard now keen on the idea that we should become labelmates when it comes to our CDs.

Home to naughty but nice fish and chips.

Below deliberately grainy images of Beth, Mark and Callum I am using for the poster for Pack of Three... An alien Callum, A pirate mark and a corpse-like Betty.