Saturday, December 31, 2011

NYE

A day of work today, helping Lorraine with her ghastly head teacher stuff, and working on building a new website for AnotherSun Recordings.

Went to the gym this afternoon, was there for an hour. I am officially festively plump, and am keenly anticipating more rational eating and drinking.

Chelsea lost again today.

But the workout was good and New Year's Eve had to be attended to. Went to the Basketmakers where Matt and Wayne were, as well as Sam and Gary who introduced me as his landlord to his new girlfriend. It is a strange situation given that Gary is Lorraine's ex-husband. But it all works out fine, all very Brighton.

Soon our party was joined by Guy and Tim and other friends and I found myself kissed by men wearing caps. I don't mind except when they are too beardy. (I am currently smooth faced). Generally a good night, lots of chat with Matt about the Opera we are going to write, and then most folks left and Rosie arrived. She said she was drunk enough to do her party trick, which was a mime of threading a needle and pushing it through her cheek and getting me to pull the invisible thread.

Got an email on my Blackberry from Toby in Quito, Ecuador, and swapped emails in the pub. Marvellous this new fangled technology. The hour came round at last, and general hugs kisses and handshakes. 2012 yippee! etc. Everyone pulled their party poppers which exploded showering litter over everyone. Mine was a dud. Hope this isn't an omen.

Walking home we came upon some youths stripped to the waist fighting in London Road one boy briefly being given a kicking when he went down. Lorraine checked to see if he was okay and I followed the other one and called the police. But everyone had melted away before the sirens were heard. We mooched home with Lorraine steering me past the attractions of Ace Pizza.

And so to bed. Happy New Year everyone!

Below a photo from Joan in Ontario of Lucky Jim following everyone on the morning walk in the woods. Now that's a festive shot...

Friday, December 30, 2011

On reflection

Mum's birthday today, had a nice chat with her and Mas and invited myself over to see them next week when I am working up in London. Both sounded cheerful.

Lorraine working all day on her head teacher business, and I worked all day on websites and designing publicity for the CD launch concert. All quite companionable sitting side by side up in the mezzanine office. We broke off only to eat various leftover bits in the fridge. In the evening out to the Shahi for a cheery curry feed with Beth.

This year was a game of two halves. The first half a frenzy of creativity, and the second a decisive move in with Lorraine which is a success. I now think of The Old Church Hall as my home. Otherwise a year that saw me launch a short story in the Guernsey Literary festival, stage two plays in Brighton, record a CD, manage to keep my business on track in a recession, have my house in the Twitten fixed up and rented is definitely successful. The main downside was The Cloud Of Things That Must Be Done, which saw me stretched financially and emotionally for several months. Thank God that cloud has mostly abated.

But in all this frenzy of activity and minimal holiday I have missed time with friends, and family. My ambition for next year is to spend more quality time in with people I love and care about. And it is interesting that one of the things I am proudest of this year is watching Beth shine as a new-fledged comedy actress in Wrong in March. I end the year feeling very lucky, and mindful that my true riches are the people I know.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goody four shoes

Thank Christ at last I was able to upload information for the PPL for the CD. When I was able to do it, the upload took under two seconds. To get to that point had taken me well over two weeks of frustration and teeth gnashing.

Back to the gym. Felt good to be doing at least something to balance the festive pie-eating booze swilling frenzy. Afterwards after a hasty gym shower with my clothes dangerously unlocked in the changing room, I went shopping, recession style. I bought a new cheap watch as my old cheap watch had gone a bit rusty, and two pairs of rather nice shoes as I don't own a pair of shoes that don't leak. One pair a sensible black, the other less sensible brown suede brogues but both so comfortable to wear they are like butterflies kissing your feet.

Bumped into Gary in the shoe shop. I have been bumping into Gary lots. He was in the pub yesterday too. Then met up with Lorraine, Sam and Beth. Sam nursing a hangover. Lorraine and I paused to stroke iPads in the apple shop. Then I bought Lorraine a sensible work bag on wheels and then I simply went home, leaving Lorraine and her bairns to go for a meal together.

A blissful couple of hours for me snickering at Larry Sanders with the cats. Followed by a quiet evening with Lorraine and Beth, watching various comedies on TV.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Clueless

Just Lorraine and I at home today. Lorraine sadly continuing to beaver away on her head teacher course, and I helped her a little. Then I flew my new shooting Nazi aircraft game on the Wii, and I watched some Larry Sanders shows, which are utterly brilliant. Like Frazier, all the pieces were in place when the show kicked off.

Lorraine and I just enjoying hanging out together. In the evening off to meet Wayne and Matt in the Tavern. Arriving we found Tanya and Catherine glowing with intelligence, but no quiz. Wayne attempted to negotiate that the Tavern should pay for a six person transport to another pub with a quiz. Instead however we all repaired to the Basketmakers, bumping into Sam and two of his oldest friends who were persistently buying Lorraine drinks. I really like Tanya and Catherine.

Another episode of Larry Sanders show before bedtime.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zonk out

Diet gradually returning to normal, with quorn sausages this morning to start. Pat and Maureen driven off to the station at noon. I am rocking a Donnegal Tweed cap at the moment, and Pat has given me a few insightful cap-wearer's hints such as to leave your cap in your coat pocket when you're visiting someone. Fond farewells.

Then off to see The Gandeys, nice to see Richard and Glenda, and of course young Mark. An undertow of awkward there given that Mark and Beth have broken up. Mark wanted to show me something on his computer and his screensaver was of him and his new girlfriend for example. Beth conducting herself with poise. Nevertheless good to see them, before we zoomed off to a nearby shopping centre to struggle in the crowds in the sales. I could find nothing to buy.

Home, and Lorraine's old pals Sue and John popped in. They were down from the Cotswolds seeing various people in Brighton. A nice chat with them. After they left a greatly zonk out, eating salmon and watching undemanding TV. Liver and kidneys revelling in a booze-free day.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A shot in the dark

Another large breakfast, and then a walk to the sea for mum and I, giving us time to chat. Lorraine drove Pat, Maureen and Betty to the sea and we met them there. The sea slightly rough and lovely, and Beth and Pat bought a selection of seafood and tucked in. Then Mum and I wandered back home, and the others drove. Later we dropped Mum and Mas back at the station and, despite tube strikes, they made it home in one piece.

Something of a slow afternoon, feeling rather liverish. However after sleeping managed to rally enough to go out again. Off to Dawn's flat which was full of people, including half a dozen women of about 21 who were all insisting on games. The first of which was sliding a chocolate coin down from your forehead into your mouth without using your hands. Both Dawn and Lorraine rather accomplished at this. Then a game of Charades, which I'd never played before. Felt, in a grumpy-old-mannish way that I had strayed into an ice breaking game in some appalling business course. Naturally I got up and Charaded with the rest of them.

Then to The Eddy with Beth for drinks with Anton, Brian and Anna. The appalling Brian did his usual trick of buying shots just as everyone was leaving. A jolly good time though, and being in the Eddy with those three something of a Boxing Day tradition.

Below Pat and Beth, Pat's cheek bulging with whelks. Anna and I drinking a shot, Anton and Anna, and a slightly more respectable shot of me and Anna.





Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day

Up and at ‘em. Salmon and scrambled eggs, and Bucks Fizz for breakfast. Then struggling to weigh the turkey on defective scales. Once this accomplished Lorraine forcing cranberry and herby butter under its skin and into the oven it went. We dragooned everyone, especially Mason, into helping to prepare the mounds of vegetables which were all cooked in their various ways. Mum and Maureen swigging the rum that had been used to soak raisins in and generally giggling naughtily over the mince pies. Lorraine jetted vegetable oil into her fringe lending her a strangely authentic cook look.

I got some amazing presents including a painting from Mum and Mas, a new man bag and the Larry Sanders boxed set from Lorraine, and a Chelsea duck and a DVD of Cave of Forgotten Dreams from Beth.

Went for a short breather in the park with Mum, Mase, Pat and Maureen before Christmas dinner. Marvelling at hardcore joggers and peering into the dormant newt pond.

Home, and Janet and Ken arrived soon after. Janet looking brighter but still with her arm in a sling. Ken on good form and lots of talking. Then a large Christmas feast, and a good deal of chatting afterwards. It was Betty's first Christmas for five years not at Mark's but she was cheery all day, despite being the youngest person there by decades.

Ken falling asleep later, so he and Janet zoomed off in a taxi and the rest of us settled down to watch some Ice Age animation, which I enjoyed heartily.

Below Pat, Maureen, Mas and Mum; a Christmas Betty, and general non-flattering tucking in shots with Janet and Ken... Bottom, me at the head of the table after two large rum and cokes, and running about like a blue arsed fly.




Saturday, December 24, 2011

Candles at Christmas

Up and at 'em today. Lots of things to be done before Christmas, Lorraine and I got an early start doing some local shopping for bread and general Christmas goodies. Big breakfast and then Lorraine and I drove to the station to successfully scoop up Mum and Mase from the station. A very smooth journey apparently.

Got everyone settled in, and then off to St Nicholas Church for their Crib Service, which is nothing at all to do with gansta rap, but in fact all about the Nativity. Mum and I walked there, and Lorraine drove Mas, Pat and Maureen. There met Anton, Anna Brian and the children. Oskar sitting on my lap for much of the service, and Klaudia on Brian's. Better service than last year, with a pantomime element added with a big wrapped present on the altar and Father Robert and others trying to steal it. Oskar bellowing behind you! with the best of them. Then the children collected their little candles (Oskar going up this time unaided as he is now five) and the wooden nativity scene was illuminated. I always find this rather moving. Fr Robert opened the present and shied the sweeties and chocolates towards children in the Church.

Then back to Anton and Anna's house for our now traditional Christmas Eve feast. Anne Anton's mum was there, which was good as Mum and her should have met a long time ago. We ate rather wonderful food, and chatted happily until late. Really nice to see everyone, and be part of this altogethery crowd. At the end of the night we put the parentals into a taxi, and Lorraine and I, and Beth who'd come up from the Twitten and seeing her dad, floated home down the hill to the Old Church Hall.

Below My lovely Godchildren armed with candles.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Let go and Lego

Rather a strange day, off into London to do my last day's work in the agency this year. Spent the day with Keith working on concepts to do with toothpast and tooth varnish. One rather top idea otherwise a bit like pulling hen's teeth. The building was empty of everyone except for cleaners, but still we worked on till the day's end. Keith curiously elated once the 'part timers' had gone. I decided to find all this quite fun, and had a pretty enjoyable day, Keith and I pausing to snack on a japanese style curry and wild rice for lunch in a juice bar for lunch.

A quick and manly handshake with Keith and then I rushed off into the streets tired but happy. Passed a large Christmas tree made entirely of Lego at St Pancras station. Briefly entertained the notion that this really was just a neat comment about the commercialisation and artificiality of Christmas, but I suspect it really was just a Christmas tree made of Lego.

Home at last to Lorraine and Betty. Pat and Maureen had arrived for Christmas and were cheery and happy. All good and, rather delayed this year, my Christmas was allowed to begin.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Gods of Delay

Enraged first thing as I needed to send a single email from my computer before leaving for work. This two second operation turned into fifteen minutes for various computer reasons. Suddenly this began to stand for every delay and frustration I have had in the year and I wanted to self harm wildly and then pound my computer into dust.

Instead, after a short rave, I kissed Lorraine and went back up to London for what I had assumed would be my last day of work, but in fact isn't. Rather cheesed off at this as it gives me no time to do any of my Christmas preparations. Spent the day in a pink room trying to come up with concepts about dental caries and also eye problems. Several wild flights of fancy with Keith and much laughter, but no solution. Snuck out at lunch to score some sarnies and then back to work. Huge amounts to do in no time.

Home at 8:30, thankfully sober as a judge, and armed with fish and chips. Lorraine and Betty both out so before bed I tried for the sixth time to upload codes to PPL site for our CD tracks. PPL had emailed me to say that they'd fixed the problem, and all I would have to do is press send. Of course it didn't work. It has only taken two weeks of my time so far. Clearly, about a year ago, I must have angered the Gods of Delay and they have wreaked a soul sapping revenge this year, which has turned me into a detestable grouch. I wonder what I can sacrifice to them?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Positive sausages

Sordid hangover this morning, and up at 4.00am drinking sparkling water and sparking hissy fits among the disconcerted cats. Hideous drag off to work, but felt steadily improved as the day wore on, starting with a mustardy sausage sandwich from an Italian cafe, and was told that it (the sausage sandwich) represented a positive start to the day, and that it would be a good one. It was, and working hard on stuff with Keith, culminating in a late presentation that went well.

Then The FB gave a funny speech to his agency, and we all glugged some champagne for a bit. Then off to a pub for their agency drinks. I sensibly bolted before harm was done, and schlepped home. Popped into the Evening Star for half an hour to say hello to Fingers, Steve Cartwright, Claudius and the Shakespeare Trio before going down to The Basketmakers to meet Lorraine, Cath and Rosie. Beth and Sam arrived too. A cheery spell before heading home and eating some pie before bed.

Rather craving a night revolving around sipped teas and mineral waters.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An afternoon with Nev

Up to the smoke again this morning, but only for a half day, for this afternoon was given over to celebrating Nev's return to these blighted shores. Now an Australian, Nev seems not to changed much at all, and there was no hint of an Aussie twang. A collection of agency folks had gathered to celebrate his return in The Salisbury, including Paul and First Matie who came in the evening when we moved onto another pub in Soho. Brilliant to see Nev and having worked together as partners for three years or so, we picked up straight away when you work so closely with someone, you really get to know them. He loves his Australian life. He lives in Manly, which always makes me smile, and it is a place designed Nev, who likes sports and roaming about in the wide outdoors and the sun brandishing golf clubs and the like.

After some dedicated drinking I had to wuss out and go home, after fond farewells and beers and a rum and coke. Left Nev and lots of pals to it. A wonderful journey, where I simply got on the train, and woke up in Brighton. Home to Lorraine and Betty armed with a large pizza, which made me lose brownie points as Lorraine had cooked an incredibly nice pie for us. So I had pie and pizza as a side dish, not having eaten since breakfast. Lorraine had also just talked to Katie, who let her know I was on my way, and listing to starboard.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A cuppa with Reuben

Up and surging to the station for the 7:24 train, only to find a baleful multitude gathered at the station. A train had broken down on the line, blocking all trains to London. Luckily I met Reuben, and we sloped off to a cafe and had a cup of tea and a chat for some time before returning to the station and finding that we could travel again. Nice to chat to Reuben as the train dawdled north through fields with horses standing about in coats.

Finally at work, at 10:10 (three hours door to door). In the afternoon Keith and I went off site to work on a thorny brief about eye health. We found ourselves in a curiously empty pub where we had lunch and hunched over our pads. At 5:30 stopped and simply had a beer instead which was quite cheerful. I really like Keith.

Home to Lorraine and a hearty chicken soup. Finally got the last piece of the jigsaw for the CD, the code number of the barcode that will be used on the CD. Have had to download complicated software from the PPL, Included all the information that was needed and pressed send, and it simply wouldn't upload the information. Infuriating. I totted up the amount of time I have spent in getting these codes for the CD tracks and it is already over a day.

And so to bed, somewhat exhaustedly.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The yin and yang of brownie points

The sense of lots to be done. I spent a little time helping Lorraine with some ghastly protracted written statements she needs to make for her headteacher course. Accumulated a fair few brownie points.

My afternoon hijacked by The Shakespeare Trio, with whom I ended up doing a protracted photo shoot, wandering about in the dim winter afternoon around the seafront and pier. Managed some good shots of them, one or two of which I will post here shortly.

Richard and I sloped off to The Basketmakers for a quick beer afterwards, before I repaired home, where I discovered I had lost brownie points. I had left the lid unfastened on the fabric conditioner. Fastening lids on things like Marmite jars is something I cannot do, and have never been able to do since I was a child. Anyway on this occasion the fabric conditioner was knocked by Lorraine, and it emptied out over a rug, necessitating the rug being washed.

Lorraine and Beth working at putting up the Christmas tree and cooking a delicious roast. My evening fiddling about with photos, and helping Lorraine with more parts of the statement from hell.

And so to bed.

Below a shot of Dipak, Richard and 100 starlings. Probably not looking at their most cheerful.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Shopping

Laughing this morning at a text from Jane in Guernsey wondering if spray starch (see Thursday) was the Viagra of the poor.

Lots of shopping this afternoon with Lorraine. After some hours of enjoyably nosing about in shops and rain dodging (and buying Lorraine a dress that was not a Christmas present merely a Saturday present) L and I snuck off for coffee in the Marwood, which as one of its staff said was 'mental busy' as he sucked at a cigarette outside.

Then I sloped home to boof exhaustedly on the gold sofa, Lorraine returning shortly after. We had two invitations for evening revelry but as both of us were in need of a night in, we curled up before the TV weakly sipping tea and water. Actually this was rather blissful.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mad Friday...

As it was dubbed in the press and on the radio. For this is THE day of office parties and field hospitals were set up in major cities to cope with the hoards of drunkards spilling out onto the streets. It seemed rude not to join in.

Up to London again. Working with Keith this morning, which is always good fun, squeezing blood out of a stone concepting about eye diseases, interspresed with foaming at the mouth raving about politics. Worked for two hours drawing blanks and then right at the end, an idea that may have legs.

Off at lunchtime with First Matie, Keith and a designer called Hamish for a beer. Soon joined by Karam and The French Bloke. Ended up spending the afternoon having a hugely enjoyable drink in a London Boozer with the FB of whom I am very fond. This followed by a long train journey in which I slept a good deal and arrived reasonably refreshed at Brighton.

Out with Anton and Anna to a nearby boozer called the World's End where there are, according to food critic Jay Rayner, the finest ribs in Southern England. An Anton choice of course. We ate sticky and lipsmacking ribs while listening to a band who had in their repertiore some heartily sung sea shanties. Joined later by Betty as we moved to another slightly soulless place called Circus Circus where we could at least hear each other talk and drink Mountgay rum from Barbados mixed with coke, which is this year's official PK Xmas drink, but only on the condition it has loads of fresh lime squeezed into it too. Delicious, me hearties.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Star struck

Off without incident this morning. An enjoyable day, working with a guy called Steve on a COPD brief, and went to lunch with Karam and Keith having a fishfinger sandwich and a pint and chatted with First Matie in the afternoon. Turns out that Karam went to Warwick University like me, except some years later. Talking about familiar Leamington haunts. He also studied philosophy, but combined it with biochemistry and business studies. Ye Gods.

Home on a slow train, and wading through the pouring rain, realised my shoes leaked. Lorraine out again, this time collecting Betty and bringing her home. After cleaning up copious cat poo and wee (Basil the chief suspect being unable to squeeze out of the cat flap through being too fat) I snuck off to get a takeaway curry in the rain, enjoying the opportunity to read the local paper and drink a small beer while waiting.

Betty home and cheery, quickly changing into a furry jumpsuit called a onesie.

And so to bed.

Below Having that strange hunger for art again. Surfing in the afternoon looking for something to do with a concept, and stumbled on Van Gough's Starry Night. I could have looked at it for an hour. Every now and then my eyes and soul seem to crave visual beauty, and particular colours. Today I was pierced by Starry Night, and how the shapes of the Cypress trees at the front seem to want to be sucked into the stars' dance. To me this picture is about the afterlife, the Cypress (traditionally planted around graveyards) and the church pointing up to the beautiful and terrifying heavens.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stiffened resolve

Began the day at a hideous 4:30am as Lorraine's clock went off two hours prematurely. Staggered about until I looked at my watch and saw the truth. Slumped back into bed, blearily awaking at 6:30 and managing to fumigate one underarm with spray starch for ironing shirts, rather than deodorant. Lorraine shaking the bed laughing, and texted me later in the day to enquire about my stiff arm.

Off up to the smoke, and finished The Black Dahlia en route, a surprisingly optimistic ending. The carriage like a plague ship, full to the gunnels with grey-faced sneezers and coughers.

Work fine. A brief about eye diseases, and another about COPD. Chats with First Matie and The French bloke. Enjoyable enough day. Home, and Lorraine out playing festive skittles with Education colleagues. I cooked a mountain of pasta, and boofed onto the sofa, where I was difficult to dislodge. L and I having a rum and coke nightcap afore bed.

Tetchy

Alighted from the tetchy side of the bed this morning, but managed at least to do some Christmas shopping, and bought PollardandKenny.com which will be up and running soon. Went for a walk to the sea which was rough and bracingly windy.

In the afternoon, I called up by the agency to start work for the next few weeks so I plunged back into the dark to buy a train ticket and try to get ahead on the shopping. I am well pleased that there is another good chunk of work coming, as the Kenny coffers still have a lot of recovering to do. But words cannot express how much I want to get on with some writing of my own. For the last few months this has proved impossible in any sustained way and I feel like a junkie who is going cold turkey.

L and I to bed early. Stormy weather and incessant rain. Reading the Black Dahlia again which I have almost finished. Disturbing and dystopian are just two words for it.

Below the lively sea.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Adminhead

Admin will be the thing that pushes me into madness. I'm not a form filler by inclination, but have a conflicting impulse to do things properly. So this morning spent in search of wild geese and ISRC codes. These are codes embedded into tracks of your CD so that in the event of people playing it on radio their usage can be tracked and eventually paid for. To get these codes you have to join the PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd), joining the PPL was hard, rubbish site, and had to call them. This may be the final piece of the jigsaw. I seem to have spent the last six months doing admin for the house, my business, the CD and it is working my nerve as Americans would say. Meanwhile Matt is busy organising things for the launch concert in February, cat herding musicians and so on.

Off to the gym today, making amends for a heavy weekend. Then later I met Dipak for a coffee in the Marwood Cafe and thence to buy a toy truck for Oskar and a make your own perfume game for Klaudia. Noticed the big Habitat shop in the mall closed and empty.

Lorraine home at a reasonable hour and we sloped off to the supermarket together, which is weirdly fun, and had a much needed quiet evening in and sipping mineral water.A stormy night tonight, and feel grateful to be inside rather than out. Worked late listening to the rain hammering on the roof of the Old Church hall and the velux windows. A wonderful sound.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Burning issues

Up reasonably early today. Lorraine has a cold. In an unplanned branding exercise, I managed to scorch three fingers picking up an iron that Lorraine had turned off seconds before. Spent the next hour or so with my hand in water or on cold pad whimpering quietly whenever I removed it from the cold. The cold business worked however, as at the end of the day I had just a line of three small blisters.

In the afternoon off to meet Lakshmi and Aimee at Brighton Station. Hadn't seen either for some time. Aimee now moved back to London. She told us about her Friday night, having seeing Coldplay she returned home to her flat, and decided to have a cigarette and nightcap glass of Scotch on her tiny balcony dressed only in her pyjamas. She has a complicated door, which while she was out there partially closed. She showed us the bruises on her arm caused by fishing around trying to get it open again. After some time she decided to tear off the net curtains and fashion a rope to work the door's three way mechanism to open it up again. After much ingenious weaving of curtains, she lassoed the handle and managed instead to lock the door into a position where it was open only a couple of centimeters. Carefully she pulled back the curtain and employed it for warmth. Eventually someone passed in the street below, and she called out to him that she was trapped. He called the fire brigade, apologised that he had to go and moved on. Some time later a highly pimped up black car with extra exhausts and black windows showed up, and it was the same guy back (with friends grinning in the back) who helpfully threw up a packet of cigarettes, of which Aimee took two, before they drive back off into the night again.

Eventually the firemen showed up, clambered up a ladder and found that Aimee also couldn't unlock the door. Aimee had to be carried down the ladder, for legal reasons, with her bum in a fireman's face and her PJs slipping off. Eventually, at 5am, the firemen were able to force entry into the flat by breaking a window. Aimee, who was by now rather enjoying the company of firemen, managed to take lots of photos of them in her house and sitting on chairs etc.

Very good to see Lakshmi too, and I had an enjoyable afternoon of sitting in The Eagle, scarfing a large roast dinner and shooting the breeze with them over a few drinks, and there was a good deal of breeze to be shot. Also joined by Bianca, who is one of Aimee's numerous cousins and who lives in Brighton, who is head of art in school in Lewes, and by night a rather good DJ who plays sets in a couple of Brighton venues. Really nice woman.

Home in the teeming rain, after seeing Lakshmi and Aimee off at the station. Home and Lorraine pottering about looking tired and illish. We sat on the gold sofa, with the rain teeming down outside, and I felt very lucky to have a roof over my head and to be sitting on the gold sofa with Lorraine. All well.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

If the cap fits

Really enjoyable day. A leisurely start with Lorraine followed by intensive tidying up of our study area. It feels amazingly good to have it all sorted. Then a session in the afternoon of Christmas shopping. We accidentally found ourselves in Mad Hatters buying hats. Lorraine bought a lovely grey hat, which is slightly 1920s-ish to my eyes, but she looks fab in it. I tried various hats on, but nothing was grabbing my attention till I tried on a cap. I have always assumed caps wouldn't suit me but I found I was rocking a Irish wool cap, and so Lorraine and I walked out of the shop sporting hats. It was a clear and cold day, and it was good to have a warm head, especially the part of my head rendered vulnerable by The Area of Concern.

Thus clad, we did a good amount of Christmas shopping and at no point did I feel like stabbing anyone. Sensibly repaired to The Basketmakers at the end of the day, where it was really nice to sit and chat to my lovely Lorraine. Bumped into folk songstress Pemma while there too. Wayne and Matt arrived a little later who were both on fine form, and we were randomly joined by Linda who came to sit with us munching on a pea fritter. Lorraine returned home to have an evening with Rosie, and I hung out with the boys for a while who were making me laugh with their playful bickering. We migrated to the Nelson where Adam Bushell was having a party and playing a huge variety of bizarre instruments. Fingers was there, plus Ellie Blackshaw who played violin in our first performances of This Concert.

Eventully I tore myself away from this and returned home to chat with Rosie and Lorraine before bed. A top day.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Deliverance

Up at the crack of dawn with Lorraine, and then working in a frenzy on the layout for the CD packaging, everything made more difficult as I am still learning how to use the Corel program. However the result looks entirely smart. Delivered layouts on a memory key, plus the master CD down to Modo at lunchtime, and had a chat with the guys there. A nice bunch, and their creatives working on a pitch. Feeling rather tense with having hunched over a computer tweaking things by millimetres for the last 48 hours.

Off to the gym for a much-needed workout and then home to do some chores and luxuriate on the sofa reading The Black Dahlia. Almost finished. The book is unremittingly paranoid, and depicts a world where brutality and corruption are inevitable. Interesting though.

Rarely does my blog stray into politics but, my God, Cameron has made a unbelievable hash of the European negotiations, allowing himself to be be cornered into a no win decision. The UK now stands isolated in Europe, and from all its major trading partners at the worst possible time. The economic future of the UK has become bleaker.

Lorraine somewhat coldy. Nevertheless, we snuck out for a medicinal curry.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Cover

Apart from lurking with Lorraine by the TV and eating food I'd concocted, spent the day manacled to desk till midnight laying out our CD cover and 8 page booklet into templates ready for production. Little time for anything else. Happy with my results though. Sonia around cleaning as I worked.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Between Cheese and a Mitre

Working on re-laying out the CD cover today, and also a long phone chat with Sophie. Then off to London this afternoon to go to my dentist in Chiswick. More The Black Dahlia on the train. Was 45 mins early so got off at Turnham Green station and mooched past my old flat in Thornton Avenue, where I lived for a year before moving down to Brighton. That was a particularly depressing year, and I found I had blanked the street name and house number. Then through Chiswick down towards Strand on the Green, where Matty boy, First Matie and Graeme now live, past pubs where I used to read poetry, or places where friends had lived. I moved to Chiswick in 1986 which is a long time ago. Melancholy fading light, and by the time I had arrived at the dentist I felt as if life is fleeting and everything I've done was a no more than a hill of beans.

A 40 minute wait in the dentist's reception not helping much. I was delayed by a massive job on an older man, requiring two dentists and a taxi home. My own teeth were examined in record time by Lucinda my dentist and hastily pronounced okay.

Suddenly much more cheery and off to tube to Temple station, from where I sauntered past the Royal Courts of Justice and down to Fleet street to meet Bob in our historic drinking den Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. I'd not seen Bob for ages. We had a couple of drinks and wandered across to another pub before heading off to the historic Ye Olde Mitre and a curry house. Dicussing Mick Ginty in Ye Olde Mitre, and as we left my Blackberry blinked, and it was my first email of the year from Mick Ginty saying we should meet up soon in Ye Olde Mitre. Strange coincidence. Bob on good form, and bearing a bottle of truffle Vodka which he said he bought for me as a Christmas present last year, but forgot to give me. Saw pictures of Milly his daughter who is seven, and heard in unappetising detail about the operation on his knee and sourcing gristly bits from his hamstring to fix his knee with.

Then the journey home, dozing happily on the train.

Below The Royal Courts of Justice looking baleful.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

What torpedoes?

At last decided on the CD producers we are going to use: Brighton's own Modo. So full steam ahead now, and damn the torpedoes hissing through the water. Conversations and email with Matt and Dipak and Richard about the launch concert in February. The Shakespeare Trio will be on the bill too. Next step this week is to finalise the cover, deliver the master CD to Modo, revamp relevant websites and, contact The Beacon charity to whom I want to give some of the proceeds.

Went to see Janet and Ken this afternoon, popping in for a chat after vising the Real Patisserie and arming myself with pieces of patisserie, guts sufficiently recovered to snap down one wee tarte tatin with them accompanied by a cup of Earl Grey tea. All rather civilised. Generally put the world to rights for some time. Janet managing with her arm, and looking far perkier than when I last saw her. Janet suggesting I might find someone to offer occasional admin support, and knows just the person.

Still reading The Black Dahlia. Bleak.

Watching he Masterchef competition on TV with Lorraine, and witnessing L grind up her own spice mixes making me more spice and herb savvy. I made a seafood pasta sauce today using plenty of tarragon. Made it taste rather fine even if I say so myself: which clearly I am.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Dark places

Felt like I had food poisoning, with unpleasantly exploding guts today.

I got up very early, however, and watched a documentary about James Ellroy called Feast of Death, which was a wonderful. He's a guy with a weird rather obnoxious public persona, Ellroy was discussing the murder of his mother when he was a boy, and how fed by his father be built up an unpleasant picture of what she was really like. This murder resonated with him on with The Black Dahlia case, a real unsolved murder which he turned into a novel. The documentary focused on this and My Dark Places, which is a memoir about seeking the facts in his mother's murder. Fascinating stuff. I bought The Black Dahlia, which I began to read right away. It is compelling and unpleasant.

My French clients finally coughed up what they owed me too, which is rather good. Apparently they are struggling.

Met Matt in the afternoon to discuss the CD production and performances. We are looking at a CD launch concert on Saturday February 11 in the centre of Brighton.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sofa time

Definitely hungover this morning. I was not, however, the only one. Feeling slightly nauseous, I had to sit outside in the fresh air for a while. Soon felt right, however, due to the amazing therapeutic properties of a bacon roll.

Usual suspects for Lorraine and I to lurk about with. First Matie walking about with one contact in, Matty extolling the virtue of showers, and naturally Max and Michel, whose children are adorable, and Judith who seemed remarkably poised for a lady who was trampolining in the small hours. After sufficient tea was drunk, and I had a go on Michel's new guitar, a Washburn the same make as my one, Bianca, then fond farewells exchanged and Lorraine and I drove home listening to radio four in the car. Once home Lorraine and I dove onto the gold sofa and barely moved for some time.

On the way home we had bought a chicken, but as I prepared it I pulled the legs apart to stuff it with onion and sage only to discover it was a virulent green. Lorraine out watching a show with Klaudia that Betty was in. When she returned I got us a takeaway. Later Beth arrived too and was somewhat tired and miserable and needed reviving with tea and hugs from her mum.

And so to bed. Slept on the floor last night, so very good indeed to be back on a tempur mattress.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Aw shucks

The luxury of a slow start for Lorraine and I gradually getting ourselves sorted out in time to drive up to Chertsey Meades and meet Matty boy, First Matie, Tash and Steve, and meet Judith, Dion and Camilla for the first time. There was a conspiracy to surprise the FB for his 50th birthday. Matt had scored things the FB likes, such as dozens of oysters, champagne, roast beef and so on. I found myself a shucker of oysters after Matt showed me how. Something about shucking oysters that is simultaneously repulsive and enjoyable.

We lurked in wait and sprang out on him in a fairly mild mannered way. The FB has an unpredictable streak and I suspect that if he thought he had burglars he would have charged in with a chainsaw. People then fell on the bubbly and oysters with gusto. I'm not much of an oyster guzzler myself but it seemed rude not to have several, and Lorraine loves them. A lively night ensued of general feasting and merriment until I was advised by my friends that I was listing to Starboard and was zipped into my sleepingbag by Lorraine. She crept in later, but even she missed the 3AM nocturnal trampolining in the back garden.

They have had their house rebuilt and it is beatiful: modern and functional.

Below Michel (aka the French Bloke) and Max.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Anna's birthday

Up and about today. Gary called around in a van and I helped him load it up with table and chairs etc for the Twitten. This done, I went out in Brighton to buy a present for Anna that Lorraine and I had spied through a shop window the night before as today is by coincidence three friend's birthdays: Anna, the French Bloke and Reuben.

Shopping and walking home in steady rain. And in the evening was kitchen porter to Lorraine's Masterchef as she cooked up a lamb biryani with lots of ingredients. Anna and Anton brought Klaudia and Oskar who zipped about while the adults sipped sparkling wine. Anna looking very glamourous for her fortieth birthday, and is in a really positive frame of mind, looking great, and her coaching business is really taking off. Showed Anton the vintage 1944 copy of Guernsey newspaper The Star. Betty arrived home too during the evening, and seemed on good form. A cheerful night, which ended with sleeping children being ferried out into a taxi.

Lorraine and I boofed to bed soon after leaving the cleaning up until the morning.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Skateboard terrain

The R4 Today programme talking about the drought we can expect next year due to low autumn rainfall. As usual this sort of talk cue for the skies to empty themselves of huge amounts of rain all day and night. I became a Landlord today, so phone calls this morning to utilities.

Once this landownder business done, off to collect the master CD of Pollard & Kenny's Clameur from Simon. Paused en route to buy a pie from Bangers Home Made Pies, a shop I happened on whose only business seemed to the manufacture of rather nice pies. I scored a small chicken and mushroom pie and was well pleased. A bit early for Simon, I tarried in the Levels park, taking snaps of the rainsoaked and strangely melancholy skateboard park, made more so by a small tree that had been turned into a shrine for a young woman.

Once the CD obtained from Simon I mooched back into the city centre talking to Matt about the CD. Then off to get my hair cut in the Laines by a bald barber who did a good job. Then off to Marwood's cafe to grab a coffee and compose myself before a visit to Modo in Brighton. Discussed CD production. They do impressive work there. I was given good advice from a nice guy called Ian.

Paused to buy an anthology of new poetry. Then home in the teeming rain via Sainsbury's arriving leaden and soaking. Lorriane home and we worked upstairs together before driving back into Brighton for shopping in the pouring rain. Most places closed though, apart from one where on entry we were offered a glass of Cava by a Californian woman. I accepted happily.

Matty boy came to stay tonight, very cheery after having had a pleasant night out in Brighton.

Tonight Lorraine cooked us Chicken, lemon and broccoli dish which was extraordinarily eatable.

Below a glimpse into Marwood's cafe, which is easily my favourite cafe in Brighton since Dipak has introduced me to it. Sad that I didn't know of it when Toby was over as he would revel in it. Some snaps of skateboard terrain in the rain.