Monday, December 31, 2012

In conclusion

Not sad to see the end of 2012, which has been short on laughs. Perhaps best exemplified by the rain that fell endlessly shortly after the drought warnings in March.  And in the last day of the year Lorraine drove me off in the grey rain to the doctors. More antibiotics, and the instruction that if my prostatitis worsened I should go to the hospital. A piss poor end to the year.

Betty here this morning before zooming off to spend party with some buddies. Anton called around, bringing Polish beers which I was unable to drink.  Lorraine had a gin and tonic. Anton returned back into the wild, hoping for a better year. Lorraine and I discussed whether I should go to the hospital or not, and decided against. And so to bed.

Here's to 2013. Let's hope it's the best one ever.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hello Joe

Flu preventing Lorraine and I from going to Edgware to celebrate Mum's birthday. When I phoned, she was in the middle of sorting out problems with her boiler. Not an ideal birthday present, and I have missed her over Christmas. Betty bounced back today, bringing with her tales of being in a Swiss chalet for Christmas with her pals Sarah and Matt, and their two bairns.


Unluckily for me, the antibiotics I have been taking for prostatitis finished a couple of days and the b*stard thing has bounced back in full force. Add to this the fact my lungs now weezing like an old bellows full of angry wind (as W.B Yeats would say). Still, mustn't grumble eh?

However there was something I neglected to mention, which for me was a bit of a Christmas miracle. Joe, who lives next door, has faced many challenges in his four or five years, and has complex special needs. To our knowledge he has not spoken. So imagine my surprise on I think Christmas Eve, when I walked past their glass front door, and he flung it open and shouted 'Hello!' at me. He did it again the other day when I was putting the bins out. And we stood there waving at each other and saying 'Hello! Hello Joe!  Hello!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Zomcom

It's really lucky that Lorraine and I both have flu. Having your healthy partner jab their nails into their palms every time you sneezed would be worse.  


You can buy movies on our TV set up, and I was able to watch the surprisingly enjoyable Cockneys vs Zombieswhich includes in its cast Honor Blackman. A fine example of the Zomcom genre, with some excellent comic timing and the sight of Richard Briers escaping on his zimmer frame,  chased by equally slow-moving zombies. 


Friday, December 28, 2012

Outside...

So the flu drags on, giving us time to ruefully contrast what most people call 'a flu' with the real thing.
We ventured outside though, for the first time since Christmas Eve. Where were the walls? Where was the ceiling? It was very strange. To the supermarket and despite Lorraine's repeated dizzy spells, we managed to load up the car with essentials and get home. Spent the afternoon recovering wanly from these exertions. We'd bought the fixings for a fisherman's pie and from these Lorraine constructed a potatoey pie marvel.

In the evening the streamy, sneezing returned in full force and, absurdly, one violent sneeze whiplashed my neck so badly that I got agonising pains spreading across my shoulders and now have a sore neck too.

Otherwise a melee of TV, podcasts, and listening to Boneland by Alan Garner, as an audiobook. A challenging read, which is an adult book, which is a fifty years on sequel from Garner's Children's books The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, and the Moon of Gomrath.  The adult book follows the boy in the stories, Colin, who has evolved into a super-intelligent person with Asperger syndrome who also has no memory of his life before thirteen, who is tormented by the idea he had a twin among the stars.  The other half of the book is mythological stuff, a Genesis in Alderley Edge which I was not sure about at first, but am warming to.

Below The Sneeze by Dana Schutz 2002.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DItto

Lorraine and I both rubbish again today. This is a gloves-off flu that has wiped us both out. Mark, our next door neighbour phoned Lorraine to see if there was anything we wanted, which was kind. Otherwise, watched the TV most of the day. Hard to find anything of interest.

Instead we watched The Color Purple on DVD, which is one of my favourite films, and always makes me cry.  Whoopi Goldberg is fantastic in the film, although it is emotionally manipulative in the patent Spielberg way, I still love it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Flu for Xmas

Flu. Lorraine still really bad, and me with fiery lungs and aching. The day something of a washout as a consequence, although we opened presents, and ate the Christmas dinner I cooked. Lorraine able to taste nothing sadly.  Anton dropped off some presents and collected the bairns presents, I handed them over like someone in a plague house.

Cats were given catnip mice and fun to watch them on the same rug in a frenzy. Lorraine, cats and I all slumped together on the sofa, watching TV all day. I went to bed early freezing and boiling by turn.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Queuing for Christmas

A less than ideal Christmas eve unfortunately. Poor Lorraine very ill with flu and confined to bed. I set off up to Fiveways to the butcher to collect the stuffed turkey breast we'd ordered and buy brussels sprouts and so on. The queue to the butchers stretched along the street for several shops, and I had to wait in the cold for an unbelievable hour and a quarter and pay a small fortune for the results. Felt like I had crossed through the Iron Curtain to 1980. However people made the most of it, and the butchers brought out mince pies and the cafe the queue passed sold coffee to people. Talking to the man before me in the queue, who was sensibly enough a Chelsea supporter, and had worked in Guernsey.

After picking up some vegetables and other bits, and walking home with them in my rucksack. I began to feel rather horrid. Climbed into bed with Lorraine, still wretched, feeling achey and hot eyed myself. Missed seeing Anton Anna and Brian and the children, as I felt too shattered to go out. Consoled at least, listening to the rain later, that we can draw up the drawbridge as we have plenty of food. Cats very happy that Lorraine and I are lounging about and taking every opportunity to sit on us.

Below apparently what we Brits do best.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Festive flu

Lorraine really ill in bed with flu, so we are lucky we planned a low profile Christmas. Coaxing her with porridge, paracetamol and other more appetising foods as the day wore on.

Looked after her as best I could, and went shopping. Sainsbury's full of festive barbarity of the elbowing and barging variety. Survived this for a quiet evening in with Lorraine sneezing and shivering on the sofa. Chelsea won 8-0 today, which was exceptional, so Match of the Day was an unexpectedly fab.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Non-humbuggish

Lorraine came down with flu this afternoon, badly timed as Sam was back in Brighton  for one day. She managed to spend the afternoon with him before feeling increasingly grim. Sam looking dapper, and with a longish beard, which he combed a good deal.

Meanwhile I also did some Christmas shopping, which was surprisingly painless despite it pouring with rain though, as I threaded about town with all the other dripping shoppers, listening to the final bit of Seasons in the Sun and its tales of grim 1970s politics as I did so.  However after a while, I turned it off and revelled in a Christmassy feeling. Home later, and watching the Patrick Stewart version of A Christmas Carol. It is a great story.

Jane meanwhile in another photoshoot as Camilla, which you can see here.

Below Stewart as Scrooge.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Burning of the clocks

Lorraine had a few bits of work to do today, but otherwise we took an extended lunch. A fire had led to signalling chaos and so we drove Beth off to Eastbourne, from where she is going to Switzerland with pals for Christmas. Stopped off at the garden centre to buy plants for the aquarium, food for cats and so on, and to drop some broken things at the dump and then to Middle Farm where we nosed about in the farm shop, paused to look at cows being striped by the low sun falling through wooden walls of the cowsheds. Some of them were heavily pregnant.

After fond farewells with Beth, having delivered her into the hands of her pals Sarah and Matt, off to a nearby butcher to sort out some meaty goodness for Christmas. In the evening Cath called around and we went down to see the burning of the clocks. This event always makes me cheery and proud of the creativity that is present in abundance in Brighton. Hundreds of people  in the parade of drummers, musicians dancers, costumes and of course the clocks being held aloft. It does make you mindful of the fact that the darkest day is done and the light is returning. A hopeful thought in a pagan way, and in some contrast to the guff about the Mayan Apocalypse, due today, which has been troubling silly people around the globe.

Met by Rosie for the fireworks which, after the clocks were symbolically burned, were wonderful, particularly right at the end they created a wall of gold and silver sparks against the backdrop of the dark sea and sky.

From there we four walked back into town, and settled into The Foundry for a few libations, where we were met by Matt, Wayne and Jonathan. At the end of the night I went with Matt and Wayne to The Brighton Tavern, for more revelry. Interesting conversation with a guy doing a doctorate in applied mathematics.

Below snaps from the parade marching through town, and various pyrotechnics. Click the pics to make them bigger.












Thursday, December 20, 2012

Done & Dusted

After briefing Francesca, a designer, by phone my freelance work for the year was done and dusted.  I busied myself with minor domestic chores, and making mistakes of one sort or another, discovering I had sent cards in the wrong envelops being one.

Sonya came and I gave her a card and some extra money. She thought a present that happened to be sitting near the card was hers too, and I had to embarrassingly admit it wasn't, and she explained that the last people she saw her weighed her down with presents. Felt like a cheapskate after this. Especially as my card misspelled her name Sonia too.

Freed from work, I spent much of the day listening to Seasons in the Sun by Dominic Sandbrook. Much of British political history in the 20th century seems a shambolic mess, and this is a really quite gripping tale. I am now reading about how the Unions forced down Callaghan's Labour government in the first wintry months of 1979 ('the winter of discontent'), unwittingly ushering in Thatcher who promptly set about crushing them. They seemed to have asked for it.

Betty out and about with some of her chums, Lorraine home eventually and is working from home tomorrow.    A happy, if tired, end to the day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Evening Stars

Walked with Bob to the station to get the trusty 7:50. Bob has given me a large present but I had to make a confession to Bob. When I saw him just after his birthday, I had told him I had bought the ideal present for him, for shortly before Lorraine and I had seen something I proclaimed as the ideal Bob present. Sadly after boasting to Bob about this present I have completely forgotten what it was, and have spent literally hours trying to forensically piece this information together with Lorraine surfing on her iPad speculatively. I gave Bob an interim present.

Back home for several hours work. Once this was done, I had a relaxed afternoon, chatting with Betty when she came back at teatime. This evening to The Evening Star where I hung out with Richard Gibson and Fingers Capra, and Stuart from The Sumerian Kyngs, and stood out in the rain talking to First Matie for a while. All good fun, talking about politics and music. Fingers back from Delhi, and recovering he said from the lung-torturing smog of a city with 20 million people in it. He found the place astonishing, and the gap between rich and poor was incredible.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bob in Brighton

A nice day, quietly working on an e-newsletter and so on at home, surrounded by cats. In the evening out to meet Bob at Brighton Station. Lots of shouty football fans -- Brighton fans occasionally calling out Seeeaguuulls! and disreputable Millwall fans listing the teams they hated. The old Mad dog, lurking near the carol singers who were also in the station, without a coat or hat in the cold.

We repaired to the Lord Nelson for a couple of pints of Harveys. Followed in my case by a pint of Harvey's mild, which tasted of green apples and was rather lipsmackingly nice at a mere 3% alcohol. Very good to see Bob and catch up. Talking about his daughter Milly very fondly, and telling me about taking her to the Royal Albert Hall for a carol concert. There was only two other children they could see and Milly and these children waved at one another.

Down to the Lucky Star Chinese restaurant. We ordered from the Chinese menu and they serve interesting stuff there, like tripe and intestines and shredded pigs ears. We ordered bits of chilli chicken on the bone, and a pork chilli and coriander dish that were both rather good.

Bob staying with us, so home at a reasonable time, and Lorraine still up. Bob and Lorraine talking about cars with gusto. Time for bed.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brief encounters

Off to London this morning to take a brief in Tavistock Square for a job to do from home. My meeting became an opportunity for the four people briefing me to have a festival of tetchiness. Getting to the relevant points so I could do the job was a struggle.

Still nice to chat with everyone, Pat just returned from Cuba, and had really liked it. As expected, there was no advertising, and only flaking political slogans about the revolution, which were periodically repainted.

Soon I was able to melt away armed with a memory stick, and training back down to Brighton in the middle of the day. The sun is now so low, that even at 1.00 pm it shone in my eyes through the carriage windows.

Afternoon spent tinkering with this work while Brian and Calliope took turns in standing on my desk and mutely imploring me for food. Betty at home and not feeling well, coughing and glued to the gold sofa in her onesie and occasionally popping out for a restorative smoke. In the afternoon she needed to record a voice demo of something randomly factual. I gave her one of the excruciatingly dull pieces I'd written for On Track about sustainability, which seemed to do the trick. Later, Dobby style, she cooked a rather delicious pasta bake in the evening of which I found myself eating three helpings.

Lorraine home having not been able to buy Xmas tree lights. We have three lots of lights, two won't work, and the third set have gone AWOL despite a renewed ransack of the house.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Voodoo Hullabaloo

Large sausage sandwiches this morning, and then off into town with Beth and Lorriane for an Xmas Shopping Spree. We split up and I did some fairly painless shopping, including going into the Lego shop, which is a beautifully designed store. On my travels encountered in New Road members of the a band called The Voodoo Love Orchestra playing a vaguely New Orleans influenced style, playing drums and brass and clarinet, and one woman singing through a loud hailer. All wearing skull-faced makeup. A clip of what appears to be the fuller Voodoo Love Orchestra here.

Then a rendezvous with Lorraine, Beth, Rosie, Matt and Wayne for lunch in the Foundry. We were sat near an open log fire, which because of the wind, was emitting dragonish puffs of smoke into the pub. Rather nostalgic being in a smokey pub again.  Oh for the carcinogenic boozers of yesteryear. Nice to see everyone, albeit briefly, and a reasonable roast lunch, which Lorraine and I just had time to finish before zooming off to see the Hullabaloo Quire performing in the Unitarian Church.

They were doing a joint performance with a young folk musician from Derby called Lucy Ward. Great self-confidence and a larger than life personality. She has just turned 23 but has already written some excellent songs, including one about a young woman victim of a an 'honour' killing. Hearing a woman of a Pakistani background mourned in an unmistakably folkish way seemed a glimpse into the future. Kirsty's choir and looking like they were having fun as usual. A surprisingly-enjoyable hour and a half.

Below (sadly all iPhone snaps) members of the Voodoo Love Orchestra playing in New Road, the rather excellent Lucy Ward, and members of the Hullabaloo Community Quire.





Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Hi Life

Lorraine  off to Basingstoke this morning to see family and collect Beth. I sloped off to the Christmas Fair at St Nicolas Church. Janet had a stall the first one you saw on entering selling some of her fabric work. Spent an hour or so lurking with her and Ken, and catching up on gossip, drinking tea and nibbling at a star-shaped biscuit as people milled about in the church, and prize draws were conducted and a father christmas made an appearance from time to time.

Sloped down the hill into town with the idea of doing some shopping. Matt called and so instead I found myself in the Foundry drinking a creditable pint of Landlord with him. I have been avoiding boozes, however I decided to throw caution to the wind. Good chat with Matt, who is in a period of creative flux.

In the evening off to the Great Eastern to meet Anton. The pub was very crowded, but there were wafts of astonishing reek. I knocked someone's jacket from the back of a barstool as I squeezed through and picking it up I realised it had a powerfully agricultural smell. Never smelled an item of clothing like it.

Anton and I sensibly repaired to another tap room pub, where they had San Francisco's Anchor Steam Beer on tap, which was a bit of a find.  Then to the Hobgoblin, packed as usual full of studenty types, to go upstairs when the age range suddenly grew more mature to see the The Hi-Sides. Good to see John and Rick still playing, and their new bassist rather good. I like the fact that John is a head teacher and also the drummer in a punkish rock band. Lurked about chatting after the band had finished, before home to Lorraine and Betty back from college.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Evil shrimps

Tidying and sorting this morning before heading off into the cold for a walk. Went to the cafe and worked there for three hours drinking Earl Grey tea and working productively on the business book.

Decided then to go for a walk down to the sea and onto the pier. Mooched along listening to tales of student unrest in 1974-79 in Seasons in the Sun. There were one or two occupations while I was Warwick a few years later, but I always failed to see how the occupation of an administration room by a couple of dozen middle class kids was going to bring international capitalism to its knees.

After a while I realised the cold was rather penetrating, and despite having several layers, cap and scarf I was pleased to clamber onto a bus and get home. Listened to my book, and chatted to mum for some time in the afternoon. Lorraine at a meeting where she is a Governator of a school, and when she returned late we zoomed off to the comfort and safety of the Shahi for a cheeky curry and a couple of beers. Given a free calendar of world-famous buildings too.

Watched a programme with David Attenborough that was featuring the Cambrian Burgess Shale creatures including my favourite, Anomalocaris, below which means unusual shrimp. Those two broken off front arms were thought to be odd shrimp fossils, till they found a full body fossil of this strange predator.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I know what I like in my wardrobe

As yesterday, pushing on with the business book. Broke off at noon to meet Anton in the Marwood Cafe. I am avoiding coffee, but had tea. He showed me a new game on his iPad and we talked about marketing and the history of Britain 1974-79 as depicted in Seasons in the Sun and other business perched on stools on a table with human-shaped moulded legs.

Returning home, I eventually pinned down the plumbers to a time and price.

Felt good about this, and about completing the rewrite of the introductory 'Orientations' section of the business book. The business case for my ideas is now made more clearly, without losing I hope, its readability.

Lorraine out at a retirement do this evening. I meanwhile kept a low profile. I had been invited to a booze up with the music boys in the Evening Star, but I avoided this being laced with antibiotics etc.  

Listening to Seasons in the Sun and watching the first half of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe movie again. I love the moment when the children push their way through fur coats into a fir wood, which is done very well in the film. I often wished for a portal into another world, and I wonder how many kids who read this book tried the backs of wardrobes. But it's really the book itself, that is the portal they are looking for.

Perhaps it is because I am a slow learner that it takes me decades to unpick things I experienced as a child, and I still think about the Narnia stories.  Perhaps this is what makes people seem older; their struggle to understand the meaning of things in a world has long vanished. People who lost themselves in books are now rivalled by people fondly remembering the virtual landscapes of computer games. My preoccupation with understanding the stories I was told as a child must date me.

Of course there is this Buddhist idea that one should live in the moment, which is probably the ideal.  But people who chase the latest thing, and are attached to the future must experience life in a shallow way if they never return to unpick the things they have experienced.

Below the magical wardrobe, and children emerging by the lamp post in Narnia.



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Voodoo plumbers

Nightmares have returned, which I think are triggered somehow by the antibiotics. Since I was a child I have dreamed about tornadoes, and in my dream I was walking through a post apocalyptic city, crawling into some kind of broken carriage or freight container and then lofted high into the sky by twisting black clouds. Unnecessary. As is Brian's new 4 am trick of returning to the house and miaowing at two-second intervals downstairs, then up the stairs and then into the bedroom, where Lorraine asks him what's wrong and he goes suddenly quiet.

Kept a low profile today, but thinking hard about the relationships between brands and creative territories for  the business book, and listening to my Seasons in the Sun audiobook again. Emails with Sophie and Matty boy, and a nice chat with Bob.

Decked the Christmas tree with lights, and turned them on just before Lorraine came home. They didn't work, which Lorraine said was a schoolboy mistake as I hadn't checked them first. Unwound them and then tried another string of lights, which did work. Wound these around the tree but having been put in place refused thereafter to work.  Thwarted.

Chasing new plumbers, who haven't got back to me with their promised quote. Christmas gift idea: wax voodoo plumber dolls, that once you've had your jabby fun with, you flush them away to spawn supernaturally in the sewers. Eventually they are able to pop their waxy bodies out of cisterns and toilet bowls and drag selected plumbers to premature, watery graves.

Perhaps I need to get out more.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The tide turns

Curiously got out of the right side of the bed this morning, and have officially have had a word with myself about being a walking one-man gloomfest.

So, cheerily, off to the Twitten where the new plumber, much to my stunned surprise, was actually early and Gary had let him in. After conversations about showers, returned home for a bit, spoke to Anton, before hoofing off to the quack to restock with antibiotics. A long wait due to a computer problem, but listening to Seasons in the Sun, a history book subtitled The Battle for Britain 1974-79 by Dominic Sandbrook. Particularly enjoyable for me as I was a teenager at this time and it mixes in lots of cultural and social stuff to give the political struggle context. An absorbing, if right-leaning, interpretation of the times.

Out again this afternoon to meet Sophie, as she was somewhat delayed I found myself in Starbucks again drinking a cup of earl grey tea, where I wrote some new words for a song which I will send to Matt about automated call handling. At the moment I seem to have a bit of a spiritual undercurrent to things I am writing, and was thinking about the absence of God as I was writing it, the idea of calling without being answered.

Fab to see Sophie as usual. We went for a chilly walk down by the sea, which still had light glimmering on the horizon and crunching about on the pebbles. Sophie's ankle repaired having broken it in the summer on the first day of her holiday in Greece. Then off to the cricketers for a nip of whisky for Sophie and a cheeky beer for me. Then to Zizzi's for a pizza. Lots of gossip to catch up with, work to discuss, and relationships and family to ask after, and photos of the bairns, now rapidly growing up, to look at. Christof looking handsome, got one A and three A* in his A-levels, and is off to Moscow to teach English to underprivileged children before going to University. Electra rapidly approaching 14 and doing very well too, and no doubt attracting the eyes of the boys too. Laughing at Sophie turning into an archetypal Greek mother and saying that she hoped Electra wouldn't find out how pretty she was till much later. Walked Sophie to the station, and then gratefully home and out of the cold.

Lorraine had a works turkey meal this afternoon, and was cheerful too, and no doubt pleased to see I didn't have a face like a wet weekend.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Something festive this way comes

Scanning in loads of Lorraine's photos. She has a lovely sunny smile, and this must have dazzled them in the wards when she was a young nurse. Calliope and Brian charging around the house chasing each other comedically all day. Funny how they can gallop noisily when the feel like it.

Lorraine and I listened to a radio adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes as I assembled the Christmas tree. I liked this book a lot when I was in my teens. Bradbury is full of poetic ideas. A carousel that reverses your age or makes you older depending on which way Chopin's funeral march is played. And the evil dust witch who is slain by a bullet with a smile drawn in it. All lovely stuff.

Spoke to Toby tonight, from a non-snowy Toronto who was talking about politics and informing me forcibly of my need for Vitamin D, and mooting another trip to Japan.

Below the poster for the 80s Disney movie. Not a good movie, but nice poster.

   

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Superheroes

Lorraine off and having a haircut and made honey-coloured. Every time she goes to Paul her hairdresser at the moment, her hair is longer than it was before she went in. I met her in town and after some minimal shopping we made off to The Giggling Squid for light platters: Starving Squid and a Hungry Squid, neither of which had squid in it, but were full of tasty Thai loveliness anyway.

We were looking down at a fat superman across the way smoking a disconsolate cigarette, as his Batman sidekick kept at it. They were chuggers, and we felt for them. Then off to collect two pictures we'd had framed, and home for a quiet but pleasant evening in.






Friday, December 07, 2012

Gold as a goldfish

Working hard on the business book and making some good progress, but generally feeling sorry for myself as my prostatitis seems to be returning - the antibiotics appear only to subdue it. It is gloom-inducing and makes every day a struggle.

Enjoyed a walk in the icy wind this afternoon after I'd been working for many hours. Low sun striping the park with shadows, went to the walled garden and my regular haunt looked boxlike as all the screens of planting had died away, with only the pampas grass standing proud. Looked into the square fishpond, and saw the shoal of gold and black goldfish clearly as the waterlilies had gone. Couldn't help anthropomorphising and thinking how cold they must be as they appeared to cringe in the centre of the pond.

A very cheery evening spent in The Shakespeare's Head, forking down their excellent gourmet sausages and mustard mash with Lorraine, Anton, Cath and Rosie. Also joined by Matt and Wayne. Several beers drunk and I felt distinctly cheered up. All well.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Plumbing

Betty still in her student digs, evidently in some pain which began to wear off as the evening progressed.

Sacked my charming plumber whose heel dragging was explained when he said he'd be unable to do the work for weeks anyway. A new plumber will look at the Twitten first thing Monday.

Found myself irritated by this. I think it is because being the captain of my own destiny has been harder this year than in recent years. It must be the same for many in these difficult economic times. This translates into frustration when I fail to get a plumber to be straight about a job I will pay him for.  Luckily though I have pinpointed these feelings, and need to work to change my attitude.

Also did some billing, then spent much of the day much more happily, working on the business book, and editing the introductory 'Orientations' section, to make it leaner, harder-nosed and less fluffy.

Also finished Brideshead Revisited, which I'd really enjoyed. Perhaps it was because it was written in wartime, in 1944, that there is a world-weariness and longing for transcendence about it, which made it an especially good read now, coincident with another austerity budget from our bungling cabinet of toffs and my own, currently jaded, feelings.

Walked to Starbucks for a breath of fresh air and to change the scene for a couple of hours and to have a coffee and a blueberry muffin. Starbucks announced a voluntary payment of avoided tax today. I'd love to announce the amount of tax I wanted to pay and can't think why this isn't standard practice.  Their wifi is free and good, however, but their coffee and muffins are only average.

When I returned home, I worked downstairs spreading out the sixteen or so pages of the introduction on the kitchen island, and hacking at them.

Lorraine home, and tired after all the adventures of the week. Cooked for Lorraine and snacked, talking to mum briefly, watched TV and went to bed listening to the heavy rain on the roof.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Betty and Brideshead

Lorraine up early and, via school, off to Kingston Hospital to be with Beth. As the day wore on Beth had a scan and it is thought she has an ovarian cyst rather than appendicitis as first feared. A good deal of hanging about waiting in vain for explanations. Eventually at nine Betty was discharged on the proviso that she return if anything worsened. She went back to her student house with painkillers to the attentions of her pals. Lorraine home late and in need of a glass of wine and the fisherman's pie ready meal she'd bought herself.

My day was good. Made good progress on my business book this morning. Time is always a good editor, and my enforced layoff is proving helpful now I am back into it. Otherwise not much to report. Am off the antibiotics, which feels better, and I am gulping down live yogurt to repopulate my flora and fauna. It is a long time since I have felt so ancient and run down.

Perhaps this temporary world-weariness is making me enjoy Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited even more. I am listening to it as an audiobook, read by Jeremy Irons. My second-hand understanding of a book put me off it for years. But I am loving its vivid characters and find it a beautifully written quest for meaning set against the Autumn of a world of privilege. Sad and wonderful, and excellently narrated by Irons too.

Also watched a documentary about Jeanette Winterson, whose Why be happy when you could be normal? made such an impact on me. She's the tops.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Betty in hospital

Betty ill tonight with a painful stomach, and was regularly phoning Lorraine for reassurance and advice. Eventually her pal Olivia went with her to hospital, and she was admitted with what may be appendicitis. Betty being brave though, and Lorraine sleeping fitfully and worried through the night.

As for me, I was working again on my business book. Took myself for a walk through Brighton, then home and then back to the twitten to let Alf the plumber in to measure wires for the installation of a new shower. This apparently depends on the advice of an electrician who wasn't answering his phone. Sometimes any kind of progress is hard won.

Cooked a bean jar today, for the first time in ages. It turned out well, and I found the aroma of its beany goodness very comforting as it slow cooked through the day.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Stock taking

Took a step back from work today and sloped off, controversially, to a Starbucks cafe and drew mindmaps and conducted a swot analysis of current wheezes over a non-taxpaying venti. My two month diet of antibiotics ends tomorrow, and getting myself better appears to be my first priority. Second priority is completing the business project as soon as possible.


I have done lots of work this year that events have forced me to break off from. I need to spend time finishing things. Creatively 2012 has been dispiriting and I need to ensure next year is very different. 

Fortunately my finances are now in better shape, but creatively I have retreated to the isolation of my desk. Most artistic projects happen in collaboration, and I need to make forging new connections a priority too.

Otherwise listened to Brideshead Revisited as an audiobook. Never read this before, and it is beautifully written. 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Timeless in Nymans

A blue sky this morning, though I seemed to get out of bed the wrong side. Looking at the poetry manuscript I sent out and finding fault. Also the new version of an anthology of poetry sold at the Auschwitz museum, was published. One of my poems Heidegger in the forest, which its editor been proactively sought out for the edition, has not been used. Rather galling, after about five years of intermittent contact with the editor pre-publication.

Hard to be gloomy too long, however, after being driven off in the beautiful low slanting December light to Nymans for a mooch about in its garden together. Patches of white frost here and there, and shattered ice in the fountain and scattered around and about. All rather beautiful, and I felt much cheerier. L and I also taking in a quick photo exhibition of the winners of the International Garden Photographer of the year, which had some gorgeous images. Lorraine the perfect person to walk around these places with, because she knows a lot more about plants than I do, and is very happy mooching about in gardens.

Climbed back into the car and had hot tea from our flask (such a life-changing buy) before driving home in the late afternoon light, and a roast chicken supper. All well. Diane popped by with our photographs in a roll for us too.

Below some snaps of Nymans. Rather liking the timeless symmetry, and the sense of gates leading into each other. I liked the cobbled stairs as they were lit by bright autumn sun and descended into wintery frost.










Saturday, December 01, 2012

Top drawer

After Quorn sausage and fried onion sandwich for brunch then off to see Adrian and Diane who were having 'a drawer sale' on behalf of Macmillan Cancer, i.e. work that had been in his plan chest drawers. We were able to buy prints of Adrian's amazing seascapes at a bargain price. And we bought two, and had coffee and chatted, listening to Adrian's jukebox.

Then into Brighton for a bit of non-nosebleed-inducing shopping after which, we walked down to the seafront, wandering into Jack & Linda Mills' prize-winning Brighton Smokehouse, where we bought locally caught kippers served piping hot in a bread roll. Simple and delicious eaten looking out to sea on Brighton Beach.

Home for an evening of lounging. Watched the recent Prometheus movie on TV, and really enjoyed it. I wasn't expecting too much, having heard the disappointment of Alien fanatics. Wish I'd seen it in the cinema now. Lots to enjoy and some genuinely horrible moments. Less single minded than Alien and its sequels though.

And so to bed, after watching Chelsea lose on Match of the Day. They are going through their annual crisis of self-destruction.

Below Lorraine, whose eyes were gleaming with enthusiasm browsing on the right in the drawer sale. The Smoke House.



Friday, November 30, 2012

Floating into Friday

As I was in manuscript sending out mode, I opted to send out three more this morning. Another beautiful day, but seemed to spend much of it indoors.


However off to see Anton, talking to Mum en route, for an hour's cheeky beer at 4 o'clock in a new barn-like bar. Weather growing very cold out of the sun.  Bar quite nice, and Anton showing me how to trade-in Audible books I didn't like.

Home again and time to glug lots of water before Lorraine and I went out with Lynne and Malcolm for a cheeky curry at the Shahi. Both are colleagues of Lorraine, who I found I liked. Malcolm has long been into drawing cartoons as well as being a former headmaster, and Lynne very cheery. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The low-fat blueberry muffin of achievement

Finished my poetry manuscript this morning, and posted it off mindful of Paul Valery's comment that a poem is never finished, only abandoned.  There is some excellent work in there. I have called it The Slow Tsunami, and it is about time and memory. I am now able to think about other things... But find myself a bit brain dead after the effort. So after chatting to Sonia about Egypt and Hitler, I went for a long walk about in Brighton, pausing to lurk in a cafe with my laptop drinking an Americano and treating myself to a low fat blueberry muffin in celebration.

Through the Pavilion gardens where a duo of buskers were playing saxophone and one of those large African thumb piano things. The music was heavenly, and even I was forced to chuck a pound in their hat. Then to the pier marvelling at the bright low sun in a blue and cloudless sky. My favourite merry go round was being dismantled and all the horses were stacked together. The fairground part of the pier takes on a distinctly Ray Bradburyish feel when there are few people about. Everything gleamed in the low sun with a an empty jollity that is a hair away from creepy.

Caught a bus home after the luxury of mooching, to do the less enjoyable business of purchasing Landlords insurance for the Twitten, which confirmed for me that the insurance business is a nest of obfuscating weasels. Calliope persistently climbing onto my desk as I talked, until I had to sling her off with a roar of rage, rather alarming the person spouting their robotic insurance guff on the other end of the phone.

Several sneezing fits as the day wore on as I have a slight cold. Made a mash of butternut squash, potatoes and carrots tonight, to supply Lorraine's craving for mashed things, and broccoli and Brussels sprouts and bits of baked chicken. We sat on the sofa gleaming with vitamins as we watched Masterchef.

To bed sniffing, and being told by Lorraine that I don't have a cold.

Below some photos from the pier, dodgems, strange inflatable things, and at the bottom a stampede of horses going into storage.






Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Poet's Cot

Bad nightmares last night. Lorraine up at 6, and made me a cup of tea before leaving. A quick early morning walk around the park as it wasn't raining, before working on poems for a few hours. Plus re-sending the emails that never arrived yesterday. Must be a full moon thing, like speaking to Bob, who called yesterday, and was cut off in three seconds, and called today and after three seconds I had no reception for some time, and so we did not speak again.

Later I picked up mended shoes and popped into the Brighton Art gallery where I saw an exhibition called SHOOT THE WRX paintings and bits of film by Jeff Keen (1923-2012) who had lived in Brighton for a good deal of his life. I enjoyed this exhibition, which melded influences of everything from abstract expressionism to Marvel magazines. I will return. Especially as I only realised that WRX was 'works' on the way home.

More work this afternoon, but in danger of rushing the manuscript. Poetry will not be rushed, so I am having to drop some of the less finished pieces.

Met Lorraine in Sainsbury's after work, and after we shopped I cooked a large stir fry. Lorraine slightly less frazzled, and we decompressed in our various ways to Masterchef, which is completely escapist stuff.

Below The Poet's Cot, a piece by Keen, and rather apt for the way I'm feeling about this MS, with its plastic soldier shooting out of the gate. And a scene at the bottom of Trafalgar Street I snapped in passing.





Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back to London

Back up to London for one day only. An excellent journey, on time and I managed to do lots of work on the poetry manuscript, which is changing lots in these last few days. Jerry phoned me as I was walking from St Pancras station to say he'd be late as his motorbike was punctured, and his second motorbike's breaks had been stolen.

For me, one of those trying days when IT takes against you. Not being able to sign into to the system in the afternoon and so on, made a straightforward day complicated, also sending emails that were never received.   However I enjoyed sneaking off to buy some lasagna with First Matie at lunchtime, and working with Jerry again. Once home in Brighton, cheerily returning, pleased to be able to focus on poetry.

Lorraine's day had been horrid, but we relaxed watching Masterchef.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Rainy Monday

Thankful not to have surge off to London in the heavy rain. Said goodbye to Lorraine and Betty, made a cup of tea and began working on my poems, but sadly not in a particularly productive way.

Calliope and Brian watching the master at work most of the day, when they weren't fighting with the catnip mouse Lorraine had bought at the Open House yesterday.

I walked into town in the pouring rain to get a new watch battery, but chumpishly discovered that the winder had simply been pulled out in the shop. Bought cat kibbles and took my shoes to be mended. More lamb stew tonight. Lorraine shattered and sleeping by nine. Getting ready for London tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Low profile

Hungover I went out to the local shops, during a pause in the morning rain. Then moved gingerly about the kitchen with Lorraine, discovering a bottle of half-drunk vodka, and an insect-like pair of false eyelashes and my evil pizza debris. As Lorraine got the bacon and eggs going, Laura and Betty sleepily eating them on the sofa. Much subdued TV watching, tea drinking and sleeping from the girls.

In the afternoon Lorraine and I went walked up the road to an open house run by her pal Sharon. Then home to one of Lorraine's famous lamb stews, which Betty had requested. As the rain continued outside, we watched an animation called Flushed Away, and did little.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Betty and Funky Fish

Thank God for the weekend and not having to get up before dawn. Lorraine and I didn't spring out of bed till late. Worked on poems today, and had one or two excellent suggestions from Jane. Lorraine doing some work too. Rain all day outside. Spoke to Mum and Mase for a bit, had a pre-going out sleep and then set off in a taxi with Betty and Lorraine.

A really fun night out. Off to the Hove Kitchen for drinks to celebrate Betty's birthday last week. Lots of all our friends, including Wayne and Matt, Jonathan, Rosie, Ross and Lene, and lots of Beth's pals too. Good to see Ross, who I'd not had a pointless beer with for a while.  Jonathan told me that he used to have a speciality juggling with seven or eight lemons. Much taken with this as I have always had the name of a story called "The Man Who Juggled With Lemons" for about 30 years without ever having the story itself. He told me that in the eighties he played classical guitar very well and was employed on a mediterranean cruising yacht playing spanish guitar. When he revealed his ability to juggle lemons, everyone preferred this to Isaac AlbĂ©niz, Fernando Sor and the rest. Perhaps this is the story I have been looking for.

From there we all cabbed off to a club called Funky Fish where we were all on the guest list. Any worries about being too ancient dispelled seeing a party with a wheely zimmer decorated with lights and 60 today balloons. There were a couple of hen parties, and people of all ages dancing in the Funky Fish to sole (arf) music from the seventies and eighties.

Naturally I danced wildly all night. More importantly Beth had a good night surrounded by lots of her pals including Laura, Amy and Jamie. Eventually us older ones melted away and left the young uns to it. Lorraine and I arriving home at around 1 o'clock with an Ace pizza.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back into the wild

Up at six and off to London, as I had to get into the agency early to prepare a phone presentation of the concepts I'd been working on, which went well. Having done this I was released back into the wild for the afternoon and I have most of next week to work on poems until the deadline next friday.  Richard and Jane are kindly having a look at them too -- although Richard off to visit his daughter in Northern Ireland.

Home just after three and after consuming a sensible quorn sausage sandwich, woke up a delighted Calliope and had a snooze on the bed with her. Luxury. And happy with the feeling that next week I can regroup.

In the evening, off with Lorraine to the Shahi, for an enjoyable meal, then back home early waiting for a cheery Betty to arrive, which she did after 11 for a bout of card opening and present giving. Lorraine at last able to show her the quilt she has been making off and on for the last two years, telling Betty that she was making the world's slowest cushion cover.

And so to bed.

Below the quilt Lorraine has almost finished. Just needs a few beads, apparently, to be done.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Living a lie

To work, feeling less tired than of late. Poems on the train, then quite a busy morning.

Out to a local restaurant with seven others for a curry lunch. Unbelievably slow service. You could feel the space time continuum buckled as we waited and the waiters crept about reluctantly as if we had ruined their day by visiting their restaurant. Outside a gale blowing through London again, and it was blowing the sign outside the shop down, and straining the trees and pedestrians leant into it like cartoon people. I sat opposite Matt and next to Pat, and had good fun.

In the evening, after work was done, I had a couple of the agency’s free Thursday drinks, meeting Matt Hindley again, before setting off with Pat and Clare to The Dog and Duck in Soho. This is a corner pub, much beloved of advertising types. We met  Mark Dawson and Barney there and stood outside in the cold for a while. Clare left after a bit, and it was a night of four writers.

Heard the incredible story of Mike Ferg, who I’ve known for many years, who has been battling cancer for the last eight. And with whom I had a bit of a farewell style drink in Brighton a couple of years ago. Turns out that he’d made up the whole thing, and he did not have cancer at all, and he had hoodwinked employers out of thousands in time off fighting the imaginary disease. He was particularly scathing about anything he saw as self-pity, but it transpired his whole life was a mechanism to generate undeserved pity.

Otherwise a really good night. Good to see Mark Dawson again, who is enjoying an evening acting class, and Barney too. Barney Pat and I cabbed to Victoria, and I arrived home late to find Lorraine in bed after a ladies night out, chatting lots before we went to sleep.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ho-hummish


Feeling surprisingly okay this morning after last night out Brighton. Lorraine left and then I chorused goodbye to Dawn (arf) before setting off.  

Another fairly quiet day in the agency, working steadily with Jerry. Wild rain in the afternoon and an End of Days sky thick with leaves blown high up in the sky from Tavistock Square, now down to its rags and tatters. Home at a decent time, eating Lorraine's comfort food of mashed potatoes and watching Masterchef with Lorraine.  Nowt much to report, from a ho-hummish day, but good to be home out of the heavy rain. 

Below an unimpressive picture of the weather squeezed through a crack in the office window.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Staves

Able to write again on the train this morning, which was something of a boon. A pleasant, if unremarkable, day in Tavistock Square mainly doing conceptual work.  Felt less exhausted too.

Homeward and I soon began to loathe all my poems and other stuff I have on my computer. Having the ability to loathe your own work is important. However these moods are not to be taken too seriously. As are the moments when I am convinced of my own brilliance. In my experience, self doubt is had in abundance by all the wrong people I think.

Straight from the train down to the Komedia where I met Lorraine and Dawn. We went to see The Staves. Lorraine has their album and has been playing it lots, alongside her Mumford & Sons albums. These are three singing sisters, plus two guys on bass and drums. I have to say I really enjoyed their folk-inflected songs, and their harmonies were syrupy and delicious. They were supported by a young singer guitarist called Luke Sital-Singh. He had a truly lovely voice, but his songs were all in a  maudlin mood and tempo. The only break in this coming when he sang a song without the use of microphone, so that nobody could hear him at the back. Needless to say, Lorraine, who loves music to open a vein by, scooped up one of his CDs and spoke to him in what she said was a motherly way.

Good to be out and deciding that Tuesday is the new Friday. I had a couple of beers, but as I'd not eaten kept things restrained. I had a hankering for Ace pizza on the way home, but gallingly I told Lorraine a month or so ago to enforce a veto on my Ace Pizza fetish, and she sternly enforced this.

Below two of the three Staves. Lovely harmonies.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Leaf strewn

Lorraine up at six and I dragged my sorry self into London again. The train to London half its usual size so it was crammed with people and I was unable to work in it, as people were looming over me and a tiny man was reading his wretched Metro and spreading out as far as his body would allow next to me.

A pleasant quiet day, working with Jerry and chatting with Andrea and Jess opposite. I mooched out at lunchtime snapping the autumnal Tavistock square, carpeted with golden leaves. Some of the streets nearby already full of driven-in golden leaf-prints. Home reasonably promptly but dog tired, despite it being only Monday. I intend to take next week off to recover, and try to get my poetry manuscript ready.

Lorraine home later than me, and we ate our microwaved plated up dinners left over from yesterday's roast. At least the bits of it that remained after Brian the cat stealing a large piece of pork. There is no end to the badness of that cat, despite his butter wouldn't melt in his mouth looks.

Below a shot Jerry took of a piece involving silkworms my the Chinese artist Liang Shaoji; a leaf-strewn Tavistock Square.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The shimmer of spider silk


Listening to Lux, the album by Brian Eno returning to his ambient style. I love it.  I listen to Eno's ambient work constantly when I am working.

Slow start to the day, and I slept till 8:30 at least. Wonderful. Pottering around doing low level house stuff, and folding away my new clothes. A trip to Sainsbury's where we inadvertently bought loads of booze, and we cooked a roast tonight and vegged before the TV again.

Lorraine and I walking in the park this afternoon, all golden and long shadowed. I love just mooching about with her.  I took lots of snaps only to discover I had a patch of greasy stuff on my lens, but these weren't too bad: the widespread carpet of spider silk, and one of the doors into the walled garden we love so much.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pre-Christmas spree

Slow start to the day. Both Lorraine and I completely exhausted. Lorraine fighting off a cold, and me feeling worn out and ancient after weeks of antibiotics for my prostrate infection, which is fighting a stubborn resistance.

However a really cheery day. Lurking in bed for hours in the morning, Lorraine reading the new poems in bed, and to my relief liking them.

Off to town today. I called in to the Twitten to discuss showers with Gary, and met Sophie again, with whom he is buying a house. Then off on a shopping spree with Lorraine. Bought a present for Betty, who is 21 this week, and then focused entirely on myself buying loads of clothes. Great to have Lorraine with me, egging me on, and providing a second opinion, and the odd aghast face when I emerged from a changing room with raspberry coloured trousers. I have been feeling increasingly shabby as the year has gone on, so great to be able to afford new trousers, teeshirts, shirts, a warm jacket (to replace the coat Brian ruined by spraying on), and a nice grey hoody. About to embark on a cull of tatty stuff with holes.

We saw an ultra-cool Japanese girl out with her buddies, wearing thick rimmed black glasses, with little chains hanging down suspending a miniature moustache above her top lip.

Enjoyed stopping for coffee and muffins, and then catching the bus home, taking the snap below from the front of the top deck of some Christmas decorations which were put up recently.

After working on cat worms lately, decided that our cats needed worming. Calliope steadfastly starving instead of eating food with worm pills ground into it though. She is a cat with a clear idea of what should be happening to her, and eating worm pills is not on the agenda.

Evening spent lurking about at home. I was yawning my head off by 8 o'clock. Managed to stay awake long enough to watch Match of the Day before bed. Chelsea lost, peskily enough.