Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life in Modern Britain

Back up to London today to work with my chums in Tavistock Square. Listening to Andrew Marr's book History of Modern Britain on the train. Anton had recommended this accessible and interesting account starting just before the war. Fascinated by the late forties and fifties, which I am a little unclear about. Politically, it sounded increasingly grim and disillusioning, with the UK broke after the war and paying the Americans back, a process that didn't end until this century. Made me think what a strange little country we live in, but also how in some ways it has coped with the loss of power and influence it has experienced since the war.

Work fairly enjoyable. Working for Kate today, which was fun. Went with Nicola to the King of Falafal for a species of wrap for lunch. Working on material to do with the eye health pitch that I had helped them win. All good fun.

Home and Lorraine was home before me, hugged Lorraine and gratefully scarfed the food she had cooked before slipping off to The Evening Star to help celebrate Fingers Capra's birthday. Glen had just been Guernsey on a job, and had really enjoyed staying in St Peter Port. Spoke a lot to Steve, and Claudius too. All well, but arrived home, creeping quiet as a cat burglar.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lorraine is head girl

Excellent news today is that Lorraine has passed her NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship) course. This is really good news, and the reward for lots of hard work. We will celebrate this later in the week.Lorraine home early and I cooked up a chicken with rice and veggies for us and generally felt very proud of her.

I worked quietly on my business portfolio, which thank goodness is nearing completion. I say quietly but as The Old Church Hall is almost beneath the large viaduct which is undergoing maintenance. This means the occasional infernal road drill sound, but high in the air, plus the humming of cranes and generators and blokes shouting instructions. Meanwhile the agency called and said work would not be ready for me to do today.

Popped out for a cheeky Monday night drink with Anton in the Shakey's Head, sat on the table with our backs to the bar looking at the list of speciality sausages while we talked.

Below viaduct maintenance.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Venting

Nice slow day with sunlight. Lorraine and I talking lots and going to Sainsbury's. It's strange but I really like shopping with Lorraine. I can torment her by forcing her to choose things quickly, and insist on pushing the trolly. Childish, I will admit, but fun.

A slow afternoon. I watched a little football on TV, before I sloped off into town to meet Lorraine and Rosie who were hanging out in the Lanes. Discussions with Rosie about brilliant business ideas. I suggested Vindaloo Venting, which is a business where you hire yourself out to be taken for a curry and act as a ventee, listening sympathetically to your client's furious venting. As the Vindaloo Venting entrepreneur you simply walk away after an hour or so with a full & firey belly and a crisp £20 note. You read it here first!

In the evening, I spoke to the Tobster in Toronto and discussed his plans for coming over in the summer. All good. And so to bed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Cats and cauliflowers

Cat business this morning. Off to the Top Cats at Patcham to get one of those calming pheromone plug ins as Brian has been spraying obnoxiously in the hallway. Repulsive beast. It is due to the evil black cat who peers in through the glass door at Brian and continually fights him, which makes him want to mark his territory more. The woman at the vets really pleasant as usual, and lent us a basket so we can bring all three cats in next weekend for their jabs and so on.

Home and Lorraine and I played some pingpong with our new pingpong bats for a while, before we headed off to the shops where I failed to get a new phone deal, despite it being advertised on the Orange website, and in their catalogues. Lorraine and I had a nice cup of coffee in the Marwood Cafe, before heading for the sea to mooch in the beautiful sunlight.

Home clutching a new wok and a large cauliflower, which Lorraine transformed into a cauliflower crumble which we ate with fish. Watched I Robot with Will Smith which Lorraine had not seen before, and I re-read bits of a book about the great Paul Celan called Poet Survivor Jew by John Felsteiner.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fish out of water

Called up by Nicola and there could well be some work for my pals in Tavistock Square next week, which is a boon. Otherwise found it hard to find much motivation towards much else today. Had a nice chat with Mum on the phone, and went to the gym and home via Sainsburys.

Not long after Lorraine got home, Anton and Anna called around and we popped up to the Signalman for a swift beer before descending on our usual curry house. Anton bringing the pristine LP of Chris Squire's Fish out of Water which he ordered on his iPad from ebay for me. Importantly had a copy of the poster which I had on my bedroom wall as a kid. It is a lovely thing of a catch of fish dangling from a rope among irises, which looks like stained glass. Chris Squire was a major boyhood hero of mine.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three old friends

Up to London to meet Sophie at Victoria. We ended up going to a Zizzi restaurant and chatting for hours. Sophie has been under a lot of pressure lately but her business seems to be going well. I thoughtfully added to her to-do list by giving her another CD. Lovely to see her as always.

I then popped over to Chiswick to see my friend Sarah, who I'd not seen for a few years and is freelancing as a teacher, editor and various other things. We had a chat in a cafe and generally caught up in a weirdly hot and sunny in Chiswick. Getting out of the station at Turnham Green felt like stepping into a different season.

Then back into town where I met Mike Court my old art director in The Salisbury. Really nice to catch up too, as I'd not seen him for well over a year in which time he has separated amicably from his wife and moved into a new flat. He is still playing lots of guitar in bands, and his oldest son is following in his father's footsteps, and is now in a band called Miaow, which I think is a great name.

Home on the fast train from Victoria, and back on the gold sofa in good time to join Lorraine watching a freshly bleak new Danish cop drama. Rather good.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Redefinitions

Another day mooching on with redefining my business, and working on a new portfolio, plus chasing up new agency who despite sending me papers to start working with them, have suddenly fallen into silence. I am however feeling much better about things, and am realising that my experience in my particular field of copy is difficult to beat.

A note from my stepfather Gerald who is staying with Toby in Toronto and got in touch with me after many years in December.

Met Matt after work, and had a drink with him in the Basketmakers, and I gave him the words for the new piece to be sung by choir in a shopping centre which I have been working on lately. We also discussed various bits of business, and had a cheery time for a couple of hours. Lorraine had a govenor training meeting in the evening, and I arrived home clutching the tasty evil of an Ace Pizza.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monkeying around

I've noticed that as soon as I start designing anything, time evaporates. Spent hours this morning moving things around by smidges, and endlessly rewriting copy.

I was also sent some monkey business by Mandy in New Zealand. Her new game features excellent photographs of evil and wise monkeys, and I will write a wee bit of copy for it.

In the afternoon I set off for the gym, bumping into Clare with young Aubrey. Had a nice chat and we were met by joined by Reuben and young Serge who had been into town to look around in the Natural History Museum, and do a spot of whale fancying.

A mild-mannered workout today as I had a twinging back and sore throat.

Lorraine home early and was able to supervise the pastry part of a layer pie I was making. I had no timings for this recipe but we guessed one and a half hours, and I felt quite proud when I sliced it open and it was in its layers of egg and onion (flavoured with mustard and thyme) and tinned pork meat and had set properly.

TV tonight.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Evening in the study

Monday and back to the unglamourous business of sorting my business out. I am redefining what it is I actually do and offer the agencies I work with. It seems prudent to focus on what will continue to put bread on the table. Working late tonight and I - finally - noticed the blindingly obvious, which was a relief.

In the afternoon I met Dipak in the Marwood for a coffee. I also made time to watch a documentary about Lucien Freud. I have been well aware of his work for decades, I knew little about the back story other than he was the grandson of Sigmund Freud. He was from a Jewish family who were able to leave Germany early in the Nazi period. I think I see the influence of Neue Sachlichkeit art in his work, which wasn't mentioned.

Lorraine home late having watched a play Beth was in up in Kingston. Apparently Beth was rather splendid in it, and complimented by one of her sternest tutors afterwards. And so to bed. Looked at facebook to see that Max has (at last) accepted The French Bloke's proposal of marriage.

Below a fairly typical Freud... Evening in the Studio 1993.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunshine day

Up early this morning and straight off to the gym, where I did some more rowing, which I am getting to like almost as much as the cross trainer. For some reason as I exercised I got in an increasingly bad mood. I am not sure why.

Luckily this dissipated and I went on to have a lovely day. First off home to collect Lorraine and we went down to the the seafront and walked about in the sun, and met Rosie for a long amble by the sea. Eventually we met Rosie's sister Emily and her partner Tim, and their two wee twin babies Lyra and Phoebe. I liked the whole family sat outside having a cup of tea.

Then off to Anton and Anna's for Sunday lunch. Really mellow afternoon chatting, eating delicious food, and listening to music, including psychobilly. Anton using his iPad to bid on an LP I wanted to have because of its fabulous poster. Lorraine really enjoying simply having a drink without feeling like she had to go home and do more work. Anton phoning me on the way home to say that he wanted to record an album and his band was going to be called Schrödinger's cat, and that its tracks were going to consist of a chord played once.

Below Rosie wanted a few snaps taking, and I offered. Mainly for my own amusement I had been making her jump into the air, hug trees and so on. But my favourite shot of Rosie was this one, with her looking brimful of personality.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Birdwatching

Lots of time this weekend as Lorraine had at last finished her course. She hardly knew what to do with herself.

To celebrate we drove off to Woods Mill. On the way there we stopped the car to look at two tractors in a field surrounded by hundreds of seagulls. A Hitchcockian sight. At Woods Mill we sought out snowdrops and sat in the bird hide looking at various woodland birds, mostly great tits, blue tits, long tailed tits, chaffinches and a robin, plus two small reddish rodents. A quick walk about in the woods and then home again.

In the evening off to see A Dangerous Method, about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. I quite enjoyed the film perhaps because I wasn't expecting too much from it. Lorraine quite liked it, though was dubious about the casting and Ikea Knightly's Russian accent. We saw it at The Duke of York Picturehouse a few hundred hards from home, which is always a pleasure.

Below gulls, they seemed in a great hurry to roost in the freshly ploughed earth I have no idea why, and a great tit at a feeder.




Friday, February 17, 2012

Ticking the box

Up at 6:30 and up to London for a day of filling in for First Matie while she is at her sister's wedding. Lorraine meanwhile sitting her final interview for her headteacher business in Kent first thing in the morning. Texts from her later, and a chat at lunchtime confirmed it had gone pretty well, although Lorraine is already beginning to remember things she should have said.

Up in London. Feelings of dejection revolving about the ratio of effort to results, and a conviction that the world is and always will be indifferent to anything I produce. This self-ingulgent gloom confirmed by The Argus not carrying a review of our concert, despite buying two copies, one for Matt, to read all about it.

Felt good to be back in the agency, if only to be among some pals. A Pooterish moment... I was sitting next to Julian who was designing a poster about killing ticks. I asked him if it was a 'tick boxing' exercise. He even had the good grace to laugh.

Journey home despicable and what with a train cancellation after 1 hour 45 mins I had made as far as Gatwick, about 16 miles from St Pancras. As I had plenty of time I calculated we'd been travelling at roughly 9 miles an hour. A distance which on a Japanese train would have taken you a little over five minutes. Door to door the journey took three hours. Luckily the door I arrived at, feeling very fed up, was that to The Basketmakers, where I downed a quick pint before heading off with Lorraine and Rosie to a restaurant called Giraffe for a vaguely Mexican feed, this much better.

Lorraine happy and relieved to have finished her interview. I was delighted for her.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ducks in a row

Back to the gym and not before time. Enjoying the rowing machine which I think is good for fat blokes and listening to a Melvyn Bragg podcast about the Kama Sutra. Also was booked for a single day in Tavistock Square tomorrow, which was nice. Cath called around this morning becore Lorraine left in preparation for an overnight stay before her big day tomorrow. Beth returned to University too.

A quiet night in sorting out my portfolio and getting my unruly business ducks in a row, which seems only sensible.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hard tasks

Spent the day working on my business proposition and portfolio, and veering between wild optimism and gloom. Had a long chat with Mike (who I used to fondly refer to as The Gnome when he was for several years my trusty art director) about life and times. He had a big year last year with his marriage breaking up, and a house move and so on.

Lorraine on the desk next to mine working steadily through her preparation for the interview first thing Friday morning. I can't wait for her to successfully finish it. Beth meanwhile doing hideous stuff on student loans, job applications etc. The three of us bent on hard tasks.

I sloped out this evening to meet Anton for a cheeky beer. He is still looking thin due to what he calls his A-Plan diet (where A stands for Auschwitz). He also explained that what the Clameur piece needs is for the choir to break into the Jam's 'Down in the tube station at midnight' an idea I rather enjoyed but one I suspect maestro Pollard would be less fond.

And so home after a cheery night with Anton, to find Lorraine still up reading her notes in bed.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You've got mail

Downstairs to make Lorraine and I a cup of tea and found a romantic and copious cat poo on the carpet courtesy of fat Basil. I fed the cats, which Brian sicked up afterwards. Between I gave Lorraine her Valentine's card and a scarf and rose, and received a nice card of amorous owls.

A lethargic start to the day, but I had to quickly get my ducks in a row and walk in to the BBC on Queens Road. Alison Ferns, who is really nice, was visibly pregnant and hadn't a clue what was on the CD (nor did she have one to hand, luckily I had one in my manbag) which left me slightly wondering what I was doing there. Still I was grateful for the coverage and she played most of one track, which sounded a bit weedy in the studio, but fine on the radio. I came out feeling I hadn't done a great job, but listening to the interview it was not bad under the circumstances.

I was in and out in ten minutes or so, and then walked down to the sea briefly, and went to The Latest Music Bar to leave a copy of the CD for Angi Mariani who is going to review it for a Brighton magazine. Then to Sainsburys where I met Lorraine, taking a break from preparing for her dreaded interview on Friday, and Beth, taking a break from finding Valentine's day difficult, to do some shopping.

The rest of the day passed peacefully. Lorraine made us a lovely chicken based stew with warm lettuce and grapes served with rice, and the three of us sat watching a Romcom in the evening 'You've got mail' which started surprisingly badly considering it was using Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan who are the very benchmark of good romcoms. Blatant product placement throughout. I actually really like romcoms. I like them best on planes because they keep me calm. I remember Hitch with Will Smith preventing me from whimpering with fear miles above the Atlantic.

Was on the Alison Ferns show for Valentine's day on BBC Sussex and Surrey. My wee bit starts at 36 minutes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Slugs and a lightbulb moment

A sluggish start to the week. I woke up having slept the sleep of the dead. Neither Lorraine nor I felt the need to spring from bed. Lorriane on half term, but is spending the days preparing for the interview at the end of the week. I gradually felt more energetic as the day progressed. Popped out to buy a pressie and card and a wee rose which I hid out the back for Lorraine on Valentine's day tomorrow. Beth spent much of the day with Kayleigh and they went to see War Horse, which they both liked.

I met Matt this evening briefly where we had a postmortem of the gig and then a rather brilliant idea for what we think may be a ten minute choir piece to be sung outside in Churchill Square during the festival. Both rather buoyed by this. Matt generally upbeat and full of drive.

Matt off home, and I went home and waited with Lorraine, for Beth and Kayleigh to return before going for a meal in the Shahi. Cheery evening, and good fun.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

And relax

Woke up late due to cat plaguing. I got up eventually and made breakfast. Lorraine rather delicate. He simply made it to the sofa and complained about having problems with maintaining verticality. Mum--rather astonishingly--was bright as a button. Betty and her pal Laura appeared at around noon, and then after lots of cheery chat, ended up going upstairs and watching Harry Potter movies and sleeping.

A nice roast dinner at four, after Lorraine had briefly rallied, and then I walked Mum off to the station. Back home and a verrrry slow evening and an early night. Talked to Matt who is fired up about working on the next piece. Some lovely comments and texts from people during the day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Matt and Pete's Big Night Out

So the day of the Pollard & Kenny Clameur launch. Betty back this morning full of pep, armed with gifts of an unusual beer, and for me a large letter P made of chocolate from her trip to the low countries. After breakfast, Betty and I popped around to Masquerade where I hired a smart grey jacket with tails (although Betty and I assessed several others including gold and red sequined affairs. I was rather drawn to these until I looked at Betty's face).

A little later Lorraine and I drove off to collect Mum from the station. Mason still getting over his chesty cough and it was thought best not to brave the ice and long journey. The next few hours given over to preparation, shoe cleaning, shirt ironing, a strategic nap and so on.

Off then to the Unitarian Church and rehearsals began. Thank God we had lots of people to help us. Lorraine and as usual helping everything happen. She is so unbelievably supportive of me, it makes me feel very lucky. Beth too. Amy and Jamie, Betty's friends also arrived and helped out greatly. Wayne had made rather delicious sandwiches for the performers and, with Jamie, was overseeing the wine drinking.

One of my favourite moments was when I was carrying a black dress that Lorraine was about to change into. I passed Matt and said 'you know we were talking about doing the performance in drag...' (which we had done with Wayne and Lorraine laughing over a few drinks) and I lifted up the hanger. His momentarily rattled expression was a joy to behold.

The evening, thank goodness, was a success. I was delighted and rather amazed that so many friends had come from far and wide to see the show, with Craig, Mel, First Matie, Pat and Judith, Lakshmi and Aimee among others coming down from London. Loads of local chums too. Anton sporting his Russian hat, Cath, Dawn, Ross and Lene, Richard and Glenda, Steve Cartwright, neighbours from the Twitten, and Lorraine's old street folks from The Basketmakers and so on. Fifty paying punters as well as performers, helpers and family meant the place felt full.

I started the night, talking about fire escapes and welcoming everyone before introducing The Shakespeare Trio, after lurking in a side room with them beforehand. Dipak showed me his hand which was shaking, but they played very well, and the audience really liked them.

Then a brief break before back to do Three Portraits for Poet and Piano. Me hanging on to Glen's cues for grim death. Managed to get through these without slipping up, which was something of a triumph. Unfortunately I found out afterwards that the sound balance wasn't right and the voice was too quiet in parts of the room. Clameur was sung really well by the choir. I find it very moving to hear my words about Guernsey being sung this way. Another break.

Finally we went into our This Concert Will Fall In Love With You epic. Matt and I very pleased with how this went. I thought Cem on violin played a blinder. Had the choir flanking me backstage for the last few variations. At one or two points it was aurally like having angels on my shoulders.

Again found myself having to hang onto Matt's cues for grim death. I had felt spaced out during day as I was still not right from the bug I'd had a few days ago, various pills and a grim ankle. But Dr Spotlight sorted me out and I was able to focus.

After clearing up the venue, the band and the Shakeys as well as half the audience surged off to the Brighton Tavern for some protracted merrymaking. There was a good deal of steam to let off, and we all had a rather splendid time. Mum talking to all kinds of people, Lorraine drinking shots, me having lots of chats.

Eventually Lorraine Mum and I walked home and after eating late crumpets (after Lorraine had forbidden me an ace pizza but then demanded a rum and coke once at home) and listening to Mum's Costa Rican piano in the jungle music we eventually went to bed at 4am.

Below a shot from the rafters with the whole lineup for This Concert Will Fall In Love With You. Left to right Glen on piano, at the back me in the grey jacket flanked by Matt's new choir, in front of us, Adam on vibraphone, Cem on violin, and Tom on marimba, and Matt with his back to the camera conducting us all.

Friday, February 10, 2012

iPad envy

Still feeling rather rough. Not the ideal prelude for tomorrow, so mainly I sat about rehearsing with the recording or simply sleeping.

In the evening, Lorraine and I babysat for Klaudia and Oskar. Oskar sitting with Lorraine and Klaudia showing me Anton's iPad. I love the iPad. We played lots of games on it including chess, a Hello Kitty Game, a Where's Wally game and a few others. Klaudia gradually got so tired she agreed to go to bed without a moment's negotiation.

Anton and Anna home late with top hats somewhat askew having dropped into The Eddy on the way home from their school fundraising event. Thence we drove home and went happily to bed...

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Queasy

Gah! Ambushed by what I hope is a 24 hour nausea bug. Ankle throbby too. Not ideal, but better to get them out of the way now than on Saturday. Sent apologies to Matt with whom I was not able to celebrate his birthday and slept heavily this afternoon, with stomach surging.

Sonia the cleaner around today, and I absented myself for a lurk in the park, where I sat in the cafe working on poems. Despite the nausea I felt suddenly famished. Found a small Cornish pastie, which I ate despite it being full of a despicable grey paste. I can't believe I ate it.

Nice Cath Mattos came around from The Sussex Beacon at tea time brandishing a sealed bucket for donations to be made at the concert.

A low profile evening whimpering piteously at Lorraine, before an early bed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Rehearsals and Radio

I had a productive day. Was called up by the BBC and I have been invited on to the local radio on Valentine's day to talk about the album. Nice to feel that some of the promotional effort I have been putting in is paying off. Also worked on poems in a way that didn't disfigure them.

Lorraine working from home mostly today, and she had Rosie around tonight and cooked a mid week roast. But she also kindly drove me off to Lancing College, where an amazing floodlit Gothic chapel is visible for miles in the dark. Atmospheric to drive down narrow roads heading for this wonderful structure. The music rehearsal room was next to the chapel, and it was good to meet the boys there again: Tom, Adam, Cem and Glen as well as the choir. The run-throughs a little raw, but we are beginning to get into the zone for the concert. A lift from Glen and all the band plus Adam Swayne went to The Shakespeare's Head for a pleasant and cheeky beer. All feeding my secret fantasy of being in a band, which happens a few times a year.

Cem talking about his new passion for journalism and writing. And he is now working for the Argus, and had recently observed the making of R4 Today programme, which he said was a frenzy of activity behind the scenes.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Cat in the doghouse

Basil the fat cat in the doghouse this morning as it had pooped indoors for the last two nights. Basil won't or can't use the catflap and we have been poking her outside at regular intervals but this method seems not to be working. Lorraine not pleased to be coming downstairs to such a catastrophe.

Nice to be sitting up on the mezzanine level with Lorraine, who was working from home this morning, as I laid out the programme, and other bits. Looking forwards to doing the concert and being able to fix some of the niggling things... like getting some more copywriting work so that Lorraine and I can have a holiday.

In the afternoon I walked into town and spent a couple of happy hours tinkering with old poems in Marwood cafe. The work I did was stale but it is good to knock on the door again. I can work among hubbub or in silence or with ambient drifting music. Anything in between doesn't work.

Lorraine home early and we went to Sainsbury's, where I teased Lorraine about her methodical shopping style. I tend to zoom through a supermarket with fanatical purpose. I did more work in the evening and Lorraine skyped Derek her brother in Finland. Derek's daughter Klaudia will be coming to stay with us at some point soon.

Watched two thirds of a long documentary about the AIDS epidemic breaking out in San Francisco. I stopped watching it as all the sick skinny people brought back painful memories of my old friends Tim and Rosa who both died of the disease. I support The Sussex Beacon because of the incredible care and respite they gave Tim towards the end. These days, thank God, the emphasis is on helping people to live with the disease.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Poet and Piano

Off this morning to Glen's house where Fingers and I got down to business right away rehearsing the new pieces which we are going to play on Saturday. These are Ophelia and Kafka, the second and third parts of "Three Portraits for Poet and Piano". Both short pieces utterly excellent, and Glen and I found our way through them quickly.

Met Dipak for coffee this afternoon in the Marwood. Chatting among the eclectic and haphazard decorations and paintings. Often a young clientele so there is a fair degree of sitting about in a cool way which I enjoy observing.

Then bits of admin, laying out the programme and all the other stuff that needs to be done. I can't help worrying about snow.

I cooked using a Madhur Jaffrey recipe tonight and it turned out rather nice. Very simple. Lorraine and I scoffed it, then played cards and listened to an album by Lamb rather than stare blankly at the goggle box. Went to bed reading R.S. Thomas. What an amazing poet he was. I met him once after a reading in Leamington which had electrified me. I think I rather embarrassed him with my enthusiasm.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Zen beans

Living in a pocket of rain, for just a wee bit up the hill from the Old Church Hall snow had settled. L and I went for a drive today along the slushy roads to pick up wine for the concert next week. The Downs were snowy and whiting out in the distance. Rather beautiful.

Feeling much improved today, less achy and with a good deal more energy. Lorraine doing some steady work. Calliope chasing the other two cats out of boredom, and I made a very successful beanjar. The Zen task of honing the perfect ingredients continues: today I cooked it with pork, fresh parsley, onions, carrot, haricot and butter beans, but also to provide depth of taste: small amounts of garlic, tomato puree, cumin, black pepper, mustard powder,dried sage, fresh bay leaf, mixed herbs and turmeric. One day I will cook the perfect bean jar. It is my life's work and destiny.

Watched The Time Traveler's Wife on TV tonight. Not a bad film of a very enjoyable book.

A piece about Matt and I on the Brighton Argus website here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The big sleep

Narcoleptic morning, achy and unable to get out of bed. Neurotic about being ill before my concert next week, I decided to hermetically seal myself indoors and take it easy. Lorraine, who of course is really ill, did the same. I also biffed a night out with the Music boys I had planned, which was a shame.

A cheery seeming Cath popped by for a cup of cocoa and a chat. Lorraine spoke to Sam who fell off his bike skidding on black ice and has a badly bruised hip and wrist. For me it was a sofa day, watching Rugby on TV, and then Borgen, a well-acted Danish TV series about a woman prime minister.

The rest of the country it seems had snow, but down in the valley of Brighton we had teeming rain. Lorraine and I and Calliope went to sleep listening to the lovely sound of it falling on velux windows.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Dreams and distant genes

Woke up after an incredibly complex dream at around five thirty with the detailed basis for a completely new story in my head. Had to crawl out of bed to write it all down before it melted back into the ether.

Lorraine working from home today, and it was nice to sit side by side up in the study. I had some agency work this morning, which I biffed through and then spent much of the day getting in touch with some old pals, including Michael Stone Richards who now is in Detriot and a Professor to boot.

Really nice and encouraging note from Richard in Guernsey about Clameur. Sent off some more CDs and went briefly shopping in the freezing weather.

Lorraine who is feeling a little better, cooked a delicious onion based curry tonight, which involved complex spice mixes and purees of garlic onion and ginger, and cooking onions in different ways. We snapped happily into this, and watched the recent movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which was well acted, atmospheric but slightly disappointing. Lorraine loves Le Carre and has read most of these spy novels. Probably have been much better on the big screen.

Looking at some of the photos Mum has sent me of distant Indian family... All rather fascinating. A distant cousin is researching our family history and has found that the sisters were of mixed race. He did a genetic test finding he had genes only found in people originating from Andhara Pradesh in eastern India.

Below my mother has always had this shot of folks about to attend a fancy dress party and I am sure I have posted it here before. Looking at Mum's grandmother Mignonette (b.1883) on the left hand side in the Turkish slippers I would guess this is between 1905-1915, and this a somewhat more flattering shot than the 'Auntie Min' photo below. The other two photos feature Mignonette's older sister Mutti (born 14 October 1881) and carried aloft.




Thursday, February 02, 2012

Sausages

At my desk to do some agency work which was bumped at the last minute. After some general admin, oofed off to the gym for an intensive workout. I am definitely fitter than I have been but I remain a fat bloke.

Poor Lorraine is still hoarse and coldy so I cooked for her and installed her on the sofa before I went in the evening off in the cold to see Ross in the Shakespeare's Head for a pointless beer. I like Ross. He is cheery and interested in all kinds of things. We availed ourselves of the Shakespeare's Head's sausage and mash menu and took advice from one of the chefs on the best sausages.

We were recommended venison sausages, with garlic mash and a berry and wine gravy washed down with Tanglefoot Bitter. I learn from Wikipedia that the name for Badger Brewery's Tanglefoot came about when the Head Brewer drank "several tankards" and "fell on" a name for the beer. When buying a round I found myself asking for two Tanglefeet.

Fond farewell to Ross, and sloped off through the bracing cold to bed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Toy museum

Carrying on in much the same vein yesterday during the day, albeit more menaced at my desk by bored and puckish felines avoiding the cold outside.

Later I found myself in Brighton's Toy and Model Museum on Trafalgar Street. Having lived about 100 yards away from it for many years it was about time I popped in, now that I had moved further away. More Meccano sets, Hornby model railways and so on than you could shake a stick at. Was trying not to snicker at a Erector metal kit, and its accompanying magazine Erector Tips from I think 1919. Friendly enthusiasts running the place. Came away thinking about the imagined futures some of these toys portrayed.

Home and Mum had sent me some family history research gleaned by a distant relative. Turns out there is some Indian blood coursing through these veins. I like that idea. It makes me feel less vanilla.

Lorraine going off to work feeling ill, and home sounding hoarse and feeling rough. Poor thing.

Later I popped off to meet Glen 'Fingers' Capra, Richard, Steve, Tim and Claudius. Slipped Fingers a copy of the CD to which he had contributed some lovely playing. And generally shot the breeze about Glen's trip to snowy Sophia, and the post-Scriabinesque recordings he wants to make. Talked to Steve about the Sumerian Kyngs performance, Claudius about flute playing. All of us had a nice time.

Winter has woken from its mild slumbers and it is bitingly cold when the sun goes down and the wind gives you a good shanking.

Below some snaps from the Toy Museum. Well worth a visit.