Feeling in a holiday mood, mooching about with Toby in Brighton under a perfect blue sky. He scored an excellent pair of black shoes and we drifted about stopping for coffee and lengthy, wide-ranging chats.
Home again in the afternoon, Lorraine working at home while Claudia lurked downstairs in the teenage dark, watching Criminal Minds, according to Claudia the best show on TV, which the Tobster and I watched with her. Claudia back to Maureen and Pat, then home to Finland this week. I really enjoyed meeting Claudia again. Betty working away from home for a few days.
A train to Hove and met Matt, who made us walk to The Sussex Cricketer next to Sussex cricket ground. Had a brief but decisive conversation about our new music and words project. We were soon joined by Lorraine, before Toby Matt and I gave in to basking in the beer garden and observing 10,000 flying ants and numerous cricket fans having a wet before watching a limited overs game. Toby telling Matt his true story of living next door to Dorothea Puente when he lived in Sacramento. Puente was a serial killer, perfectly disguised as a kindly older woman, who disposed of the dead bodies in the front garden. Her book Cooking with a Serial Killer is worth seeing on Amazon too.
Soon joined by Wayne, whose new job is going well. There was a barbecue in the garden, we availed ourselves of burgers. I had a sensible veggie one. Home by bus, looking at the sea which looked as white blue as the sky, tinged with peach at the horizon. Summer, where have you been all this time?
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Feeling in a holiday mood, mooching about with Toby in Brighton under a perfect blue sky. He scored an excellent pair of black shoes and we drifted about stopping for coffee and lengthy, wide-ranging chats.
Monday, July 23, 2012
On with my work this morning, out a couple of times to the shops in the blazing summer sun. Claudia surfacing at 2:30. Made her toast and had a chat for a while, she is has a directness which I like. Lorraine home early too, which was excellent.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
A summer's day. Proper blue sky and everything. Lorraine and I faffing about with various pre-holiday jobs. I spent some time during the day restringing my guitar with Hybrid Slinky strings, bought yesterday from the guitar shop around the corner, which was full of people holding plastic cups of wine and talking guitars. I also replaced the battery inside the body of the guitar (as it is a semi acoustic) an act requiring a snake-like dislocation of my hand bones to achieve.
Another gallop to Brighton station to collect Claudia, Lorraine's Finnish 17 year old niece. The ladies went then to nose around the lanes, while I zoomed to the gym and a sweaty workout. Being able to exercise again is drastically improving my mood. Then plunged back into the thronging North Laine full of people sitting in the sun. There with Lorraine, Claudia and Betty to The Basketmakers, where I indulged a hearty yang lunch and cold beer to the yin of my previous exercising.
Talking to Claudia who, with a refreshing honesty, says she mainly likes to sleep all day, then party with her pals and stay out all night. Her English is excellent, as they speak it at home as her dad's Finnish is not so good. She has been staying with Maureen and Pat for the last few weeks and missing her mates.
Betty cooked fajitas tonight, which were rather excellent. Watched the hugely enjoyable Americans v Aliens film Independence Day again on TV last thing before bed. 'Welcome to Earth!' shouts Will Smith, punching an alien. Class.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Weird bits of blue sky through the Velux windows this morning. Lorraine and I responding by shopping for sun cream and mosquito repellent and looking for our snorkels.
Scampered to the station, and then up to London this evening to meet Toby and Romy who were staying at a swanky hotel near the Embankment, having taken Mum and Mas on a riverboat cruise from Istanbul to Austria. Felt really nice going off to meet them. I wish we could do it more often. It was like a coolish, but proper summer's evening. We sauntered through central London which looked beautiful, all spick and span for the Olympics beginning next week and teeming with even more people than usual. We made our way across Trafalgar Square up St Martin's Lane to The Salisbury where we had a quick and cheery drink. Some local colour there for Romy, came from singing drunks on the next table.
Thence to a Japanese restaurant where we were shown downstairs, sitting in a bunker-like alcove decorated in primitive line drawings. Lorraine, who is not a cave person had to change seats with me to sit on the edge. The waitress was as Japanese as I am, but the meal was good and I had what Toby ordered.
Home painlessly, and we stayed up for a while chatting to Betty and her pal Laura, who I finally realised why I like so much, despite not really knowing her. It is that her personality in a curious way reminds me of my old pal Carl.
Below some pub snappage in the Salisbury. Nobody come out of these shots looking exemplary, but great fun was had... Toby and me; me and Romy; Romy, Lorraine and Toby x 2.
Friday, July 20, 2012
Back to the gym for the second time this week, and I had my best workout for ages, suddenly there seems to be some gas in the tank. Leaving the gym I realised how balanced and clearer headed I felt. I think most of the benefits of exercise are psychological.
A productive day on The New Idea. Sonia had yesterday wondered what the 100 years war with France was all about. I have now mentally rebranded The New Idea as The 100 year idea, as it was supposed to be a quick win, but is in fact a long slog.
Had a squint at some Shakespeare Trio admin for them, as my good deed of the day. Then after an other deluge, Lorraine emerged home. We skipped up to the Shahi for a fast feed. Lorraine is visibly happier at the prospect of a holiday.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Good work today on the book. Also a funny conversation with Sonia, who was asking me if Sherlock Holmes was a real person.
Then an enjoyable evening. For Lorraine had suggested we go to the New Venture Theatre, to see an evening of eight 10 minute plays.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Only a churl would have stayed at home sipping tea rather than miss the intense excitement of the Olympic Torch. Rushed out with Lorraine and a sleepy Betty to watch the great event pass about 50 yards from the Old Church Hall. The flame was preceded by a couple of corporate trucks pumping lively music and DJs exhortations to enthusiasm from the sleepy crowd. Then a big van crammed with cameras and the flame carried by a woman, flanked by runners in grey presumably police, passed at about 7:50.The flame was transferred to a man, in a pagan firesex ritual, who loped off towards a thronging Preston Park. Curiously, it wasn't raining, and even I, an Olympic humbugger of the worst sort, saw that its passing had brought smiles to people's faces.
Able just to contain my excitement, I went on with my writing interspersed with tea drinking and chatting to Betty, who is making a speedy recovery thanks to the antibiotics.
Off late in the afternoon to collect Klaudia and Oskar from their after school club. Into the playground where Klaudia promptly hid, and Oskar lay on the floor and replied 'no' when I told him it was time to leave. Leave we did, however, and at least this time I had Anton's keys so a taxi ride to my place to pick them up was avoided. Both children clutching plates with their designs on it, while Klaudia also had a complex paper affair that looked like a cross between an octopus and a multipocket handbag. Both had sticky cookies they had made. I carried all these plus bags, as the children scooted home on their scooters, except Klaudia who decided hers wasn't working and so proceeded by laggings ('it's not working!') and superfast accelerations ('now it is!' etc.). Oskar paused to shout to his friend across the road a comprehensive show and tell of how he had made his plate. I tried smiling weakly at the other boy's mother off and on for these five minutes, but was not sure what was required, especially as it was only because the children seemed to know me that she was not phoning the police to report an abductor.
I cooked pasta, which was scarfed efficiently. Then Anton arrived home, and after the bairns were put to bed he and I sat downstairs. Anton cooked a delicious and simple omelette and we drank gin and tonic and listened to some tunes and talked about Delia Smith and Alfred Wainwright and generally shot a good deal of breeze.
Below the Olympic Torch on Preston Road. The approach, the swap (elephant in the room alert... I can see no flame) and the aftermath. Then Calliope who has taken to resting her head on the back of my hand as I type and however much I write she stays there till I am forced to chuck her off. A poor iPhone snap of my Godchildren eating pasta and watching Curious George, a programme about a monkey.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Good work on The New Idea this morning. Managed in five hours to finish a particularly thorny section. Took myself out in the rain to celebrate. As I walked down the backstreet passed a soaked woman battling with her umbrella, who said, 'turned out nice again' with an almost wartime spirit.
Found myself in St Bartholomew's church again. My smile unreturned by the snowy-haired ladies who were guardians of the empty place. I took a pew for half an hour and looked at the altar's glistering Byzantine-style gold mosaic work. The halo of an angel triggered a Proustian memory of making Christmas cards with glitter at my first school St Martin's in Guernsey. Jotted some lines down in the church, and left with a question to myself that what if the Christian promise was actually true? How would you feel if it were suddenly proved beyond question that there really had been someone watching over you all the way from childhood? I wish I could believe it.
Then to Sainsbury's and then sat at the cafe opposite, which now serves alcohol, as I sipped my Americano and fiddled with lines, I noticed two Muslim guys tucking into stealthy pints of lager. The joy of forbidden fruit. Reminded me of how my English teacher at school Mr Levine used to talk with fanatical eyes about the deliciousness of bacon sandwiches.
Betty how on antibiotics, and I cooked in the evening for her and Lorraine who had a tricky work day. Holidays next week thank God.
Below St Bartholomew's Church. Lovely.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Lorraine and I finally repaired the kitchen island which had been propped up on a collection of art books for some time. One of the solid steel wheely wheel things (technical term) had snapped off completely unprovoked, and our job was to replace this. Some hefting, drilling, and manful screwing. Always feel rather amazed when DIY works. Lorraine and I are a good team. Lorraine is brain I am brawn.
Otherwise heavy rain on Saturday and small chores. Lorraine and Beth both not feeling very well. Lorraine and I had an interlude in the park on Sunday night, in a rainless sky. Beginning to feel stir crazy, stale and negative and generally not a great pleasure to be around. A condition which floating about in the transparent Aegean sea looking at fishes for a while can only help. Will take my watercolours too, for the full therapeutic experience. Rediscovered my favourite straw hat today, having lain dormant in the unabated rain, and Lorraine sifted through sarongs.
Below I am finding myself listening to lots of talks. TED talks are fab. This talk on achieving your childhood dreams by Randy Pausch wasn't a TED talk I think, but became quite famous in the US for being inspirational, and was given a year before Pausch's death.
Friday, July 13, 2012
Immensely enjoying a story from Guernsey. According to a Guernsey Press front page story on Thursday 12 July, a 29 year old man has been charged with burglary at the Guernsey Aquarium....
This follows allegations that a fish was stolen from the Aquarium was used to try to win a local angling competition. While officers continued investigations to establish whether the missing bass, described as being under 14lbs, was the same 13lb 13oz fish that won the Bailiwick Bass Club event, further details about how the matter was brought to the attention of the authorities emerged today.
Competition entrant Shane Bentley, 38, who had been a member of the club for seven years said he felt something was wrong, as the top bass was lifted out of its tank for the winner's photo, he thought he had seen it before.
"Me and my wife were taking the kids to the aquarium a few weeks ago and we'd seen a bass in a tank - it stood out because it had some very distinct markings on its head," he said. "I had gone to congratulate the winner because I heard it was a monster, and when I saw it I thought, heck that's a beauty. It wasn't until the bass was lifted out of the tank for the photo that I thought - that's the fish from the Aquarium."
Mr Bentley went to the Aquarium and it was established that the bass had been burgled. Today there were Missing posters placed around the island for 'Annette' the bass by the local brewers Randalls, there was also talk of Bass-steal day too. All great fun.
Otherwise I travelled this evening to Barnham by train after work, listening to Steve Reich music on my iPhone. Two women sat opposite me, who were in their early twenties also listening to music and sharing a pair of earphones. After a while they started vigorously dancing together in their seats. I smiled at them, but they utterly avoided eye contact. It went on for at least ten minutes. Nobody said a word.
Met at Barnham station by Lorraine, as we were early we went into a local village pub, which was crammed with people. Very much local people, who looked at us curiously and wouldn't get out of the way properly when we made our way to the bar. Otherwise nice though. Then to Leslie and Derek, with whom I feel a camaraderie as they are great Guernsey lovers, and they have a decency about them that is palpable. They had even bought golden Guernsey butter for our meal. A delicious Spanish chicken recipe. Leslie recently retired and going through a period of adjustment. Derek very much into his music, and playing the new CD by Tom Jones, which seemed surprisingly good.
Lorraine drove us home, in the rain. It has been raining continuously. This is definitely the wettest I have ever seen England there is no sign of it abating. A giant PR disaster for English Tourism if it continues throughout the forthcoming Olympics. Lorraine and I mercifully will be in Greece while much of the tiresome running in circles, jumping and draping yourself in jingoistic flags goes on.
Heard from First Matie, whose charity have suddenly decided to pull the Kenyan cycling project. Very disappointing from Kate, who has put blood sweat and tears into preparation.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Working on the New Idea. Then two good conversations, with Slug, an art director I've worked with in the past, and the other with Matt, who has been asked to supply ten songs to be performed by an orchestra next year - so we'll be getting our heads down working on that song cycle soon. A much-needed fillip.
Thundery afternoon. It is merrily raining every day, although last week the water companies finally lifted the hosepipe ban, freeing the populace to spray the mangrove swamps that were once their gardens.
Off tonight to see Bob, who wanted just a bit of a chat and a quiet night. Ended up having a lively night of course. Very good to see the old Mad Dog and put the world to rights over a few beers. First in a small bar in Kemptown, and then whimsically we wandered onto the pier, which was windy. Sat looking out of a door of the cheesy pier bar out to the choppy grey sea and distant white cliffs. A cheeky curry then into the Mesmerist for an absolute bloody final where there was some sort of Jazz band. Lurched home along an empty London Road.
Below was just snapping this puddle when a boy walked through it completing the picture, a blowy evening on the pier.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Have given myself a savage deadline to get enough of the New Idea book sent off shortly after I return from holiday. This means a sprint over the next couple of weeks, but is distinctly achievable. I feel like I am working with renewed purpose.
Some delight and excitement from Betty today, who took the clothes shop card Romy had given her to the shop and found that Romy had put a chunk of cash on it, which represented a small fortune to a student. Also she went to the Basketmakers with Gary in the evening, and they have offered to teach Betty how to pour pints this week: a boon which could lead to more work.
In the evening up to Wimbledon with Anton to meet Sarah Freeman and Marja. Anton and I travelled to East Croydon and then caught a tram, provoking a degree of unnecessary anti-tram controversy from Anton. He hadn't seen Marja for about 13 years and spent some time talking about he achieved his super slim figure. He explained his tactic for renewing his wardrobe. Simply boiling his clothes and hoping they will shrink to fit him.
We all met up at a pleasant, reasonably-priced Danish Sushi place, called Sticks n Sushi and caught up on some gossip. According to Marja, who is Finnish and knows about these things, the Danes are famed for doing Sushi well. You learn something every day.
Marja also introduced us to her new friend Richard and his brother Kay. They are from Ghana, and have an uncle who is running for Presidency. Enjoyed talking to Richard about the little I know about Jerry Rawlings and Ghanan politics.
Good to catch up a little with Sarah too, and learned that her daughter Amelia is now playing harp, which put lots of cherubic images in my head.
Then we caught the slow late train which scuppered our chances of a cheeky beer in Brighton. Home, and stealing into bed beside a sleeping Lorraine, the day ended.
Monday, July 09, 2012
I'd just like to point you to a new link to the left of these entries to a new blog called Kate cycles Kenya. For this is none other than First Matie who has got it into her head to cycle 400km across Kenya to raise money for Computer Aid International. To achieve this she is putting herself through gruelling keep fit regimes that push her to the edge of human endurance. Of course, for the rest of us, this simply means a good read from the comfort of our own armchairs as Kate battles fatigue, motorists and, later in the year, wild animals, wild weather and general wildness on wheels.
Sunday, July 08, 2012
Under Lorraine's supervision attached brackets to the new bookcases. This allowed me to spend a couple of happy hours moving books about, and generally rationalising my office space. There is more work to be done, but things are much tidier and more organised than they were.
Reading Richard's poems again this afternoon. I love his work, the poems are really true to who he is, and they ring with emotional honesty. You can't fake that kind of stuff.
Lorraine out for a few hours seeing her pals Andrew and Rachel, and their daughters. Watched the last five minutes of Andy Murray, the first British tennis player to get to the men's finals in my lifetime. He lost. He cried afterwards and Brits took him to their hearts, for we love a plucky loser as much if not better better than we love our winners.
After we ate a large vegetable chilli, Lorraine and I watched the English language version of Wallander with Kenneth Branagh. Bleak's the word, and Branagh plays the character as someone on the edge of complete breakdown.
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Off today for Lorraine's secret day out, planned months in advance by Betty. We took a train up to Kingston, L facebooking like fury, and had a nice meal at Little Italy, and a sip of Pimm's before a spot of shopping. I repaired at this point to wander into All Saints Church, the site (though not the church) of the coronations of Saxon kings, including Ethelred The Unready.
Then off by bus to Hampton Court where we had tickets for The Flower Show. Really enjoyable day out. Amazing amounts of people, some amazing small show gardens to look at (many of them seemed to have a Japanese influence) plus enormous tents to drift about in looking at all kinds of plants, from carnivorous, cacti to pelargoniums, orchids, ferns, roses, and a gazillion other ones. Felt quite inspired by it all. Lorraine really enjoyed herself, and Betty got top marks.
Loads of sites to see, and I attach a few snaps, as they paint a thousand words and so on... Nice for me too because I bumped into my old friend Nikki Gordon Jones, who emerged from the foliage and about 13 years ago simultaneously.
Homeward, caught a river ferry across the Thames, and trained home among people clutching lots of plants. Popped into The Battle of Trafalgar when we returned home for a fast drink with Anton.
Below Betty and Lorraine pushing over the telephone boxes at Kingston, about to enter the show, Beth and Lorraine looking at lavender, and Betty interpreting "Bridge over troubled water" an incontinence-themed garden from a pharmaceutical company.
Friday, July 06, 2012
Prematurely, to the gym. I enjoyed it, despite being utterly soaked on the way home, but I am still nowhere near fit and fell asleep later in the afternoon. Not in the best of moods, but the gym helped a little.
Lorraine working from home this afternoon, which meant an early getaway in the evening by bus to Hove, where we met Rosie for a drink in a pub called the Wick Inn. A glass of lager is a wonderful thing, and I am very fond of Rosie especially when she is telling jokes about talking eagles. Thence for a meal in a Greek restaurant, which Rosie likes, with some good Greek grub, making me hungry for the real thing that Lorraine and I will encounter soon. Yippee!
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Happily beeswaxing new bookcases that have arrived from the recycled wood place. Less happily cleaning the Augean Stables of the cat litter trays, a labour that is necessary due to the inability of fat Basil to squeeze through the catflap. This leads to having to have a litter tray in the house, into which all three defecate with copious abandon.
Minimal writing done as I mind mapped and wrote lists of things I need to do, which is far easier than actually doing anything.
Eye test this afternoon by a loquacious optometrist. Interesting to see photographs of the back of my eye on his screen, which I was told are in decent shape. Better shape than the feeble jokes the man was creaking out. Still he was friendly, and told me that despite recent eye strain, I don't need a new prescription, a boon for the Kenny coffers.
Home and a quiet night, listening to my Audiobook of Ulysses, which has got easier when I realised I was listening to it on 1.5 x normal speed setting. It is dense enough without it being gabbled at you. Wonderful writing, although Joyce can't be accused of wearing his learning lightly, and I have already had enough of things being 'snot green', and talk of 'snot rags'. For some reason I have never fathomed, I find 'snot' to be the most repellent word in the English language, just the sound of it sickens me. Snog is pretty vile too. It is that short O sound.
Lorraine training school guv'nors tonight, so back late and demanding gin and tonic. Betty and three of her pals spending hours getting ready to go out, a mysterious, excitable process, involving hilarity and some drinking. Betty was touched by Romy leaving her a present.
Paid my tax bill... No more tax to pay till January 2013. Yippee!
Below the three cats in the Old Church Hall... In the doorway Basil (a female despite name) Brian the silver tabby, and my daemon Calliope on her back. I forgot to mention that Calliope turned on my radio the other morning, after failing to rouse me by conventional methods.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Into town this morning with Toby and Romy, a last cup of coffee, Romy telling me about some of the weird situations she's faced working for a Canadian bank last year. She deserves her holiday. Then a walk through some Twittens towards home, a quick pack, for Toby and Romy travel light. Fond farewells at Brighton station. Sorry to see them go, but happy in the knowledge I will see them again soon.
After cooked a salad based repast for this evening for Lorraine, then off to The London Unity where I met Steve, Dipak and Richard. It was busy as it was Pemma's last night. The Shakespeare Trio on first, unusually, and there were loads of acts some rather good. I also did a poem, which I read abysmally. It happens in this venue all the time and feels like a jinx. Good to catch up with the boys though, and the Shakeys played well -- and, Dipak told me, are about to take over the running of these Wednesday night open mic sessions.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
July and the drought continues. Today the rain relented only for an hour or so, and Toby and Romy set off among the bedraggled denizens of Brighton. I joined them later at the Marwood for a cup of coffee, and then, taking advantage of a slight brightening of the clouds we scurried onto Brighton Pier where it began to rain again. Romy said that it reminded her of places in Japan. Then off to The Giggling Squid for a pleasant lunch. It has been wonderful to spend a couple of days talking to Toby and Romy.
Then rain dodging through the lush Pavilion Gardens to the Brighton Museum. Am really beginning to warm to its eclectic collection, we spent some time happily drifting in there. On the way home, Toby suggested we go into St Bartholomew's Church, which I'd never been to before, despite its huge and austere brick presence in the New England quarter. It has an extraordinarily lofty interior, making you feel ant-like (in a pleasant, spiritually-uplifting way) as you walk in. All three of us stunned and humbled by this and we sat gazing at its gleaming altar and up to its distant roof, all the time above our heads a huge block of spiritually-charged silence. Absolutely lovely, and a building I have walked past a hundreds of times without going in. I will be going back as soon as I can.
Home, and holiday snoozes, then up and out for a couple of pints and some pub grub at The Signalman, Toby smacking his lips on the nice bitter there and wishing that his local in Toronto would serve it. Romy's food was cold, but the staff gave her a free glass of wine and many apologies so face was saved all round. Poor Lorraine, who had been slogging all day, rounded off with two presentations about Maths at a parents evening crept up to the Signalman and had a cheeky beer with us before we went home. Tobs and I stayed up to watch a warm hearted documentary about the controversy stirred up when Paul Simon made his Graceland album.
Below two smiling cats and a 1805 chamber pot designed to help you express your feelings for Napoleon, both in The Brighton Museum, and a snap of the magical interior of St Bartholomew's, which doesn't do its scale justice.
Monday, July 02, 2012
Spent a lovely day with Toby and Romy, drifting about in Brighton in the persistent July rain, kept thinking of "Sitting in an English Garden waiting for the sun/ If the sun don't come, you get a tan/From standing in the English rain." as the Beatles sang.
Sunday, July 01, 2012
A happy day today, zooming about this morning tidying up (and being pinched and punched by Betty with no returns) before we collected Romy and Toby from Brighton Station. Wonderful to see them, and they both looked perky and well. Home for tea and long chats, before Lorraine drove us down to the sea at Hove. It had been sunny and warm in Brighton all day, but during the ten minute drive, a gale arrived and the sky grew threatening.
Blew the cobwebs away, as the family saying goes, and we got to crunch about on the pebbles for a bit sheltering by the side of a groyne. It made us all curiously hungry. So, home to gin and tonic and a large roast cooked by lovely Lorraine. Introduced Betty to Romy, and all settled down with the European Cup Final in the background, which the Tobster had been following in Canada.
Spain beat Italy 4-0 with a wonderful display of tiki-taka. But now football is over, actually I've had enough of it and all sport for a while. So down with the yawnfests of Wimbledon tennis and Olympic Narcissists running in circles and throwing things.
Lots of chats, and then an earlyish night, for Lorraine sadly had to get up at the crack of dawn for work. As a Lorraine watcher I notice that every year at this time she gets shattered as the end of the academic year approaches. Roll on our holiday!