A turning point. Heard from my glamourous accountant, with news of a tax rebate, and a reassuringly payable tax bill in January. At last, and for the first time this year, I feel I have properly returned to solvency. Greatly cheered by the lifting of this financial cloud.
Otherwise, less coldly. My day spent on dog and cat health. Enjoyable 'Fright Night' halloween drink in the office, to the accompaniment of scary music, and people slurping down green and blood red vodka jellies. Good chat with Hamish about street art. His interesting site, Urban Escapades here. I stuck to a bottle or two of beer. Train delayed homeward as it was outward. Listening to Midnight's Children again. Lorraine coldy and tired. Glad to be home.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
A turning point. Heard from my glamourous accountant, with news of a tax rebate, and a reassuringly payable tax bill in January. At last, and for the first time this year, I feel I have properly returned to solvency. Greatly cheered by the lifting of this financial cloud.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
To London feeling subdued and cold. Listening to the excellent Midnight's Children, and working a little on poetry. The train late as usual. First Capital Connect deserve to be flogged. Every day the train is late and there is nothing you can do about it other than simply suck it up. Slunk off at lunchtime with First Matie to score some species of sandwich, and have a chat. Otherwise spent the day shaping some technical website copy about cat and dog treatments for bacterial infections. Felt like I was clock watching all day, partly because I felt rough, and partly because the work was short on laughs.
Slow journey home in the dark. Talking to Mum as I walked home from the station. She'd returned after many adventures with Jana. She'd had a brilliant time, walking in forests, drinking exotic boozes in Prague and attending the opera.
Lorraine had been working in a half-term unheated school all day. Both pleased to be home, revelling in the simple joys of a pasta bake and the gold sofa.
Monday, October 29, 2012
Up early and working on poems before chatting with Mas for a while. Poems progressing well, and I have some ideas. Booked to go into London for some more work tomorrow, which is good.
Then we drove off to see Pat and Maureen in Kent. While Maureen and Lorraine attended to a thing about which I cannot blog, I made myself useful in a manly way by helping Pat remove a gas fire and install a new electric coal effect fire in the front room. Found myself cleaning an old fireplace which gave me a Proustian flashback to being a child and cleaning grates. Eggshell and dust, and a few spiders which Pat culled methodically.
Greatly fortified by hot soup and a delicious cottage pie. Saw Basil the cat, who looked exceptionally happy and had lost weight since being moved to Lorraine's parents.
After Pat had enjoyed Sean the Sheep, he suggested I watch the 1959 version of The 39 Steps starring Kenneth Moore, on in the afternoon, as I'd never seen it. Never a dull moment in the film, and quite liked glimpses of England and Scotland in 59.
Zooming home along spray filled rainy motorways, filled with lorrys. A big just-past-full moon emerging from time to time. Lorraine listening to Mumford & Sons album. Home to find Betty and her pals Amy and Kayleigh. To bed early.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Extra hour in bed last night. Then off to Stanmer Park for a mooch in the woods with Lorraine, walking and talking is always good . Went to look at the donkey well, which was open. One of the two ladies obligingly poured water down the deep well, and we all waited with hushed breath until what seemed like ages later the water at the bottom was disturbed. The well was 203 feet deep apparently. Home, and a late lunch in the Shakespeare's Head, where we were joined by Wayne, Matt and John. Great fun, generally. Home to sleep soundly on the sofa before bedtime. Shunning Match of the Day as Chelsea had been beaten by the accursed Manchester United.
Below, around the table at the Shakey's Head: me and Lorraine; Lorraine and Matt; John, Wayne, a pumpkin; a strange statue and back to me.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Temperatures falling. Lorraine off early, while I pulled up the drawbridge and simply got on with my own work. Mainly poetry, along with writing a piece for the notebook about Richard's excellent book. I don't think it was by accident that Richard and I overlapped, so much of his work really resonates with me. The more I look at Richard's work, the more similar I find our preoccupations. Perhaps this is because we intuitively agree what is the proper business of poetry.
Have three days next week, barring slips twixt cup and lip, like the one that cost me thousands this week. Bah.
Lorraine and I able to have a curry in the Shahi. Simply really good fun to have time to chat, and the waiters loving Lorraine as usual. In between their attentions, Lorraine and I talking about God and religion. Home early for the sofa was distinctly appealing.
They watch the moon, by Trevor Paglin.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Back to the quacks, fasting bloods told me that my cholesterol level has dropped quite a bit, so no statins needed which was good. More mooching in town. Reading George Bataille and feeling a sudden excitement about ideas while enjoying a coffee and a blueberry muffin in despicable, tax-dodging Starbucks.
This bit where Bataille was quoting Sartre, writing about Baudelaire, made all kinds of stuff happen in my head: 'it is the determination of the present by the future, of what exists by what does not yet exist... which philosophers today call transcendence.
Cooked Lorraine's favourite comfort food today: mashed potatoes. They make her very happy.
In the evening off to meet Anton in the Great Eastern, and then we went to the Tavern to meet Wayne and Matt, who were already fairly well refreshed, and lively of conversation. There is a scheme afoot for the four of us to do a few days walking in Derbyshire next year. A walk up North, I said. North Midlands, said Matt sternly. You can take the boy out of Yorkshire...
They made off, and Anton and I popped into The Foundry for a further chat. It has always been dead as a doornail when I've been there before, but it was thronging with studenty types and quite fun.
Below the fossil fish Lorraine gave me, which makes me think of the Gasteropelecidae family such as the common hatchetfish shot I stole from the interweb here:
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
A storming day of writing. Surging forward with three new poems for a collection, provisionally called The slow tsunami, which is mainly about time. I am trying to have it ready fast enough to the International poetry book and pamphlet competition the end of November. A deadline is always useful.
In the afternoon I saw my iPhone had spontaneously given up the ghost. Took it to the Orange shop, and a bloke there simply pressed both its buttons at once and it restarted. Apparently iPhones do this once in a while, 'because they are like computers'. Baffling. But I walked away happy.
Went to my old magic cafe, and worked more on my poems. I can't believe how hungry I am for this work. Then home. Lorraine out tonight, so I simply worked more on my poems till she returned, gave her a glass of wine and chatted.
Noticed just before I went to bed that one of my angel fish died suddenly. Felt sad about this, as I've had it for four or five years.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
A pleasant day in which I worked on my new poem did a few bits of admin (including emailing the people who'd offered me work on Monday) and took myself for a long early afternoon moochabout in town, browsing happily in secondhand bookshops and popping into Waterstones where I bought a book by Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carrière, called 'This is not the end of the book;' and a collection of essays called Literature and Evil by George Bataille.
After a walk by the sea I found myself in Kemptown where I stopped at a little 'cafe bistro' called Figaro's in a sidestreet. Here I ordered tea, and the man balked as if I had requested a unicorn, for it was an Italian place priding itself on its coffee. I was presented with a cup with a dirty saucer with the teabag floating in the milky water, and minutes later the worst all-day breakfast I've had this century, complete with a noxious ratburger. Thinking about it even now makes me want to retch. The charms of the place rounded off by a screaming baby.
I had downloaded Midnight's Children from Audible which wouldn't play. I emailed them and was phoned twice by a pleasant woman in Jamaica who solved the problem, and called me the next day to check it had worked. It makes me a much more loyal customer -- a pity more organisations don't get this simple truth.
Home and cooked a veggie stir fry to atone for the ghastly lunch. Lorraine had an exhausting and upsetting day, with one of the parents of a child at her school dying.
Spoke to Mum and Mas. Mum off to Prague to see her pal Jana for a few days. She's really looking forward to it. Also she said, that she has one last check up to go in six months time, before she will be considered all clear of the cancer she had almost five years ago now. This is splendid, and leaves me feeling very grateful to medical science and the forces of good.
Below a grey day in Brighton, with the sea flat as a millpond and the murk lurking. I liked the way the colours on the side of the fish pedicure huts worked perfectly with the murk; tourists and idlers still abounding on the pier. I noticed the fortune teller's hut was open again, intensifying the already Ray Bradburyish atmosphere of the pier, and a murky view to the remains of the West Pier.
Monday, October 22, 2012
Fasting bloods this morning, but my arrival wasn't announced so I waited in the waiting room, while the nurse waited for me elsewhere for 20 minutes. I'd missed the train I'd earmarked, but once aboard I employed the flask and scoffed lunchtime sarnies as I'd obviously not eaten. As the foggy world slipped by, I wrote the first draft of a poem, loosely based on The Door in the Wall by HG Wells.
Having been booked for two more weeks I felt in a good position running up to my Guernsey visit. However as the day wore on it was clear there was no work for me to do. I was borrowed, enjoyably, by a sister agency in the same building for the afternoon, brainstorming with two excellent women creatives. This may prove to be fortuitous In the evening, however, I was told I was not needed tomorrow. Normally this would have only been moderately galling, but by chance I turned down the offer of a month's work with a new client at lunchtime, and I have paid for the week's travel too.
Left work at seven, some distance from being in a good mood. Arrived home to Lorraine just before nine, and had a large helping of Lorraine's particularly delicious Shepherd's pie and a sizeable glass of wine helped right the wrongs of the day.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Another highly relaxed day. Lorraine and I took a stroll down by the sea. It was overcast, still and prone to drizzle, but we had a really nice time chatting and walking along drinking a couple of teas we bought from a sleepy kiosk. I was sporting my flat cap for the first time in ages. Fresh air very welcome after being confined in trains and offices all week.
Although there were a few milling about around Hove, and there was activity on the water, there was a still emptiness as we mooched along, which I tried to capture in these few snaps.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Pervaded with the Friday feeling today, despite it being grey and rainy. Nicola, with whom I walked out to buy a sandwich, said it was proper Manchester weather.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Leaving home I noticed across the road someone had installed a Christmas tree in their room, whose lights were flashing. The train miraculously on time today, though due to some strange alignment of stars I was in a weird mood. I did however have a nice bit of Italian snap, and a good chat with Matty-boy for lunch. Felt curiously grouchy all afternoon however. Home, and Lorraine had a tiresome day, however we had a glass of wine and soon cheered up watching the hilarious The thick of it and the cathartic swearing of Peter Capaldi's Malcom Tucker character.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Lunchtime walking in the square, with the sun emerging to dapple the fallen leaves and squirrels scavenging picturesquely. An oasis from the traffic. Lots of floral tributes around the Gandhi statue, perhaps left there from his birthday on October 2nd. I talked to Mum and Mase who have had five young Americans staying with them over the weekend, who had only just left. They were looking forward to a quiet afternoon.
Home late, after my vermiform day, and pleased to be there. Lorraine and I gaped at more Space: Above and Beyond, and the end of The Great British Bake Off.
Betty had pre-ordered the new album by Martha Wainwright, which arrived this evening as a birthday present.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Off this morning to work with my chums in Tavistock Square. Train delayed as usual, and felt very tired this morning. However, I had a civilised beer at lunch with Karam and Steve to celebrate my birthday, chatting among other things about the amazing Felix Baumgartner jump. His courage was incredible. But then I guess there was no other way down.
Home, listening to the 'Wittertainment' of the Kermode and Mayo podcast. Once arrived, and having returned home past the Church of Christ the King VS street drinkers standoff, and Lorraine and I watched yet another Above and Beyond episode. I like it just as much now as I did when I first saw it on TV, strangely still a cult show, which was devised by people who had worked on the X-Files.
Below gulp! One of the many incredible images generated during the Felix Baumgartner jump.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
A gentle day of repair, after we returned from shopping, Lorraine cooked a large pork roast for lunch, with lemon cabbage, and sweet potato, roast potatoes, parsnips, brussel sprouts and beans. Greatly enjoyed by me, and Betty and Olivia who had dragged themselves from bed just in time. Then girls back to uni, while Lorraine and I continued the vegging theme, by sprawling on the sofa, and watching an episode from Above and Beyond. Catching up with correspondence this evening, then early to bed.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
To Lewes this morning, Lorraine looking in fabric shops and I found myself looking at buttons, and marvelling at their variety. Lewes itself swarming with traditional Morris dancers, both men and women, dancing in the streets, and in carparks. Lots of people with jingling clothes in town. The women seemed very springy doing it, even though many of them were not in the first flush of youth. The men as usual fairly comical, with beer mats tucked into their hats, and the evidence of its enjoyment wobbling over their belts.
Both L and I fell into a heavy snooze in the afternoon. I woke up and sensibly went to The Basketmakers, for round two of my birthday celebrations. Here I met Matt, and we were soon joined by Wayne and Jonathan, and Wayne's cousin and his partner. We then went off to the Brighton Tavern, for more beers. All good fun. My plan A was to leave to join Lorraine and Rosie, who was celebrating her birthday today, however this play went, highly-enjoyably, astray.
Matt talking about wanting to do another show next year in the festival, which is good news.
Below: Lewes street scene with dancers; I loved the expression of the dancers as they danced; Morris men, and clog dancers.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Up early opening some excellent birthday presents from Lorraine. Something for my eyes, which was DVDs of the cult 90s SciFi show Above and Beyond, then something for my ears, which was a lovely murmury album called Coexist by The XX, then something for my soul, which was a fossil fish about two and a half inches long and deep bodied like a hatchet fish. And finally a perfect Lamy ink pen.
Working on poems in a bit of a frenzy this morning. In the afternoon Beth and her pal Olivia arrived, very cheerful and lively. I like Olivia, she's one of Beth's new besties from university.
Facebook is an interesting thing. I had dozens of people sending me good wishes today. Facebook is excellent for this kind of stuff. Spoke too to Mum and First Matie.
After Lorraine gave me a miniature chocolate cake with a candle, we went to The Basketmakers, where we met Anton, Dawn, Beth and Olivia. I hugely enjoyed myself. Some of my very favourite people in my very favourite pub, what could be nicer?
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Unable to focus much, I looked at my astrodienst horoscope, which told me that this day should be treated as a holiday. I follow the advice of computerised online astrologers very seriously. So I went for a 'me date' to the Cream Tea cafe on New Road, where I spooned lentil and butternut squash soup, drank a pot of tea and looked out at the steadily-falling rain, feeling surprisingly happy with the world as I sat among several more senior ladies, listening to the deafening sounds of Lorraine's favourites The Fleet Foxes, which the two young waitresses were playing.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Spent hours doing my books today, and finally sent them off to my glamorous accountant this evening, after Lorraine had dug out the final pieces of the puzzle. Had a small glass of ouzo to celebrate afterwards. Now I hope my accountant can perform her wily Scottish wizardry on it. And it looks like more work next week in London too, to cover for First Matie, which is good news. Also booked tickets to Guernsey for a few days in November; a couple of writing days for me, then being joined by Lorraine for sheer fun.
I went for a walk for a couple of hours, drifting about in the walled garden and park and peering into ponds at fish and what I thought were dragonflies but turn out to be ruddy darters, and looking at spiders and cyclamen, and walking among squirreled trees and other things that make me feel happy. I have a simple nature.
Went back to Sing Li my old fish and chip shop this evening, as I had an enthusiasm-for-cooking fail tonight. The owner smiley at my return, and remembering that I don't have salt and vinegar (preferring to apply my own at home). His limited English slightly amazes me. He has had that shop for years of dealing with customers face to face, but when I said 'you have a good memory', he simply did not understand what I'd said. Home in an aromatic car, children collecting conkers in the street, to scarf fish and chips with my Lorraine and all was well.
Below a door into Autumn; goldfish among clouds; pond; pampas grass; a ruddy darter keeping still for its photo; late bloom; a garden spider who had bewebbed a traffic light. Click the pics to see its bristles :-)
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Off to the quack. I like my doctor, despite loathing surgery visits. In the waiting room I started listening to a meditation on my iPhone. After a few minutes talking to the doctor the earphones somehow slid out, and a hypnotic voice started talking from my pocket about climbing down a flight of stairs into a beautiful garden, complete with tweets of birds. My doctor sees me as a bit of an eccentric and things like this don't help.
After this I strode down to the sea, which was strikingly green. Wandered about on the pier for a bit. A gloomy day, but good to get some fresh air and feeling personally a bit freer than I have done for a while. Homeward, and I popped into the pharmacy, waiting with the methadone users, for the horse pills I was prescribed.
Afternoon and early evening spent on accounts. Things extra complicated by moving house, above and beyond the normal scratting around for receipts and so on. Almost there now, and I will be greatly pleased when it's all done, having decided to jettison the skeletons of accounts and quack visits from my cupboard before my birthday on Friday, which I am determined to see as a fresh start.
Cooked a species of chickpea curry for Lorraine this evening, who arrived shattered after a hard day.
Below the green sea.
Monday, October 08, 2012
Rainy day in which I was sealed inside doing poems very well, and then accounts very ploddingly. Enjoyed Chatting to Anton who returned from the US, and to Mum and Mason, and Jenny Kendall Tobias from BBC Guernsey who called me about a long lost relative item she was doing. I couldn't help.
Off to Sainsbury's with Lorraine after work, which is always fun, and then I cooked. Not a Monday to set the pulses racing.
Sunday, October 07, 2012
Fish biz: buying some bottom feeders peppered corys and one albino bronze cory. The guy in the fish show said that you have to bag corydoras species separately as they release a noxious chemical into the water if they become distressed. Coming home with bags of fish is an excitement I've had since I was about ten and had my first aquarium. I think the entire fish kingdom is happy at the slower attrition rate since my first days. My current angel fish for example are about four years old now. I've always been fascinated by the otherness of fish, as if they swim in your own subconscious as you watch them.
Otherwise Lorraine and I had an enjoyable day of sprawling, snoozing and doing minor chores.
Saturday, October 06, 2012
Calliope sitting on me as I lay in bed, started craning her head up like a meerkat. The sound of feet on the roof, but instead of a gull, I saw a rat through the velux windows. Lorraine and I lay in bed shuddering and vowing never to open the windows again.
Another fit of poetry, and I am simply giving into it. Lorraine shopping, after one of her pals had called by in the morning. Some of what Lorraine is shopping for is birthday presents for me, an endevour only to be encouraged.
Off to wildest Essex this evening listening to the new album by Lorraine-favourites Mumford and Sons as she drove. Through the Dartford tunnel (a long deep tunnel under the Thames full of hurtling metal cars - what's not to love?) to Lorraine's pals Leslie and Jeremy, who were having a party for Leslie's birthday. Both play in a brass band, and they have musical children too, with their son being an accomplished trombonist.
Once in Essex (which I barely know other than it is the world capital of dancing round handbags in white stilettos) we headed down some surprisingly twisty country lanes. One was called Wigley Bush Lane. Saw a fox and another rat running across a road. Reaching Ongar, we drove down an unmade road, with dark fields at the end where Lorraine had lived. Surprisingly bright stars in the sky.
We drove to Leslie's house the other side of the fields. The party fine. L and I chatting with two interesting guys, Ethan and Dale who are on the cusp of moving to Australia. Ethan told me three ideas for books, one of which was rather good. Dale is a head teacher. Home late, Lorraine zooming us home along the motorways.
Essex always reminds me of being in The Real Inspector Hound, when I was at school. A voice on the radio, which of course miraculously turns itself on, talks about criminals escaping in Essex -- at which our cast reeled in horror and said 'Essex?' and the radio said, 'Yes, Essex!' in a cartoonish way. Funny at the time. I played Birdboot, a critic. To give me grey hair (which was then black) they put vaseline in my hair and dusted it with talc. My school friend Claire had to slap my face at one point, and a cloud of talc rose from my head to great, if unintentional, comic effect.
Friday, October 05, 2012
Sloped up to London working on a poem, appositely enough, about commuting. I saw Lucinda, my dentist, who pronounced my gnashers in good nick after a quick x-ray and a bit of scraping. The x-ray took a mere 0.18 seconds, much shorter than the steady head fry of yore. Chatting to Lucinda afterwards I discovered she has been my dentist for 25 years, and as I have not needed anything other than a clean and polish for most of them I am entirely relaxed about my visits. But as she was about her business in my mouth, I couldn't help thinking of Matt, who told L and I about his dentist phobia recently, and arrives sweating with fear. Phobias are wretched things, as I well know having a bristling collection of my own.
Thursday, October 04, 2012
Strange Kafkaesque dreams. Up and writing more poetry in a frenzy, having been gripped by a new theme that suddenly makes sense of the various fragments I have been writing over the last year, which weaves my dabbling in paleoanthropology, a recurring interest in the unreliability of memory and the tension between private self and public duty.
Wildly disinclined to do accounts, however. Instead I went to the gym, albeit in a rather wan and feeble manner. But pleased to have done so.
Met Matt in the Shakespeare's Head for a couple of cheeky beers and a long chat at tea time. Then joined by Lorraine, and she and I feasted on the Shakey's inimitable sausage and mash combo, which was rather delicious. An enjoyable evening, and home early too.
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Writing a storm of poetry this morning. The mad surge of poetry rarely comes across me, but when it does you have to go with it. So I parked my accounts, and did poems instead. Much more fun.
Off at lunchtime to see Jewel, who is does massages, and is fantastic at it. Had a full hour of deep tissue work. Usually there are times when she does this that I experience some strong emotion, and this time an area of my back made me feel as if she had pressed an anxiety button. Once this was unknotted, however, all was well. Although there was almost no part of my body that didn't feel tender when she massaged it. Weirdly blissful feeling when she cupped the back of my head and rolled my head around. Afterwards I felt like I'd been in a fight, but in a very good way, and had a spine like a young grass snake.
As usual, however, felt peculiar afterwards, a catharsis of emotions. I drank lots of water, and kept a blameless profile tonight, staying happily at home with Lorraine and cooking chicken curry, and going to bed early.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Got started on doing my accounts which I aim to complete by the end of the week, plus some landlordy stuff. Later I also some work on poetry after a sudden rush of excitement about a theme I can group some around for a pamphlet competition I have my eye on.
After eight hours of work, I simply had a read of Midnight's Children, which is unexpectedly good fun, plagued by Calliope who having been deprived of my company for many weeks, sits on me at every opportunity.
In the evening off to meet Glen, Richard Gibson, and Claudius in the Evening Star, which I'd not done for some time. Claudius had sent me some links to readings of poems by Kamau Brathwaite. This reading by Brathwaite of Kumina from his collection Born to Slow Horses particularly fine. Nice to chat about Caribbean poetry with Claudius, who is full of enthusiasm for it. A good evening and met more interesting friends of Glen's. It is so refreshing to have a beer with people who get passionate about, for example, Rachmaninoff, John Lee Hooker or Derek Walcott.
Home in the rain (for it has been raining heavily this week again). Lorraine, who'd had a difficult day, sleeping like a baby.
Monday, October 01, 2012
Despite having a slight cold, there was a song on my lips this morning for I did not have to join the rain-soaked stampede of pinching, punching commuters. Instead, as I am working from home this week, I gave myself permission to slack off after some admin, billing and so on.
To the local greengrocer, where the tiny, ancient proprietor shambles between the tired vegetables or on the days when he is working alone, disappears into the back for minutes at a time leaving his shop at the mercy of light fingers. Most leave cash on his till when he has wandered off. I bought leeks, potatoes and butternut squash. From these ingredients, with the addition of garlic, a fresh red chilli, cumin and coriander, mushrooms and chicken stock, I fashioned an unexpectedly delicious soup.
The afternoon given over to a cold-induced snooze and embarking on Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, lent me by my pal Nicola, who had previously turned me on to the splendid Owen Meany. Midnight's Children already rather wonderful. I had an irrational aversion to Rushdie, but this was dispelled by hearing him on the BBC for an hour last week.
Lorraine met a new friend Sharon in The Signalman tonight, and I joined them later as they were doing the pub quiz. One question was about Sir Jimmy Saville, an odious cigar chomper given to ostentatious charity work who this week is subject to a series of posthumous accusations of child molestation. His TV show was called Jim'll fix it. There were several teams, who'd given themselves unlikely names. One team, full of waggish students, had named itself Jim'll finger it in Saville's honour.