Monday, September 30, 2013

Clicking into place

An incredibly poor night's sleep. Something wrong with my back which caused a ring of pain around my chest and referred pain down my left arm. L and I had to conduct a triage in the middle of the night to make sure it wasn't actually a heart attack. She loves living with a hypochondriac. Woke up in the morning having had a ragged sleep, and getting out of bed my back clicked and the problem was miraculously better.

Worked steadily on the book all day, and then in the afternoon took myself for a brisk walk in the park for an hour or so. With the back business, I did not go to the gym today, but have downloaded a step counting app a few days ago so I can ensure I walk at least 10,000 steps every day as a minimum.

Lorraine singing in the choir tonight. In the evening called on Anton and we walked about town and had a couple of drinks and mulled over the world. He'd had a difficult weekend with the bairns, including the delights of Klaudia getting a nasty spewing bug, while being caught in a vast traffic jam.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Unseen forces

A long lurk in bed this morning, working on poems, reading and chatting.

To Borde Hill Gardens this afternoon. There was an exhibition of called Unseen Forces by David Watkinson of sculptures dotted about the gardens. Some of these were particularly lovely, large metal seed shapes that responded to the wind. But the gardens were lovely. A big dragonfly haunted pond and plenty of gardens and trees to walk among. After this we went to the cafe for a tea and a tea cake and had a lengthy discussion about the wedding and the future.

Home again and roasted a chicken and goggled at TV and eked out a final series episode of Frasier, before enjoying Match of the Day, and highlights of a lively weekend of football.

Below two of David Watkinson's beautiful kinetic sculptures, and a snap of the dragonfly pond.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wayne's birthday

Off to Hove with Lorraine this morning, getting parking permits from Hove Town Hall, and walked back into town. Past the protests outside Ecostream, who seem to have a factory in Israeli occupied territory, so the Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign stage a regular protest. Just as regular as the  counter demonstration of pro-Israeli supporters. This ensures that it is always shouty on Western Road on Saturdays with Palestinian and Israeli flags somewhat incongruous among the largely indifferent shoppers.

To Shana's, to see Betty for a few minutes during her lunch break, having taught a Shrek-based comedy session in the morning. She had worked into the small hours the night before in her pub job, and had a similar session to look forward to tonight.

L and I off into town and bumped into Wayne whose party we are going to later on in the evening. L and I then off to talk to the jewellers, who after some milling about having apparently lost the order, then produced the rings.

In the evening off to a pub called The Globe to celebrate Wayne's fortieth birthday. He had booked the bar downstairs. Wayne on great form, and looking tanned and rested after a couple of weeks in Spain. A cheery night chatting with members of his family, with John and Linda, and others. Wayne's colleague Emily was there, and she is a lively girl, introducing Lorraine and I to the joys of the Jägerbomb, which is a glass a third full of Red Bull into which you drop a shot glass of Jägermeister, and swill down its noxious mix of caffeine, sugar and boozes. One of these proved enough.

Home late, and firmly steered past Ace pizzas by Lorriane.

Below a snap of urinal ghosts, reflections in the marble. I blame the Jägerbomb.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday at last

Woke up feeling strangely despondent. Once I had moaned to the lucky Lorraine, I began to cheer up. I seem to need to voice negative feelings to get rid of them.  But if I can't talk about them they fester instead. Thus purged, at last a good day's writing. Getting to grips with the final section of the book. Looking forward to being able to edit and tie up the loose ends on the complete manuscript in a matter of weeks.

Later heard from Chiara in Guernsey, who says planning is underway for the piece setting my poem A Return.

Feeling a tad coldy or something but to the gym anyway, where one of the staff actually came over for a chat, much to my amazement.

Lorraine home early for once. Hurray for Friday. After a snooze we met Cath at the Shahi, and strapped on the nosebag with her. She had been to Ireland, and then walking in the north for many weeks over the school holiday, and looked fit and well.

Everyone a bit drained by the week, so Cath went home and L and I repaired to the gold sofa, to watch Frasier episodes. Almost at the end of series 10 now. One more series to go and then a howling Frasierless vacuum. Interesting how I don't seem to identify with Frasier so much as I did, the last time I went on a massive Frasier watching spree.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The curious difficulty of a bacon sandwich

Up to a glass of water and off for my yearly fasting bloods. Veins much easier to find than when I had my last blood test, which I put down to the gym.  Stopped at Soup-erb arrested by a sign for a breakfast bacon sandwich and cup of coffee for £3. A good deal, but the chef simply didn't turn up. So left paying £4 for the coffee I drank while waiting 40 minutes for a bacon sarnie. Reading Rhona's book about food security, however, which was enjoyable.

Off then to the Twitten where I let myself in to the house, and had a look at a mysteriously dampish bit by the window, yet another problem with the house sale. Then I went around to my old neighbours in the street behind and they let me peer from their garden at what turned out to have been excellent repair work on my roof and gutter. Charming couple. I told them L and I were getting married and fed them the line that it was the triumph of optimism over experience, and they said not to worry as they got married in their seventies.

From there to the Pen to Paper shop, buying some more ink for my cartridge pen which Lorraine got me. I love using it. Then, as Sonya was cleaning at home, I went to the Emporium a new cafe and theatre on London road, and had a table to myself to finally do some writing.  Had two pots of tea and asked for a bacon sandwich from their menu. An hour of bacon seeking followed, with them sending to the shops for some in the end. But as I worked, I couldn't help mulling over the curious difficulty of obtaining a bacon sandwich, which began to represent every petty  frustration in my life. The Emporium is a wonderful place to work, and well priced with good food and wifi, and friendly staff. I shall be going there a lot more.

Home again, and feeling tired and having to stave off feelings of despondency. Very pleased to see my Lorraine tonight.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Woke up early drenched in sweat. Up early and dealing with stressful house stuff. Nothing coming easily at the moment. To the gym where I managed to get find some equilibrium on the rowing machine and cross trainer.

Read the first chapter of Digging the City: An Urban Agriculture Manifesto, by my old friend Rhona McAdam in Canada. Really well written as you would imagine.

Home and another futile struggle to make progress for an hour or so before hoofing off to Klaudia and Oskar's school, where I chatted to Anna, my co-Godparent, before the bairns emerged from creative writing (Klaudia) and chess club (Oskar).

Cooked pasta then sat about watching DVDs of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as they syphoned it up. Klaudia writing a new story in her book and told me she has just started learning German, and guitar.

Lorraine arrived to see the nippers too.  I shepherded Oskar to bed, looking at his planes hanging from the ceiling, and reading a Cars story to him. A quick gobble down of the fish and chips Lorraine brought (I had to eat before 8) then a Horrid Henry story (about a terrible babysitter) with Klaudia. Sat about till Anton got home from London.

Dog tired tonight and early to bed.

Below some of the squadron above Oskar's head.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

White elephant

Getting stuck into the last section of the book. Making slow progress.

Distracted by new problems with the Twitten sale, leaving everything uncertain and doubtless me out of pocket to an even greater extent.

However went for a walk in the afternoon, once my eyes got tired, and it was an incredibly beautiful day. Wandered down to the pier and along the sea front to where The Labour Party is holding its annual conference. A few shifty looking political types slithering about.

Below the fountain in the Steine, Ivor's wagon, feeling like I rather needed a tarot consultant myself, and the HS2 white elephant outside the Labour conference. The HS2 for a high speed train link to the north from London seems to be under attack from all sides, Government and Opposition.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Back on the treadmill

Back to the routine today. Started on the last big chunk of the book, and an looking at ways people feel rewarded and justified by marketing having made a purchase. Spent much of the day having to mull over the subject matter, and programming my subconscious to produce some answers.

To the gym in the sunshine, especially keen to go as I have managed put on weight over the last couple of days of good food and lots of booze. Good to be back on the treadmill and rowing machine, while listening to a Mayo & Kermode podcast. Their own description of the show is right: wittertainment. They witter on, and the show is often repetitive and tiresome, but it is curiously entertaining and at least you come away with an overview of what's available in the cinemas. Feeling sorry for Naomi Watts, recently interviewed by Simon Mayo. She cut short the interview about the bowser of a biopic about Princess Diana she is in, and 'stormed' off. Watts was brilliant in the fabulous Mulholland Drive and it must be tiresome to be shackled to promoting something dire.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Soothed by organisation

Up and out of bed very late having slept long and deep. Feeling chipper though, despite yesterday's adventures in booze and culture with Anton. Lorraine and I had a cull of my clothes, which is always enjoyable. I always discover that I have loads of clothes, and only wear a small percentage of them. The bonus is that I can fit in them all having lost some weight - even ones that date back many years. Although, I do feel like I have put on weight in the last 48 hours.

Lorraine's OCD came out quite usefully and my wardrobe now has shirts all facing the same way, and iron discipline in my drawers, and about which clothes belong in which drawers. I quite like it. L's OCD tendencies make me feel curiously secure.

Up and an austere small bowl of muesli and an orange for lunch, and then Lorraine and I went for a walk in the park for an hour or so, before scooting off to the supermarket. Poor L had some work to do, so I cooked and pottered about quietly, till this was done. A relaxed evening topped off by the enjoyable sight of watching Manchester United getting slaughtered on Match of the Day. But having had such a good day with Anton yesterday could not bring myself to gloat too badly, beyond texting him a reminder of when MOTD started.

Below the wild flowers sown in Preston Park continue to show. L and I spent some time looking at this little patch of beauty. L has written to the council thanking them for this.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A day in London with Anton

Up several times in the night to drink water, felt rather sweaty,wan and hungover this morning. Had arranged to spend the day with Anton, as a pre-wedding treat. Got out of bed and made L and I Quorn sausage sandwiches, only to learn that Anton was waiting for me at the station. He had texted me the details a couple of days ago, but they simply had not shown up on my phone, and in replying to a later text he thought I had got the previous one. Up hastily then and rushed off to the station, where Anton and I caught a train to London Bridge.

Tubed up to Baker Street and walked to The Marylebone, where Anton ordered us two Bloody Marys - a famed hangover cure. It contained chilli flavoured vodka, tomato juice, drips of Tabasco, and a fair amount of horseradish, topped off with a dusting of black pepper and a cocktail stick with a cherry tomato on it, and a small ball of Mozzarella cheese. Absolutely delicious and made me feel somewhat Bertie Woosterish having this bracing pick me up.

At it was now lunchtime, to Meat and Liquor: an atmospheric burger place, which according to the Burger Me website Anton showed me was in London's golden burger triangle. It was mainly lit with red light, and mainly full of youngish people gorging on excellent burgers in the dark. I engorged an excellent chicken burger, and shared fries and battered pickles with Anton. Anton's fiery chilli beefburger caused him to gulp two cans of beer. This meal consumed off to Selfridges where Anton bought some highly expensive coffee and I looked at pieces of porcelain printed with meh designs costing upwards of £300 pounds a piece.

Then tubed off to Tate Britain to see the Lowry exhibition. This was surprisingly excellent, I'd always been rather lukewarm about Lowry, but found that this show changed my mind about him completely. One thing, and this is very basic, that once you grasp the idea that his people are not supposed to be representational, his work begins to fall into place. These little people creatures swarm around in their industrial landscape like the crowds in Dante. Taking a close look at the artist's brushwork too was amazing, intricate and considered. Nor was the colour palette at all naturalistic either.  Much discussion with Anton about this afterwards. Lots of favourites but liked this early one Coming out of School.

We'd also been into a room in the gallery which was hosting a music concert, and had people dancing, and a band getting ready to play. A real collision of energy in the room full of nineteenth century art.  Not sure how I felt about this. Not easy to look at the images with music thundering around, but suddenly it felt like the gallery was full of energy and it felt strangely reinvigorating.

Then we tubed back to London Bridge where we walked along by the river. This part of the river has been completely changed since the last time I spent much time there.

Then to the Design Museum. This was something of an eye opener for both of us in that it was strangely disappointing. Both of us felt it underwhelmed, finding it poorly organised and curated, and as for the design of the museum and its contents.... Pretty poor. Even the signage annoyed me. With its insistence on replacing the letter i with an exclamation mark. Wearying, like being shown the same joke twenty times.

Moved on from here walking along by the river, down cobbled backstreets, through all the new development there. Pausing every now and then for a glass of beer to refresh ourselves, and me to swear at a rude French waiter in an oyster bar. Then across the (non) wobbly bridge between Tate Modern and St Pauls. We walked past a little courtyard called Wardrobe Place, EC4 which seemed a curiously magical haven of peace.

Then to Ye Old Cheshire Cheese and managed to find seats in the old dark bar there where we had some more drinks. Then into Gerard Street Soho, to the bustling Four Seasons restaurant to eat lots of crispy duck.

The call of the seagull grew loud in us then, so we made our way back to Victoria. Missing the train by seconds. An absolutely boody final half a beer in Weatherspoons.

Boarded a train to get the journey started, and things dipped into David Lynch territory for a while. A skinny beggar came aboard with a story of needing cash for a room for the night, because he'd recently lost an arm. He was wearing a long sleeved top, with an empty sleeve dangling beside him. I could see that the way his shoulderblade was sitting meant that he was probably hiding his arm somehow. When Anton and I got off at East Croydon Anton spotted his other hand wedged in the opposite pocket. A few minutes later as we stood on the platform a young man with a terribly disfigured face, making me think of the elephant man I'm afraid, walked past with a quiet dignity. Forcibly struck by the contrast between these two people.

Some time after midnight when Anton and I made it back to Brighton Station. We'd had quite a day of culture, food, drink and walked many miles and seen many sights. A walk home, slightly footsore, before slipped gratefully into bed beside my Lorraine at about half past twelve.

Below: bloody marys like no other I'd tasted; inside Meat & Liquor, Grooving in Tate Britain, Changing face of the City complete with Lowryesque people, views from the bridge, and a glimpse into Wardrobe Place.

Friday, September 20, 2013

At the interface of filing and self-flagellation

Woke up deciding on a Face-out Friday, having lately berated myself on not sending enough work out into the world. I spent a couple of hours getting a submission ready for a magazine only to discover it is no longer accepting submissions. Bah. But managed a competition entry at least, and wrote back to the nice Jeremy Page at The Frogmore Press.

I realised the essential stumbling block to sending poems out for publication is disorganisation: some duplicate files spread across two computers and a hard drive, plus different versions of the poems in different files. Spent hours rationalising all my poetry, refiling, categorising it. At least I have a much better idea of what I have now: a surprising amount of bilge, laughable tripe etc. of course, but some decent stuff too, most of which needs a cold eye cast over it.

Respite from this interface of filing and self-flagellation came in the shape of Dr Matthew Pollard with whom I drank a couple of late afternoon pints of Harvey's bitter in the garden of the Batty (Battle of Trafalgar) while shooting a good deal of breeze. Thence we went to the Basketmakers to meet up with Irish Tom, who was drinking with John O'Shea and Bryn. Also bumped into Simon, who I'd worked with when I was working with the Cat with the Hat.

 A really nice couple of hours there, melting the peeves of the week away. Lorraine arrived later and eventually L and I broke away for a late curry in the Shahi. A cheery end to the week.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A voice from the past

Another two hermetically sealed days, spent working on the book. I opened the air lock only to slide off to the gym for an extensive work out yesterday, and to sit in the Starbucks and work for a few hours for a change of scene today.

Paid the registrar people for the wedding, and Lorraine and I spent a bit of time discussing vows. We are going for traditional ones as I have a strong aversion to the idea of writing them myself due to the busman's holiday aspect of it all. I don't want to be hearing a word and wishing I'd used another one while I'm getting married. I simply want us to get married.

Turning on the radio when I got home, I heard the unmistakable voice of my personal tutor when I was at Warwick, Martin Warner. He was talking on the Radio 4 about agony, employing Nelson Mandela as an example. He sounded no different to when he used to teach me and Sophie years ago.

Stood there beaming as he spoke, and then wishing I had been a more worthy student of such a fine teacher. Here's a photo of me, Sophie and Martin at his retirement do in 2005. Such a nice man, who clearly has a Dorian Gray portrait somewhere in his attic.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sealed in

Hermetically sealed in the house. Wrote a lot, as the rain tumbled down on the velux windows and the roof. I love that sound.  Cats moping about, shy of getting wet, and taking it in turns to plague me at my desk. Calliope following me about the house like a Philip Pullman dæmon, barging into the toilet after me, huffily following me down two flights of stairs when I go to make a cup of tea, resting her head on my hand as I typed and so on. When she finally went to sleep, Brian materialised and stared at me fiercely trying to seed the idea of feeding him chicken scraps in my head. I declined.

Worked steadily on the book with a growing sense of optimism about finishing it.  The dispiritingly long stretch where you are definitely well under way, but there is no end in sight is over.  Cooked a large vat of chicken, leek and butternut squash soup, transferred essential files to my laptop to ensure a triple backup due to the dubious unreliability of my desktop. Wrote to the Romster about Japan, and generally kept a low profile. And in my spare time reading some poems by Jorie Graham, who I suspect is one of those poets who starts by infuriating you, and you end up liking.

Heard from my amigos in Tavistock Square offering a bit more work, but then deciding they were okay. The bit of stuff I did for them last week won their pitch so my stock remains good for the time being. Rather pleased however because I am on a roll with the book, and I did not have to forge out into the rain to buy a ticket.

When Lorraine came home I fed her soup, as we watched the Great British Bakeoff. I was writing today about nostalgia, and this is a programme full of a kind of nostalgic safeness, where the worst thing that can happen is an underbake, or a soggy bottom on a pie. Later L and I had a small glass of retsina, which sparked a vivid sense memory of sitting on a balcony in Greece.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hippy in a bottle

Back to the book. It always seems to take a day to pick up the threads, but feeling good about it. Writing about technology, and reading about stalled product launches, such as the HP Touchpad, launched to rival the iPad, which in 2011 lasted a mere 49 days on the shelves.

Spoke to Mum and broke off in the afternoon to go to the gym, more on the rowing machine this session.

My desktop computer acting erratically, and may be getting ready to self-destruct. I have a complete backup, as well as all the important stuff also on my laptop just in case. Lorraine out in this evening singing with her choir learning some rock songs like Message in a Bottle and Running up the Hill, I watched some Frasiers and watched an interactive video Toby told me about.

I also seem to have a new craze which is piecing together using Google bits of personal history. I found a photo of an art teacher of mine in 1973. His name was Dave Housden who was at the time a friendly, gentle hippy. I was even invited to his house near the school to listen to a new Yes album Relayer I had bought. We talked about music a good deal together and I seem to remember he was a big Pink Floyd fan.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Another poor night's sleep but caught up in the morning. An untroubled start to an untroubled day. The worst thing was when Lorraine, after eyeing my eyebrows unfavourably, wedged my head into a pillow and yanked several out. Worse, she called me a weed when I yelped in pain.

Good news in that one of the neighbours has sold their house, which means when we put the old church hall on the market again, it will be much more favourable.

A companionable day at home. Lorraine decorating some glass vases with beads, while I worked on a slight poem about blackberries, and we tidied up, shopped and cooked. Toby called this evening to discuss our Japanese trip.

This evening idly googling. Used google maps to find out what the place in Neasden that I lived in as a nipper looked like these days. We lived upstairs and entered through the side door.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

That strange little surge

So nice not to have to get up. Had a poor night's sleep though, but was able to sleep in to compensate. Off to Arkwright's to buy some bread for breakfast. A cool morning, and got that strange little surge of happiness and excitement. Made us Quorn sausage sandwiches for breakfast with mustard. All very good.

I'm still feeling a bit lethargic from a slight cold, but I went to the gym today and absolutely loved it. Getting to the point where my body seems to demand this activity, and after a week of cramping into trains I felt very happy to be exercising again.

Home and changing then off to meet Lorraine and Betty in Bella Italia. Had a cheeky coffee with them. Betty doing her teaching in the drama school on Saturday mornings, which then gives her a chance to catch up before going back up to London. Betty and her pal Emily are doing their dissertation piece together and have talked to their tutor about involving me to help out. This has been approved and will be fun. They already have the concept and will be devising the dialogue, but I will be there as a resource to bounce the script off and perhaps help with the structure. Looking forward to it.

Off then to buy some pointy and pricey new black shoes for the wedding, with Betty as a second opinion. They are Ted Baker which seems to be a good thing. They have nice patterned insides and are surprisingly comfortable too. Then to a hotel to book rooms for Pat and Maureen, and Mum and Mas.

Home via Sainsbury's for a few fixings for Lorraine to cook a delicious chicken stew.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Post-modern chips

No Friday 13th issues for me. Awake early this morning, so an unhurried schelp off to Tavistock Square this morning. Felling less coldly than I had done all week. A fairly quiet day at work, doing an old-skool DM style job with Slug, who I like more and more each time I work with him.

Off for some fairly old-skool pub grub too at lunch with First Matie and Slug, they had gammon egg and chips, I had fish, chips and salad. We had moved on from the Lord John because it was crammed with people in incredibly smart business suits eating egg and chips with a sort of post-modern irony. And instead we went to The Skinner's Arms instead, where Katie, L and I had had a drink last year.

Felt happy to be released back into the wild this evening, and pleased to have had a week's work. Willing the train journey to be over, arriving in Brighton which was enjoying stair rod rain. Lovely Lorraine came to the station to collect me as I was only wearing my hoodie. Things like this make me really happy; that someone would get off the sofa, plunge into the rain and drive to the station just to save me getting wet.

Shortly after, L and I crept off under a big umbrella to The Shahi where our two favourite waiters were having lives full of incident. Dr Raman had just had a daughter, while Mr Ali's sister in law was seriously ill in hospital. Feel that we are treated really nicely there, much of which is to do with Lorraine's warmth and chattiness.

Home to the gold sofa. It had seemed like a long week.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Easing off

Fiddling with scraps of poems this morning on the train. And walking through London now there is the first touch of autumn weather quite nice. I always feel as if this is the beginning of the year for me, and I feel a curious excitement looking at the still green trees in Tavistock Square and knowing they will all be golden sometime soon.

The pitch based slogging of the last few days now over, and Kate and I had time to meander to a pub called The Lord John Russell at lunchtime for a slow pint of beer and a wide ranging chat.

A moderate afternoon and after work, it was the agency's free booze and mingling night and I availed myself of this opportunity with my normal alacrity. Nice chats with Pat and the soon to be a father Matty-boy as well as First Matie and others.

Listening to Queen Lucia by E.F. Benson as an audiobook. Googled a list of top English comedic novels and this appeared. Not particularly convinced so far, but perhaps it will grown on me.

Getting home seemed to take ages, and I fell into bad ways buying a regrettable but tasty Ace Pizza and had some time with Lorraine on the gold sofa before it was time for bed.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bearing up

Bad night's sleep, triggered by cat fighting. Found myself wandering outside at 2:30 half asleep in a dressing gown shooing fighting cats from the door. Could not sleep for some time afterwards. Felt a bit coldy and tired all day, while my Lorraine has a really bad back.

Sleepy on the train this morning, listening to Ravi Shankar. Karam springing on the train and sat next to me in London.

Out with Kate at lunchtime,  to pick up a wrap from The King of Falafels, chatting a little about the ways of the Forest of Dean and the vexed question of who killed the bears in the late 19th century.

Any afternoon achievements due to the benefit of coffee.

Pleased to see that Marilyn aka Guernsey Girl has a book coming out.

Home gone eight, and a really nice letter from Jeremy Page the editor of the Frogmore Papers saying a poem going awol, like mine had, 'had never happened in 30 years of publishing' and said he would publish it in the next issue. Things like that happen to me with monotonous regularity, but I really appreciated Jeremy's letter.

L and I both tired and needing an early night.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Rainy Monday

Up early and off in the rain to the smoke.When I arrived at the station L called to say the radio had said the trains were doomed. There only one train, mine, luckily enough as there had been a fatality at East Croydon.  Only ten minutes late for work, which was fine, and nice to be up in Tavistock Square again. Brain a little slow.

Out at lunchtime in hard rain to post stuff off to the solicitors. Home in the rain from the office, and missed my train by about two seconds at St Pancras. Slow journey home.

Lorraine out at her choir, and so I bought some fish and chips from the smiling man at Sing Li and took them home to eat in the company of Frasier. An early night once my lovely had returned and foraged food from the larder.

Read poems (not mine) to Lorraine till she fell asleep.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Blackberries in the rain

Sunday and a lots of things to be done. Lorraine and I off to buy sugar for making jam, some jars and then off into the countryside the other side of the downs. Lorraine wanted to experiment with jam making.

Stormy sky and some rain as we stuck our arms into the scratchy world of thorns. This all great fun however, found that you get your eye in and see them. They looked like they had been expertly picked today, but still found enough for a bit of jam. Found myself loving the colour of blackberries just before they were ripe, that dark soulful red. Rather like my thorn slashed wrists.

Home and filled in the idiotic forms, having to formally assert that nobody fished or hunted on my land. Then an amazing Biblical style hailstorm with thunder.

Had some really nice roast pork, then Lorraine did some jam-making. Then in the evening, we booked our tickets to Japan. My wallet had to find somewhere quiet to sob, but it is going to be brilliant.

Below Lorraine in the damp fields before we went a berrying, and hailstones on the Velux window.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Anton's birthday booze

Up at seven and working on a poem for an hour and a half before taking up some tea for Lorraine and going back to bed. Then up and wandered around to Arkwrights to buy some reassuringly middle class fare. Paused then to rage at the solicitors who I discovered had sent all the papers to the Twitten instead of my actual address, delaying the process for two weeks. Not only had they send the papers to the wrong place, but nobody had followed up to find out why I'd not responded.

Then L and I went off to town to order our wedding rings and buy Anton his birthday present (a blue ray set of Lord of the Rings to watch on his enormous television). I am particularly pleased with the one L will have. Then off to meet up with Beth and Dawn and they viewed Lorraine's dress again. I repaired to the gym and sweated some of my solicitor inspired growls away.  Later to meet Anton and Brian in the coach house to go for some food and drink to celebrate Anton's Birthday month. Anton looking chilled after his holiday with the nippers in Spain, and great to see Brian too.

Soon joined by Lorraine and Dawn, and briefly by Betty. A few drinks, then off to have some pizza at a rather good new pizza place, which is in the same place as the curry restaurant Lorraine and I used to go to when we were first going out. A good pizza made from quality local produce.

Eventually the evening ended at The Basketmakers, which was busy and cheerful, where Matt had joined us. Home and I fell asleep on the sofa.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The last of the summer wine

Meteorologists predict that today will be the last day of the summer weather. And for me the day fell into the nice pattern of the last week. Up and working fairly quickly and fluently on the book.  Then a trip to the gym for an hour or so. Forgot a teeshirt to change into after showering so had to buy one, shopping aromatically in my sweaty one. Then to Starbucks in a new teeshirt for a large cup of tea and  that all-important change of scene as I worked. Sat next to a young European-looking couple who were chatting in a strange language. Invariably I have a rough idea, but this was like nothing I'd heard. Perhaps they were time travellers from the future.

More email with my new and interesting friend Chiara, who is a Guernsey born cellist, singer and composer. I am sending her a copy of Clameur and A Guernsey Double. From what she tells me about her musical tastes it will be fascinating to hear how she sets A Return.

In the evening, after I cooked a rather tasty chickpea curry, L and I went for a walk around the park in the fading light for the second night this week. Lots of people still there late. Something magical about the park in the evening, with the lights of the houses on the hills above the line of the trees. It's good for Lorraine and I as we talk more when we are walking than we might slumped on the sofa. It's what Toby and Romy do, and is therefore a good thing.

Today was my perfect 'standard' workday. Lots of focused quiet work plus exercise, vegetarian food, and good chats with my Lorraine. Some days feeling happy is simple.

Reading a couple of Seamus Heaney poems before bed tonight. He died a few days ago and at his best he was a gorgeous poet. Look at this imagery from one of his better-known poems The Railway Children.

When we climbed the slopes of the cutting
We were eye-level with the white cups
Of the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires. 
Like lovely freehand they curved for miles
East and miles west beyond us, sagging
Under their burden of swallows.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

An industrious Tuesday

Lorraine back into her usual routine of getting up at 6:30. My betrothed brings me a cup of tea, though, which makes it marvellous. A good day's writing, a quick go at reworking the lost poem that I deleted on the train at St Pancras last month, then writing about the notion of Adland, and on marketing charities. Feeling that progress is being made and that left to my own devices I might actually finish this thing.

Broke off to go to LA Fitness, my gym for an hour or so, chatting to Mum and Mas as I walked there. At the gym, they have unbelievably still not fixed the air conditioning problem. I am having a problem too. I am losing weight everywhere, but my stomach is lagging behind or should that be lagging in front, of the rest. I have to be more fanatical, and shun beers and smiling and do more sit-ups.

A spot of shopping noticing the sea mist thick down by the sea, before returning home to sunlight and to reapply the desk manacles. Lorraine came home this afternoon and we went shopping together and bumped into Anton's pal Rick. We later tormented ourselves with watching the Great British Bake Off with its delicious cakes and trifles and so on, as we ate our steamed vegetables, fish and rice.

Really nice surprise this evening when I was emailed by a young composer called Chiara who was born on Guernsey who wants to set my poem A Return to music. All rather cheering.

And so to bed.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Pat's 80th party

Up with a certain degree of hungover gingerness having gone very late to bed. All into the car by 11:30 however and Lorraine drove us off to Ashford to a pub restaurant called The Duke's Head, where we had a meal to celebrate Pat's 80th birthday. About two dozen friends, relatives and neighbours were there to strap on the nosebags, and it was a very happy occasion and I met a few new people, and got to know others a bit better such as Rhona and Steve, who is Pat's brother, Pete and Charlene, met cousin Tom from Ireland.

A really good Sunday roast lunch for everyone followed, for me, by lemon meringue. Sam returned to London via Ashford. The the rest of us back to Pat and Maureen's place, where Maureen made even more food of sandwiches and cake. Several funny conversations including with Rita who lives across the road being inflammatory about Beth's dad which would have been rather toe-curling if it hadn't been so funny. And Pat's brother Steve who was making everyone laugh. As we left, Steve was zooming around the house with Rita's wheeled walking frame like some kind of racing car.

Pat fondly kissing Beth and Lorraine, and shaking hands with me. Drove off and he was still waving at us, looking very chipper. Tried to picture my own 80th birthday if I am lucky enough to reach it. I am very fond of Pat and Maureen, which is an unexpected bonus. Pat is a gentle and kind man.

Betty sleeping in the back seats as Lorraine drove us towards an absolutely glorious sunset.

Home and quietly sitting about before bedtime, and Brian arrived in the room with a large freshly killed rat. A good deal of shrieking from Lorraine and Beth meant I had to wrest it from Brian, much to his disgust and mine.

Below Pat and Sam, who was bending his knees so not to tower over his grandfather. Pat and Sam have the same birthday. Pat and Maureen, with Lorraine on the left and Sam and Beth's cousin Tom on the right. We drove towards a beautiful sunset for much of the journey home.