Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday, nothing we did

Apart from dropping Betty off to teach at the drama school, zooming off to buy new tyres filled with nitrogen, and looking around a few shops Lorraine and I simply lazed about today. Lorraine not a natural at this sort of thing,  but I am selflessly trying, Yoda like, to help her feel the force of inactivity.

Below: myself pictured earlier.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Making it to the Batty

Up early and working on the book for some time, before shooting off to the gym for a workout to stave off festive plumpness. Also contacted by a former colleague, and it seems I have some work up in the smoke at a new agency next week. Nice to have Lorraine back from driving around the county when I got home from the gym.  We did some work side by side on the desks together this afternoon, until Dawn dropped by after school for a chat a gossip. We may do some more of the sessions for gifted and talented children next year.

I left the ladies chatting and walked up to meet Anton in the Battle of Trafalgar putting the world to rights for a bit over a couple of beers, and hearing about his opinions on Greek Mythology among other things. Anton's pal Martin turned up too, and I enjoyed talking to him about classic Science Fiction. Matt and Lorraine joined us too for more beer and some food. I had a bean burger, mainly of the broad variety.

I was enthusiastic for beer tonight. Once Anton and Martin left, L and I pushed off to Matt's house for a cup of coffee, and for Lorraine to tape two of Matt's fingers together in a buddy strap as one of them looked a bit wonky and may have been fractured. He also played some choral music by Frank Martin which was rather lovely.

Then home, where Betty arrived tired after a party. And so to bed, with my top hat slightly askew.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Slow progress

Lorraine up hideously early and away. Sonia arrived at 8 before going to the hospital to have her knee looked at. I made slow progress on the book, running into a slightly disheartening back-to-the-drawing-board moment for a particular section. At least I know what the book should be like now. But God, I just want it done with.

Otherwise I arranged a meeting with one of the people I met who needs a writer. Also received a book called The Imaginary by J-P Sartre which I am going to read as part of my general research. On a more practical note, I also had a spanking new electric toothbrush delivered. The cheap agricultural one I've been using vibrated my head so much that it messed with my inner ear and therefore my balance. While I was brushing my teeth I had to hang onto the sink. This one purrs in your mouth.

Watched a documentary about C.S. Lewis by A.N. Wilson, which wasn't bad but left you feeling rather short changed. To be a fly on the wall at the Eagle and Child in Oxford (known as the Bird and Baby) where Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and the others in the 'Inkling' group drank beer and talked literature. Nice boozer, which I visited once.

Lorraine home eventually, and I cooked some bits using our new griddle pan. Lorraine gulped down some wine and food, then was shepherded to bed for an early night.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Off stage

A good day, up early and working on the book. Broke off to go to the gym, and while still feeling a bit leaden, it was good to go. Listening to Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood as an audiobook as I trundled and rowed. An interesting diversion into speculative fiction, but perhaps not quite as well realised as I found The Handmaid's Tale.

Received a package from Richard, with two parish magazines from Guernsey, Les Tortévalais, and The Townie. Plus a stamp with La Gran'mère du Chimquière.

In the evening off to the Grand Central pub where the Nightingale social group had another evening for dramatic types. I felt uncharacteristically shy, faced with lots of theatrical types. Luckily the man called Kick who ran the event introduced me to a few people, including the man who ran the Nightingale, a woman trying to put on a show about Edith Sitwell and running into problems with the Sitwell estate, two recent graduates who were passionate about theatre and others. So I had an enjoyable evening meeting some intelligent and committed folks, good fun if nothing else.

Below good to see La Gran'mère on a stamp. She looks like she's had some work done.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A touch of clarity

Lorraine working from home today, so a comparative lie in… Getting up at 8 o'clock. Lorraine working on the next desk while I had an excellent day's work on the book, clarifying the introduction and making its argument more rigorous. Quite satisfying and I am beginning to believe that I can actually get the thing finished.

L and I received another wedding present from John and Sue, a beautiful hardback copy of The Tower by W.B.Yeats. Not only is Yeats my favourite poet, but the tower in question where Yeats lived, Thoor Ballylee, is close to their property in Ireland where we have been invited to stay. I would love to visit it.

Nice to have Lorraine at home, and eat soup with her at lunch and cook in the evening before she went off to the school she is a governor at. I also slipped off this afternoon to visit Janet and Ken. Janet is having a heart check up on Monday, and Ken and I are going to collect her or visit her depending on what action is needed, after she had a bit of a funny turn requiring an ambulance the other day -- although this wasn't a heart attack they want to check her out. They both have had flu in the last few weeks. Otherwise a very nice chat with them over cups of Lady Grey tea and some delicious fancies I bought from the Real Patisserie. Janet has some work at a craft fair in a few weeks, and has been hard at work.

Ever the student of my own moods, I seem to be in a curiously sensitive state, craving beauty and able to be pierced by images and words, poetry especially, in a way that I've not done this year. Even an episode of Star Trek forcibly struck me with the weirdness of the idea of having an alien in command of you, which despite having lapped up such fare for decades has never really occurred to me.  I am enjoying being able to consider my next steps from a position of unaccustomed tranquility. Also greatly enjoying a recording of Rothko Chapel by Morton Feldman, a new craze for me.

Lorraine home and we watched another episode of the BBC comedy drama Last Tango in Halifax. Great script and some wonderful acting.

Below the excellent Nicola Walker in Last Tango in Halifax.

Monday, November 25, 2013

An oaf and a clown

Woke up after highly detailed dream about a colony on Mars, and how its occupants felt when the annual connecting space ship flight left for Earth. It seemed on waking that I had the plot for an entire Space Trilogy in my head, but this soon got replaced by the simple pleasures of lapping up a cup of tea.

Not long up before a random northern oaf arrived from BT arrived to install our new wifi with a free upgrade. Naturally he couldn't find the place. Phone rings: Where are you? Also he unplugged my external hard drive when it was still running and asked me where the main terminal was and repeated my answer that I didn't know in a frankly insulting manner. Pleased to see the back of the lummox.

A decent spate of writing, then off into town to pick up some printer paper and gulp down some fresh air, and buy some chilies. A man on stilts with a clown face walking down Sydney Street, but this being Brighton nobody batted an eyelid, even when he attempted to coax people between his legs.

Home again, and working quite well on the book. Lorraine in and out again to a meeting. I cooked a large chicken soup with leeks, butternut squash, and other veggies including chilli and ginger and it was tasty winter warmer. Went for a walk around the park and beyond in the dark to ensure that I had done my 10k steps for the day. Listening as I did so to Watcher of the Skies by Genesis, which I have only just rediscovered after decades. The seventies were interesting.

Lorraine home late and shattered.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Feeling a little healthier. Lorraine and I spent the day happily opening boxes and making decisions about what to throw away, what give to charity and what to keep. Pulling things from cupboards and interrogating them. All curiously therapeutic and fun: a tidy mind. Cath called around for a cup of tea, and later Lorraine made a large apple pie, which is always to be commended. Otherwise a tidy and virtuous day, apart from an outbreak of sherry tasting.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Up early and feeling quite a bit better than yesterday. Lorraine and I walked around the corner and came back with a ladder and I spent some time up it, scooping out handfuls of mud and clumps of grass and other plants. There was one particular clump that had formed in the gutter above the door, the source of an aspiring Niagara which falls on your head when entering or leaving the house in the rain. I spattered all the gutter gunk down onto the floor, which went everywhere and took a long time to clear up afterwards. Thinking, as I did, of the Yeats poem The Circus Animal's Desertion: "Now that my ladder's gone,/I must lie down where all the ladders start/ In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.'

Into town after showering and Lorraine and I met Beth for Lunch. Beth looking tired after working really hard. We all had one of their excellent hamburgers before Beth returned to London.

Lorraine and I then went shopping in Churchill Square. All the Christmas decorations in place. Afterwards we caught a bus home, Lorraine phoning a cab for a woman of ninety waiting for a taxi, but deaf as a post.

Home and we had a quiet night in, instead of going to the party we'd been invited to, as both of us feeling a little under the weather.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A quiet act of freedom

A slow start, feeling coldy and unwilling to spring about with customary sand flea vigour. Instead remained in bed till ten before getting up and going straight out to the bank. Here I paid off Lorraine's mortgage, having paid mine off last week. An amazing feeling to go into a bank sit at a desk, do some simple stuff on a screen and reemerge into the freedom of London Road having purged another tapeworm.  Lorraine and I completely own the Old Church Hall house now, and still have money in the bank for when we choose a new house in the next year or so. Amazingly fortunate. Like Borgs, Lorraine and I are stronger together.

Celebrated this transaction with a Danish pastry and a cup of coffee at the Emporium.  Otherwise a restrained and quiet day, with only a limited amount of productivity, plus an afternoon snooze. Listening to Morton Feldman's sublime Music for piano and string quartet, which Lorraine described as an annoying itch that you can't scratch when I played her some later.

Spoke to Mum and Mas who both had colds too.

After a happy glass of celebratory bubbly, Lorraine and I sloped happily off to the Shahi at around 6:30. I felt curiously ravenous, and we chatted with our friends Sabir and Dr Rahman there, before a returning for a night of recuperation on the gold sofa.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A day return

Woke up with an achey kind of cold, but took Lorraine's Cure All of  cup of tea and two paracetamol and felt better, if slugs feel at all.  Sonia was coming to clear up so I made myself scarce and worked instead in Starbucks on my book for several hours. The best session I have had this week, not that this is saying much. For the last half an hour a tiresome gym instructor on the next table was blaring onto a family, as the mother who had gone to his gym. This gave him permission to give them the benefit of his vacuous opinions in a way that penetrated my Brian Eno filled earphones, and eventually drove me away from the cafe into the gym.

Bumped into Ash, who once owned a restaurant Lorraine and I frequented, and did a mild mannered 30 minutes in the gym. Home again feeling shattered, then up to London to meet colleagues Pat, Barney, Mark and Clare up in the smoke for a bit of fun and networking. Just made it onto the train. At Victoria got out of the train and felt dizzy and weird. Bought some extortionate water in a bottle and drank it. Then decided I was just being a wuss, before pressing on and catching a bus to Oxford Street. However after a few stops of feeling shaky and weird, I decided I really did need to go home.

Walked back to Victoria and came straight home sleeping on the train. Home in the cold to the gold sofa and from the safely of a blanket, requested beans on toast from my lovely Lorraine before watching a decent drama about the making of the first Dr Who episodes, and shuffling off to bed.

Read again a poem Richard sent me in the last few days, written he said thinking of me returning to Guernsey, and his own returns to Northern Ireland.  Perhaps all journeys are returns.


A taxi hurries through lanes
of green-banked-granite stillness,
its hunched driver taciturn, sullen,
solidly steering a wheel that turns
right then left in a vibrancy of air.
Suitcase on knees cradled,
his exile eyes see-saw
from London-grimed leather
to primrose banks at every turn.
Falling in love again, he marvels,
at salt in the wind, small cottages,
a tortoiseshell cat by a blue post-box,
at the lost Lilliputian scale of things
that once appeared

Richard Fleming

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Nightmares again. Then up for two hours of drains based fun and two men running in and out of the house in the pouring rain with high pressure water cables, TV scanners  and so on. A very thorough job was done, and the drain working again finally.  All this, while essential, I'm finding mopping floors, and handing cups of tea to drain specialists is beginning to do my head in as I'd set aside this time to do some work. The afternoon better, and apart from a trip to the bank, I managed to do a small amount at last.

Betty's birthday today, and her pals took her to tour the Harry Potter Studios at Warner Brothers.

Lorraine home on time for once, and we zoomed off to the cinema in the Komedia to watch the three D movie Gravity with Rosie and Dawn. A fabulous visual feast, and a bit of a triumph. A stripped down, though dramatic, narrative that lets the visuals do the talking. Sandra Bullock who carries the film and George Clooney do fine, and The best use of 3D I've ever seen. As many have said, I've never seen being in space done better. A bite to eat in the Dorset across the road afterwards (we went to an early screening and the film runs at 90 mins) and a gossip with the girls -- and Rosie's latest romantic update -- before going home.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Anxious dreams, and a bad night's sleep. I failed to press on with the book, as I find sitting among clutter not conducive to concentration. Unpacked some boxes and in one I found a small collection of old magazines I had been published in, plus a couple of pamphlets purchased by post from the devastating Richard Fleming before I'd even met him.

Otherwise a day short on glamour, and a certain degree of resentful cringing under The Cloud of Things That Must Be Done. For example there was the hour or so taken up with a nice man from DynoRod who deployed a variety of drain unblocking techniques, including a long electrically powered cable which he sent snaking down into the drain. But he went away foxed, and promising a two man team tomorrow.

More successfully, another man came to fix my tumble dryer which tripped all the switches when you turned it on, and so has not been used in the last two years. The man had the back off and found a wire from a bra had worked its way into the thing's innards and was shorting it. This removed, in about thirty seconds, and then my old trusty drier worked a treat. Bargain, and a sadly inevitable consequence of associating with ladies, although Lorraine claims it wasn't hers. Had ladies broken in to my old house and washed their bras there? The mind boggles.

Other than a chat with Mum I lazed pleasantly in the evening, while Lorraine taught school governors, and then arrived home very tired and requiring a gin and tonic.

Below the DynoRod man poking a drain. Sigmund Freud where are you now?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stuff and Stanzas

In practical mode organising a drains person to do some drain work, admin, returned spare keys to the Twitten, and dragged things around the house in a futile attempt to sort through the detritus from my loft, and the entire van load of stuff that we brought back from Kent.

To the gym at lunchtime. The psychological and health bonus from being released from the stress of selling my house is vast. I felt springy and unburdened. A fast shop in Sainsbury's after work, home to eat fish and veggies, before Lorraine went off to sing, and I went to The Lord Nelson where the Brighton Stanza Poets Anthology 2013 was launched. Packed room, and ten readers. Chatted briefly with Antony and Robin Houghton, and Andie Davidson who had produced the book. Plus two pleasant women I think were called Angie and Gay who were fans of a performance poet called Sue, with a man who had just got married to a Cuban. I lost no time in telling them I had just got married too.

I made off as the evening was over quickly, and I felt cramped in the crowded room. To a half empty Basketmakers where I had a slow pint and read the Stanza Anthology, finding a surprisingly high standard of work. It also has three of my poems in it -- and this little gem:


Take this glass.   Place it between
your words and mine, and those you hear me say.
See how reflection and refraction change
their meaning.
                                       I did not begin the day
with the intention it should end this way.

Robin Renwick

Lorraine came in after her choir practice and after she quaffed a pint of stout to soothe the singing throat, we walked home along London Road, in its subdued Monday night mode.

And so to bed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

To Kent and more boxes

Up early and off to Kent in the large white van. The drive takes us through major roadworks at Handcross Hill. This morning the motorway there narrowed still further to one lane due to an earlier accident. It was on this single lane the van decided to not be able to drive faster than ten miles an hour, and changing gear meant the van moved at 13 miles an hour. A jam of vehicles behind us. As soon as we were able Lorraine pulled into the side. As it was a free help zone a highway support vehicle drew up and the man was very helpful, saying he called it clutch hill as it killed so many clutches. (Naturally as a non-driver I nodded sagaciously at this point, but he might as well have been talking Egyptian).  Lorraine asked him to escort us to Pease Pottage Services with his flashing lights. Turning the engine on again, however, whatever had ailed the engine had just as mysteriously righted itself and we zoomed off at 70mph. We stopped at Pease Pottage for a cup of tea and to gather ourselves anyway, before an uneventful journey to Lorraine's mum and dad.

A power cut in Ashford however, so Maureen had been struggling with the roast she was cooking. Lorraine, Pete, Pat and I loaded up the van really quickly and soon we back indoors. When we were trying to sell the Old Church Hall in the Summer we took lots of extra stuff we had in the house and stored it in Pat and Maureen's garage. Now we are taking it back, so Pat can park his car inside in the winter.

I seem to be officially one of the family now, judging by the combination of affection and tellings off I got from Maureen. Had an enormous and delicious Sunday roast, my pate piled high with food. And after a glass of wine, Pat poured me an enormous brandy which lasted me three hours. An enjoyable afternoon, showing them some wedding photos and chatting.  Maureen showing us the needle and sewing work she has been up to, making two washable blankety things for babies to play on. Enjoyed looking out at the garden, and had one of those fleeting timeless moments looking at some yellow pansies in a hanging basket, with beads of rain on them.

Home without incident, then the gruelling business of unpacking a vans worth of stuff back into the house, adding to the stuff I brought back from the loft. There needs to be kind of a cull. All rather tiring, and it was a couple of hours before we'd stopped carrying boxes about and shifting things.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Finding the time machine, and The Devastating Man

Surging about busily. Lorraine up and at em this morning buying ingredients for Betty's birthday breakfast which I cooked as Lorraine went out to collect the van we'd hired for the weekend. Then drove into town to drop Betty at work, and Lorraine and I sauntered into Churchill Square where I bought a pair of greatly longed for Van casual shoes, as my existing ones are all on the critical list, as well as a new pair for Betty and then we bought a boxed set of The Big Bang Theory for Beth too as it is her birthday this coming week.

Managed to subdue the Anton homunculus sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear to spend the money in my bank account from having sold my house.

Then home, but there in the no rest for the wicked department. Lorraine and off in the van to the Twitten where I clambered up into the loft and removed, with Lorraine and the new owner's help, its contents. There were old photos, old diaries and magazines I'd been published in and so on, as well as an IT graveyard, including old defunct computer made by the Time company, which was somewhat  allegorical. New owners helped us walk the bits along the Twitten, as did Betty who turned up prior to going to London.

Feeling heartily relieved to have done this last thing. Although I loved that little house and living there, I am pleased to say I felt no regretful pangs leaving for the last time. Home, and unloaded, before having a quiet night in. carrying these bits through into the house. Rather worn out by this, and the lively time we'd had the night before, so laid low in the evening.

Meanwhile in Guernsey there has been an unusual turn of events. L and I sent Richard a birthday card entitled The Devastating Man. As soon as Lorraine spotted it, we knew it could only apply to Richard, who is apparently much taken with the idea, and has been walking about the island in a devastating way over the last week or so. The notion has even moved the great man to poetry.

Meanwhile Jane sent us an insightful story she'd written for Richard's grand children called Grampa Pampa's new hat, complete with photos which entirely supported the devastating proposition:  a tale of Richard's Borsalino hat purchased in Italy.


He is a devastating man.
He wears a hat with tilted brim.
The poorest clothes look rich on him
with chiseled looks and healthy tan:
a truly devastating man.

He is a devastating man:
onlookers gasp as he strolls by,
the men with awe; while women sigh
with passion. There’s no better than
this frankly devastating man.

He is a devastating man:
he tells me so morning and night.
He loves a mirror: his great delight
is posing, why, so that he can
admire this devastating man.

He is a devastating man,
his handsomeness allied with brain;
modest, occasionally vain,
perhaps his own Number One Fan,
this famous devastating man.

He is a devastating man.
If one were to contest this fact
with gentle, diplomatic tact,
he’d see it as a ghastly plan,
to wound the devastating man.

A devastating man, he is,
in his own estimation, so,
perhaps he has the right to crow,
although the truth is far from this.
Forgive him. Ignorance is bliss.

Below Richard being devastating in a bath, Richard being devastating with Holly the dog.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A feeling of completion

Got up for a wee and notice the time on Lorraine's beside alarm clock. Almost six. Shortly after, it made its infernal parping, Lorraine got up, dressed, showered, fed the cats, had breakfast and so on. I sat up blearily looking at my laptop and sipping the tea Lorraine had brought me. Then Lorraine said, have you seen the time? For some reason it was 4:44 and the alarm clock was wrong.

Shaken by this trauma, when I eventually got up I was full of murderous fantasies about what would happen to the solicitors if my house sale did not complete today. Went off to the gym again, to work out my grrring, and by the time I was home it was lunch time and as I ate a large ham and salad sandwich, I was emailed by one of the solicitor's underlings to say the sale had completed.  I had so little trust in them that I had to check my bank account online before I could believe it.

A huge amount of stress gradually lifting from my shoulders. And a glee at not having to deal any more with the tapeworm letting agents and solicitors. Free, free at last.

A night in The Basketmakers to celebrate Beth's birthday next week, as well as the house sale. I have to say that I did not drink in a particularly restrained nor sensible manner. Much chatting with Betty, who is having to act in a play which she is privately calling Cringe Theatre which is like Fringe but worse. Anton, Matt, Irish Tom helping Lorraine off with her coat and hanging it up for her, the impish Rosie and Laura. I was poured into a taxi towards midnight with Lorraine, Beth and Laura. Willed by Beth, it seemed to stop at Ace Pizzas, where it seemed rude not to buy a couple.

Below a snap of my lovely wife, my conscience in pizza matters, waiting with me at midnight. Beneath L is one of those random insect faced things you spot about the place.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

On the cusp

Started the day with tea and a piece of toast brought to me in bed by my lovely wife, who then said there was news on the radio saying the Twitten had been roped off due to a suspicious nutter clambering about on rooftops. Brief visions of my purchaser, driven mad by solicitors, came to mind. Later a man was arrested, after what appeared to have been a night on the tiles.

Mooching about without being able to focus on the big stuff due to the house sale on Friday looming over everything. More dealings with the incompetent solicitors having to chase them day before the completion is infuriating and doesn't instil feelings of confidence in what will be the biggest transaction of my life so far. Off to the cafe to do some writing, then to the gym where I had a much better session that Tuesday, though still not up to maximum revs yet.

Home, ate kale and noodles, finished The Handmaid's Tale, which was excellent. What a writer Margaret Atwood can be. Astonishing and prescient.

A nice evening in with my lovely wife, eating a vegetable chilli of my own devising, and daring to feel optimistic about the house sale. On the cusp of making life a good deal simpler, which I am looking forward to immeasurably.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A gorgeous morning

Weirdly woozy start to the day. Awake early, snuffly with a slight cold, and a weird ear thing that made things spin a bit if I turned my head too fast. The train ride particularly beautiful this morning, with the low bright Autumn sun picking out things I'd never noticed before: the fat white gable end of a new house, like a Paul Klee arrow in the jumble of South London, pointing up to a big blue sky; a building with trees on the roof; the patterns of crisscrossing cranes. Building work in central London seems to have kept going apace during the recession. At St Pancras I noticed four or five bunches of flowers and a framed photo outside a construction site which marked the death of a young construction worker.

Work better, sat with Pat this morning working on concepts for a premature ejaculation pitch going on in Australia. Had fun coming up with some puntastic concepts and ideas. And the afternoon devoted to updating four similar documents with lots of small changes. After work Slug and I popped into a pub for a fast beer as he is now travelling via St Pancras too.

Dealing with my solicitors again, who today are busy claiming they have never heard about the letting agents.  Luckily I was able to tell them the names of the people in their organisation who were mailed by the letting agents, and the dates. Incompetent parasites, the lot of them. Be great to be entirely done with them shortly. (Until we sell The Old Church Hall of course).

Homeward and greatly enjoying The Handmaid's Tale as an Audiobook. Very happy to be home with my lovely wife tonight (that still feels weird to type) and to enjoy the luxury of an indolently early night.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kale craving

A fairly relaxed day, although this gave me more time to fret about the house sale, and deal with the dribs and drabs of requests coming from the solicitors. Selling a house must be like childbirth, you forget all about the unpleasantness once it is done. The intermittent work in London this week, plus this background hum of stress is playing havoc with my concentration, so I am finding pressing on with the book difficult.

To the gym but am carrying some sort of bug at the moment and stopped after 25 minutes feeling a tad nauseous. Home via the supermarket to buy some curly kale which I strangely fancied. Had a concoction of kale, mushrooms, a few prawns, a chilli and noodles in miso soup. Strangely delicious. I must be craving kale. This has never happened before.

Home and had the luxury of an afternoon nap. Lorraine out late again today, but I met Anton for a drink. Had a really good evening with him, and we wandered into the Northern Lights, the Scandinavian Bar in town, which has a slightly Twin Peaks feel to it. Drank two vodkas there, one that tasted of berries, and the other of peppermint.

Home and scored a regrettable Ace pizza en route. Home to my baby and soon to bed.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Up at seven and soon slouching towards London to be paid. A strange day at Tavistock Square, as they had no work for me, despite me having been booked. I had been told that the week would be intermittent, but wasn't expecting there to be nothing to do on the first day. As a consequence they asked me not to come in tomorrow. While waiting for a brief, I sat about surfing. It also gave me the opportunity to ask April, fresh back from the US, to sign the exchange of deed stuff which I then posted at lunchtime. I also had email with the incompetent leasing agents. Only a few more days of this hateful property-based soul-sucking and I will be free. The Buddha was right.

Nice to chat to a few folks at work,  including Matty boy and Pat. Received some congrats and a kiss from Yaiza, who had seen wedding photos on Facebook. Also chatted to Mum, busy redecorating the house, as I mooched about the dripping Squares at lunchtime.

Feeling tired, I was pleased to be able to leave work ten minutes early. A ghastly journey home,  however, with trains no longer running from St Pancras and delays at Victoria when I went there. Home three and a quarter hours later feeling jaded. My lovely wife off singing in the choir, but a slow-cooked chicken stew waiting for me, and a delicious apple pie. I am a lucky man.

Pleased there were no murders in the fish tank. The two remaining angel fish have stains on their souls in this respect, but refrained from eating any of their new tank mates.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Balti bonanza

Antsy this morning, feeling the need to be doing things. It was a beautiful clear day, and L and I drove off to see Angie and Patrick, former neighbours of Lorraine, in their new house in Hove. They are extending their new detached house and adding a garden office. They live upstairs in comfort, while the the ground floor has been gutted and forested by poles keeping the top floor in place. It is what Angie called a project, and Patrick completely untroubled by having builders milling about underneath him and calling on him for decisions as he worked.

Then to the station to buy a ticket to London, to Sainsbury's to buy food, then to the garden centre for me to buy aquatic plants for the fish tanks then home. Worked downstairs carrying buckets or water about. Emptied the smaller tank completely, and transferred fish into the big tank. Brian, who is much recovered, is a big fish fancier and helped me catch the fish in the tank by batting the glass as I caught them. Removing the tank revealed an unpainted part of the wall, so I painted that. Lorraine and I then hung the Guernsey poster Richard and Jane had given us, which looks splendid and happily picks up the colour of the gold sofa and the wooden floor too.

Lorraine meanwhile in a frenzy of cooking curries with the big balti dishes Pat had bought us. Lorraine cooking up a storm, and I kitchen portered for her, mixing spices, and chopping things. She made enough for two days, so half was frozen.

Below downstairs at Angie and Patrick's house, and Lorraine at the stove. A delicious curry.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Glorious indolence

Torrential rain this morning. I felt disinclined to do anything and achieved this ambition with flying colours. Betty had got in late last night, and after a fast catch up, Lorraine drove her off in the rain to work at the stage school, then L did some shopping returning later dripping. I focused some of my best thinking on different ways of sitting on the gold sofa, drinking tea and eating. A gloriously indolent day. Apart from mopping up Brian the cat's vomit, that is. Brian is ill and sorry for himself.

Friday, November 08, 2013

At long last

Much of the day violently pinching myself. At long last the contracts have been exchanged and the Twitten house deal completes next Friday. All that remains is to clear the Twitten loft of the dozens of dried corpses I have stored there…. I mean the books and rugs and bits of shelves. Only then when the deal is done will I be finally able to celebrate with the idiot glee this release from a blood sucking purgatory of haggling, negotiation, solicitors moving at the speed of arthritic snails, estate agents, letting agents, plumbers, wall experts, roof repairers this deserves.

Lorraine brought me two paracetamol and a cup of tea in bed this morning. As a ward sister she found this to cure wooden legs, and it certainly worked on my man cold today. A happy day at home, baking bread, cleaning aquaria and so on. Lorraine and I went out to the Shahi for a quick and sorely needed curry tonight.

And today, I was finally able to get on with editing our wedding photos, and spending the day looking at my wife's lovely face.

For more photos of the wedding go back on this blog to 26 October.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Taking shelter with Dawn

Among school children again. Spent much of the day being Robin to Dawn's Batman at Downs school. I arrived at 9:30 for a day working with 'gifted and talented' children, who were sat around little tables in the school hall. Gifted and talented means they are the more able ones in their class, not necessarily that they were Mozartian prodigies.

The children today were from several schools in the area and were between 10-12. Because they didn't know one another there was a certain amount of self-consciousness in the morning.  My function was to talk about writing and the imagination. An interesting day spent outside my comfort zone. One poor girl was colourfully sick on the floor at one point, and was taken away as a casualty. Beyond this it all went fairly smoothly. Although I am never sure in these encounters with children just how much use they get from my contribution -- but they all seemed to listen.

Dawn had arranged for us to go down into the extensive air raid shelter under the school playground, which dated from WW2. We cat-herded the kids down into the dark, and walked about in it led by Dawn's torch and the torch on my iPhone bringing the up the rear. There were greenish safety lights once we turned our torches off but it was still very atmospheric. Noticed suspended jewel-like drops of water on the ceilings as I was leaving. Dawn said there were periods during the war when the children sheltered there every day.

I asked the children there to use all their senses and note down everything they experienced, and then use their imaginations to think of a contrasting place. Got them to write about these two places when we were back inside.  In the afternoon we showed them some adverts, and then gave the children a brief to write one for the Blue Cross, and got them to pitch it to us. They seemed to enjoy this section the most. I then showed them one I had written to the same brief.

Dawn is an absolutely excellent teacher.

Home, and realised that I was feeling quite rough. Had hot eyes, and a sore throat and felt rather wan and mancoldish. Perhaps it was the shock of doing a honest day's work. Found myself craving fish and chips, and Lorraine indulged me by driving us up to Sing Li. The evening snuggled on the gold sofa looking, at last, at some of our wedding photos...

Below snaps in the shelter, Dawn laughing at me as she climbed out. Bottom is an out of focus snap of the water drops on the ceiling.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Warts an' all

Focus hard to come by this morning. So when in doubt: tidy up. Have a  sort of residual organising impulse left from having done my accounts. Then off to the doctor, to have a small wart on my cheek frozen off with liquid nitrogen by the scary doctor. It appeared to be the morning when people had things frozen off them, for there were quite a mob of us. Mercifully fast. I went about for the rest of the day scaring children, looking as if someone had given me a good knuckling under the eye.

The gym for 45 minutes of stuff before home again. Listening to the charming Grayson Perry's Reith lectures as I lumbered on. Really like Perry's apparent lack of pretension and realism about the Art Worlds. Still not much gas in the energy tank.

After returning home, I mooched up to Downs School to meet Dawn, with whom I am going to do some work for a gifted and talented day tomorrow masquerading as a guru of things poetic and things advertising. Did some preparation, and wrestled with IT a bit.

Lorraine home very late, and very tired having been training governors in the evening.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Beanjar, bread, bangs and flashes

A day when things started to unblock. The exchange of contracts on the twitten looks likely for this week. While Talib, who photographed our wedding only to become silent and not reply to my email, got in touch. And I ended the day with a virtuous glow, having completed the preparation of my accountants, something which made me feel light and airy, as well as stern and efficient.  I also did some preparation for the gifted and talented session I am doing on Thursday with Dawn. Contacted too by my chums in Tavistock Square, and may be covering for First Matie next week.

Meanwhile I also cooked a Guernsey beanjar, harbinger of winter and delicious beany aromas. I started it in the new slow cooker, but it soon became apparent that it wasn't cooking properly, and had to be transferred to the beanjar. The clue's in the name really. Additionally I baked some bread which I'd not done for a few years, and we ate some in the evening with our beanjar. Also drank fresh coffee this evening so the kitchen was full of pleasant commingled aromas.

Lorraine brought work home to be done, so I answered the door when Mark next door gave me a big bunch of flowers, from him and Nicki next door. Sweet. Turns out it was for the wedding.

Apart from a quick flour-buying mission to Sainsbury's did not venture outside until Lorraine was home, and we took a stroll the dark full of the bangs and flashes of fireworks. The air smelling of gunpowder. Lorraine,  however, is nervous of unpredictable fire, having nursed the victims of the Kings Cross fire disaster, so we returned home fairly quickly.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Back from Narnia

So back from the emotional Narnia that was the wedding and honeymoon. For Lorraine that meant getting up shortly after 6:30 and driving off into the county for meetings. For me it meant the prospect of spending the next couple of days doing my accounts, and doing what I can to progress the house sale.

Broke off to go to the gym, and then pressed on with getting my accounts ready, looking at invoices and so on. A small part of me -- a very small part -- quite likes the necessity of having to do this once a year. It is a kind of spring clean and makes you feel rather virtuous after a while, and the feeling that you can account for yourself is quite satisfying. Although that is not to say I wasn't yearning to slip back into the wardrobe with Lorraine and dance with Mr Tumnus and the talking beavers again.

Lorraine home briefly this evening before going off to sing in the choir. I walked with her along London Road, and as I returned a back a fox scooted across the road and down a side street.

Below Janet sent me these two beautiful pictures she'd taken of Sheffield Park, that were simply too good not to share.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Bath time

After a morning of purposeful shopping, ironing and tidying, off to The Bath Arms for a long and leisurely birthday Sunday Lunch for Catherine, who is 40 tomorrow.

As well as Catherine and Tanya, I met their pal Juliana for the first time who had drunk in the Bunch of Grapes, haunt of my teens. Also there were Matt, Wayne, Tim and Guy. Some really funny and interesting conversation, I find Catherine and Tanya refreshingly smart, and both are in the final stages of their PhDs and have giant brains.

A good lunch, and I managed to cram down some apple crumble too, a last hurrah for gluttony as I am returning to virtue tomorrow. We all sat about for hours companionably, just one of those days when I am so pleased I live in Brighton.

Catherine was bought lots of chocolate, Lorraine and I got her a phrenological head that as a Victorianist, we thought Catherine might enjoy.

Wandering back in a group through Brighton, saying goodbye to people on route, till it was just Lorrraine and I heading gratefully for sparkling water, and a quiet night on the gold sofa.

Below on the way to the Bath Arms we stumbled across a demonstration about badgers. Controversially, they are being exterminated to prevent bovine TB. I was handed a leaflet about badgers, but as much of it was written as if spoken by a talking badger I couldn't take it too seriously, despite liking the critters.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Gyms and nuns

A leisurely start to the weekend. Then back to the gym for me. Hard work, and a week or so of gormandising and boozing certainly took their toll in terms of fitness. Good to do some sweating though. Met Lorraine afterwards, who had been shopping, and we scampered home in the rain. Curiously, both of us in need of a holiday after our holiday.

In the evening Lorraine and I sauntered down to the Duke of York Picture House to see Philomena, starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. A film in which the Irish Catholic Church and nuns come out of looking particularly poorly, selling children to American couples in the 50s. Based on true events, and a story covered by journalist Martin Sixsmith, who is played by Coogan in the film. Lorraine and I both enjoyed this.

Back in time for Match of the Day too... Although Chelsea mysteriously lost. A single glass of sherry with my wife on the sofa. All well.


Friday, November 01, 2013

A touch of sunshine

Slept many hours last night, and only roused by the intolerable plaguing of Calliope and Brian, purring and looming over our heads and climbing on us.

Pottered about today getting things straight about the house and gradually unpacking presents: today we were gloating over those from Pat Norrie, First Matie and Matty boy and Isy who had conspiringly bought us Le Creuset balti dishes, a deep baking dish and a griddle respectively after First Matie had stayed and Lorraine and I had talked in a distant, longing fashion about them. Lorraine already busily looking up balti recipes, and I am persistently mentioning pies.

Chatted to Mum who had enjoyed the wedding and told Lorraine that she'd not seen me looking so happy as in the photos from Icart on here a few days ago. I am happy.

In the evening after another substantial rest in the afternoon, off out to the Shahi for a cheeky curry. A warm welcome in there as normal, and we had a good time reminiscing about weddings and honeymoons and still feeling quite loved up.

Pesky house sale still unresolved, however, the buyers are clearly desperate to buy, and all my end is long sorted out. Would try the patience of a saint, which I do not happen to be blessed with.

Off out into town to buy some thank-you cards in the Pavilion, collect a letter from the post office, pop into the bank and buy some food.

Most interestingly we went into Pendragon pictures on the Grand Parade, where another present was waiting for us. It was a framed poster from Richard and Jane, and a perfect present for those just returned from Guernsey on their honeymoon. The view is looking North down on Fermain bay with St Peter Port in the distance. When I was a child a boat used to ferry beach-going holidaymakers between Fermain and St Peter Port, which is shown here.

A few more snaps of Guernsey

Just a few random snaps of Guernsey in the Autumn. Lorraine photographing on Icart Point, the textures of the sea, the remains of a Nazi bunker above Saints bay, the Dog and Lion rocks, rose hips and fallen fruit, Lorraine showing me the bright yellow spores under a fern with her bright red nails, pennywort, a plant I always associate with Guernsey, Icart Road near Saints Cottage, and the Icart Road heading towards Icart Point.