Thursday, January 31, 2013

Building Stories

Slogging away at the business idea, at lunchtime sloped off to look at my old house in the Twitten, which is now awaiting its new tenants arriving in a couple of weeks. After a look around the place, ate a sandwich and worked in my study for a bit for old time's sake. The desk I use now is much better.

Home and Lorraine arrived early afternoon. In the evening I began looking at Chris Ware's Building Stories, which Bob had got me for Christmas. Absolutely beautiful box containing dozens of different format graphic stories, from simple fold over strips of paper, to hardback books, all with aspects of the larger story about the lives of people living in the same building in Chicago. You read the elements in whatever order you find them. Love it.

Off this evening with Dawn and Lorraine to the Duke of York's see The Sessions, which we all enjoyed. It dealt with the subject of a paralysed man being visited by a sexual surrogate, a warm-hearted, beautifully-acted little gem about love.

Below the box cover of the Building Stories which in real life is 43 x 29.5cm.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Intimations of Spring

A good morning's work, gradually shaping arguments and murdering babies, also known as rewriting and editing. Took myself out for a lunchtime stroll, Bob called and we talked for half an hour. Feeling very run down still, and decided to ease back on the fasting diet, while still dosing myself with antibiotics.

Here and there were heartening intimations of Spring, including crocuses. Popped into the walled garden, and pleased to see the fish swimming happily, after being iced in. More good ideas in the afternoon too, about a possible Pollard & Kenny wheeze.

Below a whiff of Spring.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A jigsaw of drains

A man called Steve came round first thing to unblock a drain, with a good deal of vigorous and splashy plunging, and sharing of his opinions about the mysterious nature of drains. I've had more dealings with plumbers and drain people in my last few Brighton years, than I have had in the rest of my life. There is something symbolic about Brighton's dodgy labyrinth. 'It's like a doing a jigsaw,' Steve the drains said ruefully. And often with poos, I thought, feeling rather sorry for him.

After the excitement of scientifically filling sinks, flushing loos and so on, I got back to working on my business book, still grappling with the fundamental link between fashion and marketing, interrupted only by Calliope and Brian, who have taken to playfully chasing each other in a thundering way around the house or crowding around my desk like Hitchcock's birds.

A fasting day, I met Lorraine in Sainsbury's this evening on the way back from work. She'd fallen over in the mud at a school, and was covered in the stuff. Home for small foods, a wee bit of salmon, steamed veggies and a couple of spoons of brown rice to be eaten slowly. Finding organic miso soup a lunchtime boon, as a cupful is few calories, but satisfying. The trick is to find a brand that isn't over salty.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

To Ashford, very slowly

Off by train to Ashford to spend the afternoon with Maureen and Pat. Lorraine intending to work, and I took my laptop too. However I was trapped by a loquacious and slightly drunk American who talked, in his own words, overbearingly, without pausing for breath for 45 minutes, so that I learned all the details of his family, and a fair selection of his opinions.

Dreaded rail replacement line from Hastings to Ashford, though I really liked this drive, threading on the coach through parts of Kent I have never visited. Our route went through Winchelsea, which looked fascinating with interesting ruins, Rye and across the marsh. I want to visit Winchelsea again.

A nice afternoon with Maureen and Pat, a roast lamb Sunday lunch, and watching mild mannered indoor bowls on TV, swapping Christmas presents, an event postponed due to the flu from hell, and said hello to Fatty Basil the cat, who now lives with them. Also chatting to Pete (Lorraine's nephew) and his girlfriend Charlene about films for Lorraine and I listening to the Simon Mayo, Mark Kermode film podcasts on our long journey.

The homeward journey took three hours, under a big full moon over Romney marsh. On the train, Lorraine working on a job application, while I listened to yet another film podcast as Sunday rattled away.

Chelsea played Brentford, the little team I used to watch every now and then when I lived in Chiswick and Kew, in the FA Cup. Unbelievably, Brentford held Chelsea to a 2-2 draw, an event which will live on in Brentford legend for decades. A humbling day for Chelsea, who last season beat Barcelona, widely accepted as the world's best team, yet can only draw with a team two divisions below their own.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Over the thawing Downs to Ardingly

Over the still snowy Downs, to the village of Ardingly this afternoon. A nice, well kept village, with one or two crookbacked roofs on old pubs, and we nosed about the village, its school, St Peter's Church, and down some of its edge of village paths. Rather lovely in places. If Lorraine got the headship here, trying to imagine what a local celebrity she would be.

Some excitement in town, as Brighton played Arsenal in the FA cup. When Lorraine and I returned to Brighton, and I went off to meet Matt for another chat in the Foundry as one or two disconsolate local fans drifted in, having seen their beaten after stout resistance in the last few minutes 2-3 by Arsenal.

Matt and I groping towards a new project. Meanwhile, a glimmer on the horizon; our Clameur piece is going to be performed in Chichester in March. Matt not conducting, so it will be nice for us to ease back in our chairs and hear what a new and excellent choir and conductor make of it. More details when I have them.

Home to a lovely pie baked by Lorraine, and a happy evening in together.

Below up on the Downs, and a some Ardingly Snaps. Thawing fields; an old gravestone; on Devil's Dyke; cottage in Ardingly; tombs; awards for Ardingly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Down the aisles of the organplaying wood

Happy breakfasting as this was non-fasting day. Having the stripped down days, does make you realise just how much food you post into your GI tract every day. This did not stop me buying hot cross buns. Another day of quiet work progress writing about fashion and marketing, followed by a spot of admin and degree of the currently-obligatory brain-deadness this afternoon. 

Lorraine beset by job applications again, but Rosie came by and we sauntered off to the Shahi, as it seemed rude not to. Discussing our experiences of crime; Lorraine waking up in the morning to an intruder when she was a nurse and doing night shifts. Rosie having her house invaded by two late teenage girls, one of whom attacked her.

Have been re-reading the opening to Under Milk Wood at bedtime this week. I find it oddly comforting, in its evocation of a world that seems long gone now. Dylan Thomas is unfashionable at the time of writing, but there was some wild and lovely music in his words, and you can spot a Thomas poem from a hundred yards. He had a voice and you just have to read phrases aloud to yourself, like this from the opening monologue from Under Milk Wood: 
Young girls lie bedded soft or glide in their dreams, with rings and trousseaux, bridesmaided by glowworms down the aisles of the organplaying wood. The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrodgered sea. And the anthracite statues of the horses sleep in the fields,and the cows in the byres, and the dogs in the wetnosed yards; and the cats nap in the slant corners or lope sly, streaking and needling, on the one cloud of the roofs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dry eyed

An excellent morning's work, with a clear head and song on my lips. Went out for a constitutional in the afternoon, walking around town. It was pretty cold, especially down by the sea but nevertheless bracing. Walked through the tiny Dolphin Square in the Lanes where the much missed Rounder Records used to be. Melancholy sight with Rounder Records and three other shops gone. As I took a few snaps a man from a jewellers peered out of his shop window balefully at me.

A 'fasting' i.e. reduced calorie day, but again not much of a hardship: small porridge for breakfast, banana on Ryvita  and a cup of miso soup for lunch, and a bit of cold chicken, veggies and a wee bit of rice for supper, in total around 600 calories. The knowledge that you can eat normally the next day makes this bearable.

Off tonight to see the film version of Les Misérables which was a good deal less dire than expected. I am no lover of musicals, but hearing good reviews and Lorraine mad for it after hearing Betty had loved it, combined to persuade me, I am pleased they did. The bones of the Victor Hugo plot were still there (the novel completed in Guernsey of course) and the performances were uniformly excellent.

Quite a lot of sniffing and gulping in the Duke of York audience as the plot unfurled, and not just from Lorraine. Most people on the screen were crying too, and when they weren't crying the frame was full of rain, for apparently in the first half of the 19th century it rained continually in France. Remaining dry eyed made me feel as if I had a heart of stone.

Below a bill in empty shop, once the home of Rounder Records; people doing strange things by the sea.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Klaudia is nine

Back on the business book, and investigating markets for different kinds of writing. Time is a great editor, and I can see disconcerting errors that were invisible a month or so ago. Dogged by the cats as I worked, who are busy hating their food choices, which is causing them to sit on or near my desk and create trouble. Especially Calliope, who now has learnt how to pick up scissors and play with them.

Off this afternoon to give Klaudia her birthday present. Hard to believe that she is nine now, if it weren't for the large 9-shaped balloon in the room. She liked the Lego I'd got her, and showed me some of her other presents including a fluffy white mechanical dog, which she seemed particularly keen on. I asked Anton if it had bitten him yet, but got no reply.

Sat with Oskar and Klaudia playing games on iPhones. Klaudia and Oskar playing Temple Run 2. Oskar used my iPhone and instantly got a high score. I played with a species of 3D supermario on a Nintendo. A piece of birthday cake, a cup of tea and a chat with Anna and Anton before they went off to Wagamama, Klaudia's request for a birthday meal. A nice chat about when Klaudia was first born, and the colour of her poos, a conversation which Klaudia, retreating behind some headphones, rose above.

Anton also quickly showed me how the iPad linked up with his stereo speakers and the downloaded synthesiser. It sounded majestic, and rather loudish.

Home, and prompted by rave reviews from Betty, Lorraine has booked two tickets for the film Les Misérables tomorrow to take our minds off fasting day two.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Le pong

A day of quiet work at my desk. At lunchtime, having being worked quietly etc. for some time, came downstairs to a strong smell of gas. Hastily turned lights off and so on, and went outside... Where the smell was even worse. I tried phoning the gas emergency line, but there was no reply, or the line was engaged.

Lorraine called as I went outside and said that in a school playground in Ardingly, deep inland, she could smell it too. I walked into the street and the smell was everywhere. Turns out that a cloud of obnoxiously sulphurous gas had leaked from Rouen in France, slunk across the channel. Le pong, spread over several counties of Southern England, and was for a time very strong in Brighton. Enjoyed the Brighton Argus headline: Sacré bleurrgh! French leak causes stench in Sussex.

Walked into town to do a spot of Lego buying for Klaudia's birthday tomorrow. The Lego shop must be on one of the most attractive store designs I have seen, like Apple for kids. Bright, uncluttered, and beautifully designed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Snow dalek

Up early and tweaking the work I was doing on Friday before sending this off. Lorraine working next to me before sliding off into the white yonder. We started our Fast day with porridge, which seemed perfectly reasonable. I ate an apple and a slice of Ryvita for lunch, and had a positive feast of haddock, rice and steamed carrots and courgette for supper. It was fine and I ate my supper slowly, and because I was genuinely hungry, found myself savouring the carrots.

A head full of half-formed ideas today, which lacked . Completed and sent off my 'flash fiction' story. It was one of my old stories, Flytrap, which I had completely rewritten, changed one of the characters, and put a new spin on. The mission which is slowly dawning on me, is that this year I have to complete everything that I have started and not finished over the last few years. There is a lot I have finished, but quite a lot to tie up too.

Item on local news about how the Royal Sussex County Hospital is closed to all but the worst accidents having been swamped with folks with broken limbs. Hilly Brighton is a death trap in the snow, and there is never enough gritting.

Below a stroll in the park this afternoon, yielded a surprising snow Dalek, a park scene particularly liking the snow on branches and roofs, L.S. Lowry like figures, after seeing the Dalek, the two golden figures in the rose garden began to look like escapees from one of those creepier old Dr Who episodes, the sort where shop window dummies come to life.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Feast before fast

Up late again, Lorraine and I reading up about calories, and the Fast Diet on her iPad this morning in bed. Lorraine then off to collect Beth in the car, who is still a bit down about some college politics. I listened to some interesting bits of radio and played about drawing for a while. Then Lorraine and I went off on the slidey streets in light snowfall to The Sussex Yeoman for Sunday lunch.

Met Rosie and Anton there, and we had an enjoyable afternoon forking down a nice roast with lots of veggies, and some bread and butter pudding made with peaches and Baileys. Anton sporting his large Russian hat and on good form. Rosie cheery and fun as usual. Bellies bulging like cannon balls, we crossed the road to The Batty and sat near the fire, untroubled by life although Anton quite weary of the dog in the pub. Betty joined us before starting a protracted journey home.

Lorraine and I slid home on the icy streets. We are starting the fast diet tomorrow, I am a long way from my heaviest luckily, so things aren't urgent. Five days of eating normally, two days of significantly reduced calories per week. I first heard about this diet on the French Bloke's stag weekend. Steve McCarty said he saved his calories up on his reduced calorie day and had a McDonalds. Each to his own. He claimed significant weight loss though. The diet is getting good press, and claims to reduce bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Before days of bulging supermarkets in the 'developed' world, the majority of the world's population must still experience leaner days than others.  A bowl of porridge in the morning, maybe a piece of fruit for lunch, then steamed veggies a smidge of rice and some fish in the evening is what we are planning for tomorrow. No hardship there. And the very next day you can eat with gusto.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A few in the Foundry

Heavy sleep, and after a leisurely morning up soporifically. To quell this, spent time with Lorraine moving things around the house until we were both wan and exhausted.  Off into town on the slushy streets to meet Matt at three in the Foundry. Briefly disconcerted by a burst of ectopic heartbeats twenty yards from the pub. Enjoyed a few slow beers and long wide-ranging discussion with Matt. Discussed Delius (Mahler-lite who had his moments, apparently) and explored the possibility of doing something in this year's festival, but we need a wonderful idea in the next few days. Also a good deal of news and gossip to catch up with; Dave's funeral at which Matt was a pall bearer, and the wake held in the Tavern, Christmases in Hull with his parents and so on.

Sliding home via Sainsbury's. Shopping after a few beers adds a certain creativity and inclusiveness to the purchases: cholla bread, wine and chocolate mousse for Betty who'd returned home today after a ghastly day or so on her course, stricken by snowy cancellations. She spent the evening sorting out the fallout over rearrangements, but went out late with Laura. Lorraine and I, meanwhile, watched Borgen, the Danish Political drama, which is easily the best thing on TV. Compelling and unpredictable.

Friday, January 18, 2013

An inch of chaos

Off to Tavistock Square. Brighton station in the morning had taken the precaution of cancelling trains before the snow arrived. The train delayed of course, but only by fifteen minutes as it slunk northward through the frosty fields. When I arrived in St Pancras, it was snowing in London.

A morning of fiddly work on cat worms, with a nice Spanish woman Yaiza, who I'd not seen for a while. She was telling me about her Christmas meals in Spain, the rice, huge pots of vegetables and mixed meats that everyone dips into. She was almost drooling.

Travel woe percolated through computer screens and the TV in the glass walled office next door. Many people had not made it in to the office at all, and I began to feel nervous I was going to be stranded in London. Pat told people they should go, and so I did. Betty's show was snowed off too, as the plan was to get to Kingston to see it after work.

Early in the afternoon I legged it to St Pancras, and through sheer luck caught a delayed Brighton station that was on the station. Despite this train's engine groaning ominously, it took me back to Brighton without too much trouble. Of course the absurdity of it all was that the snow was fairly paltry. I can't understand how in the 21st Century the transport system seizes up after an inch of snow.

Sussex looking beautifully wintery.  I love the way snow reduces signs of mankind and allowing you to see the lie of the land in a completely different way.

Relieved to be home safe with Lorraine, who had slid home at lunchtime. Ended up having a sleep on the sofa before Lorraine and I crunched out in the  snow to the Shahi for a cheeky curry.

Below a shot from the train window,  South London's, um, impassable snow drifts...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A dream of Maude Gonne

Appalling night's sleep. Woke up late but received an email from my old friend Michael Stone Richards  who is now a professor of critical theory and literature in the US. Saying he just saw a vision of Maude Gonne (the famous beauty WB Yeats had loved for years) and it had reminded him of me.  A characteristically enigmatic correspondence from MSR that made me smile and miss him.

Rushing about early with the idea of going to Tunbridge Wells to meet new clients, but events conspired against this. As the ominous crow flaps, it is only in the next county of Kent, but if you try to get there by public transport you are looking at a hefty two hours each way.

Sonia here this lunchtime. Explaining that this was the year of the snake and she and her partner were both monkeys, which in a strong Romanian accent was rather funny. Being a pig, I am not over fond of Chinese horoscopes. Sonia off to bask in Egypt for a holiday next week.

Sent off my application for the blogger in residence post. Went food shopping, and accepted an offer to travel up to London tomorrow to take a brief from my chums in Tavistock Square. Finished listening to the short The Examined Life.  A quick and thought provoking read.

Lorraine home late, and in need of alcohol, I gave her a bowl of hot chili and a glass of port. Seemed to do the trick.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Shrinks and synthesizers

Doing plenty of writing of a variety of kinds for most of the day. Filed free of the desk manacles at lunchtime for a walk in the park. No snow, but frosty ground and the ponds icy, and the fish deep under the ice in the winter sunlight.

In the evening off to babysit Oskar and Klaudia, had a nice chat with Anna before she went out. Went in to chat to Oskar, who is transforming into a proper boy now. When Anton returned, he made pizzas for us and talked feverishly about his new craze: synthesizers and synthesizer music. He has downloaded synthesizers onto his iPad and has a keyboard to plug in, on this set up he is learning chords, listening to tutorials about the structure of synthesized sounds and about attack, sustain and decay, sound envelopes and so on. While we ate admirable pizzas we also listened to Kraftwerk, music for which Anton has found a sudden and powerful affection. It is a long time since I have seen Anton so be-crazed.

After listening to excerpts from The Examined Life, by Stephen Grosz on Radio 4 I downloaded it from Audible today, and am delighted to hear it read by the same person, the velvet-voiced Peter Marinker. I'm lapping up these absorbing stories from 25 years practice as a psychoanalyst told in a straightforward and thought provoking way.

Home to Lorraine already snuggled up in bed. Full of late night pizza, I could not sleep so ended up listening to The Examined Life for a couple of hours in the night.

Below a famous Kraftwerk cover, and a look I expect Anton to be adopting shortly. Especially the lipstick.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Sprang from bed in a more focused way, sending Sophie information first off, then heading off to the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery with the cunning idea of writing about the Jeff Keen exhibition for my notebook site, as I have seen the exhibition three times now. Keen is a true Brighton original, and spurned the London set to make his own playfully avant-garde 8mm films and prolific cartoon like work here in sunny Brighton. He worked in the gardens and parks department too I think. I watched two interviews with him, and he seemed a really nice chap. Adrian Turner mentioned that he was taught by him, and he wore a cloak. There's not enough cloak wearing.

Saw a dozen or so teenagers on a gallery visit. They steamed through the place taking photos in a frenzy, but without pausing to actually look at anything. Perhaps they pored over their photographs afterwards, but I doubt it. Had to fight back a wave of fogeyism. In twenty or thirty years time I will buy a time machine ride, materialise in the gallery on 15th January 2013, and vigorously shake a stick at them.  

Leaving the gallery became enraged with a cashpoint advertisement by HMRC. Those running dogs of capitalism still owe me a refund for last year's tax over payment too.

Lorraine working from home this afternoon, nice to sit upstairs on our mezzanine level on side by side desks doing things. Lorraine doing important work things, me editing my short story about transexuals while eating far too many of the Lebkuchen mum had given me to take home. Was phoned up by amigos in Tavistock Square and I will need to zip up there before the end of the week to collect a new brief, which is all to the good.

Cooked chicken and savoury rice tonight. Rather nice. 

Below, one of Jeff Keen's comic-like collages. Atomic Rayday from 1961.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quiet reflection

Working on a piece of flash fiction (i.e. a very short story with a hipper name) and one of the characters is a transexual. Blearily woke up this morning, gratefully sipping the tea Lorraine had brought me, and thumbing the Guardian app on my iPhone to read an extraordinarily offensive rant by inflammatory hack Julie Birchill about transexual people. The comments section had exploded, and people were saying how they had reported her insults to the police. During the day her article was taken offline, and replaced by an apology from the editor. She certainly has a talent for getting a reaction, and from a selfish point of view, the furore gave me some insights at exactly the right moment.

Brighton avoiding snow, but enjoying rain as usual. A day of quiet reflection for me (something that Julie Burchill could have done with) troubled only by the demands of cats. Lorraine out this evening, and I worked on my very short story, and mooched about cheerfully but with variable degrees of purpose. Heard from the lovely Sophie, who is delighted that Christof had a place in Oxford. She also said she was seeing a contact at the BBC and wuld mention This Concert Will Fall In Love With You, which is kind of her.

Julia sent me another Dante Gabriel Rossetti poem to look at. I don't rate Rossetti much as a poet, but the process is interesting.

Lorraine home late after Hullabalooing. I am pleased she is singing again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In the Waggon

Up early for a Sunday and off to London to make the long overdue trip to see Mum and Mas. Motorway signs warning of severe weather and snow to come, but we made it up to Edgware and back later in the day untroubled by the white death. Swapped Christmas presents, mum particularly liked the solitary bee house we'd bought her.

Mum's house not showing to much evidence of the massive gas-leak induced disruption of the week. Once we'd arrived and had some tea off in the car again to a pub called The Waggon and Horses on the old pre-Roman Watling Street, just beyond Elstree. Established in 1471, apparently, and they now serve a reasonable Sunday Lunch in rooms warmed by three open fires, and a good pint of Landlord bitter to swill it down with. Mason chatty with the people who run it. Good plumb crumble, with home made custard to round off the meal too. The custard a fiercely guarded secret recipe according to the woman who took our plates.

Much chatting before returning back to Edgware for tea and biscuits, before setting off for Brighton. We left Mum and Mas with a year's supply of Mum's home made crab apple, wild plum and blackberry jellies and jams, and for me a bag of Christmas favourites Lebkuchen. Luckily Lorraine had a pretty straightforward journey home.

Below the Waggon and Horses, and a snap of the soon-to be pulled down tower block near mum's house, tainted pink by the setting sun.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


After a slow start, Lorraine gripped by narcolepsy this morning, we drove to Lewes. We are toying with the idea of relocating in the future, probably to another part of Brighton, but we wanted to consider Lewes too.

It is a characterful town, the county town of Sussex, with a castle, a prison, ancient bookshops, some splendid boozers and decent restaurants. It has the advantage of being a ten or fifteen minute train ride to Brighton. Food for thought, although these are very early days, and I am not sure I would swap Brighton for it.

A disgracefully slumpish afternoon, after doing some food shopping watched two episodes of the quietly riveting Borgen on TV. Danish political wrangling from the prime minister's point of view, beautifully acted by Sidse Babett Knudsen as the statsminister which I now know is Danish for Prime Minister.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cautiously optimistic

This morning I applied to be blogger in residence for Brighton Pavilion and Museums. This is an excellent opportunity to get me more engaged in the community, as well as showing off my, um, mad writing skillz, so I'm definitely going for it. Working on something more factual and extraverted, is exactly what I have been talking to Lorraine about doing this year.

Down to the sea to take some photos, while listening to another Jeeves book I'd downloaded. It is so formulaic, with Bertie Wooster's inevitable concession at the end of a story to Jeeves of giving away an item of clothing that Jeeves has disapproved of, such as purple socks, or a scarlet waistcoat.  There is something reassuring about predictability, and the wordplay and dialogue is so unique, that you need fairly rigid structure I suppose.

Then to the Blue Dog gallery and collected some of Mum's pictures and masks that had been on display there. Nice man who runs it. We stood outside chatting while he finished his cigarette. I got the impression that business conditions were tough for him, with people being reluctant to fork out hard cash. Spoke to Mum, who has been having an unspeakable time with gas leaks, and having to dig up the floor in the house.

Lorraine working at home this afternoon.  I was feeling quite cheery, in fact happier than I have done in a while as I looking back at the week, having sorted lots of tiresome chores, paid all my taxes (boo), got the process of renting the Twitten underway, done some work for a new client and managed to do some of my own work too.  I am, thank God, feeling a bit healthier after twin onslaughts of flu and prostatitis. Beginning to feel cautiously optimistic.

Anton called around this evening, and we sloped up the hill to The Signalman for beer, before returning to the Shahi for a curry. Had to wait in their take away section for a while, as the table was not free. They've just had the place repainted, and the front door still is a bit sticky. Gorged on Bombay mix, which made us all too full to finish our meals, which we took away in a doggie bag. Despite this, the best night out I've had in what seems a long time.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cafe society

Poor Lorraine up at sixish, so I got up early too getting things ready for the estate agents, and tweaking diabetes pen copy before I sent it into cyberspace.

Off into town to sit in Délice cafe and work happily on my business idea for a couple of hours, a simple thing that during the flu seemed like an impossible dream. The cafe, which I went to the first time with Anton the other day, is friendly and French. I strapped on the nosebag there too and wasn't disappointed. Home via Sainsbury's to reassure Sonia who was for some reason traumatised by having broken a cheap lamp, and offering to pay for it. I of course refused.

Spent the late afternoon tired, but happily listening to Wodehouse stories and cooking. Also looking at some poems by Dante Gabriel Rossetti that Julia, Bob's sister, sent me. Rossetti has passed me by, so this was an interesting exercise. Her blog about Rossetti is listed on the right, and is well worth a visit.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Rather braced

Lorraine up early, and I sprang up too. Working on insulin pens copy, before shuffling off to sit in the Quack's waiting room for 50 minutes. Luckily I was listening to PG Wodehouse, tuning into a funnier world of gentlemen's gentlemen, terrifying aunts and people 'what ho!'-ing each other and feeling really rather braced.

The doctor arranging a trip to the specialist for me, as three months of this boring and depressing malarkey was deemed enough. He gave me a backup prescription for antibiotics so I won't be, um, caught short again.

Enjoyably popped out for a coffee with Anton at lunchtime. Nice place, and my first cup of coffee for weeks. Anton loves Januaries, as it is the start of his working year, and nothing has had a chance to go wrong yet. Laughing about some of his patented work tactics, such as 'short answer yes, long answer no', the principle of never saying no to anyone, until you can give them a full explanation.

Then home to finish off the insulin pens. Then balking at an unspeakable form I have to fill in from the estate agents, which I did not have the moral resilience to complete. Instead, I finished listening to Wodehouse short stories, and I cooked. Lorraine very tired once home, and we watched the Danish political drama Borgen on TV. Well acted, and compelling. An early night.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Getting back on track

Getting slowly back on track. Dealing with estate agents, taking a copywriting brief  about insulin pens,  shopping, laundry, changing water in aquariums, making another appointment with my quack, and other even less glamorous chores.

Jotted down the start of a short story, feeling stern with myself about this though. I need to finish the business book, not begin even more things. Reading some Wodehouse for fun. His wordplay always makes me smile. Cooking this evening for an appreciative Lorraine, lovely letter from Jane. All well.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Minor missions

A variety of minor missions this morning. Off to Pembertons in Seven Dials to discuss renting the Twitten, to the jewellers to collect the adjusted necklace I'd bought Lorraine for Christmas, down to the Cinema to let myself in through a side door and wander about till challenged and I could retrieve my cap, which I'd left on the floor yesterday. Luckily it was the first item that came to hand in a box behind the main desk. Then to Sainsbury's, bumping into Anna, Klaudia and Oskar in the street, and stopped for a chat. The barins back at school tomorrow, and Anna looking well.

Still feeling woefully underpowered.

Mum called saying that Toby and Romy have returned from their south American travels. This time they were in Bolivia, home of the famous marching powder. The Tobster had glossed over their destination to Mum in case she would worry about him being kidnapped by stare-eyed drug barons.

Watched a documentary about Delius this evening, as Lorraine has rejoined the Hullabalo choir. She came home with flowers like a returning diva. Meanwhile I'd been busy liking some of Delius's music, which was new to me. He was born in Bradford, but spent most of his life abroad. It's wonderful how the world is crammed full of music waiting to be discovered.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Old hobbits

This afternoon Lorraine and I off to see The Hobbit film. Enjoyable stuff, and great escapism to be wandering about in Middle Earth grappling with goblins and wargs. Plot wise, it is baggy and formless, as they are drawing out one short book into four films. If you like all the hobbitty stuff, this is not a problem, but non-Tolkienites may struggle.

After this, I went off to see Anton in the Shakey's Head, for an enjoyable chat. Walked up the hill to what used to be The Tin Drum, where I first met Lorraine, which has now become the Cow. I am not sure if I like having met Lorraine in Cow.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Sea murk

Intended to get a grip, set off to seven dials. Getting keys cut, scoping out letting agents I am going to use for the Twitten, then down into town to lengthen the chain of a necklace I bought for Lorraine. Then off to Long Tall Sally. This shop is catnip to Lorraine and is, traumatically, closing down. Lorraine in there for some time, coming out with a nice blue coat and some other stuff all at bargain prices. I meanwhile nosed about with my camera, looking at the murky sea for a while.

Home and a sleep, for I am still wan and feeble. Lorraine continued her pie-making frenzy with some Cornish Pasties. We drove Betty back to college, and into the arms of her housemates. Nostalgic to be standing about in a student house, with its air of amiable chaos and sticky floors. Home rather tired, and Lorraine snoozing on the sofa as I sank into the refuge of football.

Below murky seafront, and a groyne.

Friday, January 04, 2013


A poetry rejection to start the day. Bah. Allowed myself to fall into a despondent mood. I took myself out for a growling walk, and headed down to the sea, mooching on the pier and into the Art Gallery. They still have the Jeff Keen work on display, and I found myself bored by it this time around. Had a look at the Egyptian stuff, and took one photo which ended up looking a bit like an SF book cover.

Home, and tired again. Curse this flu, curse this prostatitis. I feel 100 years old. Betty, Lorraine and I had a curry tonight, however. Sloping off to the nearby Shahi, early in the evening, for our first outing in weeks.

Below a life sized Frankenstein's Monster on the pier, and an Egyptian face in the museum.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

A close shave

Back, albeit briefly, to the outside world. Off the barber to remedy the misshapen medieval tonsure I was beginning to evolve and have it tidied pleasantly. This and to the book shop where I bought Stanislavski's actor's handbook on a bit of a whim, figuring it will come in handy when writing parts for people. A great browsable book of small thought-provoking alphabetical chunks. Then home, and these excursions having worn me out. Listening to Decline and Fall, by Evelyn Waugh, which I find a bit Wodehousian, but darker and more brittle.

Lorraine working, from home mostly. We ate some nice pie together at lunchtime. I am not ready for work yet, finding concentration and application hard to come by. Still encountering surges of relief every time I think how I dodged hospital earlier this week: it had been touch and go.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Nice as pie

And Lo! In the small hours I had the unbounded joy of a reasonably normal wee. The antibiotic cavalry had arrived in the nick of time to, um, major relief. In the morning I unpacked the manbag I'd prepared for hospital and as the day progressed things slowly but steadily improved.

The thing about recovering is the joy simple things give you. Lorraine and I gingerly walked in the park, which was like being freed from prison. We also went to Sainsbury's to buy the fixings for the pies that were forming in Lorraine's mind: a goat's cheese, spinach and potato tart, then a chicken, ham, leek and tarragon pie. This was a communal effort with Betty being sous chef, and me reading the recipes out. The result was without a doubt the finest chicken and ham pie I've ever eaten.

Also chatted with First Matie for the first time in ages, who had what sounds like the happiest Christmas for years being with her niece, brand new nephew, sister new brother in law and his family.

Below Lorraine slicing into a quite exemplary chicken, ham and leek and tarragon pie. And the goats cheese, spinach and potato tart.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Job's new year

A new year full of cheer I hope.

Frankly it can only improve.  My choice on the first day of the year, was between having a catheter rammed up the old chap by a random Locum doctor in the hospital, knee-deep in the human debris of a Brighton New Year. Or risk my bladder exploding and drowning Lorraine, Betty the cats and myself in a piss tsunami. I opted for the second route, and luckily I was able to squeeze out just enough wee to prevent this catastrophe.

Meanwhile the flu is still hanging on like grim death, and my lungs at night sound like the devil's accordion. My fantasies have become pathetic: longing to be able to sit in a cafe in Brighton and have a cup of tea is one.

Lorraine who is thankfully gradually improving from the flu, went off to see Dawn, lately returned from New Zealand, and now installed in her new flat, for brunch. I was bought a delicious breakfast muffin back. Betty, Lorraine and I then lay about watching past episodes of The Great British Bake off, which was escapist and fun. I want to eat more scones.

Below Blake's depiction of Job about to unleash a piss tsunami on his unsuspecting daughters.