Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The string game

Lorraine and I off on a foray to five ways, nearby where we went to a shop and bought a small iron stag's head, which is our new hat stag, and some vegetables. We decided every home needs a hat stag.  Also sorting out the fire alarms for the house too. I did some admin and writing this afternoon. 

Toby arrived this evening, and soon was jumping on the bus with Lorraine and I to Hove, and Rosie's new place, while Beth off to a funk and soul night with her pal Amy. A nice party to end the year. Rosie's mum Susan was there, but soon left. Then Emily, Rosie's sister and Tim arrived. Anton was there already, as was Rosie's nice pal from London Alice. Lots of chilli to eat, and cocktails mixed with varying degrees of expertise.

Alice initiated a game at one point, where she sat around with string and cut them into varying lengths then hid them around the room, having banished all of us from it. Then we all looked for the string and then compared the length of the string we found. Inevitably Lorraine won. Two late entries to the party, Dave and his mate, burst in in time for midnight. Eventually Anton, Toby Lorraine and I made off. Anton by taxi and we three by the nightbus which dropped us handily at the top of Beaky Villas around the corner. Spoke to a man on the bus at some length about his tasseled jacket.  

Below Emily, with Rosie in a mirror; Tim; Anton enjoying the string game; Alice; Rosie our glamorous hostess; Lorraine winning the string game; me Anton and Toby.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Mum's birthday today. I'd given her a CD by Stan Tracey called Under Milk Wood. She used to know Stan Tracey quite well when she worked at Ronnie Scott's.

Lorraine and I lay in bed like slackers and then did a spot of gardening in our front garden, in the few minutes this took I managed to hurt my back abominably by lifting up a sack of wet sand. Then we drove with a carful of stuff to the tip. A good feeling to be getting rid of things rather than constantly trying to find room for things.

The evening spent enjoyably playing cards with John and Beth. We played euchre and uno, and another not particularly good game called crazy eights where eights are crazy. Great fun sitting about listening to music and sipping the odd Christmas drink, especially for me while playing Euchre, which of course forcibly reminds me of times past.

To bed, where my back began to hurt abominably.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fond farewells and an interlude

Breakfast this morning. Lorraine and I chatting with Claudia about a range of important subjects, such as prom dresses, and how to structure a written essay.  Then Pat and Maureen and Claudia, all piled into the car and Lorraine drove them off to the station, and I waved them off from the front door. The house felt strangely empty empty till Lorraine returned. I'd enjoyed having Lorraine's folks and my favourite niece come to stay.

Afterwards we took ourselves for a walk around the park as the sun was beginning to set this afternoon, and for a bit of exercise. Enjoyed the long winter shadows and the low sun bringing out the colour.

Quite nice to have the house to ourselves for an evening. Lorraine and I spent our time  sprawled on the gold sofa, grazing on chocolates, crisps and watching an action movie called The Rock, some entertaining nonsense set in Alcatraz, and starring Sean Connery and a bazillion bullets.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nice as pie

Lorraine and I had another much needed slow start. Another bad night's sleep for Lorraine. Maureen and Pat up  early, when we eventually got up L and I had a porridge breakfast, which Claudia balked at, preferring chocolate.

After much to-ing and fro-ing Claudia off on another shopping expedition in town, while Lorraine, Pat, Maureen and myself out of town to an Argos and a Next, to buy a laundry basket, and a rail for having towels on, not to mention some leeks. I also bought two shirts in a sale.

Home again, and I repaired to my study, and caught up with a some of the things I should have been doing in the last few weeks. Thinking about the reading we have in London on the first working Wednesday of the year.  I love my new study. And the speakers Lorraine bought me for Christmas sound beautiful.

The day interspersed, naturally, with some grappling with toilet seats, and a spot of violent hammering, and Lorraine also hung hooks on several doors before cooked a marvellous turkey and leek pie this evening which we all enjoyed. The end of the turkey, and marvellous it was too.

Weather turning cold.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Up to Edgware

Extreme wind all night long. Part of the fence blew down, and the tiles on the roof above our head felt like they were rattling and shifting. As a consequence not too much sleep.

Off to London to see Mum and Mas, newly sprung from hospital, and the Tobster, newly arrived from Canada. Lorraine and I set off with a song on our lips at 10:30 but the ghastly M25 was virtually gridlocked, and it added almost two hours to our journey. We arrived at The Toby Carvery, where we had arranged to meet, fairly stiff and limping. Mum had sensibly had a couple of gin and tonics, and Toby a beer. Mason was doing remarkably well considering this was his first full day having been released back into the wild. He said that some people on the ward liked to talk more than others.

The Toby Carvery was great value for money, and if you got the special large oval plate you could gorge even more. Toby, gripped by an unnatural appetite, and I opted for this at Mason's prompting. A pleasant meal, apart from mum choking and then choking afresh on the water I got from the bar. But lovely to sit chatting. Our calorie carnival was then augmented by sundaes. 

Then all home to sit by the fire at Mum and Mason's place, where I consumed pistachio nuts, and we swapped presents and chatted for hours. Mason's present was sadly still under the tree in Brighton. Looked at some amazing photos that Toby had taken in Patagonia, and got camera envy looking at the Tobster's new camera. Lorraine's new mobile bluetooth speaker came in handy, and she played the recording she had made of Chiara Beebe's piece on her phone. Mum and Tobs liked it - and it served to remind me that the whole year hadn't been entirely devoted to house move hell.

A bonus was that Romy Face Timed from Japan so we all got to say hello to her too, despite it being the middle of the night after a demanding day with a ceremony for Hiroko. Lorraine and I talking lots about how it was this time last year that we were in Japan. As usual seeing Toby, who we've not seen since then, is just like having seen him last week. 

Then off in the car, a few minutes of ghastliness as the M25 seemed again to come to a standstill on the way home but luckily this was just temporary - and we made it home in half the time it took us to get up to London, which was rather excellent.

Back to our new home, and Pat and Maureen comfy on the sofa, and Claudia bright and chatty this evening, having had a splendid day in Brighton.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing day

Boxing day, and Lorraine and I tore ourselves from bed reluctantly. Beth up and off on the London leg of her festivities.

We had a bit of a slow day, but in the afternoon we drove off with Claudia, Pat and Maureen to Shoreham to a shop called Dunelm Mills where we looked at curtains, and curtain hooks and so on. Outside it was very grey and soon began raining in icy drops. Felt a bit sorry for Claudia as this probably wasn't the most intensely exciting way to spend a boxing day for a twenty year old.

Home to eat cold turkey, pickles and bubble and squeak, which was tremendously nice -- and a cheery evening slumped before the TV eating things in best British festive spirit.

Below whilst browsing around in the shop, I also amused myself by trying to take photos of Maureen being menaced by a giant squid. A photo I later forwarded on to Betty.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas day

Our first Christmas day in Osborne Road. Beth the Christmas elf shouting Merry Christmas to everyone this morning, and coming up to Lorraine and my bedroom armed with cups of tea and her stocking, which she opened on the end of our bed. Then up and Lorraine and Beth prepared the turkey.

Then a gradual process of getting up and gathered in the front room where presents were exchanged. Santa was kind to me, with gifts including lovely cacti and a new jade plant, wireless speakers for my study, a bottle of bison grass vodka (flavoured by grass urinated on by bison in the Polish forest from Anton).

Much skyping this morning, with Derek and Laura in snowy Finland, Toby and Mum, with the Tobster just arrived after being speedily buffeted across the Atlantic. Also telephoned Mason, sadly stuck in hospital today, not in any physical discomfort but cheesing off anyway.

After a toast breakfast, a communal vegetable preparing frenzy. Then Pat and I were given permission to have a manly pint in the Preston Park Tavern again. Had a really nice chat with Pat there, and really good to be out of the hurly burly.

Arrived home in time, to help with a few last bits of preparation and to carve the Turkey. And it was quite possibly the nicest turkey I have ever tasted. A wealth of vegetables of course too. Cauliflower and leek in a cheese sauce, roast parsnips in maple syrup, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, leeks, carrots, mushrooms in sage, plus stuffing, and pigs in blankets, Yorkshire puddings.

A general boofing out on the sofas afterwards, watching a variety of Christmas movies, including Big with Tom Hanks which is great fun.  I even crept away for a doze, not finding the gold sofa capacious enough. Then later there was Christmas pudding.

I called Janet for a chat, before heading back to more TV then everyone played a cheery game of Uno, at which I came last in for the second day running. Into bed just after midnight.

Failing to take photos for some reason. But here is the turkey being pricked, and Lorraine filming before we sat down for our Christmas meal.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The smell of raw turkey

Up early on Christmas Eve. Lorraine, Beth and I went off to collect the turkey from the Choice Cuts butcher first thing. We were made to educate our noses to the smell of a fresh turkey. Very fresh, but distinct. Told a parable about how certain mother in laws are unable to recognise the smell of fresh turkeys, and reduce daughters-in-law to tears and visions of a spoiled Christmas because of it. Box tied up securely as apparently a turkey was dropped outside the shop once, to great consternation.

On return Lorraine and I cooked up a big breakfast for everyone, I was on enjoyable griddle duties, sizzling up lots of newly bought sausages and bacon, while Lorraine scrambled eggs and made toast. Cooking for eight is not something I've done much. It all gets quite industrial in scale.

Then fond farewells to Sam and Jade, who were taking off back to London. Lorraine and I drove them to the station. Lovely to see both of them.

A sudden tiredness this afternoon and slept for an hour. Spoke to Mum, who said Mason is still in hospital, and will be there over Christmas too which is a bit dismal. The Tobster making his way to Blighty though today, which is cheering.

Wrapped Lorraine's presents. And still the sense of lots to be done.

At tea time, Lorraine and I drove off to Anton's place to drop off presents for the Klaudia and Oskar. Had a quick glass of festive bubbly cheer with Anne, who was nursing a cold, and with Brian and Anna. Klaudia and Oskar full of pre-Christmas excitability, which manifested itself in insisting on holding my hands and then walking up my body to flip over. This done several times by both.

Home again, for supper of chicken stew and baked potatoes.  Then a long and enjoyable game of Uno, at which I came last by some distance. To bed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Many arrivals

The morning up with the lark, and Claudia, Lorraine and I off to Sainsbury's to spend the equivalent of the economy of Luxembourg on food and drink. Home, and a tidying frenzy in preparation for Sam and Jade's arrival at lunchtime, them having travelled down this morning from Leeds. We all enjoyed a good deal of enjoyable hanging out,  drinking port with Sam and Jade in the kitchen. Beth and Claudia returning from shopping.

Great to see Sam and Jade, who both seem to be doing excellently. Jade just had her graduation ceremony for her MA, and is already into her PhD. Sam has embarked on his MA, and is working in a distribution warehouse to top up his money. Sam with elephantine sneezes and nose-blowing, which Jade said someone at the back of their coach had admiringly proclaimed a 'bad man' sneeze.

Sam and Jade out for a spot of festive shopping, and a walk by the sea, returning a few hours later with more port. Then Lorraine and I off to Brighton to collect Pat and Maureen from the station.

Speaking to Mum on FaceTime. Not sure when Mason will be released from hospital. Hopefully before Christmas.

We spent a happy evening eating, and swapping presents with Sam and Jade, as they are going to leave before Christmas.  Around 10 o'clock we all made off to the Preston Park Tavern for an evening drink. First time drinking in my local pub as a local. A nice friendly place. Claudia inexplicably scandalising Maureen by having a tequila. I took my little toy squid with me, and we had fun tormenting Maureen with this. Beth inserting it into her glove just before leaving time too. Simple fun. Lorraine loving having Sam and Beth at the same time.

Below comings and goings in New Kenny Towers. Betty and Pat and Maureen in the background: Sam, Jade and Lorraine; Pat like Christmas God brandishing a stalk of Brussel's sprouts; Calliope still enjoying the boxes; Claudia and Maureen and Pat; me, Sam and Jade; Sam enjoying receiving the traditional smoked cheese, gifted by Lorraine to both Sam and Beth for many years at Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Claudia arrives

Up early, and after a porridge breakfast I bused into town with John, who was setting off back to London. A morning's shopping, but I paused briefly to have five minutes standing by the rough sea. This being the first day I could walk unhobbled for several weeks. Felt very free and happy. Then plunged back into the shopping melee to snap up a few items. Ended up in the M&S food hall, which was very busy, buying chocolate coins, Christmas Pudding, & extremely chocolately muffins. These latter items for Claudia who arrived from Finland today, and is the pebble who starts the Christmas landslide.

When I got home, Claudia sleeping off the rigours of the journey. Lorraine and I had a spot of lunch and I slept for an hour, then the devoted the next 10 hours or so moving boxes about, unpacking, dragging things, hammering and so on. Despite Lorraine and I looking in every conceivable place for the last couple of days, the bolts for the double bed in the spare room remain lost, so Claudia will have to sleep on the mattress on the floor. Claudia being extremely helpful all day, and also helped Lorraine cook a large fisherman's pie which we broke off from working to consume.

FaceTime with Mum and Toby. Mas is okay and not in any pain, and is likely to be sent home before Christmas with any luck. She's tired from the journey to the hospital, but friends are rallying round. Toby, Romy, Joan and Dick returned after an epic three flights from South America to Toronto. Toby heading to Blighty and Mum's place on the 24th, arriving in the morning, and Romy travelling to Japan.

The last couple of hours of the day spent wrapping presents. Claudia off to bed, having been worked hard, and Beth appeared after two successful performances of the show in Eastbourne. Her part there is now done -- as she was covering for one of the cast members who had to go on a job to the middle east.

Lorraine and I dog tired to bed, at just after midnight.

Below, a glimpse of the grey and squally sea, cats untroubled among the debris of moving, and my pirate box now is filled with chocolate doubloons a sure sign of Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Beth is regal, Rosie moves house

Seagulls scuffling on the roof this morning. L & I up and off shopping in Brighton this morning. Grew somewhat tired and dispirited after a while hobbling about around in town and so had to drink coffee instead. Caught the bus back with Lorraine and we stopped in our nearby butcher and grocer. Here there was a fabulous display of pies. We bought one.

Lorraine drove Beth, John and I to Eastbourne this afternoon, where Beth was being Mrs Klaus. A quick glimpse of the burned pier, and then did a bit of shopping with Lorraine as John sensibly repaired to a pub, and Beth got herself ready for the performance.

The Hippodrome a nice old theatre, and Beth's pal Sarah has hired it and put on a Christmas show of her own devising, which his selling really well. Beth was very regal and funny Mrs Klaus. She has such sheer wattage as a performer that she grabs attention every time she is on stage. Lots of children in the audience and they all seemed to enjoy themselves, as did the adults.

When the performance was done, which saw Beth doing lots of singing, and deploying a range of  Mrs Klaus faces Lorraine and I had our photos taken outside with the Mr and Mrs Klaus and Jack Frost. Rather over excited by this.

Then to a pub, called The Crown and Anchor for a cheeky drink while waiting for Beth. Lorraine then drove us home.

Spoke to Mum, Mason still comfortable and waiting news of when he can be released back into the wild.

In the evening Lorraine and I taxied off to see Rosie's new flat, which is rather spiffing, and very close to the sea in Hove. Anton was there too. Rosie looked tired, for as we know, moving is hell. She was also spooking herself about a door into a utility space is near her own door on her building, which she told us is where the serial killer lives. Much reassurance later about the absence of serial killer, the robustness of her locks and so on, we left her to it.

Below a world of pies, Beth on centre stage as Mrs Klaus, Lorraine and I slightly over excitedly being photographed with the Klaus family.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Men around today to remove an old half dead sofa, at the crack of dawn. Weirdly, there was no sign of Calliope this morning, She always wakes us up in the morning. I showered, picturing thirteen ways Calliope could have met a grizzly end. She emerged eventually from silent hiding amid the pile of boxes in the living room, but only when Lorraine and I were both in the room calling for her. She was terrified, and scared to go in the kitchen. We suspect the evil ginger and white cat of breaking in and committing some bestial act.

I'm able to walk a far better now. A good thing too as I had to slope off to the quack to have my blood purine levels tested. A cheery nurse there extracting the gore. I always like talking to her. Then a haircut as my hair was in Wild Man of Borneo mode (except of course for the dispiriting Area of Concern). None, of course, as bad as these. Also had a large cup of coffee which made me feel very lively. Good to be out and about, then home on the bus. Betty and John were still home, and Lorraine home too. We all ate toast and marmalade, then a few hours later baguette and sausages that I'd bought from the organic grocer and butcher around the corner.

Beth off this afternoon for a final rehearsal of her role of Mrs Klaus, in Christmas show in Eastbourne. Toby Facetimed and was able to walk me around the luxurious Uruguayan resort where he and Romy, with Joan and Dick, are staying on the edge of the Atlantic, and drenched in summer sun. I walked him around New Kenny Towers and showed him the grey sky of Blighty. A glimpse of Romy too, and have had email from Joan too. FaceTime with Mum later, who is slowly recovering from things and looking forward to the arrival of the Tobster on Christmas Day.

Slept this afternoon. Wonderfully lucky to be able to power down when I needed to. Lorraine and I had a teatime snooze, Then evolved Christmas schemes and wheezes after I guiltily slipped out and purchase fish & chips from Jenny's Fish & Chips around the corner. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wild salmon

Leg improving, thank goodness, although energy levels still lower than an earthworm's posterior. Up early writing things, but my brain not in rapier-like form, being instead buttery and unable to do much. Pottered about in my study and in the house. Pesky broadband not working well either. Beth and John around and cheerfully sorting things out in Beth's room.

Sonya came by this afternoon, and we discussed at some length and earnestly if she could fit us in, in our new place. Looks like she will be able to rearrange things. Nice to see her, and she left us some cookies for Christmas and a card, which I found a tad embarrassing as I was empty-handed.

Off this evening by taxi to see Janet and Ken. We were twenty minutes early, but we were forgiven. Janet had cooked Alaskan wild salmon (wild? it was furious! etc.) which was rather delicious. Ken rather low physically and spiritually in coming to terms with his daughter's death. My heart went out to my old friend. However we drank a little wine and had some good conversation. But I was shattered by around nine o'clock, it being the first time I'd been out and about for a while.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Song and dance

Leg noticeably perkier having not used it to hauling things up and down stairs for a day. A boon. Lorraine working from home all day, which was splendid. A long chat with Matty boy, who I'd not caught up with for some time. He, Isy and the bairn are now happily installed in a new home in Brentford.

In the afternoon hopped on the bus to meet Helen Russell in Hove for an hour and a half. Enjoyable meeting, and Helen's an interesting person. We sat at the piano and she played me some of the music she had been sketching. It all sounded coherent and often very melodic with a gorgeous 12 tone passage - and she has strong ideas for the piece, an oratorio or opera. Interestingly we seem to be on the same page when it comes to what we have read. She mentioned Heidegger, and Levi-Strauss for example, and we talked at length about mythology, and I showed her how I used mythology in my work, for example in the Minotaur piece. She was also complimentary about the work Matt and I had done together, and she completely got the idea of a concert falling in love with its listener. We have decided to explore some ideas together.

Hopped back on the bus and came home, did some general computer based tinkering, then mended the door into the dungeon, whose doorknob had come out on a stalk, and cooked a damn fine dinner even if I say so myself. Lorraine and I greatly diverted as I stirred my concoctions by an e-card featuring Jane and Richard apparently in the guise of festive reindeer dancing to La macarena.  Richard is also a featured writer here, looking as devastating as ever.

Also, Joan has been doing a bit of blogging, adding photos taken on her holiday with Toby, Romy and Dick in Patagonia. Have a look at them here.

Below Richard and Jane.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejecting rejection

Resting mangled leg in my study, sorting and stacking more books in with the help of an additional bookcase I lifted on top one of the ones added at the weekend. The cats hanging around me, and sitting in boxes when they became available. Feeling really happy about my study. I'm not sure what to call it really. The Study, The Office, The Nervecentre?  I've even found myself calling it My Bedroom a couple of times. Nice to surrounded by my books and a single window with a lovely view - currently mitigated by guano on the glass.

Have also been forcing myself to thrown things away, chiefly bits of paper, drafts of useless poems, and most symbolic of all, old rejections that I'd kept from publishers. Forcing myself to wonder why the hell am I treasuring rejection? No longer.

Lorraine and Beth out all day and most of the evening, so I spent most of the day on this kind of thing. FaceTimed Mum who, with Mas, are still glum and coldy. Also and spoke briefly to Janet two seconds after she sent me an email.

I reached a point this evening when I had to stop pottering about. There is so much to do, but leg and brain like an unusually configured Man From Del Monte said NO. So I spent the the remainder of the evening nursing the Limb of Evil eating the PK comfort food of spaghetti and chuckling at Fraziers, till Lorraine returned, with a painting of a yellow rose that Carolyn had made for our wedding present. To bed, then Beth returned who sat on the end of the bed, laughing about assorted subjects till late.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


We got up early and before breakfast a new van-load boxes and belongings. But before we got up, we watched this video of Jim Carrey, and very much enjoyed this jolt of positivity.

This time it was Pete and Pat who had kindly brought the garage-load of stuff. Having worked like ants to clear some space yesterday, this was all filled up again we all brought the absolute bloody final stuff into the house. Pat and Pete drove off back home to Kent, as Maureen had already put the Sunday lunch on, and then we spent the rest of the day getting things straight. Lorraine did a heroic job in the dungeon where lots of our stuff is now stored.

A day of hauling things, but enjoyable despite my leg hurting lots by the end of the day. My office is in shape enough to simply get up and do work in it too.

Betty back from her rehearsal as Mrs Klaus, which went very well. John arrived this evening too, and we all had roast pork for supper, and a drop of bubbly to celebrate his birthday, which had been a couple of days before.

Watched the enjoyable romcom, What women want, this evening. Love this film. Not least for its lavish depiction of the life of an agency creative. Just being able to hear what other people think would be fascinating, although it would probably send you mad.

A nice review of The Nightwork here in the online magazine Antiphon.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Force is with her

My wife gripped by The Force this morning. At a count of three we are getting out of bed, she announced early in the morning, and we did.  Once up and breakfasted we enacted the rearrangement of my study, after she and Dawn had discussed it while I was out with Anton. Miraculously, by removing one of my desklegs the office is now how I wanted it, with two bookcases too.

Lorraine effortlessly power drilled holes deftly aligning holes and brackets, and I simply had to screw them into the walls. Together we did loads of stuff on the house, much hauling of bookcases and books today and I was able to begin unpacking my hundreds of books, freeing lots of room downstairs.

In the afternoon, the human dynamo that is Lorraine even shopped in Brighton in a frenzy. Beth back after teaching this morning, laden with bags of essentials such as large jars.The evening spent with Beth and Lorraine then sorting out Beth's room. Before we all collapsed on the gold sofa, enjoying bowls of chicken and vegetable stew, and a bit of mindless TV, and a spot of online Christmas shopping.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New connections

More organising and sorting. Trying to protect my leg which hurts in foot and knee. Lorraine came home at lunchtime and we ended up sneaking off for a nap in the afternoon and had a relaxed and happy evening.

Spoke to Helen Russell, who is a composer with an idea for an opera who got in touch with me earlier this week after hearing Clameur. She is based in Hove I am going to meet her next week to explore the project more, and hear some of what she's been working on. She's really enthusiastic and working rapidly, so it will be very interesting to meet her. Interesting to make new connections.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A night out with Anton

Another day of taking life comparatively easy, working in my study which seems to be the warmest room in the house, in the company of cats.

Out with Anton this evening. I caught the bus into town, and we bumped into each other on the street as I was getting beer tokens out of the cash machine. Then to spend them: off to a couple of pubs, The Seven Stars and The Black Lion. The pubs full of people on awkward office parties. We went to Zizzi's where we were thoughtfully given a romantic table for two. The pizza however marred by an excess of unnecessary mascarpone.

Anton full of cheer after his latest trip to the US. He also showed me some photos of Klaudia and Oskar in their school play on a WW1 theme, apparently the bit when the kids sang Silent Night, one half of them in English and the other German was very moving.

From there we went to Northern Lights, also known by us as the Twin Peaks bar. Its Lynchian credentials on show tonight with an ineptly run musician's open night upstairs. We watched a soulless blues guitarist, but when a mawkish pink-haired folk singer began keening Anton's will to live began to ebb rapidly away, and we made off. After an ill advised absolute bloody final drink I cabbed back to Osborne Road, where Lorraine and Betty were still up and chatting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sad news, and getting a grip

Lorraine working from home today, sitting in the kitchen muttering things like 75%, 78%, B2... over our lunch of tomato soup. Catching up after supervising the delivery of our new fridge. It is as tall as me. The freezer is below which means that nothing is stored at ankle level. A boon! A man called Justin installed our dishwasher too.  The house is becoming fully functional.

A much needed day of physical recuperation. I lifted no boxes and heavy furniture, nor did I spend the day painting or scraping walls. My bad ankle and knee thanked me for it, as I have done nothing but traumatise them over the last week.  So a day of trying to pick up the threads of my work and writing. Also listened to a reading by Nadine Gordimer of Jose Saramago's short story The Centaur.

Catching up with conversations too. Mum feeling better after a seeing a sympathetic doctor, who explained what the very high dose of antibiotics was doing to her and how to manage the side effects for the next couple of days. Heard from the lovely First Matie. I'd had a dream about her the night before last, and told Lorraine I needed to call her. My the psychic summons was sent and she called me first.  Kate is currently topping up the Rontree coffers in London, and is feeling cheery about life in Hull and her relationship with Nick.

I then spoke to Ken, who told me the rather shocking news that he had been to his daughter's funeral.  Rachel had been ill for some time, and the funeral had been on Monday. Sad news indeed even though I'd not seen Rachel for several years.  She was a beautiful singer with a bell like tone, and much promise when I first met her. Poor Ken has lost two of his daughters prematurely. Rachel was only in her forties. I also had a long conversation with Janet, as Ken did not feel like talking much.

Rosie popped by early this evening, chiefly it appeared to get a hug from Lorraine.  And this accomplished she zoomed off, having to prepare to move home too.

I cooked a stir fry with salmon cooked in lemon juice and Lorraine and I slumped gratefully on the sofa, watching a couple of Frazier episodes before bed.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Like a box out of storage

Yet another heavy day of house moving stuff. Off to The Big Box company with Lorraine at eight where we met the Ark removals guys. Lorraine drove me home, and then had to go to work leaving Betty and I to several hours of accepting and directing two and a half trucksful of stuff through the house. The Ark guys Steve and Martin are really likeable and get the job in a way that reduces stress. Spotted them a decent tip at the end, (referred to as 'a drink').  

House now looks like a bomb hit it all over again. Betty and I tried to clear spaces of civilisation, and also rebuilt Beth's enormous bed. Beth surprisingly strong at lifting things. Personally I was in need of smelling salts by the evening, and aching. Cats locked up in the bathroom while the movers here. They have a new enemy: a pugnacious looking ginger and white tomcat who sits in the garden like a malevolent garden Buddha waiting to menaces them at the cat door.

FaceTime with Mum today, feeling unwell after being dosed up with antibiotics after her appalling nocturnal cat attack. 

A  chat this evening with Derek, Lorraine's brother, about a wide range of subjects. I really want to visit Derek and Laura in Finland one of these good days. Meanwhile, we shall be enjoying the company of Claudia this Christmas.  

Promisingly contacted by a composer called Helen about a possible music and words collaboration.

A teleconference with Lorraine driving home after working late, Beth ordered a curry from the Shahi which Lorriane collected and we tucked into on the gold sofa, grateful that there is just one more load coming at the weekend. All to bed: a day that it is pleasing to have got over.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Graceful and cheery

Up with the sparrows applying Graceful Green coloured paint. Basically grey with suggestion of green. It does however look elegant, next to white. Grown up is what it is. Then broke off at lunchtime as Beth arrived with Gary in a van, full of her London stuff. This rapidly disgorged, and we'd congratulated each other, on Gary's marriage and our house purchase, Gary drove off and Beth's stuff on the floor in her room.

Lorraine working from home this afternoon, so all was cheery, despite this review of The Nightwork. I understand there are a couple of other reviews forthcoming which may be a bit more favourable. But I'd rather get an indifferent review than none at all.

In a very good mood, to The Nelson where I read some of poems in the Stanza Bonanza meeting. A very cheery evening, with lots of good poetry read. I tried a new poem primarily written to be performed callled A poet walks into a bar, which went down quite well, as well as a couple of others from The Nightwork. Nice to see Robin, Antony, Andie, Susan and others. Also met Sarah Barnsley, there with her wife Lou, who Robin and I have been corresponding with lately. I like Sarah's work a good deal.

Home, having taxied home from the centre as my leg still painful.  

Sunday, December 07, 2014


A positive lie in. Then Lorraine and I prepping and then painting the first coat of the lounge and dining room which took much of the day. Beth came home for a couple of hours too, and did some painting before travelling up to London to collect the rest of her stuff from her Dad's house.

A man also came and dropped three stools outside our door, luckily they were stools we had ordered and could sit on. And after the painting was done we assembled them and were able to sit in the kitchen, cooking, eating and listening to the pretty good Radio 4 series of The Once and Future King.

Later I FaceTimed Mum who it transpired had been having a wretched time. Not only had she and Mason have bad colds, but also a few days ago there was a problem with the cat flap which jammed open. Mum was woken at two o'clock in the morning with Felix and a bad cat fighting in her bedroom. She tried to intervene and got deeply scratched in the process. She was given antibiotics but then had to have them tripled in strength as the infection was tracking along her arm. Luckily she is on the mend now. A ghastly way to be woken up in the night.

To bed early, listening to music and finally catching up on this blog.

Below, Lorraine in DIY mode. Calliope emerging from an adventure under the plastic cover sheet.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Starting from scratch

Saturday, thank God. Managed a much needed lie in before the cats grew pesky, and I sidled down the Ghormenghastly stairs of New Kenny Towers to the kitchen to appease them and make tea. Then, soon after Lorraine and I were up and at 'em, driving around buying paint and other stuff as well as Trading Boundaries where we bought a throw, golden in colour, which Lorraine has fashioned into a harem-like hanging which now shields the north of Brighton from seeing us clamber into bed of a night. There was also a small exhibition of signed Hipgnosis prints of album covers by the likes of Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, including the famous prism cover of Dark Side of the Moon signed by Storm Thorgerson.

Then home to spend time filling the holes and scars in the walls and then spent the evening watching a ridiculously stupid film called Battleship, where mighty transforming alien craft take on navy ships or something. Really stupid. We also guiltily ate fish and chips again, rather than cook. At last too, I was able to watch Match of the Day, for the first time for many weeks, only to see Chelsea get beaten for the first time this season.

Below always liked this shot, scratch, for the cover of the second Peter Gabriel solo albums.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Tidy Friday

All but finished the scraping of the walls. Lorraine home fairly early too, so after she'd finished calls to her colleagues, we had a mammoth clearing up of all the shreds of paper, mopping the floors, hoovering like maniacs till around eight. Then a sense of quiet calm restored to the house, through the simple expedient of tidiness. A pleasant evening spent not scraping or working. Blissful.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

A Lewes Interlude

A nippy morning, and hobbling off to Lewes to meet with Robin. Lorraine a little later this morning and gave me a lift to London Road Station.

Nice to be out and about, and Lewes is a lovely place. Robin lives in an archetypical Lewes street with a pub at one end and a church at the other, and a castle lurking in the mist somewhere nearby. Really good to see Robin, and chat about poems, poets and also to get her opinion on matters of social media.

Walked home from London Road, and after a bit of wall scraping, worked in my office plugging bits of computer together and trying to get organised. Then dissembling half the kitchen, and struggling with plumbing, until we had connected the washing machine. I shall have clean clothes for the ball.

Lorraine and I finished off the beanjar, with hunks of chewy brown bread and slumped in front of the TV watching Masterchef. To bed, throat still swollen and sore, foot still relentlessly hobbly.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Inaugural beans

New Kenny Towers a place of industry. I made a Guernsey beanjar, to christen the house with my bean-based aromas. A BT guy arrived to connect our wifi, as three men arrived with our new washing machine, which is now in the dungeon, as Lorraine and I have dubbed the cellar. Later other men delivered was a dishwashing machine, that I thought I might be able to plug right in, but came with a many instructions, regrettably none in English.

My throat now very sore and my neck puffy with swollen glands, and foot still hurts, so today's painting, scraping and rebuilding my office a slog. Lorraine doing governor training, but not too late. Beth back for a few hours too, before zooming off to look after Anton's house while he is in the US, and we all snapped down some beanjar.

In the evening, the previous owner helped us decode the mystery of the washing machine plumbing. It means we have to take apart a substantial kitchen unit, and pass the outflow pipe from the washing machine into a special tube. All rather neat, apparently. Matthew his name was, and he was very helpful and has moved just around the corner.

Early to bed for me, worn thin (for a generously proportioned man that is).

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Beetling about

Solitary, but cheerful, painting and scraping for most of the day, listening to loads of podcasts.

The day also enlivened by a Rentokil surveyor called Sonny who came by to look at some woodworm holes, something we'd organised before we moved in. I liked Sonny a lot, and we had a cheery conversation about the life cycle of the wood beetle among other things. We need some poisonous fog releasing in the what he called, rather fabulously, the sub floor void. This will exterminate them, though they have not weakened the house structurally. Apparently we only have to be out of the house for an hour or so, as this beetle atrocity happens.

Otherwise a day of hard work, not made easier by an ouchy foot. Popped down to a reassuringly middle class organic grocery and butcher where chewy brown bread is readily available. Bought the last one, much to the annoyance of the men behind me who wanted it.

Was very tired by the time Lorraine got home, but we did lots more stuff and ate and had yet another early night.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Rolling, scraping & flashing

Lorraine back to work today, with sadness and a heavy heart. I woke up at 5 and lay awake with Calliope pressing her face on me looking down at the north of Brighton as it slept. Up early with Lorraine and I cooked us porridge and Lorraine made off to work and I painted my new office again with rollers of the world’s thinnest white paint. Also applied some testers and am going to have one of the walls a shade called Sophisticated Sage. Entirely apt.

Then down to wake Betty sleeping in the front room with a cup of tea, and soon we were scraping the biscuit coloured crinkly wallpaper from the walls, a job we did happily for five or six hours. In fact it is quite addictive, a bit like some kind of video game. Yelping with pleasure when the 'quick win' of a high scoring shred of wallpaper came off. Sadly the walls had some very stubborn patches too. But we enjoyed our time chatting and listening to music, and lunching on miso soup until John arrived in the afternoon and took over from me as I snuck away for a snooze. 

Infuriatingly, my foot is hurting again, forcing me to hobble about during my tasks and gulp handfuls of pills. I did not let it stop me for doing a good eight hours on DIY stuff. Later, I hobbled into the local shop, the cheery shopkeeper selling pritstick to a mother and jokingly saying that after six o’clock the price doubles for mums doing their kids homework. 

Lorraine home, and Beth cooked us a bacony pasta sauce with penne we tucked into this with great gusto. Beth off to do some work over the next couple of days. Lorraine and I very tired, and made off early to bed, with the expansive view twinkling below us.  I guess we need to get curtains as we are regularly flashing the north of Brighton with our genitals.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bold as a biscuit

Awake and marvelling at the view, seagulls thumping on the roof above us. Our cats looking down on the birds below them with carnivorous longing.

We started painting my study today, as being able to get going on my work is a priority. However the crown white paint we bought on offer is dire and watery. The biscuit does not want to be beaten, and shows through sturdily.

Then Lorraine and I started an experimental scraping of the bobbly biscuit wallpaper downstairs. Hearteningly some of this came away in big strips, and we'd managed to peel a good 40 percent of it off in an hour.

Beth returned this afternoon, and later John arrived. Anton, Klaudia and Oskar dropped by, armed with cards and a bottle of bubbly. Anton going somewhat greenish at the view on the 4th floor, especially when we opened the doors and the children leaned over the rail. The children enjoying going into the walk in wardrobe, and then having the lights turned off on them.

Later Rosie came for supper, armed with delicious heart shaped cheeses. And we all had a roast, rather a lot of wine and beer. Rosie is about to move in the next couple of weeks too, and so going through the last ghastly bits of her Hove move.

Below the view from our bedroom. John, Oskar and Klaudia lurking in the new house looking less biscuity than in reality; Rosie's heart shaped cheeses, neither of which survived the night, and Rosie and Calliope.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Lorraine and I had a poorish night’s sleep being somewhat overtired. The disorientated cats waking us up periodically, with Brian springing up from the side of the bed into Lorraine’s face twice in the night.

Can’t remember feeling as happy as I did this morning. Apart from the sheer pleasure of moving in to the house Lorraine and I have bought together, there is the unadulterated joy of knowing that the years of property-related uncertainty, delay and frustration have at last ended. We live here. And Betty is delighted too. After her uncertainty about where she was living, she now knows she has a solid foundation and home to flourish out from.

Very tired but skipping about cheerily. A bit of a survey this morning, and prioritising what needs to be done. The bobbly biscuit coloured wallpaper needs to go pronto. The colour scheme in much of the house is of discordant beiges. Other people's colour sense baffles me sometimes.

Pat and Peter were due to arrive at lunchtime with a van armed with the stuff stored in Pat and Maureen's garage. However there was some last minute hitch, and they arrived (as I was out buying some lunch for us all) in a car, having managed to cram in our old fridge, and a few random boxes. Gave them the tour, and chatted before they drove back to Ashford.

Exploring the house. There is a low-ceilinged cellar here, which we are enjoying calling the dungeon. Then Lorraine and I drove off to buy some vegetables, and spend lots of money mooching about in Homebase on shower curtains, paint, scrapers, polyfiller and other DIY stuff. All this rather exciting: there is much to be done.

Friday, November 28, 2014

New House

Up just after six on the big day, Lorraine Betty and I drinking tea in our last unpacked cups before a final packing frenzy. The two amiable Ark removals guys Martin and Steve arrived to pack the stuff at 8:45. Cats locked into the bathroom, except Brian escaped when one of the movers opened the door, but I managed to snatch him back in the front garden.

The van driven off, and we followed in the car. I was last out, with the hoover, after we had conducted a rearguard of rapid cleaning, and dropped Jo’s key through the letterbox.

A brisk and unsentimental farewell to Haywards Heath and we drove to our new home in Brighton without incident, other than Calliopes weeing nervously out of the cat carrier. Fortunately away from Betty squished in beside them.

Opened up Osborne Road and piled in, cats in the en suite bathroom on the top floor, and the removals guys Steve and Martin rapidly unpacking our skeleton belongings. Feeling elated to be here. Our new home does not disappoint, and seems bigger than we remembered, and was left in good order with things being painted a biscuity colour.

The first thing that strikes you is the amazing views. The house is narrow and tall, and from the rear of the house, facing northwest, especially the converted loft room, which is where Lorraine and I have chosen as our bedroom has a fabulous high rise view from our low rise house of the North of Brighton, with the ranks of Victorian terraces, and the train line to London and areas of trees and the green downs visible beyond, with a windmill on the horizon. The smallest bedroom is going to be my office, and shares this inspiring view.

We all set to getting things straight. First priority is the kitchen, generally cleaning cupboards and deciding where things must be put. Good storage space, and a good oven left by the former owners. We don’t have a fridge yet. Betty off this afternoon to work with Sarah, and Lorraine and I set about dismantling the bed as this couldn’t get into our bedroom. Then reassembled all the bits in our bedroom. Having somewhere to sleep is a big priority. Appropriately enough, Dawn was our first visitor, bearing some bubbly which, when we drank it, went straight to all our heads. Then she bought us fish and chips from a chip shop around the corner, which was rather good and I bought a couple of cheeky lagers. A very cheery night, but Lorraine and I were exhausted by the end of it.

Lorraine, Beth and I shortly after dawn, in the half a minute of relaxation we got while waiting for the moving guys after a frenzy of packing. My self portrait a depiction of my complex feelings toward Haywards Heath.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Completion and a new moon

More packing today, punctuated by calls from the Solicitor and the Estate agent saying the house purchase had completed -- and gleeful texts to Lorraine and Beth. Then a final walk through Hateful Heath off to the station this afternoon, and trained to Preston Park station, alighted from there and wandered off to the Estate Agents and, pausing only to marvel at the convincing nature of the humanoid replicants, signed for the key to our new house at 4:30.

Stepped out of their office and as I crossed the road a sudden break in the cloud allowed me to glimpse the new moon. For superstitious reasons I had been trying not to see through glass all week, but had failed to see at all. This unadulterated new moon at such a time, seemed a good omen.

A sense of unreality about the walked up  Preston Drove, alongside Preston Park (the other end of the park we lived near before) and paused in the Park View, a nice enough boozer, and availed myself of a pint of beer while waiting for Lorraine. Then stepped outside, jumped into the car, and drove the couple of hundred yards up the road to our new house, opening the door and squeezing in together.

It seemed bigger than I remembered it. We brought in a few breakables from the car, such as the TV and some computery bits, Beth arrived shortly after, making us laugh by miming a cat spraying in the corners of the house, and we shared a glass of bubbly together.

Then off to the Shahi for a celebratory curry. Not been there for over a month and it felt good to be back, a strange surging of emotion expressed through the snapping of poppadoms.  Then, for the last time, we returned to Hayward's Heath.

Below a shot of the living room area of the new house. Not, perhaps, the most memorable testament to an important day.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The weight of the real

Final Monday in Haywards Heath. Money successfully wired through to solicitors, discussions with Rentokil about woodworm treatment scheduled for next week with a man called Sunny. Hoovering in preparation for the Estate agent photographer, who when he arrived forced Brian's removal from the scene on more than one occasion. Then into Haywards Heath to buy light-bulbs, interdental sticks, Brussels sprouts and so on. Brought to mind my old friend MSR, shaking his head and sighing about 'the weight of the real'. The glamour quotient presently very low.

Fiddling about with the look and feel of Peter Kenny The Writer Ltd. which will be launched on an unsuspecting world at some point after the move. Also swapping emails with Robin about Telltale and we are going to meet up next week once the move is done, and some of the dust has settled. Poking the weird lump between my ribs, which the quack was unconcerned about. It seems larger and more sore when I poke it.  Lorraine advised me not to poke it. My wife is the tops.

Below from the perfectly pleasant back door I can see this tree that birds sit in. Sometimes when there is only one perched on a twisty branch it looks quite Japanese. I'm not getting out much.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A final Sunday

Little today to trouble the legions of my future biographers. Rain falling steadily in Haywards Heath, as the grey Sunday hastened towards nightfall, which was Lorraine's cue to work on her dreary reports. A short trip to a garage to blow air into tyres, and to Sainsbury's local offered vivid interludes of excitement, having spent the day tidying the house, partly in preparation for arrival of a photographer tomorrow who will snap the house so Jo can rent it.

I feel a bit graceless wanting to be back in Brighton so fervently. We had great good fortune in Jo offering us this comfortable house to rent. But as I cannot quell the yippees that leak out of me when I think that our last weekend in Haywards Heath is done.

In the evening I cooked, after talking to Mum and Mas. Mum had been off to hear a concert, which was recorded for Radio 3, of music by young composers this afternoon.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Woke up early today, and got up to do a spot of writing for an hour or so before simply going back to bed. Eventually Lorraine and I got up again and attempted to be relentlessly organised and prepared. Not helped by BT Internet, whose widespread malfunction activated unasked for parental controls randomly barring access to sites like the wine society and even a florist - a bizarre problem which apparently affected lots of their customers.

To Brighton this evening, we were going to go by train but Lorraine decided to drive. First to Hove to pay, with some difficulty the money that Lorraine owed Sainsbury's petrol station having filled up her tank last week only to discover that her purse was at home. Took them ages to work out how to take the money -- a process which involved phoning people and looking at stuff in blue clip folders.

Then a minor accident. Parking in Brighton, close to where we used to live, the tyre caught the unusually high kerb and burst. Alarmed people came out of their house to check we'd not totalled their car. A stroke of IT related luck, however, in that Lorraine had downloaded the AA app earlier in the day. She was able to report the problem, and get an estimated time for the repair very quickly on her phone without having to speak to anyone -- till an AA man called her to say he'd arrived a little time later.

Celebration number two for Beth's birthday in the increasingly trendy, with its own DJ, Hare and Hounds on Preston Circus. Beth, John and Anton were already there, a sparkly Betty having booked a booth and John sensibly at the bar getting beers in when we arrived. Sadly a couple of Beth's pals had to pull out at the last moment but we had a good time anyway, strapping on the nosebag and eating some rather nice Mexican street food made with pulled pork. Beth's pals Ainsley and Milly arrived later too. Chatting with Anton too, telling him he had to read the Knausgaard books as he seems to be almost exactly the same age as the autobiographical hero.

Drove home (the AA man phoning Lorraine who slipped out as he fixed on the spare tyre) happy in the knowledge that we won't have to drive home from Brighton from next week. All's well.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The virtues of white goods

Woke up feeling quite lively. Finally finished the epic bank form, signed last year's tax things from Andrew, then ambled into Hayward's Heath to post them. Then treating myself to a celebratory cup of Americano in a Caffè Nero as the rain fell outside. Enjoyed a free-ranging think as the Cloud Of Things That Must Be Done momentarily lifted about originality, and jotting a few notes down in my notebook as the cafe filled with pensioners enjoying coffee and snacks.

Now we are leaving Hateful Heath I find I'm no longer loathing it. It is perfectly pleasant, as I have said. It's just that it is not home, and it can't be blamed for this. It's just a town without imagination, but I suppose I am spoiled in Brighton. Home again, and working with both cats bookending my keyboard.  Lorraine working from home this afternoon. A quiet night, thinking and discussing the virtues of white goods, as we will need a new fridge freezer, washing machine and dish washer, with Lorraine consulting Which about best buys.  

Below the dead centre of Haywards Heath.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Betty's birthday

All action today. Getting broadband and the Royal Mail forwarding organised for our new house. The Royal Mail at least decided to charge me nothing for this as a gesture of goodwill -- having made a hash of the forwarding so far.  Also zoomed off to the bank to schedule the chaps payment to solicitor. I quite liked having hundreds of thousands in my account for a while. Also signing and returning accounts stuff to Andrew. In short, taking care of business.

All this done, off to Brighton late this afternoon. I had arranged to meet Beth there for her birthday, from the train. Instead Lorraine drove us there, and came as a surprise. John with Betty too, and we all repaired to a French cafe to drink coffees and have cake (or in Lorraine and my case fig and chocolate bread and butter pudding which was fab). Betty happy to receive an iPad, which for all kinds of complex reasons we had stealthily collected from Pat and Maureen's place last weekend.

Then the four of us to The Basketmakers for a quick drink and a bite to eat. Met Irish Tom there, who was pleased to see us, and I texted Matt who came to join us too to strap on the nosebag and have a couple of pints. Ages since we've all had a drink there, and I felt very happy to be back in Brighton albeit for a few hours.

Lorraine and I home at eightish, and then I was facetimed by Toby from a hotel room, and I got to speak to the Romster too which good. She is doing all kinds of high powered meetings at the moment, and will be in Japan at Christmastime to attend to family business there. Sad to think of us all with Hiroko last year, but I am so pleased we saw her then, on what was an idyllic holiday. Really looking forward this year, however, to having Christmas in our new home, and seeing Toby who will be over in the UK. I love Christmas.

Lorraine, after sneaking off in the afternoon, compensating by working in the evening. A couple of
Frasiers, and to bed.

Below a few snaps in the Basketmakers. Lorraine and Beth; Beth; John and Lorraine; and me and John. I am trying to pull a 'selfie' face; and Irish Tom. Matt, strangely, not pictured.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Counting the days

Counting down the days now till I return to Brighton. As Lorraine says, one thing about this little sojourn in Hayward's Heath is to remind us of how much we like living in Brighton. I will miss one of our Haywards Heath neighbours, Gary, who has Down's Syndrome. Most days he straps on his headphones, sparks up his Karaoke machine to sing with unrestrained gusto and volume in the room next to the one I've been working in. I find this immensely cheering, and makes me feel that all's right with the world. It's hard to work out most of the tunes, but his version of Kylie's Can't get you out of my head will live with me for some time. We also hear him at the weekend when we are lazing in bed. When we met him the other week, at the drinks after Jo's wedding, he absolutely loved Jo and followed her around hugging her.

Finally got some post today. The new owners of The Old Church Hall sent through an enormous envelope full of stuff, bless 'em. And at last the mail forwarding has kicked in. A haul of important stuff, including two credit cards. Now I have to re-redirect the mail, God only knows what new havoc that will wreak.

Otherwise little or no overlap in the Venn diagram where Stuff to do circle barely touches The enthusiasm to do stuff circle. A random walk this afternoon to a nearby housing estate Southdowns Park converted from a former mental hospital. A strange, unwelcoming place, with all the roads marked as private, and I felt like someone might ask me what I was doing there. I guessed it had been a mental hospital before Lorraine told me it had been. Something about the layout or the atmosphere.

Lorraine late teaching Governors, read more of the Knausgaard book, which I am still enjoying, and then cooked and administered wine when she eventually returned.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

God speed the day

Feeling a huge relief and delight that we are moving. One day soon my morning list will not require me to do things like filling in a business bank form 30 pages long, nor chase the pathetic Royal Mail about their failure to forward mail. God speed the day.

Early this morning, I spent a couple of hours working on another older poem Siamese Fighting Fish that had never worked, and found that it suddenly snapped into shape. I seem to be on a bit of a roll.

Strolled into the main bit of Haywards Heath to buy bread with nice bits of fruit and nut in it from a continental baker, and wrapping paper for Beth's presents in Smiths. This morning ordered a birthday present for Beth for Thursday, paying for express delivery, only to discover this evening that someone else has already bought it for her. D'oh.

Lorraine home late, having had a long day, not helped by filling her tank full of petrol and discovering she had forgotten her purse. Luckily it was with Sainsburys and they were very good about it. She arrived late, and went onto her Which site, and discussed important matters such as who will be our power suppliers in the new house. Counting the days.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Exchange at last

Yippee! Exchanged at last and we take possession of New Kenny Towers on 27th of November. Waves of relief as the legal stars finally align. The soul-shriveling years of dealing with solicitors and estate agents and property managers that began with me moving out of the Twitten, renting my house in the Twitten, selling my house in the Twitten, moving into the Old Church Hall, trying and failing to sell the Old Church Hall last year, selling the Old Church Hall this year, moving to Haywards Heath temporarily... the end of all that is arriving in a week and half. Lorraine and I and Betty are moving into the home in Brighton that Lorraine and I have chosen together and have no intentions of leaving.

The full joy of this is yet to sink in. There is naturally lots to be done -- and another move to be rapidly arranged, luckily only cats and skeletons from Haywards Heath, then the other stuff stored in Maureen and Pat's garage, and all the stuff we have in storage in Brighton. But all these tasks can be done with a song on our lips.

In the evening off to Brighton to the poetry meeting, which despite leaving in loads of time I managed to be late for. A good session, with some excellent work. I took along a poem called The Air War which seemed to go down well. It was actually a poem from perhaps twenty years ago that I could never get right, and quite suddenly it all fell into place a couple of weeks ago. Funny how it works like that.

Nice chats on the way to the station with Andie, Antony and Robin. Home fairly quickly and had a late glass of wine with Lorraine to celebrate. Almost free at last.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

To Ashford

Off with Betty and Lorraine to Ashford today to see Maureen and Pat, as we have things there we needed to collect, but once we were there I decided that one of the items, a fridge, shouldn't be transported on its side in the back of the car.

Maureen cooked a particularly nice Sunday lunch which we ate with much enjoyment, despite Lorraine being told off for not putting the vegetables on the plates with enough neatness.

Pete was also there, popping in and out and playing tank warfare games upstairs. Luckily he has agreed to drive the stuff we have stored in their garage to our new home, when we get there. Lorraine also advanced the theory that having a footlong beard, Pete's pride and joy, didn't show off his handsome face enough and rolled it up to demonstrate as only an aunt can.

After lunch Beth read out the long list of Christmas treats and foods that we had constructed last night to last us over the Christmas period, which we had done last night instead of brooding on the bad stuff.

Pat said they have a Guernsey Lily in their front garden, and went out to look at some of the freesias they'd bought in Guernsey, which were still flowering.

We had to leave early to return to Hatewards Heath, as Lorraine had about five hours work this evening, Betty sat on the gold sofa watching Big Bang Theory on Lorraine's iPad and I read Karl Ove Knausgaard's A death in the family, being the first volume in his work called Min Kamp, or My Struggle that Toby ordered me to read. Knausgaard namechecks Proust in it and I can see why as it is slow and thoughtful, but really interesting.

Below Betty giving Maureen an iPad refresher course. Maureen surprised to find pictures of herself and Pat on this blog, and descriptions of her doings.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


A mercifully slow start this morning, and Lorraine caught up on some good sleep and I brought us quorn sausage sandwiches and cups of tea in bed with the cats happily lying about with us.

Off this afternoon to Brighton. Yay! To return digital TV aerial and see Interstellar, a baggy science fiction romp at the Kommedia. Sure the plot has more holes than a crochet blanket, but it was an exciting spectacle and the emotional bits had Lorraine weeping satisfactorily next to me. I enjoyed it a great deal - a bleakish escapism -- with some incredible visual sequences. The infinite library scene in the end (somebody has read their Jorge Luis Borges) rather splendid.

By the time I left the cinema, the headache that I had been nursing this morning had transformed into a full on thumper, and I wanted to get home rather than to The Basketmakers to meet Matt. Lorraine went off to get the car, and I popped into Sainsbury's where Beth caught up with me and we jumped into Lorraine's getaway car and returned to Haywards Heath with various provisions. I had a sleep which seemed to help the pain lift, before coming down to eat tuna steaks. Lots of pain this week. Then play a few rounds of three handed Euchre with Lorraine and Betty, which was fun.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Day spent waiting for the exchange to happen, phoning solicitors and estate agents and so on.  We're all ready to go, and this afternoon the estate agent told us the vendor is also ready to go. The last lines of Waiting for Godot are apposite. Vladimir: Well? Shall we go? Estragon: Yes, let's go. They do not move. I made my final futile call at 5:30 to the solicitor. No exchange made. They do not move. 

When I wasn't wandering in this hall of mirrors, I searched for pieces of paper that have the information Andrew needed for my tax return. When I wasn't doing this I was failing to write. All this inbetweenness is rubbish for writing in. So I finished The Fall by Camus which I enjoyed a good deal, in an existentialist kind of way: a bloke in a dark cafe harping on about how terrible life is and what a terrible man he is. In the end it turns out his endless but fascinating monologue has all been addressed to himself, or at least to his double.

When Lorraine returned home, we drove off to nearby Cuckfield, which has a centre and a cheery pub and a few restaurants and cafes. One quick drink followed by a nice curry in the place we went to last time. Jess and Andrew on good form, and in love with their new little dog. I like Andrew and feel very happy that he is my accountant. Lorraine and I yawning our heads off however by around ten, and so made our excuses, and sped home.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Waiting to exchange

Phoned by the solicitor this morning to say there was a last-minute hold up with exchanging contracts. Eventually no exchange was made. Lorraine and I taking this fairly philosophically. Maybe tomorrow.

Told I had to get house insurance for the new place sorted, so spent some time doing this. Feeling a certain amount healthier and so had more energy simply to get on with work, although I can't write anything creative. A nice chat with Mum on FaceTime, which is proving a boon.

Took delivery of a new printer, with spiffy wireless connectivity, that Lorraine can print from and so can my laptop. Lorraine discovered that despite us paying for mail forwarding the majority of our mail is being posted to the old church hall. Ended another day in limbo watching Frasier.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Brighton interlude

Hobbled off to Brighton to visit the Japanese shop to buy authentic miso soup. Then visited the doctor to bleat about my health (the lump between my ribs nothing to worry about apparently). Then popped into The Real Patisserie to buy some savoury bits and some chewy brown bread. Took the eatables up to Janet and Ken to scoff them with a nice bowl of mulligatawny soup that Janet had made. A pleasant interlude. Ken rather tired, but much conversation with Janet on a wide range of subjects. She is sensibly opting to take a break from her Diva show next year.

Home to Haywards Heath (impossible to get used to saying that) and cabbed yawning back from the station. Then apart from a few urgent emails about Telltale Press and I was bone idle and slept.

Then watched World at War documentaries about the Final Solution and Japan. War really is Hell. Was struck by the everyday context for so much of the madness. The Kamikaze pilots for example knocking back a spot of sake before heading off to a glorious death. The warming sake remains, but luckily the other stuff has abated.

Lorraine came home and we drove out to buy fish and chips, which were rather excellent and we scoffed these at home watching Frasier. Early to bed, feeling guiltily lifeless with Lorraine is working so hard.

Note from the Tobster advising me in the strongest terms to read Karl Ove Knausgaard. I will, after I've finished The Fall by Albert Camus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Unbelievable luck

Foot still somewhat painful, but Lorraine took some emergency time off work to drive us to big box storage. Opened the door and the storage place was crammed brimful with belongings and boxes. A heart-sinking moment contemplating finding a passport in this haystack. But with unbelievable luck, however, we spotted an open box near the door which had my passport in it. It had been mistakenly taken by one of the movers as it was never intended for storage. So we were in and out within two minutes instead of the hours we had imagined.

Lorraine and I off to the bank in Hatewards Heath and was helped by an exceptionally pleasant man to transfer the house deposit to the solicitors. This done, feeling extremely relieved. Lorraine and I home and then after a pause for a pain au raisin and a refreshing cup of tea both of us began work. I caught up with some of the stuff I should have been doing over the last couple of days.

Long conversation with Bob in this afternoon. Another couple of World at War documentaries late in the afternoon. A much improved day. Frasier in the evening too. All well.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Stress afoot

Appalling night due to sudden onset of the worst gout I have ever had. Quack said new meds might spark an attack at some point and sure enough I was assailed by whimper-inducing pain. Superstrength painkillers helped a little and I had some sleep after about 5am. My lovely wife brought me porridge and a flask of tea in bed and she left for work with strict instructions for me to stay there. Finished the Hangover Hotel novel in a blurry haze, a fantastic book in many ways.

Soon summoned however by the No Rest for the Wicked Dept. and after a call from an estate agent was forced to drag myself out of bed to chase solicitors. House move appears to be going at full steam -- and the prospect of moving into our new house before the end of the month. This means I had to make a payment of the house deposit I hobbled painfully around the house getting dressed and organised. I needed my passport to make the payment at the local branch, but after searching every inch of the place I could not find it. The only conclusion is that it is in storage, in one of 100 boxes.

Pretty stressed by now, decided to gather up all the other ID I had and try anyway. As I couldn't walk much, I had to take a taxi. No taxis to be had, as all of them on the school run in this Godforsaken town. The school run? I thought in my best Victor Meldrew mode. Managed to get a cab eventually, and painfully went to the bank, who naturally found themselves unable to help and seemed alarmed at my request. Managed with difficulty to get a cab home, with the same rather cheerful driver.

My lovely wife returned, and we decided to go to the big box place tomorrow morning first thing. Settled down to watch the World at War again, grateful for the fact that I wasn't living as a subject of the fashionable madmen of the 1940s. Lorraine cooked me pasta, the PK comfort food, and we watched a few Frasiers before bed. Absolutely shattered and still with an ouchy foot.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Autumnal garden and Hangover Square

Stressful morning, with Beth's phone not working and Lorraine trying to download software to fix it and running out of time, the shower running out of hot water leaving Beth half washed and frozen, then rushing Beth off to the station to meet John's train, but being caught in a remembrance Sunday traffic jam to make it just in the nick of time, only for John and Beth to miss each other at the station, John getting off the train while Beth got on it.

Attempting to introduce some peace into our lives,  Lorraine and I went for a walk in Sheffield Park around the gorgeous gardens in their autumnal glory, and tried to talk about nice things such as what we will do with our little garden once we move in, and the kinds of flowers we will have and so on as the water flamed with the trees' reflections.

In the afternoon and evening, poor Lorraine had loads of work to do.  I read most of Hangover Square, subtitled A Story of Darkest Earl's Court, by Patrick Hamilton. Published in 1941 it is set in 1939 and its characters inhabit seedy boozers in Earls Court, visit the West End and Brighton. Fascinating book, and evocative of a Lost Lost London and a lost Brighton too for that matter.

Below some glimpses of the gorgeous Sheffield Park.