Monday, March 31, 2014

Managing the cloud

Made a great list of The Cloud of Things that Must Be Done this morning, and managed to work through them in a hard-nosed way. If every day were like this I would be dangerous. On reflection it may be because I was unplagued by cats. We'd left Beth's bedroom door open and they slept there together all afternoon. They increasingly tolerate one another.

In the evening to a poetry workshop at the top of the Duke of Wellington, a pub that I always avoided near the Twitten. Bought a pint of soda and lime and went up the stairs to find Robin, Andie and three others around a long table in a poky little room. I felt as if I had intruded on a board meeting. It was an interesting session with lots of time devoted to each poem. Received useful feedback on an older poem of mine I have earmarked for The Nightwork. Enjoyed this very much, although towards the end, I could barely string a sentence together. Walked back to the station with Andie talking about the symbolism of the Phoenix, which her poem had been about.

Home to my lovely wife, who was enjoying a TV: one a about a murderer, and another about people giving birth, before bed was slunk-to.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A vexatious orange

Up early, as the clocks went forward and we had arranged for a very early Sainsbury's delivery. Tackling the evils of the small room, which is the repository of everything we cannot decide on and may or may not need in our new house should we ever get one. Another appalling triage. Lorraine kept picking up things, say a lampshade, and saying Do we need this? and searching my face for inspiration.

A wan and shaken doze afterwards. Feeling particularly run down at the moment. Also did some work on my various projects.

Facetimed Mum today, as it was Mother's day. Facetime is a good thing. It allows you to peer at the people you are talking to, and watch how their cats plague them and see out of their windows.

Lorraine had an alarming encounter with an orange. During the afternoon she was sewing something and managed to jab a needle under a nail. Later I handed her the  orange and its juice ran into the cut which caused yelping and under the tap thumb sluicing. I peeled it for her, then after eating the first piece began to violently choke. Contemplating my wife's imminent demise I was about to attempt a Heimlich on her, she managed to say I should slap her back a few times. This I did, and all was eventually well.  I felt emotionally delicate afterwards. My God.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Meeting Elsie

Up at five o'clock this morning. Having talked to Robin and Catherine over the last couple of days, woke up with a very clear picture in my head of how to be more businesslike about promoting my writing, and strengthen the book proposal and simply had to write it all down before I could go back to sleep. Back to bed and slept in late, and felt somewhat improved on yesterday. Cats confused by their early breakfast.

Lorraine met Betty in town this afternoon, and I did some more work inspired by my sudden clarity. Nice to see Beth later in the afternoon.

Lorraine and I off in the evening, after waiting longer for a taxi than it would have taken us to walk, to Hotel du Vin where we met Matty and Isy. Also met young Elsie too for the first time. A charming baby, which enjoyed being cuddled by Lorraine, but cried in an affronted way when on my knee. The pretentious bar busy, with people dressed up and swanky. I like it.

We went across the road to an Indian restaurant with the baby, who was as good as gold. Isy seems to have taken to motherhood with confidence and glowing with happiness about being a mother. Matt looks a happy and proud father. All well. Good to chat to Matty. We'd not had a chat for some time.

Restaurant quite fun, with a sort of comical undertone of controlled ineptitude. Food fine though.

Below Lorriane holding Elsie in the low lit Hotel du Vin.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A bracing chat with Catherine

Up early and cracking on, despite feeling a bit poor. A strange exhaustion stole over me at noon. So much so that I had a short sleep for lunch, walking zombie-like into town into Délice to have a long chat with Catherine. As usual a wide-ranging chat. Having worked on my own so much lately, seeing Catherine for a few hours and talking about my writing and her publishing over a couple of coffees and a snack was like a breath of fresh air.  She is very encouraging.

Fond farewells with Catherine and home again to finish off a few bits. A nice evening in, with my lovely slipping out to collect a takeaway from the Shahi.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tea with Telltale Robin

A successful and interesting day. Pressed on with final tweaks on the book, and also limped up the hill to London Road, and trained to Lewes in the afternoon. Limped up another hill there and met Robin in Cafe Nero to discuss her brainchild, Telltale Press over pots of tea, as well as the publication of a pamphlet of my poems to be called The Nightwork.

Good to talk to get to know Robin a little better. We are about the same age, and she has a refreshing surfeit of can-do attitude that makes me warm to her right away. I took away a collection of her poems, The Great Vowel Shift which I read in the evening. I greatly admire the way her poems imply the subject without explicitly addressing it. I have to be mindful sometimes of my own tendency to clarify things, rather than leave it to the imagination of the reader. Robin does this extremely well.

Still hobbling badly with orc-foot gout which, apart from the pain, and the absurdity of it, precludes going to the gym or walking in a springy balletic fashion. It meant Anton and I postponed an evening out.  This gave me time to read Robin's work, and read more of the The Big Book of Hell, which is grimly amusing. And try to find a way of liking the Harrison Birtwhistle CD I bought on impulse.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Being a modern creative artistic type

Back on the book today. Lorraine working beside me much of the day, which was fun. Less fun is a return of the dreaded orc foot, and I find myself hobbling around goutishly. Lorraine however cooked a cake to take to one of her work meetings, and we scarfed the offcuts. Not much of a project Lorraine thing to do, but nice and tasty. Poor Lorraine off to do Governor business this evening.

Having discovered some heart sinking anomalies in the first section of my project, fixing them isn't proving too hard and I am nearing the stage where I can  just do a quick hoover of tiresome extra adverbs, and outbreaks of typos and gobbledegook. Luckily the work mooted for the end of this week appears to have melted away, which I am rather pleased about.

I took delivery today of two items. A green leather wallet, which I purchased for superstitious reasons, to replace a much treasured green leather wallet that died a few years ago, and The Big Book of Hell A Cartoon Book by Matt Groening who created the Simpsons and Futurama. It is a collection of his "ongoing self-help cartoons" and are funny and dark. They have been around for decades, and I have only just found them.

Below a piece of Matt Groening's work. The observations in this are spot on - especially for the poet part. As ever, click it to make it bigger.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Anomalocaris again

Up and early at my desk, working on cattle fertility before 8. Anton phoned to shower me with beef-based puns. Working quietly and methodically on concepts, which is my favourite thing. At one point looking at La Vache qui rit for inspiration. My client was happy with what I delivered.

All done by midday. Back on my stuff in the afternoon. Also caught up with a TV documentary by Richard Fortey, whose book Trilobite! An eyewitness to history I enjoyed a few years ago. This programme was about the Cambrian fossils in Canada's Burgess Shale high up in the mountains, which I have been reading about for a while now. I has miraculously preserved fossils of soft tissue so that you can see trilobite legs for example. Apparently this may have been due to everything being buried in some kind of landslide into the sea. It featured one of my personal favourites, the predatory Anomalocaris.

Lorraine out being a school governor tonight. I played about with the monologue I am writing about drinking imaginary drinks. This done, and Lorraine safely home, we watched a TV show about murders in Shetland. In reality, of course, there are very few, but nothing relaxes Lorraine like a spot of slaughtering.

Below a nice image of Anomalocaris. A creature that was found in fragments, and its grippy foreleg things were mistaken for an unusual shrimp, which is what Anomalocaris means.


Monday, March 24, 2014


Woken around 5pm by a cat fight crashing through the cat flap. Before I'd woken up, Lorraine had sprang out of bed and shooed off a gang of them loitering outside. Brian fighting again, and we'd not heard the like since the EBC (evil black cat). Meanwhile Calliope had picked up a nastily scratched ear, and at the end of the day Lorraine bathed it in salty water, while I held her. Calliope submits completely to any kind of medical stuff, flea applications, eye drops and wound washing without a squeak. I could learn a thing or two from that cat.

Otherwise the day spent on a job, coming up with concepts about fertility in cows.

Am beginning to improve health wise, as I worked all afternoon without needing to crash out. Had lunch and stretched my legs for a ten minutes in the park where I noticed the frogs were involved in some kind of motionless amphibian orgy.

Back to work. Lorraine home early, and we sauntered around the park in the dark this evening before feeding. Drank a small glass of white wine from our wine club collection, which was powerfully grapefruity and fresh. This wine club is worth its weight in gold, great wines at a cheap price.

Early to bed, as both tired.

Below frogs savour the onset of spring, the beasts.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Nuthurst city limits

A good deal less wan and tired, thankfully. Anton had plotted a short walk starting at Nuthurst, a village that Anton and I had been through before. Lorraine drove us to Anton's where the purple magnolia outside his house was looking wondrous. Then onto Rosie's house and we drove off over the downs into the Weald, me humming Nuthurst City Limits and saying it was a good job we were in a car as "motorcycle not allowed in it". Nobody laughed. We parked up and then went for a mooch in the woods. Lorraine sporting her new boots. I was feeling brighter than the last few days, and was fine. In fact it was lovely to get outside and be among trees. Especially walking past a wood of silver birch. Not too muddy.

To a pub there called The Black Horse hoping for food. Slightly galling to be shown a table, told we'd have to wait an hour for food which, after buying a drink was revised to waiting an hour before you can order your food. We opted not go. Still, nice to be inside smelling the wood smoke of a real fire as it started hailing with gusto. Lorraine drove us back to Brighton, and we reconvened in the Shakespeare's Head for a Sunday roast. Another nice meal, and a really pleasant relaxed vibe and a few leisurely afternoon drinks were taken. While at the bar, noticed Jane on the cover of the Mail on Sunday, being Camilla again in another Alison Jackson shoot. See for yourself here...

Home to sleep the sleep of the just on the gold sofa. A highly enjoyable day.

Below woods including silver birch; Lorriane, Rosie and Anton; Rosie snapped by the bamboo outside the Architectural Plants garden centre in Nuthurst.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Gold Sofa day

Abandoned myself to the healing properties of the gold sofa to recover from general wanness. Read more of A Confederacy of Dunces, which is a good dip in and dip out book. Also listened to a CD of Harrison Birtwhistle's work called The Moth Requiem which I bought whimmishly. A curate's egg so far but I am sure I will learn to love it.

Also slept a good deal of the afternoon too. Lorraine out in London with Carolyn looking at fabric in art. I also made time to listen to Radio 5 which had commentary of Chelsea versus Arsenal, which Chelsea won an astonishing 6-0. It was the Arsenal manager Arsen Wenger's 1000th game in charge of Arsenal and what a way to rain on his parade. I bestirred myself to go with my lovely wife to Sainsburys when she returned to Brighton. A quiet evening where Lorraine caught up with thrillers until it was time for a glorious edition of Match of the Day.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Froggy Friday

Slogging on with final changes and also working on covering letters and synopsis and so on. However still feeling not particularly well, which is making everything seem harder.

Short walk in the sun and peered into the nearby artificial pond which has been drained and its bottom repaired. Newts and frogs have been reintroduced into the pond. The water is clear, and there is as almost no vegetation. Snapped a frog, and a few were breeding in the water too.

As I mooched about I listened to the last episodes of Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. Entertaining enough stuff, and quite funny in parts.

Back to work. Lorraine came home at 4:30 and shortly after I fell asleep for an hour while we lay chatting on the bed. We crept across the road to the Shahi afterwards and had put the world to rights, and chatted to our friends there. Later, I enjoyed watching Aliens, the sequel to Alien.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Final scene

Gah. Have some kind of man cold which is leaving me utterly drained, with no energy even to listen to Sonia's opinions. This coincided with having printed out my entire book, the proofing is slow going, as some of the first few chapters are not consistent with the last. Not major problems, but will take a few days longer than expected to fix. Frustrated. The final scene of Carrie comes to mind, this draft refuses to be done with. However I just need a few sample chapters at this stage.

Arranging to meet Robin next week to talk about a pamphlet of poetry. New info being sent by new clients on writing work to do with cow fertility. From the sublime to the ridiculous as usual.

Had a lunchtime snack and watched a half-hour programme about Vincent Deighan, aka Frank Quitely the award winning comic artist. These BBC shows What do artists do all day? are quite fascinating. I'd love to work with a comic artist one day. This combined with other completely new ideas tantalising me. They are nothing to do with what I am working on, just the brain's way of making the end as tiresome as possible.

Below a picture of a Zombie granny, from Walking Dead, apparently based on an old teacher, by Frank Quitely -- which is, quite frankly, a great pseudonym.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From hawk to rat

A bright and cheering start. Was offered three bits of freelance work, naturally for more or less the same time, but I appear to have two lined up for next week. Otherwise spent the morning falling hawkishly on the mistakes in my manuscript. Also contacted by Chiara Beebe, who is currently in Italy, but has been thinking about my poem A Return which she is now seeing as a piece for solo voice and full orchestra. She has earmarked August 6th as a possible date for its performance in St Peter Port.

Felt like my plug had been pulled out half way through the afternoon, so I had a refreshing walk in the park. But after about 35 minutes, I felt utterly sluggish. Home to listen to a meditation tape, its soothing undermined by Calliope's feet clawing happily on my chest.

Back to work till seven, by which time Lorraine had returned and to work next to me in the study. Enter Brian making proud meeping noises. Lorraine looked over the banister and, after a carefully long-range triage, said he had brought a dead rat; disposing of rodent corpses is a Peter Kenny task.

After the ceremony complete, and hands washed OCD style, I cooked a shrimpy noodle dish of my own devising, which was curiously delicious. Too drained however to force Lorraine out for a Project Lorraine march afterwards. Enjoying A Confederacy of Dunces, which is my bedside book and rather funny. Lorraine catching up with The Great British Sewing Bee on her iPad. This may be a TV series about an unusually gifted insect, but I haven't seen it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shorn the sheep

So tweaked a bit of stuff in the last section and printed out the 349 A5 pages of the project I am working on, two pages to a sheet, in a ream an inch thick. Another read through over the next couple of days, and it is ready to journey out into the world.

Celebrated by having a haircut. Someone told me, entirely unprompted last night, that I looked like an Irish Farmer. There certainly was a pile of wool on the floor as I left my friends in the barbers shop. Off to the gym too, for a spot of trundling, rowing and radiating haughty disdain. Listening (I've been corrected) to Cannery Row as I went about it, which is enjoyable.

Home, and I spoke to Mum and Mas on Face Time. Later I cooked Project Lorraine inspired Yellow fin tuna griddled with stripes and various veggies, and forced my lovely on a walk in the dark in the park. In the middle of the park I told Lorriane that I liked walking in the dark, especially when I wore my balaclava. She didn't laugh.

Meanwhile Russia has reclaimed the Crimea. Unfortunately this is where the chickens coming home to roost. All the US led military adventures over the last couple of decades the UK poodled along with means the moral high ground is long lost. But what matter, for Russian-owned Chelsea won a football match against the Turkish team Galatasary. Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba is now with the Turkish team, and was given a touchingly warm welcome.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Almost there

Completing the final 36th section of the book was thorny, and I have the sensation of putting most of the right words in there, but not necessarily in the right order. However I am going to have an absolute bloody final review of its contents over the next few days. Apart from this work, a circuit of the park, particularly liking the magnolia trees in the walled garden, and not having to wear a jacket.

In the evening, after I fed Lorraine and myself with a vegetarian meal of my own devising and I made off to a poetry meeting in the Caxton, and Lorraine made off to choir. Another interesting night with poets. Took a recent poem, We are people of the rain which I'm not sure about and was pleased to find it was quite liked. Good chats afterwards with Andie and Sue in the bar. People sporting green and black and white Guinness hats that were being given out to those who bought a pint of the black stuff. I humbuggishly stuck to bitter. Sue a lively performance poet, and Andie a thoughtful musician and writer who studied early Biblical texts as part of her MA.

Home to discover that controversy had been raging in the northern tip of Guernsey. Can listening to an audiobook be described as reading? Jane thinks not.

Below some scenic magnolia action in the walled garden...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

By the sun-dazzled sea

Up early and surging about doing things after a porridge and blueberry breakfast. Lorraine had an excellent idea for reorganising the study further and this done, my desk has never looked tidier and more purposeful, like a petri dish waiting for the culture of a new idea.

Another cloudless and beautiful day. Project Lorraine dictated that we had to go for a walk, so we collected Rosie and walked along the seafront of Hove watching the sun dazzle on the sea and talking about diverse subjects.

Eventually settled into the stones for a bit of a bask, leaning against a groyne which Rosie was inexorably drawn to. The sun was palpably warm. Lorraine and I had a rosy faces this evening as a consequence.

Off to The Shakespeare's Head to meet Matt for a late and rather tasty lunch. We even sat outside in the sun, drinking a nice beer and eating an excellent roast. Even had a piece of Guinness cake on offer as it was the day before Paddy's Day. Fond farewells with Rosie and Matt, and then home, our 10k paces done for the day to snooze on the gold sofa and make ready for the new week.

Below evidence of sunshine and, although you'd need an electron microscope to detect my interest in cars, a weird kind of cut and shut fire engine/caravan combo near the seafront in Hove which caught our fancy.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Project Lorraine

Immaculate blue sky. And a day in which I felt curiously content and happy just to potter about with my wife. Betty off to work and back to London, and I began Project Lorraine today, which is a cunning way of starting Project Peter and mapping it onto someone else. So a porridge breakfast and off into town to buy Lorraine a pair of walking boots which actually fit her. Went to some lengths to do this in Blacks on North Street, being served by a nice woman also monitoring a man trying to steal an anorak.

Home via the sunny Laines, and stopping to watch musicians playing. Then into Sainsbury's where we brought the fixin's for a Project Lorraine approved lunch of delicious Greek Salad. In the evening we ate sea trout fillets, couscous and roast vegetables, and had a walk around in the park under a full moon in a clear sky and heard my iPhone make a noise in my trousers to indicate that we had walked over 10,000 paces.

We spent the afternoon starting The House Poo. Which is a process where we purge our house of stuff and junk. This weekend we started at the top of the house, and filled a box with books for the charity shops, bags of rubbish, and recycling. All in all a really satisfying thing to do, and the study is a place of beauty.

Spoke to Mum who had detected someone trying to scam her into sending art works. I googled the name of the scammer and found out it had been done before.

Also managed to turn the TV off this evening. I am reading two books simultaneously. Seem to have got off to an American start to my reading this year. Am reading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole as an actual paper book, and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck as an audiobook.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Under the Skin

Am within touching distance of finishing the book now. It is in 36 sections and I am working on the 36th. Woke up slightly gingerly ruing vodka at the Northern Lights with Anton, however a good amount of work done. Betty home this afternoon, and we spent some time sipping tea and discussing what happens next in the Betty project.

When Mrs Kenny came home, the three of us went off to the Shahi, Dr Rahmen telling Lorraine about his next job offer in biogas technology. Lorraine and I went off, full of curry, to The Duke of York's Picturehouse to see Under the Skin, was an everyday tale of a gorgeous alien driving about Glasgow picking up men to use them for her alien purposes, which involved them being sucked into a black oily death. A visual feast, and Johansson was splendid as the stranger in a strange world.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Lorraine working at home all day. I find I can work happily with her working at the next desk. At lunchtime a walk to Maplins, which is bizarrely one of Lorraine's favourite shops. Then Arkwrights to buy some lunch before getting back to work.  

To the gym for the third day in a row. Sunny in the Old Church Hall, but walking into town was to walk into some quite thick fog rolling in from the sea. Made me think of that movie, The Fog where long dead pirates emerge from the fog to revenge themselves on a costal town.

Lorraine out teaching governors tonight, and I ventured out again to meet Anton in the Batty. A night on the tiles and of much discussion. Drawn to the Twin Peaksy ambience of the Northern Lights again, which had a musicians of sorts upstairs, we went upstairs to see them, one guy singing who was not so hot. Downstairs to some flavoured vodka. Anton mentioning at the end of the night that he had not eaten all day.  I saw him into a taxi and walked home, skilfully avoiding Ace pizza. I wish I was the sort of person who could simply forget to eat.

Below a misty Pavilion at midnight, a Still from John Carpenter's The Fog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tunnel vision

Tuesday and Wednesday spent with tunnel vision as the draft of the book is a few days from completion. I also went to the gym on both days, and have been fairly controlled on eating as my weight has been creeping back up.  Once I bumped into Wayne outside the gym. He is testing out the gyms in the area, and doesn't particularly like mine.  I told him I never speak to anyone and loathe all gym people anyway. I don't think I have the gym spirit really, although I quite like going.

Getting wildly excited about finishing the book. I'm imaging what it will be like to have the freedom to think about tantalising new things.  I am also allowing myself to feel a certain sense of accomplishment.  But the easy bit is doing the work, getting it out there is the stiffer challenge.

Below a trick of the light at home.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Richard on radio, Toby on FaceTime

A day of grinding out the work. Little to report from the day. Cooked healthy food in the evening.

More interestingly I listened to Richard on Jenny's show on BBC Guernsey. Richard's on from 02:41.45. Reading some excellent poems, he is going through a highly productive phase -- long may it last -- and referring in passing to my Napoleon complex. Jenny being lovely as usual. After I listened to it, I called the gem of the sea to chat to Richard and Jane for some time about life, poetry, the splendours of Italy and so on.

As soon as I put the phone down, Toby face timed me from Chicago, and showed me around the apartment there, and I looked out of the windows at the Chicago views, and the sun falling through the windows, (talking sotto voce being shown through the bedroom as Romy was asleep) and given some detail about the restaurants and cafes within a stone's throw. FaceTime is a wonder of the new-fangled world.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Sunday in Steyning

Up early for a Sunday, and Lorraine and I got ourselves ready for a stroll in the country. We picked up Anton and drove off to Dawn's place in Steyning, and then walked through the village to Helen's new flat, admired the flat, then all set off for a walk, steeply up through woods to the top of the Downs and followed the path which linked up with the South Downs Way, before threading through woods back into the village.

The top of the downs is my least favourite walking, being too much sky and no cover but we were only up there for a while, and I managed this well. There were some lovely views through a fringe of trees down to the valleys below. An absolutely perfect day. Flawless blue sky, and very warm for March. We all mooched along chatting in twos and threes. Lorraine's boot fell apart and Anton cut a flappy bit off the sole with his penknife.

Back down to the village and we had a really nice Sunday lunch and a couple of thirst quenching beers sitting outside in the sun. An indolent evening on the sofa afterwards, but not feeling too bad about it for once.

Below looking down on Steyning, various views through trees. They look better clicked. I particularly like the light chalky soil in the field.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The gambolling of pugs in the park

A glorious spring-like day. The London legions issuing from Brighton Station when I arrived at Queen's Road for my massage from Jewel. Rather agonising it was too as my shoulders and neck were a dense mass of knotted evil. Later I felt as if someone had been pummeling my back, but I felt released: freer and loser than I have felt for months. I like Jewel, and hadn't seen her since before my wedding, and she was asking all about it in quite an interested way. After she'd finished the last stages where she manipulated my neck and so on and she left the room, I was so relaxed that I struggled for a few seconds before I could sit up.

Floated home via Sainsbury's feeling swan-necked, and with the spine of a young grass snake. And then Lorraine and I took a constitutional in the park. We came across a convention of pugs and their owners, which was a Lowryesque scene, and stood laughing at the twenty or so pugs gambolling about. Into the walled garden, where we drifted happily for a while sniffing aromatic verbenas and sitting on a bench in the sun listening to robins and blackbirds singing, and the steady stream of traffic not far away of course.

In the evening Lesley and Derek came around for supper. Lorraine and I had donned our kitchen aprons (me as kitchen porter) and Lorraine had made some outstanding Indian food. A lovely dhal,  an amazing lemon chicken cooked with fistfuls of coriander, and other lovely Indian vegetables. Interesting chats. Lesley and Derek had recently been to India and had an amazing, if rather challenging, trip. Travelling in a coach there sounds rather alarming, the truck drivers keep themselves awake by deliberately driving on the wrong side of the road as this forces them to stay alert enough to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Mellow evening, and I played some Nick Drake as Derek is a big folk fan with an encyclopedic collection.

Just four of the many pugs in the park

Friday, March 07, 2014

Snumm tummied

A decent Friday's work. Awake early and writing in bed, before I went to my desk. To the gym too for a reasonable enough session. Just great to be walking about outside savoring the weird non-rain. The cats frisking about too, feeling the spring.

Finished The Sheltering Sky. Flawed but intriguing, is my three word review. The last 'book' of the story is a depiction of the female character Kit having a nervous breakdown, and drifts into a kind of surrealism, with dreamlike decisions and logic pervading. An audacious move and although people struggle with this, judging by posts on Amazon and so on, for me this may be the best part of the book.

Lorraine and I off to Anton's in the evening for one of his famously delicious pizza nights. He had also invited Rosie, and we had really good evening, playing records, eating Anton's immaculate pizzas and chatting. Anton then produced a chocolate cake at the end of the night too, to be accompanied by decaffeinated Bailey's coffee. Lorraine and I floating home down the hill after midnight.

Below the Drum-Tummied Snumm, or what I felt like after eating multiple slices at Anton's house.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Hurdling the smalltalk

A surprisingly sunny and lovely day in Brighton. And shortly after chatting with Sonia, I took myself to Starbucks to work there for a couple of hours over an Americano. Worked well today, there and on returning home.

In the late afternoon I went to The Foundry where I met Mark and Carole and their daughter Melissa. A quick drink, before Melissa and I got our heads together to talk about a speech she had to give at a funeral.  An interesting chat, she is studying philosophy and is intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic and all round a great credit to her parents. We talked about death and mourning and I helped her organise her thoughts, rather in the way I had with Beth for her play a few weeks ago. Sometimes it is refreshing to fast forward through the smalltalk onto the real stuff.

Dropped home by Mark and Carole, and a quiet night in with my lovely who went to work, but is still slowly recovering. We made a vegetarian shepherds pie, which was rather good and we tucked happily into this. Anything that contains mashed potato is lapped up by Mrs Kenny.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Relationship status: desperate

Lorraine ill in bed most of the day. I worked above her all day, occasionally bringing her dry toast, black tea and later a miso soup. Luckily the strategic bucket remained unfilled. With a heroic effort she dragged herself out and off to Kingston this evening to see Betty's dissertation piece.

We arrived in the nick of time to see Relationship status: desperate. The piece that Emily and Beth put together worked really well I thought. It had a proper structure and some really funny turns from the girls.

The boys in their production, acting as their dates, brought a variety of caricatures to their performance that made them shine too. I am biased, of course, but Beth's ability to convey two things at the same time with one expression, her irony and comedy are really excellent. Lots of laughter in the show from the college audience. Emily did really well too especially in a slapstick routine with a hopelessly clumsy date, that saw her getting drunk, water sprayed in her face and inadvertently groped among other things. The girls had been nervous about it, but they pulled it off extremely well. Beth massively relieved.

A quick chat with Gary and Sophie after, and John, Betty's new boyfriend, before we headed home having seen Beth post show.

Reading The Sheltering Sky on the train journey. An intriguing book. The writing is a bit patchy, but when it's good it is wonderful.

Below Emily and Betty snapped onstage in their onesies.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The destiny of Manifest

Up and at book, then off in this weird brightness to the gym. Felt a bit feeble after half an hour or rowing and trundling. Home and a Quorn sausage sandwich with mustard and onion. Later in the afternoon decided to reboot by listening to a meditation tape, and simply woke up an hour later remembering nothing.

Lorraine teaching governors till late. She phoned me on the way home having felt nauseous and dizzy while teaching, and got in very late to lie low. I shepherded her upstairs with a precautionary bucket under my arm.

Listened just after midnight to Amanda on New Zealand National radio talking about the launch of her new SchilMil game Manifest. She also had the opportunity to select 'the best song ever' which was, unsurprisingly, a Bob Dylan tune. Amazing to hear Amanda on my iPhone being interviewed on the other side of the world. Modern life is marvellous.

To back the launch of Manifest and for more information follow this link.

Monday, March 03, 2014

The moon on its back

Up early and working hard all day at my cat-plagued desk. Big decisions on the book. Decided one of the sections was all wrong and have cut it, and have now to replace it. Beth and John leaving for London at noon. A good day's work, and I spoke to Mum on FaceTime and heard too from my old school friend Mark who I've not seen for a few years.

Lorraine out singing with the Hullaballoos tonight, and I walked her to the venue and then mooched past the Pavilion down to the sea, and looked at the moon on its back. A comparatively calm night, the pier closed and lightless, the tide out and lines of white-tipped waves coming in from the sea. A few stars visible when you escaped the immediate light pollution. Good to have an hour's walk after being at my desk all day.

Home, and wrote something for Claudius about the Shakespeare Trio, listened to a 15 minute Radio 4 thing about failure before Lorraine returned. Anne Enright was talking about how Flann O'Brien had his manuscript for the The Third Policeman rejected at the height of the war by Doubleday, and instead of admitting this told his literary drinking buddies that the manuscript had accidentally blown out of his car on a trip to Donegal. Unable to lose face, it was only after his death that the book, which had sat openly on his sideboard till his death, was finally resubmitted by his wife and published to great acclaim.

Below a glimpse of the Pavilion and the moon on its back.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sunday at home

Lorraine and Beth involved working all day on preparation for Beth's play on Wednesday. John snuffly and needing some rest. I had a strong stage idea today, and had time to capture it. Otherwise a good deal of sitting about chatting, eating an enormous breakfast, then a delicious roast in the evening, thinking about the reparations I will have to undergo in the gym.

Spoke to Mum who made me laugh with a story of a bus inspector looking at her freedom pass for pensioners, and telling her cheekily that she still looked good.

Interesting to talk to John about music. He listens to music that was current when I was a lad, and even likes King Crimson. I have warmed to John and Beth is completely herself around him, which is always good.

Heard from Richard, he and Jane are off to Italy for an extended Tuscan stay in the spring. A rather brilliant move, sidestepping some building work going on at home. Richard writing lots, and Jane helping Edward Chaney with some research for a possible book about G.B. Edwards. Feel deeply impressed by the intelligence of the Tuscan idea.

A few more chapters of The Sheltering Sky in. A bus driver character in it describing the next town they are to visit saying the flies there are like black snow. Yuck.

Little cheering in the news. Russia seems to have invaded the Crimea, Knife wielding maniacs stabbing dozens of people in a Chinese train station, and Manchester City won a cup. No joy there.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Taking grist to the mill

A nice slow start with my Lorraine. Thank God for Saturday mornings. After the treat of a bacon sandwich breakfast, Lorraine had to do a spot of work, and I updated my notebook blog for the first time in a while, based on something I had seen in the play yesterday.  Lorraine getting antsy and so had to be taken out for a walk.

We drove off to Woods Mill and had a happy hour or so mooching about avoiding the mud and looking at the abundant water there. Allow Lorraine to walk among trees and nature and she instantly gets very happy, which is lovely to see, pointing to faded looking things and cooing Look! Hellebores!

Home via Sainsburys, where Beth came in with her musical new boyfriend called John. Rather felt for the lad having to meet Lorraine and me, but he seems a likeable man. He is just about to go back to Brighton institute of modern music where he studies drums, to continue his studies having taken a year or so out -- and currently works managing the pub Beth's been working in.

As a special treat we went off to The Ginger Pig in Hove. The Ginger restaurants have got a good reputation, and while it was all pleasant enough Lorraine and I found the food somewhat underwhelming and fussy. Perhaps we were spoiled by our exquisite heights of fine dining in Japan. However we had a cheery evening. Lorraine and I melting off the Basketmakers, leaving the young un's to it, before heading home to watch Match of the Day. Chelsea doing well, and Newcastle's manager getting sent off for faintly headbutting an opposing player, for which there was quite a bit of synthetic tut-tutting.

And so to bed.

Below the stark March trees around Woods Mill.