Monday, June 30, 2014

About my own business

Monday at home, and got on with some of the bazillion things that have mounted up. Plus an urgent scrap of copywriting for my French client. The orc foot somewhat better, though not yet fully recovered. Hobbled off to the bank and the post office, did things like filing and so on to make me feel organised too.

After Lorraine got home from zooming about the county supporting head teachers we began the process of sorting a mortgage out on the phone. The detail needed these days is intense - down to how much you are paying on individual bills even though we are only wanting to borrow a fraction of the value of the house. L and I seem not to be allowing ourselves to get overexcited. And my last couple of experiences of buying and selling houses were sobering ordeals so I am not cavorting about wildly with my arms in the air. Lorraine being cautious too.

Spoke to Tobster today via facebook messenger in a Chicago cafe called Intelligentsia in Lakeview Chicago even better than Creamer in Toronto apparently. He was looking at the house we have earmarked online. Although this connected world has been a fact of life for a decades now I still get impressed with how easy it is share stuff with the Tobster over the pond.

Very happy to be about my own business today.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Gin and slim in The Batty

Ankle a good deal less painful today, thank God. Made a new poster for Beth's show Les Belles-soeurs at the Rose Theatre next month. Lorraine working on work reports for several hours.

We broke off this afternoon and loped to The Batty where we met Matt and John. I drank judicious, purine-light gin and slimline tonic,which apart from a solitary can of beer on the train home after my reading last week, was my first drink since Friday 13th. The good news is that I seem to be losing weight. For as well as miserablist near-teetotalism, I am eating the same slimming grub as Lorraine. Lorraine has lost over a stone and a half so far. She has a graph and the trajectory is relentlessly downward over the last five or six weeks. There is less Lorraine than there was and her clothes are loose on her.

Great to see Matt and John, and I felt as if I were reentering society a bit having lost the last couple of weekends to various ailements.We sat out in the beer garden and gossiped several hours away. Matt fresh from a romantic encounter, and John cheerfully lapping at white wine and laughing at him. Lorraine and I told them about the house, and also I gave them an early copy of the pamphlet each. Matt and I swapped ouch stories, as he still has a painful frozen shoulder.

Then hobbled home with my lovely wife for a peaceful evening in.

Below a version of the new poster, which, considering I am not a designer, turned out okay.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Second viewing

More house business today. Lorraine and I had lots of discussions too, for it is a big move and one that needs to be got right. We met the couple who were buying ours, and went around for another half hour look at the house we intend to move into, me hobbling around it orc style. One of the joys of this house is that there are traffic cones in its front garden, and as the owner is a characterful artist and shamanic healer, seeing the place as blank canvas takes an effort of the imagination.

Shown around again by Tracey the human estate agent. The house has great potential and in a good part of town. This done Lorraine went off into town to see Betty, and I lurked about unashamedly watching world cup football, resting the ankle from hell and reading poems.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bat out of limbo into a new house

Rapidly out of limbo. Our offer accepted on a house in Havelock Road, just five minutes walk from where we now live. So we have a buyer for our house and our house offer accepted. Rather wincing from the stamp duty on our purchase, but we are going full steam ahead and damning the torpedoes. Feeling excited in flashes.

Other good news was that Sam had got a first in his Philosophy degree at Leeds. He was also pictured in the philosophy brochure, with a full page of him and an article encouraging other students to study there. Lorraine naturally very proud of him and I am too. He has done splendidly.

Otherwise my bĂȘtes noirs of gout and prostatitis combining to make me feel a bit wretched. But it will pass. I am caught in a Catch 22 as I need to be gout free for a few weeks to get onto the new, and much better, treatment. Yet another quiet night in behaving myself, when we should have been out celebrating.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A spot of limbo

At home today, and really happy to be so. Although my pesky ankle hurting again, drawing on my  stiff upper lippery. As exemplified by the character Stevens in The Remains of the Day. I have almost finished this wonderful, deft book.

Otherwise I busied myself about my social media tasks, and downloaded Robin's book Blogging for Creatives and my latest experiences of working alongside a social media team make me realise I am doing a lot of things wrong -- but this means at least I can begin to rectify things. Spoke to Nev who called me up and had a long chat with him. Having spent several years working every day with Nev it doesn't take long to tune in again.

After following up with the estate agent, it became clear that the person we are in negotiation with to buy a house is away, and so is her partner, so we won't get a firm yes or no till next Tuesday. Lorraine back this afternoon, slogging from home and this sent her into a bit of a gloom as it is a long time in house Limbo. However we are going to continue to look for somewhere else to live despite this and I made a few calls to set up some viewings at the weekend.

Otherwise all well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A stanza bonanza

To London again. Listening to The Remains of the Day and seeing Alan Davies doing the magical trick of invisibility on the bus again.

Released back into the wild again for a bit from work, which is splendid news as there is such a mountain of my own stuff to do I don't know where to start.

No progress on the house negotiations for the Brighton reason that the vendor is on a meditative retreat with no phone signal. Suggested to Lorraine that we keep looking this weekend in case the vendor turns out to an uberflake. There is little that is simple in this world.

After work, slipped off to the nearby Poetry Cafe where I met Robin, Anthony, Tom, Ponny and Marion Tracy who made up the Brighton Stanza poets. Ordered a bowl of carrot soup, no bread, said the stern eastern European woman behind the counter, and a cup of tea before descending to the basement. A hot evening in the basement of the Poetry Cafe. Twelve poets in this 'Stanza Bonanza' so lots of variety. We were reading with some excellent poets from a Palmer's Green group led by Katherine Gallagher. I enjoyed the evening, and sipped only a small bottle of water. Really strong performances from all of the Brighton posse. I read Hooked, Root and Branch, Ernstophilia, and a new poem called Unfallen.

Taxied to Victoria with Robin discussing our various pamphlet related schemes and plans,then caught the train to Brighton, with Robin catching a different train to to Lewes. I bought a can of beer, my first drink for a couple of weeks. Sat on the train playing tetris and listening to my audiobook and was home in a trice. Lorraine already in bed, having had a nice evening with Dawn.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Back to work. Finding myself a good deal better than I was last Thursday, meant that the day passed smoothly and unremarkably. All to the good as I was dealing with the estate agent and negotiation on price. We are almost there now, I hope, but will have to wait till the haggling is done and dusted.

Back to Brighton without incident. Downloaded The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. He is a marvellously subtle writer, and I am enjoying this book immensely.

Off at Brighton and popped into Sing Li as Lorraine was doing Governor training. All very friendly in there. Chatting to a man I knew there waiting for his fish and chips, who I'd seen at a couple of the Shakespeare Heptet gigs. Then back through the station dodging past a scuffle between two station workers containing a fighty drunk little man before getting home to lounge before the TV watching football. Dominated this evening by the Uruguayan Suarez having a bite at an Italian defender. This is his third biting offence and is being called Jaws III by some.

Lorraine home and chatting about houses. Nothing we can do at the moment other than lock our fingers in a crossed position.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

More property decisions

Lorraine and I had much careful discussion of houses, and have resolved to put an offer in on Monday. This a big decision.

Beth in a lively mood at breakfast, and two of her pals Kayleigh and Becky slept over too, Kayleigh needing an icepack for her knee after a falling over during the evening. They all left early, and left Lorraine and I with the novelty of being on our own. A gorgeous day, and we went for a short stroll down to the Levels, past the soft smack of skateboarders hitting the ground, and along the planted gardens, past the Pavilion to the sea where thousands basked happily on the pebbles.

A quiet evening. I am slowly feeling more human after a real health nadir. Lorraine cooked lovely food. She has also lost nine kilograms, there is definitely less of my wife than there was. Ominously, she made a graph for me too. I am nowhere near my heaviest but it would be good to lose weight - especially as drinking seems to be out of the question for a while.

For none of those sparkling glasses of lager in the sun are for me worse luck, which for some reason makes me think of Nigel Molesworth, pictured, saying chiz.

Below a job that Betty did, where they took a cast of her back and then created a prosthetic back with these computer key letters in them. More about that here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Silver lining

Somewhat better today, although there was considerable room for improvement. Spent the day sleeping and recuperating. We were supposed to be up in the Cotswold's this weekend seeing Sue & John, but I just wasn't in the right shape for the journey.

However there could be a big silver lining. I dragged myself out into car with Lorraine and we looked at a few houses. One we saw this afternoon we both fell in love with, that is just five minutes from where we are now. Property in Brighton is a bit of a feeding frenzy at the moment but we are hopeful. Not a bad result for a day mostly spent sleeping and dozing.

Betty here, teaching in the morning and then going out with her pals Becky and Kayleigh in the evening.  Lorraine and I watched The Hunger Games movie then bed.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Staying still

Did not burst in my sleep, although a fairly ghastly night. Able this morning to pee again with something approaching normality, which was (boom-tish) a relief.

Claudia left for Ashford today. I really enjoyed having her to stay, and she is a funny, intelligent  girl with bags of character.  She is, without a doubt, my favourite niece.

A day of rest, I stayed still. In fact I was glued to the gold sofa and sleeping heavily. However my lovely Lorraine drove us to three nearby houses to look at them before I returned to the gold sofa. Two were really nice.

Contacted by Carl who said Ellie had started a holiday job in a chip shop, which she had gone out on her own and got. He is very proud of her. Also had a chat with First Matie, who is saying Yes to life in lots of ways. Details are embargoed but I am chuffed for her.

Also an email from Richard as his and Jane's Tuscan sojourn is drawing to an end. "We’ll miss the vibrant street markets; pre-dinner drinks in the local bar; fireflies in the garden at night; quick green lizards in the courtyard; swallows swooping round the house-tops; quiet times ‘at home’ reading, writing or, in Jane’s case, producing beautiful patterns in lace." Sigh.

Below Toby and Romy, with the Tobster eyeing a wooden bird, a birthday present. The photo taken by their pal Gillian.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What fresh hell is this

Today's fresh hell was waking up and quite suddenly not being able to pee. To London and managed to get through the day's work, emitting the occasional spoonful of wee before mercifully finishing the day and getting home.

After I got home and called 111 to discuss the matter, they arranged an emergency appointment with a charming doctor in the hospital, who gave me a DRE, examined what little wee I could produce for infection, gave me pills and sent me home with the proviso that should I feel that my bladder was going to explode I should return to A&E.

At least, however, it prevented me from the joyless business of being able to watch England crashing out of the World Cup after their second defeat, this time to Uruguay.

All this meant that Lorraine and my meal out with Claudia was cancelled. Annoying and embarrassing. Comfortingly Claudia said that not being able to pee wasn't as embarrassing as shitting your pants, a thought that gave me a modicum of comfort.

And so, uneasily, to bed, but thinking comfortingly of this from Frasier.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Another day in London

A ditto day. Up and off to London. Spoke to Mum briefly at lunchtime. Worked hard all day, trying to maintain equanimity. I feel stretched and very out of sorts which is making everything a struggle.

Home at last a spot of Calliope-plagued footie watching, champions Spain being beaten by a cheerful Chile, then an iPad survey of houses as we have arranged a buyer for our own, but there's nothing new or interesting on offer. Trying not to let the unpleasant idea of having had two houses and now having none unnerve me.

Claudia off today, rather bravely, to talk to the army about joining up. Lorraine spent lots of time this evening talking to her about what this would look like. Understandably she is not too keen on the idea of being sent somewhere where she might come to harm.

An early night for me, reading another one of Borges mysterious but very short stories before bed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

House and home

It seems we have found a buyer for our house. Several consultations with my lovely Lorraine during the day about this.

Otherwise a day at work. Find I am not enjoying work so much lately, being constantly overwhelmed by a desire to go on a holiday, which won't be there for a while, matched with trying to make sense of a patchy brief. I enjoyed, however, a few minutes in the lunchtime oasis of the newly-refurbished Folyes, where I bought a book by French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The World of Perception, which were lectures he gave on public radio. Just how I like my philosophy books, slim and crammed with ideas simply expressed.

Home and found my new niece Claudia cooking a chicken and bell pepper curry with Lorraine. I ate well and watched the first half of a disappointing game between Brazil and Mexico, their faces lit up by screens playing candy crush, and then we went off for a walk in the park. Saw some bats, which Claudia said she had never seen before, and smelled the roses in the rose garden, saw a fox and looked at tadpoles just about to become frogs, and a few newts.

The Tobster's birthday today, so FaceTimed him before bed, sitting in The Creamer Cafe. Amazing thing the Internet. Came downstairs to find Claudia FaceTiming Laura. Said hello and told her that Claudia was behaving angelically. And by and large she is.

Monday, June 16, 2014

More sad news

Up to London feeling tired. Spoke to Mum at lunchtime and she told me the sad news that Betty Tostevin had died last week. This is very sad news as she and Mum had been friends since I was a kid.

Mum is having a series of events like this, this year. Betty was a lovely woman, and a cheery soul despite having many disadvantages such as being deaf, and blind in one eye after a teenage illness.  I am pleased I got to see her, albeit briefly, a few weeks ago, and pleased Mum got to spend an hour or so with her then too.

Otherwise another potentially heartsinking start to the week's commute. Some kind of gas leak near the line in south London. Fortunately despite dire first impressions at Victoria, it did not seem to delay the journey too badly. Glad to be home. Lorraine out singing. Chatted lots to Claudia. I like having a niece.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

More house business

A lovely (step) father's day text from Beth this morning. Really surprised and very touched indeed.

Walked up to Seven Dials to see Linda and look at her house which she is considering putting on the market. It is a big step for Linda as her house is very much associated with her life with her late husband. She came for a walk to look around ours too.

Linda off into town, and we welcomed our new neighbour in the house next door. Then Lorraine and I walked off to do some shopping at Sainsburys. These things done, we returned and a sleepy Claudia emerged in the afternoon. Sleepy but as good as gold.

Spent the afternoon discussing the properties we'd seen at the weekend, caught up on some admin and billing, and watching some of the World Cup. A roast chicken in the evening. All good.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

House hunting and The Nightwork

A day when our house was being looked at by people, and we visited five houses in various parts of Brighton. One particularly we liked a lot. Claudia came with us too, and enjoyed seeing all the places.    We went to a house on Lorraine's old road, but it was too much of a step back. A lovely house with views down to Brighton really impressed us.

After a few hours of pootling about town in the car, from house to house Lorraine drove us to Lewes where I stopped off at Robin's house.

A brief chat with Robin, and then back into the car. Very happy with the results with a box of my poetry pamphlets The Nightwork. A spot of gloating over this once home, and no screamingly obvious mistakes. Pretty chuffed.

In the evening Anton came around and the four of us went across the road to The Shahi and strapped on the nosebag. Back home and after some chatting watched the England vs Italy World Cup game. Ingerland lost, but didn't disgrace themselves. People watching it in a garden nearby but obviously it was being screened a few seconds after our TV. When England scored funny to hear them celebrate some time afterwards. When we started losing Anton sloped off, and went to bed having soaked up a few cans of beer in the process.

Below the cover of my wee pamphlet. More about it anon.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Beach and soul

Back up to London. The enthusiasm for the week at a lowish Friday ebb. Saw TV's Alan Davies on my morning bus from Victoria, for the second or third time, clamped behind protective headphones. Was clamped into my own headphones during the day tiredly chunking out lots of copy. The job I am working on is long, which is excellent for the coffers but feels quite a bit like having a normal job.

Dozing on the train home, but then walked home where the lovely Dawn picked me up outside The Shahi and drove us to Hove. On the way there I spoke to Lorraine and was tasked to bring fish and chips to the advance party on the beach. Dawn bought some beers and then we parked up on the seafront and crunched down the pebbles to find Lorraine, Claudia, Anton and Rosie sitting on blankets on the rapidly cooling beach. Also two people I'd seen in the fish and chip shop who turned out to be two of Rosie's mates.

Fish and chips eaten, and the temperature dropping, Rosie's mates (who I never really got around to talking to) left and we went to The Brunswick to warm up. World cup footie on a screen there, where the Dutch were thumping world champions Spain 5-1.  Rather than watch this however, we all repaired to watch a highly-enjoyable soul band, catchily named The South Coast Soul Review, to whom we cavorted merrily. Then the gang finally broke up and Lorraine, Claudia and I cabbed home to the Old Church Hall where I watched a bit of footie before bed.

Below Dawn and Lorraine, and my new niece Claudia (doing the selfie face) and Lorraine.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The mercy of working from home

Mercifully working from home today so as to allow me to sneak off first thing and have a blood test at the quacks, then pop into the barbers pen early nearby. I really like the nurse at the surgery. We were laughing about what would happen if the blood that came out was green, although she seemed relieved when it came out the usual colour. The barbers all friendly first thing in the morning. Area of concern gleaming, and steps were taken to control my increasingly Leonid Brezhnev stylee eyebrows.

Home and started work at the usual time. Chatting to Mark next door, who despite having left his house to move into the new one, was back to polyfiller in a few holes in the wall. Rather impressed by this. He seemed a little sad to be going too.

Sonia arrived and I had a quick chat with her, and a little later opened the door to Mark and a French man who wanted to look around the house, having seen it just published. I showed him around. He seemed lean and keen.

Lovely hot day. At lunch sauntered off to Arkwrights taking Claudia, now up and about and well again with me and buying her a piece of chocolate cake. She then went off to the army recruitment place, but found she needed to have an appointment after going there.

Lorraine returned to work from home this afternoon too. Very hot this afternoon in the Old Church Hall, a fact which planted a pint of lager shaped seed in my mind. Finished work then, pausing only to drop a tub of aqueous cream which exploded quite remarkably all over the bathroom, my trousers and new shoes, my lovely Lorraine to the rescue, as usual. Then Lorraine, Claudia and I repaired to The Signalman and sat in a sunny beer garden where we were joined for a little by Dawn. I drank a few beers. They were nice, and would have been joined by a few more if
it hadn't been a school night.

Home to watch Brazil vs Croatia, the first game in the world cup. Hurrah for football! Brazil won, but were lucky. Then to bed.

Below my eyebrows pictured earlier.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Little Saturday

Up after a poor night's sleep and walked off into the sunshine to the station and into London without incident. Read a story called The Garden of Forking Paths by Borges. Very splendid it was too.

Another potentially dangerous bottleneck of the crowd trying to leave the platform at Victoria. I took my phone from my pocket to photograph it, and I later tweeted this to Southern Rail and Gatwick Express. In this act, I realised later, my work pass slipped from my pocket and was lost. Gah.

Into work and little or nothing to report. Wrote, with pauses to regroup my brain, went down to by food from the Pure chain which is downstairs. They do rather good soups. Listened on my earphones to Clameur during the afternoon. I am always surprised at how good parts of it are.

Home without incident again. My lovely Lorraine and Claudia at home, and we spent a good deal of time chatting. Claudia told us that Wednesday in Finland is called Little Saturday and is an opportunity for drinking. We also looked at the bilingual book of Finnish Poetry I bought yesterday, and she read some out for us.

Lorraine stretching out her trousers this evening to demonstrate how much weight she has lost. And so to bed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The smell of fresh bookshelves

Slightly dubiously, threads of migraine still making me adverse to bright light, to work this morning. A reasonable day and snuck to Foyles bookshop at lunchtime and bought a collection of modern Finnish poetry. I'd seen some Finnish Poets reading their work a few years ago in Brighton, and I'd liked it. Foyles has expanded or relaunched a new flagship shop next to the original, which is now open and airy, smelling of new wood and fresh bookshelves.

Read another short story by Borges The Library of Babel. I am beginning to understand just what a fabulous writer he is. In some ways there is more in one of his short stories than there is in a several feet of novels. 

In other literary news, my pamphlet The Nightwork is now at the press, which is rather exciting. 

Was phoned by my new French clients, who are rather amazed to find I wasn't going to do some work for them. They suggested that last time I worked through the weekend and public holiday, and perhaps I could do this again. I demurred.

Home, luckily with no adventures, to find things a bit turbulent. Having spent a day shopping in the sun, Claudia returned with a slight temperature and was wanting to go to hospital. Lorraine (a former ward sister) checked her over, examined her now-healed unswollen foot, did not agree this was needed. There was a difference of opinion about this.  

Meanwhile I cooked a species of noodles, and later Lorraine and I looked at houses which we are going to peruse at the weekend. Gratefully to bed.  No deaths in the night. 

Monday, June 09, 2014

Pulling the plug

Back to work. Not such a bad day despite the fact I was dreading it.  I kept myself calm and on the straight and level. Finished Rock Stars Ate My Life! by Mark Ellen, which was entertaining in its lyrical lament to popular music and music fans.

Getting home was a disaster. Left work in timely way, and caught a fairly early train. However yet another unfortunate was hit by a train, which paralysed the network again. After being on the line outside Haywards Heath for some time, shivering in the overenthusiastic air conditioning the train was disgorged at the station to be told there were no trains for the time being.  Everyone encouraged to spill outside the station waiting for buses, which did not come. Hundreds of stressed, unhappy people.

I spoke to Lorraine on my phone. As I talked to her I got the familiar flashing lights in my eyes, and I was hit by a migraine. Despite having a choir night tonight, Lorraine came to rescue me. I sat waiting for her on the station platform feeling very poor, with spangling lights in my eyes and settling into their familiar widening crescent which eventually goes 'off screen' in about 25 minutes. I don't seem to get much pain, just a feeling that someone has pulled the plug from my socket.

Mightily pleased to see Lorraine in the car, with Claudia. Ferried home and fed and watered before I quickly went to bed, and fell asleep almost at once.

I need a holiday.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sunday about the house

A lovely sunny day. Lorraine and I fairly cheerily working on stuff, like revarnishing the front door, and ladder climbing to cut back an overhanging tree and various other tasks which took up much of the day. Also talking to our next door neighbours Mark and Nicki who are moving out shortly.  Lorraine had got the boys some presents for their new garden, and they seemed to like these a good deal.

Lorraine cheery as she has lost over a stone on her slow but steady new diet.

Chatting with Claudia who was endlessly watching US CSI style cop dramas. She loves them, and spent all day with her leg up on the gold sofa; the refuge for folks with bad feet -- luckily her foot is now improving.

A quiet night in, girding my loins for the rigours of next week.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Great strides

Remained firmly in bed this morning, unwilling to face the rigours of the world. Eventually we got up and sauntered around to Arkwrights and the flower shop in a fragrant middle class sort of way. Home for breakfast with Claudia, who spent the day with her leg elevated, after infecting her foot blister. Otherwise she seems happy, especially when given pieces of chocolate. We three sat about on the sofa looking at houses on the internet.

Then Lorraine and I left Claudia and went shopping. Primarily to buy several pairs of trousers for me. I found lots of pairs that fit me in Debenhams, which seems to cater for the larger gentleman. I say I found them, actually Lorraine zoomed around the shop harvesting trousers and the whole thing was done remarkably quickly. Before this I also impulsively bought a pair of shoes, blue suede brogues with yellow laces.

On the way home we stopped to have a drink and a catch up with Matt standing outside the Brighton Tavern in the sun. He has a frozen shoulder and winced when I gave him a manly squeeze hello. Nice to see him, and I enjoyed standing about in the sun with Lorraine and Matt and some friends of Matt, one of whom was a squished-face pug called Sefton.

Home via Sainsbury to Claudia, whose foot is looking much better after a day's rest. A quiet night in, Claudia showing me a Finnish reality TV show where two policemen go about their work, and nothing happens other than finding a drunk in the forest. Claudia is thinking about joining the army or the Police, but Finnish Policework looks too boring for her, she says they have to do things like shooting birds. Lorraine researching things for her about forensics courses, which she is interested about too.

Early to bed tonight. Am very tired and very run down. However I am able to walk again which is a boon. Just pleased to be able to spend time with my lovely wife and not have to travel anywhere.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Beth's last act at college

Up early and my baby drove me off to the station again. Needed to be on time this morning, for a 9:30 meeting. However an empty train broke down just outside the station, just as we were about to leave, and after much delay our train was rerouted via scenic Lewes. Mood not improved by getting to work almost an hour late, followed rapidly by an infuriating and frankly insulting meeting after which I had to take a walk around the block to calm down, and after a chat with Pat I decided not simply to pack up and leave. In a foul mood for the rest of the day.

In the middle of this Claudia called to ask for our address as she was trying to get herself seen by a doctor, as her foot had swollen up. She trained up to where Lorraine met her, and took her to a medical centre in Teddington where they looked at it, and because she has allergies against the usual antibiotics they drew a line on her leg, and said if the infection reaches here she needs special antibiotics.

After work I went off to Kingston to Beth's college to see her last performance there as a student in a play  Les Belles Soeurs, a large ensemble piece. Naturally the train was delayed and I was late by ten minutes. But I crept up to the back of the theatre and saw the rest of the play.

Beth had a pivotal role as a woman who had come into a fortune in the Canadian equivalent of Green Shield stamps and lots of familiar faces from her course were her friends, who were busy stealing her stamps from her while coming around to help her stick them in books. Some excellent performances, and Beth bustling around comedically as a middle aged woman. An enjoyable play, and of course very emotional for Beth and and the girls, some of whom were visibly moved when the play finished.

Afterwards a drink in The Ram and I chatted with Gary and Sophie and Emily's parents and some of the girls, and the unfortunate Claudia, who nevertheless enjoyed herself.

Drove home and I bought a pizza and ate a few slices and fell asleep on the sofa. Thank God for Friday.

Below Beth bustling comedically.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

A gathering of the Woods clan

Back into London for me. Lovely Lorraine drove me to the station to minimise hobbling. Luckily my ankle is much better now, but was still far from perfect. Bussed into work from Victoria and had an okay day there, although don't seem to accomplish as much as I do at home.

After work I walked a few hundred yards to where the Woods clan were gathering. Lorraine and I were found in the street by Lorraine's brother Derek. Lorraine had been a bit tearful thinking about seeing him and gave him a big hug. He then took us to a nearby pub where Pat and Maureen, Laura, Jason and Claudia had a table. Lovely to meet Derek and Laura over from Finland again. And meet Jason again who is working at Stanstead Airport. Kept being struck by all the family resemblances, and how Derek looks like his mother, and Sam. Laura, it turns out reads this blog from time to time, and its nice to know that it plays its part in keeping everyone connected. She is a creative person and I am sure we have quite a bit in common. Lorraine and I have been plotting to go to over to Finland to see them there. I am looking forward to this a good deal having never been near Scandinavia.

Fond farewells, and Lorraine and I adopted young Claudia who is coming to stay with us for a few weeks, and walked with Pat and Maureen down to Charing Cross. Maureen walking much more confidently than she had been in Guernsey.

Cabbed to Victoria and then took the train to Three Bridges where Lorraine had left her car and we drove home, Claudia under Lorraine's coat in the back.  I hurried gratefully in bed once home, as Lorraine was bathing a blister on Claudia's heel in salt water.

Below three men of the Woods: Jason, Derek and Pat; Maureen, Lorraine and Laura.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Orc lope

Another day working at home, which enabled Lorraine and I to have a lightning tidy up before the house photographer came around to snap the place in the teeming rain. If lightning can hobble that is.

Otherwise a day of grafting on a bazillion bits of copy, broken off by hobbling painfully to the quacks and arranging a blood test next week prior to a change of pills.  Glimpsed myself shambling to the desk on their CCTV system: a limping, hunched ancient fat man. Briefly sat in the waiting room next to a woman with a bottle of vodka projecting from her pocket.

I retreated soberly into listening to Mark Ellen's book Rock Stars Stole My Life! which I'd downloaded earlier in the day. Light, nicely written nostalgic treat for music lovers of a certain age. I once met Mark Ellen in a Chiswick swimming pool. He was every bit as pleasant and chatty as he seemed presenting the post-Whispering Bob The Old Grey Whistle Test.  His enthusiastic and self-depreciating style is endearing in print too.

Orc-lope home, and when Lorraine arrived we drove around to Janet and Ken, who is looking enormously improved, to pick up Mum's paintings, cat heads and so on. Didn't hang about as I had to buy rail tickets for my return to London tomorrow. After some sitting about with my lovely wife, early to bed.

Anton called today, he is about to embark on a reading of The Lord of The Rings to Oskar before bedtime. He's an exemplary Dad.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

I love homework

A good night's sleep, and mercifully able to work from home on my Shaftsbury Ave job today. Foot and ankle still far from dandy but I can stand and walk better. Working early, and survived a whole day without painkillers. Lorraine working late tonight teaching governors, so I cooked noodles, and various veggies, enjoyed two episodes of The Wire and wrote to Rhona. Surprisingly worn out this evening, being wan and sluggish is such a waste of time. Reading Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges which I am finding full of bookish, labyrinthine, postmodern pleasures.

Monday, June 02, 2014


Able to stand and walk a bit after a good night's sleep, so Lorraine drove me to the station, and I caught a bus from Victoria and gingerly made it to work. Although had a heart sinking moment when the queue for the bus I normally get stretched for 100 yards. Then after ten minutes painful standing, three came at once. I explained to Ed the nice guy I am working directly with, and Pat that I'd prefer to work from home for the next couple of days while the hobbling wears off, which they kindly agreed. And as chance would have it I have a big chunk of work on one job to do, so working from home is fine. When walking is difficult, it certainly makes you read the terrain differently, suddenly becoming grateful for not having to climb stairs, nor having to stand on the bus. A doctor's appointment for Wednesday.

Was very grateful to Lorraine who picked me up from the station, and generally looked after me despite having a tough day herself. Later heard that Pat's beloved motorbike had been stolen, chained up near work. Bastards.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

A day in bed

Unable to stand without vile pain, I simply remained in bed, while poor Lorraine got on with all the house jobs we had intended to do this weekend, such as painting exterior walls white. Felt guilty about this, but the result of my horizontality and sleeping was that my ankle hurt a little less tonight. Slept a good deal of the day. And Lorraine went out in the evening, having slogged all day, and had fun with Anton, Rosie and Dawn, while I slowly repaired.

I did however, watch a heartwarming documentary on my laptop.'Searching for Sugarman' was about Sixto Rodriguez who released two albums in the early seventies that sank without trace in the US but made him an enormous star in South Africa -- a fact he knew nothing about. Nobody knew anything about him in SA other than what was on the record covers, so legends grew up about how he had died in horrible circumstances: that he had shot himself on stage, or set himself on fire and burned to death.

Film of him playing his first concert there in a large auditorium packed with an adoring crowd was rather moving, as well as something of a relief, as was his refusal to alter his very modest, monk-like lifestyle in Detroit after his career rebirth.

Below a still from footage of Rodriguez walking about the snowy streets of Detroit.