Thursday, July 31, 2014

In holiday mode

Back to working on poems this morning, and making the transition to holiday mode. Lorraine drove me to the printers where I picked up some prints of a reading for a wedding I had done for Craig and Mel. I then took these to the framer, then off to the gym where I did a sweaty workout, my third of the week.

Quite pleased to note that the bulk of what I had put on in Leeds is now off again. Ate a large ham and salad baguette to celebrate this afternoon. FaceTime with Mum and Toby in Chicago, just before they were to set off for Canada. Toby said that Meatball the cat enjoyed the views from their Chicago house.

I walked over to see Janet and Ken late in the afternoon, for a cup of tea and a pleasant chat.

Later Lorraine and I met Rosie in The Crescent and then wandered into The Cow, where we had a snack and met Rosie's new friend Dave and his pal called Venny. Dave seemed a nice man and he works as a landscape gardener.Anton joined us later having gone through train hell on the way back from London. A pleasant evening in which I drank some risky beer. The first one was a glorious thing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Evening picnic

Working on a job to do with arthritis from eight this morning. Fairly straightforward and I was all done by 4:30. Lorraine working on the desk next to me for longer.

Having been cooped up all day, apart from sauntering around the corner to Arkwrights to buy some middle class comestibles, we invited ourselves to Steyning to see Dawn this evening. She had prepared a rapid and delicious salad with salmon and we scrambled over the wall at the end of her garden and ate it, as the sun lowered behind the Downs.

Dawn's next door neighbour told her that Dawn's house is haunted with a ghost of a girl. That night, Dawn spent the night on her bed on the floorboards, looking at the dimpled, ceiling-high window at the top of the stairs where the ghost was supposed to be, and deciding it was called Annie.

Next night she opted on the comforts of her parent's home nearby.

Local news full of the pier at Eastbourne going up in flames.

Below Dawn and Lorraine taking in the view.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Luxuriating in being able to sleep in, because Lorriane is working from home. Up and an indulgent day of working on poems and revisiting Skelton Yawngrave.  In the afternoon off to the gym where I had a highly sweaty workout, and felt more energetic than I have felt for some months. On the way home picked up a day's freelancing, from home for the Shaftsbury Ave folks.

After work was done we zoomed off to collect a present for Beth, and then drove off to Hove to stroll by the sea. The tide out very low and the sand at the bottom of the endless pebbles reveals itself. Mrs Kenny and I having a cheerful walk. Lorraine paddling happily for a bit. People cooking barbecues on the beach. Lorraine and I on the edge of our summer.

Returned home to a light supper and a couple of episodes of The Wire to which we are now properly addicted.

Below long shadows of an late afternoon stroll by the sea.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A thunderous wakening

Amazing thunderstorm from about 6:30 in the morning and lasting for a couple of hours with one strike being very close indeed, perhaps hitting the viaduct almost overhead. There was hail too, particularly over in Hove, where it was photographed in drifts like snow. Much flooding around the area, and Worthing Station became unusable due to flooding. The cats both apprehensive and hanging about with us. Calliope hiding under the bed at one point.

Lorraine working at home today, so a comparative lie in would have been possible if it were not for the heavenly affray. I busied myself with poetry as I seem to be in a purple patch, also sending a submission off, paying my tax bill, creeping off to the gym (where I did half an hour and left feeling a bit swimmy headed) and, shamefully, got around to sending a poem I had done for Craig and Mel's wedding off to the printers to give it to them as a framed gift two years later.

Expecting to be phoned to do some freelance today, but this didn't happen. But as I am nudging into holiday mode now this is not too concerning.

Spoke to Janet who had set off to see a Matisse exhibition up in London this afternoon, but instead slipped over and cut her leg near the station, and was forced to return home and spend the afternoon with her leg up. Lorraine and I had a walk in the park this evening ejoyably talking about the kinds of flowers we want in our new garden and if we want curtains or blinds etc. despite it spotting with rain here and there. We went home to watch two episodes of the marvellous The Wire.

Back in diet mode, determined to shed the weight I put back on last week.

Below a photo stolen from the Brighton Argus see here for more pics of lightning in Brighton.

The Argus: The storm flashing over Brighton - picture by Darrison

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Emerging from the undergrowth

Up today and off to Steyning, after Lorraine had prepared a delicious picnic. Weighed myself this morning, and in the last few days I seem to have put on all the weight I lost in the previous month. Time to start again, but this time with added exercise. However on the plus side, the new pills have not - touch wood - precipitated another attack as they might have done, despite the provocative drinking of beer last night.

A happy day spent in Dawn's back garden clearing away the wild growth, cutting down dead rose bushes, discovering a pond, and a brick border to a flowerbed and so on. A holocaust of mini beasts spiders of many kinds, including distinctive white abdomened ones, slugs, snails and woodlice displaced in our clearing. Pleasant neighbours, and one singing in the garden next door as she watered her plants.  Helen called in for a chat and a cup of tea too. Great fun however, and interesting to see the bare bones of a good garden emerge from the undergrowth.

Jumped over the low wall at the back of the garden and had a picnic on the common. Delicious tart, and salad and quinoa and soft summer fruits as some boys kicked a football about nearby, and the Downs looked beautiful beyond. Dawn told us that when she arrived this morning (she is staying at Helen's round the corner) that the hoover had spookily turned itself on upstairs. She found it very hot as it must have been going for some time.

Home again, feeling the benefit of a hot shower as I am unaccustomed to gardening. On the gold sofa this evening, we booked a late bargain break away in Greece as there is no movement on the house stuff, and then watched the movie The X Men, which I would have loved when I was ten.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Brian in Brighton

An unhurried morning. I got up early and wrote before Lorraine was awake. All the driving had caught up with her.  Later I had chats with Mas and then Janet this morning. Deciding to go to the supermarket took some effort this afternoon.

Lorraine and I slipped off, after a cheeky gold sofa doze, for a nice evening with Anton and Brian coming down to the Hare and Hounds where we met them for a cheeky drink.

Because it was so noisy in the Hare and Hounds, we went across to Circus Circus and sat outside in the balmy summer heat and I diced with a gouty devil and had a couple of beer. Good to see a cheery well looking Brian, who we'd not seen since our wedding.  He had recently been to Japan so we compared notes. He found there were two Japanese people, the daytime ones and the nighttime ones.

Anton looking relaxed and sun-tanned from sitting on Brighton Beach, and reading (at last) the marvellous A Passage to India. Anton and I comparing photos of ourselves when we were about 20. Ah the black curly hair of youth. Brian said he would have done me, which was sweet. Lorraine said she would have done me too, which is just as well as she is my wife.

And so home, and after sprawling on the gold sofa, to bed and sleeping like a soporific log.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Poetic plotting

Our own bed. Wonderful.  I'd missed my tempur pillow. That may be the most middle aged thing I have ever written on this blog. Started the new gout pills, but warily as they may trigger an attack as they start to dump the uric acid out of the system. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Off to Lewes late this morning to Robin's house. Lewes looking particularly fine in the sun. Talked for a couple of fruitful hours planning the pamphlet launches, and the future structure of Telltale press. We have launches in Lewes, Brighton and The Poetry Cafe in London at the end of September and October. It's so refreshing to be working with Robin as she is purposeful, businesslike and wants to get things achieved. I'm delighted about the whole thing.

Home in the afternoon, chatting about some freelance work that I might be doing next week. And generally staying cool, as it was sweltering and thundery this afternoon. When Lorraine back from work and we talked to an estate agent. The shamanic healing woman from whom we are trying to buy the new house shows no signs of finding a place to move into yet. Experience has taught us not to expect these things to be straightforward, but I can't help hoping that just for once it went smoothly.

Spoke to Anton whose three cats are all ill with a virus, and he had to take them separately to the vets as he only has one basket.

A noisy party going on in a nearby garden, and Lorraine and I slipped off to the Shahi. Dr Rahmen has started his new job in Birmingham and is loving it. Just doing the odd shift now at the restaurant as he returns at the weekend to see his wife who is just completing her PhD, and his baby daughter.

Home to watch episodes of The Wire.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Another sullenly staffed breakfast in the Met, but we packed and cabbed off to Sam and Jade's flat again in Headingly. Then Lorraine drove us off to Ikea and we bought a few bits and pieces for their home. I rather enjoyed this as I'd not been to Ikea for years, and found it to be full of nice stuff at good prices. Then another shop where Jade was asking Sam to have opinions about the virtue of a various vases which I enjoyed, before we dropped Sam and Jade home.

Lorraine and I very pleased with their flat, and the fact they are together. I maximised my last moments of sitting on the widow seat, looking at the sunlit treetops.

Fond farewells. Then the long drive down the M1 from Leeds, M25 around London and the M23 down to Brighton. Three motorways which, with a break, took us over five and a half hours. Poor Lorraine having to drive us all the way of course. The day was beautiful however, and we chatted lots and listened to podcasts and CDs. We stopped somewhere in the midlands and ate a Burgerking beanburger at a service station. Home at 9pm, the house all neat and tidy and Calliope pleased to see us.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Graduands to Graduates

Sam and Beth both graduating today. We were up in Leeds to be with Sam as everyone, including Beth thought this was fairer, as Beth's performances have been well supported by family over the last few years - and the noble pursuit of philosophy is not usually a spectator sport.

Lorraine and up and breakfasting this morning in the hotel. Then a short zoom about Leeds because, inexplicably, I decided I needed a white shirt and a tie for Sam’s graduation. A sweltering day, and Lorraine raging at her hair as she was trying to straighten it. However we caught a taxi to the university, where we met a suave looking Sam and Jade, and Gary and Sophie – Sam’s dad and his fiancĂ©e. We wandered into a tent and all had a couple of glasses of fizz before shuffling into a large hall in the University where all the philosophy and related subjects graduands metamorphosed into cloaked and flapping graduates. I found myself clapping everyone with gusto, and trying not to think about Harry Potter. Sweltering heat in the great hall. Sam strode about in his finery looking very suave and I found myself easily able to imagine Sam striding through knots of awestruck undergraduates in future.

Then out to for a complimentary Pimms reception, where there was a certain amount of standing about during which I spoke to a couple of Sam's lecturers, including Robbie, who was at college with Matty boy and John who was the prof there. This done we all melted away for the afternoon, Lorraine and I had an unashamed snooze back at the hotel before regrouping with Gary and Sophie at Sam and Jade's flat, and then we all headed off to a local pub called the Arcadia, where I took my life in my own hands and enjoyed a pint of beer, feeling rather in need of one, before heading to a local Italian restaurant for a tasty celebratory meal.

After a pleasant evening, we caught a taxi back with Gary and Sophie, before Lorraine and I repaired to our room after a long day. 
Below Sam looking every inch the Academic outside the The Great Hall at Leeds, meanwhile at Wembley Stadium Betty was graduating too; then one with me, and Lorraine looking very proud, another with Sam and Jade, and finally Lorraine, Sam, Gary and Jade.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To Leeds

So up in Edgware and off to The Moon Under Water Weatherspoons for a cheeky breakfast with Mum and Mas. Morning drinkers chucking like magpies in sunshine of the the open windows. We contented ourselves with teas. Breakfasts fine, although Lorraine’s eggs Benedict poached eggs were hard as stones. Fond farewells, Mum off to Canada this week.

Lorraine drove us up the M1 to Leeds listening to a Mayo and Kermode podcast and various musics. Stopped off for a cup of tea and a breather at a service station near the National Forest near Nottingham.

Arrived late in the afternoon at Sam and Jade’s new fourth floor flat in Headingly in Leeds. An exceptionally nice little flat, on top of a big old building in a tree lined crescent. They have a gorgeous window seat level with the top part of the tree canopy, looking down on the street and a spire on the horizon. Just the sort of place to sit and cogitate on the challenges of analytical philosophy.

 A taxi then to our hotel, driven by a sullen taxi driver who attempted to short change us, as I hefted the case out of the taxi. Lorraine had none of this. A quick turnabout in the Met hotel and back to Sam and Jade’s place. Sam prepared us a salady avocado snack with patatas bravas and leaves. In the evening he cooked us an accomplished mushroom pasander for as well as managing a first in his Philosophy degree he has also become quite a handy chef in the past few years. A very nice evening, listening to music and chatting, gazing out of the lovely window and playing cribbage. Sam, like Lorraine and Pat, his granddad, effortlessly able to slip into the complex scoring. Jade picked it up almost instantly. So it was just me.

Sam and Jade are excellent together, and Jade is splendid and has just received funding for her PhD which she will do at the university. I am very happy they are together.

Sam called us a taxi, which when Lorraine and I climbed into it at the end of the night, turned out to be the same short-changing driver. A frosty drive back to the Hotel Met in the warm night.

Below the philosophers' seat.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A picnic in Honeysuckle Cottage

Off to Steyning this afternoon to visit Dawn in her new house called Honeysuckle Cottage. It needs lots of work doing on it, but it is a extremely nice little house, really well situated end of terrace house, half a minutes walk from the main village street, and backing onto the village cricket ground which then leads directly onto the Downs. Various members of Dawn's large family dropping in while we were there too.

Had a good look around the house, and sauntered around the village, buying some Italian cheese, olives, and so on from an Italian food fair that happened to be there. Lorraine brought a necklace from the little jewellers in the cobblestone path, with Dawn encouraging her and much conversation with the owner on a wide range of subjects.

Then picnicked in Dawn's new garden drinking Elderflower PressĂ© to the accompaniment of distant summer thunder. A short walk around the village green and cups of tea (yes tea) in the big pub on the corner. Such a relaxed and happy afternoon.

Home to various chores, including legal signatures, ironing and other preparations for heading north next week.

Below Dawn, Lorraine and I outside her new house.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Beth's last performance at Kingston

A day full of people. Off to Kingston to see Beth's final performance of La Belle-soeurs in the Rose Theatre. Bumped into Angie and Patrick at the station, then Dipak and Claudius. Travelled to Clapham Junction with Angie and Patrick on their way to a family reunion in London. Chatting with Patrick, who I like.

To Kingston and waited in the cafe there for Maureen and Pat, and their pal Cindy. Then Christine, one of Lorraine's numerous cousins known as Deany by Lorraine's family who have a habit of calling each other strange names. They all went to the theatre. I waited for Mum who arrived shortly. Mason not feeling well enough to come unfortunately. Then to the theatre where Glenice had arrived, and I met Heather and Maria. John was there and his mum Krys, sister Jo and boyfriend (slightly confusingly) Joe.

A lovely theatre, and I sat next to Mum and Beth's pal Olivia's folks, who were glowing proudly in the front row in the approved parental manner.

Beth had been incredibly nervous before this particular performance, as there were so many people there from the family, but she did very well and showed no nerves at all. The whole show was more polished than last time. Chloe made a big difference to a part she took over when someone dropped out. Michel Tremblay's piece the play is pretty good I think, having seen it twice now. I also quite enjoyed seeing the my poster in the foyer. For Beth this was the last performance associated with being in Kingston as a student - and she seemed pleased to done with it.

Palpable relief from Beth afterwards. Then we all went off to the Pizzeria by the sculpture of the falling phone boxes, which Maureen said was disrespectful, and we hungrily ate some fairly good pizzas. Spent some hours here with lots of chat, before we got on a sweaty crowded train. Krys invited Lorraine and I back to her house, so we bade farewell to Mum, Pat and Maureen and Cindy at Raynes Park. Sat in Krys's garden with Lorraine, Betty, John, Jo, Joe and Chris, while a couple of ginger cats gambolled about and West London parakeets chattered. I drank a cautious half a glass of wine and lots of sparkling water.  Enjoyable couple of hours there, before we headed back to Brighton, arriving at 10:30 to snack on a bowl of cherries.

Below the run done, a relaxing Beth in the cafe afterwards with Pat and John. Her hair still pinned up for the part with a bazillion pins.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Back to the gym

Feeling well enough today to try going back to the gym, for the first time in ages, for a paltry, but significant, 15 minutes on the cross trainer and 5 minutes on the rowing machine. It felt good to be at least able to do this. Later in the day, it being very hot up in the roof of the Old Church Hall, walked down to the sea and had a paddle.  The beach naturally very crowded, but the water was warm and if I'd had my swimmies on I would have gone in.

Was contacted about work next week, but I am in Leeds, so could only offer Monday or the following week. Heard no more. Otherwise a productive day on my own stuff. Lorraine out with work folks tonight. Another large storm in Brighton early in the evening, and I took the precaution of unplugging computers and TVs for a bit, thinking of people I've known who were terrified of thunder, such as my grandfather's family, and when I stayed in the south of Italy with an Italian family once, how one of the older women prayed fervently with rosary beads during a storm. Personally, I really like storms, finding them exciting and beautiful, but I don't want my IT knocked out.

When Lorraine home, we watched another episode of The Wire. Brilliant TV, and far better than anything on at the moment.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A glass of water

Working obsessively on new poems for many hours on a particular submission I have in mind. Boosted too by some kind words about The Nightwork from Richard. Tremendously hot day here in sunny Brighton, and I was pleased to finally escape the study if only for another doctor's appointment this afternoon, which coincided with feeling better today than I have done for some weeks. He weighed me and adjusted his records to show me a over a stone lighter. Then I called in on Anton a refreshing glass of water in his back garden. Nice to shoot the breeze for a bit. He is relieved to have been released from jury duty. Aparently Oskar feels hard done-to because Klaudia had an afternoon with me, so I will have to sort something out with him. Amazing really that my Godchildren actually want to spend time with me. I'm very lucky.

We also toyed with Oskar's One Ring on a chain, just like Frodo Baggins's, except that Oskar's had been through the washing machine a few times. Anton had it in an envelope on Oksar's mantlepiece the night he read the part of the Lord of the Rings where Gandalf asks Frodo to open an envelope on his mantlepiece with the ring on it. Something the boy might remember all his life.

Ridiculous phone call from my credit card people to reinstate my credit card. The La Barbarie transaction (one I make at least twice a year and had been mysteriously declined the night before) had triggered a block. No satisfactory explanation from them other than it was for my own protection, which of course is a flat out lie, felt in touch with my inner Victor Meldrew.

Posted a piece about Chiara and The Return to Sarnia. Looking forward to L and I popping over to Guernsey for a couple of days in August to attend this, chill at LaBarbarie and see The Italianate Flemings.

Lorraine and I disturbed by the most intense thunderstorm I can remember in the UK at around 1:30. Ran around naked and Noah-like unplugging my computer equipment, as rain battered the roof and sheet lightning lit up the Velux windows.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer flowers

Feeling better slowly but surely. A pleasant enough day working on various bits and pieces - I am revising Skelton Yawngrave prior to sending that out again but I feel almost like I'm on holiday. Miso soup today, bought from the Japanese shop, into which I slung some noodles and pak choi. Lorraine home just after lunch, and I made her one too, and we worked together upstairs in the afternoon.

Spoke to Mum, who is on antibiotics for a tooth problem, but looking forward to going to Chicago to see Romy and Toby.

A walk through the park this evening, it being full of summer, flowers and happy folks. The meadow flower area is particularly beautiful, the blue cornflowers particularly plentiful. We also then walked down what we hope will be our new street. I noticed lots of fuchsia bushes in people's gardens, which I took to be a good omen. You cling onto anything. I hope to get a cutting from mum's fuchsia when we move in, as her plant is taken from a cutting from my grandparent's garden in Guernsey. Lorraine and I are really looking forward to having a garden.

Then home, for making salmon and salad, then watched a gardening programme and, by way of balance, a couple of episodes of The Wire. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Teeth and bosoms

Up to London this morning to get my broken tooth sorted.  On the train, as I sat there feeling both wan and sweaty, nearby was a woman in her nineties, a jewish refugee from Hamburg in the 30s, who was bright as a button and radiating optimism and charm. It sounds a bit patronising to say people are inspirations, but she was one.

At the dentist I was told it would eventually need a cap but for the time being she patched it up. Decades since I had a filling, and my dentist did it with a resin which was set with ultraviolet light. I like and trust my dentist Lucinda in my old Strand on the Green stomping ground. I like the way she describes what is about to happen, and what does happen is usually fine.

Walking along by the river and remembered the first time I saw that view, as Janet and Ken's new lodger on one autumn day in the late eighties. It was the first place I'd lived in London that I really loved, that felt like somewhere that was somewhere.

Long FaceTime chat with Toby this evening, arrived in Chicago, and relating the full horror of taking Meatball the cat on the plane. He has weeks of well deserved holiday to look forward to.

As for me, I am still recovering slowly -- and have designated this week recovery week.

Funny note from Helen in Germany, I love this bit from her describing her choir work...

I even got a round of applause for having translated the text of "Of a Rose, a Lovely Rose" from the Magnificat into German. I also did a page with hints for the pronunciation - this was in my own interest, because it drives me crazy when 60 Germans pronounce the English words wrongly week after week. Herr Klotz is no help because his English is terrible. He reads out bits like "Out of her BUZZUM a blossom sprang," and every time I feel obliged to screech "BOSOM" from the back row, getting some strange looks.

Below Oliver's Island on the River Thames at low tide.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Sussex Prairie Garden

A slow start, as is customary for us at the weekend.  Roused ourselves to be off early in the afternoon to pick up Janet and Ken and Lorraine drove us over the downs to The Sussex Prairie Garden, which is unexpectedly beautiful, decorated here and there with rusty profiles of buffalo. We walked to the gardens past a pen of two Gloucester Old Spots, and Ken told me, after snorting at them, that he had pigs when he was a lad and Digging for Victory. He was having a bit of trouble with his legs today, and we bought some tea and sat in the tea garden for a while, before Janet, Lorraine and I mooched about in the gardens for a while.  I loved the way it had been planted.

Janet and Lorraine having cryptic plant based conversations. Then back to see Ken, Janet chatting to a pal she met there, as well as the owner of the gardens. A very pleasant couple of hours. I wasn't sure about why the Prairie business, but Ken told me that it was also a term used in old English. 

Then back to Brighton, and home. Lorraine having to work on some spiteful reports. I did little, except cook and gird my loins for the World Cup Final which the Germans, unsurprisingly but deservedly, won. Interesting to see Angela Merkel dishing out hugs to the footballers - something really warm about that. I can't imagine Mrs Thatcher ever doing the same. 

And so to bed.

Below Lorraine and Janet wandering into the foliage discussing the finer points of planting. Other random iPhone snaps. I like, for obvious reasons, the big P.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Japanese food and friends

Lorraine and I spending most of the morning in bed, I slept in late. Somewhat buoyed by weighing myself this morning. Being on one of Lorraine's graphs, no booze and sensible food means I have been losing weight at the rate of something over a kilo a week. Since Lorraine put herself on a graph there is almost two stone less of her.  Among other travails, this is a beacon. Perhaps the long term effects of this summer will be highly positive. Certainly the way we are eating now does not make me feel hungry.

Up and drove off to see Janet and Ken for an hour's chat and cups of Lady Grey. Then to the Japanese shop opposite Sainsburys to buy seaweed and bonito flakes, sesame seeds and potato starch and some miso soup. Then to Sainsburys. Home and as I dozed Lorraine prepared a Japanese dish with prawns and chicken. Anton, Dawn and Rosie came by bearing things like raspberries, nibbles, cheeses and cheesecake and wine and we had a really pleasant night. I enjoyed it despite not drinking, for booze is not my friend at the moment, and beer is to be shunned. Beer is to be shunned. The very words are like a bell tolling.

Spoke to Bob tonight too. Great to hear from him, as we'd not spoken for some time. He was in the Channel Islands last week and felt the earthquake at the airport. The earthquake, the worst for there in living memory hit when BBC Radio Jersey were playing Status Quo's Rocking all over the world.

Anyway I really like these pals of ours, and seeing Janet and Ken earlier, and these ones in the evening went a long way towards making me feel part of society again.

Dawn about to move into her new wee house in Steyning, which is a project but has bags of character. Rosie has been dating a promising new man, and Anton has a trip to the States to look forward to. Currently he is doing jury service, and while he was unable to tell us anything about it, the case is very unpleasant and has left him wishing he was back at work.

And notes from friends from afar. Richard and Jane back in Guernsey, but both unsettled and pining for Italy.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Friday, and still flare free, although wan and washed out. Working this morning, till picked up by Lorraine at 11:25 and into town and dodged through the rain to talk to HSBC about our small mortgage. A pleasant and helpful woman doing the mortgage stuff. We had to supply costings for how much we spent, she literally went through statements item by item, and threw in questions about what our interests were, for example, presumably to learn about our risk factors. Shame nobody did a similar audit on the banking sector a few years ago. Still after an hour and a half of this sort of thing, it seems we are set fair.

Lorraine drove me home, before zooming off for her last work of the week. I worked quietly, and a chat with Janet on the phone. Lorraine home, the term almost done. A quiet evening in.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Stir crazy

Another flare free day and I feel I am inching towards health, but still very tired and achy. Fixed up an appointment for the dentist too on Monday, to show her my broken tooth. Spoke to Janet for quite a while this morning, both Ken and Janet have had health challenges lately, and she is feeling the strain.

Sonia here but galled due to the public sector workers strike and she said she had to walk. Lorraine anticipating having to cross picket lines, but there weren't any by the time she got there.

Now feeling well enough to a bit stir crazy. Lorraine out bowling with her team tonight. Apparently she won her game, and nimbly side stepped the team curry on diet reasons. Once home we had the joyful task of preparing things to take to the mortgage meeting tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A Return to Sarnia

Another recovery day, I am - touch wood - inching back towards health and every day without a flare up is good. Small amounts of work done but little physical or mental energy.

Consequently little to report other than receiving the score for A Return to Sarnia by Chiara Beebe, a very accomplished 22 year old born in Guernsey. She has used my poem A Return for what looks to be, with my rudimentary score reading skills, a rather beautiful piece that also quotes the song Sarnia Cherie. The song is going to be performed in the Guernsey Sinfonietta's Terra Nova concert of modern and new music on, I think, August 6th. This of course made me feel quite cheery - with the prospect of whipping over to Guernsey to see it, thrown in for good measure. It will be good to meet Chiara too, who seems very switched on and sorted and, all being well, to see the bronzed and Italianate Flemings.

Finished The sense of an ending by Julian Barnes. I found it very enjoyable, despite its contrivances creaking from time to time.

A lovely call from First Matie who had been on Jury Service, in a case involving scuffling coach drivers. Now she is focusing on her move up North to Matt Pollard's childhood stomping ground of Hull, somewhere in the North.

I cooked tonight, after Lorraine and I both went to Sainsburys to buy food and particularly cherries, which are my friends. Wasted the evening watching the Holland and Argentina football mach, which was as dull as last night's game had been extraordinary. Lorraine snoozing soundly during the 'action'.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Healing and reeling

Able to get on with admin and a bit of writing quite well this morning. Not in pain any more, but wrung out after a month of assorted ailments. Able to walk to the post office, buy a bag of cherries and so on. (Cherries are my friends apparently.) Still sleeping loads. This year's Summer Suck really is going for it. Thanking my lucky stars I do not have to commute to London at the moment.

Listening to a Julian Barnes book at the moment, called The Sense of an Ending. A quietly wonderful book. Concise but packed with interesting ideas about memory, loss and life. Sparking lots of things in my head, including not so cheerfully memories of a friend I had lived with at university, who had died some years ago.

Lorraine home briefly and we walked through the meadowy flowers in the park for ten minutes, before she went out for a salad supper with the governors of the school she was a governor at till recently. She missed perhaps the most astonishing game of football in world cup history -- the 7-1 humiliation of Brazil by Germany. The nation of Brazil reeling in shock, and I was quietly reeling on the gold sofa too. Astonishing.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Loyal cats, laughing cats

Faster than expected improvement after last night's torments. I finally got to sleep at about 4, and spent the day soldered to the gold sofa tinkering with bits and pieces, and by the end of the day could walk without yelping. Calliope did not leave my side all day. The loyalty of cats is underestimated.

Betty and John here this morning before they set off back to London. FaceTime with Mum, notes from Richard and Jane this evening. Lately returned from Tuscany, Mr Fleming is now about to launch himself into cyberspace. Early to bed tonight, mercifully pain free, reading bits of The Folklore of Guernsey by Marie de Garis to Lorraine. It's enough to make a cat laugh, as the old islanders say.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Job blog

Up late, after lying abed with my lovely wife. Downstairs to eat scrambled egg on toast. Some hard bit in the bread chipped one of my molars. A cheery morning nevertheless, and Beth, Laura and Lorraine laughing lots.

Day filled with filling in forms to do with house sale.

Found myself unaccountably tired at tea time and slept for an hour and a half. John arrived, he is sorting some stuff out tomorrow for his student digs, and we went to Pizza 500 where we all had a wonderful, tasty meal. I had a delicious finely balanced pizza, and the best ice cream I've had outside Italy. A matter of yards from our front door, but for some reason we had never been there before. A brilliant place.

Unbelievably my foot started kicking off again this evening. Am writing this blog at one o'clock in the morning as the pain of my Job-like affliction won't let me sleep.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

An afternoon with Klaudia

A beautiful day, and up earlyish. Lorraine waking Beth up for work twice, the second time in a Mr Punch voice. After Beth had shot off, we had a Quorn sausage sandwich for breakfast, before Lorraine  made off into town to have her hair done, and scoot about town.

I spent a happy afternoon with Klaudia, dropped off by Anton and Oskar who were on their way to a party. Klaudia and I hung out and did some work on poetry together, for a homework assignment.

She wrote a lovely piece about a secret beach, and another (slightly less lovely) about a dead jellyfish, a dead eel and a dead goldfish, which made us both laugh. She had recently discovered this blog too, and found there was lots of stuff about her on it. We read some of this out, even back to when she was a tiny child. It brought back good memories of things like sword fighting in the bluebell woods, or the day when Oskar soaked me in the back garden. We hung out looking at music videos too. I really enjoyed having my funny, intelligent Goddaughter here.

Lorraine home minutes after Klaudia had been collected, laden with shopping and brandishing a new dress, as proof that she has dropped a dress size (at least). I, incidentally, have dropped a couple of kilos in the last fortnight too, since Lorraine put me on a graph. Then Betty back home too, and was soon joined by her pal Laura who Lorraine and I like very much.

Then a bold move. Lorraine and I went to the Shahi for a curry, washed down with probably fatal lager. I really enjoyed it. Dr Rahmen, our bioenergy engineering PhD waiter has found himself a job working in a University in Birmingham and he was delighted. Home again to watch another dreary goalless game needing to be settled on penalties between the Dutch and the Costa Ricans. The quarter finals have been close but all had predictable results. Beth and Laura returned for an hour or so before going out again and Lorraine and I crept into bed.

Friday, July 04, 2014

A happy Friday

Foot gradually improving and I'm feeling more positive. Didn't feel the need to sleep today either, which is good. I had an untaxing Friday of working on stuff like social media, making some interesting connections, general admin, phoning the estate agent and so on.

The weekend! But I stayed in, still protecting my foot, and watched World Cup quarter finals.  Little to report, but feeling happy to be at home with my lovely wife. We even had a glass of champagne. Betty came back home late in the evening too, and good to chat to her. All well.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Sleep and Sleepless

Am gradually recovering, thank God. Although narcolepsy still in full force. Not walking seems to be the key, which means I am gradually going stir crazy. Apart from this all well. Spent time having a thorough weeding session on my computer, and deleted loads of drivel which was therapeutic. I was also called about a longer term two days a week job doing something really interesting and well paid.

Lorraine filling in hideous forms solicitors forms for the house sale, and occasionally breaking off to ask me really difficult legal questions to which I had no answer. Mercifully this ended, and we both watched Sleepless in Seattle which, unbelievably, Lorraine hadn't seen. I like RomComs when done well, with the dream team of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I especially like them on planes when gripped with existential terror. They seem to help.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I know why the gouty bloke scowls

Foot pain has enjoyed something of a renaissance, hobbled to the doctor's this morning and collected my prescription of the Catch 22 pills, very effective apparently, but I can only take them after this bout, the most persistent one I've experienced, is over. Bah to it.

As far as productivity is concerned, a wasted day. Hard to concentrate. I learned that I came nowhere in a poetry competition. Sleeping a good deal, but also finished my audiobook of Maya Angelou's I know why the caged bird sings. It was read by Maya Angelou herself and skillfully presented episodes from her life as emblems of the African American experience.  I can see why she is held in such high regard.

Angelou was sexually abused as a child and spent the next few years barely able to speak. It made me remember a little girl in my own class at junior school called Stephanie who was almost mute, perhaps just with shyness, or just the trauma of finding herself in Neasden after being born in Jamaica. Sometimes playing with her friends you might catch her speaking in a tiny voice. Contrary to the received wisdom of the cruelty of children, I seem to remember the other kids trying to encourage her on the rare occasions she was heard to whisper.

Lorraine home late this afternoon, but working hard and waiting for term to end.

At nine Anton came to the nearby Circus Circus full of news. He won an award at work, had an exciting job offer, and met up with an old friend he called The American Girl, here on holiday, who he had not seen for about 25 years. Interesting how people can reappear in our personal skies like returning comets. Good to see him. It was almost eleven as we left the pub, and Anton hailed a cab just outside which refused to stop probably as my Dickensian shamble was mistaken for drunkenness. Ironic on a beerless night. I know why the gouty bloke scowls.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Caged bird

So officially released back into the wild for the next week or so. Mightily pleased, as I can go about the business of recovery. More chats with the doctor this morning, by phone, with more advice on how to control the gout which is still gripping me. New pills have been prescribed but I have to have a hiatus from symptoms for a couple of weeks before I go on them. This is what's proving tricky. Never had this as badly, and still hobbling and disinclined to fly to coop into Brighton.

Spoke to Mum and Mas on FaceTime, talking about houses, and tidied up a few admin bits, billing, timetables and so on.  I do however find myself drained, which the quack said was completely understandable. I am making mistakes in my work due to it too. Throbbing pain and the fact that the new folks next door were understandably using power tools and hammers on the wall all day meant I gave up attempts to work and read I know why the caged bird sings by Maya Angelou which is rather splendid.

Yay for the World Cup, and I lost myself in footie this evening. Lorraine got home from work and we talked about houses and mortgages.