Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The string game

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


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

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

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

To bed, where my back began to hurt abominably.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Fond farewells and an interlude

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

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

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

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Nice as pie

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

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

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

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

Weather turning cold.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Up to Edgware

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing day

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The smell of raw turkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Many arrivals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Claudia arrives

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Beth is regal, Rosie moves house

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 18, 2014


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wild salmon

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Song and dance

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

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

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

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

Below Richard and Jane.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejecting rejection

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 14, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Force is with her

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

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

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

Friday, December 12, 2014

New connections

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

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A night out with Anton

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sad news, and getting a grip

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Like a box out of storage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 08, 2014

Graceful and cheery

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 07, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Starting from scratch

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

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

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

Friday, December 05, 2014

Tidy Friday

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

Thursday, December 04, 2014

A Lewes Interlude

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Inaugural beans

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Beetling about

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 01, 2014

Rolling, scraping & flashing

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

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

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

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