Thursday, December 31, 2015

NYE

Lorraine and I started the day in a frenzy of list-making and assigning ourselves tasks, which eventually after doing bits and pieces ended up with us nesting on the gold sofa till the evening, when Lorraine and I walked down the hill and up another one to Anton's house.

Rumours of a possible Brian appearance were confirmed, and it was great to catch up with him. Anne and Anton, as traditional, had assembled an top notch feast. Fingerfood starters, then a fish course of prawns, crab and salmon lox, followed by a fantastic steak au poivre with fries and asparagus spears. This was the first time I have eaten a steak in several years, Anton dancing about with steaks and making the sauce, which really was melt in the mouth stuff. This followed by puddings and cheese, all accompanied by wines and so on.

Lorraine and I really enjoyed this evening of lovely food, and cheery company. Klaudia and Oskar managing to stay awake till midnight, for a spot of Auld Lang Syne-ing in front of the tele showing fireworks on the South Bank.

Lorraine and I walked home too, clambering into bed at around two.

Below Klaudia has always hated loud noises. Here she prepares or Anton and Oskar's party poppers. And perched sleepily between Anne and Brian.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Spaceshippy fun

Called Mum to wish her a happy birthday, just as our card to her was being shoved through the door.  Otherwise a day getting a grip on things in preparation for the new year.

Lorraine and I went off to see the latest Star Wars film for a spot of facemasky, spaceshippy fun. The Force Awakens at the Duke of York's picture house. A perfectly enjoyable movie that ticked all the Star Wars boxes without bringing much new to the franchise, but was directed with brio and pacing, which I suspect was what most Star Wars fans wanted.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Back of Beyond and Festive woof woofs

A busy day on Lorraine business. We disposed of the waste and high tailed it to Bolney to see Lorraine's new school. There was one teacher doing some prep there, and the caretaker. I don't think I've walked about an empty school out of term before. Lorraine taking notes while walking about and looking in all the rooms and learning the layout of the place. Looking in store cupboards and so on. One had a direction post with Back of Beyond, and Front of Beyond on it.

To Horsham to dispose of Mrs Kenny's confidential waste in her office. Strange being with Lorraine in a busy office.Then off to drop her laptop off at her boss Chris's house. We were invited in and had a nice chat with Chris and his wife and daughter. A bright cheery room, and very pleasant people.

In the evening, Lorraine and I sauntered down to The Joker, where we met Anton, Anne and my Godbairns plus Christiane (Anton's cousin and also Goddaughter) over from Australia. Lovely to see Christiane again -- who as a yoga teacher shuns impurities of mind, body and spirit. But who in Anton's company had a couple of beers the night before and lapped up some prosecco today.

Most of us ate wings, Anton and I having woof woof wings, and also sharing a plate of woof-woof wings as a side dish. A lovely evening of catching up on gossip (of which there were ample portions).

Below the school board with Lorraine's name on it, and the entrance to Lorraine's school, and the cricket pitch opposite. Klaudia, Oskar, Anton and Christiane. Then a blurry one that adds Anne, Lorraine and I to the picture.  I can't help observing that I am growing very festively plump.











Monday, December 28, 2015

A quiet day

Fond farewells to Pat and Maureen this morning, who made it back to Ashford successfully. Beth off to get her foot looked at, which has started, infuriatingly to give her gyp again.

Otherwise, a day of getting organised, and shifting things about in the house and in the dungeon. I also had time to sit down and read in my new reading chair. Mainly a collection of bracing essays by by Robert Hughes called Nothing if not Critical: selected essays on Art and Artists.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Chills before bedtime

All gathering in the kitchen this morning for a final big breakfast. Then Lorraine drove Mum, Mas and myself to Horsham where we dropped Mum and Mas at the station. The trains disrupted over the holiday so this was the nearest most sensible station. Nice to be zooming through the countryside, and Lorraine showed Mum and Mas her school. We saw her name painted on the board outside, which was exciting.

Fond farewells to Mum and Mas, who managed to get home although it took quite a while. Lorraine and I drove back home and had a relaxed afternoon. I had a snooze, as my penchant for drinking rum and coke in the evening hasn't been helping me sleep.

Bubble and squeak this evening, with turkey and pickles, which was yummy. I haven't had a thought in my head all day about writing, or reading or poems or work or anything. I think it's the vacant time my brain needs. So pleased that Lorraine is resting too.

Lorraine and I took a quick walk this evening, as she is using the fitbit I got her for Christmas. Nice to walk around Blakers Park. A child happily playing with his or her father in the dark, sending up a flying blue toy into the sky, which then dropped down to be caught.

We all watched a ghostly TV drama this evening called Harry Price: Ghost Hunter which I enjoyed because it combined exposing the charlatan nature of mediums with suggesting there really was a ghost present. A few scares and chills before bed time. Steered clear of the rum and cokes. Simply had a couple of cans of Heineken instead.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day

Up and breakfast with everyone. Spoke to Toby this morning, in a luxurious Japanese Ryokan, already night there. Good to talk to him.Mum and I walked down to Brighton Pier where we met Lorraine, Mason, Pat and Maureen for a stroll along the blustery pier, and we went to Horatio's bar for a cup of coffee. As soon as we'd arrived the TV was turned on and blasting out the Stoke versus Manchester Utd game. This would have been pretty annoying, except that Stoke scored two goals.


Lorraine Mum and I walked to the end of the pier past the ghastly The Booster fairground ride at the end, 150 foot high of existential horror and looked out to sea.

Having collected Mason from Horatio's where he had fallen into conversation with some people ordered french fries etc. everyone else drove home, but Mum and I walked back again. Felt good to walk after eating for England and to have a chance to chat with mum.

A certain amount of eating and drinking, rounded off the day and in the evening we all played a 21 questions game. 

Below Mum, Lorraine and I made it to the end of the blustery pier, and were rewarded with a moody grey sea.



Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas day

Christmas Day started with Beth sitting on the end of our bed and excitedly delving into her Christmas stocking.

This done, everyone congregated downstairs to have breakfast, mainly of scrambled eggs, toast and smoked salmon. Then to the living room for a strange interlude of people wearing the strange animal faces that Lorraine had been given as a Secret Santa present. This preceded the opening of presents, with Beth taking centre stage as Christmas elf. My main Christmas present had already arrived, and was my study armchair, but Lorraine bought me the perfect cushion to go with it. Mum got me a small statue of a howling wolf, which I liked very much, and Maureen and Pat had searched hard to get me a scarf like the one I liked so much but lost. Sternly admonished this time not to lose it.

Then much shifting of tables and chairs to get things ready for Christmas dinner, before Lorraine, Beth and Maureen went to Beth's room to peel Brussels Sprouts, drink secret proscecco and orange juice while watching The Snowman. My splinter group of Pat, Mum and Mas accompanied me to the Preston Park Tavern for a quick pre-lunch sharpener. A cheery and busy lunchtime in there, with lots of children. The man who entered in one of those xmas jumpers that have flashing Christmas lights on them seemed to capture the moment.

The streets almost dead as we walked home, where we found Janet and Ken had just arrived. I joined Betty and Lorraine for final fixings and carving the turkey. An lovely Christmas meal with the girls having pulled out all the stops to provide a panoply of vegetables, pigs in blankets, varieties of stuffings, homemade gravy and so on. Followed some time later by Christmas pudding and a lovely tarte citron that Betty had made.

The rest of afternoon and evening given over to drinking and chatting. Really pleased to see Janet and Ken join us. Ken on good form throughout the afternoon.  Watched an animated film about dragons and inappropriately-horned vikings. Then some of us managed to plunder a cheese board  before bed.

Below a selection of strange faces, Lorraine, Beth and Maureen sneaking away to watch the snowman, Mum and Mas and Pat in the pub, and everyone captured at the table (having eaten heartily)










Thursday, December 24, 2015

Kitchen elves of Christmas

Before breakfast I decided to pick up the turkey from Choice Cuts around the corner. Hopelessly disorganised in there as usual, and this process took the best part of an hour. Was given coffee while waiting though, which was nice. Lugged the big turkey home with a loaf of bread and home to eat some bacon and eggs fashioned by my lovely wife. A cheery start to the day with Pat and Maureen.

Lorraine and Beth front loading the festive period cooking. Beth made her own chicken liver pate, gammon was boiled and then roasted in cloves and marmalade, a whole salmon baked, a goats cheese and spinach flan, to be eaten with salad, new potatoes and salads and so on.

Mum and Mas arrived in the afternoon after a long journey from Edgware. But soon we  had installed them in the spare room and we were enjoying a large spread of ham and salmon and home made pate. In the evening a bit of a Wallace and Gromit festival which Mas opted out of for a while. Later he went out for a walk but was almost instantly rained on.  Sat up chatting with him in the kitchen as everyone was going to bed, having rediscovered that rum and coke is a really nice drink.

Below betty pictured with some of the many things she and Lorraine cooked for a top spread. Beth was so pleased, having spent 70% of the day as a kitchen elf, that she posted the bottom picture on Facebook.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas definitely here

Slightly fragile after an evening with Anton. Lorraine cheery as her work was all done. Then Lorraine and I off to Sainsbury's to do more Christmas shopping, and I went into hoovering and tidying mode as Lorraine and Beth did some shopping, and then collected Maureen and Pat from the station.  Baking tonight, sausage rolls made by Maureen. Sternly rationed by her too. Plus mice pies. At some point I also managed to fall asleep on the sofa. Christmas is definitely here.

In the evening Lorraine, Beth and I popped next door to see Clem and Caroline for a festive drink, and to meet their two new kittens (a purchase inspired by our Brian) their kids were playing with. A nice time and we got to meet two other neighbours Andrew and Sumera who I liked a lot.

Then walked back home in our sippers to join Pat and Maureen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Curiously relaxed

A weird start to the day, having slept like a baby, was the idea that I didn't have to do any work, apart from answer a couple of emails. Lorraine finishing off her last report on a school today. After a while, however, I decided to go into town to do some last shopping. I enjoyed to be wandering about, a rare  treat to be enjoying Christmas shopping. I saw something on Facebook this morning, a shot of a man from behind with shopping bags, the caption read December 22. Only two days before men start shopping. I contrast I feel unusually organised.

Lorraine off in the evening to do pilates and noticeably cheery having almost completed all the work on her old job, while I was collected by Anton, who dropped off the present of a dark magnolia tree, just like the one I have long admired in his front garden. Then we drove to his house, where I had the chance to spend some time with my Godbairns. Klaudia is shooting up rapidly. Nice to chat to them and to Anne.

Then Anton and I went for a few festive drinks before heading down to Preston Circus where we went to Fatto a Mano to have some as their name suggests, handmade pizzas. Cracking pizzas they were too, and we sat up at the counter watching them stick them into the wood burning oven. A cheery and Italian woman manager, who gave us free Limoncello. From there Anton and I repaired to the Joker where, when I ordered a round, the barman offered me a pack of cards. If you cut and find the Joker you get your round free, which is a fun idea. As ever a good deal of breeze to be shot with Anton during the course of the evening. Simply splendid to be out and about with the prospect of workless days stretching ahead.

Below Anton in the Joker, and one of its random glowy skulls.



Monday, December 21, 2015

Muffled yippees and confusing feelings

Lorraine and I up early to eat healthy porridge, Lorraine off for her final morning of work, and I went to my study to complete the last smidge of freelance work as well as returning my signed tax form to Andrew. The last bit of worky work I am going to do till the new year, God willing. A few muffled yippees in the Peter Kenny The Writer Ltd. nerve centre at this point.

Beth and John up later, and Beth cooked me a hobbit's second breakfast of a bacon sandwich. Jade and Sam got up later still. I walked to the post office and, having posted my tax stuff off, stood on top of Blakers Park looking down at the pencil grey sea and feeling a lovely moment of freedom.

Fond farewells to Sam and Jade, and to Beth who were all travelling to London. I waited with them outside as they smoked cigarettes waiting for the taxi. The rain starting with gusto as they clambered in. Calliope bolted through the open door in a willful show of independence but then bolted back chastened by the weather.

In the afternoon a walk off to see Janet and Ken. The weather still foul, not cold but a soaking rain and blustery wind. A warming cup of tea there and some homemade shortcake, and we had chats on various subjects. They are coming to ours for Christmas day which is excellent.

Lorraine and I dog tired tonight. I cooked Lorraine an unexpectedly good supper incorporating the delicious and sweet red cabbage dish she had cooked the day before into a curry, and she spent the evening wrapping presents on the sofa next to me.

With time to think, my mind drifting into strange subjects. Reading about the Vichy airforce in WW2, and brooding on the fate of Jose Mourinho, a.k.a. The Special One, the most successful Chelsea manager of all time but sacked a few days ago due to the 'treachery' of some of his players. The rumour mill suggesting that he might be appointed by the citadel of malevolence that is Manchester United. A move likely to create deeply divided feelings in me, let alone die-hard super fans. The idea of finding myself rooting despite myself for a Manchester United team would be like suddenly discovering that one's lifelong sexual orientation had changed overnight. I must learn to hate him.

Below Jose puckering up for United? Anton will be pleased.






Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cooked with love

Sunday a restful day. Lorraine and Beth busily involved in cooking. One way Lorraine expresses her love for people is by cooking for them, and it was a special occasion so the food was fantastic. As Sam and Jade don't eat meat, Lorraine cooked a delicious Wellington, packed with mushrooms, cheese and spinach and the world's nicest red cabbage dish as well as other fixings such as Dauphinoise potatoes and so on. After this festival of gormandising, we had one of Sam's favourite sweets, profiteroles -- and then some cheeses last thing.

John came around too, full of praise for a band he'd seen last night called The Aristocrats. We all drank some wine, played euchre and sat down to watch Love Actually, which Jade was particularly keen on. A perfect Sunday evening near Christmas watch. I like this film, sentimental as it is. I remember when I first saw it, and it makes me think how much better life has become for me since then.

Below a snap Jade took. Lorraine beaming with having Beth and Sam, around the table.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Back in the Basketmakers

A slow start to the day. I sloped off to the butchers, to buy cheese and bread and to enquire about chicken livers for Betty. Betty a big glum as her heel, which felt a good deal better after her last intervention by the podiatrist, is suddenly worse again. After a large breakfast Lorraine and I bussed into town with Sam and Jade. Nice to chat to Sam, who is in the throes of getting his PhD application approved, and may stay at Leeds to do it, or go to Glasgow or Birmingham. His proposal on the philosophy of language has met an enthusiastic response which is good.

Then we melted into town, Lorraine and I mooching about the busy Laines, buying a nice scarf from Gresham Blake for Sam among other bits. The piano player dressed as a muppet, the bird whistle seller, and other Brighton characters all firmly in place in the festive bustle. Weirdly warm though.

Later we reconvened with Sam and Jade in the Basketmakers which was extremely busy and noisy. But is the family's pub, and where Gary drank too when he lived nearby. Beth joined us there. I was pleased when Jade managed, in the face of stiff opposition, seize a good table in the corner. Here we had some food and the atmosphere calmed down a bit for us to talk. Exceedingly nice to be glugging a few pints of Seafarers.

John popped in briefly then went off to a gig. Then Sam's old schoolfriend, also called John, joined us. I liked John, who is studying international relations at university having been with the RAF for five years. He came home with us in a big taxi. More chats at home, before Lorraine and I gave in to our tiredness and went to bed, leaving the young 'uns to it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A full day, and the end of work in sight

Up early and working on a film script for the charity, then off to London to meet the Matt and the folks from the agency in the Duke of Sussex in Chiswick. Sat along from the actor who played Mr Norrell in the recent BBC Series Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I also had to fend off an offer for work over Christmas as I went. The pub's big back room which now is used as a restaurant area, and it was full of tables with a big office party on it. Ours was smaller. A good meal (duck for me) and cheery company.  I couldn't help thinking of Bob, also known as Mad Dog who gained this nickname in this pub in the days of yore, when it was a pool room, and he was charging about it with a pool cue champed in his teeth.

A pleasant meal, then off to another quieter pub to have a quick drink with Matt, with Jo and Dave before I answered the call of the seagull and headed south. Also phoned up the doctor's surgery. The tests were back and all were clear, as I'd come to expect.

To Brighton station where I met Lorraine and we travelled to Shoreham, where there was a surprise party for Richard Gibson's fiftieth in an amazing houseboat in the estuary. Once aboard, there was some lovely music played not least by Maria Grazia, and I was asked to read a poem. Luckily I had written a sonnet about Richard so that was fine. Then The Shakies, who had been rehearsing secretly without Richard did a performance of other people's songs from Richard's past. A cheery evening seeing them play, and also Steve joined them on sax for a bit too. Then Lorraine and I went back across the bridge.

Home on the train, all very busy, and a taxi back from Brighton where Sam and Jade had recently arrived. Great to see them, and Lorraine extremely happy to have her babies in the same room. A good deal of chatting till we all went to bed. I rather needed mine.

Below the scene on the houseboat, with Richard on the far right sitting down.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Taking care of business

Up early and working for an hour before I went to the quacks, and I had a blood test too.  Then lurked about in Starbucks with a large cup of tea and a skinny blueberry muffin, writing the rest of the script I was working on for the charity, and getting a new battery for my watch from a jewellers in Churchill square, who were both rude and inefficient, and buying a couple of pressies for my lovely wife, over which a veil of discretion must be drawn. Before returning home to put my nose to the grindstone.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Am I alone?

Up at six (an ungodly hour) and off to Teddington this morning to have a meeting with the folks in the Charity. Good to see them face to face. Discovered that one of the people I travelled to Africa with has had sudden gut problems and we were told this might be to do with gut parasites. Alarmed by this I arranged with my doctor to have a precautionary stool sample taken, as my guts have taken a long time to settle after returning. Unfortunately this matter had to be discussed in loving detail with my doctor on the train back to Brighton.

I collected the poo paraphernalia from my surgery, and returned home to work. When the evening came, another colleague contacted me to say that parasites had been ruled out, but texting Matt I decided to go ahead with it anyway.

Other than this, the best day of the week so far.


Sunday, December 13, 2015

A cozy evening with Lorraine and Dawn

Lorraine with lots of work to do trying to finish off the work from her current job in time to start her new one.  I had some stuff to do too including, applying with Beth to get a venue for our play next year, which appears judging by the email we received back already seems to be successful. Also slept this afternoon very heavily. I feel that the end of this working year can't come fast enough.

Off in the evening to Dawn's house, all lovely and cozy underneath the Downs. Dawn has her place already seeming lovely, with her wood burner blazing merrily and we nipped a glass of sherry and then were fed with an excellent roast. Lots of chatting and Dawn, Lorraine and I plotting about how Dawn and I might do some more work together next year, around the of teaching children about how to decode adverts and political bias in messages.

Home again, and I spoke to Toby in the Creamer Cafe, and sent a work email off having received a call from Jerry and then repaired to bed.

Below a picture of a young cowboy Toby with my grubby hand above him.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Opening the box marked Christmas

Up early because it seems that Christmas is here at last. Felt decidedly unChristmassy this year so far. Christmas is usually my favourite time of year. We drove off to drop Betty off at where she teaches drama to kids, and then plunging early into the business of Christmas shopping. I also bought some presents for myself, such as a pair of slippers and an amazing bargain in M&S. I don't normally go there for shoes, but I discovered a honey coloured pair of suede brogues that were suprisingly chic. Turns out they were end of the line, and I got them non-returnably for a mere £9. A bobby bargain. Later L & I stopped off at Foodilic and had a two small savoury tarts and shared a surprisingly delicious beetroot salad and a coffee, before re-engaging in the shops. I found myself enjoying it all somewhat.

Home and rather tired several hours later. Luckily there was time to do a bit more shopping, so Lorraine and I sloped up to Fiveways. When we John came around, and after opening the box marked 'Christmas' full of baubles and so on, we put up the Christmas tree and decorations and had a hearty supper. Feeling decidedly tired by the end of this, but definitely more festive.

Below all the joy of the Churchill Square mall 'Pudding Factory' (sounds like an innuendo from a 1970s stand-up comic) Santa's Grotto... John and Beth doing deadpan Christmas faces, Calliope liking the box marked 'Christmas'.


Friday, December 11, 2015

All's well that ends

A gradual improvement in the slogging work stuff today, I am working with very supportive people, particularly Matt. A long while since I have experienced such copy rage so called by Reuben, First Matie and myself when, working in the Copy Shop.

Nice chats with Anton and Mum though during the day. I was particularly pleased to reach five o'clock where I took Beth to the pub, soon to be joined by Lorraine - where we enjoyed talking about Christmas. I found myself somewhat drained, and after a rapid foray into a snowy topped pint or two simply wanted to come home again. We arranged for a delivery Shahi curry too, so all in all a rather pleasanter end to the week.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A personal nadir but another win for Richard

Lorraine up very early with loads to do. I got up and started work on a few bits. For reasons I can't go into here, today was a fairly disastrous day, with an event I've not experienced in decades of working as a writer. Saying I am pretty cheesed off by this, is an understatement.

I did have the opportunity however to go for a couple of walks, and get out of the house. I bought a new red (it has to be red) moleskine page to a week diary for 2016. (2016 - we live in the future). Beth lurking on the sofa waiting for her heel to recover from being injected yesterday. Lorraine home earlier than expected, tired and unable to discuss the results of the inspection but to a husband's eye  decidedly cheery.

Below I picture the prize-winning Mr Richard Fleming, having learned from Jane (who was pictured in yesterday's post) that Richard has done it again, winning two more prizes: one for short fiction and the other for poetry in a competition run by Pennine Ink. You can read his excellent winning pieces here.


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Desk day

Simply a desk day, starting early and going on late. The vast Kenny brain on good form this morning, however, and quickly sorted a thorny problem. I did however go for one walk to buy a small chocolate cake. Beth returned this morning from Barcelona having enjoyed her visit to stay with her bestie Olivia. Otherwise work all day till the evening. John around to see Betty and we celebrated his birthday tomorrow with sausages and mash, and the small chocolate cake with candles in it and a few pressies.


Lorraine had a good day, however, as the school she is about to take over next month has an ofsted inspection. She spent some time with them today, but this means the school should be subject to an inspection again for a while, which means Lorraine can get going for a couple of years before another inspection.

On a more exciting note I forgot to mention about Jane's latest Camila-alter ego shenanigans, this time for Costa Coffee. Here she is on the left. 


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Spiders at dawn

Slept very well and up for breakfast with Mum and Mas. At the table horrific tickling on the back of my neck and something rushing into my hair. A large spider which I brushed off myself with some alacrity onto the carpet. Mum yelling don't kill it, not that anyone was trying to, and chasing it under the table before taking it outside. Way too much excitement before a gentleman's first cup of tea. Mum gave me a lift to the station, then I went back to the Turnham Green office. Bumped into Matt briefly, who glows happily when talking about his new baby Harry. Meanwhile Stephen's dad died, (he was in his 90s) the same day as Matt's son was born. Even though it wasn't unexpected, he is still sad about it.

I spent the day working with Jerry an art director I've worked with occasionally. Nice to catch up as we designed some old-school direct marketing mailpacks. Mooched cheerfully with Jerry at lunchtime, as he compared the virtues of Co-enzyme Q10 products and got excitable in an art supplies shop. Jo, Jerry and I last to leave the office.

Lorraine picked me up from the station, as she was driving past having done pilates. As it was late and I was feeling lazy, we wandered into the Preston Park Tavern and had a bite to eat with my lady wife there. All well.

Monday, December 07, 2015

To London

Up to London, the trains all delayed or cancelled but managed to make it just in time. A man of Indian appearance with strange metal Jewellery walking angrily along the length of the tube train (one of those new ones that have no walls between the cars) barking to someone (possibly imaginary) on his phone, using the word Hitler at one point, pausing by me with a bulgy rucksack, make me feel apprehensive in a way I never have on the tube before.


A day's work in Turnham Green with Dave the art director, to design a folder, then off to Stanmore to be  collected by Mum and Mas to go to the Wetherspoons for a bite and a pint. Mum doing some kind of art business with the loud-voiced one-armed man. Mason asking about the Chad trip and so on. Then home to have a fiddle with Mason's new phone and programme in some addresses. Supposed to be a simple phone. It may be simple, but intuitive and user friendly it ain't. Some of Mum's apple crumble then an early night for me. Facetimed Lorraine sitting with Calliope on the gold sofa. Then to sleep, blamelessly. 


Sunday, December 06, 2015

Hurty

A headache today, which put a dampener on things and made me just want to hang about with a hurty head, and sit around in my new chair. Lorraine and I surged off to Sainsbury's however, and there I got a call from First Matie, currently back in the Forest of Dean. Good to hear from her, sounding quite upbeat. A difficult year for Kate, and she has now closed the Hull chapter on her life. Checkout man, who Lorraine and I quite like, saying he likes working at Christmas Eve as he likes seeing people lose their tempers.

A Sunday eveningish kind of Sunday evening, with lots of work looming over Lorraine and myself.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

45 rpm

A slowish start to Saturday, Lorraine and I lurking in bed till Lorraine had to zoom off in in haste or face the wrath of her hairdresser. I spent a few hours working more on A Glass of Nothing. Beth up to London for her cousin Maria's 21st birthday celebrations, including a trip to see Mama Mia.

Lorraine and I then in the afternoon went off in the very strong winds off to Trading Boundaries where we got a comfortable reading chair for my study. Absolutely delighted with this, is perfect for my room, very comfortable but not slouchy. Perfect for reading in, in fact. Amazing how excited I got over a chair. Lorraine and I then drove back with it in the car, and stopped off for an early dinner in a pub called The Rainbow Inn outside Lewes, which we happened to drive past.

A pint of perfectly kept Harveys, and I had pork vindaloo, one of the specials of the day, Lorraine had a traditional pub favourite of gammon, egg and chips. My curry was exceedingly mild mannered but fine, and the staff refreshingly friendly.

After manhandling my chair into my room, and gradually getting ourselves shipshape off in a taxi in the rain to The Blue Man, where Reuben was having his 45th birthday party. Didn't know to many folks there, but a cheery party with some dancing (Lorraine and I joined in too, though I was not at my most Dionysian) and great tunes courtesy of Reub's brother Japhy, with Claire and Reuben also taking turns playing records, mostly soulful dancefloor fillers from the seventies and eighties.

Interesting people there, and I also met Marcus, an old pal of Reuben's I'd not seen for years. Marcus and Lorraine had lots to say to each other about teaching. Best of all was seeing Reuben again on fine form and sporting a fine nautical beard.

Lorraine and I hopped into a cab at the station and were home. A really good night out, and home some time after midnight. Beth, who is off to Barcelona tomorrow early in the morning, crept down to say goodbye.

Below the record Turners. Japhy, Reuben and Claire, who was brilliant on the decks until she started changing the speed of the records.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Badge of responsibility

Feeling significantly brighter and more alive as the day progressed. Even had time to look at A Glass of Nothing this morning, after doing some billing and admin. In patches the characters are starting to talk to each other and I am simply writing it down, which is always good place to be. A couple of short walks, and feeling slightly less wussy.  Also chatting to a guy who is developing a product for the pharma marketplace and was put in touch with me by the French Bloke.

Sonia around, and happy having bought a dream home in Bulgaria, where she's from, at a snip. In the afternoon a spot of agency work to lead me to 5.00pm. A cheery night at home with Lorraine and Beth. Lorraine quite bouncy having arrived home with a badge from her new school which says Mrs Kenny, Headteacher on it.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Tiredness and trolls

Still under par and in need of sleep. I hate this. Still, I made the most of the day, tinkering a little on poems this morning, and so on. Reading books this afternoon, and sleeping again heavily. I finished off a book called The Idle Traveller, that Rosie got me for my birthday. Quite an interesting read, although the second half was mostly a retelling of ideas he had from reading other books. I also read The Story of Kullervo by Tolkien. I have a nice new first edition hardback of this from Anton as a kindly given birthday present.

The tale itself, based on Finnish folklore, is unfinished and uncorrected. So for example the same character has different names. It is the first draft of something that Tolkien decided wasn't worth finishing. Although it was a stepping stone towards later marvellous stuff and so for Tolkien completists is a must have. There are also two versions of the same talk he gave about Finish folklore, which is slightly more worked up in the second version, with important notes from the editor saying things like he spelled Litterature like that in the first version and then Literature in the second, etc.  It has made me want to revisit Middle Earth again through the Lord of the Rings book. It has been a long while.

Showed Charlotte a couple of poems I've been working on, and got some highly useful feedback. Robin posted on her site a something about reading from memory. Someone tweeted her to give her a hard time about being 'ableist', and not thinking how discriminatory she was being. I said to Robin, if being able to remember your poems is ableist (rubbish word) then every stage actor in the country must be too. Trolls aren't just found in Tolkien.



Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The eyes have it

Feeling rough today, achey and totally without energy. Working this morning, by midday I had decided I was officially unwell, so stopped working, cancelled tomorrow's meeting up in London and repaired to the sofa, where I slept heavily. Had to cancel going out tonight to visit Dawn in Steyning. A quick foray out to buy fish and chips for myself and pie and chips for Beth in the depths of a rich and full cough, from round the corner in the evening. Ate them, felt too full.

I try to steer clear of politics here. But impossible to avoid today, watching with gloom the Lilliputians in the UK government decide to bomb Syria. Through out history we have seen how bombing people into peacefully agreeing with us always works. I'm pleased too that the Russians will be in the same airspace going after different targets to the US, France and UK. What could possibly go wrong? Delighted too that nobody's accidentally already shot down a Russian plane to escalate tension. Proud of Hilary Benn for swaying the day by saying Isis were fascists. The Isis madmen are not fascists, of course, as anyone who owns a dictionary could tell him. Gah.

I suppose it is a function of getting older that I look on politicians now as authority figures, but as people. If I were working with them, how would I rate them? On the whole, very poorly. Caroline Lucas, my MP, and Britain's only Green MP came out of it all with credibility intact. I would hire her. One incompetent is Penny Mordaunt, minister for state for the Armed Forces, saying how much safer we'll be now we're at war on an interview with ITV News, blinking nervously every ounce of her body language radiating the opposite. Thus, with eyes closed, of we go to war.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

147 head

Up early and working on a poem or two before getting down to work. A couple of older poems, never quite finished to my satisfaction when approached in a ruthless spirit of cutting dead wood, suddenly shaped up a bit. Satisfying. Worked till around three on video scripts for the charity then walked into town to get a haircut and just to walk having been manacled to the desk. The barber's empty so I got a protracted cut with the barber pacing about my head and peer at it as if it were a snooker table. Got a bus back as I am feeling wan and depleted of energy. Worked till quite late, doing a variety of bits before I cooked a curry and then went to bed early with Lorraine who is having a hard week.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Keep off the groynes

A slow start to the day sitting in bed with Lorraine, she wrote someone's job reference, and I wrote some stuff on my other blog about Tammy and Clare, which combined with an explosion of views in Greece for my bit on Glen and Eleni, meant I had my best ever day for hits on that site.

Got up late, and sat around in the kitchen with Lorraine and Beth plotting Christmas menus and writing shopping lists. They love doing this, and I chipped in with helpful suggestions like rum.

Lorraine and I drove down to the seafront and went for walk to blow away the cobwebs. It was extremely windy, hard to walk at times and the sea was white in the storm. The wildness very beautiful. Lurched about in this for the best part of an hour, suddenly having our feet soaked by a wave that sneaked over the side at us.  The water felt comparatively warm.  Home with wet socks to hot cups of tea, and Lorraine had some work to do, and so did I.

Reconvened for a roast supper, which was excellent, and an quiet evening in. I must have been homeless in a former life, because I am always grateful to have a home to go to and be out of the weather.

Below Lorraine by the seaside, third one down featuring the pole built for the i360 or, to use its local name, the iSore.







Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ken's 85th birthday

A grim hosing it down sort of day, with lots of wind. I heard the door click at stupid o'clock and Giannis was gone. Lorraine and I luxuriating in a slow start, even having some breakfast in bed before forging out into the world. Went to a speciality cheese shop in Hove to buy some for Ken's birthday, and I made the mistake of asking if they had any French cheese. Pretty much nothing but and the man showed Lorraine and I about fifty types.

To Ken and Janet's place in the pouring rain from Hove. A nice party, with Ken who'd not been feeling too well earlier, rallying marvellously and coming downstairs and having a bit of wine and chatting to everyone. Janet having a bit of a fraught time organising things, but the afternoon was a great success. He sat regally in his dressing gown receiving gifts and greetings, and even burst into song on occasion.

A lovely spread of food and nice wine, and I saw lots of people I'd not seen in some time, such as Hus, Cesare, Ros and an old friend of Janet's called Anne and Ken's sons Rod and Nick, and Remo who'd done some work on my house in the Twitten after I was burgled. Remo told me how he got a nasty scar on his face which just missed his mouth last year, when a spray can he was using at work under some stairs exploded and the metal lacerated him. An inch or two different and it would have cut his throat. He needed 200 stitches in his face. Remo's daughters are studying Ninja skills, which was quite surprising. He has a lovely family.

A jolly afternoon in which I drank a decent amount of wine, and Lorraine and I left after fond farewells with Janet and Ken and their guests, stepping out into a wild night and spending the rest of the evening quietly on the sofa, watching a children 's movie called Inside Out with Beth. This reasonably enjoyable, and was first mentioned to me by Glenice. Then I watched Match of the Day and kept half an eye on Lorraine for whom football is a natural sedative, before bedtime.

A few snaps taken at Ken's party. Ken and his son Rod; Cesare, Ken and Hus; Ken's son Nick giving Ken his cake, Bryn, Ken and myself as Ken has a crafty cigarette, a blurry Ken in his living room.





Friday, November 27, 2015

Taking a bow

Lorraine up early and made porridge and tea for us, which I ate in bed. Then I found Giannis in the kitchen, and made toast and scrambled eggs, taking the opportunity to have a Hobbit's second breakfast with him.

I made myself a tea and after the water had quickly reboiled I found that I was pouring a dilute instant coffee over my teabag, which was a bit of a surprise, but we laughed about it. Glen came around again, and another quick chat with him before he and Giannis set off into Brighton. Glen incredibly busy trying to get a whole slew of stuff sorted over here.

To work, and after a few hours, I decided I needed to stop going around in circles and cut myself a bit of slack.

At lunchtime I broke off to see Eleni and Glen perform a lunchtime concert in the Unitarian Church. Said hello to Giannis again and Sakis and Rita, Eleni's mum and dad. Glen and Eleni did a lovely job,  Eleni truly is a fantastic singer. I wrote about their performance here.

Home again to round off the week of work, and blurt out the above review before Lorraine returned home.  Sonia here telling me she has joined a Bulgarian dancing group in Brighton. Some English women doing it too, who are apparently pretty good, and she invited us to see them perform in March.

Then off to The Great Eastern where we had arranged to meet Anton and Mari. Lorraine and I both finding ourselves in need of booze. But when we arrived Anton was nursing a half, which was a bad sign, and it turns out he is recovering from a food poisoning or a bug. Mari's flight was delayed on the way over, and then her luggage didn't arrive for a few days. But despite these setbacks it sounds like she had a really good visit. Touched that she gave me a copy of a book of contemporary American poetry.  We went on to The Chilli Pickle, which seems a to have edged itself a wee bit downmarket, but the food was still excellent. Sadly Anton unable to eat his food, although the rest of us strapped on the nosebag with some gusto. Cabbed home, with Anton looking a bit greenish about the gills.

Fond farewells tonight too with Giannis who will be setting off for the airport at a ridiculously early time. A lovely man.

Below Glen and Eleni about to take a bow.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

The woods/trees conundrum

Lorraine brought up tea and porridge for us first thing this morning. Then having got up I made Giannis more eggs and B. Not sure if he wanted them, but I forced them on him anyway.

Much of the day devoted to driving myself quietly mad and going around in circles in the work I am doing. Went for a bit of a walk at lunchtime, which I thought might help. Returned to go around in circles in the afternoon to the point where I felt like pulling my hair out. Decided at the end of the day I was going to take a break from it, as the woods/trees conundrum was proving far too difficult.

Walked down to the Red Roaster in the evening and watched some poets reading. Clare Best launching a small 'almost' pamphlet with a few illustrations by Michaela Ridgeway was the highlight for me. Still, nice to see some of the Lewes poetic posse of Robin, Charlotte, Clare, Stephen Bone and Catherine Smith and other poetic folks in attendance, and I had a nice chat with Marion Tracy, who I'd not properly spoken to before.

Then managed to grab a bus home, feeling a tad less twitchy than I had all day, thanks to a couple of nicely targeted bottles of Budvar Budweiser at the Redroaster. Kissed my lovely wife then watched an episode of the irreverent Family Guy before bed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Manacled

Lorraine up early and away. I cooked Giannis and myself a plate of eggs and b. all slightly awkward due to not being able to speak to one another but an amiable silence. Quick chat with Glen who came around to pick him up. Then a teleconference with Matt and Jo at the agency, and spent the rest of the day working at my desk on some slightly gruelling work. Beth called having been an extra with the Absolutely Fabulous people, rubbing shoulders with Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders. Nice chat with Mum later in the day, and Giannis came home after Lorraine and I had gone to bed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Working and a late guest

A day manacled to my desk. Lots to do, and not much of it putting a song on my lips. In London however Isy has been having contractions and Matt on the cusp of fatherhood for the second time. Beth has a job being an extra on an Absolutely Fabulous film tomorrow, so she is well pleased about this. Spent some time talking about the show today while we were preparing supper. Lorraine back lateish after pilates.

Then at around nine Glen stopped by briefly and dropped off Giannis, who we'd met in Kavala and who is coming to crash at our place. He's a lovely man, but it is all a tad awkward as he has very little English and my Greek is risible. Still I managed to show him my photos from Chad as he asked after my African experience, and we shared a nice drop of wine and all shuffled off to bed early as everyone was tired.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing and reading

Up early and getting on with stuff. These include getting a brief for a new video, and working on this and writing other freelance stuff before zooming off to London to attend a Stanza Bonanza this evening. This is when two groups of poets from different areas read with each other at the Poetry Cafe. Tonight it was bards from Brighton versus poets from Kent and Sussex. I read lots of new stuff and generally felt carefree and Robin said it was the best she'd seen me read. All the Brighton folks did well, Robin was top, Susan Evans who is becoming a slick performer, Tony Gill who is innovative and funny, Andie Davidson whose poem about not being invited to her daughter's wedding was heartbreaking, and Marek Urbanowicz who is just a fine poet. Some excellent readers on the Kent side too, and I particularly enjoyed Jess Mookherjee's reading.

A quick zoom to the pub afterwards with Robin, Tony and Robin Taylor who now organises the Brighton group. Trained home with a brace of Robins, till Robin H got off to catch a train to Eastbourne and Robin T and I stayed on to Brighton discussing religions. He is a prominent pagan, which I found interesting, and he has migrated from Christianity, via Buddhism to Paganism.

I clambered into a cab and was home late, crawling into bed beside my lovely wife. I read a couple of miserablist (but hopefully quite amusing) relationship poems, but explained that I was very happy now. When Susan read she referred to this, saying I wasn't loved up like Peter Kenny, but that's because she was choosy. This clearly came out wrong but made everyone laugh.

Photos were taken of the night, but haven't surfaced yet.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Open house

Quietly philosophical this morning (a.k.a hungover) but Lorraine and I were up early and off to Sainsburys to buy some baguettes and make a large breakfast for Beth, John, Eliza and Emily, who were still recovering from a late night of partying and sitting about on the gold sofa blearily watching Friends and other comfort viewing for most of the day.

Lorraine and I went for a walk this afternoon, happily mooching about in some of the open houses near us, and bought a few bits and pieces. One house particularly good, and featured the embroidery of Agnes Chavalier. I'm not usually big on this kind of thing but her work looked like paintings, but because the threads were going here and there it reflected the light in an interesting way and I began to see the possibilities of using embroidery that I had not before. I particularly liked this picture and bought a card of it.



Back home and the girls gradually rousing themselves to travel home, and Beth went to stay with John. Lorraine drove everyone to the station, and returned and she and I enjoying a tranquil night on the gold sofa watching the new David Attenborough nature series The Hunt, today's episode set at sea and featuring shots of a blue whale, and then Match of the Day, rendered watchable for Chelsea managed to scrape a one nil win at home to lowly opposition Norwich.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Betty's birthday day 2

Lorraine and I had another restful start to the day. I lay in bed and wrote another post about Chad and read the paper, and my lovely wife brought up some breakfast. Eventually I got up in stages, ironing my shirts while Lorraine who had been momentarily gung-ho about getting up lay in bed playing computer games. Once up we conducted a major tidying up session.

Later, Beth's pals from uni Eliza and Emily arrived, to the accompaniment of much excited squeaking from Beth. Then we all got ready and John, Lorraine and I walked down to the Hare and Hounds, and the immaculate girls cabbed it. A nice night with lots of Beth's besties there such as Laura and Sarah and Matt and Amy and many more. Mexican food there, including burritos with rice inside, which I found a bit odd but everyone else said was normal. At one point all John's housemates arrived en masse, and I had a brief vision of him as the leader of a cult. Interesting chat with Matt who grew up in a haunted house, and his coping technique was to befriend them. His story of music playing in a room that stopped when you opened the door was deliciously creepy.

As the night wore on the young 'uns were heading off to the Funky Fish for a dance, Lorraine and I however made off to the Evening Star. We just missed seeing Glen and Eleni, and her parents and Giannis who is coming to stay with us for a few nights. However Richard and Maria Grazia were just leaving, and Steve Cartwright stopped and had a final beer and a good chat with us.

Home to sleep like babies.

Below Betty with few of her many pals, and Lorraine looking at her phone.


 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Betty's Birthday

Betty's birthday so first thing we had the 24 year old Betty perched on the end of the bed excitedly opening birthday presents, like someone far younger, before having to zoom off to Eastbourne. I had early chats with Matt about the editing of the DRTV stuff, then the meeting I was due to have this afternoon was cancelled, thankfully freeing up time. Chatted to Sonia a bit who told me about seeing her dream house in Bulgaria when she went back to the old country last.

Lorraine having a horrid morning at work, but things gradually improved once she was home in the afternoon.

I popped over to see Janet and Ken. Said hello to Ken who was feeling a bit rough and exhausted in the last few days which is making Janet anxious. He went to bed as I arrived, and Janet and I chatted for an hour or so, and she gave me a pokey compost aerator.

I hurried home, the temperature dropping noticeably, pausing only to buy some emergency eating chocolate for Lorraine in addition to another bar of dark chocolate for the chocolate cupcakes she was baking, then drove off to collect Beth and John and some rather good pizzas from Pizza 500 which we ate with some of their excellent gelato with a cupcake afterwards.

The rest of the evening given over to playing a game of Euchre, which was fun and always makes me think of Dave my grandfather, which is nice.

Below Beth blowing out relighting candles on some cupcakes.



Thursday, November 19, 2015

Editing in Canterbury

Up at six which was unsavoury. Off to Brighton station where I caught a train to Canterbury via Ashford. The Brighton to Ashford train full of school children. At one point I was surrounded by girls of what I guessed was about 15 making themselves up elaborately with powder brushes, lip gloss and so on looking at little compact mirrors and once done checking themselves in their phones. Made me laugh as these girls reminded me so much of the shattered looking commuters you see on the trains in the morning blearily applying their slap. Something to aspire to it seems.

Was collected by Brad at Canterbury West and driven to his home on Magnolia Drive. I'd never been to Canterbury before and we passed a bit of castle that Brad said looked as if it had been photoshopped in. Good to see Brad who I feel I have a bond with having survived the great Chad adventure with him. We sat in his study, while builders hammered, drilled and tore at things downstairs. Spent a fairly cheery day tweaking the script, recording a new guide voiceover and watching Brad expertly clip and tweak on the editing suite. Anna offered good advice.

Brad then drove me to the station and I had a fairly easy journey home, dozing tiredly on the train while listening to podcasts. Lorraine home a bit before me had baked potatoes, which was comforting. A baked potato is a pleasing thing.  Beth back tonight too from having stayed with Mum and Mas and being an extra on Holby City. Beth as usual very excitable about her birthday, which is tomorrow.

Below Brad  at the controls.