Saturday, January 31, 2015

Up to Edgware

Up to Edgware today in the car to see Mum and Mas, armed with the Christmas present for Mas that we left behind last time we were up there, and some planted bulbs from Miss Mole's Flower Emporium for Mum. Sleety rain on the way, but we made it in good time listening to the Mayo & Kermode film podcast.

We scooped up Mum and Mas and Lorraine drove us to Radlett and we ended up at the Va Penserio Italian restaurant and sat at a round table with red lights, looking out on a chilly street, an old Roman road. A pleasant Italian meal. Perhaps it was because it was the Roman ghosts scowling down on them. Back to Mum's with Mason talking about a beach that he went to when he was a child in California which was strewn with gemstones. We had tea and sat by the fire for a bit, but with an eye to the lowering sky Lorraine and I made off early back to Brighton.

Luckily we drove home with no trouble, or inclement weather and found Beth at home on the sofa. Another episode of Spiral tonight, before bed and reading a few more chapters of Kokoro.

Friday, January 30, 2015

In the way of beauty

Sans list, not so effective today at the work stuff. However, I did manage to get my first invoice of the year out, and first as Peter Kenny The Writer Ltd. Not before time.

Off to the back crackers. This, said the surprisingly robust Amy, is called the bear hug in America, proceeding to fold my arms then bounce on my chest with her fist behind my back. I think this was therapeutic reasons.  Anyway the ghastly pain of the beginning of the year has abated.

After a spot of this off to The Dorset pub to meet Anton who'd consented to come to the cinema to see Wild. Lorraine and Rosie found us there and we sauntered across the road. Quite a good movie, with Reece Witherspoon trekking the Pacific Crest Trail of America through deserts and snow and so on in search of some inner peace, or 'to put yourself in the way of beauty'. Scenic and lovely film, though not mawkish or overly sentimental. The character's mother, seen only in flashback, was played by Laura Dern who is a fabulous actor.

Afterwards a bit of a traipse around town to find somewhere to eat. Everywhere packed, with it being the first payday of the year. After unsuccessfully looking in half a dozen places, we returned next door to where we started, grabbed a bite in the Gourmet Burger Kitchen. Ainsley, Beth's pal was working there, so gave Lorraine and I a discount. An absolute bloody final drink in The Pond, a rather bizarre pub, where Lorraine and Rosie who were at the bar found admirers. A fast drink in there, then back to the station, Anton sloped up the hill and Rosie, Lorraine and I taxied home, where Lorraine insisted on watching another episode of Spiral before we crept off to bed.

Below a Wild movie poster, and the Brighton Wheel snapped on the way to the Back Crackers.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Between the lists

Lorraine working from home today, with one of her colleagues. I, semi-miraculously, finished all the things on the giant list, including sending to the marketing book off to a publisher in New York, and I began to wonder what else to do. Obviously the next thing is to write another list. Beginning to feel a little hermit like and emptied of ideas and creativity by the end of the day.

Dawn came around for supper this evening, and it was good to see her, not least because she has invited me to do another day in a school with gifted and talented children. Lorraine and Dawn excitably buying plants on the internet. A nice meal, with Dawn, Betty and my lovely wife.

Lorraine and I then stayed up late, watching the excellently atmospheric Wolf Hall and another shrugging Spiral. I need to get out more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Schnitzel burgers, a Guernsey poem, French cops and a Japanese novel

After a spot of swine health work first thing (swinewriting), continued to work through my giant list. Sending more poetry out into the world. Chuffed this evening to get an acceptance from Ink Sweat and Tears, which will appear in about ten weeks. No doubt I will be trumpeting it like the worst kind of popinjay. The editor Helen Ivory has chosen Hooked, from A Guernsey Double as they don't mind if the work has been previously published. 

Bloody cold day and the wind whistling in my study as I spoke to Mum on Face Time. Black smuts falling down the chimney into the study too. I also spoke to Janet who has been released back into the wild after her operation on Monday, and she is at home and pleased to be there.

Lorraine home early and we went down to the dungeon where there is an ill fitting window frame, which we had tried to block off. Lorraine more efficient in the dungeon as she can stand up down there, whereas I have to stand with my neck at ninety degrees.

Beth and John celebrating one year of being together today, with the cooking of a large Beef Wellington to be eaten romantically at home. Beth very exacting about it, ordering chicken livers and beef from the butchers around the corner. Lorraine and I absented ourselves to the Preston Park Tavern where my lovely wife enjoyed a trio of lamb, and I had a schnitzel burger - chiefly because I liked saying it so much. Pretty good too, dressed with a little cheesy macaroni, jalapenos, salad and so on. Nice to get out of the house with Lorraine despite the icy wind and sit chatting in our comfortable, new local boozer. Though I sensibly nursed only a solitary glass of lager.

Home, and as the others had made themselves scarce, we watched les flics of Spiral again, which Lorraine is loving. Then to bed. I am reading Lorraine Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki, a Japanese classic from 1914 which lends itself to being read aloud at night as each chapter is a mere two pages long.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Into a symbolic world

Crossing things of my big list. Things like sending off advertising concepts, paying tax and other essential bits. I feel that I am getting to the point of being in control.

A particularly interesting afternoon with Helen Russell. Spent three hours listening to her sketches on the piano and exploring the terrain of the idea we are working on. This is taking us deep into mythology, symbol and so on. And some time sitting at a table, looking at books tracing mythological beings, and the meanings of certain symbols. I'm beginning to get to know how Helen's mind works, and it is fascinating working with a composer again.

Walked back from her place in Hove at five, as it was getting dark. I was enjoying walking, despite a sudden ear thing affecting my sense of balance.

A cheery evening with Lorraine and Beth. Lorraine feeling clearer and more decisive about her work options after last night, and having some conversations with other colleagues today. Beth cheery after a reunion with her pals in Kingston. Watched a movie called Best in Show, about show dogs, which was bizarrely rather fun.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The purple skies of Monday

Felt very Mondayish this morning. Up and wrote a surprisingly long list of things I absolutely needed to do this week. Lorraine also working at home for the first few hours. I worked my way through the list, spending some time on advertising concepts, and having another conversation with Royal Mail who needed some persuasion to extend my so-called 'mail forwarding' for free. Cheeky sods.

Took a walk up the hill, as I am still exploring the reaches of my new manor, as the sun was setting. Glimpses through the houses of a gorgeous pink and purple sunset over the Downs, the town below and the sea beyond. But cold too. After half an hour or so I turned back to the Dreamies-seeking cats.

Lorraine and I making mind maps tonight about her career options. Mind maps are just a great invention. I wish I'd used them while I was at school and university. I suspect most people's brains, when faced with a problem have many simultaneous responses. If only as a student I had simply got them all down rather than killed the majority off and attempted straight line thinking instead.

After this was done we watched Spiral, which is about tired-looking French people shrugging a lot. There is also a sprinking of murders, dumped corpses etc. Lorraine likes this kind of thing.

People in Spiral.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Are YOU on Spotify?

So an unexpected day at home as mum was not well with a sudden onset of cystitis. So instead Lorraine and I spent it cheerily doing small things to the house, although this business necessitated bending my thumbnail back and it filling with blood while on a ladder. Other than that I emerged unscathed and we got quite a bit done. Although at one point I had to step aside and let Lorraine and Beth heft something due to my back. Rather unmanning to watch the womenfolk hard at work.  Luckily, however, my back pain has retreated enough for me to sleep, which is rapidly improving life. The constant pain and minimal sleep I've had since the beginning of the year are not a winning combination. My flying start to the year has been rescheduled for February.

Lorraine and I then took a turn about the park looking at plants and smelling the first flowers.Home after our walk, pausing at Choice Cuts to buy two little feta and spinach pies (weirdly mixed with minty peas however, which was in every way wrong). Laura came to visit Beth, and they sat in Beth's room lying in bed eating pizza, and laughing uproariously. Lorraine had some work to do so I downloaded Spotify, to which we now have a family membership. I first signed up to it years ago, but in the interim it has become a thing of wonder, although it is easy to find music that isn't on it. However, I was rather startled to find the Pollard & Kenny album Clameur there. This gave me the opportunity to ask people in the house airily if they were on Spotify yet. I found they weren't, giving me ample opportunity to explain that I was.

Lorraine and I had supper watching Last Tango in Halifax. I diced with danger and had a sweet glass of PX sherry too. Although I am off boozes at present.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Strolling around

The best night's sleep of the year so far. Here and there this morning. Down to The Old Church Hall, to pick up a bundle of post, that despite postal redirection is still being delivered to the wrong address by the incompetent Royal Mail. A bit galling. Also around the corner to pick up framed pictures, the nostalgic Tales from Topographic Oceans Roger Dean poster, and two photos by Adrian that we'd finally had framed for our new house.

Then home, and then out again, this time on foot, to stroll across the park, then up to Seven Dials where we popped into Anton's house to give Klaudia her present, as she was 11 yesterday. I gave her a Golden Ticket to a mystery theatrical night out with her Godfather so I can say no more here.

Klaudia getting ready to go off to a James Bond party, and emerged after Lorraine put her hair up looking very sophisticated.  Got to hang out with Oskar while Klaudia was getting ready, sitting with him as he whizzed through one of his computer games. When you just dip in to look at games once in a while (usually in the company of Klaudia and Oskar) you forget the sheer visual creativity that goes into them. It will, for example, create expectations in them of what the real world should look like, and amazing buildings will result.

Fond hugs with the little weasels as they set off. Anton and Oskar off shopping, with the prospect of a sleepover of Klaudia's pals to look forward to in the evening. Anton is made of stern stuff.

Lorraine and I did a spot of shopping, looking at lights, before calling in on Janet and Ken. Janet has an operation on Monday, which it will be good to be the other side of. Their old friend Ros was there, who I'd not seen for many years. Much chatting to be had for a while. Lorraine and I home eventually just before 5. Turned on the TV to the horrific news that the brave and noble Chelsea had been savaged by minnows. The lowly Bradford City in the FA Cup came back from two nil down, to score four goals.

Decided to stay in again tonight, as we were to drive up to London tomorrow. We have some kind of a movie box on trial, which gives us free movies for a bit, so we watched August: Osage County, which was full of dysfunctional family arguments, but weirdly entertaining too. Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were fantastic.

Below Klaudia being a Bond Girl, a selfie with Klaudia.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Two by two

Lorraine working from home today, so she did not have to drive around the county, but instead got down to her work. Had lunch with her, which is always good. Laughing about the card we received from Lynn & Malcolm of a person springing out of a wardrobe.

All kinds of correspondence to attend to for some reason. Then off for a long walk in the afternoon, just because I could. A few errands in town such as buying light-bulbs, and then down briefly to the darkening sea where I saw the new moon through in a gap in the clouds. All is well. I seem to be gripped by this stupid superstition of trying not to first see the new moon through glass. I was just feeling happy to have been able to do a walk of over 10k paces, and get some fresh air.

Then back inland a hundred yards to the chiropractors who got cracking in all kinds of ways. Home again, brandishing a bar of chocolate for Lorraine who had been working writing wretched reports all day.

Beth, who was in this evening, Lorraine and I watched a movie about Noah. The Noah story is fascinating to me, and the film, which while interesting was less than the sum of its parts.

A rather nice chicken stew was eaten while we were watching it though.  And my lovely wife discovered a packet of Christmas pistachio nuts in the back of the cupboard, which were guzzled.

Below: Noah featured some fallen angels who looked like this.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day with a curly tail

Got up early and worked on a poem, then took a brief from my chums at Tavistock Square and I spent the rest of day on pig health. I am a swine writer. I was alone in the house today, necessitating some severe talking to myself, as mysteriously the vast Kenny intellect was wanting to think about almost anything other than the job at hand. Which was non-Buddhist of me, and made a simple job a bit of a struggle. Sensing a loss of discipline the cats came in to supervise me for most of the afternoon.

Lorraine at home in the evening and we spent some time gloating over our bedroom furniture, and rearraing clothes into it. Then supper and a watch of Wolf Hall, based on the Mantel novels I'd liked. The locations were exquisite.

Below Brian winking weirdly at me and Calliope in my office. I have decided it is called my office during the week, and my study at the weekend. The shot nicely captures the seagull guano on the window too.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Travelling Through

Took delivery of some bedroom furniture today, hefted in by two muscly men. A spectacle Beth regretted that she missed. Brian sprawled on the bed curiously calm through the whole thing. When they were cooing over him, I said with a laugh that his name was Brian. The most alarmingly muscled man then said that, actually, he was called Brian, he said that his Serbian wife laughed at him until he told her to look up the meaning of his name. Strong apparently, and King in Serbian. I stood corrected.

A kitchen lunch with Beth. Beth: pitta bread filled with bacon and eggs, me: miso soup with noodles and fish fingers. Lorraine and Beth are appalled by the fish fingers, but I maintain they are a nice side dish to a miso soup.

Then to London to a poetry reading near Waterloo, where with Rhona, Tammy and another woman whose work I liked called Sue Rose, despite one of her poems being very similar to one of mine I am most proud of.  Not seen Tammy read for over twenty years, and she is fluent and confident with some lovely work. Rhona excellent too.

The reading was held crammed into the basement of a new bookshop called Travelling Through. So full that people were sitting on the stairs. After the readings I bought a book by Tammy called Formerly, a book of poems and photos by Vici MacDonald about disappearing London, and also I bought Cartography from Rhona, the only full collection of Rhona's that I do not own. Good to see her again and with all this poetry in my life again,  I am beginning to get the sense of a life's circles.

Feeling tired and back hurting I made off back to Brighton. Buying a kitkat and cup of tea at Clapham. I've not bought a Kitkat for many years, and it seems to have shrunk. But perhaps that is because I was hungry.

Brighton full of happy Brighton fans, as the Seagulls had won tonight. The taxi driver asked me if I had been at the match When I told him instead I had been at a poetry reading in London, it nonplussed him. People don't expect poetry.

Below Tammy standing, with Sue and Rhona seated next to her; Rhona reading.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A dusting of snow

An abominable night's sleep, and a slight dusting of snow, man, on rooftops and gardens. Poor Lorraine up early, so I lurched down sipping the tea my lovely wife brought me and opened the window in my office and took a couple of snaps from the window, counting my blessings again at having such a nice office and view.

Otherwise a peaceful day, working on assorted things, without the sense of taking huge strides. Still feeling decidedly under the weather, although able to hobble about more fluently. Slightly sobered by looking into the PK coffers and instead of spying doubloons a'plenty saw instead plenty of wormy old wood. I must turn the vast Kenny intellect to money making after spending every last bean on the house, house move and Christmas.

Incidents of vivid excitement were few. A man from Sainsbury's delivered food, moaning about how heavy the water was as I forced him to carry it into the kitchen, telling him about my evil back. Was phoned by someone offering a spot of freelance work too, always welcome given the coffer situation. More dramatically, I breathed in a sizable piece of chili, rather than eating it as is the norm. After recovering from near-death by choking, I felt burny afterwards in places a person shouldn't feel burny.

Lorraine and I watching gardening programmes seeking inspiration on how to turn a small sloping garden into an earthly paradise. Also catching up with the last episode of the fantastic Mapp and Lucia. Miranda Richardson's face absolutely mesmerizing in its range of grimacing smiles, suppressed rages and smarmy insincerity. Wonderful stuff.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Frost & rhyme

The roofs frosted this morning. Dragged myself unwillingly from bed as Lorraine hurried about. Opened the Juliette windows of our bedroom and snapped a couple of shots. Proper winter cold this morning. My work all a bit sluggish. It is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year today, but the media were busy debunking this. The media only seem to report Muslim terrorism lately. It's as if they are brainwashing us for something.

In the evening hobbled off to the bus stop and into town for a Stanza poetry workshop in the Three Jolly Brewers, where I had a jolly tomato juice enlivened with Tabasco etc. Good to see Robin, Antony, Andie who produced a wonderful love poem, and many of the usual suspects, plus a couple of new faces. It is always an interesting and even when someone reads a poem that doesn't quite work, they are invariably intelligent and thought-provoking. My poem was well received, which was heartening as I've tinkered with it for years, despite it only being nine lines long in its current form.

Walked down through a cold central Brighton to catch the bus. Passing mounds of sleeping bags in doorways under which were invisible sleepers, and felt my heart go out to them on such a cold night. Having just missed the bus I caught a cab home, my knee still with room to improve. Arriving home I found Lorraine, Beth and John playing a noisy and enthusiastic game of Yahtzee and barking numbers excitedly at one-other.

Toby called and told me about his latest adventures in Ottawa, which although unspeakably cold, he is warming to. Apparently they have the world's largest frozen canal, which everyone skates along. He said Joan said she'd seen a skating judge there once.

To bed, where I lay awake for hours.  

Below swathes of low sunlight, pierce the morning shadow.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Top to toe

Lorraine full of purpose this morning, and we marched about the house doing things, such as replacing the existing cat flap with our one, which reads the cat's chips allowing only them into the house. This becoming a necessity as the bruiser of a Ginger Tom that squats like a malevolent garden Buddha under the laurel bush at the end of the garden, has infiltrated a couple of times making our cats exceedingly nervous.

Betty having a duvet day today, but this did not prevent us bursting into Betty's room brandishing a rubber glove and a spanner to try to shift the radiator control. I at least managed to turn the radiator on. Lorraine sorting out curtains, and later ordering plants. We then did a top to toe survey of our house starting in the dungeon, and discussing what needs improving, and how we see the rooms evolving in the next few months. Lorraine began a new red notebook too. We were contrasting this with last two years of house move limbo. A much more exciting state of affairs.

I read again Pascale Petit's book of poems The Huntress, a mythologised, psychological account of an archetypically terrifying mother, full of Mexican legends and imagery. She writes how I'd love to be able to write, and her themes and preoccupations are fascinating to me.

The human dynamo that is Lorraine then cooked a beautiful roast supper, and I rounded off my weekend watching Match of the Day, including a clip of Chelsea slotting five goals past Swansea, and their chief rivals this year Manchester City being beaten.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A serene Saturday

After a gentle morning, Lorraine and I spent the day happily rearranging the CD collection, and weeding out the few duplicates in our collections. This must mean we are fully married. Our CDs have commingled, and become alphabetised in three groups: Jazz (L: 'so I'll know what to avoid') Classical and The Rest, and of course listening to a few of them along the way.

I broke off from this for a couple of hours to hobble down to the nearby Preston Park Tavern to meet Anton and heroically sip tomato juice. Actually, with a spot of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce this makes a perfectly tasty and satisfying drink and as I am off all species of alcohol at the moment may become my drink of choice for a while. Anton in cheery mood, and fun to be able to shoot the breeze.

A cozy night in for Lorraine and I, watching the recent movie. Saving Mr Banks about the making of Mary Poppins, and the relationship had by a prickly P.L.Travers (the author of the Mary Poppins books) with Walt Disney and his studio.  Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in it, and both highly watchable.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The hobbling blogger

More hobbling today, curse it. Worked hard on my assorted projects all day - if I can't walk much at least I can manacle myself to the desk. Focusing more on the business side of the blogging today, with some success. Aim to keep this going.

Managed, however, to hobble down to The Shahi with Lorraine to meet Malcolm and Lynn, who were waiting for us there for a pleasant night. Interesting to hear from Malcolm about his cartooning, which he is doing lots now, and quite successfully. Meanwhile learned from Lynn about her family's propensity to spring out of wardrobes at each other. One of her sons has taken to stealthily filming himself springing out on his mother too.

Malcolm drove us back up the hill, which proved rather embarrassing as we were circling the streets for about for 20 mins trying to find a parking space. In for a hot drink, before our guests left and we opted for bed and painkillers.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Pain again

Fresh pain today, with my knee suddenly painful and swollen, so back to hobbling. The cause is unknown, and I guess I will have to bother the doctor yet again. The last couple of months really have been undercut by pain and poor health. Luckily life is, in all other respects, pretty fine so mustn't grumble, eh?

Worked on social meeja stuff today, and had a nice tweeted conversation with Pascale Petit my favourite of the T.S. Eliot award finalists. Also worked in trying to get my other sites up to scratch, especially this one which has languished until now. Trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps.

Calliope sat with me /on me most of the day, so at least I knew she wasn't self-harming.

Anton swung by this evening, forcing L and I to listen to psychobilly music on his new headphones, eating fish pie that Lorraine cooked with Anton and I looking on and being repelled by vegetables. I used Anton's presence an excuse to drink a couple of gin and tonics. These my knee feel worse. So I stopped. Bah. Anton home by taxi and Lorraine and I not long to bed with bad back and throbbing knee, bastards both.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Struggling with octopuses

I want to get all my own projects, business, admin, writing, submissions and so on sorted out and shipshape before doing some paid work. To do this sort of thing I usually make mind maps, but these have so many legs and branches that they look like ornate octopuses. It is telling me I need to simplify.

Lorraine working from home this afternoon. In other news, Calliope is self harming. Lorraine drove her off to Top Cats this evening and it the mystery scabby patches on her face seem to be self-inflicted scratches, probably due to being stressed by the house moves, a bullying ginger tom next door and so on. While Lorraine and Calliope were doing this, I was at the chiropractor's again, for more clicky stretchy fun. My back is now improved to the point where it is merely painful from time to time.

Giving Calliope soothing attention this evening. Later we stepped out to the nearby Park View pub in a gale, to join Beth and John for a quick and cheeky drink. John feeling like a millionaire and buying us drinks because his student loan came through. A nice end to the day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sheer productivity

Much better sleep last night, and as Lorraine was up and off early I was too. Spent the day closeted in my office, which I love. I kept looking outside thinking I must go for a walk, but the short interludes of strong sun were overwhelmed by rain and hail and so on.

Worked on a poem first thing, finalised some first materials for Helen Russell which I sent her about our music project. This involved another close reading of the story The Centaur by Jose Saramago.

This sent I read an interview Robin had done for a magazine before she sent it back to them. Received news about a new agency and have been invited to its inaugural meeting in a few weeks. I also heard from Chiara Beebe who sent me a sound file with a good recording of A Return to Sarnia on it - and the day rounded off by receiving notice of a fair and positive review of The Nightwork here in London Grip.

Also spoke to Mum and Anton during the day. Beth had a day off and we ate noodles together for lunch on the gold sofa. She also cooked for Lorraine and I despite going out with her pal Laura this evening. Lorraine home at a reasonable time tonight, and we sat listening to podcasts, and watched a Foyles War episode.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Getting cracking

Another night of not sleeping. Determined this morning to strive for discipline, despite having matchstick eyes. The first four hours dedicated to creative work, as I am unable to think of anything I'd rather be doing that reading and writing poems at the moment - such is the result of hearing fantastic poets last night. Turns out David Harsent won, which I wasn't expecting but thoroughly deserved. I personally got down the start of something or other.

In the afternoon walked through the park and down to the bank, after ten minutes in there exited into a deluge. From London Road up to see Janet and Ken, where I arrived sodden. A chat and cup of tea with them, discussing the Charlie Hebdo business, and the colours that Janet opts for when making fabrics and other diverse subjects before heading off to the back crackers in Kemptown. Given a painful going over which involved muscle releasing too, including the jabbing of thumbs to the most hurty spots, stretches and crackings. How much difference any of this is making I'm not sure.

The sea rather wild and inhospitable when I glimpsed it, and the radio in the waiting room of the Chiropractor's discussing the recent beach deaths.

A bus ride home and, as both Lorriane and Beth, were very late home from work after bunging some baking potatoes in, I simply watched the kitch Starship Troopers again, one of the most enjoyable SF romps ever, with much slaughter of alien insects who were asking for it.

Below Starship Troopers.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

To the T.S. Eliot readings

Lorraine still very upset about the news about Helen's son Freddie. As a consequence we tried to keep busy. Shopping for curtains and going to Sainsburys and so on. Lorraine fixed up a curtain over the front door, where something of a draft passes through. We were also able to go into the dungeon today, after all the spraying, and I opened the one dungeon window to air it out.

Off this afternoon to go up to London to see the TS Eliot award readings, as Robin had a spare ticket. Met Robin and Clare Best in the bar as I arrived. A big of a nightmare journey there and back due to bus replacement services. But fascinating to be at this reading which showcased the work of ten poets -- a useful snapshot of what is considered to be good in British Poetry at the moment. Robin had secured a seat in the middle of row D so we had a brilliant seat. I liked all the poets, some more than others obviously. Particularly liked Pascale Petit's work but think the poised Arundhathi Subramaniam will win it. Also saw Melvyn Bragg, not a poet but something of  broadcasting hero to me. Heartening to be in a huge auditorium so crammed with people of all ages, heavily into poetry. Suffering a bit with my back during the reading, and felt unusually tired all night. Had also to sprint away if I were able to make it back to Brighton, so missed seeing Rhona and her pals again.

A long journey home, enlivened by a couple of young guys 'spitting rhymes' to each other, rather aggressively on the train going home, having clearly been to some kind of slam. They weren't particularly good, but it formed an interesting contrast to the high culture pleasures of the evening, as I sat near them in my best coat and shoes, trying to listen to a podcast of an interview with Clive James about poetry.

The upshot of the day was that I was a) shattered, and b) even more hungry to read poetry than ever.

Home a little before 12 and Lorraine was still hard at work finishing a visit report. Hot chocolate, then bed.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Horrible news

Up early on Saturday feeling the need to write something. Not much happening but the will is there. Returned to bed armed with tea later, and simply fell asleep again. A stormy night and morning in Brighton. The second story on my Guardian iPhone app after more on the Charlie Hebdo attacks, was that that two men had been swept out to sea at Brighton. At the end of the evening, Dawn contacted Lorraine to say that one of the men was their friend Helen's son Freddie. Lorraine extremely upset about this. Having met Helen several times I felt awful for her too. Freddie had gone into the sea to save a friend who was in trouble and they were both lost in what had been a force 9 gale.

This a sad end to a nice day, Lorraine and I having returned from a date night locally in the Preston Park Tavern, having some food and a drink. I'd spent the morning pottering about, having slept fairly well and then went into town to meet Lorraine who'd got up early to have her hair done. As usual it looked longer than when she went in, despite her saying in bed that it would be shorter this time. We did some shopping splashing out wildly on some furniture, and then eating some cheap Thai grub in The Giggling Squid.

Friday, January 09, 2015

A spot of curry

Lorraine and I working from home today. My brain working a little better than it has been this week, so busily trying to get on with things. Sent of a manuscript today, first of the year. Still hampered by pain-induced insomnia. To Kemptown late this afternoon to the back cracker's office. Although my back perhaps ten percent better, how much of that can be ascribed to the chiropractor, pleasant as she is, is hard to say.

A pleasant evening however. In the evening Lorraine and I walked down to The Shahi  for the first time this year where we met Beth and John and enjoyed a nice curry and a couple of beers. A celebratory end to the week. Back home to watch a film on TV, The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I fell asleep and had to slope off to bed.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Boxes ticked

I slept for several hours. Martin from Ark removals arrived promptly in the morning to collect boxes, aptly as the road was a river of torrential rain. Far from sorry to see all those boxes gone from my life. They took up loads of room in the dungeon too. Little to report other than a short but positive social media buzz resulting from last night's shenanigans. An aftermath of feeling pretty cheery about it all. Otherwise I cooked a casserole of sorts, which I put in the oven for ages but not hot enough till Beth intervened. Lorraine home late and we all had an uneventful night.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Poems and old pals

Managed to sleep for six hours so consequently felt far more alive. Taking care of business this morning and met Robin and Catherine Smith on the train to Victoria late this afternoon as we travelled up to the Poetry Cafe. I'm learning a lot from Catherine and Robin and how they go about being poets, Catherine's ability to critique is impressive. A bite to eat in the cafe, till Siegfried Baber arrived having travelled from Bath. I felt quite twitchy wondering if anyone was going to turn up on a working Wednesday in January, but we actually had a full house.

Really good to see Rhona, who I'd not seen in person for many years, nor hear her read. She read from her latest book Ex-ville. Because Rhona was there, Nancy Mattson and Tammy Yoseloff, both old friends not seen for around 20 years came too, and it was great to see them, and made me feel as if I hadn't been entirely forgotten.

My reading was good, and went well. I mixed some new work in with the old. I was followed by Catherine reading from her new pamphlet containing a long rhymed poem The New Cockaigne which is ribald and splendid. I then introduced Rhona reflecting the fact that I'd first met her in 88, and so good to hear her read with her characteristic quiet authority. Then Siegfried who is in his early twenties, but is already an assured and impressive poet. Finally Robin read some of her new collection of poems about working in a corporation, which I think has the potential to be rather brilliant. People don't write poetry about work enough.

After the reading some of us went to the Cross Keys a pleasant boozer. It was busy so the group scattered a bit. I chatted with Rhona and a young American writer called Andrew, really nice guy, who was about to return to the US this weekend after a short stay here. We three had a really good laugh, augmented by two humorous photographers who were sharing our table.

A cab back to Victoria with Robin and Catherine, feeling quite pleased with ourselves in having pulled off a poetic coup. The ladies then leapt aboard the Lewes train and I caught one a little later to Brighton, nursing a can of Carlsberg and reading Ex-ville, which I greatly enjoyed. Arrived home some time after midnight, having grabbed a cab from Brighton station. A successful night.

Below Robin, me, Rhona, Catherine and Siegfried.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Back business

Another dreadful night. Sometime after 4 at the end of my tether and being skewered with what is the worst back pain I've ever experienced, I swore and punched the bed. Unfortunately this frightened Lorraine awake and I felt like the worst kind of serial killer. Again due to the pain I ended up only being able to sleep on the sofa, wedging myself into a weird position around 5am.

Lorraine late up because her mobile phone ran out of juice between the alarm ring and the snooze ring. I sprang from the sofa before 8 as a man called Luke from Rentokil arrived. I had to herd the cats into a safe room then leave the house repairing to the cafe around the corner to work on my laptop. Except my specs were in the now biohazard house. Nothing for it but to eat a diet busting large breakfast, while listening to three men competitively bragging about their holidays and the heroic  scuba dives, fishing trips etc. they'd all done on them.

Luckily got a Doctor's appointment and given super strength pain killers. But there was good news, beyond the back gyp, the gout-provoking purine levels are now controlled according to the new blood test. Ages in the pharmacy waiting for my drugs. Finally home by 1 o'clock in the afternoon, zombie tired and reflecting that this is not the stuff flying starts are made of.

After some essential admin done, I managed a short doze and felt much better for it. Read more of the Knausguaard, and then cooked for Lorraine and I, Beth being out at the movies. Watched on BBC iPlayer Mapp and Lucia, which was wonderfully done.  Early to bed.

A snap from an upper window of New Kenny Towers this afternoon.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Roaring into the year

Not quite the flying start I wanted, being more like the Wright Brothers than a jet plane. I was in constant pain all night and wide awake despite taking two sleeping pills. It was only at sometime after four did I drift off having wedged myself into a corner of the gold sofa. Nights are hell at the moment.

Lorraine and Beth off early. Beth pausing for me to snap some shots of her for an extras application. I started work at 8 but had to slump for a half an hour at ten, but felt much better for it. The rest of the day was productive making large mindmaps of all the things that are to be done, and slowly beginning to catch up on my backlog of correspondence. It feels like I have been away for two months. Luckily I have a reading in the Poetry Cafe on Wednesday, which offers a bit of focus to this first week, and emails with Robin.

In the afternoon off to see Janet, for a chat. Ken sleeping in his room. Poor Ken has had much to contend with in the last year and most of it unpleasant, as has Janet. Still, lovely to see Janet as usual. From there I walked to the back crackers, where I had my back cracked, limbs stretched, muscles poked and was relieved of some cash. Amy, the efficient and pleasant chiropractor assuring me that things will improve.

Home, and Lorraine back from work shortly after me. She cooked a delicious lean chicken dish in a sauce of fresh coriander, ginger and lemon, with brown rice. Beth not smoking, and all of us now resolved not to eat our own bodyweight in chocolate each day.

Downloaded some music that John sent me by people called Snarky Puppy, which is rather excellent, like a mixture of pop, prog, funk and jazz.

Spoke to Mum and Toby, who is flying back to Canada tomorrow and having seen Gerald a couple of times. Sadly he returns sans the hat he was sporting on the beach with us.

Below a photo of the first heavier than air flight.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Getting ready for the new year

Last day before real life starts again. Unable to sleep, got up 2.30 and spent an hour or more in the kitchen drinking chamomile tea with an icepack on my back. Back to bed and fell asleep some time after 4. Spent the day explaining to Lorraine and Beth how much pain I was in (a great deal) much to their delight.

We took down the Christmas decorations, always a slightly melancholy moment, but then found and ate the Finnish chocolate Laura and Derek sent us that had fallen down the side of the sofa. An unusual treat, full of ginger flavour and dried fruit. Also we hung a few more paintings about the place, making it seem increasingly homey. Lorraine buzzing about purposefully before the work starts again.

Chatted with Janet, and will pop in to see her and Ken tomorrow on the way to another back appointment.

Watched Last Tango in Halifax, which is beautifully acted and written. And so the festivities drew to a close. The diet starts tomorrow, and Betty says she is stopping smoking too.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The last shreds of Christmas

Grey misty rain in Brighton today. I walked out to get bread this morning, passing a father and his young son mooching along symbolically with a spent Christmas tree, although someone in Choice Cuts was buying a goose.

Woke up late, having had another poor sleep. In desperation I arranged a chiropractor appointment in Kemptown. Saw a very thorough back cracker called Amy who and said I had damaged and inflamed the gap between two vertebrae in my upper back, and did lots of stretching, adjusting, and even some kind of treatment with a laser, and said it would take some time to settle down. Unfortunately lying down, in any configuration, is still excruciating but I felt she had at least released some of the pain and made my neck freer.

Lorraine and I drove off to Hove in search of bolts and screws. Lorraine later assembled the spare bed, with only some last-minute screwdriver work needed from me.  We also went to Sainsburys and settled in for a pleasant evening watching movies on TV.  Taken being one where Liam Neeson's character slaughters 34 people in Paris who have abducted his daughter to do unspeakably foreign things with her. As we watched, we forked down Beth's lovely prawn linguine and then cheese and biscuits, and nipped at small glasses of  Baileys, cozily clinging onto the last shreds of Christmas.

Two iPhone snaps late this afternoon. Kemptown looking towards the sea, and the Pavilion lit up as ice skaters did their slippery business.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Cream tea with the Tobster

An atrocious night's sleep courtesy of the trapped nerve in my back. As foot and knee are fine now, it's good to know I still retain a vigorous source of pain.

A lovely day however. Though poor Lorraine up and working this morning. And Toby and I walked and talked down through Preston Park and into Brighton. A beautiful sunny day, after looking at bedside cabinets in Heals that Lorraine saw online, we stopped at the Mock Turtle for a cream tea like the Crane Brothers. Dangerously large dollops of cream and jam, and scones like small fruity loaves. We seem to do this every time Toby comes over. From there we strolled about on the pier, which and Toby whipped out his big zoom camera to capture the shadows the low sun gave the waves.

Fond farewells with the Tobster, and he began the long slope home, and I hopped aboard the trusty 5B and was home in a trice.  Then I sat about at home moaning about my back for a while, then a cowboy arrived out of the blue and spoke to Beth about roof gutters. Beth referred him to Lorraine and we hired him to pull out a few ornamental plants that had established themselves in the gutter for £20 at a rate of work that was about £1= one second.

Then to Top Cats at Patcham, with Calliope (aka Scabbiope) who has a slightly scabby face. Calliope took a dim view of the drive but the delightful vet there is so gentle with her, that she put up with being injected and inspected with only a murmur of disapproval.

Home and the lovely Dawn arrived shortly afterwards. We had a great night chatting and drinking a little bubbly that she brought with her. Dawn is the tops.

Below Toby, with a weirdly warped head due to the way I was holding the iPhone; Cream tea; a view from Brighton Pier.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Day

Fairly fresh and hangover free on the first day of the year, which is always a good thing. A slow start, having had a poor night's sleep due to the pesky trapped nerve in my back. But surprisingly sparkly this morning. Made off to the local shop first thing to buy bacon and eggs, and Lorraine, Toby and I had a cheery breakfast. Meanwhile Beth and her pal Amy stayed in bed all day, eating the Ace pizzas they'd acquired on the way home last night.

Phonecalls to a groggy Anton, and Lorraine drove us and Toby down to the sea to meet him, and we had a stroll about along the sea front. Windy, cold and bracing. After mooching about in this for a while, Anton took his hangover home, and we drove back home.

Toby and I sat chatting in the kitchen drinking coffee for much of the afternoon. As tea time approached, Betty and Amy emerged from bed.  Toby and I sloped off to meet Anton in the Preston Park Tavern for a cheeky drink. Anton arrived sporting his Russian hat, possibly in response to Toby's eclectic choice, like some kind of Dr Seuss character. Then back home for a lovely roast supper Lorraine had cooked. Our first meal of the new year saw Toby, Anton, Amy, Beth, Lorraine and myself sitting around the table.  Interesting to see Amy again, after she has now completed her studies and is working on a portfolio of various music related jobs, as well as some bar work up in Chester.

Anton, then Amy off into the wild. The rest of us sitting about chatting, and listening to tunes. A rather excellent day. Below Toby sloping down towards the old pier, hat ears a-flappin'. Toby, Anton and Lorraine; Toby, Lorraine and moi all huddling together for warmth. Random couple by the sea with a seagull overhead.