Thursday, April 30, 2015

A moment of gratitude

Leg continuing slowly to improve, and moved around in a more humanoid fashion. Also feeling positive and motivated. Up early, because Lorraine had to set off early on a long day. Sent off two lots of poetry manuscripts, and worked on the Centaur project. Also had a long and pleasant chat with The French Bloke and Max about arranging a visit. Have also been in touch with an illustrator in Brighton called Laura about work on an other project that's been hanging about for ages.

Lorraine teaching governors this evening, and I went into town to a poetry reading at the Red Roaster cafe where Robin was reading. A really interesting night. Robin read better than I've ever seen her, and the other reader, a young Romanian woman Andreea Stan who also was an animator with extraordinary hair, who put on a interesting reading combining poetry, animation and hair. Robin did a couple from memory today, and this worked really well. Among friends tonight: Sarah Barnsley, Stephen Bone, Andie and her friend Steph, Stephen, Andie and I read too among the open mic readers, some of whom were very interesting. A night that made me feel very cheerful and strangely grateful to poetry itself.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Heads down, no-nonsense working

Heads down, no-nonsense working, undisturbed other than by both Calliope and Brian fighting Cactus the provocative cat next door. Have two competitions I particularly want to enter, and am doing so with two new poems called Paranormal Reality Show (which necessitated me watching clips from those paranormal investigation programmes with Derek Acorah) and Willie's Trick which is about W.B. Yeats and has necessitated me looking again at my collected Yeats, and A Vision.

My leg seems to be improving a few percent each day, and I am doing the exercises religiously. Emails with Catherine, who had recommended the excellent physio, and has agreed that we needed a summit meeting this Friday. I am really looking forward to it.

Early evening, I lurched slowly off to the nearby Preston Park Tavern to see Anton. Views down the hill to the steel blue sea. We met outside the pub and he observed that we must have left home at the same time. A cheery evening, though a short one as it is a school night. I mistakenly opted for a falafel burger served with about eight chips, Anton had the same but with beef.  The third burger option was a mackerel burger that seems wrongheaded.

Home to my Lorraine tired from work and watching Folyes War on the sofa, and Beth who arrived a bit later after a night out with Laura. And so to bed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A strong-forearmed approach

A taxi to Hove to see Clare, a physiotherapist Catherine had recommended to us. She was very charming and took a strong-forearmed approach to the leg of evil. She estimated I should be back to (what passes for) normal in six weeks, massaged the hurty bits and offered straightforward exercises and advice, such as if you do anything that hurts, stop.

I gingerly caught a bus home, a good plan despite an oaf treading on the offending limb. But I'm feeling much happier now that I've had someone sensible look at it, and have a clearer picture of what to expect.

Little other news. I simply worked on poems today, spoke to Mum and Mas on facetime, and got on with work. I'm trying to work hard. A poem I am pleased with, that arrived almost fully formed yesterday, which was a bonus.  And nimble enough on my feet to cook a curry for Lorraine and I which was rather fierce.

Read a couple of chapters of a book I've had for a while on Mindfulness. I need to cultivate this.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A quick kerrrang with Oskar

Deciding to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. Up early and generally getting on with things. Organising another reading in London in June, and booking up a physiotherapy session tomorrow and so on. Even managed to get down a fairly complete version of a brand new poem. Still in a fair degree of pain and immobility. A note from Mark Hartley today, who thinks our house had been previously occupied by another old friend of his.

Feeling a bit better as I was being productive. Lorraine home and working very hard all afternoon. I was also joined by Oskar, dropped off by Anton and Klaudia with his cool new guitar and amp. He did some loud kerranging noises for a short while, and I tried to show him a couple of chords. I also yelped horribly when I twisted my leg, which I hope did not freak him out. We hung about chatting for some time, and he asked me if I was retired. Beth came home and amused him by sourcing various pirate names for people he knew from an app, and playing quizzes with people across the Atlantic. Betty is excellent with children.

Oskar returned to his loving dad, I went back to writing the poem. A quiet but cheery night in with Lorraine and Betty. Watched an episode of one-off dark comedy dramas called Inside No.9. Very good and quite scary.

Below Oskar with his fender telecaster copy.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Resting up

An incredibly quiet day, a good deal of horizontal leg resting and feeling somewhat guilty about being looked after will I sit about like Jabba the Hut. Lorraine and I listened to podcasts and I looked at art books, including at looking at my Roger Dean books, and some books of German art. And Lorraine worked on her sewing machine and generally we were both cheery and relaxed, not least in the knowledge that we have booked a cheeky three nights in Guernsey for next month.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Yeoman nosebag

Lorraine out with Dawn, Jan and Helen this lunchtime for a birthday bite to eat. This allowed me a day of martyred quiet hobbling, and the opportunity to play some Miles Davis In A Silent Way.

A cheery evening, however, to celebrate Lorraine's birthday on Wednesday. Off by taxi (me rather gingerly) to The Sussex Yeoman. We met Rosie, John and Anton there for a few drinks and to strap on the nosebag to celebrate Lorraine's birthday. I ate a venison burger and was greatly cheered to be milling about in the outside world drinking a few cheery beers and gossiping.

Friday, April 24, 2015

In search of a laugh

Leg all wrong and needing resting. Worked variously on scraps of poems and other stuff related to Telltale from a near horizontal position. Sonia here, and as no fan of our stairs, felt thoroughly vindicated by my hobbling.

The day's gloom much improved by watching clips on YouTube by Stewart Lee, who I think is very funny indeed and a really good writer as well as having a marvellous deadpan face. YouTube him if you need a laugh. Cheerier in the evening with Lorraine and Beth home. Ate fish and chips and watched the final of Masterchef, in which people and had a laugh with the pair of them.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


So spent the day applying ice and holding my stupid leg horizontally, which complains if jarred, straightened or moved abruptly. I did creep out into the garden but slipped a bit, and returned yelping.   Standing is however a little easier than it was.

Sent some new words to Helen for our Centaur project. A bit later she sent me a photograph of a few of them already set to music -- as she said she could hear them straight away. I really like how she gets swept up in surges of creativity.

Otherwise I worked on a poem, and worried about where my next piece of freelance work is going to come from, as it has been exceedingly quiet of late. Not that I could actually go anywhere at the moment, and even sitting down at my desk is a challenge. But I must count my blessings which are many and various.

FaceTimed with mum, and got a nice note from Jane in Guernsey saying she is off to a wedding whose guests will be feature ex-wardens from Holloway prison. This is where my grandmother, Gwen worked for several years. As long as they don't suggest drinking at a late night lock-in.

Lorraine home at a decent hour today, thank goodness. Beth returned from London where she went for an audition with a cricked neck.

A note from Helen...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lorraine's beta birthday

Lorraine's birthday. I was unable to spring up and make her an early breakfast and tea as planned as my leg was locked in spasm. Instead Lorraine had to bring me an icepack, tea and breakfast before she went off to work. One of her schools had an ofsted inspection, which meant she did not arrive home till late either.  

As my bones don't seem to be broken I couldn't face the prospect of spending hours in outpatients. Talking to Lorraine about it this evening, all the symptoms (and the sort of popping as I fell) are consistent with a muscle tear. The muscles have locked up. And the treatment is ice and bedrest for the first couple of days. I slept too as I'd not slept the night before.  Luckily Beth was at home for some of the day, and brought me teas and icepacks, fetched Lorraine's present from town (a nice tan leather bag) which had finally been delivered and generally looked after me. Luckily I am a good hobbler.

I had planned to get up to London to see Mum, friends and have a couple of meetings, but have had to nix these. FaceTimed mum however. Also texted Matty, with leg story. Stephen broke his leg just after 11 London started. Suggested we should call it legs 11. 

Spoke later to Pat who was phoning to wish Lorraine happy birthday.  I crept downstairs for Lorraine's arrival. Beth and Lorraine picked up excellent pizza from Pizza 500 and we scarfed these then Lorraine opened the rest of her cards and presents, and was very pleased to be home. I think this is going to be a beta-Birthday. The real celebrations will happen this weekend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Galling, falling

Up for a couple of hours working on a new poem, then off to Lewes to have a long and cheery meeting with Robin for a couple of hours, planning the rest of the year's Telltale activities. A perfect blue sky and warm sun today.  Lewes doing its best to look lovely in the fresh light.

Back to London Road station, and then walked into town where I was again unable to pick up the present I had ordered for Lorraine yet again, despite it being promised on Monday. Some phoning back and forth afterwards. I felt sorry for the woman having to try to sort out the problem, but the whole thing is galling and frustrating. I bought Lorraine some Sweet Williams for when she came back from work, and I will have to pick up her present later.

Working in the garden with Lorraine late this afternoon. Feeling blocked and irritated, I sat about reading poems by Victor Hugo and Pascale Petit -- then cooked for us. Lorraine and I then went out after dark for a nice walk around the park, seeing familiar looking foxes while we did so. We saw the new moon not through glass, and the last bits of colour from the sunset all of which was lovely.

Home and come bedtime I had almost walked 17k paces for the day. I just needed a thirty or forty new steps so, as I was brushing my teeth and like the most brainless of Darwin awards contenders) I managed to fall down the stairs and land heavily, much shaken and in pain, and thinking I heard some sort of crack. I seem not to have broken anything, and could stand but my right leg hurts a good deal, but as it was almost midnight I hobbled to bed.

Below a view snapped on the way to London Road station, across the little Blakers Park down to the sea.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Matt well met

A steady day of working at my stuff, broken by a walk into town to pick up Lorraine's present, which was being delivered to a store today. It wasn't there, which was annoying, but at least I had a good walk. Working this afternoon in the garden, as I have discovered that my laptop seems to pick up the wifi outside, which is excellent.

Off in the evening to poetry workshop, the standard there is always improving. Tess Jolly produced another outstanding poem the second in what is going to be a fabulous sequence, an interesting poem from Tony taking an enigmatic piece of graffiti with strange syntax, and creating a poem in the same way. Antony had an excellent love poem too. I took along a poem that I have been struggling with off and on for years, and Tess suggested simple a fix for it that I'm really happy about.

Walking home I peered into the window of The Brighton Tavern and saw Matt was there on a quiet monday, so popped in and put the world to rights over a couple of beers with him, chatting about music, life and everything-else.

These large gulls often sit imposingly like this a few yards down the road from us.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A poetic whack a mole

Up and after a slow breakfast, Lorraine and I spent the day in the back garden. I love working in the garden. It was a sunny day, and apart from driving off to the garden centre to buy some slabs and hanging baskets we spent the day building a small raised bed and working in the fresh air. Though due to the the vulpine plague we can't plant much at the moment. Still good fun, and a bit of exercise too.

In other news I had a poem on the Ink, Sweat and Tears website today. And, popping up in cyberspace like a whack-a-mole, another in the Guernsey Poets site.

Spoke to Mum this evening till Facetime got a bit too maddening. Mason now recovering from his fall. She'd been off to see The Pirates of Penzance recently in an all-male production at Richmond Theatre.

John around to see Betty this afternoon, and after Lorraine and I were done in the garden, we all scarfed a pork roast supper, and watched The Imitation Game biopic about Alan Turing. A reasonable film, but of course maddening due to the unfairness it portrayed.

Below whacking moles, and Calliope in the garden.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A perfect day in Brighton

Up early and made tea, then after doing a few chores, and noting with irritation the damage the foxes have already done to our new patio Lorraine and I went out for the day in Brighton.

One of those perfect Brighton days, the centre busy and full all kinds of music from varieties of buskers. We wandered about happily doing some shopping. I popped into the second hand book store where I found a bilingual edition of selected poems by Victor Hugo, including one or two he wrote in Guernsey, one poem Open Windows: Early Morning he talks about all the sounds he can hear, including the bells of the Town church.

Did some shopping, Lorraine looking in shops for fabric, and an earring tree to solve the morning problem of hard-to-find earrings. We paused for coffee at the Marwood Coffee House, more shopping, then popped into The Basketmakers for a bite to eat and a pint at five. Then at six we went to the Kommedia to see the final cut of Blade Runner on a big screen. Just fabulous: a visual feast. Particularly enjoying the sequences in The Bradbury Hotel this time, named after Ray of that name and featuring a completely Bradbury like character of J.F.Sebastian, played by William Sanderson, a young man with an early ageing disease Methuselah Syndrome who "makes his own friends".

Just a perfect day mooching about and spending time with Lorraine. We walked a decent 14k paces while doing so too. Then we hopped on a bus home, and I watched Match of the Day where Chelsea despatched Manchester United.  Sent a text to Anton reminding him of the time it was on, but received no reply.

J. F. Sebastian surrounded by his friends.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Funeral in Basingstoke

Up early and scrabbling for things to wear to Lorraine's aunty Rina's funeral in Basingstoke. I opted for a sober suit and a black tie and shoes. Lorraine drove us and we made good time and arrived at a cricket club house, just around the corner from All Saints Church where the memorial service was being held.

Maureen and Pat there, and I met Doris, Rose and Pauline, Wally and Edwin who were some of  Maureen's brothers and sisters. There were lots of Lorraine's cousins she hadn't seen for decades. I milled about as best I could chatting to people.

The ceremony itself was sensitively done and the vicar Revd Rosalind Rutherford and the woman assistant  priest had known Rina well, so the ceremony was quite personal. I hadn't met Rina, but it was sad to see Maureen and her sisters and brothers upset, placing roses on their sister's coffin. Doris had recently lost her husband, so going to another funeral was traumatic for all kinds of reasons. The vicar held her hand as she came in, and told her it was okay to cry in the church, which was an excellent intervention.

After the ceremony, and the hearse left we made our way past the cricket nets with young cricketers thwacking the hard leather balls. Despite the sad circumstances, the family took solace in each other. For me it was a chance to meet lots of people I'd only heard about over the last few years. Auntie Rose, like all the other sisters, larger than life and full of character, took a shine to me, hello sexy, she said, and told me she'd take me home with her. I enjoyed talking to uncle Wally lots. Wally had an uncle called Uncle Bubbles, who Maureen had told me about before. I wish I had an Uncle Bubbles.

A nice chat with Pat. He said he'd read a Terry Pratchett novel, which he bought from his regular second-hand bookstall and had enjoyed the character of Death in it. He was looking forward to playing darts tonight and said recently he had taken the money home with him five weeks in a row. Pat and Maureen, and Doris driven home by one of the numerous cousins which was easier than the train ride. Lorraine said in the car going home that her dad was quite competitive on the quiet. We came home a cross country route, and it was a beautiful afternoon.

We drove home and had a small glass of wine in the garden, then Beth and Lorraine picked up a takeaway Shahi curry which we enjoyed at home. Lorraine and I ended up watching Rambo II late at night, which was hilariously terrible but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A few more spangles

Surprisingly excellent aftermaths from last night's performance. Roy Marshall did a feature on me in his excellent blog, and Robin mentioned me on a post in her blog, following me reading from memory yesterday, and us chatting about it afterwards.

In the afternoon decided to break off from work, and started riddling earth in the fox-benighted garden, when I started getting another migraine with my eyes playing up again. Galling as I was due to go out and have a cheeky beer with Anton. After a bit of a lie down, opted instead for a quiet night indoors and an early night with Lorraine.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Telltale reading in Lewes

Spent some of the day getting my poetical ducks aligned before the Telltale poets and friends reading in Lewes tonight, which was a success despite a derailment at Brighton station during the day which made travel really hard along the south coast. Robin and I swapping emails and I phoned Robin to tell her about the travel chaos.  One of the readers dropped out at the last minute, but luckily Siegfried was coming, so we got him to do a reading.

Lorraine drove over. Beth came too having been working in Eastbourne. Beth enjoyed herself mingling with poets, and I was really touched that she came. She also took photos which was excellent. Found Robin already there and Lorraine Robin and I shuffled the room around for a bit, and I drank a pint of Harveys and ate some chips in preparation.

For me it was an opportunity to meet more poets such as Martin Malone editor of Interpreter's House, really likeable man and a really good reader. Helen Fletcher had come all the way from Carlisle, and Roy Marshall whose blog I read and admire. Along with the Robin who introduced the night, Charlotte Gann, Clare Best, Jeremy Page, editor of The Frogmore Papers, Stephen Bone, Catherine Smith, Sarah Barnsley, Antony Mair and many others.

I was on first and a bit nervy. I read a new and untried (and I had thought funny) poem about the Brontes and foxes, which was heard in pin drop silence. I read Someone-else's patch, a very old poem of mine which had been published in the now defunct Iron magazine. I delivered this long poem word perfect from memory and this fact alone went down well. After it was over I had a fleeting sense that it had all been dreaful, but this was just a histrionic interlude quelled by Lorraine.  From then all that was left for me from then was to enjoy Siegfried, Helen and Martin's performances (which I did a great deal) and drink Harveys and talk afterwards to Robin and many poets. Before he left, Martin managed to set his folder of poems on fire, which led to claims (from him) of being an incendiary poet, and the Jimi Hendrix of poetry and so on. A great venue in the Lewes Arms, which is one of my favourite pubs anyway, and a perfect room upstairs for a bit of wordplay.

Lorraine drove us home, in the car, which is still heavily aromatic after Calliope's regrettable lapses being taken to the vet. A cheery night.

Here is a picture of me taken by Beth or Lorraine doing Someone-else's patch from memory.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Bad spangles

The morning did not go to plan as I woke up to migraine spangles in my eye, and a bad head for the rest of the day. This is only the second time I have woken up to a migraine, but at least it means the day can only get better. Not able to look at computer screens or do much with myself this morning, other than listen to American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis in audiobook. Fairly horrible, and the endless listing of all the brands and products the hero encounters somewhat mind-numbing.

Sat working in the garden this afternoon. And a good deal better by the evening, and off for a therapeutic walk around the park with Lorraine. Beth back late after aqua aerobics with Laura.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Gothic foxes and Indian Grandfathers

Found myself writing a poem about Gothic Foxes and the Brontës this morning. Then off to get a chatty haircut. Home and rather flailing about not knowing what to get on with next. Have got myself into an impasse when there is lots to be done, but everything seems to block everything else and I end up achieving little. Rather cross and frustrated with myself for this.

I did however connect with Ian, a distant relative, who is researching the family tree and has been in touch with Mum. Looking again at family information Mum had given me on CDs a while back. Rather liked this passport photo of my Grandfather Alex when he was a young man in India.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mood for a day

A highly relaxed day today. A good deal of gardening, bearing foxes in mind.

Off this evening to Trading Boundaries to see Steve Howe, guitar legend and member of Yes. He was introduced by Roger Dean too so I got a twofer on massive boyhood heroes. We had opted for a dine and concert option, and had some pleasant enough food on a table with six others. Two folks came took their places next to us, and the people on the far side said they could recommend the bass. The man next to me said he did not eat bass, and as a matter of fact he was a member of the bass anglers bass preservation society. We naturally warmed to these, the man a little older than me was a complete music obsessive, and his partner along because this was the least worst of the options he had offered her of gigs to go to. Lorraine in female solidarity with her quite quickly, although L found herself quite liking Steve Howe and said it was perfect Sunday evening enjoyment.

Service efficient and friendly too. All a far cry from when I first saw Steve Howe playing, on the pitch at QPR stadium on the 10th May 1975 when I was 15. I had of course thoroughly enjoyed myself, and Steve himself was on chatty form and being quite funny and relaxed and playing exquisitely still. A skinny wizard he played everything the fans wanted. He has always been an amazing and distinctive guitarist, and his solo pieces are often little gems. He played old Yes crowd-pleasers such as Clap, Mood for a Day, and an arrangement of To be over, other solo pieces including my favourite Corkscrew. A true hero, who did not let me down.

Due to the weird nature of the lighting, or iPhone limitations the photos of Steve or Roger looked like ghosts. This led to speculation if they were actually live or had already transcended to a higher plane with our new friends on the table.

Below Steve's carpet snapped in the interval, which he seems to carry with him and perform on, and his guitar stand, and a ghostly Roger Dean and Steve Howe below. This was my view, you can see how wee the venue was.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A low profile day

Lorraine and Beth off to Basingstoke, and I had a day of doing what I wanted, so quietly wrote and rehearsed for next week and had a chat with Mum, and sat about in the garden reading.

Not feeling particularly energetic nor sociable, but happy enough and pleased to see Lorraine when she got home from the long round trip. As we were getting ready I looked out of my study and saw the fox next door splaying her legs with nine cubs feeding and cavorting and charging about her and the garden. They are incredibly sweet things, but I could really damage our garden.

Enjoyed going out this evening to the Shahi for a cheeky curry with Lorraine. We'd not been there for a while, and it was relaxing and fun to strap on the nosebag there. We were commenting on how it is a good idea to live further away as at least you have the opportunity to burn up some post-curry calories walking up Beaky Villas afterwards. Home to Match of the Day. All well.

Below the fox next door among a melee of cubs.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Coffee with Mindy

Up late after a dreadful night's sleep, waking in the night weirdly panicked and dehydrated, bused into the smog of Brighton to meet Mindy at the Marwood. There is a noticeable foulness about the air.

Good to catch up with her jetlagged as she was from a trip to New York with David. While there she had dragged him deep into Queens to see a theatre show in someone's house, and then added David's address as a possible venue for the world tour. I observed she could be quite high maintenance sometimes. Really good to see her and sip a couple of coffees in the Marwood, which I always enjoy.

Fond farewells with Mindy, who I realise now I have known for about 30 years, then ambled home, stopping off to buy a second hand copy of Nine Songs by Arthur Waley, and fail to have a haircut as I couldn't be bothered to queue. Had a snack with Lorraine on the patio, conscious now of more than half a dozen foxes stowed in their den a few feet away. A real sun trap.

Bits of admin to do with Telltale this afternoon, and also doing a bit of practice and sifting for my reading in Lewes next Wednesday. Also tried to pin down the offer of work I had early in the week, but yet again this seems to have melted away.

Lorraine had been beavering on reports upstairs and after we were done, we sat in the sun and potted up herbs, and standard roses and planted some black grass and watered things. The plum tree has flowers now too. I find I am loving it.

Betty back from London having had a shoot for the famous Ugly Models agency, and we had a quiet water-sipping sort of night, which did me the world of good.

Below a picture in the Marwood, a Woolworth's landscape subverted by invading aliens; and a peacock butterfly snapped in the garden.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Smoggy beauty

Up fairly early, with Lorraine shouting up that the foxes next door were visible. Peered down and snapped them from my study window. The cubs are very different in size. Lorraine working at home today, and we had some lunch in the garden. As it was a girl's night, I made myself scarce this evening taking a long walk in the smog. For the air quality is terrible today, Very High pollution apparently with still air and smog drifting across the channel from France apparently mixed with Saharan dust, and joining forces with our own pollutions.

Went down to the sea, and took a stroll on the pier, with the lowering sun reminding me of Charn, the red city in The Magician's Nephew. It was good to have a stroll and to roll the thoughts I'd been having on my work on a notch. Popped into The Cricketers for a quick pint, and thinking about our wedding party we had there a year and a half ago. Then I paused by The Colonade for another quick pint, for the sole reason I'd not been there before. Before making my way to The Basketmakers where I met Beth, back from working in Eastbourne. Had a lovely chat with her in there on many and various subjects, as well as the pesky dinosaur audition, which although it went really well and she had them laughing and asking for more from her, but she did not get the job.

We cabbed back home to Lorraine, and I ate an ill advised cheese on toast before bed.

Below Interloping foxes, living under next door's decking, and the smoggy but beautiful sunset at the beach.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Cantering on

Up alone this morning, after a really bad night's sleep. Woke at five o'clock and was working at my desk before seven, working on the Centaur music project at a canter. Sitting outside in the garden. Uneventful day, almost monkish, with just a lunchtime stroll through the park and the shops.

Lorraine home late and I fed her with spaghetti. She was bearing the remains of an Easter egg she had eaten in the car, and pots and plants from Pat and Maureen including two standard roses. I had missed her.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Night of the Golden Weasel

Back to my daily routine today, this morning spent picking up the threads of what I'm up to, while Lorraine was working from home. I stole out to bask on the patio with a cup of tea, chatting to Betty and playing with the cats. Beth has been preparing for her dinosaur audition tomorrow up in London for the last few days, which at one point involved lying on the floor pulling dinosaur faces.

Lorraine and Beth off to see Maureen and Pat this afternoon, as today is my favourite mother-in-law's birthday. I went to Hove to see Helen who now has now a complete first draft of one section of the opera, and has been working fluently. We listened to this, and discussed certain sections at length. Then we agreed the overall structure for the rest of the piece which was quite a large step forward.

Walked home, got changed and then collected Klaudia to redeem her 'Golden Weasel' birthday magic ticket. We walked down to Gars restaurant and ate some excellent Chinese food as this is Klaudia's favourite cuisine. I'd forgotten how good the food is in Gars, and her friend's father is the chef and owner and  Klaudia has been in the kitchen there. She loves egg fried rice, seaweed and ribs especially.

Then we hurried off to the Royal Circle of the Theatre Royal where we were just in time to take our seats for Oh What A Lovely War. I thought the production was mostly very good, but the one or two scenes dragged when people were explaining the causes of the war in dubious foreign accents for too long. I wasn't sure if it was the right thing to take her too, but Klaudia said she enjoyed herself and found it funny. I think just being in a theatre is interesting for most people at 11 years old. In the interval we got a tub of ice cream, as the odd corner had opened up after gorging at Gars. Lots of older people in the audience, and many sang along lustily at times, and the subject matter makes it an emotional experience for some. Klaudia a bit tired by the time the show ended so we cabbed up the hill and I delivered her safely back to Anton. We had a good laugh this evening and I'm really pleased we went to the theatre together rather than me simply giving her a gift for her birthday back in January.

I then sauntered home talking to my lovely Lorraine on the way who was staying in her old bedroom at Pat and Maureen's house. A bit odd for me to go back home and sleep alone there I think for the first time.

Below Beth with Calliope and Brian; Pat with Shaun the Sheep headgear that Beth sent me. Pat loves Shaun the Sheep; Klaudia and my theatre selfie. The theatre looks empty at this moment but was actually full.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The garden starts to take shape

A rather slow start to the day to Easter Monday. I seemed to have developed a mysterious hangover during the night, which necessitated staying in bed till 11. Lorraine and I eventually up fuelled by feverish desire to finish the little patio at the bottom of the garden. Drove to the garden centre again, buying more bags of North Sea cobbles, and Tweed pebbles and so on, and finished the job after quite a bit of cobble hefting. Both felt rather pleased with ourselves, backs intact too, and our garden beginning to take shape.

Beth continuing her dinosaur business, and dropped off her CV at the local pub too. It was a gorgeous day, and the gardens around us all lively with people and Lorraine had a nice chat with our nexties Caroline, Clem and young Orla who is mad for playing football.

A well-earned rest before we made off with Beth to Dawn's cottage in lovely Steyning. Loads of tiny flies clinging to the car for some reason. A lovely evening in Dawn's cottage, now beautiful with oak floor in the cozy front room, and heated by a wood burner. And the kitchen with stone flags. The view from the back of Dawn's place is breathtaking. She can simply walk from the back of her house walk across country and be up at the top of the Downs unhindered. As we stood there a boyfriend from her teenage years happened to walk across the field. Dawn's charming daughter Ellie is staying with her for a few weeks too, and the five of us had a good laugh, and tucked into fisherman's pie, and more of Beth's yummy hot cross bun version of bread and butter pudding. No photos though, which was a shame.

Below Lorraine making some finishing touches, and the patio. The middle picture also featuring Calliope if you look hard enough.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Retreat of the foxes

More gardening today, which is giving Lorraine and I great pleasure. We laid the slabs down for the patio, on top of sharp sand and weed-preventing membrane, then scattering pebbles and cobbles around them. As we were doing so our next door neighbour Jenny, who seems very nice told us that she had just seen a fox and nine cubs emerge from underneath the decking in her garden, just a few feet away from where we were working. As soon as we had returned from the garden centre and surged out into our garden the foxes had retreated.

Off to Anton's house this evening in a cab where we made merry. Anton and his mum had cooked a delicious meal, with a variety of lovely fish starters, followed by roast lamb, and lovely wines, delicious cheeses and puddings made by Lorraine and Beth, followed by cake made by Anne. A really cheery evening where I ate and drank my fill.

Below my iPhone was swiftly removed from me by Klaudia resulting in my phone being filled with a bazillion selfies, many featuring Kaudia and Beth. Below, me executing a species of strange dance with Oscar; Oscar armed; Anton; myself steadily drinking wine and about to eat cake with my loving wife and stepdaughter; a Klaudia selfie; Beth entertaining Klaudia with Anne in the background; ditto with Anton and I staring with unnatural intensity at an LP cover and Lorraine in the background.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Jeep in a tree

I was up and out to get some bread and bacon from around the corner, but returned to Lorraine roaring upstairs. Calliope managed to compound her sins by sneaking into the bathroom for a moment when Lorraine wasn't looking, to poo in the already defiled tomato tray she'd used last night before we had a chance to throw it out.

A day of gardening again, I am loving gardening at the moment, and Lorraine and I are having great fun together.  Today we removed plants with steely resolve, and I took up a long half buried plank that had divided the bed at the bottom of the garden from the rest of it. I thought this was going to be hard but it lifted straight up. Lorraine repositioning or potting some of the things we had dug up to make way for the patio. Laura around to hang out with Beth this afternoon. I told Laura I was doing manly things in the garden, and she said, 'what, like flowers?'

Off to Waitrose later, with Beth and Lorraine who were buying fixings for puddings they were going to make and take to Anton's tomorrow. First Matie called while I was in the car, and I sat in the carpark chatting to her for a while. She is very sad about Graeme's death.

Home and Lorraine, Beth and I watched Jurassic Park as part of Betty's research for her audition. Quite a good film in some ways, particularly struck this time by how in one scene a man and a boy are climbing down a tree, pursued by a jeep stuck in its branches, its headlights glaring at them as the escape. That's proper film making: let's have a jeep chasing people through a tree.

Friday, April 03, 2015

A small catastrophe

Murky weather, with Calliope causing chaos indoors. She was illegally trespassing on the sink to look from the kitchen window. But she became rooted to the spot in horror as Beth started to use the juicer to make carrot juice. Something that has become a necessity when we received six large bags of carrots from the Sainsbury's delivery, instead of half a dozen carrots. Because Calliope was looking so alarmed, Lorraine grabbed her to take her away. Calliope however turned, mid-air into a flailing ball of horrified cat, and badly scratched Lorraine.

Lorraine dropped the cat, who then escaped by running over the hobs of the cooker, one of which was in use and narrowly avoided. This left poor Lorraine blooded and in pain.

Recovering later, Lorraine carefully repotted lots of seedlings and planted some tomato seeds. These were then placed up in the top bathroom under a velux window, in the cat's old cleaned up plastic litter tray. Before we went to bed, Calliope gratefully used the tomato tray for its original purpose.

In the evening Lorraine, Beth and I went off to meet Matt in the Tavern, who was with Yasin. Always friendly in the Tavern, but a bit of an odd night. We were sat on a table with some random other people, known to Matt from the Tavern, including a well refreshed and handsy lady next to me. We were also under a speaker, making it hard to hear everything, and the others kept talking to me about Las Vegas after Yasin told me he had been there. Jolly good to see Matt though.

Matt had been up since the crack of dawn, and he and Yasin left early. Walking past The Basketmakers, Lorraine, Beth and I were magnetised through its doors for a cheeky couple of far more relaxed drinks there before making our way home.

I took this snap of our chimney pots this morning. I like chimney pots. It also illustrates the thick sea mist that hung over Brighton most of the day.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

A cheeky interlude

Working this morning, attempting some poetry but instead of working up half decent poems into gems, I seem to be breaking them completely. Frustrating when this happens. Lorraine off having her hair cut, and then having a bite to eat with Rosie.  After the futile poetry business, I spoke to Mum via the wonder of FaceTime, then in the afternoon visited Janet and Ken, en route banking a random windfall cheque of £300 which arrived today.

Nice to see Janet looking well after her first week of radiotherapy, and to chat with Ken. The Tibetan gardener wasn't cheap apparently, although their garden looked smart. For all talk at the moment leads to gardens. Lorraine joined us there too, and we all chatted, ate fancies and drank tea.

Lorraine and I walked home but found ourselves stopping in the Preston Park Tavern for a cheeky beer. Lorraine now visibly relaxing, which is good to see and although we were only there briefly it was a really happy time. Being Lorraine, however, she also chased up what had happened to Beth's application to work there - and found her CV had simply been lost, and that they needed people still.

Home feeling cheery, then Beth back with the news that she has an audition for a show called Jurassic Lark.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Sloe day

A day of unfoolish domestic contentment pottering about with Lorraine this morning and in the afternoon I met Sarah Barnsley a poet who teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London. Had a good chat in a cafe about poetry, writing and publishing. I really enjoyed talking to her. Robin was meant to join us, but cried off with a wretched cold but she and I chatted later. She is going through house moving stuff, and going through the standard frustrations with banks and so on. Probably prompting me to have anxiety dreams about property and selling and buying houses.

Lorraine out tonight, and I spent a happy few hours working on some poems, reading poems and listening to the album Africa Speaks America Answers by Guy Warren on Spotify. At 9.00pm Avatar was on TV and I watched this, although stripped of the cinematic scale and 3D the thinness of the plot and dialogue was even more evident. Scandalous how much of Roger Dean's visual imagination was criminally imported wholesale and unacknowledged for the movie. Sipped a glass of sloe gin left over from Christmas as I watched it.