Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap year day

A couple of hours first thing on the play, which was productive and enjoyable, and then the rest of the day working on yet another pesky rewrite of something I'd written for the charity, carefully excising interest and personality from the work.

Watching stuff on TV with Lorraine and Beth tonight. Joking that it must be a leap year day as I got to choose what we watched. Listened to half a radio play during a break, set on Beachy Head and dealing with leapers. Cheery.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Imperfect Sunday

Sunday and Lorraine finding it hard to relax, and having to work in the evening.We did have a mooch around the park together at least, which helped. Travellers there though, and the secret walled garden locked up.

I don't like seeing her like this and I'm trying to be as supportive as possible. As expected, the new job is quite tough and it will take a while to settle. While she was working I cooked a roast chicken and roast potatoes and a slew of veggies and finished Loop of Jade at last. A few poems I'll want to read again, which is all that can be asked for.

I personally feeling fairly cheery about the new week, as it will give me an opportunity to work on the play. Early to bed.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Lurking in the Book Nook

Up fairly early, for a Saturday, Lorraine off to get her hair cut in Hove. And I met her afterwards, having arrived early hanging out in a cafe and listening to an audiobook of Plain Tales from the Hills, having seen a documentary on Kipling and what he was doing when he wrote these stories.

Met Lorraine, and we went to an award winning Children's bookshop in Hove, called The Book Nook, which was full of inspiring children's books and smelled pleasantly of toast, as there were coffees and snacks on sale. The woman who was working there very knowledgeable, and Lorraine asking her advice and buying books for her school. I looked at what I call high concept books (e.g. a book which calls itself The Book With No Pictures) and read some of the poetry books. It did take me back to the sheer excitement I felt as a kid, going to Smiths in Swiss Cottage, armed with Christmas or Birthday  book tokens and buying books.

Then, after a stroll into Cameron Contemporary Art shop, where the art was fine but merely decorative, as I like to term it in my snobbier moments.  Then my glamorously haired wife and I had a late lunch at a cafe called The Crumpety Tree, nice little cafe, and the food was excellent -- we had salads and I had meatballs. They do ornate crumpets, which I should try really.

A bus home and we stayed in the warm eating fisherman's pie. All good.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Adding milk to water

Oddly fragile and demotivated this morning. I blame Anton. I made myself a cup of tea and poured myself a glass of water in the kitchen this morning. As they were side by side, I added milk to the water, which I took as a bad sign. I'm not sure of what it was, exactly.

I worked a little on the play, and was phoned by the agency to give a short amount of time to considering an client idea that even the dogs in the street could see was a wrong 'un.

Meanwhile various friends have been doing highly interesting things. Richard Gibson is out in Kavala with Glen and Eleni in yet another manifestation of the Shakespeare Heptet. I saw this link to a local TV appearance. I love the bit where Richard starts talking and overdubbed Greek emerges.  Meanwhile Jane's been at her Royal impersonations again as you can see here.

I read an excellent essay by David Foster Wallace here, a humorous account of a seven day Caribbean cruise, which I heard being discussed on R4's A Good Read.

In the afternoon I walked over to see Janet and Ken for cup of tea and a natter. Ken eating biscuits with some gusto, Janet working on a new piece of embroidery, but saying that the background is so nice she doesn't want to put anything over it. Walked home and found Lorraine back from having had an injection in the top of her foot.

Nevertheless we were able to hobble down to The Shahi where we met Lynn and Malcolm, and Betty whose plans had fallen through for the evening. Malcolm full of the joys of New York, where they went a few weeks ago, and revelled in the snow.

Home, and revelling in the idea of it being Friday.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Drunken muppets

Another fruitful writing day, and also tweaking the script a bit with Beth. Gingerly off to the gym for another a small sesh. Am getting back into it very gingerly, and am feeling very unfit.

A man came this afternoon to assess the damage caused by our flood. Went round the house talking into his phone, and said that of course the insurance doesn't actually cover the thing that leaked only the damage caused by the thing that leaked. A nice chap, but I have a deep distrust of the insurance business, and tend not to bother with it, figuring that when something does happen, it will never repay the amount of money you pump into the insurance in the first place.

Didn't see much of my wife today, who had a lively day in school with one of the children taken off in an ambulance (but was okay later). All grist to the mill for a head teacher I suppose.

In the evening went down to The Joker to meet Anton and consume copious amounts of woof woof wings and a surprising amount of beer. After discussing various subjects (Anton hard at it this week in the property and legal negotiations), we ended up drifting upstairs where some young bands were playing in a venue called Devil's Disco. A very young crowd, and Anton and I standing at the back feeling a bit like Statler and Waldorf of muppet fame. Musically not much to write home about, but nevertheless fun. The last band, who I think were called Cavaliers, sounded a teeny bit like Foals who are I think are still fairly trendy at the moment.

After fond farewells with Anton I and disgraced myself by eating a good deal of an apple strudel that had been left by Lorraine and Rosie, who'd called around this evening. Lorraine told me that I had had a lot of beers, and in fairness I had to agree with her.

Below the Cavaliers about their mild-mannered business.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A writing day

Another precious day of just being able to write on the play. It is coming fast, and I find that when I'm working on a play once I get going it comes out in a big blurt. It has a very definite three-part structure which helps a lot too.  So happy to be able to work on my own things again and to have escaped from under the Nazgûl's wing of January depression and not having to think about Chad for a while. Beth cheerful about it all too -- and our first listing appeared online too.

A little before lunchtime I went off for a very gentle session in the gym, the first for ages. I am less fit that I have been for a good while, and this has to change. My thigh where I'd torn it last year gave me quite a bit of gyp. But otherwise good to be back there, even though the new owners have made the place even more soulless, and have taken away the water fountains and so on. I don't feel relaxed there yet, and my padlock does not fit the new lockers.

Wanting to look after Lorraine, home from school and pilates. Cooked for us, and made her a hot chocolate with a slug of Baileys in it. And so to bed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Selecting actors

I was able to spend most of the day thinking about and writing the play, which is a real luxury, not to mention a necessity as the thing is being staged in 12 weeks. Beth and I made off to Neighbourhood this evening and did a couple of auditions, and we now have chosen our two actors. We saw Kitty for the second time -- both Beth and I liked her when we saw her the other week, and she comes across as a live wire, with natural comedy talent. Finding the right male actor was difficult, but we have selected a lovely young actor called Dylan, who Beth already knew but auditioned really well. Who has a warmth and natural likability.

Beth and I had a conversation about it alone, before letting Dylan know. Kitty had already gone, but Beth called her. Both of them really happy to be involved, which is excellent. Dylan had a quick beer with us, and Beth and I stayed there to consume had a cheap Tuesday night burger and another beer to celebrate. Although Beth slightly 'bum-clenchy' (her words) as she bumped into two old school friends she'd not seen since she was 11. Home to find Lorraine, happily on the sofa.

The room downstairs at Neighbourhood we did the auditions in. And a rare selfie.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A happy Monday

Lorraine up at six again, and brought up some tea and porridge which we ate together in the bedroom. I got up and soon heard Dawn, who had let herself in in the middle of the night, as her plane back from Rome was delayed. She then left for work, and we arranged to meet up at school on Friday as Dawn and I are going to do another more able children session.

Nothing through from the agency, which was fab. I was able instead to work on the play and tweak some poems plus a few other admin bits. Felt more relaxed and cheerful this Monday than I have done for several months of Mondays.

I worked happily all day, apart from a walk down to the pier to get a breath of air. Bumped into Di briefly who told me off about not selecting an Adrian photo yet. A grey day, and nothing much happening down at the pier, but I felt free and happy nevertheless. Listening to an audiobook Joni Mitchell in her own Words, which is interesting. I've always thought Joni was the bee's knees and her lyrics are fabulous. Spoke to Janet today too, and have arranged to see her and Ken later this week.

Another plumber called around to give us an estimate. Then I cooked a curry for Lorraine, and we had a docile night.

Below detail of the pier in winter.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


A slow start, as fitting for a Sunday. Lorraine and I having a nice lie-in and then Lorraine went off to collect Sophie and Andros, and I popped down to Sainsbury's and we had brunch at home, and chatted more, and showed them around the house as they'd not been before.

Then a slow afternoon, poor Lorraine having to do some work for school tomorrow again, and I simply watched Chelsea (beginning to resemble the team they were last year) beat Manchester City 5-1 in an FA Cup game, which was fun. Although I tried to sit down and work, I'm simply decided to relax instead.

A good thing has happened this week, however, as I feel far more self-aware and less depressed and stressed than I have been all year. I am making efforts to reframe everything. Seeing friends and being less self-oriented really helps. Feeling down in the dumps makes you very self-centred, which is one of the reasons it is so boring too. I am officially bouncing back now. Seeing Andros so positive after such a hard time was a good lesson for me, one of several this week. It feels to me that it has been a repairing week for both Lorraine and I.

Beth back this evening after an enjoyable day of extra-ing on a film, which is very hush-hush.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A day with Sophie and Andros

After another plumber had come to look at our bathroom, Lorraine and Beth off to Eastbourne to see Sarah's production of Beauty and the Beast. 

I bussed into town and met Sophie and Andros by the seafront. We walked to the Marwood Cafe for a long chat. Both cheerful despite Andros having a bad heart attack on the side of Mt Athos in Greece last year, and having spent weeks in a Greek hospital. Christof was with him at the time and had to deal with the emergency (which he did brilliantly) and led to Andros being dramatically winched up from the side of the mountain and airlifted to hospital. He made me laugh lots when we were discussing Brighton hen parties, and how the next morning they return to London like jaded boilers. Sophie, despite all the colossal amounts of stress over the past few months, pretty good too. Andros has moments when he can't breath as his heart is not working very well, but they pass. He is facing his obstacles with courage and humour, and is just getting on with life. Apparently his health is steadily improving and his breathlessness abating. Couldn't help but be concerned for him and Sophie though.

I went home for the afternoon, collected Lorraine from Brighton station and we met up again at the Sahara restaurant, where we saw Huss daughter again who is working there.  A nice meal with excellent hospitality, and long and pleasant chat. Andros and Sophie off in a cab, and Lorraine and I caught the trusty 5B back to the top of Beaky Villas, and were home.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Vistas of sunlight and cloud shadows.

Up and another tasty breakfast. Sun streaming through the windows first off. Enjoying the antler coat racks here and there in the pub's restaurant area. Then after packing, Lorraine having a strategic snooze, and dealign with a bit of work stuff we drove up to Harting Down where we had some magnificent views down to South Harting, and also of rainclouds drifting along to the north of us. A gorgeous moving vista of sunlight and cloud shadows that no photo can do justice to, especially when I forgot my camera and used my iPhone instead.

For some reason my walking boots, which were top of the range exemplary boots I have used for about eight years, decided to fall apart after getting wet yesterday. The soles were by now flip-flopping along, and I was getting a bit twitchy as is my wont on the side of big bald hills, we had a lovely walk. Skylarks particularly at song and we saw a pair of them either competing in song or about some kind of mating business. Gorgeous liquid trilling and Lorraine and I stood spellbound listening to a skylark climbing up into the sky singing higher and higher. Gorgeous.

We climbed back into the car just in time for the rains to start their business, and drove back home. Sonia here, suggesting a solution to our books problem: thrown them away after you've read them. Beth at home and she and I were driven to Brighton station by Lorraine and we travelled up to Kingston, taking the opportunity to discuss the project generally, to see three more actors. Beth had sorted out a new Quaker meeting house venue. And we tapped in a passcode, and the doors opened automatically and the lights came on. Nobody there but us, but a beautiful new building with a lovely calm atmosphere. I like Quakers.

Arriving early, we popped back out for a pint and a bag of peanuts, then did the auditions before training back home again. Really good to see some boys audition this time, and the bit of dialogue coming alive. Beth and I in a happier place about everything afterwards. Arrived at home at around ten after Beth and I bought pasties at Clappers. Good to be back home with Lorraine.

Below views from Harting Down, looking north down to South Harting, and the view on our road through the wet windscreen.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Long walks and new friends

Up after not the greatest night's sleep despite the comfortableness of the beds. Lorraine and I sauntered into the pub from our room and had a good breakfast, which included black pudding which I'd not had for some time, and remembered why.  Lorraine had sourced a circular walk for us up into the wooded downs and we had an absolutely lovely walk for about three hours. Very squelchy underfoot, but lovely to be among trees and crossing fields in little valleys and climbing up to a long straight forested path, and down again through fields. Good to see Lorraine's pink cheeks as we puffed up the hills.

The excellent thing about going for such a long walk is that it renews your appetite. We had a substantial lunch and a pint of Tipster and a bit of a read in the pub before retiring back to the room for an afternoon snooze. Gradually stirred ourselves and drove off to see Lorraine's work pal Fiona and meet her husband Simon. I'd not met either before, and they were a welcoming, friendly and interesting couple. Simon is a hospital consultant doctor, and Fiona a headteacher. Both interested and interesting, which is refreshing. A long convivial meal 'beans on toast' Fiona described it but actually a cassoulet with fresh artisan bread.  Simon saying about a talk he'd gone to years ago about a firefighter calling his crew out of a burning building 'on instinct' seconds before it collapsed. It was an example to him of how experience filters into everyday life. When he's walking past people in his emergency department, he frequently knows just by looking at folks who is in need of most urgent attention.

Simon and Fiona live in a lovely little village, in a house called The Old Laundry. Crisp cold night when we got outside, stars in the sky. A drive back to the White Hart and a final drink there before a heavy sleep. Man at the bar talking to three women: 'no, hear me out... Hear me out...' He kept interrupting himself until the women were bellowing at him to just say it. A funny interlude.

Really feeling as if we were on holiday.

Below snaps along the way, and the final shot our journey's end.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Folly in the Fresh Air

A morning feeling hassled and tidying up bits of work and chatting with Matty about work stuff and getting ready for L & my mini-break. Loaded up the car, and gnawed baguette bits with ham and salad that Beth had made for us and drove off to South Harting in the West Sussex. Lovely little village nestled in the middle of the South Downs National Park, which is officially an area of outstanding natural beauty.

We stopped before we got to the village getting uncomfortably changed in the car, and then went for a walk on Harting Down in the mizzle. The Vandalian Tower, an 18th Century Folly looking particularly mysterious rain-blurred sky. Also got a message from Carl saying his brother Rory has lung cancer, which brought a bit of a sad note to things. The thing about mobile phones is that you can never get away from it all, because you take it all with you in your pocket.

Then rather dripping, we changed again and then drove down to The White Hart, where we were given a lovely little room, with wooden floors and nicely done out in a subtle colours. Then after a snooze and a freshen up, off to the bar where we had a couple of pints of beer near a log fire and then had a good meal, and a few more pints of the local ales. I tried all three of the Upham Brewery beers which are called Tipster, Punter and Stakes, which were horse themed beers, what with this area not being too far from Newmarket where horse racing is done.  Tipster, the weakest one is the nicest to my palate.

Then, after good food, fresh air and some nice beer. Off to bed, mood already greatly improved.

Below a bit of a wet walk, with the Vandalian Tower looking mysterious in the background. Lorraine dripping.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dawn in the evening

Slowly feeling better about work and life. Although very tired this evening, and yawning my head off rudely when Dawn come around for supper. Wondering how I am going to fare on holiday feeling so shattered. But Dawn energetic and cheery after a long walk on the downs. She is all cheerful about a trip to Rome later this week and brightened the evening up for Lorraine and I. Good how friends can do that.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Beanjar day

Monday, and expected work load did not happen. So a fairly quiet day. I cooked my first Guernsey beanjar in ages, and with beef too. Sauntered out to get fresh parsley and onions and added patented PK ingredients and the house filled all day with the smell of beany goodness. Walked down into town too, a cold and bright day. Brain still a bit mushy and feeling buggy. I found I was perfectly able to fritter time away quite well without accomplishing much. Lorraine into school today on her own to sort out one or two things, but didn't get up till late. Good to feel fairly relaxed on a Monday.

Also news last night that Matt and Isy got engaged. And a text this morning from the old FB.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A cracking Sunday

Sunday a much-needed recuperation day on the gold sofa. As I have been feeling unwell it was a real boon. Lorraine at last with a Sunday that she didn't have to spend working. Instead she stubbed her little toe so hard that it audibly cracked and her foot is bruised, and she has almost certainly fractured it. An event which brought out the stoic ex-nurse in her, who said all that could be done for it was to be buddy strapped.

Found myself reading about string theory online, I can't say I'm much the wiser. It seems to be one of those things where the Venn diagram of physics and what seems common sense do not overlap. I am considering the purchase of String Theory for Dummies.  Also reading more of A Loop of Jade by Sarah Howe. A curate's egg, but when she's good she is very good.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Remember me as a salad

Lorraine and I didn't get up out of bed till two o'clock. Slept a good deal, and feeling slightly better than yesterday. However, cups of tea and paracetamol, and off in a cab to the station in the rain to meet Betty, who was going off to London to do an audition. Lorraine and I up to see Eddie Izzard at the Palace Theatre.

We walked through Covent Garden, and Chinatown, which was still celebrating its monkey business, and busy with people trudging about in the rain. Nice wandering about in London with Lorraine. We picked up our tickets, and then went to the nearby Punjab Restaurant for a spot of knife and fork action. A good meal and we were given two lollipops, which we ate in the theatre. Nice to be going on a date with my lovely wife.

Eddie Izzard was the full Eddie Izzard, surreal and carried the audience with him on fantastic imaginative journeys. Particularly liked the death of Caesar scene. Stabbed twice by a Roman called Tenacious and his dying gasp misinterpreted as 'remember me as a salad'. Always impressed to see how one person can hold a whole theatre for the evening. An amazing gift.

Bus to Victoria, luckily our train was delayed so were luckily able to catch it. Home at about one, v tired.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Diane's funeral

A good sleep at Mum and Mason's place. Up latish drawn down by the smell of coffee. I had toast and tea, with a paracetamol side-dish. Conversation with Mas about desalination plants.

Mum and I then went off to Diane's funeral service.  We caught the bus across country to Borehamwood, and then trained it up to Bedford. A town neither Mum or I had visited before. We were early so had tea at the anonymous Starbucks in Bedford Station then caught a taxi driven by a taciturn sikh to the crematorium.

Interesting old buildings, and lots of Eagle references, we passed the football team which seemed to be called the Bedford Eagles. There was also a place called Eagle Court (where raptors go to be sentenced) as well as a Harvey Road, which we passed while talking about my Grandmother (it was her maiden name) a Lorraine Court, shortly followed by a Toby Carvery.

We arrived early but fortunately there was a pleasant waiting room at the crematorium, and rather a lovely chapel. Outside there were particularly fragrant bushes, that were a lovely touch. Mum recognising few people, but we spoke to Di's sister, and her brother. Robert, her second husband was there too.

Lots of people and the service was excellent. Waiting for the coffin, they played Laughing at Life by Billie Holiday. Then a hymn. There was a reading of Desiderata by Di's granddaughter Sonia, then Vincent, Di's oldest son gave a very good speech about her life, and mentioned as a major event meeting Mum when they were 15. Alex her youngest son gave a short speech, followed by a grandson Joshua's speech. Then another grandson Dominic sang I'll be seeing you.

Then the curtains closed around the coffin, after we'd listened to Louis Armstrong singing Wonderful World. And then the Beatles Let it Be.

Mum and I chatting afterwards to Stewart, who is a really good guy, the middle brother, and Deborah who is the eldest of Diane's children and her excellent husband Morris. Sonia gave us a lift to the Barn Hotel, where there was a reception. Mum speaking a lot to Frank, who was Di's first husband, who was shocked to see me, having last seen me as a boy.  I particularly enjoyed the slideshow of photos of Diane. She was frequently great fun, and I'd known her all my life.

Then Mum and I got a cab back to the station. This time from an extremely taciturn Muslim listening to a Muslim local radio station. Passed a little street of back to back houses and noticed that one of the little houses was a mosque in it. A mother kissing her son, who then slipped inside.

Despite the sad nature of the day it was fun to spend time with Mum. Riding about on trains and the fact that she brought out a bag of pistachio nuts from her handbag for the train. It was a sad to see her oldest friend off.

Mum got off the train at Luton and I carried on to Brighton. Feeling very tired and slightly feverish. However to Brighton, and jumped in a cab and went to the Preston Park Tavern, where Lorraine and Betty had already ordered food. Ate this, accompanied by a cold beer then sauntered home. Lorraine deeply grateful to have reached the sanctuary of the half term. I deeply grateful to have reached the sanctuary of the gold sofa.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Rendez-vous in a moody basement

Woke up feeling hot and weird in the night but went back to sleep. Once up, and finding myself in between bits of work,  I strolled into town. Lovely warm morning, dropped off a prescription at the quack's office, where the nice nurse called Lorraine told me I was looking well, and chatted about Chad, as we'd had a good laugh about my various neuroses about it before I'd gone there.

Off to buy some files, then started to feel a bit rough. Home and slept heavily, then up and paracetamoled and met Betty on St James street where we auditioned some actors. Getting to read part of the script, and do some improvising with Beth. Interesting to meet them, sitting in the moody basement of a place called Neighbourhood. We found at least one cracking actor who was fully prepared, really energetic and on it. But a few were no shows. I can't understand people simply not turning up. Sometimes people don't have the gumption to take an opportunity that's under their nose. I'm sure that's me too sometimes.

From there I took a bus to the Station, and then, having just missed a train, a slow journey up to Mum and Mason's arriving rather worn out at Mill Hill, a bus and a walk from there taking the chance to speak to Lorraine. Noticeably colder in Edgware than in Brighton. Tired chats with Mum and Mas before pushing off to bed, with a hot water bottle that mum gave me.

Below this bull's head loomed rather dramatically over us as Beth and I met the actors.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

An interlude of light

Working for the agency again, including the obligatory urgent work after you've packed up for the day. But had a little time off this afternoon and was able to speak to Mum, who had thought today was Thursday and gone into central London for her dental appointment only to find she was a day early. Went for an extra-long circular walk just after lunch, listing to various improving podcasts, buying a few vegetables. I would be more worried about my life shrinking into these little circles, but I know I will have the opportunity to stretch out again.

Half the joy of owning a dog must be in walking it. I see other people walking in circles, but some of them are attached to lead. I thought of Richard who had until recently had walked Rufus and Holly. Walking as a solitary human must be strange if you're used to being part of a pack. Lorraine looking forward to half-term next week to regroup from the onslaught. I cooked her chicken noodles.

Below two interludes of light. One outbreak of brightness looking downhill over Blakers Park, the other further inland looking out at a bright strip in the sea.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Proustian pancake

Joined a blogging 101 course around new year, which kicked off yesterday. First assignment was to write this post for my other site. I've never really been happy with that site, and am determined to up its game this year.

In other news: well there wasn't much. A quiet day's work, accompanied by cats. Beth went with Lorraine to school, and they did some drama at lunchtime. I worked and I walked. And bought vegetables and made a chicken casserole for the ladies when they returned.

Definitely light at the end of the tunnel of this current assignment, and I feel far less oppressed than I did a few weeks ago. I also have the prospect of taking this Friday off to stay with mum, albeit for us to go to Diane's funeral. Two days the following week there's a minibreak with Lorraine. All work and precious little play is making me a very dull indeed.

While Lorraine went out to do Pilates I did another walk listening to podcasts. All home, and Beth cooked us some immaculate pancakes, eaten with a sprinkling of sugar and a good squish of lemon, on account of it being Shrove Tuesday. A nostalgic taste, and the little crunch of lemony sugar took me back to remembrances of pancakes past.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Walking in circles

Monday and blearily awake early, the house rattling in the teeth of storm Imogen. I like the fact they have names. A house along the coast had its roof blown off. I went for several walks just around the block. I have a little circular route, through Blakers park and around the streets. A few small branches among the debris, and the rattle and boom of the area's empty wheeled rubbish bins falling over every now and then. I pulled one that had just blown into the centre of the road. Occasional stinging rain. If I'd had more time I would have ventured down to the sea.These circular walks interludes in a day of agency work.

Listening to an interview with John Irving, author of A Prayer for Owen Meany which is a wonderful book.

I cooked a curry, which we ate when Lorraine got home. Evening spent carrying things again, moving furniture about in the house, and trying and failing to fit bits Tetris-like into Beth's room. Watched the first of a brand new series of The X-Files, which was all fun. Then early to bed.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Read-throughs and apple pies

Lorraine and I off to Sheffield Park today for a stroll about. First we stopped by Trading Boundaries and almost bought a single curtain, but when we found it cost £160 we declined. Off then to  Sheffield Park and a nice interlude in the fresh air and a chance to walk and talk. A few early daffs, and snowdrops out, and one or two camillas. But mostly as the rain started, a reassuring English grey.

In the afternoon home again, and Beth and I had a first script read-through the first early draft of A Glass of Nothing, and extracted a section for use in the auditions we are starting this week. Good feeling to get going on it -- and Beth pleased at where we're heading.

A chat with Mum this evening, then I cooked a chicken and roast veggies, while Lorraine did Headteacher stuff on our new table. A reassuringly expensive free range blighter bought round the corner. Tasted good though. Remembered eating chicken out in Oum Hadjer, where the chicken, which we heard being slaughtered earlier, was so tough that you'd pull fibres of it from between your teeth afterwards.

Beth's pal Laura around, and they brought back apple pie from the shop, as I had been fantasising about apple pie and custard earlier. Delicious. Apple pie one of the gold standard puddings in my world.

Below: English greys at Sheffield Park.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Domestic loafing

An entirely relaxed day today. Lorraine and I spending much of the day in house proud discussions. Spending quite a long time finding the exact coordinates for our new table. And later discovering the tablecloth we bought in Greece last Summer fits our colour scheme perfectly. I don't understand quite what is happening to me, as I found it disproportionately satisfying.

L and I in a brutal triage off objects we own. Some of them are going to Lorraine's school, some being given to Beth for a car boot sale she is planning. I am not very good at letting go of stuff. I have the soul of a hoarder. Lorraine is the same. We had plans to go out tonight, but instead I simply fell asleep on the sofa, and we instead spent a cozy night indoors. Domesticity distilled.

Friday, February 05, 2016

A glimpse of light

A rather blissful Friday, with a couple of smidges of agency work to be done -- and postponed some other stuff till monday so I could do some urgent stuff to get A Glass of Nothing rolling. Had an exceptionally productive few hours sat in Starbucks. I just wanted to escape the house and it worked a treat. I find the anonymity of Starbucks strangely helps. All the not being able to work on in meant that once I did that a huge amount of it seemed to slot into place right away. Suddenly I saw how I could underpin the three sections of the play with an overarching dark theme and got writing. I have had the set up for a long time, but I can only compare it to being some kind of detective. You keep looking at the opening scene hard enough, and the clues begin to reveal themselves. Wonderful to be writing freely again at something that cheers the soul. A glimpse of light.

Home and once Lorraine returned from a hard day at work we jumped on a bus and biffed into Trafalgar Street. Had a Diavola Pizza in an Italianate restaurant, and then Lorraine and I went to the Prince Albert too see a gig upstairs in its little gig room. Not just any gig, but one with John playing drums in. First band were full of good musicians with a lovely brass section. Sort of a modern English take on Reggae, and likeable enough. The three piece John is playing with, called Body Talk, played next. I wasn't really surprised to learn that he is a really good drummer. Lovely loose-wristed technique, and lots of variation in his playing and a general air of effortlessness. It made me feel very happy that he was so good.  And he was so much himself while drumming.

Lorraine, Beth and I with Lene who came to the gig too, all pushed off for a quickie in the Batty afterwards. It was so busy we sat in the back garden at first. A mild night in February, and so no problem. I like Lene, who I don't know too well, but who is an old friend of Beth's and former partner of Ross, a likeable guy I used to go for pointless beers with, but haven't seen for a while.

Home and feeling cheery and as if I had let off steam.

Below a not very good iPhone shot of John at the drumstool as part of the Body Talk trio.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Rock and roll

Another day of working fluently on the agency work.  Mood much improved. Regularly breaking off for walks too seems to help. Finally finished Life by Keith Richards and now listening to the Stones  in a mini-craze.  Lorraine and I went crazy and had a single glass of wine this evening. Rock and Roll. Both of us rather looking forward to the weekend. Reading Brian Eno again before bed.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Damaged by Anatomy

Woke refreshed, with more movement in the infernal neck. Optimism and joie de vivre which had been AWOL for the last week or so were back. Worked steadily and with a sense of there actually being light at the end of the tunnel. Basic Peter Kenny survival skills flooding back, like focusing on the job at hand and the ability to distance myself from the stuff I was doing. Why is it that I have relearn the same life lessons time and again?

A productive, hard-working day, and took three walks. A chat with Matty this afternoon too - relieved to learn he is on the same page as I am about the work we've been doing. Also discussing with Betty how to do first auditions for the play next week. Last walk was just before I cooked supper, and was I oblivious to the fact a man was being arrested near the bottom of Beaky Villas a few hundred yards away for waving a gun around. No shots fired apparently.

On my walks today listening to the last bits of Life by Keith Richards. Amused by the indestructible Richards' anecdote of the worst injury he seems to have done himself was scaling up his bookcase reaching for his volume of Leonardo Da Vinci's Anatomy. He was rained on by heavy books, breaking ribs and puncturing a lung. This has been making me listen to the Stones again,  at their best they were some kind of a force of nature.

Heard from Michel, aka French Bloke, tonight. He was telling me about the sad news that a former partner of his had died. Their daughter Eliana (who has been happily living with the FB and Max for years) was naturally grief stricken, but she is a reading and poetic girl, who found comfort in writing a poem for her mother, which she read at the funeral. Michel sent it to me, and it was wonderful. A talented girl, bless her. And reminder, if any was needed, that there is no substitute for genuine feeling in a art. A cleverly ironic poem has never made me cry.

Looking after Lorraine tonight, rather gruelled by the week so far.

Below Keith Richards.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Infernal neck

Barely slept due to infernal neck. Ended up Keith Richards style taking various drugs including a diazepam early in the morning and as a consequence bleary but strangely calm this morning.  Lorraine crept out quietly without waking me, as she sloped off to work. Once I was up, working sporadically with a hot bean bag on my neck and sitting about as if having a plank up my jumper.

Working all day again on Chad stuff.

Men arrived bearing a new sideboard, chairs and a table. They asked me if I wanted them to assemble the table. I readily assented and it took them about half an hour to put four legs on. It all looks pretty smart though, and if I wasn't in pain, exhausted and stressed I would have probably enjoyed it a bit more.

A nice email from my poet pal Charlotte Gann this morning. I sent her a moany email, which she later said she found therapeutic, and both enthused about Brian Eno. A walk in the afternoon to maintain sanity.  Beth chaperoning, and Lorraine pilates late this evening so I cooked a stir fry. Early to bed, feeling a little less seized up than the previous night.

Monday, February 01, 2016


In the attempt to stave off gloom, attempting to get a grip. Principally by writing lists and taking every opportunity to go out for a walk, in-between bouts of work, while listening to my Keith Richards audiobook about drugs and music man. Managed somehow to do something to my neck which seized up during the course of the afternoon and evening to the point I could barely move it. Read a little of Loop of Jade poems by Sarah Howe just to make sure I did something that didn't suck. Monday. Bah.