Thursday, March 31, 2016

Richard and JKT

Up early and working on poems, after a terrible night's sleep. Then a spree of cat capturing, Brian legging it off to the garden when he saw the cat carrier, both holding onto the sides with their claws. Lorraine and I took Calliope and Brian in for their yearly check up.  Calliope yowling appallingly in the car, but luckily no spraying this year.  The cats were found in good health apparently said the nice vet at Top Cats, who also removed a tick from Brian.

Heard this morning about the death of Ronnie Corbett, the comedian. He is the grandfather of Dylan who is in our play, so obviously it made the news much closer to home. I said hello to Ronnie Corbett a few years ago, and he seemed (from the way he was with people) as nice as he appeared on TV.

Home again, I finished off some work then listened to Richard on the JKT show on BBC radio Guernsey. Richard absolutely excellent on it, and he read The Exile, a poem inspired by a Brighton-based exile of his acquaintance, which was lovely. Jenny reading two of his poems too, and Richard also read some of his flash fiction. The interplay between Jenny and Richard is lovely to hear, and it felt lovely to be listening to them chatting while I sat at my desk, especially knowing I will be over next week.

Spoke to Mum and facetimed Toby who I found sitting in his car, and did various other little jobs. Lorraine working on school plans for most of the day. Cooked in the evening, and a quiet night.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

A photographic trove

Up and off to Edgware this morning, working on some poems on the train. Finally close to finishing a poem about time and sunken islands that I'd begun ages ago.

I was collected by Mum at Mill Hill station and back home. With Mas we pent the day, eating our own bodyweight in Pizza Express, and later on the way back to the station eating large amounts of meaty things at the Jolly Badger Harvester. Fun to hang out and chat.

Mum showed me her photos from Panama, with jungle, and monkeys and vivid coloured houses with corrugated iron roofs. Looked a gorgeous place to visit, blighted only by no-see-ums, which I hadn't realised was a proper name for midges. The Tobster apparently a martyr to these.

I also sifted through Mum's trove of photos. Sometimes this can be a sad thing, but actually I really enjoyed it.  Fond farewells with Mum and Mas who dropped me at the station, then a train home, walking up the hill to hear about Lorraine and Beth's trip to Basingstoke.

Below A few snaps of mum's photos. Dave my grandfather with Toby and me as boys, my grandparents Gwen and Dave laughing with (I think) one of Dave's sisters.  Mum painting the name Chelsea on my grandparent's gate in Guernsey (with my nan's scooter behind) -- a photo I really like (and explains the inevitability of me supporting Chelsea) and one of the young poet in a pram looking at a dandelion.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chilling on the beach

Some of the results of the Great Chad Adventure work I'd done dropped today, the launch of the new campaign. You an see some of the work and watch the ad on the Tearfund site here. I hope this succeeds in raising money for the people we met out there, and places like it. But I am not without mixed feelings about this campaign where I spent much time under the Nazgûl's wing.

Working off and on this morning, and intermittent contact from Max and the French Bloke who had brought their four bairns down to Brighton.  They scooted around on rollerblades and so on, and I sensibly remained in a cafe working on stuff, then took a long walk down by the sea passing the ghastly iSore 360 and eventually met them on the stones, just as the sun went in and it was again a March day at the seaside. Lovely to catch up with my old friends, and see the children again. They are such a lively, bright and confident bunch of kids.

Max produced a bottle of bubbly and we three had a glass each and caught up. Because it had been sunny, Max and I were both wearing shades, which as the skies darkened began to represent the British spirit in the face of adversity. Nearby a madwoman started trying to get in the water for a swim as we all started to turn blue with cold.

When the steady gnawing of penguins got too much for us, I returned home after fond farewells and promises to hook up soon.  Home and an evening rehearsal with Beth and Dylan. Kitty unwell, but there was plenty to be done on the second scene. I really like Dylan, and we made a bit of a breakthrough on the play tonight and worked in some good improvements.

And so to bed.

Below Michel and Max chilling on the beach.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Storm and stumpery

A storm, Storm Katie, last night, very noisy up in our top bedroom. The storm uprooted trees and flattened fences in Brighton, one tree down about 100 metres from us. Another big one went very close to Janet and Ken.

Lorraine and I had a lovely day today. Both of us feeling brighter and more healthy after a long sleep. Up and today's mission was creating a stumpery. Out of bits of stump and ferns. We've not anything in the garden this year, and it was warm enough to work happily. Off to Bolney first where we picked up some stumpy bits from a wind damaged garden centre, near Lorrafne's school. I'm sure we got a cheaper rate on our stumps when we told the man Lorraine was head of the local village school, and the man said head been there as a kid. Then to another garden centre for ferns. When we built it, we were so pleased with our stumpery, we are planning to extend it. It is excellent for the strip of the garden that gets little light. We have also added a wee barrel pond too, to attract critters. (Critters also love stumps too.) I just need to put some stones in it.

In the evening Lorraine and I went to the Duke of York's to see High Rise a film based on a story by J.G. Ballard. Rather crazily intense film, but I liked it. More than Lorraine. But we both agreed it was unlike any other film we'd seen. I'd recommend it. We sat up in the circle on a sofa, and shared a bottle of wine. A nice date night with my lovely wife.

Below our brand new stumpery, and the tree near us, just round the corner of Preston Drove, I shot when we walked to the cinema.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An unGodly Godly hour

Lorraine and I got up to go to Oskar's confirmation at an unspeakable five o'clock, which felt like four due to the clocks going back in the night too. Enjoyably enough managed to shock and appal Beth and Laura, who were just coming home after a lively night out with their top hats at an angle.

Lorraine drove us nearby, and we walked in the hosing rain to St Nicholas' church. Here we found Anton, Anna and the bairns. Lorraine and I sat with Brian and Anne, and David and Stephanie (who I'd not seen for some time, and it was nice to meet again). The service started in the dark, with people finding their way to pews with their phone lights.

Klaudia came and sat next to me, and we snickered together at the sight of one of the clergy bumping into the spiral of stairs up to the pulpit as he walked from a lit room in the dark of the church. The service starting in darkness and employing candles and fire to good effect.  The Bishop of Lewes was leading the service, and at one time he shook my hand and I had the distinct sense of him being quite a holy man, which is contrary to my general feelings of antipathy towards religious folk at the moment. I felt a bit horrid though as I was feeling a tad swimming headed with the lack of sleep and the dregs of my bug, and as we kept standing and sitting down I felt a bit unsteady. However Oskar was confirmed and looked very smart, and Brian, Anna the Godmother, and I had to shuffle forward at one point.

Then back to Anton's house, where Anton and Anne had put on a lovely breakfast spread. Ate and drank some coffee, feeling generally happy about life. Lorraine and I then drove home and had a late morning doze, having already been up for hours. Beth and Laura emerging much later, and more quietly.

Took it easy for the rest of the day, but we walked down the hill in the blustery evening to meet Anton and Brian for a drink in the Joker. The music especially loud in there tonight, but we still had fun. Especially nice to see Brian. Anton and I feeling very tempted to eat some woof woof wings, and it was only because of the roast suppers we had eaten that we shunned them.

Home, mercifully to sleep like babies.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Reading, music and recovery

Lorraine not well. And, not to be outdone, I felt far from being top form too, so we had a day of reading and listening to music, which I really enjoyed.

I started The Story of Music by Howard Goodall, which is a great romp through music, spraying lots of names I'd not heard of in its first couple of chapters. Armed with Spotify of course, you can simply listen to them right away and discovered the sung music of Guillaume Dufay and Josquin de Prez, and am rather pleased I did.

Administering to my wife with paracetamol and slipping out to score chicken and ham pie and chocolate, an essential part of the recovery process. Even without nasty bug, Lorraine I think needed a complete day of rest.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Golden ticket day

Got up and cooked a large breakfast, Lorraine however feeling very poor and went back to bed and slept most of the morning, and laid low all day. Feeling tired too, but there was lots to be done.

Rehearsal this afternoon, with Beth. Dylan and Kitty came to our house and we did a thorough read through and a bit of work on the last scene that features them all for a few hours. Good to get to grips with it, and there is a bit of a company feel developing now, which is excellent.

So Golden Ticket day today with my favourite God daughter.  I jumped into a cab and headed off to Klaudia's new house, said howdy to Anna and Oskar, and left back into the cab and headed down to Wagamamas to strap on the nosebag and we chatted about a variety of subjects. An assortment of things consumed, along with ice-cream wrapped in coconut rice. Service slow, so gulping these down rapidly, we sped off to the Dome to see Into the Hoods: Remixed. A hiphop dance performance based around a weaving of Jack in the Beanstalk, Babes in the Woods, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood and given a contemporary cartoonish urban treatment. It really was excellent. Splendid stuff. Some great individual dancers and sharp routines in the ZooNation . All to funky music, which of course I lapped up. Enjoyed it much more than I thought.

We zoomed out and grabbed a cab back to Anna's, as Klaudia was pretty sleepy by the end of the night. Anna showed me about her new house, which was really nice, and I'm pleased they are there.

Below the now traditional Golden Ticket selfie.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jan's funeral

Lorraine's last day of term, which ended with a passion play, a success apparently.

Off to Lewes, after a stonking early morning's writing. Met Robin and had a great chat with her in Cafe Nero about the future of Telltale, and just a general catch up. We also went around town dropping of posters for the Telltale reading in Lewes next month, and knocking on doors of people who put posters in their windows. Also bumped into Jeremy Page, editor of the Frogmore Papers, and Catherine Smith. Showing that Lewes is a place where you can't move for writers. Trained back to London Road, and paused for a veggie burger in the Open House and a read of Charles Olsen poems, before going home.

A bit later  Dawn collected me, and we drove off to Worthing Cemetery where we met Lorraine and Helen, to attend Jan's funeral. A good ceremony, and her son Matt is a writer and delivered a lovely speech. Her daughter Laura was there too with her partner, as was Jan's elderly mother.  A moving business, with Jan's beloved Leonard Cohen music playing, and the rain outside. Lorraine, Jan and Dawn very brave about their friend's loss.

From here there was a reception at a nice pub, The Gun at Findon, nearby. Greek food, as Jan was a Hellenophile, and glasses of Chardonnay, which she loved. Had a good chat with Matt and his Swedish partner Josephine before we drove off in the rain to come home, feeling lucky to have each other.

Below a doorbell in Lewes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cat and mouse

Up with the sparrows this morning, and made Lorraine breakfast before she went on her way. For me a day of writing deathless poetry was plan A. A rambling sort of poem I started at the beginning of the week fell fully formed into place as an excellent (I think) short poem. Made me think of Keats and his idea that poetry should come as naturally as leaves to a tree or not at all. Things all progressing swimmingly interspersed with stroking and gloating over my new iMac.

The cats being suspicious this morning, and then Calliope arrived with a 100% alive mouse. They had a stand off in my study, and when the poor squeaking thing turned to face Calliope, she suddenly lost her nerve for a second. Then the mouse ran around my study and hid. Calliope in hot pursuit crashing through all my precious things, computer wires, guitars etc. like an angry poltergeist. Having rolled my socks up over my trousers I was on Facebook and got advice. Charlotte said to put down a cereal packet and this almost worked but the mouse escaped. Phil Martin said to wait for a woman to come home. (Not a possible strategy here as Lorraine screams at rodents.) I kicked Calliope out, who then scratched at the door infernally. Mouse took up residence under my bookcase, and I tried to coax it with reasoning, a long ruler then a Wellington boot, which Spooner said will see as a tunnel and run into.

Calliope went off for a sleep, Brian took over and by his constant attention to my old guitar amp I plucked this away, and discovered the mouse had crawled into the storage area at the back. I was able to rush it downstairs. Not before it almost escaped in the kitchen, but I managed to recatch it midair in the hole in the amp. Released it apparently completely unharmed into the garden. This participation in the ancient rodent/feline antipathy lasted hours. Is it too much to ask to be sitting at one's desk uninterrupted? It seems yes. A man telling me on the doorstep I was rude (one of those bogus door to door scallies who come down from far away places to sell bits of dodgy domestic cloths etc. and pretend to be in charities). I'd simply closed the door on him, and left him shouting in the front garden.

Spoke to Anton and Mum, on FaceTime, back safely from Panama and Canada, also saw Mas and Ben via Mum's screen.  L and I plan to go  up to see Mum and Mas on Saturday. Otherwise a peaceful day. Lorraine with the sore throat etc. I had last week, but I gave her sausage casserole, and she ate Beth's chocolate and had a glass of wine and seemed to be somewhat improved.

Below the Weetabix approach. A failure, as was the boot approach.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Feeling much better than the weekend now. Two plumbers arrived. Who after telling me it was a job of about three hours, soon had found the work done by the previous owner was a botch. The plumber explained why, and it was clearly legitimate. The fix would require lots more work, which cannot be completed today, and they weren't able to get back to it for till after easter. Nevertheless lots of banging and hammering and crashing and prep work to disrupt the morning.

Beth back armed with bread and ham, and we had a bite together talking about play things among other bits before she zoomed off again. Spent the day getting my computer sorted out, transferring files and so on. It looks fab and is a joy to use.

Then a man came about the carpet, onto which Calliope (still in the dog house) had kicked a cup of hot coffee staining the brand new carpet. Beth had gone into the shop and they said it was to do with the temperature of the liquid. A loquacious carpet cleaning man came around and sprayed liquid labelled coffee onto it, and used a white towel to clean it up. The towel looked impressively brown. I spotted him £20 but once the carpet had dried, there was still a brownish tinge to it. Gah.

Took Lorraine out to the Preston Park Tavern this evening, where we had a bite to eat and a soothing pint of lager, and allowed L to decompress.

Plumbers always make me think of Heath Robinson.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Big screens

Noticeably improving through the day. Bussed back to Churchill Square this morning to pick up the Microsoft Office I needed for my iMac, and spent much of the day setting it up, and transferring files across to the new one. It is a thing of beauty with a great big screen, which is really useful because I usually work having several things open at once on my desk. Beautiful.

Felt a bit tired by lunchtime and took a couple of hours off, eating peas pudding on toast on the Gold and watching Blue Velvet by David Lynch again. It is plenty weird, as they say, but all the Lynch themes are in place.  Interesting how he keeps using the same actors, which included in Blue Velvet Kyle MacLachlan and a very young Laura Dern. He really is like some kind of cottage industry, manufacturing fabulous films meditating on the nature of evil.

A relaxed evening in with Lorraine. She is very much looking forward to Thursday, the end of her first term.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sofa day

Feeling ill. Hot, with a dry rasping cough and wanting to sleep all the time. So rubbish did I feel that I didn't even have the energy to set up my new computer.

Instead I spent most of the day nested on the gold sofa, reading books, watching snatches of stuff on my computer and being looked after by Lorraine, who had to do some work in the afternoon.  Watched a half an hour interview from 1975 with John Lennon by whispering Bob Harris. Lennon was an interesting man, an odd mix of prickly and humble and funny. Reading a book of essays by David Foster Wallace, called A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again -- enjoying his essay about David Lynch, which is making me want to watch Lynch again.

Before I spent lots of time on the sofa, I spent a good deal of time in bed. This was my view for much of the morning.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Apples and clouds

Feeling out of sorts, and light headed today. However Lorraine and I went shopping in the car and I bought myself a new desktop computer, and iMac, as my old one is more than six years old and has been having suicidal thoughts, freezing on me and being weird. Amazing how quickly you can walk into an apple shop, ask for a computer and wander out with it in an unusual box, having dropped a four figure sum, all in about five minutes. They certainly are efficient there. Buying an apple product is a joy however. The packaging, the design and so on. Compared to the generations of Dells I specced up myself.

In other news I bought some vests and socks.

In the evening off in the bus to Hove with Lorraine and Betty to visit Rosie. A cheery evening eating takeaway Thai food, and drinking a few drinks. Rosie's got her place all nice now and really reflecting her personality. It includes a globular feathery light shade hanging down from the middle of the room like a cloud, which (being Rosie) she encouraged everyone to rub their noses in. I was also called on to write some copy.  Ladies drinking from a jug of gin and tonic, to some effect. I simply had a few cans of beer.

Home on the bus, and off to bed sharpish.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Barking at nothing

Lorraine off early in sports gear, as it was Sport Relief day at school. Tackled a few time consuming admin bits that I'd been putting off, as well as tinkered with a couple of poems. Sonia very chatty today, telling me about her mother, who sounds quite a character, a burly ex-army woman who thinks of herself even now as a great beauty, and has a new boyfriend. Which goes to prove, as Sonia says philosophically, it's what you think about yourself that's important. It's hard to disagree.

Otherwise a quiet day, even reading in the afternoon, sauntering off to the post office. Saw a large fox in the garden endlessly scratching itself in a flea tormented fashion. Felt rather sorry for it. 

Lorraine home late and then we turned right around and drove off to Cuckfield to Jess and Andrew's house. They'd recently returned from a trip to India and Jess, who is an excellent cook, brought back lots of spices with her and cooked up a storm of gorgeous food. Sat in their new conservatory, and L and I had a bout of conservatory envy. I love conservatories. I love rain on the roofs of conservatories. Amusingly, at night Jess and Andrew's cockapoo dog Winnie keeps barking and growling at its reflection in the roof glass. Also had holiday envy seeing the photos of their tour of India, including a misty Taj Mahal, and the Amber Fort of Jaipur. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A writer writes

Sent off my Shakespeare poem this morning for Project 154, and it was acknowledged a few hours later. Quite pleased with it. It will be printed opposite sonnet XIX in the anthology. My poem is focused on the person Shakespeare wants to preserve in the verse. It finishes with 'Yet, do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,/My love shall in my verse ever live young.' My poem is in the voice of the lover haunting the sonnet, saying he didn't want to be live forever locked in the poem and is called 'Locked in the Lines', and will be printed between the lines of the Sonnet XIX. Future Kenny scholars will observe that this is a typical Kenny move, the sort of thing that was behind This Concert Will Fall In Love With You.

Having sent this off as Cactus the next door cat was taking his morning toilet in our bushes, I then had the best morning's writing of poems that I have had in a very long time. Rather chuffed by all this. Then off to the gym, where I had a slightly less mild-mannered workout. Home and got various bits done, chatted on the phone to Betty about theatrical business, before a small woman came to collect some chairs Lorraine had put on ebay.

Listening to Kipling's Plain Tales from the Hills as an audiobook. Very accomplished short stories, but I found one of them, His chance in life is vilely racist by today's standards. Made a stew with copious mash, in a wife-pleasing move this evening, as Lorraine always forks down mashed potatoes with glee. Spoke to Mason who sounded fine. Heard that Toby is being eaten alive by mosquitoes in Panama and that neither Toby or Romy are on top health form. Mum is having a good time with Joan and Dick.

I had a really nice day, but I heard sad news at the end of it as Lorraine and Dawn's pal Jan died this morning surrounded by friends and family. A mercifully short illness, but everyone sad.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Words and woof-woofs

Up early and working at my desk. Still feeling a residue of edginess which is abating slowly. It is one of those rare moments in life when all I want to do is work on poems, and lo! I have time to work on poems. If only life was this simple more often. Started working on the poems I'd started about Chad, but I have such negative feelings (after the recent Nazgûl's wing work episode) that it's not easy.

To the gym this afternoon, and quite enjoyed myself on the cross trainer and rowing machine. The last few times I've been listening to podcasts. Actually listening to music is much better. My mind wanders and relaxes, and the beat makes me go at more of a clip. As I was leaving I met someone who'd been at the poetry workshop, in one of those awkward, I now your face but this is the wrong context so I have no idea who you are moments. The second time this month this has happened to me. The noble Kenny visage is easily forgettable it seems. Chatting to Beth this afternoon as I walked home from the gym, seeing her on a bus going the other way.

Home to prepare some grub for Lorraine, and squeeze her before I went out again. Off this evening to meet Anton for a beer and a bowl of woof-woofs in The Joker, or one-and-half bowls of woof-woofs wings as there was a three for two deal tonight. Heard about his recent trip as Anton happily lapped up his pint as he hadn't drunk for days. Home at a very sensible time, top hat still vertical.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A brief elation

Working on PK stuff all day. Then Beth and I off in the evening to meet Kitty and Dylan for rehearsals. Had a meal and a drink upstairs with Dylan and Beth first. Suddenly a few things began clicking and I began to feel really excited that the show was going to be great. This brief elation ruined however by the owner extremely drunkenly coming down and interfering with the rehearsal. Then as we left later, insisting I tell his daughter the secret to writing in one sentence and then I should repay him for allowing us to use the basement by talking to his daughter for two hours. The daughter was sitting there squirming with embarrassment. I had to physically tear myself away from this fool.

Betty and I hopping on a bus which materialised very quickly and we were home with Lorraine on the gold sofa. But very pleased with this evening's rehearsal. Beth is tuning into what is the most difficult section, where she has to be the most beautiful woman in the world, with what will prove to be hilarious results. And Dylan and Kitty are really working well.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Saddling up the centaur

Up early with a scratchy throat and reading a slightly alarming email from mum about Panamanian adventures. Toby feeling unwell on arrival and went to hospital and had a drip and given some pills, but has been discharged. Later I learned from a facebook post that they had also met Margaret Atwood in the airport.

I meanwhile spent the first few hours of the day working on the Shakespeare poem for this. Then off to the gym for one of my trademarked mild mannered workouts and home again for a miso soup lunch. Then I bused to Hove where I spent a three hours with Helen. She looked very well after her cancer treatment last year, and it was great to catch up with her. She had new music to play me on our Centaur project. Really good stuff, a fully orchestrated first twenty minutes of the opening to the opera, she played me on Sibelius. I'm really sensing and organic core to it now. And then some gorgeous bits including an aria on the piano.

Bus badness, meant I had to walk half the way home, but I bumped into Reuben and Serge who had been at the cinema. Good to chat to the Reubster.

At home cooked quickly, then zoomed off to the Stanza poetry meeting, chatting to Mas en route, who has had loads of people calling in on him. At the meeting I read the thing I wrote in the middle of the night last week. Useful to read it aloud, although didn't go down too well. Perversely this has reinforced my belief in it. Really nice to see Antony Mair, who I'd not seen in a while. Tess Jolly there too, with another of her fine Mr Oz sequence of poems.

Quickly home to find Lorraine and Beth. L had her first parents evening today as a head, and had been eating chocolate again. News from Dawn later that Jan had taken a turn for the worse, which is very sad.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Jazzy interlude

Lorraine and I starting Sunday slowly as usual. Breakfast, then Beth and Lorraine spent a happy hour or so going through Lorraine's clothes and having a cull. For me this was an opportunity to listen to Jazz downstairs, which isn't a majority favourite in Kenny Towers, and work on the Shakespeare poem.

Then L and I drove off to go for a walk down by the seaside in Hove. Cool, but gorgeous sunny day, and loads of people walking along the path having had the same bright idea as us. Lorraine working at teatime, I cooked a roast supper, with L making a delicious white sauce to pour over the romaine cauliflower. L and I quickly quaffing a bottle of pink wine with our supper.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Spring and unknotting

Up not too late for a Saturday, and Lorraine and I walked up in the pleasant spring sunshine to Fiveways, and had breakfast in a little Italian cafe, a toasted breakfast ciabatta, which was rather nice. Really nice to be spending time together. We talked about summer holidays but arrived at no conclusion.

The Labour party had set up a stand nearby about staying in the EU and pointing up the unfairness of how the Government is funding Green and Red Brighton and Hove, compared to the Tory blue swathes of Surrey beyond.

In the afternoon Lorraine and I bought flowers for her friend Jan who is seriously ill, and Lorraine went to visit her with Dawn there too. More cheerily I saw Jewel  for a back massage, as my back has been rigid for some time now. Most of my back a zone of evil and sore and rigid. The massage helped loads, but I will need another session. If I was a millionaire I would have Jewell massage Lorraine and I at least once a week.

Then off to rehearsals, where Beth, Kitty and Dylan were hard at work. There is something quite touching seeing people working earnestly on something that was just a notion in your head just a few weeks ago. Beth wants me to be a bit more directorial, as when she's part of the action this is  proving quite difficult.

Home on the bus with Beth. Lorraine at home, feeling sad about Jan and having recently eaten chocolate as the dementors had been, and cooking up the most delicious vegetable lasagne imaginable. Sat happily on the gold sofa noshing this and watching Chelsea's live televised game. They were beaten 2-0, almost single handed, by a player they had discarded at the beginning of the season. It is the end of an era. I predict mid-table mediocrity from Chelsea for the foreseeable future.

Lorraine and I then watched the first episode of Trapped, and Icelandic drama, which was excellent. Iceland looks amazing too.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Quiz chiz

Working on various poems this morning, and writing something on the Telltale site. Then off to answer a Papal summons in The Bath Arms, for lunch (sausage and mash for me, and a bleeding steak for Catherine) and wide-ranging discussions with Catherine, including the recent uncovering of a Dickens rejection letter to Mrs Florence Marryat. A writer Catherine knows an enormous amount about. See Catherine's blog on the subject here. Also received advice about going backwards on the cross trainer. Catherine amusingly went to extremes on the gym last year and doing an astonishing seven day a week routine, which even her personal trainer told her was too much. The wiry fit Pope clad in black lycra was what led to Tanya dubbing her Spiderpope, which still makes me laugh every time I think of it.

From here back home, where I had a judicious snooze and started work on a new poem. This in response to a request to write a response to Willie the Shake's Sonnet 19, for an anthology. I have ten days before the deadline.

Lorraine home from school, but only to have a cup of tea and collect me to return for the school's PTA quiz night, a highlight of village life. A bit of a chiz, as Nigel Molesworth might say as L and I found ourselves in a team half the size of the others, with two charming parents who did not live in the village. The first rounds relied entirely on village knowledge, so we were on a hiding to nothing right from the start. Luckily there was beer and the cheery banter of the two quizmasters for diversion.

Lorraine had to lock up the school afterwards so we were late home.

Below Nigel Molesworth with his Chiz face.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Wellbeing first

After poetry first thing this morning. Off to the gym and beginning to enjoy it today, venturing off the cross trainer and doing some mild mannered weights and things. Also listening to a meditation tape this afternoon and falling heavily asleep straight after.

I'm continuing this week to put my own wellbeing at the top of the list, and I feel the build up of anxiety gradually flaking away.

Although my card was swallowed by an ATM on my way back from the gym, which slightly disturbed me. However after phoning my bank turned out to be a glitchy ATM rather than anything sinister.

I reminded my wife to come home earlier, and Beth cooked for us, and I sourced some wine and chocolate. Administered food wine and chocolate to Lorraine this evening to good effect.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Feedback and rehearsals

Up early, after Lorraine left, working on poems this morning, and have a new buddy Charlotte, who gave me some speedy and perceptive feedback. Invaluable to have such an excellent poet as Charlotte reading your work. She cast her eye on two poems I have been trying to finalise. And came up with some comments which confirmed things I was thinking, saving me loads of time.

A brief stroll about this afternoon in between the rain, and a chat with Mum, getting ready for the flight to see Toby and Romy tomorrow. A chat with Jerry too about some agency stuff.

I am using this week to get my head sorted. With no work pressure on me, no play to write, I am experiencing a free-floating anxiety. Typically I am using a time free of pressure to vent my twitchy stuff so I am doing exercise and meditating to keep it under control. However this afternoon's meditative session was interrupted four times each after the first few minutes, until I simply gave up and focussed on being tetchy instead.

Off this evening with Beth to Neighbourhood, where we had a nice bit of food and then rehearsed with Dylan and Kitty downstairs. A bit too busy on Wednesday, with people coming down to use the gents behind where we were working.  Still, a good enough start.  After had a cheeky beer there with Beth and Dylan before Beth and I hopped on a bus home to Lorraine. Hardly saw her today, and this is not good.

Below the bull in the downstairs room, which I'm getting a bit obsessed with; Kitty, Beth and Dylan; the view from the bus stop afterwards. Brighton. It's top.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

What I want

Another day to work on what I want. A dreamless sleep, for the first time in days, and woke feeling refreshed. Worked on poems, and Beth and I spent some time working on the first section of the play where she has to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Made a few cuts and rearrangements to the opening monologue and it a definite improvement.

I also went to the gym, and read more of a book about suppressed anger, which is interesting, my inner ears pricking up when it mentioned the rages of the religious. Those people whose God is like a big brother in the playground ready to fight people on your behalf.

Otherwise a quiet night in, cooking for Lorraine when she got home from work late and frazzled and needing to be tended carefully.

Monday, March 07, 2016

A muse in the middle of the night

Woke up in the middle of the night and a poem was in my head, so much of it in fact and so pesteringly did it visit me, that I had to get up and write it down at my desk between 3:30 and 5:00. Eventually I crept back to bed, although Lorraine was awake when I got there. The poem is called How to poeticise with a hammer. Not sure if it is mad, or, if mad, interestingly mad.

A lunch meeting with Robin postponed. A chat with Mum this afternoon, who is looking forward to seeing Toby and Romy and having a break.

Up a bit sluggishly, after Lorraine had left for work,  and worked on it again. A quiet day, happily working on PK stuff at my desk. Broke off for a longish walk in the afternoon up on the top of the down we are on the side of, looking down to the sea. Bright and cool day. A slight haze draining the colours in the distance.

Home and I cooked for Lorraine and had an early night. But not before Beth had returned from her first burlesque class, as she is going to use some of these techniques in the play. I went to bed, looking forward to simply sleeping, and reading to Lorraine till she fell asleep.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Nice as pie

Up fairly early this morning, and Lorraine, Beth and I off to see Pat and Maureen. Fun to hang out with them, watch darts on TV (which I really like watching) and to receive a stern education on the nature and practice of pie-making from Maureen, who made a delicious apple pie for us all. I am a great lover of apple pies, and was given an extra large helping as a reward.

While we were there I FaceTtmed Mum to wish her a happy mother's day and she had a quick chat with everyone. A really nice lunch, which Maureen was pleased not to have cooked.

Lorraine a martyr to hay fever, which she gets from tree pollen this time of year. Sneezing lots. But was still able to drive us about, and cook Sunday lunch with Beth when they got there. Poor thing had to do lots of work this evening, so Beth and I sat with her as she worked on the dining room table, and I caught up with social meejah stuff, and replied to a few emails and snickered about things with Beth and ate pieces of cake that Maureen had given us.

Below: kitchen work with left to right Pat, Lorraine, me and Maureen looking at my pastry leaf cutting with eagle eyes.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Read though

Lots of chats with Lorraine this morning, who was feeling a bit frayed emotionally, not helped at all by hearing that her pal Jan, already coping with cancer, had a stroke this morning.

In the afternoon Lorraine and I caught a bus into town where we met Beth. Lorraine off to do some shopping and Beth and I met up with Dylan and Kitty to read through the first draft of the play in the afternoon. More about all that here. Beth and I very cheery afterwards, and I am happy that Kitty and Dylan not only seem totally up for it, but are also very likeable too which makes things more fun. Very excited to see that it's all taking off.

Met Lorraine in a cafe and then we hopped on a bus, and ducked into the Preston Park Tavern for some food and a solitary sensible pint. Home early to lounge on the gold sofa and watch the guilty pleasure of BBC TV's The Voice. Ending the day on a cheerier note than the one we began on.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Just in time delivery

A blast of work first thing, and managed to finish the first draft of the play. A Glass of Nothing. Rather cheery about this and finishing with a day to spare was a good thing. There used to be something in manufacturing called just in time delivery, so that warehouses wouldn't be clogged up with stuff for weeks. Everything finished enough to show to the actors tomorrow for the read through. Sent it to Betty this evening who was babysitting.

Mooched to the gym, and after sat in the cafe with the idea of sitting down to write some poetry, but when I was there it was too crowded and my seat was all wrong.  Did have a conversation with an older man who sits near the window and talks to most people that go in. He was wondering aloud what Rudyard Kipling had written, and I was able to enlighten him. He was writing a miniature version of If by hand.

Home and a chat with Sonia about life, and then waited for Lorraine to reach home end of tetherish and needing alcohol. Luckily this latter bit could be fixed and we bussed down to The Basketmakers where we met Rosie, and also chatted to Irish Tom, and Carrie and Dom other regulars there.

Things generally a good deal better after a few drinks, and it was great to catch up with Rosie again. Lorraine and I got the food business wrong, and had to share a bag of chips.

Thursday, March 03, 2016


A gale blowing in the night, and something was creaking ominously. Turned out it was one of the windows on our Juliette balcony, and not the roof which I had half asleep pictured tearing off in the night. Lorraine on a course today, so didn't have to spring out of bed with the sparrows, which was splendid.

Cantering through the final stretches of the play. Should have it finished just in time for the first read through on Saturday with Beth and the other two actors. Apart from this I had a brief interlude  of feeling unaccountably twitchy, which I got rid of by going into town buying strapping so Lorraine can strap her wee broken toe to the other one.  Also get a haircut. I find it a paradox that hair management becomes much more important the less of it you have. On the top sparser bits I'm now going for a side to side sweep. Oh for my shaggy yesteryears. I swear the gents at Clippers on Sydney Street are finding the job more interesting, with more room for creativity now there is patchier coverage.

A smidge of work this afternoon for the agency, then more on the play. Cooked this evening for Lorraine who, having returned early from her course,  simply worked at the table till 9.00. Found a good way of getting Lorraine to sleep in the evenings by playing her the Guardian football podcast. Works a treat. And so to bed.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Approaching storm

Working solidly on the play this morning, am pleased how it is coming along in leaps and bounds. Afternoon I went off to the gym again, despite wild and treacherous weather, horizontal showers of sleety snow and high winds.You get an amazing view of the weather rolling in over the downs from my study.

Off to the gym this afternoon again, feeling it is doing me good psychologically as well as physically.  For the first time I felt like I was briefly enjoying myself there, which is a good sign.  Spoke to a slightly bleak Robin about Telltale while walking home. We are going to have a meeting about it next Monday.

Home and I cooked a chicken stew and revelled in a hot shower.

A big laugh this evening when Beth applied some bizarre face swap app, taking photos of all of us in different combinations with our faces weirdly superimposed on each other. Bizarre. I don't look good with long blonde hair.

Below the weather approaching over the downs.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Launching into the world

A fairly cheery day. Worked on the play,  and popped into the gym. The play is shaping up nicely, and then we went off this evening down to the Sallis Benny for the official Fringe launch.

Beth and I were early and ended up being the first there. It was a fun event with lots of folks doing fringe performances. Plus there were free drinks too, which was a boon. Helping everyone enjoy a long speech thanking people by the fairly charming Julian Caddy, and the lady mayor gave a speech too about the economic benefits of the Fringe mixed with a couple of knob gags. The fringe brings in millions apparently. There were some entertainments, a magician, someone conducting people through a museum of thermos flasks (this was heartily recommended by a Scottish woman, who said her friend was doing it). I lasted five minutes of the tour, which was a funny enough idea.

Then Beth and I drifted to watch the main stage, where some comedy Kings, which seem to be the opposite to Queens, so ladies dressing up as men performing. An interesting idea, but perhaps having a discernible talent might help. One woman's act was having a drawn on beard and miming badly to a song. Spoke to one or two here and there.

Beth and I repaired to The Basketmakers, where we were due to meet Kitty and perhaps Dylan but Kitty was delayed in London. It was busy there, so after a pint we bussed back to the Preston Park Tavern for a cheeky burger. Seemed to be rather enthusiastic for drinking at the moment.

Below, Beth looking a little scarily pleased to see our listing on one of the Theatre pages. You can see the wee Beth picture there, and a selfie Beth took of us at the event.