Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Oskar's Golden Ticket

Up fairly early and topping and tailing the day with chats with Mum, before setting off in the rain to collect young Oskar for his golden ticket day.

Luckily the rain abated and we drove off to The Observatory Science Centre, near Herstmonceux Castle. Oskar chatty in the car, telling me about his pal Alex and the fact they had their own You Tube channel.

The Science Centre had five towering verdigris coloured observatories, and an science exhibitions full of things like magnets, and pulleys, and things about planets and stars, and bits of meteorite and water flow and so on.  Also two dishes opposite each other at some distance that you could whisper into and be heard by the other person. Spent some time there doing this sort of thing, pausing for a bite to eat. Then an appalling session of being trained to juggle and spin plates, and tops on strings and so on. None of these skills Oskar nor I were able to master.

Then Lorraine drove us home, via Stanmer House where we paused for an afternoon tea, of top quality. The cream tea, which I had, was most excellent. Dropped the boy off back with Anne. Lorraine and I home and both strangely tired. After a snooze we decided to go out for a bite. First to the Preston Park Tavern, which annoyingly was cash only, so we went instead to the Park View and tried some of their food. Not bad, and we had a single pint there before returning home and to see Betty who was back.

Below: all about Oskar.

Monday, May 30, 2016

More gardening

Mason now being treated with antibiotics for a lung infection, and he hasn't been feeling particularly well. Mum obviously worried about him.

Despite these family worries, I really enjoyed spending the day with Lorraine. More gardening. Weirdly cool and windy, as befits a bank holiday. To the garden centre to buy bedding plants, an idea that had also occurred to everyone over forty in Sussex.

Brooding on snails today. Nematodes worms released into the environment apparently mess them up, but these weren't on sale. And don't want to be strewing poisons into the environment, so we just have to lump 'em. It's either that or go out there with a whip and a chair. Happily digging holes and putting things in, and filling sacks with weeds. I must be getting middle aged, because I find myself saying things to Lorraine, like 'I'm really enjoying that clematis'. Gave the garden a good watering, before repairing indoors, even though the clouds had gathered there was no rain.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Into the garden

Lorraine and in gardening mode for the day, a sunny pleasant day too. The back garden needed lots of work. As we don't have a lawn mower, I cut the patch of grass with shears and we weeded and took stock. Lots of plants didn't seem to overwinter, while the snail population at present is enormous. Worked in the garden for a few hours, and then repaired indoors to the gold sofa, where we promptly fell asleep and woke up feeling stiff, the gardening apparently employing every muscles the gym doesn't. Lorraine and I very much enjoying time together today. With work and plays and so on, we've not seen much of each other lately.

Gardening really does put you into a different frame of mind.

Otherwise talking to Mum, Mason still in hospital and not feeling too well. We're all hoping he can be released back into the wild soon. This is naturally all a worry for everyone at the moment.

Also spoke to Toby's ceiling via FaceTime and was shown a view of High Park looking green and lovely, just across the way from where they are temporarily living while their house is having work done to it. Romy already off to Calgary for a business meeting next day.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Roots to a parsnip

Spoke to Mum in the morning and evening. She went to see Mas with Robert and Tanya today. He's doing pretty well, but understandably a bit tired.

A heatwave forecast, but what we got was rain and thunder for a good part of the day. After a breakfast of tomatoes on toast, Lorraine and I dropped Beth off at the station in the rain so she could travel up to London to hang with her bestie Olivia. Once she got through the downs it was all sun.

L and I went to experience the glories of Sainsbury's. Actually I like shopping with Lorraine, and we hadn't shopped together for a while.

A restful day, but in the evening we sauntered down to The Duke of York's Picturehouse to see Sing Street, a highly enjoyable film about teenagers setting up a band in Dublin in the 1980s. But it was also about the power of the imagination and creativity to transcend the mundane, and brotherhood, and lots of other stuff. Lorraine and I really enjoyed it.

Then as we'd not eaten, it seemed as natural as roots to a parsnip to stumble into the Shahi, which was fairly quiet. A nice meal, and just happy to be hanging out with Lorraine, and knowing that she didn't have to work tomorrow.

Below, Sing Street.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Visiting Mason

Up to Mill Hill this morning. Lorraine gave me a lift in the rain to Preston Park station where I secured a croissant and cup of tea. Slow journey up to Mill Hill, enlivened only by me finding an unattended bag on a seat when I stepped into the carriage at St Pancras. Nobody else bothered much by it, but I spoke to the driver just in case. He told me that things were less likely to be dodgy if they are left in plain sight. It is the hidden away things you need to watch for.

Mum came to collect me from the station, and she drove us up to Barnet Hospital. No parking spaces there, so we had to drive off to park in a Barnet street. Into the hospital, and Mason sitting up and I was relieved to see him looking cheery and fairly well. He'd been talking to all the nurses, and was pleased to see us. Hung around with Mas chatting for a couple of hours, then Mum and I drove off to a pub on the way home for lunch. Mum later visited him again.

Sat outside eating fish and chips with mushy peas, mum drinking Ginger beer and me a pint of bitter. This followed by an interlude of panic, as Mum had lost the car keys. They weren't in the car. Eventually I thought of asking for them behind the bar. We think she left them in the ladies, and they'd been handed in, luckily enough. Mum stressed by the driving generally, and I suggested next time she take the bus.

Mum dropped me off at Stanmore, and I got a note from my lovely French clients, and I popped into a cafe in Kilburn to download the brief, then I talked to Val about it while I travelled from Brondesbury to Gunnersbury. Then walked through the familiar terrain of Strand on the Green, by now all pretty hot and sweaty. To the City Barge, where I had a slow pint waiting for Matt. Had a long-overdue chinwag, and then were joined by Isy, Elsa and young Harry, who is a solid little boy already. Really enjoyable time with them, before the call of the seagull grew strong in me, and I trained back down to Preston Park.

Just leaving the station, Beth phoned having scored a pizza after drinking with her work mates, and I bought another one from Sainnsburys and we sat about with Lorraine, shattered but happy, and scarfed pizza, before everyone sloped off gratefully to bed.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A busy day

Mason still in hospital today. He had a minor heart attack while he was there, but he was in exactly the right place for it to be treated immediately, so there apparently is little damage done. I made plans to travel up tomorrow to visit, and spoke to mum several times during the day, and messages with Toby too. Obviously, I'm worried about him and Mum.

Spoke to Val, my French Agency friend, who has some work for me, which is a boon. Such a cheery and nice woman. I will be working on cat fleas and worms. Also trying to sort out Telltale stuff today too, as Robin is taking time off.

In the afternoon walked over to see Janet and Ken, and give Janet a belated birthday bunch of flowers. Cheery woman in the florist in seven dials, who made me up a lovely little bunch.  Ken on good form I thought, and has put on weight lately. Ate ginger biscuits and sipped tea and chatted about many and various subjects.

In the evening off to a regular meeting called Nerd Nite Brighton (staged as a one off at the Warren) to see Catherine deliver a papal lecture entitled, Masturbation and mutilation in Victorian England. Being Catherine this started very funnily, but grew disturbing when she showed slides of the kinds of implements used to mutilate women in Victorian England. Enjoyed seeing her, and chatting to Tanya too. The previous speaker was good too, talking about octopuses as his favourite animal.

Home and saw my lovely wife and Betty on the gold sofa, gobbled some grub and  Lorraine and I made off to bed early. Lorraine has one more day to get through before half term.

Below Dr Pope, and an image of a doctor examining a Victorian Lady.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mason in hospital

Keeping in touch with Mum today as Mason is in hospital, Mum and Mas having phoned up 111 and being advised to go to accident and emergency. He seems reasonably relaxed about it all, and didn't want her to visit. Obviously a bit worrying, but he's in good hands at least.

I went to the gym and spent the day working on things dictated by the great mind map of destiny.

Speaking to Betty today about the play, and her pal Sarah apparently loved it, and wants to direct Beth in it. Things like this are making me feel good about the play. So pleased Beth and I got the ball rolling on this.

In the afternoon a nice interlude with Anton in The Joker, eating our 3 for 2 deal on woof woof wings, and sinking a few beers and generally putting the world to rights. Anton showing me stages of the great coastal walk he is embarking on, and assuaging Mum's concerns that it won't all be walking.

Fiery-mouthed we walked up to the Shakey Head for another quick beer, as we'd not been there before. It used to be great for sausage and mash, but the quality has gone down in the last year or so. Still a top pub though.  Fond farewells, and I walked home through the park arriving at the civilised time of 10PM.

Below, Anton collects himself before attacking the woof-woofs and curly fries.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Getting on with things

Made a brand new mind map. Sent out my marketing book proposal for the umpteenth time, contacted my French clients, sorted out a trip to the smoke on Friday followed by a cheeky with Matt, spoke to Janet, organised a meeting with Jess Mookherjee, laundry, bins, spoke to Anton, tidied office and so on. A short walk listing still to C. Bronte's Villette, which I still love. Savouring this listen.

Spoke to Mum and Mas this afternoon a few times. Mas was having a medical problem, and I advised them to call 111. Having done so Mas was asked to go into hospital in the evening.

Lorraine feeling the strain before half term. Beth cooked, Lorraine and I took back the hatstand and two chairs used in the play back to the Duke of Wellington with thanks. Delicious dinner, followed by an early night.

During the course of the day I remembered Swifty and Amanda telling me that my old friend Neil, from my university days, was in prison. I googled him and found he had been a big news item in Scotland.  Reading between the lines, it seems like he had some kind of nervous breakdown and was caught using his iPhone filming up women's skirts at a busy station.

Having lived with Neil for a year, and him being one of my best buddies at university this made me sad. I knew him as a sensitive young philosopher, a reader of Proust, a wearer of carefree boater hats, and someone I had many adventures with. I'm not saying what he did was right, far from it, but I've never had someone who was a close friend find himself in circumstances like it, and I felt sorry for him.

Monday, May 23, 2016

A hush

Not quite as dynamic a start to the week as I had hoped. In fact a bit of a lull, in which earning a crust swerved into view. But was at least at my desk doing stuff, including sourcing some photos of Beth from David, the press photographer, one of which is on my other site. I also did an interview (written) with New Writing South about writers involved with the Fringe. Coincidentally I'd been thinking of joining them, so may well do so.

A gorgeous sunset glimpsed from the kitchen tonight. Otherwise a much needed quiet night. Lorraine out seeing her pals Carolyn and Lesley. Watched TV with Beth before Lorraine returned. Both doing our duo-lingo language lessons. 

To bed early.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A soft bump

A decent night's sleep, and feeling more human today. Weirdly, nothing to get stressed about. Up late, but wrote a post on the Telltale site about Jess Mookherjee becoming a Telltale poet. Then out to get fixings for breakfast.

Lorraine and I then had a mooch around the open houses nearby. Bumped into Reuben and Claire and three of the boys, plus three lots of educational folks that Lorraine knew. We bought a print by Heike Roesel whose work we liked loads last year when we saw it. Really nice woman too. Then a longish walk where we met Carolyn and saw her fine needlework and nature painting. Really enjoyed our afternoon. Also bought a ceramic light, moulded around a log. Rather beautiful. Not that we can afford all this stuff, but it does feel a bit like being a kid in a sweetshop.

Home again, Lorraine working on school things. I cooked and did a few bits and pieces. Betty sleeping most of the day recovering from last week's shenanigans. I'm left with feeling there is lots of real world stuff I now need to urgently get on with. The soft bump of touching down to earth on a Sunday night. Actually not a horrible feeling at all.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Lorraine and I like to lurk in bed at the weekend, but I had a hospital appointment this morning. Still up after Beth had gone to work, and Olivia had headed northward without me saying goodbye to her.

The hospital something else to twitch about, but Lorraine came with me, and the consultant and nurse were absolutely charming and friendly, and once I was seen I was all done in about twenty minutes. Colonoscopy to look forward to shortly. Home we had a nice brunch with Sam and Jade at home, Jade scraping the burnt toast, and all of us hanging about in a relaxed way in the kitchen. I've really enjoyed having them stay, and good to have time to chat to them. Then we dropped Sam and Jade near the station, with fond farewells.

Then on to Hove to get a new tyre for the car, siting in it, as they jacked it up and replaced it. Sitting there watching blokes go about the business of moving tyres about, and listening to the blaring pop music gave me a Proustian flashback to working in Casio Warehouse when I was in my twenties. The endless radio, and the constant boredom.

One of those 'real-writerish' days today. The 154 anthology of Shakespeare sonnets and poetic responses finally arrived after they'd had a nightmare with their printers. Some of my chums in there as well as my poem. I don't like my poem any more. Anton texted me to say that the Dylan/Ronnie human interest story, quoting me, was on page three of the Daily Mail. Duly bought the Mail, and the Brighton Argus, where there was an unsympathetic three-star review of the play, a bit of a reality check after the splendid two four-star reviews had yesterday. I googled 'don't read your own reviews' and reading the results felt better.

Lorraine, whose already full-on work week had been augmented by the play, needed rest this afternoon. I had a glorious nap too.

Then off to Steyning, via Anton's house to collect Anton, and we had an evening with Dawn and her mate Charlotte. Some lovely grub, and a few mojitos. Anton explaining about his new diet, which is 400 calories of fruit every day, plus three pints. He is looking thin. Then a walk around the village. Dawn took us to a tent in the middle of a field, where there was a latin music DJ, but it was all dead. Lorraine very tired, and Anton's skin crawling at the idea of having to salsa. 

We drove home not long after, having parked near the SME factory, home of the world's finest toner arms, Anton said. Something to do with record players. 

Then home and the gold sofa. Lorraine watched some bleak Welsh cop show ending on someone throwing themselves off a rugged Welsh hill, and we went to bed.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Gradual recovery

Up disappointingly early, commencing the day with sleep deprivation and a hangover. Creeping about the house, and trying to write but nothing happening. A mass breakfast cooked by Beth, after I'd crept out. My shopping list: bread, quavers and Robinson's orange squash. Lurked about with Beth, Olivia, Sam and Jade eating. Then Sonia came, and everyone melted away.

With much hilarity Sonia told me a long  story she'd seen on Facebook posted by one of her Bulgarian mates about Greeks and their general laziness. The character on the story had a job studying wildlife on the moon. After getting up at ten and wondering why he had woken up so early, he drove to work with his window open so he could advise other drivers on how to drive, then at the end of a day of slacking he and his wife go to a restaurant because they couldn't be bothered to cook. His wife says, look at the moon tonight it is lovely, and the husband snaps back 'don't talk to me about work'.

So two lovely reviews of A Glass of Nothing, both four star. One here from Broadway Baby. And the other here from the Arts Award Website. Feeling quite chuffed about this. However coverage in the Argus, and later the Daily Mail online about Dylan's human interest story. This edited so that Dylan became the star of the show, and Beth and Kitty were not named nor had a mention, which was a bit disappointing. I was quoted in relation to Dylan. Fact is that nobody asked me for a quote, and I'm still puzzled by this, because it is exactly what I have been saying about Dylan, but not to a reporter to my knowledge. The fact is however, that the story of much loved Ronnie C's grandson taking to the stage is something people want to know about. The gist of the story is that there is a new Ronnie. All good publicity for Dylan at the start of his career, but there must be a weight of expectation.

Had some really good chats and coffee with Sam today, as he cautioned me to let the coffee steep longer in the cafetiere. (Sam a discerning coffee drinker).

Lorraine working away from school today, but managed infuriatingly to have a burst tyre on the way home in a country lane. She had to drive the car some way till she could pull up, and so wrecked it. It had been an exhausting week for Lorraine and yet she supported Beth and I at every step.

Had a really nice evening, all sitting about chatting and eating a takeout curry from The Shahi (after enormous debate about what we should eat) and all watched a paranoid movie about flight travel called Flight Plan with Jodie Foster.

Very tired at the end of the day. Rather good to go to bed not having drunk alcohol.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Last night, late night

Final night tonight. Woke up early, wondering if I had to go to the radio station with Dylan, which I didn't because they just wanted a chat with him. The interviewer, talking about his hair and beard and how he looked older than 18 and so on. Dylan mentioned the play and us by name, so this all good. He did a good job.

The day with less going on, so I could go about the important business of keeping calm, taking a much needed doze in the afternoon. I chatted to Mum and Janet too.  Then Beth came home with Olivia who is staying for a while.  Olivia telling us about a gecko (dubbed Gordon) she had brought back home with her after living in Spain for months. It had been in her suitcase and she found it in her bathroom.

Then off to do the last show. Everyone in an upbeat mood pre-show. I was a little nervous because we changed the opening, as I made a little speech dedicating this last show to the memory of Ronnie Corbett, seeing as Dylan's grandmother Anne was there, along with other members of the family, in her first public appearance to see Dylan. I know it meant loads to Dylan too, so it was a good thing to do.

So into the performance, and Beth was absolutely fantastic. I felt so proud of her. The play was working by far the best of all the nights, and the audience was lapping it up. Then the tech guy screwed up one of the sound cues, which lasted a minute, only playing it when it was supposed to stop. Then the big scene where Dylan is Beth's perfect partner, Dylan accidentally cut about three pages of dialogue. Miraculously the play still retained its shape, and Beth didn't miss a beat. Poor lad was utterly mortified and apologised to me afterwards, but these things happen all the time. The rest of his performance was exemplary.  The final big scene worked really well too, and Kitty was completely fab again. Really warm response from the crowd.

Then scrambling around to pack up. Before we could have a drink and chat to folks. Sam and Jade had travelled down to see the play, with Jade's mum Sian, Rosie and Emily came too. John was there too, but had to go early. Then we packed up all the stuff in the car, and Lorraine drove it home.

I was in no mood for going home, and Beth, Olivia, Kitty,  Dylan, Sam and Jade all went out for a bit of a night on the tiles. Going to the Mash Tun where it was very crowded and noisy, but we were all dancing in there. Then Kitty (who was going to work tomorrow afternoon) left, and the rest of us ended up going to a place called Buddies, a 24 hour cafe and haunt of Beth and Laura after lively nights. Found myself eating a pizza at about 3am, and enjoying it. Really cheery night out, and not feeling my age too badly.  All into a cab, and home at around 4am. Strange taxi driver with whom we had a long chats  about the muppets.

Thank God... to bed. Waking poor Lorraine up.

Below Beth, Kitty and Dylan backstage. Sam the tech, snapped this of us just before we started, in the Mash Tun, Sam and Jade, then dancing: Beth, Olivia, Jade, Kitty and Dylan.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Second night

Rather hungover this morning. That last pint in the Hobgoblin was surplus to requirements. Lorraine brought me a cup of tea and porridge in bed. I then had a hobbit's second breakfast a couple of hours later with Pat, Maureen and Betty.

Later Mum and Mas, Tanya and Robert arrived, having driven down in Robert's amazing electric car. Went to the Preston Park Tavern for a late lunch. I sensibly drank soda, and had a chicken burger. Front-loaded the day with food, as I didn't eat before the show. Then home again, and all the visitors chatted, while I slunk away to find a bit of solitude and focus.

I tried a brief power nap, but the second I closed my eyes I was phoned up by the Brighton Argus, who are sending a reviewer on Thursday. Tonight they sent a photographer, who took shots with a long telephoto lens on a silent camera.

Beth and I taxied down to the venue, and outside we bumped into David Morgan also known as 'Swifty' when we were at University and Amanda Hyatt who lived on the same corridor as me in my first year at Warwick, old pals I'd not seen since the early 80s. Great to see them, and later chat in the bar. Both looking great.

Then into the Theatre Box and set up rapidly. We gave each other a pep talk about not losing focus then boofed into it.

I felt pretty calm to begin with, but weirdly about ten minutes into the play felt a sudden peak of anxiety. Another full house, but less ready to laugh than last night. However people were very attentive. If last night people were laughing at the lighter side, the darker parts of the play took over. A few disruptions however, some loud music nearby and people suddenly being let in late once the play had started, and Kitty's dad's mobile going off with a loud James Bond theme (which we had a laugh about afterwards). Kitty herself was bang on it tonight, the best I'd ever seen her. Beth and Dylan powered through like true professionals. While in my cameo, I did my lines okay. It adds another dimension of stress doing a cameo. Last time I was doing this sort of thing I was just sat at the back.

Lots of pals there tonight, including Anton and Anne, Reuben and Claire, Dawn, Helen and Betty,  Sarah Barnsley, Steve Cartwright, Richard and Maria, Jess and Andrew all of whom were nice enough to come to congratulate me before melting away into the rainy night. Had a beer afterwards with Swifty and Amanda, then rounded off the evening on a table with Lorraine, Mum, Mas, Tanya, Robert, Anton and Anne. When they left, Lorraine, Beth and I hung out with Dylan and a couple of his chums who were really likeable. Standing at the bar I got talking to one of Dylan's friends who said she identified with a bit where Beth transforms into The most beautiful woman in the world, which made me smile.

A cab home. And so to bed. Late too, especially for Lorraine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

First night

So blimey... Show day. Occasional flares of nerves in the morning. Found it difficult to concentrate on anything very much. So went to the gym early and did a workout which helped me calm down. Also great were Maureen and Pat coming in the afternoon. Chatting with them passed the time relaxingly till Beth and Lorraine got home.

Then nerves for a while. Beth looked pale and could barely eat before we went out. Into the theatre, with only half an hour to get the set and everything ready. Fortunately this was managed fairly quickly. Beth, Kitty and Dylan pacing the stage whispering lines to themselves, then taking their places. Beth set on stage at the beginning. I felt writing it so she had to do this while people filed in was a bit sadistic in retrospect. I did a reasonable impression of someone who was calm, despite not being calm. A full house, the audience rapidly filling up the place. Lorraine sitting next to me, having helped at every stage. And boom, we're on. The play revolves around Beth and she carried it magnificently. Dylan and Kitty did brilliantly. I managed not to screw up my cameo role. A couple of times the lines went awry, but I don't think anyone noticed. For a first night it was fantastic. A top audience too, lots of Dylan's friends who literally cheered him on stage. People laughing lots, and getting drawn in to the dark bits.

Boy did I need a beer afterwards though.

Lots of folks there we knew. Including Hus and his daughters, and Paul down from London. Lots of chatting afterwards. Heard all about Pauls new job involving the Houses of Parliament. Then people thinning out, off to the Hobgoblin for another drink with Beth, her old pal Amy and Amy's niece Ria. We sat with Dylan and his mum Sophie there too, with lots of their pals.

Beth and I took a taxi home, and had a toast fest before bedtime. Lorraine still awake when I got to bed.

Here's Beth pulling a nervous face seconds before the audience started arriving.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Tech, and final rehearsals.

Up early to rather concerning news from a friend.

But have to focus. Lorraine drove Beth and I down to the Warren for our Tech rehearsal in the Theatre Box. Sam the sound and lights guy helping us get our ducks in a row with lighting and sound effects. We then did a rehearsal of the show in which everyone had their lines and we slipped through it almost faultlessly. In manufacturing, they call this Just In Time production, but it certainly left me feeling relieved and for my nerves it would have been better to arrive a week or so earlier. Lorraine contributing and suggesting this morning too, not to mention bringing in coffee and a couple of bacon rolls. She is excellent at all this, and it is very useful to have a fresh pair of eyes on things. But then, having Beth has given her years of practice.  L and I briefly fantasised about all of us being able to make a living in theatre like this, Beth performing, me writing and Lorraine effortlessly smoothing everything. Such as going outside to stop young children kicking the theatre doors as we were rehearsing. There are tempting ramps up to the theatre, which they ran up.

Then all off to Pompoko for a quick Japanese lunch, then Lorraine went home to do her work, and the rest of us went up to the Duke of Wellington for our final rehearsals there. The room we had been using was being used as a venue by a pair of actors who do a type theatre called fooling. They tried enticing us to come tonight. But after going through two more complete run throughs (the first one exemplary the last one, as befits the final rehearsal before a show, a bit of a farce) we simply sat outside for a single drink and then. It had been a stonking day's work, and I told the cast I was proud of them. Just as well as the tickets have gone very well so far. Still a handful left for Tuesday, Wednesday a few more but still healthy numbers, and Thursday a sell out.

Beth off to meet Laura, I slunk into a cab and got home to be with Lorraine, she cooked, including at my request possibly the nicest rhubarb crumble I can remember eating. Delicious.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Offering folks a glass of nothing

Saturday, but Lorraine and I up fairly early, after I'd brought my lovely wife up breakfast in bed. Phone call from Maureen this morning, reading out a bit from the Daily Mail, talking about Dylan, his grandfather and grandma who will be coming to A Glass of Nothing, her first outing since becoming a widow to support Dylan.

Things to be done, and Dawn came around to our house and we went for a quick mooch around in the Open Houses. Biffing into quite a few. Although I most love paintings, it is the crafty bits and ceramics that tend to appeal more to me in the Open Houses. Having said that, if money was no object I'd come away with armfuls.

Then Lorraine drove me down to the school where we rehearse. I took a firm and positive line today,  and we worked at the three or four spots in the play where there were line glitches. Dylan has a difficult bit where he is doing a similar thing and saying similar lines three times in the play, but we managed to get this sorted through going back on them several times. All of us cheerful and positive afterwards, and laughing at his fresh-faced 15 year old photo the Mail had sourced from somewhere.

Lorraine waiting for us, and we drove down to the Duke of Wellington who have let us borrow a couple of chairs and a hatstand for the show. These we then loaded into the car. Then into the Warren we did a spot of flyering. Beth and Kitty standing at a table offering people a glass of nothing. Lorraine and I went around the place, busy with people talking about the show and handing out leaflets. I developed a little patter that should people get tired of their drinks, perhaps they should try a glass of nothing instead. Amazingly quite a few people ended up trying a glass of nothing, and it provoked a few interesting conversations.

After some of this kind of thing, we all got a bit cold, dropped Kitty off and drove home. John visited, bringing chocolate and a few beers (he knows how to win hearts and minds). He is doing finals and so on at the moment, which is all a bit full on. We we sent out for a takeaway curry and watched the last part of the Eurovision nonsense before bed. An early start tomorrow.

Blogger won't let me upload photos for some reason.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sinister bubbles

A reasonably quiet start, Lorraine bringing me a cup of tea in the morning as usual. This simple act of kindness starts my day off brilliantly.  I scribbled a few bits and pieces of social meeja, and laying out the programme for the show and focused on trying not to twitch too much.

Sonia back today. Full of helpful information and as usual had a good laugh with her. Apparently I am not losing weight after going to the gym like a maniac is due to liking for fizzy water.

After this I went to the gym. From there, bought some eccles cakes and chocolate and ginger biscuits, then went to see Janet and Ken. Ken certainly enjoys a sweet biscuit. Janet also bearing up, having been to her exercise class this morning having not been out of the house much.

Home, and waiting for Lorraine. Decided to take myself to sit outside the Preston Park Tavern in the sun and to wait for Lorraine and Betty. Re-read (enjoyably) some sonnets by Don Paterson from his last book, and eavesdropped on a mild-mannered conversation about death metal. But the wind was surprisingly cool and when Betty joined me we went indoors, soon to be joined by Lorraine. Had a nice evening, with a few beers and some good fish and chips. A very few chips, however. That's not enough chips for him,  said Lorraine pointing at me as if I were a dangerous volcano. So they brought more. The three of us planning the weekend, and what had to be done and when.

Found myself rather relaxed, by the time I got home and fell asleep on the sofa, then found myself being shepherded to bed by my lovely wife.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Intelligent answers from unlikely sources

Up working early. However by the middle of the day had to stop due to an intense headache, set off I believe by muscle tension in my neck and shoulders caused by vigorous gym work. Took painkillers and slept for two hours, feeling a good deal better afterwards. As planned, I took a day off from the gym.

Looking at some film I took of the rehearsal last night with Betty. A useful exercise, and noticing how well Betty's body language is complimenting the role. At one point she is wearing gloves and they seem to take on a life of their own.

I am parking pretty much everything else now for a week just to allow the play to happen and normalcy to resume. Then I suppose I ought to make some money.

A chat with Janet this evening, and I watched another Grayson Perry documentary about the crisis in masculinity. This time he was hanging about with cops and scallies from a housing estate, where boys are in a stabby turf war with lads from the next estate. I like the way Perry talks to them, even getting inside the cells to chat to them at the police station. In a non-patronising way style, he asks questions that provoke intelligent answers from unlikely sources. I am a fan.

Lorraine dog tired but finding it hard to fall asleep tonight. I found a new technique. Simply state that you are going to list chronologically the Yes albums, from 1969's eponymous Yes to 1980's Drama and by the time you get to 1972's Close to the Edge, she will already be fast asleep.

Here's Grayson Perry being masculine.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A shiver of pleasure

Struggling for focus. Breakfast with Lorraine, then I did my duo-lingo French course, which I am doing every day now. But I'm feeling generally nervy. Down to The Warren to pick up some tickets. Currently the final night is already sold out, and the two others are selling well. Went to the gym again, and had a decent go in there, but decided that I would take tomorrow off to allow the Temple of the Kenny body repair itself.

Home and a few bits and pieces done before Beth returned in Laura's new Mini Cooper, which we loaded up with theatrical things before Laura drove us to The Copperdollar Studios. A really good rehearsal today, perhaps something to do with Lorraine coming, hugging everyone and casting a fresh pair of eyes on it. Upstairs was a dance class and there was a faint background of dragging and sliding which I quite liked. Everyone much better today, and I got a shiver as it was unfolding that only comes from watching proper theatre. All three of them did well, Dylan another stride forward, Kitty adding sicky burps to the performance, and Beth did herself proud and is shining.

Home in the car with Lorraine, dropping Kitty off at the bottom of Trafalgar Street. Home and Beth and I feeling mightily relieved. Lorraine very supportive as usual, but she actually really liked it. Drank two cans of lager. Watched Family Guy, my guilty pleasure, then repaired to bed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Guts and determination

Tea brought me by my lovely wife before she left for work. Off to the doctor's for me. He suggested a precautionary colonoscopy to check out my unsettled guts, given that there is a family history of intestinal nasties. This should happen quite soon apparently. I was hoping for this outcome, so I suppose I am pleased and hypochondria is under control.

Thence to the Starbucks where I did a smidge of work a large cup of tea and a skinny blueberry muffin, before hefting off to the gym. I am very fat at the moment, but have been going to the gym with some determination. Had an excellent session in there, doing a bit of cross training, some rowing machine things, a few of the anxious boy arm exercises plus lats and pulling ropes with weights on the end of them. None of this done with the heavy weights you understand.  My enemy is cheese, and I returned home to Yarg cheese (wrapped in nettles) on toast.

A gentle nap this afternoon with Calliope, before Beth and I set off to a new place called Copperdollar studios in Kemptown to meet the others for a rehearsal. A lovely place, and good progress was made. Still a bit of stumbling over lines but a determined improvement on the last rehearsal, and we were all more upbeat. Dylan making another big stride.

Home to Lorraine on the gold sofa. Not been seeing much of her during the week recently, and I miss her.

The cast. Dylan pleased with his new shoes that glow in the dark, as you can see here.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Displacements and Owls

Displacements abounding, and feeling like a cat on a hot tin roof. Finally managed to get onto the accounts I was meant to be doing late in the afternoon, after walking into town, going very briefly indeed to the gym, talking to mum, doing a few other non relevant things. I am usually very self disciplined, but the last two working days have been ramshackle. Even when I'm not doing anything to do with the play,  it still manages to take up lots of bandwidth. Maybe it's a male multitasking thing.

In other important news I found a TV version of The Owl Service by Alan Garner on YouTube that I dimly remembered from my childhood and watched a couple of episodes. It was from around 1970, and while the editing looks a bit laboured now, it is full of good ideas.

Cooked a strange but healthy food concoction for Lorraine and I this evening and we ate it a the table, Lorraine telling me about the first day of the Government imposed SATs today for her wee kids. We went outside for a while, marvelling at the slug and snail multitudes, and watching them chomp down the new growth of everything growing there.

Later we watched an episode of Flowers, on catch up. A brilliantly funny and dark little series, wonderfully acted on Channel 4. Then Beth returned from a day's photoshoot in London, having to sprint about in a park, but she had her own make-up person, so she enjoyed that.

Below one of the characters in the Owl Service takes on the pattern from a service of plates with an owl pattern.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Straw hats in the sunshine

A hot sunny day. Lorraine and I looking at the garden up early and watering our stumpery. Brighton crowded and milling with people. Lorraine doing school work this morning, so I walked down London Road looking at things. I was looking at things a bit harder than usual, because I am planning a new project about the road. Instead of plunging ahead, however, I thought this time I might actually think about it beforehand, rather than charging ahead. I'm coldly assessing its viability. 

Then into the gym. This much needed at the moment as I am in a fat stage. I tried new machines, including a row of them that a few anxiously thin boys were using to bulk up their arms while staring intently at their biceps in the mirror. This being human business is a challenge.

Then I walked home. Bumped into Reuben and Claire and three of their bairns, and a good chat.  Reubs and Claire are going to come to the show, which is kind of them. Walked back through the park, to find Lorraine was finishing up her schoolwork. 

Off in the afternoon to picnic with Rosie by the sea in Hove. Took a small portable BBQ with us, and basked in the sun wearing a variety of straw hats, sipping Fizzy wine (ladies) and a couple of cold cans of beer (moi). Beautiful day, and spent hours simply chatting, eating, and the important business of throwing pebbles at other pebbles. Rode the bus home, and got ready for the week. A lovely afternoon.

Below... Where dreams come to life on London Road, us on the beach, and the beach at the end of the day, empty. Low tide, and people in the sea too.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Parade, rehearsals, and a long lost brother...

Into town this morning to see the Children's Parade with Lorraine. Always makes me feel cheery and proud of Brighton when we see them do this. So much effort goes into this parade, and I could picture, this year better than previously, just how many unpaid teacher hours go into it.

In the afternoon, Lorraine drove me down to the school where we are rehearsing for a couple of hours. After flying in the previous rehearsal, this one a bit of a reality check, and back to earth with a bump. But no reason to panic, as not having such a good rehearsal simply serves to focus everyone's mind's for the next few, and then the actual performance. Also showed up that the cast have a good team spirit. A fast drink afterwards with Betty, Kitty and Dylan. Then I bussed home.

Ken, Lorraine's brother who lives in Ireland, had called round. It was only the second time I'd ever met him, and Lorraine and Ken were in the kitchen chatting. Good to see him. Ken had phoned me, not being able to reach Lorraine, who was in the supermarket, and surprised her outside the house. It was only when he took his glasses off she recognised him.  Got to hear about his dogs, and travelling for work and life in Ireland and so on.

Then Derek and Lesley came round for supper. Had a really nice night with them. Derek is a big music lover, apparently they were organising his music collection the other day and found that he had over 4,000 CDs and records. Played several of his choices, which is easy to do on Spotify, and a lovely way to hear new music.  A cheery evening.

Below nice to see our bus, the 5B, immortalised, also local legend Disco Pete, who I first saw here who is now unable to dance anymore.


Friday, May 06, 2016

A tidy mind

Feeling quite end of weekish, and disgracefully disinclined to do the accounts work which was the most pressing thing on my agenda. Couldn't face much in the way of computer work. Instead focused on cleaning the house, which as Sonia is on hols badly needed doing.

Something satisfying about the If in doubt tidy up mantra, conducted while listening to Villette and various improving podcasts.

Called Carl too, as it was his birthday. Good to chat with him, laughing about Born Free (an obscure in joke between us) and getting ready to leave work and pick up Ellie. And then bought flowers for my lovely wife, who was able to come home to  a clean be-flowered house. Then I took her to the Preston Park Tavern, where I added booze and some food, discussed everything about the week, before she was led back to the gold sofa to conk out.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

A sense of excitement

Up early, feeling fairly and feeling far healthier this week than I have done for a long while. I went to the gym for the third day in a row.

The sunshine helps too, it does't feel right to be indoors. So after working at various adminny bits to do with the play this morning, I went off to the gym in the afternoon, then called in on Janet and Ken having picked up a few bits and bobs in town for them and had a cup of tea and a chat. Good to see Ken at home, much happier in himself and looking a good deal brighter.

Home, and chatted to Mum on FaceTime, then made my lovely wife a curry to eat and ate this with her before zooming off to The Warren which was opened tonight. Beth and I were expecting an intimate gathering of performers, but actually it was a formless free for all. Still, we drank a couple of beers that needed drinking, and distributed some leaflets and chatted to a few people, including Dave Bramwell who is a pal of Dawn's and wrote the Cheeky guides among other things. We beat a retreat when our conversation was rudely interrupted by Lorraine Bowen. Still all good fun.

The Theatre Box looks excellent, from the outside, a big red box. We were looking at it and thinking that we were going to be inside it in 12 days doing the show. At this moment excitement outweighing the nerves.

Below early morning sunlight on the view from Lorraine and my bedroom, and Betty outside the Theatre Box looking excitable.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


A terrible night's sleep for some reason. Lay awake from 2:30 till 5:30. Less than a springy start to the day, but much revived as ever by the cup of tea my lovely wife brought me.

However a decent day (where I was paid too). I went off to the gym at lunch, then in the afternoon hopped on a bus to see Helen, and discuss the Centaur Project for a few hours. She was already well into setting the last batch of words I sent her. I'm far from convinced that this opera will ever see the light of day, but it is an absorbing process, and I am learning lots.

Meanwhile, I had a bit of a brainwave, and I've been hatching plans and schemes on new project to do with Brighton.

A splendid rehearsal this evening in the Duke of Wellington. I got sucked into the drama and felt like I was watching a play. A good one too. Amazing the difference a day makes, as the rehearsal was way better than the one the day before. Things are starting to click into place. And apart from a smattering of prompts they got through the whole thing off script, and are really bringing it to life. Beth is visibly growing into the role, which is complex and multifaceted. Dylan is also suddenly pulling it all together, and Kitty is flying. We sat outside afterwards for a quick drink and chat. Dylan being very entertaining tonight. He is a very fluent and funny talker, and passionate about unlikely things. Such as the silky scrambled eggs he made this morning, and the best breakfast in London and so on. Kitty is witty and clever and makes me laugh, and wears pug teeshirts. Just nice to be working with these folks.

Home, and Lorraine tired after her long day and pilates, and haggling with people in France about our holiday. Off to bed early, and gratefully.

Below is a Beth selfie (all part of the play...) taken in rehearsal, with Kitty and Dylan in the background.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Getting to grips

Deciding to get a grip this morning. Chased payment on my last invoice (somehow overlooked) learned what I have to do about preparing my tax, and sent off my new short story to a competition. I generally got a grip. This included going to the gym, which I did gingerly but it was better than nothing and I suffered no ill effects afterwards. A lovely day, as days after a bank holiday usually are. Home through the park in the sun.

In the evening another read through rehearsal with Beth, Kitty and Dylan after pasta and salad which Beth and I prepared, and was ready for when Lorraine got home.  The show is two weeks away and it wasn't our best rehearsal. I'm trying not to twitch, but instead project calm and belief. I hope it's working. Calliope joining the process, and siting on Kitty, who ironically, likes cats but is allergic to them.

Restarted my duo lingo French course, rebooting it so I could start afresh. Lorraine started it today, and sat on the sofa talking French to her iPad for some time. Beth finding this funny.

To bed.

Monday, May 02, 2016


Lorraine and I had plans to go out to a wood and look at bluebells. But naturally, as it was a bank holiday, there was a thick fog and drizzle. I like the fog as it makes everything a suggestion, so that the valley and its housing estates was gone, and the far hill with the windmill was invisible all day.

A day of laying low. Difficult to nail down the French holidays. Then Lorraine doing lots of preparation work for tomorrow, Beth learning lines, and I cooked a roast in the evening and spoke to mum on FaceTime.  Later I watched Chelsea draw with Spurs 2-2. A spikily, bad tempered match featuring eye gouging, mass scuffles, and filthy tackles. The result, however, of Spurs not winning meant that Leicester became the least likely winners of the Premiere League since it began. Rather pleased for them, which judging by Facebook and other media seemed to inspire people with the notion that anything is possible.

Below, a view from the kitchen window.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Sports bar

Up early, after Lorraine and I plotted some time in France this Summer.  I must return to my duo lingo course, as this was actually quite helpful when I went to Chad.

Some excitement at noon when Brian escaped from our top floor Juliette window and leapt between rooftops, in a way that if he had miscalculated would spell certain death. We lowered down a stepladder to help him scale up but he shunned it. Eventually I managed to grab him by the scruff of his neck leaning precariously though an open window.

An afternoon to myself, as Lorraine and Beth went to see the play Matilda. I sat in the garden sunshine drinking coffee and listening to Villette for a while. Then, after walking about the neighbourhood, found a quiet little sports bar, called the Preston Brewery Tap, where I watched some footie: Leicester vs Manchester United. If Leicester had won, they would have won the premiership, but they were able only to draw, but still need only two points from their next two matches. The people in the bar were friendly and I felt a kind of nostalgia come over me as I drank a couple of beers and watched the game. There is masculine refuge in watching sport. It also reminded me of the Frazier episode when a reclusive writer (based on J D Salinger) bumps into Martin in a bar watching a game, and they get on famously.  It is only when the excitable Crane brothers get involved, that everything goes wrong and the author ends up burning his manuscript.

Home and watched The BBC version of Shakespeare's Richard II, which I thought was brilliantly acted and directed. The script wasn't bad either.

The ladies returned home, having had a good time, and rustled up a pasta and prawn spectacular.