Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday rehearsals

Up this morning and Lorraine snatching an escaping Calliope out of mid air, recalling her netball days, as we abducted her back to the vets, yowling and even growling at one point. Luckily she has healed up very well, and she was soon at home again. Poor thing. Luckily there is no need to continue the syringing of stuff down into her throat, before she develops 'trust issues' as the exceptionally nice vet said.

Then Lorraine and I lurked about having some breakfast, before I went off down the hill for another afternoon's rehearsal. Had a nice chat with mum, en route.

The rehearsal demanding stuff, and everyone working hard. We are making progress. James came too, for a couple of hours at the end for a fresh pair of eyes, which was extremely useful. 

In a break I called Anton, who is still languishing with a nasty ear infection. I will go see him soon. 

Walked home, and felt quite tired this evening. Lorraine too. We went to bed very early for a Saturday night, after last night's liveliness. Lorraine had been reading The Second Kind of Darkness. She is liking it.

Below Beth, while she and Matt were rehearsing a scene.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Music, cheer and great company

Doing lots of mind-maps at the moment, trying to use this natural lull to at least be clear about my objectives. At lunchtime, I zoomed down to the Bath Arms to answer the papal summons. There are few people better to chat with over a plate of pub grub and a pint than Catherine, and we had a great chat over lunch.

Then up to St Luke's with Lorraine in a taxi, where Glen and Eleni, and Kostas on guitar were playing a concert of Greek and French music. Bumped into a few folks I'd not seen in a while, including the composer Barry Mills, and Adam Bushell, who, like Glen, played on This Concert Will Fall In Love With You and other adventures, Richard Gibson there too.

Glen and Eleni played with Kostas Kationis on guitar, who Eleni told me is extremely respected around Kavala as a choral conductor and arranger. In a selection of Greek songs from the 20th century, in the first half, then a selection of French songs, including of songs by Edith Piaf with lovely fluency too.

After we had a really fun drink with Glen and Eleni, Richard, Kostas and his wife. Lorraine and I also met an interesting woman called Alexandra who was a friend of a friend of Glen's who has been based in China for the last few decades. Much needed relaxation time for Lorraine. A good night with good friends.  A taxi home, after a walk down the long hill to London Road, and straight to bed.

Below the cheeky-looking Dr Catherine Pope, with Queen Victoria appropriately close. And Glen and Eleni both after the gig and during it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A cheeky beer

Feeling somewhat brighter. A nice email from Mandy this morning saying that she'd really enjoyed the children's book. She's the first person on earth to have read this version other than me. Others are not far behind though. Felt chuffed though.

After doing various bits and pieces this morning, off this afternoon to do rehearsal for the play in The Boots. However this was broken midway as Beth wanted to look at a flat nearby in Vernon Terrace. We zoomed up there and having looked about it, me trying to look intelligently at things like radiators, she wanted to make an offer instantly, having missed out the previous week due to postponing the decision. So immediately we went to the Letting agent's office and Beth started signing all the forms, and calling John. Once the appalling forms had been signed, and precious rehearsal time wasted, it turned out that someone else had made an offer too while we were doing this, so they could not progress until the landlord had chosen between them.

Back to rehearsal. Beth somewhat distracted and stressed. Kitty and Matt quite understanding luckily about the hiatus. When rehearsal finished, James came by and we had a drink outside in the garden. Beth needing a glass to de-stress herself.

Below, James and Betty drinking a much needed beer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Simply no moral backbone today. Woke up feeling a bit flare-prone and achey. Although I tried hard, I couldn't settle to anything productive today. However I spoke to Mum for a bit, she has a new date for her operation in August now. She told me she went to meditation last night, and didn't agree with the woman's talk about non-attachment. I suggested she stage a coup.

I had a brief walk outside, and sat in the garden for a while. Tried to listen to improving podcasts, but couldn't be bothered to listen to them properly. Tried to read, but couldn't focus my mind enough. Looked at my poems and hated all of them.  So, having worked on Sunday,  I eventually gave over the day to my own unruly thoughts, and picked up Bianca, my white guitar, which I have barely touched for the last year or so. I am rusty and my hand's weren't at their best. But fun.

Anton and I failed to meet tonight, as I was feeling gout-prone, and he has a bad ear infection. What a pair. Instead I stayed at home, and Beth and Lorraine had their nails done by a pal of Beth's who came around. They both have one nail on each hand done in glitter which is apparently all the rage. Lorraine staying up late, writing the headteacher's remarks on the reports in turquoise ink. 

I took a picture of the Jack o' the green face, Lorraine and I bought a while ago, which is now looking increasingly part of the garden. Its eyes seem to follow you about.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bits and pieces

Felt odd not to be working on the children's story. A day of bits and pieces. Dawn dropped by this evening to pick up the manuscript of The Second Kind of Darkness and said she was going to read it to her class. This is fantastic of course, but made me feel nervous. She invited me to come and talk to the kid. Weasel that I am, maybe I'll wait to hear if they hate it or not first.

Otherwise I wrote a long overdue blog about Richard's Stone Witness collection. Also did some admin for Edinburgh and worked to put together some video stuff for the play too.

Beth went to Lorraine's school to look at some drama work this morning. She was very disappointed that the flat she wanted was gone, despite her phoning the letting agent at 9:00am.

Apart from doing this kind of stuff, went out to buy a bag of delicious cherries. I like them, and they are good for gout apparently. I am feeling pre-gout tingles again. I'm disappointed to have flare-ups after being free for two and a half years, but I am seeing my quack soon to tweak my meds.

Decent rain at last this afternoon. Feel like a proper gardener looking happily at the rain. I cooked a chicken and spinach curry, using loads of fresh spinach. After squirting antibiotics, anti-inflammatories etc. down Calliope's throat. Not her favourite thing.

Lorraine battling on heroically through the last weeks of the school year. I read her Chapter 2 of The Second Kind of Darkness in bed tonight, the Woman from Delmonte says Yes! so far.

Monday, July 10, 2017


So working from first thing, and finally stopped working on The Second Kind of Darkness around lunchtime.  There are still a few hopefully minor typos in I imagine, but there comes a time when you have to declare that, for now, you are done.  Lorraine printed off three copies, and I am going to give them to Dawn and Rosie. Lorraine will look at it when she gets time, and Amanda had already read the first chapter down under by the time I went to bed.

Then I sent some spreadsheets off to the accountants, and then sauntered down to the gym, feeling that all in all I'd done a pretty good day's work.

Home again, and Calliope balked at the vital moment when I was administering her cat drugs and I sprayed liquid around the kitchen. Drinking a glass of fizzy water later, I felt that it tasted a bit odd.

Beth home this evening, all cheery at having found a flat with John that she likes. Lorraine home and fed quickly as she was hangry. Then the dystopian joy that is The Handmaid's Tale before bed.

Below the seagull that always sits outside No.1 just down the road. The black and white cat is usually there too. I call him Steven after Steven Seagal.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Studious Sunday

A studious Sunday in Kenny towers. After breakfast, Lorraine and I both worked all day. Lorraine on checking all the school reports and other end of year school business, me on A Second Kind of Darkness. I've still not quite finished, but I am feeling bloody minded about getting it finished, especially as there was no rehearsal for the play today.

We punctuated this with a couple of walks around local parks, and ate dinner in the back garden.  Spoke to Mum, otherwise kept a low profile.

Below Lorraine and I enjoyed the meadow planted in Preston Park.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Village life, and the perfect getaway

Infernal Calliope woke me up at 5:20 this morning by climbing on me and purring aggressively. Bah. Up early to feed them and return with teas for Lorraine and I. Eventually we got up much later, and went off to visit Bolney Village for its village day. Quite enjoy this, and know a few more of the people there. Lorraine and I went around doing things on stalls, such as trying to beat the goalie, or guess how many balloons there were in a car called Betty. We dropped by the WI stand, where I scored an ice bun, with a glace cherry on it. Nice. Also went to the welly throwing attraction, and watched a man in his forties throw a welly. Instead of it going straight ahead, it zoomed up into the air and over all our heads, narrowly missing Lorraine. A women said, Oh my god, you almost took out the head! Children zooming about all over the places, and one of the parents came to me and said his nipper had enjoyed my visit, which was nice. I paused briefly in the beer tent (twice) before Lorraine judged it was time to go. Also met John, now living in Dubai, who was the previous head there, and someone that I have drunk beers with along with Anton. Good to see him.

Home, and then a bit later we went down to The Joker, had some wings and a more cold beer, and went to see Baby Driver, which was a pretty good film about a hearing-impaired getaway driver. Not the sort of thing that normally appeals, but we both enjoyed it. Sat in the big sofa seats to watch it too. Walked (slowly) home up the hill, and went happily to bed.

Friday, July 07, 2017

A spot of happiness

Off to the gym for the first time since the Monday of the previous week. Otherwise, did work on The Second Kind of Darkness, and then sorted out some facts and figures for the accountant.

I am feeling like finishing my story is somehow like the orbit of some slow moving planet. I have learned lots through the process. The buddhist in me feels that I shouldn't be attached to outcomes, just focus on the job at hand. This is quite hard when you've been working on something off and on for so long. The story feels like the tip of the iceberg, in that I have loads of plot lines in my head for the characters in it. Anyhow, Lorraine, Rosie and Dawn, all of whom work with children of the target age and have bags of expertise in literacy and children's books, are going to read it for me next. Mandy in NZ will read it too. And anyone else who fancies it really.

A spot of anxious cat wrangling with Calliope this afternoon. I had to squirt two lots of liquid medications into her mouth, interspersed with Dreamies bribes. She's not too bad at this sort of thing, and I managed to get most of it down her gullet. The nice vet called today, and said Calliope's blood work was all good too.

In the evening Lorraine home, and we scampered off for a bite to eat at the Preston Park Tavern, and a couple of pints of cold beer. Then home, as Lorraine was flagging after a hard week. Generally feeling appreciative of my lot in life, and feeling very happy this evening.

Below: near our house, a passion flower, and a snap of a doorway on the road behind London Road, like a portal into another world.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Cat business

Slept with the Juliette windows open again last night. Cool and comfortable. Calliope to the vets today to have some teeth taken out.  Lorraine drove us to Top Cats Patcham first thing. The people there are very good.  Calliope sounding like purgatorial in the back of the car, but I think there is such a fog of pheromones there that she calmed down as soon as she got there. Lorraine drove off to drop some stuff off for our neighbour at the Old Church Hall Mark before going to school. I walked home getting in an hour's walk before it got hot.

Admiring a thank you card I got from the children of Holly class and their nice teacher Rebecca.

The furry daughter I never had, had four teeth removed in all. Far from cheap. I felt bad about leaving her there even if it was for her own good. Lorraine collected her on the way back home. She seems a bit woozy and mistimed her jumps a bit like a drunk, but was hungry and ate right away.

Spoke to Maureen today, who phoned up to find out about dates. I told her about the cat, and she said their Calliope variety pelargoniums were doing nicely. Ours are too.

Otherwise I spent five hours working on the novel. Then the afternoon sorting out my accounts stuff for a couple of hours. Beth and Matt rehearsing the second scene of the play this afternoon in The Boots. Lorraine back home (with Calliope) early, but then she worked for hours. Ate salad and pickles eventually, and went to bed early but talked for some time before sleeping. Calliope asleep under the bed.

Another bedtime shot from our Juliette windows.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The dangled fly

Working on The Second Kind of Darkness still. Sat under the tree in the corner of the garden this morning, Lorraine kindly printed me it out again yesterday, and I am doing an absolutely bloody final edit on it before I share it. This edit much lighter, but means I have to re-read the script yet again. As I set about this a large fly was gradually lowered down, half wrapped in a spider's web over the little table. I took two photos of it but both were out of focus.

Beth came back in the afternoon and she and I did some Edinburgh work together in the afternoon. Today, I realised I have do get my books shipshape to send the accountants, before the weekend too. Putting myself under pressure to get everything done. Not quite as hard as Lorraine, of course, who was running the school sports day, which was enlivened by the hedge between the school and the Church catching fire at one point. Everyone okay and the children clapped the firemen who came to sort things out.

Beth cooked this evening, with me peeling veggies. Lorraine late home. Beth and John have been looking at several flats. Afterwards I watered the garden, which was a bit baked. It is being quite a nice summer weather wise.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A visit to Bolney

Up early and tinkered for an hour with things, before going shopping for chocolates and heading off to Hateful Heath where I got a taxi to Lorraine's school. Sat about in the staff room feeling a bit nervous before spending the afternoon with Holly class, taught by Rebecca.

The kids were 7-9 years old and I was there because they had invented recipes for chocolates which they were going to sell. Today was a branding exercise so we got them to think about the names, colour schemes and so on (the branding) for the chocolates they had created. I have to say they came up with some cracking ideas, and were an improvement on half the chimps with MacBooks I've worked with in advertising agencies. Amazing questions they asked too, and some tricky googlies bowled among them. An interesting afternoon, and came away feeling very impressed with the kids, and their teacher Rebecca.

One of Lorraine's colleagues, Sarah asked her husband Dan, a retired policeman, to give me a lift to the station which was very kind as Lorraine had to work late and prepare for sports day.

On the way home I spoke to Mum who had turned up at hospital only to find out that her appointment had been bumped, which was exasperating.

When Lorraine came home we watched the grimly fascinating The Handmaid's Tale. An early night, Lorraine very tired. I went to sleep after reading the first few pages of my new print out of The Second Kind of Darkness. I will have to stop looking at it soon as it is making my head hurt.

A snap last thing at night from our Juliette balcony, with the shreds of light still hanging over the horizon.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Up to Edgware

Up to visit Mum and Mas today, as Mum due to have an overnight stay in hospital tomorrow. Got a fairly early train and headed straight for faux first class, where I made the final changes to the draft of The Second Kind of Darkness. All I have to do now is print it out (again) and have a last sweep then pass it onto people who are prepared to read it for some final feedback before I start sending it out. Should you, as a reader of this blog, want to have a squint at it, then let me know.

Foot, which is not entirely better, held up remarkably well today, and when I got home my step counter told me I had walked roughly 6 1/2 miles.

Hung out with Mum and Mas. It was a frustrating day for them as the occupational health person had organised a firm to come around and fix a handrail up the stairs. They were supposed to be there before 3.00pm, but never showed up. Mum phoned them to discover that the company had been bought out today, so all the jobs were cancelled at the last minute. While we were waiting for the hand rail person, we ordered a delivery pizza. This too was delayed. Mum and I eventually went out for a nice walk into Edgware and walking about in the local park smelling roses and looking at squirrels with white bellies. Then into Edgware, for a spot of shopping, before we came home again and Mum drove us off to Hatch End to a Wetherspoons pub to have a cold beer and some grub. They bumped into a man that knew them from the previous Wetherspoons they had eaten and drunk at in Stanmore. There seems to be a bit of a fraternity.

Then mum drove us to Mill Hill and where I just missed a southbound train. Home a little before 10:45. Lorraine sleepy and already in bed. 

Below a mystery yellow flower that Mum knew from childhood. It had rough leaves, and was growing in the gloomy church yard on Edgware High Street. I had to stop mum uprooting one of them in an act of blatant thievery. I told her God was watching her, and she said that he'd be pretty bored by now if he was.  

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Rehearsing in The Boots

Up fairly early for a Sunday. Feeling pretty sprightly and the foot much better. Lorraine working all day. Beth and I went to The Boots for an all-afternoon rehearsal with Matt and Kitty. A good day's work. The whole thing is getting very close now, only a month to go and still quite a bit of work needed to get up to scratch. Working with lovely people helps. Kitty and Matt really good folks, and we had quite a few laughs. Beth and Kitty a dynamic duo. Matt has the biggest challenge in learning lots of lines and finding his way into the play. Work interspersed with sitting in the garden of the Boots, which was very quiet, drinking soda water. Rounded it off with a cheeky beer with Beth and Matt. Asking Matt about his faith, as he is a keen church goer. Betty off to John's tonight.

Bumped into Claudius too, who had popped in to say hello to someone there. Home and Lorraine still working on school reports and so on. Briefly spoke to Mum to organise a nip up to London tomorrow. Had a nice chicken and salad dinner outside in the sun, and Lorraine and I watered the plants and ate our own strawberries and tayberries. Went to bed fairly early after watching a soothing Frasier.

Below some snaps from rehearsal.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

The coop opens

A bit wan and washed out during the day. Did some work on the novel, but mainly wanted to do nothing and simply hang out with Lorraine. However we had a garden party to go to. Off in the afternoon to Rosie's house, where she was flat and dog sitting a dog called Ivor for the lady upstairs. Big garden outside, and they had invited Lorraine and I, and Beth and Dawn, and several nice friends of Innis. Lots of food to be gnashed, and a barbecue and a fire pit. All the food was vegetarian, and healthy, which made an interesting change. Lorraine made nice salads for us to take along.

Less healthily, I drank things, and threw caution to the wind, but after a week of being cooped up and hobbling, it was great to be outside with plenty of people to chat to.

Below a snap of one corner of the garden as evening came on containing, Rosie, Betty, a friend of Innis's whose name currently escapes me, Lorraine and Dawn. Rosie rocking the Athenian maiden look in a floaty white dress and flowers in her hair when we arrived. A close up of a burning log.

Friday, June 30, 2017

A malformation in The Force

Foot somewhat better, and the weird exhaustion that comes with my flare-up on the way out. Spent a very productive day working at my desk. I managed to get lots done. Amusing discussions with Sonia about property. She showed me photos of a nice property in Bulgaria which she and her husband are doing up. She's told me about the good times under communism some time ago. Makes me laugh about what a capitalist she is now.

John came around this evening, and I got a Shahi curry delivered. Nice to see him and we played some cards. There must have been a malformation in The Force, as Beth and I were badly defeated at Euchre for the first time ever by Lorraine and John. Beth and I less competitive so it's always a pleasure to beat people that care. Fun evening, although Lorraine and I pretty shattered, and sloped off to bed fairly early and soberly for a Friday night.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The worst murderer in the world

Now able to stand without yelping. Still feeling low on energy however, and attached myself to the gold sofa, and started transferring the thousands of changes I made in pencil, to Scrivener. Got half way through. After this is done, one more print off, for absolute bloody final changes, and then I am done with it. Then for the hard bit of trying to flog it, I believe in the quality of story The second kind of darkness. It took an age to get it into its current shape, and very different to how it started. My conundrum is how you can be any kind of an artist without having self doubt. It stops you from thinking that tripe is gold. But self-doubt has little to do with the selling process. I am going to be as resilient as I can be in my attempt to get this sold.

Betty back home after many adventures today. Vagabond Skies went really well apparently, and the cast had a good party afterwards in London. Let's hope someone picks up on it. Beth cooked  courgetti -- which is courgette spirallised into spaghetti like strings. Surprisingly good stuff.

Chatted with Bob today, on the way to see a client. He sounded in good spirits, although his dog is a hypochondriac, and was limping about until taken to the vet where it was pronounced healthy, and trotted home completely normally.

Lorraine at pilates this evening, and unusually talkative when she got home. Including telling Beth and I about the process of how chocolate is made from cocoa beans.

Later Calliope bit my hand nastily while on my lap. I whacked her off me with my phone. She hid under the futon and wouldn't come out. This made me feel like the worst murderer in the world. What kind of a person hits an animal? A despicable one. Lorraine was assuring me that I wasn't, but it didn't help. Later I coaxed Calliope out of hiding and she climbed straight up on me and rubbed her face on mine purring, which made me feel that cats are superior to humans. Or at least this human.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Over the worst

Foot evil peaked this morning, and it was painful and slow to get about the house. By the afternoon things improving. A lack of energy and enforced immobility meant however that I sat on the gold sofa and worked a lot. After seven hours of this, I did more binge watching. Saw six episodes of Can't Cope, Won't Cope which I really enjoyed, being the tragicomic depiction of a young alcoholic woman in her twenties and her best friend, living in Dublin. The actor Seána Kerslake who plays the main character, Aisling, is one to watch I think.

Otherwise pleased to see Lorraine at the end of the day. An early night. Read another story called Paper Pills, from Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio. Interesting.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The return of orc foot

Annoyingly, a painful foot in the night. The return of orc foot, after two and a half years of freedom. Not to bad a dose of gout, but enough to prevent me from travelling up to London, as I was in hobble mode and feeling unusually tired. Got up and spoke to Mum and Mas, and then simply went to sleep again. Not sure why this has cropped up again, possibly due to the fact I ate fish and sea creatures four days in a row.

Disappointed to have to miss seeing Mum and Mas.

Worked a bit on my novel MS, and then brain a bit mushy gave into a duvet afternoon and simply watched Netflix. Binge watched Dear White People, which was I thoroughly enjoyed. Obviously had a low key evening with Lorraine and went to bed with drugs.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The happy monk

Monday, and a pleasant day working on the manuscript. Found one or two sticky patches, where there oughtn't to be sticky patches, so had to rework those. More irritating correspondence from the theatre group in Edinburgh. They specialise in passive aggressively telling you to do things you've already done. Off to the gym, and did a bit of trundling on the cross trainer, my energy is low.  Walked home through the park and got on with my work again, interrupted occasionally by cats. A bit of a monkish routine, but it makes me happy.

Lorraine home, and I served up the small curry I had cooked, and then we watered the garden and lurked about there for a bit, before coming inside to watch The Handmaid's Tale. An early night. Read a story from Winesburgh, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson called Hands to Lorraine, which was rather sad.

And so to bed.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The cast assembles

Up and enjoying breakfast this morning. Lorraine, getting towards the end of the school year, had lots of work to get on with. Meanwhile, Beth and I jumped into a taxi and headed off to the Station where we bought some coffee. I took Beth's case as she didn't have enough hands to smoke a cigarette and drink her cup of coffee and pull her case along. To the Boots, where we hung outside for a moment with Matt, and Kitty arrived full of her usual positivity and cheerfulness. Matt is an old friend of hers, and she teases him mercilessly. It was happy afternoon, with lots of laughter. Kitty remembers her part pretty much perfectly, as does Beth. So most of our effort is geared towards getting Matt up to speed. We are doing things differently, and it is making us see new things in the play, which is fun and keeps it fresh. Then Betty off to John's and then up to London to do the showcase early in the week for Vagabond Skies.

I mooched home through the park, and arrived home after six, to Lorraine who was still working. Roast chicken supper. All well, then we watched the last bits of Glastonbury on TV. I admired the sheer courage of Ed Sheeran, who played the closing set on his own with a guitar and a loop pedal. Must be an amazing and terrifying feeling looking out on that multitude, and knowing its all down to you to entertain them.

Below Matt, Kitty and Beth larking about, and me pretending to look at my watch. This I think will be my default pose in social media from now on.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ten years

Obviously as it was Saturday, it was bit wet and blustery today. However we had a good time. Lorraine and I set off into town, I headed for Cafe Nero where I worked on a bit more of the manuscript, with the pencil of destiny. Lorraine had her nails done, by someone working with Beth.

Then Lorraine and I did a spot of shopping, and then zoomed off to see Janet and Ken. Hus was there, having done some work on their house, and Rod and Clare arrived, Rod being one of Ken's sons. Ken looked pretty well, although he managed to lose a tooth during our conversation, despite this he was in good spirits. Janet on good form too.

We left them and caught the bus back to the centre, where we popped into Riddle & Finns. They took my mobile number and called us when they had a table, an hour or so later. We'd popped into the Cricketers, and then after a bit more shopping into the Druid's Head. Town really busy, as the hordes usually on the beach had headed inland due to the inclement weather and bar staff everywhere seeming swamped.

To celebrate ten years of togetherness, Lorraine and I then thinned out the sea fauna at Riddle & Finns. Oysters, Lorraine's as nature intended, my one cooked.  Lorraine had bream ceviche to start, I had a really good clam chowder followed by Keralan fish curry. Lorraine had the full marine biology lesson on a plate for her main, (although she had problems with a few empty winkles. We washed all this down with two bottles of prosecco and had apple cake and cheese to finish.  

Home on the wrong bus afterwards, and then a walk. A quiet evening after that, with my wifey sleeping on the sofa. I watched Glastonbury coverage and discovered that the Foo Fighters were a band I never needed to hear again.

Below perhaps not the most skilful or flattering of selfies, but you get the idea.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A short hike to the Hillfort

So a rather storming day's work, if I say so myself. I am now working from printed pages, and feel like I'm at the proof reading stage, although I am making plenty of changes, cutting still further, and changing words, and stabilising the punctuation. But I feel that before my eyes, the thing is taking shape, and what is really exciting, is that it has taken a really good shape. I'm in danger of sounding optimistic here, but blimey. The hard work was worth it I think.

Feeling cheery I set off for an afternoon walk through woods that surround the hilltop Hollingbury golfcourse near hear. There is an ancient hill fort on the top. I mooched about through the undergrowth and under trees, and so on. Crossing the golf course. I was determined to find myself to the hill fort. I can get quite panicky feelings of agoraphobia on top of big bald hills. So I had to fight the fear to make the top. A strangely atmospheric place, with patches of tall gorse. I found in the middle, a little mound where there was the ash of a fire. It made me think of magic right away. Another odd thing. I had been walking around and about for about an hour or so before I got to the top without having any problem with my shoes. Once there, my shoe laces came undone seven times in the space of ten minutes. Once out of the fort, no times. A coincidence but an odd one.

Then back home, where I worked for a couple of hours more. Betty arrived, then Lorraine. Both shattered from their weeks. Beth rehearsing Vagabond Skies, and Lorraine from being a headteacher. A quiet night in tonight.

Feeling happy. One of those days when everything seems to be okay in the world.

A butterfly and a den. Then scenes on the Hillfort, and crows on the way back. I shall return.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Eastbourne Vagabonds

A good day's work, plus a visit to the gym. Off in the evening to Eastbourne to see Beth in her rehearsal of Vagabond Skies. This is a musical based on Vincent Van Gough's life. The writer has been working on it for 20 years. The music was pretty good and the performances were jolly good. Beth leaping about in the chorus, being everything from a nun to a prostitute, and an art critic. Beth's pal and agent Sarah Dormandy is directing. And Dylan was in the chorus too. Good to get a bear hug from him. They are taking this show up have a London theatre showcase, to see if they can find backers and so on. I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but one about Vincent's life seems a pretty good idea, as he is such an archetype of the tortured artist. I sincerely hope it does well.

Then off to the Crown and Anchor for a cheeky pint with Betty, and chatting to Susie, and I spoke to Natalia Farran, who was more usually a jazz singer, but had been drafted in. She was full of compliments about Beth's niceness.

Afterwards Lorraine and I slipped off and bought fish and chips from the second best fish and chip shop in Eastbourne (or so we were told). Good fish and chips which we ate on the breezy seafront. Then home in Lorraine's car listening to members of Radiohead talking on the radio.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Almost there

Phew what a scorcher! So hot today, that I decided to forgo the air-conditioning-free gym, or as yesterday an arduous walk. I simply stayed home and worked. They are saying this is the hottest June day since 1976 (33.2° in London apparently, a wee bit cooler on the coast here). I remember that summer well. I was doing my O Levels, I also had a job at Hammersmith Hospital which Gerald had got for me as he was working there in its immunology department, where I was subject to the advances of a male Chinese student who was also working there.

Although we were working in the same building, Gerald refused to drive me to work, so I had to leave an hour and a half before him, walk to Kingsbury station, an hour or so on the tube, and another long walk up Du Cane road past the Prison. I was doing some admin type thing, filing I think. I also had a girlfriend that summer and did most of my socialising in The Bunch of Grapes on Duke Street, by the side of Selfridges on Oxford Street. I think it was there I met Tess and she lived in Hampstead. We are still friends on Facebook.

I have almost finished The Second Kind of Darkness now. Lorraine kindly printed it out for me. Next it is the giant proof read, where I attach my punctuation and grammar head. Having worked as a sub editor at one stage, I do know all this stuff. But I get lazy. Reading it on paper of course will hopefully reveal other deficiencies when they crop up too.

Having reached this stage in my hot office, I felt mentally wrung out. I have no sense of elation. Writing is the easy part, trying to flog it to someone is the rub. But it has a beginning middle and ending, and hangs together well and, importantly, it leaves enough potential story there for a sequel.

Ended up having a sweaty doze this afternoon, before getting up and doing some stuff for my other blog till about seven. I have lots to do on there.

Lorraine home after doing pilates. We ate salad and mackerel and giant couscous outside, and she told me about her day. Children coming up and hugging her seems to be a feature of her headteacher style. The direct emotional rewards from teaching are really good sometimes.

The sky full of unusual clouds this evening.  Spoke to Toby at bed time. His garden and house are looking fantastic. English weather in Toronto apparently. We seem to be having the sweltering North American stuff.

Below the evening clouds from our back garden, sunset of the summer solstice.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dawn poltergeist

Like last night, we slept with the Juliette windows open. But because of Brian's suicidal tendencies we have to close the bedroom door. This means the infernal Calliope scratches at the door like a poltergeist after five o'clock.

Up early with Lorraine, and watering the hanging baskets at seven. The jasmine smelling lovely in the garden. Then working hard on The Second Kind of Darkness despite the soporific heat. Also uploaded digital banner advertising for Edinburgh. A long walk late in the afternoon, still very hot.  Climbed up to the Hollingbury golf course high behind us, and looked at the downs sweltering in the heat, and Brighton below. Listening as I walked to my Tim Winton book of autobiographical essays, The Boy Behind the Curtain. Listening to one where he stayed in Ireland through the winter near what the locals thought of as a tremendously haunted castle. Quite a contrast having your head full of damp winter Ireland while in a heatwave.

Home and I griddled some jerk chicken and snarfed it up with Lorraine, after she came back, very hot looking, from dancing the Charleston saying she made the mistake of doing a jump. Then we watched The Handmaid's Tale again. Really enjoying this.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A scorcher

Hot as anything today. Woke to news of a nutter driving into a crowd of people outside a mosque in London, shouting that he wanted to kill all muslims. It is rioting weather.

Spoke to Mum sweltering up in London. I worked on The Second Kind of Darkness then in the late afternoon walked off to the gym and did a sweaty workout. Obviously the air conditioning works a little in the changing room, but nothing in the actual gym. I did a fair workout though, and walked home again on the shady side of the street.

Received a picture of a man pointing at a stepladder today from Beth, the caption being, you're not my real ladder! 

In the walked back to the Evening Star (Lorraine stuck in a late meeting) where I met Glen, Steve and Richard, and Glen's pleasant brother and his pleasant girlfriend. Had all manner of nice chats and drank cold beer. I was not going to drink this week, a firm resolution that was dead by the end of the day. Richard plotting some new political bet, an accumulator which relies on the Queen's speech failing, Labour forming the new government and there being no election this year.  Steve showed me the enormous scar on his leg. Glen over to do examining, but also a hive of activity planning his future. Toby Facetimed me while I was there too, saying his garden was being installed and showing me orange suited man carrying things into the garden. More tomorrow.

A cheery evening, and I walked back home through the park, it still very warm. Lorraine and I slept with the Juliette windows open again.

Glen's tattoos. The names of Sergei Rachmaninoff and the lovely Eleni.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Excellent rehearsal and an Elizabethan curry

Another slow start to the day. Up late and after brunch sauntered off in the sweltering heat with Beth down to The Boots, to rehearse A Glass of Nothing with Matt all afternoon. Beth working flat out at the moment, in a production of a new musical called Vagabond Skies.  Pleased with how our rehearsals went. Matt did a great job, and made lots of progress under Beth's direction. He has a lovely natural warmth, and made us laugh a few times too. A cold beer in their strange little beer garden afterwards. I felt pleased in that I could really see Matt in the role for the first time.

Lorraine picked us up, and drove Betty to Hove where she was staying with John. Lorraine said what should we do, and I madly suggested that we go to Patcham where there is the Elizabethan Cottage Indian restaurant. We went there and had a pretty good meal in a very old building. Great to do something randomly like that. Felt like we were going on a date, which is always nice, although weird to go out for a meal and it still be sunny and bright when you get out. Yay for the long days.

The obligatory selfie from Matt and Betty post rehearsal.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bee loud gardens

Hard to get out of bed this morning for some reason. The luxury of a Saturday with not too many got to dos. Off to Balcombe to nose about in some open gardens. An eccentrically posh mother and daughter combination in the first, where we paused to have a cup of tea, and I had a piece of apple cake. I looked at an orange flower, and the daughter surged over and said it was a Chilean Fire Bush. Her mother said she stole ideas from other gardens, and mentioned Highgrove. Behind their garden was a meadow, and this was bee loud and lovely.

The second, well off the beaten track, was a crammed garden full of things, and near a cowshed where cows lowed. We bought some plants there, some which were like St Peter Port Daisies. We went scrumping ideas for gardens. And found a few especially in a secret garden, with a fairy in it.

The Tobster's birthday today, sent him a birthday message.

Then home, and pottering about in the garden. We had a game of scrabble in the heat of the back garden, and I barbecued some bits and Lorraine prepared lots of good stuff, which we ate in the garden. Liking this outdoor life in the sun. A happy day spent with Lorraine.

Friday, June 16, 2017


Working from just after seven on the final two chapters of the novel, which is now called The second kind of darkness. Some of my favourite ideas have to be given the Herod treatment, but after all these years, the end of the story is literally is in sight. 

After four or five hours with blood on my hands, an omelette for lunch (made with turmeric as standard now). Then I slunk off in the gorgeous weather to sweat in the gym, where I had a good workout, doing the cross trainer but adding in a bit of rowing machine and one or two weights machines. Doing this gingerly as I am unfit. But things are slowly improving.

Thence to the ideologically unsound Starbucks where I drank tea and worked till gone five. Walked home and spoke to Bob about various hypochondriac subjects, and then to Mum, who showed me the new rose arch in the front garden when I got home. 

When Lorraine got home, we no-brainered down to the Preston Park Tavern for some cold beer and a bite to eat and a cheery debrief on the week.   

Still feeling furious about the Grenfell Tower, which seems to stand as a smouldering monument to Dickensian greed and the indifference of those in power to London's poor. The inability of Theresa May to demonstrate empathy is genuinely shocking. I can't think of a single prime minister in my lifetime who would have not visited the scene and talked to some of the people affected. Even the Queen managed to talk to some people. Politically it was an ideal opportunity for May to demonstrate some leadership, to get her hands dirty and try to draw people together with a simple display of compassion. To have a leader who is unable to do this simple and human thing really is astonishing.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Up on the roof

Slept with the Juiliette windows open in our room, till we closed it first thing, but still heard an amazing dawn chorus at around four. Beginning to feel happier and more relaxed than I have for some time. Today I worked well on the novel. It has taken me some time to tune back into it, after a break, but I am there now. At lunchtime I took a walk in the sunshine for an hour. Listening to my new audiobook The Boy Behind the Curtain by Australian writer Tim Winton. A series of autobiographical episodes, read in a murmur by the author. I like his style a lot.

I was in a good mood all day, except when I updated myself on the appalling fire at Grenfell Tower, near Latimer Road in West London. I've been past it on the tube a hundred times when I lived in Chiswick. Feeling incensed by how the Prime Minister Theresa May failed to talk to any of the local people affected by the tragedy on her visit. A failure as a leader and as a human. In stark contrast to Corbyn, who listened to people, hugged them and promised to do all he could to help. It turns out that the richest borough in the country cut corners and chose not to to spend money on safeguarding the flat, despite the continued protestations of its inhabitants about safety risks. It is a national disgrace. 

A peaceful evening. I cooked, and tended to a tired wife. A gorgeous grey and pink sky at sundown, and I went out to take a photograph of it from the back garden, but was deflected by a hideous miaowing. I couldn't see anything till I looked up and saw high overhead Brian stuck on the roof. He had made his way through the Juliette windows of our bedroom, that Lorraine had opened to let the night air in. The bedroom door must have blown open allowing for Brian to make one his periodic suicidal periodic high-wire escapades.

Had to lean precariously out of the spare room window after he jumped onto the widow cill outside to scoop him up. Lorraine and I went to bed early, but I couldn't sleep for thinking that I might have dropped him, and its an awfully long way down.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Woof woof Wednesday

Woke up to the appalling news of a terrible fire in West London. Appalling scenes in a gorgeous hot sunny day. A news festival of course, and I watched some of the coverage on TV. Slick TV presenters uncomfortable with the dazed and traumatised people wandered about them. Lorraine avoiding coverage, due to her traumatic memories of treating people hurt at the Kings Cross fire as a young nurse.

In my life all good. Worked on my novel, finalised things with the printer, having to correct the poster before it went to print. A sense of making progress.

Also went to the gym. Hot and sweaty, and walking back home through the park looking at senior school children sitting about after school in the heat made me think how short life is. Can it really be 40 years since I was doing the same sort of thing? It seems like only yesterday, etc. etc. Time is not linear anyway.

Chatted to Mum, who had been to meditation group the night before. It made her feel completely different about today, which is a bit of a result I think.

I received a present through the post, a copy of Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, a short story collection that she had mentioned when we met up last week. That was really kind of her.

Then to meet Anton for an early supper of Woof woof wings, and a few beers at The Joker. On Wednesdays you get a three for two deal on wings. We arrived early and were served really early too. Lots of chatting with pleasantly fiery mouths. Anton of course, has not been eating much, using the opportunity of his mum being away to lose weight. He said he only ate a Jamaica patty yesterday. He put away the woof woofs and curly fries with some alacrity however.

Then to the Shakies for another, more peaceful beer. Fond farewells, and I mooched home early.  Lorraine home having done pilates tonight.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Work in the morning, then off to get my hair cut at lunchtime, as it was beginning to go weird again. The bald patch just makes the weirdness worse, deforming the expectation of how hair should behave. Nice blokes in the barbers. Found myself talking about Edinburgh lots.

Then I bought some dirt cheap sneakers, identical to the pair I last had, and a couple of dirt cheap gym teeshirts manufactured in Bangladesh, with a Slazenger logo on them. Afterwards I wondered what appalling conditions these were made in, to get two teeshirts for £7.

Home again, and spoke to Mum. Later I cooked squid, once Lorraine had returned from dancing Charleston. We had squid last night too. Squids are our friends.

Below, something fantastic in Brighton.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Smelling the flowers

A happy Monday. I feel as if I have quietly won the pools, not having to schlepp up to London still. Lots to be done. Reworked the Edinburgh script, so as to tweak it for Matt and an Edinburgh audience. Did layouts of adverts and posters and so on. Also went to the gym, and decided that my wellbeing was important. Consciously shunning stress and doing things to promote happiness. Like strolling through the rose garden on the way back from the gym and giving my nose a treat.

Chatted to Mum, as I hadn't spoken to her over the weekend and she's fine apart from Salty having been wounded in some kind of difference of opinion with crows, Mum thinks. Later, Lorraine and I watched the dystopian Handmaid's Tale tonight. Quite pleased that things haven't got that bad yet. And we went for a walk in the balmy summer evening together through Blakers Park and streets nearby. Lorraine smelling flowers wherever she goes.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Squid's in

A slower start this morning. Eventually I slipped off and bought some chewy brown bread, and started breakfast. This was our official bread day. I had weighed myself yesterday and have lost a bit of weight which is good, despite not trying too hard. After brunch Lorraine and I drove off to Waitrose to buy some reassuringly bourgeois and slimming food, including squid. While there, we bumped into Sarah and JD. Spoke to JD, looking perfectly French in a stripy jumper and bright blue trousers, about Macron and the French elections, our elections and about Brexit, while the ladies were discussing other matters.

Home and then into the garden, where Lorraine and I worked steadily for a few hours, while the cats charged about. Indoors to find Cactus, next door's ginger tom, had invaded our house while we had the back door open. Our cats utterly useless. It weaselled its way into Beth's room and hid, then bolted for freedom. Then Lorraine did stuff for school, and I caught up with blog business before we broke off for a tasty squid 'n' salad supper.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Behind the wizard's curtain

Up late and zoomed down to Brighton station where I met Klaudia and Anton. Klaudia and I were off to London for her golden ticket day. We caught the train, and zoomed up to Victoria discussing a wide variety of matters such as the number of murderers you walk past in a lifetime, her trip to Australia, my play and so on. At Victoria we walked off to find the Wagamama restaurant in Cardinal Place. Klaudia is a big fan of Wagamama and already had her order clear in her head before we arrived. We both had chicken katsu curry, Klaudia ordering a plate of plain noodles as a side dish. We shared some ribs, and finished off with guava and passion fruit sorbet (Klaudia) and yusu ice-cream (moi).

Then to the nearby Apollo Victoria theatre to see the musical Wickedbased on a 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, called 'Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West' A different take on goings-on in Oz. It was a spectacular show, and Klaudia enjoyed it lots. Even I, not the world's greatest musical fan, really took to it. Gorgeous lighting and costumes, and some wire work with flying monkeys and ascending witches and so on. Pretty good songs too. There was an interlude where Klaudia and I took the opportunity to have some more ice cream. When we emerged blinking into the sunlight (it was a lovely day), we caught the fast train back to Brighton, sitting in an empty carriage talking about the show and saying "See it, say it, sorted" which is the new slogan for reporting suspicious packages which was on the electronic noticeboard. Klaudia adds clicked fingers between say it, and sorted, to add drama.

Then up the hill to Anton's house to return Klaudia safely home. A lovely day with her. Said hello to Oskar, who had been playing football, and then Anton played me some tracks from The Anarchy Arias, which were rather good. Punk songs performed by the English National Opera. Got home and listened to them later with Lorraine. Here is a link to the Sex Pistols' Pretty Vacant.

Home and Lorraine had a good day out with Dawn. Beth home and set off to see a friend, who blew her out just before she reached the pub. She returned and we met her in the PPT for a cheeky beer.  All in all an enjoyable day.

Klaudia and I having just taken our seats at the theatre. We were row E so were pretty close to the action.

Friday, June 09, 2017

A nation reels

Spent the morning trying to get my head around the Election results, and generally feeling heartened by them. Went to sleep not believing the polls taken of voters that there would be a hung parliament, and hearing the first to election results which showed a much smaller swing to labour. Awoke to find the nation reeling in surprise that the Jeremy Corbyn's campaign had been so successful, while Theresa May's robotic reputation of strong and stable, whiled doing U-Turns and hiding from the public had mysteriously not gone down so well.  What I am most pleased about is that there are clear signs that young people actually voted in their droves this time, many of them energised by Labour. This has to be good for democracy. Pleased also to see the MP I voted for, Caroline Lucas, who is the only Green MP in parliament greatly increase her majority. She is pound for pound one of the most effective MPs around. As I put on a rare Facebook post, we need bridge builders not balloon juice pedlars.

I don't like May but her throwing away of a workable parliamentary majority, has resulted in such public humiliation I almost feel sorry for her. As Gary Lineker tweeted, 'I think Theresa May as won own goal of the season.'

Sent stuff off to Edinburgh for theSpace venue people to look at. Then after chats with Sonia, made off into town. First I went to the watch shop where they unquestioningly replaced my watch. I replayed this by reviewing their shop on Google. Brilliant. Then to the gym and had a shower there and repaired to the ideologically unsound Starbucks where I had a large cup of tea and did some work.

Thence to my doctors, and had a long chat with him about blood pressure. My readings again high, and the conundrum is to decide if this is just due to me being a hysterical personality or if my blood pressure is high. We are going to check again in a month, and he may have to medicine me. My doctor is a lovely man. He is now working part time, but I only want to see him. So I left the doctor trying to keep calm, and trying not to too vividly picture myself exploding like a blood filled balloon.

Cheered by a message from Richard Gibson, containing a photo of loads of £20 notes. He put a tenner on at 25-1 that labour would get between 250 and 299 seats. Kerching!

Lorraine and I were due to meet Malcolm and Lynne tonight, but Malcolm had exhausted himself staying up all night watching the election drama unfold. Lorraine and I nevertheless decided to have a curry at the Shahi anyway and put the world to rights there. Felt fairly cheery despite the doctor business. Walked up the hill and home.

Theresa May sucks it up.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Election day

Election day, and a fairly busy one for me. Lots to do this morning, before walking to Hove to see Helen.

On route, I pulled my coat on, and my watch strap came off and my new watch fell to the pavement face first and burst like an egg. Somewhat galled by this.

To Helen's. She played me thirty minutes of new music in Act Two of the opera. Some really sophisticated  composing I think. Excellent stuff. Her sons were there too, and I got to meet them before zooming off to the The Boots aka The Duke of Wellington, where Beth and Matt Colborne were rehearsing. Had a pretty good session with them, and a cheeky beer before I walked home, where I was repeatedly plagued by election door knockers from the Green Party, wondering if I had voted yet. When Lorraine came home, we drove off to cast our vote (both for Caroline Lucas).

Finally home, and after supper, I started watching coverage of the Election at 10, with their Exit poll predicting a hung parliament. General astonishment at this. However Lorraine and I pretty tired, so we watched the news on my iPhone in bed for a bit, before we decided to go to sleep and wait till the morning.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Smelling the roses

Lorraine up and off this morning. I struggled out of bed and walked down to the doctor's surgery to have my blood pressure taken at 8:30. I told the nice nurse I have white coat syndrome, and it would be high. It was high. So we took it again and it was higher. After a while she took it again. This time I pictured Lorraine's face and it fell twenty points. Still not ideal though, and will have a yearly check up with my doctor on Friday. Nice that imagining my lovely wife is calming.

Then to the non-ideologically sound Starbucks for a couple of hours, had a cup of tea and a small breakfast, and wrote an aesthetic manifesto. Then up to the gym. A man, possibly Brazilian, pelted after me to ask in broken English if I had left my phone in Starbucks. I hadn't, as it was the Japanese woman who was sitting next to me had plugged hers in under my table.  But an extraordinarily nice thing to do, as I was already 40 yards down the street.

To the gym, where I did another half hour on the cross trainer, and then walked home through Preston Park. Walked through the Rose Garden, which was beautiful and aromatic. Paused there to dip my nose into several flowers like a large bee.

Home and worked with Betty on some Edinburgh form filling, emailing, marketing and other business. A quiet evening in with Lorraine and Betty, who is increasingly excited about moving out with John in August.

Diet rather disrupted by pints yesterday, but there were no carbs in the evening tonight.

Below in the rose garden. The two painted figures in black and gold always intrigue.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Pints with poets

The morning crouched under The Cloud of Things That Must Be Done. Mostly Edinburgh stuff. Outside windy and rainy. Lorraine off to school, Betty having a quiet duvet day.

Did this till two thirty then met Sarah Barnsley and Robin who came to the Preston Park Tavern. We discussed Telltale Press, and drank beer, and then gossiped about poets and poetry. Not the usual way of spending a Tuesday afternoon, but cheerful. Robin positive and cheery, as was Sarah. Felt like all the good things had been salvaged from Telltale, as we move onto another phase. Got home a little after 7:30, cheery and with my top hat slightly askew. I always learn lots when talking with those two.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Back at the Kenny nerve centre

Lorraine having a senior leadership meeting in the house. We got up at 7:00pm, which was mild mannered by usual standards. 

I sat at my desk in the Kenny nerve centre, slowly picking up the threads of what needs to be done. Quite a lot, it turns out. I want to do is finish the novel, but the organising to be done for the Edinburgh adventure is jangling my nerves and has to be done first. I bought indemnity insurance for the play. Betty appeared in my study, and I had not seen her for a while to talk to, and she and John are getting excited about renting a flat together. I told her I was already getting empty nest syndrome.

Went to the gym at lunchtime, and had a little more gas in the tank than the day before yesterday and managed half an hour on the cross trainer. Good to be exercising again, as I feel particularly unfit at present. Then we walked back home and resumed work. Enjoyed the commute home from work once I was done, and Lorraine's senior leadership team had left, which I achieved simply by walking downstairs. Lorraine and I watched the second episode of The Handmaid's Tale today. A really good TV adaptation I think. 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

A Sunday saunter

The execrable Calliope waking me up at 5:30 again. Pesky thing. I got up to make some tea and feed it. Weighed myself, I seem to have put on weight since yesterday. The graph on my app is going completely the wrong way.

Lorraine had designated today to be her day of work. I phoned Mum this morning, and then slunk off to meet Catherine and Tanya in a pub called The Geese, for Sunday lunch. It was a celebration of Tanya's birthday. Guy and Tim were there, and Wayne. A very cheery lunch, surprisingly good too. I had roast pork belly, and we all sat by a big open window with the sun coming through. Then we wandered down to the Level where there was a tent of Vegan food providers. Things like Vegan Baileys were to be had there. We'd all eaten Sunday roast so felt a bit rebellious.

Great to see Catherine again, and hear how she was fresh from a triumphant Book Sprint. The idea is to lock several academics into a room together over four days and get them to produce their chapter, which is then proofed and edited there and then and published as a multidisciplinary book on the last evening.  She'd overseen the whole process. Wayne had been up partying all night as usual but managing to keep things together with his usual elegance. Guy talking about how much he loves the Edinburgh festival, and Tim talking to me about spirituality and the fairy movement. Tanya telling me about how she came to Brighton and met Catherine, and about living in Reading beforehand. We all had some ice-cream and a walk by the sea, until I bade them all farewell and made my way home. A really enjoyable afternoon.

Felt happy and free today -- finding myself enjoying things like sunlight, and good company and feeling more relaxed. Lorraine still working, bless her, but she had confined it to one day which was good.

Saturday, June 03, 2017


I am fat and unfit. We are going on a diet and I went to the gym today. I downloaded an app and loaded my weight onto it, and set my target. It makes a nice graph. Keen to get my next reading and start the downward  trend.

Scooting about in town with Lorraine. I bought myself a watch, as I had been watchless for two or three months having dropped my watch face down in the gym and all the numbers falling off it. I broke most of my own rules about watches, because it has an olive green face. At least it doesn't have Roman numerals, but it only has 12, and then lines. Also it has a date and three mini dials. It looks quite retro though, in a good way. I have checked my wrist fruitlessly for weeks, and now I don't have to, which is nice.

Home and barbecued some sausages and chicken. I did this not without personal crises as the wind was swirling and coming from every direction at once. Eventually and eccentrically I had to deploy a large golfing umbrella to allow the charcoal briquettes to do their glowy business.  Rosie and Innis came around and we drank beer and sat in the garden. Innis came and looked at the barbie with me of course. Naturally it had been hot all day, but a cold wind had sprung up and the ladies were wrapped up in fleece blankets. We ate indoors, chatting and listening happily to Spotify and eating lots of things including barbecued bananas.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Homeward bound

Up and off early today. Cheery goodbyes from the folks at La Barbarie, and a last Guernsey Breakfast. A nice, friendly cab driver and dropped off in good time at the airport. Very sad to see Guernsey slip away underwing. A jet on the way home, and a decent flight.

Big fluffy clouds building into towers here and there. A woman in the row behind us talking continuously to her child, in an unbelievably piercing voice. I noticed her talking first from right across the airport lounge, and I could hear her from a hundred yards away as we walked in the corridor towards the little domestic flights carousel room at Gatwick. I was pleased to get out of earshot.

Home easily, as we had parked the car at Gatwick. Home and found Pat and Maureen there, all looking sunburned having fallen asleep on deckchairs on the pier. Maureen said she was hypnotised to sleep by the i360 going up and down.

Home and we decided to go to some gardens with Pat and Maureen. Drove to the Sussex Prairie gardens, but as soon as we parked the gar it started raining in big spots, so we drove off to a garden centre instead where we had a good sandwich and bought lots of plants. Home again, and sitting in the back garden watching Lorraine put up the baskets.

Pete arrived, as I opened the door, Lorraine's long bearded nephew was just visible in an enormous cloud of vaporiser steam. A Gandalf at your front door moment. He said he had been drinking red bull all day and drove here at 110 miles an hour from Ashford.

Fond farewells to Pat and Maureen. Lorraine said Maureen had left me a present in my study, and when I went up there, there was a yellow flowered succulent I had admired in the garden centre on my desk. A lovely present. I discovered later that it opens its flowers when the sun falls on it, and closes up when it doesn't.

A slothful tiredness on my this evening. And a quiet night sipping restorative mineral water with my lovely wife.

Me and Lorraine on the plane, and Guernsey, viewed from the west, disappearing underwing.