Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Bird on a wet wall

Lorraine drove me to the station. Work. I took full advantage of my lunch hour to mooch along the canals. The folks I am working with are mostly decent. Snapping the painted heron on a waterside wall. I've enjoyed walking along the canals very much. There are pockets of beauty all along it, everything from the floating leaves on the dark water, to the reflections of brightly coloured barges.

Some of them are stinky though, when their engines are working. One or two places along there river, there seems to be meeting points where a few bargemen (it's always men) gather some of them drinking from beer cans. When I walk far enough there is a stretch under a flyover, there are two legless armchairs propped against the concrete and barbed wire wall there. They make me wonder who sits there at night.

Left pretty much on time, and trundled home reading the Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich book. It is short, but unrelenting. In the last couple of weeks, I have scribbled a couple of new eight line poems in the style of the others I have been working on.

Lorraine staying late at a Governators meeting tonight. I warmed up some of yesterday's pasta, and supplemented it with fruit. Spoke briefly and tiredly to Mum, and did some bits and pieces of my own in preparation for the Austria trip. Lorraine home late, and we chatted briefly and looked at the work Cass has been doing, before bed.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One Day in the Life of Peter Kennivich

Went to bed at 1:30am last night, waiting to sign off a document. My colleagues, however, had simply not let me know that the document was signed off without me, despite being in constant touch till gone midnight. Deeply unimpressed by this, but I took the sensible decision not to rage about it. More luckily, however, I am going to be able to work from home after I get back from Vienna next week should they need stuff doing. So I will be be returning home (from Heathrow, gah) next Thursday with a song on my exhausted lips.

Lorraine working from home this morning. Walked to the station. Feeling tired on the train and trying to meditate. Once at Paddington, it was a particularly busy day, juggling urgent jobs. By the afternoon a strange calm had descended, and I slipped away on time. I had managed to go for a walk along the canals at lunch too. Have been walking over 10k every work day.

Home on time, and bought Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich at Victoria. However was too tired to read much of of the Stalin prison camp story, but what I read was  grim and good.

Home and Lorraine still at work, so cooked pasta and a sauce and when she came home we slumped bonelessly on the sofa. A glass of wine, and comfort food with my lovely wife, and Calliope restored the soul somewhat. Then a much-needed early night, with Lorraine reading a bit more from The Book of Dust.  Two days down, nine to go.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Only work

An annoying day. Typing this at 11:45pm and still waiting for something to come through for me to sign off for work. At least I negotiated doing it from home. Only another ten days of this in a row. Gah.

Nothing other than work and getting home late and waiting for work today. A nice walk in the drizzle at lunchtime. Passed under a bridge with three noisy boys smoking weed, and accidentally got half a lungful.

Nice notes from my pal Tracey today.

Beth much spoiled by John today. Lorraine tired and still coldy.

A walk along the Grand Union Canal at lunch. A snap as it passes under the west way.


Betty in the Eagle

Up early and made breakfast early. A morning of laundry, and moving things from one room to another in the bedrooms. I also got a chance to try on my Santa suit, it made me feel Christmassy. Apparently, I will have two elves and be installed in a library, where, under my baleful influence, the children will learn to associate an interlude of Santaphobic horror with reading and books.

Then Dawn came in her car, and drove us down into town where we went to The Eagle, where John and Beth arrived quickly. Beth sporting glamorously-curled birthday hair. We had the upstairs room, and it was a gathering for Beth's birthday. A cheery afternoon. with drinks and good Sunday lunches. Good to chat with John, and James who I think of as a kind of kindred spirit, and Amy, and Dawn and Rosie, and Alex and Luke, and Wayne popped in too with one of his pals. Just a cheery afternoon. Lorraine and I bought Beth some driving lessons. I see it as a good investment.

Then home, and generally running about doing stuff all evening. Lorraine grimly slogging at her work with a cold.  I did laundry to make sure I have enough for the week and the days in Austria that follow immediately after, where I will have to dress very smartly. Also had chats with Mum and the Tobster.

Below Beth and John, and myself trying on my Santa uniform.





Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hovish interludes

I made us breakfast in bed this morning, nipping out to the Choice Cuts around the corner, before heading back upstairs with Egg and Bacon sandwiches and more tea. Lorraine has a cold.

Looking at the wallpapering that Cass has done in the big bedroom. I like the colour. Eventually we got up, and drove into town. It was raining. We bought some paint for the other bedroom, and then went to where Beth was teaching to pick up my Santa clothes for when I get home after being in Vienna.

Then a spot of shopping, and returned home. An interlude of doing little on the gold sofa, before I caught the bus and went to visit Janet and Ken. I bought some brownies from a butcher's at the top of second avenue. Some amazing pies in there, and the brownies were great.

A good chat cups of tea and brownies with Janet and I very pleased to see Ken at home, who seems in good spirits. Janet is about to buy herself a Honda Jazz. I like the idea of Janet driving about in a Jazz.

Having seen Janet and Ken I sauntered up the road to Beth's flat, where Lorraine had just arrived with sniffles. It is Beth's birthday on Monday. Sat about chatting with Beth about a Santa and Elves business for next year, then we mooched off to The Giggling Squid in Hove where we collected a meal to take home. John doing a gig tonight to an audience of Finns.

An enjoyable evening, sat around eating Thai food and watching the first half of Zootopia, a rather good animated film about a lady rabbit who wants to be a cop.  We stopped this however, as Amy arrived, who is down in Brighton for the weekend, and to celebrate Betty's birthday. Nice to see Amy, last seen being left in Edinburgh as the rest of us headed South.

Lorraine sniffing somewhat with her cold, and so we jumped on an earlyish bus, and zoomed home for an earlyish night. After I'd watched a spot of Match of the Day, and a Chelsea 4-0 victory over the unfortunate Baggies.

Below, Betty and John, and me trying out my Santa uniform.





















Friday, November 17, 2017

Winter stiff in Autumn's bones

Up and had toast and tea with Mum this morning, before striding off to Stanmore. Passing a pile of frosted leaves in the street, and took a snap.  A fairly quick journey into Paddington, and the day fine. I snuck off for another wander around Merchant Square, and walking about on the floating garden, on a fairly bright day. The now traditional piece of work just before home time, but I managed to get it done and sprint off rapidly.

Raced to Brighton, speaking to Lorraine on the train, and I walked up from Brighton Station, and met her in the Preston Park Tavern. Nice to gulp down a cold beer, and have some quality time with Lorraine, telling each other the story of the week. A meal then home to cheery cats, and the attractions of the gold sofa. Another week done. Always feel happy to be in Brighton. I don't miss living in London.

I wrote a poem when I was about seventeen about the Autumn, and there was a line in it about  Winter stiff in Autumn's bones. This leaves brought it to mind.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

A joyful shoal

Kissed Lorraine near Preston Park station, then into London, reading. I had randomly picked up Canal Dreams by Iain Banks which I have carried in boxes from house to house for years. Now was the time I would finally read it. After 40 minutes I decided I hated it. The characters were cardboard, the writing useless and I didn't care what happened in this story, just as long as I didn't have to keep reading it. I gave it a good go though. Interesting how good writers can write terrible books sometimes, I googled it afterwards, and it seems that Banks thought it was his worst novel. I've only read the Wasp Factory, which while I thought was only okay, it was much better than this Canal Dreams. I had selected it based on my current spate of canal mooching.

Into work, and a reasonable pace of things today, rather than yesterday's machine-like slog. A walk at lunchtime, first to the Smiths in Paddington station and a futile search for something decent to read. Then I walked the opposite way down into the Paddington Basin. Here among the shiny new buildings, I found a temporary floating island, with planters of exotic long grass, and mats of plastic grass. From this I saw a shoal of small fish, almost certainly minnows. I found something weirdly joyful about the sight of the shoal moving slowly as one in the water, in the middle of a business area. 

After work I went up to Stanmore and walked to Mum and Mas, then drove off to the Jolly Badger, Harvester again. Inexplicable traffic jam in Edgware, involving lots of buses blocking the road. Mum not at first realising all the stationary cars were gridlocked, queue jumped the whole lot. A tiny man came out of his car in front to remonstrate, but mum gave him a positively gallic shrug and he went away.

Harvester weirdly busy, and the Christmas decorations were out. Nearby, as we left, there was a dozen or so older folks some of them in paper hats. I had some kind of Caribbean chicken with rice and peas, with a vile and weird sauce with the consistency of vomit.  I'll stick to the chicken and chips next time. Home, and had a long and enjoyable chat with mum in the back room drinking wine, as machine gun sound effects came from the TV in the other room. Spoke to my lovely Lorraine on the phone, and I went to bed at around eleven.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Matty in Glamoursmith

A day of slogging, loads of things to be looked at and written to meet certain deadlines. But the day sped by.  I managed to get out for a quick walk along the canals, while eating some sort of baguette. Strangely balmy temperature today.

I escaped work and tubed over to Hammersmith. The line went through Latimer Road, where Grenfell Tower is. The tower is very close to the station, but it was dark and perhaps thankfully I didn't see much. Arriving in Hammersmith felt odd. I knew this area so well for so many years, but I no longer feel I belong to it in any way.

I met Matty boy for a beer in the Thatched House pub in Hammersmith. Walked past one or two other pubs I have had fun nights in over the years.  First time Matt and I been for a beer in ages, and first time I'd seen him since his wedding. As usual, a wide ranging discussion. Felt really nice to see him. He ubered off home and I tubered off to Victoria, where I bought an overpriced chicken pastie and a bottle of sparkling water. Home at around 10:30, having caught a cab from Brighton. The taxi driver started speaking immediately, and he said that he hated the loneliness in his job and having nobody to talk to, when returning from long journeys, etc. until we arrive home. I went straight up to the bedroom, where Lorraine was snuggled in the dark. Calliope creeping onto me to purr noisily as I climbed into bed. It was good to be home.

Lunchtime canal snap. Only after a while did I notice the walled up doors and windows.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Slogging

A day of sluggish slogging. Lorraine at least able to drive this morning, thanks to her car being fixed. A truncated lunchtime, eating a rice bowl by the canal with chopsticks. Then calling Anton, briefly, and Mum, to arrange for me to use their house like a hotel on Thursday.

Trying to clarify when I'm needed till at work, and it seems I may have an extra few days to do in December. Lots of meetings today, and I finally got the brief I was waiting for, for the last few working days, at 5:30, so I did what I could and stayed for a couple of hours. Home at 9:35 after a taxi from Brighton, so not much of an evening before I went to bed. Lorraine had cooked spaghetti, which is my go to comfort food. Both of us snailed up to bed, too tired even for The Book of Dust.

Cass doing great work in the big bedroom.

Almost finished reading Mister Pip, today, by Lloyd Jones.  A good read, I'd say.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Flat start

A cold morning, with a nasty north wind blowing. A happy one for me, as when I went to bed my ankle was beginning to feel weird, and I was expecting an outbreak of Orc-foot, but this did not happen. Also the coldy feelings that Lorraine and I both had over the weekend did not result in bad colds. Lorraine and I scrambled into her car, but the pesky thing wouldn't start. I had to set off walking to the station, while Lorraine arranged to be picked up and had to get the AA round in the evening to replace the battery, which was dead as dodo. Lorraine remarkably calm about all this.

I got on my trains and as I stood up at Victoria, found I had been sitting next to Mandy, someone I'd worked with in Hammersmith years ago. Quick chat with her, before plunging down into the tube.

Work was fine, if dull. Work to be done, though. Short walk by the canal, eating chicken and avocado sandwich.  Home, reading a book called Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones that Dawn had given it to me for my birthday, and I am enjoying it.

Home, and Lorraine not late. Cass had been doing prep in the big bedroom, filling in some evil holes. And his tools were all there.

Watched Star Trek with Lorraine, which was enjoyable. I like the new Star Trek. Then bed, at ten, feeling very tired. Lorraine reading more of The Book of Dust. But Lorraine reading to me, is making me fall asleep.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A gaggle of us in The Geese

Lorraine and I slow at crawling from bed, a token breakfast then soon we were heading to The Geese, to celebrate Catherine's birthday, with a Sunday lunch. Wayne, Guy and Tim were also there, and we had an extremely jolly meal. L & I had pork belly. A cold wind, as befits a Remembrance Sunday. And colder still when we left The Geese and headed home. Usual great chats with everyone. Such good company. Lorraine and I both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I also complimented the woman behind the bar on her amazing stag beetle tattoo, and she said she recognised me from the Shakies Head. Planning with Tanya a self-employed people's 'office party' in Brighton.


Poor Lorraine had lots of work to do, I pottered about the house, did laundry, ironing etc. called Mum and generally had a bit of a sleep, as befits a Sunday afternoon after a good lunch. Doom-laden as I went to bed, as my ankle had started feeling odd, and I had forgotten to take my orc-foot pill in the morning. And so to bed. Lorraine reading from A Book of Dust again. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Low profile

Up early for a Saturday. Lorraine got in touch with Cass, and by luck (for us) he had a job fall through next week so is able to decorate the big bedroom and the spare one for us next week. I went into town to pick up the wallpaper Lorraine had ordered from the post office and have a haircut. The barber doing a dip as he circle around the back of your head with the mirror to avoid the bald spot. I called him on it, and we had a laugh.

Then home, both Lorraine and I lacking energy, and Lorraine feeling coldy. We went off in the afternoon to Hove, to talk about paint in a paint shop, and take five big bags of Beth's clothes and shoes to Martlets Hospice charity shop. Then we picked up Beth from teaching. We sat in the car park listening to the radio for ten minutes and talking about what the radio had mentioned, 'locker room chat of me'. I never speak to anyone in locker rooms. We looked at the i360 lit up like a UFO. I took an iPhone snap of it but it simply did not come.

And went back to her home for a cup of tea with her and John, and to drop off the dehumidifier as they are getting some condensation problems. Beth being very funny opening a beauty box that she had got from Amazon somehow, which included blue nail polish and lots of other stuff. She has two days extra-ing on Holby City next week.

Then home, to a much needed low profile night at home. Eating chicken stew and pistachio nuts and watching Stranger Things before an early night (for a Saturday).




Friday, November 10, 2017

Happy endings

Toast and tea with Mum and Mas, fond farewells, then I walked off to Stanmore station. A painless journey to work, despite it raining hard just before I got to Stanmore. Had the best day of work at the Paddington agency so far. The suit Dan is on the ball and helping me get everything sorted, and I was given some extra work on aesthetic beauty treatments that I did quickly and easily, feeling like I was being my agency self again in a way I hadn't been for a while. The day passed quite quickly, and It being Friday helped too.

Went to Pret at lunchtime and bought a wrap containing hummus and avocado and other green things. Instead of crisps I bought a packet of crisped kale. As I walked up some stairs a gust of wind blew this packet out of my hand, and showered the man climbing the stairs next to me with kale. I eventually retrieved the packet and scraped the rest into my mouth. Had a stroll along the canal then back to the office.


Home rapidly too, and Lorraine picked me up at the station. I had missed her even after one day. Once we found somewhere to park in our street, we went to the Preston Park Tavern, and had some grub and some beer, and lots of chats. A nice way to end the week. Then happy to be home, on our gold sofa.

Strange light this morning around Paddington. And the sunset glimpsed through a window in a pink agency wall. Felt for a moment that this was another planet.





Thursday, November 09, 2017

A sign

Working on poems on the train this morning. A big meeting this morning, and lots of work fell out of that. The day passed quickly. A quick walk at lunchtime, and I ate my solitary rice pot by the canal.

After work I travelled up to Stanmore. As soon as I arrived, we zoomed out again to go to the Harvester on the way to Mill Hill. Strapped on a protein heavy nosebag then. Really pleasant waitress made all the difference, as did a beer. Cheery time in there, Mas enjoying the salad bar. Then home, and I sat with mum and had a glass of wine with her in the back room and chatted about various subjects.

I went to bed quite early. In the bedroom I found a load of photographs Mum had been looking through. I snapped one or two with my iPhone, not seen several of them for a long time.

This one of Mum painting the name Chelsea on the gate of my grandparents house in Guernsey, is a historic moment in history of my family.






Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Bottlenecked

Took my laptop on the train and worked on my poems. The first Wednesday I'd not had a poetry reading since I've been working at Paddington, and quite a relief.  Still fighting for scraps of stuff to do at the agency, there will be an absolute torrent of work at some point, but it it all bottlenecked and I'm slightly dreading what will happen when it comes uncorked.

Luckily I had a few things to do, such as write some stuff for an interview Louise Tondeur is doing on her site, and writing a bit of blurb for Tess Jolly's new pamphlet. This I did quietly. Sloped off for a walk along the canals at lunch, chatting briefly with Mum, and to Anton and Carl. Not spoken to Carl for some time, and it was good to be able to catch him. Despite not having much to do at work, I am still finding the commute and long days tiring. Maybe its something to do with the flu jabs Lorraine and I had at the weekend, both our arms are still a bit painful.

Home on the train, reading a chapter of the Violence: Six Sideways Reflections, by Slavoj Žižek, and looking again at Interference Pattern by J. O. Morgan. Bumped into Reuben on the train as we approached Preston Park. Quick and friendly chat with him, before he cycled off to do yoga near Preston Circus.

Home, and Lorraine was home and had rustled up a gorgeous curry, with the sauce she had frozen into batches a couple of weeks ago. Lovely stuff. Enjoyed being with Lorraine tonight. The cats a bit weird as they are missing having someone around during the day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Poetry beats drizzle

A sluggish start for me, luckily dropped off at the station by Lorraine. The connecting train was cancelled, but I still managed not to be late to work. Listened to a few podcasts, read a story or two by Rachel Joyce. They are okay, but somewhat clunky. Finished the collection on the way home. A bizarre day when there was little work for me to do. This always a bit uncomfortable, as you can’t blatantly relax into doing nothing.

 However there were a few pleasant distractions. I heard from Tess Jolly, whose poetry I love, all dark and mysterious and asked to write a few lines for the back of her new pamphlet. Going through the MS, called Thus the blue hour comes and I found myself thanked in the thank-yous for having encouraged her in the early stages of this collection, which is was a lovely suprise.

And also this blog post about my winning poem, by J.O. Morgan on the Happenstance website. Very chuffed with this, as it is one of the new batch of short poems I wrote this year, which for me is a bit of a different style. J.O. Morgan took the time to thoroughly unpacks the poem, and there is nothing better than to know someone's really looked hard at something you made.

Lunchtime was drizzly, but I walked through Paddington station, and then down to the Italian Water Gardens in Hyde Park. It was drizzling steadily there, but I ate my ham and mustard sandwich outside anyway. The afternoon drizzled away in the office too, but the poetical events of the day had left me feeling dead cheery, as did the comments on Facebook and twitter about it. Also heard from old pals Mark Hartley and Kev Holmes, and got another lovely email from Charlotte.

Lorraine working late. I rustled up a stir fry for myself. Got a text from Lorraine asking if I could be Father Christmas at her school this year. Of course!

Monday, November 06, 2017

We, the sheeple

Up before the Monday larks with Lorraine, scraping ice off the windscreen before she drove me to Preston Park Station. A bright sunny day. Jumped off at Hassocks. Once on the Victoria train, started writing one of my new eight line poems about a Coelacanth. This jotted down, I started reading a collection of vaguely Christmas themed short stories by Rachel Joyce called A snow garden, a book that Dawn had given Lorraine and I a year ago.

As I got off the train I spotted Matt Colborne in the crowds. He'd been on the train with me. A brief conversation galloping across Victoria station, he is living in London now. We bade each other farewell as I joined the massive queue outside the tube, which was let in after not too long. Someone baa-ing like a sheep as we the sheeple flocked along and down into the station.

Into work, and not a bad day. Managing to get people to tell me what they want writing from time to time. Still a bit like getting blood from a stone. People quite chatty today. A walk along the canals at lunchtime in the sunshine feeling fairly cheery, as I mumbled on my Pret baguette. The second half of the day dragging a bit, but left on time, and made it to Brighton Station fairly early. Lorraine collected me, and we drove back together. The Sainsburys delivery man had just arrived, (we had both forgotten about him). A loquacious but friendly soul. We ate our plated up portions of Sunday roast and watched the new Star Trek, which was fun.

And early to bed. Lorraine reading alound from the new Philip Pulman book, La Belle Sauvage. 

Below overcrowding on the platform, so we queue outside to get in.


Sunday, November 05, 2017

A walk in Autumn woods

Up a little earlier today, and Lorraine and I determined to head off out into the country to go for a walk in a wood. We ended up going to the place we normally see bluebells in, and there was hardly anyone there. A bit squelchy but still very beautiful. I felt a bit wound up this morning, but walking through the wood and talking to Lorraine made me feel much better as usual.

We drove home, pausing to buy a chicken and some eccles cakes to consume with coffee in the afternoon. Lorraine then did some preparation for school next week, and I found another agent to send my Children's book to, as the one I've sent it to has not responded to either the original MS nor my follow up.

I found I had one a tiny poetry competition, which was nice. I will be sent a free book. The judge was J. O. Morgan, and I asked to be sent his new one. I have Interference Pattern, his last one, which I saw him read from in the last T.S. Eliot awards. Fairly pleased with this, as the theme was dreams and I sent in one of my brand new short poems, called Formication, (which is the word for when you feel like you have ants running on your skin). Pleased that someone liked some of the new poems.

Spoke to Mum and arranged to stay with her and Mas this week, and to Janet. Ken still in hospital, but not feeling as horrid about it as he was last time.

A Sunday roast chicken, then we watched the first episode of the new series of Stranger Things.

Below snaps from mooching in woodland. Lorraine like a wood elf, and just general trees.




Saturday, November 04, 2017

Indian Summer

Got up and went back to bed again several times this morning. I felt like Lorraine and I hadn't spoken much this week. And we didn't really embark on the world till the afternoon, when we went off into town and at four o'clock I was too late to get a haircut from my usual barbers.


Instead Lorraine and I got a flu jab at Boots. We were ushered into the room together, which was quite companionable. I don't mind having a jab, but I didn't like seeing Lorraine having one. We were told to hang about for five minutes afterwards. I sat down and immediately began to picture the rapid death I was going to experience through anaphylactic shock. Lorraine went off to browse happily in Boots before returning to shepherd me out, grateful for life. 

From there a short mooch to Indian Summer, a nice restaurant we've not been to before together. I think I went there once with Diane, Mum's old pal. Extremely tasty food, and a grown up atmosphere. We walked back, happy and full, through town, it still being only six thirty, and despite being momentarily tempted by the Basketmakers, we simply went home. Today definitely a day of recovery from a tiring week. At least next week I won't have to do a poetry reading in the middle of it, which I enjoy but takes quite a bit out of me.  The bliss of not having to get on a train today.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Pirates

Friday. Up and off to work. Lorraine dropped me at the station and I ran up the stairs and, puffing, caught the train by the skin of my teeth. Off into town, via Hassocks. Reading the last few stories of Good Evening, Mrs Craven: the wartime stories of Mollie Panter-Downes as I am on a mission to finish the books I started during the year. These home front short stories are mini-masterpieces of English manners under duress.

To work, and the security badge I'd begrudgingly been given didn't work. I was sent down to IT where I was greeted unnecessarily grumpily. I gave them grumpy back with interest and it was soon sorted. The day panned out as usual, having to mind read what people wanted, due to the absence of briefing. A pleasant walk at lunch, though loping along in a tired way and my knee was hurting. In the afternoon the word programme on the laptop they've given me froze, and I lost three hours work despite all efforts to recover it.

Asked by the CD to go for a beer after work, sat with him and Richard, who it turns out has a passion for electronic music and has met Brian Eno, and Jean-Michel Jarre and other notables in the field. Robbie also there. Pleasant enough, but I really wanted to be home. Left early, having heard the call of the seagull, and arrived in Brighton shortly before nine. Raining, so a long time to get a cab. The Brighton cab I got at the station began to take me to Hove. I had to correct the driver several times, increasingly grumpily as it became clear he had no idea where he was going. After a while I noticed that although he was in a Brighton Cab, there was no meter. I asked him if he were actually a cab driver, and he assured me he was. When we arrived home, he asked me to pay what I normally paid, which I did. Some kind of taxi pirate but at least he had taken me home eventually.

Home then out to collect a curry from around the corner, that Lorraine had ordered. At last I was on the gold sofa with Lorraine, a curry, a pint of beer and all well with the world apart from the cats. Calliope ran outside the front door, which she is not supposed to do, and would not come in. Several times went to the door and saw her eyes gleaming at me from under a car parked outside our house.

I blame the full moon. To bed, after starting to watch The Fog, but we were too tired and the zombie pirates were scaring Lorraine.

Below The Garden of the Divine.


Thursday, November 02, 2017

Sluggish then steady

Tired this morning, and very sluggish first thing but increasingly steady as the day wore on. Very happy I didn't drink lots of beers last night. But the journey to work fine. I get off at Hassocks to wait for the train to Victoria. Very foggy there this morning, and quite atmospheric. Finished We have always lived in the castle, this morning. Good book.

Victoria full of servicemen with medals and a military band playing Beatles tunes. They were there again on the way home. In the tube, there was a recording of Dame Barbara Windsor asking for people to give money for the poppy fund.

Work a little better. Have taken the initiative as there are no briefs, and you are supposed to know what to do by a process of osmosis. Still I had a nice walk at lunchtime, and walked a different bit of the canal, past big houses, one where Arthur Lowe used to live, and some lovely houses.

Home, and Paddington tube was closed, so I had to catch a bus to Victoria. Otherwise home, and ate some stew that Lorraine had defrosted. Lorraine home after me, having had a parent's evening.

Slumping on the sofa.

Below fog at Hassocks, Little Venice, and a band in Victoria Station this evening.




Wednesday, November 01, 2017

In the Poetry Cafe

Train cancelled, and a slower journey in. Standing outside the tube entrance at Victoria station, looking about me at everyone standing patiently looking at their phones. I looked at the sky, because you could see a bit of it. Eventually allowed to shuffle sheep-like down to the platform, and around to

Reading We have always lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, which I didn't manage to quite finish. I had read the first chapter to Lorraine a few times, but it was one of those that made her fall asleep. Quite like its American Gothic ways.

From work, which is disorganised and it seems I am going to have to do loads of long hours soon, which I feel wouldn't be necessary if they were a little more organised. Then a slightly trying journey to Betterton Street, and the haven of the Poetry Cafe.

Mum was already that, and all the poets, and Sarah Barnsley, who was on excellent form and doing the hosting. Sat with Mum till it was time to get organised. Sarah Barnsley was hosting the evening, and in good spirits. She and Abigail Parry are pals, and had much to say to one another. Abigail is really up and coming, and deservedly so. Her first book is out with Bloodaxe next year.

There was a good audience, quite a few young women. Robin read first and in a more relaxed way than I can remember, then Catherine, who was playful and excellent as ever.  I felt underprepared and tired, and I didn't enjoy my own performance as much as I had last week. Abigail is excellent, and has a sunny and positive personality which reminded me of Jade. Mum enjoyed the readings, and also enjoyed the woman next to her being amazed at the fact that she was old enough to be my mother. Which Mum was pleased about. It might be more about how ancient I was feeling.

Fond farewells to Mum, then Robin, Catherine and I grabbed a cab to Victoria, driven by a deaf cabby. A bit of a wait, and in Victoria I had a quick drink with the ladies, before catching the Brighton train. Train full of joyous Spurs fans who had won a European football match.

A long queue at Brighton for a cab, and then home at midnight. Straight to bed.

Below a photo of me looking like an Irish farmer, Abigail Parry, Robin, and Catherine Smith.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A spell of solitary

Lorraine gave me a lift to the station. But the trains cancelled, people held outside the platform at Victoria. But managed to get to work on time. Wandered by the canal at lunchtime, which seems to be a pattern now. It is lovely and a complete break and escape from the office. A solitary pleasure, and I always feel happy at lunchtime. Feeling a bit isolated at work but it is only for a few weeks and the money is welcome.

Today I read Wildfire by Richard Ford, finishing it just before arriving in Brighton. Really enjoyed it.

Below a view from the morning. I snapped the queue down to the platform. I didn't notice the girl looking back at me, which makes it rather a good photo I think. Something about the mood of the photo summed up the day.

Happy to be home tonight.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Canals and a cormorant

Back to work, this time with Lorraine getting up at the crack of dawn too. Clocks went back last night, so the day seemed to be lagging all day. I was given a lot of novels for my birthday. Reading print is much faster than listening to audiobooks. Today I read My name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Stroud. I really enjoyed this, an understated, rich and thoughtful novel.

Also had a pleasant stroll at lunchtime.  along the canals listening to a podcast about how dinosaurs evolved into birds. I came upon a prehistoric looking cormorant, which let me get closer to it than to any cormorant I have met before.

Pleased to be home, however. Watched Star Trek with Lorraine, which was something I'd been looking forward to as a Monday sweetener. And also spoke to Janet.

Below the prehistoric looking cormorant.



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Lamb and apple pie

A slow start to Sunday, and Lorraine grateful for the fact that the clocks went back. Roused ourselves eventually to drive off to Sainsbury's and buy some vegetables. Then Lorraine took her car to be mended. Thought I had lost my wallet for a while, but luckily I had dropped it in the car. Spoke to Mum, and later on called Janet, but I guess she was at the hospital. I also wrote a chasing email to the agent who has my children's novel. The process of trying to get people to look at your work requires a resolute spirit.

Beth and John came around this afternoon, and Lorraine cooked the massive shoulder of lamb that she had been given by the head of governors at her school. Obviously with my orc foot, which red meat sparks off, I was only able to eat a small amount of it. What I tasted was delicious. Lorraine made an apple pie afterwards, which was splendid. I like it when Lorraine gets serious in the kitchen.

The other three forking into it with great abandon, and Beth took back a large tupperware box filled with meat. Brian ate lamb too with enormous pleasure. He goes mad for roasts of all kinds, but has no interest in the meat once it is cold.

All of us rather tired after last night's liveliness. But fun nevertheless. John really liked the playing cards Anton had bought me. An early bed.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A fair amount of dancing by night

Calliope woke me up at seven, and once she and Brian were fed, I simply took cups of tea up to bed and caught up with this blog for a bit. Lorraine got up, went down the road and bought some bread and made us a bacon and egg sandwiches, and then simply came back to bed again.

Eventually we got up and went into town. I asked the lady bus driver to wait for a pensioner who was struggling to catch the bus, and found myself being told off in no uncertain terms for telling people how to do their jobs. Pensioner boarded, however.  In town I bought three belts, and Lorraine and I mooched about for a bit before heading home again. I had a judicious afternoon snooze, and then we went out again. Bus this time to Hove where we bought a few beers and went to Beth and John's flat where we had pizzas. Really nice to see Beth and John again. Beth has secured work as a Christmas Elf. Looking forward to the elfies on Facebook already. Lorraine and I met John's brother Dan for the first time. Dan lives in Acton, an area I know well. Then off to The Exchange pub, where John's bandmates Matt and Ed were going to play.

Dawn and her pal Charlotte were already there. And we bumped into Lesley Fairburn again, who had sung with Lorraine in the choir, and I got talking to her friend Dave, who was a really interesting guy who had built a charity. Talking to Ed about bass guitars, talking to Ed about songwriting afterwards too. In fact I did a fair amount of talking. And then a fair amount of dancing too. In fact we were all dancing lots.

Lorraine and I cabbed it home. My top hat slightly askew.

Below the band, Matt, John, and Ed, and John at the drums.




Friday, October 27, 2017

Indian Summer in Little Venice

Happy to reach Friday. Commute was fine there and back, and the day passed quite quickly as I was given a fair amount to do. Was moved to another seat today, and found myself opposite a planner called Severine, and we worked out that we'd once been colleagues for about two weeks ten years ago.

It was a gorgeous Indian Summer day, and spent my lunchtime walking by the canals looking at  golden leaves floating on the water, and the colourful barges. Spoke briefly to Lorraine too. Quite tired by the end of the day, and happy to be on the train to Brighton. Got off at Brighton station and walked home. Lorraine had cooked, and we were just happy to be at home together tonight.

Below, views around Little Venice, and sunrise at Preston Park Station.





Thursday, October 26, 2017

Wedding anniversary

So today was our wedding anniversary. Getting married to Lorraine clearly the best thing I've done.  I took my snoozing lovely a cup of tea and a card, and then melted away somewhat regretfully into the mizzley morning. Journey to Victoria fine, despite leaving a little later. The circle line doomed at Victoria, however, so after failing to find another way to the office I had to get a taxi. I was late, but luckily there had been a fire drill, and staff were outside on the street, so I cleverly blended in with them and nobody was any the wiser.

Work okay. I have realised that the way they want me to write for this project is in the tone of completely soulless corporate guff. Now I have understood this, the job should be fairly straightforward. The chief pain of it, will be as we get nearer the event, I will be called on at all hours to update copy and help with presentations and so on, which I think I can cope with.

Home, at last, and Lorraine had prepared us a romantic three course meal, to celebrate our anniversary. We ate by candlelight sipping a bottle of Blanquette and talked. A salmon and ryebread starter, followed by the best chicken and leek pie you can imagine, roast potatoes and veg, and then a chocolate pudding. Very romantic it was.

To bed, with one more day of this week to go.

At lunchtime I bought a wrap from a stand in the Paddington Basin, a built up area around the canals, which has little plazas and squares, then took a walk in the persistent mizzle and walked about the beautiful Autumnal canals nearby, in Little Venice. The Venice comparison a bit of a joke (see also Burton on the Water, " the Venice of the Cotswolds), but it was very pretty nevertheless. A gorgeous little escape. Below pictures of some public art, two men either end of a metal track, one walking another waiting. And then snaps of the canals.













Wednesday, October 25, 2017

World tour begins

To work again. At last some information about what they want me to be doing, and confirmation that I will have to go to Vienna at the end of November for four days. The American senior account woman, who is very chatty and bubbly, came and high-fived me at one point for writing a letter.

Briefly mooching about at lunch, as today they had given me a long list of work that needed to be done. A bit of inter agency banter on Facebook today. The French Bloke posted a picture of his office again, looking out of the window onto the River and all its intriguing fowl at Sunbury. I stood up and photographed a nasty bit of Paddington, with a jealous Bah! Robbie snuck a photo of me hunched over my laptop, with a Bah! And Matty boy posted a photo of Bei Li standing at his desk in Chiswick.

The big thing today was my poetry reading. Was fairly nervous about this all day. I felt underprepared. Also no chance to go through anything, or do any kind of rehearsal at all. Was even a bit twitchy about reaching the venue in time. However all was well, and I bumped into Sarah Barnsley at Brighton Station, where despite not eating I balked at buying a small sausage roll for £3.99.

TO the venue, and it was literally full of friends and loved ones. Bumped into Betty, John and James and Hus, downstairs. Lorraine was in the venue, having swept past the door woman with 'my husband's the poet'. Inside I found Lorraine with Dawn, Catherine and Tanya. I spotted Rosie, Innis and Finlay were there too. To my surprise Anton arrived too. Of poetical friends, I was reading with Charlotte Gann, and Brendan Cleary. Bit nervous of this as Brendan is an accomplished and famous poet and reader. Charlotte is quite simply a brilliant poet. Robin was there and Steven Bone, and Marion Tracey. In short I was more among friends than I have ever been at a reading. The Nightingale Room was full, and it was quite a bit busier than it had been last month. I'd say there were about 50 people. Michaela Ridgway organises it, and she does a great job. Was surprised too at the end of the evening, she pressed some cash into my hand for the reading too.

Charlotte read first, after lengthy introductions, from our host called Robin (not my pal Robin) who also spoke a verse from the Koran in Arabic, which rather surprised Hus, who talked to him about it afterwards. Charlotte read really well, despite a distant fire alarm going off during her reading. This unfortunate, although it did go perfectly with her subject matter. She read again in the second half, this time without fire alarm. When I went on stage the second time I urged people to buy Charlotte's book.

Then it was my turn, and although I started nervously I quickly got into feeling more relaxed. My policy now is to be as real as I can, have no airs and graces. I said words to the effect that these poems didn't come out of nowhere, they came from me and the life I lived.  I talked about struggling with anxiety in my 20s, and how this gave rise to curiously calm poems about Guernsey. I also delved unashamedly into the back catalogue. I started off with The Next Wish,  then The Boy Who Fell Upwards, then I talked about monsters and read Minotaur and Someone-else's Patch (or S-E's Wuss, as Anton calls it) then I read 1,000 Miles from Sea about Chad, and ended with Touchstone, back to a poem about Guernsey. In my second reading, I read new things: three poems from Sin Cycle, the collection of 24 short poems I've been tinkering with, plus a new poem Chrononaut (which is several years old, but I have completely rewritten it). My poems and performance went down well, and I felt the audience were completely supportive. It was the opposite to an anxiety dream, I had lines, and the audience was full of friends and attentive strangers. Just a lovely and memorable moment for me.

Brendan Cleary was fascinating. I had seen him read before, and many years ago had a one to one session with him for a few hours in Brighton. He was dealing in poetry, and in life, with the recent deaths of loved ones. He was very warm after the show, and we got to have a chat. I was amazed that he remembered our session ten years ago.

A few drinks afterwards, and lots of hugs and kisses with folks. Hus bought Lorraine and I a drink to celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow. Then Lorraine and I jumped into a taxi, and made off.

Climbing into bed with Lorraine, received a message from Charlotte which said: You... were magnificent. Such a star. And perhaps the most LIKED man I know! What a way to end the day.

Below photos Lorraine took of the three poets. The amazing Brendan Cleary and Charlotte Gann, and me with excellent shoes.








Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Less twitchy

Less twitchy going into work today. Little to do, other than read through things, and research the nature of the pharma company for whom I shall be writing copy. Sat through several conference speeches. It amazes me how these leaders of industry are a) so self congratulatory, and b) say so little in their speeches. It is full of business phrases but when you boil them down they say almost nothing. Fifteen minute speeches that can be boiled down to three or four sentences. It's a different world.

Mooched about in a solitary way at lunchtime again. Found an area just around the corner a bit like an amphitheatre with shops. Bought some food there. Then called Mum for a chat and started walking along a canalised, which was pretty.

Lorraine and Beth off at a spa day today being pampered together and getting some quality time together, which I was pleased about, as typically I got an in-house freelance job just as half term started.

Have been reading Autumn, by Ali Smith, which Janet had given me. Rather enjoying it. Also have been preoccupied with my reading tomorrow in Brighton. I've had no time to practice and am still unclear what to read, and there seems not much time to think about it.

Home, and happy to be there, eating stir fry with Lorraine and hearing about facial massages and healthy bobbing about in swimming pools with Betty.

Monday, October 23, 2017

New boy

So off to the new job. No travel card, so had to pay full whack, over £50. The journey to Paddington fine, although getting up in the dark all of a sudden a bit of a shock to a delicate creature such as myself. Looking forward to getting the first day over, as my last in house job during the Spring was pretty vile and so my confidence wasn't sky high. Hoping I wasn't going to get my satchel kicked around the playground. However, was sat in a corner, given a laptop, and sent loads of background material to read, and get my head around. This took all day.

One or two friendly conversations, and Robbie there too with Spore, who is someone I had once worked with slightly years ago. Went out for a walk at lunchtime around and about in Paddington, and ended up buying a disappointing sandwich. The loneliness of the new starter. Phoned Lorraine at lunchtime, and couldn't wait to be home again.

Managed to get myself a new travel id card too, had to find a photobooth in Paddington, which stank of urine, and take some passport style photos. £6, for five photos. Then I managed to get this all sorted in Brighton station in no time. Bought a monthly travel pass for £400 a no brainer against a £50 a day standard rate. Grabbed a cab home, where Lorraine had cooked a delicious curry.


A few sights at lunchtime. Where the smokers go outside Paddington Station, a view of more smoking and mobile phoning, a barge apparently which appeared to be designed by Fernand Leger, and Canada Geese swimming over a line of bubbles where the canal is being artificially aerated to reduce algae.





Sunday, October 22, 2017

A jaunt by the seaside

Sunday afternoon and a walk along the seafront with Lorraine. The sea still rough but the sun was out and everything was colourful and nice. A few good lungfuls of fresh air to be had. Then a coffee in a cafe around the corner from where Beth and John live (they were in London). A man in his nineties on the next table with two younger women, bright as a button and squeezing the lady cafe owner somewhat on the way out, before boarding his mobility scooter and zooming off.

Lorraine and I then went to Waitrose and did shopping, and we had roast chicken in the evening. Lorraine rather happy that no work to be done tomorrow.

I managed to ruin the evening in a futile search for my travel card, with which I am able to buy weekly and monthly season tickets for the train commute I will start tomorrow. Lorraine helped me search for an hour, and I searched for an hour and a half on top of that. But it is nowhere to be found.

Still we had a delicious supper, and I managed to talk to Mum and Janet this evening, while readying everything for work tomorrow.

Below: Lorraine in the sunshine, children by the sea, waves, and the pebbles strewn by the rough seas onto the walkway.






Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sea foam in the car park

Decided to do little of nothing today. A wild and blustery day. Lorraine tired and generally out of sorts today. But in the evening, wee drove us off to the Marina and we saw the Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049, which we both really liked.

There was something really interesting how all the characters in it were somehow yearning to be more human. It looked amazing too, really beautifully desolate. Out into the wild gale again afterwards, hearing the sea roaring and seeing sea foam in the car park was rather good.

Friday, October 20, 2017

A Belgian bun

Last day of freedom, trying to get various things sorted out.  This somewhat out of tune with Lorraine, whose last day of half term this was.

Spoke to Janet this morning and she told me that Ken was in hospital having broken his hip earlier this week. He is in the hospital at Haywards Heath, and so I went with her to see Ken in the afternoon. She picked me up at home, and brought me a aloe vera plant, and a birthday card. Poor Janet doing well under all the stress of it. And Ken is fairly comfortable. It is quite a nice hospital at Haywards Heath, but sad to see my old friend there, but nice to be with Janet. We had tea in the little hospital cafe, and Janet bought me a Belgian bun with a cherry on the top, and we had quite a cheery chat.

Late in the afternoon, Lorraine, now finished from school came to collect me from the hospital, and we drove off to Horsham where there was a local artists exhibition in the West Sussex council building. Lorraine's pal Carolyn was exhibiting her embroideries and flower art there. Lorraine seemed to know quite a few people in there. Met Mark Wilson, who had painted a small painting Lorraine had given me two years ago. He also writes plays. Enjoyed drifting about looking at the art for a bit, before Lorraine and I got too hungry and she drove us home.

I sprang out at Jenny's fish and chips and scored us two cod and chips. Lorraine had been developing on the way home a taste for a chip butty with a cup of tea to go with it. This the rock and roll way that headteachers reach the end of their half term.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Got the teeshirt

Properly hung over this morning. Went downstairs and discovered I was standing a few inches away from a dried up frog, brought in by one of the cats, probably Brian. Spent time clearing the scraped off wallpaper out of the big bedroom, although bending down repeatedly set my head throbbing. I don't think the dust agrees with me, making my sinuses sore straight after. 


Otherwise, a quiet day. I had send lots of information off to Paddington. Ended up having to take photographs of the documents and then turn them into PDFs, rather than simply scanning them as which took a ridiculously long time.

Today the person whose bicycle had been left on the road turned up. Lorraine's hairdresser Paul had put a message on a Brighton community page. The owner lived at number 111 on our road, and as we are 11 it was a bit strange. The thief had obviously cut through the lock, then cycled it a hundred yards or so and then got off it. Weird, and annoying. 

Lorraine home late, so we made off to the Red Chillies, and purchased a nice takeaway. She has one more day before she breaks up for half term. This, obviously, is when my work starts in Paddington, which is a shame. We crossed the road to the Park View and Lorraine had a much needed beer. I had a medicinal half a Harveys. In the evening I put an ironic post about the Peter Kenny World Poetry Tour, consisting in a reading in Brighton, followed by a reading in London. Kev, my old University friend, posted a picture of this teeshirt.