Friday, April 21, 2017

Noticing things

Still feeling cheerful. Helped by not having to work on the train first thing. End of week-ish and a bit braindead. Bought tea from man on the The Daily Grind stand, and shunned my sweetener as more news this morning that artificial sweeteners in soft drinks increase your risk of dementia and stroke. Listened to the football podcast. Brighton a.k.a. The Seagulls, are about to be promoted to the premier league, which sets up the potential for loyalty dividing Chelsea V Brighton football matches.

A gleam of various ideas of things to write, as I walked from St Pancras to the office.  Noticing things again.

Keith and I were given quite a bit to do. After takeaway sushi lunch, there was the usual agency Friday afternoon crisis, with work that needed doing urgently at 5pm. We pulled it off, and I still managed to catch the 18:08 from St Pancras. Another drunk on the way home, in a very smart suit in his early 40s, who sat down heavily on me then, having muttered in apology, lolled about asleep, and on three occasions tried to rest his head on my shoulder. My patience wearing thin, if he had done it a fourth time I was tempted to punch his head. Luckily for both of us, some spidey sense in him prevented this.

Home to Lorraine at last, thank God. And no French work to do tonight. Finally heard from my Paris pals, and they had liked the last idea I had sent to them last night.

The flowers I sent Lorraine had arrived during the day, as it is her birthday tomorrow.  She had spent the day quietly working from home, but had also cooked us stuffed peppers which were lovely, these, abetted by a cans of lager, and a glorious encounter with the gold sofa was exactly what the doctor ordered. An exhausting week, but pivotal too.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Out of the tunnel

Everyone up with the larks this morning. Lorraine up before me, and driving John and Beth off to hospital, where John was having a small op.

I felt like I had emerged from a dark tunnel today, suddenly feeling happier than I have felt in some weeks. But the work unrelenting. On the train this morning, then a full day of Keith and I digging holes, only to be told to fill them in again, and then home to see my lovely wife, eat stir fry and then start work again till gone ten.  I have heard nothing from lovely French clients, however, so that was my last piece.

Cramped on the train going home. Beth called me, bored as John slept off his anaesthetic. Sitting next to a man of the train who was furtively tucked into several cans of beer from his case. He crushed them all into the waste bin before he left, and walked down the platform swigging mouthwash. I finished the evening with a whisky with my wifey, and then bed. Tomorrow is Friday. All is well.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A gloom

French work first thing today, as I travelled into London. Then a full day up in the smoke. Had sushi and poetry rejection for lunch. Felt beset by gloom. Bob called me to say that he was feeling gloomy, but I gloomed at him before he could gloom at me. Keith confirmed I was a bit gloomy today, which makes you feel even gloomier.

Snuck out ten minutes early to get the early train just in time to pass a clot of my new colleagues. Train delayed obviously. I worked on the train a bit, and happy to get back to Brighton, and enjoying  the walk back from the station, looking over my shoulder at the colours of the low sun.

A cheery supper, with Beth and John, who is going to hospital tomorrow for a quick op. Hearing about their recent awake break in a hotel. Then upstairs to the no rest for the wicked department. Sent off another idea to Paris. Then chatting with Lorraine, and talking in bed till late, which was a bit crazy as we both had to be up with the sparrows.

A non-gloomy shot I snapped yesterday on the way to work. Newton.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A long slog

Up at six fifteen, and off into the cool but sunny morning. Into town, and sloping into work. Several talks about work we might be doing, without too much being demanded today. My lovely French clients, however, spoke to me which meant I had to work on the train and at home. All a bit of a long slog.

Lunchtime, I spoke to Mum and Mas while sauntering in Russell Square. Mum slowly getting herself organised. I put off inflicting myself on her this week, and will pop up next week. Walked to Waterstones bookshop, but delayed buying lots of books till I can actually afford them, which will be soon I hope.

Stuff from the Edinburgh people about get in times, which luckily Beth was on top of. Also emails with Sarah Barnsley, who I like a good deal, about the Telltale Anthology.

My inner Charles Pooter was appalled that the lovely vegetarian chilli Lorraine had cooked wasn't ready for me as soon as I got home. Normal roles reversed, Lorraine was aghast. Very happy to be home, on the gold sofa with my lovely wife. Then in the no rest for the wicked department, off to do more work. Toby Facetimed later but I was in zombie mode by then and migrated to bed as soon as I could.

Below Mr and Mrs Pooter.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Decline and Fall

Slept like a baby, apart from the attentions of Calliope this morning. Fed her and Brian, made tea and sat in bed with Lorraine and I caught up with my blog. Then up as Dawn came around for coffee. I left the ladies chatting and worked on my French stuff for a couple of hours, sending some ideas off to Paris.

Spoke to Mas a couple of times. Mum now back home, which is good.

Heard from Richard, and his new collection is going to be published by Blue Ormer, which is splendid.

I needed an afternoon of indolence, feeling tired and depressive. Lorraine and I went for a walk around the block, then zombied in front of TV. We watched the Anchorman The Legend of Ron Burgundy, film, having never seen it before. Mildly amusing. Then all of the recent BBC adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall which was very well done, funny and well paced. A brilliant adaptation I thought.

And so to bed, setting my alarm for 6:15 tomorrow. As Nigel Molesworth might say, Chiz.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Farewell to Sam and Scotland

A dreich day, rainy and grey. Met Sam in the Cafe 33, where we were told it was going to get colder next week. I had a full breakfast, which included black pudding, and Lorraine and I talking about a diet of lettuce when we get home. Sam caught the train with us to Stirling, and after sad farewells had left in search of an airbed.

In the cafe I was able to get through to Mum, who sounded bright and said she was on the mend, and hoping to go home in the next day or so and was now able to eat and drink and was on her third bag of water. She had had pancreatitis after the recent biopsy and had been unable to eat or drink and had been in a lot of pain. I felt happier having talked to her.

Sad to see him go, and as the train pulled off it seems that Bridge of Allan was a long way from home again. To Edinburgh, then the airport by tram. Uneventful time there, and the flight home slightly less obnoxious that the first one, but cramped and trapped doesn't help. I like the signs over the gates at the airport, saying Haste ye back! We will be returning in August, so their wish comes true.

Feeling very tired by the time we got home. Lovely to be on the gold sofa, eating a light stir fry and fruit. Mason called saying he hadn't been able to get in touch with Mum, however I gave him the ward number but she they had spoken when I called later.

An earlyish night, shunning Match of the Day as Chelsea had been beaten by Manchester United.

A last glimpse of the Wallace Memorial from the train.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A lovely day and a frayed nerve

A lovely bright day. Lorraine and I met Sam and did the Darn Walk, much of it alongside the River Allan rushing through the woods, and then skirting a golf course down to Dunblane. A beautiful walk. One favoured by Robert Louis Stevenson, and a cave by the river is said to have inspired Ben Gunn's cave in Treasure Island.

Then into Dunblane, which seemed a very pleasant quiet town. Terrible that for outsiders it still is most famous for the deadliest mass shooting in UK history where tiny children and a teacher were massacred by a crazed gunman in 1996. Seeing the little town makes you think about the trauma it endured. Everyone must have known someone who was directly affected.

We had a nice hobbits' second breakfast there (having eaten a banana first thing) and then went down to the little station to go two stops to Stirling.  Enjoyed seeing a poster for the trains with the headline, 'Your ticket to fun filled places, and excited wee faces'.

Into Stirling, also a lovely-looking place in the sun, where we went into a cafe called the Sable and Flea, for a quick coffee before venturing next door to a gentleman's tailors. Here to get the ball rolling on getting a stylish suit for Sam for his wedding. There was a room full of burly men in kilts when we arrived, and there was all the paraphernalia of traditional scottish clothing there. Kilts, and gorgeous jackets in some amazing colours, and kilt hose, and colours for the socks, and more sporrans than you could shake a stick at. Sam favouring a blue three piece suit, and having chosen the fabric, and paid a deposit, and made an appointment for Sam to be measured up, made off back to the Station (very clean and free of graffiti as all of them seem to be), to return to Bridge of Allan.

Then a bit of downtime, having done a fair amount of walking. We tried to book a nearby restaurant called the Bologna, but were unable to get a table. Lots of the food places here are run by Italians, and there seem to be a fair amount of people of Italian background here, including the owners of the cafe we eat in in the morning.

At tea time, we went to have another fish supper at the Allanwater Cafe. The haddock was perfectly cooked and delicious. Leaving the cafe en route to the magical Allanwater Brewhouse, I decided to call home to see how Mum and Mas were. I'd had a vivid dream about Mum the night before which had reminded me to call them. I said hello to Mas and asked him how he was, he said fine but said Mum had been in hospital for three days. He had been in to visit her with Robert today, and she was much better. Something had flared up after her pancreas test last week, and meant she was in lots of pain, but the was now being controlled.

Somewhat alarmed by this, let Toby know, and then went back to the hotel to use the power of Google and get the number for the ward she was in. I spoke to her nurse who said she was comfortable and okay, and was being settled in for the night. She took a message from me. Let Toby know this. Then, nerves a bit frayed, went back to the pub.

Drank deep of the 70/- beer, which was lovely, and had a good night. Musicians playing in the pub tonight, and it full and cheery. Lorraine talking to family on the same table, whose son was at Stirling doing an MA. We were there till the end, and this brilliant pub's Narnia like qualities on full force, and quite hard to drag ourselves away back into reality.

Below, shots of the river Allan, and along the Darn Walk, including the Stevenson bench and cave, part of the the sporran section in the House of Henderson tailors, inside the haven of the Allanwater Brewhouse.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Toddling around town

Breakfast in cafe 33 (which we are think of unfairly as cafe 666) again this morning, and a bit of a ditto day. Sam went off to do some work at the University, and I went back to the hotel and worked in the quiet of our room on the thorny French brief. In this tranquil atmosphere, with Lorraine playing on her iPad quietly on the bed, I soon got to grips with a couple of ideas and felt happier enough to stop working.

Lorraine and I then had another afternoon constitutional, this time at the top of the town, with rather nice views and gorgeous house-envy inspiring houses. We saw what we thought was a bullfinch attacking a parked car's wing mirrors, and then pecking at its darkened windows. Obviously spring making it feel territorial to the point of fighting itself.

It had grown quite chilly, and Lorraine looked into some charity shops, and then we had an afternoon coffee and a scone in a busy cafe restaurant called the Jam Jar. After a snooze, we met Sam and went to Bridge of Allan's one Indian restaurant, which was pokey and kitchen-smokey and quite pricey. But the food was pretty good, and we all enjoyed the food. We rolled down to the Allanwater Brewhouse again. What an amazing place. Here we played cards and supped fine beer and chatted, till it was time to go home. Sam taking some time out to read something Jade had written and comment on it, his face screen lit in the pub. Cool that they can critique each other's work.

A few not particularly well snapped photos around the town.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A day in the Bridge of Allan

Bridge of Allan then. Up and off to the local Cafe 33, where we met Sam and had a good breakfast, including black pudding. The place was empty at first, but it soon filled up. Very popular place. With lots of signs on the wall with signs such as  Service may vary according to my mood and your attitude and SORRY yesterday was the deadline for all complaints. Lorraine and I committed a faux pas by asking for more coffee when we'd already had our free refill, we were given some stonily, but without   milk.

Back to the Royal Hotel and we stayed downstairs in the almost swanky bar area, I made small progress on work for the French brief, and Lorraine did some sewing and tried in vain to change a password on a phone account. We had light bite, a bowl of soup for me, and then we went outside for a walk. A bit spitty with rain from time to time, but we walked about on the backstreets of the Bridge of Allen, unremarkable, but good to get some air. Then back to the hotel for a large snooze, and woke refreshed and met Sam outside and went to the Allanwater Cafe down the road. Rather busy, but the fish and chips and mushy peas all excellent, this down to advances in chip fryer technology.

Then Sam took us down an ugly little backstreet and we stepped into a wondrous beer Narnia, called the Allanwater Brewhouse,  an incredibly characterful place, serving eight own brew beers. I tasted three of them and they were fantastic. Very cheery night in there, playing cards with Sam in the gorgeous little bar.

Then we walked back to the hotel and had a glass of whisky as a nightcap. I had a ten year old Isle of Jura, being advised by whisky connoisseurs Lorraine and Sam who each had something different, with vastly differing smells.

And so to bed.

Below the Wallace Memorial like a ghost of the past, visible for miles, the circus at the end of the road, inside the glorious beer Narnia of The Allanwater Brewhouse, love the sign over the door as you leave.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

To Scotland

Up and packing this morning, then Lorraine and I set off by car to Gatwick, after fond farewells with Beth, Pat and Maureen. To Gatwick on time, and then by SleazyJet to Edinburgh. A hateful flight, packed in like battery hens, Lorraine was claustrophobic, and I was entertaining the usual gamut of neuroses.  Off at Edinburgh. Lorraine and I found our way out of the airport and onto the Tram which took us to Haymarket station from where caught Dunblane train, to Bridge of Allan. Dominating the landscape from the train was the beautiful Wallace Monument. I want to try to get a better look at this.

We arrived in the town on a sunny day, and it looked very pretty. We crossed a little bridge over Allan water passed the Chip Shop, and found the Royal Hotel, and went up to our room with a creaky floor, along an uppy-and-downy corridor in the part of the hotel which is just about to be refurbished. Nice enough place. Then along the main street to meet Sam in a pub restaurant called the Meadow Park Pub and Restaurant, where we ordered pints of bitter and twisted, a citrus noted bitter which was very nice. Tried to blend in by being jocular (arf).

Sam arrived from his philosophical seminar, to be much hugged. Caught up with him over a shared seafood platter and then Lorraine had sticky chicken, Sam had a pie, and I had a satisfyingly jalapenoed pizza. Walked back along the road, looking at Stirling Castle lit up across the dark valley, and the tops of the circus that has come into town. Early to bed tonight, after Lorraine had cunningly bought some big bottles of sparkling water, and emergency bananas for the morning.

A shot from the plane window of Inchkeith Island, in the Firth of Forth shortly before landing at Edinburgh, two of the rocks near it are called, I learned thanks to Google Seal Croft and Iron Craig.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Working from home

In the no rest for the wicked department, spent the day kicking against the pricks of a particularly thorny brief. My lovely French client Val had told me yesterday the brief was hard, and mon dieu she was right. Broke off to chat to Mum, or do the laundry or go for a brisk walk. But compared to last week's salt mine experience, this feels like a holiday.

Lorraine and Betty went off to London to meet Jade and Sian for an exciting pre-wedding shopping day. Pat and Maureen off by bus to see Janet and Ken. Maureen much impressed with Janet and Ken's new place, and she particularly loved the windows.

Cooked with Maureen, where I learned a lesson not to put too much milk , and hung out with Pat and Maureen watching TV till Lorraine and Beth returned with their booty, including swanky shoes for Beth and a mother of the bridegroom dress for Lorraine. Although Lorraine's fascinator went back with Sian in a box, to be unleashed on an unsuspecting world in August.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday is nice shock

Yippee for a Monday. Up fairly early, took Lorraine breakfast and tea and went into the nerve centre of my office and caught up a bit with things. In the afternoon was briefed by Val in Paris. Had an idea and got this down, but not the easiest brief. But overwhelming feeling of happiness not to be  cramped on a train. I went for a walk, which felt marvellous and freeing. Simple pleasures. Lorraine took Maureen and Pat and Beth off to an exhibition which featured some of Lorraine's pal Carolyn's work. Maureen came back with with an embroidered broach.

Sunday, April 09, 2017


A slow start to the day. Eventually we all climbed into the car and drove towards the sea. This hampered somewhat by the marathon that was going on by the seafront. Eventually, after all kinds of complications we arrived at the sea in Hove and sat on a wall and had icecreams and soaked up the sun. John arrived a little later, and splendid boy that he is, he brought us a tins of cold lager.

I'm still feeling wan and out of it, but being by the sea was nice. Touched by how supportive the crowd that spread all along the seafront were to the marathon runners. Must have been exhausting for them in this unusual heat.

Then eventually home again, having caught the sun, despite breaking out my straw hat for the first time of the year. Beth stayed with John, and we trundled home. I spoke to Mum and then we ate a nice supper. Weirdly Lorraine and I got sucked into watching the culmination of the Masters Golf final with Pat till all hours. I quite enjoyed it.

Below some beachside scenes. Tired runners, the big blueness, beach people, and a powered hang-glider flies along the beach.


Saturday, April 08, 2017

Hot and blue skied

Pesky cats seem not to understand that this is the weekend. Calliope waking me at six by sitting on me and passive-aggressively purring. Fed the beasts and returned to bed, then bought chewy brown bread and a Daily Mail and white bread for Pat and Maureen. The man in the butchers demanded to know if I was having a barbecue today, as it was so hot and blue skied. We didn't.

Instead, a day of regrouping. Lorraine coughing and not well, me worn thin and sore throaty still. Lorraine off to get her hair cut, Pat and Maureen off to meet meet Beth to eat a McDonald's and do a spot of shopping. I chose to sit outside  under the little tree looking at my poems and drinking coffee, all in preparation for a heroic afternoon sleep of two hours or more.

Then in the evening we all watched a movie about the life of Florence Foster Jenkins, which was oddly touching and enjoyable. The business of watching brave and noble Chelsea on Match of the Day, another victory and then bed. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

Free at last

Thank God for Friday. Up to the smoke one last time, feeling cramped on the train but working a bit on my collection of eight line poems, which has the working title of 'Everything nobody wanted me to say'.

A gorgeous day again. At work, a morning of faffing around talking to people, till Keith and I were given some work to do urgently which made the afternoon go quickly. I just couldn't wait to escape, feeling weirdly stressed all day, despite the fact it was my last day till after Easter.

Free at last, for a week if not being fully released back into the wild. I got to St Pancras with a few minutes to kill before my train left. Bought myself a can of cold lager at M&S, and went to the platform. Popped open the can, set it beside me and promptly knocked it onto the floor, and watched it gout out around my ankles. I managed to save about a quarter, which I drank from the dented can surrounded by a puddle. Sigh. Onto the train, and then eventually home, and dumped my bag and made off to The Preston Park Tavern, where Lorraine was with Pat and Maureen and Betty and John. Beth phoned me a touch earlier and ordered food for me and a whole cold beer which was waiting for me and undid many harms.

It was Maureen's birthday, and we had a cheery time. After we'd eaten, Beth and John went off to Hove, and the rest of us came home. Pat and Maureen went to bed early, and Lorraine and i watched a little TV, but both fell asleep at around the same time and woke up to find it was one o'clock.

A morning street view of Cartwright Gardens, and the bear in the basement which is beginning to stand for a lot.

Thursday, April 06, 2017


Poor Lorraine really struggling with a cold this morning. But went to work anyway. I tried to write on the train this morning, but the pesky new Thameslink trains are designed by people who hate commuters, and there is no space for your knees nor any tables other than in first class. However a cheery Danish singer sat next to me at Gatwick and, not knowing the rules, spoke to me. She was here for the premiere of a film, where her voice was used on the soundtrack.

Walking along Tavistock Place (where Carl once lived) and enjoying the proximity, just one door between them of houses where the whimsical Jerome K Jerome author of Three Men in a Boat, fame, and V.I. Lenin founder of the USSR lived, sadly though not at the same time.

Keith and I given work only sporadically today. Went to the pub at lunchtime where I heroically had sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon. Warm sun today, and we stood upstairs on the roof of the building drinking coffee for a bit, looking down at our shadows on the floor below.

Home without incident, and bought some chips to go with some chicken Lorraine had just griddled. One day to go, and both greatly looking forward to the end of the week.

Below Keith and my tiny shadows by the arrow, and the spiritually uplifting interior of St Pancras, and plaques.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

A bit of a slog

Porridge and toast with Mum and Mas, then I sauntered in the sun to Stanmore, thinking about the meaning of a dream I had had the night before about meeting a powerful goddess. A quick and easy journey into work. Then a bit of stressy slog this hump day with Keith. Rushing out to buy some takeaway sushi again for lunch. We were focused on getting things ready for a presentation we had to make at the end of the day. This went fine, and our stock still good at the end of it.

Home looking at my poems a bit on the train. I seem to have accumulated a collection of two dozen eight line poems, mostly very new. Up the hill from Preston Park station, still listening to Julian Cope music. Home to find a very coldly Lorraine and Beth sitting in their pyjamas on the sofa watching Masterchef. Happy to be home, and watch the tail end of it with them, and be mobbed by Calliope. Lorraine just two days away now from end of term, which is fantastic.

Early to bed again. It is the only way to survive. Rereading the sublime Diary of a Nobody at the moment, a few paragraphs just before I go to bed. I have tried reading it to Lorraine but she falls asleep instantly.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Making Mason yelp

Feeling more lively today, and decided to visit Mum and Mas tonight, without risking giving them the lurgy. Into work and finally told what to do (not an actual brief obviously) and simply got on with it, which was a relief.

Off at lunch to buy takeaway sushi, then eventually able to slip away up to see Mum and Mas. Had a turkey steaks and a good chat with Mum and Mas, plus a few glasses of wine. Talked about lots of things, including Gerald, whose funeral Mum had been to recently.

Mason's new hearing aids are brilliant. The television is on quietly, and he can eavesdrop on people when he's out and about, discovering that where he was in the street nobody was speaking English. Best of all, when I put my head into the front room to say goodnight to him after chatting with Mum, he yelped and jumped out of his skin.

To bed and slept like a baby, apart from when a police helicopter hovered over the street for ten minutes or more at one o'clock.

Monday, April 03, 2017


Feeling a bit sweaty and achey today. Lorraine coughing and sniffing somewhat. A day of paracetamols again. Back to work with little enthusiasm, but trying to do some of my writing on the train. Reading my children's novel and making tweaks but quite happy. I also had to turn down other freelance work for the week, which is always slightly twitch inspiring. Spent all day waiting to find out what they wanted us to do next. Attended a meeting where this was discussed, which naturally started at 5pm. I simply walked out of this some time after six, as I wasn't going to let muddle stop me from getting home.  Feeling sweaty and grumpy didn't help.

Home at last. Spoke to Mum and arranged to stay with her the next day. Lorraine and I creeping into bed as soon as possible, in all work and no play mode.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The first Mongol of the horde

Anton around this morning to discuss Educational matters with Lorraine, and help himself to a couple of enlivening coffees. Once he'd zoomed off the pottering began. I did some in the garden. I mowed the lawn, that was moist and long. Lorraine and I pulled a few weeds up, and trimmed back a few plants, and sat in the hot sun in the corner of the garden drinking coffee watching a snail progress at speed towards the vegetation. The the first mongol of the ravaging horde.

Then I did some business admin stuff, and Lorraine did a bit of headteacher stuff. Spoke to Mum and Mas. Had a delicious Sunday roast dinner and then headed for bed early, after a spot of ironing. The very stuff exciting blog narratives are made of.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Blue sky day

A rather glorious day today, where Lorraine and I decided to have a fun day, and drift about as the mood took us once we'd got up. We walked into town, had coffee, went shopping for a few bits and pieces. I bought a new pencil case. Last of the big spenders. Then we walked down by the seaside and along slowly to Hove. A bazillion people all sunning themselves by the sea.  The beach front a bit of a building site at the moment though, with areas being rebuilt.

Found out that one of my poems will be on the Guernsey buses this year.

Then we walked up to Hove, popped in to see Wayne, and arranged to see him later, then walked down to find Janet and Ken in their new home. I didn't know the address, but we tracked it down fairly easily, having seen a photo of it, and noticing Janet's car parked outside. They had moved in on Friday, and were still adjusting. A lovely downstairs apartment, big and roomy with loads of light today. A quick cuppa, and walked back towards Brighton stopping at the Paris House, where we met Wayne and a friend called Florent, a really interesting young French guy who loves drawing and does illustrations. We sat outside the pub, chatting to various folks and then Wayne's pal Jonathon arrived  who Lorraine and I hadn't seen for some years. He's now into magic. Florent's twin brother Baptiste arrived, who was equally charming and interesting. Beth caught a bus and joined us too, and the one drink turned into several, with Lorraine buying some charcuterie. Inside the pub a jazzy, Hot Club de Paris style ensemble were playing. A really cheerful scene.

Then a cab home, watched a bit of Match of the Day but lost interest as Chelsea had lost. To bed eventually.

Below: the hordes on Brighton Beach, and the weird, bricky amazingness of St Bartholomew's in the sun.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Be careful what you wish for

A delicious lightness and sense of freedom this morning on the way to work. Reading Violence by the   philosopher Slavoj Žižek which is quite entertaining. A warm day, and cheerfully anticipating being released back into the wild. Bumped into Slug on the way to work and we arranged to meet up at lunchtime in the Marquis Cornwallis pub near both the agencies.

So having sent out a call to the universe for a bit of cash, instead of being let go, Keith and I were offered two months more work. Then we heard the stuff we'd been working on this week had gone down brilliantly with the client, and our stock is high. Keith and I went to discuss our options in the pub and decided to go for it, as this will soothe the Kenny coffer concerns in one hit and Keith felt he couldn't turn it down either. Both of us a bit rueful though as other projects will have to go on hold, such as finishing my blinking book which is so close.

Having communicated this to the agency, I went back to the pub to meet Slug and Karam, and other Tavistock Square chums. A feeling like a proper agency creative again, which is bittersweet. Then back to the agency, a bit of extra negotiation, then the agency had some free drinks in the office at 4 seeing as it was the last day of the month, and I made off home.

Arrived in Brighton (eventually) and found Lorraine on London Road and we went for dinner at Semolina restaurant with Lorraine's headteacher pal Penny and her jeweller husband Steve. By ten, however, I was keeping my eyes ajar with matchsticks.  Nice meal, and nice folks who were kind enough to give us a lift back up the hill.

The apparently inescapable agency bear.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sole watching

The gloom and general out-of-sorts-nessthat afflicted me over the last week or so rapidly abating. Work okay, and Keith and I had something purposeful to do all day. Worked in an area (they have no seats for us so have to wander about the building) where there was natural light from above, the glass floor above. Watched people's feet from below, their soles the only thing properly visible. And had a few laughs.

A hot day today, and we walked into the nearby precinct and ate in the outside in the sun. I had a rather good bowl of udon noodles.

The work we are doing has gone down well. We were asked back next week, but this was then reversed and I picked up an email on the way home which released me and Keith back into the wild, so tomorrow is our last day. Can't say I'm too sorry about this. Now waiting on another job I should hear about tomorrow.

Home late, and Lorraine had a parent's evening, and we went to the Preston Park Tavern and had a bite there and a couple of glasses of beer. Feeling happier than I have felt in a long while this evening, and just enjoying time with Lorraine.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The solace of midweek woof woofs

My mood much better, and I felt more energetic and cheerful. I was also able to leave work a few minutes early so got the earlier train. Sadly almost finished the Julian Cope book now. Reading his humorous and honest account of general rock and roll madness was somehow weirdly refreshing. It is the first time I've read an actual book, other than poetry books, on the train for a while, usually preferring to listen to audiobooks. I will have to go back to Gogol again after this interlude.

Spoke to Lorraine on the train, and Mum as I walked towards the Joker where I met Anton for a very overdue pint and bowls of woof woof wings and curly fries. Great to see him, and generally talk about several things that needed talking about. Sloped up the hill afterwards, after Anton caught a taxi home. Lorraine still awake after a slightly hideous day at work.

The weekend is in sight now. A long time since the ticking of the days off in the week has seemed so important. No idea if I'll be working tomorrow or next week yet. Another job on the horizon waiting to be confirmed too. I'm all about the Kenny coffers at the moment.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Walked down to the station this morning, as Lorraine was able to sleep in a bit having a meeting. Absorbed in the Cope book there and back on the train. It is a double sided book, like Richard and my A Guernsey Double, with the two books of his memoirs on it, Head-on and Repossessed. How these people stayed alive is beyond me. While high on a cocktail of drugs, one of the games the musicians played was called Sock, where Cope would put a sock over his head and climb out of a window across the roof of the moving tour bus and in through another one on the other side.

I arrived at work feeling irritable. However as the day wore on things improved, and Keith and I worked together cheerfully enough. Bought some sushi for lunch. Supportive text from Lorraine made a big difference. Also Anton and I arranged to have a cheeky bout of woof woof wings with a beer tomorrow.

Last minute changes in the presentation Keith and I were putting together meant that I didn't get home till nine. Chatting with Lorraine as I left the building, and it seemed ages till we were together.  My lovely Lorraine cooked me a stir fry and all was well. Early to bed.

Monday, March 27, 2017

In search of a touchstone

Gerald's funeral today. Toby and Mum went to it, and it passed off well apparently. I didn't go to it, but am full of mixed feelings about what was for me a failed relationship, and his death is taking up a lot of mental bandwidth for me.

So off to work. Trying to think about money, but generally sunk in loom at the prospect. The week seems like an incredibly long time. Reading and enjoying my Julian Cope book a great deal fortunately, and it it taking me away back in time, and Cope's transparency and honesty about this car crash time of his life, is refreshing. Feeling really out of sorts at work. The chronic disorganisation of the place is maddening, and the lack of clarity does my head in. Also jobs that I would do in minutes are taking me ages. I'm not thinking clearly, which is a pain in the neck for Keith.

Journey home aided by Cope's recollections of acid-crazed times. Very pleased to be home with Lorraine tonight. Had a chat with Mum and Toby, who told me about the day. Sad that Toby is off tomorrow morning, without me having seen him.

Then very soon after, exhaustedly to bed.

Below I forgot to mention I had a poem in The Frogmore Papers last week. It was tucked in at the back somewhat.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Thai Sapphire

Another slow day, and one robbed of an hour. Lorraine and I very washed out still, especially Lorraine. We rallied enough to get up and paint the front door, a colour called Thai Sapphire, which is a dark blue with a hint of red. I like it. We have to give it a second coat at some point. I spoke to Mas and to Toby today, successfully flown over from Canada last night. By chance a group of his pals (aka the Rabbits) were having a reunion not far from Mum's house, so he turned up out of the blue with a suitcase. Today he and Mum had been wandering in Hampstead.

Tobs and Mum off to Gerald's funeral tomorrow. Then back home on Tuesday. He and the Romster are moving into their old house on Thursday which has been rebuilt to groovy new specifications, which is really exciting.

A nice supper today, and Betty home for the evening, saying the door looked very blue. Early to bed, after gingerly replacing the door knocker and letter flap. A full week next week.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Top Cats and a Night Shift

I was awake annoyingly early, thanks to Calliope. But we got revenge as Lorraine drove us along with Brian and Calliope to Top Cats. Calliope complaining all the way.  Calliope needs some dental work, which will cost her two teeth and us an arm and a leg. Such a nice vet there, so gentle and charming.

Home after driving into town to buy cat food and picking up a prescription. Home, and Lorraine conked out exhaustedly on the sofa and slept for hours. I don't think she is very well. I slept too, then stated reading the highly enjoyable Head On, a memoir by Julian Cope, I heard discussed on Radio 4's a good read.

In the evening Lorraine, Betty and I off in the bus to Hove where we went to The Exchange where we saw John's band, Night Shift. Jess and Andrew came, and Rosie and Innis, and Innis's brother. Beth's pal Laura came too with her rather nice boyfriend, Brahim. I had to drag myself out tonight, feeling very tired, Lorraine was too, but actually we had a really nice time. John, actually smiled while drumming at one point, which was worth going there for alone. Nice to see everyone. Some dancing too, including one chap who was around my age dancing wildly, which was excellent.

Very happy not to be in a train at any point today. A taxi home, and so to bed.

Below The Night Shift boys at their funky business.

Friday, March 24, 2017

In favour

Final push up to London for the week. Feeling very tired. However an easier day working with Keith, and a Danish woman called Marie, on a new brief. Marie disturbed by our process, a mixture of spleen and wildly hilarious flights of fancy. Heard the work we'd been doing till last night had gone down well with the client, and had rescued the agency from a tricky position. So Keith and I in favour for now. Also contacted by another agency about an interesting writing job in the pipeline.

Went to The Marquis Cornwallis for a fish finger sandwich lunch, with a beer. Really enjoyed working with Keith again, although both of us felt ill this week. I don't laugh with anyone as much as I do with him at work. Laughing at lunch, over our fish finger sandwiches. Then afternoon passed slowly, fiddling with a few ideas.

Trains delayed again, just missed one at St Pancras, and the next one delayed, and then further delayed due to trespassers on the track somewhere. At some point a person with all their belongings in a rucksack, who looked like they had been sleeping rough, sat nest to me. Poor guy, although his aroma did sum up the week's travel.

Arrived at Hateful Heath almost 40 minutes late and caught a cab to Bolney where, having disembarked and walked through the graveyard under the stars and into the school for the PTA quiz night. Lorraine waving at me from the table, and I was handed a pint of beer as I waked in. Unlike last year's travesty, we were in a full team this time and the questions weren't all about Bolney. We won, and it was all quite friendly and cheery. Lorraine drove us home and we arrived after midnight. Exhausted, but happy to be home.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


Lorraine not having to get up, and I walked down to the Preston Park station, passing the Preston Park Hotel where the madman who drove into people on Westminster Bridge had been staying, apparently going about his business in a pleasant and cheerful way.

A busy day, finalising everything for Adrian's big client presentation tomorrow. Cat herding going on, and found myself being given a new job at 6, but this then melted away. Liking the people in this agency though.

More train cancellations etc. so I didn't get home till about nine thirty. Sank gratefully into the gold sofa, had some food and a can of beer, chatted to my lovely wife and then simply went to bed.

Searching for the perfect image from online photo libraries. Keith in his Chewy teeshirt, and a cheerful Scouse art director Paul.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sad news from Carl and trouble in London

Dry toast this morning, and feeling queasy and tired.  Lorraine drove me down to the station.  The train broke down half in and half out of Blackfriars station, something wrong with the doors or brakes or something. Amazing how long it takes for a train to empty out when only one set of doors is open. More than twenty minutes. Almost half an hour late to work, walking there in the rain.

A strange day, with the most excruciatingly badly organised teleconference with people in New York that I have ever been a party to. Managed to leave early, however after missing the early train. The sound of a helicopters outside. As this afternoon a lone madman had driven into people crossing Westminster Bridge, and killed a policeman just inside the houses of Parliament. He was shot dead.  Now I'm writing this at the end of the day, it seems that five people are dead and 40 were injured. Dreadful stuff.

The next train was cancelled. I took another train but this was delayed blah, blah. Another poor journey. But looked over towards Westminster and ironically there was a beautiful sky, with deep pink clouds.

I talked to Carl, after he texted me saying his brother Rory has died. Rory was Carl's older half brother, who I knew as a lad, but I hadn't spoken to him since my early twenties. Carl a bit numb, but as is often the way, he had some mixed feelings about Rory. By coincidence a tough day for his business too, so not the best of times for Carl. Good to talk to him though.

Home and thinking about bed quite quickly. However feeling noticeably better than I was at the same time yesterday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Slightly unbearable

Up at six this morning, and feeling perky. Made porridge and tea, Lorraine kindly drove me to the station and off to London. Doing some work on the train. When I finished doing this, I realised I was feeling nauseous. Luckily I was sitting by the toilet, so felt reassured that if I needed to spew there was somewhere to do it. Into work, and felt sick all morning, struggling on with the brief with Keith, who was also under the weather.

The briefest of pop out to the local pret a manger for a roll then back to it. A lengthy presentation, in which I didn't do too well, to round the day off. Feeling hot and sweaty today. Still, I have been offered another week's work there after this one, which is a boon.

Heard from Carl today, that Rory, his brother, is seriously ill. I told him about Gerald.

Home, passing several armed police inside St Pancras Station. Did some work on the train for my French friends. Luckily Lorraine collected me as she had been late at school due to a parent's meeting. Home, speaking to Laura who was in her car. She and Beth had been out hunting pokemon, and found a pokemon gym apparently. I don't know what this means, but I think it is good.

Lorraine cooked a very fast stir fry and we went to bed very early.

Menaced by a stuffed bear on a slightly unbearable day.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New boy

Up with Lorraine today, and off to St Pancras today to work at an agency around the corner from the one I normally work at. Chaotic place, and feeling like a new boy, as I'd never worked there. Luckily I am partnered with Keith who has been there for a couple of days. No seats, their wifi is dreadful for 'guests' such as ourselves, a dire brief and Keith already flinty about the eyes. Still, good to see him. Popped out to get some sushi at lunch from the nearby supermarket which has a Japanese staffed sushi bento type lunchtime service there. Worked for the rest of the day of the crap brief, and left shortly after six. Home by 8:20 and when i got there Dawn and Lorraine were sitting opposite Betty, who was filming herself for an audition for a job in New York.

Chatted to Dawn afterwards, who has lost her mother recently and is trying to get everything sorted with her family. Nice to see her.

Lorraine and I off to bed, not needing to be rocked to sleep tonight.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A day of rest

Traditional late start for Sunday. Did a bit of work, and spoke to Mum to arrange seeing her on Wednesday. Lorraine and I took things out of the dungeon to go to the tip, got a shopping delivery, and Lorraine did lots of cooking.  I read more of Noughts & Crosses. We watched the final of the Big Painting Challenge. I girded my mental loins for a week of work in London. An early night.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thai Sapphire

A late morning, although I got up to take my lovely wife some breakfast in bed, which included walking down to the shop to buy the requisite chewy brown loaf. Then went to Brewers to choose paint for our front door. We chose a colour called Thai Sapphire, which is a blue with a hint of red, which I hope will vibrate nicely with the orange brick, or so I told the woman in the paint shop. I felt a bit middle class immediately afterwards. Then off to see Janet and Ken for possibly the last time in their Powis Grove house, as their move is imminent. After cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, Janet gave us a nice chair to take away too, which was very kind of her.

Then home, where I simply slept on the sofa for a bit, before we went out again with Betty off into Hove to have a curry with Rosie and Innis, after a single drink in The Wick Inn. I enjoy chatting to Innis a great deal about music and art and so on. Rosie about to go to Rio, and will take Innis with her as her personal photographer. A nice enough curry afterwards and a bus home.

Friday, March 17, 2017

An interlude with Bob

Up early doing some writing, then dealing with the door people who rehung the door and fixed the problem. Then down to Preston Park and off to Trafalgar Square where I watched people scrabbling about between the paws of Landseer Lions at the Base of Nelson's Column and being unenthusiastically controlled by people with whistles. Some folks wandering around with St Patrick's day Irish tricolour hats and so on, young women with shamrocks on their cheeks.

Bob had been a bit delayed, and arrived saying he had vision problems and chest tightness. After a quick triage it seemed that it was a migraine, and that he had been rowing this morning on his rowing machine. He bought some migraine pills and we found a cafe. However as we walked in, the Italian bloke inside was weirdly rude, and so Bob turned on his heel, to the denunciations of Italians as we left. I helpfully reminded him that he was a cazzo as we left. Thence across the road for a drink and a sandwich. These seemed to have therapeutic efficacy upon Bob. We then went for a drink. The coke helped Bob, and the pint certainly helped me.

Then to the National again, having been there last week with Lorraine. Went to see the Australian Impressionists exhibition, which was wee and quite interesting, and interesting for me to compare to the Canadian plein air painters. Enjoyed mooching about in the National, and Bob and we found a fascinating painting by Salvator Rosa called Witches at their Incantations.

Thankfully Bob sufficiently recovered at this point to go on something of  a pub-crawl through some of the most characterful pubs in London, we popped in at The Seven Stars, The Princess Louise, and the Cittie of York from where we loped off to find a Chinese restaurant, which was surprisingly good. A cheery evening, and something Bob and I have done periodically for years now. Long may it continue.

Fond farewells with Bob at Charing Cross, and we got the tube, and made our various ways home.

Below A detail from Witches at their Incantations I snapped at the National, by Salvator Rosa (1615-1673). Particularly liked the wax doll with pins being shown to a mirror. The Princess Louise, one of the many splendid pubs we stopped at. This one a grand old gin palace, with lots of compartments. Miraculously this photo of the bar area makes it seem empty, it was in fact rather rammed.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

In and out of the fog

A good morning's writing, although Lorraine called me on the way to work saying Dawn's mum had died. I texted Dawn for both of us while Lorraine was driving. It had not been a surprise, and she had family all around her when she went at home.

Personally, I was feeling clearer in the head today. I have been in a bit of a mental fog all week due to Gerald's death and Andy's death and beginning to get twitchy about money. But a week's work has arrived for next week, thanks to my pal Keith, which offers welcome boost to the Kenny coffers, and with a new client to boot.

Then off to the gym, also much needed after being locked indoors for the last two days. Walked down with Betty who was also off to her gym for a frenzied personal trainer workout. We left in sunshine, Betty in shades, and by the time we reached Preston Circus we had walked into the cold sea fog which was covering most of the City and crept back to cover the whole town later. I've never known a  winter here with so much fog and mist.

I then went to buy five lots of keys for the new door. And was educated on the types and varieties of keys, and the new non-standard keys coming from China. Then to the gym a quick 35 minute workout then I undid all my good work by going to visit Janet and Ken and sharing eccles cakes and other fancies I'd bought en route. Janet cheery as they move in two weeks. Ken looking well and had recently been on a long uphill walk, a feat only to be encouraged by after recent events.

Home and did a bit more writing in the evening, on poems this time, and filled in a couple of freelancer forms for the place I am working at.

A long and difficult week for Lorraine this week. I cooked and then made the mistake of trying the new keys in the door. The keys are all find, but the deadlock does not line up with the hole in the door frame. A schoolboy error, which made me feel cheesed off, on what had (Dawn's mum aside) been a better day.

To bed early.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Door day

No hangover this morning, which was just as well as a man called Alan came to replace our front door and the door frame, so the day was full of drilling, banging, and machining of various types, especially when he was joined by a mate later. Despite this, I had a good writing day, though was unable to escape for any kind of a walk. Spoke to Mum till the drilling got too bad.  Was phoned for a job that I couldn't take, which was a bit galling.

A nice evening with Lorraine and Betty listening to music and chatting. I heard a Good Reads Podcast where someone chose a book by Julian Cope, the leader of The Teardrop Explodes, and it sounded excellent. I read a few pages of it on Amazon and have ordered it. Listening to post-punk music today such as Talking Heads and The Teardrop Explodes and Joy Division, which is not my usual auditory lurking ground but quite fun for a change.

Our front door and frame being taken apart.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A slow worm's belly

Slightly sadder and wiser this morning. Drinking lots on a school In other words, a hangover. However sat with Beth as we sent off our registration for Edinburgh. So with a venue booked, and registration made, we are committed.

My productivity today lower than a slow worm's belly. But I hope for better tomorrow. Lorraine and I enjoyed watching The Big Painting Challenge, in the evening. Amateur artists challenged to produce pictures of ballet dancers. I like the way the painting process is shown, and the tips from the experts. It is making me want to do some daubing myself. An early and highly sensible night.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Out with mates

After recent events, finding it hard to concentrate today, and so found myself doing things like ironing and laundry instead of pressing on with the story. In the afternoon I took myself to get a haircut and go to the gym, and this was helpful and found myself much clearer headed than before. 

Went out at 5:30 to meet Glen and Richard in the Evening Star. Glen fresh off the plane and looking cheerful and well. An enjoyable chat with them, and arranging to meet up again soon. Richard had been over to Greece recently and had played with Glen doing his Shakespeare Heptet material. Steve unable to come because of a leg injury he got while putting the clay pigeon ejector away at his shooting club, which sounded ouchy.

I walked down past the Brighton Tavern only to find Matt standing outside having a cigarette. So I simply joined Matt and Reuben for a drink. Great to see them. A very sociable evening, although drinking on a school night possibly not the most sensible thing, I felt it did me good to get out and see some mates.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gerald dies

A note from Mum this morning to say that Gerald had died. Spoke to Mum about it. She had spent some time today with the Emin Society, her brother Alex used to visit for some discussion about meditation. Spoke also to Toby, walking along the street with Romy, both wrapped against the unseasonal -20 cold. Everyone pleased Gerald had moved on from a deteriorating health condition he would have hated. I felt glad too that he wasn't suffering any more, of course. For me his death is being processed at a deep level, and obviously I felt sad too.

Spent a day at home today. Played a game of Scrabble with Lorraine, and we organised accommodation for Matty boy and Isy's wedding in the summer. It will be a tent, albeit a very comfortable one. Also Lorraine sorted out accommodation for Edinburgh also in August. Chatting to Betty about it, as there are unknown bits and we may have to recast the show because of Dylan having a long rep run. It's all unknown territory, and a bit scary for Beth. But fortune favours the brave, especially when we have Lorraine's full support too.

Spoke to Janet this evening. Her house move is dragging as these things do.

At the end of the day, I discovered that a four  of my short squibbish poems have now been uploaded onto this US site called The Basil O'Flaherty.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

To London for culture and Katie

Lorraine and I had an afternoon zoom up to London today, by way of doing something cheery. We went to The National Gallery and then into the Portrait Gallery. Just a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. Gallery behaviour so different these days, and it does make me feel like an old curmudgeon.

I'd not been to the National for years. People walk up to deathless masterpieces of art, take a photo of it on their crap phones and wander off without giving it a second glance, or perhaps take a selfie with themselves in it with Van Gough's Sunflowers over their shoulder. The fact that you can download better images of the pictures from the internet. Anyway. Lorraine and I found ourselves sitting down near the Constables, and we looked at these over familiar images for some time. I've not really looked deeply at them since I was a child, as my tastes have moved on somewhat. But they really are astounding in lots of ways.

Great to see the picture of Moulin Huet too by Renoir. Also extraordinary is the picture by Joseph Wright of Derby of An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump of 1768. In it a white cockatoo is being suffocated in a bell jar as a demonstration of the effects of a vacuum.

Left the National, just as a feminist march against male violence was culminating in Trafalgar Square. A lively scene, and I was interested by how they were going to go about this, beyond the slogans. I think it is a radical idea.

Thence to have a sandwich and a cup of tea, in Pret a Manger, before popping briefly into the Portrait Gallery.

Then we strolled down to Embankment and made our way to the Bag O Nails pub to meet First Matie. Katie and I have used this pub as a place of emergency drinks in the past, to discuss life important life events at critical times. Great to see her, in a non-smoking very healthy and cheery looking Kate. Lots to discuss, including her gradual moving into a new home in the Forest of Dean. It had been too long. A few drinks there then fond farewells to Katie, who was heading back to West London, and Lorraine and I scored a couple of guilty chicken burgers and measly fries to eat on the train back to Brighton.

Found ourselves falling into a conversation with a father and son from Jersey, who were Arsenal fans, proving two wrongs don't make a right.

Home at a good time and lay on the gold sofa sipping sparkling waters.

Obviously I took an idiotic shot of the Renoir too. Lorraine standing by a statue for nurses, not wearing a pigeon on her head fortunately. And the scene at Trafalgar Square, with a floating Yoda and many protestors and David Shrigley's giant Thumbs Up statue, which makes me think of Dr Seuss for some reason.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Andy's funeral

Another misty day. Lorraine dropped me off at Preston Park Station this morning and I went to Gatwick where I met Pat and Barney having gone through security. Off this morning to Newquay to go to Andy Wilson's funeral. Met Pat's second cousin Liz who was with some others who had worked with Andy at a different agency.

I got lucky with the seating and had two seats to myself, on the Flybe, and sat by the window. A blanket of cloud broke up a bit over the North Cornwall coast and I could see the beaches of the rugged coast before we landed. The airport smaller than Guernsey and with no luggage we were all through in no time, and into an eight person cab, which hared us off through more mis to the crematorium on the outskirts of Truro, we were slightly late but crept in nevertheless. Andy's coffin there.

A misty day here too, and I was interested to see some of the countryside as I had never been to this part of England before.

Then, standing about outside, Barney, Pat and I were given a lift by Lloyd, a cornish copywriter who had also worked with Andy. We drove off to a lovely church on the outskirts of Newquay called St Columb Minor Parish Church where there was a remembrance for Andy. The vicar who had been at the crematorium clearly knew Andy, who he called Drew, well. We were asked to write messages to Andy, and I wrote one about laughing in a bucket, as Andy had told me that to make a party a success I had to get a bucket. He demonstrated in the office with a metal desk bin and laughed hollowly into it, and invited me to follow suit. It worked a treat.

Andy was my art director for about a year, and when you work in a two person team like this spending all hours together, it is fast way to get to know someone really well. He was a genuinely lovely man whose life span out of control.

The saddest part was a film shown with clips of Andy talking and laughing and messing about with cameras, which brought a tear to my eye. His uncle and brother and former partner Ali all spoke too, and nobody glossed over his terrible last few years battling alcoholism. But everyone was reminded what a sweet, handsome and talented man Andy was. His and Ali's children are teenagers, and I remember seeing them as toddlers.

Then off to the Bristol hotel, high on the seafront for a reception. A few Cornish Doom Bar, and sandwiches and several big platters of Cornish pasties. Nice to hang out with Pat and Barney. The three of us broke off for a seafront walk for 45 minutes. On the way back we bumped into Andy's uncle who asked us if Andy was any good at his job. We were able to reassure him that he most certainly was. When we went back to the hotel the party had thinned, and I sat with Andy's Mum and his brother Patrick and his wife (who live in Singapore) and cousin for half an hour or so chatting. Nice to share this time with them. Andy's mum invited me to stay with her if ever I find myself down this way, which was very kind of her.

Then a taxi back to the airport, and a fast journey home. Walking up from Preston Park I called Mum, to hear that Gerald was still holding on.

Met Lorraine in the Park View where I had another Doom Bar and we had a quick bite to eat. Home and happy to be with Lorraine, after a sad day, that I am pleased I was part of.

Below the the photo that was used for the service of Andy. A beautiful man with a beautiful soul. Some snaps from the plane, over the River Camel, along the north Cornwall coast towards Newquay, and coming into Newquay airport from the Celtic sea and three uninspired snaps of Newquay.