Sunday, December 31, 2017

Turning the page on 2017

Lorraine and I eased ourselves gently into the new year. I was happy just to be spending quality time with my wife. Calliope seems somewhat improved today too, which is good.

We went into town, in the rain and saw Star Wars The Next Jedi, just after noon. It was a good brainless hokum, with lots of spectacular zooming about in space and on distant planets, and various bits of Jedi malarky with light sabres. Of its kind, an excellent film. And it did manage to borrow a bit emotion too with the bits associated with Carrie Fisher, whose last role this was.

I had an outburst of eccentricity before the show, was in the loo having a strategic pre film wee, and suddenly had a poem idea. Trying to record it on iPhone just outside the gents, muttering some guff about rotten fruit into my phone, gained me at least one funny look. As I was doing this, Lorraine bought teas. Tea the perfect drink for a film starting at 12:30.

This done we emerged into the rain and decided to 5b it back home where Lorraine set about cooking the best biryani I have tasted in my life. Making it was a long process with lots of spice grinding, which Lorraine loves doing. We spent the night sipping champagne and sprawling happily on the sofa. Lorraine in head in a book mode  finished the new Pullman book at 2 am. Texts from Carl, Bob and Anton at midnight.

Few people I know will be sentimental about 2017, Anton in particular had a very difficult year, and I've felt up against it quite often, despite having so much to be grateful for. Being optimistic is harder than usual when the US president is Satanic, and the UK is investing all its political will into self destruction. But hope reigns eternal in the Kenny breast, so here's to a better 2018. But I'm going to keep my light sabre handy.





Saturday, December 30, 2017

A crook Calliope, and a deceptive door

This morning Calliope did not wake me up, nor was she sitting on my bedside table like an owl waiting to pounce on me the moment I showed any sign of waking. She remained curled up and sleepy, and didn't follow me to the kitchen for food in the morning. All abnormal behaviour for her. Lorraine and I went out this afternoon to Lewes. I had half convinced myself that my furry daemon  would be dead when I got home.

In Lewes, Lorraine and I mooched about in antique shops, with half an eye for a wardrobe to put in the big bedroom. Quite enjoy the random multiplicity of objects you find in antique shops, of which Lewes has an embarrassment. Lorraine and I looked quite hard, but found nothing quite right. Flagging we paused in a cafe and then made our way home, the train containing supporters of Lewes FC. In the evening I learned that Lewes play in the Boston League South, the same league as Guernsey FC. Next time Guernsey play there, I must see them.

Mum's birthday today, and we had a chat before suppertime. She and Mas had gone shopping today and had a meal at Nando's that neither were very impressed with. I also had a chat with Janet, who was about to enjoy reading all the papers with her house back to herself and Ken again.

Lorraine and I home again, and another blissfully quiet night in, and ate lots of vegetables. We watched a movie called Gone Girl, which was odd but interesting, as the still resolutely with us Calliope snoozed on my lap as usual. She was somewhat brighter this evening.

Below Lorraine and I passed this trompe l'oeil picture painted on a wooden door in a Sussex flint wall.  A portal into another world. Then two views of the River Ouse, which was living up to its name as it slid through Lewes. There is the Harvey's Brewery, the source of many good beers.



Friday, December 29, 2017

Homeward bound

Woke up in Edgware late, and went down to find Mum and Mas up after the talkative carer had been. Dawdled over breakfast of coffee and toast, chatting. Mas sharing his opinions about the badness of tattoos among other things. With weird weather over the UK today, lightning, snow up north and heavy rain down south Lorraine and I left at around noon, after fond farewells with Mum and Mas, and we left clutching a bag of Christmas goodies.

A slightly different route home cutting out a congested slice of the M25 pie. Despite heavy rain and water on the surface of the M25 we got home safely and the journey was much faster. For the first time in my life I had a conversation with Lorraine almost entirely in motorway numbers... yes we follow the M4 for a bit, then onto the M25, and head south on the M23. One day I will be able to talk to men at parties.

Once we'd had a cup of tea at home, said hello to Sonia and thanked her for the cake she left us, made to her Bulgarian recipe. We bussed into town. Lorraine bought socks, and I got my specs fixed. Lots of time trying to get someone to rescue Lorraine's iPhone. But despite trips to EE and to the Apple store where we talked with three geniuses for an hour, we liked the most senior 'genius' we spoke to at Apple who was from Toronto. Got no further with the phone, though. It seems Lorraine will have to revive on of her old ones.

Despite this,  Lorraine and I really enjoyed mooching about together. We hopped on a 5b and got off near The Shahi, where we strapped on a nosebag. Nice how, despite not being there so often, they still know us and what we like. Sloped up the hill home, and spent a quiet night together at home on the gold sofa, with the Christmas tree lit up, and some Vic and Bob on TV. All good.

Below, the M25 in its glory.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Off to Mum and Mas

Off to Edgware today. The sky blue and cheery. Morning trying together Lorraine's iPhone fixed, to no avail. Fond farewells to Pat and Maureen, who are going to stay overnight and feed the cats.

We had to stop off at Bolney on the way north, to pick up Lorraine's old phone. Then had a fast journey to the M25 where traffic crawled.

Eventually we arrived cups of tea and pistachio nuts and slices of the very lemony lemon tart Beth had made, which was extremely nice. Good chats with Mum and Mas, and we swapped a few presents. Mas pleased with the padded shirt I had bought him. Mum bought Lorraine a nice scarf and earrings. Mas telling Lorraine about Hugo Hamlin, his dad and we found one of the songs he had composed on the internet called I'm Going Back To Chattanooga Tennessee.

We made off in the car up to Bushey, where I had booked a table at the Horse and Chains, to have a little festive celebration and also celebrate Mum's birthday too.

Food not as good as I remember it, but still okay. Lorraine and I had goose, as I could not remember ever eating goose before. It was a bit tough but quite flavourful. A few drinks in the restaurant, Mason chatting at some point to two engineers at the bar, before we came home. Lorraine grabbed him and steered him towards the door. I could hear one of them saying afterwards, 'if half of what that guy was saying is true...'

Evening spent drinking wine, (which Lorraine joined in too) and listening to some of Mum's favourite tunes on her Spotify, including the heart rending Ne me quitte pas by Jacques Brel. Many conversations, and Mum saying again that she should write stories based around individual pieces of music. Eventually we lurched off to bed. I was very pleased we had seen them.



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Departures

Sian had left for London from Hove this morning. We had fun with her over the festive period.  Lorraine up early, then drove Beth back to her flat, then off to the station where she travelled up to be with John at his mum's in London. Then Lorraine had a regular check up mammogram. I had a blissfully slow morning, catching up with my blog and sorting stuff out in my study, while Pat and Maureen were elves tidying breakfast things down in the kitchen.

A quiet day, weather not terribly inviting. Lorraine and I drove to Hove in the afternoon to collect Sam, still croaky and unwell, and Jade. Brought them home to feed them, Lorraine made ham and eggs and french fries, and Jade ate the last of the mushroom wellington with french fries. Then we took them to the station. Fond farewells with Sam and Jade. I had really enjoyed seeing them. Christmas was a success, and Lorraine was very happy to see everyone, as was I.

Home and we sat with Pat and Maureen, watching TV and having a small beer. I love this lull between Christmas and New Year.  Phoned Mum to confirm our trip up tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Boxing day

A slower start this morning, although we were Face Timed in bed, by Beth who wanted us to get up. Sam and Jade and Sian staying over at Beth's flat.

After breakfast,  I walked up to the local co-op at Fiveways to buy some milk and a newspaper for Pat, drizzly when I left, it cleared up in minutes and on my way home, I paused to saunter for a while in Blaker's Park. The bright low sunshine, and fresh air blowing uphill from the sea gave me one of those fleeting, difficult to describe moments of utter happiness. Home saying that it was a glorious day, and after an hour or so Lorraine, Maureen, Pat and I got into the car and drove off to Hove, where we got out for a walk.


This walk less well-starred. The sea was an angry khaki and cold stinging rain began as we got out of the car, just as Lorraine was dropping her iPhone and smashing its screen. At the seafront by the huts we came across a dog with a square head, menacing a boy with his father fending it off. It then ran over to growl at me. Which pushed Lorraine's child-protecting buttons, and she made the owner, a 'but he's a good boy' kind of woman, come and fetch the nasty creature.  

We met Jade and Sian walking along, and I had a good chat with Jade, and learned more about the aesthetics course she will be teaching. We cut short our walk as the weather was shocking. At the end of it I managed to breathe in a piece of the tissue as I was dabbing my nose, which lodged in the back of my throat and caused a brief but alarming choking fit.  

We assimilated Sian, and drove home to hot teas. Jade and Sam soon came round in an Uber. Sam with a gangster's voice, having a wretched sore throat. Jade, much better from her bronchitis. Winter's gifts. Lorraine sore throated and coughing a bit. My throat still going strong, but I felt a bit more lively today than I have been feeling.

We all had an enormous pile of bubble and squeak with cold meats (except for the vegans) and pickles, and washed it down with a nice beer. 

I phoned mum, and she and Mas had a good Christmas day with some of their London pals, and didn't get back till really late. I was very pleased she had enjoyed Christmas. 

In the evening we all played a giant game of Uno, Sian humorously revealing a competitive nature. This went on for some time, and was great fun. After this, Beth had remembered a game called Pig, which seemed to be a game that was more about noticing that other people had their fingers on their noses. But good fun too, although I was eliminated early.

A cheery evening generally. Pat and Maureen watching Death in Paradise, and soaking up the sunshine. I focused on soaking up some wine and cheese. Lorraine and I last standing, then upstairs to sleep the sleep of the innocent.

Below a moment in Blaker's Park, and playing Pig, clockwise with Lorraine in her new Christmas jumper, Betty, Sam, Jade, and Sian.


Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas day

A day of high industry, wresting the turkey from the shed where we had stored it overnight, and hurrying it into the oven, breakfasting on salmon bagels, a good deal of vegetable peeling etc.  I also phoned Mum. Then we began opening presents, which was great fun. Beth and Sam taking it in turns to be Christmas Elf. I'm particularly pleased with the year's membership to the Tate, which means I can delight in the Crane-brothers joy of going to the private members rooms at Tate Britain and Tate Modern, while non members mill fretfully in the galleries below.

This done, more frenzying around till Pat and I went to the Preston Park Tavern, to be joined by Sam, for a drink. When Pat and I entered, the place was teeming with small children. As many children as there were adults. We sat outside, as it was mild and breezy, but with the outside electric fires on. An interlude of calm, then we sauntered home in the stiffening breeze to plunge back into the festive maelstrom.

Enough Christmas food of both vegan and non vegan varieties, to feed twice as many people as were actually there. Our table was made of Sam and Jade, Sian, Beth, Pat and Maureen, Lorraine and I, sporting paper hats and much knife and forkwork. Really nice to have Sian with us this year.

In the evening I quietly disposed of the carcass, cutting all the meat from it, then making a huge pot of bay leafed stock with turkey bones, which I bubbled merrily for several hours. I discussed with  Maureen, glinting at the eye, just how easy it was to dispose of bodies.

Everyone groaning with food, and out of energy in the evening. Much television watching. Having eaten and drunk enough for four Peter Kennys I needed to be active, so I cleared up the kitchen, and washed everything up while listening to a bit of Jazz. Beth came too for a while and sat with me. Eventually I felt a corner opening up for Roquefort (king of cheeses) and wine.

Sam, who has gone down with some lurgy today, spent some time in bed. Sian, Jade and Sam off in a cab to Hove late in the evening, Pat and Maureen and Beth went to bed, and Lorraine and I sat on the gold sofa sipping a little wine and gradually powering down. It had been a successful and cheery day, though hard work.

Below Pat, Sam, Maureen, Betty and Jade and Sian. And a snap by Jade of her and Sam. For some reason I did not snap Lorraine or myself.






Sunday, December 24, 2017

Zooming towards Christmas

A day of zooming about in a pre-Christmas frenzy. A relaxed breakfast with Pat and Maureen, after I had nipped around the corner to pick up a large pork pie, and our big turkey from Choice Cuts. Beth off early this morning, as today was her last elf day. Lorraine, Pat and Beth went into town to see Beth in her last day of elfhood. Then Lorraine and I drove off to the Brighton Station where we collected Sian, and drove her to Beth's flat in Hove where she will stay with Sam and Jade.


Lorraine and I then popped down to see Janet and Ken, and drop off a present for them. Hus and Bryn were there too, and I was given a very large glass of wine. Much admiring of Janet's sapphire blue Toyota Jazz parked outside on the street. Fond farewells, then we drove around the corner where I accosted Innis in the street and gave him our presents to him and Rosie. Innis, clutching the last bits of shopping for Christmas, said he had a job tomorrow doing a shoot on the beach.

Lorraine drove us home to collect ourselves. Then we took a bus into town with Pat and made to the Basketmakers, where we found Sam and Beth. Eventually we secured a table and we were joined by Jade and Sian. A typically cheery Basketmakers. Sian intrigued by the boxes full of messages on the walls and read several of them. Then Lorraine, Pat, Sian and I bundled into a cab and home to finish preparation of the evening spread.

Beth's giant Christmas Eve buffet spread tonight. Starring things like mackerel pate, and a large gammon ham that she had made. Lots of food, and cheese and stuff, all washed down with a fair amount of booze. A very cheerful evening. 

Below Jade and Sam, and me, Lorraine and Pat in the Basketmakers, Jade's snap of Beth's festive spread.



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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Pat and Maureen arrive

The big cooking day for Beth and Lorraine, with the ladies purposefully getting on with huge amounts of festive cooking, Beth cooking an enormous ham, luckily she is feeling a bit less peaky than yesterday. Still lots of preparations of things to be done.  I went off into town, where I had my hair cut, and I mooched across town to pick up a few last bits, as well as a Radio Times, a festive prerequisite. Bus home, and then in the afternoon Lorraine and I fixed up the curtain in the big bedroom, ready for Pat and Maureen.

Home again, I was feeling particularly shattered. After their marathon cooking session, Beth and Lorraine go to the station to pick up Pat and Maureen. Lorraine cooked chicken and rice and vegetables, and we stayed in chatting in the evening with Pat and Maureen. Toby texted me from the airport in Toronto, having had a ghastly taxi ride to the airport before his flight to Japan.

It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas is beginning now.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Coloured lights

We didn't have to spring out of bed this morning, thank goodness. But once up, resolutely getting things done. Went to Tescos in Shoreham, to pick up a present ordered through Tescos direct, going to Homebase for new lights for our Christmas tree,  and things for the curtain rail and rings, and then Waitrose in Hove for food.

These done, we collected a poorly Beth from her flat, and brought her home for Christmas. She had missed elf work as she went down with the spewing bug that had gripped the rest of her team.  She was a bit brighter than she had been the night before however.

Home and added different lights to the tree, below, and Beth and Lorraine wrapped presents, while I slumped in a braindead fashion on the sofa. I love coloured lights on a tree. I suppose that's because the archetypical christmas tree of my memory, the plastic one owned by my Grandmother in guernsey had multicoloured lights.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Burning of the clocks

Thursday, and Lorraine on holiday! Luckily the school business sorted out rapidly this morning. She has a bad knee, however, so is finding walking a bit hard. So I did shopping and zooming about and Lorraine drove us about doing various chores. Then being at home for the giant Sainsbury's food delivery.

A fast spot of dinner, and then we jumped on a bus and into town because it was the Burning of the Clocks tonight. We watched the parade, joined by Rosie and Innis and two of Rosies mates and Emily and her twin girls Lyra and Phoebe. I always enjoy the clock figures more than the fireworks. This all great fun, and every year I see it, it reminds me of why I love living in Brighton so much. It is cool to celebrate the longest night too, with the world brightening up from here on in. Albeit slowly.

After the parade we sought a place for a drink, rather than stand about for an hour till the fireworks started. Had a quick couple of beers in The Fountain Head. An entire office party, entered the pub in Christmas jumpers and so on, which changed the atmosphere somewhat. We left and headed for The Basketmakers but this was very crowded too, so we simply went our separate ways after fond farewells.

Below some iPhone snaps during the parade. Rosie in in the first picture.









Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Lorraine finishes school, the wine arrives

Into town to do some shopping today, but back in time for my Christmas wine delivery. Feeling ropey and sore throated today, which is not ideal when there is a lot to get done. Good news was that money was credited into my coffers today, and later in the day I told the balance of what is owed me by my Paddington pals, will be credited before Christmas. This means I shall start the year able to pay my tax bill, and have enough in the bank to feel a degree of security, as much as you can with a world led by the demonic Trump  in our island of blighted by isolationist imbeciles.

Very happily, it was Lorraine's last day at school, and she did pilates on the way home. I fed her, however there was a problem on her last day, which means she has to make a phone call tomorrow to sort it out. This slightly delaying the onset of the total holiday feeling.  A wine delivery in the afternoon. The forces that make Christmas are assembling.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A beano at The Bottom's Rest

A few emails this morning then to Hove by bus. Feeling a mite less sore throaty and foggy headed, and relieved to receive confirmation on the bus that some of the doubloons owed me will tumble into the PK Ltd coffers tomorrow.

In Hove I bought a box of cheap co-op crackers, and headed to The Bottom's Rest for the long-planned freelancer's beano.  An excitable Rosie giving me a big hug at the door. It was just 12:30 so the pub was empty, except for us. It filled up a small amount later.  We had planned the beano as a kind of works outing for freelancers, and it was a great success and I think we will do it again next year too.

Sadly both Tanya and Innis were down with lurgies, so I was forced to soldier on with the beano surrounded with five amusing and interesting ladies (soon in paper hats and reading terrible jokes). They were Catherine, Rosie her lovely sister Emily plus their pal old friend The Original Rachel, and another friend called Julia. Catherine enjoyed meeting everyone too, having only met Rosie at our wedding. Anton phoned at one point, asking yet again what my postal address was, and Keith phoned too about a possible job at the beginning of January, but I want to focus on my stuff first.

Original Rachel an old university pal of Emily's, and Julia a lively outdoorsy person who had worked in education and has started a business that combines therapy with walking through landscapes. When the party broke up at around four, Catherine and I walked back through town chatting about how much we had enjoyed ourselves.  Fond farewells with Catherine, and then I bussed back from St Peter's Church. Lorraine out, so I had a mellow evening binge watching a depressive and oddly compelling cartoon on Netflix called BoJack Horseman. I watched the first couple of episodes and almost gave up on it, but it gets rapidly better.

Lorraine home, after seeing pals, and we were happy that she had only one more day of school. Both very pleased about that.

Below our table reservation, made by Rosie.


Monday, December 18, 2017

Elf-spotting

Up with a sore throat and under the weather. Really bad night's sleep for some reason, and Calliope waking me up at least twice my crawling onto me in the night. Lorraine had one of her periodic bouts of sleeping hiccups, which she is blissfully unaware of.

My lovely wife brought me a cup of tea, and I manned up and got on with various chores of which there are many. Then I girded the PK loins and went shopping. It wasn't too busy, and I managed to go about a good deal of my business without going mental. I began to feel a bit dazed and had a disturbing incident in the men's loos. The main toilets in Churchill Square were closed, but there was a woman standing outside them whose job it was to point people upstairs to the ones just past Spud U Like. In the toilet was a high trough, with a man standing at the far end. I almost began before I realised only just in time that I was standing by a long trough-like sink and not a urinal. I must be going mad.

Next I made my way downstairs to the Santa's grotto where Betty is queen of the elves. The grotto was black, and Santa's bunkerish. However I went to the exit, where I glimpsed an elf on its knees hard at work sorting out presents for the nippers. It proved to be Betty and she popped out for a moment, and I snapped her.

A bit more shopping, and Anton phoned me to find out my address. Eventually I skipped aboard a 5b and was home, where I crashed out, and went fast asleep for an hour. Revived to watch a documentary about the making of American Pie, the LP by Don McLean, and cook a curry for Lorraine. An evening indoors on the gold sofa with Lorraine. Lovely.









Sunday, December 17, 2017

Curtains and decorations

A slow start. Lorraine somewhat fragile after drinking wine last night. I made us tea and a sustaining breakfast and we gradually repaired.

It was afternoon before we got going, and we did things around the house. Some of these involved the dreaded DIY, and I found myself drilling holes in the wall so we can hang curtains. Every time I have used a drill in Brighton has been challenging. The walls are made of weirdness, various substances, everything from stones to air pockets, so drilling a simple hole in a wall becomes an adventure. Still, we managed it. Lorraine supportive and practical, which helps as I am not very confident at DIY person.

This done, off to Beth and John's for a Sunday roast. Which Lorraine made, as Beth and John began excitedly decorating the spare tree we had brought over. A lovely meal, and then we all sat in the dark looking at the glowing lights of the tree appreciatively. Fond farewells. John off later in the week to be with his Mum and sister for Christmas.

Lorraine and I made our way home as everyone, but me, had to work tomorrow. I was yawning my head off all night for some reason and couldn't wait to get home.

Below Beth and John mid-discussion about the finer points of tree decoration.



Saturday, December 16, 2017

Cats and jazz cats

Calliope has been looking at me with one eye shut for the last day or so, and I took a look at it yesterday and it was sore and inflamed. She is prone to this. Phoned up for a vet's appointment which we had at 12.  Before this, Lorraine and I sprang up early for a weekend and drove back to Bolney, where we bought a non-shedding tree from the nursery there.

Home, and before we'd even taken the cat carrier out of the dungeon, Calliope, usually like a Phillip Pullman daemon, hanging around me most of the time, had hidden herself. We fished her out from under the futon, and I carried her into the car wrapped in a blanket. Drove there with her trembling and yowling, which gradually died down as she weaselled inside the jacket I was wearing. She is totally calm in the vets, due to all the pheromones I suppose.

Eye drops for the weasel then, and she is very good at having these put in.

Lorraine and I then off to do some shopping, food and pressies. Home to sprawl exhaustedly on the gold sofa before Lorraine opened the box marked Christmas and we began decorating our tree, and getting ready to go out again.

Off to Richard and Maria Grazia's house for the now traditional Richard's birthday/pre-Christmas party. Richard was playing some lovely Jazz standard tunes with Tom on bass. Enjoyed talking to Steve Cartwright as ever, and Silvana from the Shakespeare Heptet.

Home by cab late, top hats askew.

Below Lorraine, a Silvana's partner Gareth, and Maria Grazia photographing, Richard and Tom playing jazz.





Friday, December 15, 2017

Wrapping up the year, with a centaur

A few bits of work this morning, finalising the last bits of things, and did my last bit of billing for the year. Felt as if I had wrapped up the year. I hope so.

Walked to Hove this afternoon, to have a session with Helen on the Centaur project. Listening to more of The Third Policeman as I walked. She had written an interesting new section to go with the last lot of words I have sent her. We drank coffee and ate the lebkuchen I had taken around, and discussed the overall progress. She thinks the opera will be finished next year, so we have to think about trying to raise some interest in it. For me it has been an interesting learning experience whatever happens. I met her youngest son and his girlfriend today too. Nice people.

Walked home. Lorraine's work party today, but I gratefully stayed indoors tonight. Bought some fish and chips from which Lorraine fashioned a chip butty before she drove off.  I was very grateful for a quiet night in with the cats on the sofa.

Below snapped from my study window in the morning, the distant windmill and a dark rain cloud looming behind it. This snapped in the afternoon while walking over the hill down to see Helen in Hove.




Thursday, December 14, 2017

A festive mood

A good night's sleep, woke up and quickly made a note of things Lorraine was saying about her Carol Concert tonight, so she had a basis for her introduction. Then I worked a bit on the poetry. I had sent what is forming into a new collection of poems, called Sin Cycle, to Robin and Sarah, and both were very positive about it. Very pleased about that. Perhaps even more pleased that I was able to arrange for one of my invoices to be paid, the prospect of a fish finger Christmas is receding. However glee at this tempered by being told I had misspelled the woman's name I was dealing with in my thank you email. Things like that curl my toes.

Mooching about to the post office, ordering a turkey from the butchers. Also felt very sleepy, which I put down to yesterday's massage.

In the evening, I walked over to Anton's house, chatting to mum on my mobile. Hung out and talked all night with Anton as I'd not seen him since I did my poetry reading in October. Oskar had been off school today, and Anne was there. Nice to see everyone. Anton preparing Reuben Sandwiches, and we had a good night drinking beers and catching up, and listening to a good deal of reggae. Walked home after midnight, top hat set slightly askew as befits a gentleman in the festive season. For having seen three old friends this week, very much like festivities have begun.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sofa industry

A day of calm, no beers and no curries. Doing laundry and business admin bits this morning. A text from Mark with a photo of the poem I had written for his wedding in 1989. Working on poems this morning, and sent some of the newer ones to Robin and Sarah. Robin liked them, which was reassuring. Emailing the agency in Paddington about payment. The boards at the bottom of the Kenny coffers are bleakly visible, as the wheelbarrows of Paddington doubloons have yet to be tipped in. The prospect of a cashless Christmas is slightly worrying.

To sundial where Jewel gave me a massage at midday, which made me feel pleasantly boneless and sleepy this afternoon, ironing out all the back evils that accumulated from commuting and sitting at a desk on a broken chair for weeks on end. Went to the post office on the way home in a curiously mellow way. Then home, where I had a deep post massage doze for 40 minutes.

Then coffee, and popped outside in the pouring rain. Then cooked and when a frazzled Lorraine when she came home after Pilates smoothed and fed her. Tonight Lorraine sat on the gold sofa and wrote cards in gold pen for all the children in school, and I stuffed them in envelopes, like a cottage industry we were.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Beers with my oldest friend

A cup of tea in bed from Lorraine this morning. Worth its weight in gold. Working today for a few hours on stuff for Pat, and also clambering about the house getting on with stuff. Woke up early and in need of irrigation after yesterday with Bob. The weather growing less bitingly cold as the day progressed, but still hats and coats weather.

Off to Lewes this evening, where I met my old school friend Mark in the Lewes Arms. After a couple of steadying pints of Harveys, down to Chaula's Indian restaurant for a rather good bite to eat.  Lewes quiet tonight, the Lewes Arms down to a handful of stalwarts when we left, and Chaula's empty when we left it. We had an absolute bloody final drink in the Gardener's Arms, where the solitary barmaid had already stacked up most of the stools and chairs. Lots to talk about, and Mark is a good raconteur, and was telling me about his new company, which has necessitated a few trips to India, among other places. Good to catch up with someone I've known since I was 11. He is, as I type, the friend I have known longest.  Our Wembley comprehensive school was poor, but we were lucky enough to emerge from it fairly unscathed and there were one or two gems of teachers there, such as Ron Groom my old art teacher, who had a bald head looked like pictures of Shakespeare. He was a real mentor and a lovely man.

Fond farewells with Mark outside Lewes station, and then I trained back to London Road, and up the hill home. Lorraine in bed, having been out with friends too. I am looking forward to a quiet night in tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cheery day in ice cold London

An unspeakable morning, with icy pouring rain. Much of the country covered in snow. Lorraine off to work, and after I sent a worky couple of emails I packed up my bag and headed off into the deluge. Outside my gate a man passed walking his dog, and said 'nasty weather' to me from under his hat, and he was right.

Walked down to Preston Park. A South African businessman based in Australia started talking to me as we peered out at the rain that had some snow in it, but he soon began to enlarge on foreigners, the dangers of being 'overrun' and the glories of Brexit, I made my excuses and legged off to faux first when the train came.  Up to Paddington, where the rain was slushy. Into the Paddington offices, and dropped off the laptop they had lent me, and received a handshake from now recovered Daniel, and hug from my pal from other agencies, Yas, who was there and just about to go to Sri Lanka today, and from Harriet one of the team I had been away with in Austria. From Paddington, two stops to Baker Street where I found Bob standing outside The Globe pub, in a big waterproof coat and a stern face.

We hurried down Baker street, into Caffe Nero for coffee. Then, next door to somewhere that sold baguettes, bought two of these, and walked and ate in the thick slushy snow. Mooched southwards, crossed Oxford Street and went towards Leicester Square. Near there we stopped at a pub to dry out and warm up a bit, and drink a refreshing beer. But the beer we chose was called Whitstable something or other, and it tasted of petrol. From there sauntered towards Leicester Square. I took a photo of Bob in the street as the precipitation had stopped for a bit, and I said, 'You look fabulous', as I snapped the notoriously hard to capture on film Bob. A young slim black girl walked past, and turned around and said, "Thank you" to me. It was all a bit awkward, but I felt I didn't want tell her that I was talking about Bob and not her, as she seemed so pleased.

Great to chat to Bob all day, on what has become a bit of a traditional pre-Christmas booze, and discuss the many and various things that needed discussing. From there to the Salisbury, which was very cold inside but served beer. We sat near the door, and I could see my breath. I was gaping like a goldfish as the manageress happened to glance at me. Bob and I had a cheeky beer in there, and then went to The National Portrait Gallery, to see Cézanne Portraits.  While an interesting exhibition, neither Bob or I liked the portraits much, and we had great fun finding ways of picking them apart and denouncing them afterwards, so enthusiastically that we got lost walking towards the Seven Stars on Carey Street. Here Bob gave me a bottle of Bruadar, an interesting-looking malt whisky liqueur.

Eventually we hailed a grumpy taxi driver, who took us there. A couple of cheeky beers there, and then we walked to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, but our favourite room was by then full of interlopers so we went downstairs for a pint of porter that tasted of vanilla and chocolate (Bob) or toffee (me). Then we crossed Fleet Street to have a beer in The Punch where the bar staff were drunk, and finally made off to the Bengal Tiger for a fairly decent curry. As we were near Blackfriars, I bade Bob a farewell from there. At Preston Park, I walked up the hill at home I found had done just shy of 20k paces, which is a good haul for the day. Crept coldly into bed and chat to Lorraine before sleep.

Below the deluge snapped this morning walking to the station, the interior of the Salisbury, one of my favourite pubs, and Bob looking fabulous.






Sunday, December 10, 2017

Duvets and destruction

A stiff gale rattling the loose tile on the roof last night, and lashings of stormy icy rain... Lorraine and I sensibly stayed in bed till the afternoon, in fact it was virtually a duvet day, nipping out to supply ourselves with breakfast and cups of tea. Once up, Lorraine and I spent the afternoon emptying everything from the kitchen cupboards, and putting everything back again in what Lorraine said was more logical ways.

My wife cooked an exceptionally tasty vegetable stew this evening, which we ate watching the last two episodes of Robot Wars. This show where people build destructive robots to do battle with one another speaks to my inner schoolboy. Seeing bits of metal flying off lovingly constructed robots and heavy machines being tossed into the air is great fun. The young guy who won the competition this season, had been watching Robot Wars all his life, and winning it was his lifetime ambition.

To bed, not dreading the coming day, which was nice.


Saturday, December 09, 2017

Man about town

Lorraine is scared of few things in this world, but her hairdresser is one of them. We sprang out of bed, after I'd drip fed Lorraine some tea and made some boiled eggs and marmite toast Lorraine drove us off into town, armed with my Santa suit, to be returned to the folks at Beth's drama school, and two cylinders of CO2 for our fizzy water machine, which I replaced as Lorraine hurried off to Paul her hairdresser. A gorgeous morning, cold and bright. Lorraine phoned me a few minutes later, walking to Paul's knowing she was on time, and full of happiness, which was rather lovely.

I ducked into city books, and found a cafe and sent a few messages and emails, then spoke to Janet and Ken and made off to see them, armed with nutty chocolate brownies, and stamps that I picked up for Janet. Nice chat there with Janet, among other things about being a Critical Friend to businesses and practitioners. As I had woken up in the morning thinking this might be a useful thing for me to think about.

Leaving Janet and Ken, I walked back and sat in the window of Paul's salon as Lorraine had her hair perfected, and minutely sculpted, especially at the back. I was a bit disappointed as Paul's dog, Henry, wasn't in a singing mood. Apparently he sings a good deal. Lorraine then sprung out into the world with lovely hair.

We met Beth for lunch and went into Foodilic which specialises in healthy salads and so on. I fancied a healthy salad. Felt all cheery after seeing Beth. I love my life in Brighton, and being able to pop in and see people, and meet people for lunch and so on. I am very lucky. Contacted Anton, who is in bed with a nasty Man Flu.

Then Lorraine and I mooched about buying a birthday present for John, and then went home. A brief bit of downtime, then we walked down to New England Street, where James was exhibiting some his art. Some of my favourite local artists where there including John Dilnot, who made my box of owls, and Heike Roesel, who showed Lorraine and I how she makes her prints and the etched surface of the plates, which were very beautiful in themselves.

Lots of walking today. Left my phone at home for our second expedition, which meant I didn't get a full count of my walking. Oddly irritated by this, as I would have smashed my 10k paces today.

Walked home with Lorraine and Betty and we ate the roast chicken that had been in the oven, and then Lorraine and Betty spent much of the evening plotting food for Christmas, and making lists and having a thoroughly good time. I sat with them, sipping a little bottle of beer, putting tunes on and it was a happy end to the day. Beth leaving for home at the end of the day.

Below, Lorraine pulling a strangely obedient face while having her coiffure done.


Friday, December 08, 2017

A dangling day

Up early and another day of working at home, dangling in vain all day for feedback for the work I did yesterday. However I simply got on with other things, such as writing a post on my other blog and went for a long walk in the afternoon. A cold, clear day. I was listening to an audiobook of The Third Policeman, and it was making me laugh aloud. It is a brilliantly intelligent and crazy book, and could only have been written in Ireland. I started it many years ago, but didn't get on with it for some reason. I am so pleased I found my way back to it.

A lovely walk, in woods for a bit, then down the roads to Preston Park, where I had a cup of coffee in the cafe, and then walked home in the cold and long winter shadows, even though it was only three PM. Spoke to Sonia, who is going away on holiday again next week. Once I'd done everything, I called Mum for a FaceTime chat. Then I nipped out in the cold and ordered a curry from around the corner. Lorraine arrived home when I was collecting it, and she had poured a beer for me when I got home, and we had a night on the gold sofa. Lorraine falling asleep early, and worn out, and I was much the same. I am ready for a holiday.

Below long shadows in Preston Park...





Thursday, December 07, 2017

Working at home

So up early and after Lorraine and I scarfed some porridge, I began writing copy about an unpleasant inherited medical condition for an app. No travel today, thank goodness. The weather ghastly outside, windy and rain. I thought I'd be done by lunchtime, but it took me till mid afternoon. Broke off for a short walk before it started pouring, and had a couple of coffees. After completing the first draft sent it off to Pat, and then began watching a documentary about Voyager missions. Fell asleep and woke up an hour later, with things to be done, but luckily Pat was going to get back to me tomorrow so my sudden narcolepsy did me no harm.

Jenny, our next door neighbour popped in to say she was moving house next week. I like Jenny, though she is very shy.

Lorraine came home early, and we caught the bus into Hove where we met Betty in the Paris House, after a hard day of elf-work in Churchill Square. Betty doing well as an elf, and has already had to step up as team leader. Apparently they had an excellent Santa today, who knew the names of all the reindeer. I was taking notes.

Then we popped down to the Bottom's Rest for a bite to eat, some chicken wings salad and fries. Lorraine and I then bussed home, or rather bussed to the foot of the hill then walked home. Very unusual to get Lorraine out in the week, and despite her feeling guilty, she really enjoyed herself. We went straight to bed when we got back.

Below, a view out of my rain-streaked study window, and a snap of a Ho Ho Ho from the bus with me reflected in it.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A day and evening by the Thames

Off to Hampton this morning. A bit of train kerfuffle, trains cancelled and went on autopilot Victoria instead of Clapham, but all was well in the end.

Basically spent the day with several of my old muckers. Went to the French Bloke, Perky and Pat's agency in Hampton by the river. Keith was there too, and I shared a desk with him. Briefed on the job by the FB sitting on a bench in the cold looking at the river. Michel interrupting himself by saying Oh look, a grebe!  

Walked off to buy a pie with Pat and Keith at lunchtime from a shop in Hampton village. A saunter back. In the afternoon the FB strapped his headphones on and began squeaking his motorbike leather clad leg as he began to listen to some unknown tune. I mentioned to the others that it sounded like a teenager's bedroom, and a few of us snickered somewhat as the FB manfully squeaked on.

Everyone left he agency quite early, and Keith gave me a lift to Kew in a nice little MG sports car, we  were laughing like drains driving along. Lynne, from the Paddington agency phoned me, and was saying that people weren't scared enough of her. She is extremely nice woman from the South sea islands. The people I went to Austria with are quite scared of her, and when I asked her why, she said, 'my people ate their people', which made me laugh. Keith and I drove on, talking obsessively about fish for some reason he has developed an obsessional interest in a new aquarium, which he says is a money pit into which he has poured loads of cash.

Dropped off in Kew, close to where I had once lived. Walking towards Kew Bridge I spoke to Mum, who said she had had a brilliant time with Romy in Amsterdam. Really pleased to hear that.

I walked to Kew Bridge and down Strand on the Green to The City Barge, where Matty boy and his Chiswick agency mates were having their Christmas do. I'd only worked five hours for them this year, but was bought beers and fed, which was nice. They had just finished a hotly-contested quiz just before I arrived. Apparently it had featured lines from a poem of mine, and some by Lucy Silver, who is working with Matt now, and is a young promising poet in her twenties. Also Steve said he had used a slide I had presented to them years ago in a presentation today, which had gone down well. I seem to be in the agency somehow, without quite being there, which is lovely. I enjoyed chatting to everyone, particularly Matt, Jo (who remembered dancing wildly with Lorraine at Matt's wedding) and Lucy and Matt's pal Brendan too.

I walked off to Kew Bridge station with Judith, who is Pat's wife (these agencies are very incestuous) and we trained off to Charing Cross together, and I caught a train to Brighton. The thing was jam packed with standing room only. I was bursting for a pee when I got on, and had to travel all the way to Brighton without being able to get to the toilet. At last at the station, and they had closed the sodding Station toilets too. A cross-legged cab home. Very happy to be home. Went to bed and talked talkatively to Lorraine.


Tuesday, December 05, 2017

The future now

Not much going on today. Fiddled with some poems first thing, and then chatted to Pat a couple of times about a job, which at the end of the day resulted in me having to go up to London tomorrow, for a day with my pals in Hampton.

Otherwise a slightly limboish day waiting to find out what was happening with work. I walked into town to buy myself a moleskine diary. Not my normal scarlet one, but a sort of darker red with a bit of blue in it. This something of a revolution for me as my last nine years or so have all been the red ones. I half regret this breaking of the pattern, but there is something freeing about it on the other hand. Bizarre how much bandwidth the buying of a diary took up today. Nevertheless I enjoyed putting the first dates into the new year. 2018. What a science fiction year that seems. I think back to being a child and 2000 seeming to be unimaginably futuristic.

Home again, and I cooked a pie, with a filling that Lorraine had previously made. She zoomed in and then went off to pilates.

Below the bipolar bear I snapped on a Brighton wall just off London Road.


Monday, December 04, 2017

Poets altogethery

I'd slept quite well, and woke up feeling that the weight of tiredness is abating a bit. I made Mas and I some tea, I ate some toast. Mason has soup for breakfast these days, but only fancied a banana to go as a side dish with his various pills. Quite a long chat this morning, and I left when one of his carers arrived, who seemed a nice.

I walked to Mill Hill station, and trained slowly down to Preston Park, from where I walked home. On the journey I read again all the poems gathered by Sarah for the anthology. Home, and I made time for a bit of admin, including billing DDB which was nice as I sent them quite a hefty invoice. I have not yet been paid for what I did in October though, so wolf drool is beginning to splash the door.

Off next to Lewes, to meet Sarah and Robin at the entirely sensible venue choice of the Lewes Arms. Really nice to see them both, and discuss the work with them over a slow pint, and how best the poems would fit. We were in the side room, where a woman was decorating, very tastefully, for Christmas. Made me feel happy. After a couple of fascinating hours we were done, and Stephen Bone and Charlotte arrived (referred to as The Gann by Sarah who had summoned her). We all had a great time gossiping and talking about poems. These are some of my favourite and most interesting people that I've met through poetry. Sessions like this make you feel that you're not entirely bizarre in your pursuits and that there are people out there who understand what it is to be troubled by a love of poetry. Eventually Stephen and Charlotte had to go their separate ways, and I wanted to get back home to see Lorraine. Fond farewells. Home clutching a bag of biscuity stars that Robin had made for Christmas.

A train back to Brighton with Sarah. I walked up the hill from London Road Station seeing how the houses are beginning to twinkle with Christmas lights. Got home to sit with Lorraine on the gold sofa and chat about the day, before slinking happily upstairs to bed.

Below, the Lewes Arms. As fine a venue for an assembly of poets as is possible to imagine, and the Lewes War Memorial which particularly caught my eye today as I walked there.









Sunday, December 03, 2017

To Edgware

A late start today, Lorraine and I finding it hard to get out of bed.

Looking at deciding what needs to be done in the bedrooms we have just had painted. But not for long, as I had to start getting ready to travel up to Edgware. Lorraine dropped me off Brighton Station and the journey took a bit under three hours. Arrived at around 5:45 and I phoned for some Chinese food, which Mas and I scarfed happily, then watched a Spiderman movie that was on TV, Mas chatting about life in Hollywood for a while, and how all the actors who played bad guys, such as Ernest Borgnine who we happened to see as he was channel surfing, were friendly when encountered in coffee shops.

To bed, early-ish after speaking to a tired Lorraine, who had been working on school stuff all afternoon.

Below, Blackfriars Station.






Saturday, December 02, 2017

Being Santa

Up and off to Bolney today. Once I was up and had a cup of coffee, I felt utterly brain dead and could hardly think for a while. Tiredness coming in waves, like it does with jet lag.

Lorraine's school having its Christmas fair to raise money for the school, so lots of people setting up stands and parents and children zooming about. My part was to be Santa. I arrived early with Lorraine and then lurked in Lorraine's office, before changing into my Santa outfit.

The clothes not too bad, but the beard, which had been bought separately was wild in a nylon way, with a odd rictus for a mouth. I was led by two elves around the school, ringing the school bell ho-ho-ho-ing it up, and then I was led to my grotto, and sat there for a couple of hours chatting to children in the character of Santa. This went remarkably well, and for the most part the children were chatty, one or two were dumbstruck by the large red apparition, but all went well. A couple of ontological debates around the existence of Santa, which I managed to come out well in. I decided to ask children about what they found most magical about Christmas, and received a variety of answers, including: giving to other people, and seeing my relatives, as well as the getting of presents. I advanced the theory to some children that the answer was in fact brussels sprouts, but I had few takers in that. Was photographed severally by parents with their children. I think I had as much, if not more, fun than the children. I have always loved Christmas, and being part of it for dozens of children, in a steady stream for two hours, was a privilege.

After this, Lorraine led everyone in getting the school ship-shape again. Then some of the locals invited us to the pub across the road, and we went there for a quick drink afterwards. People clapping Lorraine as she came in, and I was bought two beers in appreciation of my Santa skills. One person said that I was very professional. It's a job with a future.

Then home, and we went to The Park View pub for a quick drink and a bite to eat. Then home, worn out again and an early night.

Below struggling with the Santa beard in Lorraine's office before being unleashed on the world.