Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Head for the shallows

So the last of January. Got up and worked hard all day. Beth still ill at home, and self-administering digestive biscuits, and sniffing miserably on the gold sofa. Went for a couple of short walks, but the cold and rain got the better of me.

Lorraine, her school inspection went as well as could have been hoped for and apparently the inspector was a particularly nice person. Good to have her home, once fed she simply fell asleep on the sofa.

Was contacted by my pals in the French agency, and actually did an hour's freelance. So at least January wasn't entirely penniless. I have a little coffer filling stuff lined up for Feb so I am not too concerned.

Trying to think of news-coping strategies. It is entirely possible to become despondent if you brood on current events long enough. I was browsing the GQ website in the afternoon, and decided to head for the shallows. Clothes might be the answer.

Monday, January 30, 2017


A cheery and efficient plumber arrived very quickly after being contacted, and I got him to cap the taps, so we can have the water on in the house. Drippee! The replacement of the taps will be  eye-wateringly expensive. To get to the taps, which were put in the wrong place, you have to smash all the tiles and take the bath out. The previous owner was a right old bodger. Luckily we only use that bath for showering, so not having taps at the moment is fine. The whole bathroom needs to be reimagined by someone very clever.

Otherwise, I spoke to Mum. And got on with my work, I am fixing a particularly difficult bit at the moment.

Beth arrived with a heavy cold and feeling ill in the late afternoon. Lorraine working late to prepare for a school inspection tomorrow. I cooked, and fed the womenfolk with roast chicken. This seemed to help.

Meanwhile in Brighton  a lively anti-Trump protest. I felt I should have been there, but felt needed on the home front.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Keeping dry

Sunday morning, a futile struggling with a trickling bath tap.  It is a plumber job. Had the mains water off most of the day. An abundance of water outside though, with steady Sunday rain.  A meeting with Telltale folks in Eastbourne this afternoon was cancelled. Lorraine working all day and evening as she has a big week at school coming up. I mainly kept dry, pottered about, cooked and read the Ambit magazine I'd sent off for,  and did some writing.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

A happy day

Lorraine and up and out today. Off to talk to people about taps, as a tap in our bathroom is leaking, necessitating having to turn the pesky stuff off in the whole house outside in the street.

However Lorraine and I had a really nice day. Walked into town and had a coffee together and chatted, I had a hair cut and later Lorraine and I went for a light tapas and some sparkling water. Then off to the cinema to see La La Land this afternoon.  A musical. And about Hollywood. I find Hollywood's self love, exemplified by the Oscars, to be pretty nauseating. I however found lots to enjoy in it, the music was okay, the direction, art direction and filming good. In fact I think I liked it more than Lorraine, but I think this was only because I my expectations were lower than a viper's paunch, despite the rave reviews.

Then home again, and a quick turn around and we caught the bus with Betty back into town.  Lorraine and I off to an Italian restaurant in Hove called Buon Appetito, where we met Jess and Andrew. A lively place, with enthusiastic birthday singing, and pizza pans and a tambourine being handed around to bang to when Dean Martin sang Amore on the sound system. I had an interesting pizza, with pockets. Lorraine got the tambourine and banged and rattled it with great enjoyment for a while. Nice to see Jess and Andrew, who is fine now after having a scary pulmonary embolism a few months ago. Jess learning Italian and talking to the owner in Italian.

From here we taxied to a pub called The Exchange were John was playing a gig with his pal Matt. This had been thrown into doubt as their bass player had left a few days ago, and his replacement had only been with the band for few days. However it was all good fun. We met Beth there who was with her pals Ainsley and Millie. A cheery evening, and the boys got the much of the pub up and dancing by the end of it. Matt a very cheery front man. They are very good, and John is a most excellent drummer. His drumming face is quite funny though. He sometimes wears an expression of  seriousness mixed with a sort of bored resignation.

Friday, January 27, 2017

'Genius' at work

Hard at work today again. I have made some excellent progress this week. All I want to do really is work. I have written loads and feel fairly chuffed with myself. It does not make for extraordinary blog posts, but feelings of some satisfaction. Inch by inch I am feeling less wussy than I was.

Worked with enormous focus today. Sonia here, but I spoke little to her being in 'genius' mode.  Chatted with Mum, all okay there, although Mas is still very tired all the time. But he has been through quite a lot in the past few months. I went for a walk late in the afternoon, listening to the Little History of Religion again. An interesting overview.

Today Theresa May meeting Trump. Ghastly photos of them hand in hand. Though I thought she seemed to doing a difficult job well, and got through the press conference well enough. And the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg who I've had mixed feelings about previously, asking the Trump an excellent question.

Lorraine home. I had missed her the night before. Strange how you can live on your own for years, but having a night on my own at home felt very strange.  We shimmied off to the Preston Park Tavern for a light bite, and an incredibly restrained single beer. Lorraine energised by being on a two day Head Teacher's conference.

Home and a fairly early night.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


Beth ill this morning, but still went off to go about her business this afternoon. I worked very steadily all day, breaking off for walks. Added a couple of poems to my new poetry sequence which has come out of nowhere. I now have 13 of them this week.

A fairly monastic day. Work, walking, listing to audiobook about religion. And as Lorraine was staying overnight in Arundel tonight for a headteacher's conference, and Beth was away, I got a bag of fish and chips and binge watched several episodes Ascension, a six part miniseries -- a great central concept.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Wrote eight poems today. Very strange as I wasn't supposed to be working on poems at all. But did them in about an hour. They are all short, but very strange and unlike me. A slightly different voice. Have to wait for time the great editor to help me decide if they are any good or not. Then I pressed on with the novel. It's what is called flow state I think.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A game of two halves

Felt a bit more lively today, and I was in a productive groove this morning. Writing drafts of two short poems in about ten minutes before I got onto the novel.

The afternoon less productive, with stupid computer problems caused by a widespread BT server outage wasting time. A standard rejection from Long Poem magazine for my long poem too, when the emails came flooding in. Some freelance work on the horizon. I am trying to make enough space to get this pesky novel finished finally, for better or worse.

A nice chat with Mum and a bit of a walk helped. Spoke to Bob too, which was good. He has found a new winter light, that has kept him far more cheerful through the darkest days of winter than is usual, when like the ermine changing its coat, the old Mad dog transforms into SAD dog. Hope to be seeing him in London soon.

Lorraine had a hard day today, and got home late. Listened to a bit of Martha Wainwright, then a sensibly early night.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Martha on a school night

Working on the Skelton MS, tired all day though. I have some species of a malaise. I feel pretty cheery at the moment, so I don't think it is winter blues. When I'd fed Lorraine after work, we uncharacteristically zoomed out for fun on a School night.

Martha Wainwright at the Kommedia. I had absolutely loved her first album, simply called Martha Wainwright, which I played to death for a year or so. So when Innis spotted she was on, we jumped at the chance. We bussed into town and met Innis and Rosie at the Fountain Head, had a quick drink there before making our way to the gig.

I have seen a few bands there before, but the ceiling is very low and visibility is not so good. However, as Lorraine and I aren't the shortest of folks, we could see Martha well. She had a very cheerful and agreeable stage presence, and sang beautifully. Lots of songs from her new album, Goodnight City, which is really good too. She was wearing a necklace in the shape of a uterus that a fan had given her in Dublin at the start of her tour. She has one of those voices that seems to ring with truth somehow, and her songs are fab. While there I bumped into Jeremy Page of Frogmore fame, and his wife, plus Lorraine and I bumped into an old chum called Lesley.

Home soon too, just jumped in a cab. However not before a homeless person came up to us offering to do card tricks for money. Tired and in a hurry, Lorraine said to him that we were just trying to get home. He wandered off saying he was homeless, which made us feel bad, especially Lorraine. 

However good to get home, and go straight to bed. Feeling naughty after going out on a school night.

Below a blurry glimpse of Martha Wainwright. She is fabulous. A misty day in Brighton. The view from upstairs today.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Birthday beano

Lorraine got up this morning to make some tea, and saw that there was a fire in one of the houses in the streets below us. Soon there was the sound of many sirens. I read on a local news site that the people in the flat had been taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

A relaxed morning, and Lorraine and I got up late. I was achey and tired. But I had a rejuvenating  doze in the afternoon. Lorraine and I set off to Anton's house for four o'clock to celebrate Klaudia's 13th birthday, which is tomorrow.

I enjoyed spending time hanging out with Klaudia and Oskar. Lots of screens and games. Klaudia heavily involved in one where you could either be a prison officer, a convict or a criminal, and was  yelping about tasering people. Oskar playing one which had amazing graphics about the early days of the Romans. I don't think I would have left my room if they had been available when I was a bairn.

We shared a really nice meal with ribs and poussin with amazing egg fried rice and sweet stuffed dumpling things, a lovely spread created by Anne and Anton in response to Klaudia's love of Chinese food. Strapped on the nosebag with gusto. Particularly enjoyed talking with Anne.  

Below Oskar making stop motion movies using his camera and a Christmas present I bought him to help him do it.  Obviously I didn't take a snap of Klaudia, because it was her birthday. D'oh!
Then: fire in the morning.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Mice failing to play

Saturday. Lorraine off to see an old pal in London this afternoon, enjoying a reunion at Gabriel's Warf. Beth away, so I had the house to myself. I worked a little on the book this morning, then gathered up a collection of poetry books, with the intention of walking to a cafe and sipping coffee and reading them.

By the time I had walked into town I felt tired and achey. So I simply caught a bus back home, read nothing and went to sleep on the sofa for almost two hours. Whereupon Lorraine returned home again. Beth came home in the evening, feeling unwell and coughing abominably. So a low key Saturday night all round.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration of Trump

A day of working happily on my Skelton Yawngrave MS today. In a triumph of optimism over experience, I feel that at long last the real book is emerging. Worked from home doing this, and having some freelance related conversations, and Edinburgh related conversations by phone with Beth.

After lunch I walked through the park and eventually settled in Starbucks where I did a good few hours work there drinking tea and a large Americano.  The novel  seemed quite far fetched when I started it several years ago. I imagined as a backdrop to the story a scary political movement attempting to take over the UK, creating a climate of fear and suspicion. Now it seems almost tame.

A young guy I was sitting next to suddenly said, "You're writing a story! What are you writing?" as I was bashing away on Scrivener. I fell into conversation with a young Spanish Chilean guy, who was a budding writer of fantasy and science fiction, (it's always 'budding'). He was a great admirer of New York, the greatest city in the world, apparently, and of the US. He started telling me the story he was working on. It was set in New York and had lots of wizards in it. His politics seemed slightly to the right of Mussolini, with a strong flavour of eugenics thrown in. Despite this I couldn't help but slightly warm to him, and afterwards as I was walking home thought  I should have bought him a coffee, as he in retrospect he was in Starbucks for warmth and electricity and he told me he had lost a job. Made sure I walked my ten thousand paces, seeing as I didn't fancy the gym again.

How apt, this chance encounter on the the inauguration of Trump. I came home after five and switched the TV on. I caught the end of Trump's demonic America First speech. Then listened to the idiotic religious leaders, because Christ, must definitely have been okay with pussy grabbing, laughing at the disabled, racism, the worship of money and so on. Then I saw the Obamas being flown off to the dustbin of history with their mad notions of rationality, human decency and policies such as access to healthcare.

I always wondered what it must have been like to be in Germany in the 1930s and now I have to imagine no longer. This is how the slide into madness happens. And the constant niggle: what am I going to do about it? Number one thing is refuse to normalise it, but beyond that? It is time to find a way to be positive. But what times we live in. In the UK we have our PM announcing the launch of Global Britain, open for business. And how do you best launch a business? Step one: fuck off the half a billion customers on your doorstep. You couldn't make this stuff up.

So Lorraine home after a trying day, and wanting to have a pint of beer and a cheeky snack in the Preston Park Tavern, which we did with admirable efficiency. Betty met us there too. A nice relaxing evening, catching up on the week. But everyone tired and we headed for home early.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Macaroni is the answer

A bit of a ditto day. Working all day, and hard, on Skelton Yawngrave. Beth going off to be filmed with a stinking cold. Still feeling weirdly out of sorts though. Spoke to Mum and Lorraine and Beth both phoned at lunchtime.

Went for a walk in the cold at lunchtime, just for some air and get the circulation going for three quarters of an hour, then the rest of the day at home. I had been craving a can of macaroni cheese and so treated myself which I cooked with lots of added mustard, served with grilled tomatoes and some toast. Strange how something from a tin can be perfect once in a blue moon.  In the evening cooked a rather good stew, using the last of the turkey stock and some chicken stock, with lots of vegetables including the much maligned swede. Also did lots of laundry. For I am a non-gender specific domestic deity.

Lorraine woofed the stew up gratefully when she got home, and we chatted lots on the gold sofa, before watching the silly but sunny Murder in Paradise, which I knew Mum and Mas would be watching too. It is a terrible show, but oddly comforting. A bit like macaroni cheese.

My copy of Rachel Boast's book Void Studies arrived today. Meanwhile I have been listening to A Little History of Religion by Richard Holloway, as an audiobook on Anton's recommendation adding to my simultaneous reading, which has got utterly out of hand. I have started but not finished these books in the last month or so: Gogol Lost Souls,  Christopher Butler's A Very Short Introduction to Postmodernism, Slavoj Zizek Violence, Writings from Ancient Egypt, trans. Toby Wilkinson, and Adelia Prado's The Mystical Rose, Selected Poems.  I am also reading We have always lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, with Lorraine at night. But she drops to sleep after a couple of paragraphs so this could take time. Plus browsing through  An Atlas of Countries that Don't Exist by Nick Middleton, which Anton got me for Christmas. There must be more too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Not dropping off

Working on the novel this morning, then off to the gym. I just have no stamina at the moment, I'm not sure why. I don't feel particularly ill or anything, but am getting very tired very quickly. I don't know why. Obviously plenty of scope for hypochondria. But I contented myself with walking my ten thousand paces for the day, so I can't be dropping off the perch just yet.

Lorraine was out tonight to do with work. In the evening watched an stunningly good documentary called Hyper-Normalisation. It is on the BBC iPlayer. I felt like it was a very plausible account of some of the factors that have contributed to the post truth world in which we now live. A real eye-opener.

Beth working on sorting her tax things out while I watched. She pleased because the interminable documentary didn't distract her. Although wild shrieking of foxes in the back garden did at one point. They must be breeding, the beasts.

Lorraine home, and in need of hot chocolate.

Beth sorts her receipts...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Peach and blue

Much improved day today, was able to get my brain in gear, and did some good work and felt much happier. Also went for a long walk in the sun, partly through a nearby scrap of be-squirrelled woodland, and later into the park, where the pond had few plants in it, and lots of fish. They are goldfish but the black ones are more numerous. An example of natural selection perhaps. I pictured passing predatory birds gulping up the gold ones.

Watched some of Theresa May's speech about Brexit. A decent effort I thought to put a positive gloss on it all, but as one of my old art directors Nev used to say with monotonous regularity while scowling at the catalogues we were forced to work on, you can't shine shit.

At sundown, and noticeably colder, I took a stroll to complete my 10,000 paces for the day. This latter was just around sunset and the sky was a thing of beauty daubed with contrails. Home and chatted to Mum, they are off to Bart's tomorrow for a checkup, luckily the ambulance is coming to pick them up. She'd been out with her pal Pat during the day at art gallery in London, followed by a couple of wines.

Cooked a mash-based griddled turkey style thing with plenty of fresh vegetables. Betty home tonight and chatting with her, before she went to her room to avoid watching an episode of a Netflix series called, OA which Toby had recommended. Bleak but good. L and I to bed early.

Below a world of peach and blue.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Blue Monday

Got out of the wrong side of the bed today, unable to focus on work for some reason, and so increasingly tetchy as the day wore on.  Anton came around for a cup of coffee and to collect a pressie for Oskar, who was not feeling well. Spoke to Mum whose landline wasn't working and I managed to get in touch with someone in India and after an hour or so managed to sort this. Went for a short walk, which seemed to help a bit. Otherwise, a proper rainy Monday in January.

Surprised to find out that Jacob Polley won the TSEs this year. But good on him.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Excellent poetry, evil trains

Both Lorraine and I feeling sluggish still. However up and a kipper based breakfast and off to see Janet and Ken for morning coffee. Also collected some bags of fabric that Janet is kindly giving to Lorraine's school. We also discussed the new house Janet and Ken are moving into, in Hove. It looks good, a roomy ground floor apartment. Felt quite excited for Janet, and she'll have some garden too.

Then back home, dropping a book off with Rosie, who is in the next street to where Janet lives, and driving past Janet and Ken's soon to be new home.

A Sunday lunch, then Lorraine drove me off to Brighton station, and I trained up to Blackfriars, without incident and attended the T.S.Eliot readings at the RFH. Southbank looking rather nice as I walked along, a stretch of river that is very familiar to me having worked at IBM's building there for a few years.

Met Robin, Charlotte and Jess. The first phase of these readings is always the same, gathering in the long bar before and having conversations with people who are looking over your shoulder to see if there is anyone they need to schmooze more than you, which in my case is most people. For some reason Jess introduced me as a playwright to one woman, who proceeded to talk to me as if I'd never read a poem in my life. Still, nice to see Charlotte and Robin, and get to know Jess a little better.

Then the readings themselves, which were interesting and enjoyable. There wasn't one of them that I didn't enjoy in one way or another, and there are at least four of the books I shall buy. The result is due tomorrow, and I have no idea who might win. I particularly enjoyed J.O. Morgan, Denise Riley (excellent poems, though I found her performance rather mannered) Rachael Boast, and Alice Oswald, the latter I suspect might win it.

Getting home was a nightmare. Walked to Blackfriars and found that all the trains to Brighton were cancelled, and nobody to talk to in the station. This all stressed me disproportionately. I was feeling tired, my phone low on juice, without money to get a cab and my heart threw in a few ectopic beats to add hypochondria into the mix.  Eventually I followed a disgruntled gaggle of people to London Bridge where, luckily, a Brighton train was ready and left in five minutes. However once on this train all was well, and I found an old Kermode and Mayo podcast to listen to on low power mode, was I home before midnight.

Below from the South Bank towards St Pauls, and my seat view. This is Ruth Padel, who read T.S. Eliot's Journey of the Magi as a prelude to the evening.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Crumbled knees

Saturday at last. Lorraine and I made several plans for everything we were going to achieve today,  while in bed. However once up, and the quorn sausage sandwich of destiny had been eaten, both of us felt devoid of energy and in need of sneaky dozes in the afternoon, after we'd done some essential house stuff. Lorraine sore throaty and tired. Then a walk off to do some shopping, and Lorraine to drift into Preloved, one of her favourite shops.

Caught a bus in the evening to see Rosie and Innis for a dinner party. Lorraine made apple and walnut crumble and it warming our knees as Lorraine and I sat in the front seats at the top like children. Rosie had done a North African chicken dish which was all other delicious. Nice to see R & I so happy together, and Innis and have very similar interests and tastes so have lots to chat about. A cheery night all round, and a judicious cab home. I was still downstairs when Lorraine was already upstairs and did something yelp inducing to her knee. Felt bad I hadn't heard her. She was okay when I came to bed though.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Morning moon

So a windy and icy night. A tiny smattering of frosty snow on the rooftops, which soon went.  Lorraine getting a texts as she got out of bed from others saying that getting into school was fine on the other side of the downs.

I got up early too, and worked in my scriptorium all day on my MS. Occasionally listening to Backstar, but mostly in silence or to the ambient strains of Eno.

The full moon, just a couple of degrees off full in the pearly morning night was rather lovely, and I took these from my study window in the morning.

Noticed a great sheet of ice on the table outside which was gradually slipping off and bending. Took a couple of snaps of this too. So working all day, apart from a bit of a bracing walk after Sonia went. Sonia chatting in a friendly way as usual.

Spoke to Mum, she and Mas are okay and in the warm. They'd been to the Friday library meeting this morning too, which was good. Spoke to Janet too, who has secured a new flat in Hove, which is really exciting.

Dawn came around this evening, just as Lorraine was arriving. I'd organised a delivery curry and we had a cheery night together. Beth back a bit later too.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Watching the Devil on TV

Hatches thoroughly battened down this afternoon, with a good deal of icy rain turning to sleet and a bit of snow by the time Lorraine got home. She'd sent everyone home on time from school. I spent the lovely day at my desk fiddling with poems and working on the novel MS, apart from a quick toddle to the bread shop, and a quick chat with mum.

Watching Trump's press conference, it occurred to me that the Americans have actually elected the Devil. It is extraordinary that such a nakedly evil presence has gained such power in this world.

A glimpse out of the kitchen window in the evening. Didn't fancy it, and the cats when forced to go out for reasons of personal hygiene, soon bolted back in looking affronted.

Listening to music off and on today. Working to Reflection by Brian Eno, one of his better ambient pieces, which is praise indeed, and Bowie's Blackstar album, his final one, which is a quite jazzy in places. The song  Blackstar itself is becoming a favourite. His penultimate album, The Next Day, is also very good. Good to know he went out on a high, artistically. It is humbling when you consider how much some artists accomplish in their lives. Interesting of all the people I was listening to in the 70s, I listen to Bowie and Eno with present pleasure, rather than nostalgia. I remember really liking their collaboration on the Heroes album, and still enjoy that album once in a while.

Constantly plagued by cats, who are bored and this is slightly annoying when in mid flow.

A glimpse out of the rain streaked kitchen window, into the wind and snowy wetness.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Flame at last

Worked from early in the day on the Skelly MS. In the afternoon Beth and I started looking at material to do with Edinburgh, and also I got in touch with Ruth, Matt's pal in Edinburgh.

Lorraine sore throaty this morning, and I have been a bit underpowered. However I forced myself to to the gym, if only to keep the routine going. I did a bit of stuff there, showered and had a cup of coffee in Starbucks and finished a long letter to Tracey in California.

Then to the Joker to meet Anton for their three-for-two Wednesday plates of Woof-Woof wings. The place quite crowded. Good to see him there, and chat about books, and life and so on. I also learned that the Lush voucher I'd bought Klaudia necessitated him having to spend hours on Boxing day buying bath bombs and stuff with my lovely Goddaughter. And the book on film making I bought Oskar went down well too.

Anton taking a photo of the Viper Wall of Flame. The Vipers have become a bit of a legend with some of his pals.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The material of genius

Working on my Skelly MS, and revelling in the boon Scrivener is to getting things done quickly. Feeling tired, but I had my head down all day. A man came and measured up the door again, for we are replacing this as it doesn't really fit. It is going to have our house number on the glass above the door. That will be nice. I like the number 11. It is a bit mad to have favourite numbers, but along with 5, 11 is one of them. Symmetry is key. Otherwise not much going on. I cooked a turkey based stew tonight, using some substantial stock I had made with the Christmas turkey and had frozen.  A walk along to the Five Ways to buy an enormous leek. Of such stuff is the life of a genius cobbled together. Lorraine in need of TLC back from work today, which I supplied via the medium of turkey-based stew.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Dem old bones

Lorraine up in the dark again this morning. Brought me a nice cup of tea before leaving. I hurried downstairs, eager to employing my Scrivener program to great effect and revisit the Skelton Yawngrave MS. The program is making editing and complex reordering a thing of minutes. The manuscript and story, which I started about 10 years ago, seems incredibly current. The far fetched right wing governments I had imagined as a backdrop, seem almost tame now.

Steadily did three lots of laundry during the day. The glamour.  Beth at home before going to the gym and then off to rehearse her part as a sassy singing hippo for a production of Madagascar. We had lunch of a leek and chicken stock plus miso soup, which was rather nice, before I zoomed off to the gym and did another mild mannered workout, and walked back in the rain in time for a Sainsbury's delivery and a chat with Mum.

Then more work till Lorraine came home. Feeling suddenly very tired around sixish. Lorraine home and feeling peaky. To bed very early, after she chose an episode of Endeavour to watch from the safety of the Gold sofa.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Sunday gardeners

Lorraine and I not so springy this morning, but gradually crawled out. I went around the corner to buy an expensive chicken, and various bits. Breakfast, then Lorraine and I into the garden, to survey our grounds. A very mild day today, around 10c, and we did general tidying and stood about discussing what needed to be done in that garden. A good deal, is the answer. Fox poo here and there. And cat poo. And snails. Occasionally a few plants. The little ferny area, and the small half barrel pond looking good though.  

A relaxed day, however, although I found it hard to settle to anything. Started reading my book of Ancient Egyptian texts, and instantly fell asleep. Then I cooked the aforementioned chicken in the evening (as Lorraine did her emails etc.). Sunday roast then, and watched the first in the new series of No Offence, and then Sherlock and then to rapidly to bed.

Texting with the Tobster now back from Japan, having had a very good time by the sound of it.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A day full of niceness

Lorraine and I decided to get up fairly early (for us at the weekend) and go into town for breakfast. We had breakfast at Bills, and drank healthy freshly squeezed things. I had a nicely warming apple, carrot and ginger. Then we did a spot of shopping and lurked about by the sea. The afternoon was spent going to see a film, Rogue One, the Star Wars spin off at the Kommedia.  Bumped into Tanya there.

This film quite entertaining and as Starwarsy as you could want, but not something that will make you think about anything once you've left the cinema. Lorraine popped off to the loo afterwards, and I found myself amid half a dozen lesbians who made me laugh talking about two of the heroes who were killed in it: "I was sad when the blind one was killed. Yeah, and his boyfriend." Everyone dies in it. That's a plot spoiler. Lorraine shocked me on the way home, by quoting dialogue from the original Star Wars film, that this spin off emerged from. Apparently she watched it many times with the youthful Sam.

Home and Beth had cooked, as John was around, although he was a bit subdued due to a sore wisdom tooth. Spent the evening playing Euchre and drinking wine. Find myself continually surprised that I am playing Euchre in a family style setting. Always seem to play in the same teams, Beth and I versus John and Lorraine. Apart from one game, Beth and I always win, which is good because we are far less competitive that the other two. Makes me think of Dave my grandfather all the time. Playing music on the muso late at night. Lovely jazz, as everyone else had gone to bed.

A really enjoyable day, full of nice things.

Below a misty seafront.

Friday, January 06, 2017


So up early, thanks to Lorraine bringing breakfast up to our room. A thorny, first-week School problem for Lorraine which we discussed over porridge. Lorraine then made off for work and I got up.

I have decided to rework my Sketlton Yawngrave novel in the next few weeks (traditionally a quiet freelance time of the year), as I have been stealthily rethinking it for a while now. To this end I bought and downloaded Scrivener, and spent much of the day learning how to use it. From my initial assessment it is going to prove incredibly useful. It is software designed for longer writing projects, but helps you organise everything much better. The trouble with a long project is that it is a bit like looking at an elephant in a hut, through a hole in a wall. You can see bits of it, but never the whole elephant. This allows you to see the whole elephant at the click of a mouse, through a system of synopses, character boards and so on. In fact everything I've had to think about. You can upload all kinds of files as reference, so everything is one place. A piece of software that just might change my life.  I can have it simultaneously on my mac and macbook too, so can work on the same project wherever I am. Smart. All for thirty something quid. Bargain.

Otherwise I spoke to Mum. There are people coming to help with Mas a home from next Monday. Seems like there is a certain amount of support on the horizon, which is good news.

I went to the gym again, again not for long, and the walking there and back is part of the exercise. Not so full of energy today, perhaps this is due to having gone the day before. Still, worth doing, and thanks to my new gym bag I can take my computer and my gym kit. Sat in non-ethically sound Starbucks afterwards with an Americano from the new Guatemalan bean they are pushing, and will shortly charge more for no doubt, and downloaded Scrivener onto my macbook air.

Home, and Lorraine and Beth arriving together. I'd phoned ahead for a curry, which was very nice. A smallish amount of beer with it, and binge watched the rest of No Offence. Really exciting and quite funny in places.

Generally dreary, but a bit of brightness breaks under the cloud on Queens Road towards the sea.

Thursday, January 05, 2017


Another shabby night's sleep. Lorraine woke me up by literally screaming. Not murderers, but cramp. She went to sleep immediately afterwards. As the screamee, however, I lay awake with shredded nerves.

Working from an early hour on the Centaur business, and was able to send off the work to Helen by midday. Then onto the gym again. Felt much better today, and did my half hour cross training (I am starting myself off gently again) without difficulty. Had a shower in the gym, and then had a large mug of Americano in the ethically-unsound Starbucks, where I attempted some work. More than usually like a student library today, except for the boys speaking Arabic next to me, and showing each other clips of things on their phones. Then off to buy some marker pens for concept work as they were going cheap, like small birds.

Felt positively springy after the gym, and felt like I was walking faster and so on. I had weighed myself the day before and seem to have shed a kilo and a half. Not drinking, doing a bit of exercise and eating human portions seem to be doing the trick. To celebrate I ate two bitter ender mince pies, and a chocolate coin.

Spoke to Mum and Mason today. Mas back at home, and someone coming around to assess their house, with an eye to installing a lift and providing other aids to living. Mas clearly pleased to be back, and spending much of the day at his computer.

Home and I cooked a highly-acclaimed pork stew. Beth had been out talking to people about a part in a student film. Lorraine had a hard day at work.

Christmas decorations down today. Carpet thick with needles. Pulling the baubles from the tree made it rain needles. L and I agreed that we would get a non-shedding tree next year. Dragged the wretched thing to our front garden, leaving a green trail through the house. Beth, Lorraine and I binge watching a cop show called No Offence. Entertaining.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Mas back home, and trotting on

Mason being released back into the wild again today. Spoke to Mum a couple of times, and he arrived  later in the day. Not the challenges are around making sure he is okay in the house. Social services have been in touch, and there will be people to help him get up and bathed and so on for the first days of his return.

In harness writing another tranche of the Centaur opera. Trotted slowly along, using the Robert Graves version of the myths as template, a skirmish between Heracles and the Centaurs. Heracles is beastly to them, first stealing their wine then killing lots of them.

Listening to Brian Eno's lovely new ambient piece, Reflection, on Spotify during the day. I find Eno an inspiring person altogether, and his ambient stuff is the best thing to work to I know. Reflection is one of his best.

I also took three walks to ensure I'd walked my 10k paces. Listening to a 'Great Lives' podcast about C.S. Lewis.  I learned that Tolkien had modelled the way the Ents speak in Lord of the Rings on the booming voice of Lewis. They were friends and colleagues, and I once visited the Eagle and Child pub (aka The Bird and Baby) in Oxford, where they used to meet the other Inklings.

Enjoyed walking, although the weather getting drearier. Beth about a bit today, before going off in the afternoon to tutor an acting whippersnapper. After I'd written myself out, I watched the other bit of Endgame. Bleak as anything, but blackly funny. An blind old man, his adopted servant, and his legless parents in the corner of the room, in two separate dustbins.

Lorraine home and Beth cooked a healthy stir-fry for us. Rather good it was. Lorraine tired on her second day back at school.

We live quite high up in Brighton, but I love the little glimpses of the sea you get. Knowing there is all that space beyond the houses makes being in a town far less claustrophobic than it would be inland. Having a sense of the sea nearby is good for my sanity. From Fiveways, and the view from Blaker's Park, a two minute walk from us. I like the fish weathervane on the clock tower.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

At my desk

A poor night's sleep and Lorraine up at a woeful 6:10. The lovely woman brought me a cup of tea before she left for work and I struggled up soon after.

A residual start of year anxiety. I don't know why. I managed to spend most to the day filing, and contacting the accountant's office and paying tax, and I wrote to Tracey.  Also looked at a poem I was tinkering with before Christmas and decided it was poor. This at least saves time.

I walked to the gym at lunchtime, and spoke to mum while on the cross trainer. Stopped after half an hour feeling half dead, and walked home again rather slowly.

Tinkered with bits of work, watched part of a Beckett play, Endgame, on YouTube. Spoke to Mum, cooked spaghetti and got food ready for Lorraine when she came home, having survived the day. One of her colleagues had lots of chocolate given to her for Christmas, and she took it home and  put it under the tree. Her dog then ate it all, and she then had to take it to the vets costing her well into three figures.

Beth home tonight after a week of travels. We watched Pride, a feel good movie about really sad things, the crushing of the miners, homophobia and the onset of the AIDs epidemic.

To bed earlier today.

Monday, January 02, 2017

A stroll in the sun

A gorgeous clear blue sky. Lorraine already working this morning in bed looking at emails, and talking about school data. I got up and made breakfast of quorn sausage sandwiches. We are gradually getting back to normal now with food.

Because L was working and I was feeling antsy, I went for a two hour walk down to the sea with the low winter sun in my eyes all the way. Spoke to Mum while I was out and about.

The pier busy, and the sun rather hot. An impression only bolstered by the three swimming ladies who swam inland from the sea when I was there. Hardy is the word.

Home and after a bit Lorraine went off with Dawn to see their pal Sarah. I lurked at home writing bits and generally getting my ducks in a row to start my normal working routines again tomorrow.

Lorraine home, and I cooked a vegetable soup, using chicken stock. Rather nice it was too. Then watched a BBC Bronte biopic called To Walk Invisible, which was rather good, and extra enjoyable as it was filmed in Haworth where we were last year. I've not read any Anne Bronte. I should fix that. I have read Jane Eyre, Villette and Wuthering Heights by Charlotte and Emily.

Ruined the exercise and healthy food by eating chocolate tonight. I blame my wife, who has to start work tomorrow and quite understandably demanded chocolate and a glass of wine.

Below some photos with my actual camera. I am a bit rusty at the photos, as you can see. A stencil on a wall; The Duke of York where we watch lots of our movies; scenes of or from the pier including three January swimmers. The i360, I decided looks quite cool when the viewing platform is rising or falling. However most of the time all you see is an enormous concrete pole which is boring and ugly.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

A decent start

After I crept out to feed the cats and make tea this morning, Lorraine and I finally dragged ourselves out of bed at noon. Outside the rain raining on everything uninvitingly. Fairly purposeful during the day, reattaching the coat pegs that came away on Christmas day, and generally tidying and reorganising. Spoke to Mum who was about to watch Sherlock, like we were. Otherwise a quiet and pleasant night in with the lovely Mrs Kenny, eating leftover pie and the delicious Bulgarian Turkish Delight that Sonia had given us. And having a judicious afternoon snooze. No boozes today, only mineral water. An assortment of Kenny organs trembling with relief.

I take a dim view of January. But it started unusually well on the poetic front. A poem here in the pleasingly austere postmodernist site E.Ratio which went live today. It was a companion piece for An Adumbration of the Light Age, which is in The Nightwork, and written about the same time. Also heard today from the editor of an interesting Irish site called The Basil O'Flaherty  kindly took four poems, The Neighbours, Overthrow of the Angels, In Snoopyland and O Rose, to be uploaded in March, the month when Touchstone will be published by The Frogmore Papers. A decent start to the year's campaign.