Thursday, July 20, 2017

A happy day

So up with the sparrows this morning, the sky still threatening rain. I mooched off the doctors to discuss blood pressure, gout, a persistent ear infection and a weird lump in my chest. Came away reassured, and with a few routine tests lined up. I like my doctor very much, and we tend to have a bit of a laugh. I told him its not you it's me, on my white coat syndrome.

Off next to get my haircut as it was suddenly unruly and sprouting sideways like a clown. This dealt with, off to the ideologically unsound Starbucks where I celebrated with large cup of coffee, and fiddled with some poems. Then to Specsavers for an eye test. I need a slightly stronger prescription, but my eye health is good. Together we compared the red photos of inside my eyes to last time and it all looked healthy. Then the difficult business of choosing specs with a woman called Raquel, whose head I did in by rebuffing her suggestions. We had quite a laugh about it.

Then a bus home, and I sorted out the last of the Edinburgh business, organising posters. I have now done what I can, and felt a sense of relief about it. There was a wine delivery, as Lorraine is going to give wine bottles as presents to her staff, before I zoomed off to The Boots, where Beth, Kitty and Matt where rehearsing, and sat in for a couple of hours. They worked really hard, and were a bit hysterical when I arrived. To my surprise Kitty had started to read The Second Kind of Darkness, and she is really liking it. I was delighted.

After rehearsals, Beth and I went to the PPT, where we discussed the play, the future of Brighton Blondes and so on, as we scoffed some food and drank some beer.  Lorraine, home late after another school performance, joined us in the pub and had a beer and a wee plate of hummus.  I miss her lots at the moment, as she is off very early and home late. This is her last full week, thankfully.

It had been a very happy day for me, facing up to things I didn't particularly want to do and sailing through them. All good.  The one poor note is that Anton is having a wretched time with an ear infection, and costs mounting up when a leaking roof causing a flood when the storms came, and a large dead fridge, which will require the removal of window frame to get it taken away. He has had to take his house off the market temporarily.

Below a photo of the cast, when I asked them to do a selfie pout. Naturally they were all good at it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Not Hyde

Up early again. Looking blearily out of the kitchen window just after seven, saw Calliope watch a fox, only a metre away, with a complete lack of concern. Was offered work from the folks in London I worked with earlier this year for a couple of months, but the timing was all wrong. Also offered some work by Pat, but had to decline this too.

I spent the day working productively on the Edinburgh business, sending out of 26 press releases, amongst other bits. Also went for an hours' walk. Spoke to Mum too, who is looking forward, as I am, to the Tobster's visit.

In the evening cooked and served up a late supper for Lorraine, back from another performance of the school play which seems to be going down well. She is unbelievably busy at the moment, trying to get everything sorted. I am looking after her nicely when she gets home.

Beth working up near Oxford today being an extra. Luckily she was given a lift home, and near our house passed a Peter Kenny double, shambling home looking strange and slightly mad. She came up to our room to check that it wasn't a Mr Hyde like version of me.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stars and storms

The weather muggy and turbulent, ending in an apocalyptic thunderstorm. Writing my proposal for the children's book, plus working on a few poems and doing some Edinburgh stuff.

In the evening off to The Evening Star, where I met Glen and Eleni, Steve, Richard and Maria Grazia, and Adam Bushell, who I'd not seen for about five years, then saw twice in a week. Also chatting to a Yorkshireman on his own on our table called Mike, who had invented little cards to place over his drink which said Back in a few minutes, to prevent his drink being removed. A really cheerful evening all round. Steve looking incredibly smart just having got off the train from London where he is doing a new job. It made me want to obey him.

Then walked home, managing to get home while the rain was spotting. There followed a thunderstorm the like of which I had not seen in the UK. The sky flashing wildly.

Below Mike, and his beer card, and the radiant Glen and Eleni.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A happy Monday

A Happy Monday. I hit the ground running today with a good sense of purpose. Working on getting my proposal in focus for The Second Kind of Darkness. Lorraine heard from Dawn today, that she had been reading it to her class and the children were enjoying it. Went into town for a change of scene, and went to Starbucks. I sat next to two teenagers, whose conversation amused me. As I put on Facebook: Sitting in the non-ideologically sound Starbucks. Two teenagers next to me, talking about one of their friends. "Yeah. He's always been four years older than me." Quite reassuring that nothing has rippled the space time continuum here at least.

Enjoyed walking back through the park, a lovely sunny day and although I have a lot to be getting on with, I felt a real sense of my privilege and freedom.  Lorraine, however, with one full week of slog ahead.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday rehearsals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 14, 2017

Music, cheer and great company

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A cheeky beer

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

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

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

Below, James and Betty drinking a much needed beer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bits and pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Studious Sunday

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

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

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

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Village life, and the perfect getaway

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

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

Friday, July 07, 2017

A spot of happiness

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Cat business

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

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

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

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

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

Another bedtime shot from our Juliette windows.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

The dangled fly

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A visit to Bolney

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 03, 2017

Up to Edgware

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Rehearsing in The Boots

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

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

Below some snaps from rehearsal.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

The coop opens

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

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

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