Saturday, September 30, 2017

Shoeing and cooing

An excellent morning after Lorraine and I got up. Lorraine into town, to meet her pal Sarah for a long coffee, and I worked on some poems, and in that hour had something of a breakthrough on two substantial poems I have been working on. This made me feel like I hadn't completely lost my writing mojo after all, which was pleasing.

Then into town to meet Lorraine. We stopped for a coffee in one of Brighton's innumerable coffee places, and then went to a recently opened shoe shop where Lorraine had just bought some rather cool boots. The Italian manager was cooing excitedly over Lorraine when we returned, and I ended up being given a small discount on a nice pair of tan and green suede numbers. I like shoes.

Then a bit of shopping around town. A kerfuffle just outside Churchill square, and more cooing. People were taking photographs of two dyed doves, which had settled on a ledge just near one of the main entrances. I snapped this below.

After some shopping, including a spell in Waitrose, Lorraine and I bussed home. In the evening we drove out to Lorraine's pal Carolyn's house, for supper with Carolyn and her brother John and his new husband Peter. A very pleasant evening. Carolyn is always up to something artistic, such as painting and embroidery, and is involved with charities supporting Nicaragua at the moment. Peter and John told us about vast gatherings of seals on the Lincolnshire coast, which I'd never heard about. They are running, mostly for fun, a guest house. I asked if it had a seal of approval.

Drove home in the rain, after a cheerful night, and were happy to be indoors.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Manageable thoughts

A good end to the week. I felt as if I had been struggling with my identity of being a writer, and if I should chuck it all in, and focus on something less pointless, but as Wordsworth says in the Prelude, "The Poet, gentle creature as he is,/Hath, like the Lover, his unruly times; /His fits when he is neither sick nor well,/ Though no distress be near him but his own/Unmanageable thoughts." Although the issue was this week whether I was a poet at all, which I suppose is demonstrable by having quite a few actual poems published. But this proves nothing as there is an enormous amount of rubbish published (some of which I witnessed last night). On that note, someone posted Facebook posts of one or two people reading, but as I was sitting near the front, they were also loving portraits of the area of concern, which now appears to be the size of Australia. Bah.

But today it was all different. Did some practical stuff, like a spot of billing for the scraps of freelance work I'd done this month, and ended the week having made some hard decisions about my writing, and I have benefited from these and at least managed to get one lot of poems sent off.

Spoke to Mum and to Anton. Spoke briefly to Sonia, who was joking that England was the place where people only worked. She seemed a bit glum, but I was too busy working to discuss it.

A really nice evening with Lorraine, who was cheery as her performance management review had gone pleasingly, and her board of governors is supportive in all the right ways. Just nice to sit in the Preston Park Tavern for a chicken burger, and a couple of beers. Home very early though, and both of us falling asleep on the sofa. A blissful early night, without having to wait tremulously for the sound of iPhone ducks quacking at six AM.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


Lorraine working from home this morning, which was nice to have tea together. We noticed the mushrooms were gone as mysteriously and quickly as they came.

Thinking about my friend Tim Gallagher and trying to make an old poem about him work, had the image, which I rejected, of him disappearing into a wood like Keats's nightingale. A short walk at lunchtime, then slept heavily for an hour this afternoon. Luckily just before I went out this evening I did an hour's work I was pleased with. Then, before Lorraine got in, I walked to The Nightingale Room above the Grand Central pub opposite the station, which was tonight hosting a poetry reading.

I will be reading there at the end of next month, although having done a blog post about this, it turns out the day has been changed and now it is October 25th. Anyway it seemed churlish not to turn up for some poetry, before I go on there. I knew a couple of people Michaela Ridgway and John McCullough with whom I had a brief chat about Japan, as he was just back from his holiday there. I sat down, and a friendly woman came and sat next to me and asked me if I was going to read, and I said no. She then tried to sell me a place on her learn to perform your poetry course for £65, a kind offer I declined. She read later in the open slot.

One of the guest readers, was an enthusiastic black-lipsticked woman called Bethany Pope, who had given me a bit of a bowser of a review for The Nightwork. I liked her poetry although it was all dialled up to 11. Another American woman, Christina read exclusively from a book about her the death of her drug addicted father. This short on laughs, but obviously heartfelt. The final guest was Robert Hamburger, whose poetry I liked too. The refurbished Nightingale Room is spiffy, however, and I am pleased I went.

Home in a cab to Lorraine, who was already in bed.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A spot of lunchtime sanity

Up early and working for a while, before sloping off into town, where I bought shoe laces, dust masks for scraping walls, and went to the bank. After this I had a quick coffee in the Marwood cafe. It was regrettably full of posturing arty types doing some kind of quick and grubby photoshoot, as if it were the most important thing in the world. Bah, I thought, Old fogeyishly. Then off to meet Catherine at The Bath Arms for lunch. A pint of beer, some grub and a long chat. Catherine is so intelligent and sane, I always feel braced and perked up by her company, and that I can say almost anything to her.

I also spoke to Rosie about our forthcoming birthdays, which as they are only a day apart we are going to have a mutual drink in a pub with our many mutual chums on Saturday night.

Still no real energy. I start off the day full of hope and cheer, but by mid afternoon feel tied, and achey, which makes me feel glum. It feels like there are million things to do, but I just have no oomph. This should be brilliant opportunity of course to write poems. I want to make the most of this time.  I am confronted by my limitations and it is like pulling out hen's teeth. As Keats said something like... Poetry should come as naturally as leaves to a tree, or not at all. Perhaps my version should be that it comes as naturally and surprisingly as mushrooms.

I had a nice chat with Mum, however, as Ben had fixed their long running telephone problems. Ben is an angel.

In the evening, I rallied magnificently, and cooked a strangely good vegetable surprise for Lorraine when she got home from pilates.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Eight arms good

Morning mist, lovely and autumnal, then a pleasant and warmish day. I was more cheery and more productive day, not having quite the same degree of contempt for my poems as before. I worked in the morning till after lunch then I took a stroll around the nearby streets and Blakers Park, then did wall scraping for a couple of hours while listening to my new book Other Minds: the octopus and the evolution of intelligent life, by Peter Godfrey-Smith, who is a philosopher of science and octopus fancier. Fascinating stuff.  Octopuses and mammals diverged a long and wormy time ago in evolutionary terms, and the Octopus is the closest thing we'll get to meeting an alien intelligence.

Lorraine still heroically soldiering on at work, while the bug I have is hanging about too. Otherwise little to report. Texted Bob, to bump seeing him on Thursday in London. Some Telltale activity, and I am thinking in advance, while I have some time, about my poetry readings on 26th October and 1st November. Some money is coming to me from Edinburgh shows, but not much. Cooked for Lorraine and chatted. An early night.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A bit of Klingon trouble

By the end of the day I ended up despising everything I'd ever written, which happens once in a while. It can be useful to look at your work in a cold and sneering way but it is rarely comforting. The trouble is writing is not a choice, it is a condition.

Meanwhile, in the world of successful writers... I am still laughing at a quote by Steven King, that 'J.K.Rowling never met an adjective she didn't love'. I also finished Joseph Anton, listening to it on my iPod as I did laundry and other things. Salman Rushdie's account of his under the fatwa, I found over-long, indulgent and boring in parts, but it was also completely fascinating in others, and something I will remember reading for a long time. I suspect Rushdie is a likeable one to one, but seems to have a knack of rubbing people up the wrong way.

Spoke to Mum, who had to go to hospital for an appointment, but she had packed a bag just in case. Luckily she was immediately returned to the wild.

Very pleased to see Lorraine at the end of the day, she had got through her day unscathed. I cooked and we simply escaped into the TV, as befits the rapidly darkening evenings. And very enjoyable it was too. A documentary about Philip Larkin's oddly revealing photographs and snatches of his poems, a documentary about tornadoes, which I love, and then we watched two episodes of the new Star Trek Discovery. The script was a bit clunky, but still it was nice to escape into a bit of Klingon trouble. These Klingons have been redesigned to look a bit orcish, and they are behaving badly.

Below some Klingons.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pat and Maureen's Anniversary lunch

A good night's sleep and both Lorraine and I were feeling distinctly perkier. A quick breakfast with John then off in the car to Marks and Sparks to pick up a cake that Lorraine had had decorated there, and a cheeky bunch of flowers. Drove off towards Kent to join in the celebrations of Pat and Maureen's sixtieth wedding anniversary, which occurred while they were on holiday.

At Ashford Station we picked up Beth and were soon at Pat and Maureen's house. It was already filling up with people, as Pete, Ken and Clare were there. Soon Lorraine's nieces Sarah and Louise, and Louise's partner Will had arrived, then Jason, and Maureen's sister Betty, and Betty's daughter (Lorraine's cousin) Janet and her husband... Then it was time to drive off to the Duke's Head, where we had a room, the same one we'd been in for Pat's Eightieth birthday.  We were joined there by several other family members including Maureen's sister Doris, Pat's brother Steve, several cousins, and extended family to numerous to mention.

Steve had brought in a fascinating photo of Pat's grandfather, father and uncle on his mother's side, and spent some time with Pat poring over that.

We all tucked into Sunday lunch and lapped up some good wine, and Steve made a speech, and so did Pat, who pointed out there was only sixteen years to go before we'd be there again celebrating his 100th birthday. Maybe they'll get something else from Queen then too. Puddings, and I ordered Spotted Dick, which was given instead to Pete who had eaten half before he realised it wasn't sticky toffee pudding. I enjoyed his sticky toffee pudding a good deal however.

I had a nice time chatting with everyone, and found myself talking lots to Will, Louise's boyfriend. Rather empathised with him. He studied philosophy and theology and is now trying to find a way of fitting into the world which is quite difficult when you have been trained for a few years to question everything. Disproportionate how many current or reformed philosophers there are in the extended family, what with Will and Louise, Sam and Jade, Jade's dad and me, and of course the Tobster teaching the blessed stuff in Canada.

The main business of the day was having a party with Pat and Maureen, and it went really well, everyone was relaxed and enjoying themselves.

Lots of fond farewells at the Duke's Head where everyone agreed we'd had a good time and good food, and a friendly service. We headed home from there. Lorraine having done brilliantly all day.  Beth and John sleeping in the back. I was feeling really tired and we went to bed not long after getting home.

Ken and the barman took photos of the whole company, so there will be some photos with lots of folks in it at some point. For some reason I didn't take too many photos. But here is their card from The Queen, a photo of them kissing, and the photo of Pat's grandfather that Steve had brought. Their grandfather is at the back and centre, one of his sons has his arm around him, and the other appears to be filling up a chamber pot with beer. Just love the clothes and general atmosphere of this shot, which is from the 1940s.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Time out

Lorraine taking it easy this Saturday trying to get over a nasty chest cough and cold, and I wanted to look after her by bringing teas and breakfasts in bed and so on. My throat, ears and sinuses flared up again with gusto too, and by the time the afternoon came, all I wanted to do is sleep. I tried to do some writing. Then when Lorraine got up we did a few household chores done together,  Lorraine and I simply rested and slept on the sofa through the afternoon.

Today was the story of things not happening. We were due to pop down to The Basketmakers in the afternoon to say goodbye to Irish Tom, who is permanently returning to Ireland, but didn't. We were also supposed to see Jess and Andrew tonight, but as Andrew has to go in for a heart operation shortly, and doesn't need to risk getting a cold.

While I was slumped on the sofa, Lorraine cooked lots of nice things she would have cooked this afternoon. We both hen mindlessly slumped in front of x factor, and then repaired to bed. John came around late this evening, after working on a late shift, and stayed with us as we are driving to Ashford tomorrow morning.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Working by the river

Typically, the day of the week I had to work in London, was the day Lorraine's chesty cold got the better of her, and she worked from bed all day, getting up to make a delicious chicken and mushroom pie for my return. Also a rather beautiful and warm day.

I set off at seven to travel to Hampton, on the Thames, to work for a day with The French Bloke, at the FB and Pat's agency. Pat is on hols in France at the moment, which is why I was needed. Keith was doing a spot of freelance there too, and it was good to see him. The FB and Pat working with John Perkins, another old pal of mine. Their new colleagues Joe and Carolyn too, both really nice. Carolyn grew up in Orkney. Their office is part of an old boat house, and so backs onto the river. A gorgeous view. Underneath them is a loquacious Kiwi artist , and at one point Joe, the FB and I walked down to the steep stairs to the little jetty. This is patrolled by all kinds of water fowl, swans, geese, ducks, cormorants and more. There were a pair of swans with a couple of large cygnets, and the Kiwi artist emerged and they were all talking about the politics of the birds for some time. The male swan, known as George, very dominant in this stretch of the river. At the end of the jetty on a mast is a plastic owl, which is a favourite perching place of the cormorant.

Keith the FB and I sauntered off in the sunshine to a little bakery at lunch. Best day of the week weather wise. Hampton one of those wealthy and rather lovely places on the river west of London.

Home after, which took over two hours, but listening to Joseph Anton on my headphones, and stopping to buy some chips, to add to the masterpiece of a pie that Lorraine had made. I was really pleased she had stayed at home.

Below out of the agency window, and below the French Bloke picking on his Fender Strat and contemplating his view.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Working, walking, reading

A really good five or six hours of working more fluently than I had done for some days this morning, and I made some good progress. Then I took myself for another walk, through the woods by the golf course at Hollingbury, determined to get my ten thousand paces done, though still feeling underpowered, sore throated and so on. Lorraine has this cold badly, but is still struggling into work.

I was listening to the weighty audiobook of Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie as I trudged. I am over half way now. Fascinating story of Rushdie's life under the fatwah, but I feel his account is screaming out for a hard edit. The death sentence hanging over Rushdie for writing a book was utterly unacceptable, but Rushdie himself is hard to like, and the man who emerges from his account is complex, highly talented, wronged, with lashings of pomposity and vanity, but ultimately he is also an heroic figure.

Spoke to Mum this afternoon, and also was asked to go up to London to do some work tomorrow with Keith and the French Bloke.

Then Lorraine and I decided to try out the new Indian takeaway, The Red Chilli, that has opened around the corner. We had to wait for twenty minutes or so, so popped into the Park View. Both of us fancied cold beer on our sore throats.

Good food, although when we got home one of our items were missing. I popped back to get it and they were tremendously apologetic and gave us free cokes. The food was good too. What is excellent is that they are open till 11, which means that when I return home late from London, there is somewhere I can get an emergency takeaway from, as Jenny's the fish and chip place closes at 8 during the week. There is another place that does kebabs, pizzas and so on opposite, but having got a pizza from it once, I will never return.

Below a view from the start of the downs, back towards the sea, and the i360 (the iSore) just before I headed into the woods, and one of the numerous dog walkers that pack the area :-)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The force is AWOL

Despite creeping into bed gone midnight last night, I woke up early today and got up. The force wasn't with me, and I had earmarked this week as the week of organising and editing poems before a sending out as many as possible.  However everything I tried to polish became more tarnished, and after several hours of this I gave it up as a bad job and feeling rather frustrated, and doubting all my work.

I did some scraping of the big bedroom wall. When you are scraping a wall, the time/achievement ratio slows right down. You can get your quick wins early, buy peeling of big sheets of stuff, by this time however, I can spend ages on just a small patch of wall.  Listening to my audiobook Joseph Anton while I was doing it.

Cooked, looked after Lorraine when she got home, as she is very coldy and ill. Then a much-needed early night.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Out with Innis

Up and working on sorting out my various poetry manuscripts etc. Anton called and walked, and partly ran, over for a chat, a cup of coffee, and to bring back my World at War DVDs and borrow some Frasier DVDs. He has been doing a small amount of work each day this week, and has been enjoying it.

Did a bit more wall scraping, and then cooked for Lorraine and I before I walked down into town  to meet Innis. I found him in the street, just having got off one of the new Brighton Bikes and zoomed across from Hove. We went to the back-from-the-dead The Foundry, then the newly renovated King William IV, and then on into the Lanes. The Tuesday night pubs sparsely populated and ideal for chatting in. At one point I found myself helping a couple, the man had accidentally fallen to his knees and seemed to be struggling. Turns out he had artificial legs so I hoisted him up. Slightly surreal. Innis and I ended up in The Black Lion, having had quite a bit of beer and had a really good laugh talking about a vast array of subjects.

Fond farewells with Innis, then I walked back home, arriving after midnight.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Lucky Monday

Monday and looking forward to getting on with my work, and doing some more decorating. I spoke to Keith, as I am covering for Pat who is on hols. Also took myself off for another walk today. I noticed, however, that I had bruised two of my toes when walking with Anton, as I hadn't laced my boots properly. A schoolboy error.

Nice to have an interlude of walking about in the woods around the golf course. I you know where you are going you can have quite a bit of a walk under trees. Then I walked down to Preston Park, where I had a cup of tea, and thought about the writing I'm doing. Then back to my desk after a shower. Spoke to Mum and cooked supper. My Mondays are the luckiest Mondays in the world.

Am listening to Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie, his account of living under the Fatwah.

Up high near the golf course, a view of shining streets below.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A quiet Sunday

Mum home today, thank goodness, and feeling okay, much to my relief.

Otherwise, a quiet and domestic day. After a slowish start. Lorraine and I set about scraping the big bedroom. Lovely to get the bobbly biscuit coloured walls off. Underneath the plaster is a bit cracked and dodgy, and we may have to repaper. In the afternoon Lorraine worked on school things, and I did bits of my own work and then cooked spaghetti for Sunday dinner.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Purposeful things

I got up, feeling achey after yesterday's walk, additionally I felt coldy and sinus again. Sauntered down the road to get some bread, then came home and made Lorraine and I bacon and egg sandwiches, then simply returned to bed, where I stayed with my lovely wife reading the Guardian and chatting.

Later I spoke to Mum in hospital twice. She had had a comfortable night, and sounded quite cheery. They kept her in overnight tonight too, but fed her supper, and wanted to monitor her. She was very happy to eat. Also let the Tobster know what was going on with Mum and had chats with him.

When Lorraine and I did manage to get up we did purposeful things around the house. She had bought a steam cleaner, and we used it on the gold sofa. The grimiest section of which looks much improved now. Then we prepped the big bedroom, where Beth had been, and tore a few inaugural strips of wallpaper.

Then off to Hove, picked up Beth from work and dropped her off home with a chair we were giving her. Then after looking around at their flat now they have moved in. Lorraine and I drove off to homebase, picked up paint and other bits and pieces.

Later we hopped on a bus back to Hove and met Beth and John at Hove Place. John not particularly well, with the familiar sounding wussiness I'd had this week. We sat outside briefly, till the rain started and Beth had accidentally knocked her beer over my trousers. Luckily it went on my knee rather than my crotch. Interesting philosophical problem, would you have to go home if your trousers were drenched at the crotch? Beth said you'd just have to front it out. From there we went to Fatto a Mano in Hove for pizza. Rain started coming down in stair rods while we were there, so we flitted back to Hove Place. Once a few beers had been drunk and the rain stopped, Lorraine and I cabbed home. Everyone a bit tired tonight.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Getting outside

Up early and working on some words for Helen for the opera. Then I donned my walking gear and walked down to Brighton Station to meet Anton. It was a cool but sunny day, perfect for walking.  Lots of police about at Brighton Station, as some idiot had tried to set off a improvised bomb on a train at Parsons Green in west London.

Anton saying he felt in better shape than ever, and bounded off like a young gazelle at Balcombe.  We did a circular route, through the lovely lanes then across country fields and through a few farms to the Ardingly reservoir.  Anton shared his lunch with me there, as I mysteriously hadn't brought any food. We walked around it and then back up into Balcombe.

A lovely walk, and a perfect day for walking, although we had to skirt the edge of a field full of noisy cattle. Anton let me go ahead as a decoy, then sprinted past me with some alacrity to safety. Ardingly reservoir quite full, and with signs about poisonous blue green algae in the water.

I was a bit tired at the end, but luckily we ended up at the Half Moon Inn where we had a cheeky pint before wending our way back down to the station. The Half Moon used to be a bit grim, but it is now a community owned pub, and suddenly is much better. In Brighton, we sauntered up to the Battle of Trafalgar for some more beers. Nice to be in the Batty again, and it was here Anton pulled his chessboard and chess pieces out of his rucksack, and we had a few games of chess. Anton came second. Then we remembered The Caxton which also served beers, so we went for an absolute bloody final there.

Just as we were finishing up I had a call from Mas on my mobile, and he told me that Mum was in hospital. After fond farewells with Anton I hurried home. Mas had told me she was in Barnet, but it turned out she was back in the Royal Free. When I spoke to them, they told me she had been discharged from A&E at four. So a couple of calls to Mas to find out if she had returned home yet, as this was a few hours later. But she had not. Repeated calls to the Royal Free and eventually I found that she had been discharged from A&E to a different ward. Why the bastards couldn't have made this clear in the first place is a mystery. Eventually I was able to speak to her, and found her sounding quite cheery. She had severe stomach pains in the night, but was in no pain now. It seems these were adhesion pains after her last operation. She was in no pain, but was very bored.

Meanwhile, Lorraine cooked for me, and then Dawn came around and they went to the pub. After I'd spoken to Mum finally went off to the Preston Park Tavern for a final beer or two.  A cheery hour or so with Lorraine and Dawn, before Dawn headed home and Lorraine and I sloped home to sleep like logs.

Below an ominous sign. Ardingly Reservoir, and the obligatory under the viaduct shot.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A musical and philosophical interlude

Felt much brighter today. A really good few hours work this morning, and then I walked to Hove to meet Helen. She had prepared a light lunch, with chips, which was splendid. Good to catch up on where we were in life generally, and then move onto talking about the Opera. Picking up the threads and listening to the new music Helen had made. Even on Sibelius software, the music is sounding lush and polished. What I like about working with Helen is that not only do I learn lots about music, but our conversation involve a wider philosophical context, and she is someone who gets genuinely excited by philosophy.

After working with Helen for a few hours, I walked home again so that for the first day this week I did my 10k paces.

Home and watch some episodes of PhoneShop, a Channel 4 comedy. I find this show hilarious, and oddly heartwarming, before cooking a midweek roast chicken, as Lorraine was home late.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Stern triage

Little to report. Feeling a wussy and sore throaty, but otherwise in good spirits, still luxuriating in being able to work on my own stuff, although the spectre of having to stoke up the Kenny coffers is beginning to loom. I am organising my poems, of which there are an inordinate amount, and trying to see the wood for the trees. I have dozens of incomplete poems. Some of them are incomplete because they are poor, others are incomplete but with promise. I am conducting a kind of stern triage on each one. 

Feeling a bit monastically disciplined today. Betty phoned for a chat, and said that she had recovered from her trip to Ely, where the call time was four stupid in the morning. Now happy to be home in the new flat. Otherwise, I looked forward to Lorraine coming home, and cooked for us.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Stuff that happens when you've got a man cold

Fell up the stairs, and poured tea on myself first thing. I drank the rest of the tea with paracetamols (Lorraine's universal panacea) as I was feeling rather hot, unwell and achey so went through the day on first gear.

Tiresomely, I had run out of my blood pressure tablets so I had to schlepp into town. I was refused them (having no Rx) at the pharmacy, and at the surgery I was told I'd have to call back this afternoon. The receptionist asked if I wanted to take my blood pressure because I looked flushed. I said I'd had a 24 hour tape last week and it was fine, just wanted to keep it that way. Then later, I just hurried for the bus at Beaky Top,  as I waited to board I happened to rub my chest. A man looked at me in a concerned way if I was all right. I was fine, and it was nice of him, but vaguely unsettling for me.

On the bus, the driver was wearing a blonde wig and short skirt, possibly in transition from male to female. I didn't think anything of this in particular. I sat upstairs at the front next to a small but manspreading teenager. When we reached London Road the blonde bus driver poked her head up and shouted, who's been swearing? in the kind of baritone that made me think instantly of pantomimes. The top deck hushed. There were school kids on it. She looked fiercely in my direction, and I found myself saying that I hadn't heard any swearing. There was a slightly charged moment, then the blonde disappeared downstairs again, and a wave of lively school kid cursing commenced. I can't think why I had to get involved.

Otherwise I managed to do a fair amount of writing, the luxury of poetry today, but gave into tiredness later on, and went to bed at 9:30. Lorraine read us a story about someone having to say good bye to their husband as he set off for war. Making Lorraine read the story is the solution to Lorraine falling asleep when I read her a story. Then we slept, until a violent gale woke us up at two o'clock by rattling the tiles overhead.

Found myself thinking lots about homeless people today. Brighton has one of the highest densities of homeless people in Britain, about 60% of them have no local ties, but arrive here because it's a good city. I had a change of heart recently and have been stopping to at least say hello. I realise I was trying to make them invisible in my mind, and I don't think this is right at all. I have done a small amount of work on homelessness in the past. But I'm wondering if there is something more creative about a poor people that you sometimes literally have to step over as you go about the streets. The social injustice rife in this, the world's fifth richest country, beggars belief sometimes.

Found this on Facebook the other day, and it is a good reminder.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Dancing in the sunlight

Monday, and up early with Lorraine, who made off to work. I spent a morning completing, then sending off the short story called The Roles I had been working on (it was really a sewing together rather than writing something from scratch) to a journal.

Tidied up the house and hoovered in Beth's room, now empty of her belongings and around the house. Eerily quiet today with only the cats for company.

At one point in the afternoon I sought the source of a strange new ticking in my study. It was only after I had examined the boiler and pressed my ear against the computer,  that I noticed the solar-powered Shaun the Sheep, a present from Maureen and Pat, was dancing.

Cooked for Lorraine, and had a quiet night in with her. Beth and John settling in well, although Beth has to travel up to Ely to start at some ungodly hour first thing in the morning on a shoot.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The big Beth move and a cheeky party crash

So Beth's big moving day. John had been playing a gig last night, and didn't get home to his flat till 3am. Lorraine and Beth sorting things out early in Beth's room, and I made bacon sandwiches. Then John arrived, followed shortly by Ed the bassist in John's band who had the van they used last night.

A good deal of carrying and loading of the van, including the large sofa. This packed into the van, and Lorraine and I drove over separately. Their flat is a lovely basement flat in Hove actually, but with plenty of light and air and not damp. We unloaded all the stuff, but were unable to get the sofa in, as it was getting wedged in the doorway, which is underneath the stairs leading to the rest of the house. Dispirited, Beth, John and Ed went back to our house for the next van load.

We then wondered if we could take the sofa apart. I called Janet to see if she had any tools, as she lives just down the road. She did and Hus was there too, so he lent me some of his tools and Lorraine and I were able to open up the bottom of the sofa, take off one of the arms, and then squeeze it in. We rapidly rebuilt it indoors, and then Lorraine and I, feeling very pleased with ourselves, were sitting sitting happily on it when Beth and John returned. Lorraine also got started on curtain hanging and so on with Beth.

I sauntered down to Janet's house to return the tools and as Janet, Ken, Bryn and Hus and his daughters Reem and May were celebrating Reem's birthday, I was offered wine and a piece of cake, and spent a cheerful half an hour or so chatting and enjoying myself before returning to the flat. Soon John returned with the stuff from his flat, with his pal Matt and Ed there too.

Eventually Lorraine and I made off home, rather tired after a day of hefting things. Felt strange to be hugging Beth and John and leaving them to their new flat together. They were excited and pleased, which was great to see.

Below too much hefting and labouring to take photos. The obvious shot would have been of John and Beth, but so it goes. However a cheeky and blurry selfie of Lorraine and I being pleased with ourselves sitting on the hastily assembled sofa, and Hus' daughter Reem looking at her cake before blowing it out, with Bryn sat next to her.


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hoveward bound

A relaxed morning, spending some quality time with Lorraine. Then to Hove this afternoon. Lorraine and I dropped some things off at Beth and John's new flat and Lorraine went off to Dunelm Hill to source curtains and I walked the couple of hundred yards down to have a cup of tea with Ken and Janet. You can see the sea from the street outside Beth's flat, and Janet and Ken are about halfway to the sea along the same road. 

Had a nice long and wide-ranging chat with Janet and Ken before sauntering back to the flat where Lorraine and Beth had just arrived. I hoovered the place, which had been left in very good condition, and Beth and Lorraine cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom, which had also been left in good nick. A few last minute spiders to be hoovered up before we set off home again.

As it was late, we simply went to the Preston Park Tavern and had a few beers and some food there, a cheery night, and the beers very welcome.

Below some sunset snaps this evening, a pink cloud from opposite our house looking at the cornershop on Preston Drove, and as we crossed Preston Drove looking into the sunset.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Three birds, one stone

So, a ghastly night's sleep. I took the monitor off after 2am (they said I could) and I didn't sleep till about 4 so felt a bit blurry this morning.

Got out of bed early and began work on the story I started yesterday. I have assembled it from previous material, and it is working a treat. I have not settled on a name for it yet.

After an hour or so of this I walked down to the doctor's office with the blood pressure gubbins, and for an appointment. The doctor was able to give me the scores on the doors, which he said were reassuring. In fact my blood pressure was okay. All I have to do now is take care of myself, shun situations that freak me out, and I may not explode like an overfed leech at any moment after all. This is a bit of a win.

Off then to Brighton station and up to Paddington where I met Mum. The first of my three birds. We had arranged to meet in the station entrance. Of which there are about 17. Luckily mum had her phone and we discovered we were at opposite corners of the station. We met up and walked along by the canals and offices and found ourselves at the Dickens Tavern, where I had been a couple of weeks ago with Pat and Maureen. Had a long chat and a couple of drinks and some fish and chips. For much of the time we were the only people in the vast pub which was a bit strange, but quite nice too.

Then we walked into Paddington and we met Pat and Maureen, (birds two and three) returning from their holiday in Dawlish. Fond farewells to Mum, and then I jumped into a cab with Pat and Maureen and headed off to St. Pancras where we had cups of tea. They gave me a solar powered dancing Shaun the Sheep for my study, and some Dawlish toffees to take home. Pat was sporting a wedding ring, that Maureen had bought him on holiday. I saw them onto the Ashford train and made off to Brighton.

A lengthy journey home in faux first class. When I got back I ordered curries for Lorraine, John and Beth who were coming home from various places. John and Beth are to pick up the key to their flat tomorrow morning, which is exciting. They were picking about in the dungeon this evening preparing to take bits with them at the weekend.

An early night for all.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

No pressure

A curiously excellent day. I hadn’t been looking forward to it at all, as my first job was to walk down to the doctor’s office and be wired up to my 24-hour blood pressure test. I have appalling white coat syndrome when it comes to having my blood pressure taken, so I always get an alarmingly high reading. Having half hourly blood pressure checks is not a perfect recipe for a happy day.

Much to my own surprise I did not get hysterical all once. Every time the automatic sleeve inflated, I just said to myself, imagine how pleased you’ll feel when this comes back as normal tomorrow.  

On the way to the surgery and on the way back I was beset by several good creative ideas about how I can make the most of projects I have been working on. Once home I simply spent the day executing one of them, a short story assembled from previous material, that I think works far better than I had hoped. I also had the idea of how I would start the sequel to The Second Kind of Darkness (now in an agent’s inbox) and decided that my next dramatic piece would actually be a reworking of my first ever performed play, The Man Who Could See Through Walls. Also thought about poems and had emails from Sarah Barnsley, Robin, Catherine Pope, and Helen about the opera. Chatting with Beth who popped in briefly, to gather clothes for a fitting for an extras part next week. They have been told they can move into their new flat at the weekend, which is really exciting for them. I foresee a good deal of carrying things this weekend.

The day's only discordant note was a strange encounter with a burly south African door-to-door fish seller, who when I asked where his fish were sourced from, he replied ‘the sea’. He was trying to pressurise me into buying things. Obviously I bought. I asked him for a card, and he gave me one with a non-existent website on it. He insisted on calling again next week, and tried to shake my hand as if we had made an agreement. I did not.

I also chatted with Mum, and arranged to meet with her briefly in London tomorrow, and mowed our tiny lawn. Lorraine home after her first day with children at school, rather tired but the day had gone well, and she had gone to pilates afterwards. I sat about this evening chatting with Lorraine with my arm puffing up and down, much to the intrigue of Calliope and Brian.

Still reading Lorraine a short story each night, but in the last two nights she has fallen asleep at the same point in the same story. I read it quietly to myself as my wife snoozed.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

A collapsing giant

Spent the morning refining my mind maps, designed to give me an overview of what I need to sort out. I also spent some time poring over the writers and artists yearbook for children, going through publisher by publisher. The vast majority of publishers won't take unsolicited manuscripts, which is why having an agent, a hunt I have already embarked on, is the way to go.

Spoke to Mum who was worried about Mason. He seems to have had a bad reaction to a new prescription, and was quite unwell and out of it yesterday and only a little improved today.

I went for a long walk and ended up in the park, and selected a bench looking at the wildflowers planted in the park for a bit of a meditation, as my head was full of monkey mind chatter about peanuts etc. I sat down, composed myself and it immediately began raining. I noticed another man meditating on a bench near me, but he was made of sterner stuff continuing in the rain with a peaceful look on his face.

I went into the cafĂ©, and drank a cup of tea and suddenly many things felt lots better, proving what a panacea a cup of tea can be. Walked about the park afterwards and found that the larger of the Preston Twins, and the largest English Elm left in Europe collapsed on 18th August and according to the notice suffered catastrophic structural damage. Most of the tree has broken off but they are looking at ways of preserving what's left. Preston Park is the home of the National Elm Collection, the trees in Brighton mysteriously having mysteriously escaped the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease. Apparently there are over 17,000 elms in Brighton and Hove, but I passed one today which is infected.

Messages with Toby briefly, who was back to school today. I'm just very lucky to be able to get my head sorted and have time to think.

Below a few Preston Park snaps: the collapsed Preston Twin elm; in the walled garden, the wildflower field, with the derelict block behind it which will be pulled down soon. I like the trees growing on top of it, and some cheerful black-eyed susans.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Mind maps

Lorraine off to school early, I spent much of the day thinking and making airy mind maps, taking a strategic view of my activities. Plunging in without much forethought which tends to be my modus operandi. I seem to have my fingers in lots of pies. Other than itemising what I had to do, when I felt in the mood. A weakness I have is that I'm not much of a joiner-in-er, which means that I simply get things done (a positive) but the negative is that I usually operate as an outlier. I would like to be more connected.

I was able to make an appointment to see Jewel for a deep tissue massage at Sundial. I always feel so much better afterwards, though the prodding of lots of tender knots in your back can be quite painful. The last part of the massage is when Jewel asks you to flip over onto your back and she holds your head and rolls it about and stretches your neck. I find this incredibly relaxing.

Felt a bit tender afterwards, but walked home through Preston Park and then got on with my mind maps till Lorraine came home. It had been a staff-only day today, so a gentle way to start. We had missed each other. A cheery salad-eating evening, and an early night. Watched the JK Rowling detective show, which was nicely cast.

Below a snap of the part of Preston Park that has been sown with wildflowers.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

The start of the routine

Raining and muggy today, up eventually and off to drop off some guarantor documents for Beth's move, and do some shopping. Popped around to Anton's house to drop off his birthday present. He was driving off (he is now okay to drive) to The Ginger Fox with his mother as a birthday treat.

Lorraine getting on with school work this afternoon, getting back into a term-time routine. I did a few bits and pieces of my own, and we roasted a chicken, as it was roast weather, and suddenly feels like Autumn. I spoke to Mum too, and am arranging to see her next week. Otherwise I did little. I seem to be rather adept at this at the moment.

Beth home this evening, after a lively time in Eastbourne with Sarah and other chums, and then Lorraine and Beth did packing together in Beth's room, and I watched a TV documentary about an American brothel by Louis Theroux.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

A candle for Anton

A slow morning. I have discovered an enormous capacity for doing nothing. I have no thoughts and no ambitions at the moment, and I am liking it. Next week, will be the start of doing things again, as Lorraine is going back at school and I must pick up the threads. Loved being with Lorraine so much.

It was Anton's birthday today. (And Bob's.) Lorraine and I walked down to The Joker, to meet Anton and Anne, and we sat in the railway carriage section. A bit later Anna and Klaudia and Oskar arrived, having been in France at Anna's parent's house. The kids swarming on Anton, clearly delighted to see him. They were bearing presents too including a book of second world war military campaign maps, for Anton is cheered by reading about icy slaughter on the Eastern Front.

Everyone on woof woofs apart from Anne. I am always pleased to see my Godbairns, Oskar starts his senior school next week, he's quite positive about it. Nice to see Anna too, and hear how her parents were.

Then all back to Anton's house to eat cake. It had a spectacular candle, like a cross between a bunsen burner and a firework. The cake was very chocolatey indeed.

Lorraine and I sloped home mid evening, leaving Anton and his mum to discuss politics with some energy.

Below Klaudia Anton and Oskar; Anne, Lorraine and Anna; Anton's enormous candle.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday's for friends

Feeling free and happy this first of the month. Lorraine had to get up early and go off to school for a morning meeting, and the gorgeous thing brought me a cup of tea before she went. Thus refreshed, I  sauntered out of bed to the news that one of my poems 1,000 miles from sea was in London Grip. It's one of the Chad ones, but not one that describes the conditions too much.

Then I walked into town and met Alex Pearson at the Marwood, after failing to do so yesterday. Lorraine and I met Alex after the concert Eleni and Glen's last Brighton concert. Alex has lived in China for decades, and is a bracingly entrepreneurial person with an MBE, currently teaching business at the university, but busy hatching other plans. We talked for hours and ended up having a bite to eat at the cafe too. Definitely someone I'd like to keep in touch with.

Home and Lorraine back. After a bit, we drove off to collect Innis and Rosie and zoom over to  Dawn's house in Steyning. Anton was already there having walked along the downs from Devil's Dyke. He'd arrived early so went to a pub, where he found himself sitting near Ellie, Dawn's daughter, just back from far eastern travels. When Dawn popped into see Ellie, she was also able to scoop Anton up.

Anton is, perplexingly, looking healthier than everyone else. We all had a cheery evening sat around a fire pit on the village field just behind Dawn's house, the sun setting in lilacs behind the downs, and barbecuing bits of chicken, and arguing about the best way of doing so. I personally made a point of gorging on Dawn's lovely aubergine and parmesan dish, followed by gorging on Lorraine's summer pudding. Fond farewells to Dawn, and Lorraine drove the rest of us home.

Below Anton; Innis; Rosie, Lorraine and Dawn.