Sunday, June 30, 2019

A cornfield

Lorraine having to work on end of year reports today, I pottered about doing my own bits even starting a new poem which I had not done for months. Fresher and more like English temperatures today, although it was a gorgeous day. Late afternoon Innis and Rosie called around in their mini and took us up to the upper bits of Stanmer Park, for a second day with a gorgeous walk among trees with Pippi the dog bouncing about like an ebullient lamb. Nice chatting with Innis and observing what a proper photographer looks at when he's stalking about armed with a camera. Came to the edge of a big cornfield at one point, and we all loved the wind moving in it like waves in the sea.

Home again and a quick drink in the Park View. I had a gin and slimline tonic, the booze of the more slender gentleman. Fond farewells with Innis and Rosie, and then to the kitchen. Lorraine has bought a hairy bikers cookbook, which has the hairy bikers in it holding out the waistbands of their trousers, for it was all about diets. A low calorie chicken jalfrezi made by my lovely wife, which felt like a feast after the salad days.

Watched a bit of 'Glasto' on TV, The Cure's performance. Their early song A Forest, has a weird dark power to it and is still my favourite.

Below Shadowing Innis to photograph Lorraine and Rosie and Pippi, and the cornfield, which seemed to call for black and white, which I increasingly like.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saharan day

A bubble of Saharan heat that had lain over Europe causing the hottest recorded temperatures in France drifted across the channel today, losing some of its ferocity, but still pushing temperatures into the mid 30s. Lorraine and I sensibly decided it was not a day for excessive exertions, so we went shopping and then found shade in our garden. Good to see Lorraine relaxing on her lounger reading and listened to meditation tapes.

In the evening we drove to Hove, to pick up some dieting paraphernalia from Betty, and then onto Steyning to see Dawn. A gorgeous summer evening there, we had salads and seabass and I drank gin and tonic made from Dawn's pomegranate and rosewater gin. Lovely. Realised I was feeling a bit braindead and lethargic, and think I may have been overdoing the diet having lost over 4 kilos this week.

Then, as cooler breezes sprang up, we had a walk in the woods on the side of the hill behind her house. A lovely walk in the woods, magical despite lots of trees felled due to ash dieback. Beautiful views, and a lovely dusk with pink and purple skies, and rabbits hopping about on the paths.

Back to sit in Dawn's garden for a cup of tea before heading home, the night much fresher than the day. I love visiting Dawn's little house.

Below a selfie of me keeping cool in the garden, the sky in black and white, the English idyll of a village cricket match, Dawn's back gate, snaps from the hill.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Grass and almonds

Once downstairs, Calliope crept through he catflap yowling, then made an exhibition of vomiting grass. Having cleaned this up, I poured a generous splash of almond milk onto a carefully measured bowl of muesli, to which I had an allergic reaction (this being my first carton of almond milk). My lips and mouth and throat tingled weirdly and my stomach soon felt fiery. Naturally, I pictured my stiffening corpse being found my Sonia this afternoon, having died of anaphylactic shock. Couldn't help thinking that my dæmon Calliope's actions had been a precursor.

All this not conducive to writing and editing, so I found things to do around the house until it became clear that I would survive. Spoke to Lorraine mid morning, which of course helped and helped me simply pick up the threads, do some writing, have a haircut and go to the gym.

Lorraine home, and we ate in the sun on our terrace and drank a gin and slimline tonic. A beverage that is a boon to slimmers, and played a bit of scrabble before we both got tired and slumped indoors, bracing for tomorrow's heatwave borrowed from the continent.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Editing and counting

Having to resist the urge to rush the editing, an impulse which I now recognise as having a whiff of self sabotage about it. Went for a longish walk this afternoon up around Hollingbury Hillfort, listening to the Kermode and Mayo podcast, talking lots about Toy Story 4. I put sun cream on, as it was a sunny day, with a brisk cooling wind. Across the Channel they are battling with unprecedented heat, luckily only pleasantly warm here.

Otherwise obsessionally calorie counting. This is working well for me, and I am finding it easy to stay within my allotted daily intake and my clothes are beginning to feel better on me. Nice to be making progress. Making a salad tonight, and having to account for every bit that went into it. Turning eating into a data gathering exercise. Falling hungrily on it, with a slither of grilled salmon and a small portion of couscous, and strawberries. All good stuff.

Below a couple of snaps. The van has been there for ages, a casualty of a parking conflict in a beautiful leafy street. More black and white stuff. Photographs I take in woods always look rubbish. Perhaps black and white is the answer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Beer with Ben

Weighed myself to discover I had lost a noticeable amount of lard. Spent the morning thinking about cover designs and editing. Broke off for a long lunch watching the final episode of The Planets, about Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, and then going to the gym. Not enough detail about the planets, and lots of time wasted on Brian Cox explaining simple things very slowly in exotic locations.

Bumped into Philippa next door, who had an electric scooter and had been going around the cycle track in the park with it. She said she didn't get on with wheels.

Home after the gym I worked till seven on edits.

Kept my food lowish today, and went to the gym, so was able to go out and have a couple of pints with Ben tonight, after feeding Lorraine who arrived home hangrily. 

Really good to see Ben in the Park View and to talk about life, glass and generally have a laugh. He was talking at one stage about Transhumanism, about which I know next to nowt. He also showed me some interesting glass pieces he had been working on too, and we discussed the glass show in Rottingdean Lorraine and I had been to, which he had also seen.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Long slog

Woke up at around four thinking how unbelievably hard the rain was, and then hearing it double. A deluge, and the day muggy.

The day spent, counting calories and trying not to feel too frustrated at how slowly I am progressing through the editing of this children's story. In my own mind, this was supposed to be a quick win, not a long slog. Still, I want it to be as best I can make it.

An interlude this afternoon, walking into town this afternoon to have a coffee with Chris Williams. He had cycled to Paris found the journey beautiful, the landscape along the river north of Paris he described as jungly. I walked back via Boots and Sainsburys, and Blaker's Park to make sure I did my 10k paces. Felt a bit hangry tonight, before Lorraine and I ate.  Otherwise all good. I think this calorie counting malarkey suits me.  Lorraine is fully committed too.

Below a complicated rose in Preston Park.

Monday, June 24, 2019

It all counts

Lorraine and I still into our calorie counting phase. I am actually enjoying this, it feels like taking control, and I've not noticed feeling hungry during the day. Mainly this taking control is about omitting sneaky snacks which slip under the radar of the day.

Otherwise I pottered about first thing, doing laundry, planting some plants in the garden, etc. before I got started at 9:30ish, which is late for me. Worked on the eternal children's book, having slightly reordered the last chapter on the editor's advice. She was right. Now forcing myself to go through and have absolute bloody final sweep throughs, especially on the hunt for overly-duplicated words in chapters.

To the gym after lunch for a trundle on the cross trainer. Still have a bit of back gyp so left it at that. Still nicely sweaty though after half an hour. The day forecast as warm and sunny, was actually cool with spots of drizzle. Europe, meanwhile is bracing for a terrible heatwave.

It is sad how disengaged I am from events in the outside world I have become. All my life I have listened avidly to the news and current affairs. I can't bring myself to engage much with the looming prospect of Boris Johnson as PM, who can only add a clowning Nero fiddle to the Titanic's orchestra.

Some work to attend to from the French agency this afternoon. I had been a bit nervous that the ideas I had sent them last time hadn't gone down to well, but they had used much of what I had sent them in their final client presentation, so I felt better about this.

Spoke to Mum, whose 33rd wedding anniversary it was today. She and Mas were going out to celebrate in a restaurant.

Lorraine came home and prepared a salad which we ate with a chicken breast, and then spent five minutes loading what we had just eaten onto our phones.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Two Jays

Up surprisingly early for a Sunday, and we mooched into town. Lorraine was meeting Isy's teacher sister Lara for a coffee. I went to Waterstones and lurked happily there, trying to keep a lid on my spending, confining myself to a collection of stories by Arthur Machen, The White People as part of my quest to understand the roots of horror. The book has an introduction by Guillermo del Toro, maker of splendid films such as Pan's Labyrinth. In the afternoon I read, The Inmost Light. Excellent.  I also take phone snaps of children's book covers that are in a genre similar genre to my own.

Walking into town, we stopped to look at a pair for Jays on the pavement, hopping about and displaying to one another. I had never seen a Jay on a pavement, let alone two. Normally shy birds, the fact they did not fly away was unusual. Tangentally, this reminded me of a visit to Two Jays second hand bookshop in Edgware. Needing cash, I took in an obscure book on African philosophy, the fat owner handed it back. Nah, we've got enough of these.

Lorraine and I continued with a new craze we tentatively began yesterday: adding our food into a calorie counting app. I respond well to targets, such as my daily 10k paces, and Lorraine responds well to sharing a goal with me, a welcome turn of events as I have been persistently chubby in recent months despite being fairly active. I linked the my fitness pal app to my paces counter, so the more you move about the more it adds to your daily limit.

Nice messaging chat with First Matie. She is happy and loving life at the moment, which is wonderful to hear.

Saturday, June 22, 2019


Quite a busy day for us on a Saturday. A gorgeous day, so we had breakfast (Lorraine counting the calories) in bed and then sat in the back garden. Lorraine lying on her lounger for the first time this year. In the afternoon, Lorraine had bought us tickets to go to a big tent in Preston Park, the Brighton Comedy Garden. Obviously nowhere better to be than in a big tent on a wonderful sunny day.

Three excellent comedians, Brighton based Zoe Lyons, the ventriloquist Nina Conti, who we have seen before and like lots, Sarah Pascoe, below. All three were excellent.  Zoe Lyons playing to a home crowd, and Lorraine particularly loving Nina Conti. I liked Sarah Pascoe's almost losing it scattiness. The host was Ivo Graham. There were two breaks, so we could nip out into the impromptu village that had sprung up and buy cans of Red Stripe lager. Great to be able to walk home with the sun still high in the sky.

We returned home, then popped next door to a little barbecue party. Slightly apprehensive about this, but I ended up enjoying talking to some interesting and intelligent, people. A woman from China, who did a PhD in linguistics in the UK, and got married to an Englishman, and Philippa's dad, who was a writer, and had worked in journalism, travelling lots in Africa.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Longest day

Working hard this morning editing, still. Now working through the editor's more general comments, leading to another outbreak of tweaking the copy. Chats today with Tom, knackered after a roundtrip to Venice, and arriving after one to go to bed, and Sonia, back from another sojourn in Bulgaria. I slipped off and went to the gym, which is about to replace its air conditioning at long last. Sweated lots and then mooched home, showered and called Mum, who was getting ready to go out with Mas. Lorraine home early (for her) and we sauntered down to the Park View for a beer, and to meet Betty. Had a bite there, discussing food and the new regime Beth and Lorraine are about to start, which I will piggy back onto. Back home, and we sat outside in our garden for a bit, the longest day today, and this made me remember Toby and I being taken by Mum and Gerald in the middle of the night down to Stonehenge for the dawn of the summer solstice some time in the seventies. I remember it being misty, and full of hippies, with tops of cows islanded in the mist and flute players walking towards the stones.

Nice to see Betty, who bused home. She and John are very excited about the summer holidays.

Loving exploring King Crimson's early albums on Spotify.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mobile again

Much improved, and moving like a bipedal human. A gingerish walk around Blaker's park mid morning, where there were a few painters with their easels. This afternoon up to Hollingbury Hillfort, nipping across some of the golf links, glowering clouds to the north, blue sky to the south. In other news, not much really other than progressing through the edits of the children's book. It is a real education reviewing what Charlotte has pointed to, there are a small amount of bad habits that I have, which are invisible to me, but now they have been pointed out, scream from the page. I am learning lots about my own faults and how to correct them. Exceedingly useful, although a bit alarming that these faults have been there for so long undetected in my prose style.

Below painters in Blaker's Park, the hump showing the raise of the ring of the hill fort overlooking the golf course and down to the sea. Those old iron age folks certainly had a good view, and two black and white snaps. One a path inside the hill fort and the other the road at the top of Hollingbury, leading into clouds.

Lorraine went to Beth's tonight to discuss a new diet regime that they are going to start next week. I grilled mackerel on her return.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Ice moon

I got out of the wrong side of the bed today. Waking, I stretched in bed, and something gave in my lower back before I'd even opened my eyes. I spent the rest of the day hunched and hobbling, with plans to go to the gym thwarted and feeling slightly at a low ebb.

Working on the hundreds of tiny editorial changes to the children's book. With any luck I will be done this week. Now there is only the matter of choosing a shorter name for it, and sorting out the cover. There are definitely few good bits in it I think. Spoke to Mum, and otherwise all quiet today, till Lorraine arrived home, by which time I had watched two of the Planets documentaries with Brian Cox, about Jupiter and Saturn. Jupiter wandered about the solar system lots before settling into its current orbit. Saturn's small ice moon Enceladus is fascinating, with liquid salt water beneath the ice and thought to have the building block minerals for life.

A relaxed evening with Lorraine watching series three of Fargo. Only a couple of episodes to go before a Fargo-less life.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


Working still for my pals in Paris today. Sent a load of ideas over first thing which weren't much liked, and spent much of the day trying to come up with better ones. Paid the solicitor's bill first thing, and was phoned this morning by them to say they had already deducted it from the amount paid me yesterday from Janet's estate, and would refund it. The woman totally charming about it, improving my impression of them.

Bob phoned and had a nice chat with him, although I was racing the clock a bit so had to cut it short.

Three short walks today to get me up to my 10k. A few showers during the day in preparation for thunder tonight. It being particularly lively over Eastbourne as we went to bed, the sky flashing to the east of us.

Lorraine home late. I cooked and listened to the whole of In the Court of the Crimson King as, wonderfully, King Crimson's entire catalogue (with the exception of USA) is now on Spotify. Never listened to the ITCOTCK (as prog heads call it) album in one sitting and in full before. Lots of textures. Work pal Slug was off to see the latest version of King Crimson do a 50 year anniversary concert tonight in the Royal Albert Hall.

The cover is unforgettable and disturbing. It was painted by Barry Godber, who died at the age of 24, apparently the face image is based on his own in a mirror. It always leapt out in record shops in the 70s.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Happy Monday

Up early and working for my pals in Paris all day. Phoned by the solicitor for Janet's estate to confirm  my bank account details, meaning I will receive the small legacy from Janet shortly. Bastards will bill me £48 for making that call, and doing the online bank transfer. Still it means I can pay Mum back money I borrowed from her, due to having to turn away work while taking care of Janet and Ken, and also pay for our flights to Sicily. All excellent. The folks I was working with last week asked me to resubmit the timesheet I had uploaded onto Yuno Juno, as it had the wrong branding. This took a while to work out.

Otherwise a fine and sunny day, into which I plunged for two quick walks during the course of the day, and then a long amble in the park after work was done to get me to my daily 10k. The park full of people playing games, and sitting about as it was the first nice day in ages.

Home just as Lorraine was arriving, I made salad and stuck some fishcakes into the oven while Lorraine pruned the rosebush outside.

Below the Tobster's birthday today. Here is a lovely photo he sent of him and Romy at a swanky Toronto restaurant, with the CN tower and the lake in the background. Both of them looking great, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Step-ladder's day

A day of rest, thank goodness. I slept for an hour this afternoon, having felt a bit under the weather the last few days. Lorraine completed her crossword puzzle. I spoke to Mum and Mas about Facebook. Lorraine chatted to Pat and Maureen. Peace reigned.

I got a 'Happy step-ladder's day' message from Beth, which made me smile. Referring to it being father's day, and This is not my real ladder, it's my step ladder, japes on emerging from the dungeon at home.

Below Lorraine completes the puzzle. What happens now? It gets broken up and put away. Felt I had to capture the moment for posterity. Pat is busy doing puzzles again now. Beth does them too.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Brian Scrobbled

An early appointment at the vet's office. Brian melted away into the back garden's refusing to come when called just as we were due to leave. Lorraine drove me with a yowling Calliope to the vet's and came home again, and managed to scrobble Brian who was fooled into returning back indoors again, but not without sustaining a scratched arm. Calliope meanwhile simply sat on my lap in the waiting room. Calliope has lost a little bit of weight, but the gentle vet seemed unconcerned. Brian is a bit heavier than the last time they were weighed, as he was ill that time. Both were deemed okay though.

Home to scrambled eggs on toast.  Later Lorraine went to the hairdresser and I went to the gym, but feeling distinctly underpowered. Had to stop suddenly after about 25 minutes pushing it on the cross trainer as I had a moment's stabbing pain at the base of my throat. Obviously I catastrophised but the loud burp I gave a few minutes later suggested it was indigestion. Now raining again, I walked from to the hairdresser to collect Lorraine, emerging with smart and straightened hair. We found Lorraine's car, then drove to Pets at Home to buy cat food. Looking at the guinea pigs there, and remembering that Toby and I had two of them when we lived in the flat in Neasden. Frances and Brownie, two girls guineas. Then they had lots of babies.

In the evening we went out to Semolina with Penny and Steve. A really nice meal. Lorraine and I had rabbit, which put a spring in our steps. Penny said to let her know when I kindle the kids book.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Released back into the wild, and a Bolney interlude

Up to London again this morning, finishing the short story The Willows by Algernon Blackwood on the train. Slightly apprehensive wondering if I had delivered enough work, as the brief was vague, but Keith and I seemed to have done enough. Lunchtime, and I popped off for a wee, and Keith and Ross had disappeared, which rather peeved me. I went out to get a sandwich, having texted Keith. Crossing the road Keith popped out of a pub and pulled me into it with them. A cheery pint with those two, before heading back to the office. Continued rather chaotically, but the people were nice.

Released back into the wild. Walked back to St Pancras, and then trained to Hateful Heath, where Lorraine met me and we drove back to Bolney. Had a beer with in The Bolney Stage, a very popular and pleasant pub, and then went to Jo and Rob's house, a lovely property on the edge of the village with a huge garden containing a small wood that Lorraine and I walked in. Guest of honour was the admirable Yvose, who runs the Hope House school in Haiti, and is supported by people in the UK, and quite a few of them in Bolney. Chatting to lots of people there, inluding Sarah and Dan, and some of the interesting characters of the village. As it got dark, Lorraine drove us home.

Below one last shot of the workers entering the rather cool Greater London Building, and Yvrose making a speech.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Green glimpses

For some reason, a very poor night's sleep. More rain overnight, and drizzling again today. Had toast with Mum and Mas. Then walked down to Edgware with the intention of getting the tube to Mornington Crescent but there was a bus to Mill Hill instead, so I jumped on that and was able to get to work with no claustrophobia. Bought a cup of tea on the platform of Mill Hill, and had such cheery banter with the two women there that it got the day off to a good start. Contacted by mes amis in Paris, so I have work next week too now from home. Good news.

Worked on stuff all day with Keith, and I went for another walk today, this time heading straight for Regents park. Seem to need these green glimpses. After work walked back to St Pancras thinking about Andros, as I am working close to the church where I attended his funeral service. The trains are much better than they have been for a year or so, more frequent and they stop at Preston Park again.

Walked up the hill, but only as far as The Park View, where I met Lorraine. We had two fish pies with greens, which was nice, and a pint before coming home. To bed early.

A bit of green in Regent's Park.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

In between the black cats

Left with Lorraine this morning, who dropped me at Preston Park. Off to London, at an agency I had worked for before but it had now been amalgamated by another. A new building on me, the Art Deco former Carreras Cigarette factory by Mornington Crescent. I walked there from St Pancras, which was only ten minutes away, and joined the line of people filing into the building between the black cats.

Rainy day. A pleasant building inside, and I was collected by Dave, a guy I knew vaguely, and found Keith, plus Noyala and Maurizio I already knew. Also met a writer called Ross, a friendly gordie guy, who said, I call my wife 'er indoors. Why? Because she looks like Jim Morrison...  A vague brief and spent much of the day trying to work out what people wanted from me. They found myself presenting copy late in the afternoon.

Off at lunchtime for a walk around the neighbourhood. Got out of the lift and almost fell over. I have a bit of an ear balance thing and the lift triggered it. Found myself in Regent's Park. Always tense on the first day of anything, and being in the greenery for ten minutes in the spitting rain before heading back was pleasant.

After work, back to St Pancras and hopped on a train to Mill Hill Broadway, and walked to the Jolly Badger Harvester where I met Mum and Mas. Nice to have a drink and a chat with them, although the food was average at best. Home and sat in the back room having a bit more wine, and chatting to Mum and Mas till it was time to go to bed.

Below the black cats, and an alphabet of traintracks.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Firming up

Cold and rainy again. Felt busy working through the text of the Children's book, and I emailing Charlotte about the finer points of punctuation. Also firmed up the London booking for tomorrow. To the gym this afternoon, twice in two days felt good, and I did a smidge of work from Val in Paris. Getting myself sorted for London, this evening, as I am going to stay with Mum and Mas. Early to bed.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Stair rods

Oh for those sultry days of February... Pouring all day and freezing. Worked all day on implementing edits and rewrites on the The Second Kind of Darkness. This is making big improvements. Still selecting a new name.

Nothing from the London agency, about the work this week. Not a great sign.

Spoke to Anton today, who told me a hilarious story about being locked out of his room at midnight in a Cotswold's pub, where he was staying after a long walk. This followed by lots of hideous creeping about in his boxers, including going outside the pub, and spying someone still working inside, and having to be persuade the unfortunate barmaid to let in.

To the gym at lunchtime in moderate rain, home again in stair rods. Scooped up some nice miso soups from the Japanese shop en route, and home to a hot shower as I was sodden to the skin.

Had a poem accepted for a website called the poetry village. Noticing yet again how having poetry rejections is more negative than acceptances are positive. This is because I think 'of course they should take my work', rather than, 'excellent, they've taken my work'. This is wrongheaded so I will take this humbly and with gratitude.

Listened to a bit more of the audiobook of War of the Worlds while I was cooking tonight. More interesting than I remember it.

Sunday, June 09, 2019


Got our craft room finally up and running today. Spent happy time thinking about glass designs and looking at the small selection of slightly odd glass that came with the starter kit Lorraine bought me. My plan is to make a simple practice piece from those bits to get myself back into the groove again. Lorraine planning a collage of Janet's fabrics, and organising her stuff in plastic rainbow coloured draws. 

Beth called, and Lorraine told her she had wanted to go to the gym, but couldn't force herself to go. Beth simply told her to go, so she did and felt much better for it. We watched the final episode of Fargo series two, and I spoke to Mum and Toby. 

Saturday, June 08, 2019


A cheery day. L booked flights on her iPad this morning for our summer holiday. General fussiness much improved after a good nights sleep today. Lorraine and I drove off to Janet's flat where a sale of her fabrics, bits of embroidery and materials was going on. The money going to Martlets. We bought some fabric, and a couple of half started embroideries, and a pair of her books about Japanese brush technique.

Madeline was there, and we had a good chat with her about various bits to do with the estate. She has worked tirelessly as executor. I like her very much, and so does Lorraine. After this, we popped around to Canhams and bought a couple of excellent pies, and went across to Caffe Nero and scored some takeaway coffees and sat in the car and scoffed them.

Then off to Rottingdean. There was an exhibition of contemporary stained glass in the tradition of Burne-Jones, in the Grange, put on by the Rottingdean Preservation Society. Lots of nice windows with painted glass, but little of it buttered my parsnips. A funny little museum there, with a weird mannequin of Rudyard Kipling at a typewriter, and various posters of old films made around there.

Leaving, I fancied a pint in The Plough Inn by the pond. A pint of Harvey's in there for me, and soda and lime for Lorraine.  We strode on to the seafront, feeling sea spray on our heads from a long way away. It was blowing a gale, literally, and there were some waves smashing excitingly up and against the wall as it was high tide. (Later at home we found one of our pots on the decking had been blown off, and I had to pick a chair from the pebbles.) Lovely on the seafront though, and cobwebs banished. Walking back we bumped into one of Lorraine's head teacher pals, and then into Dipak the guitarist.

From there we paid a pound each to get into the village hall for a sale of local produce. We bought a sourdough loaf and pushed off.

A spot of shopping for food, safety goggles, and plastic craft drawers, before heading home. A happy evening. Lorraine cooked her amazing dhal, and a cauliflower curry. Pressed on with our Fargo obsession. Bed.

Below, in the glass exhibition, creepy Rudyard, village pond and inviting pub, and on the seafront.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Edited version

A cold and rainy day. I had a minor sinus/ears/throat/headache thing going on, felt wussy when I woke up. However worked all day, having received the text of The Second Kind of Darkness from Charlotte Norman, the editor. Hundreds of wee changes in the copy edit,  plus she made a few thoughtful suggestions about bringing the story into better focus. Really helpful, to get a fresh perspective. Her changes were very helpful.

I decided that the title is too long, before I sent it to Charlotte. Now before I brief a cover designer, I need to think of a snappier name.

Freelance job working with Keith to be confirmed for next week, and just a cheeky three-dayer if it does, starting midweek.

 Sonia arrived with a bashed face, arms and knees. She quickly told me this was after falling nastily a few doors from her house, while starting an early morning bike ride at the weekend. Typical of Sonia, she laughed lots while telling me how she had literally crawled back covered in blood, after lying dazed in the road. It give Barry a hideous shock at the start of the day.

Biffed going to see John's band tonight, as I felt a bit shattered. Instead I hopped out to get some curry, and we watched episodes of the second series of Fargo under blankets on the sofa with the cats till bedtime.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Operatic interlude

Up and a boiled egg breakfast with Lorraine. Two foxes passing through our garden. A day for sending manuscripts out. Spent several hours assembling three poetry submissions and a short story submission. The short story was rejected in less time than it took to get it ready by a magazine in the US. A rapidity never experienced,  I had resubmitted it by the end of the day.

Off to Marks and Sparks today, to replace the boxer shorts Lorraine had got for me at the weekend. I chose the right size and presented them along with the wrong un's and receipt for a box of shortbread. not having noticed the receipt Lorraine had left me was wrong. They were fine about it though.

Went to see Helen, buying some fancy biscuits en route. They were coconut and Helen doesn't like coconut. Met her son Josh again briefly. Listened to the new and hard to compose section of the Opera she has been working on. Part of it is a musical interpretation of a helicopter which is interesting, and strangely anxiety provoking. Discussing the final scene of the opera, and Helen played me the ending of Tristan und Isolde by Wagner.

Walked home in what had become a beautiful afternoon, listening to The War of the Worlds, the action at one point reaching the village of Edgware.

Back to work in the evening, and a tentative offer of some work up in the smoke next week working with Keith.  When Lorraine got home we watched the end of Fargo season one. Jolly good it was too.

Some of the roses in Preston Park.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Martians in the woods

Up and refining the short story Little Horrors, which I have decided to rename The Bestie. Little Horrors is a name I will hang onto though. A good title for a collection methinks. One of my faults in writing prose is overuse of a word. For example part of this story is set in a University, and I used the word University too many times, which gets a bit tedious, but is one of those things that it easy to overlook even when you read a MS several times. Found a website called Word Frequency Counter, which you can paste a whole document into and it will tell you how many times every single word crops up. Obviously words like I and You and lots of conjunctions crop up as most heavily used, but an offending overly repeated word, such as the eight times I used University, becomes extremely easy to spot, and thin out.

An interlude this afternoon walking in woods around Hollingbury Hillfort and the golf course. The weather is cool and fresh at the moment. If you are prepared to double back a surprising amount of walking to be done there in trees. Saw dozens of rabbits, met a fox on a path, a jay, and very few people. I was listening to the new audiobook collection of H.G. Wells Science Fiction stories.  The War of the Worlds narrated by David Tennant. Interesting too for the glimpses of the heathland and fields near Woking in Surrey that the aliens arrived at. The book was written in the 1890s. There is metal martian tripod in Woking which I don't remember seeing.

Tom here today, and coughing ominously as he left. Yet another fault found on the Boeing Max, which is one of the planes in the fleet he works on.

Cooked and when Lorraine was home from Pilates, we ate and watched some episodes of the first series of Fargo, starring Martin Freeman, who is excellent in most that he touches.

Below the remnants of a car in the woods.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019


A calm start with a short meditation from my Plum Village App.  Recommended to Lorraine by Sian, and is the best one of its kind I've encountered, free and full of lovely meditations that I've only just started working through.

The morning spent completing the first draft of a website about parasites. At lunchtime I sent it to  mes amis and made off to the gym. Learning about Resucsi Anne and L'Inconnue, which was mentioned in a horror podcast. Fascinating. Apparently the face used in resuscitation mannequins is that of an unknown girl fished out of the Seine in the 19th Century. Although the BBC article I have linked to, questions just how preserved the face looks.

Home again, and I did some admin, wrote a review of Keyhole (a collection of short stories I'd highly recommend), arranged to meet Helen to discuss the Centaur, and spoke to Mum who had been out in London.

Watched part one of a BBC documentary series about Thatcher. Funny to see times you clearly remember being the subject of history documentaries. Meanwhile the disgusting Trump is in the UK. Talk of this criminal getting control of the NHS in some new post Brexit deal with America beggars belief. Can't wait for Trump to become a history documentary.

Below L'inconnue.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Working from home

Desk manacles back on this morning, and back to work. Lorraine went to the doctor early this morning, then returned home to hold a strategy day with her senior team of Sarah who I saw yesterday, another Sarah and Zoe, at home. Lunch outside on the decking, which I joined in with. Rather nice lunch in fact. I like Lorraine's strategy days. Before reapplying the desk manacles and continuing with the website about parasites I am writing. Worked all day, but broke off to listen to part of a podcast about the King in Yellow stories, and the mythos they have spawned.

When everyone left and we'd finished work, we went outside and assembled a trough to plant vegetables in, and had dinner outside as it was warm enough. It continues to be quite cool for the beginning of June.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Phenomenal Betty

A bit of a blessed lie in this morning. But we got up, went shopping for food, and bought some plants for the garden. Then John arrived, and we drove off to Roedean school. What a wonderful place it is, and how privileged the folks who can get there are. In the theatre Goldman's were having their summer event, which all the children at the stage school get to perform at. Many of the coached by Betty, and James who fleeted by and hugged me. Sarah from Lorraine's school dropped off her daughters Faith and Daisy, Daisy still at L's school, to see the show too. I enjoyed it. There is something quite moving about seeing kids from a very young age up to teenage giving it their all.

Beth had directed a few of the scenes, in what was a compilation of scenes grouped around the idea of history. Her last one featuring the girls in a spoken piece called Phenomenal Women, which was rather excellent. Betty phenomenal yet again.

John and I were taken by Sarah and Dan (Faith and Daisy's parents) down into Brighton. John and I skipped out and had a couple of beers and some food in The Basketmakers. A good chat with him, and hearing a full account of the horrors of yesterday which included a six plus hour wait for help, as recovery vehicles wouldn't come for them because they were in a free recovery zone, but the free recovery zone folks denied responsibility and so on. Painful.

Walked home then and planted the lavender and some flowering plants we had bought earlier. Lorraine then home having chaperoned for the second house, to watch Things we do in the shadows, TV series, which is funny.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Matty and Isy in Brighton

Lorraine and I went into town this morning. Lorraine went to give the folks at C&H fabrics a box of biscuits for the staff as a thank you for helping reunite Pat and Maureen when they lost each other at the shops. Very kind they had been.

I went straight to the station, which was full of purgatorial crowds emptying out of the trains and swarming in the lemming-like to the seaside. I met up with Matty boy, Isy and their exemplary little bairns Elsa (5) and Harry (3), who are currently angelic children. Great to see them, and Isy who I have not seen for ages. We stopped into the garden of the Battle of Trafalgar, where Lorraine soon joined us. There we had some food and some drinks in the garden, as it was a gorgeously sunny day.  Then we all moseyed down backstreets to the busy seafront, but close to the remnants of the old pier. There we had ice cream and sat on the stones as the children took turns in standing down by the sea, and it was all really nice.

Meanwhile John and his band had crash in a van on the motorway. Everyone was okay, but Lorraine had to go and collect John and his kit -- and they lost their gig.

I went home with Lorraine, and had some to-ing and fro-ing with Charlotte who is editing the Skelton kids story. While Lorraine was out, I managed to get youtube playing on TV from where I could stream the Liverpool v Spurs European cup final from Madrid. Lorraine arrived just before kickoff. The game itself an anticlimax. Both teams had swashbuckled off and on during the year, so this was a  it of a damp squib.

Below for some reason no photos of people, but a black and white snap of the old pier with seagulls.