Back in the Beating Heart of Brighton

Off in the rain to meet Dawn and Paul in Brighton. We met in The Dorset where we had a bite to eat and a small glass of wine, then we wandered down to the dome to see the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra (who style themselves 'The Beating Heart of Brighton'). My visit compromised by an appalling experience in the gents. I marched in and peed in the thigh-high metal trough. I looked about me and could see people outside through the doorway so I hunched in. Only after a while did I realise that I was actually peeing in the sink. Nobody had said anything. But I was mortified, and the cringe was hard when I told Lorraine, Dawn and Paul afterwards.  So the music. Today they played Arvo Pärt's piece Spiegel im Spiegel , then a longer piece that I'd not heard called Lamentate .  I didn't find the first piece played to my taste. The piano sounded mechanical and soulless and the violin tentative and trying too hard to be interesting. Lamentate was episodic and certainly some

A day of next to nothing.

Very nippy still. Didn't do nothing, but did next to nothing. Lurked at home, Lorraine and I slipped out to the supermarket to do some shopping. Lorraine then cooked an absolutely delicious chicken biryani curry and a green lentil dhal. Ate like a Raja. Pat and Maureen watching snooker on TV most of the day. Reminded me of my grandmother Gwen, who liked snooker a lot in her later years. Something about the mental arithmetic which she was always excellent at. Read some poetry for the podcast, but it was mainly a day for staring at the walls.

Friday feeling

Woke up very, early and went to my desk -- and got to work. But not before sending an email to Matt about the idea for flute and voice we'd been talking about in Slaithwaite. He sent me an email in the evening -- wishing we could pop out for a beer and a brainstorm. Apparently snow in Yorkshire, which Phoebe revels in. Great to be in touch properly again. Later in the morning I had a good chat with Valérie, looking chic even when working from home. She was very kind about me, saying they always thought of me as a member of their team. We have worked together often over the years, and it's like checking in with an old friend. Happily chugged on with her brief during the day. Working with Val is always calm and productive. Nipped out at lunch with Lorraine to do a spot of shopping, dipping into a few shops and buying a stool.  Then I spoke to Mum who was okay, and Mas not too bad. Luckily Mason was happy to stay at home. Then took a call from Gabriel.  Finished at 4 as I had been

Up to Edgware

A cold morning. Lorraine and I drove off this morning, leaving Pat and Maureen stocked up with meals, to see Mum. Even when we arrived a couple of hours later, Mum was still uncertain when -- and if -- he would be sprung. But after about twenty minutes, an ambulance parked up, and Mason was wheeled in on a wheelchair. He'd obviously hadn't enjoyed his time in hospital, and still sporting a chesty cough and gave a lively account of his time, including a few unlikely bits.  Eventually he settled down, and Mum sent off for some pizza -- and Mas was truly delighted to eat something with a bit of taste. He settled down to dozing though soon after, as is his habit, even without the ghastliness of being in hospital and waiting for a lift home. One good thing was that Lorraine were able to spend the day hanging out with Mum who is a full time carer these days, and receives precious little thanks for it.  Lorraine and I discussing with Mum ways we can support her. There is care now bein

An interlude with Innis

After talking it over with Mum first thing, I decided to go up tomorrow. Nobody was sure if Mason was going to be released and driven home today. Not much to be done other than support mum from afar today. Lorraine and I will drive up tomorrow and collect Mas.  Mum waiting for news all day, and in the end heard that Mason would be driven home tomorrow morning. Understandably, she isn't too convinced that this will happen.   After a couple of meetings I was able to get the job I'd been working on out of my hair this afternoon. Luckily my clients seemed quite pleased with what I had delivered. This made me feel good, that I could just concentrate on zooming up to Edgware tomorrow. Popped over to see Innis this afternoon in Brighton for a couple of hours. Had a chat in the Nelson about books and life and so on. I arrived a smidge early, and he sent me a live location, so I was able to track his progress on the map as he mooched across town. I know this technology is old now, but i

A nasty stressful day

A difficult day. Up early and working early. Through a tiny gap in the curtain, the circle of the sun projected onto my bed where I had been sleeping.  Stressed by my glacial progress, I felt I was already late delivering the job, which was one of those despicable mixes of extremely complicated plus very boring.  Eventually I was able to send something off to them at the end of the day after being thrown off course a bit by Mum, who contacted me at noon to say that Mason had been in hospital since Monday morning. Mason had fallen over a couple of times, and Mum had to call an ambulance. It seems he has got the nasty chest virus that Mum had, and this had weakened him. The hospital were supposed to be phoning her, and she wanted to visit but didn't know what ward he was on, but she didn't want to use the phone. We spoke on FaceTime and then I called the hospital and spoke to some helpful folks in his ward. Mum was able to visit, and I spoke to the physiotherapist a couple of tim


A really bad night's sleep for some reason and waking up repeatedly.   A day of increasingly joyless slogging. Glacial progress on a complex and boring job. I told my client the work would be ready today -- but it just wasn't. Meanwhile, Valérie, my original French client got in touch and I'm going to do some work for her at the end of the week and early next week. Spent the day fruitlessly manacled to my desk and ended up in a very poor mood. Went for a walk in the evening, Lorraine, Pat and Maureen had gone to Marks and Sparks and to drop in on Beth. It was already dark. A quiet night in, eating fish curry, and watching TV and reading The Vegetarian , a novel by the South Korean woman Han Kang, my new favourite novelist. Lorraine came back with new socks and two thermal vests for me. Maureen very pleased with her purchases and showing me them. To bed early, to read a little more of The Vegetarian.

Sian, and as nice as apple pie

Up and breakfast with Pat and Maureen.  Later Pat and Maureen spent time enjoying watching a Davis Cup tennis match on TV between Finland and Australia. We wanted the Finns. In the evening they were watching darts. They love games on TV. Sian came down from London. I collected her from Seaford station, and we sat about chatting. She was in good spirits, and we caught up as Lorraine cooked vegetable lasagne, using, among other things, a celeriac Lorraine asked me to dig up from the raised bed. Our celeriacs are big things, the size of large pineapples.  Lots of chatting with Sian, and then she and I walked to the Martello tower and Seaford Head, and we met Lorraine, Pat and Maureen there, who had a walk in the sun. A cold but beautiful day. Enjoyed chatting with Sian about all kinds of things. Quite a bit about the situation in Gaza. She had recent been on a protest that culminated outside the new American Embassy.  Home and we all had a late lunch in the dining room. A red letter day.

Back in the Batty

So up and working on the freelance job from eight. Had a cup of coffee, with Keith on line at ten. Lorraine brought me in a boiled egg and a cup of coffee, and he was highly envious. He had a job on, but confirmed my feeling that the freelance is a bit dead in the UK.  A meeting at lunchtime. Turns out that yesterday's brief which I'd spent hours answering, was not what was wanted at all. So a re-brief. They find it easier to say what they don't want, than what they do. It is hard for my main client, because he has to say everything in a second language. Worked through the day till four-ish.  Then, after chatting with Lorraine, I made off to Seaford Station and met Anton in the Batty.  Anton exhausted by all the events he is running. Loads of travel and responsibility, mainframe computers made out of glass and lego, and worst of all, and having to talk about business with attendees. New landlord in the Batty, who plays heavy metal and rock. Not very Brighton at all. A booze

Being paid

Up at dawn, and went to my desk. Everyone else still abed. Looking at my poems, and one of those days where you look at every poem you have in progress and see only drivel.  Meanwhile Robin did yet more edits on the episode. This episode has taken ages to edit.   Received an email in French this morning, inviting me to a briefing this afternoon. Pleased that some actual work had solidified out of the miasma. I went for a walk along the seaside briefly at lunchtime. Then hurriedly in half an hour wrote the copy for the podcast episode, just as I was completing it Robin uploaded a photo and I lost the lot.  Then took a fragmentary and confused brief, with at points, people talking very loudly over each other in French.  They want me to sort it out for them. It might take some time. The sensation of being paid quite nice though. Planet Poetry's new episode finally uploaded at 4 o'clock on schedule. It features me interviewing Martyn Crucefix, who I liked a lot.  Keith got in touch

Desk day

A desk day. Up at 7:45, after a fairly decent night's sleep. A sunny morning and breakfast with the cats hanging around. Then recording with Robin for the podcast to be uploaded tomorrow. Had to edit out Calliope's purr, as she was sitting on my lap for some of the chat.   Spent much of the day editing, before sending it off to Robin for fresh overnight ears. Nothing from the client in France again. I have a feeling this job is going to disappear like a puff of Gauloises smoke -- just as the last one did. I could do with a few days freelance before Christmas. Housework. Lorraine arrived with Pat and Maureen in the afternoon.  Everyone okay. Happy to have Lorraine home with me again.

Recording but no brief

Lorraine off to Ashford, via personal trainer and seeing two of her Bolney pals.  Robin and I had a recording session this morning. I wanted to get most of it done, as I was supposed to be taking a brief from a client this afternoon. This did not materialise: tomorrow maybe, or Thursday I was told.  For once this actually really useful, as I could do a good day's editing. Lots to be done. This episode has needed lots of work for some reason.  In the afternoon, I took a long walk along the sea, speaking to Lorraine, by now driving to Ashford. Then via the supermarket, and then lots more editing.  In the evening I had a long chat with Anton who is wearing himself out, hosting events around the country.  I watched a the first episode of Inside our Autistic Minds presented by Chris Packham on the BBC, which I found moving and was able to binge on Family Guy, before talking to Lorraine and going to bed. Loving the skies here.   

Up to the Badger

Both up early. I weighed myself this morning, and my holiday made me increase weight again slightly. Back to normal food now.   Reading some of  Changing, poems based on the I Ching by Richard Berengarten en route to see Mum and Mas in the Jolly Badger.  I arrived just as Mum and Mas were arriving. Mas somewhat unsteady on his feet even with a stick these days. Mum also getting over a cold and with a nasty cough. Mum said she had a scrape in the car yesterday too, following hard on the heels of the car suddenly conking out in the middle of the road last week, which was really stressful. Otherwise a pleasant enough bite to eat.  Helped myself to large salad portions, and had some chicken and rice. A kind server. Mas quite tired after a bit, and Mum took him home.  I walked back to Mill Hill station, and had a decent enough journey home. I shall go up again soon. Nice to be home, and to be home for the rest of the week. Below a snap from Seaford Station platform over the Salts to the s

To the Ram to celebrate Beth's birthday

For the second time this week, woke up at about seven, having migraine spangles. And as before I fell asleep, and woke up later feeling okay.  This is happening quite often at the moment. I don't know what's triggering it.  Pottering about the house this morning, and Lorraine and screwing a bathroom cabinet to the wall, and wiring in the plug inside it. Lorraine, who had thought she had turned off the electricity, receiving a nasty zap, but was okay luckily.  Off to The Ram in the village of Firle to meet Beth and James to celebrate Beth's birthday tomorrow. Really nice Sunday roast, I had pork, Beth and Lorraine shared lamb, and James had beef. I opted for a bit of cheese, but the others had nice desserts. Heavily overcast sky, and the pub seemed cozily dark as we ate, with little fairy lights and fires.  Talking excitedly about their Seaford move. They are in that hideous waiting bit, where nothing seems to happen. They both are taking tomorrow off, and will spend the day

Gingerly to the gym

After breakfast, Lorraine off to meet Dawn in Bolney. Afterwards she went to Brighton to hang out with Rosie. I spent till 1:30pm laboriously concluding my edit of the most recent podcast interview -- took ages for some reason. Sent it off to Robin. In the afternoon and when the rain abated, I went off to the gym for the first time since I had injured my back. A quarter of an hour only on the cross trainer, and my back began to clench up. But this a big improvement on where I had been. I did some of my trademark mild-mannered weights and left. Still it felt good to have walked to the gym and back, and done something at least. Saw on Facebook that a copywriter I worked with twenty odd years ago, Barry, had died. Lots of people leaving messages. Lorraine home early this evening, and changed immediately into her PJs. Later in the evening I popped out to the Boot at nine, and saw a band there for an hour.  The bassist and harmonica player Stuart also play with the Sumerian Kyngs, so Steve

Pints of mother in law

Got up early to work on editing the podcast interview. Did this for a few hours. Lorraine zooming about with energy this morning doing lots of jobs. And after a few hours I tore myself away from the computer, and did some work in the garden with Lorraine, as it wasn't pouring with rain. Of limited use, as I'm still not able to bend very well, but enjoyed hacking at a rogue buddleia and moving some plastic water tanks which Lorraine filled with compost and so on. I also knelt, with great care, by the fishpond and removed overgrown weed, and leaves. The water felt cold.  After a spot of lunch, I mooched off to Baca, a little cafe nearby, to have coffee with Yvonne, who was nailing down details of me being Santa for their little grandsons. Yvonne said Brian had done it last time, but with his black moustache and false glasses he looked too sinister. The plan is that I shall slip over and Brian will take me into the shed to secretly try on their Santa outfit.   In the evening Lorra


Yippee... A day at home with no travel. Woke up after a sound night's sleep with Calliope purring into my face. She has been very clinging since we returned from our trip up Norf. Brian recovering, but a bit subdued because of the painkillers and antibiotics he is taking.   Read more of  Essays on Idleness by Kenkō first thing, then sprang into action and after breakfast spent much of the day editing a recent interview for Planet Poetry -- by the end of the day still hadn't finished. Unbelievable how long editing an interview can take and wasn't anywhere near finishing after I threw in the towel. Also tinkered with some of my own writing. A mooch around town at lunchtime, into the Library, where Lorraine asked about volunteering to help children with reading, or adults with IT. Nice chat with the Librarian there, and we bumped into Lorraine's pal Helen. Went into the little craft show they had in the Crossways Church. Talking, among others, to a man and a woman on a na

Surprising the sparrows

Surprising the sparrows, Lorraine and I sprang up at six nasty and left at 7am for Ashford, driving into the rising sun. Lorraine brought breakfast with us, which we ate in Ashford.  Lorraine then drove Pat to his medical appointment, and I enjoyed chatting with Maureen and Claudia who over from Finland with her boyfriend Jonas. Jonas had never been to England before, but was able to speak English well.  Maureen on top form, and there was a comedy routine with boiled eggs for Claudia and Jonas, whose egg tops wouldn't come off with knives and spoons. Maureen hammering on them, and explaining to people how to eat boiled eggs -- Claudia laughing lots.   Lovely to see Claudia, for the second time this year. She and Jonas had flown over yesterday to Heathrow, and she had taken Business Class because she had inherited an airline card from a colleague. She said there was a Finnish minister on board, and an eccentric software multimillionaire from Finland who is called the Elf, and she fo

Cat business

Calliope sleeping on or around me all night.  Lorraine and I up early and eating our healthy seeds, berries, nuts and live yogurt etc. for breakfast with glee. Lorraine off to the doctor's first thing. Then to her personal trainer. I lurked at home, catching up on this blog and gradually getting my act together, Calliope insisting on sitting on my lap all the time. In the afternoon Lorraine and I took Brian who had a poorly paw off to Top Cats in Patcham. Another drive in teeming rain. He had a painful sore claw that was digging into his pad, and becoming infected. We came away with his paws sorted out, nails removed (with some blood) and antibiotics and painkillers to administer. A nice vet called Henry. I am always amazed at how a good vet can handle an animal without them freaking out. Brian was already much perkier by the time we got home. And it wasn't as eyewateringly expensive as we had feared.  Had my reading in Lewes confirmed for Thursday 11th January,  in the John Ha

The South

Monday, and up and moving. Downstairs for another nice breakfast -- the owner chatting to us. A lovely woman. Then after paying we mooched our gear into the car, and then went to see Matt in Acorn & Pip  where Reuben works. It's a toyshop, with excellent educational toys, sells clothes, and has some tables for coffee and teas. Reuben's boss stopped to chat too. A lovely bloke. Said cheerio to Reuben, then Matt walked us to our car. It had been brilliant to see them both. Off then driving up across the high hills and down into valleys, including the one where the filmed Last of the Summer Wine, until we made it onto the M1 after being rerouted due to an accident. A fairly miraculous journey home, with few slow bits, and even the hideous M25 behaved itself. The time went fairly quickly, we did a crossword, listened to music, and so on. We were home in Seaford at about ten past four, but drove to Morrisons first to get a bit of shopping in.  Having spent five hours at the whee