Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday, Lisa took George to Worthing to do some decorating on her flat and rather than join her in the evening to impose on Lisa’s parents in their already crowded house only to return the following morning, I stayed at home.

Actually I went to Pietro and Russ’ for dinner and ended up staying over. They’ve been through a bit of a rough time in the last year, but we had a good evening

Sunday was the South London Food Club – this time the Philippines were the destination, and Jane’s Garden, the venue. This was the first time this summer we’ve actually been able to eat outside – it’s been such a cold summer.

Everyone made different dishes and they were all really good. When we pick a nation at random and all try to cook food from it, the results can be mixed. This time the foot was great – even though my mouth ulcers are just about clearing up and my taste buds don’t seem to be working (everything tastes strongly of salt and I can’t taste sweet food for some reason) – anyway, here are a couple of recipes:

Baked fish

6 Red Snapper fillets
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup olive oil (we used about half as much oil)
1 whole onion minced
1 cup fresh tomatoes with skin and seeds
½ cup pimentos cut into strips
1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

Preheat oven 350 degrees
Season the fillets in the lime, salt and pepper and leave in a dish to marinade
Medium frying pan with the oil and sauté the onions, tomatoes and pimentos until a sauce-like consistency is obtained
Pour the sauce on the fish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and parsley
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, serve hot

Aubergine (Adobo)

5 cups diced aubergines (1-1.5 inch cubes)
1 pinch of salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup red wine vinegar
6 cloves crushed garlic
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Spread aubergine with salt put on paper towel to drain for 30 mins, rinse and pat dry
In a non stick pan – fry with small amount of oil, brown and set to one side
In a small saucepan simmer soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and pepper for 5 mins
Add aubergines, cover and cook on a low heat for approx 7 minutes, stirring occasionally
Serve hot

Monday Lisa and I both had dentists appointments. Lisa has always had a good dentist – she got to watch films on a pair of futuristic glasses while they did her work – but now that dentist has gone private so she’s got a new one.

Not mine though, and a good job too. My dentist ended up giving me a filling without anaesthetic the first time I met her – or rather she gave me three anaesthetic injections none of which had any effect beyond paralysing my face.

I haven’t had a filling since, but this time, she decided that although there was nothing wrong with it, one of my fillings needs replacing – at a cost of £200. I suppose it’s good in a way – hopefully this one will be less painful and I won’t have to dread dentists so much….

Footprints and rucksacks
Reading more of my new book, the author has moved onto talking about mining – basically calculating (and I love a good formula) his rucksack.

Rucksack isn’t a term I’d heard before, but basically a product’s rucksack is the amount of mining that’s done to produce it – so for an aluminium can, there’s something like 2kg of material mined out of the Earth to produce it (unless it’s recycled) but for a gold ring, there’s something like 2 tonnes of rock that’s had to be taken out and crushed to create enough gold to fashion it (with all the pollution, wasted water, and other environmental damage that this means – not to mention the danger faced by the miners).

Apparently we all carry round an annual rucksack of about 50 tonnes… in other words 50 tonnes of rock get taken out of the earth and ground down every year to give us our stuff – 15 tonnes of coal and oil provide the electricity we use, 9 tonnes go into the buildings we inhabit… and so it goes on.

Anything to be done about that?.... hmmm… not sure.

The Myth of quality
Everything we own is made in China – but apparently there’s one city Yiwu – which is just one enormous market – selling the majority of the stuff we buy. And by that I mean 300,000 product lines, supplied from factories in towns all around it – each specialising in one or two products. 60% of the world’s zips come from one town. 80% of our Christmas decorations from another. And for each product Yiwu has a street. Stalls selling nothing but fake Mona Lisa’s or combs, beads, or artificial flowers.

One of the things that really comes across to me from reading this is that whatever you buy, the idea of quality means very little because wherever you got your products from – the pound shop or Harrods, they will have got them from the same markets in Yiwu and those markets will have got them from the same factories in neighbouring towns. Even if there are resellers who are determined to provide only the highest quality items, those items will have been put together from component parts which in turn have been assembled from smaller parts in a long and untraceable chain leading back to the factories of China.

Not that I’m saying those factories produce poor quality goods – only that they produce similar quality goods because the supply line is so long and complex that it must be impossible and pointless for a producer of the individual components to make themselves known beyond their ability to produce goods at speed and volume. Even if the idea of quality is what’s sold to us, it’s really only about speed of turnover by the time it gets back to the source.

Anyway, today I bought 2 new computers for rendering this trilobite animation. Basically these machines will run day and night while I’m doing this project, drawing out the frames of animation without me needing to be there.

I went looking through ebay, pcworld, and all the other options all of which offered widely different prices.

A lot of the companies talked a lot about build quality, and said how their competitors used “sub-standard” components.

The thing is, I’m as sure as I can be that whether I pay top dollar to Dell, or buy from a bloke on ebay, my computer will have been assembled on a production line in China in about 10 minutes from components bought somewhere round Yiwu from the same factories.

I can’t get a more reliable or better product by paying more, so perhaps I shouldn’t expect to.

In the end, I shopped around and paid about £1,200 for my two PCs. Buying them from PC world would have cost me about £1600. have I saved money or wasted it? No idea, but I do know that paying more wouldn’t have lightended my rucksack. There’s no such thing as a PC PC. Yet.

Friday, September 19, 2008

One of the pieces of post we discovered on getting home was our wedding video – Ok, we’ve celebrated our 2nd anniversary already, but the video was delayed by the fact that one of the cameras malfunctioned, so it was hell to edit.

The company producing it did an excellent job though and we’re really pleased with the result.

We can now take orders for copies….

Hide and seek
George is very close to being able to walk now, I think. Sally has offered to get him a walker for his birthday, but I think he’ll be up and about by then.

At swimming this week, he also worked out how to hold onto the side of the pool. I let go of him and he just clung on. I think if I’d got out of the pool, he wouldn’t have minded.

He’s started playing hide and seek too. He holds a towel over his head, and then leaps out to surprise you and giggle – which is very cute. It’s not a game I think he’ll ever tire of.

Tonight Lisa’s taken him down to Worthing again – mainly because she’s got to do a bit of painting on her flat. I did offer to help, but she thinks she can do it all in one day, so instead I’m going to have tea with Russ and Pietro…

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Woke at 2:30 and again at 6. Sleeping is something we all do every day , but when you actually thing about it, nobody has any idea how to do it. We both have mouth ulcers – a good sign of being run down – but since we’re half way through our holiday now we should really be feeling less tired.

Undeterred, today we went on an Arthurian quest. Armed with a leaflet detailing the Cornish trail of the fictional king, we went to Tintagel – one of the five castles around the country that claim to be Arthur’s. We discovered that it was actually built about the time the Arthurian legend was being first written down – i.e. some 500 years after Arthur was supposed to have been king.

The road to the bottom of the hill the castle’s built on was so steep, and the climb ahead contained a hundred stairs, so we opted to quit and search for the grail instead.

That quest took us to the scene of Arthur’s last battle, and the Arthurian centre in Slaughterbridge. The Arthurian centre turns out to be a small shack, the walls of which are covered with wordy explanations of the legend’s history along with a few pictures and photocopies of wood cuttings. It resembled the kind of display you see in detective dramas – where the police cover the walls with unreadable scribbles, photos and documents which don’t appear to have any connection with each other.

They did have a lot of toys for George, on the floor though and a video which allowed us to rest our legs before the long tramp carrying him to Arthur’s Stone – a stone with some words on it, but no obvious connection with Arthur whatsoever.

Beside the viewing platform there’s a sign - can't remember the exact words but the sentiment was, why does it matter whether the legends are true as long as the myth gives you the inspiration to take on your own barbarian hordes – and I guess that’s the point. The tintagel ruin is younger than Arthur and built of the strongest materials known at the time. And yet it’s nothing but a pile of rocks now – whilst the Arthurian legend is even now being re-written brand new as a BBC series. Stories are so much stronger than stones.

Carrying george the distance to the castle foot and the carved stone tired me for the rest of the day, but it was worth it. Not least because even though I didn’t run this week, when I went to tighten my belt, I discovered there were no more notches to tighten it to…

But our quest wasn’t over… it became a quest for lunch. And turned out to be a tough one. We toured the county looking for someone who would serve food. Most restaurants here seem to close for lunch and those that don't were either missing chefs or were directed to by signs which in true Holy Grail style disappeared before we found their source.

Eventually we tried driving to the nearest 'big town' Bodmin. Here after touring a few closed restaurants we found a pub who told us they weren't serving (even though a sign on the door said they were) but who directed us to another pub who were. I wanted to ask if there was anyone in this god forsaken county whose idea of food didn't involve chucking a rat in a deep fat fryer, but I didn't and we eventually found a pub with food.

I say food - I ordered the only thing I could have "catch of the day in lemonade batter" no joke. I didn't ask what today’s catch was but it could well have been rat.

Beside us some girls were discussing the difficulties involved in getting broadband... My this is a primitive land.

I think I’ve solved one mystery though. The fabled “Beast of Bodmin” is a creature said to roam the moors devouring the local livestock. Its origins are clear to me now. After a few days sampling the culinary delights of the down, I think I’d find a raw sheep pretty appealing.

On the way home we had what we both decided was the worst mineral water we'd ever tasted (and neither of us had ever noticed the taste of mineral water before)... I looked on the label and it was bottled in Bodmin.

At home I read a little of my new book. The author is tracing the ethical footprint of everything in his life and this chapter was on coffee, booze and cheese.

One of his favourites was cathedral city. when he looked into it Cheddar wasn't involved and nor were any cathedrals. It turns out to be made by one of the biggest daries in the country... who made cathedral city the best selling cheese in the world then used their power to cut the price they paid farmers for their milk. It turns out Cathedral city is in fact made exclusively - you've guessed it - in Bodmin.

The author then went on to trace his favourite whiskey lagavulin... which turns out to be made by the same people as bailies... which won't please my father in law. still, the company doesn't seem to have ruined the local nature of the brand...

George continues not to eat his meals... he seems to want to choose them for himself and this is a well known phase for babies.... and a messy one. we just have to give him things he can pick at as he wants to because if he doesn't want to eat. you can't force him.

This doesn't really matter as most of the world's babies do perfectly well on less protein than George puts in his nappy.


A relaxed day today. trampolines and swimming pools being the only action.

I read some more of my book - learning amongst other things that king prawns from Bangladesh -and that includes at least half of those you get in Asian restaurants are farmed by very poor farmers who get virtually nothing for destroying their environments while the profits are taken by a series of virtually criminal middlemen. The author won't eat them after what he's learned and I think he's probably right.

He also has a lot to say about palm oil (the commonest product we don't know we use - featuring in a huge number of products from meals to soap and toothpaste).

By the way did you know bananas are seedless sterile mutants - so there can never be any variety in the species - each variety (and their are very few) is created from cuttings from a single plant so a disease affecting one will wipe out the global crop forever. This has already happened once, so they've nothing to replace the plantations with if the current variety fails...

The biggest problem seems to be mass production. we can't be allowed to all eat different things s production is forced into huge country sized plantations of single crops or farms. The result is that the vast majority of our agriculture is dedicated to just four crops. with the resulting dangers of destruction of the environment and lack of resistance to disease… Eat variety - that's got to be the only solution. At least that’s my plan.

Holiday over, we made our way back via Grace and Igor’s new home in Bognor. It’s a great improvement on the last home (they even get wine with dinner) – and their both a lot happier there. Although Igor continues to insist on being miserable anyway.

I’m so glad they’re in a nicer place, though.

We met up with my aunt Carole and introduced her to George for the first time, then we sat out on the lawn outside before making the final leg of the journey to Lisa’s parents.

To break the journey home, and to have Sunday lunch we decided to stay over in their crowded house. They’ve got Sally, Colin, their dog, and four boys living with them while the look for a house and it’s a bit chaotic.

No – it’s completely chaotic. I think Lisa’s parents need a break, already and since Sally and Colin have got to find and buy a house before they can move out, it’ll probably be a while.

Lisa’s parents in the meantime are putting a room into the garage… which is seaming like quite a good idea suddenly…

After Sunday lunch we leave for the journey back to London.

The holiday has been a good one – but I’m annoyed with myself for not ending up as rested as I’d have liked.

When I get stressed I tend to get mouth ulcers. Usually one – just to let me know I’m run down. Today I have 10 – and can barely eat…
We haven’t had a holiday for over a year and both badly needed one, the news of “extreme weather” from north Cornwall didn’t really put us off. However, George throwing up in the car wasn’t so good and the GPS gave us the strangest detour I’ve ever had (we were directed onto 100 meters of road parallel to the road we were on and then back onto the original road – there seemed to be no reason for it).

By the time we got there, we were both very tired. I hadn’t done any of the driving, but I think I’d let the last year’s work catch up with me and was ready to collapse. So tired I wanted to burst into tears…
Instead, we watched King Kong – or at least the first hour of it (being an “epic” meant the film had to be 14 hours long). At the point where the girl and the monkey were sitting together looking out over the sunset, we decided things weren’t going to get any more cheerful if we watched the rest, so as far as I’m concerned, it was a fun action story with a happy ending.

Actually there are lots of films that are best off abandoned at bed time – I’ve got very fond memories of “the deer hunter” – after retiring just as the main characters enlistined in the army. To me, it’s a feelgood buddy movie.

The thing you can guarantee with all Hollywood movies is that if it’s going to be happy, it will need to be bloody miserable just before everything goes right, and if it’s going to be sad, there will be a moment of happiness somewhere near the end. That’s the optimum time to leave if you don’t need things to change. Try leaving a bond film just when the main villain walks out on Bond who’s about to be executed – that way you can be fairly sure the smug secret agent has been sawn in half and you don’t need to endure his absurd quips as he drifts off into the sunset.

Anyway, George wasn’t so keen on us having a peaceful night. He decided to scream until we took him into our bed and stayed awake all night with him…

The next morning we had a bit of a look around our accommodation – a sweet little cottage in a tiny village and directly opposite what appeared to be the only decent place to eat within 50 miles. The farmhouse around which all the holiday cottages were arranged also provided an indoor swimming pool and a lot of child friendly stuff….

Bude – the nearest “town” wasn’t impressive. It’s major feature was a castle – or at least it was called a castle, but it was made of red brick, positioned on a flat instead of a hill, and had large sashcord windows through which any attacking horde would have made an easy entry.

In the grounds, a brass band was playing “I want to break free” by Queen…

George got a good night’s sleep and we began to unwind. The next day we went to the Big Sheep – a sheep-related theme park created on the cheap by an enterprising farmer. It’s actually a great day out with tractor and train rides, sheep racing, lamb feeding and some slides and ball pits. It’s actually a lot more fun than it sounds and George had a great time (apart from throwing up at lunch – which he seems to be doing every day). I’d have sent a postcard, only I don’t. If there’s one thing I hate more than clearing up baby sick, it’s writing postcards. I mean I write every day at work. My days are an endless stream of articles and emails. Why would I spend my holiday telling people who aren’t on holiday how great it is? Postcards are such a rubbish idea. It’s like having homework – and it’s no better being on the receiving end. “wish you were here?” well clearly you don’t or you wouldn’t have left me at home.

When we got back from the pub, we ordered a take-away from the pub over the road. It arrived on china plates – which was a nice touch.

My unwinding stopped when I woke at 4am. I spent the next day feeling generally rubbish. Lisa was left looking after me and George and I barely made it from the bed to the sofa without feeling sick. Maybe I’d got a version of what put Sam in hospital the previous week – but whatever it was, the real reason was that despite the fact that George is an easy baby as babies go, I have been working hard trying to fit 5 days work (or 6) into four days, having a new baby isn’t easy and we have been 15 months without a break. We work hard to get time to ourselves, but there are still a lot of demands. It’s not that surprising I suppose that I should collapse at the first opportunity. The only real surprise is that Lisa hasn’t. Yet.

Despite not leaving the cottage, we somehow managed to spend £203 in Gabon – we got a call from the bank to say that someone had cloned our card. They spotted the error (you can’t spend money in Cornwall and Africa on the same day) and refused the payment, but it’s a hastle.

Funny – at least 3 other people in our road have also had their cards cloned, so we have to suspect one of the local businesses. Suspicion falls on Summerfield – but that might be just snobbery.

The new chip and pin system doesn’t seem from my reckoning to have reduced fraud. In fact I’ve heard of it happening more since the change than before. And I’m not surprised. Rather than revealing our pin number once a week or so, we now do it every day and rather than doing so in trusted locations (bank machines) we now do it everywhere we spend money – with no security what so ever. What’s more we now have to have so many pin numbers that the only way to manage them is to either write them down (which the banks tell you not to do) or to change them all to the same number (which the banks tell you not to do). In other works, chip and pin isn’t designed to make transactions safer. It’s designed to make the fraud our fault rather than the banks. It’s not about safety it’s about blame.

Of course, most of the fraud is done without any cards changing hands – it’s all on the bank side – but the banks don’t like to talk about that, they just take the hit and keep it secret. After all, it’s much better to blame their customers than to let anyone know that their security is the equivalent of writing your pin number on the back of your bank card and leaving it on the bus.

The first day George isn’t sick and I’m back to normal too. We decide to go to the Eden project. I was expecting it to be good, but it was not just a big greenhouse, it was actually a very intelligent, non-patronising, optimistic campaign. It’s really obvious when old hippies have created something – there’s this lack of limitations – this idea that you can think on a huge scale and be completely unashamed about wanting to change the world – and it’s infectious. All that’s needed is that attitude and you can create things of real value and real change… or so it seems.

George loved the place too – especially the rainforest – although he wouldn’t eat anything all day. We’d run out of home made food and bought a jar of baby food with us. He doesn’t seem to be at all interested in anything except home cooked food. However, that wasn’t all it was – he wouldn’t even eat Eden’s home cooked organic fair trade non biological nutritionally balanced gluten free unbleached free range pasta… he wasn’t interested in his tea either – until in desperation we tried making him a sandwich… it turned out all he really wanted was something he could eat for himself. He’s not being fussy – he just wants to do it himself.

We came out of the Eden project with a pile of eco friendly stuff – including a solar ipod charger (I’m not sure what my ipod’s footprint is, but it’s invaluable to me – not because it’s got music on it, but because I’ve rather sadly uploaded about half of the Doctor Who video back catalogue onto it – which is great for long train journeys).

I bought a book which I can highly recommend – “confessions of an eco sinner” by Fred Pearce. Basically he’s a journalist who decided to go around the world trying to work out where all his stuff came from – and what his environmental footprint really meant. He’s actually surprisingly like me in what he does and what he consumes, and as I’m trying to work out my footprint (not just carbon- but everything else too) it’ll be an interesting read.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Wednesday, we had a night out. We went to the Proms to see the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Simon Rattle. In other words – one of the best combinations you can get. It was my parents’ birthday present to Lisa.

It was a full house, and we had great seats – and the response to the performers was about the same as you’d have got if the Stones had been performing. I’ve never seen a flutist whooped and cheered – and judging by his reaction, neither had the flutist.

The concert was probably the best I’ve been to – but listening to classical music isn’t like other forms of live entertainment. It’s sort of a background rather than an intense experience – Watch a good film or a rock concert and you’re transported to another place, but that place is decided on by the author. With classical music, the place you’re transported to is your own. It allows your mind to wander rather than taking it somewhere specific.

I started to wonder about making a feature length animation… a story of a train making a journey across a huge fictional country. Every so often, the train would stop to pick up a passenger. Each passenger would be an outcast – for some reason unable to live in the town the train stopped at, but presented with a ticket out by a mysterious conductor. So the film would begin as a series of short stories – all about the various things that isolate and disconnect people in a modern world… but as the train travelled on, the group of passengers bonded… there’s more, but I’ll develop that a little further before I decide whether and where I’m going with it.

By the end of the performance, I have a style in mind too – I want it to be very slow moving, very gentle, and the images to be like oil paintings fading one into the next – so not a traditional style of animation, but more a series of still lifes slightly and slowly moving. I also had the strange idea that the film should be subtitled on the rare occasions when words are needed – with a spoken voice heard, but not in any real language…

Hmm… another idea I don’t have time to pursue….probably.

In Casualty
Woke up on Thursday morning to a call from Sam – she’d been taken ill, but also left the key in the door of her flat, so nobody could get in to help her. Sam is usually pretty able, but there’s the occasional day when her arthritis flares up and she can’t get out of bed. This time it was accompanied by a virus, so doubly bad.

We eventually managed to contact her flatmate, Claudia (the geography of her flat is such that Claudia would have left without knowing that Sam was incapacitated in the living room) and I was able to get in. By the time I got there, Claudia had called an ambulance.

I dropped George off at nursery and joined Sam in Casualty. Casulty is an awful place – not for the reasons you’d think but just because it’s so grotty. It’s like a bus stop or a job centre. Full of people queuing for no reason and sitting around for hours waiting for something to happen. When something does happen it’s usually due to the social ineptitude of one of the waiting public – on this occasion it was a guy who decided the receptionist was a racist and went on to add that she worshipped the devil before being thrown out by security.

Anyway, Sam managed to get out pretty quickly into a ward of her own where various tests confirmed that the chest pains she had were not due to a blood clot or anything else serious and that this was simply a virus which would pass in a day or so.

Lisa returned home early from work and took over while I got home and managed to do a little work. Sam stayed over with us, but is much better today.

3d stuff
today I spent the morning at an Autodesk press event. Taking time out to go to these things is always worthwhile, but I could have done without it today – with the pre-holiday rush and the fact that I got very little done yesterday.

I really must make an effort to get some writing work about the 3d packages – otherwise my position as a journalist writing about 3d is going to drift… Don’t quite know where I’ll find the time, but it’s well worth doing.

Anyway, one thing worth noting is that even though the company is absolutely right at the cutting edge of technology, they still couldn’t get either their coffee machine or their TV to work… it’s not just me, then.

A weight off my mind
Back at my parents’, Mum and Dad seem to have got things going. After a frustrating set of delays, Mum has now been able to order a chair that she can sit in without putting her hip out of joint and she has got on the waiting list for another operation. They’ve also, got a quote in for fitting a shower for her and hopefully building work will start soon. Getting the shower fitted is now very urgent and despite her assurances that I shouldn’t worry, I feel that every day she’s without it is damaging.

Grace and Igor have now moved to another home – hopefully one which treats them better and allows them to get on better together. It’s down in Bognor close to Carol and Roy, my uncle and aunt. Dad is a bit worried about driving that distance to see them, but I hope he’ll try.

They certainly seem to be enjoying the place a lot better – and we plan to drop in on them on the way back from holiday (we’re leaving tomorrow for a week in Bude).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Last weekend, George started climbing stairs (he’s not keen on going downwards yet) – and his crawling is pretty expert and fast enough to escape if you don’t keep an eye on him.

He’s training as a safety inspector by instantly seeking out the most dangerous part of any environment he’s placed in.

The Circus comes to town
This weekend, Zippo’s Circus arrived on Peckham Rye and Sam thought it would be a good idea for us all to go along… in fact, when we turned up, it seemed the idea was pretty universal… Abi was there, Debs was there, and Phil turned up too – all with their children.

Now, I know circuses are supposed to be for children and I wasn’t expecting it to be the greatest show on Earth (whatever the publicity said). However, these people put on shows every day of their lives and move from town to town with a vast infrastructure – or at least a lot of lorries, so I did expect it to be polished and professional.

This was rubbish – the juggling involved throwing things into the air and waiting for them to land. The high-wire was a very low-wire and the guy balancing on it didn’t seem at all sure he could do it. The dancers didn’t actually dance and the trained horses just walked around the ring in different directions – if there was supposed to be a routine to it, I couldn’t tell.

It was also hot – very hot. It was like watching the first round of “Britain’s Got Talent” in a sauna. I had to keep taking George outside for fresh air and water – something which I didn’t mind since the show was so poor.

Later on we had a dinner party and we spent much of the day preparing for it – which mainly consisted of trying to locate a working pasta maker – something which I thought would be readily available on Lordship lane – since there are almost as many posh cook shops as there are estate agents. We eventually borrowed one – and made ravioli (or raviolo because each person only got one!).

Mushroom and ricotta stuffing and saffron and truffle butter no less….

We followed this with salmon and veg baked in packages made of grease proof paper – so that the fish and veg steamed in the oven and everyone had their own parcel to open.

I’m not sure how, but 2kg of dauphines potatoes managed to get eaten by the 7 of us. However, one explanation might be that my brother turned up and Andrew’s appetite can make even the most ample portion disappear.

It was good to see Andrew – fresh from a whirlwind tour of what appeared to be most of Europe. His first intercontinental lorry delivery had taken him on a grand tour. He was on good form – and even spotted that Claudia (Sam’s flatmate)’s wedding ring was being worn only for effect…

Sunday was another feast – this time at Adrian’s. This was a Sunday lunch that started at 1 and hadn’t finished by 7. It involved several courses culled from Adrian’s allotment including edible flowers, pie and a paella. I’d never been to Adrian’s flat before. He’s a picture frame restorer and his home was a little like a step back four or five decades. Everything seemed to be homely, but nothing modern – and everything was in perfect restored condition. On the sideboard sat a picture of Adrian’s mother at the age of 17 beside a sofa . Today the sofa has been expertly re-upholstered, but it’s still in the living room.

Nathan – Jane’s son looked after George for much of the day. He’s always happy to play with him and as I told him, it will probably be twenty years before he realises just what a valuable service he was performing for us…

The dreaded openwide mail out
On Monday night, Gillian and Nicky came round to lay out the yearly mail-out they send advertising their plays to schools and theatres. The mailout is a ritual which always involves a late night of discussing the minutiae of where each picture goes, exactly what wording is needed for the blurb of every show they perform and what colours, styles and shapes the text needs to be.

I guess I must have been doing this for a while now because I remember that it was their mailout I was working on when the news came in that the world trade centre had been hit by an aeroplane.

This time, we worked until midnight, but got the job done.