July 2009


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Back at almost the last possible day not to make things economically complicated for me. If I had come back one or two days ago my life as a single man with no ballast may have been less complicated, but doing duty has made genuine improvements to my parents lives, and probably mine, and saved them from making Richard Branston 25 quid a month richer.

In the morning did big shop, doctors, and chemist. Ma now knows, because I told her, that if she goes out with the shopping trolley I have told her not to use, at least 3 social loci will tell me next time I am down, and tell her off for using it.

Lovely chicken dinner by ma.

I left with a sense of achievement.

G=Journey back a total commute; apart from leaping through the door of the train from Leeds after a run to prove my heart still works well enough.

Spent an evening at the Old Vic. A rich mix of fuel and fertile compost.
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Well, they’re both on the mend, and I have been working. Cooking, laundry, gardening and even cleaning (one of the many things I can do better for others than for myself). The most important work though was probably a mobile conversation I had with my brother about the situation. We are both framed much better to cope with the games and stresses, and are helping each other to do so.

I went to Crawley’s little Mela yesterday, at the Hawth Theatre. I went to meet Viiv Cooper, and he looked well, though he could not shake hands because his white bloodcell count was low. The mela was rain effected, but the marquee was big enough to shelter those that stayed, and the last band with drumming, juggling and comedy, called Mambena, from Africa were great. They. could have topped the bill in the days of music hall, and what they did with children dragged out of the audience was splendid.

Sunday dinner was Rick Stein’s duck in orange juice It was very good. I would post a link but it is only available as a tv show and not written out on the internet, so what I remember is below.

Braise duck pieces in a dry pan to get some of the fat out. Stein said 5 – 6 minutes, I did 12, and it was still not enough.

Add crushed garlic and sliced ginger; then star aniseed (he said 5, but one and a bit gave a strong enough taste), fish sauce (2 tablespoons seemed to be too much); palm sugar (I used brown); black pepper; and enough orange juice to half cover the pieces.

Simmer. He gave no times, but an hour and a half was only just long enough to the biggest piece, but they were tough pieces.

Add spring onions near the end.

Take the pieces out, add cornflour mixed with water and boil to thicken.

I served it with new potatoes, carrots and peas.
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Ma’s leg re-dressed yesterday at the hospital, I went with her. It looked very much better than could be expected, considering the size of the wound, and the bruising.

I went to the scene of the accident, then had a look at the trolley with her, and worked out exactly what happened and how. The front wheels can turn freely, which makes maneuvering easier, but one obviously got trapped sideways on the very low ridge between the road and the curb; her momentum carried her over; and one of the brakepedals that stick out the back scraped up her leg. Not so much a cut as rupture with a blunt instrument.

Dad is getting better, but very slowly, and with new bizarrenesses. He actually shouted at me: Glyn, tell her off! When ma was ordering him to go back to bed.

And thus on to the reason I am writing this. I would have noted the above, but not tonight.

I watched a Time Team on this computer I saw bits of this morning. I had looked at the tv listings and was sure there was there was a big choice of bugger all on tonight, hence the digital repeat. It finished just after ten, and I went downstairs to get some pop, and then checked the listing again.

Simon Gray

I was shocked to discover a programme about a man I had talked to a year ago. Playwright Simon Gray, The Smoking Diaries and the screenplay for A month in the Country. I met him at the ICA showing of the film. He was the main guest and I talked to him afterwards as I was waiting for Kate Shaw to come out, and he was having a cigarette.

He struck me as an astute and decent man, but I had so much else to say about the day I do not think I dropped his name in the blog.

I was shocked when I found out he had died just 6 weeks later, but seeing the documentary today was in many ways more shocking. I knew of the Smoking Diaries, and other work he had done, but only in a pub quiz answer kind of way. What I had was an intimate knowledge of one astonishing screenplay, and a few minutes chat with the man.

I now know far more of the man, but can see a little bit more of myself as well. I do not smoke, but the mother and the drink are there, and his views on writing makes me ponder.
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Dad ate, and kept down, solid food; first time in days, according to ma. She has had her foot up most of the day. It hurts more than yesterday, but I take that as a notice of healing. I put the trousers she was wearing when she had the accident to soak in cold water. The water turned the colour of a light red wine, which surprised me. The blood had had nearly a full 24 hours to dry.
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Avery brief note about very full days.

Another, out of the blue, Crawley trip. Ma tripped and cut her leg whilst shopping. Dad already ill with ‘stomach virus’ (doctor has been to see him). Ma out very quickly, but back in at 18.00 when it started bleeding again. Only an hour before being sent home, but I was already on the train. She is ok. Jounrney expensive and generally quite, though I got talking to Mark, who works in Sweden for Finus, and was going to pick up an e-type Jag he had just bought.

Skipton yesterday. Insulted at the Narrow Boat, again, but found two possible venues that are very good, and the White Rose Social Club, a club after my own heart, but with no kitchen.

A shell suited 11 year old boy shouted at a passer by to scare her, on the high street and was doing the sneer-grin that teachers know so well, until he got pushed infront of his fat, ugly, inbred older sister (or maybe mother), and the other girl. The tirade of abuse that followed made the man in the hat very happy as he walked to the bus station.

At the bus station I met Janet, the lovely one from the Red Pig in Keighley who once trimmed my moustache. She causally mentioned her partner only once every half dozen sentences. I am sure she did not have one the last time I talked to her. Deep sigh.

Called in at Roger’s, then the Boltmakers, where the fact I was wearing a hat and tie caused some comment. The new barmaid, who does look like Kate Bush, said she loved hats, at which point young Damien went and got one he had in the back of the van. He left it behind when he followed her out though.

I have been in touch with Tom Priestley, J.B.Priestley’s son, to formally request permission to do a Pie & Priestley Night.
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An unusual, jobs round the house and shopping, day. The most interesting thing happened whilst I was sat eating kebab meat and salad (£2.50) outside John St Market. A wasp landed on a sliver of meat, tasted it, and started eating! Wasps are carnivores, but I have never heard of one eating a kebab before.

It looked like she was cutting a chunk out, like a leafcutter ant, and I thought she was going to take it home. She did cut a lump out, I guess at least 5 square millimetres, but let it drop, started again, let that drop, stretched her jaws a few times, and flew off.

She will be dead soon anyway (all but queen wasps do by winter) but I do wonder if the rest of her life will be better for having discovered the taste of a kebab. Will it be a heavenly memory of divine manna, will the protein mean she catches loads more prey so the queen, or queens feed better and have a better chance next year?

Of course, there is always the possibility she will get violently ill and does not live the day out, but I hope not.

I have promised to do a few little jobs for people, and spent some of the day looking for bits in the house, and discovered loads of treasures, including a Sid the Sexist Book of Sexism, a 2 litre bottle of Liebfraumilch given as a gift, maybe 7 years ago, an unopened bottle of Laphroig, and a hacksaw I lost years ago. Unfortunately I did not find the carpet tacks I had in my hand 3 days ago so had to go and buy some more.

Got a pack of uncooked pork rinds from Morrisons for just 35p. There were 4 4×6 inch pieces and I cooked just two. Best crackling I have made yet. Scored them with a craft knife, rubbed salt in, dried them with a hairdryer (an other find), and poured melted left over sausage fat over them. I also did a good soup with stuff I found in the fridge, a really good salad, and had a bottle of Minervois wine, prompted by telling my story of sleeping beneath the walls of Carcassonne one December night, to fellow customers at Don’s Danish Pantry.

BTW. I did not eat the sliver of meat the wasp had been chewing.

cat woodman Gail (son carl) bus odsel, walk armley, http://www.myspace.com/thebacchaemusic

Yesterday I went to Leeds to see The Bacchae at the Brudenell Social Club. It was a half hour walk from and to the bus stop in Armley, up and down hills, over the river, canal and a railway and under a second railway, past past scores of failed businesses.

I needed to see the band to talk about the Ilkley Festival Uncut Fringe. Because of having to leave for the bus I hardly saw anything of them but it was still well worth it, and a cracking night. There were four other bands on and it is something I just would not think of doing normally. It was £5 in, Green Label was £1.69 a pint, it was chock full of young and good looking people, and folk were friendly. One girl even had a good look at my Walburgas, and seemed impressed, though not enough to get her hand down.

Harriet is the lead singer and the de facto manager. She is impressive and having talked to her they get what it is about. I told her the possible venues in Ilkley, which she knows, and dates. If she sorts a gig out before they play the Ilkley Bandstand on 7th August, we will do flyers.

I got the Halifax bus home, walked down from Odsel Top, and called in the Woodman. The lovely landlady is called Gail. She was, or is, a psychiatric nurse. I asked if she smoked, she said she had reformed, I guessed she did smoke 40 a day, and I was right! Had a pint of Great Heck Yorkshire Pale, brewed by my mate Denzil.

Walking home there were lots of cats (and slugs) looking for sex. I made cat noises at one, who ran away. I took a few steps and got accosted by another cat wanting attention! I spent several minutes scratching her head. Probably not exactly what she wanted, but she did not want it to stop.

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