At the weekend, after my second week at $NewCompany I made my way to Brighton. I’d originally planned a busy weekend catching up with people but as the weekend approached I needed sleep and relaxation. I stayed in on Friday, only popping in out to buy a curry, and spent a leisurely Saturday morning buying supplies for the coming week.
On Saturday afternoon I travelled up to London to visit Rockcabaret. It was a long journey since we had to stop at the garage near Rabbit Island on the A23 to fix a headlight. I drove up with Kitty Peels, Rosy and China, who I’d not met before. Waiting for the club to start, I asked China what she did and discovered she co-owned a circus. I was, as you can imagine, quite excited to hear this, and we had a very long discussion.
Kitty was booked to perform a rope act. Watching her rehearsal in bright lights above a hard wooden floor was nerve-wracking, everything looking dangerous. Everything went well and she disappeared to get changed and people started arriving. We posed in the photography studio, and watched some acts, including Leo and Yam who did an amazing double silks act. Kitty’s act, a Barbarella Futuristic 60’s Extravaganza was incredible.
After the acts there was dancing. The music at the club was pretty good (they played a whole side of Sign of the Times before opening). We didn’t leave until very late, when we had a long journey home. I discovered China and I had hung out in a lot of the same places so we talked about the old days (as, I guess, the mid-90’s are now) and things in Brighton that aren’t there any longer.
I’m now back in Brighton after my second week of work at Coventry. Things are going well: been refactoring code and spending my evenings writing. I’m still offline most of the time but that does mean I get more done.
Last week I read AL Kennedy‘s novel Day , about a WW2 bomber pilot. I came off the bus on Wednesday to find the city center closed off by police cordons. An unexploded world-war 2 bomb had been discovered by some workmen and a 500m exclusion zone thrown up. It strange to think, even sixty years later, the war can still have such effects.
I’m now back in Brighton. I’d hoped to catch up with people, but I haven’t had much free time. The dance I was going to on Friday was cancelled and I’m off to London tonight. I’m hoping to catch up with people at some point soon.
Meanwhile I’m going to buy one of those mobile Internet things in the next few days, which I hope will solve all my connectivity woes.
I love the beach at St. Anne’s. While the beaches I know in Sussex are narrow, St. Anne’s beach is wide and flat. I used to walk along it with my eyes closed, listening to the wind.
The pier at St. Anne’s seems bizarre. I’ve never seen it with water underneath it.
From a cafe where I wrote some letters, on Blackpool’s Highfield Road:
Two photos from my recent trip to Brighton. (The sign is from the fantastic new coffee shop outside St. Peter’s church)
Last month I mentioned some photos I’d taken on the beach at St. Annes. I’ve finally taken them off my phone. The sculpture below had been placed on the beach, some distance from the tideline.
It’s like some grotesque Alan Moore-style reinvention. I was reading to my 10-month-old neice before she went to bed and someone passed me Dear Grandma Bunny a 1996 Miffy book. Children’s books are darker than they were when I was young. Dear Grandma Bunny begins:
"Why is Miffy so unhappy
On her cheek a tear is bright.
Do you know why she is crying?
Miffy’s grandma died last night"
First Mog and now this. What next?
(The book came from a Miffy library someone brought Liz as a present. They phoned her when they realised what Dear Grandma Bunny was about. Luckily my Mum found it funny).
That’s Not My Pony was a much better read.
I’m now relaxing in Melbourne, having completed my first week in the new job. As these things usually go I spent the first few days reading documentation and learning about the project. I’m very excited: I’ll be using Eclipse, EJB, SCRUM and various other exciting things. The office is quiet and I can’t wait for the first Sprint to start.
Coventry itself is beautiful, inside the ring road at least. The ruins of the old Coventry Cathedral are striking. I remember school assemblies where we were told about the Coventry miracle, the cross made of iron nails found in the ruins; it’s strange to finally see it. And there’s also the status of Lady Godiva, just outside Waterstones.
The only problem is a lack of connectivity. The town has lots of wifi-enable bars and cafes, but it would be good to have something more constant. Having said that, I’m getting a lot done in the evenings: working on my writing and reading.
I finished a few books in the last week, the best of which was Haruki Murakami‘s Norwegian Wood. I’ve read a couple of Murakami books and never really enjoyed them. I was surprised by this, since a number of people whose views I respect love his novels. I was about to give up on this one but my friend Kitty insisted I continued. After about chapter 5 it took off and became something remarkable. I’m glad I read it.
I’ve arrived safe and sound in Coventry after a lovely visit to Luton. This city isn’t the concrete hellhole people had suggested. At night, from the flyovers of the ring road it is incredibly beautiful. I can’t wait to explore.
Meanwhile. The job is going well. We’re going to be using SCRUM, which is great news. I’m enjoying the peace and quiet and doing lots of writing.
I’ll write a longer entry when I get to Derbyshire this weekend.
In the five weeks since leaving Sigmer I’ve read about 20 books, more than I’ve read in a long time. A number of the books were forgettable, but some were worth recommending, and possibly re-reading:
Jonathan Coe‘s Like a Fiery Elephant was an excellent biography of BS Johnson. It’s worth reading, even if you’ve never read Johnson (I recently wrote an entry about him).
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro is a short, brilliantly written novel about old age.
Pierre Bayard‘s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read was treated a little unfairly in the press, partly because of its provocative title. In fact the book is an excellent analysis of what reading is, and why it matters, particularly when so many books are forgettable (like the 15-or-so recent books I’m not mentioning here). It’s another short book, and well worth taking for a long journey or a couple of bathtimes.
Anne Fadiman‘s collection of essays, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader is another short book on reading, but even quirkier than Bayard’s. Fadiman talks about her experiences of books using anecdotes, such as the interior decorator who rearranged a friend’s bookshelves by colour; or her father who, when reviewing books while travelling, would tear out each page as he read to save weight.
I picked out Being Dead by Jim Crace at the second hand bookshop on Highfield Road because it looked like a bland literary novel and I was (for once) in the mood for something forgettable. In fact it was a haunting and brilliant novel, one of the best I’ve read in years. I’m now reading his collection The Devil’s Larder.
The biggest disappointment was a literary novel I read about quantum mechanics. I’ve read two books recently that straddled physics and literary theory and both have been irritating and poorly written. I discovered the recent one through a weblog recommendation and the Time Out reviewer is quoted on the cover, declaring that it ought to win the Booker. Instead I found the writing scrappy and the ideas dull. Maybe physics doesn’t lend itself well to literary fiction.