The Culture Diaries

It is vital for us to be immersed in the cultural flow to remain creative. Partaking of culture is where the artist gets so much of their nourishment from.  I thought it would be a lovely idea to ask creative people to contribute to an occasional blog where they share with us seven days of their cultural input.


'The world buries its treasures, despises its glories, and seeks contentment most readily in the places where it is least likely to be found. Fortunately for us, it is in just those unlikely places, that the opportunities and treasures of the world may often be found.' - Michael Chabon




Valerie O’Riordan
Valerie O’Riordan is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA in the University of Manchester. Her short fiction has been published widely online and in print, she was the winner of the 2010 Bristol Prize, and she was short-listed for the 2010 Bridport Prize in the flash fiction category. She used to work as a video editor in broadcast television, but these days she’s juggling novel-writing with baby-feeding. 

Monday
Today - oh, evil Monday - was dominated by writing-related paperwork; a tangentially cultural activity. As well as filing last year’s tax return (a pitiful document), I sent off my funding application to the Irish Arts Council. The biannual deadline for literature bursaries for Irish writers is this Thursday. I’ve been working on my first novel since finishing my Creative Writing MA last autumn, so I’ve asked for a grant to fund me while I work on the final draft this coming winter. It’ll be at least ten weeks before I hear back from them, and in the meantime, the current (second, third? I‘ve lost count) draft is far from healthy, so after the application was sent, I spent a couple of hours hacking and swearing at a malfunctioning chapter. I’ve got a very young baby in the house (three months next week) so there’s no such thing as an extended writing period. I swapped writing for critiquing later in the evening; I’m part of two writers’ groups, one online and one offline, and the offline group meets tomorrow, so I had to finish reading and commenting upon three pieces of work - two novel extracts and a short story. Terminator 2 wrapped up the day - tea and popcorn in front of the telly. Nice.

Tuesday 
I read all about art exhibitions today. Well, I proofread a section of my partner’s fine art PhD dissertation. He has to evaluate his own work as part of the assessment process for his practice-based PhD programme, so I was reading over the summary of his last four years of exhibitions - like keeping this diary, it made me reflect on how much had happened over that period, and how much I’d forget if it wasn’t documented. And then I watched Gilmore Girls on E4. This is a massively addictive show, and my main lunch-time treat and guilty pleasure. They run the series back-to-back constantly but I’ve still not seen every episode. Now, that’s a goal. At six o’clock, my writing group, Inklings, met in the pub for pints and gossip and a smidgeon of serious discussion, and I apologised for the shoddy handwriting in yesterday’s notes. I think I blamed the baby. 

Wednesday 
Wednesday was subdued. We drove to Bristol to attend the funeral of a good friend’s father. Listened to Modest Mouse CDs in the car on the way down - their first album, This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About, had become our official motorway CD. It’s probably my favourite album of all time, bleak and desperate as the lyrics are - and there’s a song about Dramamine, which makes my motion-sickness feel all special. Patti Smith’s Horses went on repeat for the return journey. Both of those albums I bought when I was on a student working visa to the USA eleven years ago. That makes me feel old. At home, I did a bit of writing/brainstorming; I’ve been asked to contribute to a new flash fiction anthology and I’ve got about three weeks to sort something out. Later I watched Kidulthood, on, I think, BBC3; I like teen dramas and urban settings, but this film was really disappointing - all stereotypes and no fresh thinking.

Thursday
I spent the morning reading Alan Hollinghurst’s new book, The Stranger’s Child - I’m reviewing it for Book munch - but as it’s massive and my reading-speed has slowed since the baby arrived, I’m only about a quarter of the way through and I’m not sure what to make of it, yet. Then I listened to an old Guardian books podcast from April, featuring Jennifer Egan, whose A Visit From The Goon Squad won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I’ve got one of her earlier books, The Keep, but I’ve yet to read it. Goon Squad sounds fantastic though, and pretty experimental, which I like, so I think I should shunt Egan closer to the top of the ’read soon’ list.  Then I did a very small spot of novel-editing before hooking the computer up to the telly and watching the first episode of The Killing on 4OD before catching the second one on C4+1. I like a good crime thriller, though I rarely read crime fiction. There’s a contradiction there that I should rectify.

Friday 
This morning I ordered A Visit From The Goon Squad from Waterstone’s after realising that I had five pounds worth of Waterstone’s points on my account. I buy less books than I used to these days because I’ve always got plenty to review and there’s only so much room in my flat, but there’s nothing like a brand-new book - the smell of the paper! - to get me excited. I read a little more of the Hollinghurst, but that was about it; we’re off to Bristol tomorrow for this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize award ceremony, so packing dominated the rest of today. It’s amazing how much baggage a tiny baby necessitates. Nappies, I curse thee.

Saturday 
After a stop-off in Ikea outside Birmingham, we reached Bristol at lunchtime. I read the first couple of pages of Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture in the hotel room before heading over to the Arnolfini for the literary shenanigans. (I’ll be reviewing Barry’s new book soon, and I’ve had The Secret Scripture sitting unread in my bedroom for two years now, so it’s time I cracked that spine.) Then we headed off to check out the very first ever ShortStoryVille, a day-long festival celebrating the short story, culminating in the prize-giving for the Bristol Prize itself. Joe Melia (aka Mister Bristol Prize) did himself proud sorting this one out - I’m only sorry we didn’t get to every event. We arrived in time to hear Stuart Evers and Helen Oyeyemi read from and talk about their recent books; after that, I had to stand in front of the crowd and introduce the final event, a series of readings from local writers, including Tania Hershman, who’s on the judging panel for the Bristol Prize itself. I won the Prize last year, so that’s why I was subjecting the audience to my ramblings. After the readings, and the Prize ceremony, I bought a copy of the anthology with all the winning stories and got it autographed by this year’s winner, Emily Bullock, before catching up with billions of writing pals in the bar, some of whom I hadn’t seen in a year, others whom I’d never seen in the flesh before. All very tiring. Back at the hotel we went for a late-night swim - is that cultural? It certainly felt fancy.

Sunday
Before driving back to Manchester we popped back into the Arnolfini to see their current exhibition - Haugue Yang with a bit of Felix Gonzalez-Torres thrown in - which we’d missed yesterday, and it was excellent. I’d really recommend it, especially his brilliant sculptures made of light bulbs and household blinds. Then on to Birmingham, where I met an old friend to show off the baby and drink an unhealthy amount of coffee. She gave me a CD mix-tape for the baby (Kimya Dawson!) which kept us singing up the M6 and through the Old Testament rain. And at home we collapsed and watched Top Gun. I had another crack at the Hollinghurst but it’s a very heavy book and it’s much easier to flop out and criticise Tom Cruise than it is to balance a hefty hardback above a sleeping child. I hope there’ll be a little more reading and a little less travelling next week. I’m supposed to be on maternity leave, after all. 
~




Clare DeVries
Clare Floyd DeVries is an architect, a collage artist, an award-winning theater set and production designer, and, in her extra time, sometimes she writes a bit… She lives in Texas, USA.

Tuesday 10 August 2010
This morning I procrastinated writing my creative-process book by visiting the 2Dgoggles website.  These steampunk-comics feature the crime fighting duo Lady Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage.  In the latest episode street music is criminalized, evil is an organist, and there are not-so-flying monkeys.

More fun than honest toil!  And that’s before I built the on-line Thaumatrope kit.

This slacking was interrupted by my scenic design apprentice.  He’s been designing but wants to learn more so has voluntarily – for free! – apprenticed himself.  Ambitious.  Flattering too.  I have no formal theater training either, but with a hundred + shows and architecture…  I guess he figures I can give hints, if only of the “don’t make my mistake” kind.  He brought sketches for “Noises Off!”  Staging it is tricky in his theater as the proscenium is too short to fit a two-story set under.  Not just fit under, rotate-under, so audience sees front and back!
I gave architect-y advice on squashing and building this monster.  Afterwards,
a happy hour with books on Tudor half-timbered houses.

Finished notes on a new play, “Charm” by Kathleen Cahill, about Margaret Fuller and the Transcendentalists - mostly hanging out at Walden Pond.  A few scenes will be tough at Kitchen Dog Theater, which has no proscenium.  Would my apprentice switch theaters?  More research and scribble-y sketches for a first meeting with the director.

The director liked most of my ideas and had interesting angles.  A good start.  This is going to be a weird and wonderful production… all blues and watery colors except that RED tomatoes may become strangely important. 

Home late - no dinner though I got desert - to hear that the director of “Bach at Liepzig” (my other show a-building) called, but will leave an email.  Dread.


Wednesday
No email yet.  Continuing dread.

Sent 2Dgoggles link to the “Charm” director.  Margaret Fuller and Ada Lovelace were near contemporaries - fun to meet them at the same dinner party!

Finally got that email, a line in the rehearsal report: “Can we darken the set?”  Which I’d intended as we move from base to finish paint.  Wasted dread.  The best kind.

Attended an architectural lunch on designing theater and music performance spaces.  Cool bit: electronic systems exist that can mimic the resonance of a huge symphony hall in even a small, acoustically “dead” room.

Spent much of the day repairing the horn of a borrowed Victrola (a prop in an earlier show) so I can return it.  A passenger in my car unknowingly shoved his seat back into it - like exploding a lily!  As I glued, I re-watched Firefly, Joss Whedon’s fun western-in-space TV show.

Shopped for fabric to use in “Bach at Liepzig” but the only stuff I liked – right colors, period, and ecclesiastical look - was 20 $/yd.  18 $/yd too much.

Gossiped with a friend about the mass exit of the prop dept.from Dallas’s Big Important Theater.  She’s going to try for one of those jobs.  Is this wise?

Watched Anthony Hopkins’ Wolfman on DVD.   Melodramatic and needlessly gory.  Plus you’d think a werewolf would dust his evil estate a little.


Thursday
Emailing with “Charm” director as ideas percolate.  The playwright mentioned Rousseau’s paintings.  Wonderful.  Also need to investigate 19th C botanical illustrations: I’m thinking giant ferns…  Finished Victrola repairs - gold spray paint the last step.

This afternoon I head for Fort Worth, stopping at fabric warehouses.  I hope to help paint the set – at any rate I’ll miss rush hour which turns the drive from one hour into two.  Chat with builders; paint or visit the Kimbell (the great museum by Louis Kahn housing Old and newer Masters); dinner; 6:30 production meeting. 

Wrong.

Leap in the car after discovering the producer expected me first thing in the morning.  Skipped fabric stores.  Gave up listening to Joyce’s Ulysses in the car as the sound is weird – it gets softer and softer while Ulysses needs all the clarity it can get.  Arrived to Circle Theatre at noon.  Consulted with carpenters and painter.  Scumbled: painted three shades of stone color together slap-slap-slap to create a lively wall finish.  BIG improvement on the pale base paint.  It also adds virtual depth to replace real depth lost in revisions.  Sword-fighters demand so much room!

Carpenters gossiped about their Big Local Theater… heading straight for the Hot Place.  Early pizza with writing.  Then the meeting - short - the best kind.

All is well until I got back to my car.  I’d brought the Victrola in case I got a chance to return it and the August day’s heat (104 F outside, hotter inside) slowly exploded it again!  Like a banana unpeeling itself.

I could weep.  I really could.

At home, to calm myself I read a chunk of D. E. Stevenson’s Miss Buncle.  
A quiet village spinster writes a best-seller with her fellow villagers in it – funny.  British writers between the wars (WWI & II) often give the soothing feeling of an innocent time pressed between the pages like violets.  Bad stuff going on elsewhere, but within their books is a kinder world.  True even of the classic murder mystery writers: Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Ngio Marsh, and Josephine Tey.  Her Bratt Farrar is my top favorite.


Friday
Did visit fabric stores. Found just enough tapestry and coordinating fabric:
1.50 $/yd!  Frabjous day!  Plus wonderful shimmery, watery green sheers for “Charm” (bed hangings, I think), but I had to splurge: 2 $/yd.

Listened to Michael Chabon’s Summerland in the car (lots of driving).  Love this quirky save-the-worlds quest.  There is a lovely description of baseball as a contraption to make you pay attention to a summer’s afternoon.

The painter and I finished the “Bach” set.  Looks good.  One area is now possibly too dark, but since that’s not easily adjustable, it will have to do.

Saw the new Julia Roberts film, Eat, Pray, Love; pretty scenery, not a lot of plot. 

Read a book on how to get your non-fiction book published.  This involves more “building your platform” (website, blog, tweets, public speaking, getting on radio and TV, becoming World Expert etc.) than I’d imagined.  Naively, I thought you had to write a good book.


Saturday
Wrote on my non-fiction book – silly waste of time when I should be tweeting!

Watched Peter Sellers' Pink Panther.  Still very funny with masterful physical gags, but movies are cut to a faster pace 40 years later. 


Sunday
Library books overdue.  Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit may make the fine worthwhile, however.

Prep for an architectural programming meeting tomorrow.  A civic theater may relocate and I’m helping evaluate buildings.  First we have to learn their space and function needs.  Their existing building is too rambling to make a good guide, so I’m making square foot comparisons.  And agendas.  Agendum?  Agendi?

Procrastinating re: Victrola repair to write this.  What else can I do?  Email my apprentice about Tuesday.  Museum field trip?  Book store?  Too hot for outdoor sketching: it’s 103 F, I think, again today.

Reading Carl Hiaasen’s Stormy Weather.


Monday
Spent most of the day prepping for the architectural meeting.

Spent most of the meeting arguing local politics re: this project...
…almost none discussing the (wonderful!) potential of a new facility.  I think I can design something special, but am now sure politics will get in the way.  Sigh. 

Looking forward to tomorrow: a nice quiet day of Victrola repair.  And designing “Charm.”   Life is good at my drawing board…  


~



Rachel Cox
Rachel Cox is a 14 year old student from Sheffield who I met recently when I was invited as a guest into her school to do a reading and some creative writing exercises. All the young people I worked with that day were fantastic, brave and wonderful people. They really put themselves into the work and rose to the challenges I set them. It was one of the few times when working in a school that I didn't have to dumb down my input. Rachel's own writing took my breath away, I found her commitment to reading and writing astounding, and suggested she send some of her work into the Foyle's Young Poets competition. I told the group about these cultural diaries and Rachel said she would like have a go at doing one..


Monday
I got a new notebook today. Not very exciting on its own, BUT, this is going to be my new poetry book. I’m very excited about it. Sad? Yes. Very sad. But its one of those in significant details what light up my week.

I read more of The Princess Diaries, Gimme Me Five by Meg Cabot. I’ve had the collection for ages, but never got round to starting them. Up until about two months ago, that is. I don’t get too much time to read, but when I do, I go on a reading binge.

Tuesday 
I got to use my new notebook day!  I wrote two new poems; Writer’s Block and July Storm. I’m quite proud of them actually. I would put them here, but that would prevent me from entering them into any competitions etc.

I’m a bit of an unusual teenager.  I don’t enjoy television that much, in contrast to my mum, step-dad and sister. They’re always watching crime programmes and I disagree with them because I think I resembles what a dismal place our world can be. But that’s just me.

Wednesday 
Oh my word. Has anybody seen Schindler’s list? Well, I watched it after school today as part of the history topic. Wow. I have never cried so much so many times at different pints in a film. It’s so sad. Two boys behind me laughed when a man stepped on a piano so I turned around and had a go at him. I had no idea how someone could be so insensitive. I was furious.

I could hardly do anything all day. I was a bit emotional. That sounds really pathetic, but I cry at anything.  Remember Me, Homeward Bound even Monsters Inc. I can’t bring myself to watch The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas or Titanic. I felt it necessary to write a poem about it. I think it needs a bit of work though.

Thursday
I went to see Toy Story 3 today with my mum and sister. Oh, it’s excellent. I laughed so much. It’s quite sad though. I nearly cried again. But I think we’ve established I cry at a lot of things.
I got a chance to read more of my book. I’ve only got a couple of chapters to go.
I worked on my Schindler’s List poem. I think it’s better now.

Friday 
It was the last day of school today. We watched so many DVDs. It’s supposed to be a treat, but it can get a bit tedious…. But I don’t care now. I have SUMMER! I can’t wait to go to the cinema, bowling shopping , read my entire bookshelf three times over and what ever else takes my fancy. Yayyyy…..

Saturday 
Erm, is dancing classed as cultural? Well, I had dancing today. I think my legs might actually fall off. Not a good feeling…

I had a Rowan Atkinson marathon in the afternoon. Blackadder Series 2 never fails to amuse. Johnny English is awesome too.

Read some of my book today.  I’ve two chapters left…

Sunday
I went shopping today to Meadowhall. I got some of my new school stuff already. The early bird gets the worm…

Other than that I haven’t done much. I’m planning my outfit for my Auntie Gill’s 50th-pirate-birthday-party-a-year-early-because-she’s-in-Switzerland-for-her-actual-fiftieth. Her decking is going to be a pirate ship. It’s gonna be awesome.


~


Jane Espenson

Jane Espenson has written for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Battlestar Galactica, and Caprica among other series.  She has also written an episode of HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones and is co-creator of Syfy's Warehouse 13. She writes comic books, webisodes, and edits books of pop culture essays. She is currently developing new projects.

Day 1 - Saturday
I start the day as I often do on Saturday, by watching the previous day's Tivo'd new episode of The Soup.  A cultural diary in its own right.

Internet surfing. JoshReads.com is my current obsession, along with my friend's blog mlinla.com. JoshReads is second level pop culture, since it's a blog about comic strips.  Inspired!

On Twitter, my friend Cheeks (@GoCheeksGo) has Tweeted a link to a new video he made -- a "deception analysis" of 
Lindsay Lohan's recent court appearance. It's retweeted by Perez Hilton and becomes an instant hit.  There's a flurry of Tweet activity.

I have a meeting about a stage project I'm working on.  I select a director and the project clicks forward one more notch.

In my car, I listen to an audiobook: 
Reagan: The Hollywood Years by Marc Eliot. Jane Wyman is a piece of work.  Fantastic.

I attend a fundraiser in the evening at which a short documentary about Costa Rica is screened. It was shot specifically for the fundraiser -- media made to order.  Very effective.

Day 2 - Sunday
A friend emails me a link to a 
60 Minutes piece.  I immediately make a reservation at the restaurant that is mentioned.

I read four chapters of "Gay L.A." by Lillian Faderman and Stuart Timmons.

I watch 48 Hours Mystery.  I love true crime stories.  I read everything Ann Rule writes.

I look over the typeset pages of a book of essays that I'm editing.  Looks good to me!

Day 3 - Monday

Half-watch the Home Run Derby.

I field emails about the upcoming San Diego Comic Con.  Emailing about an event at which I'm signing copies of books and comic books that derive from television shows... there are many layers of consumable culture there.

I read and post to Twitter as I do most evenings.  Let's take that as a given from here out.

Day 4 - Tuesday
More emails about the stage project and about Comic Con.

The All-Star game is on in the background, but I cannot claim to have really watched it.

Day 5 - Wednesday
Watched Work of Art. One of my favorite new shows. These shows are largely about casting and they did a good job.  My friends and I speculate that they are having to disguise the dominance of one of the contestants to make the outcome appear to be in doubt.

It's my birthday, so there is more email than usual.  I have wonderful friends.

Day 6 - Thursday
Watched Top Chef.

I order dinner and have it delivered.  I like to eat while watching Top Chef.  The ease of using the internet both to order delivery food and to make restaurant reservations has made my dining life easier and more varied.

Day 7 - Friday
I work a half day and then go to see Inception with my colleagues.

I have dinner at the restaurant I heard about through the 60 Minutes piece.  One of the best meals ever.  My friends and I have become big fans of molecular cuisine. (Which we learned about on Top Chef.)

I listen to more of the Reagan audiobook in the car.  Jane Wyman continues to be a piece of work.

I firm up plans for another meeting about my mysterious stage project.  It's starting to feel very real.

My friend @GoCheeksGo posts another Twitter link that I like and 
RT 
I watch "The Soup," and catch up on everything I missed for one more week!

~




John Siddique
DAY 1 - Saturday
I'm first up as usual, and in a Led Zeppelin mood, so after meditation, I make breakfast with the door wide open to let the sun in, Physical Graffiti rocks the sound system.

I make a CD up for the Car from my current playlist that I keep on my iPod. Here's the playlist if you want hear what we're grooving to:


  • Maula Mere Maula - Anwar
  • Qu'ran - Brian Eno & David Byrne
  • Subterraneans - David Bowie
  • Out Of Dawn - Yello
  • Celestica - Crystal Castles
  • Houses In Motion - Talking Heads
  • With Flowers In the Garden Of Fires - Current 93
  • Life On Mars? - David Bowie
  • Ne me quitte pas - Jacques Brel
  • Parasite - How to Destroy Angels
  • Turn Up the Night - Black Sabbath
  • 1970 - Boris
  • Living After Midnight - Judas Priest
  • A National Acrobat - Black Sabbath
  • A Drowning - How to Destroy Angels


    We head over to Bradford, in search of Hindi films thinking that the library in Bradford would have a special section. Unfortunately the staff we met must have previously worked in supermarkets on the tills as they didn't know what stock they had. It turns out they don't have Hindi movies despite having a very large South Asian descended population. Perhaps this is on purpose so they can't be accused of always giving those damn Pakis what they want. Over to the Media museum and they have a load of old games consoles and machines. We pick up the film diary and I play Galaxian for the first time in forever.. 
    HIGH SCORE, I RULE..

    Then Over to the impressions gallery where there is the most wonderful photography exhibition by Max Kandhola. FLATLAND are his British landscape tradition inspired images of the Indian Punjab. there are pictures of my own ancestral homeland of Jullundur, which thrills me. Though he uses the post partition spelling of the area's name.

    We were meant to go hear music by our composer friend Katie Chatburn, but my love is feeling poorly, so have an evening at home, rewatching Buffy series one, and a latter episode of the Sherlock Holmes with the wonderful Jeremy Brett.

    We go for a bit of a drive - sometimes we just do this at night. It had rained and the evening was steamy and sensual so we headed out into the darkening evening and drove for an hour or so. No music playing, just talking, driving, being together. Back home to find Led Zeppelin are the nation's favourite rockband on BBC2. See told you Led Zep day.

    Day 2 - Sunday
    Letter in the Independent on Sunday from a number of British Writers, including myself, in Support of Palestine.

    Over to Manchester to see the lovely Jackie Kay launch her memoir 'Red Dust Road.'

    On the way to The People's History Museum where jackie is reading we come across a couple of young guys playing Flamenco guitar in the Arndale Shopping mall. They are brilliant. Jackie has us all in pieces laughing at her tales. Her uncanny knack to get you laughing at tricky things is astonishing.. but what is even more impressive is that she is such a pure soul. Some git has posted a crappy review of her book on Amazon without even reading it. The web lacks democracy as there is no way to get it off there. I suffered this with my last book too. Some arsehole who has never read one giving a one star review cos what.. I have a funny name, or I didn't select your poem as the greatest thing of all time when I was judging a competition or something. I feel for Jackie suffering from crappy amazonitis so will head over and give her many stars..

    Float around Manchester, brilliant city - the people are much more stylish than in London, sorry London tis true. The Compact nature of the place really helps too.. If it had the arts and theatre of London it would be perfect.

    Evening - More Sherlock. 


    Day Three - Monday
    Read round a few Blogs, America isn't awake for hours yet - Look to see if any reaction to the IOS letter.

    Read a handful of poems by Rumi.
    My Children's book is published this month, in stock from next week I'm told, so It's time to get flexing into a children's author for a while.. Strange writing in several areas - it's almost like being a different writer for each type of book.

    a seemingly endless day of work today. Book ideas, preparation for a day in a school tomorrow, doing documentation and preparation on a number of my short films to send them off to a film festival.

    HOME - Phew but more film work to do, recoding NTSC to PAL, burning discs - but managing to listen to Boom Jackie Boom Chick, by Paul Gonsalves as I work. My love is cooking up a storm, and I'm straddling several computers at the same time.... wonderful Jazz.

    Just Downloaded the 
    McSweeney's app for my phone.. should help with those between moments at lunch time and all that when I'm in schools over the next few weeks.

    Day 4 - Tuesday
    En route to Blackburn, have 15 mins advantage.. So I stop at the M65 services at junction 4.. the poet needs coffee.
    AHHH.... I love coffee served in a resentful manner, a bitter twist to the morning just to help keep perspective.. Be loving and strong. Kinks and Bowie playing on the tannoy thing.. Today I'm working with 9 year olds. I have the power of literature to light them up. I keep it in a special box. Poems selected for their reality, energy, and humanity.. 
    As we write we listen to some Bach quietly in the background. 30 nine year olds succumb to the music and go quiet and concentrated as they work.. awesome..

    Day 5 - Wednesday
    Roundhay School in Leeds today - 14 year olds. We watch my little films that I've been working on with my friends in LA, read lots of poems Whitman, Lawrence, They are blown away by Raymond Carver.. and we write. Apart from that I watch Betty Blue on DVD at home but miss the last hours as I fall asleep face down on the white rug in the lounge room.

    Day 6 - Thursday
    Can't sleep properly so wake early and read Jung's - The Undiscovered Self in bed. Up, Meditate, Office - listening to Ravel's 'La Mer' and Rolling Stones "Exile on Main Street' as I stuff envelopes for a marketing push. The evening consists of watering the garden, eating, and another episode of dear old Sherlock Holmes.. More Jung at bedtime but the words don't fit into my mind..

    Day 7 Friday
    Back to Leeds to read to a conference full of Educators, I also run a session for them on the problems of statistic modelling and literacy.. don't ask.. They have my new children's book in their bookshop, I have no idea how they managed that, it is not out until next week, and I don't have a copy even...

    I'm so tired after all the education stuff that I have no idea how I got along the motorway.. 

    Email the evening away. I'm tired as a grumpy grizzly.. So we have a huge falling out and eat in separate rooms.. All is well before bed with the lovely clear air that comes after such storms. Only input I take today is radio 4 in the car there is a fantastic short story on about a girl blinded by an aerosol can.. written from her father's point of view..as they set about getting her a guide dog.. no idea who wrote it.