Friday, August 28, 2009

A Day - Saturday 29th August 2009



05.53 Wake and rise almost immediately. Ayako wakes too and worries about the cats. It's 12C outside and they come inside as soon as the front door is opened. Koko sleeps on unaware on the floor beside Ayako even as Cecil creeps into the bedroom. He slips up onto the bed and curls up beside Ayako. She's happy and murmurs as she goes back to sleep.

05.55 Open the curtains and make coffee. Fill Koko's water bowl. Bring the coffee back to my study and sit quietly. Pranayama. Prayers of thanks to Baba for me, my family and friends, and requests for help (and today thanks for having helped) those who are ill or suffering. Several Gayatri Mantras. Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu.

06.09 Finish prayers and then coffee. Start laptop up (which has been in sleep mode; it's rarely turned off.) Determine to write a day's journal. Watch the light come up (sunrise today is 06.08 according to the iPhone. Sunset at 19.58. The glass is high: 1038). The sun gilds the magnolia leaves and lights the bedroom windows. No rose at my window today.

06.16 Koko comes by and waits to be let out. She always get up up at this time. She does her rounds of the garden and comes in for a biscuit before going back to bed.

6.18 begin work. What's to be done today? Writing, photographs, letters, banking. I must send some photos to June (Gracey). I had sent her some of the visit to Coventry earlier in the week, but now have the Herbert Museum press release photos. She's only had one of me with Ayako and Kei before. I have been trying to remember what i said I would send people from Colin Balfour's funeral. Was there something to send to Juliet (Birch Reynardson / Stewart-Brown)? I will e-mail Bill BR as we hadn't managed to see each other since he dashed off to Les Azuriales.

06.22 The sun is throwing weak shadows on the bedroom wall, but the sky is clear. I see that it's not yet risen above the trees, but it's going to be a lovely day after the stormy autumn weather of Friday (28th August). Koko comes in from the garden and I get her a biscuit from the kitchen. Parky is on a chair watching the cooker where the mice live. Koko lies down in the corridor. Silence.

06.35 I have been writing on the laptop, but haven't yet looked at e-mail or Facebook, or checked Twitter. I had suggested to Lucy Brooke at the funeral that she contact Justin on FB, as she said that she remembered him very fondly and wanted to know where he was and what he as doing, but she said rather dismissively that she didn't have time for it. It's funny how people turn down the opportunity to catch up with old friends that they would love to see or hear from, just because of prejudice against the the medium.

06.40 Look at a postcard from Cecilia and Ham who are back at their favourite place for a break - Morton's Hotel at Corfe. Look at a postcard from June Gracey, thanking me for photos of Dunley. She was shocked by the changes; said that she much preferred the old simple style. It's now rather overdressed.

06.44 Look at a credit card statement. Boodle has managed to use £190 for Kate's mobile phone. She was going to contact us this week but hasn't. Probably too late now as she must be going back to Australia. Also on the statement is Kei's Mac and iPod Touch and three vet's bills. Much higher than usual this month but luckily the payment received from Skandia will cover it all. Put it on Ayako's desk as she uses that card and always reconciles her statement with her credit card slips. I don't (bar looking down them to see if there's anything out of the ordinary. I look now at mine, and see that Radha has put her car insurance on it as she warned me she would. I have 99,000 Coutts 'points' which might be enough for a flight to Sydney, as I have been deciding that I should visit in the autumn - probably in November.

06.53 Look at an invitation from the Friends of the Marlborough Telescope for the National Trust FETTU (From Earth to the Universe) launch party - on 5th September when I shall be away (or only just back). Am already missing Makiko Hiratsuka's Mozart recital that day. Decide to put something on the Journal about both events and write to Marlborough to find out where the Hubble images will be available on the internet (apart from the Hubble site itself, which may well be the answer)

06.56 The sun is still not showing above the trees and it's quite cold; my nose is running despite my having a jersey over my shoulders. Koko has gone back to bed and Parky is stalking about.

07.01 Pay a penalty charge for driving in a bus lane. Have been deliberating whether to challenge it as I can't remember doing so and never usually do, but this was on the day that I was picking up the Lexus in Colindale. I hate these automatic fines for tiny infringements. There's absolutely no mens rea or even inconvenience to the buses. I'm expecting a fine from a mobile camera for speeding on the Hog's Back too, although it hasn't arrived yet. And Ayako has just received one for speeding in Harrow - on dual carriageway with absolutely no danger to anyone or anything else. But I did get them to cancel one sent from a camera last month for 'parking' in Smugglers' Way, when I simply stopped for a few moments to make a phone call from the car.

07.09 A sliver of sun is showing on the bedroom wall beside the magnolia. The laptop makes its usual platform announcement noise to tell me that someone has logged on to Skype. Australia's on line but not yet Kei who is in Sydney with James, staying with Boodle.

07.21 Give up trying to pay the bus lane fine online. The system's not working. The sun is up now, lighting my bookcase. 'Lapin' is waving.

07.22 Kate arrives to take Koko for her morning walk. She's earlier than usual today as she's going later to stay with her mother in the country for the weekend.

07.38 Pay bills and send off papers to accountants. Statement to Y. Sunlight flooding the drawing room. Ayako and the cats are asleep.

07.41 Look at e-mail and other comms. Check spam folder and recover a couple on non-spams as usual. Ramesh in hospital with pnuemonia after an operation on his pelvis. Doesn't sound good. Seeing Wayne Liquorman on 19th Sept who will be closely in touch.

07.48 Check Facebook. Nothing much there and nothing from Sydney. Hide several apps that friends like to use.

07.54. Check Twitter. Zenera has seen Herry the Herrison (heron) and reply. Susan, having recovered from cancer, is quiet.

07.57 Begin to feel like breakfast. But will walk and shower first. 13.3C

08.56 Walk, shower and breakfast over. Took a few photos of my favourite houses in the sun on my walk around the block which covers about a kilometre and takes 10 minutes. Breakfast in the cafe with Ayako and the cats, who sniff at my boiled egg.

09.00 Start Outlook. Check to do list. Have to send out 200+ invitations to the Fine Cell event at the Leathersellers' Hall on 19th November. Also some work to do on charitable donations via the Inland Revenue website and renewal of private health insurance (getting more expensive of course). 16C

09.17 Start work on a letter to June Gracey and an e-mail to Keith Railton, chairman of The Herbert trustees and to Ludo Keston, the CEO (recently joined and formerly CEO of Stratford). We met in Coventry earlier in the week and a press release was out out as a result.

10.30 Complete the e-mail to Railton and Keston and send it.

10.31 Leave with Ayako and Koko for shopping and the Koko's walk. First to the Chinese laundry in Battersea to drop off and collect stuff. I wait in the car while Ayako goes in. She talks to a young man wanting his Gucci suit invisibly mended. We then go to B&Q and I wait while she gets some more Ronseal (she is treating the Lutyens garden bench) and then go and walk Koko in Spencer Park. Glorious bright day and now a little warmer (19C). We are early so there are none of the usual dogs and their walkers there. We usually see Jo, a spry 70 year old with three dogs, but our friend Annick, who was also a regular, had her dog put down a few weeks ago and so no longer goes. (Ayako's painting of Othello given as a present the week Othello died, is here).

11.50 Return and resume writing this journal and the letter to June Gracey. I should have gone to the post office to get more stamps but it'll soon be closed as it's Saturday. But I may have enough.....

12.19 Look at Facebook and see that Kei has reported on her day in Sydney - Fort Dennison and The Rocks. Write a bit on The Sand's End restaurant / pub / cafe that Nicholas and Julian Waldemar-Brown took us to for lunch yesterday. An instant favourite. Reported on Qype and Facebook with photos.

12.22 Resume writing to June. Several photos of Coventry and two of Ivor Pugh that June has asked for and Anthony and Mary Pugh had sent me, to be included. Write descriptions on the backs. June was obviously keen on Ivor when she was young. In one photo of him taken in 1941 he is in uniform; the same year June herself married Capt Milo Vapenik at Stoneleigh.

13.15. Complete letter to June Gracey. Ready for posting but it may be too big to go in the box, so Kate will take it on Monday.

13.20. Lunch in the garden. It's not that warm - it's about 22C, but there's a cool wind. Smoked salmon salad. H. Forman's smoked salmon from Waitrose. it's pretty good. We keep the best - from Partridges at the Duke of York's, for parties.

13.40. Reading. I've just finished book two of the Millennium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire. They are terrific detective novels by a Swede, Steig Larsson. The third one will be published in English translation in October. Kei has also read the first, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and took the second one with her to Sydney.

In the same vein - and actually how I came to Larsson's books - I love the Kurt Wallender dectective novels by Henning Mankell. And if not those, something by Jeffrey Deaver. But I'm not reading detective novels this afternoon; I'm re-reading one of Eckhart Tolle's marvellous books that are both highly advaitan and also excellent psychology. I will put some excerpts onto my recently begun spiritual journal.

I read The Economist and an old speech by Harry Kacic about the historic misunderstanding after the First World War that led to the creation of a Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. What he had to say then (1991) was very prescient. I never managed to read any Tolle!

15.12 Kei rings from Sydney on the main phone. All well. She tried to get us on Skype but I was in the cafe reading and snoozing in my favourite chair (which the cats have tried to commandeer) and didn't hear it.

15.32. Deal with some e-mails: one from Julian Waldemar-Brown who gave us lunch yesterday, and who I have been helping with his anti-piracy business, Maritime Threat Resolution. Another helping my old prep school, St Ronan's, tracking down old boys. Today is quiet and the flurry of e-mails on piracy and the organising the Drapers' Almshouse outing to Winchester in September, has subsided.

15.43 Drive to the gym, Esporta in Smugglers' Way, listening to Radio Four on the way there and back (about two miles). I work out for about 35 minutes from 4 o'clock (the latest I can go in as I have a 'days only' membership), using eleven machines and some recently recommended floor exercises. It's a bit of a bore, and its a pity to be exercising inside on a lovely day when one could go for a long walk instead, but as I rarely do the latter, the gym keeps me relatively fit. Fortunately I don't suffer from any aches and pains yet, unlike so many of my contemporaries. On Radio Four I usually listen to the marvellousAmerica, Empire of Liberty series by David Reynolds. It's now on my iPhone as a series of podcasts.

16.40 Tea - Earl Grey at my desk. Carrying the bench that Ayako has been painting outside now that it's dry. It looks very well.

16.48 Resume the St Ronan's e-mail. I can point them to George Greenwood, a colleague in the mutual insurance world, Michael Cowdy, who became bursar of one of the Cambridge colleges, Puggy Stephens, whose father ran Bain, Stephens Poole and whose mother had been such a sensation on the tennis court and one of the Saumarez-Smiths.

17.00 Drinks outside. Ayako doesn't usually drink as it upsets her tummy and also interferers with her midnight meditation, but today's an exception. We have a bottle of Two Roads, a lovely South African sauvignon semillon and some Asda rice crackers which are delicious, and talk over the day. The robin comes and feeds on the bird table. Koko sits with Ayako on her chair. I take a photo on my iPhone and send it to Kei in Sydney. Later, when it turns cold, we move so that we are still in the sun. Belin Martin sends an e-mail that I pick up on my iPhone and I ring. We talk about Colin Balfour's funeral and I come inside to send her the photos. We are sorry not to be able to join them on their ruby wedding holiday in France.

18.30 Supper of pasta. A slight contretemps about Mozart!

19.00 Return to writing and Ayako clips the lavender into a huge plastic bag. Get a reply from Ludo Keston and adjust the Herbert website to provide a link to the Herbert's historian.

19.30 Ayako goes for her bath - a candle bath in which no backscrubbing is required.

20.00 Ayako finishes her bath and I retire to the sofa in the drawing room. I have just got a book on Japanese cinema which I thought would interest Ayako (it does) and Kei and I read that. I also have the Economist and the Tolle. Later a murder mystery comes on, chosen by Ayako. I never touch the TV controls and watch whatever she is watching. I usually have my iPhone with me and use it to read and check things while watching. This time though the film is a good one and I concentrate on that.

21.30. Ayako's tired as she's not used to drinking these days, and goes to bed early. I move Koko's bed from her place by the fire in the drawing room to the bedside. Koko follows slowly as it's a little earlier than she's used to.

10.15. Go round the house locking up. Bed. Ayako's already asleep as she's not meditating tonight. I can't massage her back as I usually do. Koko snores slightly. But sleep comes quickly as always.