We’re fairly clean people.

I actually listen to the voice that tells me that that extra fifteen minutes in bed isn’t worth bothering with. This allows me some stretching exercises. I’ll mark this down as some kind of victory, then.

Sitting: the power trio again. The Mot?rhead of doing nothing.

Hernan has come for breakfast. Muscular conversation for that early in the morning. The Shaggs are recommended, or if not exactly recommended, then mentioned.

An hour’s AAD. Or today, ADD, due to sleepiness. I usually put this down to not enough coffee rather than not enough sleep. Will stick with the new order of exercises, though, as they make more sense.

Whenever I sweep the bathroom, no matter how long I leave it, there’s exactly the same amount of gunge on the floor, so either it’s a self-regulating system down there or someone has taken it upon themselves to regunge the floor with exactly the same amount of gunge, each time I sweep up. How does that floor get that gungy? We’re fairly clean people.

Then there is a meeting in the Ballroom to discuss Vayu-Prana and other matters. After this, Hernan gives me some sound advice.

Outside the sun has decided to put in another appearance. The German sun is either haughty or shy, it’s difficult to tell which.

At two thirty there’s a house meeting. Christian appears. Just you and me then, I say. No, actually, just me. I don’t encircle as this can be painful when there’s just the one of you. I vacuum the entire ground floor of the house. Sweeping may be the work of the craftsman or artisan, but vacuuming actually lifts the dirt.

At four o’clock I stop and have tea. As there’s just the one of me I don’t bother moving the biscuits out of the kitchen, I just take the ones I want, make a cup of Ovomaltine (different from Ovaltine, apparantly) and go and sit on the bench in the sun with my copy of AE Waite’s book on the Tarot. I find this book much more interesting since I came to the conclusion that it’s all cobblers. Ovomaltine drunk I lie in the sun. Inside the house the others return from their missions. Christian comes out for a chat.

At Five, there’s a meeting with the treasurer. It’s a fairly short meeting, and then I give the treasurer the money she asked for.

At six I go to prepare dinner, though I really don’t know what to do. I chop various ingredients, arrange them on a plate and call them salad. This is not an entirely successful strategy, but as it turns out I’ve inadvertantly arranged them in a smiley face.

During the preparation I receive the only two calls I’ve got in a couple of weeks within five minutes of each other. One of these is confirming next week in Walker, the other is RyanAir telling me that the flight’s been moved to Hamburg airport tomorrow.

After dinner I work with the registrar on the website.

At 21:30 there’s a meeting with guitars in a pentacle formation. Actually it’s a circle, but you could make a pentacle if you so desired. Much circulating in D major and a run through Zucchini Sweet, which I last heard in the original studio version, mixing mode.

After that I spend a lot of time working on inversions of jazz chords, which is incredibly satisfying, especially when you get into pulling them out of diminished chords. But will I remember all these? Doesn’t matter. I spend half an hour on the first two bars of Round Midnight alone.

They could be lettuces.

Again the struggle to get out of bed. I’m telling myself that the ten minutes between now and when I really have to get out of bed and go to the Sitting is so minor that I might as well get up, but I’m not listening to myself.

Another triumvirate.


The AAD work is good – I rearrange the order I do things, following a suggestion from Daniel, and it makes a tremendous difference.

I’m on coffee & tea. Today, Fernando doesn’t let me make the mistake of allowing it to distract me from the AAD work, so I get to the completion of that without feeling the need to rush out and put the kettle on. I even do some non-AAD related exercises.

I realise it’s five minutes into quiet time just after making quite a lot of noise. It’s an effective way of finding out we’re into quiet time, though not as good as actually paying attention to the schedule.

The weather has gone all glowering and miserable again.

After lunch there’s work in the garden – planting cabbages, I think. They could be lettuces. It’s difficult to tell at that size, and as I might have mentioned before, I’m not a botanist. Using my finger as a dibber for perhaps the first time in my life.

A dibber is something you make holes to plant things in with. Some people are surprised to discover they have a name.

I prepare tea, or at least arrange small biscuits on a plate. These are Spanish biscuits from last weeks’ care package.

There is a meeting with PowerLady regarding the website and matters arising. This doesn’t take very long. Then I have to phone London and speak to Juan, for whom something of a crisis has occurred, not altogether unrelated to the fact that he hasn’t posted for a couple of days. It’s ok, he’s absolutely fine. My computer, on the other hand…

I give up leaving the washing on the dryer, as I have it on good authority that it never gets really dry here, not outside, or at least not at this time of year.

Dinner is done in two shifts, as Christian is picking Ruth up from the station He prepared it – spaghetti with mushroom sauce. I do the washing up.

At 8:30 there’s another quiet time, which I recognise from the word go this time. Then the Vayu-Prana meditation, then a circle led by Mariana – Lucy, a Bach prelude that I’ve heard before somewhere and a long circulation, then split circulation (two trios again, split differently from the Lucy split – interesting division). Ferocious stuff.

Now I’ll go and clean the cups and get to bed.

Hopefully I won’t find out this evening.

Day off.

Realised today that in this context, "off" is taken to have two meanings – we have Days Off, and behaviour or speech also said to be off. I wondered if they were in some way related.

Got up at what turned out to be 10:30. I dithered for an hour before finally leaving to explore Kiel some more.

Fabulous day – lots of sunshine, but the chill breeze coming in off the Baltic stops it from getting too hot.

I decide to find the Irish Pub, but first to have breakfast. Hernan was thoughtful enough, when I visited in March, to introduce me to Le Buffet (where the only German I need to get a meal is "Danke Schon", which I manage comprehendably two times out of ten). I’ve missed the breakfast menu, and can’t really work out what of the current menu doesn’t have meat in it , so have a fruit juice, a coffee and a plate of pommes frittes.

After that I walk generally eastwards and northwards. I find the little lakes, and the Rathaus. In fact I find them twice, coming from different directions. Eventually I reach the Irish Pub.

I realise immediately that this place is my personal idea of Hell. And tonight is the Open Mike night. So I have to go. I could spit in the eye of Destiny, but I suspect that Destiny would only sit heavily on my head in retaliation. Anyway it’s closed until 6:00. I shan’t worry too much, just turn up with my guitar at a respectable time and see what happens.

I walk up the hill, past the I.P. to an area which has classier bars and shops than previously. It seems that in terms of classiness, Kiel shades vaguely northeastwards, low to high. Vaguely, and there’s a lot of it I haven’t seen yet, so that’s to be taken only as an interim report.

I buy a street map of Kiel in a transaction that goes swimmingly until he asks whether I want a bag and I go glassy-eyed with incomprehension.

I buy a large Latte in a cool, studenty sort of a place, with lots of fliers for events. My minimalist German does me no favours, but I manage to get my coffee, my bill settled and out of there in roughly that order.

Then I wander back House-wards, trying out what I hope is a short cut, but turns out not to be. It seems that one important detail of the city is that planners have made it as difficult as they possibly can for people on one side of town to get to the other side. One might almost imagine they were trying to keep us out or something…

I go back to the house put some clothes in to wash, and then take a couple of books to the Bambule, where I eat a pizza and read them. I’m trying to divine exactly why I brought some of these books. This particular pair were Image, Music, Text by Roland Barthes and Knots by R.D. Laing, and now I think I have some idea of why they’re on my bookshelf.

Back at the house I take a potted plant that Mariana gave me to the garden. She gave one each to Dani and me, perhaps an act of generosity, or a way of getting green living things into the Boy’s Dorm; perhaps we’re involved in a secret race to see which of us will kill our plant first. Normally I’d win something like that hands down, but now, after getting expert advice from Ruth as to what should be done (and it was a gift, after all); I decide to shuck my reputation as a herbicidal maniac and I transfer it to a larger pot (probably too large, I hope this is better than too small); which I line the floor of with stones (I vaguely remember something about that from my childhood) and then use earth from the garden to fill the pot up around the sides. I notice that the earth, which is drying in the sun, seems quite thin and grey, very dusty. Since I’m not an expert on earth, I don’t know whether this bodes ill or well for the crops.

The plant is now sitting back on the window sill in a pot a couple of sizes too big for it, like a schoolboy in his September blazer. The label says that I should feed it, but I have no idea what with. Hopefully this won’t turn into Little Shop of Horrors

Then I have a shower, during which Dani and Fernando return to the house. It appears the Germans have hidden the beach again.

Now I’m preparing myself psychologically to go out and play at the open mike in the Irish Pub, and posting Day Off Part One in case I get back very late.

As Neitzsche said (according to the film Conan the Barbarian, anyway): that which does not kill you makes you stronger. I’m not sure what he has to say about that which does kill you. Hopefully I won’t find out this evening.

00:45 Yes, potted plant. It’s a peperomia, for any botanists out there. There are certainly none in here.

The Irish Pub was an experience, I have to say. It was an authentic open-mic of the kind that I know from the UK, except – and this was the touch of genius – it was not organised in any way whatsoever.

I arrived at the place at ten to nine, and asked for a grapefruit-juice-and-soda (it took me a very long time to find a soft drink I could drink pints of, and this is it. I would really not recommend drinking pints of Coca Cola, especially several pints. I have done this, so that you don’t have to); and details of the open mic (says 21:00 on the website). Apparantly they kick off at 22:30 is anyone turns up. This strikes me as very un-German, but then it is the Irish Pub. It’s an authentic Irish theme pub, which isn’t the same thing as an authentic Irish pub, The (Irish) bar staff are good, efficient and polite. I’m sort of hanging around for an hour, slowly falling asleep, almost off my barstool for a while, then I go for a walk, find the groovy cinema (or at least it looks groovy from the outside, groovier than the multiplex, anyway); and then get slightly lost. At this point, I’m almost at the point of cutting my losses and going home, but decide that I need to do this, if only because I’ve told you lot that I will, and I don’t feel like making anything up particularly.

When I get back to the bar, a fairly genial German gentleman is just beginning his extended set of popular rock covers, commencing with Losing My Religion, and proceeding via Hotel California and several other favourites. Directly in front of me are three young women, and two of them get up and sing some folk songs – American-style folk songs, one of them says "Woody Guthrie" and "Woodstock" at one point, but it sounds more like the Indigo Girls to me. The tall one is singing harmonies, bending over quite a long way to get to the microphone. It sounds quite authentically something. If they’re originals, in that style, they’re actually pretty good ones.

While they were performing, I noticed a thin young man, with sunglasses on, just in front of the stage, stage left. He’s trouble, I thought.

These are fascinating acts to watch from the point of view of performance. In a way, it’s exactly what Karaoke (tomorrow night, or last night, I’m not sure) isn’t. Karaoke is all about impersonation, performance (in the sense of projecting a persona) and artifice, so the framework is set up and the performer is sort of plopped into it. Karaokists do perform quite effusively. This was more about self-effacement, and in a way receiving something via the songs. The genial German gentleman seemed at pains not to be performing at all. When he was singing, he kept looking at his hands, so his mouth was always drifting away from the microphone. When he wasn’t singing – for example, where the guitar solo of Hotel California should be, and he was just playing the chords – he didn’t look at his hands, even though they were the same chords. Interesting.

Eventually, one of the bar staff suggest that someone else get a go (and to his credit he was genuinely embarrassed, it was just difficulty for me to get his attention); and I go on.

Technical points: the guitar sounds quite thin – I guess they’ve got all the bass and mid cut for strummy acoustic guitar. The vocal’s pretty good, though, and wherever it’s coming from, there’s a passable foldback, though I’m probably hearing it through the main speakers. Wherever they might be. Nice and full (I have quite a deep voice) and I can go fairly quiet and still get something back, which works for me. In this sense it’s the opposite of playing in the Ballroom the other day, when projection was all. Here, the amplification was enough, and most of the people didn’t really mind if they couldn’t hear me anyway. It’s actually not a very loud PA, just above conversation level. This means that when a particularly loud conversation starts, it’s below conversation level. I decide I’m not going to let any of this bother me.

As I remember it, the set goes something like: Little Games, Mr Wrong, Unison, 100 Horses. Interesting glitches in each of these, the most interesting for me being that I play 100 Horses incredibly fast. It’s a very fiddly song with lots of bits and a guitar solo part. I’m sure it looked very impressive. From my point of view it was a bit stressfull. I mention that it was a bit fast, and a drunk, aggressive, American woman (should I invoke the fact that she was blonde, too, to summon up famous ghosts of certain West Virginia watering holes?) asks me to play something happy. I am non-plussed. These are, for the most part, the happy ones. She really doesn’t want to hear the miserable ones. She’s very insistent. She’s also sitting in the same seat as the troublesome young man with the sunglasses earlier in the evening. The trouble seat.

I see now that a very good reason one oughtn’t talk to the audience is that sometimes they take it as a cue to talk back to you.

There has been an interesting dynamic going on – the genial German, and his friend and the three young women have been very attentive, and I’ve just started to pick up attention from the back and sides of the room. But there’s this table of three young American women having one of those operatic good times. It’s not enough to laugh – they must be able to hear it in Prague. They don’t bother me, particularly (until she starts to heckle); but my audience keep shooting them those please-shut-up stares. I can tell you from extensive experience that please-shut-up stares never work. Nothing does, sadly, short of ejection or, in extreme cases, assassination. Which can ruin the mood somewhat.

So from my point of view I’ve got quite a strong centre of good supportive energy, a pleasant though not totally focused area of not-unsupportive-but-essentially-unaligned energy around the edges and this one table of hell.

I cut and run – I play Comforting Lie, which is ripped from the riff to Kate by Ben Folds and is the loudest one I do, then I declare myself quitting while I’m ahead and unplug the guitar, and the genial German comes back to do his stuff again.

The energy is generally of impressed bewilderment. The playing tonight was quite fast, lots of tricky-looking chords and fast runs. It’s obviously not easy.

(Of course everyone reading this knows that the act of sequentially moving one’s fingers very quickly is a party trick, but it can be an impressive party trick all the same).

However, what I haven’t told you about my material is that it’s cheese. A lot of bossa nova- ish stuff, many jazz chords. Pure cheese. It doesn’t matter how fast you play it if it sounds like How Insensitive. It’s not rock and roll.

I have encountered this problem before and I’m not sure what to do about it. Truth be told I don’t really like rock and roll that much any more, and I increasingly find cheese more interesting and exciting.

They definitely liked Comforting Lie, though. People do. It’s quite loud.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps I blew them away. Perhaps I sucked. It was interesting, though, and fun and very informative, and doing it was a bit like flexing a muscle that I don’t use very much any more, and being relieved to discover that it hasn’t atrophies completely.

I walk home, chat to Daniel and Mariana, work on the L4K database and write this. It’s now very late.

Sorry about the length. There will probably be less tomorrow.

Got to keep the British end up.

Rise at 7:15, although technically it should be 7:00. Sitting at 7:30.

I am early for breakfast. The need for coffee is so great, I get there at 8:10 rather than 8:15 and have to be gently shooed away by Ruth.

So then breakfast.

AAD work 9:00 to 10:00. Today I concentrate on the C major exercises and the cross-picking exercises.

Then there’s a meeting about last night’s performance. There’s a lot of stuff there and we only get halfway before we have to break and get onto the meeting about the Theme exercise.

Ruth has left the house, on the way to rock the house at a closed gig in (I think) Hamburg.

Dani’s VG88 has arrived, packed round with Spanish goodies, some of which (the olive oil and cheese) we have for lunch. I intend to contribute Hob Nobs and pyramid-shaped PG Tips tea bags when I can. Got to keep the British end up.

Her Majesty is sorely detained, presently much vexed by pressing affairs of state.

After lunch, the other half of the performance is covered. I find this more stressful, as it relates to my performance. Again, a lot of good information available in many places, and perhaps an insight into my next step. Apart from the Irish Pub, that is.

Very pleasant tea, fascinating discussion. The L4 House week is winding gently down.

I look at my Yusef Lateef Repository, a book that I fondly imagine was accumalated in a brown cardboard folder over a number of years. There’s always something surprising in there to lead one onto new paths. I also get more into harmonising – diatonic as well as more abstruse and Japanese scales – and working on finding inversions that fit into each other in a jazz guitar stylee. It begins to look possible, so perhaps I’ve made some mistake.

Mariana prepares dinner for four(+1) and I lay the table. It’s a simple pre-evening off dinner.

For my evening off I watch an episode of Father Ted – the first one, with the TV film crew and the Spider Baby – then start to assemble the latest MetaFilter Compilation, part of a CD swap ring. There’s something I meant to stick on this one that I’ve forgotten, and I’m curious as to what it might be.

absolutely no idea how it went

I crawl out of my bed at 9:00. I think it’s fair to say I’ve missed breakfast.

Feeling unenergised. I have three cups of cafe con leche and just about make it to the Guitar Circle at 9:30, physically at least.

After this I clean the men’s bathroom. Now it smells of vinegar. I can only hope that this signifies "clean" in Germany.

Whenever I see the bottle of Essig Reiniger, I think of Lotte Reiniger, the great German animator. Just saying.

I make lunch. At one point I see Suricata (on bread duty) look at the vegetables I’m steaming and think "that can’t possibly work" – either the heat is too low or something. In a spirit of experimentation, I decide to go with it.

Why shouldn’t carrots be al dente too?

House work – sweep and mop the dining room.

During a second circle, just before tea, I find myself becoming garrulous, dropping ill-toned comments that I don’t wish to. It feels like steam escaping from the cracks in a boiler.

After that, I just collapse – I get some asprin and lie down. In my head I’m planning things for tonight, but also drifting off to who knows where.

At 7:00 I have a long, hot shower. Then dinner, cooked by Fernando.

I get a chance to sound check the room before the gig.

The Yellow Creatures of the Swamp are on first, opening with an F major circulation. They still haven’t put that B natural in F major, that I asked for months ago. I’ll write and complain.

At one point during this performance I think "oh, the hell with it, just play", and I think it goes better after that.

Then it’s me.

I have absolutely no idea how it went really. One can’t tell from the inside, so I gave up trying years ago. The voice is shot – more so than I thought it would be – I have no real control over it for at least half the set, and if feels very thin and unsupported on the high notes.

The Things You Get feels hoarse and harsh on the inside. I didn’t really try the room today for vocals. It has a slap-back echo that feels supportive sometimes, but at others I’m fighting with it. Unison – much quieter vocal here, and I have the luxury in this context of allowing the phrasing to be more conversational than I usually would. After that it becomes hazy – I think I do Crazy Baby. Lazy Charlie next, as Christian liked the It’s Amazing… version, though I do it slower and more Bossa-ish. My Crimes – I lie back on it as much as possible, as I seem to be doing with a lot of stuff here. Never sure with that one – if people understand the words, but don’t realise that the jokes are jokes, it can seem very heavy. I suppose it is very heavy, and I do Peter Hammill it up rather tonight. Nevertheless…

100 Horses I think this is where I begin to sense restiveness among the, um, crowd and am not really sure what to do. The instrumental section gets some kind of appreciative ripple, although there’s a bit in the chorus that’s a lot more difficult, particularly at this speed and I have to sing over it, too. 9.8m/s2, very slow, though I like it slower, may keep it that way. Secret Agent’s Dream very fast, perhaps too fast. Mr Wrong at possibly the right speed. I like the idea of the intro to that, but in practise it never seems to work and tonight not at all. Iodine – well, it’s Iodine, the only song so far that anyone here will have heard before (apart from Christian and CBLC). I finish with Comforting Lie, which I haven’t done for a while. More ragged than I would have liked – there was a dropped verse, as once I lose it in this song it’s very difficult to climb back on again until the next section, just make percussive noises on the guitar and keep the vocal going.

The House are on one side of the room, Hernan on the other. On the whole, I tend to play to the House rather than Hernan, as I’m not sure that he needs the attention. Eventually I settle on playing to the red light switch. Very difficult to read the audience – no, Chris seems into it, Fer also. Actually they all seem to be into it for most of the time. There’s a point where I lose a bit of confidence, and I think this has a deleterious knock-on effect. Redoubling one’s faith in one’s material and also attempting to play that material at the same time is a bit tricky, especially if it involves fast riffery. Of course, the faith shouldn’t be in doubt in the first place, but then that’s one of the reasons I’m here.

My aim for the performance was to find out where I am, and I’m sure that the information is now readily available, I only need to see it.

I go back into the Green Room and put down the guitar. There appears to be an encore in order. An a capella version of I’ve Got You Under My Skin presents itself. Is this a good thing? I don’t know. I was all guitared out by that point, though, hadn’t saved anything particularly. I could have done any number of songs, but they would have been midset songs, nothing too upbeat. Anyway, I’ve wanted to do that version of the Cole Porter tune for a while and now I’ve done it and I don’t have to do it again.


Another guitar circle, this time in the dark. I’m all played out.

I take the PowerBook to the dining room to write this, because I can.

And now to bed.

After the hobbit boots

PowerLady did breakfast this morning. I mention this because it was almost perfectly done, but late. Since I was the cause of the lateness, I washed up. Even the karma is efficient in Germany.

Some work on the site, but not much. Bits and pieces.

The Scarlatti is coming together – I had a notion to break up a section that Ruth had been playing the top line to into call and response. It works and makes the piece a lot more fun to play. We met a couple of times to work on it, and even performed it for Christian at tea (the others were out looking for gainful employ). Christian maintained a tactful silence on the matter. Tea might be for chickens, but discretion is the better part of valour. We’re getting there, though.

Hernan returned from Berlin and joined us for dinner, as did Ignacio at a distance, as is his wont. I dried up with Hernan washing. Very informative. And then we did the Vayu-Prana meditation.

At 10:45 there was another circle to run through the pieces that we’re going to perform tomorrow. Again the sextet split into two trios: the ones who laughed and the ones who didn’t. How long has PowerLady had those hobbit boots?

After the hobbit boots I found it increasingly difficult to concentrate. Perhaps it’s a necessary release of nervous energy (who is it that do the laughing meditation?); perhaps it’s like Yeat’s The centre cannot hold… I’m not sure. Sometimes this loss of attention for me is long term, a thing in itself, and actual loss, sometimes it’s a warning to me that I have to work. I always have to work. A particular warning, I mean.

At any rate, very powerful moral lessons can be delivered in the Circle and during Circulations particularly.

Rehearsing, dress and otherwise, with tragic property damage and everything, continues until very late. Now there is definitely nervous energy in the House, and it’s half past one in the morning.

And tomorrow we have our first gig in the House. And so do I.


I may be inferring quite a lot

A less hallucinatory day than yesterday, I think. One theme that runs through the day is working on changing the front page of the L4K website to something more flexible and useful. It ought to be a simple matter of data-in-data-out, but these things very rarely are. As I remark to Greg (who has the same problem except raised to the power of near infinity) later in the day, a lot of my life at the moment is spent trying to find where the comma is missing on pages of … let’s be frank … gibberish, that prevents the gibberish from doing what I want it to. So a thread there, that runs through the day – I just now launched it and tomorrow when I wake up I’ll find out exactly how badly wrong it can go.

The AAD went alright for me, but I was distracted by worrying that someone might want coffee or something – I was C&T man for the day – so that after forty-five minutes I just faced up to it and went to tend to the damn coffee and tea that no one wanted, of course, because they were all doing AAD work. Some work on the Bartok – is that bit with two notes fretted at fret five and one at fret one possible at speed or does everyone use the alternative notes? I should assume something or other and work solely on the stretchy version.

I start a couple of times with blank web pages (most of this stuff now runs as include files, so I don’t have to worry about headers or declaring functions or stuff like that); at the php headers and then start to write as I would something that wasn’t a computer program, rather than glomming bits of code from here and there. I wonder what will wander in next to increase the complexity.

Two circles, one in the morning, the other at 21:30. Circulations in all sorts of keys – I keep missing cues and find that I’m the only one who’s been playing with a pick, or not being sure whether it’s C major or G major and write an internal memo to myself to avoid Fs for a while.

The morning circle revolved around Cmaj diatonic arpeggios in two octaves. There’s some uncertainty here, so it’s not strictly C maj, not strictly arpeggios and often resembles something that Schoenberg might have thought up in his later years.

Mmm. Minor seconds. Taste the goodness.

Housework for me involves attempting to deweb the basement. Because I have a healthy and not at all neurotic or phobic relationship with spiders, oh yes. Still, some homelessness amongst the local arachnid community is reported, and I spend half an hour working on the Front Page. It almost works. I mail Martin with the almost-working version to see what he thinks, then I go off to work in the garden. This involves using a hoe to plow furrows in the earth we turned last week.

So last week I learned to make bread, today I learned how to plough. Really back to basics stuff. Hunting buffalo next, I wonder?

It’s good to have Greg in the house. There was a conversation at tea (before the gardening, so my chronology is shot) where he gave a lot of information and remarkable metaphorical goodness over an astonishingly short period of time. I had to keep telling myself to shut up and listen for fear that I might interrupt and say something.

The pizza, as has been widely reported in the media, was a hit. Fer kept bringing more, but eventually I had to say goodbye. A sad moment, saying goodbye to the pizza. The one with cottage cheese on was radically experimental but worthwhile.

I now know several bars of Blockhead, which might come in handy at the next Thrak party I find myself at.

(Thrak parties are what I call those impromptu gatherings of young men at Guitar Craft courses where snatches of repertoire are exchanged and new land speed records are set for Askesis. Perhaps it’s what you call them too. These often take place in the dormitory I’m trying to sleep in. I suppose they’re the Crafty equivalent of hanging out outside the 7-11 with your girlfriend, your car and a crate of beers, Only without the beers. Or the car. Or the girlfriend, for that matter.)

( Oh, or the 7-11.)

According to the board either I don’t have any kitchen duties tomorrow or I’m to be ejected from the House overnight. I may be inferring quite a lot in the latter case.

At the end of the day I work on the Scarlatti piece with Ruth. We can now play all the way to the first repeat bar. I like the piece a lot, and always have. It’s very sweet, and there’s nothing wrong with sweet. Besides, nothing clears the atmosphere quite like baroque music.

pools of the same kind of experience

Who turns up for the sitting, in what order and in what condition could be taken as a rough and ready diagnostic tool for the community. Perhaps not so rough and ready. In much the same way that circulations are for groups. It simply occurred to me this morning that this might be so (and now it seems fairly obvious); I don’t think myself qualified to use this tool.

We’ve become so used to Fernando putting out the floor-blankets that when he is a bit under the weather and so does not, we have to do it in a hurry, and we begin the sitting late.

Four this morning.

I’m increasingly glad of the garden as something I can stare out into. It adds something to the experience that wasn’t so much in evidence in other Houses. On several occasions I notice myself seeing in three dimensions – becoming aware of the depth of field, that the tree is over there, the plant, over here and suddenly everything becomes sharper, clearer and more real.

("This cow is small. Those are far away")

There wasn’t very much on the timetable today, consequently it’s not a day I remember sequentially – one event after another – as much as of pools of the same kind of experience. There are moments when I experience a very powerful happiness that I’m here, which I hope I remember when the Middle rolls around. Even when courses are in Hell, I don’t think I resent that – it’s a kind of Hell that’s preferable to the everyday alternative.

Jobs reach a stage (even when I’m not doing them at a distance from the employer) when they become fractured and even tiny tasks take up a lot of time, when very little is done. The home stretch effect, I suppose, when the finishing line seems ever farther away. I got to a similar point with the website last weekend, just before the day off, and it seems to be the same with the Scholastic job. Nearly there now, though.

Something else apparant in the day – on several occasions the whole house gathered in the Ballroom and there was the very strong impression that there was activity going on in the house outside the Ballroom. On one occasion this was at the beginning of a Circle, and I had the sense that there was music being made outside the room, related to what we were doing but not the same.

As I do the AAD work more, I find that I’m settling into the rhythm of it, getting more of an idea of what’s possible during the allotted time (although, yes, I could just allot more time). I get into the Bartok this morning.

With the new pinboard, the House seems more finished. The memories of the house I saw when I first visited – or indeed that which greeted me almost two weeks ago – are becoming more difficult to tally with the House I am sitting in now. As a space, it’s maturing.

I have to reschedule my flight back from London until a couple of days later, as I’d forgotten a commitment to play for Phil Jeays on the 7th. This costs me a bit of money. I really should learn to get the dates right the first time. I will now be away from the house for a whole week.

There are two Circles. During the second one, in the evening, we get closer to having something with Traffic Boom, and the circle is made of two matched trios, in each trio, the matching participants facing each other. This seems to be in evidence during the circulations as well, which sometimes scale some extraordinary heights, I feel. If we have a problem (that is to say, if I have a problem that I want to foist on everybody) it is when repeated notes are played – there’s a general uncertainty here, and in my case more of a reliance on luck than anything else, at least until I can work out who’s playing and how many notes. Possibly this is because we are such a small group.

During the second Circle, we split into the trios to rehearse the Funeral for a Marionnette and a Chick Corea piece – Christian, Fernando and I go into the Dining Room to work. When we have closed the curtains and Chris has turned on the lights, I’m momentarily struck by how great the room is. It really has acquired gravitas and become a dining room.

When we return to the Ballroom, each trio plays their piece, and the improvement is palpable. Then Christian introduces a circulated piece. Then the Circle breaks to prepare for Greg’s arrival.

Ruth and I work on a Scarlatti sonata – originally for keyboard, I have a simple arrangement for classical guitar, which we are splitting into two parts and sharing the parts. I’m very struck by it, it feels like quite a cleansing (an odd word to use, but it’s the one that asks to be used here, for some reason) thing to do. And it could be very sweet when we’ve finished it.

I’m no match for Ruth’s Mad Sight-reading Skillz.

Mr Meredith is in the House.

I was on dinner tonight. I don’t really know what I did. I could have used fewer pans and got the same over all effect, though. Someone asked and yes, indeed, it was cinnamon. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The House has felt quite fraught recently – over the last day or so – like the closeness you get in the atmosphere when warm weather is going to break into rain. Now the House feels calmer, quieter, more ordered. Perhaps this is a response to the presence of a visitor.

That remains to be seen.

I’m on breakfast today. Unlike all the other courses I’ve been on, being on breakfast here doesn’t mean that you get up incredibly early. In fact you can get up a little bit later if you wish. Or like. Or want. Or, as in my case this morning, if your body simply refuses to do anything else. I found it very difficult to get to sleep last night, and today I’m carrying the fatigue.

I go into the kitchen and begin to get things organised – toast, coffee, jams, muesli and so forth. At the last moment I decide to move the muesli from the end of the table, where I had put it, to the coffee station, where it often is. It’s cramped and disruptive there, but I’d decided that on the table it would have been disastrous. I think I was right.

Yacare is in evidence today, dispensing information.

After breakfast is completed it’s almost time for the AAD, so I answer a couple of emails and get into it. More of Martin’s work this morning, but it’s good to end on the Attention work. Today I get a little further into Intermediate.

Mini-conflab with Mrs Peel. There’s very little to do to the site, so hurrah. I need to turn an admin form, that I’d made roughly for my purposes into something that she and the Director can use, which may mean a bit of fiddly coding.

Then I retrieve the underwear I put out to dry yesterday or the day before (it’s very easy to forget the laundry here) and I can have my shower, and clean the bathroom, just in time for the House Meeting. Power Lady gives her list of Things That Must Be Done in the House and the performance is arranged for next Monday. My performance. With the whole House as an opening act. And the audience? That remains to be seen.

Following on from this is a Guitar Circle, with more Traffic Boom. I still can’t count that bit in the B section.

I work on the Scholastic stuff again before Lunch and play through some more stuff on the classical in the Ballroom, to get a feel of the room.

Lunch: Don’t think of them as leftovers. Think of them as encore performances

After lunch I’m very tired, as is Dani so we both crash out until the House Work meeting at 14:30. In fact it seems like everyone has crashed out – the house is silent, but Christian appears with tools and jobs for everyone. I mend a couple of Red Lion House chairs and then sweep the floors in the Dining Room, on the stairs and in the hall, and in the Ballroom. Then there’s tea.

The ducks are back again. From wherever they go to, assuming it’s not into the refrigerator.

There is more Scholastic detail and more web site fiddling, but I’m feeling vague of head and spend a happy couple of hours essentially going through my VG88 patch by patch and finding something that goes with each patch. Very interesting – this is the first time I’ve played it as a proper electric in NST, and the first time I’ve played NST with other sounds from straight Ovation.

I do get back to the site and create proper forms for some things that I’ve gone into the database to change before and begin to create another layer of administration for the Office.

Coming out of the bedroom before Dinner, Mariana is covering the new pinboard with information.

Vegetable soup, with crepes left over from yesterday.

After dinner – a recording session. PowerLady needs to record her answerphone message again. Ruth recites the telephone number and then I bark the message in the style of Colin Cantlie (the narrator on a lot of early Peter Greenaway shorts). I’m beginning to get the hang of it. We do some takes in the Ballroom, and think we have it. Then PowerLady summons us upstairs: she has lost it again, so we repair to the office for a few more takes. Voice-over Craft.

At 9:30 there’s another Guitar Circle – more TrafficBoom, then a short break, the Christian reintroduces Fer and myself to Funeral March for a Marionette. There’s something very clear about the lines in that sort of music, and actually quite satisfying to play, particularly in stripped down arrangements, as each player, though they may only have one note, that note is always significant, more than a root or a fifth, with voice leading that imply dynamics and shape.

As I write this, there’s an unidentifiable sound coming from somewhere else in the House. Now I will go and find out what it is. Good night.

with a lower probability of grazed knees

I prise myself from my bed at 7…hem hem and wobble uncertainly into the sitting. Then I shower and stride less uncertainly into Breakfast. S?r Director is in attendance. He has with him The Hat, that belonged to A Man. At first glance it reminds me of a Cricket Umpire’s hat. At second glance, too, come to that. At third glance, I see that it was made in Germany.

I work for a bit on the House and Observations sections of the site, then set to the L4 AAD work after a short hoohah with Internet Explorer and Acrobat 4 (soon to be Acrobat 5) on the House Mac.

Good stuff – getting into a bit of a trance state with the Division of Attention work: I manage to tap two with the feet, three with the hands and then count two on top (so counting against the hands); and I’m so amazed that there’s a small, imperceptible train wreck and I have to start again. The process reminds me of learning to ride a bike, though with a lower probability of grazed knees, of course.

I’m expecting a knock on the door re the site, so don’t run too far over. As it happens, though I needn’t have worried. The meeting is set for 10:45. At 10:46 (after a bit of a kerfuffle disconnecting my external hard disk) I leave bedroom to head upstairs to the Office, only to see S?r Director standing by the Coffee Station with cup of beverage in hand. I stop, and he tells me that She is waiting for me. So a full-on Steed/Mrs Peel conflab, then: many details covered, I leave with an extensive To Do list, and begin immmediately.

Actually, what I do first is a photo session with The Hat. It is now resting on the Hall Table (although this is a pair of marble-topped bedside cabinets that belonged to Christian’s grandparents). It gives me the impression that someone has wandered into the house and left it there, and is, even now, at large somewhere, possibly upstairs.

I’m on set-up. Ruth has cooked a delicious and fairly ornate vegetable meal. I am still setting for the absent crafty even when I don’t mean to. Lunch is long, many subjects discussed. There is some sort of sunshine outside.

At 14:30 there’s a House Meeting. I beg off to work on the site, but take on the bathroom duties in lieu of proper house work, and have elected to do it until the web stuff drops off a bit.

I’m switching between the site and the Scholastic stuff, but I need guidance on the latter, I think, and the link seems to be broken between me and London, at least there.

At 17:45, there’s a Guitar Circle – C major diatonic seventh arpeggios, two octaves, fifth string up to first string, up to Am7 at varying rates. That’s varying in a good way.

Vinka calls from Chile – our MSN conversations having got few and far betwen recently, as the time difference as become larger.

By the time PowerLady is back in The House, I’ve done most of the changes we discussed this morning.

Dinner is a variety of leftovers, some of whom are like old, familiar friends now. And an excellent dessert – Cr?pes Fraises, I think. The absent Crafty gets a whole meal, this time. Not just a place setting. I assist with the washing-up and for an encore install Dani’s Airport card. Soon we will all be able to sit in the garden sipping lemonade and communicating with each other by email. How terribly 21st Century of us.

Just before Quiet Time, I buy tickets to return to London for Work Purposes at the beginning of next month.

Then there is Quiet Time, and then Hernan leads us through the Vayu-Prana meditation.

After this, he and PowerLady look at the site while I work on things on my classical guitar. It’s only when it’s too late that I realise that there’s a Circle taking place next door. Another circle of four. It sounds fairly wild and not a little extempore – a very different energy is going on in there.

After the Circle, after Director and PowerLady have appeared and then disappeared for a break, Mariana brings a chair and we go through the corrections and the new pages, then the pages go, as it were, live.

And then I write this. Which is why I’m getting to bed very late again.