an interesting enough wrong direction

I get up at after ten sometime. Day off. Allow me a little inexactitude.

I have a bowl of muesli. Then I have another bowl of muesli. Then I set to corrections to Bagpuss, but the email with the corrections in disappears. This has never happened to me before. It just disappears. Worrying. I’ll have to get it sent again.

Dithering is done, and at about two I leave the house with Jack Kornfield talking about Your Buddha Nature on my iPod.

In some places that sentence would be enough to condemn me, right there. I’m not in one of those places. So that’s all right then.

I walk down to Kiel across the foot bridge. Kiel is closed today, apparantly. I walk north,through the Schlo?garten, past the (closed) art gallery, then into what it appears is the old Botanical Gardens. I’m looking for the sea or estuary or whatever it is. I now know that I was going in completely the wrong direction, but it was an interesting enough wrong direction not to disturb me unduly.

I end up walking through a forest and finding the sea front. I sit for a while watching people walking, cycling and skating past, then start back along the sea front. The tide is in and the water is very choppy. Very pleasant: calming dharmic thoughts, the sun, a cooling breeze, and Kielers out for a holiday stroll. I get back to town and walk inland, ending up at Dreiecks Platz and the cinema there. I look to see what’s on and recognise the pair doing the same. It’s Christian and Ruth. Ruth notices me. I wave, she waves, she nudges Christian, I wave to Christian, he waves back. We go for coffee. Ruth has a large sundae, and I buy a two-scoop cone to take with me (mocha and chocolate. I realise that mocha is already partly chocolate. I’m not a fool. I may be overfond of chocolate, however).

We ascertain that nothing’s happening in Kiel this afternoon and Christian drives us back to the House.

I sit and lie in the dwindling sunshine in the back garden while Ruth transposes cacti.

Later I take a book to Bambule to have dinner. This time I successfully answer the question "Schmeckt gut?" in the affirmative (and it did schmeck pretty gut); as well as ordering, asking for the bill and tipping in a sort of pidgin German. New word for the day: Bezahlen.

Returning to the House I see it from the outside. Obviously this is going to happen, but I’m struck strongly that this is what my current universe looks like from the outside. It seems a lot smaller than it does when I’m inside it.

Long chat to Vinka on MSN, then inputting tomorrow’s schedule, then this, then bed.

(Addendum: I just saw Ruth putting up her first job list as Kitchen Co-ordinator. I am on set up. Verily she is a wise and benign Kitchen Co-ordinator).

just watching myself breathe

Again I don’t get up – I miss Sitting, but drag myself to breakfast, then crash again afterwards until 9:30, when I check the Schedule. There’s a circle at 10:30, so back to the prone position, then shower in time for the Circle. Going through the set list, in position. It appears that my sum total of responsibility has dwindled by… ooh, 100%, performance-wise.

I deal with the tea & coffee: the official t&c person (Ms S) is laid low by the lurgi. Also set-up.

The sun is shining, so whenever possible I’m outdoors. At about three I sit in the garden, where Ignacio is reading. The grass is the most real grass I’ve seen in a very long time. Warm sun, cooling breeze, listening to the birds, just watching myself breathe.

I go in and begin preparing tea.

At five thirty there’s another semi-circle, after which I rehearse Mr PC with Mariana and Fer and we resolve to play it for dinner.

Christian takes care of set-up and I concentrate on tea & coffee, then at 7:25 go to the Ballroom and wait for the others. A quick cast around for a name and we’re on. Then we’re off again.

Dinner with the Director, matters of importance and the upcoming day off.

I assist Ignacio with the washing up, then I have a short meeting with the Director. Then it’s the evening off.

I watch some Jam, Ignacio joins me, then we watch an Eddie Izzard DVD with Spanish subtitles. Very educational, that. I need more DVDs, for evenings off. At least it keeps me out of bars.

Darn. Responsibility.

I find it incredibly difficult to get out of bed, but do make it to the sitting, barely awake, but at least vertical. After sitting I go straight back to bed for another luxurious fifteen minutes.


After breakfast I shower before the AAD. Then I work getting the work work finished – it’s Friday, which in the real world immediately precedes a weekend, although our weekend isn’t until Monday, of course.

I am lightly toasted on one side for neglecting the schedule.

CIrcle meeting with Ruth – part one of the set list, slotting Mr P.C. in. Interesting. This is the first time I’ve needed to count something in in this context. Darn. Responsibility.

The others garden while I continue with my work and talk to Sue in London. Also corrections to the spot-the-difference. It appears I may have erred overmuch on the different, making it too easy to spot.

I put clothes in the washing machine.

Lunch – rice a la suricata.

Again with the work – it looks like I’m finally on top of this. Hurrah!

Ignacio calls a Blockhead meeting. Many wonderful tempi to choose from, and a metronome that refuses to play in time with us.

Tea. I take the clean clothes out of the washing machine and hang them on the drier. Long chat in the sun.

I finish the work that’s currently pending and have a quick lie down. This takes until twenty past seven, when it’s patently obvious that I’ve got the same thing as Mariana, except I’m behind her by about four hours. I observe the progress of her disease with interest.

Dinner is salad with fried veg a la Caligaris, but I’m impelled by my body to fill myself with toast, latterly with honey on, as it seems to want the energy.

Feeling quite bleary by now.

I wash the cups (though I presume the others would rather they be washed again by someone without The Lurgi); and decide to avoid the 10:00 circle. I take my temperature, which is normal.

Next door they are working on Mr Sandman in what sounds like a Michael Nyman arrangement, though that will no doubt change.

an alternative way of doing what they wish

The body doesn’t want to go to Sitting but I drag it anyway. Another partial victory over the body. At least I don’t cough today. After breakfast I have some website stuff to deal with so I don’t get on to the AAD until late. Then back to Bagpuss – the home straight? – until my meeting with Dr Betty. Outside a hideous downpour, then the next time I look the sun is shining. Then another downpour.

Answering a question about the Peter Pan website provides an interesting insight into useability – if something looks like it ought to be a button, people will assume that that’s what it is and will then assume that it doesn’t work rather than that there’s an alternative way of doing what they wish.

I’m on set-up – chickpea soup with potatoes and turkish bread heated in the oven (I’ve been buying this stuff for years and thought that it was just supposed to be chewy, and now S?r Fritz the salad king has shown me the error of my ways).

After lunch some practice and back to work, trying to be in sync with London, an hour behind.

By teatime the Most Esteemed Registrar has returned from her trip, resplendent in green, with an Elmo motif, bearing exotic chocs.

Then more work – what can I say? I did more or less the same thing that I did this morning, except this time in blue.

Circle at five, closing in on the set list. After the circle I run through my idea of Coltrane’s Mr P.C. with Fer. We may go for it. He’s also introduced to the possibility of becoming one of the Cheerful, but isn’t currently convinced. Also get back into Guardian Angel which I can now manage pretty well at 80bpm, which isn’t a performance speed per se.

Setting up for dinner, which is salad, prepared by the salad king himself.

In the evening we set off for Luna, where tonight’s performance is Electronic Jazz in the basement lounge. All comments and observations are subject to the usual restrictions.

It appears that I am right. All I need to do now is find out what I am right about.

The House is very quiet. Early night.

There may be something karmic going on.

I get up at seven and begin preparing the breakfast. I clear the nut bowl from the table and eat the last three hazlenuts in the bottom of the bowl. At 7:30 I go to Sitting. At 7:45 I leave Sitting because some nut fragments are caught in my throat and I must cough frantically.

There may be something karmic going on. There usually is.

I continue breakfast and have a shower before completing it. Breakfast in shifts this morning and no worse for it apart from the fact that I’ve forgotten the hot milk. I announce this fact to arriving breakfasters, but it appears that no one will miss the hot milk but me. So Honour thy mistake as a hidden intention, then. Funny, usually in my case it’s the other way round.

When I’m doing my AAD I borrow Daniel’s small mirror to observe my right hand. The horror! The horror!

At 10:15 there’s a House Meeting and Ruth is elected the next Kitchen Coordinator, Ignacio the next House Manager and Fernando remains Gardener.

There then follows a Guitar Circle – we play the Waltz and look at the Piazzola.

Then Bagpussery.

I’m setting up for Fer’s lunch – handmade gnocchi with homemade bread. Mmm. Doesn’t require much setting up, either.

Then lunch is eaten. Delicious.

After lunch another circle. I’m finding it difficult to stay awake, which I attribute, at least partly, to the gnocchi. More of Kaktus and Blockhead. How delightful to be totally certain that I’m absolutely incapable of playing it at anything like performance tempo. You might be interested to know that I call that sound you make when attempting to cross-pick at speed and fail magnificently "plashing". Lovely word, possibly stolen from Gerard Manley Hopkins. Not a Crafty, Gerard Manley Hopkins, but a purveyor of fine, if flowery, neologisms.

I practise parts of Blockhead. A comfortable speed for me would be a slow reggae lope. I suspect that this will not catch on as a way of performing that particular song.

At tea, we observe the male mallards setting upon the female and doing what Dani described the other day as "fighting". I don’t know what they teach them about the ways of the world in Madrid. Anyway, the female is looking increasingly bedraggled and tired. If it were possible to tell the ducks to knock it off we would, but it’s doubtful they’d listen. Ducks have no moral sense.

After tea serious Bagpuss and a Personal Meeting with Hernan. very useful.

Dinner is, surprisingly, salad. Christian tells us about the Comedian Harmonists and I mention Flanders and Swann, Leslie Sarony and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

After dinner another page until the Circle at 10:00 – we go through bits and pieces we’ll need to know for the performance. Kaktus, Piazzola. After the rehearsal Ignacio and I stay in the Ballroom looking for material. We get two almost-bits out of an hours doodling and groping, which isn’t bad for a first session. Let’s see if I can remember them tomorrow.

With a spoon.

Day off, so I get up at about 11:00 with a bit of a headache. The small pot into which chocolate spread has been decanted has been in the fridge for a while now. I do the community a favour by eating it. With a spoon. Ooh, day off.

The ducks are now right outside the back door.

I remember to get the MeFi Comp cd together as today is the posting day – I lie on the bed and listen to the final running order. However, I still need to burn the actual CDs. Ruth gives me a lift to the Post Office and helps me get postage. One of those occasions when I realise how great the linguistic gulf is. She and Fer go off to a guitar place while I go to Media Max and get some blank CDs, blank DVDs and boxes, then I walk back to the house and burn the CDs. As I’m doing this I have an MSN chat with Vinka.

Job done I go to the music shop on the corner and buy Ruth a tuning fork as a thank you. Not knowing the word for "tuning fork" (Stimmgabel); I mime one. The rest of the transaction is conducted in flawless English, with me throwing in the occasional bitte and danke sch?n in order to appear keen. Then I walk back to the post office to post the packages. Job done. Great sense of satisfaction.

I go to Bambule for late lunch (deep fried cheese things, salad, pomme frittes and Fanta). The waiter comes up and says something in German and I say "Nein, danke" and he goes away. I realise that he asked "Schmekt gut?" He comes back and asks if I speak some English. I tell him that I speak only English. The rest of this transaction is conducted in English, too.

On returning to the House I lie down for several hours, iTunes burbling away on random play.

I get up and make myself a cup of tea, give Ruth her tuning fork and do stuff on the computer – I listen to some Jack Kornfield snippets (one, on Compassion, is particularly good) and do some work work. I also find the proper names of the tracks on the Jazz on a Summer’s Day soundtrack, which appear to have been made up on the spur of the moment and have no relation to the real names of the real tracks (The Train and the River, for example, is credited as Jimmy & Bobby). Why on earth should this be, and why has no one ever noticed?

I’m on breakfast tomorrow. And set-up.

Orderly blankets seem quite important.

I get out of bed just soon enough to get to the Sitting, which I then do. A very interesting and valuable time of the day. Something that’s coming home to me.

Shower – the problem with waking up later is that I have a dazed standing-under-the- shower period which could be any length of time. Experientially it’s five years, but it’s probably not as long as that. Either way it’s usually followed by a period of guilt.

Then breakfast. Intimate, with silence interrupted by the tree outside, which appears to want to come in.

No AAD today, as it’s Sunday. The house is very quiet.

At ten there’s a housework meeting – I sweep, dust and vaccuum-clean the ballroom, and put order into the blankets. Orderly blankets seem quite important.

The Hard Disk in Dani’s computer is reinitialised, the slow sector-by-sector way, which is probably best.


Dni departs, leaving his iBook in my care. I begin the system reinstallation, although the fact that it’s in Spanish and I don’t really understand the error messages cramps my style somewhat.

Guitar Circle: Blockhead. Tapping my foot seems to make things easier – this might be a byproduct of the DoA exercises or merely delusion on my part.

Tea – we sit outside in the alleged sunshine. I put my washing on the drier. The sunshine departs.

Another circle – Ruth introduces Mr Sandman, based on the Chordettes version. then the Waltz she introduced yesterday.

Dinner: another Fritz Salad Challenge. Sunflower seeds appear to be my Secret Weapon, along with sesame seeds, which I suppose are my Extra-secret Ssh!! Weapon. Crispy turkish bread= mmm.

Then an evening off – Iisten to music and then go for a drink with Igancio, who I walk all the way across town and beyond. All I’m drinking is Coca-Cola, so I’m really there for the conversation and the stroll rather than the drink. We drink in the Heinrich bar round the corner from the Heinrich der Acht restaurant, then when that drink’s done walk back via another drink in the Irish Pub. Tonight the music is a lot louder with a knot of very drunk irishmen at the bar.

We walk home from the Irish Pub, getting back at a quarter past two. As I keep falling asleep it takes me a very long time to write this diary entry. For example, I fell asleep in the middle of the sentence. Day off tomorrow. 3:05 now. The maths are for you to do.

like letting off incredibly safe fireworks

At 7:30 (yes, sorry, that victory didn’t last long) I get up and begin the breakfast, washing the cups and thermoses (thermi?) from last night, getting the bits and pieces together and arranging them in what I hope is pleasing fashion. Fernando is first on the scene. I ask him what I’ve forgotten and he can’t identify anything, so that’s alright.

After breakfast I wash the dishes, then continue on sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor. I ought to do the AAD practise but for some reason it feels more appropriate to work at putting order into things, so I do the bathroom, remember I’ve left washing out to dry in the shed, which I retrieve, fold and put away, put new sheets on the bed and finally throw away the box that the metronomes came in a couple of weeks ago, cutting it up into little pieces and bursting the airfilled padding that came in it with Mariana. Very satisfying and therapeutic, like letting off incredibly safe fireworks.

Following this there’s some epic guitar circling, attacking zucchini and cactus. I hope that doesn’t give S?r F any experimental salad ideas.

I launch into Bagpussery for the day. As it nears lunchtime I keep an eye out on the Dining Hall and then go and sing Shipbuilding, a capella, as S?r Furones suggested I ought.

Lunch feels very good natured somehow. The meal is simultaneously a German delicacy with lentils and squird. First squird sighting so far.

Then back to Bagpuss.

There’s another Circle at five to address Blockhead. It is addressed and, possibly, posted.

My Bagpussery is interrupted by Daniel’s iBook having hideous seizures. In hopes that it’s a software problem I attempt to run Disk Utility on it, then run it as a Firewire disk from my PowerBook. This seems to work and I can run Disk Utility on it after which it seems to be fine. We go to dinner.

The Director is on. Very informative. And instructive. And funny.

A short hiatus before The Hat speaks. The Hat knows my name, and that of twenty other people.

On returning to the bedroom I find that Daniel’s iBook, which had appeared to make a full recovery, has in fact died, or is in agonising pain which I put it out of.

The day’s final circle is a very happy. An astonishing quantity of bummers, with which I am as generous as I am with my tips these days (who knew the head of Mr P.C. could be so complicated?); but happier. Blockhead may not have been as clean as usually intended, but for moments it has wings.

I fail to tell Daniel of his iBook’s death. He has to find out the hard way. My bad. We do manage to get it connected as a Firewire disk and to copy about two thirds of the data before it starts spluttering again. It will have to go to the computer doctor for revival. I remind the grieving Daniel that it is only a machine. He reminds me that it is an expensive machine. We are both right.

Now it is very late. Soon it will be later, but I shan’t know anything about that. Because I shall be asleep.

a strange habit I seem to be developing

Rise at 7:00.

No, really. I do. And I get to do Luciano’s excellent Tai Chi exercises, which I haven’t done since I had a potential audience, so I’m a bit stiff.

Sitting. It takes forever to settle the leg again.

Shower, then breakfast, then AAD, then a Circle with Ruth, followed by more relentless Circling. Eventually I jump off and get down to the Bagpussing until Lunch, which is Pasta with carrots.

After Lunch I get back to work and absent myself from the afternoon Circle in order to do so. Chocolate chip cookie at Tea, and more cake, then back to the work until the meeting with the DIrector to discuss the Audience Craft Exercise last night. The fact that I quite liked it may have been a problem. I decide that I really need to do the exercise at a concert that is very well done but which I absolutely hate.

After this I pick up the calls that happened during the meeting – stuff from London re the Bagpuss, then I go to make Dinner.

S?r Fritz’s Salad Project continues. I’m actually beginning to enjoy it, and one day might think of something interesting to do with lettuce. In a food preparation way, you understand. I’m sure there are many interesting things one can do with lettuce if one turns one’s mind to it. I also do set-up. Just saying.

After dinner it’s now technically an Evening Off, but I can’t think of anything to do – there’s a gig way over yonder, but by the time I get myself together enough to leave the house it seems impossibly far away. I go for a walk with Ignacio – we walk into town, up past the big conference centre/concert hall and up the hill. Ignacio selects a bar to go into. Cosy and quiet, perhaps not obviously open, but the woman behind the bar says they are, so… It transpires that they have shiny red heart-shaped cushions and tastefully framed black-and- white photographs of fit young men on the walls. We stay to drink the drinks that we’ve ordered. We are the only customers in there. It is not Old Compton Street by any stretch of the imagination.

I deliberately overtip, which is a strange habit I seem to be developing.

We go out and walk in the general homewards direction, finding Harriesstrasse and then walking up to the House, stopping at Bambule for one last drink.

I am on Breakfast tomorrow.

That’s destiny for you.

Five past seven. Almost not failing. Further stretches accomplished. Almost succeeding.

When I sit down I have tremendous difficulty arranging my legs in a way that they don’t immediately begin to complain.. They settle down, though. The stretching probably got them all excited.

No especial excitements at breakfast other than access to coffee, which is sometimes as much excitement as one can bear at that time in the morning.

AAD – I struggle for a very long time with the 36 variations, which is frustrating for me, but must be excruciating for my unwilling audient. After this something of the beginning of a melody drops into my hands, so… thanks.


Christian sets me to Lunch: boiled rice with french beans and courgette. I read the instructions for the rice on the side of the packet. A mistake: I know perfectly well how to cook rice, and the instructions confuse me. I ignore the instructions – indeed I throw the packet away entirely – because I am a rebel.

I have a meeting with Dr Betty.

I return to lunch: steaming and frying akimbo.

Lunch is served. Fernando rocks the house.

After lunch some practice and a return to Bagpuss through to tea (where I find the Chocolate biscuit and there is cake) and beyond.

At Five there’s a circle, running through various pieces destined to be performed. Or not. That’s destiny for you. Rehearsing and, indeed, honing. A short break and the process continues.

I appear to be specialising in D at the moment.

I stay in the ballroom playing the guitar until the glass pings for dinner. On a whim I play Cielo for Ignacio, alone at the dinner table. A further audience gathers outside the door. Cielo is usually a breakfast piece, but didn’t feel too out of place.

Dinner involves brie. Ruth reinvents the cheeseburger – a brilliant stroke.

At 8:25 we gather in the hall and encircle prior to setting out. Then we set out to the Trio club to see Hard Bop Deluxe, who describe themselves as "Swingy, funky, bossy". Is this a fair description? I cannot, at the moment, say.

12:30: back in the house.

12:50: this.

After 12:50: some level of unconsciousness.