Thursday 30 December 2021

30 12 2021

New constellations... nice to be on the end of a brush again

 Begun after the rather shocking discovery of a tiny geckho on my stomach this morning. On my pyjamas which is I guess why I didn't feel it. Did it sleep on me all night? How did it get there? And many other pointless questions. Eventualy brushed it off to the floor from where it now isn't. 

Tuesday 28 December 2021

28 12 2021

 All this clearing out... found an interview I did with Kitaj in 1997, extracted from a longer one and corrected by the dear man. So nice to *hear* his voice and see his careful writing. Here it is, can't think where else to store it:

Monday 27 December 2021

27 12 2021 later

Found this treasure from (Trade) Mark Gunderson, thought it was lost for ever.... I did have a laminated verson which I've used to get on and off trains (mostly in error, but it worked) Delighted to see it again though I see its expired.  Maybe it can be updated. Putting it on this page so I know where it is.


Sunday 26 December 2021

27 12 2021

 Yesterday in studio, apart from Boxing day obligations - and I can't find anything and everything I tried was a disaster!! Yeah, back to normal.

Some things established; the co-misson is complete, packaging (which had seemed important) dosn't matter, the photobook copy is not only impossible but an unnecessary vanity.

Completely lost touch with the painting on the easel. 

Wednesday 22 December 2021

22 12 2021

 -at last, spending some time in the studio - sleeping there! Current bedroom has some raucous beastie in the attic which wakes and frankly terrifies me, so decamped to studio couch which is lovely. Moonlight through the skylights.

Archive room nearly nearly done, proper bedroom almost achievable, final details of co-mission possible though probably not till after christmas. Painting new bedroom walls in the spirit of India i.e. brightly, badly, patchily, full of joy. 

Thursday 16 December 2021

16 12 2021

 The carnage continues - all my expos, love letters, projects realised and failed now in recycling factory in the Languedoc. Nice sense of being at my own funeral. More to do -

Monday 13 December 2021

14 12 2021

 Suppose there will come a time when the current binning of my life will pay off - certainly in terms of space its a winner. Loosing critical faculties, just binning everything. Full of ancient dust. Dolour to match.

So pushing off to help brother in law do his xmas shopping in carcassonne today - 

Sunday 12 December 2021

12 12 2021

 into fiddling mode now. 

Yet to do; box the co-mission so its fit for delivery; arrange souvenir photo book; continue stripping archives. Got three days before Bob comes back.

And clean the bloody studio! Its unusable again. 

Saturday 11 December 2021

11 12 2021

Uphill struggle... really want to honour the man and complain about injustice and also those others held in prisons in one sort or another but hard to avoid the chi chi and and and - also portrait? Never met the man, I dunno -


Wednesday 8 December 2021

09 12 2021

 Grafting; just putting in the hours. The painting is getting its proper shape but its still a while away - one reason being that there is too much paint on the canvas. 

Bob left for a week in London today and most of that which I should be doing can't be done, due to work being done on my bedroom. Next week I can finish the binning of the archives but for the rest of this week its painting - though may have to restart this one on another canvas.

Monday 6 December 2021

06 12 2021

 Damn painting now looks like plasticine - no matter how hard I tried as a kid, the stuff always ended up as a murky green ball. Assange is getting turned to the wall till he's dry. 

The photos are back and make sense as a record of the Co-Mission. Plan to download and order photo book. In the meantime, continuing to strip the archive room. Wall between it and bedroom coming down today so a degree of urgency...

Saturday 4 December 2021

05 12 2021

Plodding on... yesterday thought this was finished, today, hmmmm - does it actually look like Assange and is that desirable? Caracatured?  And now I have to empty archive room to allow for demolition of wall to create proper bedroom space, plus of course move current bedroom, back to the one next to studio. Keeps me fit. 


Friday 3 December 2021

03 12 2021

Dire painting turning into a prayer for Assange. The poor mans state is a cause for concern. It is unavoidable to compare the state of the policitans whom he proved were war criminals with his pitiful, helpless situation in Belmarsh prision. I dream that he is dying.

Wish I could paint all this better.


Wednesday 1 December 2021

01 12 2021

 Can still shock myself - current painting is dire so presumably breaking some mould and forcing me into a new shape. Hope so, things can't be this bad for nothing. Can they.

Saturday 27 November 2021

27 11 2021

 Wretched sense of tristesse; took the Co-Mission off to be photographed, leaving a huge hole in the studio and in me, mysteriously. Then sold a painting that I like, ditto. Then a letter from a dying friend. And always the background humm of the homeless and the hungry. 

So; to clean the studio, scrape the palette, light candes for the causes I can't help. And maybe a bit of a weep.

Friday 26 November 2021

26 11 2021

 At last, an image :)

Was finishing off the art and cybernetics paper and wanted something on which to hang the question, but is it art... thought I'd find a test tube and bung in a flower or something. Couldn't find the test tubes, uncovered these flasks, picked up a bit of ivy and lo! Got a complete rush of pleasure, which I'd forgotten preceeds a finished work (-its been so long)

So according to my viscera it's art and now I realise I really really have to finish the Co-mission and do some painting.

Wednesday 24 November 2021

25 11 2021

 Managed to cobble 5-odd pages togethere yesterday despite catastrophic photo stuff. I'm alone in the house for a week now, poor Bob having to go to Plague Island... don't know how I'm going to finish this but these challenges are the stuff of life hahahaha

Lots of finishing off things to do.

24 11 2021

 ...whilst waiting for the photos to arrive, have nearly finished the art and cybernetics talk. Can't find a way to wind it up, but there's time. In the meantime, yesterday afternoon in fact, the photos arrived! Wrong size. Have to start again, sigh.

Sunday 21 November 2021

21 11 21

 Still awaiting the next tranche of photos. In the meantime, turned attendion to the new website which requires a particular type of mind-set, one thats tough for me (and thank heavens Gracie does all the real work -) Unfortunately working on the computer has led me to agreeing to address Cybersoc on art and cybernetics, I don't know how. Better get on with that then.

Friday 19 November 2021

19 11 21

 Co-Mission trucking along nicely - now reached a point where I can't do anymore till next photos delivery. Yesterday morning editing my piece in the GSB book - I'm chaper 25, the last, as in the 'and finally' slot. Pleasing. All done, even more pleasing.

Bob is commandering the study for a group meeting, so I can't use computer or indeed studio, since my tramping overhead would disturb them dreadfully. So a day out... Carcassonne, see if I can find any medieval MS.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

17 11 2021

 For a blog about an artists work, this is all strangely image free...  but I think I have an idea (oh la) where I will photograph - or more properly, cause to be photographed by an expert - the current work, which may be then PDF'd. Or whatever one does it cause it to appear on line.

Today already eaten into by the need to edit my contribution to the LoF book. I'm really impressed with my editors! I remember it as an incoherent ramble and it isn't. Just a few queries from the publishers to straighten, if  l can work out the technology, sigh.

And negotiations continue with the drawings of GSB. Hey  ho.

Tuesday 16 November 2021

16 11 2021

 ... cracking on. Coming together, slowly, slowly. And not without delightful interuptions; Philippe, who is planning his next bike round round France (??Quoi) and Vina, who is escaping another building project whilst trying to get back to her studio in Hackney. When I hear what other artists have to cope with I realise Im spoilt beyong belief; bad dreams is all I have though, terribly explicit bad dreams that make me realise my direction may be skewed.

Then yesterday was Pietrus's funeral. He was very happy to die, but I'II miss him. 

Reflecting on the nature of the world and our role in it, it strikes me - not for the first time - that we are a part of nature and ipso f., part of natures plan. It would be easy to halt global warming; get rid of cows, get rid of cars. Is that going to happen?? No way; we are therefore part of our own destruction, presumably having fulfilled whatever role nature had cast us in. Next series of paintings going to be a laugh, no doubt.

 Can't do a deal more now until a new order of prints arrive, though plenty of fiddly corrections to make to whats been done. 

Thursday 11 November 2021

11 11 2021

 Current outbreak of neurosis no doubt caused by the staccato nature of the work - waiting for things to dry, having to turn back to refer to previous pages - all in situ. Much easier to assemble pages later. Too late for that now. 

The crippled neck and ear now joined by a caput knee. Wearing a knee brace and a neck pad and dark glasses. Whatever next?? Can hardly wait...

Wednesday 10 November 2021

10 11 2012

 Onwards, though working with a micro-waved hot bean bag on my neck - and thats not all, this method of sitting  and drawing is a disaster physically. But some nice surprises. Every now and then something works. Over half way now, allelujia.

Sunday 7 November 2021

07 11 2021

 Back from Toulouse, where I was under-inspired. I thought that a big town and its attendant joys would fizz me up with notions but actually it was just a holiday. Nice. And I can  walk so much, thats pretty much all I did - and how gratifying, since when I had an appartement there 10 (?) years ago, walking was a struggle. Great meds, god bless chemists. I did double all my COPD drugs in advance so breathing was mostly OK. Eyes played up somewhat but hey, it's 3 days to go before its a month since I had the ops. Not doing badly.

Here are some pix by Theodule Ribot, on at the Augustines - a slight show but in the absense of anything else was captivated by his techniques. 

The model was his daighter - though he did kitchen workers and pre- Chaim Soutaine cuts of meat. 

Got things that need doing domestically now, the more so as Bob leaves for the UK on Weds., but have a joyful sense of where Im going with the Co-Mission.

Thursday 4 November 2021

04 11 2021

 Censored at Hall Place, Bexley Heath, 2001

Im in Toulouse, gannering...

and looked myself up on google. Delighted to find this which Id thought lost. Putting it here so not to loose it again.

It comes from a piece on censorship, dated 2001. 

I was invited by the young arts officer of Hall Place to become artist in residence. At the time there was a government scheme that we could bend to pay me a small wage and the powers-that-be made no objection. They gave me a studio. I began work Jan 16th, 2001 for three months.

Hall Place is a Tudor mansion shaken by the traffic that surrounds it, A2 and A223, dampened by the little River Cray. I already knew it quite well but now had access to places that were not at that time open to the public. My studio wasn't ready - indeed never materialised - so I hung around drawing and taking notes. Old damp coursing material made of waxed paper, tar and horsehair was being removed behind the scenes and I grabbed rolls of it to work on, doing the actual work in my studio in nearby Woolwich.

On examining the pargeting(1) in a large dinning room, I discovered figures carved out of what looked like icing sugar; shiny white heads and busts of women and men with Caribbean features, fish tails and curlicues, pineapples on their heads. -Of course many of the great houses built their fortunes on slavery. But here there was so much casual evidence, so confidently laid out, so unassailable that it was shocking. Hall Place is open to the public and much enjoyed by the bourgeoisie as a lunching venue. How had this history been overlooked? That, the persistent stories of ghosts, the heavy tristesse from the time when Hall Place was a school - plus the collection that was stored by the museum department in the Thamesmead store - these things shaped my response to the residency.

With the education department we proposed some workshops, applied for funding, got it.

Working very hard indeed - starting early, getting back to my studio and working late - in three months I'd a nice show ready to go. Three months after start, on 18th April, in conjunction with the arts team, up it went.

It was displayed in the minstrels gallery in the main hall, large enough to take students before taking them through to where the workshops were conducted. Hanging over it is a large metal light fitting and to this I'd affixed a collection of porcelain dolls hanging arm in arm. They looked quite pretty, dressed in tartan frocks and mob caps, until closer examination showed they all had disfigured faces - missing eyes, noses, something wrong.(2) (This was a rather obvious reference to the dolour of a childrens' boarding school.)

On the main wall hung sheets of the green waxed bituminous paper on which I'd painted white oil copies of the pargeted figures, strung together with painted chains which in turn hung from the slave collars that they wore. Still looked decorative - but made the point, I felt.

There was a large display case in which I imprisoned an angel ? a reference to all that had occurred to me about the Hall ? consisting of a plastic torso, shop model-type, with latex wings armatured with toothbrushes. She was strung in the case with wires that were made from Walkman earplugs and aeroplane video-watching ear plugs, both current in those times. In front was another display cabinet with more latex wings. The references were clear but the beauty (and the refection?s, the interaction between the two cases) was unexpected; it really worked.

There were other pieces - paintings and drawings - plus a video that I'd made with George Flatters, a student (I was also teaching at Greenwich University at the time) We'd borrowed a laser from Edwina Orr at Richmond Holographics and did some experiments around vibrations in the cellars testing for what ghost-hunters call 'hot-spots'. We interviewed staff about their 'ghost' stories - or not - and George put it all together with a spooky sound track, most successfully.

The team were pleased, I was pleased, the Arts Council rep took us out to lunch.

When we got back, preparing to photograph the show, two of the key pieces had disappeared. The Angel and the chandelier of dolls. The Arts Officer went off to talk with staff, was gone a long time, came back very pale, very subdued. The Director had said that the pieces were too strong for the building. That the art wasn't at fault; he thought it wasn't appropriate. He further said that if I made a fuss, the whole arts team would go, just go. Arts were not his priority.

After talking it over with the very distressed team, I agreed to do the workshops but to NOT do the exhibition we'd planed for the end of the year.

I wrote to the Director asking politely for an explanation. When I bumped into him he said he'd be replying. He hasn't. Yet.  ''

Monday 1 November 2021

01 11 2021

 Finding a new sense for the anthropological approach I seem to be taking. Truly a work in progress :) No idea how it'll get completed.

Saturday 30 October 2021

31 10 2021

 Getting quite excited as the Co-Mission gathers speed.... it is shaping up. Im mixing metaphors much as Im mixing images. 

Thursday 28 October 2021

29 10 2021

 Yeah woken with good eye sight and the neck/shoulder pain gone :) No excuses. 


The pains back, of course :) But I've been able to letter in the roughs of yesterday, which has been a delight. After reading Meetings with Remarkable Manuscritpts its a kind-of echo; and memories flood back of Sister Veronica, the little nun who taught me lettering. Only nun who didnt strike terror into my heart. She had a waist so tiny it was a wonder she lived. Seems she was captured and tortured by the Japenese back in the day. She taught me to sew as well, always patient and kind. 

Using walnut ink I made in 2017, nice quality, variable mark though pale. Mixing with ancient Stephens Fountain pen ink, red - because I like it - it must be as old as I am.

28 10 2021 it was all going quite well. Got a handle on things, based on illuminated medieval MS (slightly) And discovered that using a new set of muscles and whatever it is I use to do a different action from normal work causes problems. Seem to have a trapped nerve in my neck and I can only rough things out and that with the help of painkillers. And chocolate. Oh and I'm in isolation again, did I say? Had lunch with a friend on Sunday, shes tested positive; Bob and I are negative but the french guidelines require us to isolate for 10 days after exposure.

Which is fine though missing some events I was anticipating with pleasure. Sigh.

Wednesday 27 October 2021

27 10 2021


Between waiting for things to dry in the Co-Mission, have been fiddling with unfinished bits that are lying about. And tearing up many many duff drawings. Think I'm getting worse.

Can always work on the backs. Drawing for me has to be immediate, bosh bosh done, so there are bound to be miserably bad ones. What makes one good? Dunno. But I know bad when I see it. Something to do with intentionality; if Im honest, inside and out, I can seize something of that moment and hold it. Something goes wrong if its self-concious in some unseemly way. 

decided this is finished, because Im fed up with not being able to do the wheel - and what it is is enough for me.  

Tuesday 26 October 2021

26 10 2021

 Gracie drove me to the devils armchair yesterday and took this wonderful picture of the view... found a wild boar hole which may or may not have been a spring source but was anyway a mud hole containing water and ringed with boar foot prints. Which explains a few things about the site that have been perplexing me - water, food. Great mud too, ochre yellow. Will collect some another day, ideal for modelling.

Today... today I start sticking things into the Co-Mission book. Hope all is ready, its a big investment in time and dosh. Looking foward to seeing it though.

Saturday 23 October 2021

24 10 2021

 Off to the lake yesterday for a days drawing - havent looked at the results yet but the day itself was wonderful, quiet and sunny and clear and wind-free - ideal for watercolour.

My friend Keith has had the same eye op as me and is going through exactly the same difficulties. Anguish, he calls it. Says we will forget this anguish. And mine are so much better now I'm sure he's right. Back to the studio tomorrow.

In the meantime six of my paintings have arrived in Germany and are both safe and appreciated - a relief on both counts. Feel very good about it.

Thursday 21 October 2021

21 10 2021

 This morning, waiting for the art movers who are taking large box of paintings to Germany... excited and fearful, as in what could possibly go wrong??

Then it's hit the desk time, for assembling the Co-Mission. Bunting arrived!! Looks marvellous, Pauline done a fantastic job, each picture is printed clearly, hemmed all round, sewn to ribbon

Will probably wrap around the completed package - when its completed. Wondering if Im doing an annally-retentive thang, leaving the security of this time. Security? =knowing what frame I'm in. Clutching my ancient stone tool as talisman.


Wednesday 20 October 2021

20 10 2021

 Love my new tool :) Pretty hard to photograph but its possible to see tiny tiny marks that have shaped and sharpened it. It fits sweetly between thumb and fingers and is very sharp and strong - was idly drawing in the varnish of the arms of the chair last night - don't want to force it to destruction by seeing what it is capable off, it's enough for me that it is there.

Monday 18 October 2021

19 10 2021

 Took yet more time off to go to La Franqui yesterday - really useful, spent the time chatting surrealism with Marcus and looking at stuff.  Found an axe head. Germans rang me while I was sitting next to the only German speaker I know well - it was the couriers who will be taking the package to Munich. Now to re-pack and have Norbert screw down the box - thats this mornings task. This afternoon the return of Bob.

Tomorrow is Jims funeral.

Another friend,  Frances, has died. Gutted for her family who have dealt with three years of cancer-work. She's in Wales so I'm unlikely to get there for the funeral. 

Sunday 17 October 2021

17 10 2021

Its all coming together in my head and def time to enact... guests leave today (perfect guests, self maintaining and highly entertaining),  Bob returns Tuesday, my eyes are functioning.... apart from sorting Jims funeral, I'm up for  finishing the co-mission.

Saturday 16 October 2021

16 10 2021

 Despite long silence I've been working, after a fashion. Gathering material. A little bit of which is exciting me rather. More anon - not actually in studio as have weekend guests and will be sightseeing with them. 

Saturday 9 October 2021

09 10 2021

 Still cleaning - now on archive room. Found work diaries from the 1980's - very earnest, careful handwriting, detailed accounts of how time distributed. Binned with joy. Really into this stripping-of-the-past process. 

Friday 8 October 2021

08 10 2021

 SO virtuous! Got a large clear desk and a space to put my feet under it. Yet to hoover the place but otherwise...

Thursday 7 October 2021

07 10 2021

 Able to face the day with a bit more creative energy so am clearing the decks - the second studio is in agreeable chaos and I need it to finish the co-mission thang so today is clean-up. Which will flow nicely into the delivery of things I need to work with. With luck.

Got a cold so that cocooned-in-cotton-wool sense is helping.

Tuesday 5 October 2021

05 10 2021

 Miserable about the work; direction, content, capability. Thought I'd over-reached myself. Still do but not ready to do flower paintings again. Fun though they are.

Took off this morning to Carcassone expecting to see some art but even failed to do that - train/bus strike gave me the choice of a quick trip or an uncomfortably long one. Pleasent break and bumped into an old friend. Cheering.

Back home the photos for the Co-Mission have arrived - the handful I'd ordered anyway - and the cloth printing stuff is nearly ready to post AND the paintings sold to Munich will be picked up soon. Decide to do nothing and things get done.

Monday 4 October 2021

04 10 2021

 Little bits to tweek but basically done. No idea what going on nor where Im heading. Waiting on some things being delivered to complete the C0-Mission; and for the moment, apart from more fiddling, its clean the studio. 

Friday 1 October 2021

01 10 2021

 Can't decide wether to run the dotted lines into the pond thing or leave well alone... let it settle perhaps. Pressing on with the texts for the Co-Mission. And have another go at the ferris wheel? Dunno.

Had pneumonia vaccine yesterday and arm v sore, despite the anti-hists the doc gve me to counter this. Keep moving! iatrogenic illness better than the alternatives (todays matra -)

Wednesday 29 September 2021

30 09 2021

 The commision-completion plot (some of it) and a re-coloured painting... and the ferris wheel thing, so nearly done but missing something. Sigh.

29 09 2021

 Finally, got a head full  of ideas. Think I'm through the eye thang or at least through the obsessive terror of it.

Thought of a way of managing the completion of the Co-Mission project so spent the morning mapping it out... pausing only to a) bandage thumb, damaged by bottle opener over weekend and b) bandage wrist, damaged by potato peeler ditto. Revot of the kitchen implements. Couldn't actually use drawing pins on account of  damage a) so using selloptape; painting uncomfortable with turps in b) 

Co-Mission shaping up though. It needs 60 images and so far juggled 14, changing and correcting so its already a bit of a mess. Its all feasible however.

The dummy is on an old screen that I carried here from Rue des Jardins. It's solid, quite modern (1940's) - the panels are wallpapered, neutrally. Perfect for the map. BUT keep thinking what I'd like to paint them.

 Have to hold fire until this is done. 

Monday 27 September 2021

27 09 2021

Spent what time there was in the last few days on this little gem... heaven knows what it's about. Saw the round thing when we were at St Pierre last week and much taken by the motif, wheel-of-fortuney. Not quite finished. 

Eyes nearly, nearly, grown in. Last one a bit squeaky/scratchy/intrusive still. Nearly run out of drops and appointment with surgeon looming so I suppose this is all following it's course.

Out of studio today - countryside exploring with Max. 

Friday 24 September 2021

24 09 2021

St Pierre de Mer ... and more importantly, sticks. These hollow weathered things are ideal for ink drawing.


Wednesday 22 September 2021

23 09 2021

 Painting much better but havent snapped it yet - and away to the coast today. Had to scrape off paint and knife it back on otherwise Id still be watching it dry -

Eyes better every day. Did one full day outside and found it uncomfortable but not badly and not for long. Confident today will be even better. Embarassed at my inability to manage all this.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

21 09 2021

 Having to re-learn colours. Not easy. Like some bits, including the emerging image, but not others. Today I'm in Carcassonne, showing family around. No bad thing, let the overworked paint settle some.

Saturday 18 September 2021

19 09 2021

 -Got some painting done, some ideas in order. Using rather pasty colours but will address that. Curious element of trepidation .

Friday 17 September 2021

17 09 2021

 So messed with sleep deprevation, I take off the sunglasses in the night and put on sleep mask. Blessed rest. Still aware that I mustn't move my head to either side or touch the eyes... but I can carry that in me somewhere and sleep. Frightened though. RS who had eye infections after the event says not to worry, anibiotics clears that up quickly; CR had a bad eye infection featuring blood tears which required a second op on the second eye; but shes fine now.

And sooo frustrated! I'd forgotten how miserable life is without making stuff. In a fit of near rage I took charcoal and paper to Maxs garden, sat in dark glasses under cover and looked at the mountains and the rain and the sensational clouds . Charcoal an easy hit. Half-a dozen drawings that gave me huge relief but are in themselves pretty damn dull. Still - ludicrously - fixed them, dated and sited them. For whom, why?? 

---mine is not to reason why, I guess.

Thursday 16 September 2021

16 09 2021

 Have primed and gesso'd 3 50 x 50 canvases and want to press on with the last unfinished; but, ha, various commitments here, chiefly brother-in-law who is a retired tecchie and prepared to examine all my computer problems. Probably as well to move slowly.

Wednesday 15 September 2021

15 09 2021

  - An attempt to surmount this eye implant experience... notes from my notebook. Not recommend reading for the sensitive.

The previous day spent hanging about, fighting off poems about torture (blade/sharp/clean/eye)

Eventually - not allowed to eat or drink - got to hospital early for 3.00 appointment. Handed my phone to Bob - his is a UK number and unacceptable He has to be called to get me when I'm done. Have to use my paper pass sanitaire at the doorkeepers post. 

Admitted at reception desk and sent to next floor, following blue dots on wall. Three other women also in waiting room. I'm called first - paper work, labels, identity label in plastic sheath on wrist - follow nurse to changing rooms. Tout nu. All in locker. Given paper shoes, knickers, charlotte. Cloth gown. Mine won't close. Turns out not to be my fault, it's broken.

Group of three other (different) women. We sit in seperate cubicles but I'm aware of them. Nurses give eye drops over two hours. Theres a mirror in the cubicle and I can see the pupil spreading over my face... there is also a poster explaining whats going to happen. I don't know why I didn't research this. Just assumed that some grot is going to be scraped off my eye. Seems that actually bits of my eye are being replaced by a plastic lens implant. Why didn't I know this??

Tierd, didn't sleep the previous night. Doze. Hours pass, two, I asked a nurse the time. Don't understand her and she writes in biro on her palm, removes it with chemical cleaner. The lady next to me is cold and complains, gets a silver and gold foil blanket - I bags one too but remain cold.

I'm called and put in a wheelchair. Young mixed-race driver clearly expert; drives very fast with a deep knowledge of the spaces available. He's worked in the hospital for two years. He moves me onto a bed on wheels with removable sides and I'm parked up in a ward next to another woman. He goes. Nurse arrives. Chats. Another nurse comes, they chat. Time distended. Someone else is wheeled in and then leaves.

A whole hospital of men and women, fully gowned, come streaming past - going home - chattering. Happy there have been no problems. They are like a flock of  blue exotic birds floating past. A ballet.

I'm told, there has been a delay. More drops.

A boss man appears; asks my name, checks my writ tag, looks me up on a clipboard, disappears without comment.

Comes back, chatting with nurse. No point in taking a holiday you can't go anywhere. He's had covid it was bad flu for 2 weeks. They talk over me. I force myself into their conversation and they allow me into their talk - as he twists a torniquet round my arm and coats my hand with a transluscent gold liquid that stains. He drives a line into my vein. Goes. Nurse tapes the line in. Doze some more. More eye drops. Sticky patches for heart monitoring put on skin.

Taken off trolley and walk slowly on nurses arm. Climb onto another bed.  There are two in the room, one occupied.

Dr E talks and I know him by his voice - masked and hatted and gowned, completly unrecognisible visually.

They take my blood pressure, put clips on the three heart monitors, pour something into the tube wired  into my hand.

Lights. Primary colours, swimming, changing. Pain. That hurts. Oh, that hurts? It stops hurting. Something slides, something moves, something slides. Sometimes the doctors hand shades the light and I'm grateful, it seems a tender act.

He tapes a raised pad over the eye and says he'll see me tomorrow in Limoux at 9.30. I ask him to write that down somewhere. Yellow post-it stuck to my blanket.

Wheeled to another room and given coffee!! Coffee... and a bag containing salad (cucumber, cheese, tomato all chopped v small) apple puree with some cream, a brioche. Bliss!

I hear Bobs voice. They let me see him, I hug his arm and woukd have cried if I could. They take him away.

After I've eaten I'm wheelchaired to the locker room and dress, shakily. Bob takes me to the car.


Think, thank God thats over; but of course its only just begining. Hard to sleep with patch. Dr E takes it off the next morning and all is well and YES, colours, fantastic! Embarrased to catch myself reaching out to touch his dark violet internally-lit clothes - stopped just in time. He's laughing, a response he's used to.

Strapping on the patch every night with sticky tape gives my eye-socket bruises and disrupts my sleep. Try various tricks. Clearly it must be protected. Can't move head at night, none of the customary curling up. Ratty with lack of sleep. 

Managing the eye drops turns out to be a challenge. Three,  three times a day. Easy, but there has to be 15 mins between them so a certain amount of attention has to be paid. And various eyes, not both at once.

And as the day for eye two gets nearer, I'm ridiculously frightened. Odd, since I know what happens, but convinced something will go wrong.


The day dawns. Due in at 2.00 and find I have time for coffee and a croissant early. Have Christopher Hamiels lovely book with me - Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts - absorbing and comforting. In  the waiting room I am the only woman.  I'm called quickly. Same rigmarole with paperwork, another plastic bracelet in case anyone forgets who I claim to be. 

Back to strip ; why is a charlotte called a charlotte? It like a culotte. Charlotte, culotte. The charlotte is a hair net. Culotte are knickers.  Oh well...

Back to cubicle. All men waiting, I'm embarassed for them, naked but for their gowns. Old legs. They are shifty, what I see of them. I'm called quickly after the endless eye drops. Very uneasy. Same process as with the first but without the heart monitor sticky things. Different anesthetist - at least this one introduces himsef and says what he's doing instead of talking over me - before talking over me.

It's all taking too long and I don't want to be here. When I'm wheeled into the operating space I realise the anesthetist isn't there. Do they know I'm not under? Not full of what HH called The Good Stuff?? Dr E positions my head. Pushes a microphone by my mouth. Puts a clip on my second finger which proceeds to beep in time with my heart. A large cuff on the other arm which inflates, deflates.

He's playing rather anodyne music, jazz/pop/ beat driven boring. He and the nurse keep up a running conversation which I can't follow. Not enough drugs! I want to shout - then see the anesthetist. Smile with all I've got visible to thank him. But still too awake... my neck and shoulders are hurting I can feel my bones, see them like an xray but they are brown. I'm clenching and unclenching my hands, waving the arm with the cuff. Can't interupt their conversation. Pray.

Don't move! Dr E shouts. It hurts, I shout back. You mustn't move he shouts. I hear him mutter and something is removed, something replaces it. Is it over? I hear my voice. Not yet. Is it over yet? Yes.


I ask for extra coffee. The men in recovery are impressed I can speak French. Everyone has stories about the idle and arrogant English. We are all on eye two and rather blaise now. Not dead, not brain damaged. Just in pain but bearable.

One man wears a red tshirt saying the most beautiful thing about me is my tractor. We all smile.


Next day appointment at 10.30 and I've already taken off the bandage by the time we get to Dr E's surgery. No appreciable change in eyesight yet, just less tobacco-tint yellow. He greets me with an apology! Another patient wasn't given enough anesthetic and he was sorry, realising a bit late that that was why I moved. He's happy with the eye though and says on the plus side I'II recover quicker.

More prescriptions for more drops, some ideas about patch management. It's impossible to manage two, he says, so I can give up on the first. Seems unlikely I think and show him a way to insert plastic patches into a soft sleep mask Ive brought with me for his inspection. Great idea, he says.


Nowadays I sleep in my sunglasses. It's possible and the best option. Only another week and I should be, well, whatever I'm going to be. 

Thursday 9 September 2021

09 09 2021

 Tis done and I live. Off to surgeon now but (DV) normal work will begin again soon.

Wednesday 8 September 2021

08 09 2021

 Due to have the other eye done at 2.00 today. The sleepless night will ensure I can doze off in the endless waitingness of it all...

Saw 21 buzzards come out of the clouds and float over the town, en route to Mont Marot.  Think they were buzzards, could only see their sillouettes - not eagles, not vultures, and in a large group so likely. Magic, of course :)

Monday 6 September 2021

06 09 2021

 Yesterday was the first day I felt comfortable with the new lump of plastic in my eye - beginning to see how this might work. Next op is looming so just as well. Finally getting the rhythm of the eye drops and learning to sleep in the plastic patch.

My old eye has a strong yellow bias which the new eye has eradicated in dazzling blue/white.

Other than that; Pauline has sent photos of the printing-in-progress of the survivors celebratory flags. Encouraging.

And I have 1500 more words to write for a review due any min. 

Saturday 4 September 2021

04 09 2021

 Got its basic shape I think. Have to wait for eye recovery now. In the meantime have to come to grips with half-finished stuff - the co-mission, the web site, the book review (due in a week)

Whilst aware of the eye. And the next op on weds. 

Life seems sad - it isn't, it's no different than normal, but Jims death has been a shock and I'm so aware of the others who've died lately. Want to make a tribute, like Lament for the Makers

probably need some exercise.

Thursday 2 September 2021

02 09 2021

Through a glass darkly :) Having to paint in sun glasses. Done a cute ex libris plate, something I've been promising myself for 60 years. Next op in 6 days...  


Friday 27 August 2021

27 08 2021

 One eye done, hideously scarily but recovering - and its true, the colours are amazing. Now waiting till the 8th of Sept for the next one to be done. Some of the anxiety gone since I now know the worst. New anxieties replacing them as I realise the opportunities for possible disasters.

Pluses: took a look at some of my paintings and they are far better than I thought :) I'd not been able to reach the colours I wanted and had fought to get to them - turns out I had, just didn't know it. That's a big plus. Delighted, actually. The other plus was that having been forced to sit alone in silence, slightly tranquilised, in hospital gave me several hours - five- for reflection. 

Have worked out what to do with the Covid survivors watercolours and am implementing that  - having managed to repair broken computer (you tube instructions, bless em), downloaded images to stick, transferred to working machine and now wetransfering to Pauline to print on fabric. Not complete yet, perhaps this is alerting hubris.

Also had a vision of the co-mission.... next trick is to assemble the images and find a goose feather supplier to make quill pens.  

Slightly weepy at the love and support that has been coming my way.

Friday 20 August 2021

20 08 2021

 Having to face up to the fact that the next few weeks will be unproductive. Just being in the hospital yesterday to do the pre op checks sent me into a spin that made it impossible to think, even. May try sorting a couple of things today but not holding my breath, time to go with the flow and submit to the vagaries of fate. 

Wednesday 18 August 2021

19 08 2021

delighted with these photos - my shadow on boulders at the salt works in Gruisson. Was trying the get the crystals that had formed around holes and failed.


Tuesday 17 August 2021

17 08 2021

 Bit more fiddling on the prophet bird but so scared really can't work. About to leave for the first stage of my eye ops (eco something) which is none interventional and doesn't hurt but is, gulp, the first stage of my eye ops...

Monday 16 August 2021

Sunday 15 August 2021

16 08 2021

 Had wretched weekend fiddling with computers. This one is an old one of Bobs which I'm gradually coming to grips with.  Can import photos, can print, can access email and now it seems I'm back blogging. Heat v high so studio orrible, today much cooler and so that's where I'm off to...

Friday 13 August 2021

13 08 2021

 Glazed himself back, brought the prophet bird forward... now don't like the emerging negative shape. Has to dry again, and hopefully wont need too much more because the amount of  resin and stand oil is getting OTT. Still not sure what all this is about.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

12 08 2021

 It's at that stage where there is just painting to do and its a pleasure... way to go and heaven knows where that'll lead. Think the old boy must be knocked back - glaze - or maybe big up the prophet bird to match. Whatever. It has to dry and since its roasting in the studio I'm off to swim :)

(looking at the photo - often makes it clearer than looking at the painting - it's the prophet bird that needs the emphasis)

11 08 2021

 Day off yesterday, taking the brother-in-law to the prefecture to straighten his legals. To my astonishment all went well so the day was justified and I was content to laze...

waiting now for a sound check for an Italian company who are doing a podcast (??) Baffled by this age, just grateful they let me play. Rest of the day on trying to pull Nostradamus together.

Monday 9 August 2021

09 08 2021

Funny how these things work. I'd been listening to Schumann's Prophet Bird and got interested.... which lead to prophecy and of course Nostradamus. And the love of his son for him and his (alleged) sojourn at Alet-les- Bains and my drawings of that and the accidents that befell. Curiously, the very subject is the last to be factored in. 

Mind you, it aint over yet. By a long chalk. (What the hell is a long chalk????)

 It seems that the actual prophet bird is a cuckoo which is amazingly unappealing visually. Had one hatch in the garden once, killing the blackbirds in the process. So my prophetic friend may well be a parrot.... 

Sunday 8 August 2021

08 08 2021

 Got charmed by a painting of Nostradamus - who allegedly lived (briefly) in Alet-les-Bains - painted by his son. Also allegedly. Was smitten by the evident love and started to make a painting, following the idea of the RDV at Alet. An otter has appeared. Bizarre.