Monday, December 22, 2014

Sam Smith to Dr. Evil

Prodnose: In December 2014, Smith was nominated for six Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, "Stay with Me" for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and In the Lonely Hour for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. Do you reject him?
Myself: I do.

Prodnose: And all his works?
Myself: I do.

Prodnose: And all his empty promises?
Myself: I do.

Although I should be above such things I cannot bleedin' abide Sam Smith and the godawful, caterwauling racket he generates.

It is good to see SNL putting the boot into him, but even better to have that segue into Dr. Evil putting  the boot into North Korea.
"You're one of the most evil countries in the world and your act of war is to kill a movie? It's easy to kill a movie. Just move it to January."

Sunday, December 21, 2014


D’Angelo Debuts Long-Awaited Album, Featuring Pino Palladino.

The first time I listened to Black Messiah, the new D'Angelo album I found myself thinking Prince could have knocked it out in fifteen days, never mind fifteen years. Now I've spent a bit more time with it I am starting to realise how dense and intricate it is; a grower I think.

Pino Palladino has bass, writing and production credits on the record as far as I can tell from casting round the interwebs for background.  (I have no idea how to conjure up this information in iTunes. Back in the day I was an avid reader of LP liner notes but these days they seem to have disappeared into the ether making it very difficult to tell who is actually playing on anything.)

"Born in Cardiff to an Italian father from Campobasso, Umberto Palladino and Welsh mother Ann Hazard" in 1957, I have always been aware of Pino P and I am amazed I have never written about him here.

He has played with everyone see I don't have room on the  'blog even to begin to cover it, You'll have to read up on him. A new and true Welsh Born Icon.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The forty rules of love

Recently when running the slide rule over my portfolio I found that I was light on modern female Turkish novelists. The subsequent rebalancing is how I have come to be reading Elif Şafak, and how, in turn, in the week of the unspeakable Peshwar school attack I can at least comprehend how utterly alien that was to the Islam that gave us Shams of Trabiz's 40 Rules of Love.
  1. How we see God is a direct reflection of how we see ourselves. If God brings to mind mostly fear and blame, it means there is too much fear and blame welled inside us. If we see God as full of love and compassion, so are we.
  2. The path to the Truth is a labour of the heart, not of the head. Make your heart your primary guide! Not your mind. Meet, challenge and ultimately prevail over your nafs (self, psyche, soul) with your heart. Knowing your ego will lead you to the knowledge of God.
  3. You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue or church. But if you are still in need of knowing where exactly His abode is, there is only one place to look for him: in the heart of a true lover.
  4. Intellect and love are made of different materials. Intellect ties people in knots and risks nothing, but love dissolves all tangles and risks everything. Intellect is always cautious and advises, ‘Beware too much ecstasy’, whereas love says, ‘Oh, never mind! Take the plunge!’ Intellect does not easily break down, whereas love can effortlessly reduce itself to rubble. But treasures are hidden among ruins. A broken heart hides treasures.
  5. Most of problems of the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstanding. Don’t ever take words at face value. When you step into the zone of love, language, as we know it becomes obsolete. That which cannot be put into words can only be grasped through silence.
  6. Loneliness and solitude are two different things. When you are lonely, it is easy to delude yourself into believing that you are on the right path. Solitude is better for us, as it means being alone without feeling lonely. But eventually it is the best to find a person who will be your mirror. Remember only in another person’s heart can you truly see yourself and the presence of God within you.
  7. Whatever happens in your life, no matter how troubling things might seem, do not enter the neighbourhood of despair. Even when all doors remain closed, God will open up a new path only for you. Be thankful! It is easy to be thankful when all is well. A Sufi is thankful not only for what he has been given but also for all that he has been denied.
  8. Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to look at the end of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. The lovers of God never run out of patience, for they know that time is needed for the crescent moon to become full.
  9. East, west, south, or north makes little difference. No matter what your destination, just be sure to make every journey a journey within. If you travel within, you’ll travel the whole wide world and beyond.
  10. The midwife knows that when there is no pain, the way for the baby cannot be opened and the mother cannot give birth. Likewise, for a new self to be born, hardship is necessary. Just as clay needs to go through intense heat to become strong, Love can only be perfected in pain.
  11. The quest for love changes user. There is no seeker among those who search for love who has not matured on the way. The moment you start looking for love, you start to change within and without.
  12. There are more fake gurus and false teachers in this world than the number of stars in the visible universe. Don’t confuse power-driven, self-centered people with true mentors. A genuine spiritual master will not direct your attention to himself or herself and will not expect absolute obedience or utter admiration from you, but instead will help you to appreciate and admire your inner self. True mentors are as transparent as glass. They let the light of God pass through them.
  13. Try not to resist the changes, which come your way. Instead let life live through you. And do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?
  14. God is busy with the completion of your work, both outwardly and inwardly. He is fully occupied with you. Every human being is a work in progress that is slowly but inexorably moving toward perfection. We are each an unfinished work of art both waiting and striving to be completed. God deals with each of us separately because humanity is fine art of skilled penmanship where every single dot is equally important for the entire picture.
  15. It’s easy to love a perfect God, unblemished and infallible that He is. What is far more difficult is to love fellow human beings with all their imperfections and defects. Remember, one can only know what one is capable of loving. There is no wisdom without love. Unless we learn to love God’s creation, we can neither truly love nor truly know God.
  16. Real filth is the one inside. The rest simply washes off. There is only one type of dirt that cannot be cleansed with pure waters, and that is the stain of hatred and bigotry contaminating the soul. You can purify your body through abstinence and fasting, but only love will purify your heart.
  17. The whole universe is contained within a single human being-you. Everything that you see around, including the things that you might not be fond of and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you set to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness.
  18. If you want to change the ways others treat you, you should first change the way you treat yourself. Unless you learn to love yourself, fully and sincerely, there is no way you can be loved. Once you achieve that stage, however, be thankful for every thorn that others might throw at you. It is a sign that you will soon be showered in roses.
  19. Fret not where the road will take you. Instead concentrate on the first step. That is the hardest part and that is what you are responsible for. Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow. Don’t go with the flow. Be the flow.
  20. We were all created in His image, and yet we were each created different and unique. No two people are alike. No hearts beat to the same rhythm. If God had wanted everyone to be the same, He would have made it so. Therefore, disrespecting differences and imposing your thoughts on others is an amount to disrespecting God’s holy scheme.
  21. When a true lover of God goes into a tavern, the tavern becomes his chamber of prayer, but when a wine bibber goes into the same chamber, it becomes his tavern. In everything we do, it is our hearts that make the difference, not our outer appearance. Sufis do not judge other people on how they look or who they are. When a Sufi stares at someone, he keeps both eyes closed instead opens a third eye – the eye that sees the inner realm.
  22. Life is a temporary loan and this world is nothing but a sketchy imitation of Reality. Only children would mistake a toy for the real thing. And yet human beings either become infatuated with the toy or disrespectfully break it and throw it aside. In this life stay away from all kinds of extremities, for they will destroy your inner balance. Sufis do not go to extremes. A Sufi always remains mild and moderate.
  23. The human being has a unique place among God’s creation. “I breathed into him of My Spirit,” God says. Each and every one of us without exception is designed to be God’s delegate on earth. Ask yourself, just how often do you behave like a delegate, if you ever do so? Remember, it fells upon each of us to discover the divine spirit inside and live by it.
  24. Hell is in the here and now. So is heaven. Quit worrying about hell or dreaming about heaven, as they are both present inside this very moment. Every time we fall in love, we ascend to heaven. Every time we hate, envy or fight someone we tumble straight into the fires of hell.
  25. Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level of tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batin – the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.
  26. The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation. Do no harm. Practice compassion. And do not gossip behind anyone’s back – not even a seemingly innocent remark! The words that come out of our mouths do not vanish but are perpetually stored in infinite space and they will come back to us in due time. One man’s pain will hurt us all. One man’s joy will make everyone smile.
  27. Whatever you speak, good or evil, will somehow come back to you. Therefore, if there is someone who harbours ill thoughts about you, saying similarly bad things about him will only make matters worse. You will be locked in a vicious circle of malevolent energy. Instead for forty days and nights say and think nice things about that person. Everything will be different at the end of 40 days, because you will be different inside.
  28. The past is an interpretation. The future is on illusion. The world does not move through time as if it were a straight line, proceeding from the past to the future. Instead time moves through and within us, in endless spirals. Eternity does not mean infinite time, but simply timelessness. If you want to experience eternal illumination, put the past and the future out of your mind and remain within the present moment.
  29. Destiny doesn’t mean that your life has been strictly predetermined. Therefore, to live everything to the fate and to not actively contribute to the music of the universe is a sign of sheer ignorance. The music of the universe is all pervading and it is composed on 40 different levels. Your destiny is the level where you play your tune. You might not change your instrument but how well to play is entirely in your hands.
  30. The true Sufi is such that even when he is unjustly accused, attacked and condemned from all sides, he patiently endures, uttering not a single bad word about any of his critics. A Sufi never apportions blame. How can there be opponents or rivals or even “others” when there is no “self” in the first place? How can there be anyone to blame when there is only One?
  31. If you want to strengthen your faith, you will need to soften inside. For your faith to be rock solid, your heart needs to be as soft as a feather. Through an illness, accident, loss or fright, one way or another, we are all faced with incidents that teach us how to become less selfish and judgmental and more compassionate and generous. Yet some of us learn the lesson and manage to become milder, while some others end up becoming even harsher than before…
  32. Nothing should stand between you and God. No imams, priests, rabbis or any other custodians of moral or religious leadership. Not spiritual masters and not even your faith. Believe in your values and your rules, but never lord them over others. If you keep breaking other people’s hearts, whatever religious duty you perform is no good. Stay away from all sorts of idolatry, for they will blur your vision. Let God and only God be your guide. Learn the Truth, my friend, but be careful not to make a fetish out of your truths.
  33. While everyone in this world strives to get somewhere and become someone, only to leave it all behind after death, you aim for the supreme stage of nothingness. Live this life as light and empty as the number zero. We are no different from a pot. It is not the decorations outside but the emptiness inside that holds us straight. Just like that, it is not what we aspire to achieve but the consciousness of nothingness that keeps us going.
  34. Submission does not mean being weak or passive. It leads to neither fatalism nor capitulation. Just the opposite. True power resides in submission a power that comes within. Those who submit to the divine essence of life will live in unperturbed tranquility and peace even the whole wide world goes through turbulence after turbulence.
  35. In this world, it is not similarities or regularities that take us a step forward, but blunt opposites. And all the opposites in the universe are present within each and every one of us. Therefore the believer needs to meet the unbeliever residing within. And the nonbeliever should get to know the silent faithful in him. Until the day one reaches the stage of Insane-I Kamil, the perfect human being, faith is a gradual process and one that necessitates its seeming opposite: disbelief.
  36. This world is erected upon the principle of reciprocity. Neither a drop of kindness nor a speck of evil will remain unreciprocated. For not the plots, deceptions, or tricks of other people. If somebody is setting a trap, remember, so is God. He is the biggest plotter. Not even a leaf stirs outside God’s knowledge. Simply and fully believe in that. Whatever God does, He does it beautifully.
  37. God is a meticulous clock maker. So precise is His order that everything on earth happens in its own time. Neither a minute late nor a minute early. And for everyone without exception, the clock works accurately. For each there is a time to love and a time to die.
  38. It is never too late to ask yourself, “Am I ready to change the life I am living? Am I ready to change within?” Even if a single day in your life is the same as the day before, it surely is a pity. At every moment and with each new breath, one should be renewed and renewed again. There is only one-way to be born into a new life: to die before death.
  39. While the part change, the whole always remains the same. For every thief who departs this world, a new one is born. And every decent person who passes away is replaced by a new one. In this way not only does nothing remain the same but also nothing ever really changes. For every Sufi who dies, another is born somewhere.
  40. A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Entertaining Entertainers

Nullam, Vare, sacra vite prius severis arborem
circa mite solum Tibruis et moenia Catili;
siccis omnia nam dura deus proposiuit neque
mordaces aliter diffugiunt sollicitundines.
I got a note from Mark (see Icons passim) earlier this week.
Are you free on Friday night? It’s my last day in London before Christmas, so I’d like to invite you to join me for a drink to celebrate. I will be at the Phoenix Arts Club [charing cross road] from 8pm on this Friday evening – the 19th.
Am inviting a very small, select group along, fine people like yourself.
If you are free would be excellent to see you and to raise a toast to … well, I’m sure we’ll think of something.
The Phoenix Arts Club looks like an interesting venue. You have to be a member to get in after 9pm - which explains the eight o'clock kick off. It is open until 2:30 in the morning, which means that the N155 night bus might well have to take the strain getting me home and I should be wary of scheduling any appointments for Saturday morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beast Mode On

Adebayo Akinfenwa, the AFC Wimbledon striker, is an old school English striker. He’s a journeyman in the truest sense of the word and it’s fair to say his game relies quite heavily on physical presence. While not the tallest (5 ft 11 in), Akinfenwa weighs around 16 stone. Big unit doesn’t even come close.
The 32-year-old has become an iconic figure largely by virtue of his unique physique. He is ranked as the strongest footballer in the world on most editions of the FIFA computer game series and was actually invited to attend the launch of FIFA 15, alongside more illustrious names like Rio Ferdinand and Lethal Bizzle.
Now, as part of the 2014 Dons Trust Auction, you have the chance to spend an hour in the gym with a man who can bench press 180 kg, almost double his own body weight. All you have to do is bid for the pleasure and the big man will be your personal trainer (for 60 minutes).
Akinfenwa runs a clothing label called “Beast Mode On”and the club are advertising the auction with the same phrase. It closes at 14.30 today and for more details you simply need to click here.
John, if you were planning a run last night but binned it in favour of wine fuelled present wrapping while watching West Wing season 2 reruns just because a few drops of rain fell, you are short of motivation. Why not put a bid in for the offer above? You can stay at mine if you win.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hello Goodbye

Yesterday's school game was cancelled, so that is rugby football done and dusted for 2014.
Old Cats had a big reality check up at Park Rd yesterday against an accomplished Old Ruts team who attacked both at close quarters and wide out to devastating effect finding numerous holes in the home defence and exploiting them with deadly precision. Whilst a defeat like this one can be a bit chastening it should mean that we all take stock about where we are as a team and how we can improve for the rest of the season.
I got a text from Martin this morning saying that there was a report on the weekend's game on the Old Cat's website. That is the first paragraph above and you can read the rest here. Sid and Silas actually get name checked in the report, which is quite a testament to their influence on the game. I also learned that the Cats' boy Seb who went off had broken his collar bone so I wish him a speedy recovery

Old Cats topped their division last season, winning all six games. They scored 203 points in the process and conceded 60, so you can understand how the 60 the conceded to us in one match might be considered "a little bit chastening."

We are second in the league this morning, but Ruts' nemesis Warlingham are only two points behind and have a game in hand.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Smile Revoluton

In 1787 critics of the Paris Salon were scandalised by a painting exhibited by Mme Vigée Le Brun. The subject was conventional enough: a self-portrait of the artist cradling her small daughter. The problem was that Vigée Le Brun was depicted smiling. You could even see her teeth. This was, as one critic put it, ‘an affectation which artists, connoisseurs and people of good taste are unanimous in condemning’.
The Bomber is currently rocking a fixed lower brace and a removable upper one that he has to adjust each Sunday. On our next visit in the new year, they are to be connected by rubber bands. I can't help but wonder if the unnamed Eighteenth century critic above might have had a point.
Smiles are fleeting, says Mary Beard, and hard to pin down. The perfect smile is a modern obsession. Blame the dental-industrial complex... more»

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Forwards win games, backs decide by how much

I think we beat Old Caterhamians by 60 to 36 today with three tries each from Silas and Sid, along with one each from Ben, Lee and Joe of which five were converted courtesy of Sid.

The game, however was played at such a breakneck pace that it was hard to keep up; corrections may emerge.*

When Ben plays against Emmanuel School tomorrow it will be his fourth game in six days. He deserves to put his feet up over Christmas.

* Correction 1: As conversions are worth two points not three, it seems more likely we got ten tries. I am guessing Joe or Sid for the missing effort. Watch this space.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


As I waited in the bar of the Gore Hotel on Monday, I heard a song, sung in French, that struck me because the first four bars bars of the chorus are exactly the same as a song I wrote years ago.

Yesterday, when I was in the dentist's waiting room with Ben before he had braces fitted on his lower jaw, I heard it again so I asked what it was. Which is how I come to present Pink Martini's Sympathique for your listening pleasure above.
In 1994 in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Thomas Lauderdale was working in politics, thinking that one day he would run for mayor. Like other eager politicians-in-training, he went to every political fundraiser under the sun… but was dismayed to find the music at these events underwhelming, lackluster, loud and un-neighborly. Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world – crossing genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop – and hoping to appeal to conservatives and liberals alike, he founded the “little orchestra” Pink Martini in 1994 to provide more beautiful and inclusive musical soundtracks for political fundraisers for causes such as civil rights, affordable housing, the environment, libraries, public broadcasting, education and parks.
One year later, Lauderdale called China Forbes, a Harvard classmate who was living in New York City, and asked her to join Pink Martini. They began to write songs together. Their first song “Sympathique” became an overnight sensation in France, was nominated for “Song of the Year” at France’s Victoires de la Musique Awards, and to this day remains a mantra (“Je ne veux pas travailler” or “I don’t want to work”) for striking French workers.
Well I never.

Their equivalent of my

You can keep the open air
Give me subway savoir fayre
Je ne veux pas travailler
Je ne veux pas déjeuner.

I am clearer on the meaning of the latter than the former and it is in French. That is probably not good.

In my version I was trying to write a sort of Kander and Ebb vamp. It goes Cm, Cm, Cm/B♭, Cm/B♭, A♭, A♭, G, G. So now you know.

The issue of how much of a tune a passage that largely consists of the same note played on the beat represents may also be relevant.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Keep the Track Running

As promised, here is an update on last night’s Full Council Meeting at Wandsworth Town Hall.

I mentioned in my last email that #keepthetrackrunning campaigners Councillors Leonie Cooper, Candida Jones and Fleur Anderson had succeeded on getting the future of the track onto the full council agenda, and last night ALL councillors met to vote on the future of the track.

I am pleased to say that Leonie, Candida and Fleur all made emotive speeches on the campaign’s behalf; outlining the importance of protecting the future of the track, making sure the services remain affordable to local people, and stressing the need to consult local people before the running of the track is handed over to an outside organisation.

Whilst it is frustrating that the council failed to consult the local community on their decision, I am delighted to report that last night Wandsworth Council did commit to keeping the services at the track affordable! There is no doubt about it, our campaign not only secured assurances that the track will remain open, but it put the issue of affordability on the agenda, and prevented Wandsworth Council from either selling off the track or quietly handing over the running of it without a thought to its future users.

This is a great success, and I would like to thank every one of you for signing the petition, encouraging your friends and family to do the same, and standing up for our track. Thanks also to those of you who came to the public gallery last night to see the debate. It just goes to show that if we really are stronger when we work together, and we can have an impact on the decisions that affect everyone in our community.

Going forward I will be monitoring Wandsworth Council’s tendering process very carefully to make sure the council honour their commitment, and that the track really does keep running.

I will be sure to be in touch in the New Year, to keep you updated.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas.

Best wishes,

Sadiq Khan


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Boys, our troubles are over

A curry base is the foundation of all curries. It is a blend of fried onions with a hint of garlic, ginger and tomatoes. This jar provides you with this authentic curry base by fitting all these wonderful flavours into one jar.
I stumbled on this in Tesco last night. I know how to make it from the invaluable The Curry Secret: How to Cook Real Indian Restaurant Meals at Home, but it takes an age and you have to knock up industrial quantities. A new store cupboard staple is born.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

a work in progress

The U14s beat St Paul's School 45-17 yesterday with three tries from the Bomber. I thought that the plan had been to rest him for that game so that he was fresh for the Cup game for the U15s in Brighton today but apparently circumstances conspired against.

Expect to see the score for that game here some time after around four this afternoon.

No other details yet, but I see the boys went down 57-12 to Brighton this afternoon so that is the end of the cup adventure for this season. Himself will probably need Mrs. Dreyfuss' chicken soup tonight.

Come Sunday though it will be "Pick yourself up, Take a deep breath, Dust yourself off. And start all over again" away at Old Caterhamians. They were promoted to our division last year so we don't really know them.

The URL however (while it is not linked on the Surrey Rugby website) still works and tells a tale of of played 6, won 6 , 203 points for, 60 against and five bonus points for them last season, so they are unlikely to be mugs.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014