Monday, October 31, 2011

thoroughly modern

Since the creation of the Duchy of Cornwall in 1337 the Prince of Wales's consent has been sought on laws that affect the estate

Under the charter, the duchy always belongs to the sovereign's eldest son who is the heir apparent. If the heir apparent dies without leaving children, the property of the duchy reverts to the crown. So although the duchy belongs to the Prince of Wales, who is also the Duke of Cornwall, there is a theoretical possibility that it could revert to the sovereign, who therefore has a contingent personal interest in matters that affect the property of the duchy.

Bills in parliament that would affect the sovereign's private interests (or the royal prerogative) require the Queen's consent; by extension, therefore, bills that would affect the duchy also require consent, and since the Prince of Wales administers the duchy he also performs the function of considering and granting relevant requests for consent.

Queen's consent and prince's consent are fundamentally different from royal assent. The consents are required as a matter of parliamentary procedure, as a method of protecting crown prerogative and private interests.

Royal assent is a feature of constitutional law rather than merely parliamentary procedure: it is the method by which a bill that has passed through parliament becomes an act, and it amounts to a formal assent given by the sovereign.

Apart from the special position of property belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall, the Duke of Cornwall has no special constitutional position; he is a subject of the crown like any other. The sovereign and the Prince of Wales are the only members of the royal family whose consent is required for bills that affect their private interests.

Daniel Greenberg is a parliamentary lawyer at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP.
What a strange country this is. Last week was taken up with proposals to revise 1701's Act of Settlement, now our gaze is drawn back a further three hundred and sixty three years.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Laws of the Game

I'm off to take the Bomber to rugby shortly. His mate Halex is going to come along and have a run out to see how he likes it as well.

I read a story in Slate earlier this month about some sort of prehensile rugby law - which has lain dormant in American football for a century - affecting the result of a New York Giants/ Arizona Cardinals game.

Our correspondent notes:
The "cry down" rule makes sense in rugby, if only to signal the transition into that phase of play wherein everyone dry-humps everyone else. The rule's bastard American son, the "no effort" rule, has no business in modern pro football.
"That phase of play wherein everyone dry-humps everyone else", being the Yank for ruck I imagine. I suppose it makes sense from the perspective of the Atlantic.

Note to self: do not use this phrase in explaining rucks to ten year old newbie Halex this morning. His mother may not understand.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Where's your head at?

I was at the Twickenham Beer Festival last night; beards, sandals and elbow patches aplenty. What nice crusty people CAMRA members are.

This was the 11th festival. The 10th was in 2008, yet I was pretty sure that I go to it every year. I wonder where my head has been for the last thirty six months.

Friday, October 28, 2011


A homeless woman has been caught after spending a year living undetected in a man's cupboard.

The woman sneaked into his house in Japan and was only discovered after he became suspicious over the mysterious disappearance of food.

Police found the 58-year-old hiding in the top compartment of the cupboard in a bedroom in Kasuya.
I have put the new Murakami aside for a bit while I read the Steve Jobs biography, but this story could have come straight out of one of his plots.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

I read an obituary in the Independent this week: Bob Brunning: Original bass player with Fleetwood Mac.

Courtesy of the WBI time machine, I find that it is nearly six years since
I went out for drink or two after work with Paul last night. While he was at the bar in the Standard, I noticed Bob Brunning having a quiet solo pint a couple of tables away so I introduced myself to thank him for all that he does for music in the area with his Blues Club and AbbeyFest. He was very gracious. Noodling around on his website today I found out that he is Simon Brunning's father. Small World.
I'm glad, now that I made the effort all that time ago.

Music goes on. I went to see Steve Earle Tuesday night.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


When damsels of a certain social standing were in distress; when the proper quarters of London were in dire need of assistance; when social mores needed to be upheld and decorous behavior was called for in the face of an orphanage inferno ........

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It was fifty years ago today…

The very first edition of Private Eye, published on 25 October 1961.
Lord Gnome's organ certainly casts a long shadow here courtesy of EJ Thribb, Dave Spart, "Has any other reader ...." etc.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Plain People of New Zealand

As the coach of the Bomber's rugby team is a Kiwi, training was delayed until 11am yesterday morning so that everyone could watch the World Cup Final.

Ben having recently switched from wing to full back was particularly interest in the number 15s and also pleasantly surprised to see that France appeared to have selected Wolverine in his new position.
It was to no avail though, as New Zealand ground out a hard fought but deserved win.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


How delightful to discover that Danny Baker - one of my favourite people see Icons passim - uses the pseudonym Prodnose on Twitter, revealing himself as a fellow Beachcomber fan.

Prodnose: I expected no less of the great man.
Myself: Yes
The Plain People of Ireland: It's a reference to another columnist that you are for all your your airs and graces Squireen Myself. The barefaced effrontery of it all! It's to Myles na gCopaleen that you owe your strut and fret upon the stage, and what do you say to that?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Of our elaborate plans, the end

It's not every day that a national institution with 120 years of history, the second largest university in the UK, suddenly disappears.

The University of Wales, based on the plans announced on Friday afternoon, will no longer exist.

There will be no more University of Wales degrees, which 250,000 people in Wales and around the world currently hold.

We're talking about an institution of which Prince Charles is the chancellor, which since 1893 has served communities in Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Swansea, and all manner of places throughout the world.

Today's decision effectively brings all that to an end.
How will I cope if my BSc in Chemical Engineering is devalued?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Silverlight, Bronze Match

I'm craftily watching the Wales/Australia World Cup third place play off in work on the ITV home page.

I've noticed that it's coming up over Flash, whereas I thought ITV used Silverlight.

I think my mind may be wandering as we've gone 13 - 8 down after going into the lead early in the second half.

.... into the last quarter ....


Wales lose 21-18 to Tri-Nations champions Australia in the Rugby World Cup third-place play-off at Eden Park.

Wales lost three games by a total of five points. Discuss with particular reference to the importance of kicking penalties and conversions.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

handsome is as handsome does

Has any other reader noticed the remarkable similarity between Tom Palmer's tackle on Dan Lydiate in the video above and Sam Warburton's tackle on Vincent Clerc in the 2011 Word Cup semi final? I wonder if they are, by any chance, related?

Alternatively, perhaps there is some subtlety that I am missing as the same referee decided that the first didn't even warrant a penalty while the second earned an automatic red card.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Me and you Siri, us.

Well that's the clincher. I definitely need an iPhone 4S.

Myself: All together now!
Prodnose: I put some whiskey into my whiskey
Siri: I put some heartbreak into my heart

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Emma Morley's Mix Tape

Last night, with Murakami's 1Q84 due to be published today, I buckled down and finished David Nicholls' One Day

Kiss her you fool! is an unusual reaction, at least for me, to a text but I will own up to being reduced to a quivering wreck by the end.

You won't find any plot spoilers here, but today I will still mostly be sobbing gently to myself and listening to Emma Morley's mix tape on Spotify.

On a more prosaic level, when Emma gains some weight, the author observes that "for some months now she had been putting skirts on over her head".

I am open-mouthed with admiration. How does a bloke, other than Eddie Izzard, get hold of information like that? Is it possible - without getting punched in the nose - to ask a woman how putting on a few pounds has altered her dressing routine? Could one enquire of a wife or girlfriend if she was putting a skirt on over her head because of all the donuts she'd been putting away?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rugby Round Up

Under 11 rugby having twelve players in a team rather than last year's nine, I left the house this morning to ferry a left wing to the field and returned with a full back in the car; a thunderous tackler of a full back, safe as houses under the high ball who still managed to score two of his team's three tries. The only blot on the bomber's performance was a clearance kick that he didn't chase quickly enough to bring the rest of his team mates on side. I put my hand up for that, as I didn't explain that rule when, before the game, he explicitly asked me when, and to what purpose, he should kick. We've got over worse misunderstandings though, see Icons passim from six years ago.

In an unrelated development I find that my father knows Alain Rolland, the ref who sent Sam Warburton - the Welsh captain - off yesterday, having met him on holiday in Lanzarote. That is certainly a calling card that has been devalued over the last 24 hours.

I see that the IRB have added insult to injury by banning Sam for three weeks. This is insane. If you watched the game on the telly you know that the ITV pundits were Francois Pienaar, Lawrence Dallaglio, Martyn Williams. Could there be more distinguished triumvirate of back row veterans? They all thought the sending off was ridiculous and now this. Words fail me.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Could've, would've, should've

We've decided to refund all losing match bets on Wales. Only fair as Warburton decision was wrong - wales would have won with him. #PPRefund
'nuff said.

Friday, October 14, 2011

And so it came to pass

A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work is curiously reminiscent of the Medieval Monastery Helpdesk sketch (Icons passim) don't you think?

I also can't help but wonder how the adorable little tyke would get on after updating to iOS 5 and finding - as we did yesterday - that all the applications had disappeared!?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

At the Korova Milk Bar

If I were given total power, I could very easily engineer a nation in which coffee would become a huge social problem - a nation in which young people would binge-drink coffee every Friday and Saturday night and then rampage around town centres being anti-social, getting into fights and having unprotected sex in random one-night stands.

I would restrict access to coffee, thus immediately giving it highly desirable forbidden-fruit status. Then I would issue lots of dire warnings about the dangerously disinhibiting effects of coffee.

I would make sure everyone knew that even a mere three cups (six "units") of coffee "can lead to anti-social, aggressive and violent behaviour", and sexual promiscuity, thus instantly giving young people a powerful motive to binge-drink double espressos, and a perfect excuse to behave very badly after doing so.

I could legitimately base many of my scary coffee-awareness warnings on the known effects of caffeine, and I could easily make these sound like a recipe for disaster, or at least for disinhibition and public disorder.

It would not take long for my dire warnings to create the beliefs and expectations that would make them self-fulfilling prophecies. This may sound like a science fiction story, but it is precisely what our misguided alcohol-education programmes have done.

Over the past few decades the government, the drinks industry and schools have done exactly the opposite of what they should do to tackle our dysfunctional drinking.
I for one will be watching Wales in the semi final of the World Cup in the pub at 9am on Saturday morning, O my brothers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What I read about ...

Pretty much - as far as I can tell - all of Haruki Murakami's back catalogue was published on kindle yesterday (at least in the UK) exactly a week before his latest 1Q84 arrives. None of it was available when I last looked a couple of months ago.

I've already pre-ordered 1Q84. What with that and Steve Jobs' authorized biography being brought forward to October 24, it has struck me that Kindle pre-orders have changed my reading style from that of a hard-back eschewing softcover man to an on-publication novelty grabber.

Over the month from the Murakami, by way of illustration the following will be winging me way over the ether the instant that they are made available.

18 Oct 2011 1Q84 (Icons passim)
24 Oct 2011 Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography (Icons passim)
31 Oct 2011 Eat Pray Eat (Icons passim)
17 Nov 2011 Tapped Out: Rear Naked Chokes, the Octagon, and the Last Emperor: An Odyssey in Mixed Martial Arts (Icons passim)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lord Snoop of Dogg

Snoop gives a shout out to a Cardiff vegetable fancier, and the latest thing Straight Outta Compton is a cricket team.

What ever can be next? 50 Cent's macaroons on The Great British Bake Off perhaps?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bread and butter

After coming across a five star review of food writer Michael Booth's latest I took a gander at his blog where I discovered that:
.... the latest food trend in SE Asia: buttered bread. I am not making this up.

Plain, white, sliced bread, just like your common friends used to eat when you went round their's for tea in 1976, with cheap marg and a limited range of toppings. They can't get enough of it in Thailand.

"Bread and jam" is the height of exoticism in Bangkok. I am absolutely delighted by this development.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Word of Mouth

Nine of us assorted adults and children went to see Johnny English Reborn yesterday and all laughed like drains from the beginning until the last moment.

Highly recommended, especially for English people who need cheering up after crashing out of the World Cup.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


As Wales cruise through to the semi finals of the World Cup, here is a great story about Christopher Judd that I have lifted from his sister on facebook:
My BROTHER decided on Tuesday to go to New Zealand to watch Wales v Ireland...he jumped on a plane on Wednesday leaving his wife to sort out accommodation...the airline lost his luggage and Karen could not find a room for love nor desperation wrote on a welsh rugby site asking for help...Warren himself seems to have got invloved somewhere and he is now comfortably staying with Gatland's sister...the last I heard he was chewing the fat with John Inverdale!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Quantitative Easy Street

The Bank of England has said it will inject a further £75bn into the economy through quantitative easing (QE).
I wouldn't mind getting some of that. Where are they giving it out do you think? I wonder if there'll be a queue at the Post Office?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs

I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
The lines above are from commencement address Steve Jobs delivered at Stanford in 2005 (see Icons passim). He'd already been diagnosed then with the cancer that I presume killed him. This means that it is before he sold Pixar and became a billionaire, before the IPhone and before the IPad.
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

To Be Frank

One single incident serves as a perfect illustration of just what an extraordinarily unusual and charismatic person the US musician Frank Zappa, who died in 1993, must have been. In 1968, a year that saw the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, a man turned up on the doorstep at the Log Cabin, the ramshackle, open-all-hours-to-all-comers crash pad in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, that Zappa and numerous other weird people called home. "My name is Raven. I brought you a present," this stranger announced, handing to Zappa a transparent bag, apparently filled with blood, before pointing a revolver at his chest.

Calmly, Zappa cajoled and manipulated Raven into walking with him, and numerous spectators, including Zappa's 24-year-old English secretary, to a nearby lake. He then persuaded everyone present to start throwing things into the water, including Raven, who threw in his gun. The secretary, Pauline Butcher, threw in a twig, which "floated on the algae" causing her to look round "apologetically". After that, Zappa, shoved the bag of blood back into Raven's hand, saying: "You must leave now." Raven did. Immediately exhorted by the many witnesses to call the police, Zappa refused. Why? "Because if I call the police, the police will arrest him and he'll go to jail and no one deserves to go to jail."
I didn't think it was possible for Frank Zappa to go any higher in my estimation. After reading the story above, I realise I was wrong.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Happy Now?

Different happy chemicals produce different ways to experience happiness.

Endorphin happiness is triggered by physical pain. The body's natural morphine masks pain, which allowed our ancestors to run from predators when injured. Humans experience endorphin as euphoria, but it obviously did not evolve to trigger a constant feeling of joy. You would touch hot stoves and run on a broken leg if your brain were always releasing endorphins. Nature saves them for moments when they help you do what's necessary to survive.

Dopamine happiness is triggered when you get a new reward. When you see a finish line, your brain releases dopamine. It's nature's reserve tank of energy. Dopamine keeps you going until you catch the prey you've been stalking, even when the chase is long and frustrating. If you surged with dopamine all the time, your energy would be depleted when you really needed it. We evolved to save dopamine for those moments when an important goal is within reach.

Oxytocin happiness is triggered when we trust those around us. It promotes bonding between mother and child, and between sex partners. It's stimulated when you're with a group of like-minded people, or when you get a massage. But we did not evolve to feel oxytocin happiness all the time because there's no survival value in trusting people who are not trustworthy.

Serotonin happiness is triggered when you feel important. Animals release serotonin when they dominate a resource. Their serotonin falls when they cede a resource to avoid conflict. Being one-up feels good, but conflict can cause painful injuries. The brain is constantly analyzing information to balance the risk of pain against the satisfaction of winning.
This is all very well, Furry Happy Monsters, but for me it has always been booze that smears the vaseline on the lens of reality.

Monday, October 03, 2011

I catch up eventually

The Bomber was playing at the King's Mini Rugby Festival yesterday.

I noticed when I was there that King's is in fact KCS Old Boys' RFC, whose parent institution is King's College School, and that the school is hosting Sir Max Hastings tomorrow night as part of Wimbledon Bookfest.

Fiona who runs the festival has a son who plays for mini rugby for Wimbledon (though in a different age group for Ben) so he would have been at the tournament as well I imagine. We saw her at the film course on Saturday (Ben and Jonnie's movie The Love Professor is surprisingly good) and bumped into the family at Rutsfest (Icons passim) earlier this year.

Strange how the vortices of socialization spin.

Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Beyond Teleology

Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand.

It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust.

You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded, because the elements - the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution and for life - weren’t created at the beginning of time.

They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars, and the only way for them to get into your body is if those stars were kind enough to explode.
So why are you such a loser?

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Cahiers du cinéma

Ben and Jonnie are on a Make a Film in a day course, that is being run as part of Wimbledon Bookfest, I am going back to see their masterpiece at 4:30 this afternoon.

I laughed when I was filling in a waiver when I was dropping them off as I had to put a signature to an agreement for photographs to be taken of them.

Short of Walt Disney it is pretty difficult to make a movie without photographing anyone so it seemed rather a redundant question. I imagine however, that it is some bureaucratic diktat as opposed to something dreamed up by the good burghers of the Young Film Academy.