Sunday, March 31, 2013

VAT's Up?

It's a milestone that, one can safely assume, is unlikely to be celebrated by British taxpayers.
VAT, one of the country’s most controversial taxes, reaches its 40th birthday on Monday.
On 1 April 1973, Value Added Tax was introduced to Britain, a requirement of the decision to join the European Economic Community three months earlier.
In its first year, VAT was levied at just 10 per cent and raised only £1.5billion for the public purse.
But, 40 years later, the standard rate has doubled to 20 per cent. It is now worth a record-breaking £100billion a year, nearly four times more than the amount paid in council tax.
The cost of VAT, which is so notoriously complicated that it was once dubbed ‘a kind of fiscal theme park’ by a judge, is eye-watering.
A total of £1.6trillion – or £1,639billion – is estimated to have been paid in VAT since its introduction in 1973, according to a report by the accountants Deloitte, published today.
It was introduced by the Conservative Chancellor Anthony Barber, who insisted it was a ‘simple tax’.
But there is very little straightforward about VAT, which has such fiendish complications that it has resulted in a long – and growing – list of expensive High Court battles.
For example, a Baked Alaska is ‘zero-rated’, which means no VAT is charged, but ice cream is ‘standard-rated’, which means the tax is charged at 20 per cent.
Similarly, the hiring of a hearse is VAT-free, but the purchase of a coffin is taxed. Corn for popping is zero-rated, but popcorn attracts the tax.
Happy Easter, I am in the office doing our VAT return. We have transactions with Microsoft, Google, Amazon et al in the UK, in the EC but outside the UK, as well as outside the EU entirely in the USA and sifting them makes my eyes water every quarter. In a fortnight I will have to do the EC Sales List. It is for a different time period and treats services differently even though it goes to the same HMRC.

I will need a drink later this afternoon.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Trotters Independent Traders

That would explain how it came to pass that we are inviting bids for Jummy Choo Wellies.I thought a leg was being pulled rather than shod when I heard of them.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Boony, Boony

The Bomber and I watched this short documentary about Johnny Boon's comeback fight last night on the telly via iPAD HDMI. Seeing him in action (and walking out with Adam and Woytek) brought back a lot of memories for both of us (see Icons passim). Take a quarter of an hour out of your life and watch it as well.

Cheering up was needed as Ben's school rugby team lost in the semi final of what I believe is the Surrey Cup. He also managed in the course of the day to lose his white school shirt in the changing rooms at the game, and then to arrive at mine in tracksuit bottoms having we assume left his school trousers at Jonnie H's house. All that was left of his uniform this morning was a blazer and a tie. I think he lives in some sort of Borgesian reverie where objects blink in and out of existence rather than enduring in continuity.

Once when Jonnie H and Alex D stayed with him round ours I found that they had left three distinct and separate odd socks behind between them. How is that even possible? Their world is understood "not as a concurrence of objects in space, but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Friggin' AWESOME!

Prodnose: The philosophy of film is a branch of aesthetics within the discipline of philosophy that seeks to understand the most basic questions regarding film.

Myself: The Wolverine trailer came out yesterday. Man that movie's gonna be friggin' AWESOME!

Prodnose: Film theory is an academic discipline that aims to explore the essence of the cinema and provides conceptual frameworks for understanding film's relationship to reality, the other arts, individual viewers, and society at large.

Myself: UFC welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre's gonna be in Captain America 2 as as Batroc the Leaper. Man that movie's gonna be friggin' AWESOME!

Prodnose: Collage film is a style of film created by juxtaposing found footage from disparate sources.

Myself: Friggin' AWESOME!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Refusal to Mourn

I read Danny Baker's How to Understand Paul Gascoigne during my session on the recline exercise bike yesterday - 99p for the Kindle edition. It is a fine piece of writing though bittersweet, foreshadowing the former footballer's terrible, and it is implied, inevitable fall from grace.

And so, the Lives Less Ordinary series joins Brain Shots (see Icons passim) in my browsing list for diversion an emerging digital format that seems to site somewhere between a magazine article and a fully fledged book, weighing in somewhere around a novella.

Kindle Singles seem not dissimilar.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


A British singer has become an overnight celebrity in China after entering the TV talent show China's Got Talent.Wales News Service 9:14PM GMT 25 Mar 2013
Iain Inglis, 30, shot to fame after singing traditional communist revolutionary songs while dressed in a Red Army uniform.
The university lecturer made it to the semi-finals of the show and now performs for up to £5,000 a night.
"I'm a tall, white foreigner from Wales singing songs about communism in Chinese," Mr Inglis, from Cardiff, said. "It was a bit of fun to start off with but the more performances I did, the more I was hooked. For some reason the Chinese people seem to find it quite hilarious."
Mr Inglis received a rapturous response when he donned a Red Army uniform and sang 'I Love Reading Chairman Mao's Books Most' in the first round of China's Got Talent.
"If you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao, you are going to make it with anyone anyhow," or so it would seem.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hong Kong Sevens 2013: brave Wales lose Final to Fiji

So close, so agonisingly close for Wales as they almost overcame hefty odds to beat favourites, Fiji, in their first HSBC world series final.
They led 19-0 at half-time but in a lung-bursting second period were undone by the brilliance of Fiji substitute Osea Kolinisau, whose hat-trick settled matters 26-19. It was gripping, rousing stuff under floodlights in a packed stadium. The 38th Hong Kong Sevens ended in style.
After the heroics of the Six Nations, it looked like being quite some week for Welsh rugby. Long-striding Cory Allen was a revelation, his two first-half tries ­seemingly setting his side up for a historic triumph.
But the Fijians are masters of the abbreviated game,claiming a record 14th title here after accounting for runaway series leaders New Zealand in the semi-final........The 19 points Wales received for finishing runners-up gives them a boost in the HSBC World Series rankings with three legs remaining in Japan, Glasgow and London.
I went to the Hong Kong Sevens years ago. It was the first time I became aware of Jonah Lomu. Maybe tickets for the Marriott London Sevens in May are in order?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Please get yo choppers up for Snoop Dogg

This article be bout tha British Prime Minister. Shiiit, dis aint no joke. For other uses, peep Dizzy Cameron (disambiguation).

Website Tranzizzle
About Gizoogle
Recommended Shizzle
Twizzle Feed

I'm posting this today, because if I gave you a tool you could use to tranzizzle a website into gangsta slang on Monday you wouldn't do any work.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gateway to the further South

Few of the stations that stud the Northern line as it snakes through south London have as much stately grandeur as Colliers Wood.
When the sun catches the entrance, the building feels more of a palace than a portal. It gives off a sort of calming authority, even a coolness, which was certainly welcome on the baking hot day I took these photographs.
Those unfussy yet imposing columns that glide airily up each side of the main window are especially lovely. I like how their width is matched perfectly by the distance between each of the vertical blue lines. And look how the roundel fits so snugly in the middle. You can’t beat symmetry when it’s done properly.
Then there’s the way the building is positioned on the corner of the street, its sides slanting (never curving – heavens no!) gently inwards, guiding you almost subliminally towards the entrance. Plus you have those two outer, smaller wings of the station, whose reduced stature ensures that nothing jostles for attention with the regal facade, especially when viewed from a distance.
Colliers Wood is one of Charles Holden’s earliest efforts for the Underground, dating from 1926, but it scrubs up well compared with his later masterpieces at Arnos Grove and Gants Hill. That’s as long as people remember to give it a scrub, of course.
And let’s hear it for not one, not two, but three splendidly gleaming roundels, a real help for anyone trying to spy the station from afar, but a real treat for anyone giving it the once over up close.
That’s my kind of red, white and blue.
Possibly the pudding is over egged above, but now you know why the Colliers Tup boozer opposite has been renamed the Charles Holden.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Doctor my dose

Click here for a piece on the shambolic 1974 performance above by Dr Hook and the Medicine Show that is as funny a thing as I have read in a long time.

Sylvia's Mother will never be the same again Will Sheff, and it is your fault.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Underground, Overground bumbling free

I had to take the Bomber for an orthodontist appointment at King's Hospital this morning.

We went to Denmark Hill on the Clapham Junction to Highbury and Islington section of the London Overground; an experience I found somewhat sobering I'd never previously heard of it despite living in the Smoke since the 80s.

Back in the office and browsing the interwebs over lunch I have found that it only opened in December last year so there is no need to have myself checked out for early onset dementia.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I am taking a break from William Dalyrmple's Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan to read Owen Sheers' Calon: A Journey to the Heart of Welsh Rugby as I am still walking on air since we won the Six Nations again.

Sheers was the 2012 WRU Artist in Residence (an unlikely but wonderful title). Calon documents a year spent at the heart of Welsh rugby; it is the inside story of a campaign that galvanised a nation and ended in Grand Slam success for the third time in 8 years, and I am in favour of it.

I will return to the Dalrymple; I have read every book he has ever published. I went to see him promoting White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in 18th-century India years ago and he endeared himself to me by giving his talk while drinking a pint and munching a packet of crisps despite having the poshest voice in the entire history of the world.

I also saw Owen Sheers at the very same event on the very same evening reading from The Dust Diaries his prose debut.

Spookiness abounds eh?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


The outlet valve on the dual flush mechanism in the bathroom toilet got stuck this morning, and it seems my brain was not up to analyzing the mechanism it at seven o'clock in the morning.

I had to tie it off with an old judo belt of the Bombers and go back and fix it lunchtime.

For future reference, the skinny can be found at$file/Geberit_Outlet%20Valves.pdf. which is probably the definitive work in an, admittedly uncrowded field.

The shower is playing up as well, I can hear the pump complaining but it is boarded up under the bath and I can't face digging it out. Perhaps I will have to bite the bullet and get a plumber in. I wonder if my British Gas Homecare contract covers it?

What a fascinating life I lead.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Pope, Welsh rugby... and aspirin

Telegraph: 7:30AM BST 26 Mar 2012:
What have the Pope and the Welsh rugby team got to do with headlines last week announcing that aspirin may reduce the risk of cancer? A lot more than you might think.
It is inevitable that a study, such as the one published in The Lancet, that suggests a humble pill might ward off something as feared as cancer will generate huge media interest. But do the findings mean that we should all be rooting through the bathroom cabinet each morning?
Not necessarily. This study, from the University of Oxford’s Stroke Prevention Research Unit, is an excellent example of the frustrating limits of scientific research, and how the most promising of findings cannot be taken as definitive evidence. This is where the Pope and rugby come in.
A few years ago, a shocking study was published in the British Medical Journal. But it received little public attention, despite its impact on the millions of Catholics around the globe, as well as the Welsh nation. In essence, it proved scientifically that there was a 45 per cent chance that the Pope would die during 2008, based on the fact that Wales had triumphed in the Six Nations.
The idea for the study developed from an urban legend that every time Wales wins a grand slam, a Pope dies (apart from 1978, when Wales did particularly well and two Popes died). The researchers set about a painstaking review of the data to see if the legend stood up to scrutiny.
The authors explained that a grand slam is achieved “when, in a given season, one nation succeeds in beating all other competing teams in every match”. Under this definition, 53 grand slams had been achieved from 1883 to 2008. Using complex statistical analysis, the researchers discovered an association between Welsh rugby performance and papal deaths, and no significant associations with the success of any other nations. They concluded that because of the Welsh victory in 2008, there was a 45 per cent chance of the Pope dying by the end of that year. Or, as they put it, three fifths of a Pope would die in 2008.
Hmmm, obviously this important research will have to be reviewed in light of the fact that Pope Benedict XVI must have decided to retire in 2012 when Wales won the Grand Slam.

Further if Wales had played better in the first half against Ireland we could easily have won a Grand Slam again this year, which wouldn't have been good for the health of Pope Francis. Divine intervention, rather in the style of Moses and the the Biblical fixture between the Amalekites and the Israelites, is as good an explanation as any of how Brian O'Driscoll et al managed to run roughshod over us.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Start8 (Geddit?)

The Bomber practically bit my hand off with approval and alacrity when I suggested he install Start8 to get a Windows 7-style Start menu on his Windows 8 laptop. I value his opinion as he hasn't got an axe to grind, and I can't help but think Microsoft has made a huge error here.

Further, Start8 is a great name, a la:

Captain James T. Kirk: Captain's log, Start8 9522.6: I've never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I could never forgive them for the death of my boy. It seems to me our mission to escort the Chancellor of the Klingon High Council to a peace summit is problematic at best....

Saturday, March 16, 2013


See Icons Passim
If Wales win by seven points, they will retain the title because they have scored more tries over the course of the tournament
However, if England score two more tries than Wales in Cardiff the title will be shared
If Wales win by seven and England somehow score three more tries than Wales, they will win the title.
It is my contention that there is a perfect Prince song for every occasion, and this is my chosen theme for five o'clock this afternoon.

(PS Speaking of Sevens, the Bomber played prop for the school in a tournament yesterday. Who'da thunk it?)

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away

Amazon have released the AWS Console for iPhone, an app that summarizes the status of your EC2 instances, CloudWatch alarms, total service charges, and AWS Service Health. I got a chance to use it in anger yesterday as we got a CloudWatch alarm on the auction server around lunchtime due to a sudden rush of traffic. It is usefulish but not great. It is strange to think that words with friends does a better job of notifying me on iPhone when it is my turn in a game than Amazon does with letting me know my cloud infrastructure is creaking. AWS Console for Android has been out for a while, and I certainly feel that the burglar's Samsung Galaxy Note has a much wider range of handy sysop and management apps than my iPhone does. Real time Google Analytics seems particularly handy on it from what he tells me.

I learned of the AWS Console for iPhone from the invaluable Google Reader, on the same day the SOB's said they were going to close it. Interwebs, I share your pain.
“Google drives all RSS services out of business by making Reader free. Then shuts down Google Reader. This isn’t about ‘evil’, but trust,” said Benedict Evans, analyst at research house Enders.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


30 May 2008
Transport for London (TfL) is today issuing a reminder to Londoners that alcohol will be banned from the Tube, buses, Docklands Light Railway, tram services and stations across the Capital from 1 June.
Yesterday evening as my man Jeeves was laying out the roaring twenties schmutter I needed for Wilton's immersive version of The Great Gatsby (see Icons Passim) it struck me that we're no strangers to prohibition in London since Mayor Johnson banned the sauce from the Tube, trams and buses a while back. (I should have blackballed him at the Bullingdon Club all that time ago when I had the chance.)

Channeling Thoreau on Civil Disobedience and Stanislavski's "An Actor Prepares" I filled a hip flask that I was soon passing round an improvised Northern Line speakeasy carriage.

By the time I got to the venue I was so in character Daniel Day Lewis would have opened the door for me and doffed his cap.

Prodnose: You're the man with a thousand G's, right?
Myself: A thousand what?
Prodnose: Why, G-man, girls, guns, guts...
Myself:: Wrong, baby! I'm an L-man. Strictly liquor, love and laughs.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gordon's alive!

Winston Gordon claimed gold at the English Judo Open in Sheffield on Sunday.
The Tooting judoka, who coaches at Ernest Bevin College, beat Enfield’s Philip Awiti-Alcaraz in the -100kg final with an Ippon as a result of a throw.
He won his three previous bouts by the same method, beating Theodore Spalding-McIntosh in just 30 seconds in the semi-final.
Ernest Bevin’s Jack Kelly lost to Awiti-Alcaraz in the other semi-final but claimed bronze in the repêchage.
In the U20 competition, Haris Kekic claimed gold in the +100kg category and Adam Horshal won bronze in the -90kg category.
The club won another seven medals at the British Schools Championships the day before.
Congratulations to Winston on winning the English Open. I wonder why he moved up to 100kg after all these years competing at 90kg. Perhaps making the weight just gets tiresome.

You can see the Bomber here with pretty much the crew who won seven medals at the British Schools Championship. Who knows what could have been, but then again you can't do everything. He's training tomorrow, playing a schools sevens tournament on Friday and then turning out for the Ruts at a rugby festival at Effingham and Leatherhead on Sunday. Not a lot of room for judo as well in that schedule.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland

Bells are tolling and flags are flying at half mast in Stockholm for the most unlikely member of the country's royal family

A life the most romantic novelist might reject as excessively far fetched, which began in 1915 in a tiny terrace house in Swansea, has ended in front-page news on the Swedish royal family's official website, with flags flying at half mast across Sweden and bells tolling in mourning for the outsider who became a much loved princess.

Lilian Davies, a soldier's daughter from a coalmining family in Swansea, was largely brought up by her mother, Gladys. She was already exceeding expectations when she moved to London, aged 16. With her dazzling looks, she became a model and an actress, and married a handsome young actor, Ivan Craig.

In 1943, in a nightclub, she met an even more handsome young prince, and her life changed forever.

The offical portrait on the royal website of a stately, elderly woman with a magnificent head of immaculately dressed white hair, wearing an impeccably cut lilac suit and discreetly expensive gold jewellery, looks every inch a royal.

The short announcement gave away nothing of her extraordinary backstory: "Princess Lilian passed away on Sunday March 10 at the age of 97", it read. "Princess Lilian died peacefully during the afternoon at her home on Djurgården in Stockholm. Princess Lilian was married to Prince Bertil, The King's uncle."

Princess Lilian and Prince Bertil were indeed married – in 1976 when they had already been living together discreetly for more than 30 years in France, and she was safely too old to have children.

In a rare television interview before their marriage, as the couple sat holding hands on a sofa, Bertil said: "There is one thing maybe that we regret: that we have not been able to get married before so that we haven't been able to have children. That's something that's rather sad."

He gave a huge, rueful shrug, turned to her, and said: "But after all, we're still very happy, aren't we?" "Very," she said firmly, "very happy."

When they married, on a cold December day in 1976, in a royal chapel at the Drottningholm palace, he was 64 and she was 61.

They met first in the smoky glamour of Les Ambassadeurs nightclub. According to her memoirs, My Life With Prince Bertil, published in Swedish in 2000, when told the man staring at her across the dance floor was His Royal Highness Prince Bertil of Sweden, she responded: "And I'm the Queen of Sheba."

Though she liked him enough to invite to her 28th birthday cocktail party, Lilian later recalled that their relationship only began when a bomb fell near her flat in Knightsbridge, and he came to rescue her in a Swedish embassy car.

Her husband had also met somebody else, and they were divorced. But, as with Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson a decade earlier, the fact that Lilian was not merely a commoner but also a divorcee made it impossible for her to be accepted in royal circles. Her situation became worse when Bertil's eldest brother died in a plane crash, leaving a one-year-old as heir and the prince third in line to the Swedish throne.

When Bertil eventually won permission for them to marry, unlike Wallis Simpson she was given the royal titles of princess, and Duchess of Halland in southern Sweden. But the titles did not bring instant acceptance: she recalled waving to her husband on the television screen as he attended a annual Nobel prize banquet to which she had not been invited.

However, her charm and liveliness won over both press and public, and after her husband's death, in 1997, she took on much of his charity work, particularly favouring children's and sports charities. A regular guest of honour in blazingly bright silk gowns at the Nobel banquets, she was also renowned for her broad tastes in music, becoming a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and attending one of his concerts in Stockholm at the age of 87.

A Welsh Born Icon if ever I heard.

Monday, March 11, 2013

mea culpa

There are always those who ask, what is it all about? For those who need to ask, for those who need points sharply made, who need to know "where it's at," this:

If England win at the Millennium Stadium, they will take the title and the Grand Slam

If the match is drawn, England will win the title but not the Grand Slam

If Wales win by eight points or more, they retain the Six Nations title

If Wales win by six points or less, England will win the title

If Wales win by seven points, they will retain the title because they have scored  more tries over the course of the tournament

However, if England score two more tries than Wales in Cardiff the title will be shared

If Wales win by seven and England somehow score three more tries than Wales, they will win the title.

I made it back in time to watch the second half of England versus Italy in the William Morris yesterday, but it suddenly struck me last night  that the Delphic utterances on the game's implications for the showdown in Cardiff next week to which I treated those assembled were misleading as I failed to take into account the (fairly obvious) fact that each point Wales score will decrease England's point difference by one as well as improving ours. There is a correction above.

The task is not as daunting as I feared; though I went up an mountain, I came down a hill.

Luckily I am fairly confident that no-one puts any faith in what comes out of my mouth. God knows what my ten year old self would have made of such an elementary lapse.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nitro Circus Earls Court Nov 29

The Bomber has expressed an interest in seeing this in November. AWBI seems like as good a place to stow it for when I inevitably forget the details.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Last Tongan in Powys

Exhibit A
As the Six Nations tournament increasingly seem to turn on who has the best players of Polynesian descent, we need to remember - point of order, mister chairman - that Mako and Billy Vunipola arrived in the UK a decade or so ago when when their father Fe’ao, brought his family over from Tonga while he pursued a rugby career at Pontypool and Pontypridd. Surely it stands to reason that his makes them Welsh-Tongans like Toby Faletau, as opposed to (the entirely distinct) English-Tongans.

You have to ask yourself if Billy in particular been rash by throwing his lot in with England? He's not even on Stuart Lancaster's bench this weekend.

Exhibit B

Friday, March 08, 2013

It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.

My Dad is 80 today. That's nothing. Ben's friend Luke has an 82 year old grandfather who is getting married this weekend.
LONDON (Reuters) - Is 40 really the new 30? In many ways people today act younger than their parents did at the same age.
Scientists have defined a new age concept and believe it could explain why populations are aging, but at the same time seem to be getting younger.
Instead of measuring aging by how long people have lived, the scientists have factored in how many more years people can probably still look forward to.
"Using that measure, the average person can get younger in the sense that he or she can have even more years to live as time goes on," said Warren Sanderson, of the University of New York in Stony Brook.
He and Sergei Scherbov, of the Vienna Institute of Demography at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, have used their method to estimate how the proportion of elderly people in Germany, Japan and the United States will change in the future.
The average German was 39.9 years old in 2000 and could plan to live for another 39.2 years, according to research reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
However, by 2050 the average German will be 51.9 years old and will be expected to live another 37.1 years. So middle age in 2050 would occur at around 52 years instead of 40 years as in 2000.
My head hurts.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Always on Trend

At the Gorringe Park pub on an otherwise unglamorous high street in Tooting in south London, new owners have completely refurbished a former dingy local to include a "boutique movie room" where they show feature films in the evenings and in the daytime for parents and children. There is also an upstairs restaurant and a private dining room, while the ground floor remains a pub in the more traditional sense.

"This is the modern incarnation of the local pub," explained Ed Harper, manager at the Gorringe Park. "It's what a local pub should be, relaxed and friendly, like a home away from home but able to respond to the ever changing needs of the market."
Well I never! The Gorringe Park (see Icons passim) gets a shout out on the other side of the pond in USA Today - the widest circulated print newspaper in the United States.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

An acute sense of absurdity

At a celebration at UCLA of the career of Eugen Weber, the Romanian-born historian of France, I made the mistake of describing Eugen as an exile. In his response to the tributes paid him, Eugen corrected me, remarking that he had never considered himself an exile. “From the moment I attained consciousness,” he said, “I wanted to leave Romania. The place is a dump.”

Tristan Tzara (né Samuel Rosenstock), one of the founders of Dada, was a Romanian. Eugène Ionesco, perhaps the most famous Romanian artist of the last half of the 20th century, was a surrealist playwright prominently associated with the Theater of the Absurd. E. M. Cioran, the Romanian aphorist, wrote: “An acute sense of absurdity makes the merest action unlikely, indeed impossible. Lucky those who lack such a thing! Providence has indeed looked out for them.” Dada, surrealism, absurdity—Romania seems to have encouraged such responses on the part of its writers and artists.
Maybe it won't be so bad having a few more Romanians around the place.

By the way Joseph Epstein, author of the quote above, is worth reading if you can get past the self-assertion and the the racket that all the names being dropped make as they hit the floor.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Rinse and repeat

Although he is in year seven the Bomber turned out for the school's year eight team yesterday. They won 66-12. I don't know the circumstances but it seems pretty impressive as he goes to a boys' school with two hundred odd kids in each year.

This means he played for the school last Thursday, loafed on Friday, travelled to a five match tournament for the club on Saturday, trained with the club on Sunday, played for the school again yesterday and has training tonight. You couldn't fit a lot else in, but I suppose you pays your money at takes your choice.

Alex, who I take on Tuesday's as he lives round the corner, is planning to play for his school today and then come training with the Ruts straight after. It makes Ben look like a light weight. I am also reminded that Jonnie plays for all the same rugby teams as my own son-and-heir and for the school first 11 at football as well.

Remember next time the Daily Mail tells you that our youth are all fat and sedentary.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Sunrise and sunset for London

04:50 Start of astronomical twilight
05:29 Start of nautical twilight
06:08 Start of civil twilight
06:41 Sunrise
17:45 Sunset
18:18 End of civil twilight
18:57 End of nautical twilight
19:36 End of astronomical twilight
That's what we're getting today it seems.  I only came across it wondering if I could get any time in the garden (post work, pre quiz). Whatever can it all mean do you think? The End of civil twilight is evocative. It could be a book by Robert D. Putnam.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Adding insult to injury

As of yesterday, the Bomber was nursing a bloody nose sustained from a collision with a stray elbow in a try saving tackle at the Curtain Raiser Cup and I was battling slight discomfort in my neck from overdoing a pose in yoga. Does a pattern begin to emerge?

Also, stowing away a card his grandmother had sent him before he went skiing I noticed she had written that it contained "Eros to spend while you are away". I assume she meant Euros but you never know. In fact I would rather not know if he has been spreading Eros around Austria.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Early bird

I have no time to ruminate this morning as I have to bound from my bed to take the Bomber et al over to Twickenham to play in the Quins' Curtain Raiser Cup and we are staying over there to watch the Harlequins versus Exeter this afternoon.

Oh, and by the way, the school beat Oxted (25 to 10 I think) on Thursday.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Felicia Browne

Although broad and effortless poetic and classical allusion is generally assumed to be part of the make up of  anyone fortunate enough to have been educated in a comprehensive school in Llanrumney  in the 1970s, I did have to double check yesterday's Casabianca quotation to make sure I had it precisely right..

In doing so, I was delighted to find that the authoress was born Felicia Browne in September 1793 in Liverpool, but moved when she was very young to Gwrych, an isolated Welsh seaside house; then, in 1809, to St. Asaph, Wales.

Thus (and a happy St David's day to you), we share a surname and a Welsh upbringing.
THE stately Homes of England,
How beautiful they stand!
Amidst their tall ancestral trees,
O'er all the pleasant land.
The deer across their greensward bound
Thro' shade and sunny gleam,
And the swan glides past them with the sound
Of some rejoicing stream.
That was another one of hers. Not really very Welsh and later waspishly reworked by Teddington's own Noel Coward. You can't have everything I suppose.