Tuesday, September 30, 2014

to be Frank

“Although I'm only fourteen, I know quite well what I want, I know who is right and who is wrong. I have my opinions, my own ideas and principles, and although it may sound pretty mad from an adolescent, I feel more of a person than a child, I feel quite independent of anyone.”
Fourteen today. Where do the years go?

Sunday, September 28, 2014


I will be taking the Bomber along to an early season friendly against Battersea Ironsides this morning.

John and Rod, who shared a flat with me in Putney nigh on thirty years ago, are also due back on a visit. (John from New Zealand and Rod from DR Congo) though I haven't seen them yet.

Rod reminded me that the three of us actually turned out in the same London Cornish RFC team against the Ironsides all that time ago.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Maps to the stars

A couple of years ago I judged A Dangerous Method one of the worst films. I have ever seen.

Next David Cronenberg brought us Cosmopolis. Again it was utter rubbish.

Now Maps to the Stars has been released to universal acclaim I must be strong and give it plenty of the back of my head.

I have never regretted bailing on Peter Greenaway after Prospero's Books. Imagine the grief that has saved me over twenty odd years.

Friday, September 26, 2014

a game of two halves

It is a serious day today with Parliament recalled and MPs voting on a Government motion to strike Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq within hours. Rory Stewart writes wisely here. I recommend you read it.

It is also a silly day. FIFA 15, the video game, is released and in a bizarre tribute to real life controversy, Luis Suarez‘s ban in football has been extended to the virtual world. You can use the Uruguayan in friendlies but he is otherwise unavailable for selection until the 26th October.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Do it all night long

Time Out has learned that September 12, 2015 will be the first all-night weekend of the Underground, and that - yes - Colliers Wood will be among the select lines and stations pulling all nighters.

click for a larger image
That's right:
The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold
should just about cover it from Friday night until Sunday morning this time next year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stained Glass off Stane Street

I had to go on an errand to the school this morning. On the way back I noticed Coriander Stained Glass at 27 Kingston Road, Wimbledon. SW191JX.

Herewith their restoration and repair services. I wonder if they could help with the cracked stained glass window in Mum and Dad's house? It has been a vague and occasional itch I can't seem to scratch for years now. Perhaps I will wander up Kingston Road and have a chat. The window is in Wales and they are in London for one thing, so I am not predicting plain sailing.

Oh, and we won the quiz again last night in case you were wondering.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Seahawks shake off Broncos' stunning rally to win in OT

Seattle Seahawks 26, Denver Broncos 20 (OT)
What happened: The Broncos erased a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter, with QB Peyton Manning throwing a 26-yard TD pass to TE Jacob Tamme up the sideline and the tying two-point conversion to WR Demaryius Thomas with 18 seconds to go in regulation. But the Seahawks won the toss in overtime and marched 80 yards in 13 plays for the winning score – a 6-yard TD plunge by RB Marshawn Lynch 5 minutes, 46 seconds into OT.
The Seahawks match (Icons passim) was the live game on Sky Sports last night, so I bought a NowTV day pass and settled down to the game.

Thrilling stuff, though it finished at God knows what hour in the morning, and I do own up to the odd nap during the inevitable longueurs.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


I ordered a Xenta 163 Piece Rotary Tool and Accessory Kit from ebuyer the other day. When I opened it I found an eHarmony flier enclosed with it. The heuristics elude me.

Now. Where was I?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

iOS 8

I have upgraded my phone and iPad to iOS 8.

The voice recognition seems a lot better. I will find out about the maps shortly as I have to drive to the nearest Halford's for some Ford touch-up paint after scratching my car's passenger door against a pillar in the gym car park.

Speaking of the gym, I wonder what sort of a fit the new Apple health app will be with my obsessive/compulsive tendencies.

Probably rather a good one once they iron the creases out of it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Something for the weekend?

I defy you not to feel a discomfiting twinge of admiration for Gerard Depardieu, functioning alcoholic extraordinaire. The French actor, who owns a vineyard, has revealed that he drinks 14 bottles of wine a day. “In the morning, it starts at home with champagne or red wine before 10am,” he told So Film magazine. “Then again champagne. Then pastis, maybe half a bottle. Then food, accompanied by two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, champagne, beer and more pastis at around 5pm to finish off the bottle. Later on vodka and/or whisky.”
Despite this gargantuan thirst, Depardieu insists he is as fit as a fiddle and never gets drunk – “just a little pissed”. Even then, it’s easy enough to sober up. “All you need is a 10-minute nap and voilà, a slurp of rosé wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy.”
As good a drinker as I am, I still aspire to this sort of greatness.

This evening I will need something to go with chargrilled rump steak with garlicky crushed potatoes, green beans, roast beetroot and horseradish cream, the interwebs telling me that is the meal best matched with what is left of my weekly veg box.

I think fourteen bottles of, say, Chilean Malbec should fit the bill very nicely.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Removal Tools

Songs of Innocence
If you would like U2’s Songs of Innocence removed from your iTunes music library and iTunes purchases, you can choose to have it removed. Once the album has been removed from your account, it will no longer be available for you to redownload as a previous purchase. If you later decide you want the album, you will need to get it again. The album is free to everyone until October 13, 2014 (PDT) and will be available for purchase after that date.
Do you want to remove Songs of Innocence from your account?

If you would like the UK’s Scotland removed from Great Britain, you can choose to have it removed. Once the country has been removed from your nation, it will no longer be automatically available to you. If you later decide you want the country, you will need to try and negotiate to get it again. The Union is free to everyone until September 19, 2014 (UTC) and will not be available after that date.
Do you want to remove Scotland from your nation?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We've had this date with each other from the beginning

A Streetcar Named Desire was broadcast live to cinemas around the world last night. I went to see it in the HMV Curzon and very good it was too. I think I will be attending more http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/ shows.

“They told me to take a streetcar named Desire and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at - Elysian Fields!”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I'm really talking about is my brand new pair of butterfly roller sakes

I find Ray McGovern chillingly plausible if you have got two hours forty to spare.

We won the quiz again yesterday after coming fifth (fifth!) the week before, but I think that last Monday's questions were set by a secret group of reptilian humanoids called the Babylonian Brotherhood. Who else would remember a Don Johnson single from the 80s or know that Brazil had had a monarchy?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mark, Marcus, Magic

I went along to Mark's Cocktail Hour gig in the West End last week. He is a man out of time. Generally smartly dressed in a jacket and tie, and living to tinkle the ivories and croon the great American song book with his jazz trio. He should have been a Joey Bishop or Peter Lawford level member of Sinatra's rat pack to be honest.

It was fun. Often in the past the cabaret has been ruined by wanna be stand up comics; damaged and needy individuals who have been told that the way to boost their self respect and earn the respoect of others is to get up in front of a crowd of strangers and start hurling insults. This time we had some good sketches and a close quarter magician which was much better.

Mark's trio was also enhanced with a horn section that included (be still my beating heart) the son of the Bonzo's Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell on trumpet.

I also bumped in to Marcus, who I only see every few years, though it seems more often as he has such great stories (I feel that he is with me in spirit when I steal them and tell them to others as if they are about me). I asked him if the film he was working on with Noel Clarke the last time we met made it out of the starting blocks. He smiled modestly and admitted he was the co-producer of Storage 24 which took $72 (£44) dollars in the US box office, making it the lowest grossing film of 2013.

You are only allowed to snigger if you have had the gumption to get a feature film made and released in the US. I take my hat off to him.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

bore da

I am just off to take the Bomber and some team mates to training.

We got an email off Jim the coach earlier which says

We have big plans for the U14s end of season tour. Following in the footsteps of last year’s U14s, we have booked Cardiff Arms Park (home to the Cardiff Blues) where we will play two matches against local opposition.

That's something to look forward to. Maybe some of the family can come and watch.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Jack to a King

Chelsea and Swansea, the only two sides in the Premiership with a 100% record meet this afternoon and the winner will go to the top of the table.

A film about the Swans premièred at the Odeon Leicester Square yesterday.

What a long strange trip it's been.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Under the bludgeonings of chance

The Bomber played for the school yesterday despite having to stay at home on Monday and Tuesday after his injury on Sunday. We picked up some sports tape at Boots with the idea of using that to beef up his elastic ankle support and he came through the game unscathed, getting two tries in a 28-17 defeat.

We watched ScrumV on the iPlayer on Wednesday. I hadn't realise how bad Owen Williams' injury was. I have bought a pack of the #StayStrongForOws wristbands.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Velvet Divorce

I ken, when we had a king, and a chancellor, and parliament — men o' our ain, we could aye peeble them wi' stones when they werena gude bairns — But naebody's nails can reach the length o' Lunnon.
I fully intend the above to be my final word on Scotland's Referendum.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I see that To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Icons passim) has made it onto the Booker Man shortlist. I am 56% of they way through it according to my kindle, and starting to warm to it after struggling with  an opening that seemed rather fraught in both content and execution. Does anyone really need three pages about hand lotion?

Once the author moved on from moisturising to an exposition of what it means to be an Ulm (a member of an ancient sect enjoined by Yahweh to doubt His existence) however I was much happier, reminded perhaps of Vonnegut's bokonism.

"Busy, busy, busy."

Skipping from literature to music, U2 have released a new album that is free to download on iTunes. Downloaded it I have. Will I ever listen to it? The jury is out.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Ungartered, and down-gyved to his ankle

The Bomber is off school today having hurt his ankle on the first weekend of the season yesterday.

He is hoping to me back for training Wednesday and a game for the school on Thursday but I think it is a big ask to be honest.

I see that Dan - the ginger wizard - Fish got two tries in the Cardiff Blues' 41-26 win against in Parma in the afternoon.

Maybe we will be able to catch them on Scrum V via the BBC iPlayer? Come to think about it a weekly hour long round up of the Aviva Premiership is available on the ITV Player as well.

Both the iPlayer and the ITV Player are on my little NowTV box. We should get in the habit of watching both these shows weekly through the season. They would combine into a good overview of the domestic game.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Fury 10

Gosh. I remember Festus from when he did judo with the Bomber.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Sarries' serried ranks

Jules Evans in the Telegraph:
For the past year, I’ve been running a philosophy group at Saracens rugby club. Once a month, I go to Saracens’ training ground in St Albans and give a brief talk about an idea from ancient philosophy that can be applied to our lives today.
I went in to the rugby club with zero expectations, and still find it strange to sit in a circle with Jim Hamilton, Owen Farrell and others, discussing Aristotle’s idea of the Golden Mean. But it’s been good fun for all of us. It was “the most popular thing we did last season,” says defence coach Paul Gustard.
It is easy to sneer, but here is the rationale:
When new management arrived, in 2009, they insisted that the character, values and wellbeing of the players were the top priority, and results would follow from that. They launched something called the Personal Development Programme, to support all the players in their lives and their careers after sport. They duly invited various people in to talk to the players, including mindfulness experts, a yoga teacher, even a philosopher (me).
The “Saracens revolution” has created a unique culture. Alex Goode, the 26-year-old Saracens and England fullback, says: “The old Saracens was not a particularly friendly place. There’d be quite brutal banter. Now, there’s much more of a feeling of togetherness.”
The esprit de corps has made the team stronger and better. Saracens won the Premiership in 2011, and broke the record last season for most tries scored and most league points won, reaching the European cup final and Premiership play-off final, both of which they sadly lost.
The Premiership final loss was to a dubious try in the last minute of extra time, after a disallowed try of their own. Defeats don’t come more cruel. But, as Brian Moore noted in his Telegraph column, the team handled it with impressive integrity and dignity.
It is very reminiscent of the regime of Pete Carroll's Seahawks in the NFL (see Icons passim) who went on the win the Super Bowl last year then trounced the Packers earlier this week to begin their title defence and must be doing something right.

There being very little wisdom about, we need to take it anywhere we can find it.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Diolch yn fawr

"Extraordinary beauty, wonderful people and great hospitality."

Well I never.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Here we go again

Rugby's back  and gaining momentum. The Bomber trained after school yesterday and then again in the evening with the club. When you consider that the school is Rutlish and the club is Old Rutlishians, it strkes me that the preparations of these two squads might be better spread out a little wider; coordination shouldn't be impossible.

Next week he'll train twice on Wednesday and then play against Oxted on Thursday so he will be due a rest on Friday.

The school fixtures are up on schoolsrugby.co.uk, but the club matches haven't appeared on surreyrugby.com yet.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

'Wecome to the Biggest Club in the World'

Man U's Ed Woodward drives a hard bargain in the sweet shop.

Does anyone else think that Louis van Gaal invariably looks like a man whose collar is too tight?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

ideas are dangerous, especially good ones

The outgoing mayor of Reykjavík:
One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is that ideas are dangerous, especially good ones [laughs]. Because it is almost certain that some halfwit will pick them up and misinterpret them and misuse them. And this is why it was so important that the Best Party presented no ideology, no solution. No theory. Nothing that some idiot could then adopt and develop and use as a basis for something horrible, making us the ideologues behind some atrocity. And this is why it was so important that the Best Party remain blank, that it stood for no idea or theory other than impotence and powerlessness. And the will to collaborate, to seek help.
There are lots of great ideas out there. But they get misunderstood. And the cause is more often than not simple human frailty, which the theories don’t account for, because they exist solely on the ideological plane, without taking into account emotions and error. Just look at our best thinkers over the past few centuries. From Schopenhauer and Nietzsche to Marx and Engels. Their ideas led to a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of horror. Schopenhauer was Hitler’s favourite philosopher. Karl Marx created communism because he was outraged by how the underclass was being treated. But then, their theories eventually inspired all sorts of atrocities, events and ideas that in no way reflect their intentions.
We thus figured that the best ideology would be no ideology, save for the one espoused by the AA: Powerlessness, humility, frailty. To realise that we don’t have all the solutions.
Interesting man. I have put Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World on my list of books to read, where it nestles snugly among several hundred others.

Monday, September 01, 2014

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

'The Catch-22 of dentistry' Stephen King

Joshua Ferris's dazzling new novel To Rise Again at a Decent Hour is about the meaning of life, the certainty of death, and the importance of good oral hygiene.

There's nothing like a dental chair to remind a man that he's alone in the world . . .

Paul O'Rourke - dentist extraordinaire, reluctant New Yorker, avowed atheist, disaffected Red Sox fan, and a connoisseur of the afternoon mochaccino - is a man out of touch with modern life. While his dental practice occupies his days, his nights are filled with darker thoughts, as he alternately marvels at and rails against the optimism of the rest of humanity.

So it goes, until someone begins to impersonate Paul online. What began as an outrageous violation of privacy soon becomes something far more soul-frightening: the possibility that the virtual 'Paul' might be a better version of the man in the flesh . . .
I finished Weekend Wodehouse when I was on the recline exercise bike this morning, so I have been looking around for something else. Amazon has recommended To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, of which I have never previously heard. It is unlikely that unaided I would make my way to 'the Catch-22 of dentistry' though I see it has been long listed for the Man Booker. Also Weekend Wodehouse contained The Fiery Wooing of Mordred, which begins in a dentist's waiting room, and a scene from Summer Lightning set similarly. Perhaps the universe, or Steve Bezos (the terms are essentially interchangeable these days), is sending me a message.

The short list for the Man Booker will be out on September 9 so I imagine I will have something to say about Joshua Ferris's inclusion or exclusion when the day dawns.