Thursday, April 30, 2015

one from the heart

Dear Interwebs,

I have the mother of all hangovers.

Please lay my head on your lap, stroke my cheek with the knuckle of your index finger, and murmur "poor, poor bunny" as I bat my eyelashes furiously.

If you don't think it is laying it on a bit thick, you might want to follow that up with:
How little the world understands us. I think it was Swift who said: "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

how to vote come May 7

A young monk strolled into the office of the head monk.

“Say, man. Would it like be okay if I smoke when I meditate?”

The head monk turned pale and began quivering. When he recovered, he gave the young man a stern lecture about the sanctity of meditation. The novice listened thoughtfully and went away.

A few weeks later, he returned with another question.

“I’m concerned about my spiritual development. I notice that I spend a lot of time smoking. I was wondering, do you think it would be okay if when I am smoking, I practice my meditation?”

The older man was overjoyed and of course said yes.

Monday, April 27, 2015


This is wonderful news. The Ruts U14s raised money for #staystrongforows as part of last weekend's tour.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

There are the good old days

A game at Cowbridge RFC in the morning,  Judgement Day at the Millennium, then dinner at FED. Bomber  second from right, row 3.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Oliver "Wild Wyatt" West

Caroline brought my youngest nephew around on Friday morning as I was in Cardiff. It is almost six months since I saw him last (and first). Time flies.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Technology giant Amazon has said its web services business generated sales of $1.57bn (£1.04bn) in the first quarter of the year and is profitable.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud computing offering that makes money by charging businesses to host websites and other applications.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in a statement: "Amazon web services is a $5bn business and still growing fast."

And I was on to it from the very beginning, sagely observing on August 26, 2006:
Amazon have just launched a limited Beta of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) - "a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud", and I think that the ground may be shifting in our business.
Good for me.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jeremy Hillary Boob, PhD.

Hang on while I gather my thoughts.

The burglar's new fish tank was later arriving yesterday and difficult to fit into his house so he didn't make it into the office, thus I didn't have to spend the evening with him debriefing what is going on in work, so I did manage to make it to see the Car Man at Wimbledon. Good stuff it was too.

When I was paying for the ticket I couldn't find my Connect card, so I bought it with my Barclaycard assuming that I had left the Connect in the PINSentry in the office when logging on to the bank. No such luck this morning. I can only hope it is in the trousers I put in the wash last night. If not I will have to arrange to get another one in Cardiff on Friday. It is the end of the month next week and I can't be without online banking for that.

I depart London Paddington at 14:15 this afternoon and arrive at Cardiff Central at 16:22. Trainline booking reference XT7XN47F. I had better get their earlyish as I haven't used trainline before and I am not familiar with the system for collecting tickets. Also I will need to get the rugby water bottle crates over to the Hendries so that they can come down with the boys on the coach on Friday and be available for the Cowbridge and Llandaff games. It will take about an hour to get from my house to Paddington on the tube so I had better get cracking this morning.

When I arrive in I will go straight to the Brewdog (31 Westgate Street CF10 1EH) for the Hang Fire event. If you are reading this John, and you can't reach me on the phone I will meet you there.

Tactical Nuclear Penguin anyone? How is that for synchronicity on the 'blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No harm in it, ARM in it, innit?

Arm Holdings, the chip designer whose technology is in almost all of the world’s smartphones, reported first-quarter sales that beat analysts’ predictions on the success of the latest generation of handsets.
Revenue increased 22pc to £227.5m, or rose 14pc to $348.2m as reported in dollars, the Cambridge, England-based company said in a statement. That compared with the £224.4m average estimate from analysts, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Arm is being buoyed by a surge in smartphones that take advantage of its more powerful architecture for 64-bit semiconductors found in newer devices, such as Apple’s iPhone 6 and Samsung's S6, which went on sale this month. Royalty revenue, the money Arm gets when devices that use its licenses are sold, rose 28pc to $184.7m in the quarter from a year ago.
... and our shares in it are worth £26,972.46 as of this morning. Up 257.82% since we bought them.

It's results also came out on the day that I finally arranged to bin my unused land line and become smartphone only. I swap from BT to Virgin (the only broadband supplier who don't insist you have a landline) on May 5.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Judgement Day

Judgement Day 2014: Dan Fish tackles Jake Ball
Vince called me last night and told me he was bringing Dad, Isaac, Sam and Seb to the Cowbridge game on Saturday. I also went to the pre tour meeting in the club last night where we confirmed the schedule. (I managed to get back for the second part of the quiz in Tooting after and we won that again ThanksForAskin'.)

It has struck me that the 'blog is as good a place as any to publish the weekend's running list in a place were the family can check it out:

Friday 24th April
17:30  Meet at Poplar Road for pre-departure meal
18:30 Coach departs Poplar road for Cardiff
22:00 Touring Party arrives at Nos Da Hostel
Nos Da
53-59 Despenser Street,
Cardiff CF11 6AG
tel: +44 (0) 29 2037 8866
Saturday 25th April
08:00 Breakfast at hostel
09:00 Travel to Cowbridge
Cowbridge RFC
Cowbridge Rugby Football Club
Vale of Glamorgan
CF71 7DB
Tel: 01446 772595
10:00 Kick-off first of two matches vs Cowbridge U14s
12:00 Lunch for the boys at Cowbridge Rugby Club
14:00 Travel back to Hostel to change
15:30 Walk to Millennium Stadium to watch second match at “Judgement Day III”
19:00 Walk to Restaurant for evening meal
Mary Ann St, Cardiff, CF10 2EN
02920 341501
NOTE: restaurant is a buffet style restaurant with huge selection of food. Should be able to satisfy all tastes
21:00 Return to hostel for early night (!!)
Sunday 26th April
08:00 Breakfast at hostel
09:00 Pack for journey back
09:30 Walk to Cardiff Arms Park for matches against Llandaff RFC
BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Westgate Street
CF10 1JA
10:00 Kick-off first of two matches vs Llandaff
12:00 Travel back to Poplar (lunch likely to be sandwiches) during return journey

15:30 Arrive Poplar Road for parent pick-up

I'm going to have to bin the Car Man tonight after a busy weekend, a night out yesterday, another booked for tomorrow, leaving for Cardiff Thursday afternoon and not returning until the latter part of Sunday or I won't have been in my house apart from sleeping for a week. I suppose I can still get to it in Sadler's Wells later in the company's tour,

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's never over

U14 League 2
TeamPWDLFADiffB PtsPtsAdjust
Warlingham U14s87013201152057430
Old Rutlishians U1487013101291817430
Chipstead U148404167142254290
Effingham & Leatherhead U14s8404212242-304280
Old Caterhamians U14s7214153186-335220
Rosslyn Park U14A7304126175-493210
Chobham U14s7214111164-534210
Battersea Ironsides U14820696198-1023190
Camberley U14720593237-1441160
Last Updated: Apr 20 2015 9:02AM

The Ruts beat Battersea Ironsides 38-10 yesterday. It wasn't enough to overhaul Warlingham so we finish second in the league, level with them on points but having scored less and conceded more. It is still a successful season though and we will be in league one next year. Here is Jim's report:
As Patrick as already said, it is a huge shame we didn't have a chance to finish the season in style. I am sorry you had no play today, but we will come back better ready for action next season. I cannot tell you how much I have enjoyed being involved with the League 5 team this season. You are all a huge credit to Old Ruts and I look forward to more of the same next season.

What a great day for Old Ruts at Imber Court; 3 games and 3 wins. I want to congratulate all the boys who played today, you were outstanding. Great rugby: ambitious, quick hands, aggressive forward play, superb running. In particular, I applaud your brilliant support play. Next season you will be in League 1, and you will all need supporting runners more than ever. Today we finished level with Warlingham, equal top of League 2, but just behind on points difference. You have had a great season and I am hugely proud of you all.
In the first half today we played some of our best rugby all season. The forwards in particular were awesome, punching the ball up, keeping it tight and sucking in the Ironsides defence. Of course, once the ball went wide they had no answer to our pace and power. Inevitably, as we made changes throughout the game, we lost a little shape. It was a shame we allowed them to cross our line, but fair lay to Battersea for keeping their heads up and did not give up in the second half.
There is much to look forward to. Next weekend we will have a brilliant tour to Cardiff - a chance see just how good we really are. Next season, League 1 awaits. We are ready.
The game kicked off half an hour late so we just couldn't make it to athletics. Alex and Matthew finished second and third in the javelin with personal bests and the Harriers won the event overall so I didn't feel too guilty. The next competition is May 2 in Crawley. As rugby is finished then I wonder if Ben will start competing in the 300m as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Flying Burrito Brothers

My burritos went down a storm at Andy and Ollie's barbecue yesterday so I thought I should record the recipe and procedure for posterity and future tweaking.

First off, I rubbed two Sainsbury's basics boneless pork shoulder joints in Dunn's River All Purpose Seasoning and popped them in the fridge.

Next I filled my barrel smoker's water pan, put it on the draining board in the kitchen and added a couple of handfuls of Jim Beam oak barrel smoking chips.

A couple of hours later, I fired up the smoker with an instant lighting charcoal pack and then when that got going, added the soaked chips to it, put the water pan back, added the pork, closed the lid and left it for the magic to work overnight.

In the morning I took the skin off, wrapped the joints in foil and gave them a couple of hours in the oven at 150 degrees.

After that I shredded the meat and added two cans of Green Giant Mexican Style Sweetcorn, grated cheese, Hang Fire Kansas City Barbecue sauce, Louisiana hot sauce, lemon juice and more seasoning.

The burritos were assembled (five table spoons of filling to a tortilla) and wrapped in Bacofoil easy wrap single foil sheets. I got fourteen.

At the barbecue we just heated them up on the grill. Contentment ensued.

(I tried to make Chicharron by deep frying the skin I took off the meat after smoking. It was disgusting and  I ended up throwing it away. In the process I think I lost a lot of savoury smoke ring bark. Next time I will remove the skin before I apply the dry rub. Experiments in the creation of scratchings will continue but not at the expense of my pulled pork.)

I have remembered that the burrito mix also contained savoury rice boiled with turmeric and chilli flakes, and that each filling was also topped with coriander leaf. I guess that this mea culpa proves it was worth trying to write it down.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Ultra spiritual

It was my three hundred and thirty third yoga session this morning, and though, judging by the mirror that always lines the front wall at a Bikram session, I still turn into Red Skull before he first water break I must be improving. For the second week in a row my locust pose was praised and offered as an exemplar by the teacher. When I consider that when I started I couldn't raise my legs at all in it I am rather chuffed.

A year ago, I went straight to the studio after coming back from the Bomber's Old Ruts end of season rugby tour and fell asleep (can't imagine why, I'd only been up boozing for three days) before the lesson even started. I was woken by a stern woman whose blissful egolessness had been disturbed by my snoring.

These days I would have explained to her that ‘prana’ refers to the universal life force and ‘ayama’ means to regulate or lengthen. Prana is the vital energy needed by our physical and subtle layers, without which the body would perish. It is what keeps us alive. Pranayama is the control of prana through the breath. Why you gots to be the hater pouring salt on my game you no-skillz beetch?

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Gas Man Cameth

Not only is my heating working again. I can now control it from my iPhone.
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!' He chortled in his joy.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sing Something, Simple

Manny Pacquiao's official fight song for his upcoming match against Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a masterclass in power balladry.

If I was Mayweather, this is how I would hit back.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right or better.

There is a cookbook on the market compiled by a chef who “has never tasted a single morsel of food.” Watson, IBM’s cognitive system that famously defeated two human grand champions to win the US quiz show Jeopardy, has turned its attention to the kitchen.

It was strangely jarring to find this out on the same day that my copy of "Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto" arrived. Aaron Franklin and  Jordan Mackay's book is available only in hardback, there is no ebook at all. Cracking the spine on a new volume is something I haven't done for a long time and it was good to get involved with instruction and memoirs based on years' worth of hard-won knowledge as opposed to theory for a change.

It echoed as well with The World Beyond Your Head, which I started to read on the exercise bike this morning. That advocates skilled practices as a way of engaging with the world in a more satisfying way and gives the examples of a cook, an ice-hockey player and a motorbike racer as people whose roles force them to deal with material reality; no representation can replicate the feel of the puck on ice or gravel under your tyres at high speed. Each relies on good judgement of a complicated subject and the ability to manage the presence of others in the same space.

Whether this applies to my BBQ technique of putting something in the smoker in the evening then buggering off and picking it up in the morning is probably moot.

I could go and see Matthew Crawford next Tuesday, but that - given the giddy social whirl - is also my only chance to catch The Car Man at Wimbledon. If I have got his proposition right, he would probably advise me to go and learn to appreciate the embodied skills of the dancers rather than him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Reading too much into it

I have just finished reading Matthieu Ricard's The Art of Meditation and am about to start on Matthew Crawford's The World Beyond Your Head: How to Flourish in an Age of Distraction.

I kid myself I chose books on a whim, but maybe my subconscious is telling me that going stir crazy waiting for the gas man to arrive is symptomatic rather than a problem in itself.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Gas Man Cometh Not

I have been sitting here like a lemon since 8 o'clock this morning waiting for a British Gas engineer to arrive and look at my boiler. He was due between 8 and 1 so he is late.

I've called the company. They say he is 'dispatched' and I am his next job. To wait or not? There are things to do in the office and I have to take the bomber to the dentist later.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

a combined Christmas and birthday present?


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Man finds food

John and I watched Chef the movie again the evening after we met Shauna Guinn (Icons passim) Aaron Franklin is in it as himself and so - under the assumption that the universe is sending me a message - I have ordered his book from Amazon. The image above was the clincher as the map on the left contains all the BBQ joints I can remember Shauna recommending during our chat.

I fired my smoker up for the first time this year and did a shoulder in it overnight. I will work it up into some pulled pork with Carolina mustard sauce later. This is a dry run for Ollie's birthday barbecue next Saturday. She actually asked me to bring some long to it earlier this week when I was having a crafty pint with the Hendries and the Goddings. I was flattered.

I have also decided to go down to Cardiff's Brew Dog on 23 April for the Hang Fire Smoke House takeover. I will go on the train and meet up with the Ruts for the rugby tour on Friday.

This means that I will have go and see Matthew Bourne's Adventures in Motion contemporary dance company on the Tuesday. To sit here writing that sentence when I have already been to yoga this morning and after a paragraph about BBQ and rugby feels rather strange. It takes all sorts I suppose, and I am all sorts just on my own.
"I predict a return of hot sauces to American cuisine. With color TV, the entire sensory life will take on a whole new set of dimensions."
Marshall McLuhan 1966
How right he was.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Initials BB

The Bomber went along to javelin training last night, for only the second time since 2013 as he missed last week with swollen tonsils, and told me afterwards that he had done 42m with his best throw. That is not too shabby as the best at U15 in the UK so far this year (though it is early in the season) is 42.21m according to the Power of 10 website.

I hope he will be able to make it to the Ebbisham League match Sunday week and lay down an official marker. I can't be 100% sure though as the last Old Ruts league game of the season is on that day as well and - although the boys are already promoted - they are still in with a sniff of winning the whole thing. An earlyish morning kick off would be OK as javelin is not until about half past three in the afternoon.

I have told him, to his bemusement, that we will be sampling Serge Gainsbourg's Initials BB for his theme song. Just as Gainsbourg used the Adagio from Dvořák's New World symphony and Danger Mouse and Black Grape sampled Serge in turn.

I have been looking for a project to try out FL Studio and Deckadance you see.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Car Man

Matthew Bourne’s internationally acclaimed dance thriller was first seen in 2000, winning the Evening Standard Award for ‘Musical Event of the Year’.
The Car Man is loosely based on Bizet’s popular opera and has one of the most thrilling and instantly recognisable scores in New Adventures’ repertory, brilliantly arranged by Terry Davies.
The familiar 19th Century Spanish cigarette factory becomes a greasy garage-diner in 1960’s America where the dreams and passions of a small-town are shattered by the arrival of a handsome stranger. Fuelled by heat and desire, the inhabitants are driven into an unstoppable spiral of greed, lust, betrayal and revenge.
It is at the Wimbledon Theatre the week after next. Maybe it could serve as a sort of Streetcar Part II for me.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The Day My Pad Went Mad

Last night, as I was boiling some sweet potatoes and listening to Led Zeppelin IV, my dish washer - which has been on the blink for months - suddenly started working again. I was bewildered. I don't even remember switching it on. Perhaps I rubbed up against it while gyrating to Rock and Roll or Black Dog. I will get some tablets on the way home and cross my fingers that last night's come back wasn't temporary.

Then when I woke up this morning I found that the boiler had been on all night and wouldn't switch off from the control in the airing cupboard. I called British Gas. They can't come until Monday but they have told me how to attempt to switch off the device itself directly.

Oh, and Man v. Food's Adam Richman has been vegan for three months.

“If you've done 6 impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?”

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


I mean to watch this later, so I may as well pop it up here to share with the world.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The F.B.I. Fitness Test

The New York Times
For the first time in 16 years, the Federal bureau of Investigation is requiring that its agents pass a fitness test, consisting of four exercises separated by a five-minute break.

That doesn't look so bad. I might have a crack at it later this week.

It is the minimum though. Aiming higher, here are the Special Agent requirements -

All together now in fantasy land!
WILLARD (V.O.): The more I read and began to understand, the more I admired him. His family and friends couldn't understand it. And they couldn't talk him out of it. He had to apply three times, and he put up with a ton of sh1t, but when he threatened to resign, they gave it to him. The next youngest guy in his class was half his age. They must've thought he was some far-out man humping it over the course. I did it when I was nineteen, it damn near wasted me. A tough motherfxxker. He finished it. He could've gone for general, but he went for himself instead.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Penylan (there is a barber showing photographs)

John and I took his girls, along with mum and dad to the Penylan Pantry yesterday for a social coffee and cake and also to stock up on the Hang Fire Smokehouse (see Icons passim) sauces we had read that they sold.

When we got there we discovered that Shauna Guinn of the smokehouse was there along with her sauces, so we had a long chat where she really lit a fire under us about Texas BBQ. She knows Aaron Franklin of Austin Texas' Franklin Barbecue who helped develop their Texas Espresso sauce and spoke of Lockhart - a city in Caldwell County - proclaimed by the Texas Legislature Lockhart as The Barbecue Capital of Texas.

Jules: [laughing] Oh, man. I'm going, that's all there is to it. I'm fxxckng going.
Myself: Yeah, baby, you'd dig it the most

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

I finished off Dave Eggers' The Circle when I woke up this morning, though I fell back to sleep afterwards. It is a dystopian novel for the age of Google and Facebook, and worth a read for all it is a little heavy handed for my taste. The symbolism of the transparent, omnivorous shark; Enough already.

I have been reading Dave Eggers since 2000, when a came across an extract from A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius in a newspaper I picked up in a bijou hotel where we weekended in Boston on the way back from skiing in New England. So now you know.

Friday, April 03, 2015

At Risk?

I am going back to Wales for the holiday weekend. Tumbleweed may drift through these abandoned pages if I can't get to a wi-fi connection.

We'll be back in Cardiff again in three weeks for the Old Ruts end of season rugby tour. While I am there  this time I am going to visit some of the venues as part of the trip's risk assessment.  I had never heard of such an exercise before, but apparently it has been a thing since 1999.

Personally I consider the population and environs of Cardiff to be more at risk from the Old Rutlishians U14 rugby squad than vice versa.

Here is the current thinking on tour jacket options and designs so you can identify them and get out of the way.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Stop Ballet Aching

The last time my brother John was up in London on a weekend visit early in February, he mentioned that he had been to see a ballet company in Wales and that it was "amazing". Probably because we were in the pub, I can't even remember how we got on to the topic, but after that revelation it was my turn to be amazed; no disrespect to him, but he is about the least likely balletomane I can imagine.

Since then I have been looking for a painless introduction to the art. The Scottish Ballet are at Sadler's Wells this week doing a version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. It is a collaboration between theatre and film director Nancy Meckler and choreographer Annabelle Lopez, and features a specially commissioned jazz score. I've seen the play on the screen and the theatre and know the story inside out, so last night I went along.
A Streetcar Named Desire, Scottish Ballet, review: 'tugs at the heart-strings, shreds the nerves'
Scottish Ballet's version of A Streetcar Named Desire does Tennessee Williams's steamy, pitch-black masterpiece full justice, says Mark Monahan.
I agree. Five stars from me too.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Garden parties

Hello, I've just received an invitation to attend one of the three Buckingham Palace Garden Parties, being held this year on Tuesday 12th May, Wednesday 20th May and Thursday 28th May 2015 and to bring a guest. Who wants to come?