Monday, February 29, 2016

Missing In Action

Gareth hasn't come home since the Wales France game, dirty rotten stop out. He ought to realise he isn't the only gnome in town.

Cardiff Blues Garden Gnome: £19.99

Classic gnome in Harlequins colours: £17.50

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Living Well is the Best Revenge

I can't remember a lot about last night which is a sure sign Wales still won on Friday.

Pre England game drinks and tasting menu courtesy of The Dairy in Clapham.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wales 19 France 10

I can't remember a lot about last night which is a sure sign Wales won.

Pre game drinks and nibbles courtesy of The Little Taperia.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Keeping the lid on it

The Principality Stadium will have the roof closed when Wales kick off against France at five past eight tonight. For us, it’s a chance to keep the Six Nations dream alive after a draw in Ireland and victory over Scotland in Cardiff. Win and we should go to Twickenham in a fortnight to face Eddie Jones’ England with a lot of confidence; lose and we are all but out of the title race.

There is also some previous with a few of the players. In a 2008 Under 20 Junior World Championship match which Warburton described as “the best moment of my life” at the time, Wales came from 19-9 down with three minutes remaining at their home tournament to beat France thanks to a Leigh Halfpenny try. Jubilant scenes at the final whistle were interrupted as a mass punch-up between the two sides broke out.

Wales' squad that day also included Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb, Jonathan Davies and Justin Tipuric. Among the French, Yoann Maestri, Rabah Slimani and Benjamin Fall have all progressed to Les Bleus' senior outfit.

Slimani, who starts at tighthead prop tonight, was banned alongside Jeremy Braille and Djibril Camara, who is also set to win his first senior French cap at the Principality Stadium.

Seconds out, round two?

In other rugby news Rutlish came second in yesterday's 16 team 7s tournament, with Ben scoring seven tries from scrum half in the four games they played. I've never known him to play that position before. This morning he was bemoaning a failure to execute, from some good positions in the final and thinks they should have nicked it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

J'emporte malgré vous, et c'est. . . mon panache.

The Importance of Being Earnest can be classified with Cyrano de Bergerac. If you are capable of watching a production of either without enjoying it then you are so jaded that you should be forbidden from the theatre.
Who wrote that? Oh, that's right, it was me. U15s rugby training was cancelled last night. (Probably no bad thing on balance as there is a schools 7s competition today.) So, finding myself at an unexpected loose end I half-houred up the Northern Line to see a new production of Cyrano de Bergerac which has just opened at the Southwark Playhouse.

As a rule I am not a great one for poncing about with famous works, but this all female version has an interesting framing conceit; the story is told - and thus acted out - by the other nuns to a naive novice at the convent to which Cyrano’s beloved Roxane retires from the world after Christian is killed, and at which he visits her daily.

Cyrano de Bergerac is the most deliriously romantic play ever written, and I think that presenting it as what a young girl would imagine as she heard the story, bumps that essential quotient up even further. You can't - for example - present the fight with a hundred men that sees Lignière safely home realistically because its impossible, but it can work as a fantasy.

The critics don't like it; "a squandered opportunity" blah, blah, blah. Don't even get me started on "while having an all-female cast is an interesting decision and can shed new light on perceptions of gender in a play, it’s not clear what purpose it serves here."

I thought it was tremendous fun, and that - after all - is surely the point.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rugby gnome exegesis

Well we staggered back to my house
Shouting "Go the whole hog, Mog!"
Where we sat and watched "Grand Slam"
Laughing at Maldwyn and Caradog
The immortal Grand Slam being set around Wales playing France, now that I've found it on YouTube, I think we almost certainly will stagger back to my house and watch it after the equivlant game this Friday as well. I don't feel any piracy guilt as I've already bought it twice; once on VHS and then again on DVD.

Prodnose: Rugby gnome exegisis?

Myself: Exegesis, from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι 'to lead out') is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text, or alternatively of some old David Bowie inspired doggerel of mine.

Prodnose (looking like a fool): Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Between Scylla and Charybdis


The plan for Friday and Saturday is as follows:

Friday night: watch Wales v France in the Charles Holden (Andy and Ollie have booked a table)
Saturday morning: Virgin Active Gym
Saturday lunchtime and early afternoon: seven course tasting menu and The Dairy in Clapham
Saturday late afternoon: watch England v Ireland in the Standard strategically supporting Ireland as Welsh people in an Irish pub

Wait a minute, look what I've found!

They actually want me to bring my brother for free and this weekend is the last chance. So you could replace Saturday  morning in the gym with an hour and a half of yoga in a room heated to 40 °C (104 °F) with a humidity of 40%.

While you decide:
Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters noted by Homer; Greek mythology sited them on opposite sides of the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the Italian mainland. Scylla was rationalized as a rock shoal (described as a six-headed sea monster) on the Italian side of the strait and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily. They were regarded as a sea hazard located close enough to each other that they posed an inescapable threat to passing sailors; avoiding Charybdis meant passing too close to Scylla and vice versa. According to Homer, Odysseus was forced to choose which monster to confront while passing through the strait; he opted to pass by Scylla and lose only a few sailors, rather than risk the loss of his entire ship in the whirlpool. Because of such stories, having to navigate between the two hazards eventually entered idiomatic use. Another equivalent English seafaring phrase is, "Between a rock and a hard place".

Monday, February 22, 2016


How does it work?
Just search for any song or artist and Riffstation will give you the chords for any song synced with the YouTube video! You can view the chord diagrams in sync with the music for guitar, ukulele and piano.
Where do the chords come from?
Riffstation uses an automatic chord recognition algorithm to "listen" to the music and figure out the chords for you!
How accurate are the chords?
The chord recognition algorithm detects major, minor and 7th triads with about 85% accuracy in typical rock/pop music. The chord positions shown are in root position only. The chords will always be detected and shown in the actual key the song was recorded in. If the song is in difficult key to play in, you can use the capo tool and play in any key you like with a capo on your guitar.
Can I edit chords which are not correct?
Not right now, but we are working on it!
Are there any advanced features?
For more advanced players we have Riffstation for Mac and PC. You can load in any song from your music collection and do amazing things. In addition to giving you chords, you can also slow down and pitch shift the music, isolate or mute the guitar to create your own jam tracks and lots more.
Oh boy, the hours would have saved me working out songs on piano and guitar when I was a kid. You don't get any detailed voicings out of it, but it does help you hit the ground running.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

It's not even lunch time yet, and I have already renewed my parking permit online with Merton Council.

This is more than was accomplished in the entire wash out that was Saturday.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Lazy bones

I couldn't be bothered to do any exercise today; my first unforced error of 2016. To make sure this doesn't happen next weekend when my brother is visiting I have downloaded:
5GA - T4W - AXY
Member Name:Nicholas Browne
Swipe No:9030036075
Guest Name:John Browne
Valid Until:29/02/2016
Please present this pass at reception and a member of staff will be happy to help arrange your guest's complimentary visit.
This guest pass allows one guest (the name specified on the guest pass) complimentary use of one Virgin Active Health Club. The member will need to attend the club at the same time as their guest and must provide a copy of this printed pass or quote the guest pass code to the club to allow the guest to use the club facilities. Further T&C's apply. For more information please visit

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Merc with a Mouth

Ben is going to abandon athletics in the summer and play rugby league for the Rutlish Raiders instead. He was supposed to go for a half term taster training session last night, but didn't turn up as he had forgotten and gone to the movies. He was watching Deadpool. "The film has been a smash – a sure sign that we can expect more sex, violence and swearing in the next crop of superhero movies," and he is old enough to see it. How did that happen? I think I can safely throw away the Johnson's Baby Shampoo in the bathroom now.

As you can see from the clip above, Deadpool features Gina Carano as - who else? - Angel Dust. Back in 2008 (Icons passim) there were only three degrees of separation between her and Ben. He trained Muay Thai with Woytek. Woytek had his hand raised by Master A when he won the British championship. And Master trained Gina C in Muay Thai Ring Girls.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Hang On

I read that the Hang Fire Smokehouse’s new restaurant has received more than 1,300 bookings in less than 24 hours – and it hasn’t even opened yet. It is amazing how far they have come since last April (Icons passim).

This sent me back to the Munchies YouTube channel, where I first saw the film about the huge queues at Franklin BBQ.

This time I came across:


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Right String But Wrong Yo-Yo

Beverly “Guitar” Watkins is seventy-six years old. She is wearing house slippers, a hair net, and an Atlanta Hawks t-shirt on backwards. She is probably the greatest living blues guitarist that no one has ever heard of.
Whatever happened to my plan for a food and music pilgrimage to the South?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

As a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, so must you become Derelicte!

Before I arrived at the Antelope last night I got a call to say that the quiz was cancelled due to some sort of power problem and that we would regroup at the Guerilla bar in Tooting for their rival contest.

We came second but I didn't enjoy it as much. I suppose I have reached a period in my life where I have a low tolerance for hipster beards and even less of an appetite for interior design channelling Zoolander's Derelicte.
Mugatu: Let me show you Derelicte. It is a fashion, a way of life inspired by the very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique.
Myself: This unasked-for jollity in the middle of an English afternoon left Sir Henry shivering with a red passion, his face a crumpled tissue on which a lobster might well have wiped its bottom.

Monday, February 15, 2016

tell me if I am repeating myself

As two evil sisters prepare to conquer the land; two renegades - Eric the Huntsman - who previously aided Snow White in defeating Ravenna, and his forbidden lover, Sara set out to stop them. In this April 8 release, second unit director Simon Crane (Icons passim) takes care of the action scenes. He certainly gets some interesting gigs.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Wee laddie for a palfrey....HIT

Gareth the rugby gnome came along to the Charles Holden yesterday  afternoon and was pleased to see Wales edge Scotland 27-23.

It bucked him up after a sliver of ice had entered his heart earlier when Treviso beat the Cardiff Blues 13-7 and Danny Wilson's men became the first Guinness Pro12 side to lose against the Italian club this season.

Dan Fish had a reasonable game by all accounts, with an interception and a try-saving tackle but that was of small comfort the little bobble-hatted fellow. For he is a rugby gnome which can be lonely as most of his brethren prefer fishing.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Keynsham. Tell me more about Keynsham.

I got an email from Jim yesterday saying that we have the first day of rugby planned U15s tour to Bath late in April. It will be a triangular tournament with locals Keynsham RFC and another touring party from the Northampton area, Olney RFC.

That is handy as Keynsham is - if anything - nearer to Bristol than Bath - so John can bring Mum and Dad along from Cardiff to see Ben.

Martin says we've played Olney before at Brean Sands and that "Ring of Fire" is their song.

As a long time Bonzo fan, I know that Keynsham have a song as well.

Perhaps we should have Sport (also from the Keynsham album) as our theme.
Let's go back to your childhood ...

The odd boy lay down by the football field
Took out a slim volume of Mallarme.
The centre-forward called him an imbecile.
It's an odd boy who doesn't like sport.
Sport, Sport, masculine sport.
Equips a young man for society.
Yes, sport turns out a jolly good sort.
It's an odd boy who doesn't like sport.
Dear Mr. Poxham,
Would you kindly excuse Steven from Games today? He has had a nasty cold over the weekend and still has headaches and feels a bit snotty. I don't feel he should be outside with the rougher type of boy, as he is a little delicate. Hoping you will understand.
Yours Sincerely,
Nellie Maynard, Mrs.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Art of the Deal

I haven't actually watched this yet, but Johnny Depp's Trump spoof has reminded me that I did actually read the original Trump: The Art of the Deal all those years ago when the book came out. I can't remember much about the content to be honest, but do recall that I was working as a Corporate Develop Executive at George Wimpey PLC at the time, and  that I wrote a memo about some obscure point in it asking for an opinion from our legal department. It seems an extraordinary thing to have done, reflecting on it now.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

a holding page

The Welsh team for the Scotland game is due to be announced today and will appear here once it is available. Originally we were due to hear on Wednesday but it seems that the management want to give Dan Biggar every opportunity to recover.

After the New Hampshire primary, I suspect that we will play Donald Trump on the right wing and Bernie Sanders on the left wing but I have no inside information.

Come to think of it, Ben's Rutlish U15s have an away game at Hollyfield School (Eric Clapton's alma mater trivia fans) this afternoon, so maybe I will put that rugby result up here later as well.

Update 10:30 - The U15s school game today is cancelled but the club U16s have asked Ben to play for them on Sunday.

Update 11:00 -Wales team to face Scotland: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Tom James; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Scott Baldwin, Samson Lee; Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones; Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Reps: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Tomas Francis, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Gareth Anscombe

Dan Biggar starts in an unchanged team. Alex Cuthbert misses out all together.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Rugby Gnome

I was in the Royal Standard
When I heard a belch behind me
And there was a little old man
Red jersey, boots black; up for the craic.
Well we staggered back to my house
Shouting "Go the whole hog, Mog!"
Where we sat and watched "Grand Slam"
Laughing at Maldwyn and Caradog

Ha ha ha, he he he
I'm a rugby gnome and you can't cwtch me
Ha ha ha, he he he
I'm a rugby gnome and you can't cwtch me"
Said the rugby gnome

To be continued .....

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The undiscovered country from whose Bourne. Geddit!?

The world and his wife got a first look at the new Jason Bourne movie during the Super Bowl. Second unit director Simon Crane (Icons passim) takes care of the action scenes. He certainly gets some interesting gigs.

Monday, February 08, 2016

time to park it

Mum crashed her car into a lamp post on Friday outside the house and wrote it off. John, in Winston Wolf mode, managed to sort out a quick collection via the insurance company so it is out of sight and out of mind. That should be the end of her driving as far as I am concerned.

Two local press stories I remember are relevant and bolster this.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Ireland 16 Wales 16

Q: Warren, how satisfied are you?
A: Not satisfied at all. I’m flat at the moment. It’s disappointing. It’s not a loss, but it’s taken a couple of trophies out of the cabinet already.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

inventin' done, man

JUST IN: We will be celebrating Grenada's Independence Day at Merton Abbey Mills on Saturday 6th February with Live...
Posted by Merton Abbey Mills on Tuesday, 19 January 2016

I am away down in Cardiff so I can't get along to this. I have long thought that the people of the Caribbean, having invented rum, reggae, jerk barbecue and the hammock, must be among the greatest benefactors of mankind. Do you actually need anything more than rum, reggae, jerk barbecue and a hammock for a perfect sunny afternoon?

Prodnose: So the bartender says, "Well, the worst way I know of is standing up in a hammock."

Myself: Vulgarity begins when imagination succumbs to the explicit.

Friday, February 05, 2016


Dear Charles Darwin and God,
For over a half a century, I looked in the mirror each morning and saw a pair of hairless ears — admittedly oversized, but nonetheless, utterly and completely without hair. And, between the three of us, that was just fine with me. Then on an otherwise mundane Tuesday, out of nowhere, a solitary hair popped out on the side of my left ear. I sleepily gazed at my reflection and almost without pause thought “Hmm, that’s odd.” I then yanked out the offender and went about my day.
What I didn’t know was that there had been a shift in the cosmic balance and soon this sort of thing would be no longer be “odd” at all. In fact, it would be the opposite… it would be routine. The perimeter had been breached and there was no going back. Slowly and inexorably, like a shuffling zombie hoard, they made their way to my ears. At first, it was just a couple a month — “no big deal” I thought, “just remain vigilant.” But, no, they just kept coming… and coming — in every growing numbers. Now, they’re fxxxing everywhere — tops, sides, lobes, even down in the canal.
At a time in my life when my hairline retreats toward the back of my head like the Union army at Bull Run, hair sprouts out of my ears like a game of “Whack a Mole” gone horribly wrong. Suddenly, a routine of auricular depilation has become a part of my daily existence and I don’t want to be rude, but I think someone owes me an explanation ...... read on ......
This is horribly true. I even have an "emergency" nose and ear hair clipper in my desk at the office.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Wales: Rob Evans, Justin Tipuric and Tom James start against Ireland

Wales team to face Ireland: Gareth Anscombe; George North, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, Tom James; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Scott Baldwin, Samson Lee, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton (capt), Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Tomas Francis, Bradley Davies, Dan Lydiate, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Alex Cuthbert.

Warburton moves to blindside; three hundred and sixty odd caps on the bench.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

"Leave now for Iphigenia in Splott"

I've switched from the iPhone to an Android model. Google Now, the "intelligent personal assistant" that comes with it, advised me to leave for "Iphigenia in Splott" before I had even finished work yesterday, "intelligently" inferring that it was actually on down the M4 in Splott rather than a convenient hop up the Northern Line to Waterloo and the National Theatre.

As for the work itself, Sophie Melville gives a great performance in a fine production, but if "Gary Owen’s brawling, big-hearted, raging monologue" (UK Theatre Awards Best New Play 2015) is good writing then I am a Dutchman.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

How did I get here?

I finished reading Searching for John Ford by Joseph McBride yesterday. Coincidentally, as the BFI noted on Facebook, the great American director's birthday.

Today, I will be starting on Toby Harnden's Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan.
This is the tale of the Welsh Guards in Helmand in 2009. Underequipped and overstretched, guardsmen from the coal mining valleys and slate quarry villages of Wales found themselves in Helmand in some of the most intense fighting by British troops for more than a generation. They were confronted by a Taliban enemy they seldom saw, facing the constant threat of Improvised Explosive Devices and ambush. Leading them into battle was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, destined for the highest ranks. He was a passionate believer in the war but was dismayed by how it was being conducted. Dead Men Risen will unnerve politicians and generals alike. In chilling detail, Toby Harnden reveals how and why Thorneloe was killed by an IED during Operation Panther's Claw. Harnden, who had known Thorneloe since they met in Northern Ireland in 1996, was on the ground in Helmand with the Welsh Guards. He draws on a trove of military documents, including many written by Thorneloe, the first British battalion commander to die in action since the Falklands war of 1982. Major Sean Birchall left behind an unvarnished assessment of the shortcomings of the Afghan forces that represent Nato's exit strategy. Lieutenant Mark Evison wrote a diary that raises questions from beyond the grave. It was more than half a century since a British battalion had lost officers at these three key levels of leadership. By the time the fighting was over, almost no rank had been spared. A visceral and timeless account of men at war, Dead Men Risen conveys what it is like to be a soldier who has to kill, face paralysing fear and watch comrades perish in agony. Given unprecedented access to the Welsh Guards, Harnden conducted more than 300 interviews in Afghanistan, England and Wales. From the searing heat of the poppy fields and mud compounds of Helmand to the dreaded knock on the door back home, the reader is transported there. Harnden weaves the experiences of the guardsmen and their loved ones into an unsparing narrative that sits alongside a piercing analysis of military strategy.

Monday, February 01, 2016

All Cardiff

Dan Fish scored in under 90 seconds as the Blues beat Edinburgh at home on Saturday. The Sherman's Iphigenia in Splott opens to rave reviews at the National Theatre. (I must try and get along.) Are we witnessing a Cardiff renaissance?