Monday, May 22, 2017


We have got our first Amazon Alexa app in development/testing. It pulls management information out of our SQL Server DBMS.

Amazon has announced that a ‘Notifications for Alexa' feature is coming soon. That could fit very well with us extending the app so it tells us when we have any systems problems.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Épater la bourgeoisie, butty boy!

The Turned-On Biennale: An Orgy of Liberal Sex and Liberal Guilt Greets Visitors in Venice
The world in 2017 is a frightening and chaotic place: why not relieve your anxiety with some casual masturbation or perhaps some good old-fashioned sex? As a corollary to the heavy menu of post-colonial guilt, migration-related tub-thumping and an abstract, queasy panic induced by global capitalism, this year’s Venice Biennale is letting off steam with an abundance of carnal knowledge. From pagan fertility rituals to extreme genital modification: it’s all here for the taking.
Showing as part of James Richards’s exhibition for the Welsh pavilion, the film What Weakens the Flesh Is the Flesh Itself (a collaboration with Steve Reinke) explores the body as a work of art in itself. Besides a lingering tour through snapshots of cheerful young men hanging out at a festival, and footage from an erotic photo-shoot heavy on the squashed fruit, the film draws extensively on the private photographic archive of Albrecht Becker.
An actor and photographer arrested and imprisoned for homosexuality by the Nazis, Becker became obsessed with representation and modification of the body. Gradually the images shown of this mild-looking elderly man in his V-necked sweaters become more unconventional, revealing a body entirely covered in homemade tattoos and piercings. Fairly close to the top of Venice’s wince list this year comes Becker’s modified and elephantine groin, so swollen that the penis prods out like a little mushroom cap. From a bolt through his glans, he lifts great metal chains.
The Welsh Pavilion; nice. At last I see the value of devolution to the Principality. Couldn't be prouder.
Cardiff-born Richards’ interest lies in the possibility of the private amidst the public chaos of quotidian media. His work makes use of an ever-growing bank of material that includes fragments of cinema, works by other artists, stray camcorder footage, murky late night TV, film soundtracks and archival research.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spain U17 2-2 England U17 (4-1 on pens)

Heartbreak as Young Lions miss out on European U17 Championship title on pens after injury-time equaliser

  • Callum Hudson-Odoi continued his fine form to open scoring for Young Lions
  • Chelsea starlet had previously scored in semi-final to help England beat Turkey
  • Exciting Barcelona full-back Mateu Morey then levelled after wonderful move
  • Phil Foden put England back in front in second half with strike from outside box
  • In sixth minute of injury time, sub Nacho Diaz headed a last-gasp equaliser
  • Match went to penalties, where Spain secured a 4-1 spot-kick victory in Croatia
Heartbreak indeed. Jonnie, Ben and Alex came to my house to watch the game. I it was just like when they were in primary school and those three plus Callum (or a subset thereof) seemed to be round all the time.

Anyway, here's Callum's goal. Also, I was surprised to read on the FA website that he still has to take his GCSEs even though he is away at the tournament.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Not a problem

For the last couple of months, every once in a while my boiler (and the heating) has stayed on after the Hive Heating schedule says it should have gone off.

What I have got used to doing is physically switching the boiler off for a couple of hours as this generally cleared the problem, and half filing it away in my head as a software problem.

It happened yesterday morning as I was waiting at home for the British Gas to turn up and give the boiler its annual maintenance check up. He investigated and found it was caused by a valve sticking. The valve was replaced and all is well.

I never tire in work of berating people for assuming that any and all problems relate to IT and warning them to entertain the possibility that the issue at hand may be more prosaic.

Hoist by my own petard.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

And there's more

That is Callum's goal from the semi above, as England move into the final of the EUFA U17 Championship against Spain at 7pm on Friday. That is going to be worth a one day £5.99 Eurosport pass investment methinks (

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not the Sitcom

Due to incredible demand, David Baddiel’s rollicking comedy My Family: Not the Sitcom transfers to the Playhouse Theatre, following two successful stints at the Menier Chocolate Factory and Vaudeville Theatre last year. Packed with family anecdotes and brutally honest humour, the production runs for a limited season, opening March 2017.
My Family: Not the Sitcom is Baddiel’s hilarious comedy, detailing stories of his late mother Sarah and his dementia-ridden father Colin. Both riotous and thought-provoking, the show covers topics such as memory, ageing .......
I'm going to see it on Thursday. Fancy that. Maybe I will watch as well.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Amazon Echo Silver

It is an SNL sketch, but to me it looks more like a documentary.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Answers on a postcard

I forgot to eat anything yesterday. Because or despite the fact I was barbecue grilling from 3pm to 8?

All very mysterious and psychologically intriguing.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Hot Welsh

Having done my Bikram duty from 8 until 9:30 this morning I found myself wondering if I might be able to get my hot yoga fix on weekends I am down in Cardiff visiting Mum and Dad.

It turns out that - according to Google - there are two options Elite Fitness and Serenyoga.

I think I will try the 10am Saturday class at Elite a try next time I am back on June 3. The £7.50 price is the same as I generally pay for a day pass at Lifestyle Fitness, where my father was a member and maybe still is, anyway.

Friday, May 12, 2017

In which I am supporting England!

England maintained their 100 per cent record in the UEFA U17 European Championship to set up a quarter-final tie against the Republic of Ireland.
Jadon Sancho’s double and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s late strike in Zapresic ensured the Young Lions finished top of Group D ahead of opponents.
After two wins from their opening two games, coach Steve Cooper named the same starting line-up for the third successive match, but apart from Rhian Brewster almost benefiting from a Jasper Schendelaar slip in the Dutch goal early on, it was a tepid start from England.
However, they soon got into their stride and crafted an opening goal in the 23rd minute. Phil Foden set Hudson-Odoi free down the right and he played a neat pass across the face of goal for Sancho to tap in from two yards out
And Hudson-Odoi got in on the act with a deserved goal in the final minute of normal time when he was on the receiving end of substitute Emile Smith-Rowe’s clever pass from the right to smash in a low drive from six yards.
Steve Cooper’s side’s record of three wins from three in the group stages was only matched by Germany.
All looking good for Callum. Centre stage for two of the three goals while the other was a penalty. Other local interest is that the keeper Josef Bursik, who has conceded just one goal in three group matches, is from AFC Wimbledon.

The quarter final is at eleven o'clock tomorrow morning.

Thursday, May 11, 2017


As of this morning I am using MightyText to manage SMS from my PC.

Fascinating eh?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Dan Fish has been out injured since he tore a hamstring last September. That must be hard when, with Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny both with the Lions, he should have been in with a good chance of making the Wales squad for the summer tour.

As it is, one time rival (Icons passim) Matthew Morgan has been overlooked, but fellow Blues player nineteen year old Rhun Williams has been named in the Welsh squad for their two-test tour this summer. He is the only specialist 15 that I recognise in the selection. Suddenly twenty six seems old.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Monday, May 08, 2017

Concerning the Élysée Palace

Please file away (in the draw marked "things I have heard enough of to last me the rest of my life") the fact that the new French President's wife is 24 years his senior, along with the fascinating information that Theresa May (like not a few women) is rather fond of shoes and has several pairs.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Hope, Tragedy, Myths

I went to the Russian Revolution exhibition at the British Library yesterday. Reflecting on the printed captions under many of the items on display describing the country as backwards at the end of the nineteenth century, I found myself wondering if there is something about the British English that makes it impossible to write about Russians without patronising them. Between about 1860 and the 1900 you couldn't have thrown a rock there without a good chance of hitting a literary genius. Also the emancipation of the serfs was pretty much contemporaneous with the freeing of the slaves in the good ole USA.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Boxing, Family and Politics

Sadiq Khan's brother is the head coach at Earlsfield Amateur Boxing Club, not too far away. I am genuinely impressed.

Friday, May 05, 2017

"Alexa, open Arsenal."

We've become the first Premier League club to launch an Amazon Alexa skill that allows fans to stream live matches.

Get the most out of every match day with Arsenal FC’s official skill. With full support for pre-match build-up, live commentary and post-match analysis you can keep up to date with all the action.

To get started, simply say "Alexa, open Arsenal."

Options include:

Pre Match:
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the match preview.” - receive an overview of the upcoming match.
“Alexa, ask Arsenal who’s injured?” - find out who is injured.
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the team lineup.” - available approximately one hour before kick-off.
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the pre-match build up.” - listen to the official pre-match commentary, available around 30 minutes before kick-off.

During Match:
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the live commentary.” - listen to the official match commentary, available during a game.
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the match summary.” - find out the score, bookings, injuries and substitutions.
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the score.” - learn how we’re getting on in-play.

Post Match:
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the post match analysis.” - listen to the official post-match commentary, available for around 30 minutes after the final whistle.
“Alexa, ask Arsenal for the match report.” - hear the official Arsenal opinion of the game.

Surely Wenger's job must be safe now for next season.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Pay attention, you at the back

Ok, let's start trying to get this straight in our heads.

Jean-Claude Juncker is from Luxembourg. He is the President of the European Commission.

The President of the European Commission is the head of the European Commission (the civil service of the executive branch of the European Union, the function of which is to apply and enforce the Treaties). The President of the Commission is responsible for allocating portfolios to members of the Commission and can reshuffle or dismiss them if needed. They determine the Commission's policy agenda and all the legislative proposals it produces (the Commission is the only body that can propose EU laws).

Donald Tusk is from Poland. He is the President of the European Council.

The President of the European Council is a principal representative of the European Union (EU) on the world stage, and the person presiding over and driving forward the work of the European Council. This institution comprises the college of heads of state or government of EU member states as well as the President of the European Commission, and provides political direction to the European Union (EU).

Is that clear? In the run up to Brexit discussions, the distinctions and partitions of responsibility remind me irresistibly of:
Miles Massey: Baron von Espy, what is your profession?
Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy: [in outrageous French accent] Silly man. I am a baron.
Miles Massey: Yes, but do you not also hold a day job? Paying job. A, uh, a square job.
Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy: Well, one has to live. I am the concierge of Les Pantalons Rouges at Bad-Gadesbourg in the canton of Uri.
Miles Massey: And what does that job entail?
Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy: I satisfy such requests as the clientele may present.
Miles Massey: Towels, ice, et cetera?
Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy: We have bellmen for that. No, no, no. Such requests that, were you at home, you would address not to your valet but to your majordomo.
Adults In The Room: My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment by Yanis Varoufakis is likely to be essential reading over the next weeks and months.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


I am due to start reading Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness by Joe Moran today.

Don't hold your breath waiting for a review. I am likely to be too unassuming to tell you what I think of it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Met Gala 2017: The Best-Dressed

All equally well dressed in my opinion. I don't really have a favourite. Perhaps I really do need an Echo Look after all.

Monday, May 01, 2017

It's that time of year again

John, I think this should be set as an unofficial deadline for us to finish building your bass.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stannah Curve Starla

Point of order: we are thinking about it for my mum, not for me.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Echo Look

Introducing Echo Look—everything you love about Alexa, and now she can help you look your bestUsing just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blurSee yourself from every angle with the companion app. Build a personal lookbook and share your photos.Get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialistsEcho Look helps you discover new brands and styles inspired by your lookbook
At last, an Echo product I don't feel the slightest inclination to buy.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nobody knows

We think we know more than our ancestors, but as individuals we know less. We rely on the expertise of others, comforting ourselves with an illusion of knowledge... more »

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Singlegate alumnus

Above is the absolute screamer of a goal that Callum contributed to Chelsea's FA Youth Cup win last night. Observe that after he scores he pulls his socks up and makes the sign of the cross. What a testament to the ethos instilled at Singlegate primary school.

Exactly 10 years ago (Icons passim) I was picking him up to take him to Muay Thai with Ben and Jonnie. I remember the night well as my son and heir split his chin open in the Hendries' garden as I was assembling the troops so I had to cancel martial arts and take him to A&E at St. George's instead.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Hogarth Express

The average journey time between London Waterloo and Richmond is 32 minutes. The fastest journey time is 16 minutes. On an average weekday, there are 300 trains per day travelling from London Waterloo to Richmond. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays.
There was a piece in the Grauniard this week about Virginia and Leonard Woolf founding the Hogarth Press at a house in Richmond in 1917. We used to have an office a couple of doors down from Hogarth House. It is a short walk from the train station. That's probably why the scene above from The Hours always makes me cry with laughter. Virginia goes crazy missing London and missing life when she is, in truth, only about half an hour from Waterloo.

(Oh, hello. I have written about this before. Still, it never gets old.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

statute of limitations

We only came second in the Antelope quiz last night, after winning it the week before, and were thus confined to a £25 as opposed to £50 bar tab prize.

Luckily I had found a winning voucher from January 2015 so we supped for free.

I reckon I've been going to the Antelope on Mondays for five years now. I am pretty sure that the first time I turned up was the 2012 May Bank Holiday just after getting back from the Brean Sands rugby tour with Ben.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alexa, when does Coffee in the Wood open?

If you add your address to an Echo speaker it can bring up local information. This is the app "card" I got after asking about a nearby coffee shop.

Alex herself told me it was open and would close at five.

Pretty impressive.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Memory Play

I didn't make the gym, brunch or the beef festival yesterday, but we did get to the Glass Menagerie.

The production's official trailer is above to prompt my memory at some time in the future.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Time is the longest distance between two places

My brother John is up this weekend so I am queuing this post up on Friday as the schedule is busy (see Icons passim).

We are due to have been at the Old Ruts Cheese and wine evening last night.

This morning, as this post lands, I plan to have nipped out early to the gym to get half an hour's cardio in, but - of course - that might not happen.

I am recommending Tooting for brunch. Tota ( opens at 9 am. There are also various Indian and Sri Lankan options that open a bit later.

We are going to see The Glass Menagerie at a 2:30 afternoon matinee in the Duke of York's theatre; forty odd minutes up the Northern Line to Charing Cross and then a three minute walk.

There is a Beer and Cider festival at the Sultan (a pub local to my house) this weekend so we may well come back and show our noses there afterwards.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bordering on the absurd

Russia ‘moves troops and equipment’ to North Korea border

Until I read the headline above I had not the slightest idea that Russia had a border with North Korea. Remember that next time I start boring you to death with my geopolitical insights.

Herewith the North Korea–Russia border skinny courtesy of Wikipedia. "There is one crossing on the North Korea–Russia border: the Friendship Bridge over the Tumen River". My italics.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Sinckler for detail

I watched the England Italy six nations game in the Royal Standard back in February. Due to general mystification and heated debate sparked by Italy's no-ruck tactic, everyone in the bar was talking to each other and when Kyle Sinckler came off the bench latish in the game, a Scouse bloke told us that he had been his first coach just up the road at Battersea Ironsides.

Apparently his mum brought him along (in a full Manchester United kit) thinking rugby might be more to his taste after getting complaints that - while keen on soccer - his playing style was a touch robust for the code.

He also went to school at Graveney, which is about a mile from my house, and is mentored at the Harlequins by Adam Jones.

I was delighted to see him make the New Zealand tour as a shock Lions selection yesterday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You're joking - not another one!

I agree with Brenda from Bristol.

British prime ministers used to be free to hold a general election whenever they felt like it - but new laws passed by David Cameron's coalition changed that.

Under the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election is supposed to take place every five years on the first Thursday in May. As the most recent general election was in 2015, the next one was scheduled for May 2020.

But an election can be called ahead of schedule for two reasons - if there is a vote of no confidence in the current government, or if MPs vote for an early election by a two thirds majority.

Theresa May has chosen the second option, which would require MPs from her political party - the Conservatives - and also some MPs from opposition party Labour to vote in favour of having the election earlier than that, in this case 8 June, 2017.

Wouldn't it be great if she couldn't get two thirds of MPs votes and the government was forced to table a motion of no confidence in itself?

When will the election after next be? June 2022 or May 2020 or May 2022? Who knows? Who cares?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Not with a bang but a whimper.

North Korea Successfully Detonates Nuclear Scientist
PYONGYANG—Hailing it as a significant step forward for their ballistic weapons program just hours after suffering a failed missile launch, North Korean leaders announced Monday they had successfully detonated a nuclear scientist. “It was with great satisfaction this morning that I witnessed the detonation of a 156-pound nuclear scientist,” Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un said in a recorded statement, which appears to corroborate U.S. intelligence reports that a 0.7-magnitude tremor and large explosion had been detected at a bunker outside the city of Kusong at 9:42 a.m. local time, marking the nation’s first detonation of a major scientist since the days following a catastrophic rocket malfunction in 2012. “With this glorious achievement, our laboratories have begun to move much faster toward completing our goal of building an indomitable nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating all cowardly Western aggressors. We are prepared to detonate multiple scientists every month as a demonstration of our might and determination.” Intelligence analysts have reportedly warned top American officials to take Kim at his word, noting that the North Korean regime has already built up a stockpile of nuclear scientists’ family members it is prepared to detonate at a moment’s notice.
The Onion nails it again.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Brother Bru-Bru

Bruce Langhorne, who has died aged 78, was a guitarist, percussionist, acclaimed composer of film scores, and creator of what many consider to be the world’s finest chili sauce; he also spent five years as a macadamia nut farmer in Hawaii.

Bob Dylan was inspired to write the 1965 song Mr Tambourine Man after he saw Langhorne at a party playing a Turkish tambourine close to a metre in diameter.

Langhorne collaborated with figures such as Joan Baez and Harry Belafonte, but his most significant musical association was with Dylan: their collaboration began on the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and continued for a decade.

He played guitar on many of the singer’s greatest recordings, notably on every track on the 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home, including Mr Tambourine Man. He played the guitar on Knocking on Heaven’s Door, and percussion on Like a Rolling Stone.

“If you had Bruce playing with you,” Dylan wrote in his 2004 memoir, Chronicles, “that’s all you would need to do just about anything.”

Langhorne’s virtuosity as a guitarist was especially remarkable given that the thumb, index and middle fingers of his right hand were reduced to short stumps – the legacy of a ballistics experiment he had conducted at the age of 12 to test how much powdered magnesium might safely be included in a home-made mix of rocket propellant. On the morning of the explosion his mother Dorothy was downstairs in the kitchen, working on her own, less hazardous, recipes.

What a fascinating fella. I had never heard of him until I read this obituary today. Read the whole think yourself. I should pick up some of his hot sauce as a belated tribute.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The penultimate Trump

"The Last Trump" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the June 1955 issue of Fantastic Universe and reprinted in the 1957 collection Earth Is Room Enough. Although humorous, it deals inter alia with a serious subject, calendar reform.

Plot summary
By order of the Council of Ascendants and approved of by the Chief, it is decided that the Day of Resurrection is due on Earth, despite the protestations of Etheriel, a junior Seraph with responsibility for the world. Whilst he seeks an audience with the Chief to plead for a stay of execution for "his" planet, the Last Trump is sounded, and as of January 1, 1957, time comes to a stop on Earth.

A mysterious figure known only as R. E. Mann (a pun on Ahriman, the Persian name for Satan) makes his way across the world, seeing what has happened in the Hereafter and pleased with it. All the dead are coming back to life, naked and uncaring. He meets a former professor of history who observes that the people have indeed been judged and are not in heaven but hell.

Etheriel has his meeting with the Chief and argues that the date January 1, 1957, unqualified, is meaningless and that therefore the Day of Resurrection is meaningless. The Chief agrees and declares that it will come only when all the peoples of the Earth agree on a common date (which, given the wide variety of cultures on Earth, is extremely unlikely to ever occur). The world is instantly restored to normality.

R. E. Mann, frustrated in his endeavours, plans to promote the adoption of a new calendar system, based on the Atomic Era, to begin on December 2, 1944.
So now you know.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

1 Corinthians 15:52

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Prodnose: Is Donald Trump 'the Last Trump' Before Jesus Christ's Return?

Myself: In Christian eschatology the rapture refers to the predicted end time event when all Christian believers—living and resurrected dead—will rise into the sky and join Christ for eternity. What we have at the moment is just Easter and a little local difficulty on the Korean peninsula.

Prodnose: Ah'm jes' sayin' is all.

Friday, April 14, 2017

gave good face

When I downloaded Adobe Acrobat Reader DC yesterday (I needed the latest version to fill in PDF forms), Intel True Key arrived as well.

I can now log on to my Microsoft Surface just by looking into the camera as True Key supports facial recognition authentication.

It may wither away as a gimmick but as of now it fills me with glee.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Take me back to dear old Blighty

Ben with his niece in Florida. He is due back home today.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The King is Dead

RIP Tim Pigott-Smith. In 2014, I was lucky enough to see him starring in King Charles III at the Wyndham's Theatre in the West End as a post-accession Charles, Prince of Wales. He got a well deserved nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Actor, then a Tony Award nomination for its production on Broadway in 2015.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ocala! We'll do our best

Here, by the miracle of WhatsApp is a photo of Ben in Florida.

He seems cheerful enough.

They get back late tomorrow night.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The William Morris

I went to Hot Yoga Wimbledon at half past six this morning. The teacher was an American guy called Eugene Sabala who was new to me. Kevin, who has bought an unlimited annual pass, gave me a lift and dropped me off at the office after.

Thus, I found myself at a loose end lunchtime, with no need to go to the gym and no car to drive home after work. A rare opportunity (the first in years I think) for a cheeky lunchtime pint.

Even better when I got to The William Morris I found that they had Stella on tap. They certainly haven't had that on the odd and rare time I have poked my nose in there before.

Happy days.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Perfect Candidate

My horse, Perfect Candidate, pulled up before 27th in the Grand National.

I am an innocent abroad in the ways of the turf accountant. I was astounded that a £5 each way bet cost me a tenner, and when the woman in Ladbroke's asked me if I wanted the odds, I thought she was just checking if I wanted to know them. It turns out she was trying to find out if I wanted to strike then rather than the starting price.

All pretty academic as the pony didn't finish, but, like Damon Runyon, I long ago came to the conclusion that all life is 6 to 5 against.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Austin Powers

Yeah, and I can't believe Barry Manilow is gay. I mean, women love him! The guy performed in bathhouses as Bette Midler’s pianist. I didn't see that one coming.

Friday, April 07, 2017

After five years of war

DAMASCUS—During a meeting to review the body counts from his latest initiatives to retake rebel-held regions of the country, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad shared an extended laugh with his top military leaders on Thursday over the time in his life when he wanted to be a doctor and help people. “Oh man, can you even believe there was a period when I actually wanted to heal people, to help end their suffering?” said Assad, pausing the discussion of chemical weapons deployments to recall his youthful dream of providing lifesaving medical assistance to the sick and injured between gasps of laughter. “And it’s not like it was just a brief phase or something. I spent over a decade training. I even went to London for postgraduate study. God, there was even a point where I seriously considered working to help children. That’s so crazy.” After more than a minute spent clutching his abdomen in boisterous laughter, a beaming Assad reportedly emitted a few final chuckles, wiped away a tear of glee from the corner of his eye, and authorized sarin gas attacks on several villages outside the city of Hama.
Live US strikes on Syria: UK backs Donald Trump's missile assault as Russia condemns American 'aggression'

Thursday, April 06, 2017

swimming upstream

Myself: Alexa, how can I cook salmon?
Alexa: The recipe or ingredient I found for salmon is salmon.
In the end - Icons passim - I decided to order the new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote today rather than Google Home. The TV stick will go in the living room and the Echo will live in the kitchen, where it is surprisingly handy despite the ludicrous exchange above.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Gareth the rugby gnome has been banished to his alcove in the garden until the autumn internationals and my Nerium oleander* pot plant has also been moved outside. I believe that this marks the official beginning of spring in Colliers Wood, even if it is a little late by some estimates.

* Nerium oleander is a highly toxic ornamental shrub widely cultivated in the Mediterranean. (It has been grown since ancient times and features in many of the Roman wall paintings in Pompeii.) Its effect on the central nervous system may show itself in symptoms such as drowsiness, tremors or shaking of the muscles, seizures, collapse, and - with a following wind - coma that can lead to death. Even my gardening style is a walk on the wild side. Come to think of it, my mother bought it for me as a birthday present. Is there a nuance or two I am missing here somewhere?

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Brexit implications

Queen Elizabeth Frantically Trying To Preserve European Alliances By Arranging Great-Grandchildren’s Marriages

LONDON—After Prime Minister Theresa May initiated official proceedings for Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, sources confirmed Thursday that Queen Elizabeth II has been frantically trying to preserve the nation’s European alliances by arranging the marriages of her great-grandchildren. “With Britain departing the EU, our greatest chance at maintaining strong diplomatic and economic relations with other countries in the region is for Prince George and Princess Charlotte to marry the children of one of Europe’s other ruling families,” said the queen, who had reportedly just gotten off the phone with King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to discuss a possible match between 3-year-old Prince George and one of his three daughters. “I was hoping to cement Britain’s trade partnership with Luxembourg by betrothing Charlotte to Prince Sébastien, but the grand duke wouldn’t agree to the arrangement, and unfortunately, the King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden refused my offer of a spring wedding at Westminster Abbey between Princess Leonore and Prince George. If I offer control of Gibraltar and an earldom to the groom, I’m sure I can arrange for young Charlotte to marry one of Angela Merkel’s stepsons when she reaches marriageable age.” At press time, the queen was relieved to have at least secured a strong alliance with one European ally after she herself agreed to wed 14-year-old Prince Felix of Denmark.

Further afield, President Trump already has a grandchild with the dynastic moniker Donald III.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Catch Up

Thursday after Ben's cup final I went to see Sunny Afternoon, the Kinks musical, at the Wimbledon Theatre.

Friday I just went to the Standard after work as usual.

Saturday I went to the Sky Garden for the view.

Sunday I went to the Emirates to see Arsenal v Man City.

Not a bad life really I s'pose.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

End of an era

Saturday, April 01, 2017


Ben is going to the USA with Jane tomorrow to see Rayburn and family.

The roaming charges on his phone deal are here, I just checked.

When he was skiing in Italy data cost 3.9p per MB. In the USA it is £3.

On my phone, Google Maps has cached 198MB of data offline containing maps of the area around my home. That just shy of £600 worth at Three's USA rate.

The original plan was to use the Sat Nav on his phone to get to their apartment from Orlando. I will have to put the kibosh on that or I will be bankrupted.

It would be  cheaper to buy a brand new USA Garmin and bin it after a fortnight.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Faraway, So Close

After leading for most of the game, Rutlish U16 lost in the Surrey County Rugby Cup final yesterday after shipping a couple of tries towards the end of the game.

Tries for Jonny and Ben in their last game for the school, but I am sure they would have swapped individual notches on their belts for a team win.

The atmosphere was subdued when I popped my head in the changing room after the match.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I am Theodore Twombly

Windows 10 includes Cortana, a voice-activated personal assistant, not dissimilar to Amazon's Alexa. It doesn't work out of the box however, you have to enable it to respond to the "Hey Cortana" wake command like what I did below.

So now you know. Scarlett Johansson's Samantha (an intelligent computer operating system expressed as a female voice) was science fiction in the Spike Jonze movie 'Her' in as recently as 2013. Now in 2017 I talk to speakers (Alexa), my phone (OK Google) and my PC (Hey Cortana) and they Little-Britain-We-Are-Ladies back.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Perennial vegetable

We only came second in the quiz last night; a narrow defeat for which I was largely to blame, rashly contradicting Andy when he said that asparagus was a perennial vegetable like rhubarb.

It turns out that such perennials are parts of plants that are prepared and eaten as veg while the plants live on for next year rather than being completely harvested.

I was thinking of the word perennial as an adjective that means lasting a long time, and couldn't relate that to the fleeting six week asparagus season. More fool me, you may think.

Possibly not the greatest anecdote in history, but it is how things went down in the Sultan's fortnightly bun fight.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

April 6 Shopping List

Google Home speaker £129 April 6.

All-New Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player £39.99 April 6.

Either, or, both?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Not Sanguine

The report went a little under the radar due to blanket coverage of last week's Westminster attack, but the Taliban have recaptured the crucial south Afghan district of Sangin.

456 British troops were killed in Afghanistan. Of those, around 114 died in the city of Sangin.

Back in 2010 when British forces in southern Afghanistan handed responsibility for security in Sangin to US forces, David Cameron, the British Prime Minister said:
Our troops have performed magnificently in Sangin and I pay tribute to the thousands who have served, to the over one hundred who have given their lives, to the many who have been wounded.
They did not die in vain. They made Afghanistan a safer place and they have made Britain a safer place and they will never be forgotten.
They did die in vain. They didn't make Afghanistan a safer place and they haven't made Britain a safer place, and they are being forgotten if the deafening silence around this latest development is anything to go by.

Sangin is considered the bloodiest battleground of Afghanistan by both the British and the Yanks. Both nations lost over 100 killed in action there along with several hundred moderate to severe casualties. Here is a dated list (US format) of the Americans who died there when they took over from us and after Cameron's boast of "huge achievements."

9/28/2010 Lance Cpl. Ralph J. Fabbri - USMC 1stMarDiv, HQBN, H&S, Combat Camera. Was an attachment to 3/7.

10/08/2010 LCpl John T. Sparks USMC 3/5

10/13/2010 PFC Victor A Dew USMC 3/5

10/13/2010 LCpl Joseph E Rodewald USMC 3/5

10/13/2010 LCpl Phillip D. Vinnedge USMC 3/5

10/13/2010 CPl Justin J. Cain USMC 3/5

10/14/2010 LCpl Irvin M. Ceniceros USMC 3/5

10/14/2010 LCpl Joseph C. Lopez USMC 3/5

10/14/2010 LCpl Alec E. Catherwood USMC 3/5

10/15/2010 LCpl James D. Boelk USMC 3/5

10/16/2010 Sgt Ian M. Tawney USMC 3/5

11/04/2010 LCpl Mathew J. Broehm USMC 3/5

11/04/2010 LCpl Brandon W. Pearson USMC 3/5

11/06/2010 LCpl Randy R. Braggs USMC 3/5

11/09/2010 1stLt Robert M. Kelly USMC 3/5

11/10/2010 LCpl James B. Stack USMC 3/5

11/24/2010 LCpl Ardenjoseph A. Buenagua USMC 3/5

11/25/2010 1stLt William J. Donnelly IV USMC 3/5

12/02/2010 Sgt Mathew T. Abbate USMC 3/5

12/06/2010 Cpl Derek A. Wyatt USMC 3/5

12/06/2010 PFC Colton W. Rusk USMC 3/5

12/07/2010 Sgt Jason D. Peto USMC 3/5

12/17/2010 LCpl Jose L. Maldonado USMC 3/5

12/24/2010 LCpl Kenneth A. Corzine USMC 3/5

12/28/2010 Cpl Tevan L. Nguyen USMC 3/5

01/20/2011 Sgt Jason G. Amores USMC 3/5

02/22/2011 Cpl. John Taylor USMC 2/8

04/24/2011 - LCpl Joe M. Jackson, USMC 1/5 (Alpha)

04/28/2011 - LCpl Ronald D. Freeman, USMC 1/5 (2nd Combat Engineers)

06/09/2011 - LCpl Nicholas S. O'Brien, USMC 1/5 (Bravo)

06/12/2011 - LCpl Sean M. N. O'Connor, USMC 1/5 (Alpha)

06/12/2011 - LCpl Joshua B. McDaniels, USMC 1/5 (2nd Combat Engineers)

06/21/2011 - Cpl Jared C. Verbeek, USMC 1/5 (Police Advisor Team One)

06/22/2011 - Cpl Gurpreet Singh, USMC 1/5 (Bravo)

06/26/2011 - LCpl John F. Farias, USMC 1/5 (Bravo)

06/26/2011 - GySgt Ralph E. Pate Jr. USMC 1/5 (EOD)

06/30/2011 - Sgt Chad D. Frokjer, USMC 1/5 (Alpha)

06/30/2011 - Cpl Kyle R. Schneider, USMC 2/8 (Echo)

07/10/2011 - LCpl Norberto Mendez-Hernandez, USMC 1/5 (Bravo)

07/12/2011 - LCpl Robert S. Greniger, USMC 1/5 (2nd Combat Engineers)

08/06/2011 - Sgt Daniel J. Patron, USMC 1/5 (EOD)

08/07/2011 - Sgt Adan Gonzalez Jr. USMC 1/5 (SSP)

08/07/2011 - Sgt Joshua J. Robinson, USMC 1/5 (SSP)

09/15/2011 - Cpl Michael J. Dutcher, USMC 1/5 (Bravo)

09/24/2011 - LCpl Frankie Watson, USMC

10/13/2011 - LCpl Scott D. Harper, USMC 1/6 (Animal)

10/23/2011 - LCpl Jordan Bastean, USMC 3/7

10/24/2011 - LCpl Jason Barfield, USMC 3/7

11/5/2011 - LCpl Nickolas Daniels, USMC 3/7

11/18/2011 - LCpl Joshua Corral, USMC 3/7

11/21/2011 - Cpl Zachary Reiff, USMC 3/7

1/21/2012 - Cpl Christopher Singer, USMC 3/7

3/27/2012 - SSgt Joseph D'Augustine, USMC 3/7 EOD

Sunday, March 26, 2017

concerning recent maths exams

And if you ever have to go to school
Remember how they messed up
This old fool

Friday, March 24, 2017

Bro Science

I try to get to the gym every day but I seldom share my insights on these spindrift pages.

For once, however, I will make an exception. Here is some advice, fellow meat heads:
Do not burst into tears reading Lit by Mary Karr when you are doing half an hour on the recline exercise bike. It plays merry hell with your hormonal profile.
Prodnose: A memoir, superficially addressed by a parent to a child, from an author with a complicated relationship with alcohol and Catholicism?

Myself: I bet you didn't see that one coming.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Lest we forget

LONDON — A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage at the heart of Britain's seat of power Wednesday, plowing a car into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge before stabbing an armed police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Five people were killed, including the assailant, and about 20 others were injured in what Prime Minister Theresa May condemned as a "sick and depraved terrorist attack."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

slow and low fo' sho'

12 barbecued things you should eat in Wales if you're obsessed with brisket and pulled pork.
Two years ago (Icons passim) it was just the Hang Fire girls. How quickly things change. I am due back in Cardiff this weekend by the way.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ben and Rutlish are at the National Schools 7s today; live coverage above.

They are in group X and play as follows:
10:40 Tiffin School
12:00 Millfield School
14:20 St Olave's Grammar School, Kent
15:20 Langley School

I will try and get over to see the lunchtime game; pitch A1 Richardsons Evans Memorial Playing Fields.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Chelsea 7 Spurs 1

Chelsea beat Spurs 7-1 in the second leg of the FA Youth Cup semi-final. Callum cames off the bench to score three minutes and twenty seconds into the highlight reel above.

Back on planet Earth the Old Ruts U16s were thumped by KCS yesterday.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The full story of what happened in the shambolic 20-minute France v Wales finale

Actually I have no idea what was going on between the 80th and 100th minute yesterday. If anyone can fill me in I will be in their debt. I await Brian Moore in the Telegraph on Monday with interest.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Where I am watching the Six Nations today

Friday, March 17, 2017

At 4:15 on 30/3/17 I will be at Dorking RFC

Ben will be playing at outside half if they keep to the usual line up.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Judge: “What is a 'yoot'?” Vinny: “Oh, excuse me, your honor. Two youths.”

Callum (Icons passim) started for Chelsea against Spurs in the 2016/17 FA Youth Cup the day before yesterday. You can see him go close to scoring thirty odd seconds into the highights above.

Only those players between the age of 15 and 18 on 31 August of the current season are eligible to take part, which puts him in the 15 year old cohort. Quite an achievement.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Cousin Vinny

My father, as a forensic consulting engineer, spent a lot of his career giving evidence on technical issues in court. I can remember him saying that Marisa Tomei as Mona Lisa Vito's peformance as an expert witness (above) was vaguely credible as well as hilarious.

It seems he is not the only professional to appreciate it:
It was a quarter-century ago yesterday when the movie My Cousin Vinny made its debut in theatres. Over time, the comedy and its leather-jacketed, smart-alec hero, played by Joe Pesci, have swaggered into the pantheon of legal cinema, taking a seat alongside the genre’s dramatic greats, 12 Angry Men and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Judges have referenced it in rulings more than two dozen times. Just this month, “Vinny” made a cameo in an opinion written by US Circuit judge Janice Rogers Brown in Washington DC. Lawyers talk about the movie with a Casablanca-like fondness. Professors at elite law schools have invited “Vinny” into their classrooms, using the film as a teaching tool for courses in evidence and trial advocacy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Well I never!

Wales could stay clear of big guns New Zealand, England and Australia in their World Cup pool if they beat France on Saturday.
A victory away in Paris, combined with an Irish defeat to Six Nations champions England, would see the Welsh team jump up to fourth in the world rankings.
That would mean them avoiding the other teams in the top four in their World Cup group, with the draw for the 2019 tournament in Japan to be made in May, based on the rankings after this final weekend of the Championship.
It’s a far cry from this time last week when Wales were facing the prospect of finishing outside the top eight and ending up in another group of death.
But their 22-9 triumph over Ireland has ensured that can’t happen and moved them up to sixth in the rankings.
Regardless of how the Scots fare at home to Italy, Wales would go above them with a win over France, as it would be an away victory over a higher-ranked side than the Azzurri.
And if Ireland lose to Grand Slam-chasing England in Dublin, then Rob Howley’s Welsh team would go up to fourth with a success in Paris. They wouldn’t need a bonus point. Any win would suffice.
That would see them pooled with one team ranked 5-8 in Japan, plus three other lesser sides in the World Cup draw.
So, if Wales beat France on Saturday afternoon, I will be supporting England against Ireland. Didn't see that one coming.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Passing on the mantle

I first took Ben skiing when he was seven years old in 2008. I was keen to get him started because I remembered how well Deb's son Ryan got on with skiing after an early introduction. I am now so long in the tooth that this year Ryan brought his seven year old daughter along to Austria for six days of ski school. Not that I'm sentimental you understand. I just happen to be peeling onions as I write.

Ben got his skiing assessed when he went to Italy with the school in half term, so now it is done and dusted as one of his Physical Education GCSE sports. I wonder if that would ever had happened if a woman I was chatting to on a chair lift years ago hadn't told me it was possible? It would never have occurred to me, and it is not something Rutlish promote actively, though they have been very accommodating in arranging for him to get it once I passed the suggestion on.

He will be in college next year, so the school trip won't be an option. Maybe I should cancel my Barcelona/Andorra idea and take him on a long weekend, perhaps on the Eurostar ski train?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

This time next year

I am back from Saalbach. There were 24 of us in the party and it was a great week, but Bondy isn't organising this trip again until the week after next.

I have long had the idea of combining a Barcelona weekend with four or five days skiing in Andorra.

Maybe this idea's time will have come in 2018.

Random Google result -

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Maintain radio silence

I am flying off from Gatwick South on flight BA 8612 to Salzburg at half past one this afternoon, skiing for a week in Saalbach.

We are staying in Berger's Sports Hotel and BA 8613 should dump me back in Blighty at 18:30 on Saturday March 11.

You are in charge while I am away.

Friday, March 03, 2017


I have got my ticket for Jah Wobble.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Be still, my beating heart

Two sleeps till Saalbach.

Ski Tracks for Android installed. I was an IOS man last time round.

Let's do this thing.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

it was Geek to me

I have set up a (deep breath) TP-Link Wi-Fi Smart Plug Works with Amazon Alexa, No Hub Required, Control Your Devices From Anywhere HS100 (UK Plug) in the office.

I can't help but notice that it is considerably cheaper than the Hive Active Plug I use at home even though it has wi-fi built into it.

The TP_Link plug has to be configured via the Kasa for Mobile app (here's the Android version), there isn't a web or PC implementation.

That said it is pretty straightforward, as is connecting it to Amazon Alexa, see

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Police were called to break up a fight on a train as rowdy passengers repeatedly placed bagels on other travellers' heads.
Officers arrived at Potters Bar station in Hertfordshire just after 1am on Sunday after being alerted to passengers fighting and intimidating others.
The 00.54am Great Northern service from King's Cross to Huntingdon was held for 18 minutes while the officers took statements before the train continued its journey.
A video on Twitter, which has been liked more than 17,000 times, showed bagels on top of two passenger's heads. Viewers are warned the clip contains strong language.

Female passengers appear in the footage placing partial and whole bagels on the head of the man sat in front of them.

He is then seen to take the chunks off his head before throwing them out of the carriage window, and later shouting.

Amid the ensuing cacophony a group can be heard singing "he's got bagel on his head".
The footage then cuts to two officers boarding the train, with one asking: "Has anyone seen anything, anyone know who's involved? The train will not move until I find out."
The video also shows brawls in the carriage and outside on the platform. It is not known if these were connected to the bagels.
It is Shrove Tuesday. I, for one, will give up bagels on my head for Lent.

Monday, February 27, 2017

I met my wife on the number 37 bus on the Twickenham High Street

RIP Bill Paxton. Having lived there for a good while myself, I always liked the idea that he met his wife of 30 years on a Twickenham bus. The video above is really about that rather than Mindy Kaling, of whom I have never heard.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Friday, February 24, 2017

Voice purchasing

How does shopping work?
Prime members can ask Alexa to order eligible products they've ordered before and many Prime products. We'll use your default payment and delivery settings  to place your order. You can require a speakable confirmation code, turn purchasing off, and see the product and order details in your Alexa app.
I just ordered another Hive Active Light Bulb. It was a repeat purchase so I set up a confirmation code and tried Alexa voice purchasing. I'm not sure how often I will be doing it in the future, but it certainly was easy and convenient.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Daily Meditation Really Helping Man Stay Self-Centered

ELLENSBURG, WA—Claiming that the introspective practice has completely changed his life, local man Simon Trimur told reporters Wednesday that his daily meditation routine was really helping him stay self-centered. “Practicing meditation every morning allows me to settle down and really focus on myself,” said Trimur, claiming that just 15 minutes of breathing exercises before work has markedly improved his ability to silence the distracting voices of those around him and foster an enduring sense of egotism. “Before I know it, the needs and wants of others melt away entirely. The weight of their problems just disappears, and all that remains is the peaceful sense that the universe is made for no one but me.” Trimur added that after skipping even a day or two of meditation, he suddenly finds himself infuriatingly distracted by the fact that other people exist.
I was at yoga at half past six this morning. An object can be subtle to the point of indefinability.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

play it forward

Last year, Bruce Springsteen recalled being a kid:
I had a fantasy of Mick Jagger getting sick before his show at Asbury Park Convention Hall and the Stones needing me, of course, to get up there and take over, which of course I would do, pimply faced kid.
And all of the crowd of course goes insane and they’re not so anxious to have Mick back. So I was dreaming about that when I was 15.
It does my heart good to see him still keeping it in mind, pulling a teenager up out of the audience to jam with the band.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Glam Slam, thank you mam

This Saturday evening at the Mills, Pete Lincoln is playing in the Colour House Theatre, and The Steve Whalley Band is playing about thirty feet away in the Merton Apprentice.

In 2005 Pete Lincoln joined The Sweet, and is still touring extensively with the band as lead vocalist and bass player.

Steve Whalley replaced Noddy Holder as the front man for the ‘70s super-group Slade, touring with them for more than 15 years.

It looks like a Glam Rock Mexican Stand Off. Would you say I had a plethora?

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Pull of Putin

Why do populist politicians across the West want warmer relations with Russia? Are they just Kremlin agents? Or are they tapping into a growing desire to find common cause with Moscow - and end East-West tension? Tim Whewell travels from Russia to America and across Europe to unravel the many different strands of pro-Moscow thinking, and offer a provocative analysis which challenges conventional thinking about the relationship between Russia and the West.
I heard about this radio show in the car on the M4, and I must catch up with it on the BBC iPlayer. I am baffled by coverage of Russia in general, and just can't understand why it is always so negative. Ditto Iran, to be frank.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I saw the rain-dirty valley. You saw Brigadoon.

I am back from Cardiff, on the way down I tuned into Radio Wales to find Adrian Hadley talking about whether Robert Jones should have been preferred to David Bishop (Icons passim) at scrum half for Wales, a debate that is at least three decades old.

Sometimes driving over the Severn Bridge is like arriving in Brigadoon. And that is no bad thing as far as I am concerned.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Cardiff Bus Song

There’s a place that’s always been for me,
On Cardiff’s streets is where I loves to be,
And every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can’t wait for long, just hop right on, and we’re gone again.

Maindy, Tremorfa, Pontcanna, Adamsdown,
This Cardiff Bus is taking us to town.

Route 95 would take us to Barry,
But then it rained so we took the 53,
And if you’re going out drinking for the night,
Just grab the bus, chips 'n' curry sauce, don’t have a fight!

Llandaff, Gabalfa, Llanederyn, Cardiff Bay,
For three quid forty I can ride the bus all day.
And every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can’t wait for long, just hop right on, and we’re gone again.

Maindy, Tremorfa, Pontcanna, Adamsdown,
This Cardiff Bus is taking us to town.

On sunny days in Roald Dahl Plass I’ll be,
When I gets old I’ll ride the bus for free,
Down in ol’ Tiger Bay and Riverside,
The bendy buses take more of us for a ride.

Splott, Canton, Ely, Llanrumney, Roath Park Lake,
Oh, Cardiff Bus is the only one I take.

The 62 goes to Pentrebane,
The 85 take you to Lisvane,
And every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can’t wait for long, just hop right on, and we’re gone again.

Maindy, Tremorfa, Pontcanna, Adamsdown,
This Cardiff Bus is taking us to town.
And every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can’t wait for long, just hop right on, and we’re gone again.

Splott, Canton, Ely, Llanrumney, Roath Park Lake,
Oh, Cardiff Bus is the only one I take.

Guess where I am today.

Friday, February 17, 2017


Prince Charles, who recently advertised for someone to replace one of his two-strong digital team, is the social media royal pioneer. His @ClarenceHouse Twitter account, which has 605,000 followers, and his Instagram page, which has 191,000 followers, were royal firsts and are both enjoying 20% year-on-year growth in terms of followers.
@ClarenceHouse Joined October 2010; @RoyalFamily Joined April 2009. I happen to know because we launched the latter. Does anything get sub-edited or checked in papers these days?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Martin Lewis Money Show

Our auction system was very busy from Monday evening and through Tuesday.

Most of the traffic was direct so I couldn't deduce the sauce from a referral, but I have found out today that we were mentioned on the Martin Lewis Money Show.

I must catch up with that on when I get a minute.

Come to think of it, the ITV player on the Amazon Fire Stick will probably be able to serve it up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

modesty forbids

Ben and Nick, thank you so much..........

Very generous of local (Wimbledon College) boy made good, Tom Holland, to give a shout out to me, along with the son and heir, when he won his Rising Star BAFTA even if he did get a dig about England beating Wales at rugby in.

I'm only pulling your leg, but press play above. I think it is pretty convincing.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine Gift Idea

Amazon Rekognition is one of AWS' artificial intelligence services. In addition to detecting objects, scenes, and faces in images, Rekognition can also search and compare faces. Behind the scenes, Rekognition uses deep neural network models to analyze billions of images daily.

Amazon Rekognition returns an array of attributes for each face that it locates in an image. On February 10th the service added a new attribute, an estimated age range. This value is expressed in years, and is returned as a pair of integers. The age ranges can overlap; the face of a 5 year old might have an estimated range of 4 to 6 but the face of a 6 year old might have an estimated range of 4 to 8. You can use this new attribute to power public safety applications, collect demographics, to assemble a set of photos that span a desired time frame, or just for fun and games.

Try it on

Why not surprise your beloved with an estimated age range tomorrow? You will also get suggestions (expressed as confidence in percentages) of whether she "appears to be female" and "appears to be happy."

Let me know how you get on.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Prevenge is a film is about a pregnant woman - Ruth - who becomes convinced that her foetus is compelling her to murder people implicated in the accidental death of her partner.

When I heard it was shot in Cardiff I initially assumed it was a documentary.

In cinemas now.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

아는 길도 물어가라

My brother John is up this weekend so I am queuing this post up on Friday as the schedule is busy, involving seeing Guy Pratt on Friday night, heading off to New Malden today for Korean food, and then hurrying back to the 'Wood to watch the Wales England Six Nations game in the boozer.

In the video above, a luthier - profiled by Anthony Bourdain - makes electro acoustic bass for Andy Rourke of The Smiths. Andy Rourke is in Guy Pratt's book, John and I are making a bass, Bourdain digs on Korean grub etc. etc.

Raw Craft episode 9, therefore, stands for the principled aspirations of the weekend as opposed to the quotidian reality of the mess we will be in by this evening.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Leah Chase: The cook who changed America

Meet 94 four year old Leah Chase. For seventy years she has led the kitchen at New Orleans famous Dooky Chase restaurant. During her time she's hosted US Presidents, and civil rights activists, and music legends from Ray Charles to Michael Jackson. Her specialty is serving creole food specialties like gumbo, fried chicken and sweet potatoes. Dan Saladino sits down with Leah as she tells her story through the food she's cooked and asks whether a restaurant can change the course of a country.
I know there are supposed to be no second acts in American lives, but the episode of the Food Programme that preceded yesterday's Gumbo is well worth a listen as well.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Alexa, play The Food Programme on Tune In

What can one single dish can tell you about America's history? One particular bowl of soup gives us an insight about the future of cultures that convene around it. Gumbo is eaten by nearly everyone in New Orleans, but its past speaks of the deep inequalities in American history that still resonate to this day. The BBC's Dan Saladino looks into the origins of this dish and discovers influences from Native Americans, slaves from West Africa, settlers from Nova Scotia, and European immigrants from Spain, France and Italy. Dan tries to track down the perfect recipe for one of Louisiana's most famous dishes, and discover how the politics of which food belongs to whom, is still at play, hundreds of years later.
Normal service is resumed.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Planning application 17/P0390

Demolition of the Pavilions at Merton Abbey Mills and building of a five story office block with ground floor retail units.
I need to keep an eye on this. It may rob me of Garfield's Ting 'n Ting. A prospect that makes me shudder.

It will also rid me of the view from the office of the block of flats behind, though I can live with that.

We'll also lose quite a bit of parking, which won't be good.

Comments Until 04-03-2017

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

You're going out a youngster but you've got to come back a star!

Sweeney Todd in New York: How Rachel Edwards Brought Her Show To Town
It's a long way from South London's urban, multicultural melting pot district, Tooting, to New York, but the demon barber once traversed the globe, so should we be surprised? Probably, says Gary Naylor, who tracks the production's unlikely journey here.
See Icons passim. Once my hip injury heals sufficiently, I am going to kick myself for missing Sweeney Todd up the road at Harrington's pie shop in 2014.

Monday, February 06, 2017

My hat's on the side of my head

Wales are top of the six nations, and I am on the mend. All together now:
Yesterday I was so blue
Bluer than the deep blue sea
Now I'm singing
Whistling a tune
All the livelong day
If you want to know just why
I can truthfully say;
I've got a feeling I've found her
It was something she said
She's got me walkin' on
The tip of my toes and my hat's
On the side of my head.
All my troubles are mended 
Cause she's my needle and thread 
She's got me walkin' on the 
Tip of my toes and my hat's 
On the side of my head. 

Sunday, February 05, 2017

same old same old

I'm still bad today.

England were bad yesterday as well. Very lucky to nick the game against France I thought.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Spira, spera.

A one-eyed man is much more incomplete than a blind man, for he knows what it is that's lacking.
I went to bed at nine last night and rose at noon today.

When it takes as long as it took me to get your clothes on it is difficult to decide to divest yourself of them and jump into the shower.

Here I am then, lame, stale in gear I've had on for three days, and sporting a damp crotch from icing my injury.

On reflection I think I'll stay in.

Friday, February 03, 2017

achingly hip

My right hip is much worse today. It took me about half an hour to put my pants and socks on. I will not describe lowering myself onto the WC in deference to your sensibilities.

Getting in and out of the car was interesting as well. In my imagination I was Chuck Yeager sealing the hatch the X1 with the end of a broom handle rather than abandoning the test flight due to fractured ribs.

I have self-diagnosed a strain on the psoas around the tendon that connects it to the top of the femur, and self-prescribed Rest, Ice and Elevation.

I've cancelled my Cardiff trip, and I think I'll quit the office soon. If you happen to be passing the house and look into the front window as you go by, the unpleasant sight awaiting you will be me lying on the couch and holding a pack of frozen vegetables against the side of my groin. There is no need to read anything more into it than that.

I will probably be watching The Right Stuff.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Burmese Python Shocked At Amount Of Stress Man Holding In His Neck

HOMESTEAD, FL—Marveling at the amount of tension his prey seemed to be carrying around with him, a 12-foot-long Burmese python was reportedly shocked Wednesday at how much stress a local man was holding in his gradually constricting neck. “Geez, it’s like one huge knot in there,” said the 300-pound reptile, also noting as it coiled itself with increasing force around the man’s torso that his shoulders were “like rocks—just giant lumps of tightness.” “He must be having a tough time at work or something. This can’t be healthy. Seriously, this is the kind of stress that gives you a heart attack at age 40.” At press time, the python expressed relief that the man seemed to have very abruptly become completely relaxed.
I went to my 400th yoga class this morning and suffered throughout with the same tight hips that I had when I started in September 2009 (Icons passim).

I sometimes wonder why I bother, even though I think the actual damage was done yesterday with Ido Portal deep squats.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

strange times make strange bedfellows

One of the reasons (Icons passim) that I voted to leave the EU was that I believed "that the ECB's position over the terms for a Greek bailout made it a proxy for a German extortion racket."

From the FT yesterday:
Trump’s top trade adviser accuses Germany of currency exploitation
Berlin is using a ‘grossly undervalued’ euro to gain advantage over trading partners, says Navarro.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard elaborates in the Torygraph this morning; Trump is right: Germany is running an illegal currency racket.
As a matter of strict objective fact, Donald Trump’s trade guru is correct. Germany is the planet’s ultimate currency manipulator.
The implicit Deutsche Mark is indeed “grossly undervalued” The warped mechanism of monetary union allows Germany to lock in a permanent ‘beggar-thy-neighbour’ trade advantage over Southern Europe, inflicting mass unemployment on the victim countries and blighting their futures.
Looks like I'll be eating alone in the bien pensant canteen at lunchtime again.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What do you mean you don't like jazz?

FAO Frankie and Sophie; the only La La Land bluffer's guide you'll ever need.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cradle to the Stage

Broadcasting legend Danny Baker has announced that he will be going on tour for the first time ever in his illustrious and varied career. ‘Cradle To The Stage’ will begin in Leeds at the City Varieties on 1 February 2017, as part of a 36 date tour across the UK, culminating at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 1 April.
The Shepherd's bush Empire it will be then. April Fools' day or Friday March 31.

Update: Too Late. Sold Out.

Sunday, January 29, 2017


On the afternoon of Saturday February 11th, we will be dining at Sorabol, a Korean restaurant on New Malden, before heading to the Charles Holden for the England Wales game.

Some sort of set dinner will probably be the best bet as we are new to this sort of dining.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

having or showing a great lack of intelligence or common sense

My professional advice from the British Gas Homecare man today is that my house has been so cold all month because the boiler was turned down too low. Possibly I should have been able to figure that out myself.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Roll on the final

Rutlish beat Glyn school 19-17 in a thunderous county cup semi final yesterday. I don't think I have ever seen Ben as thrilled as he was when he kicked the ball out of play in the last move of the game to secure the win. Jonnie H got 9 of the 19 points with a try and two conversions.

Bring on the final. I am very pleased for the boys as this is the last hurrah for a cohort that will be split into different sixth form colleges next year.

I had to cadge a lift from Ollie as the AA didn't arrive in time for me to drive to the game. I am waiting for them at home again this morning.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Should have just stayed in bed

Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible.
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
The car wouldn't start this morning and I have walked to the office. Ben still feels rough but will "push through and play" in the semi final today. If it goes ahead that is, there is a pitch inspection due this morning. If it is on, how will I get there? I will have to go home and hope AA Home Start can get me on the road by this afternoon.

In an ideal world the whole day would have been postponed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Pay Attention 007

I am assembling action camera kit for the Bomber's half term skiing holiday. The SD card required the most pencil chewing. 32GB will give 240 mins on 1080p30 or 320 mins on 720p60. I would have thought 720p60 would be the way forward. 30p is far too slow a frame rate for mobile video. Youtube will also handle 720/60p far better as it doesn't have to convert the fields to its native format. A professional videographer who shoots in 720p a lot says "I can assure you that unless you are replaying on something bigger than a 50" screen you will not see any difference in resolution."

Five hours and twenty minutes a day ought to be enough footage I would have thought.