Saturday, December 03, 2022

Best of Enemies


We have got tickets for Best of Enemies on December 15th; a fact that came as something of a surprise to me even though I had booked them. I stumbled on an APB I had put out mid November in WhatsApp, plus a confirmation to the people who had said yes that I had bought the tickets. Not a sausage in my diary never mind my memory for all that I could find the transaction in my card statement. Diligent searching revealed the tickets in my email's spam folder. Delfont Mackintosh Theatres' reputation can't be what it was. I truly leave my life like a castaway adrift on a makeshift raft in the Atlantic.

I am very much looking forward to seeing David Harewood as William F Buckley Jr. Some people have cavilled at the casting, but I think it could be a stroke of genius. Thomas SowellJohn McWhorterGlenn LouryClarence Thomas etc. could all be described, to a greater or lesser extent, as heirs of Buckley and might resonate with the performance.

Friday, December 02, 2022


Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations 

§265 Let us imagine a table (something like a dictionary) that exists only in our imagination. A dictionary can be used to justify the translation of a word X by a word Y. But are we also to call it a justification if such a table is to be looked up only in the imagination? -- "Well, yes; then it is a subjective justification." -- But justification consists in appealing to something independent. -- "But surely I can appeal from one memory to another. For example, I don't know if I nave remembered the time of departure of a train right and to check it I call to mind how a page of the time -- table looked. Isn't it the same here?" -- No; for this process has got to produce a memory which is actually correct. If the mental image of the time -- table could not itself be tested for correctness, how could it confirm the correctness of the first memory? (As if someone were to buy several copies of the morning paper to assure himself that what it said was true.)

Looking up a table in the imagination is no more looking up a table than the image of the result of an imagined experiment is the result of an experiment.

I looked this up yesterday, as I wanted to double check I had As if someone were to buy several copies of the morning paper to assure himself that what it said was true right before I used it as a joke in a WhatsApp message.

On rereading the whole passage though, it strikes me as generally relevant to the 21st century, skewering as it does the models that underlie what we read about climate change projections and COVID infection forecasts etc.

Thursday, December 01, 2022


Songbird was written in half an hour at 3am when she couldn’t sleep. She says: "Fortunately, I had a piano in my room [but] nothing to record it on, but I had to play this song. The whole song [came out] complete: chords, words, everything within half an hour. I couldn’t go to sleep in case I forgot it, so I had to play it all night long."

RIP Christine McVie. It was worth playing all night long.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Who knows where the time goes

 The burglar is having his pre-op bowel enlargement today. I have to pick him up from the Princess Royal hospital, drive him home, and hang about for a couple of hours to make sure he is OK. With any luck then his colostomy reversal will happen next Wednesday, December 7th.

The stoma surgery it is reversing took place on 15 September 2021, so that will be 450 days between the operation a reversal that usually happens after about one hundred days.

The last time I saw him, come to think about it was when I picked him up from the Princess Royal after his colonoscopy. That was on May 30th 2021; exactly eighteen months ago today!

The observations above come after Unison announced last night that paramedics and other ambulance workers had backed taking industrial action. The Royal College of Nursing has scheduled its own walkouts on December 15 and 20. 

If he is released from hospital, as is planed on 12 December, that will be 561 days after the test that revealed the tumors. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Wonderful News

I have always loved Lewis since his Mum Karen brought him along on our group skiing trip, and he took my little Ben under his wing. At the time he was eleven and Ben was eight, the encouragement and support he gave my little one warmed the cockles of my heart. Ben's 22 now, so I guess he is 25.

Now he is an international rugby player. Good for him. I wonder how he is qualified for Jamaica. I saw his grandmother, only the once, at Karen and Stewart's wedding. Perhaps the Caribbean heritage is from her.

Update: Ben and Lewis on the deck of Bondy's boat later on in the year they met (passim). I get sentimental looking at and reading that post.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Rodney Ackland

The author of the play Mia was in this weekend went to Central as well, which squares the circle nicely. I was aware, for some reason that eludes me, that it was first performed in 1952 so I was somewhat surprised by the frankness of the language and the treatment of homosexuality.

Wikipedia explains:

The first staging of his (Rodney Ackland's) large-cast drama, The Pink Room (or The Escapists), in Brighton and then at the Lyric Hammersmith in London on 18 June 1952, was largely financed by Terence Rattigan, who liked the play and believed it deserved a London production. The Pink Room was a tragi-comedy set in the summer of 1945 in a seedy London club (based on the French Club in Soho). It received a severe critical panning and after that, apart from one further play and an adaptation, it led to the playwright's more than 30-year virtual absence. According to its director, Frith Banbury, "When the play failed, Terry never wanted to see Rodney again."

However, following the abolition of the Lord Chamberlain's play licensing in 1968, Ackland was able to rewrite aspects of this play, re-titling it Absolute Hell. It was performed in its new form in 1988 to considerable success at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond-upon-Thames, directed by Sam Walters and John Gardyne, and starring Polly Hemingway and David Rintoul.

All clear?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Absolute Hell

I went to see my niece in Rodney Ackland's Absolute Hell yesterday afternoon, which means that, according to my calculations I have been to the theatre three times in the last seven days. Two, I will grant you were Saturdays but the most recent was a matinee and last week's was an evening performance. which means they all fit in a 168 hour period.

What a great afternoon I had; wonder after wonder. For all that I knew intellectually that it was a final year production at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I think that subconsciously I was expecting something like a school or church hall. This naivety stood me in good stead. They have their own theatre, the Embassy (here is its Wikipedia page), formally a professional, commercial operation but owned by Central since 1956. The set and the costumes were beautifully crafted, there was a cafe bar when we could get a drink in the interval etc. etc. In retrospect I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was and it added to my enjoyment.

Oh, and Mia was very good as Elizabeth. It was also good to see two of her classmates that I have met socially with her, Alex and Saskia, in it as well.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Cymru Persia

 I couldn't help it. In the end I bunked off work for the second half of the Wales Iran game. Let's take it on the chin, they deserved to beat us.

I even found myself warming to them when they hit either post and then had a shot saved within ten seconds. I admired the fortitude of the prone striker who was smiling ruefully to himself. They also endeared themselves to me by smiling whenever they were up to skulduggery that strictly should have had them up before the magistrate in the morning.

I also liked what I saw of their fans in the ground.

It does make me wonder about the effectiveness of sporting and cultural sanctions. Are they not perhaps worse than nothing, perpetuating the myth of the distant inscrutable Other? 

Prodnose: The Other?

Myself: In phenomenology, the terms the Other and the Constitutive Other identify the other human being, in their differences from the Self, as being a cumulative, constituting factor in the self-image of a person; as acknowledgement of being real; hence, the Other is dissimilar to and the opposite of the Self, of Us, and of the Same.

Prodnose (looking like a fool): Oh yes. I see now.

It is just like Russia at the Euros in 2016 (passim). Why do we keep confusing the people with the regime? When Wales played them at the Euros (and won 3-0) in Toulouse there were no incidents at all between rival fans despite our tabloids droning on and on about the threat of the Kremlin's paramilitary Ultras.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Think Globally, Act Locally

I drew Ghana in the World Cup Sweepstakes run by friends and neighbours, the Hendries, so I decided to watch their first game at Canedo's, my local Portuguese cafe/restaurant (host Alberto, hostess Marietta) over a glass of red or two. What could be a better venue for the Portugal Ghana match, I reasoned than a Portuguese run place with a shirt donated by the Ghana qualified Callum Hudson-Odoi?

I was right. The atmosphere was great. Who knew there were so many Portuguese locals? Also with the game streamed from a Portuguese channel I didn't have to endure Roy Keane on ITV1.

Rod M and partner are back in Blighty this weekend for a family wedding, so we are going to meet up. (She has got a name; I just don't feel authorised to share it with the world.)

He sent me an email yesterday saying he had booked a table at the Norfolk Place, a cafe/restaurant and bar near their hotel. I just accepted, put it in the diary, and checked the route from here to there on Google Maps.

Later he sent me a Wikipedia page link. The Norfolk Place Restaurant is the ground floor dining room at the at the Frontline Club.

The Frontline Club is a media club and registered charity located near Paddington Station in London. With a strong emphasis on conflict reporting, it aims to champion independent journalism, provide an effective platform from which to support diversity and professionalism in the media, promote safe practice, and encourage both freedom of the press and freedom of expression worldwide.

Could there be a better place for me to meet the International Man of Mystery who is the Kitchen Cabinet's Geopolitics correspondent?

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Dinner with Groucho

Dinner With Groucho - what's it all about?! from Arcola Theatre Marketing on Vimeo.

I saw "Dinner with Groucho" last night at the Arcola theatre, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think I have been there before. Rebecca took Helen's ticket as she is stuck at home with Covid. Afterwards in the bar, the show was only about 70 minutes long, she told me a story about what social workers, like her, go through. It made me cry. There is now a fifth member of the Kitchen Cabinet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The other McKenna

Kerlin Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of rarely-seen early works by Stephen McKenna. Painted in the 1960s, when the artist was in his 20s and living in London, the works in this exhibition result from a decade of remarkable creative freedom. (Herewith.)
I am rather taken with this. PG sent it to me because Stephen McKenna was in St Illtyd's (our common alma mater) with him all those years ago. 
Assembling fragments of shape and colour, McKenna’s early abstract paintings adopt a vivid multi-chromatic palette and a dreamlike elasticity. As the decade progresses, the artist begins to introduce the human figure to these scenarios, using spatial illusion to bend linear time and elicit intense psychological drama. Moving from abstraction to figuration with ease, he layers windows within windows, rooms within rooms; suspending the figure in abstract geometric prisms, or splicing it into composite parts. Seldom seen since they were first exhibited, the paintings in the sixties have a vitality and sense of discovery that reverberates across half a century – and are as captivating now as they were upon completion.
We didn't get a lot of that talk when I was there, in the Llanrumney comp it had become.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


USA 1 Wales 1. I'll take it. Watched the game in the Standard with fellow Welshman Luke.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill grew up in a world of terminal decay. The last of the local mines had closed, businesses were shuttering, and despair was etched in the faces around her. Her father urged her to get out of their blighted corner of northern England: “There is nothing for you here, pet,” he said.  

 The coal-miner’s daughter managed to go further than he ever could have dreamed. She studied in Moscow and at Harvard, became an American citizen, and served three U.S. Presidents. But in the heartlands of both Russia and the United States, she saw troubling reflections of her hometown and similar populist impulses. By the time she offered her brave testimony in the first impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Hill knew that the desperation of forgotten people was driving American politics over the brink—and that we were running out of time to save ourselves from Russia’s fate. In this powerful, deeply personal account, she shares what she has learned, and shows why expanding opportunity is the only long-term hope for our democracy.
Nine months after adding it to the list (passim), I have  spent this month's Audible credit on Fiona Hill's book. With any luck it will help me with social history, Russia, Ukraine and Trump.

Alexander Mercouris is a YouTube channel I follow about the crisis. I also try and keep up with Timothy Snyder's course: The Making of Modern Ukraine, a playlist on the YaleCourses channel.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Lavender Hill Mob

 To The Lavender Hill Mob in Richmond on tour last night. I absolutely loved it despite never having seen the film. 

The conceit, for want of a better word, is that the plot is played out in Argentina by a cast of the friends of the main protagonist, who has fled there with his ill gotten gains.

Early on a waitress character serves up two elaborate cocktails, adorned with paper umbrellas plus citrus fruits and olives on sticks etc. One of them, of course, fell on the floor though the cast carried on regardless.

It very much reminded my about what PG told me about the lessons of working in rep all those decades ago; if you take out a box of matches on stage and open it, it will be upside down and they will all fall on the floor. Flowers in vases should be plastic flowers in empty vases, if you have real flowers in vases filled with water the next person who walks past during the performance will knock them over.

Must catch the original film itself one day.