Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Wally Nightingale

I was talking to Peter on Sunday night about the legend of the Sex Pistols (and their stolen gear) getting their start at the Riverside Studios in the mid 70s.

He confirmed it and started talking about someone called Wally Nightingale.

I thought he had gone barmy, but no .......

See http://www.philjens.plus.com/pistols/pistols/pistols_wally.htm

Monday, April 06, 2020


The son and heir is now attempting to craft fishing hooks from his mother's old sewing needles.

I think he is predicting a long lock down.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Always read the label

I have got a story about me being an idiot that might entertain you. When my brother John comes up for the weekend we have been known to kick Saturday off with a Nihari curry in the Lahore Karahi in Tooting. Yes there is such a thing as a breakfast curry, and last time John was here I gave him a Tooting-sourced box of two sachets of Laziza Nehari recipe and seasoning mix.

One day this week I got worried that I was going down with Covid-19. I had a terrible sore throat, I was sneezing and had a dry cough. Eventually though I tracked it back to the home made Nihari I had cooked. It had provoked my soft tissues beyond endurance. Hence the symptoms.

I was on a Skype call with John (and my mother) yesterday and warned him against the potency of the masala I had given him. Obviously I don't want him to go through what I did.

John disappeared from Skype off to his pantry or kitchen and came back with the two sachet box in his hand. He presented it to his PC's camera and pointed out that "Serves 14-16" was printed on it. Not "Serves 1-2."

My suffering was not unrelated to the fact I had taken in at least seven times as much spice as the average Nihari fancier, and the Nihari connoisseur, as a rule, is generally no slouch in this department.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, is now free to stream on Audible. It’s the version narrated by Stephen Fry, and part of a series of initiatives launched by JK Rowling and friends to keep everyone entertained while they’re cooped up at home.

You can get it at https://stories.audible.com/pdp/B017V54W6O.

I remember buying the Fry audiobook on CD as it was unabridged and would last long enough to keep Rayburn amused on a trip driving to West Wales (a mission in which it succeeded) to see Vince and Michele.

The CD version came out in 1999. I am pretty sure neither Ben nor Isaac were born at the time of the trip, and they came into the world in 2000, so it could be coming up for 21 years ago.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Eddie Large

Nearly seven years ago, a bunch of us went away to Somerset for the weekend (Icons passim) as a sort of stag do for Andy's upcoming wedding. (The wedding never happened but that is another story.)

I remembered the trip yesterday when I head that Eddie Large, the comedian had died aged 78 with coronavirus.

A lot of Andy's friends on the trip were musicians like him, and back in the day good players, once they got to around 17 or 18, could get gigs in big nightclubs supporting variety acts.

I don't know how it came up, but all these guys absolutely loved Eddie Large, describing him as one of the nicest, friendliest, most helpful people they had ever worked with.

I particularly recall a drummer (who'd been hit on the head with a cymbal by his disgruntled girl friend) telling me that Large had driven him to hospital in his own car telling him not to worry about bleeding all over the upholstery,

If they all remembered him as a sweetheart decades later that must have been what he was.

(I also heard a lot of anecdotes about other people's bad behaviour, but those must wait for another day.)

Thursday, April 02, 2020

LockDown Licks

Ollie's cousin Guy Pratt is giving us free bass lessons online while we are all stuck at home and Kevin lent me a bass a little while back.

I have no excuse for not coming out of this Long Dark Night of the Soul funkier.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Can I Confess Something?

I know we are not so far into this lock down, but I have all but become Christopher Walken's Duane from Annie Hall. That said I reckon this may be among the funniest two minutes in movie history.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Presumption of what?

I have been a fan, for want of a better word, of Lord Sumption since last year's Reith Lectures (Icons passim). Because of this, I take warnings like this interview with him 17 minutes into yesterday's Word at One programme seriously without necessarily agreeing to the last decimal point.
The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it's not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It's usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. That's what I fear we are seeing now. The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action. They don't pause to ask whether the action will work. They don't ask themselves whether the cost will be worth paying. They want action anyway. And anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria.
Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.
Q At a time like this as you acknowledge , citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn't be surprised then if the state takes on new powers, that is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.
A Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. The symptoms of coronavirus are clearly serious for those with other significant medical conditions especially if they're old. There are exceptional cases in which young people have been struck down, which have had a lot of publicity, but the numbers are pretty small. The Italian evidence for instance suggests that only 12% of deaths is it possible to say coronavirus was the main cause of death. So yes this is serious and yes it's understandable that people cry out to the government. But the real question is : Is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up , saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all, like the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister.
Q The executive, the government, is all of a sudden really rather powerful and really rather unscrutinised. Parliament is in recess, it's due to come back in late April, we're not quite sure whether it will or not, the Prime Minister is closeted away, communicating via his phone, there is not a lot in the way of scrutiny is there?
A No. Certainly there's not a lot in the way of institutional scrutiny. The Press has engaged in a fair amount of scrutiny, there has been some good and challenging journalism, but mostly the Press has, I think, echoed and indeed amplified the general panic.
Q The restrictions in movement have also changed the relationship between the police and those whose, in name, they serve. The police are naming and shaming citizens for travelling at what they see as the wrong time or driving to the wrong place. Does that set alarm bells ringing for you, as a former senior member of the judiciary?
A Well, I have to say, it does. I mean, the tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform. They are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government's command. Yet in some parts of the country the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country which are not contrary to the regulations, simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to. The police have no power to enforce ministers' preferences, but only legal regulations which don't go anything like as far as the government's guidance. I have to say that the behaviour of the Derbyshire police in trying to shame people into using their undoubted right to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the Fells so that people don't want to go there, is frankly disgraceful.
This is what a police state is like. It's a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers' wishes. I have to say that most police forces have behaved in a thoroughly sensible and moderate fashion. Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions. There is a natural tendency of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects. I think it's really sad that the Derbyshire Police have failed to resist that.
Q There will be people listening who admire your legal wisdom but will also say, well, he's not an epidemiologist, he doesn't know how disease spreads, he doesn't understand the risks to the health service if this thing gets out of control. What do you say to them?
A What I say to them is I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there's no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it's rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them.
Q Lord Sumption, former Justice of the Supreme Court, speaking to me earlier.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Social Distancing During the Black Death

James Hankins is a professor of Renaissance history at Harvard University.
One of the comforts of studying history is that, no matter how bad things get, you can always find a moment in the past when things were much, much worse. Some commentators on our current crisis have been throwing around comparisons to earlier pandemics, and the Black Death of 1347 — 50 inevitably gets mentioned. Please. The Black Death wiped out half the population of Europe in the space of four years. In some places the mortality was far swifter and deadlier than that. The novelist Giovanni Boccaccio, who gave us the most vivid picture of the Black Death in literature, estimated that 100,000 people died in Florence in the four months between March and July 1348. The population of the city in 1338, according to one contemporary chronicler, stood at 120,000.
Boccaccio at the time was a city tax official and saw the whole thing at ground level. Every morning bodies of the dead—husbands, wives, children, servants—were pushed out into the street where they were piled on stretchers, later on carts. They were carried to the nearest church for a quick blessing, then trundled to graveyards outside the city for burial. As the death toll rose, traditional burial practices were abandoned. Deep trenches were dug into which bodies were dumped in layers with a thin covering of soil shoveled on top. Boccaccio writes that “no more respect was accorded the dead than would today be shown to dead goats.”
We are on day 8 of our Decameron project. Rationing out one story a day during lock-in.

I started a song per story Spotify Playlist this morning.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Stop all the clocks

There are five hundred clocks in Buckingham Palace. Among them are musical clocks, organ clocks, astronomical clocks and mechanical clocks. I seem to remember, from the days I was there a lot, being told that there was a member of staff whose sole job was to keep them all wound.

Today, they will all need to be adjusted by an hour. It is difficult to imagine the task appearing very high up on HMG's list of key workers and essential roles though,

Saturday, March 28, 2020

small mercies

I managed to get through the garage yesterday and pick up my MOT'd car. I had feared it would be stranded there indefinitely while the pandemic works itself out.

That said I can't think of anywhere I should drive today.

This day last week though I had no electricity and no vehicle.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Two blue ticks

When everyone has read a group message in WhatsApp the two tick icon next to the time at the bottom on the right turns blue.

If you can all make sure you have read your messages before I go to bed each night I can just pass my eyes over all the blue ticks and know that you are safe and sound.

Also Zoom seems too be having its day in the sun. Vince and Mandy both mentioned it to me yesterday and Ollie ran a quiz on it last night. One to watch,

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Motorists worried about getting an MOT because of the coronavirus crisis, have been handed a six-month reprieve.

The government has granted car owners a six-month exemption from MOT testing.

However, it won't come in until Monday 30 March which means vehicles due an MOT before then must still take it.

The exemption "will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine," the government said.

The exemption will apply to cars, motorcycles and vans, but the government warned that vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition.

Garages will remain open for essential repair work while drivers will face prosecution if they're caught driving unsafe vehicles.

"We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID19 are able to do so," said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

"Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work."

Ain't a lot of use to me is it with my car still stuck in Dees of Wimbledon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Future Legend

David Bowie
And in the death
As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare
The shutters lifted an inch in temperance building, high on Poacher's Hill
And red mutant eyes gazed down on Hunger City
No more big wheels
Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes
Coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers
Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers
Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald
Any day now, the year of the Diamond Dogs
"This ain't rock and roll! This is genocide!"
Good morning I am back on the grid with 'leccy but my car is still stranded in Dees of Wimbledon,