Friday, August 19, 2022

Scot-free no more

 AncestryDNA have done another of their regular revisions of my sample. I am no 98% Irish, 2% Scottish, and <1% Sardinian. I have been 2% Scottish before as I remember.

Here's the link -

I will put a label DNA on this post, then gradually retrospectively apply it to earlier ones to help me get a better handle on the trends and changes. I seem to remember that initially I was only 79% Irish for example.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Daryl Dimple

Before today I have made 21 references to William Dalrymple on the blog. I've even had a brief correspondence with him about Kerala as well as going to see him live, so you can say I am something of a fan. I was pleased to discover then that he is on a new podcast called Empire (Apple), (Spotify):

How do empires rise? Why do they fall? And how have they shaped the world around us today?

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand explore the stories, personalities and events of empire over the course of history.

The first series looks at the British in India, covering the East India Company, the Raj, Gandhi, Independence and Partition.

It is from Goalhanger, the same company that brings us The Rest is Politics etc.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Poker face

Andy H didn't manage to solve Wordle on Monday for the first time since I started doing it and we have been comparing results after pasting our "grids" into WhatsApp. Here's my "grid" for today.

Wordle 424 4/6





I've still got a 100% record. The stats are at the top of this post, but I have no idea how good, bad or indifferent they are compared to the average.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A change is as good as a wrist

Facebook showed me photograph above yesterday. A muay Thai class exactly fifteen years ago; Kru Johnny Boon presiding. I used to take my Ben (second row right), Callum (front row left), and Jonnie (peeping over Callum's head). Take a look at the the cast on Callum's arm. Now he has grown up to play football for Chelsea and England he still wears an elasticated strap around the wrist. I never notice it without guiltily remembering it was me to took him along to the session at which he broke it

Monday, August 15, 2022

Just because I hate everyone doesn't mean they have to hate me too

L'affaire Sadowitz continues to rumble on. Here are his tour dates. I can't see anything in London, but I could be tempted by Sunday October 30th at the Glee Club in Cardiff; a venue new to me.

'Please note that I might just do card tricks and say NOTHING for a whole hour or I might just do the usual 'screaming fascist' schtick. Or both. Patrons may wish to drink alcohol pre-show to avoid boredom, embarrassment and guilt.'

Sunday, August 14, 2022


 I came late to Salman Rushdie, probably because of what I perceived as the malign influence of the Amis-Barnes-McEwan-Rushdie boys' club back in the day, so when I finally did get round to Midnight's Children it was with low expectations, and driven by a self-abnegating sense of duty after it won the "Booker of Bookers" anniversary prize. More fool me. It is an absolutely marvelous book. An all time favourite of mine whose lustre is probably burnished in my eyes by the reluctance with which I first cracked its spine. Very happy to hear that Sir Salman is off the ventilator this morning, after the despicable attack on him.

In other developments, the Pleasance theatre has cancelled Jerry Sadowitz's Edinburgh fringe standup show  saying his material ‘does not align with our values.’ Have you ever heard of anything so pompous? We live in an age of banal, asphyxiating, crushing orthodoxy. Sadowitz and John Lydon remember were the only two public figures with the chutzpah to break the establishment's omertà on Jimmy Savile's crimes.

As for my good self, I rarely look down, but when I did yesterday I noticed that I had put my polo shirt on inside out. Then, this morning, I realised I had left the front door unlocked overnight.

Prodnose“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"

Myself: I know! I know! T-shirt the wrong way round. Door unlocked. Crazeee!!

Saturday, August 13, 2022


Leaving the office on Thursday I saw a note tucked under the windscreen wiper. A van driver had scratched my car door (and also I noticed my wing mirror) and left me details of her vehicle and contact details for the company. The company was EnhanceAble; perhaps more accurately a charity providing social care for disabled people. I felt a bit guilty about putting the bite on them for my repairs after that especially after speaking to them on the phone but I console myself that the matter will be handled by our insurance companies as opposed to our own bank accounts.

Anyway it has put me in mind of a story; maybe one we can share with mum over Skype at half past ten. Long enough ago for my youngest brother to be driving but still living at home, he had a minor knock of a morning, exchanged details with the driver of the other car and thought no more about it until got home and met my mother that is. (I like to think of her with her arms folded across her chest, her right foot tapping, and the dreaded Death-Star death-stare laser-beaming from her eyes.)

Apparently she had answered the door in the afternoon to find a tearful pregnant woman with a further child in a push chair on her doorstep. This was the wife of the tradesman whose van had bumped John's car. After a few hard years it seems, they were just getting back on the straight and narrow and the repercussions of this incident were likely to plunge them back into penury and despair.

You might as well have told mum that John had stuck up a post office wielding a chewed off shotgun with once of her old stockings pulled over his head as a mask.

I think it reflects well on her now I come to think of it all these years later. But then again it wasn't me who had to put my hand in my pocket.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Getting ready for the weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Shock Jock

Back early in June I wrote:

More and more, I am starting to suspect that I personally know someone who is better informed on any specific hot button issue than any member of the dreary commentariat.

I will start gathering these exemplars together over the months and years into my own new Kitchen Cabinet.

Old school friend, Kevin T is now added as the third member (after Rod and Emma) of the roster. We were out on one of our occasional catch ups on Tuesday evening. After a long and distinguished career, very much of which was spent in telecoms in Asia, he was able gently to correct me and steer me in a more wholesome direction whenever I started ranting, about the OneWeb satellite system or the PRC/Taiwan stand off, by the deceptively simple expedient of knowing far more about, and having spent more time thinking about, the issues than me.

I may have to confront the possibility that I am gradually morphing into Alex Jones, the  swivel-eyed,  alt-right conspiracy theorist. I need my consigliere's, my viziers', and my grey eminences' hand holding. That's Rod, Emma and Kevin so far. God help them. God help me. God help us all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Oblivion Neutron Bomb

I was saddened to hear that Olivia Newton-John had died. Unlike almost everyone else in the world though I flashed back - not to Grease but to "Coming Home" a documentary exploring  the story of her Welsh ancestry, that begins in her father’s home town of Cardiff. 

It wasn't on the iPlayer yesterday but it is this morning. Available for 29 days at Well worth look.

Facts at random; her maternal grandfather was Max Born, the physics Nobel prize laureate and her father - Brinley Newton-John - was the man who took Rudolf Hess into custody.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Nephews and Nieces

My two youngest nephews were on our birthday Skype chat with mum last week and demanded that I produce my nunchuks. I was rather flattered to be honest as I can only remember demonstrating them once before (again over Skype during the coronavirus lockdown) so I sourced a couple fro Amazon - one red, one black - and had them delivered in Cardiff. Seb, Caroline says, "got all his karate /fighting stuff out and put it on display for bedtime." You can see it, including shuriken and daggers etc. above. Also she heard him get up and go to the bathroom in the night, popped her head in just to to double check he was alright. He had taken his nunchaku with him, in case he was attacked by ninja while he was sitting on the loo I imagine.

Also, I finally got to see the Seagull at the Harold Pinter on Saturday; a rearranged booking after the July performance we had originally lined up was "covid in the cast" cancelled. More style than substance in the direction if you want my opinion, but Indira Varma was excellent as Irina Arkadina which made it interesting to see it sitting next to Mia as that was her role when they did it at Central not so long ago.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Les Mis


Grantaire is a member of Les Amis de l'ABC. He is best known for being the skeptic of Les Amis who believes in nothing, except Enjolras, who is his only reason for joining the society. An art student and skeptic with no interest in revolution. Grantaire is involved with the Friends of the ABC due to his friendship with its members and his admiration, veneration and love for Enjolras, who disdains him for his skepticism and drunkenness. He is noted to be extraordinarily ugly and a heavy drinker, and he sleeps through most of the fighting in the June Rebellion. Despite this, he eventually declares himself to be one of the insurgents and dies alongside Enjolras, hand in hand.


Monsieur Thénardier

Sacha Baron Cohen in the film.


Prodnose: This is one of these secret message things I suppose, intelligible to a select coterie, possibly resonant for you when revisited in some tranquil future, yet opaque to the great unwashed, and breaching no confidentiality agreements?

Myself:  When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. The purpose of the rule is to encourage open discussion since anything said is "off the record".

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush


Regular readers will remember that I wrote about Hughesovka in 2007 (passim). Hughesovska became Stalino in 1924.  It took on its modern title, Donetsk, in 1961.

The city of Donetsk was founded in 1869 by Welsh businessman John Hughes, a Merthyr Tydfil boy.

The Donetsk People's Republic (DPR or DNR; Russian: Донецкая Народная Республика, tr. Donetskaya Narodnaya Respublika, IPA: [dɐˈnʲetskəjə nɐˈrodnəjə rʲɪˈspublʲɪkə]) is a breakaway puppet quasi-state proclaimed within the territory of Ukraine, which is militarily occupied by Russia and Russian-backed separatists. The DPR claims the entirety of Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast within the Donbas region as its territory. The capital city of the DPR is Donetsk, which is also the de jure capital of the oblast.
The world is a very strange place.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Shavings from the bench of the master

I wanted to preserve this video so I thought I would see what I could do with achieving a sort of  TikTok vertical look and feel. Project working name: DikTuk

Now I'm here, I may as well have a go of uploading it to your actual TikTok.


♬ original sound Nick Browne597