Friday, May 20, 2022

A Life in the Day

 I stopped by Coffee in the Wood yesterday morning on the way to work as Frankie had told me there was an invitation to Spike and Samantha's wedding reception waiting to be picked up. Sophie let me hold the baby while my flat white was being prepared. I like all babies, but I particularly love babies who I can hand back to someone else if there is any nappy or vomit maintenance to be done. Anyway, I confided in the little one about some worries I have about the reliability of PayPal IPNs with particular regard to inconsistencies around the 'Pending' status when it comes to card as opposed to account transactions. She didn't judge me. Didn't make any fatuous, ignorant, or uninformed remarks. Just looked me in the eye with complete trust and made me feel as if I could take on the world and win. Not one year old yet, but I still think she would be a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson. Girl can delegate, I'll say that for her.

The son and heir came round to the office on the way back from work and we put the Seville/Real Alcazar weekend to bed. Flying out 24 Jun, 16:05 and landing back in Stansted 23:20 Sunday 26th. The itinerary still needs work, but the hotel is booked as well. On the way out we bumped into Helen (inspiration for the trip) on the gantry between the Apprentice Shop and 525's Coles Shop. The gods must be smiling on us.

When I got home I realised I needed some fixins to knock dinner out of the park so I wandered down to the Co-op. As I walked past Canedo's the Portuguese Bar/Cafe/Restaurant at the end of the road and realised that couldn't remember ever having been in there. I went in. A framed Callum football shit was up on the wall so I had a chat with the owner about him, ordered a beer and sat outside watching the world go by.

When I got home I finished reading my old school friend Sean's novel.

Just a perfect day

Drink sangria in the park

And then later, when it gets dark

We go home

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Prima Facie

 I had a chat with my brother on the phone last night. The first for a week which is unusual for us; both been busy. He said that making small talk at a conference last week (HASAG?) he discovered that another delegate, just like him, had been to see To Kill A Mockingbird at the Gielgud. (I am going on June 20th.) This guy also gave two thumbs up to Jodie Comer in Prima Facie at the Pinter which hadn't really been on my radar.

Looking at the website:

Ticket availability is currently extremely limited but please check the website for any late released or returned tickets.


A limited number of standing tickets will be available at the box office on the day of performance. 

What! A man of my age?

National Theatre Live in partnership with Empire Street Productions broadcasts Prima Facie from the Harold Pinter Theatre to cinemas worldwide following it’s west end season.

You interest me strangely. says it will be streamed on July 21st to cinemas including Wimbledon's Odeon and Curzon as well as the, handy on the Northern Line, Clapham Picturehouse.

That looks like the way forward then, for all that it seems odd they can broadcast it live in July when it closes in June. That said, I guess they must know what they're doing. I can hardly be the first person to notice this.

Not unrelated (passim), it is exactly a year ago that I bought my first post-lockdown theatre tickets.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

When a man is tired of London

 Tooting Market with Rebecca's Steve last night for what is becoming (passim) a semi-regular, once a month or so, sundowner.

As I was walking up from the 'Wood I noticed a place called "Smoke & Salt" that I don't remember seeing before so I had a gander at the menu in the window. The £50 a head Six-Course Sharing Menu, looks like one for the to-do list some time when my brother John is up on a visit.

Arriving at the Broadway five or ten early, I decided to take a detour around the Broadway Market. That is no slouch in the restaurant and bar stakes either (herewith) for all that its web developers are slouches in both the SSL certificate and giving different parts of the site different URLs departments.

This time at the distinct Tooting Market,  rather than at the Secret Bar I met Steve in essentially communal seating in the belly of the beast from where we could strike out to an assortment of liquor vendors.

After about 45 minutes of that we went and did the same at Broadway Market. He dined on Greek food at Pittagoras. I stayed on the booze while offering moral support.

Tooting should be in my life more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The One with Home Automation

 I saw Kevin G at the Standard early on Friday evening.

"How long ago was it that we used to go to Bikram Yoga for the six thirty Thursday morning class?" I asked him.

"Oh, I'm not sure. Maybe about four years? Why do you ask?"

I was remembering the day before. "The light in my bedroom still comes on at half past five to wake me up for it."

I double checked and he is right. The last time we went was June 2018. I never had a problem getting up if I was giving him a lift or vice versa, but since then nada. I just roll over and go back to sleep.

These days the sun has already risen of a morning when I get up, so today I have removed all the automatic light scheduling in the bedroom including (what was I thinking of?) the times it comes on in the evening to trick people into thinking someone is at home.

I will try and look at the heating schedule next, what with Summer starting next month and gas prices having gone through the roof. Possibly I should be looking at tweaking my home automation settings more than twice a decade?

Inspired by this frenzy of activity I have also set the Amazon Show in the room to wake me by playing Radio 4 at 5:58 in the morning so I can ease into the |Today Programme via Tweet of the Day. Instructions by the BBC here. I have only had the Show for three years (passim). Still I can see how you might think I should have got around to it before now.

Monday, May 16, 2022

In which I haven't a scooby


Priti Patel, hear this loud and clear: Julian Assange must not be handed over to the US.
I have no very clear idea at all what this is all about.


Brexit: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

Again no real clue apart from deducing that it is a protocol relating to Northern Ireland. Otherwise drawing a blank to be honest.

Daily Mirror

World Cup WAGs line up to back Coleen Rooney 3-1 in battle with Rebekah Vardy

Both married to footballers. Who is suing whom and over what? Not the foggiest.

Remember it as if it was yesterday. Well enough in fact to know that we were in Blenheim Road with Dad driving and me in the passenger seat. "What do you think of the death penalty then?" I demanded with the sneering implication of unearned moral superiority that made me such beguiling company in my late teens.

"I'm not sure that I have ever thought deeply and hard enough about it to have an opinion of which I would try and persuade anyone else," he replied mildly.

"Harrumph," I replied thinking he was avoiding the issue. Decades later the smoke has cleared and I believe it is one of the wisest things I have ever heard.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Give That Wolf A Banana


Geopolitical considerations may have focused the world's attention elsewhere, but for me at least 2022's Eurovision Song Context will always belong to Norway's Subwoolfer.
Not sure I told you, but I really like your teeth
That hairy coat of yours with nothing underneath
Not sure you have a name, so I will call you Keith
See where you're going, but I don't know where you've been
Is that saliva or blood drippin' off your chin?
If you don't like the name Keith I'ma call you Jim
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
Give that wolf (banana)
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
I like the scent of every meal on your breath
That hunger in you, I'm in danger now, I guess
Let's go to grandma's, you say grandma tastes the best
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
(I want your grandma, yum, yum)
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
Give that wolf
Someone give that wolf a banana
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
(I want your grandma, yum, yum)
Someone give that wolf a banana
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
Give that wo-o-olf
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
Not sure I told you, but I really like your teeth
That hairy coat of yours with nothing underneath
Not sure you have a name, so I will call you Keith

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Codex to Cortex

Friedrich Nietzsche: The Dawn of Day

I have not been a philologist in vain—perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste—a perverted taste, maybe—to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is “in a hurry.” For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all—to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow—the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. 

I'm in the middle of Sean's new novel, and for the first time in God knows how long engaging with an actual physical readable object. Kindle and Audible have been my go-to-guys for too long, and I am rediscovering the lost and gentle art; slow reading of a thing. Idiosyncratically I think, the recumbent bike in the gym has been key. I do half an hour on it every coupla-three days; 'bout twenty mins reading a chapter of The Englishwoman, and then a last five-or-ten flicking back through it checking, pondering, depressurizing. Liber naturae anyone? Decorum est pro patria mori? Both from chapter three. I know what they mean now. Previously I have tended to read like I was binge-watching streaming TV and wouldn't have taken the time to chase them down. I am starting to realise that an old-school chewing-of-the cud after a chapter and before a new one is all to the good. Kindle and Audible don't encourage flicking back and forward.

We are embodied creatures.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Bish, "How's your kid?"

I learned about this podcast from Wales online yesterday so, having been in school with David I had to pick up on it. It is about an hour and a quarter long and I have only listened to the first thirty odd minutes but it is good stuff. I offer it here for anyone else who knows him. I always considered the Bish -behind the carapace - thoughtful and articulate. I was right.

The road and the miles eh? The road and the miles. Ben and old school friends are going to Swansea this weekend for the 21st birthday party of a boy  - in his final year at University there - who was at Rutlish with them. I was in my final year at University College Swansea 40 years ago. I was in school with Dai from 1972 to 1977. I find these numbers scarcely credible.

According to Deadline, Spinal Tap II is due in 2024.  This is Spinal Tap was released to critical acclaim in 1984, so that will be a 40th anniversary as well. When I was in Edinburgh in 1985 I played a cassette of the soundtrack album to Sean (yet another school friend) trying to convince him it was an authentic po-faced release. He was too street wise to be taken in. It's 2022 now and he still needs to loosen up if you ask me. Live a little, you know.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The RingGo Kid

 Sorry to be a bore, but it is more from the motoring correspondent today.

I have appealed Tuesday morning's parking ticket. The one that was issued in the road outside the house. Half remembering that Morden Council have outsourced their parking operations to, I fired it up and logged in. Sure enough the page shows a permit with the new car's number plate, as indeed does Buggered if I can work it out.

Hang on, light may have dawned. I have got an Thu, 7 Apr, 16:58 email saying:

Your temporary vehicle change is now in effect, and will remain in place for 21 days, at which point, it will revert to its original vehicle details. You may revert the permit to its original details manually, before 21 days has elapsed, by selecting the Revert option on your permit session.

Temporary? What am I, a car collector?

Another email followed Thu, 7 Apr, 16:59 (one minute later) Subject: Your Resident Permit has been Authorised but showing the old license plate in the text.

Ah well the appeal is in. Let's just play 'em where they fall.

Speaking of 'buggered if I can work it out,' I stopped in Hammersmith and Fulham for a lunchtime sarnie at a cafe with PG the day before yesterday That is a RingGo parking fiefdom as well. You could pay at the machine or call a number. No machine was in sight so I called the number. That started rabbiting on about the old registration and payment by an old card for all that my details are up to date on the web. I just gave up. I wonder if there is an app I should install on the phone.

That said I have now done my online speed awareness course and passed. God knows how. I was incredibly sullen. After the stopping distance section the friendly instructor said, "Any comments Nick?"

"I was already familiar with the concept of the conservation of momentum," I replied coldly, adding "a body remains at rest or in a state of uniform motion unless acted on by an external resultant force."


As the course went on the bubbly and cordial Kayleigh got asked for her thoughts more and more; mine seemed to be needed less and less. Suited me down to the ground.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Car Trouble

 I have to do a speed awareness course online today. Committed my offence in Wimbledon's 20 mph stretch by the common the other week when I was on my way to PG. I cannot but raise a quizzical eyebrow as it took me one hour and forty three minutes yesterday to drive from my house to his flat, pick him up and take him to the Jermyn Street Theatre. Distance 12.4 miles; average speed 7.2 mph.

There was a ticket on the windscreen of the car when I set off. Obviously swapping my permit to the new license plate didn't work. All the metered spots near Jermyn street being in use I had to chance my arm in a resident's spot in order to get himself to his meeting on time. Got away with that though.

On the way back we got to the Sloane Avenue service station and filled up running on fumes with the dashboard alarm telling me I had less than one mile's worth of petrol left. As I gratefully pushed the nozzle into the cap the car started running down a slight incline to the busy street with PG serene and unaware in the passenger seat. I had to chase it, leap in through the door and pull on the handbrake saving his life by seconds as he smiled and waved.

A day in the life of the Brownes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Hey Kids! Let's Do the Show Right Here ...

 I have said I will give PG a lift into the Jermyn Street Theatre for a meeting about his new play and to see the space in which it will be performed, so I might as well use the few minutes I spend writing each morning to get that straight in my head.

First off the bat I will have to pay the congestion charge which I don't think I have ever done before. I have got up to three days to pony up for that according to

Next up parking; there are meters in Jermyn Street according to Westminster Council (herewith). Failing that Q-Park Leicester Square is only a short walk away at 39-41 Whitcomb St., London WC2H 7DT. Either will be another dent in the bank account though. The garage is £27 an hour while the meters are a comparatively reasonable £5.18. If I was going on my own I could get there on the Northern line for free with my 60+ card. No parking fees or congestion charge involved.

Google maps is advising me to pick him up at ten in order to be sure of getting to the theatre for 11, so I will probably need to leave here not long after 9.

The meeting is with Alice Hamilton his co-director. Here's a picture from Google so I can recognise her.

Cofounded the "Up in Arms" theatre company with Barney Norris who actually wrote a book about PG (passim). Hence the connection I imagine.

Tickets are already on sale at

While we are on the subject of acting, I got a message from Mia at Central yesterday. Her Cassandra went well (is Cassandra supposed to go well?) Next up is Lady Anne in Richard III.

"V  enjoyable huge part for an actor," says PG. Don't know that I've ever seen it myself, but it does sound like it is probably better than landing the role of third serving wench.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Cinco de Mayo Weekend

 As predicted by me Dmitry Bivol beat Canelo Álvarez early Sunday morning UK time to retain his light heavyweight title. I thought that 175 pounds was just a step too far for a five foot eighter and turned out to be right. I had a bet on, mediated - as ever - by a Reilly, but this time Pat not his cousin Lee. I could have got four to one on Bivol to win, but Pat dug up fourteen to one on Bivol to take it by knock out, TKO or stoppage so I put a tenner on that. I just couldn't see a Russian beating a Mexican on the judges' scorecards during Cinco de Mayo weekend in Vegas in front of a baying Latino crowd. More fool me, that is just what happened and I came out empty handed.

Note that a Russian competed in a sporting event just as himself, not a regime's stooge and the sun still rose the next morning. Nobody's opinion about the Ukraine has changed by yer man being able to express himself at the highest level. Wimbledon, tennis and the All England Club should take note.

My bet was placed on my behalf at Pat's son Ollie's 19th birthday party at the Standard on Friday. When I woke up the next morning I couldn't remember what time I had got back (always the sign of a good night) so I took a look at my Google Maps timeline. It says I left the house at 18:47 and arrived at the pub four minutes later: 19:01. On the way back, I left the pub at 00:47 and got home at 01:15.

Alien Nation: Have Humans Been Abducted by Extraterrestrials?A prestigious Harvard psychiatrist, John Edward Mack, thought so. His sudden death leaves behind many mysteries.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Born to Da doo ron-ron

I have finished listening to Bruce Springsteen reading his autobiography (passim) on Audible.

Seventy nine chapters bracketed with a forward and an epilogue. Let's kick off with what sounds like faint praise. "Chapter 5: The Irish, " announces the Boss at the beginning of chapter 5. Next off " Chapter 6: My Mother." Begin to see a pattern emerging? Hardly anyone does this on Audible, making it difficult to break up their books into bite size pieces.

By way of contrast, let me praise it with a faint damn.

…Once they were here, Patti and I knew our children would be our first priority. All of our tours would be booked around school schedules, childrens’ events, birthdays, and because of Patti’s insistence, planning, and dedication, we made it work. I worked hard not to be an absentee dad, but in my business that’s not always possible and Patti picked up the slack. She also guided me when she thought I was falling short. For years, I’d keep musicians' hours, a midnight rambler: I’d rarely get to bed before four a.m. and often sleep to noon or beyond. In the early days, when the children were up at night, I found it easy to do my part in taking care of them. After dawn, Patti was on duty. Once they got older, the night shift became unnecessary and the burden tilted unfairly toward the morning hours.

Finally, one day she came to me as I lay in bed around noon and simply said, “You’re gonna miss it.”

“Miss what?”

She said, “The kids, the morning, it’s the best time, it’s when they need you the most. They’re different in the morning than at any other time of day and if you don’t get up to see it, well then…you’re gonna miss it.”

The next morning, mumbling grumbling, stolid faced, I rolled out of bed at seven a.m. and found my way downstairs. “What do I do?”

She looked at me and said, “Make the pancakes.”

Make the pancakes? I’d never made anything but music my entire life. I…I…I…don’t know how!


What a sweetheart our Brucey is, I thought sentimentally reminiscing about my little Ben (now six foot three) as a toddler in his high chair getting outside a fish finger, plastic fork in hand. Then my hedonic set point (miserable suspicious atmosphere hoover) reasserted itself. "I'll bet you anything you like," I misanthroped to myself, "he becomes a master pancake thrower."

Sure 'nuff:

After some early cementlike results, I dialed it in, expanded my menu and am now proud to say that should the whole music thing go south, I will be able to hold down a job between the hours of five and eleven a.m. at any diner in America.

But then again, just one trivial and insignificant (to everybody else but me) slip with regards to tone in over five hundred pages. Not too shabby sir. Not too shabby at all. It is a marvelous book.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

The personal is political

 Quote 1

Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, 

That here obedient to their laws we lie.

Simonides of Ceos

Quote 2

Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.

Sun Tzu

If BoJo had gone to school with us in Llanrumney, he would have come out a sadder wiser man, albeit the sadness and wisdom would have been hard won, having cost - by my mind if the Bish or John Actie had got hold of him - a few teeth and a crooked snout.

What an extraordinary coincidence that he should be addressing the Ukrainian Parliament last Tuesday with our own local government elections due on the Thursday. You can read the preening narcissist's  disgraceful self-mythologizing grandiose gobbledygook here

"It is a conflict that has no moral ambiguities or no grey areas." Cobblers. What happens in war is that one side sends their best and bravest to kill and be killed by their enemy's best and bravest; to brutalise and be brutalised in return. There are always moral ambiguities and grey areas.

Will even one life of a soldier or civilian holed up in the Azovstal steel plant be saved, or extended by a breath,  due this bum's cynical hitching of his wagon to the good people of Ukraine's undisputed stoicism and valour? I think we know the answer.

"This is Ukraine’s finest hour," intones the guttersnipe echoing Churchill. Churchill! This may be a minority opinion, but to my mind Churchill's finest hour was the Potsdam Conference in 1945. It started with him, Stalin and Truman representing the Allies, but concluded with Clement Attlee, Stalin and Truman representing the Allies. The Conference was interrupted for two days, when the results of the British general election were announced. Labour defeated the Tories so Churchill and Anthony Eden went home to be replaced by Attlee and Ernest Bevin. Can you even begin to imagine the Johnson creature taking it on the chin with such grace and dignity? Of course you can't. We'd just be spoon fed some balderdash claiming he had to remain in office (election result notwithstanding) "to finish the job."