Thursday, October 31, 2013


I went along to Katavento after work yesterday for some feijoada. They've been at the Mills since 2009, and I think this is the first time I have ever been there to sit down and eat. I must be losing my mojo.

When we stopped at the Provenance on the way back, Jonnie and the Bomber (who'd I'd brought along because it is half term) were presented with pumpkins to carve while the adults had a drink.

This is a good place to live.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Garry Kasparov, the chess grandmaster turned activist, has engaged his toughest – and oddest – opponent yet in the form of a millionaire Buddhist former goat-herder and politician who believes aliens will destroy the planet if people do not play enough chess, a game he says they invented.
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov has also been president of the World Chess Federation for almost 20 years, surviving attempted coups, accusations of corruption, and ridicule that peaked when he described how he was transported to a distant star in a spaceship that had landed on his balcony.
The word "gambit" was originally applied to chess openings in 1561 by Spanish priest Rúy López de Segura, from an Italian expression dare il gambetto (to put a leg forward in order to trip someone). Lopez studied this maneuver, and so the Italian word gained the Spanish form gámbito that led to French gambit, which has influenced the English spelling of the word. The broader sense of "opening move meant to gain advantage" was first recorded in English in 1855.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No woman, no drive

Saudi Arabian satire. Who knew?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting

The photo above was posted yesterday in Babylon Wales with the following description
American Ambassador, Joseph Kennedy, at St David's Cathedral, Charles Street, Cardiff, in 1938 (he's to the right of the Cardinal). He was, of course, the father of doomed golden boys of American politics, JFK and Bobby Kennedy. Joseph was in the city to attend the National Congress of the St Vincent de Paul Society, an international Roman Catholic voluntary organisation.
Interesting to me as I have very early memories of waiting around said Cathedral while my father was at St Vincent de Paul Society meetings after Mass on Sundays. After that we would be waiting for him in the car outside the boozer in Mackintosh Place if memory serves.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Flann the Man

When things are few, what also are they?
Far between.
What are stocks of fuel doing when they are low?
How low are they running?
What does one do with a suggestion?
One throws it out.
For what does one throw a suggestion out?
For what it may be worth.
The great Flann O'Brien.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Giraffes on Horseback Salads

The "Surrealist woman" is lying in the middle of a great bed, sixty feet long, with the rest of the guests seated around each side. Along the bed, as decorations, are a group of dwarfs caught by Harpo. Each is supported on a crystal base, decorated with climbing flowers. The dwarfs stay as still as statues, holding lighted candelabras, and change their positions every few minutes.
While love tears at Jimmy's heart, Groucho tries to crack a nut on the bald head of the dwarf in front of him. The dwarf, far from looking surprised, smiles at Groucho in the most amiable way possible. Suddenly in the middle of dinner, thunder and lightning begin inside the room. A squall of wind blows the things over on the table and brings in a whirl of dry leaves, which stick to everything. As Groucho opens his umbrella, it begins to rain slowly.
Although the guests show surprise, they try for a time to continue their meal, which is, however, brought to an end by showers of rain. In a panic, the guests rush in all directions, while from the hall a torrent of waters washes in, bringing with it all sorts of debris, including a drowned ox. A shepherd makes a desperate effort to collect his flock of sheep, which climb up on the sofas and the bed in an effort to avoid being carried away by the water. A cradle is carried in on the flood containing a baby crying piteously, followed by the mother, hair streaming behind her.
The "Surrealist woman" crosses several rooms - rain falling more and more heavily - but stops in front of a door and hesitates. She goes in, followed by Jimmy, who has never left her side. On the other side of the door, there is no more rain and everything changes. It is the childhood room of the "Surrealist woman," where by her orders nothing has been touched since she was ten. Overcome by emotion, she sits down in front of a mirror at a child's table.
Meanwhile, the Marx Brothers announce that a great fête is going to take place. For this, large preparations have to be made. Four acres of desert are cleared of cacti and of all vegatation and flattened out like a tennis court. The undergrowth that is cleared away is piled around the field to make a barrier, behind which stands are erected for spectators.
There is a competition for the person who can ride a bicycle the slowest with a stone balanced on his head. All the participants have to grow beards. In the middle is a tower in the form of a boat's prow to be used as a judge's box.
Before the spectacle begins, the vegetation around the fields is set alight. This prevents the spectators in the stands from seeing anything at all. From the top of the tower the sight is wonderful, with columns of smoke going up vertically, surrounding hundrds of cyclists - each balancing a rock on his head - threading their way with the sun setting behind.
In the tower, Harpo is playing his harp ecstatically, like a modern Nero. By his side, his back to the spectacle, Groucho is lying, smoking lazily. Nearby, the "Surrealist woman" and Jimmy watch the spectacle, lying side by side. Behind them, Chico, dressed in a diving suit, accompanies Harpo on the piano. Scattered across the gangway leading to the tower, an orchestra plays the theme song with Wagnerian intensity as the sun sinks under the horizon.
How I wish that the Salvador Dali Marx Brothers' movie had been made.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

League table

U13 League 2
TeamPWDLFADiffB PtsPtsAdjust
Old Rutlishians U13110045738160
Camberley U130000000000
Effingham & Leatherhead U13s0000000000
Guildfordians U130000000000
Haslemere U130000000000
Old Reigatian U130000000000
Reeds Weybridge U13s0000000000
Sutton & Epsom U13 A1001745-3800-1
Last Updated: Oct 23 2013 12:39PM

Might as well enjoy it while it lasts eh? The Ruts were originally scheduled to play Sutton and Epsom as the last game of the season, but the match was rescheduled to last Sunday instead. As the league doesn't really kick off until Nov 13, the boys will be top of the league at least until then.

Moving seamlessly from club to school, Year 8 beat St Cecilia's 65-7 yesterday. The Bomber got two tries in another appearance at outside half.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Laughter in the Dark

"Although written many years ago, Lady Chatterley's Lover has just been reissued by the Grove Press, and this fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of considerable interest to outdoor minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the professional gamekeeper.
"Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer's opinion this book cannot take the place of J.R. Miller's Practical Gamekeeping"
Ed Zern's poker-faced review from the November 1959 edition of Field and Stream has long been a favourite of mine.

Now Sam Kriss turns the joke on its head - brilliantly - by reviewing a manual as if it was Borgesian fiction.
It’s also not exactly a conventional novel. Its full title is an unwieldy mouthful: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. The author (or authors) writes under the ungainly nom de plume of The American Psychiatric Association – although a list of enjoyably silly pseudonyms is provided inside (including Maritza Rubio-Stipec, Dan Blazer, and the superbly alliterative Susan Swedo). The thing itself is on the cumbersome side. Over two inches thick and with a thousand pages, it’s unlikely to find its way to many beaches. Not that this should deter anyone; within is a brilliantly realized satire, at turns luridly absurd, chillingly perceptive, and profoundly disturbing.
Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All in a row

It turns out that a picture of Ben, Jonnie and Alex lining up at 12, 13 and 14 has been saved for posterity. Honorable mentions for Luke at outside half plus coaches Martin and Seamus on the touch line. They were 38-7 up at this point.

Perhaps I should save URLs
for when himself is a bit older.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Opening his account

Cardiff beat Toulon yesterday, then this morning the Ruts beat Sutton and Epsom 45-7 with the Bomber - at full back - running two tries in from his own 25 in the first half. It was the season's first league game and life is good.

Rearranging in the second period, when Sid went off from inside centre with an injury to his wrist, we had Ben, Jonnie and Alex (friends from day one at primary school) lined up at 12, 13 and 14.

Gulp. I appear to have something in my eye.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Showbiz pals

I bumped into Neil last night when I was out in Victoria. He showed me a photo Ron Wood who came along for his birthday drink recently.

Seven years on from hearing of him (see Icons passim), I read in Empire that Uncle Simon is being lined up to direct his first Hollywood movie.

As for me, I spent this morning draining stale water from the washing machine and then cleaning the filter.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Morrissey, The Consumer Monkey

Prodnose: Peter Serafinowicz sings the first page of the new Morrissey autobiography to the tune of 'William It Was Really Nothing'

Myself: Splendid. Does this mean we don't have to read it?

Prodnose: I believe so. Yes I think it does.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Rutlish Year 8 beat the Salesians school in Chertsey 17-7 yesterday. The Bomber played at fly half for part of the game which I don't recall him doing before. I wasn't there myself so I can't say how he did.

He also trained at Old Ruts in the evening. That is a lot of rugby for one day, but the season's first league game is coming up this weekend. It is against Sutton & Epsom who the boys beat in the final of the Guildford Festival last year (Icons passim).

Thus the prognosis is good, but as beaten finalists Sutton and Epsom are still a good side and not to be underestimated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's a Clark's Pi now

Raspberry Pi: one million units made in Britain landmark passed
The credit card-sized computer that sells for about £30 is a British success story, and has sold 1.75m units – 1m of which were made in South Wales.
......The initial batch of the credit card-sized barebones computer were made in China, but a partnership between the Raspberry Pi Foundation, RS Components and Premier Farnell saw all Raspberry Pi manufacturing moved to a Sony-owned manufacturing plant in Pencoed, Wales in September 2012.
The Pi is Welsh now. I'm delighted. We've got one in the office monitoring all the 24/7 activities of the company and pumping metrics and alarms out on a big telly. One of our best initiatives ever if you want my opinion.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When Doves Cry

Second in the quiz last night. Not ideal but still £25 towards next week's bar bill. Jack should do a Graph Jam round one week.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Don't tempt providence

The boys ran out very handy winners at 43-0 yesterday, though the Bomber, playing at full back failed to get on the score sheet. Didn't have a lot to do in defense either as you might imagine from the scoreline. This could be because the Ruts had to keep the ball very tight in the pouring rain, with four of the seven tries coming from the forwards and three at inside centre, but it may well be the fates toying with me for having the temerity to suggest he would get a "hatful" yesterday. I won't make that mistake again.

The League kicks off next week, and we should be able to follow developments at

Sunday, October 13, 2013

To the stoop to conquer

It was a good to to be a Williams yesterday with centre Scott, scrum half Rhodri and wing Jordan all scoring for the Scarlets to beat the Harlequins at the Stoop in the Heineken cup.

Today's rugby highlight should be the Old Ruts U13s in a friendly away to Old Alleynians in Dulwich, though it may not be much of a spectacle if it keeps on raining.

Next week brings the first league game, Sutton and Epsom at home.

Just between us, and depending what position he plays, I think the Bomber may well get a hatful of tries in the early part of this season. The kids have now moved up to playing on full size pitches where he may get a lot more room while opposition defenses get used to all the extra space. Pace is bound to tell in such circs, I would have thought.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Myself: Dunno.

Friday, October 11, 2013

By the Way

Cow Clicker is:
... a Facebook game created in 2011 by the game designer Ian Bogost as a satire of undemanding "social games" such as FarmVille – in which, as Bogost put it, "you click on a cow, and that's it". In Cow Clicker, you clicked on your cow and it mooed, and that was it: you then had to wait another six hours to click again, unless you were willing to part with real money (or virtual money, accumulated through clicking) for the right to click again immediately. Bogost's joke became a surprise hit: at its height, Cow Clicker had more than 50,000 users, some paying $20 or more for pointless "improvements" to their cow, such as making it face the opposite direction.
"After a while," Bogost told a US radio interviewer, "I realised they're doing exactly what concerned me about these games" – becoming "compulsively attached". "I began to feel very disturbed about the product." Eventually, a few months after the launch, Bogost eliminated all the cows in a Rapture-like event he called the Cowpocalypse. After it, users could keep playing only by clicking on a bare patch of grass – and some actually did. Responding to a player who complained that Cow Clicker was no longer "a very fun game", Bogost replied, "It wasn't very fun before."
Beachcomber's By the Way column was one of the few features kept continuously running in the often seriously reduced Daily Express throughout World War II, when Morton's lampooning of Hitler, including the British invention of bracerot to make the Nazi's trousers fall down at inopportune moments, was regarded as valuable for morale.

Today he would have been a technology correspondent, or even a developer. Cow Clicker is far more ridiculous than bracerot.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eat like a man

Josh Ozersky has probably hit the nail on the head as to why I am consistently about twenty pounds heavier than I think I ought to be in spite of hitting the gym pretty much daily:
........eating like a man is done with a zeal verging on fervor; with a blatant disregard for seemliness, propriety, or the established customs prescribed by spinster aunts and forgotten etiquette books; at the behest of primal urges, rather than curiosity or custom. It leans toward live fires and dead animals, and has no truck with tweezers. It bypasses amuse-bouches and skips dessert. A man will devote hours to making a dish he consumes in ten minutes. He never plays music when serving dinner, even to a woman, with the possible exception of “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden or “The Next Big Thing,” by The Dictators. He doesn't use food as an instrument of seduction or a means to an end; he considers it as an end in itself. He is not afraid of getting fat, clogging his arteries, or imprisoning free radicals. He barely knows he has a liver. He eats over sinks, and passes out on an unmade bed, if single, or with total urbanity, if married, but with equal ardor in any case. He never uses chopsticks, unless he is Asian. He doesn't boast about his love of bacon as if it were equivalent to a Bronze Star. He orders what he feels like. He eats for pleasure. He doesn't balance meals, or orchestrate course. He only stops eating when at the brink of death.
Did I tell you I bought Pitt Cue Co. Cookbook:Barbecue Recipes and Slow Cooked Meat from the Acclaimed London Restaurant?

I think the Man in Black would have understood.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

when the student is ready the teacher will appear

US budget impasse lingers, it may be worth remembering that in 1990 U.S. Budget Director Richard Darman wrote an introduction to the federal budget with a section "Green Eyeshades and the Cookie Monster" in which he called Cookie "the quintessential consumer", and the enormous budget "the Ultimate Cookie Monster".
As all monsters are, Cookie Monster is initially intimidating. His manner is gruff. His clumsiness occasionally causes damage. But quickly, Cookie Monster comes to be seen as benign—indeed, downright friendly. He has a few bad habits. He cannot resist gobbling up anything and everything that might be consumed, especially cookies. And he cannot quite control the way he spews forth crumbs. He is the quintessential consumer... The budget, for all its intimidating detail, might be seen similarly: as the Ultimate Cookie Monster. ... Its massive presence might be understood as little more than a compilation of cookies received, cookies crumbled, and crumbs spewed forth.Yet, apt though the Cookie Monster perspective may be, it does not suffice...
Intellectual fashions come and go ( Fukuyama's End of History, Huntington's Clash of Civilizations clash etc.) but the Cookie Monster is still as vital and relevant as ever.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Lorde Royals

A tune, smart lyrics, spare evocative production, and this girl is a third of my age. Oh dear.

Monday, October 07, 2013

a nose for a story

Somewhere Dr Strabismus (whom God preserve) of Utrecht is nodding with approval:
US biologist discovers new species up his nose after research trip to Africa
Nasal surprise led to discovery of new method of spreading disease from chimps to humans
Tony Goldberg, a US professor of pathobiological science, recently returned from an Africa research trip only to discover that a potentially new species of tick had come back with him hidden up his nose.

"When you first realize you have a tick up your nose, it takes a lot of willpower not to claw your face off," said Goldberg, a professor at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. "But my sense of being grossed out was balanced by my scientific curiosity."
Goldberg only noticed the insect three days after his return to the US and removed the insect using a pair of forceps, a mirror and a torch. He then sent it off to have its DNA sequenced and compared it with the archives in the U.S. National Tick Collection at Georgia Southern University (home to the largest tick collection in the world). He found no match.
“Either it’s a species of tick that is known but has never been sequenced, or it’s a new species of tick,” said Goldberg to Science Daily..
Even more remarkably, the discovery helped Goldberg fashion a new theory in his area of study: the spread of disease in primates, and how these disease evolve and cross over to humans.
After finding and removing the tick Goldberg contacted Richard Wrangham, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, to find out more about his experience.
Wrangham directed him to a series of high resolution photos of baby chimpanzees. 20 per cent of these showed the young chimps with ticks up their nose – a phenomenon that had not been remarked upon before.
These ticks, from the genus Amblyomma (the same genus to which the tick up Goldberg’s nose belonged) are known disease-carriers, with the nose being their favourite haunt. Chimpanzees are frequent social groomers, removing parasites from each other’s fur as a bonding ritual, but they seldom check noses.
Goldberg’s discovery that these ticks also attempted to leap over to human nostrils was an insight into what he describes as “an underappreciated, indirect, and somewhat weird way in which people and chimps share pathogens.”

And although Goldberg has been studying the chimpanzees of Kibale National Park in Uganda for years, he’s not surprised to have not identified the ticks before.
“It’s not really practical or safe to pick ticks out of chimps’ noses,” said Goldberg. “The chimps of Kibale are very well habituated to humans, but they would still object vigorously.”
While we are are on the subject of noses and vigour, these days tufts of hair grow so rapidly out of my nostrils and ears that I have thinking of bringing a trimmer into the office for a lunchtime defoliation to catch  anything that has appeared since breakfast.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Friday, October 04, 2013

Thursday, October 03, 2013


It seems that:
Cardiff is the best city for young people to live in, due to a combination of job opportunities, high wages and low cost of living, according a new poll.
I'm like 'whatever.... interesting...... not! Young people are so over, Grandpa Simpson speaks for me:
I am disgusted with the way old people are depicted on television. We are not all vibrant, fun-loving sex maniacs. Many of us are bitter, resentful individuals.
Up comes Zafo
I'm like, "yo, Zafo, what's up?...
He's like, 'nothing...
I'm like, 'that's cool...

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

David Bowie's top 100 must-read books

After spending five months at the V&A in London, the wildly successful David Bowie Is retrospective has moved to Toronto, and the widely read Dame has revealed his top hundred books. They follow and I have marked the ones I remember reading as well in italics. I am a bit bemused by the inclusion of Tom Stoppard's Coast of Utopia as it is a triplet of plays that I saw in the National.

Who would have guessed that both of us would have worked through Elaine Pagels' The Gnostic Gospels? Nowt so strange as folk.
  • The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby (2008)
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz (2007)
  • The Coast of Utopia (trilogy), Tom Stoppard (2007)
  • Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1875-1945, Jon Savage (2007)
  • Fingersmith, Sarah Waters (2002)
  • The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens (2001)
  • Mr Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, Lawrence Weschler (1997)
  • A People's Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes (1997)
  • The Insult, Rupert Thomson (1996)
  • Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon (1995)
  • The Bird Artist, Howard Norman (1994)
  • Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir, Anatole Broyard (1993)
  • Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C Danto (1992)
  • Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Camille Paglia (1990)
  • David Bomberg, Richard Cork (1988)
  • Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick (1986)
  • The Songlines, Bruce Chatwin (1986)
  • Hawksmoor, Peter Ackroyd (1985)
  • Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music, Gerri Hirshey (1984)
  • Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter (1984)
  • Money, Martin Amis (1984)
  • White Noise, Don DeLillo (1984)
  • Flaubert's Parrot, Julian Barnes (1984)
  • The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White (1984)
  • A People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn (1980)
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole (1980)
  • Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester (1980)
  • Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler (1980)
  • Earthly Powers, Anthony Burgess (1980)
  • Raw, a "graphix magazine" (1980-91)
  • Viz, magazine (1979 –)
  • The Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (1979)
  • Metropolitan Life, Fran Lebowitz (1978)
  • In Between the Sheets, Ian McEwan (1978)
  • Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, ed Malcolm Cowley (1977)
  • The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Julian Jaynes (1976)
  • Tales of Beatnik Glory, Ed Saunders (1975)
  • Mystery Train, Greil Marcus (1975)
  • Selected Poems, Frank O'Hara (1974)
  • Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s, Otto Friedrich (1972)
  • In Bluebeard's Castle: Some Notes Towards the Re-definition of Culture, George Steiner (1971)
  • Octobriana and the Russian Underground, Peter Sadecky (1971)
  • The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll, Charlie Gillett(1970)
  • The Quest for Christa T, Christa Wolf (1968)
  • Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock, Nik Cohn (1968)
  • The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
  • Journey into the Whirlwind, Eugenia Ginzburg (1967)
  • Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby Jr (1966)
  • In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (1965)
  • City of Night, John Rechy (1965)
  • Herzog, Saul Bellow (1964)
  • Puckoon, Spike Milligan (1963)
  • The American Way of Death, Jessica Mitford (1963)
  • The Sailor Who Fell from Grace With the Sea, Yukio Mishima (1963)
  • The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin (1963)
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1962)
  • Inside the Whale and Other Essays, George Orwell (1962)
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark (1961)
  • Private Eye, magazine (1961 –)
  • On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding (1961)
  • Silence: Lectures and Writing, John Cage (1961)
  • Strange People, Frank Edwards (1961)
  • The Divided Self, RD Laing (1960)
  • All the Emperor's Horses, David Kidd (1960)
  • Billy Liar, Keith Waterhouse (1959)
  • The Leopard, Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1958)
  • On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1957)
  • The Hidden Persuaders, Vance Packard (1957)
  • Room at the Top, John Braine (1957)
  • A Grave for a Dolphin, Alberto Denti di Pirajno (1956)
  • The Outsider, Colin Wilson (1956)
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell (1949)
  • The Street, Ann Petry (1946)
  • Black Boy, Richard Wright (1945)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Profundity and Insight

Writing in the Torygraph after Arsenal beat Swansea on the weekend, Jeremy Wilson shared the following telepathic intuition of Arsene Wenger's state of mind:
It will also not have escaped Wenger’s notice that the gap to City and United has been respectively extended to five and eight points. He was conscious even before the 5.30pm kick-off that the past two Premier League champions had just been beaten.
Wenger, Wilson calculates, in his fourth decade as a manager is now sufficiently cute to be able to look at the results of rival teams and calculate their impact on rankings in the table. Who could ever have guessed something so bleedin' obvious.

What revelations can we expect ahead of the Napoli game? That they are from Italy perhaps?