Sunday, August 31, 2014

body work

More than four months after the Bomber took his stiff back there, and more than two years since I had a sports massage, I plucked up the courage to take myself along for an hour's treatment at Abbey Mills Thai Yoga Massage today.

The trigger points that were discovered around my shoulders in a previous episode were still very much in evidence and certainly hurt when they were manipulated but - on balance - it was quite relaxing and I certainly felt it was doing me good.

£45 for an hour seems a lot, but then again I spent more than £700 servicing my car this week and more than £60 filling it with petrol. I can always get a new car, but I am pretty much stuck with the body God gave me.

I think I will start programming it once every three weeks. What do we think? Is a £15 a week massage budget excessive or prudent? It is also so near I could get an hour in at lunchtime rather than having it eat into an evening.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Avenue Q Overview
‘The best musical of the decade’
Sunday Times
Winner of the Tony Awards Triple Crown for Best Musical, Best Score and Best Book, Avenue Q is part flesh, part felt and packed with heart.
Following five years in the West End and sell-out runs worldwide (packed with mischief, bad behaviour and political incorrectness) this hugely entertaining show is hitting the road on a brand new tour!
Created by Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez (co-creator of Book of Mormon and writer of the songs for Disney’s Frozen) Avenue Q is an irresistibly charming musical which tells the story of the loveable characters on a downtown New York street trying to make sense of life’s burning issues.
Hilarious, cheeky and uproariously entertaining, with a terrific batch of songs performed by a cast of hugely talented performers and puppets, Avenue Q is the musical like no other.

So don’t let your life suck - book your tickets today!
If I get my skates on I can pop along and get to the matinee this afternoon.
A short walk East
It is Sophie's birthday party this evening.
North, South, East, West; our Sarf London is the best.

Friday, August 29, 2014


A short walk North:
On Saturday 30th August, to celebrate the launch of the new Moët Hennessy sparkling wine, which launched in May this year, Chandon will be taking over Tooting Bec Lido in South London to create the most extravagant lido experience Londoners could ask for.
Chandon strives to make everyday experiences extraordinary and their first event in London will be sure to do just that, as the new sparkling wine brand will be taking over the iconic public lido and creating the ultimate pool party.

Londoners who head to Tooting Bec Lido to attend the event will enjoy synchronised swimming performances, DJ performances, vintage style waitresses offering poolside service, pool volleyball matches, ultimate grilled cheese sandwiches sold from a vintage ‘cheese truck’, ice cream and cookie sandwiches and of course, plenty of Chandon.
A short walk South:
Sambrook's and the National Trust are pleased to present Beer by the River 2014! Following the success of last year, this year's event promises to be bigger and better - more music, more food and more beer!
This year's event will continue our celebration of beer, food and music, with local food producers, entertainers and craft brewers from around the UK...........
Duncan Sambrook, founder of Sambrook's, comments:
"I am thrilled to be back at Morden Hall Park for our second year with Beer by the River, and our Home Brew competition will add to the excitement of the whole event. For those interested in beer, Beer by the River really is a must visit event for 2014"
This is no place to live if you are teetotal.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


The Bomber has done the ice bucket challenge, as has Chris Howell who has nominated me. This adds up to near irresistible peer pressure.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


What better way could there be to celebrate the fact that Prince is set to release two albums on 29 September, one with girl group 3rdEyeGirl and another solo record, than to share very Prince hairstyle from 1978 to 2013 with s a single handy animated gif? It would also appear that Prince has been trying to grow a moustache since 1978

Looking at the papers this morning after last night's first Kate Bush gig for thirty five years, it struck me that you wouldn't need to animate her gif as she has had essentially the same cut for all those years.

Rod Steward - similarly conservative - has a haircut that is actually older than his wife.

1. "4 2 B WITCH U" is a song that I wrote in the style of Minneapolis' finest purple person.
2. I wonder if they remastered the version of Kate Bush's The Kick Inside that is charting at the moment? I remember trying it again on my original vinyl a while back and finding it almost unlistenably stingy with the low frequency information known to the world as bass.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

North Atlantic Tweety Organisation

It seems to me that this message from out masters implies that they do not have a very high opinion of members of the public's attention spans.

Monday, August 25, 2014

close call

I was just walking out the door to the quiz, when I remembered I  hadn't written anything here today.

That is rare enough an event to serve as today's post.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

this kind of thing is my punch bag baby

I went to Bikram Yoga this morning. Facebook has told me that Floyd Mayweather did it this week as well in the run up to his rematch with Marcos Maidana in three weeks time, thus confirming once more its unlikely badassery,

The 8am Sunday session won't be an option for me once the rugby season starts again in a fortnight as I will have duties getting the Bomber to 10 o'clock kick offs.

He's still asleep at the moment. In two weeks time he will have waking up duties as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

making good

When I went home yesterday lunchtime I was astounded to find the Bomber repairing his jeans with needle and thread. He learned to sew when they were doing fabrics in art apparently. This is all to the good as far as I am concerned. I certainly can't do it.

I can, however, do chicken and sweetcorn quesadillas, so that is what we had. This morning - my Riverford fruit and veg box having delivered blueberries - we will have them in pancakes served with bacon and maple syrup. It will be as if he is still at IHOP in Orlando.

Friday, August 22, 2014

round house

Ever since the Bomber did it I have thought it would be a good idea for more girls to learn muay Thai.

Quite seriously, this sort of thing would have taken the spring out of the step of the guy I tried when I was on jury service in very short order.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tim Vine

“I’ve decided to sell my hoover... well, it was just collecting dust.”
Tim Vine has won the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award in Edinburgh for the second time and talks here about the work that goes in to polishing his one liners.

Back in the day when there used to be comedy in G-Js (and when G-J's was even open) he was one of the comedians who came along testing new material away from the spotlights and television cameras.

He was great even though all he did was read through a huge pile of jokes (in a notebook or on cards? I can't remember) ticking ones that went well, occasionally jotting a comment on efforts that could have gone better, and drawing a line through the failures.

"Exit signs, they're on the way out."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Ben and Rayburn
The Bomber is back from  Florida and sleeping the sleep of the just after flying through the night to Heathrow. I will have to stock up on fun size confectionery, mango juice, Weetabix chocolate chip crispy minis and the other cornerstones of a nutritious breakfast that I don't really have much call for when he is away.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Whisper it from the mountain tops

We are pleased to announce Whispersync for Voice, a new way to enjoy your Kindle books.

You can now read a Kindle book and pick up exactly where you left off with the professionally narrated audiobook from Audible. With more than 25,000 audio companions to choose from, you’ll never have to put a good book down.
Nice one Amazon. I used to dream of a service like this when the Bomber was small and I read him Harry Potter when he went to bed. Nowadays we could carry on in the car on a long journey, driving down to Wales perhaps.
Got a Kindle Fire HD or an Android device? If so, you can also read and listen simultaneously with real-time highlighting. It's called Immersion Reading and that's what it does: Immerse you in a story by narrating and highlighting the text as you read. It sparks an extra connection that boosts engagement, comprehension, and retention, taking you deeper into the book.
That would have been handy when he was learning to read.

My Dad left his reading glasses at home this weekend when he came up to visit me, and picked up an off the shelf replacement in Sainsburys. I fooled around with them as well and was surprised to see that they sharpened up my vision. Whispersync couldn't come too soon.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Congestion Charge

I went online this morning to pay the Congestion Charge after taking my Mum and Dad to Paddington on Sunday yesterday so that they could take the train back to Cardiff.

However, not only is "the Congestion Charge is an £11.50 daily charge for driving a vehicle within the charging zone between 07:00 and 18:00, Monday to Friday" it turns out that by crossing at Vauxhall Bridge and driving on the edge of Hyde Park I stayed exactly on the border and wouldn't even have been liable for it on a weekday.

The charge was introduced on 17 February 2003, which gives an indication that surprises even me of how often I drive into town.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

sixes and sevens

My Mum and Dad were up visiting me in London this weekend so I took them along to the first day of the World Club 7s at Twickenham on Saturday, thinking that Dan Fish (my father's sister's great grandson) might be turning out for the Cardiff Blues after he  got six tries for them at Stoop last week in the Premiership Rugby Sevens.

As it happens he wasn't. He played for the Blues "proper" 15 man side against Exeter on Friday and Cardiff  put a more junior side out at Twickenham.

Not all the teams are familiar so here is a breakdown of where they are from:
Auckland Blues - New Zealand
Vodacom Blue Bulls - South Africa
DHL Western Province - South Africa
Buenos Aires - Argentina
NSW Waratahs - Australia
New York - USA
Seattle - USA
Cardiff Blues - Wales
Kuban Krasnodar - Russia
RC Enisei – Russia
Gloucester – England
Harlequins – England

It was a great day. At first i thought Cardiff might be hopeless as they got beaten by Buenos Aires in their first game, but I wasn't giving enough credit to the Argentinians who went on the win the whole thing today. while Cardiff won the plate.

The real revelation for me though was seeing two Russian teams and two teams of Yanks playing wonderfully expansive and entertaining games and doing very well overall. If you had told me that a few years ago I would have thought you were off your head.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A froward man soweth strife

Appeal typeCrime
Incident Date11/08/2014
Incident LocationKings Road, SW19
DescriptionDetectives investigating a violent aggravated burglary in Wimbledon which left a man with significant facial injuries, have today, Friday 15 August, released new CCTV images of an outstanding suspect fleeing the scene.
The footage, taken about a minute after the attack, depicts a panicked suspect fleeing through Wimbledon Theatre car park, at a point where he is removing surgical gloves which were worn during the crime.
This is the last moment he is picked up on CCTV.
Anyone with information is urged to call the incident room on 020 8649 3159; Or if you with to remain anonymous call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
That is too close to home. I must have parked in the Theatre car park a thousand times myself. There are more horrible details in the Telegraph here if your stomach is strong enough.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Tragic Gift that Keeps on Giving

The conflict in Iraq started a century ago. One hundred years ago on June 28, to be exact. So did the civil war in Syria. Along with Russia's dismemberment of Ukraine. The bloody collapse of Yugoslavia. The disastrous Soviet experiment. And the enduring fight between Israelis and Palestinians.
All of these conflicts, and much more, grew out of World War I.
This is a very provocative piece, but I think that there is a lot to be said for it.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

put your lips together and blow

Hearing of the death of Lauren Bacall yesterday took me back thirty odd years to an afternoon I bunked off from Chemical Engineering in Uni to catch a double bill of Angels With Dirty Faces and To Have And Have Not that the American Studies department were putting on.

Also dislodged is a memory of Burt - a friend from when I lived in Whitton, who worked at Heathrow airport with VIPs - telling me she was the friendliest and most charming celebrity he ever escorted.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

So that is what Vine is for....

"The Best Cross What Has Ever Been Done In Wales"

Intellectually I know that the world's most expensive player, Cardiffian Gareth Bale, turned out for Real Madrid in a cup final in Cardiff City's ground yesterday, but I still find it difficult to believe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The darkness drops again

This is appalling. Part three is out now, but I can't bring myself to watch it yet.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Monday, August 11, 2014

This Sort of Thing Is My Bulgarian Bag Baby


The Bulgarian Bag was invented by Ivan Ivanov at around 2005. Ivanov, a former Bulgarian Greco-Roman Olympic athlete, was working as a U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling coach at the Olympic training center in Marquette, Michigan and was looking for a training tool that would allow his wrestlers to improve explosive actions and dynamic movements involved in pushing, twisting, swinging, pulling, bending, rotating, squatting, lunging, and throwing.
Ivanov was inspired by the tradition of shepherds performing strength acts with sheep and goats on street fairs in his native Bulgaria. The shepherds were often forced to carry lambs and weak sheep around their shoulders when they were wandering with their herds, and were showing off their strength at festivals. Ivanov based the design of his tool on the body of an ovine and saw its use as a modern interpretation of the old tradition.
That is last week's Virgin Active mystery solved then John. "Ivanov was inspired by the tradition of shepherds performing strength acts with sheep and goats on street fairs in his native Bulgaria." Obvious really, in hindsight.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

pot plants and crisp packets could be spying on you

When sound hits an object, it causes small vibrations of the object’s surface. We show how, using only high-speed video of the object, we can extract those minute vibrations and partially recover the sound that produced them, allowing us to turn everyday objects—a glass of water, a potted plant, a box of tissues, or a bag of chips—into visual microphones. We recover sounds from highspeed footage of a variety of objects with different properties, and use both real and simulated data to examine some of the factors that affect our ability to visually recover sound. We evaluate the quality of recovered sounds using intelligibility and SNR metrics and provide input and recovered audio samples for direct comparison. We also explore how to leverage the rolling shutter in regular consumer cameras to recover audio from standard frame-rate videos, and use the spatial resolution of our method to visualize how sound-related vibrations vary over an object’s surface, which we can use to recover the vibration modes of an object.
"Allowing us to turn everyday objects—a glass of water, a potted plant, a box of tissues, or a bag of chips—into visual microphones." This is the age of Dr Strabismus.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

"We will raise the flag of Allah in the White House"

VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.

"Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible."
Lord Salisbury 1887

Friday, August 08, 2014

The Gower

I was sorry to hear that the Gower has closed. I often went there with Sean. I remember the first time distinctly. It was for a crafty under-age pint after the family had moved to Penylan. I got lost on the way home and left my sheet music to the Doors' Light My Fire behind never to be recovered. When would that have been? 1977? 

A huge building for a local boozer, with a snooker room and a skittle alley. We shall not see its like again.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

on top of old smokey

Chef and writer Amy Thielen recommends pickle juice and vodka shooters "to kick off a party"
Typical that I would have to come across this beguiling notion just after finishing off the Pitt Cue inspired pickled sausage that John brought up last weekend and pouring away the brine. What a waste.

Another find in Haute dogs, fried pickles and savoury doughnuts: how Britain fell in love with midwestern food, may well be Swansea's The Smoke Haus.

One for the to-do list next time I get down to Skewen.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

One star is “eek!”

The Bomber called me on Facetime (his iPod to my iPad) yesterday afternoon. He was wearing a plain white t-shirt with an intricate pattern on the arms, and - for a moment - I thought he might have got a Polynesian half sleeve tattoo! Never a good look on a thirteen year old.

He gave me a tour of the apartment in Florida that they are staying in and even ventured out to the pool. It was the first time I have ever really got the potential of video conferencing. Apple's Facetime being free, it also caused me to brood darkly later on about the amount of money the Burglar and I pay for the company's various telecom needs. I bet it is not too far short of a grand a quarter if you include mobiles, which seems a lot in the age of Skype etc.
One star is “eek!”
Two is “meh.”
Three is “A-OK!”
Four is “Yay!”
Five is “Woohoo!”
As we young people say.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Inlay, inlay, lay across my big brass bed

To the dentist yesterday, for what I thought would be a bog-standard filling replacement but Caroline O (curator of my Hollywood smile) found a crack in the tooth so I have to go back in a fortnight, have an inlay fitted and be relieved of, just shy of, five hundred notes.

Watcha gonna do?

We won the quiz in the evening though. The prize is a fifty quid bar tab. All I have to do is triumph ten weeks in a row and refuse to share the money with the team to cover the repair to my molar.

Though I will have to take it in drink.


Monday, August 04, 2014

Tom's Fantastic Floating Home

The man-cave has a new presiding deity. When I was looking for the episode I missed last night in Now TV's 4OD, I noticed that YouTube is now available on the little white box; easily the best net fiver I ever spent - see Icons passim.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

phoning it in

Last night when my brother arrived we were due to go to the launch of Janette Mason's album D'Ranged at the Hideaway. Phil who played on my stuff in the 80s (the EIGHTIES!) is in the band.

We probably did go and we are probably off to Borough Market today, but I am teeing this up on Friday in  case things get messy and I can't get to grips with the interwebs.

Friday, August 01, 2014

getting a handle on it

I usually go to yoga on the weekends, but I bowled up at 6:30am  this morning as my brother is coming up tonight and staying until Sunday.

I've been 284 times now - see Icons passim - without ever feeling the need of a strabismo-mat that would talk to me.

Fingers crossed John and I will be hitting the gym tomorrow. The new plates they have got there have handles: Strabismic on the surface, but a genuinely useful innovation. I wonder that no one thought of it before.
Tomorrow's session - if it happens after the drinks planned tonight - is more likely to resemble Daniel Genis's Barbells Behind Bars, 10 Years of Prison Weightlifting than yoga etiquette.