Saturday, December 31, 2016

Gin and tonic

The drink of millions worldwide, but it would not exist had it not been for Edinburgh-born George Cleghorn, an 18th-century doctor who discovered that quinine could cure malaria. The quinine was drunk in tonic water, but it was so bitter that gin was added to make it more palatable. Bottoms up!
Dry January starts tomorrow, but if I contract malaria I am going to release myself from it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Rogue Tacos

Ben and I went to the Wimbledon Odeon last night to see Rogue One, and good stuff it was too. Jonnie's Uncle Simon worked on it: 'Star Wars: Rogue One' Enlists Renowned Stunt Coordinator for Reshoots.

As usual we had the set meal for two in Wahaca downstairs afterwards. It always make me smile when I'm reminded that it includes three pork pibil tacos. Two or four might reduce the stress of fighting over the last one.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

How to eat a burrito

The Wrong Way
Remove the foil of the burrito all the way before eating.

The Right Way
Unwrap a bit, eat a bit, unwrap some more, eat some more, repeat.
I made some for a Boxing Day party. We could have done with this handy guide.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Light my way

The Lifx Colour 1000 11W B22 LED Light Bulb would appear to be what is required for Ben's room to go with the Echo Dot, and I can pick one up from the Tandem Centre.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Brother Urban Murray had the initials BUM on his briefcase. I still consider that the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Six To Eight Black Men by David Sedaris

After a three year hiatus, the Yule Yarn is back.

I've never been much for guidebooks, so when trying to get my bearings in a strange American city, I normally start by asking the cab driver or hotel clerk some silly question regarding the latest census figures. I say silly because I don't really care how many people live in Olympia, Washington, or Columbus, Ohio. They're nice enough places, but the numbers mean nothing to me. My second question might have to do with average annual rainfall, which, again, doesn't tell me anything about the people who have chosen to call this place home.

What really interests me are the local gun laws. Can I carry a concealed weapon, and if so, under what circumstances? What's the waiting period for a tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were recently divorced or fired from my job? I've learned from experience that it's best to lead into this subject as delicately as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and enclosed in a relatively small space. Bide your time, though, and you can walk away with some excellent stories. I've heard, for example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but still, it seems a bit risky. You wouldn't want a blind person driving a car or piloting a plane, so why hand him a rifle? What sense does that make? I ask about guns not because I want one of my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state. In a country that's become so homogenous, I'm reassured by these last touches of regionalism.

Guns aren't really an issue in Europe, so when I'm traveling abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals. "What do your roosters say?" is a good icebreaker, as every country has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the rooster greets the dawn with a hearty "kik-a-ricki." Greek roosters crow "kiri-a- kee," and in France they scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label. When told that an American rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo," my hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

"When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good conversation starter as it explains a lot about national character. People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit more pious and family oriented than those who wait until Christmas morning. They go to mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. It's nothing I'd want for myself, but I suppose it's fine for those who prefer food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while in Holland the children receive presents on December 5, in celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. It sounded sort of quaint until I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy. The outfit, I was told, is a carryover from his former career, when he served as a bishop in Turkey.

One doesn't want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this seemed completely wrong to me. For starters, Santa didn't use to do anything. He's not retired, and, more important, he has nothing to do with Turkey. The climate's all wrong, and people wouldn't appreciate him. When asked how he got from Turkey to the North Pole, Oscar told me with complete conviction that Saint Nicholas currently resides in Spain, which again is simply not true. While he could probably live wherever he wanted, Santa chose the North Pole specifically because it is harsh and isolated. No one can spy on him, and he doesn't have to worry about people coming to the door. Anyone can come to the door in Spain, and in that outfit, he'd most certainly be recognized. On top of that, aside from a few pleasantries, Santa doesn't speak Spanish. He knows enough to get by, but he's not fluent, and he certainly doesn't eat tapas.

While our Santa flies on a sled, Saint Nicholas arrives by boat and then transfers to a white horse. The event is televised, and great crowds gather at the waterfront to greet him. I'm not sure if there's a set date, but he generally docks in late November and spends a few weeks hanging out and asking people what they want.

"Is it just him alone?" I asked. "Or does he come with backup?"

Oscar's English was close to perfect, but he seemed thrown by a term normally reserved for police reinforcement.

"Helpers," I said. "Does he have any elves?"

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but I couldn't help but feel personally insulted when Oscar denounced the very idea as grotesque and unrealistic. "Elves," he said. "They're just so silly."

The words silly and unrealistic were redefined when I learned that Saint Nicholas travels with what was consistently described as "six to eight black men." I asked several Dutch people to narrow it down, but none of them could give me an exact number. It was always "six to eight," which seems strange, seeing as they've had hundreds of years to get a decent count.

The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves until the mid-fifties, when the political climate changed and it was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good friends. I think history has proven that something usually comes between slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by cookies and quiet times beside the fire but by bloodshed and mutual hostility. They have such violence in Holland, but rather than duking it out among themselves, Santa and his former slaves decided to take it out on the public. In the early years, if a child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men would beat him with what Oscar described as "the small branch of a tree."

"A switch?"

"Yes," he said. "That's it. They'd kick him and beat him with a switch. Then, if the youngster was really bad, they'd put him in a sack and take him back to Spain."

"Saint Nicholas would kick you?"

"Well, not anymore," Oscar said. "Now he just pretends to kick you."

"And the six to eight black men?"

"Them, too."

He considered this to be progressive, but in a way I think it's almost more perverse than the original punishment. "I'm going to hurt you, but not really." How many times have we fallen for that line? The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain, old- fashioned fear. What kind of Santa spends his time pretending to kick people before stuffing them into a canvas sack? Then, of course, you've got the six to eight former slaves who could potentially go off at any moment. This, I think, is the greatest difference between us and the Dutch. While a certain segment of our population might be perfectly happy with the arrangement, if you told the average white American that six to eight nameless black men would be sneaking into his house in the middle of the night, he would barricade the doors and arm himself with whatever he could get his hands on.

"Six to eight, did you say?"

In the years before central heating, Dutch children would leave their shoes by the fireplace, the promise being that unless they planned to beat you, kick you, or stuff you into a sack, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men would fill your clogs with presents. Aside from the threats of violence and kidnapping, it's not much different from hanging your stockings from the mantel. Now that so few people have a working fireplace, Dutch children are instructed to leave their shoes beside the radiator, furnace, or space heater. Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men arrive on horses, which jump from the yard onto the roof. At this point, I guess, they either jump back down and use the door, or they stay put and vaporize through the pipes and electrical wires. Oscar wasn't too clear about the particulars, but, really, who can blame him? We have the same problem with our Santa. He's supposed to use the chimney, but if you don't have one, he still manages to come through. It's best not to think about it too hard.

While eight flying reindeer are a hard pill to swallow, our Christmas story remains relatively simple. Santa lives with his wife in a remote polar village and spends one night a year traveling around the world. If you're bad, he leaves you coal. If you're good and live in America, he'll give you just about anything you want. We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed, where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his children, "Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things together before you go to bed. The former bishop from Turkey will be coming along with six to eight black men. They might put some candy in your shoes, they might stuff you in a sack and take you to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don't know for sure, but we want you to be prepared."

This is the reward for living in Holland. As a child you get to hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs and prostitution—so what's not to love about being Dutch?

Oscar finished his story just as we arrived at the station. He was a polite and interesting guy—very good company—but when he offered to wait until my train arrived, I begged off, saying I had some calls to make. Sitting alone in the vast terminal, surrounded by other polite, seemingly interesting Dutch people, I couldn't help but feel second-rate. Yes, it was a small country, but it had six to eight black men and a really good bedtime story. Being a fairly competitive person, I felt jealous, then bitter, and was edging toward hostile when I remembered the blind hunter tramping off into the Michigan forest. He might bag a deer, or he might happily shoot his sighted companion in the stomach. He may find his way back to the car, or he may wander around for a week or two before stumbling through your front door. We don't know for sure, but in pinning that license to his chest, he inspires the sort of narrative that ultimately makes me proud to be an American.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

101 Fun Things to ask

See if you can guess what I have just got for Ben as a last minute Christmas present.

Alexa, how old is Santa Claus?
Alexa, can I tell you a secret?
Alexa, what’s the magic word?
Alexa, do you smoke?
Alexa, are you smoking?
Alexa, what is your favorite food?
Alexa, what is your favorite drink?
Alexa, are you hungry/thirsty?
Alexa, what is your feature?
Alexa, do you have any pets?
Alexa, who is your best friend?
Alexa, what religion are you?
Alexa, are you God?
Alexa, are you evil?
Alexa, what language do you speak?
Alexa, am I funny?
Alexa, can I tell you a joke?
Alexa, what is happiness?
Alexa, what size shoe do you wear?
Alexa, what makes you happy?
Alexa, are you working?
Alexa, heads or tails?
Alexa, random number between “x” and “y”.
Alexa, what number are you thinking of?
Alexa, count by ten.
Alexa, rock, paper, scissors.
Alexa, random fact
Alexa, what is the meaning of life?
Alexa, when is the end of the world?
Alexa, when am I going to die?
Alexa, is there a Santa?
Alexa, make me a sandwich.
Alexa, what is the best tablet?
Alexa, mac or pc?
Alexa, where do babies come from?
Alexa, can you give me some money? (ask twice)
Alexa, how do I get rid of a dead body?
Alexa, I think you’re funny.
Alexa, where are my keys? (ask two times)
Alexa, testing 1-2-3
Alexa, I’m home.
Alexa, see you later alligator.
Alexa, thank you.
Alexa, good night.
Alexa, sing me a song.
Alexa, tell me a story.
Alexa, do you have any brothers or sisters?
Alexa, what are you going to do today?
Alexa, where do you live?
Alexa, where are you from?
Alexa, do you have a boyfriend?
Alexa, do you have a girlfriend?
Alexa, how much do you weigh?
Alexa, what is your favorite color?
Alexa, what color are your eyes?
Alexa, will you marry me?
Alexa, are you in love?
Alexa, how tall are you?
Alexa, what are you wearing?
Alexa, do you believe in god?
Alexa, do you believe in ghosts?
Alexa, are you lying?
Alexa, do you want to fight?
Alexa, do you want to play a game?
Alexa, give me a hug.
Alexa, tell me a joke.
Alexa, Simon says + words you want Echo to repeat.
Alexa, high five!
Alexa, flip a coin.
Alexa, roll the dice.
Alexa, give me a kiss
Alexa, clap
Alexa, tell me a secret
Alexa, show me the t.v.
Alexa, you’re fat
Alexa, you hurt me
Alexa, I’m hungry
Alexa, you rock
Alexa, not everything is a question
Alexa, are you tired?
Alexa, do you have a brain/heart?
Alexa, do you have a lover?
Alexa, do you want to go on a date?
Alexa, do you have any relatives?
Alexa, do you have a job?
Alexa, are you human?
Alexa, can you dance?
Alexa, did you miss me?
Alexa, can you pass the Turing test?
Alexa, what’s your middle/last name?
Alexa, what’s your sign?
Alexa, are you my friend?
Alexa, do you sleep?
Alexa, does everyone poop?
Alexa, I have a cold / the flu.
Alexa, when is your birthday?
Alexa, why did the chicken cross the road?
Alexa, what’s black and white and red all over?
Alexa, is your refrigerator running?
Alexa, do you have Prince Albert in a can?
Alexa, how old are you?

There's a pop culture version as well.

Friday, December 23, 2016

My Christmas turkey

The Bomber and  I rented Suicide Squad last night. We both agree with the review in the Wall Street Journal:
In a word, “Suicide Squad” is trash. In two words, it’s ugly trash. Maybe no more words should be wasted on a movie that is, after all, only a movie, not a natural disaster or a terrorist attack. Still, movies contribute to the collective awareness. They can color the way we feel about the life around us. This one deserves further attention by virtue of its exceptional cynicism and startling ineptitude. “Suicide Squad” amounts to an all-out attack on the whole idea of entertainment.
Almost everyone I meet lately seems to be in show business or have exalted entertainment industry relatives. What a lucky break that none of them was involved.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

More showbiz pals

We won the quiz in the Sultan the night before last. Rebecca was in our team. Her uncle won an Oscar for art direction on Great Expectations in 1948 and did the same job on The African Queen and many other movies over a distinguished career. Small world.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Randall & Hopkirk; degrees of separation

We won the quiz in the Sultan last night. Kenneth Cope's daughter was there. Ollie's cousin Guy is Mike Pratt's son. Randall's son and Hopkirk's daughter. Small world.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dates Night

It was pretty much the same in our house.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016


It turns out that I am on nodding terms with Ivor Heller from "around." I had no idea he was such a world historic figure.

Friday, December 16, 2016

I’ll drink to that

As promised (Icons passim) I managed to catch the NT Live version of No Man's Land last night. The HMV Curzon was sold out so I went to the Odeon. Don't worry you can still buy a bottle of wine at the multiplex that they will tip into a plastic decanter for you to park in your cinema seat's cup holder.

Prodnose: Well, you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer.

Patrick Stewart appeared to have based his performance (alcohol loosened tongue, mood swings and disconcerting non-sequiturs) on my father.

Prodnose: If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don't.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq

I watched The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq on Amazon Prime last night. It is absolutely hilarious. I am too busy to write more this morning, but Peter Bradshaw of the Grauniard explains above.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Now Open – AWS London Region

Jeff Barr
Last week we launched our 15th AWS Region and today we are launching our 16th. We have expanded the AWS footprint into the United Kingdom with a new Region in London, our third in Europe. AWS customers can use the new London Region to better serve end-users in the United Kingdom and can also use it to store data in the UK.
Nor rush but I guess it would be prudent for us to look at migrating all our AWS properties from Ireland to London; Brexit?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

reflections on Brian Moore's weekend

The Brian Moore column published in the Telegraph yesterday began with the following paragraph (my italics):
On Friday I was sat, unexpectedly, next to England coach Eddie Jones at a Rugby Football Union charity lunch. We had a long chat, confidential in terms of players, about our philosophies and the technicalities of rugby. On Saturday I watched the elite European clubs battling in Europe and on Sunday watched Wimbledon Warriors v Old Ruts under-nines.
Sunday surely was his highlight.

Monday, December 12, 2016

reflections on this weekend

If it's true that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time, I can only apologise if I am one of them.

The maximum you will be able to get for any particular virtue is eighty percent.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

My two souths

My Two Souths takes you on a culinary journey with Chef Asha Gomez, from her small village in the Kerala region of southern India to her celebrated restaurants in Atlanta, and on into your kitchen. Her singular recipes are rooted in her love of Deep-South cooking, as well as the Southern Indian flavors of her childhood home. These "Two Souths" that are close to her heart are thousands of miles apart, yet share similarities in traditions, seasonings, and most importantly, an abiding appreciation of food as both celebration and comfort
I am not entirely sure that this woman isn't me.

Thursday, December 08, 2016


Bohemian Rhapsody as a dark crime action movie; works for me.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

To be or not to be?

Paapa Essiedu, Tim Minchin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Harriet Walter, David Tennant, Rory Kinnear, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, and HRH the Prince of Wales.

Paapa Essiedu comes into the coffee shop on his way to work apparently. Frankie got a bit of a shock regarding the company he keeps when she looked him up.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Once upon a time long ago

Once upon a time long ago, two boys born in the same city in the same year grew up as neighbours - one at number four Angelina Street in the old Tiger Bay area of Cardiff, the other at number seven.
They made it together into the same Cardiff schoolboy rugby team of the late 1940s and then they went their separate ways.
The boy at number four - the late Joe Erskine - became heavyweight champion of Britain and the Empire, a stylist whose ring career included victories over three world title contenders - Willie Pastrano, Henry Cooper, George Chuvalo.
And what became of the boy at number seven Angelina Street? Well, how long have you got because we are talking about the greatest try-scorer in rugby history - union and league - 571 touchdowns in 562 matches.
His name is Billy Boston.
His mother, Nellie, was Cardiff-Irish, his father, John all five feet four inches of him, was a merchant seaman from Sierra Leone. They had 11 children and Billy came smack in the middle.
My father talks about Joe Erskine and Billy Boston all the time. When Ben was little and we were back in Cardiff I used to take him down to the Cardiff Central Youth Club with his cousins to do free running. When I was wandering around there once I came across an old wooden board showing captains (or something similar) from back in the 40s and 50s. It showed J Browne and W Boston in successive years. I took a photo but I have mislaid it over the years.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Article 50 and the Supreme Court

In addition to the 11 judges, there are 55 barristers and other lawyers, including 26 QCs, representing the 14 parties in the case.

There are so many lawyers, in fact, that there is not room for all of them in court - some are having to follow proceedings via videolink in another part of the building.

Justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done believed.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

why alcohol makes us feel good, then doesn’t

If someone offered you a glass of mild poison, you’d decline. If they said “drink this, it’ll make it harder to walk, speak and remember things, and you’ll feel awful tomorrow”, you’d be even less keen. If they expected payment for it, you might even get annoyed at their audacity. You certainly wouldn’t be grateful for it, then buy yourself and them several more doses over the course of an evening. Nonetheless, this happens all the time.
To be borne in mind after the weekend I've had and with Dry January on the horizon.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

God! Show Me Magic

The Super Furry Animals are on tour celebrating 20 years of Fuzzy Logic. Man we are getting old.

Friday, December 02, 2016

back fill

Didn't get round to writing anything here on Friday what with going to Wales and all.

Making up for it now.

Also the Bomber didn't make the Surrey squad; bad grumf,

Thursday, December 01, 2016

First World Problems II

We host regular four course wine dinners throughout the year, assisted by Daniel O'Keefe of Hallgarten Wines.
I have laid out my dinner suit, dress shirt and bow tie but I can't seem to find cuff links.

Update: Relax, I found them, hidden in the inlaid wooden box, with my half hunter gold fob watch.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First World Problems

The Echo in the kitchen wasn't responding when I got in yesterday and its rim glowed red as opposed to blue. It looks like the cleaners had pressed the microphone-off button to stop it eavesdropping on them.

The original Echo lives in the kitchen now. I Black-Fridayed an Echo Dot for the bedroom along with a dimmable Hive bulb.

I can now ease myself into the day by murmuring "Alexa bedroom light 10%" when I wake up.

Unfortunately the lamp shade won't fit over the new bulb which, with all its magical extras is deeper than standard.

Into each life a little rain must fall.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Every Newspaper Analysis of Everything for the next four years

Trump, Trump Trump, Trump Trump Trump. Trump Trump Trump.


Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump; Trump Trump, Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump trump Trump Trump.

(Trump Trump, Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump.)

Trump Trump Trump: Trump, Trump Trump, Trump Trump Trump Trump? Trump!

Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump/Trump/Trump.

[Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump.]

Trump Trump Trump-Trump Trump Trump. Trump Trump Trump Trump…Trump.

Trump Trump?

Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump #Trump.

Trump Trump Trump Trump, Trump Trump Trump Trump(!). TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP. Trump Trump Trump Trump; Trump Trump Trump; Trump Trump Trump; Trump Trump Trump Trump. Trump—Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump, Trump Trump Trump Trump—Trump Trump Trump.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Types of Ethical Theory

You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound.
"Jeeves Takes Charge" is a short story written by P. G. Wodehouse. It was first published in the United States in The Saturday Evening Post on 18 November 1916, and in the United Kingdom in the April 1923 edition of Strand Magazine. Its first book publication was in Carry on, Jeeves in 1925.

I've been meaning to dig this up for ages. Now you are as well informed as I am.

To my surprise and delight Types of Ethical Theory appears to be a real book; "a synthesis of the lifelong thinking of British theologian philosopher James Martineau (1805-1900), this astonishing work, written when he was 80 and published in 1885, continues to offer important insight into the borderlands between faith and reason."
The postulate or common understanding involved in speech is certainly co-extensive, in the obligation it carries, with the social organism of which language is the instrument, and the ends of which it is an effort to subserve.
All perfectly true, no doubt; but not the sort of thing to spring on a lad with a morning head.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hold your breath

I am just back from the second assessment for the U16 Surrey RFU squad.

The Bomber fumbled a high pass that would have out him over in the corner for a try so I will be on tenterhooks until we hear the result.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

the race is not to the SWIFF, nor the battle to the strong,

To the list of civilised events where only I am sufficiently belligerent to have a barney we may now add the South West London International Film Festival.

Friday, November 25, 2016

How not to speak like Richard Burton

Dan Fish starts at full back for the Blues tonight, away at Connacht.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

How to speak like Richard Burton

Concerning my Richard Burton impersonation - A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases.

I will, however, still listen to How Richard Burton Got His Voice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Final Comment on the US Presidential Election


If Donald J. Trump played cricket, imagine his reaction on being given out leg before wicket.

I have the honour to remain, Your Royal Highness's most humble and obedient servant.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


This looks like just the job for me but it doesn't (like many ECHO skills) seem to be available in the UK yet.

Monday, November 21, 2016

the student has become the master

Ben made the cut in the Surrey U16 trials yesterday before lunch and didn't have to take part in the blood and thunder elimination matches in the afternoon.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

desparate men

I very much enjoyed last night's Bonzos gig. A special shout out to guests desparate men; a new favourite in the Browne household.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


Ben has to go for a CRY heart test today. It is compulsory at the London Broncos which is very impressive.

From the website
Screening Means Having
An Electrocardiogram (ECG), which looks at the electrical conduction pathways around the heart. Small stickers known as electrodes are placed on the client’s chest and the wires connect to an ECG machine whilst you lie still.
A printout of the heart’s electrical activity is obtained for evaluation by the cardiologist. This test is painless, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes to perform.
An Echocardiogram (Echo) is an ultrasound test (such as offered to pregnant women) which looks at the structure of the heart. From the information provided on screen, measurements are taken which give a guide to muscle thickness and size of the chambers of the heart.
Again, this test is non-invasive and painless; and it takes approximately 20 minutes to perform. The tests are performed with the client lying down on a couch or bed. For both tests clients will need to be undressed to the waist.
The email says the test takes 20 minutes so it looks like the are going the whole hog rather than just an ECG.

Friday, November 18, 2016

1. The Holy Trinity

On this day of days, "Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May start their brand new car show with hundreds of cars, thousands of people, a fire spitting metal scorpion and a squadron of jets in the California desert, plus three amazing hybrid hypercars and a brilliant BMW."

Amazon Prime members, like me, may fill their boots at

I have been waking up to Amazon Alexa's shouting Jeremy Clarkson alarm (Icons passim) for a week now. It emerged last night that my God daughter, who is staying in the spare bedroom, thought that this daily screaming match meant I was going off my head.

I probably haven't helped myself on the mornings when I forgot that I was listening to the news on the radio rather than the Echo and bawled "Alexa stop! Alexa off!" into the ether time and again to no avail.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Rugby Round Up

Ben scored a try for the school yesterday that put me in mind of a quote from Apocalypse Now.
Rated a major success. He received no official clearance. He just thought it up and did it. What balls. They were going to nail his ass to the floorboards for that one. But after the press got a hold of it, they promoted him to full colonel instead.
He's off school today though, aching all over. Maybe a game and Broncos training is too much one after the other. He's also been offered a trial for the Surrey Development squad on Sunday; Jonny too. They've apparently relented after last year's fiasco (Icons passim). I wonder if he will want to do it.

Kevin is in town, so I went out for a drink with him after work. He's something to do with the Hong Kong RFU so I ended up meeting Trevor Gregory who represents Asia on the World Rugby Council as well as Dennis Dwyer, who does the same for Rugby Americas North. Small world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Simple pleasures are often the best

"Hey, hi, I'm Jason Momoa. I like beer and throwing tomahawks."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Alternative Christmas Jumpers

I've already started thinking about giving up booze again for Dry January 2017. That must mean it is OK for you to start thinking about Christmas. Solve all your dilemmas about presents at

Monday, November 14, 2016

Leon Russell

Yet another musical great gone. They're dropping like nine pins. I didn't even realise he wrote this, Donny Hathaway's has always been my go-to version.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Undiscovered Peter Cook

Following the death of Britain’s greatest satirist in 1995, Peter Cook’s widow Lin locked the door of his Hampstead house, and refused all access to the media. Until this year, when she invited her friend Victor Lewis-Smith and a BBC crew inside, to make a documentary about the man she knew and loved, with unprecedented access to Peter’s private recordings, diaries, letters, photographs, and much more
The result is a fascinating and unique hour of television, that includes Peter performing hitherto unknown comedy sketches, rediscovered interviews, and long-lost footage of Peter performing with his comedy partner Dudley Moore, as well as with Peter Sellers and David Attenborough. There are multiple extracts from Peter’s home videos, as well as Lin’s first televised interview. A major find is The Dead Sea Tapes, an LP recorded by Peter and Dudley in 1963, but never released (due to concerns about blasphemy laws), and long thought lost. Also included are rediscovered classic sketches from Not Only But Also, reconstructed in the edit suite after mute film clips were retrieved from Australia, and reunited with the original audio tracks.
Confirmed for BBC Four on 16 November at 10pm to 11pm. Set your video recorders.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Grand Tour

Amazon's big push of The Grand Tour continues this week thanks to Alexa. The company's voice assistant is doing its bit to promote the new series to Top Gear fans with a new alarm on the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot in the UK. If you want to hear Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May wake you up then a new alarm is available within the Alexa app settings. You can enable it by going to Timers & Alarms in the Alexa App, selecting "Manage alarm volume and default sound" and setting "Grand Tour" as your default alarm sound from the new celebrities section.
Does it work? I set it up last night and I am awake this morning if that helps.

Friday, November 11, 2016

a solemn song of celebration

Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.

One of my all time favourites, see Icons passim,  Leonard Norman Cohen; 21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Dream Day of New Orleans Eating

Dear John, my brother,

I am sorry I can't get bqck for the Wales Japan game in a fortnight.

Read this homage to the Big Easy and remember simpler days.
We break the masking tape holding our sandwiches at bay. Each one rolls out an over-stuffed glorious mess. The duck is so drenched in gravy that it has already passed the limit of its structural integrity. I gaze over at the shrimp, and I know that where I’m going, there won’t be seafood like this. This has to be a full pound of fried shrimp stuffed into twelve inches of bread. I do the math in my head and my heart sinks a little. What would it cost me to make this in the country where I’m headed?

Who says nostalgia isn't what it used to be?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump Pence a bag

Californians voted to approve marijuana for recreational use yesterday. With the success of Proposition 64, nearly 40 million more people will soon be living in a state that has decided to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol rather than treat it like a criminal enterprise.

California’s measure allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants at home. It will also allow state-licensed retailers to sell it to adults.

Although it will be at least a year before the state begins issuing licenses, the measure gives regulators the authority to issue temporary permits to some existing medical marijuana businesses, which will be able to sell weed for recreational use until the formal system comes online. But from today, it is no longer be a crime under state law for adults to possess, transport, purchase or use limited amounts of marijuana. Adults can also begin to grow plants at home.

I didn't find out about this until this morning, and I was astounded. It seems incredibly significant. I guess it was just lost in the sound and fury of Trump v Clinton.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Russia Today

If I can't sleep tonight I may watch Russia Today's coverage of the US Election; Freeview channel 135.

Best to get a range of views. Perhaps I'll mix and match with Qatar's Al Jazeera.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Danny Baker

I have never deliberately watched an episode of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! but I may be persuaded to give it a shot with Danny Baker.

He is also on tour next year. My cup runneth over.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Just relax

"Everybody sit down and be quiet for a second. Now listen up, I'm serious. Listen up! You've got an older gentleman who's supporting his candidate. He's not doing nothing! You don't worry about him. This is what I mean about folks not being focused. First of all, we live in a country that respects free speech. Second of all, it looks like maybe he might have served in our military and we have to respect that. Third of all, he was elderly and we have to respect our elders. And fourth of all, don't boo, vote!"
Obama, we are gonna miss you when you're gone. I can't remember the last time a politician reminded us that  disagreeing with him or her is not the same thing as being wicked.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

A Public Service

If you actually want to read the judgement in R (Miller) -V- Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union before bending my ear about it, it has been published on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website as a convenient PDF file here.

Short of time? Try this convenient summary.

Perhaps the febrile Mail and Telegraph can now go back to the vital issue of Theresa May's footwear.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Thoughts the day after the High Court's momentous Clause 50 ruling

Gareth the rugby gnome will be in my house tomorrow afternoon watching the Wales Australia game, and will probably tie his All Blacks scarf around his neck and take himself off to the Standard in the evening to watch their game against Ireland beamed over from Chicago.

Has any other reader noticed his remarkable resemblance to Mel Gibson's latest incarnation? I wonder if they are, by any chance, related.

"Fxxking Gnomes... the Gnomes are responsible for all the wars in the world. Are you a Gnome?

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Whose Coat is That Jacket?

Welsh Dialect Words with Korean Billy.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A Veritable Boon

There is footage above of Johnnie Boon training a fighter for an upcoming tournament. It is staggering to think that Ben was five and it was over ten years ago that had his first Muay Thai lesson (Icons passim).

I also stumbled on the film below today.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

London Broncos Scholarship

Dear Ben,

Congratulations on your performance during the London Rugby League origin series. I am pleased to say we would like to invite you to spend 7 weeks training on our Scholarship programme up until Christmas with a view to a permanent place in the squad after that point should you have had a successful 'trial' period.

We are asking all new players to 'trial' in this format rather than automatically offering a place so that we can establish if is right for you in terms of commitment/travel etc as much as to see if we feel you will fit into the programme.

The commitment should not be taken lightly and we expect attendance at all sessions pending illness. Whilst understanding there may be other commitments in terms of sport at school and potentially in additional sports this needs to take the priority given the level this represents.

This is the next step on route to becoming a professional rugby league player and you should feel proud of your achievements to have been offered the opportunity.

All gravy, and not so shabby for his first season playing the league code.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Sailors, Ships & Stevedores

I caught a glimpse of  Sailors, Ships & Stevedores: The Story of British Docks, a BBC 4 documentary about how Britain's docks in cities like Liverpool, London and Cardiff were not only commercial portals to the world, but also gateways for the arrival of sounds, styles and cultures.

I must catch up with the whole thing on the iPlayer.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party

Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are teaming up together to throw a dinner party that will be the hottest ticket in town. Each will invite celebrity friends over for a half-baked evening of cocktails, cooking, conversation, and fun where nothing is off limits.
The unlikely pair, who most recently were on ABC's 100,000 Pyramid, have quite a storied history that includes joint appearances on Martha's talk show and the famed Justin Bieber Comedy Central Roast, among others. Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party marks their first co-starring project.
"At our dinner party, we will exemplify America's fascination with food, entertaining, and celebrity. Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party will redesign the traditional food competition shows in a new, different and very funny way," said Stewart.
"My homegirl, Martha and I have a special bond that goes back. We're gonna be cooking, drinking and having a good time with our exclusive friends. Can't wait for you to see how we roll together!" said Snoop Dogg.
I don't ask much, but please God can we get this in the UK.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

keep it in the family

In the evening, we saw the Blues lose to the Scarlets, and Dan Fish came off on a stretcher, but at least in the afternoon I got Ben in a room with his Welsh  cousins and grand parents.

Friday, October 28, 2016

a bad grumf

The Bomber and I are taking advantage of half term to go back to Cardiff today and see family as well as the Blues v Scarlets derby.

Dan Fish is on the bench for the Blues though. Why no start? Base ingratitude from Danny Wilson.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Developing Alexa Skills

This six-part educational playlist will dive into building voice user interfaces using the Alexa Skills Kit. The training materials will teach you about the Alexa skill architecture and interface configuration, slots and utterances, sessions and voice user interfaces, persistence, account linking, and certification and testing.

Also, an embedded playlist which is something I need elsewhere.

All gravy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Tonight, for one night only!

It's that time again ... back at the Comedy Pub in Leicester Square, Mark Marlowe and the gang bring you another variety night featuring the best in London Comedy and Music. THE COCKTAIL HOUR. All done in the worst possible taste.
Guests to include:

The Awkward Silence (Award Winning Comedians and Radio personalities)
The Rudy Vees (Comedy Singing Group)
Women Of An Uncertain Age (Comedy Duo)
Lynsey Bonell (Comedy Performer)
Paul Rhodes (Crooner)

The Great Siegfried (Magician)
Hosted by MARK MARLOWE and his JAZZ BAND
Tickets: £7 on door
Seats/Tables can be booked in advance on: 07970662550
We look forward to seeing you there!
Myself: How bad do you think it's gonna be?

Clemenza: Pretty goddam bad. Probably all the other cabarets will line up against us. That's all right. These things gotta happen...... Helps to get rid of the bad blood. Been nearly a year since the last one. You know, you gotta stop them at the beginning. Like they should have stopped Hitler at Munich, they should never let him get away with that, they was just asking for trouble.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Pickles and Pints

From eggs to onions, pickled snacks have long been a mainstay on all good pub’s back bars. Join us on the 18th November to celebrate this pub snack power pair with a four-course supper club using Hop Back beer and something pickled in every course.
  • Summer Lightning & Cheddar Soup with Pickled Apple & Bacon
  • Smoked Mackerel, Pickled Cucumber, GFB Mustard Mayo & Croutons
  • Guest Beer Braised Beef with Smoked Garlic Mash, GFB Mustard & Beet Pickled Onions
  • Chocolate & Beer Mousse with Sweet Pickled Cranberries
I'd have been all over this event around the corner at the Sultan on November 18th if I wasn't travelling down to Wales for the Japan game on the 19th. I'm sure my ace-pickler brother John would have been as well.

Maybe next time.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Sunday, October 23, 2016


My god daughter has got a job with Yahoo in Shaftesbury Avenue, so she is going to stay with me until she finds her feet.

Her dad is going to bring her up from Cardiff this afternoon.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

It won't last

Wilson’s men had got off to a flier with a super score following the opening line-out of the match. Allen scythed through the Pau midfield after sprinting on to a pass from Shingler and found the slippery Fish for him to put Scully over in the corner.
The Blues beat Pau last night to go top of their group in the European Challenge Cup. As I write the Ospreys and the Dragons top their groups as well.

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Oh, horrible, oh, horrible, most horrible!

We drove through Aberfan before, but on the very day of, the disaster. I am sure I remember being told that; out in the car with Dad, on inspections.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Scarlett Johansson to open gourmet popcorn store in Paris

The actress Scarlett Johansson will be opening her own gourmet popcorn store in Paris later this week. The store, called 'Yummy Pop', will sell treats including popcorn flavoured with Vermont cheddar, truffle, parmesan and sage, to customers.
The popcorn will be cooked and mixed fresh on the premises, using seasonal ingredients, and will be served by Johansson herself at the grand opening.
The store is said to be "a labour of love" between Johansson and her husband, the advertising executive Romain Dauriac.
And to think, that until this story appeared in the Telegraph at 12:55 I was beginning to worry that there might be nothing worth recording for posterity today.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Laying it on the line, time after time after time.

I added an Active Plug to my set up last night.

At first I plugged the multi socket extension that powers the TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Sky Now Box etc. into it with the idea of setting a schedule or program to turn them off when they're not needed.

I had forgotten, however that the Hive hub is is attached to that as well. Every time I turned it off the whole system went offline, which baffled me for a while.

It's working now and seems to be OK.

I can't control it with Alexa though as she (it?) is interpreting "Alexa, Hive turn off my plug" as "Alexa, hi turn off my plug."

It looks like I will have to wait for voice training to be released in the UK, or for the Echo to adapt itself automatically to my dulcet tones, before I can try that out without getting so frustrated I feel like throwing it out the window.

One nice minor touch in it (to end with a whimper) is a manual over-ride switch on the top. So now you know.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Here's Lewis playing for Ealing Trailfinders Academy in a win over the Army academy earlier this week.

He's just turned 19 and Ben was sixteen at the end of last month which means that, early in 2009,when they came to Kitzbühel with us skiing, Ben was eight and he was 11.

Time flies eh? I bumped into him the other week. What a nice guy he was and remains.

Monday, October 17, 2016

curate's egg

I fancied listening to some Diana Kraal yesterday as I was pottering about in the kitchen only to find myself floundering in a senior moment in which I could remember that she was Elvis Costello's wife but couldn't put my finger on her name.

"Alexa, who is Elvis Costello married to?" I asked my Amazon Echo.

"Diana Kraal is the spouse of Elvis Costello" she replied.

You could have knocked me down with a feather.

Later I tried "Alexa put meet Ollie in the pub in my schedule at four o'clock."

She checked if this was four o'clock in the morning or in the afternoon, and then added an appointment called "Volume king of pop" to my Google diary.

Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Read Emily Ratajkowski's essay here

Actually I seem to have misplaced the essay, but if I had it I would post a link to it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The best time to drink champagne is before lunch.

My brother saw Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart in No Man's Land by Harold Pinter, when it was on tour in Cardiff and before it opened in the West End.

I tried to get tickets at the Wyndhams' Theatre based on his review only to find that it was practically sold out, and the few scattered seats still available were eye-wateringly expensive.

The National Theatre Live has come to the rescue though, as it is being broadcast to cinemas on December 15th.

Herewith the skinny,

I'll probably try and catch it in the HMV Curzon.

Friday, October 14, 2016

On Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize

Noting how popular "Visions of Johanna" remains among "hardcore Dylanophiles", Andy Gill suggests it is the enigmatic quality of the song that is responsible for its popularity—"forever teetering on the brink of lucidity, yet remaining impervious to strict decipherment". Gill writes the song begins by contrasting two lovers, the carnal Louise, and "the more spiritual but unattainable" Johanna. Ultimately, for Gill, the song seeks to convey how the artist is compelled to keep striving to pursue some elusive vision of perfection.
Myself: But it contains the ludicrous Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze I can’t find my knees”.
Clinton Heylin has described what he construes as the strange circumstances surrounding the song. Written around the time of Dylan's marriage to Sara Lownds, Heylin describes it as "one of the oddest songs ever written by a man who has just tied the knot and is enjoying a brief honeymoon in the city". Noting that the song is an elegy for a past lover, Heylin speculates that "it is awfully tempting to see Johanna as his muse" who, in the song, is "not here". For Heylin, the triumph of the song lies in "the way Dylan manages to write about the most inchoate feelings in such a vivid, immediate way"
Myself: But it contains the ludicrous Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze I can’t find my knees”.
Dylan critic Michael Gray also praises the subtlety of the song. Gray acknowledges that it is difficult to say what this song is "about", since it is at once indefinable and precise. For Gray, its principal achievement lies in the way it confuses categories, using language to be simultaneously serious and flippant, delicate and coarse, and mixing up "abstract neo-philosophy and figurative phraseology".
Myself: But it contains the ludicrous Hear the one with the mustache say, “Jeeze I can’t find my knees”.
Robert Shelton called "Visions of Johanna" one of Dylan's major works. He writes that Dylan's technique of throwing out "skittering images" evokes "a mind floating downstream"; these "non-sequential visions" are the record of a fractured consciousness. Shelton argues that the song explores a hopeless quest to reach an ideal, the visions of Johanna, and yet without this quest life becomes meaningless. He suggests that the same paradox is explored by Keats in his "Ode on a Grecian Urn".
Keats: When old age shall this generation waste,| Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe| Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou sayst,| "Beauty is truth, truth beauty," – that is all| Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Bob: Jeeze I can’t find my knees

Thursday, October 13, 2016


I ran up some falafel mix last night. It is in the fridge to be furnished forth this evening.  Can I conjure vegan mayo to go with it? Watch this space.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

As president, will you sing or veto legislation?

The President of the United States has numerous power ballads, including those explicitly granted by Article II of the United States Constitution, implied power ballads, power ballads granted by Acts of Congress, and the influence and soft power ballads that come from being President of the United States of America.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

football is a cruel mistress

Andy H has very kindly offered to take me along, on one of their season tickets, to go and see Swansea visit Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday.

As I write Cardiff City are in the relegation zone (second to bottom) in the Championship, and AFC Wimbledon are tenth in league one; very respectable just after promotion.

If things stay as they are I can return his favour by taking him to Wimbledon v Cardiff at Kingsmeadow next season. I imagine he will be thrilled. "Quid pro quo, Clarisse."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Fashion trends you need to know this Autumn

There are no fashion trends you need to know this autumn, but the immanence of human finitude — the fact that we’re dying right now and not in some distant future — should create the impetus for philosophical reflection.

On balance, I wish there were autumn fashion trends we needed to know instead.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Wittgenstein is invoked

Pro12: Ospreys 46-24 Cardiff Blues
Clinical Ospreys hammered Cardiff Blues in the first Welsh derby of the season.
Blues started well and led 10-3 after Kristian Dacey's try, but shipped 19 points after full-back Dan Fish was yellow carded for a professional foul.
"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." („Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen.")

Saturday, October 08, 2016

The thrill of it all

This morning I reattached a cupboard door hinge and changed light bulbs

Friday, October 07, 2016

Any Fish you wish

In tonight's derby, for the Blues "the astute Dan Fish is preferred to the maverick talent of Matthew Morgan at full-back" while the Ospreys have "opted for Sam Davies, with Wales fly-half Dan Biggar restricted to a spot on the bench."

I am driving back to Cardiff this afternoon. I think dinner is likely to be taken on the lap in front of BBC2 Wales on the telly in the lounge rather than - more formal like - in the dining room.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

I went to my 384th yoga class at 6:30 this morning

I believe the best way for us to grow as human beings is to free ourselves from the anxieties and attachments of daily life. If we pursue practices and rituals that lead toward a oneness with existence, if we devote ourselves to mindfulness and meditation, then the cultivation of harmony is available to us all. However, if it is true spiritual enlightenment that you seek, you’re gonna have to get past me first.
For those with the patience and the commitment, a path to nirvana awaits, and I—His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet—am standing right in the middle of it, ready to throw down.
The only way you’ll ever come to experience the metaphysical unity of mind and soul is by tangoing with yours truly, capiche?
It will be a difficult journey, one upon which you must elevate yourself from excess and learn to derive pleasure from simplicity. There will be many obstacles to overcome, and often it will seem as though your greatest adversary lies within yourself. But in fact, your most determined foe is stronger, fiercer, and coming straight out of Dharamsala packing 600 years of reincarnated spiritual wisdom and a blazing left hook. And you’re gonna have to build up some serious inner strength before you take me on, because I bring the pain, and I don’t back down.
Is it the knowledge of the universe you seek? Do you wish to attain a realization of the interconnectedness of all things? Then you must possess kindness, perseverance, compassion, tolerance, and an iron jaw. Because the only way you’ll ever come to experience the metaphysical unity of mind and soul is by tangoing with yours truly, capiche?
You will find there is much to gain from leading a more mindful existence, one that allows you to center your thoughts and channel all your energy into coming at me with everything you’ve got. And you’re gonna need it, because once you step into the ring with me, you definitely won’t want to shift your attention away from the now.
You will know that life is suffering after I’m done with you.
A serene existence free of worry and strife awaits you if you can take down this lean, mean incarnation of the high bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. So come on. Let’s do this thing. You’ll become acquainted with the universal impermanence of being real quick.
I got nowhere else to be, compadre, and I’m ready to impart on you some serious teachings, if you get my drift. Perhaps you wish to learn release from feelings of longing. Then you must abandon your attachment to all material things, except, of course, your first-aid kit. Do you have what it takes to relinquish worldly desires? To abandon the idea of self? To surrender to that which you cannot control? To reach a state of utter tranquility? Okay, then. Nut up and take a swing.
It requires careful discipline to live a mindful life, but you will find there are great rewards in separating yourself from the physical experience of what I’m about to do to you. It’s you and me, buddy. If you want your enlightenment, come and get it. But I’m warning you, if you seek a state of pure transcendence, then the last thing you’re going to see is a flash of crimson robe as you hit the deck. And when you’re gripping your throbbing head trying to figure out what just happened, you can meditate on this: When your ass gets knocked to the ground and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
How do you like them apples?

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

What happens when two talking devices are alone in a house?

Myself: Alexa, how can a people who do not mean to understand death hope to understand love, and who will sound the alarm?

Alexa: I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question you asked.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

only train on days ending in a Y

Ben quit judo for rugby in 2011, but I remember asking him if there was any crossover in skills.

"Judo helps you to be stubborn in mauls," he said. I thought that was quite pithy.

Eddie Jones agrees it seems.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Monday Morning Feeling

Report: Feeling Bad Right Now Most Reliable Predictor Of Feeling Bad Forever
STANFORD, CA—Saying their findings were consistent across all ages and demographic groups, psychologists at Stanford University released a groundbreaking report this week confirming that feeling bad right now is an extremely accurate predictor of feeling bad forever.
The report, which draws its conclusions from a longitudinal study of 500 participants conducted over the course of 30 years, found a nearly perfect correlation between experiencing sadness, anger, loneliness, and despair at the current moment and then continuing to experience those exact same emotions for the rest of one’s life no matter what.
“Based on our findings, we can state with a high level of certainty that anyone who feels miserable at the present time will, from this moment onward, always feel miserable,” said the report’s co-author Danielle Bowman, adding that researchers observed zero cases in which a subject’s feelings of sorrow or hopelessness ever went away in the short or long term. “For example, if, at the moment, you are desperately lonely and depressed, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests you will still feel that way when you wake up tomorrow, the day after that, a month from now, in five years, and indeed, every single waking second until you die.”
“There were, however, several instances in which people’s emotional states did eventually change,” Bowman continued. “In roughly 31 percent of cases, people began to feel much worse over the years.”
You might feel that there is nothing you can do to help, but how difficult is it to bawl "cheer up darlin' it might never happen" at a subdued stranger who is alone on the street?

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Ice cold in Alexa

I went to see Peter Frankopan talk about The Silk Roads: A New History of the World at the Wimbledon BookFest yesterday, and great stuff it was.

I had bought all 24 hours of it on Audible as an unabridged book a while back so I could bone up simply by saying "Alexa, read The Silk Roads" to my new Amazon Echo and have it played back as I was noodling about in the kitchen.

Alexa is also in control of my central heating now, but we had our first row this morning when I asked her to boost it only for her to announce that it was warm and turn the boiler off.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Feed the Fish

Please vote for Dan Fish's try against Munster above. He is back from the injury he sustained scoring it today, though starting on the bench.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fast flies meanwhile the irreparable hour

Ben is sixteen today, and Rayburn's little girl was born last night.


Thursday, September 29, 2016


The Amazon Echo arrived yesterday. I have set it up at home, told it where it lives and given it access to my diary.

I've got it to play music and podcasts, tell me jokes, read me the news, and time things.

Just skimming the surface so far, but it is an amazing product.

The pedal hits the metal at

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

the transferred epithet

At the moment, on the reading front, I am yomping through Ben Judah's This is London: Life and Death in the World City.
'Judah grabs hold of London and shakes out its secrets' The Economist
This is London in the eyes of its beggars, bankers, coppers, gangsters, carers, witch-doctors and sex workers.
This is London in the voices of Arabs, Afghans, Nigerians, Poles, Romanians and Russians.
This is London as you've never seen it before.
'An eye-opening investigation into the hidden immigrant life of the city' Sunday Times
'Full of nuggets of unexpected information about the lives of others . . . It recalls the journalism of Orwell' Financial Times.
Up to a point Lord Copper. He certainly never met an adjective he didn't like, yon Ben J. If I had got the chance to wield the blue pencil, this book would have been a lot, lot shorter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

What's On?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fully Loaded

Android TV Box KODI Fully Loaded 4K Ultra HD Android Box TV Box Tonbux® T11 Amlogic S905 Quad Core Streaming Media Player DDR3 1GB Memory and 8GB Storage Android 5.1 WiFi Kodi Box

by Tonbux

Sale:£39.95 Delivery at no additional cost for Prime Members
You Save:£130.04 (76%)

Myself: "Cut your monthly TV subscription and enjoy FREE Movies, shows and live entertainment from all over the world including sports." It seems to good to be true.

Prodnose: It is too good strictly to be legal, that is for sure.

Myself: How about

Prodnose: OK.