Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Festival of Me

This is the line up that Glastonbury have put together to celebrate my birthday on June 22nd. What a pleasant gesture. I must write Michael Eavis a nice thank you letter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Pig and Fiddle

Broad Street Place, Bath, Bath and North East Somerset BA1 5BN, United Kingdom
Walk west on Broad St Pl
13 ft
Turn left onto Broad St
112 ft
Turn left onto Saracen St
Destination will be on the right
95 ft
The Pig & Fiddle, 2 Saracen Street, Bath, Avon BA1 5BR, United Kingdom
That is right. When we take the U15s away on their end of season tour, the nearest pub will be 220 feet or a minute's walk from the YMCA where we are staying.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My fascinating life

The standard UK sizes for beds are shown below:

  • Small-single - 75 cm x 190 cm (2' 6" x 6' 3")
  • Single - 90 cm x 190 cm (3' 0" x 6' 3")
  • Small-double - 120 cm x 190 cm (4' 0" x 6' 3")
  • Double - 135 cm x 190 cm (4' 6" x 6' 3")
  • Kingsize - 150 cm x 200 cm (5' 0" x 6' 6")
  • Super kingsize - 180 cm x 200 cm (6' 0" x 6' 6")

I have discovered that if you buy a fitted sheet which is a different size to your mattress it won't work properly.

Possibly not enough to build a whole philosophical system upon, but I am a sadder and wiser man for learning it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

This makes me feel like a dinosaur

I read in Empire Online that the latest international trailer for Warcraft: The Beginning is available. Once upon a time (Icons passim) this would have been a big deal for the Bomber, but I think that ship may have sailed.

Listening to him talk to Jonnie in the car when  I am ferrying them to training, Ark: Survival Evolved seems to be the game du jour these days.
Published on 25 Mar 2016
ARK Survivors can now experience the one-week-only "Eggcellent Adventure" Event! During this limited-time event, players can collect special "Bunny Eggs" across the ARK, which they can paint or use in special recipes to craft bunny-themed items such as Bunny Ears, or even a Bunny Costume for the Procoptodon! Though Survivors should beware the ferocious Bunny-Dodorex that will roam the ARK throughout the week!
Patch 237 also introduces the much anticipated challenging new Swamp and Snow Caves, which are heavily-geared towards High Level Survivors, containing high-end loot, advanced artifacts, and more clues towards the mysterious Origins of the ARK; keep an eye out for those Snow Cave Yetis!
I must pass this on. I don't think I could live with myself if the ferocious Bunny-Dodorex got hold of them over the Easter holidays.

There are sixty types of dinosaurs in the game. Dinosaurs in the game can be tamed by feeding them food after they have been rendered unconscious. Once a dinosaur is tamed, players have access to the dinosaur's abilities, such as flight or fast underwater movement, as well as its statistics, such as speed, health and damage. When the access to these abilities are gained, players lose control of their personal weapons. When riding the larger dinosaurs, other players can ride on the side with full control of their weapons. They can also be used to carry items, and players can issue offensive and defensive commands to them; for example, a pack of Utahraptors can be assigned to defend the base, or a group of Triceratops can be ordered to attack an enemy's base. The game also features various other species, such as the dodo, saber-toothed cat, woolly mammoth, Meganeura, and Titanomyrma. Every creature in the game has living ecosystems and predator hierarchies.
I will never understand, but I find I am entirely relaxed about that.

Sunday, March 27, 2016


I read on the Time Out website this morning that, according online ordering service Hungry House, the UK's number one takeaway is Ambience, a Turkish place in Wimbledon.

Ten minutes from my gaff, and I've never heard of it; a restaurant as well as a take away.

Onto the bucket list go to eat in, and to eat out.

Delivery is free, but there is a minimum charge of £18. In the unlikely event that I am not eighteen quid's worth of hungry a £9.95 Istanbul Iced Tea will take the strain.
All cocktails are served in a 750ml glass bottle with ice. Combination of tequila, vodka, gin, Bacardi and triple sec, topped with fresh lemon juice, Pomegranate juice and a dash of Raki.

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Applause as stellar line-up announced in Houses of Parliament for this year's tenth anniversary Wimbledon BookFest
Another stellar line-up was exclusively announced for this year’s tenth anniversary Wimbledon BookFest at a glamourous event in the Houses of Parliament last night.
News that Sir Ranulph Fiennes will launch the festival in September, with Jeremy Paxman and former Wimbledon resident and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy on the line-up, was met with gasps of delight by guests.
Strictly, I think the gasps were inspired by my audacity in nicking an MP's glass of white wine from a table when he was called away by the division bell and then raising it in the toast he proposed at the end of his speech when he returned.

In my defence I had been listening to Chloe Spicer of Object Book explaining conceptual art to author Michelle Paver, so it was probably a playful, provocative and subversive avant-garde prank summoned à la Marcel Duchamp from my subconscious rather than common or garden ASBO baiting.

Prodnose: Yes, that must be it. No doubt about it.

Woody Allen: I was in analysis. I was suicidal. As a matter of fact, I would have killed myself, but I was in analysis with a strict Freudian and if you kill yourself they make you pay for the sessions you miss.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Still got the blues

I spent most of the day in a vegetative state on the couch binging on Amazon Prime TV and movies. This is so unlike me that I thought I would record it here.

This evening though, Cardiff Blues have beaten Benetton Treviso 56 - 8, to revenge a defeat earlier in the season; the one that so vexed Gareth the rugby gnome (Icons passim).

Even better, on 74 minutes Tom James got his name on the scoresheet after a break from Dan Fish sent him over for his ninth of the season, then four minutes later Fish himself sprinted over from long-range for a special solo effort.

We may expect more spring in my step tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


The official account of Tay, Microsoft's A.I. fam from the internet that's got zero chill! The more you talk the smarter Tay gets.
Up to a point, Lord Copper.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BookFest at House of Commons

Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond is hosting an evening reception on 23 March at the Terrace in the House of Commons to celebrate Wimbledon BookFest's 10th anniversary. The event will mark the work of the Festival’s partners and supporters, its Founding Chair, Tony Kane and 10 years of promoting the arts, culture and education in Wimbledon and the Borough of Merton.
So that is where I will be tonight.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Monday, March 21, 2016

My Cup Runneth Over

HOT OFF THE PRESS... We are pleased to announce that London Borough of Merton have granted planning permission to The...
Posted by Merton Abbey Mills on Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sinner's Prayer

Amazon Prime Music has analysed my listening patterns and suggested that I might like Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart's collaborations. Amazon Prime Music is right.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

It's Frank's world, we're all just livin' in it.

Hello Nick Browne,
We’re going to deliver your package today.
This package contains:1. Hotpoint 41-UN-50 Refrigerator and Freezer SES Lamp Bulb
I finally got round to digging the dud light bulb out of the fridge at about half past five on Thursday. Once I got a look at it, I searched fridge bulbs on Amazon, recognized the model among the results and ordered one free delivery via Prime.

It arrived at half past ten Friday morning and I fitted it last night. Isn't that astonishing. A decade ago figuring out and sourcing something like that would have been a time-vacuuming pain-in-the-proverbial.

Prodnose: This is the least interesting thing I have ever heard in my life.

Myself: What can I tell you? I'm committed to  chalking something up here every day and now and then the cupboard gets bare. Would you prefer to hear that I am so sad that I stayed in last night to watch Wales U20 beat Italy to win our first ever Grand Slam at that age group by the deceptively simple expedient of tricking the BBC iPlayer into thinking I was in Wales and serving up the Principality's version of BBC  2?

Prodnose: Yes, quite frankly.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Lá Fhéile Pádraig

I went to the Royal Standard last night for St Patrick's Day. I knew that the landlord and a lot of the clientèle were Irish but I didn't realise it was quite such a big deal as it is. The place was already rammed when I turned up at six o'clock.

Same time next year.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I used to think I was some kind of gypsy boy

I tend to agree with Warren Gatland about the "Gypsy boy" comment aimed at Samson Lee by Joe Marler in last week's game, "It was just one of those things, a little bit of banter. We've accepted that and we've accepted his apology. Just move on."

If I was Marler I would be tempted to claim that I was singing Leonard Cohen's "So long, Marianne" to myself to keep my spirits up, as the third line of that is "you know I used to think I was some kind of gypsy boy". Simple solutions are often the best. Perhaps he could post a solo acoustic guitar version to YouTube by way of illustration.

A                               Bm       
Come over to the window,  my little darling
D                              A
I'd like to try to read your palm
G                                    D
I used to think I was some sort of gypsy boy
F#m                         E   Esus4 E E7 
   before I let you take me home

    A                 F#m
Now so long, Marianne,    It's time that we began
    E   Esus4     E  E7     E Esus4       E      E7     A        Asus4      
to laugh      and cry   and cry      and laugh about it all again

I was also looking - as you do - at the French Wikipedia page about Guy Novès, les Blues' coach ahead of the France England game on Saturday evening. It says that his nickname is le sorcier le gitan.

Rendered in English le sorcier le gitan is the gypsy sorcerer.

This one will run and run.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

After School Club

The Bomber was at the Rosslyn Park 7s yesterday playing a year up for the school at  U16.

They didn't do all that well but did, at least, beat Cardiff High which was gratifying in terms of bragging rights because his cousins Mia and Isaac attend Cardiff High and are actually in the U16 cohort.

One of the games was covered on YouTube. Here's a move from Ben right at the end -

Moving from Rutlish school to the Old Ruts U15s in Surrey league 1, this weekend's results mean that we can see the likely final state of the table as there is only one round of fixtures left.
Kings will win, London Irish will be second and we will be third unless London Irish beat us and Reeds Weybridge Guildford beat Richmond Warlingham soundly enough to get a bonus point, in which case we will be equal with them on points but may be nudged into fourth by points difference as ours is only 7 better than theirs as I write.

If you had offered me scenario that before the boys' debut season in the county's top flight I would have bitten your arm off.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Super Freak

We won the quiz at the Antelope last night so the £50 bar tab prize will pretty much take care of the refreshments next Monday.

During the evening Raphel told us that his brother Carl is in the West End production of Motown the Musical that just opened in the Shaftesbury Theatre‎. I didn't get to see him when he was in The Scottsboro Boys (Icons passim) so I should really try and get along to this.

He is playing Rick James. Crikey!

Monday, March 14, 2016

In a pickle

Fermentation is one of our oldest methods for preserving food. All around the world people have been transforming food with the help of microbes for thousands of years. The problem is, this simple method has had an identity crisis. We tend either see it as a fashionable fad, or a strange science. But there are people who want things to change. So in this programme Sheila Dillon meets 'The fermenters'. Ukranian food writer and chef Olia Hercules, who grew up with fermented foods; Roopa Gulati, using fermentation to explore her Indian heritage; entrepreneur Deborah Carr, whose fermentation business is going from strength to strength; and seasonal chef Tom Hunt who is putting seasonal ferments back on his restaurant menu. In 2016, It's time to rethink fermentation.
One for you John, master pickler that you are. I heard this episode of the Food Programme on the way back from the Ruts yesterday.

Oh, and while I am on the subject, slow cooker bacon jam is probably right up your alley as well.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Six Nations: England U20 16-42 Wales U20

Wales remain on course for a junior Grand Slam with a spectacular first ever win away to England at Under-20 level.
Jason Strange's side led 28-3 after just half an hour in Bristol.
Fly-half Dan Jones collected 17 points including a try while there were also touchdowns for Shaun Evans, Harri Millard, Keelan Giles (2) and Harrison Keddie.
Sam Smith crossed for England while Matthew Protheroe kicked 11 points.
Wales already have a Triple Crown under their belts as they tackle winless Italy in their final game at Colwyn Bay on Friday 18 March, while England face France in Pau on the same night.
I have already put the heartache of Twickenham yesterday behind me and started dreaming of the future. How's that for emotional robustness and mental toughness!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Mourinho and the Special Ones

Shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Shield, Game of Thrones and Mad Men are generally considered the basis of a new Golden Age of Television, but look what I found on Amazon Prime.

Mourinho and the Special Ones 1 Season

The opportunity of a lifetime comes by when you least expect it and for Alex and his friends, a chance meeting with their hero, changes their lives forever. What was supposed to be a simple football match attracts the attention of the world's greatest football coach, Jose Mourinho.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Swept Away

This is the moment a car sunk in the River Thames after it was swept away by the tide in south-west London.
Student Ted Stones, 18, spotted the dark-coloured vehicle submerged in the river close to Putney Embankment at around 2pm on Wednesday.
According to witnesses, the car had been parked on a slipway before it was dragged into the river by the tide.
He said: "I couldn’t actually believe it was happening."
I can believe it. It nearly happened to me years ago. I parked on the slip road on the west bank of Richmond Bridge and went for a sneaky pint with my brother John and his mate Juan on the other side of the river. Half an hour later, as we walked back, we saw a crowd looking over the parapet and when we turned the corner realised that they were looking at our waterlogged ride and laughing. I ran down, up to me knees in water, opened the door, gunned the engine and escaped. The nearest run thing you ever saw in your life. I can remember to this day that the exhaust was already well submerged by the time I got the key in the ignition. Now - because of the video above - we know what would have happened if we had got back ten minutes later.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What is man?

England and Wales have both selected unchanged starting fifteens for Saturday's match. The underlying psychology is clear to me. Wales are confident; England unsure of themselves.

Gareth TRG and I will be watching the game in the Charles Holden with Gnome Chomsky, Gnomer Simpson, and Sherlock Gnomes. It is good to get out, after all gnome man is an island.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Mint and Mustard

I stumbled across Mint and Mustard in Whitchurch Road when I was back in Cardiff over the weekend; "Keralan passion, British style" and one of the top 20 curry restaurants in the UK according to the Telegraph.

I fell in love with Kerala when we were there for Christmas and the New Year as 2003 turned into 2004, so Mint and Mustard's tasting menus and chef master classes go straight onto my to-do list.

It is probably no coincidence that the restaurant is so near to Saint Joseph’s R.C. Church. There is a 4.00pm Syro-Malabar Rite Mass there every Sunday for Keralans. Did St Thomas found a church in south India? Prepare to be amazed as William Dalrymple unravels a Christian mystery ........

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


Well I gave him half my kebab and he drank my Phoenix smoked porter,
Winking all the while at next door's daughter
"Come on it's just fun, isn't it hun?"

Then the next day, when I woke up
He was sitting on the edge of my bed,
"Good morning Eggnog,
Hair of the dog?"

Ha ha ha, he he he
I'm Wales' rugby gnome and you can't cwtch me
Ha ha ha, he he he
I'm Wales' rugby gnome and you can't cwtch me
Said the rugby gnome

God he's just climbed up the chimney,
He's so bladdered that he thinks he's Gimli
And I think the strain is gonna kill me
The crafty hound
It was his round

Ha ha ha, he he he
I'm Wales' rugby gnome and you can't catch me
Ha ha ha, he he he
I'm Wales' rugby gnome and you can't catch me
Said the rugby gnome

Gareth the rugby gnome is back home, in plenty of time for Saturday's England game.

Monday, March 07, 2016

nothing is impossible

Last season Warlingham beat us in league 2, but yesterday (after a season in which we were both promoted) the Old Ruts U15s beat them 43-21 in Surrey's top division.

Here's Jim's match report:
Outstanding performance today from the League 1 team. Probably the best I have ever seen us play. We were 14-0 down after 10 minutes and turned it round to completely dominate the game. We scored 7 outstanding tries, including a sublime flick out the back of the hand from Wes (having brilliantly turned the ball over) which gave Sid a run in on a perfect line. It was a joy to watch.
Our forwards (once again) won us the game. They dominated Warlingham with some awesome control and power from 1 to 8. Even when Ale moved out to centre, we continued to be the better pack by far. The most pleasing thing was as we rolled on the subs, there was no change of gear – hats off to you all.
Obviously there were a few tasty moments, particularly the two nasty attacks on Ben VHO. That type of behaviour has no place on the rugby pitch. It was though to your credit that despite the moments of tension, you all stepped away and did not stoop to their level. While they disintegrated mentally, you boys just got stronger – all credit to you.
We had two boys playing up from League 4, Nathan and George – both contributed fantastically on the pitch – well done.
In two weeks, 20th March, we have a huge day at the Club. League 4 playing Guildford followed by League 1 against London Irish. Both will be properly tough games, but carry on playing as we did today and nothing is impossible. Bring it on!
The Bomber picked up the third try that put us into the lead and was immaculate under high balls all day. All Warlingham's tries were scored by their mercurial winger (Daniel I think he was called) and now that the dust as cleared I am beginning to realise that they didn't really threaten us at all apart from when he had the ball in his hands and we actually dominated throughout.

A win with a bonus point also cements us at third in the table. Two of the seven teams in the division will be relegated this year, and yesterday's victory makes us all but safe. I would have settled for that at the beginning of the season.

Sunday, March 06, 2016


Happy Mothers' day. It is good to be back in Wales to say it face to face even if I have to leave quite early for Poplar Road.

I have got you a card ......... which I have just realised is still on the dining room table back in London in my house.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

6 Great Articles about Cows

I am back in Cardiff visiting Mum and Dad,which means I might as well be at Hobbiton in the Shire for all the access to technology I have.

Today's post was therefore queued up yesterday and you will have to amuse yourself with 6 Great Articles about Cows until I get back.
Cows Might Fly by Veronique Greenwood - What Swiss flying cows tell us about the future of the environment
Breeding the Perfect Bull by Jeanne Marie Laskas - “There once was a bull, the son of Cherokee Canyon, the grandson of Make My Day—a noble pedigree. The cowboy who designed him, who chose the semen, selected the dam, prepared and inseminated the uterus, named him Revelation.”
America is Bull by Jeanne Marie Laskas “When you get on your bull, you have to, just, be on your bull.”
The Curse of Cow Clicker by Jason Tanz - The twisted world of social gaming and how a satirical Facebook game became a hit
La Matadora Revisa Su Maquillaje by Susan Orlean (The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup) “People think that because I kill bulls I have to be really brave, but I’m not. I’m a sensitive person, and I can get super-terrified. I’m afraid of staying home by myself, and I get hysterical if I see a spider.”
The Ride of Their Lives by Burkhard Bilger - Children prepare for the world’s most dangerous organized sport

Friday, March 04, 2016

Ralph Brazier

We got an email last night saying that Ralph Brazier, the father of Louis - a former Old Ruts team mate of Ben, had been killed in a cycling accident.

I have dug up the story in the Evening Standard: Father-of-three killed in cycling crash 'after hitting pothole that had not been repaired despite repeated warnings' 

The pothole had been there since 2009. Words fail me.

His boys transferred to Esher RFC after the family moved to Thames Ditton, but I still very particularly remember him pulling a folding bike out of the boot of his car at London Scottish, when the kids played mini rugby and all age groups were at the same venue, so he could commute between pitches on it, watching Louis in our age-group and Louis’s brother Nate in the year below. Initially I thought he was off his head, but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. A very sad loss.

When I told Ben this morning, he initially thought I meant Louis Cohen's dad, Mitch. You need to be very careful to be clear passing on bad new like this.

Update: Surrey Police have issued this statement.

Thursday, March 03, 2016


Ben is with Rutlish at the U15 Surrey Rugby Sevens 2016 today. He will be playing scrum half unless there is a change of plan. It's live on YouTube so I will get a lot done today I am sure.

Results will appear on

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Living the dream.

On Monday we won the quiz at the Antelope.

Yesterday evening I went on a tour of the Wimbledon Brewery at half past six. Thank you to Charlie, our guide.

Tonight I will take the boys along to U15s rugby training at the Hub in Mitcham and watch the first half of the Arsenal Swansea game over a pint of soda water with lime cordial at the bar while they are being put through their paces.

The insane glamour of it all; it is as if my whole life is the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. The light bulb in my fridge has stopped working.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


Madness are to headline their own festival in London this summer. The band have announced plans for House of Common, a one-day event on August bank holiday (29th) on Clapham Common.

Pre-sale tickets will be released at 9am on 2 March to those who sign up on the event’s website.