Sunday, April 30, 2017

Stannah Curve Starla

Point of order: we are thinking about it for my mum, not for me.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Echo Look

Introducing Echo Look—everything you love about Alexa, and now she can help you look your bestUsing just your voice, easily take full-length photos and short videos with a hands-free camera that includes built-in LED lighting, depth-sensing camera, and computer vision-based background blurSee yourself from every angle with the companion app. Build a personal lookbook and share your photos.Get a second opinion on which outfit looks best with Style Check, a new service that combines machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialistsEcho Look helps you discover new brands and styles inspired by your lookbook
At last, an Echo product I don't feel the slightest inclination to buy.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nobody knows

We think we know more than our ancestors, but as individuals we know less. We rely on the expertise of others, comforting ourselves with an illusion of knowledge... more »

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Singlegate alumnus

Above is the absolute screamer of a goal that Callum contributed to Chelsea's FA Youth Cup win last night. Observe that after he scores he pulls his socks up and makes the sign of the cross. What a testament to the ethos instilled at Singlegate primary school.

Exactly 10 years ago (Icons passim) I was picking him up to take him to Muay Thai with Ben and Jonnie. I remember the night well as my son and heir split his chin open in the Hendries' garden as I was assembling the troops so I had to cancel martial arts and take him to A&E at St. George's instead.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Hogarth Express

The average journey time between London Waterloo and Richmond is 32 minutes. The fastest journey time is 16 minutes. On an average weekday, there are 300 trains per day travelling from London Waterloo to Richmond. The journey time may be longer on weekends and holidays.
There was a piece in the Grauniard this week about Virginia and Leonard Woolf founding the Hogarth Press at a house in Richmond in 1917. We used to have an office a couple of doors down from Hogarth House. It is a short walk from the train station. That's probably why the scene above from The Hours always makes me cry with laughter. Virginia goes crazy missing London and missing life when she is, in truth, only about half an hour from Waterloo.

(Oh, hello. I have written about this before. Still, it never gets old.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

statute of limitations

We only came second in the Antelope quiz last night, after winning it the week before, and were thus confined to a £25 as opposed to £50 bar tab prize.

Luckily I had found a winning voucher from January 2015 so we supped for free.

I reckon I've been going to the Antelope on Mondays for five years now. I am pretty sure that the first time I turned up was the 2012 May Bank Holiday just after getting back from the Brean Sands rugby tour with Ben.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Alexa, when does Coffee in the Wood open?

If you add your address to an Echo speaker it can bring up local information. This is the app "card" I got after asking about a nearby coffee shop.

Alex herself told me it was open and would close at five.

Pretty impressive.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Memory Play

I didn't make the gym, brunch or the beef festival yesterday, but we did get to the Glass Menagerie.

The production's official trailer is above to prompt my memory at some time in the future.
Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Time is the longest distance between two places

My brother John is up this weekend so I am queuing this post up on Friday as the schedule is busy (see Icons passim).

We are due to have been at the Old Ruts Cheese and wine evening last night.

This morning, as this post lands, I plan to have nipped out early to the gym to get half an hour's cardio in, but - of course - that might not happen.

I am recommending Tooting for brunch. Tota ( opens at 9 am. There are also various Indian and Sri Lankan options that open a bit later.

We are going to see The Glass Menagerie at a 2:30 afternoon matinee in the Duke of York's theatre; forty odd minutes up the Northern Line to Charing Cross and then a three minute walk.

There is a Beer and Cider festival at the Sultan (a pub local to my house) this weekend so we may well come back and show our noses there afterwards.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bordering on the absurd

Russia ‘moves troops and equipment’ to North Korea border

Until I read the headline above I had not the slightest idea that Russia had a border with North Korea. Remember that next time I start boring you to death with my geopolitical insights.

Herewith the North Korea–Russia border skinny courtesy of Wikipedia. "There is one crossing on the North Korea–Russia border: the Friendship Bridge over the Tumen River". My italics.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Sinckler for detail

I watched the England Italy six nations game in the Royal Standard back in February. Due to general mystification and heated debate sparked by Italy's no-ruck tactic, everyone in the bar was talking to each other and when Kyle Sinckler came off the bench latish in the game, a Scouse bloke told us that he had been his first coach just up the road at Battersea Ironsides.

Apparently his mum brought him along (in a full Manchester United kit) thinking rugby might be more to his taste after getting complaints that - while keen on soccer - his playing style was a touch robust for the code.

He also went to school at Graveney, which is about a mile from my house, and is mentored at the Harlequins by Adam Jones.

I was delighted to see him make the New Zealand tour as a shock Lions selection yesterday.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

You're joking - not another one!

I agree with Brenda from Bristol.

British prime ministers used to be free to hold a general election whenever they felt like it - but new laws passed by David Cameron's coalition changed that.

Under the 2011 Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a general election is supposed to take place every five years on the first Thursday in May. As the most recent general election was in 2015, the next one was scheduled for May 2020.

But an election can be called ahead of schedule for two reasons - if there is a vote of no confidence in the current government, or if MPs vote for an early election by a two thirds majority.

Theresa May has chosen the second option, which would require MPs from her political party - the Conservatives - and also some MPs from opposition party Labour to vote in favour of having the election earlier than that, in this case 8 June, 2017.

Wouldn't it be great if she couldn't get two thirds of MPs votes and the government was forced to table a motion of no confidence in itself?

When will the election after next be? June 2022 or May 2020 or May 2022? Who knows? Who cares?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Not with a bang but a whimper.

North Korea Successfully Detonates Nuclear Scientist
PYONGYANG—Hailing it as a significant step forward for their ballistic weapons program just hours after suffering a failed missile launch, North Korean leaders announced Monday they had successfully detonated a nuclear scientist. “It was with great satisfaction this morning that I witnessed the detonation of a 156-pound nuclear scientist,” Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un said in a recorded statement, which appears to corroborate U.S. intelligence reports that a 0.7-magnitude tremor and large explosion had been detected at a bunker outside the city of Kusong at 9:42 a.m. local time, marking the nation’s first detonation of a major scientist since the days following a catastrophic rocket malfunction in 2012. “With this glorious achievement, our laboratories have begun to move much faster toward completing our goal of building an indomitable nuclear arsenal capable of annihilating all cowardly Western aggressors. We are prepared to detonate multiple scientists every month as a demonstration of our might and determination.” Intelligence analysts have reportedly warned top American officials to take Kim at his word, noting that the North Korean regime has already built up a stockpile of nuclear scientists’ family members it is prepared to detonate at a moment’s notice.
The Onion nails it again.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Brother Bru-Bru

Bruce Langhorne, who has died aged 78, was a guitarist, percussionist, acclaimed composer of film scores, and creator of what many consider to be the world’s finest chili sauce; he also spent five years as a macadamia nut farmer in Hawaii.

Bob Dylan was inspired to write the 1965 song Mr Tambourine Man after he saw Langhorne at a party playing a Turkish tambourine close to a metre in diameter.

Langhorne collaborated with figures such as Joan Baez and Harry Belafonte, but his most significant musical association was with Dylan: their collaboration began on the 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, and continued for a decade.

He played guitar on many of the singer’s greatest recordings, notably on every track on the 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home, including Mr Tambourine Man. He played the guitar on Knocking on Heaven’s Door, and percussion on Like a Rolling Stone.

“If you had Bruce playing with you,” Dylan wrote in his 2004 memoir, Chronicles, “that’s all you would need to do just about anything.”

Langhorne’s virtuosity as a guitarist was especially remarkable given that the thumb, index and middle fingers of his right hand were reduced to short stumps – the legacy of a ballistics experiment he had conducted at the age of 12 to test how much powdered magnesium might safely be included in a home-made mix of rocket propellant. On the morning of the explosion his mother Dorothy was downstairs in the kitchen, working on her own, less hazardous, recipes.

What a fascinating fella. I had never heard of him until I read this obituary today. Read the whole think yourself. I should pick up some of his hot sauce as a belated tribute.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The penultimate Trump

"The Last Trump" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It was first published in the June 1955 issue of Fantastic Universe and reprinted in the 1957 collection Earth Is Room Enough. Although humorous, it deals inter alia with a serious subject, calendar reform.

Plot summary
By order of the Council of Ascendants and approved of by the Chief, it is decided that the Day of Resurrection is due on Earth, despite the protestations of Etheriel, a junior Seraph with responsibility for the world. Whilst he seeks an audience with the Chief to plead for a stay of execution for "his" planet, the Last Trump is sounded, and as of January 1, 1957, time comes to a stop on Earth.

A mysterious figure known only as R. E. Mann (a pun on Ahriman, the Persian name for Satan) makes his way across the world, seeing what has happened in the Hereafter and pleased with it. All the dead are coming back to life, naked and uncaring. He meets a former professor of history who observes that the people have indeed been judged and are not in heaven but hell.

Etheriel has his meeting with the Chief and argues that the date January 1, 1957, unqualified, is meaningless and that therefore the Day of Resurrection is meaningless. The Chief agrees and declares that it will come only when all the peoples of the Earth agree on a common date (which, given the wide variety of cultures on Earth, is extremely unlikely to ever occur). The world is instantly restored to normality.

R. E. Mann, frustrated in his endeavours, plans to promote the adoption of a new calendar system, based on the Atomic Era, to begin on December 2, 1944.
So now you know.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

1 Corinthians 15:52

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Prodnose: Is Donald Trump 'the Last Trump' Before Jesus Christ's Return?

Myself: In Christian eschatology the rapture refers to the predicted end time event when all Christian believers—living and resurrected dead—will rise into the sky and join Christ for eternity. What we have at the moment is just Easter and a little local difficulty on the Korean peninsula.

Prodnose: Ah'm jes' sayin' is all.

Friday, April 14, 2017

gave good face

When I downloaded Adobe Acrobat Reader DC yesterday (I needed the latest version to fill in PDF forms), Intel True Key arrived as well.

I can now log on to my Microsoft Surface just by looking into the camera as True Key supports facial recognition authentication.

It may wither away as a gimmick but as of now it fills me with glee.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Take me back to dear old Blighty

Ben with his niece in Florida. He is due back home today.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The King is Dead

RIP Tim Pigott-Smith. In 2014, I was lucky enough to see him starring in King Charles III at the Wyndham's Theatre in the West End as a post-accession Charles, Prince of Wales. He got a well deserved nomination for the Olivier Award for Best Actor, then a Tony Award nomination for its production on Broadway in 2015.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ocala! We'll do our best

Here, by the miracle of WhatsApp is a photo of Ben in Florida.

He seems cheerful enough.

They get back late tomorrow night.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The William Morris

I went to Hot Yoga Wimbledon at half past six this morning. The teacher was an American guy called Eugene Sabala who was new to me. Kevin, who has bought an unlimited annual pass, gave me a lift and dropped me off at the office after.

Thus, I found myself at a loose end lunchtime, with no need to go to the gym and no car to drive home after work. A rare opportunity (the first in years I think) for a cheeky lunchtime pint.

Even better when I got to The William Morris I found that they had Stella on tap. They certainly haven't had that on the odd and rare time I have poked my nose in there before.

Happy days.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Perfect Candidate

My horse, Perfect Candidate, pulled up before 27th in the Grand National.

I am an innocent abroad in the ways of the turf accountant. I was astounded that a £5 each way bet cost me a tenner, and when the woman in Ladbroke's asked me if I wanted the odds, I thought she was just checking if I wanted to know them. It turns out she was trying to find out if I wanted to strike then rather than the starting price.

All pretty academic as the pony didn't finish, but, like Damon Runyon, I long ago came to the conclusion that all life is 6 to 5 against.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Austin Powers

Yeah, and I can't believe Barry Manilow is gay. I mean, women love him! The guy performed in bathhouses as Bette Midler’s pianist. I didn't see that one coming.

Friday, April 07, 2017

After five years of war

DAMASCUS—During a meeting to review the body counts from his latest initiatives to retake rebel-held regions of the country, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad shared an extended laugh with his top military leaders on Thursday over the time in his life when he wanted to be a doctor and help people. “Oh man, can you even believe there was a period when I actually wanted to heal people, to help end their suffering?” said Assad, pausing the discussion of chemical weapons deployments to recall his youthful dream of providing lifesaving medical assistance to the sick and injured between gasps of laughter. “And it’s not like it was just a brief phase or something. I spent over a decade training. I even went to London for postgraduate study. God, there was even a point where I seriously considered working to help children. That’s so crazy.” After more than a minute spent clutching his abdomen in boisterous laughter, a beaming Assad reportedly emitted a few final chuckles, wiped away a tear of glee from the corner of his eye, and authorized sarin gas attacks on several villages outside the city of Hama.
Live US strikes on Syria: UK backs Donald Trump's missile assault as Russia condemns American 'aggression'

Thursday, April 06, 2017

swimming upstream

Myself: Alexa, how can I cook salmon?
Alexa: The recipe or ingredient I found for salmon is salmon.
In the end - Icons passim - I decided to order the new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote today rather than Google Home. The TV stick will go in the living room and the Echo will live in the kitchen, where it is surprisingly handy despite the ludicrous exchange above.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


Gareth the rugby gnome has been banished to his alcove in the garden until the autumn internationals and my Nerium oleander* pot plant has also been moved outside. I believe that this marks the official beginning of spring in Colliers Wood, even if it is a little late by some estimates.

* Nerium oleander is a highly toxic ornamental shrub widely cultivated in the Mediterranean. (It has been grown since ancient times and features in many of the Roman wall paintings in Pompeii.) Its effect on the central nervous system may show itself in symptoms such as drowsiness, tremors or shaking of the muscles, seizures, collapse, and - with a following wind - coma that can lead to death. Even my gardening style is a walk on the wild side. Come to think of it, my mother bought it for me as a birthday present. Is there a nuance or two I am missing here somewhere?

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Brexit implications

Queen Elizabeth Frantically Trying To Preserve European Alliances By Arranging Great-Grandchildren’s Marriages

LONDON—After Prime Minister Theresa May initiated official proceedings for Great Britain’s exit from the European Union, sources confirmed Thursday that Queen Elizabeth II has been frantically trying to preserve the nation’s European alliances by arranging the marriages of her great-grandchildren. “With Britain departing the EU, our greatest chance at maintaining strong diplomatic and economic relations with other countries in the region is for Prince George and Princess Charlotte to marry the children of one of Europe’s other ruling families,” said the queen, who had reportedly just gotten off the phone with King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to discuss a possible match between 3-year-old Prince George and one of his three daughters. “I was hoping to cement Britain’s trade partnership with Luxembourg by betrothing Charlotte to Prince S├ębastien, but the grand duke wouldn’t agree to the arrangement, and unfortunately, the King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden refused my offer of a spring wedding at Westminster Abbey between Princess Leonore and Prince George. If I offer control of Gibraltar and an earldom to the groom, I’m sure I can arrange for young Charlotte to marry one of Angela Merkel’s stepsons when she reaches marriageable age.” At press time, the queen was relieved to have at least secured a strong alliance with one European ally after she herself agreed to wed 14-year-old Prince Felix of Denmark.

Further afield, President Trump already has a grandchild with the dynastic moniker Donald III.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Catch Up

Thursday after Ben's cup final I went to see Sunny Afternoon, the Kinks musical, at the Wimbledon Theatre.

Friday I just went to the Standard after work as usual.

Saturday I went to the Sky Garden for the view.

Sunday I went to the Emirates to see Arsenal v Man City.

Not a bad life really I s'pose.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

End of an era

Saturday, April 01, 2017


Ben is going to the USA with Jane tomorrow to see Rayburn and family.

The roaming charges on his phone deal are here, I just checked.

When he was skiing in Italy data cost 3.9p per MB. In the USA it is £3.

On my phone, Google Maps has cached 198MB of data offline containing maps of the area around my home. That just shy of £600 worth at Three's USA rate.

The original plan was to use the Sat Nav on his phone to get to their apartment from Orlando. I will have to put the kibosh on that or I will be bankrupted.

It would be  cheaper to buy a brand new USA Garmin and bin it after a fortnight.