Sunday, September 30, 2018

I'm eighteen

Lines form on my face and hands
Lines form from the ups and downs
I'm in the middle without any plans
I'm a boy and I'm a man
I'm eighteen
And I don't know what I want
I just don't know what I want
I gotta get away
I gotta get out of this place
I'll go runnin' in outer space
Oh yeah
I got a
Baby's brain and an old man's heart
Took eighteen years to get this far
Don't always know what I'm talkin' about
Feels like I'm livin' in the middle of doubt
'Cause I'm
I get confused every day
I just don't know what to say
I gotta get away

Ben is eighteen today. I can remember covering Alice Cooper's eighteen with Sean Burke, Tim Parry and David Dole when the prospect of being as old as eighteen was a distant and glamorous prospect. I think I am likely to spend a considerable portion of today looking at what I have written here on September 30th over the years, lost in reverie.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cassoulet á la Bourdain

As it is Ben's birthday tomorrow, I am not going back to Wales to see how mum and dad are getting on. I will be there next weekend, so John and I intend to keep working through "the big classics" chapter in Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook with cassoulet.

The recipe specifies four confit duck legs, which I don't think we will have time to do. I propose that Larnaudie (fulfilled by Amazon) take the strain.
Une spécialité entrée dans la légende culinaire du Sud-Ouest de la France.

Confit de Canard : Nos cuisses de canard sont cuites (ou confites) dans la graisse de canard pendant 1h30, permettant d'avoir une chair tendre et savoureuse.

Conseils de préparation : Réchauffez au four ou au grill pendant quelques minutes. Accompagné de pommes de terre sautées et de quelques champignons, le plaisir est complet…
Does that sound about right?

Also, as the clock will be ticking, I think it best to do the beans, pork belly, quartered onion and bouquet garni in the slow cooker overnight as Friday evening resolves into Saturday morning.

Mise en place, I think it is called. Does that sound about right?

Friday, September 28, 2018

draw the curtains: so, so, so

And so, last night, to the NT Live version of Ian McKellen's King Lear.

In one scene - just like my dad - he drew comfort from obsessively folding his handkerchief. In Act 3, Scene 6 - just like my dad lately - he imagined he was in a court trial. Brilliant acting and brilliant writing that must have been drawn from life. Disturbing and hauntingly relevant all the same, though John has called this morning to say he took dad out last night, and he was happier than he'e been lately.

Prodnose: What is next on the NT Live Roster?

Myself: Allelujah! by Alan Bennett.

Prodnose: Set in the geriatric ward of a Yorkshire hospital, the Bethlehem, threatened with closure. That'll cheer you up and take you out of yourself, then.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

One Year On

One year ago, we heard that Callum was in the England squad for the U17 World Cup; an event he and they went on to win.

Above - in 2018 - is a light hearted football challenge that finishes Callum 7, Morata 5, and Jorginho 4. Just think about that.

He was on the bench for the cup win against Liverpool last night, but didn't get on. They substituted some called Eden Hazard for Willian instead.

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard fires spectacular winner to knock out Liverpool, said the Graunuiard this morning.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018


I watched Netflix's new documentary about Quincy Jones last night. For all that he seems to have been something of a goat when it comes to the ladies, he appears widely loved by his friends and family. An Ageing-Sweetheart-Confronts-Mortality movie perhaps?

We will be back to the Ageing-Curmudgeon-Confronts-Mortality trope with a vengeance tomorrow at the NT Live showing of Ian McKellan's Lear.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What the FL is this?

Following on from yesterday's gnomic announcement, it turns out that the Drake underwater effect is a thing not the product of my imagination.

It is a Lo-Pass Filter Sweep and here is how you do it in FL Studio 12. (FL Studio 11 is on the machine I am typing on at the moment. Ben introduced me to it in 2013, see Icons passim, awwwww).

Monday, September 24, 2018

The New Aphorisms Part 1

Underwater everything sounds like a cut from a Drake album.
I've no clear idea what I am implying, but I think the profundity will gradually reveal itself.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

bite me

I am going to the dentist tomorrow morning to start the process of fitting a guard that will stop me grinding my teeth and biting the insides of my cheeks when I am asleep.

Thus proving I am not under any stress whatsoever.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

sushi life

Greetings from Penylan, where I am down checking in with mum and dad.

Wales online says that the obscure Cardiff restaurant voted the best in the city on TripAdvisor is little-known sushi place in the Globe Centre on Wellfield Road; only a skip and jump away from the family home.

Sushi Life leaps onto the to-do list for next time I am down.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Triple Tipple

These spindrift pages have been following Gareth Evans' career since 2009. Judging by the trailer for his latest, I will be watching it scared witless through my fingers when in debuts on Netflix later this month.

Filmed in Wales and featuring Michael Sheen. To save time let's anoint the movie, Sheen and Evans simultaneously to Welsh Born Iconhood.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Matthew Rhys

Mathhew Rhys (born Matthew Rhys Evans in Cardiff in 1974) broke out his Welsh accent after collecting the best leading actor in a drama series trophy at the 70th Emmy Awards. You can see it one minute and fifty seconds into the video above.

We have a new Icon.

Just for completeness, please note that when we saw him in New Theatre on tour with Peter Gill's National Theatre touring production of Cardiff East 1997, it was his debut professional stage engagement. Mum and dad saw that as well. There is no getting away from them lately.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Meyerowitz Stories

John thinks that we should take the old man out for a drink when I am back this weekend. It was good for him to get out of the home on Sunday, and also means a collective-noun of Brownes aren't crowding into his room or infesting communal spaces to the bemusement of others.

Candidate establishments as far as I can see are
  • The Four Elms (the nearest)
  • The Royal Oak (not much further away while featuring Peerless Jim Driscoll and Joe Erskine boxing anecdotes and memorabilia)
  • The Claude (reachable and where I have been meeting up with Tim and Phil for the last year of a Friday when I am back)
I have watched Kodachrome (Icons passim) on Netflix now. Given Dustin Hoffman's appalling ("Dad, what the fugg!) public booze-snatching behaviour in the trailer I think that the Ageing-Curmudgeon-Confronts-Mortality movie baton can be safely passed on to The Meyerowitz Stories.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Babette's Feast

Dad's been in to see mum in hospital. He didn't recognise her. What more is there to say?

Cooking at Bronwydd Avenue on Saturday night (Icons passim) worked as therapy for me and John last weekend; good for us, and for breathing a little life back into a house that had been empty for a week.

We'll do the same this weekend with Anthony Bourdain's Boeuf Bourguignon. Still from the book Ma got me for my birthday thirteen years ago, and also I noticed inscribed. Once again there is a legit copy of the recipe online here in the Washington Post for my brother to peruse. (Amazon and Knorr will have to take the strain with the demi glace however. "Had we but world enough and time.")

Monday, September 17, 2018

Russell Wilson Asks Seahawks To Modify Play Where He’s Immediately Tackled By Six Players

The Onion
SEATTLE—Expressing some reservations about allowing the defense instant, unfettered access to the backfield, Russell Wilson asked the Seahawks Tuesday to modify a read-pass-option play where he’s immediately tackled by six players after receiving the snap. “I’m happy to run whatever the coaching staff draws up, but I think we can adjust this play a little so I can take more than three steps without getting pounded into the turf,” said Wilson, explaining to his coaches that perhaps one of the Seahawks’ offensive lineman could attempt to stand in the way of the oncoming pass rushers. “There is a lot to like about this play, but we could try working in some play-action or a quick slant pass before the pocket dissolves and I’m hit from three different angles. At the very least, we should only call the plays where I get sacked before I can start my progression reads a few times per game.” At press time Pete Carroll had heeded his quarterback’s advice and drawn up a new play where Wilson scrambles left and right multiple times and then throws the ball out of bounds.
Everything is going to hell in a hand basket for my beloved Seahawks. They are away at the Chicago Bears in the early hours of tomorrow morning. An important game as it gives either Spike or me bragging rights for the year.

On a brighter note, my DNA test having revealed that I am overwhelmingly descended from emigrants from Munster, I was please to see them beat the Ospreys in the Pro14 rugby on the weekend. Last year I would have been supporting Swansea.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Russell Swords Cardiff Academy

I went along to Hotpod yoga in Cardiff yesterday. The venue was the old Virgin Active club that I used to sneak off to on Saturday mornings when I was back visiting mum and dad.

Another tenant of the building is Russell Swords Cardiff Academy of Fencing. ‘What is fencing?... It is a violence refined into beauty; combat curbed to sweet art and crystal science.’ And, which is more, I have always fancied having a crack at it.

I wonder if I could book it for a day for a family session; me with my brothers and sisters, plus Ben and his cousins. Maybe in half term? Watch this space.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Schopenhauer's poodles

Second driveway on the left
See Sign for "Splash Central"
Enter main doors
Go upstairs turn right
Hotpod Yoga entrance is in the corner
There is no yoga at Elite Fitness this morning so I will be trying out Hotpod Yoga at Cardiff Central instead.

Did you know that the philosopher Schopenhauer owned a series of poodles throughout the later part of his life, naming them all “Atma”, the Hindu word for the supreme universal soul from which all other souls arise?

I shall be sure to meditate on this during class.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Total Eclipse of Descartes

At John's recommendation, I listened to the first BBC Radio episode of Rob Newman's Total Eclipse of Descartes last night in the gaff as I was pottering around getting ready for today's jaunt to Cardiff via Portishead. Good stuff; I will try and catch episode 2 next Wednesday.

Progress for both Newman R and me, as when I went to see him in a previous show in 2004 I didn't seem to like it much at all (Icons passim).

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ageing Curmudgeon Confronts Mortality

John was in London last night so we watched The Last Movie Star (Icons passim) on Amazon. It is a wonderful film.

It turns out that there are plenty more options in the Ageing Curmudgeon Confronts Mortality genre.

In cinemas now:

On Netflix:

Fingers crossed they both end with A Last Shot At Redemption and we get a chance to work through them while the experience is visceral rather than elegiac.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Whitton Punks

As I approached London on the way back from Warwickshire earlier today, I tuned in to Robert Elms on BBC Radio London.

In his Notes & Queries section he was asking for information about "Whitton Punks." Living in Whitton as long as I did I am interested in them too. I wonder why they are remembered or still going, and if anyone I know is in the frame.

I couldn't listen to the end of the show once I got back to the office but it will be available soon at

Perhaps I can out it on this evening as I am pottering about.

I came on board between Elms playing The Band's Acadian Driftwood and George Benson's This Masquerade.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Like Water for Chocolate

Last Saturday night, after getting back from visiting mum in hospital and dad in the home,  my brother and I opened some wine and went to work preparing a large and elaborate spicy lamb pilaf in the family home's kitchen.

It was comforting to have something that required attention, without being overtaxing, to do after the rigours and emotions of the day.

I will be back again this weekend so we will do the coq au vin from Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook; my copy was a birthday present from my mother in 2005.

The recipe is legitimately on the internet here so John can bone up on it before I get to Cardiff if he wants.
Another easy dish that looks like it’s hard. It’s not. In fact, this is the kind of dish you might enjoy spending a leisurely afternoon with. There are plenty of opportunities for breaks. It’s durable, delicious, and the perfect illustration of the principles of turning something big and tough and unlovely into something truly wonderful. I know it looks like a lot of ingredients, and that the recipe might be complicated. Just take your time. Knock out your prep one thing at a time, slowly building your mise en place. Listen to some music while you do it. There’s an open bottle of wine left from the recipe, so have a glass now and again. Just clean up after yourself as you go, so your kitchen doesn’t look like a disaster area when you start the actual cooking.
You should, with any luck, reach a Zen-like state of pleasurable calm. And like the very best dishes, coq au vin is one of those that goes on the stove looking, smelling, and tasting pretty nasty, and yet later, through the mysterious, alchemical processes of time and heat, turns into something magical.
That sounds like therapy.

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Last Movie Star

Burt Reynold's died last week, and my father was admitted to a care home where I visited him for the first time on Saturday.
An aging former movie star is forced to face the reality that his glory days are behind him. On its surface, the film is a tale about faded fame. At its core, it's a universal story about growing old.
Me, boxes of both wine and Kleenex, and my Amazon Fire TV stick have an appointment with this movie one evening this week.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Categorical imperative

The categorical imperative (German: kategorischer Imperativ) is the central philosophical concept in the deontological moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Introduced in Kant's 1785 Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, it may be defined as a way of evaluating motivations for action.
According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in an imperative, or ultimate commandment of reason, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition declaring a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary.
Kant, unlike for example Mill, believed that certain types of actions (including lying) were absolutely prohibited, even in cases where the action would bring about more happiness than the alternative.

I bet you anything you like that Immanuel Kant never, ever had a mother recovering in hospital from a hip operation and a father with Alzheimer's he had to keep reassured.

This weekend I have been channelling Fibber McGee at the expense of Kant.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

The filial countdown

I am back in Cardiff to see Mum and Dad after the last two days' ructions.

My hometown seems to be letting any riff raff in these days.

Lin-Manuel Miranda inspired an incredible musical sing-a-long on Thursday night after making a surprise appearance at a Cardiff open mic night.
The Hamilton creator and star, who is in Wales filming for the BBC’s His Dark Materials, turned up at music night Jane’s Calamity in Porters bar and sang hits from Les Misérables and Hamilton with the crowd.

Fans shared footage of the actor arriving on stage and performing songs including My Shot and One Day More.

He had been tipped off about the night on Twitter last month, and promised that if he was off work he would come along.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Whom the gods would destroy

Mum fell and fractured her hip yesterday. She was operated on last night. Neil my brother in law is a doctor in the same hospital and spoke to the surgeon/consultant who said the procedure went well but warned that we should expect to see a level of general deterioration in her overall state.

My brother John is with my father in the family home as Dad is not capable of looking after himself. We have got him booked into Belle Vue (registered with the Care Standards Inspectorate of Wales to accommodate care for 40 persons with dementia) from today as he needs someone with him 24/7 and we can't provide that as a family because we all work.

John sent me a bitter-sweet text last night after midnight as he was packing a bag for the old man, and I imagine that the admission today will be painful.

Needs must. How was your day?

Thursday, September 06, 2018

No Show Thello

I didn't get to Othello at the Globe last night (Icons passim).

My mistake seemed to be going home after work and settling down with a glass of wine. When it came time to set off I just couldn't be bothered. Note to future self: either go straight to the venue from work or get more than one ticket so you fear letting someone down by binning it at the last minute.

Safely ensconced in the crib, I returned to my Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Netflix binge and got up to Season 2: Episode 5 Sicily.

In this our hero realises his local fixer isn’t showing him the real Sicily, and is instead creating a faux experience for him and the show.
“We were supposed to go off with an artisanal octopus fisherman and obviously nothing living had ever been near the site in Sicily. It was heavily trafficked by tourists and pleasure boats. Something snapped in me, and a big mistake with the producer at the time, was he put me in a café to calm down until the next take and I began pounding negronis, 18 of them. I was blackout drunk for the next scene, which was good because the artisanal fisherman was going to take us back to his 'traditional' restaurant. I go back and it’s a square plate with a metal ring full of tuna tartar with an avocado on top and squeeze bottle designs. (As I saw later on film, because I don’t remember the scene at all.) It was a low point. I am snake bit as far as Sicily. You cannot make great TV in Sicily. It’s a fantastic location, the food is awesome, the people and everywhere you look is great, but for some reason both times I have made shows in Sicily everything has gone wrong.”

“It’s become a hideous, funny failure. But it wasn’t funny to me down there where those dead octopi were splashing down behind my head. I felt like I was speaking in manic, double speed for the next week. I couldn’t breathe, my crew was very concerned and there were some personnel changes afterwards. I'm still pissed about it. This is sort of a dangerous paradox about the shows over the years where the producers understand that when things go really, really badly, its comedy gold sometimes, but its not fun for me. I don’t go out there looking to make a funny show mocking this well-meaning but thoroughly corrupt fisherman who was just trying to make things entertaining.”
He goes off the rails. My indolent sulking is a small thing in comparison. It is a difficult watch now we have discovered how troubled a man he must actually have been.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Cultural appropriation; a primer

Last night, I cooked an Uzbek plov. It reheats well so I can eat it when I get in from the theatre tonight.

Recipes for fragrant Pilaffi were recorded in the earliest Greek cook book Gastrology, by the poet Archestratus in 350 BC. In fact, Alexander the Great was served a Rice Pilaf when he captured the city of Maracanda (the modern city Samarkand, Uzbekistan) in 329 BC.

Though it is well over a millennium later, some claim that the first known recipe for pilaf is by the tenth-century Persian scholar Avicenna, who in his books on medical sciences dedicated a whole section to preparing various dishes, including several types of pilaf. In doing so, he described advantages and disadvantages of every item used for preparing the dish. Accordingly, Persians consider Ibn Sina to be the "father" of modern pilaf.

Pilaf, Pilaff, Pilaffi, Pilau, Perloo, Pillao, Paella ... Plov. You pays your money and takes your choice.

Let's say it belongs to the world rather than any group or culture in particular.

Probably best if we don't get into Moros y Cristianos, though. It is the Cuban version of rice and beans. "Moors" refers to the black beans, and "Christians" to the white rice.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Alexa knows who Callum is

"Alexa, who is Callum Hudson-Odoi?"

I only tried this idly in a quiet minute. I didn't really imagine I would get an answer.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Heart melting, by numbers, begin

Kevin and his granddaughter Kara. This is a snapshot apparently, but a damn near perfect composition.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Kew Gardens

I went to Kew Gardens yesterday.

Why have I never been before? I have only been in London since 1982.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Approaching Year 10

I toddled along to Bikram yoga this morning at half past eight for my 536th session.

The first was exactly nine years ago tomorrow (see Icons passim).

I have been doing it longer than Shona, today's teacher, though you might find this difficult to credit if you saw me in action.