Thursday, July 18, 2019

Andy Tea

Just wanted to let you know Andy is in St George’s ICU . He had an aortic aneurysm yesterday morning and they have done an aortic arch replacement (6 hours of open heart surgery) . The Drs are very pleased with him and he has 2 nurses looking after him. He will be in ICU for another 48 hours but then onto a ward.
This is what I have heard about Andy Cunningham, just in case anyone reads these pages and doesn't know about it. I am too timid to Google  aortic aneurysm or aortic arch replacement.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Seller ZOOMTEC has a message for you.

This is Linda from ZOOMTEC Store. Thank you for purchasing toner cartridges from us wisely.
If the cartridge leak, or print terrible, or something other issues, replying this email is the best way to solve problem quicker. Hope you could kindly contact us before you take bad action to our account, then we will give you a 100% happy solution program at first time for you.
If you are satisfied with our product, could you please kindly leave our product an opinion?
We are honest seller and never hire someone to place a fake order to add positive review. So we have very few review. Your review has important impact on products and will be a big encouragement for us to a better seller.
Though I have probably read more accomplished English prose, this is - to say the least - a charming email. I think I probably will leave them a positive review on Amazon, certainly the printer is churning away happily enough on the cartridges I bought from them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Wit Sandwich

As you'll know if you're paying attention I finished reading 'A Talent to Amuse: A Life of Noel Coward' by Sheridan Morley this weekend.

Before that I read Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee by John Bew.

Yesterday I started The Deniable Darwin by David Berlinski.

If you can't see any thread or connection, let me reassure you; neither can I.

Monday, July 15, 2019

an everyday sort of magic

I started to read 'A Talent to Amuse: A Life of Noel Coward' by Sheridan Morley as preparation for last Thursdays' trip to the Old Vic for 'Present Laughter' but I didn't finish it until Saturday morning.

The last sentence said:
All that London lack now is a Noël Coward Theatre, and I cannot believe it will be too long before we get one.
On Saturday afternoon we saw 'The Night if the Iguana; at the Noël Coward Theatre.

Spooky action at a distance, what?

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The enigma of the eighth pub

As far as I can tell, Friday's Clapham Common to Colliers Wood pub crawl comprised
  • The Alexandra
  • The Windmill
  • The Avalon
  • Wolfgang's Beer Haus
  • The White Eagle Club
  • The Wheatsheef
  • The Mayfair Tavern.
I think there should have been an eighth but I can't remember, which would seem to make sense.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

A simple twist of fate

Frankie says Bob Dylan at Hyde Park yesterday sounded more like my impersonation than Dylan himself.

My work here is done.

Friday, July 12, 2019


I was at the Royal Institution on Wednesday night, the Old Vic, yesterday and I'm going to see the Night of the Iguana in the West End tomorrow so I am awarding myself a Cerihew this morning
Nicholas Browne
The man about town
Grows, day by day, more fascinating
While you are procrastinating.
John, my brother is behind tomorrow's theatre. He is coming up on public transport this afternoon so I am going to meet him at Clapham Common Tube station and wander back down the A24 to the 'Wood. "You know, like Caine in “KUNG FU.” Just walk from town to town, meet people, get in adventures."

Thursday, July 11, 2019

It takes a village

I got a text from the Bomber on Tuesday:
I think I forgot to mention I'm going to Cyprus with a few friends tomorrow for a week.
He had forgotten to mention.

I went to get my hair cut in Ed's yesterday lunchtime. (If number one with the clippers all over counts as a haircut.) He knew that Ben was going to Cyprus and more specifically to Ayia Napa (news to me), because all the crew had been in having their side fades sharpened before the trip.

The coiffeur in loco parentis. I can remember when Ed would put baby Ben on a board on his barber's chair, snip scissors around his head pretending to trim the fluff, and then give him a lollipop.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Round Your Manor

Robert Elms' BBC Radio London show was largely about Wimbledon yesterday. Helen messaged me to say Fiona from the Bookfest was on it.

I asked Alexa to summon it up via BBC Sounds on the Echo last night and listened from the beginning to the end of her interview. She is on just after 'War Ina Babylon' by Max Romeo & The Upsetters.

Here it be, in case I have to refer to it again -

The first item on the show is a conversation with the general manager of the Ely's department store. It may be the most neuralgically boring thing I've ever heard in my life.

He hasn't been there long, but it's easy for him to get to work because he lives nearby! Be still my beating heart.

I advise fast forwarding to the reggae.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

21st Century Limerick Updates: Part 1

The anonymous original about Gertrude Stein, Jacob Epstein and Albert Einstein:
There's a wonderful family called Stein,
There's Gert and there's Ep and there's Ein;
Gert's poems are bunk,
Ep's statues are junk,
And no-one can understand Ein.
Replacing Jacob with Jeffrey Epstein:
There's a wonderful family called Stein,
There's Gert and there's Ep and there's Ein;
Gert's poems are junk,
Ep? kids in his bunk,
And no-one can understand Ein.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Liver Little

Tennis star Nick Kyrgios took a trip down to Wimbledon's Dog & Fox pub night before Nadal match
Controversial Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios had an "unorthodox" preparation for his match against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon - a trip to the pub.
The 24-year-old was spotted at the Dog and Fox pub on Wimbledon High Street on Wednesday night.
Sports journalist Miguel Seabra tweeted that he had shared "a toast" with Kyrgios and his friends during the evening.
He wrote on Twitter: "I just had a toast with Nick Kyrgios at the Dog & Fox.
"He is completely relaxed, laughing with friends, chatting with girls, drinking."
Mr Seabra added: "Quite an unorthodox preparation for tomorrow's blockbuster, uh? I like it."
I like it too; a solvent of enthusiasm, virtue, and elevation.

Sunday, July 07, 2019


I am going to see Lungs at the Old Vic on 17 October as I continue to bank one interesting event a month well in advance.

That said September's Elvis Festival still needs firming up, though I am sure all will be well.

Saturday, July 06, 2019


Josh Adams
In an upstairs window of the Irish president’s official residence, one lamp flickers constantly. Lit by President Mary Robinson in 1990, it is a beacon to light the way home for the millions of descendants of the Irish who left their homeland over the centuries. (Ireland’s population peaked at more than eight million people in around 1840 and hasn’t yet recovered almost two centuries later.)
This paragraph led me to the Irish population analysis article in Wikipedia, and more specifically to the figures for my DNA's home county Cork.

There were 854,000 people there in 1841, but only 542,000 in 2016 the last year for which we have figures.

To my surprise the lowest population figure was 330,000 in 1961 the year I was born; half a million less than a hundred and twenty years earlier. Constant decline to 1961 and a gradual recovery since, so it wasn't just the Potato Famine that was responsible.

If I ever get to Cork I must try and get along to the Ballymaloe Cookery School.

I realise it is a bit crass to note this after a paragraph that referred to a famine, over the course of which about one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland. I will go to Skibbereen as well.

Friday, July 05, 2019

Planet Claire

Driving back from my previous visit to Wales to see mum and dad (Icons passim), Radio 4 played a programme about a 104 year old dancer and choreographer whose conversation revealed that she was still in complete command of her faculties.

Coming back from the same mission yesterday, I heard "James Lovelock turns 100" on Today.
Once described as "the most important and original scientific thinker in the world", James Lovelock is still a hugely influential environmental thinker. He's about to celebrate his 100th birthday.
Mishal Hussain spoke to him at his home in Dorset.
He is still whip-smart and, more power to his elbow, was promoting his new book Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence.

My dad's conversation, by was of contrast could be taken down verbatim and used as lyrics by the B52s. I can actually imagine him saying
She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
Oh, faster than the speed of light
Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head
Some say she's from Mars
Or one of the seven stars
That shine after 3:30 in the morning
Well, she isn't!
She came from Planet Claire
She came from Planet Claire
She came from Planet Claire
How much does luck and how much does lifestyle influence the state of your third age noggin I wonder? If it lifestyle, sign me up.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Nitro Word Games

Ben should think about coming down to Cardiff for this event next May.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019


I surfaced from blackness early this morning and found myself listening to Digital Planet on the BBC World Service at half past five.
The song ‘weightless’, by the British band Marconi Union, is regularly called ‘the most relaxing song ever’. The 8-minute track was made in collaboration with a sound therapist, to use in an experiment investigating whether music could help reduce stress. Weightless has gone on to have millions of listens on Youtube, but how did science theory and music technology come together to create the relaxation hit? Bobbie Lakhera went into the recording studio to find out.
I must dig deeper into this There may be some cross over with the Science of Music event I am going to at the Royal Institution next week.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Cyprus Hill

A missile exploding in the air before landing in Cyprus on the very same day that the Hendries arrived there for a week or so's holiday is not funny, and I am quite frankly appalled that you are
sniggering about it at the back of the class. When are you going to grow up?

Monday, July 01, 2019

Yer we are in Wales, over by yer

I should be in Wales tomorrow myself with a following wind.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Not Angles but Angels

I tend to look at Empire Online of a morning when I am catching up with the world and trying to fool my brain into doing some work.

A couple of day ago I was a trailer for a Charlie's Angels reboot on it and recognised British accents.

These accents belong to actresses called Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska.

Wikipedia tells me both were born in London.

Scott's mother, Usha, was born in Uganda, of Gujarati Indian descent, and immigrated to England at a young age and her father, Christopher, is English. Balinska is the daughter of English chef Lorraine Pascale - born to Jamaican parents - and Polish entrepreneur Kazimierz Balinski-Jundzill.

I find this immensely cheering. As Keynes would have it:
Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits—a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.
Which is a round about way of saying that m way of saying that - over the long term- it is miscegenation that will save us.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


Mother Africa Sauce
In cooking school, we were taught the five French “mother sauces” as defined by French cuisine. The foundational sauce to the Afro-Asian flavor profile is what we call 'the Mother Africa Sauce,' a riff on West African peanut sauce.

You can pour it over a bowl of rice. You can dice up a sweet potato and mix it in as a stew. It tastes delicious with the meat of the chicken thigh crumbled into the mix. This sauce will keep for five days in the fridge and you can eat it every day, in a different way. It’s an easy back-pocket sauce that you can’t mess up. It’s both comfort food and comforting to cook. So give it a try.
After reading a post on these pages, my brother John got me a signed copy of the Between Harlem and Heaven cookbook for my birthday last week. I have read all the fascinating narrative that accompanies the recipes in it so now is the time to get cooking. Mother Africa sauce looks like the launchpad.

Ikoyi in St. James's Market, London has a Michelin star.
Ikoyi creates its own innovative cuisine based on the interpretation of West African ingredients. We combine bold heat and umami with the highest quality products in a warm and welcoming environment.
We explore ingredients such as Grains of Selim, a smoky peppercorn with the scent of eucalyptus, wild black tiger prawns and scotch bonnet chillies, which we ferment, burn and pickle.
Maybe I can take John  there for the tasting menu as his birthday present?.

Friday, June 28, 2019


I took it easy last night after an unbroken spell of dissipation that lasted from last Friday's party to meeting up with James (who I haven't seen since Wales v Australia in November and now lives in Ironbridge) in the Standard on Wednesday.

The stand down evening's entertainment consisted of part one of George Clooney's Catch-22 TV series on catch up TV then episode two on Channel 4 at nine o'clock.

All these decades later, I can't remember if I read Catch-22 when I was pretending to study for my O levels or two years later when I was pretending to study for my A levels*. Read it I did though, with the fervid attention that only a displacement activity can summon from me, so I know it well.

I must say that I think Clooney and co have done a great job, especially with untangling and straitening out the kaleidoscopic, achronological structure of the original.

We do miss one of my favourite jokes though; that Major Major bore a sickly resemblance to Henry Fonda and that "long before he even suspected who Henry Fonda was, he found himself the subject of unflattering comparisons everywhere he went."

Great job though, and four more episodes to go.

*It emerged in conversation years later that my mother was entirely aware that there was a paper back novel nestled in the chemistry textbook I was pretending to read and idly wondered "who I thought I was kidding.".

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Inspector Sands

I went along to Paddington Station with my brother on Sunday as he was on his way back to Wales.

When we were sitting over coffees waiting for the train an announcement came over the tannoy asking "Inspector Sands" to attend some location or other and John told me that this is a code phrase used by public transport authorities to alert staff, and other agencies such as the police, to an emergency or potential emergency such as a fire or bomb threat.

No threat came to fruition as far as I can tell but it is interesting none the less.

Wikipedia says Inspector Sands is a descendent of Mr. Sands. "The code phrase "Mr. Sands" was used in theatres, where sand buckets were used to put out fires, as a code for fire. The word "fire" backstage would cause alarm to either performers or the audience."

Do you see how I did that, changing the subject from choo choos to mummery so I could boast that we'e got tickets to Present Laughter in the Old Vic the week after next? It just opened to universal acclaim see

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Word on the street

Every week, Time Out readers share the weird things that they have overheard in London. In the current edition they are:

‘Thank you for not looking down your trousers to see whether your knob looks like a saxophone.’

‘We’re spread so thinly at work at the moment, we’re basically pâté.’

‘Apart from Wetherspoon’s, I literally don’t know what you want.’

‘I’ve always been quite wary of llamas.’

‘Finding a dead man at work was a more pleasant experience than getting the train back from All Points East.’

‘How can I garden? Everything I own is Ted Baker.’

‘I wonder what quinoa was up to in the ’90s.’

‘That’s my favourite hydrogenated potato-based snack!’

‘My phone knows how to spell “Berghain”.’

‘It’s cold out here because it’s the air.’

I am reliably informed that the person overheard saying ‘Thank you for not looking down your trousers to see whether your knob looks like a saxophone.’ was - drum roll - me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


The nature of Britain’s ‘elite’ is higher in the national consciousness than ever, with a series of events, including 2016’s vote to leave the European Union, putting a focus on the strained trust between significant sections of the population and those at the highest levels of politics, business and the media.
Social mobility across the UK is low and not improving, depriving large parts of the country of opportunity. This contributes strongly to this sense of distance. This study, conducted for the first time by both the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission, looks at the backgrounds of around 5,000 individuals in high ranking positions across a broad range of British society, and provides a definitive document of who gets to the top in Britain in 2019.
This report seems rather myopic and one dimensional to me. Thinking outside the box couldn't we also improve social mobility by turning more debutantes into crack whores?

Monday, June 24, 2019

a twitch upon the thread

I noticed Jay Rayner in the audience when I went to see Reginald D Hunter at the Shepherd's Bush Empire on Saturday.

Last week Rebecca messaged me about Mercato Metropolitano at Elephant and Castle. She took Steve there on his birthday and he loved it.

I googled the place this morning and found a Jay Rayner review.

This could be God's way of telling us to go there after the Night of the Iguana matinee in the Noel Coward Theatre on July 13th, as it is just a short jaunt down the Bakerloo line from Charing Cross.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ras Kitchen

I had thought that the soothing slow television that is Ras Kitchen might be something of an acquired taste; a private matter between me, YouTube and my chill out zone.

Not a bit of it. I mentioned the show in passing to Ben on Friday. He watches it as well, as does Rayburn's old mate Alex Devereux etc. etc.

Faith in human nature restored.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Happy Birthday to me

It was my
thirtieth58th year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in shower of all my days
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sunlight
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and the sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singing birds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

Friday, June 21, 2019

matcha lattes dusted with Moon Juice and laced with collagen and pearl

Jackfruit are extremely large compound fruit made of numerous yellow 'bulbs' of flesh contained in a hard, knobbly exterior, with each bulb containing a seed.
The English language, while handy enough a tool for Shakespeare, Milton and going down the newsagents to get a Daily Mirror and a pint of milk, occasionally needs punching up.

I have therefore decided (as a public service) to redefine the word jackfruit. Previously, and tediously, a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family that eclipsed the gaiety of nations and impoverished the public stock of harmless pleasure by its very existence, it is henceforth a sexual practice so disturbing that what you are imagining is worse than I could ever imagine.

There ought to be a law against it.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


The Court of Appeal is set to deliver its judgement on the legality of British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, later today. Since 2016, many countries have revoked or suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia – including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland (radicals and subversives all).

Allow me to refer you to:
‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war
Britain does not merely supply the bombs that fall on Yemen – it provides the personnel and expertise that keep the war going. But is the government breaking the law?
Also (yesterday as you won't be able to tell from outraged UK coverage)  the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings published a report concluding that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a premeditated extrajudicial execution, for which the State of Saudi Arabia is responsible.

Fill your boots at

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world named after a family. “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.” – Michael Corleone.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel

Never mind the debate, the country and the economy, it has come to my attention that "Rory" Stewart's real name is Roderick James Nugent Stewart.

If the stars align correctly the run off for the next leader of the Conservatives could be between Rod Stewart and (see Icons passim) Al "Piffle" Jolson.

My work here is done.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

ten thousand yard stare

The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved either one or two separate confrontations between North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but the Pentagon Papers, the memoirs of Robert McNamara, and NSA publications from 2005 proved material misrepresentation by the US government to justify a war against Vietnam. On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing a signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch (76.2 mm) and 5-inch (127 mm) shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox "was unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round."
It was originally claimed by the National Security Agency that a Second Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on August 4, 1964, as another sea battle, but instead evidence was found of "Tonkin ghosts" (false radar images) and not actual North Vietnamese torpedo boats. In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened. In 1995, McNamara met with former Vietnam People's Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp to ask what happened on August 4, 1964, in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. "Absolutely nothing", Giáp replied. Giáp claimed that the attack had been imaginary.
The outcome of these two incidents was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression". The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for deploying U.S. conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam.
In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated, regarding the first incident on August 2:
at 1500G, Captain Herrick ordered Ogier's gun crews to open fire if the boats approached within ten thousand yards (9,150 m). At about 1505G, Maddox fired three rounds to warn off the communist [North Vietnamese] boats. This initial action was never reported by the Johnson administration, which insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first.
As the US sends more troops amid tanker tension with Iran, how far is the Gulf of Oman from the Gulf of Tonkin? "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Banks Of My Own Lovely Lee

Clare 2-23 Cork 2-18

Cork, last year's champions went out of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship yesterday.
How oft do my thoughts in their fancy take flight
To the home of my childhood away
To the days when each patriot's vision seem'd bright
Ere I dreamed that those joys should decay
When my heart was as light as the wild winds that blow
Down the Mardyke through each elm tree
Where I sported and play'd 'neath each green leafy shade
On the banks of my own lovely Lee

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Munster hurling round-robin permutations

India are playing Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup at Old Trafford today. There were more than 700,000 ticket applications for the match in Manchester, and it is expected to draw a global television audience of one billion people.

That's all very well, but my DNA results (Icons passim) mean that I have to concentrate on the Munster Senior Hurling Championship.

Both today's Round 5 Round Robin games are at 2 pm; Tipperary v Limerick at Semple Stadium, and Clare v Cork at Cusack Park.

My genes are predominantly from South Munster so they are supporting Cork.

If Cork beat Clare and Limerick don't win, we'll be in the final on June 30th.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter

Myself: Boris Johnson's not his full real name you know, it is a sort of nom de guerre.

Prodnose: Tell me his real name is Doris. Life will be complete.

Myself: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Prodnose: Can we compromise on Al "Piffle" Jolson?

Myself: If you'll be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dear Jurisprudence, won't you come out to play?

Tuesday before last, as I was driving up to Warwickshire, I caught the latter part of episode three of 2019's series of five Reith lectures. In it ...
Jonathan Sumption* argues that judges - especially those of the European Court of Human Rights - have usurped power by expanding the interpretation of human rights law. Lord Sumption* argues that concepts of human rights have a long history in the common law. But by contrast, the European Convention on Human Rights has become a dynamic treaty, taking on new interpretations and powers. Article 8 – the right to private and family life – is the most striking example. Should these decisions be made by judges or parliament?
Interesting stuff. This post is an aide-memoire to remind me to listen to the whole lot.

(*What a wonderful name. Resumption, presumption, consumption, and assumption are all equally hilarious plays upon it. I am sure he has never heard any of them before.)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Broken Necks, Broken Doors and Broken Dreams

A scrum half who could seemingly do it all, he regularly tore defences apart for Pontypool during 1980's. But controversy was never far away. After winning what would be his only cap for Wales, he was banned for almost a year for punching an opponent. In an era where on-field fights were commonplace, Bishop felt that he was being punished by the Welsh authorities. In this explosive interview, he sets the record straight with The Attacking Scrum. No holds barred, no opinions shirked, Bishop's story is one of great talent and shattered dreams.
Yesterday I stumbled across this podcast featuring David Bishop who went to school with me. (It is probably safe to say this discovery did not coincide with a period of such laser like concentration on work and matters in hand that an independent observer might speculate if I was, perhaps, somewhere on the ASD spectrum.)

That said, and in my defence, I am not sufficiently OCD actually to have listened to it yet, but it is on my to-do list.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Any um-ber-rellas, any um-ber-rellas to mend today?

The Unbreakable® Umbrella works just as well as a walking stick or cane but does not make you look funny or feel awkward. Whacks just as strong as a steel pipe but it weighs only 1 lb. and 9 oz. (710 g). And yes, this umbrella resists the wind and will keep you dry in rain just like the best umbrella should. 
I wrote about this remarkable device as long ago as 2010 (Icons passim), but it was not until last June that Funes the Memorious (my brother John) bought me one - to my surprise and delight - for my birthday.

This week I can confirm (after carrying it with me as a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours) that - for all that it is also weaponized -  it is the best and most robust umbrella ever keeping-you-dry-for-the-purposes-of.

I tried balancing on it between two stools (as illustrated on in the Standard as a tribute, but that was kyboshed by the bar staff because "fell off umbrella" would not have seemed credible in an insurance claim or Health and Safety statement.

I am a unique and special snowflake who must not be put in harm's way.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Bertrand Russell, Bitchez

I was surprised to see a couple of comments from my niece on this Facebook post yesterday. I had always assumed that I was the only one in the family with a philosophy Jones, not that I ever asked any of them you understand.

While we are on the subject though I ought to take the time to praise Julian Baggini for bringing the wonderful History of Philosophy without any gaps podcast to my attention.

I am three elapsed months and 318 episodes into it now; almost having caught up with its nine year history. That said I sometimes put it on late at night and fall asleep (the fault is mine not Peter Adamson's) so I may have to go back and catch up on a few dozen episodes.

Also, having read an enthusiastic review by Terry Eagleton in the Grauniard, I have added Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English by Jonathan Rée to my reading list.

So that is where we are at with regards to metaphysics and ontology, tomorrow Love Island.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Festum Fatuorum

My brother went to see my mum yesterday and asked her how my visit on Tuesday went. We had a great time apparently and I took her out ten pin bowling. This is news to me, and I would imagine the surgeon who operated on her hip as she has been using a walking frame to get about ever since.

Also yesterday, I got an email that signed off:
My pronouns are: She/Her
Without going full Jordan Peterson in reaction that is a first for me.

A Mad World, My Masters.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

There's a production of The Glass Menagerie on at the Arcola Theatre at the moment. It is supposed to be good but I probably won't go as I saw another version only a couple of years ago at the Duke of York's.

What with the Night of the Iguana and Orpheus Descending, on 6 July Tennessee Williams will have three plays running in London. Not too shabby. The Glass Menagerie premiered in 1945; seventy four years ago.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

others have greatness thrust upon them

Kevin Michael TAYLOR, lately President, British Telecom Asia, Middle East and Africa and lately Chairman, British Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong. For services to UK/Hong Kong commercial relations.
Gosh, Kevin got an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. I've known him since the first day of infant school, but I had no idea his middle name was Michael.

You don't have to be 3PO-series protocol droid to know it is his round next time we have a drink in the Claude.

Friday, June 07, 2019

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Hat Tip, Simon

Nothing earth-shattering but this made me laugh out loud yesterday.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

The last freedom moped out of Nowhere City

I'm about to set off from Cardiff to London, via a meeting in Portishead and picking up Frankie (also visiting an aged parent) on the way.

Now that the Welsh Government has scrapped the M4 relief road that was to take the strain around Newport who knows when I'll be back. It was originally proposed in 1991 as a solution to congestion at the Brynglas Tunnels. I sometimes feel like I have spent most of my life queuing for the Bryglas tunnels over the last few years.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Art of Living

On my way back to see mum and dad I listened to Breath is Life: Eileen Kramer on Radio 4 in which the 104-year-old Australian dancer and choreographer takes us on a vivid dance through her life. She is so much older than them that it makes you think.

Also there is an Amazon Echo advert on the TV at the moment showing it helping an older person. I wonder if Anne-Marie has seen it.

Monday, June 03, 2019

I'm ten years burning down the road

10 years later on Saturday June 1, 2019 Siobhan McDonagh MP was in the Royal Standard watching the European Cup Final. Scousers were having their photos taken with her to celebrate their triumph. Very jolly, all in all.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Return of the dad bod

Jeff Mayweather often posts videos of him asking questions of some of the guys inside the Mayweather Boxing Club about who they think will win upcoming fights.

Quite a lot of them picked Luiz to beat Anthony Joshua which is interesting considering what a shock it was to the rest of the world, me included.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

The "How do I unblock my dishwasher pump?" Samba

It's not like me to spend Friday night in, but the resurrected dishwasher (Icons passim) had a relapse so I spent the evening alternately watching instructional videos on the Bosch Home UK and Ireland YouTube channel and fiddling about with the pumps, pipes and filters.

In the end I gave up and ordered a new machine from Currys. It is due on Thursday; free delivery, £25 installation and £20 o remove and recycle the old one. Not too shabby. If I had done that in the first place could have gone to see Marcos Valle in the Hideaway.

Friday, May 31, 2019

"That's My Chair, That Is : The Welsh Game of Thrones"

Now the King is dead, the Houses of Jones and Llewelyn have both eyes set on The Great Chair, meanwhile Cerys-Leigh spends her first day with Carl, and a new threat looms over Wales...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Someone Saved My Life Tonight

The 30 Best Elton John Songs, Ranked, in Esquire puts Someone Saved My Life Tonight first. I remember thinking it was great and trying to work it out on the piano, but I didn't know a lot about it before reading:
In terms of story alone, this is John and Taupin's greatest. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is the brave autobiographical story of John’s attempted suicide. If there’s a single that offers a testament to the bond that John and Bernie Taupin share, it's this one. John entrusted his story to Taupin and the result is a breathtaking cut that combines the heady vibes of '70s pop rock and the deepest vulnerability a human can expose. The song clocks in at well over six minutes, but John reportedly wouldn’t allow any to be cut. That move proved to be beneficial, with the 1975 single peaking at No. 4 on the Billboard charts. The song is more than a pop hit—it’s an anthem of survival, resilience, and being able to throw a finger to the vices that nearly ruin our souls. There are bigger Elton songs that people know every word to, but no song in his songbook captures his range as an artist like "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The feeder

Wales Online
A canal which once ran through the middle of Cardiff would be brought back to life under new plans revealed for the city.
A proposed 'Canal Quarter' scheme in the capital would form part of a larger project which would also see much loved threatened buildings in the city's Guildford Crescent saved.
If approved the old canal buried under Churchill Way will be reinstated.
Unless I miss my guess this will be the old feeder canal in which my Dad (who lived just round the corner in Adam Street opposite the Vulcan) learned to swim.

I met up with old friend Kevin (who went to infant, primary and secondary school with me) in the West End last night. His dad sank or swam in the feeder as well. Small, wet world.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Yesterday's papers

When Michael Gove chooses to announce that he is running for Prime Minister in a podcast recorded at the Hay Festival, the media landscape is certainly changing.

Monday, May 27, 2019

I think they take the occasional pot shot to relieve the monotony

Mad props, to the Goggly algoriddles that You-Tube-Can-Have-A Body-Like-Mine'd the Munchies episode above to yours truly.

J.J. Johnson, the James Beard award-winning chef on the African (and particularly Ghanaian)  diaspora’s effects on global cuisine. What with Red Red, Paapa and the Hudson-Odois I am beyond ready for this.

WINNER OF THE JAMES BEARD AWARD: BEST AMERICAN COOKBOO"This is more than just a cookbook. Alexander and JJ take us on a culinary journey through space and time that started more than 400 years ago, on the shores of West Africa. Through inspiring recipes that have survived the Middle Passage to seamlessly embrace Asian influences, this book is a testimony to the fact that food transcends borders. Alexander Smalls and JJ Johnson have elevated the cuisines of West Africa and its diaspora without losing any of its essence. Afro-Asian cuisine is a new concept and it works beautifully!"

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Mad Professor

Last night at the Hideaway, the bass was so gooey it was sticking to the walls and glooping down like gel. I cut some off with my pen knife and brought it home in a jam jar.

Saturday, May 25, 2019


Clare Balding joins singer Feargal Sharkey for a river walk on the south London/Surrey border along the River Hogsmill one of just 200 chalk streams in the world. He's always been a rambler and is currently walking all of the river routes of London. He is often dismayed and pleased in equal measure at the state of our rivers as he is a passionate advocate for water health and quality.
The walk is part of the London Loop and starts from Ewell West Station and ends at Kingston upon Thames passing through Old Malden.
I found this offering from Radio 4 rather soothing just after six this morning as I surfaced from the blackness, hot and fidgety, fuss, bother and itch, conscious mind coming up too fast for the bends, through pack-ice thrubbing seas, boom-sounders, blow-holes, harsh-croak Blind Pews tip-tap-tocking for escape from my pressing skull.

You may fill your boots here if you fancy it. I had never previously heard of the London Loop. The section that they did is not too far from me.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Robinson Road

A woman has been taken to hospital after she was attacked with a bottle in Colliers Wood.
Scotland Yard say they are treating the incident as an assault, but no arrests have been made, after they were called to Robinson Road at 4.30pm (May 23) this afternoon.
Feck! Robinson Road is where I say goodnight to Frankie on Mondays after the quiz. I turn right onto Park Road while she carries on up to Devonshire.

Too much perspective, that's the problem.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

No meat in this sandwich

I finished reading Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left by Roger Scruton yesterday.

I cast my vote in the surreal European elections on the way to work today.

I will start reading Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee by John Bew next.

Books notwithstanding, the workaday centre cannot hold. God help us modern politics furnishes but thin gruel:
We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven
Though much is taken, sod all abides.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Huawei you? Who, who, who, who?

I seem to remember that Android is based on the, famously, open-source Linux operating system.

Does this open-source bedrock have any implications for Google restricting Huawei's use of Android in the light of Donald Trump adding the Chinese company to a list of organisations that US firms cannot trade with if they don't have a licence?

The question just popped into my mind. I imagine attempting to answer it would involve plummeting down the rabbit hole, so I will just leave it hanging for today.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

El Jefe Rides Again

Coming to Netflix June 7.
In The Chef Show actor/director Jon Favreau and award-winning Chef Roy Choi reunite after their critically acclaimed film Chef to embark on a new adventure. The two friends experiment with their favorite recipes and techniques, baking, cooking, exploring and collaborating with some of the biggest names in the entertainment and culinary world. From sharing a meal with the Avengers cast in Atlanta, to smoking brisket in Texas with world-renowned pitmaster Aaron Franklin, to honoring the legendary food critic Jonathan Gold in Los Angeles.
Love the movie and have Roy Choi's book on my wish-list. I will be all over this show like a cheap suit next month.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tooting's finest

Mail (originally The Times but behind a firewall there)
Britain was today accused of giving ministers the chance of sharing intelligence with allies even if it leads to torture, it was claimed.
An internal Ministry of Defence policy document from just before Christmas reportedly allows the Government to pass tips to foreign spies if the benefits to Britain outweigh the risk of a detainee being abused.
Former Brexit Minister David Davis believes this is illegal and called on new Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt to tear up the policy because it has 'betrayed' British values.
Mr Davis and human rights campaigners claim that the document allows ministers to circumvent a Cabinet Office document that says that in 'no circumstance will UK personnel ever take action amounting to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'.
David Davis (Icons passim) has always been sound on this sort of thing.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

About last night

Concerning Andy and Ollie's joint 50th birthday party yesterday.
Myself: I'm not presently disposed to discuss these operations, sir.
Prodnose: Did you not work for the CIA in I Corps?
Myself: No, sir.
Prodnose: Did you not assassinate a government tax collector in Quang Tri province, June 19th, 1968 ? Captain?
Myself: Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation - nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist, sir.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Tennessee Ernie Williams

We've got tickets already for Clive Owens in Night of the Iguana. Scarce time to take a breath and a Menier Chocolate and Theatr Clwyd co-production of Orpheus Descending has landed.

Consider the movies: if you prayed we'd moved beyond my Richard Burton impersonation or my Marlon Brando, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Si vis pacem, para bellum

Ben and I went to Odeon last night to see the deliriously entertaining John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Both judoka from an early age we were amazed at just how well executed and authentic the judo elements of Keanu Reeves' hybrid fighting style were.

Nomura Tadahiro presents honorary black belt to Keanu Reeves, may cast some light on this.  Nomura Tadahiro being the only person in history to have won three consecutive Olympic gold medals in judo.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Open AI

I was half listening to this podcast on AnyPod last night as I was pottering around.

I must listen again and to the end with more attention. I am intrigued by the perceptron. And by GPT-2 which has led me to Talk to Transformer.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Doris Day

Doris Day wasn't just a great actress – she was one of most expressive jazz singers of her generation, says the Torygraph and I agree.

The article signs off with
Sarah Vaughan, when asked to name her favourite singer, replied "I dig Doris Day!"
Sarah Vaughn is my favourite singer. Two degrees of separation from me to Doris then.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


I just dialled 911 rather than 901 by mistake trying to get my O2 voicemail messages and got the emergency services.

I thought 911 was a US only equivalent of our 999.

Possibly it is not the greatest idea in the history of the world to have such similar numbers with such disparate purposes.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Manchester United 0 - 2 Cardiff City

I thought my home town football team was called "Cardiff City Nil" until I was well into my teens.

If you had told me that one day I would be able to roll "Manchester United 0 - 2 Cardiff City" round my mouth I would have thought you should be carted off to the funny farm.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My Name's Not Prince

My name's not Prince and I'm not funky
My name's not Prince the one and only
I did not come to funk around
'Till I get your daughter I won't leave this town
We're not going to see Wall to Wall Prince at the Hideaway on Friday because it is sold out.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

I was the mob until the mob came for me

As l'affaire Danny Baker seems to divide me from all the "good Germans," there are always those who ask, what is it all about? For those who need to ask, for those who need points sharply made, who need to know "where it's at," this:
I drive food delivery for an online app to make rent and support myself and my young family. This is my new life. I once had a well paid job in what might be described as the social justice industry. Then I upset the wrong person, and within a short window of time, I was considered too toxic for my employer’s taste. I was publicly shamed, mobbed, and reduced to a symbol of male privilege. I was cast out of my career and my professional community. Writing anything under my own byline now would invite a renewal of this mobbing—which is why, with my editor’s permission, I am writing this under a pseudonym. He knows who I am.
In my previous life, I was a self-righteous social justice crusader. I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice. Many of the opinions I held then are still opinions that I hold today. But I now realize that my social-media hyperactivity was, in reality, doing more harm than good.
Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. Real change does not stem from these tactics. They only cause division, alienation, and bitterness.
How did I become that person? It happened because it was exhilarating. Every time I would call someone racist or sexist, I would get a rush. That rush would then be reaffirmed and sustained by the stars, hearts, and thumbs-up that constitute the nickels and dimes of social media validation. The people giving me these stars, hearts, and thumbs-up were engaging in their own cynical game: A fear of being targeted by the mob induces us to signal publicly that we are part of it.
Just a few years ago, many of my friends and peers who self-identify as liberals or progressives were open fans of provocative standup comedians such as Sarah Silverman, and shows like South Park. Today, such material is seen as deeply “problematic,” or even labeled as hate speech. I went from minding my own business when people told risqué jokes to practically fainting when they used the wrong pronoun or expressed a right-of-center view. I went from making fun of the guy who took edgy jokes too seriously, to becoming that guy.
When my callouts were met with approval and admiration, I was lavished with praise: “Thank you so much for speaking out!” “You’re so brave!” “We need more men like you!”
Then one day, suddenly, I was accused of some of the very transgressions I’d called out in others. I was guilty, of course: There’s no such thing as due process in this world. And once judgment has been rendered against you, the mob starts combing through your past, looking for similar transgressions that might have been missed at the time. I was now told that I’d been creating a toxic environment for years at my workplace; that I’d been making the space around me unsafe through microaggressions and macroaggressions alike.
Social justice is a surveillance culture, a snitch culture. The constant vigilance on the part of my colleagues and friends did me in. That’s why I’m delivering sushi and pizza. Not that I’m complaining. It’s honest work, and it’s led me to rediscover how to interact with people in the real world. I am a kinder and more respectful person now that I’m not regularly on social media attacking people for not being “kind” and “respectful.”
I mobbed and shamed people for incidents that became front page news. But when they were vindicated or exonerated by some real-world investigation, it was treated as a footnote by my online community. If someone survives a social justice callout, it simply means that the mob has moved on to someone new. No one ever apologizes for a false accusation, and everyone has a selective memory regarding what they’ve done.
Upon reading Jon Ronson’s 2015 book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, I recently went back into my Twitter archives to study my own behavior. I was shocked to discover that I had actually participated quite enthusiastically in the public shaming of Justine Sacco, whose 2013 saga following a bad AIDS joke on Twitter forms one of the book’s central case studies.
My memory had told me different. In my mind, I didn’t really participate. It was others who took things too far. In reality, the evidence showed that I was among the most vicious of Sacco’s mobbers. Ronson describes a central problem with Twitter shaming: There is a “disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment.” For years, I was blind to my own gleeful savagery.
I recently had a dream that played out in the cartoon universe of my food-delivery app, the dashboard software that guides my daily work life. The dream turned my workaday drive into a third-person video game, with my cartoon car standing in for me as protagonist. At some point, I started missing some of the streets, and the little line that marks my trail with blue pixels indicated where I’d gone off-road. My path got erratic, and the dream became other-worldly, as dreams eventually do. I drove over cartoon sidewalks, through cartoon buildings and cartoon parks. It’s a two-dimensional world in the app, so everything was flat. Through the unique logic of dreams, I survived all of this, all the while picking up and dropping off deliveries and making money. In my dream, I was making progress.
As my REM cycle intensified, my dream concluded. I was jolted from my two-dimensional app world and thrust back into the reality of the living world—where I could understand the suffering, carnage and death I would have caused by my in-app actions. There were bodies strewn along the streets, screaming bystanders, destroyed lives, chaos. My car, by contrast, was indestructible while I was living in the app.
The social justice vigilantism I was living on Twitter and Facebook was like the app in my dream. Aggressive online virtue signaling is a fundamentally two-dimensional act. It has no human depth. It’s only when we snap out of it, see the world as it really is, and people as they really are, that we appreciate the destruction and human suffering we caused when we were trapped inside.
Note on method

I have taken this whole thing from where it is free, but I dropped a donation into which I hope squares things.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Touch of Velvet

Why (you may well ask as I did) is Nicholas being plagued with adverts for sex toys, cannabis balm and virility tablets as he innocently trawls the interwebs? I defy anyone to give of his best scrabbling Words with Friends when another part of the screen is pulling on his sleeve with "thrill to the magic Velvet bullet - silky smooth, with 10 powerful stimulation modes".

The explanation appears to lie on the right hand side of the image above. When I went to see Mum at Ty Enfys on Wednesday she was saying she had lost special gloves that soothe her arthritis. She couldn't remember a brand or name but said she ordered them from a magazine. When I got back to Bronwydd I found a catalogue called easylife, and WhatsApped my sibling group to see if the gloves were this pair that I found leafing thought its pages.

After that I couldn't help but rib them about pages 92 and 93 of the publication along the lines of:
They start with then just get saucier and saucier. I forbid you to read it. To think my parents had it in the house.
Two days later kegal balls are being thrown in my face every working hour. Serves me right.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Hands free, as free as the wind blows

I arranged client meetings yesterday so that I could get to Cardiff in the late afternoon and visit mum and dad. It meant (lest you raise an eyebrow) that I had to leave the house before six and visit three towns in the Midlands before heading back home down the M50. (O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods, How often has my spirit turned to thee!)

Duty done, I returned to spend the night in Bronwydd. Curious as to how Spurs were getting on I launched "Alexa, play Radio 5 Live" in to the ether. "No answer!” came the stern reply; “You’ll get no help from me!"

There are no native Alexa devices in Browne Acres, but it did lead me to revisit the limp-wristed Alexa app on my Surface Pro. Alexa is now hands-free on every Windows 10 device, and has been since yesterday. I can talk to it. Order is restored to the universe.

What can be in this for Amazon I wonder? There is no income stream. It must be to do with making the platform ubiquitous.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

six impossible things before breakfast

Yesterday Liverpool overturned a three goal deficit in the second leg of the semi-final, to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate and qualify for the Champions League final.

On the same day the government confirmed that the European elections will go ahead on 23 May, despite the fact that the country voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago in June 2016.

If you ask me, the latter is the crazier.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019


  • Stop playing old-time rock and roll.
  • Try to take him to a disco. (see also: “tango, go to hear them play a…”)
  • Fail to stifle a yawn when he reminisces about the days of old.
  • Leap into the room and shout, “Who wants to go to Fire Lake!”
  • Instigate a debate about alternative energy sources and obstinately come out against the wind.
  • Subtly remind Bob Seger that Betty Lou’s gettin’ out tonight.
  • Tell Bob Seger that he’s still the same, but in a tone that’s not necessarily a compliment.
  • Call Bob Seger “a relic,” call him what you will.
  • Continue playing rock and roll that is not old-time but nonetheless recognized as a classic of the genre.
  • Start humming a tune from 1962.
  • Suggestively tell Bob Seger that you know it’s late, you know he’s weary, you know his plans don’t include you…
  • Just take those old records off the shelf. (see also: “old records, proper storage of”)
  • Whip out the sax.
  • Night moves.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Crocodile Park

All this is filmed yards from my house. O brave new world, that has such people in it.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

The Ruler of the Queen's Navee

Penny Mordaunt - Wikipedia
When receiving The Spectator magazine's Parliamentarian of the Year award in November 2014, Mordaunt said that she had delivered a speech in the House of Commons just before the Easter recess in 2013 on poultry welfare so as to use the word "cock", as a forfeit for a misdemeanour during Naval Reserve training. Mordaunt used the word "cock" six times and "lay" or "laid" five times. Following her comments, she was accused by Labour MP Kate Hoey of trivialising parliament.
In 2014, Mordaunt appeared on reality television programme Splash!. Although some[who?] criticised the media appearance, in terms of questioning whether her focus should have been on her constituency work, Mordaunt stated that the response was overwhelmingly positive and defended her appearance.

On 1 May 2019, Mordaunt was appointed as the first ever female Defence Secretary.

Friday, May 03, 2019

You don't have to brush your teeth - just the ones you want to keep

The Bomber had a tooth out this morning. His orthodontic treatment that has now been going on since October 2014, but I think we are in the home straight.

His suffering in the car on the way back triggered a flash back. I seem to remember my father removing a wobbly milk tooth of mine by tying a slender cord (cotton?) around it and attaching the other end to the handle of a door which he then slammed shut. Thus effecting the extraction.

Can this be right or have I imagined it? It seems almost inconceivable in 2019, for all that it has left me with a famously winning smile.


I got this message from my brother Vince via WhatsApp:
I quite clearly remember dad removing your tooth (eventually) just as you have described!
Take that Generation Snowflake!

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Fan (the flames?) Club (the seals?)

Rory Stewart was named  cabinet secretary for international development on Wednesday in a reshuffle sparked by the firing of Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over the leak of information about Chinese telecoms company Huawei.

I approve of Rory Stewart. I first approved on September 15 2011.

Subsequent approvals:

Wednesday, May 01, 2019


Last night, Kevin and Frankie were talking about starting to serve jackfruit at Coffee in the Wood.

On my way home I popped into the Co-Op, spied and picked up pulled jackfruit in a sweet and smoky BBQ sauce served with seasoned wedges and red cabbage slaw from the reduced price shelf.

There could definitely be room in my life for this.

While we are on the subject of grub, I am also currently two episodes into Netflx's new Street Food series.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Modesty Forbids

We won the quiz in the Antelope last night, but spending our fifty quid voucher will have to wait. There's no event next Monday because it is a Bank Holiday.

We won it on Monday April 15th as well, then had to take a sabbatical the following week on Easter Monday.

This means that come Monday May 13th we will have been reigning champs for all but a month.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Loyle Carner

I stumbled across Profile on Radio 4 about Loyle Carner: rapper and cookery teacher. Could anything be more up my street?

Early days but I like what "Alexa, play songs by Loyle Carner" turns up.

"They ask why every fxxking song the fucking same, And I tell them it's 'cause ain't nothing changed" is a great lyric.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

the giddy social whirlwind

The Surrey Food Festival was called off yesterday. The wind had blown stuff over in the morning. Whatever happened to the Blitz spirit? We retired to the Tap Tavern instead.

If I hadn't gone to Richmond however I wouldn't have known that Edmond de Bergerac was on in the theatre there this week. I love all things Cyrano so I will try and catch it if I can find time.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

the giddy social whirl

I am off to the Surrey Food Festival in Richmond this afternoon.

You are probably underwhelmed but it gives me something to write here.

Friday, April 26, 2019


After yesterday, we have yet another Welsh Maths Icon, William Jones, born in Anglesey in 1675, was the first recorded mathematician to use the symbol π in its present sense.

The Man Who Invented Pi
The history of the constant ratio of the circumference to the diameter of any circle is as old as man's desire to measure; whereas the symbol for this ratio known today as π (pi) dates from the early 18th century. Before this the ratio had been awkwardly referred to in medieval Latin as: quantitas in quam cum multiflicetur diameter, proveniet circumferencia (the quantity which, when the diameter is multiplied by it, yields the circumference).
It is widely believed that the great Swiss-born mathematician Leonhard Euler (1707-83) introduced the symbol π into common use. In fact it was first used in print in its modern sense in 1706 a year before Euler's birth by a self-taught mathematics teacher William Jones (1675-1749) in his second book Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos, or A New Introduction to the Mathematics based on his teaching notes.
....... read on.....

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Robert Recorde

Well I never! Robert Recorde; a Welsh Born Icon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019


I woke up early this morning, so I started listening to the BBC World Service. There was a show called Click on at about half past five; technological and digital news from around the world.

One of the items on today's episode was about Dame Steve Shirley. The early IT female pioneer (Steve is short for Stephanie) spoke about her career, what she thinks of the tech scene now, she has donated millions of her fortune to charity, her reissued autobiography, and the film that is likely to be made of it; hers is a fascinating story, she arrived Britain in 1939 as a Kindertransport child refugee.

It reminded me that I met her years ago, when she came to talk at a sort of weekend retreat that I went to as part of a private sector/civil service discussion group.

I also met Enoch Powell at a similar bun fight, but that is another story.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Because football … football is about nothing unless it's about something. And what it is about … is football.

Terrible news about Callum; fingers crossed. Wikipedia says

In other football news, friends were away over Easter and lent me their Arsenal season tickets so I took life-long fan Paul to see Crystal Palace at the Emirates on Sunday. He was delighted when his "Eagles" won 3-2.

We stayed in the ground for a pint afterwards waiting for the crowd to dissipate and for the queue at the tube station to thin. This was when he told me it was only the second occasion in his life that he had seen his beloved Palace live. He couldn't recall the date of the first visit, but he did remember that he was standing in the terraces. That puts his first time before the Taylor Report that introduced all-seater grounds after the Hillsborough disaster, so it must be at least thirty odd years ago.

He owes me big time.

Monday, April 22, 2019

So many destination faces going to so many places

Groggily on waking this morning:
Myself: Alexa, ask Heathrow about flight BA1518.
Alexa: British Airways flight BA 1518 from Chicago to Terminal 3, scheduled to arrive today at 09:05, is expected at 09:25.
Whatever would I do without her.

I am will be off to collect Ben when he gets back from Florida shortly.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Fields of Athenry

According to my AncestryDNA results I am overwhelmingly descended from people who lived in South West Munster. This has led me to transfer some loyalty to Munster in sport, so I was backing them (to no avail unfortunately) against the Saracens in the European Champions Cup semi-final yesterday.

According to Wikipedia:
Munster fans are known for their silence when a kick is being taken, but also for their boos when an opposing player is waiting under a high ball. Fans repeatedly chant "MUNSTER" or sing "The Fields of Athenry" (an Irish famine song from Galway, Connacht) and "Stand Up and Fight" (from the Broadway musical Carmen Jones.)
That is right, we Munster Fans repeatedly chant "MUNSTER". Whoever would have guessed?

When singing The Fields of Athenry we build to this last verse:

By a lonely harbour wall, she watched the last star fall
As the prison ship sailed out against the sky
Sure she'll wait and hope and pray for her love in Botany Bay
It's so lonely round the fields of Athenry.

There is a section in my online AncestryDNA report called DNA Origins that can be broken down by time slice. My map from 1825 to 1850 is inserted below.

Can you see the faint line from Ireland to Australia? (If you click on the image you will see a larger version.) The line all but lands in Botany Bay! Some other offspring of my forefathers was probably  probably - like the poor boy in the song - transported there as a convict before our branches escaped to Wales.

Here is what the analysts say the dots and lines on the map represent:
The dots represent ancestral birth locations. We collect birth locations and dates from online trees that members of Genetic Communities™ have linked to their AncestryDNA results. We remove locations that are not statistically significant or relevant to a Genetic Community. Then, based on that data, we create maps with large and small dots showing population density at different times.
We use the same data to track migration patterns by comparing birth locations between parents and children. These are reflected by the lines on the map. By looking at changes in migration paths over time, we gain more insight into where and when people moved.
You'll notice the dots change with the time periods. Each dot represents ancestors born during that time. A dot in the middle of a state or country that doesn’t seem to correspond with a population center represents people in trees who had only a state or country listed as a birth location.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

faraway, so close

The photo (from Facebook) is the air ambulance landing in Lavender Park after a 15 year old boy was stabbed around the corner in Steers Mead yesterday afternoon.

Steers Mead is less than a mile's walk from my house.

The Old Ruts play the odd home game at Lavender Park on Sunday mornings, and we always see Callum's dad Bismark when they do as he coaches football there at the same time in the cage.

See Knife Crime. See Dan Young RIP.

Nigel Tufnel: It really puts perspective on things though, doesn't it?
David St. Hubbins: Too much. There's too much fxxking perspective now.

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Midsummer Night's Dream

When we were preparing for our English literature O level all those years ago, the teacher announced in one lesson that we had been reading the wrong syllabus. I imagine there would be an outcry today, but back then no-one seemed to care in the slightest about all the time we had wasted.

Anyway, that was the lesson in which "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was yanked out of my life and replaced by "Julius Caesar".

In Our Time was about AMND this week so I listened with attention as we are going to see it in August. This morning I also took advantage of the Bank Holiday to watch the 1999 film. I could have done without the bicycles in that but at at least I won't be under-prepared when we attend the live performance at Merton Hall Park and will still be able to bore everyone to death as usual a la Reg Smeeton "drawing from my vast, though admittedly unresolved catalogue of general know-it-all, facts of interest etc."


Jonathan Bate, Shakespeare and Ovid (Oxford University Press, 1993)
Dympna Callaghan (ed.),  A Feminist Companion to Shakespeare (Blackwell, 2016), especially ‘The Great Indian Vanishing Trick: Colonialism, Property, and the Family in A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by Ania Loomba
Richard Dutton (ed.), A Midsummer Night's Dream: Contemporary Critical Essays (Palgrave, 1996)
Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard (eds.), A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works: Vol. III: The Comedies (Blackwell, 2003), especially A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Helen Hackett
Margaret W. Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy J. Vickers (eds.), Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourse of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe (University of Chicago Press, 1986), especially ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Shaping Fantasies of Elizabethan Culture: Gender, Power, Form’ by Louis Adrian Montrose
Helen Hackett, Writers and Their Work: ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (British Council/Northcote House, 1997)
Helen Hackett, Shakespeare and Elizabeth: The Meeting of Two Myths(Oxford University Press, 2009)
Katharine Hodgkin, Michelle O’Callaghan, and S. J. Wiseman (eds.), Reading the Early Modern Dream: The Terrors of the Night (Routledge, 2008), especially ‘Dream-Visions of Elizabeth I’ by Helen Hackett
Jan Kott (trans. Daniela Miedzyrecka and Lillian Vallee), The Bottom Translation: Marlowe and Shakespeare and the Cultural Tradition(Northwestern University Press, 1987)
Louis Montrose, The Purpose of Playing: Shakespeare and the Cultural Politics of the Elizabethan Theatre (University of Chicago Press, 1996)
Annabel Patterson, Shakespeare and the Popular Voice (Blackwell, 1989)
William Shakespeare (ed. Sukanta Chaudhuri), A Midsummer Night’s DreamThe Arden Shakespeare (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017)
William Shakespeare (ed. Peter Holland), A Midsummer Night’s Dream(Oxford University Press, 1994)
William Shakespeare (ed. Stanley Wells), A Midsummer Night’s Dream(Penguin, 2005)
Gary Jay Williams, Our Moonlight Revels: A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Theatre (University of Iowa Press, 1997)
Susan Wiseman, Writing Metamorphosis in the English Renaissance 1500-1700 (Cambridge University Press, 2014)