Monday, September 16, 2019

JImmy Rodgers on the Victrola up high

In 1933, the US country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers died of tuberculosis. Just 35 years old and at the peak of his career, his demise left a legacy of a life and career unfinished. This instalment from the US animator Drew Christie’s Drawn & Recorded series, which tells little-known stories from the annals of modern music history, recounts the improbable story of how, in death, Rodgers would go on to inspire not just luminaries of American music, but also the Kipsigis peoples of the Rift Valley in Kenya.
Drawn & Recorded tells the stories that fell through the floorboards of music history and brings them to the light of day via unique, hand-drawn animation and the raspy, baritone voice of T-Bone Burnett. Sometimes hilarious, occasionally tragic, always compelling - these anecdotes show a side of people behind the melodies that you may never have known. Darned if I can work out how to watch the series though. Any ideas?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Don't hate the iPlayer hate the game

A week or so ago I gave you Cardiff's Jim Driscoll and Bruce Lee. Last Wednesday, S4C (the Welsh Channel 4) showed a documentary Jim Driscoll: Meistr y Sgwâr (Master of the Square).

I don't know quite how, but S4C's programmes are on the BBC iPlayer, so I watched it with subtitles yesterday on where it will be available for another 26 days.

27 minutes in, when discussing Driscoll's famous fight with Abe Attell in New York, we learn that:
The sheriff turned journalist Bat Masterson, Marshall of Dodge City and once deputy to Wyatt Earp declared to the crowd, "If I was asked to name this performance, I would call it peerless. So I give you Peerless Jim Driscoll."
So that's how he got the nickname was have always known him by. Could it get any better?

24 minutes in we get:
Kitty Flynn was one of Jim's great nieces. She ran the Royal Oak pub in Cardiff which became a shrine to Driscoll's memory.
Which is where the story started for me.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

On the Laish

As a rule I don't do twee, but I heard the new-to-me song University by the new-to-me band Laish via Absolute Radio's Frank Skinner show as I was on my way back from yoga this morning and thought it was rather sweet. Perhaps "on my back from yoga"  is the key. After a bad day at work the same track could well have reduced me to teeth grinding outrage.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Postmodern Jukebox

Prodnose: Most people don't notice the clown.

Myself: What do you mean, "most people don't notice the clown"? The guy is about eight feet tall, in white clown makeup and costume.

Prodnose: Inattentional blindness, also known as perceptual blindness, is an event where the effected person doesn't see new and unexpected things that suddenly appear within their visual field. This phenomenon is believed to be a side-effect of excessive stimuli in the visual field (too many things to keep track of at the same time) and can cause a person to miss important, but unexpected, items in their vicinity.

Myself: I can see the clown already! Who are you today? Jordan bleedin' Peterson? Can't we just take moment simply to recognize the fact that we now live in a culture where a small band with a clown in a suburban house can get 7 million YouTube views and it is in no way considered odd.

Prodnose: Habituation is a form of non-associative learning in which an innate (non-reinforced) response to a stimulus decreases after repeated or prolonged presentations of that stimulus.

Myself: And we'll never be royals......

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Entente Cordiale

Both the French and British courts handed down important rulings yesterday.

BORIS JOHNSON is facing furious demands for the immediate recall of MPs to Westminster after the suspension of parliament was ruled unlawful by Scotland’s highest civil court.
In a dramatic judgment, the Court of Session in Edinburgh found ministers had stopped MPs from sitting for the ‘improper purpose of stymying parliament’.
It said advice given by ministers to the Queen which led to the five-week prorogation was therefore ‘unlawful and is thus null and of no effect’.
The government immediately announced it was lodging an appeal against the ruling with the Supreme Court, with a hearing set for Tuesday.
A MARRIED man who died of a heart attack after having sex with a ‘complete stranger’ he met on a business trip was the victim of a ‘workplace accident’, a French court has ruled.
Mr Xavier — as he was referred to in court — had been posted to the Loiret département in central France by his bosses at railway construction company TSO when he met a local woman on a night out.
The health and safety officer, whose surname was not given, went back to the woman’s house and they had sex.
At about 10pm on February 22, 2013, he was found unconscious at her home, with police concluding he had suffered a cardiac arrest.
The appeal court in Paris has now backed a ruling made at the time that the death was an ‘accident du travail’, entitling Mr Xavier’s family to benefits from both his employers and the state.
You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


In better off countries like the Bahamas I would think twice about giving money in response to a natural disaster. Although the Red Cross movement is generally your best best in such countries, I *would not* suggest supporting the American Red Cross. The Bahamian Red Cross or perhaps the IFRC would be a better bet. Odds are though that the BRC has all the money it needs in the short term and although some funds will be needed in the longer term recovery they will probably put quite a bit into core funds.
The text above is the meat of this Facebook post by Brendan Paddy. (I am too dim it appears this morning to work out how to embed it.)

Back in 2010 (Icons passim) when I was helping out with the Disasters Emergency Committee Haiti Appeal, Brendan was their Director of Communications. In short he knows his onions. I'm not qualified to have an opinion, but I will pass his on.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Who is the Speaker and why does he shout order?

We couldn't get a quorum for the pub quiz last night, so I fell back down the rabbit hole of the BBC Parliament channel as the House itself recursively fell down the rabbit hole of prorogation.

When I told my friend Rebecca over the weekend about my strange new hobby she told me that one of her boys (Charley or Harry? I can't remember) has been watching it too. I messaged her last night to say that I had fallen off the wagon again, but knew that at least one other person in the world might be with me and she replied with this article from the Grauniard.
BBC Parliament: the ratings hit that's Big Brother meets 24 – with added Bercow
As our politics has become a perpetual bin fire, the wonks’ TV channel has attracted record viewers. Can it replace reality TV in the nation’s heart?
Last Tuesday (the first evening I sacrificed on this peculiar video altar) it turns out I was only one among a million and a half viewers.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Class Act

Dan Biggar against Ireland this weekend tells the referee not to bother with the TMO as he didn't ground the ball. Class act.

Speaking of class acts I was disappointed to see Nigel Owens go off injured in the Cardiff Pontypool game. Just by setting the example of refereeing with a smile on his face, he has transformed mini-rugby. When Ben started playing at under 9s, refs always seemed very pompous, by the time he moved on to the next age-group they would usually have a laugh and joke with the spectators and do their best to keep the mood light. I think it is down to him.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Another life

I have been linking the titles of these daily posts to last year's equivalent for a while now, so I am reminded this morning that today is the anniversary of me going back to Cardiff because mum had broken her hip. Neither she nor dad has been able to live in Bronwydd Avenue since.

I've been going back every four weeks since she fell down the stairs and broke her arm before that. The same blog time machine technique gives me this link, which in turn shows me that first accident was fifty months (over four years) ago.

I don't have any great conclusion or insight. It just wears me out.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

From the Plaza to the Monico

How old would my posse and I have been when Enter the Dragon was released? It has been on my mind since yesterday's post.

I can remember we all bowled up to the Plaza in North Road one afternoon to try and see it, but - unable to convince the concierge we were 18 - couldn't get in. What would be have been? 13 or 14?

After that, we second-bested over to the Monico in Rhiwbina and saw The Day of the Jackal.

I have a very clear memory of the Monico's manager locking all our weaponry (catapults, sheath knives etc.) in his office for the duration and parcelling it back out again at the end of the show.

Police and social services would probably be called today if a "gang" turned up at the Odeon packing that sort of heat.

(Both Cardiff's Plaza and Monico cinemas are long gone I am sorry to say.)

Friday, September 06, 2019

Knowing is not enough, we must apply.

Take a look at the video above. Just over five minutes in (where I have teed it up, just press play) Cardiff's own Jim Driscoll (Icons passim) is revealed a a huge influence on, and hero of, Bruce Lee.

My cup overfloweth.

Dharma transmission vehicle: The Straight Left and How to Cultivate It.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

the mother of parliaments

I have been pretty much glued to the debates over the last couple of days as the House has bloodied Boris Johnson's nose.

You can get the Parliament channel on YouTube (above), the BBC iPlayer, and on Freeview Channel 232.

I found the early courteous exchanges, when the chamber was half empty and MPs "gave way" to each other much more impressive than the bear-bating finales.

Yesterday, Ken Clarke and Bill Cash (both 79 and in opposite Brexit camps) were by far the best briefed and most eloquent speakers.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

It could be worse; he could be from St Peter's

While we are all giving it up for Rhys Carre, let's not forget Leon Brown another current Welsh international prop from, what it is looking like we must call, St Joe's conveyor belt.

Yellow carded against Ireland last Saturday and then omitted from the World Cup 31. That must be hard.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Inna De Yard

I am off to see this in the Clapham Picturehouse (a venue I don't get to enough) on Thursday.

Memories of Jake's and Perry Henzell will no doubt ensue.

Monday, September 02, 2019


Back three
Liam Williams, George North, Josh Adams, Leigh Halfpenny, Hallam Amos
Hadleigh Parkes, Jonathan Davies, Owen Watkin
Dan Biggar, Rhys Patchell
Gareth Davies, Aled Davies, Tomos Williams
Nicky Smith, Wyn Jones, Rhys Carre, Tomas Francis, Dillon Lewis
Ken Owens, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias
Second row
Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Beard, Cory Hill, Jake Ball
Back row
Josh Navidi, Aaron Wainwright, Ross Moriarty, Aaron Shingler, Justin Tipuric, James Davies.
The real surprise here is Rhys Carre who has only started four professional matches in his career. I am made up though because he started his rugby at St Joseph's in Cardiff.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Who do I think you are?

Episode 6 in series 16 of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are? is about Paul Merton tracing his roots. His Irish grandfather was from Waterford in Munster, died in the Glamorganshire canal and is buried in Cathays in Cardiff.

Very much the same stock as us. You can see the programme on for another 27 days.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

"O Captain! My Captain!"

Josh Navidi is captaining Wales against Ireland today in the Rugby World Cup warm up game. His father, Hedy, is from Iran and came over to Wales aged 18 to study civil engineering in Bangor where he met his wife, Euros, who is from Anglesey.

The USA is always telling us that the Iranians are a bunch of lunatics and I think that this workaday fact is a good corrective.

I only found out last week, for example, that Iran - which was neutral - was invaded by the UK and the Soviet Union during the second world war in 1941 with the objective of securing Iranian oil fields and ensuring Allied supply lines for the USSR, fighting against Axis forces on the Eastern Front.

The 1953 Iranian coup d'état, known in Iran as the 28 Mordad coup d'état (Persian: کودتای ۲۸ مرداد‎), was the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in favour of strengthening the monarchical rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the United States (under the name TPAJAX Project[5] or "Operation Ajax") and the United Kingdom (under the name "Operation Boot"). It was the first covert action of the United States to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime.

Iran Air Flight 655 was a scheduled passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai via Bandar Abbas, that was shot down on 3 July 1988 by an SM-2MR surface-to-air missile fired from USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser of the United States Navy. The aircraft, an Airbus A300, was destroyed and all 290 people on board, including 66 children, were killed.

You're not paranoid if they are really out to get you.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Crossing Incontinence

Over two days on the road I as usual picked up good stuff on BBC Radio 4.

On Wednesday it was The Hansa Inheritance
Why does a medieval trading network still have a such a hold on Europe's imagination? Chris Morris explores the power of the Hanseatic League, a network which stretched from Russia to England, covering all kinds of vital products. It used its influence and sometimes force to protect its position for many centuries. In locations ranging from the Baltic island of Gotland to northern Germany and King's Lynn, he reveals why was it so successful, why its memory is still so strong, and how far it offers a model for today's trading nations.
Yesterday it was Kazakhstan: Port in the Desert
China’s New Silk Road reaches across all parts of the globe; building roads, bridges and towering cities where before there were none. In Kazakhstan, China’s neighbour to the west, this vast project has created a port. But there’s no water there, just desert… and trains running all the way from China through to Europe and the Middle East. Meeting the hundreds of shoppers and traders, it’s astonishing to think that just a few years ago this border was a closed military zone - the frontier between two giant communist states. But turn the clock back further and we discover this part of Central Asia has always been closely tied to China, in languages, culture and contested history. For Crossing Continents, Rose Kudabayeva returns to her home country Kazakhstan, to meet people living along the New Silk Road and record how their world is changing.
All relevant to my burgeoning interest in Eurasia.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

It's such a fine line between stupid, and uh... clever

discontinue a session of (a parliament or other legislative assembly) without dissolving it.
"James prorogued this Parliament, never to call another one"

a small dough dumpling stuffed with a filling such as potato or cheese, typically served as a dish with onions or sour cream.

Given the choice I would rather have a Polish pierogi than Parliament prorogued in September,

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

And if his understanding fail, have patience with him

I am queuing this post up and scheduling it in advance as I am leaving early this morning for meetings in the Midlands before swinging by Cardiff to see mum and dad in their respective care homes.

I was watching a video yesterday called "Why Did United States Enjoy Dramatic Improvements in Living During the Last Century?" (Gimme a break it was a Bank Holiday and I had to blow off a little steam.) George Shultz (born December 13, 1920) still has a brain in full working order and he will be one hundred years old next year; my old man is a slip of a boy by comparison.

I wonder how he does it? Take a look yourself.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

bossa nova

Señorita (half a billion YouTube views) has reminded me I am quite partial to a bit of bossa nova.

I will do this Rick Beato lesson when I get 5 minutes, or more accurately 7 minutes 33 seconds.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Don't be telling me about foot massages

Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire science philanthropist showed up at this weekend’s event by helicopter (with his beautiful young assistant from Belarus). He’ll be in Cambridge in a couple of weeks asked me who he should meet. You are one of the people I suggested and I told him I would send some links.
He’s the guy who gave Harvard #30m to set up Martin Nowak. He’s been extremely generous in funding projects of many of our friends and clients. He also got into trouble and spent a year in jail in Florida.
If he contacts you it’s probably worth your time to meet him as he’s extremely bright and interesting.
Last time I visited his house (the largest private residence in NYC), I walked in to find him in a sweatsuit and a British guy in a suit with suspenders, getting foot massages from two young well-dressed Russian women. After grilling me for a while about cyber-security, the Brit, named Andy, was commenting on the Swedish authorities and the charges against Julian Assange.
“We think they’re liberal in Sweden, but its more like Northern England as opposed to Southern Europe,” he said. “In Monaco, Albert works 12 hours a day but at 9pm, when he goes out, he does whatever he wants, and nobody cares. But, if I do it, I’m in big trouble.” At that point I realized that the recipient of Irina’s foot massage was his Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
Indeed, a week later, on a slow news day, the cover of the NYpost had a full-page photo of Jeffrey and Andrew walking in Central Park under the headline: “The Prince and the Perv.” (That was the end of Andrew’s role at the UK trade ambassador.)
You can check out the entire PDF of the Brockman/Morozov correspondence about Jeffrey Epstein here. I don't think the the recipient of Irina’s foot massage comes out of it all that well.

Prodnose: I ain't saying it's right. But you're saying a foot massage don't mean nothing, and I'm saying it does. Now look, I've given a million ladies a million foot massages, and they all meant something. We act like they don't, but they do, and that's what's so ****ing cool about them. There's a sensuous thing going on where you don't talk about it, but you know it, she knows it, ****ing Marsellus knew it, and Antoine should have ****ing better known better. I mean, that's his ****ing wife, man, he can't be expected to have a sense of humor about that shit. You know what I'm saying?

Myself: That's an interesting point.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Rumble Fish: He's merely miscast in a play

Time is a funny thing. Time is a very peculiar item. You see when you're young, you're a kid, you got time, you got nothing but time. Throw away a couple of years, a couple of years there... it doesn't matter. You know. The older you get you say, "Jesus, how much I got? I got thirty-five summers left." Think about it. Thirty-five summers.
I may have been remiss in documenting the Bomber's collection of boxing equipment, but I did manage to record that he passed his driving theory test on December 12th last year.

He hasn't got his act in gear yet in terms of passing the practical test, and told me on Friday that his mates have told him it needs to be done within a year; I encouraged him to crack on.

P.S. This link says it is two years but that must remain our secret.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Hang it all

The Bomber has got a heavy bag and a speed ball in his room on my house, both of which are used from a wall mounted rack. I can remember that we have only had the speed ball for a couple of years, but the heavy bag seems to have been here forever.

Somewhat to my surprise I have never mentioned either of them in a post; and as a rule the 'blog is what I use to moor memories to a timeline. I can see from  my scribblings though that Ben did muay Thai from 2006 to 2009 before moving to judo, so the bag must have been here for at least a decade.

Nineteen next month he is talking about taking them away. Perhaps I will buy him this to hang them on.

Friday, August 23, 2019

don't threaten me with a good time

T-Swizzle (for it is she)
And now I love high tea, stories from Uni, and the West End
You can find me in the pub, we are watching rugby with his school friends
Show me a gray sky, a rainy cab ride
Babe, don't threaten me with a good time
They say home is where the heart is
But God, I love the English
I myself will not be loving the English when they play Ireland this weekend, but I must acknowledge (Swifty as I have been since my birthday last year) that these are good, observational, vernacular lyrics.

There is a great upcoming events poster in the Standard that doesn't have any upcoming events on it; the very essence of don't threaten me with a good time.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

It keeps coming up (fnar)

Swedish comedian Olaf Falafel has won Dave's "Funniest Joke of The Fringe" award. He took the title with the gag: "I keep randomly shouting out 'Broccoli' and 'Cauliflower' - I think I might have florets".

It is from Falafel's show It's One Giant Leek For Mankind at the Pear Tree.

Last year he was third.

Ten jokes made the 2019 shortlist. Here are the next nine:
"Someone stole my antidepressants. Whoever they are, I hope they're happy" - Richard Stott
"What's driving Brexit? From here it looks like it's probably the Duke of Edinburgh" - Milton Jones
"A cowboy asked me if I could help him round up 18 cows. I said, 'Yes, of course. - That's 20 cows'" - Jake Lambert
"A thesaurus is great. There's no other word for it" - Ross Smith
"Sleep is my favourite thing in the world. It's the reason I get up in the morning" - Ross Smith
"I accidentally booked myself onto an escapology course; I'm really struggling to get out of it" - Adele Cliff
"After learning six hours of basic semaphore, I was flagging - Richard Pulsford
"To be or not to be a horse rider, that is Equestrian" - Mark Simmons
"I've got an Eton-themed advent calendar, where all the doors are opened for me by my dad's contacts" - Ivo Graham

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

No man is a hero to his valley

Nearly thirteen years later I met Uncle Simon, plus his Mrs and kids last night; nice people.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


I don't know why but it just popped into my head that I am pretty sure that Ruth's dad was from Kashmir, making two of my nieces one quarter Kashmiri.

It shouldn't of course, but somehow this makes me much more interested in what is going on there.

It's not just me.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Sergey Kovalev vs. Anthony Yarde

Those of us who have never forgiven Sergey Kovalev for taking Nathan Cleverly's WBO light-heavyweight title in Cardiff in 2013, dearly hope that fellow Brit Anthony Yarde can beat the Russian in his hometown this weekend.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Right now, I wish I were a damned ranker, like Hook or Hitch.

I am as surprised as anyone else by the fact Wales are now the number one rugby team in the world. The possibility didn't enter my mind after the All Blacks destroying Australia 36-0 on Saturday to win the Bledisloe Cup.

It seems that Wales' 13-6 victory over England means they just squeezed past the All Blacks as they gained more ranking points for beating an England team who were higher in the rankings than the Wallabies.

It's the first time in a decade New Zealand will not be number one when the rankings are released on Monday morning. is the link we will need tomorrow. It is still shoiwing last Monday's positions as I write.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,

We didn't go to see A Midsummer Night's Dream in Morden Hall Park last night because the weather was too bad.
Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,
As in revenge, have sucked up from the sea
Contagious fogs, which falling in the land
Have every pelting river made so proud
That they have overborne their continents.
The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,
The ploughman lost his sweat, and the green corn
Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.
The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,
And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.
The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
For lack of tread are undistinguishable.
The human mortals want their winter here.
No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.
Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger, washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound.
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems' thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter change
Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world,
By their increase, now knows not which is which.
I am such a pretentious ponce. I admit it.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Eat. Race. Win.

I really enjoyed this Amazon Prime series. It is a very odd food/travelogue/sports documentary hybrid. I don't know if the disparate content will appeal to everyone. I might be the only member of its target demographic.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

I clean my gun, and dream of Galveston.

Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.
That would be the time to bring out the Galvatron AK47 Tactical Pen. I don't know what I have done to make online advertising algorithms punt this kind of thing to me (The Unbreakable® Umbrella?) but punt they do.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Financial genius is a short memory in a bull market.

There was a time, many years ago, when Tumblr was one of the most exciting places on the internet. Those days are long gone now with millennials flocking to more exciting communities such as TikTok and Twitch.
But at its peak, the online blogging service had 20bn monthly page views. It was the go-to place to share photos, graphics and snippets of text. Barack Obama and Lady Gaga were keen users and the site brought in more monthly web traffic than Wikipedia and Twitter.
It was such hot property that Yahoo decided to buy for $1.1bn (£910m) in 2013. Today, however, page views have fallen to just 400m per month and this week the site was brought for less than $3m by Wordpress owner Automattic - just 0.27pc of its original price.
Pippa, my god daughter got a job with Yahoo in 2016, and came and stayed with me while she was finding her feet. It seems like no time ago, but it as long from then to now as it was from her employers buying Tumblr to her starting with them. Back of the envelope calculation the value of Tumblr decreased by about half a million dollars every single day.

It's not really related, but Europe's biggest data centre is a quarter of an hours drive from mum and dad's house. I am astounded. Should I be?

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Road Not Taken

I just got offered tickets fro Michael Franti and Spearhead in Camden's Jazz Cafe tonight but I can't make it. It is a pity as I haven't been along there for years. Maybe even since Boz Scaggs.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Cancel my subscription to the resurrection

I have been paying attention to David Berlinski and Ben Sasse lately.

I am almost certainly a lost cause in polite society.

Like I ever wasn't.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Mad Gardener's Song

He thought he saw an Argument
That proved he was the Pope:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bar of Mottled Soap.
"A fact so dread," he faintly said,
"Extinguishes all hope!"
There was a brief shining moment after Australia beat New Zealand when Wales were the world number one. After losing to England this afternoon, normal service is restored and I am wearing grumble trousers.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Travelling hopefully

If current leaders New Zealand lose their Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia in Perth this morning, Wales will top rugby's world rankings for the first time in their history.

Granted the chances are slim, but it is worth placing a marker about it here on these pages I think.

Friday, August 09, 2019


I will go through these suggestions later.

(I saw Hobbs and Shaw last night with Ben. Russia featured in that as well. Our heroes went there to be kitted out by a gang of lady robbers. The details of exactly why rather eluded me to be frank.)

Thursday, August 08, 2019

What Sid did next

Rugby's loss is music's gain it seems. I preferred him as a gimlet-eyed on-field enforcer rather than a  shy-smile, shoe-gazy guitar jangler, but there you go.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Glass Celine

When Ben was little and on holiday from Primary school, I would bring him into the office and he would play around in the mercifully traffic free Abbey Mills where he knew everyone and everyone knew him.

At that time Tess was running a kids art school and gallery in the shop underneath us. On days when it rained I would project DVDs onto our whiteboard and Ben would watch them with her girls Celine and Annabelle.

All these years later Celine is still a friend of mine on Facebook. She went and studied theatre in Holland (which intrigued me as I have two aspirant actress nieces) and is now involved in running some sort of art collective.

When something of hers turns up on my news feed though, I see through a glass darkly as I have to to rely on Facebook's conversions of Dutch to English.

This week, for example:
Onze vrienden van podium Asteriks hebben een vet mooie pop-up broedplaats in de maak. Deze keer in en rondom de Neushoorn.
has been rendered as
Our friends from stage asteriks have a very nice pop-up breeding place in the making. This time in and around the rhino.

Possibly something has been lost in translation, but the result is Dadaist genius worth of Tristan Tzara.

Monday, August 05, 2019

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

The Onion
EL PASO, TX—In the hours following a violent rampage in Texas in which a lone attacker killed 20 individuals and injured 26 others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Sunday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place. “This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Indiana resident Janet Clark, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations. “It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this individual from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what they really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past eight years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Nuthin' but a 'G' thang

Scrolling through social media after last week’s finish of the Tour de France, you cannot help but feel that the real winner of the race was the man who came in second, Welsh cyclist Geraint Thomas.
For Thomas, last year’s winner, the 2019 race was the opportunity, at the age of 33, to hold on to his title before the curtain starts to fall on his professional cycling career. Instead, he ensured that his teammate, Egan Bernal, a Colombian 11 years his junior, rode to victory.
For Team Ineos (the rebranded Team Sky), Thomas’s attitude echoed the manner in which Chris Froome, a four-time winner of the Tour, helped assure his own first place in the 2018 race. These demonstrations of teamwork and selflessness stand in stark contrast to the years in which Lance Armstrong ruled the Tour with a brutality that would have made Tony Soprano proud.
The demonstration of grace and magnanimity displayed by Thomas — or “G”, as he is known in cycling circles — is a breath of fresh air. He has lodged himself in the hearts of sport fans by helping Bernal win. Few will forget the picture of their embrace when it became clear the Colombian had claimed his mantle or how, in interviews, he extolled Bernal’s prospects.
My thoughts exactly but expressed more eloquently by Penylan's own Michael Moritz.

Later in the same article, we learn that Thomas came 140th out of 141 entries in his very first Tour de France in 2007. From that debut to winning last year! Could we love him more?

Friday, August 02, 2019

This kind of thing is my bag baby

The semicolon was born in Venice in 1494. It was meant to signify a pause of a length somewhere between that of the comma and that of the colon, and this heritage was reflected in its form, which combines half of each of those marks. It was born into a time period of writerly experimentation and invention, a time when there were no punctuation rules, and readers created and discarded novel punctuation marks regularly. Texts (both handwritten and printed) record the testing-out and tinkering-with of punctuation by the fifteenth-century literati known as the Italian humanists. The humanists put a premium on eloquence and excellence in writing, and they called for the study and retranscription of Greek and Roman classical texts as a way to effect a “cultural rebirth” after the gloomy Middle Ages. In the service of these two goals, humanists published new writing and revised, repunctuated, and reprinted classical texts.
Cecelia Watson (may her tribe increase) has not just written an article The Birth of the Semicolon, she has written an entire book; Semicolon: How a misunderstood punctuation mark can improve your writing, enrich your reading and even change your life.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

South Essex drugs-related death toll rises to six

A sixth suspected drug-related death since the weekend has been identified by police investigating the sale of Class A drugs in Essex.
A woman in her 30s found dead in Southend on Sunday is now part of the investigation, Essex Police said.
It follows the deaths on Monday and Tuesday of two other women and three men, all within a six-mile (10km) radius.
I will be following this. I will tell you why another day.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

“To Be Is To Do” “To Do Is To Be” “Do Be Do Be Do”

I am back from visiting mum and dad in Cardiff.

I heard a trailer for Tomorrow's episode Radio 4's Don't Tell Me The Score (a show of which I had never previously heard) as I was driving back. It is about Michael Johnson, an all time hero of mine, so listening to that is now on the to-do list.

Also in my future I hope is The Colours in the Soho Theatre.
The Colours has been created from interviews conducted with patients at Ty Olwen Hospice in Swansea and Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019


About 20 years ago and to my utter astonishment, I won the only golf tournament I have ever been in.

Finally after reading Golf's Stableford format could attract new blood - it is a terrible failing so few people know about it, I understand how this might have happened.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Shared as a public service

If you tied a rope tight around the Earth’s equator and then added a single yard of slack, would the extra material make any noticeable difference to someone standing on the ground? Yes, actually. The answer comes as a surprise to most people, but the additional bit of rope raises it high enough off the ground for our eyes to easily discern it, and our feet to easily trip over. That fact might seem trivial, but the early 20th-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein believed that this chasm between human intuition and physical reality revealed something important about the fallibility of our thinking. After all, if something that seems obvious to almost everyone can be totally false, what else might we be wrong about?
I grant you the objection that the equator is not a perfect circle, but the argument remains compelling.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


I have planning to cook a  feijoada in Cardiff on Tuesday so I picked up a couple of packets of assorted meats, some black beans and cassava flour from Brasileiro at the bottom of the road yesterday. On the way out I noticed they had what looked like frozen shredded greens as well so I will try and pick up a pack of them later today or tomorrow.

Everything else I need is easy to find.

This recipe and article from the Grauniard will provide our stepping off point.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Four songs in, and I have killed two people.

Early to bed last night after I had a couple in the William Morris with Ben after work, then stopped again at the Standard on the way home, so I woke early this morning, and listened to the latest Sodajerker podcast before setting off to pick up the car from the office and head off to yoga.

I was rather taken with the interview with country noir superstar Gretchen Peters, so I have embedded the associated Spotify playlist for further research and embedded it on the right.

Also from the Sodajerker file:
The 26th Meltdown, a festival packed full of exclusive collaborations, world-wide one-offs and unmissable nights, takes place at the Southbank Centre, London between August 3-11, 2019. This year, the festival is curated by legendary songwriter, producer and guitarist, Nile Rodgers, and will feature a live podcast recording with Sodajerker.
From CHIC to Sister Sledge, Madonna to David Bowie, Grammy-winning hitmaker Nile Rodgers has a track record like few others. Together with his fearless manager and business partner, Merck Mercuriadis, CEO of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, the pair are striving to redefine the value of songs in the contemporary music industries and change the face of music publishing.
For this in-depth conversation, Nile and Merck will be joined on stage by Sodajerker, the team behind the critically acclaimed Sodajerker On Songwriting podcast, who will endeavour to learn more about their mission, and uncover the complex relationship between the art – and business – of songwriting.
Date: 08/08/2019
Time: 19.30-20.30
Location: The Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8XX.
That is Thursday week. I wonder if I can make it?

Friday, July 26, 2019

a short sharp shock of blond hair

Recruitment of extra 20,000 police officers to begin 'within weeks', says Boris Johnson. Yep that is right, almost exactly the number the forces shrunk by during the austere coalition and Conservative governments' terms.

Good at least potentially for E-Laws Training, clients of ours, so maybe good for us as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Growing Underground

I read "In former air raid shelters 100ft below Clapham, the future of British agriculture is growing" in the Torygraph yesterday.

The company's website says:
At Growing Underground, we sustainably grow mouth-wateringly fresh micro greens and salad leaves 33 metres below the busy streets of Clapham. Using the latest hydroponic systems and LED technology, our crops are grown year-round in the perfect, pesticide-free environment that these forgotten tunnels provide. Thanks to a controlled environment, each tiny leaf tastes as amazing as the last. Our greens are unaffected by the weather and seasonal changes, and thanks to our prime location, we reduce the need to import crops and drastically reduce the food miles for retailers and consumers.
The do tours that you can book on Eventbrite. I am sure one must be in my future as I continue to try and bank one interesting trip a month well in advance.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Callum Hudson-Odoi agrees five-year deal to stay at Chelsea

Callum Hudson-Odoi has agreed a five-year deal worth more than £100,000 a week to stay at Chelsea.
I advised Jenny and Bismark to prompt him to hold out for Green Shield Stamps as well but what do I know?

See also this day last year.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Events, dear boy, events.

Boris Johnson has been announced as leader of the Conservative party and the next Prime Minister of Britain. Well I never.

Meanwhile back in the real world, omnivore that I am, I seem to have have been appointed to the honorary position of supplier to vegetarians at the H's barbecues.

I am going to proffer falafel in pitta breads again today. I can't put salad in them as I am going to wrap them in foil and throw them on the grill.

Also, last time, a discerning critic may have found them a touch dry so tonight I will experiment pimping them with a roasted pepper and tahini sauce.

Monday, July 22, 2019

the backstop's backstory

I was born in the early sixties so I grew up to the drip-drip-drip of news of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and developed an unexamined assumption that, perhaps, shootings and bombings were how things had always, and would always, be.

Perhaps that is why it was such a group-hug thrill yesterday to see Shane Lowry cheered to the rafters, one of their own, as he won the Open at the Royal Portrush Golf Club. Royal Portrush is in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Antrim on one of only two counties in Ireland with a majority Protestant population. When I was a boy if you heard the word Antrim on the radio or the TV it was never, to say the least, in a heart warming context.

Shane Lowry was born in a town called Mullingar, which is just off the M5 between Dublin and Galway; a place with a back-of-the-envelope claim, to my eyes, to being the centre point of Ireland.

To see all of the Emerald Isle, united behind him lifting the Claret Jug would have astonished my twenty one year old self.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

mi casa, su casa

My next door neighbours knocked on my door last night to tell me that they were going away for a few days and asking me to keep an eye and ear open for their house as they's been robbed last time they went on holiday.

As I was walking back down the street yesterday I spied what I took to be a criminal crew emptying their house through the front door and loading the proceeds into a van.

I was preparing to sell my life dearly until I noticed that it was just their other neighbours moving out; the front doors are adjacent.

At least it proves my adrenal glands are still working; the body's fight-or-flight response is called upon but rarely these days.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Everyone's gone to the moon

While everyone else is remembering Apollo 11, I am wondering whatever happened to Jonathon King.

Friday, July 19, 2019

I'll give it 5

There is now an Echo Show 5 in my life. I snapped one up for just under fifty quid on Amazon Prime Day. This means that my two-up/two-down home now contains and original Echo, an Echo Dot, a Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, and their new sibling.

Near as dammit Alexa in every room.

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.