Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Suitable only for 15 years and over

We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.
A mass shooting - which killed 12 people - took place during a screening of the Batman film 'The Dark Knight Rises' in the US in 2012. The film remained on release in cinemas.

Earlier this year, towards the end of November, Vue and Showcase Cinemas decided to pull a film called 'Blue Story' after a fight broke out at a Vue cinema in Birmingham. Blue Story is a film in which one group of disenfranchised black teenagers from Peckham is at war with another group of similarly disenfranchised black teenagers from Deptford.

According to police, two schoolgirls, a boy and a man were arrested and seven police officers were left with minor injuries. The young people arrested did not meet Blue Story’s 15 age certificate.

According to the incorrigibly left-wing Daily Telegraph, "families queuing to watch the opening night of Frozen 2 at the cinema were horrified when a fight between three girls escalated into major disorder at 5.30pm".

In Blue Story's defence, it probably wasn’t that movie’s content because the film hadn’t actually started at that point. Also nobody was killed.

Reading between the lines, the fight might well have broken out between girls in the queue for Disney's Frozen 2. Screenings of Frozen 2 were not curtailed.

I wonder why Blue Story got it in the neck? Here's the trailer, any guesses?

2019 in a nutshell; a year we are well shot of. (Of which we are well shot?)

Monday, December 30, 2019

A story goes with it

I didn't catch Mystify, the documentary about INXS's Michael Hutchence on BBC2 last Saturday, but I have still got 28 days left to watch on the iPlayer.

Not normally my cup of tea I'll grant you, but I have long had a sneaking regard for the Hutch. Years ago when I was living in Whitton a friend of mine was working on renovating a place Michael Hutchence had bought in London.

One day he heard the architect talking to the client over phone. When it became clear Hutchence couldn't quite visualise what he was supposed to be deciding, they agreed that he should come over and see for himself, at which point (my italics and my unreserved admiration) he had to be told the address of his own house.

He turned up towards the end of the day on the way to Heathrow, possibly on Sydney time already - where the sun was already over the yardarm, but very friendly and gracious. Then having finished his business, and realising a couple of the lads he had been passing the time with lived on the way to the airport, gave them a lift home in his chauffeur driven limo.

In my eyes his light will never dim; RIP.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book III Part I: It’s Time to Teach You Girls

While wit works, seek your orders here girls
those that modesty, principles and your rules allow.
Be mindful first that old age will come to you:
so don’t be timid and waste any of your time.
Have fun while it’s allowed, while your years are in their prime:
the years go by like flowing waters:
The wave that’s past can’t be recalled again,
the hour that’s past never can return.
Life’s to be used: life slips by on swift feet,
what was good at first, nothing as good will follow.

I took the makings of my notorious picklebacks to the traditional Boxing Day party and seem to have taken my brine to the next level  (it was widely praised) but left all the equipment behind when I made my excuses comparatively early.

I found out yesterday that while brine remains all the bourbon is gone. It seems a 17 year old M smuggled it to another room and used it up herself on her own thirst and bending similarly aged boys to her will. Good for her.
What nonsense, Lord Emsworth felt, the papers talked about the Modern Girl. If this was a specimen, the Modern Girl was the highest point the sex had yet reached.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

from the O.P. to the Prompt Side

Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest
Lady Malvern was a hearty, happy, healthy, overpowering sort of dashed female, not so very tall but making up for it by measuring about six feet from the O.P. to the Prompt Side. She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season. She had bright, bulging eyes and a lot of yellow hair, and when she spoke she showed about fifty-seven front teeth. She was one of those women who kind of numb a fellow's faculties. She made me feel as if I were ten years old and had been brought into the drawing-room in my Sunday clothes to say how-d'you-do. Altogether by no means the sort of thing a chappie would wish to find in his sitting-room before breakfast.
Apropos "measuring about six feet from the O.P. to the Prompt Side," if you'd been a fly on the wall when I had lunch with Peter Gill yesterday you would know that both “prompt side” and the abbreviation “O.P.” in the quote from the immortal Wodehouse above come from the theatrical stage.

On the UK stage cueing (triggering a lighting change, a sound effect, or some sort of stage or set movement) and prompting a forgotten line are done by the stage manager standing offstage in the wings. Traditionally, the prompting is done from the left side of the stage (as one faces the audience), also known as “stage left.” The abbreviation “O.P.” stands for “opposite prompt,” meaning the other side of the stage, i.e., “stage right.” Both terms date back at least to the 18th century.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Reading Age

I mentioned to Rebecca yesterday at the Hendrie's party that I was reading Terry Eagleton, and she said that she knew his son from school days in Oxford.

That's the whole story. Shrug your shoulders if you like, mine are broad enough.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Happy Holidays, fellow Schadenfreuders.

Andrew Rawnsley on David Cameron’s 'For the Record' (The Observer):
Neville Chamberlain died in November 1940, just six months after the bankruptcy of his policy of appeasement towards Hitler had forced his resignation as prime minister. This was unlucky because he did not live long enough to write a memoir trying to justify himself. This was lucky because he was not around to hear himself being pilloried as one of the most calamitous leaders in British history.
David Cameron, who was an ex-PM at the young age of 49, is doomed to be remembered as a Chamberlain-class prime minister and fated to know it. Now and for ever more, he will be defined by the one epic misjudgment that terminated his time at Number 10 and hurled his country into the vortex of chaos in which it is still trapped more than three years later. In the unlikely event that Brexit ultimately proves to be a brilliant idea, he will not be able to claim any credit for an enterprise that he opposed. In the rather more likely event that leaving the EU proves to be the gravest error in Britain’s modern history, he will rightly shoulder a vast weight of the blame. And in the event that Brexit is reversed, Cameron will be remembered as the man who put his country through years of polarising trauma for no purpose.
“Brexit is the giant, dark cumulonimbus that squats over the pages of this long memoir from its first sentence. You can sense that the author dreaded arriving at the chapters where he would have to explain himself, for the earlier ones are bulked up with some stodgy padding that could have benefited from more ruthless editing. In the build-up to the breaking of the storm that sweeps away his career, the tone is largely sunny … He tends to the bland when discussing other leaders, but there are a few tangy titbits … The book’s voice is not as humble as the interviews he has given to promote it. There are lengthy tracts of self-justification as he relitigates every controversy of his career before almost invariably coming to the conclusion: ‘I was right’ … the memoir oozes bitterness from the still weeping wounds of a man who feels betrayed … Cameron says he knows ‘I failed.’ This memoir doesn’t convince me that he fully grasps why.”
Sod the season of goodwill and luxuriate in The Most Scathing Reviews of 2019. That at least is my advice this morning. See Exhibit A above.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Wrapping

Christmas Wrapping is as good a post as I can think of today. It came on the radio recently as I was driving home and I was captivated by the bass.

It turns out that it is played by lady called Tracy Wormworth.

Merry Christmas Tracy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Browne with a knee

Literature of constraints: A detective novel written entirely without the letter E, a book of 10 sonnets that share a rhyme scheme and sound... more »
Arts & Letters Daily tipped me the wink about The Penguin Book of Oulipo: Queneau, Perec, Calvino and the Adventure of Form yesterday.

One of the many gifts the OuLiPo has given the world is the beau présent, which is a poem that contains only the letters in the recipient’s name. Here's a haiku from my name: a present from me to me.
I was in a jail,
snow shone on an ashen branch.
Whoosh, here rejoins now.
Which reminds me. I knocked on my old school friend Sean's door when I was back in Cardiff on the weekend, only to confuse his brother Kevin with him when he opened the door. Oulipesque as that may appear, it is still a hint we don't get together enough these days.

Sean and I exchanged beau présent haikus this year.

Mine based on his name:
Bees burn, ere beaks break
A sunken sun rebukes us.
Seek, ask, reassure.
His based on the letters in mine:
Rare is his renown
As when in absence we hear
Sea in a seashell
His is better.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Tweet of the Day

Discover birds through their songs and calls. Each Tweet of the Day begins with a call or song, followed by a story of fascinating ornithology inspired by the sound.
Nothing much of interest on the radio as I drove back yesterday, so here is my least favourite Radio 4 offering: Tweet of the Day It generally afflicts my ears at 5:58 in the morning just before I start my engines with the Today programme.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

British Mirpuris

Three Pounds in My Pocket
Kavita Puri hears what that catch-all term “Asian” really means for British South Asians. Although the Indian subcontinent is a vast place, the main migrant groups from the early "three pound" generation came from a handful of places.
One of the pleasures (let's make that the only pleasure) of driving to and from Cardiff from London is stumbling across interesting shows on Radio 4 which I would otherwise never imagine I ought to catch. That is how I came to be listening the Three Pounds in My Pocket  (link and precis above) on Friday.

Four minutes forty nine seconds into that installment I learned that the majority of British Pakistanis in England have origins in the Mirpur District, which is in Azad Kashmir; Mirpuris migrated because of the Mangla Dam, which was built in the 1960s and eventually flooded the surrounding farmland.

Maybe that is where the girls' grandfather was from?

I am heading East on the M4 this morning, I wonder what if anything on https://www.bbc.co.uk/schedules/p00fzl7j/2019/12/22 will catch my fancy.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

not because they are easy, but because they are hard

American astronauts have had to rely solely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get to and from orbit since July 2011, when NASA retired its space shuttle fleet.

Yesterday, Boeing’s new Starliner capsule ran into trouble and went off course in orbit minutes after blasting off on Friday on its first test flight, a crucial dress rehearsal for next year’s inaugural launch with astronauts.

Today President Donald Trump has officially funded a Pentagon force focused on warfare in space - the US Space Force. The new military service, the first in more than 70 years, falls under the US Air Force.

Stirring stuff, but considering they still  can't actually launch astronauts themselves. I think taht perhaps a period of self-reflection might be in order.

Friday, December 20, 2019

To Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill

This is the first study of one of the most significant voices of modern international theatre, one of Wales's leading writers, and one of the most compelling and beautiful bodies of work in the last fifty years. To Bodies Gone is written by playwright Barney Norris, who has assisted in Gill's productions and possesses an intimate and personal knowledge of Gill's processes and values. He explores a career remarkable in its constancy from the groundbreaking staging ideas of the early productions to the extraordinary heights of the mature work, illustrated by the rave reviews for Versailles, Gill latest play. Norris's principle theme is the aesthetic Gill introduced to theatre, and which has remained the bedrock of his work, in its various manifestations across several decades: Gill's work as a writer and director has consistently revealed the extraordinary in the daily world. Analysing his career broadly chronologically, this study places Gill's work in the wider context of the theatre, providing a portrait of British theatre in the second half of the twentieth century and contributing new insights into theatre history. To Bodies Gone includes chapters on Gill's early work, influences (Lawrence, Chekhov, Beckett), his translations and adaptations (Lawrence, Chekhov, Wedekind, Faulkner), his directing career at the Royal Court, Riverside Studios, National Theatre and NT Studio, plus his major plays - Small Change, Kick for Touch, In the Blue, Cardiff East, The York Realist and, most recently, Versailles, Gill's exploration of the new order following the first world war. The result is a major study full of insight into Gill and into British Theatre.

I am out early doors this morning calling at Leamington Spa and Portishead, before heading to Cardiff, so I am queuing this discovery up up the night before, automatically to publish when I am already on the road.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Emperor Palpatine

According to this Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker review, "Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) lives, and has sent a message to the galaxy threatening revenge with a huge fleet of planet-killing ships."

In honour of that here he is yards from our office in Merton Abbey Mills.

Derek Jacobi is there as well; two emperors for the price of one (remembering I Claudius). While we are on the subject, Ian McKellen has visited as well.

I don't know what they were doing here, I just remember noticing it here on the Colour House Theatre website a while ago, and it popped back into my memory this morning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Life on the edge

Whirlpool washing machine danger revealed as recall launched
My Hotpoint model bhwd129uk is not affected. I imagine it is too old but I am strangely disappointed. It has been a slow day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Age of A.I.

We are at the dawn of a new age and the implications of AI technology for humans are almost unimaginable. Welcome to The Age of AI. Robert Downey Jr. hosts a brand new YouTube Originals series - The Age of AI. Discover the most innovative and leading technologies that will change the world forever. Technology is moving faster than ever, and it’s taking less time to be widely adopted. Join host Rober Downey Jr. to explore the depths of this fascinating, gripping technology. Watch all episodes uninterrupted with YouTube Premium or watch episodes free with ads for a limited time. Learn more at https://support.google.com/youtube/an.... Check out YouTube Premium at:https://www.youtube.com/premium/origi... See if Premium is available in your country at: https://support.google.com/youtube/an...

I am not sure I had heard of YouTube Originals previously but this may be worth looking at when it comes out tomorrow.

Monday, December 16, 2019


I went to see the Old Street Big Band in Shoreditch last week as it is run by Colliers Wood's own Andrew Roberts.

About half way through the first set I noticed Mark Marlowe at the bar so I went up and said hello. I turned out it was his first night back in London for three years as he has been playing on cruise ships, and he was only in Old Street Records by chance as the original place he and his lady were aiming for was closed when they turned up.

Guess what, he and Andrew played together at the Mills in the Mack Big Band nearly twelve years ago (Icons passim).

We must be getting old.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Up the Arsenal

I don't know why Tighten Up presented me with an entire book of "funny" Arsenal quotes at Friday's Christmas do, but they did.

I am about to take it along to the pub to watch Arsenal v Man City as good humour is likely to be in short supply.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Let the healing begin

As an antidote to the general election's fragmentation please find above a debate between two people who disagree profoundly but still manage civility.

Ditto:Terry Eagleton in conversation with Roger Scruton from seven years ago.

You will be fascinated to learn that I have just started reading Terry Eagleton's latest book.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Small mercies

I voted for Siobhan McDonagh, our Labour MP (Icons passim), and she was re-elected with a majority of 16,482.

I must admit, I didn't see the party's national humiliation coming though. I thought Labour was going going to do a lot better than the commentariat were predicting. More fool me.

Here's a small crumb of comfort. Last night Nigel Dodds - the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) deputy leader) lost his North Belfast seat to Sinn Féin's John Finucane and the world shrugged its collective shoulders rather than rioting or throwing petrol bombs. That is an improvement on Northern Ireland when I was growing up.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Elizabeth Is Missing

I was out last night as well as Monday and I am spoken for tomorrow as well as Friday. A therapeutic night in beckons. What could be more soothing than a drama about dementia.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Coyote Ugly

"Live sports screened on our TV'S / BIG SCREEN and food served until late." If we'd known, the Bomber and I could have watched the boxing at Cardiff's Coyote Ugly Saloon on Saturday instead of The Claude.

See also https://www.gq.com/story/elizabeth-gilbert-gq-march-1997-muse-coyote-ugly-saloon, the story that sparked the film. Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame (Icons passim) wrote the piece and used to work there. Might still work there for all I know come to think of it.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Set 'em up, we'll be knockin' 'em down

Kiln Theatre presents PASS OVER by Antoinette Nwandu
A lamppost. Night. Two friends are passing time. Stuck. Waiting for change.
Inspired by Waiting for Godot and the Exodus, Antoinette Nwandu fuses poetry, humour and humanity in a rare and politically charged new play which exposes the experiences of young men in a world that refuses to see them.
Paapa's on stage again in London 13 Feb - 21 Mar 2020, so we need to sort that out for our collective diaries.

Also, James McAvoy's just opened in a critically acclaimed Cyrano de Bergerac. There is zero chance of getting a theatre ticket for that but there is going to be an NT LIve broadcast of it on 20 February so I will aim to be in the HMV Curzon then.
My heart always timidly hides itself behind my mind. I set out to bring down stars from the sky, then, for fear of ridicule, I stop and pick little flowers of eloquence.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Highbrow or Lowenbrau this evening?

Ben and I watched Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy on Netflix when we got to Cardiff late on Friday.

Saturday night we watched Ruiz v Joshua 2 in the Claude. Local knowledge served us well. We were comfy as Shire hobbits in the lounge, while the main bar was so busy it looked like that last assault of Saruman's orcs on Helm's Deep.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Mari Lwyd

I'm in Wales with Ben visiting his grandparents and cousins. Where can se get a horse's skull for  Mari Lwyd? Have I left it too late again?

Friday, December 06, 2019

Nick's degrees of separation

YouTube recommended the video above to me. Because I looked at the trailer for the Two Popes a couple of times? Who knows?

Anyway, as I was background half-watching it and hearing Anthony McCarten's Kiwi accent, it dawned on me that I vaguely remembered Donna (another New Zealander) saying she had a home-town friend who was a screenwriter. I double checked the name with her and it is the same guy.

His last four produced scripts were:
  • The Theory of Everything (2014)
  • Darkest Hour (2017)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
  • The Two Popes (2019)
Not too shabby.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Andy Tea Party

I got a message from Andy Cunningham yesterday saying he was going out for a beverage if I fancied it, and - guess what - he was pushing on an open door.

When I got there I discovered it was a low key celebration of the news that hereon in he only has to see the heart specialist at St George's twice a year.

Less than five months after six hours of open heart surgery (Icons passim) that is a fine early Christmas present.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

I’ve read you had a struggle with booze and all that.

I have been laughing to myself about my great fortune in meeting both Simon Crane (Brad Pitt's pal) and Peter Gill (ditto Anthony Hopkins) in the same three month period. Further chuckling about the idea that the Cardiff-born bard of working class love and loss, and Hollywood's go-to action maestro are nominally in the same business.

Any road, Tony H and Brad P talking to each other (Photography Buck Ellison, Stylist Mel Ottenberg) in Interview magazine gives me a chance to share it and for us to enjoy it together.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Tooting Popular Front

Not my constituency. I will be voting for Siobhain McDonagh but if I lived a few hundred yards further north I would vote for Dr Rosena Allin-Khan in Tooting. This video is funny, sly and self-aware.

Monday, December 02, 2019


Apparently all the men on my father's side of the family are like characters in a Harold Pinter play.

The OED takes the strain:
Pinteresque, adj. (and n.) Brit. /pntrsk/, US /pn(t)rsk/ [< the name of Harold Pinter (b. 1930), British playwright + -ESQUE suffix. Cf. PINTERISH adj.]
Of or relating to Harold Pinter; resembling or characteristic of his plays. Also occas. as n. Pinter's plays are typically characterised by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses.
This may also explain my difficulty in understanding the son and heir: he is exactly like the rest of us.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

flipping the bird

Yon scary man with the beard in this video frequents Coffee in the Wood.

The other day he fed his dog some scraps of the chicken he was eating and the over enthusiastic hound bit the end of his finger off. He had to go to St George's and have it sown back on again.

Shortly after, walking the same dog in the park he came across a goose caught in a wire fence. He tried to set it free. The goose pecked off the recently reattached digit.

I forbid you to laugh about this you oaf. I have laughed more than enough for both of us.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Two Popes

The Two Popes is getting a limited theatrical release before landing on Netflix, so I am going to take PG to see it in the Olympic Studios tomorrow. A debt of honour as he picked up the tab when Bethany and I met him for dinner.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The face that launched a thousand ships

Embed from Getty Images

Andy H was captured by a press photographer last night as Arsenal FC went down 2-1 to Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League. Anyone who can look at this without laughing must have a heart of stone.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Skin of Our Teeth

The Bomber had his braces out yesterday at the orthodontist.

Prodnose: How long have they been in?

Myself: The original plan is dated 24/10/2014

Entire Company: We've got five years, what a surprise, Five years, stuck on my eyes, We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot, Five years, that's all we've got.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Gary Rhodes

I am not sure why this tweet was in my feed today. Perhaps because the guy is an actor and I follow some of his peers?

Anyway, it reminded me that years ago we were at some event where Gary Rhodes was promoting a book and people were queuing up at a table where he was signing copies. Rayburn joined the line without buying the book and when he got to the front told the chef that he was thinking of going to catering college. Gary Rhodes didn't blink an eyebrow about the missing harback and the fact there was nothing for him in the exchange, but had a proper encouraging chat with Raybs and then shook his hand.

Ever since I have been a member of the Gary Rhodes fan club. Top geezer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Papa Was A Rolling Stone

I always come across something interesting on Radio 4 as I am driving to or from Wales.

Yesterday it was an adaption of Gillian Tindall’s The Pulse Glass. Much of yesterday;s first episode was about Stonyhurst Gospel, the earliest known Western bookbinding to survive, and its journey from St Cuthbert's grave to the British Library.

A tip of the hat also to Robert Elms on Radio London for introducing me to John Martyn's Angeline.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Small Change

inews on Luke Evans
So in 2008, when the role of Vincent came up in a play called Small Change, written by Peter Gill about two boys and their relationships with their mothers, he took matters into his own hands and wrote to the casting director of the Donmar. “I just had a feeling that this was the right role, and this could be my moment to break out of musical theatre.”
It worked. “Three weeks later, I landed the role, and it changed my life.” The production caught the eye of some influential people, it transpired. “From that play, I was schmoozed by two big agents in America. They flew over – two different agencies. One took me to lunch at The Ivy. The other thought they’d be clever and take me to dinner at The Ivy. I walked in, and they were like, ‘Oh, good evening, Mr Evans’. I’d never stepped foot in The Ivy in my life, then it was twice in one day,” he says, laughing. Since then, he has appeared in the Fast and Furious and Hobbit franchises, and been nominated for several awards.
Small world, small change. I met Peter Gill for dinner with one niece last month, and Evans' old Cardiff singing coach also works with another.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

one of the most capable leaders in the sector

I am setting off to Cardiff shortly to visit mum and Dad. It is my brother Vince's birthday so I will pop in and see him as well.

The last time he got a new job there was a press release.

There's posh.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us

Esquire UK:
The Mythology Of Emmanuel Jal
The child soldier turned hip-hop star has stories to tell. Esquire spoke to him on the heels of his award-nominated album, 'Naath', a release made with his sister, Nyaruach, who still lives in a refugee camp in Kenya.
I came across the article above this morning. I haven't had time to read it yet, but I am noting it here after seeing Emmanuel Jal's great show in the Camden Assembly last night.

The Camden Assembly is right by Chalk Farm tube station, so - though it is on the other side of London - it is only a no-change 45 minute Northern Line trip.

The Roundhouse is in Chalk Farm Road, so we can add that to the ever growing list of venues I could attend conveniently but somehow never get round to.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Given my moral seriousness: Part II

I know, I know the Question Time Leaders' Special is on BBC1 tonight from seven to nine.
Fiona Bruce introduces debate from Sheffield, with Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson and Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party Boris Johnson facing topical questions from an audience. All four of the participants will be keen to impress the voting public ahead of next month's General Election - the first to take place during December since 1923.
Sorry, I will be in the Camden Assembly.
Emmanuel Jal: Juno nominated Musician, Actor, and Campaigner releases his 6th studio album ‘NAATH’; a stunning joint collaboration with his hugely talented sister, Nyaruach. ‘NAATH’ is a vivacious, Afrobeat infused album with Emmanuel and Nyaruach drawing strongly on the unique sounds of their country; interweaving traditional folklore and love songs – alongside infectious dance tunes.
Whatcha gonna do? Pre-booked.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Randy Andy

We did the Duke of York's website about a decade ago. I've got emails from Amanda Thirsk to prove it.

We haven't been involved for years; https://thedukeofyork.org/ looks rather bare this morning.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

“Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order”

"Bale and Ramsey star" I will grant you, but Wayne Hennessey's double save was also more than significant.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Two households, both alike in dignity.

Given my moral seriousness, what will I be watching on the TV tonight?

From 7pm - 10:30pm (kick off quarter to eight) we have Wales v Hungary on Sky Sports Main Event as both sides conclude their Euro 2020 qualifying campaigns. Simply put, Ryan Giggs’ men need a victory to qualify for the finals. Hungary sit second in Group E, a point ahead of Wales, with one game to go.

But at 8pm, we also have Johnson v Corbyn: The ITV Debate. Julie Etchingham moderates the first live debate between the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties, as they outline their positions on the issues facing the country in the run-up to the General Election.

The footie I think.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Roath Park Lake

With a following wind I will be back on Sunday.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

More Power

I have got my tickets for Emmanuel Jal on Friday because I am very cool.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Do not resuscitate

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), also known as no code or allow natural death, is a legal order, written or oral depending on country, indicating that a person does not want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if that person's heart stops beating.
England and Wales
In England and Wales, CPR is presumed in the event of a cardiac arrest unless a do not resuscitate order is in place. If they have capacity as defined under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 the patient may decline resuscitation, however any discussion is not in reference to consent to resuscitation and instead should be an explanation. Patients may also specify their wishes and/or devolve their decision-making to a proxy using an advance directive, which are commonly referred to as 'Living Wills'. Patients and relatives cannot demand treatment (including CPR) which the doctor believes is futile and in this situation, it is their doctor's duty to act in their 'best interest', whether that means continuing or discontinuing treatment, using their clinical judgment. If the patient lacks capacity, relatives will often be asked for their opinion out of respect.
More straightforward than its scary title implies.

Friday, November 15, 2019


I cooked some chicken in the Brazilian xinxim peanut sauce on the right last night (special offer in the Co-Op) and served it up with boiled rice and some Amafil farofa pronta that I had in the cupboard. Very nice it was too.

A little research reverals the sauce is from Bahia which is one of the 26 states of Brazil and is located in the northeastern part of the country on the Atlantic coast.
Bahian cuisine, revered throughout Brazil as the country’s best, evolved from an improvisation of African, Indian and Portuguese dishes using predominantly local ingredients. These three cultures were thrown together by the Portuguese colonisation of Brazil in the sixteenth century and over the next 350 years a distinctive culinary culture developed around this nexus of influences.
This of course is exactly what Alexander Smalls et al are explaining with the "Afro-Asian-American" in Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day, the book John got me for my birthday this year. I leafed through it yesterday, and Bahia gets name checked on page 140.

Please also see my notes on vindaloo here. That post is nearly 14 years old!

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Gill, Peter

I stumbled on this stuff on the British Library website yesterday. The first two instalments should be interesting as they are about my family as well.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

St. Vincent

I streamed a movie I bought from Amazon yesterday. something I do rarely what with Prime and Netflix.

"St. Vincent offers the considerable pleasure of seeing Bill Murray back in funny form, but drifts into dangerously sentimental territory along the way" says the Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes which suits me just fine because I am dangerously sentimental too.

In 2016, Theodore Melfi its writer and director went on to co-write, direct and produce Hidden Figures, for which he received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. I will add that to my watch list as well.

Update: I see he also wrote Going in Style.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

In Memory of Terry Buckland

Terry, our office landlord, has died after complications during heart surgery. Mick says he was in a coma for two weeks then passed. It is terrible news.


Monday, November 11, 2019

Ted Gioia

GIOIA: The most important thing right now is to understand that the best music in our society is under the radar screen for many complex reasons. Record labels are looking for the formula. Radio stations are following the formula. Even these amazing curated playlists are just a feedback loop. They’ll tell you what to listen to next week based on what you listened to last week. And because they’re a feedback loop, they won’t show you anything new or interesting.
So what you need to do, if you really want to broaden your horizons as a listener, is to get exposed to new things. Pick somebody. It doesn’t have to be me.
I can't remember how I stumbled on this podcast. Ted Gioia is either profound or off his chump, but I have added Music: A Subversive History to my reading list.

Ben was talking to me in the car last week about how modern technology has created hyper-local music scenes where kids are listening to a lot of tracks made by people they know who live round the corner. Gioia's "the best music in our society is under the radar screen" reminded me of that.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

chicks will dig it

There aren't native skills for my echo show 5 that will let me watch the BBC iPlayer or Netflix, but if I log into them on the built-in Silk browser, save the credentials and bookmark them I can access their videos handily.

That is all.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

George Washington and the Cherry Tree

A recall to the senior England squad is a nice present for Callum. I've been friends with him on Facebook since November 2011. FB reminded me it was his birthday yesterday. It thinks he is 23 not nineteen. He's part of a generation who fibbed when signing up. Ben - also 19 - is 25 according to Mark Zuckerberg's behemoth.

Friday, November 08, 2019

What Up With That?

Sorry I have to rush, but when I start singing this you can't claim you haven't been warned.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Pit Stop

Arrived at Cardiff, dropped my stuff at Bronwydd and put the heating on.

Off now to visit mum, dad and supermarket.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

On with the dance! let joy be unconfin'd

Mum should be coming out of hospital this morning. I will see her tomorrow.

I feared the worst a fortnight ago.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Corpus Christi Procession

It is good to see the South African rugby team showing off the rugby world cup in their De la Salle blazers. They could have gone straight from this photo shoot to Cardiff's Corpus Christi Procession in the 1960s.

Monday, November 04, 2019


MPs will elect Mr Bercow's successor in London today, the first such vote for a decade.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

existential disrepair

Amid tepid reviews last year, I went on record as thinking that The Kominsky Method was great (Icons passim).

Then, earlier this year, it took home two of the biggest comedy television awards in the Golden Globes. Michael Douglas snagged Best Actor In A TV Comedy or Musical, before the show itself won Best TV Comedy/Musical.

Now who's looking foolish TV critics? Season 2 just dropped on Netflix. I have watched the first couple of episodes; again it is great.

Michael Douglas had his moment in the sun when gongs were being dealt out, so let's give it up for Alan Arkin who is still knocking it out of the park at the age of 85. I think he may have had a stunt double for unsteadily mounting and riding a horse but the acting performance is all him. (I can't help but compare him to someone else I know of the same age.)

Saturday, November 02, 2019

None ever wished it longer than it is.

I have finished reading The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won by Victor Davis Hanson (752 pages) and started reading Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind by Tom Holland (624 pages).

1,376 pages between them. I really don't make it easy for myself.

World War II was the most lethal conflict in human history. Never before had a war been fought on so many diverse landscapes and in so many different ways, from rocket attacks in London to jungle fighting in Burma to armor strikes in Libya.

The Second World Wars examines how combat unfolded in the air, at sea, and on land to show how distinct conflicts among disparate combatants coalesced into one interconnected global war. Drawing on 3,000 years of military history, bestselling author Victor Davis Hanson argues that despite its novel industrial barbarity, neither the war's origins nor its geography were unusual. Nor was its ultimate outcome surprising. The Axis powers were well prepared to win limited border conflicts, but once they blundered into global war, they had no hope of victory.

Christianity is the most enduring and influential legacy of the ancient world, and its emergence the single most transformative development in Western history. Even the increasing number in the West today who have abandoned the faith of their forebears, and dismiss all religion as pointless superstition, remain recognisably its heirs. Seen close-up, the division between a sceptic and a believer may seem unbridgeable. Widen the focus, though, and Christianity's enduring impact upon the West can be seen in the emergence of much that has traditionally been cast as its nemesis: in science, in secularism, and yes, even in atheism.

That is why Dominion will place the story of how we came to be what we are, and how we think the way that we do, in the broadest historical context. Ranging in time from the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC to the on-going migration crisis in Europe today, and from Nebuchadnezzar to the Beatles, it will explore just what it was that made Christianity so revolutionary and disruptive; how completely it came to saturate the mind-set of Latin Christendom; and why, in a West that has become increasingly doubtful of religion's claims, so many of its instincts remain irredeemably Christian. The aim is twofold: to make the reader appreciate just how novel and uncanny were Christian teachings when they first appeared in the world; and to make ourselves, and all that we take for granted, appear similarly strange in consequence. We stand at the end-point of an extraordinary transformation in the understanding of what it is to be human: one that can only be fully appreciated by tracing the arc of its parabola over millennia.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Mignons de Porc à l'ail

I worked with Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook last night; a tribute to mum who (fingers crossed) may be responding to treatment (see icons passim).

Mignons de Porc à l'ail
Top the tenderloins with the mashed garlic, spreading the paste like substance evenly along the length of the tenderloins. Lay the bacon slices across the garlic the long way. Now lay the other two tenderloins on top of the first two, the fatter ends pointing in the opposite direction from the ones on the bottom, so that they nestle together in a yin-yang sort of a way, creating a fairly even-shaped tube. Using kitchen string, tie each double tenderloin together tightly and evenly at several points along the tube (that way it can be sliced into medallions without cutting the string). Refrigerate overnight.
Okee Dokee. The trouble is I didn't have kitchen string so I used cable ties.
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Remove the tenderloins from the refrigerator. In the saute pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon (14 g) of the butter. When the butter stops foaming, season the pork, then add it to the pan, working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan.
You can't really pan fry plastic cable ties, but hey presto!
If you're in a hurry, you can slice the pork into medallions when raw, then individually sear each medallion. That way you wont need to use the oven.
That's what I did. very nice too.

Moving on from cable ties I remember Beth being bemused last week that a house brick wrapped in foil was among my kitchen equipment. I use it to weigh down quesadillas.

No top London kitchen spends more money at Wickes than mine.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Facebook Ad Library

The Ad Library shows you ads across Facebook's apps and services. You can use it to get information about the ads you see. The Ad Library contains all active ads running across Facebook Products.
Transparency is a priority for us to help prevent interference in elections, so the Ad Library also shows you additional information about ads about issue, electoral and political ads, including who funded the ad, range of how much they spent, and the reach of the ad across multiple demographics. We store these ads for seven years.
You can view and use the Ad Library at https://www.facebook.com/ads/library.
If you're an advertiser, you can learn more about issue, electoral or political ads in the Business Help Center.
I imagine that this will produce some interesting information in the run up to the election.

Look at this link. The UK Government spent over a million quid advertising on Facebook over the last year and more than half of that in the last month.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Cardiff, where the poetic champions compose

YouTube's algorithms recommended a video of Morrison talking about this new album to me yesterday. To my surprise about one minute and ten seconds in (herewith https://youtu.be/DIiUJFPp2qs?t=70) he talked about recording a lot of it in Cardiff where he has a "set up" with guys playing keyboards, bass, drums and organ.

I was astounded. A little research suggests that the Music Box Studios is where the work was done,  and that Richard Dunn is the Hammond player.

I recounted this to my brother on the phone this morning and he told me that Van the Man lives locally in Pontcanna. Again I was astounded, but here is a story about Van Morrison popping in for a quiet drink at the Casablanca Club after a gig in Newport in the 80s.

At that time the club was managed by Frankie Johnson Snr. I was in school with Frankie Johnson Jnr. Ultimately it is all about me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Finite to fail, but Infinite to venture.

Gunfire and car stunts filmed on Newport Road for Mark Wahlberg's movie. The road was closed from midnight on Sunday until early this morning for "gunfire, police cars in a ram raid and an Aston Martin sports car flipping over the central reservation."

Simon Crane, who I met a couple of months ago, is the second unit director on Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Infinite’ so it will have been him behind the megaphone in Cardiff for the last couple of days.

Nigel Tufnel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know .....
Myself: Coincidence? None dare call it a conspiracy......

Monday, October 28, 2019

Hak Baker

Ben introduced me and Beth to Hak Baker last week. Since then he has dropped a new mixtape called Babylon.

I am not 100% sure what dropping a new mixtape is, but here it is for your listening pleasure and elucidation.

Also I have long wanted to share the story Ben told me of when Big Mikes (who did Trap Dreams with 19inerz) walked up the stairs of a bus he was on and people spontaneously burst into applause.

The real stuff flies under the radar.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Rorke's Drift

I have woken up too late to watch all of Zuu before the Wales v South Africa world cup semi final this morning I will just have to make do with the scene above.
Men of Harlech on to glory
This will every be your story
Keep these burning words before ye
 Welshmen will not yield

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Here's a good stick, to beat the lovely lady

Rerum novarum (from its incipit, with the direct translation of the Latin meaning "of the new things", or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic patriarchs, primates, archbishops and bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes. 
It discussed the relationships and mutual duties between labor and capital, as well as government and its citizens. Of primary concern was the need for some amelioration of "the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class." It supported the rights of labor to form unions, rejected socialism and unrestricted capitalism, while affirming the right to private property.
Beth, if you are reading this, it has dawned on me that sitting around the table with two autodidacts on a Friday night (Friday night!) may not be the most fun a 21 year old girl ever had.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wojtek: The Bear that Went to War

Wojtek: The Bear that Went to War from Halcyon Pictures on Vimeo.

This time last year I was writing about Engel's hedgehog.
Wojtek (1942–1963; Polish pronunciation: [ˈvɔjtɛk]; in English, sometimes spelled Voytek and pronounced as such) was a Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) bought, as a young cub, at a railway station in Hamadan, Iran, by Polish II Corps soldiers who had been evacuated from the Soviet Union. In order to provide for his rations and transportation, he was eventually enlisted officially as a soldier with the rank of private, and was subsequently promoted to corporal.
Frankie's dad was one of the Polish troops who went from the Soviet Union, via Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt to join up with the Eighth Army and fight in the Italian campaign. I much watch this documentary with her and Kevin now I have dug up how you access it legitimately.
This is the story of Wojtek the Soldier Bear - a magnificent 500lb military bear who fought in World War 2 alongside a band of Polish soldiers. He shared their beer and cigarettes - and eventually their fate. Told by those that knew him, his story will capture the imagination and provide a very different perspective of the Polish war story.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Health care-acquired pneumonia

Mum's in hospital with pneumonia. She's been in since late last week actually and I went down and saw her on Saturday.

I've been googling it. You can see what the Mayo Clinic says here.

There is such a thing as Health care-acquired pneumonia apparently.
Health care-acquired pneumonia is a bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics, including kidney dialysis centers. Like hospital-acquired pneumonia, health care-acquired pneumonia can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.
That could be the culprit.
Fluid accumulation around the lungs (pleural effusion). Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin space between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura). If the fluid becomes infected, you may need to have it drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
They need to drain her lung but the fluid is too viscous, they have put her on antibiotics for a fortnight to see if that helps and they can try again.

It is all very worrying,

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Up to the Gills

For the first time in its twenty-five year history Jermyn Street Theatre is able to announce a full year of programming. Artistic Director Tom Littler, today reveals the full 2020 Season, with an array of work that ranges from world premieres to rare revivals, theatre legends to new talent and literary classics to new writing.
Highlights include the world premiere of a new play by Peter Gill directed by the author, alongside Gill's new version of Three Sisters; a triple bill of Samuel Beckett plays directed by Trevor Nunn; and Michael Pennington playing Prospero in The Tempest in a partnership with Theatre Royal Bath.
Beth and I are meeting Peter on Friday. Herewith the skinny on next year's productions at Jermyn Street for your diaries.

By Anton Chekhov
New version by Peter Gill
Directed by Tom Littler
World Premiere
9 September - 3 October 2020 (press performance - 11 September 2020).

By Peter Gill
Co-directed by Peter Gill and Alice Hamilton
World Premiere
7 - 31 October 2020 (press performance - 9 October 2020).
The autumn opens with two world premieres by the celebrated playwright and director Peter Gill (The York Realist). The first is his new version of Chekhov's Three Sisters directed by Tom Littler. Gill has previously adapted Chekhov's The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, and The Cherry Orchard. This is followed by Gill's new play Something in the Air, a play about love and memory set in London, co-directed by Gill and Alice Hamilton.
Peter Gill said: "I am delighted to be co-directing my new play Something in the Air with Alice Hamilton, and - because Chekhov has always been a big influence on my work as a director and a writer - that my new version of Three Sisters will open in such an intimate studio."

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Blog of Dominic Cummings Aged 13 3/4

I think that the enduring image that I will have of this government is from a video on the television news a few days ago.

A chauffeured car pulled up outside No 10. Boris Johnson got out on the roadside and walked around the back of the vehicle with his shirttails hanging out over his backside.

Dominic Cummings got out on to the pavement, walked confidently towards the famous front door, and then turned around and went back for the documents he had accidentally left behind on the back seat.

Can we really be in safe hands with this pair?

You can read Dominic Cummings blog at https://dominiccummings.com/ if you find yourself at a loose end.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Carré on regardless

Rhys Carré, who came on for Wales in the Rugby World Cup quarter final win over France yesterday, used to coach my nephew Seb's junior age group rugby side at St Joseph's.

That is the whole story so far but - as I only found out yesterday - I haven't really done much work on embellishing it yet.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tell me. Do you spend time with your family?

I woke up in Cardiff after seeing mum in hospital and i am off to my brother's shortly to watch the Wales France World Cup quarter final with him and three of my nephews.

I will go and see Dad later.

I am giving my niece a lift back to London later theis afternoon as she is staying with me for a week while she is on a course at the National Youth Theatre.
You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Music Planet

Music Planet on BBC Radio 3 was my audio discovery on today's trip down the M4 to see mum in hospital.
The best roots-based music from across the world - with live sessions from the biggest international names and the freshest emerging talent, classic tracks and new releases.
I am back from Llandough now and listening to the show's World Mix with a glass of wine in my hand.

Friday, October 18, 2019


Yesterday: My mum was admitted to University Hospital Llandough. I will go and see her tomorrow.

Yesterday: I went to see Lungs and the Old Vic. Review: If you want to write an essay write an essay; if you want to write a play write a play.

Yesterday: I worked out what was wrong with my Hive system hub (passim). The cleaners had dislodged the power plug. I pushed it back in again. Society's subsidization of my three year engineering degree was a shrewd social investment.
Oh, such are the dreams of the everyday housewife
You see everywhere any time of the day
An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me

Thursday, October 17, 2019

not single spies, but in battalions

Almost certainly because I have a guest next week, the house infrastructure has started playing up.

The Hive hub is offline: https://www.hivehome.com/in-app/hubs-not-talking. Luckily though the heating and hot water seems still to be working on its set up schedule.

There's a very slow leak into the bathroom toilet. It looks to me like the float valve is wearing out. Swapping that looks a bit above my pay grade, perhaps I had better get Silver Saints on the job.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

On the mend

Callum got two for England U21s last night. The second one was something else. I think we can say he has recovered from his injury.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Isn't it that he talks to animals?

The film's not out until next year, but we can already see a trailer for Robert Downey Junior's Dolittle. Do my ears deceive me or has he adopted a Welsh accent for it?

"Uncle Simon" was the second unit director on the movie, and I remember he sent Ollie a photo when they were filming on the Menai Suspension Bridge in Wales last summer. I don't know if that relates to his choice of voice but it does go to show how long big productions take to make.

Monday, October 14, 2019

St John Henry Newman

James Joyce
"Nobody has written English that can be compared with Newman's cloistered silver veined prose."
Discuss. I've not read any myself.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

One to watch

It is the last day of the Wimbledon Bookfest today. We use Spektrix for the ticketing on it.
This month, Spektrix CEO and co-founder Michael Nabarro has been named ‘One to Watch’ as part of the LDC Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders programme. Supported by The Telegraph and part of Lloyds Bank’s business division, the programme aims to uncover and celebrate the leaders of the UK’s most exciting modern businesses.
Michael studied Computer Science at the University of Cambridge and became General Manager of the ADC Theatre in Cambridge, before spending a year studying stage electrics and lighting design at RADA. He then began work as a freelance lighting designer, at the same time combining his expertise in technology and the arts to create the system that would become Spektrix. Twelve years later the company’s mission – to help entertainment organisations to engage and deepen relationships with the broadest range of audiences – remains unchanged, even as it has grown into a market leader working with over 400 successful arts organisations in the UK and North America.
Read the whole thing .......
That CV sounds incredibly eccentric until you realise it is ideal for what he has ended up doing.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

When the Levies didn't break

I was intrigued by the Tweet above especially in light of my earlier post about Iraqi war graves (passim).

The Anglo–Iraqi War (2–31 May 1941) was a British-led Allied military campaign against Iraq under Rashid Ali, who had seized power during the Second World War with assistance from Germany and Italy. The campaign resulted in the downfall of Ali's government, the re-occupation of Iraq by the British Empire, and the return to power of the Regent of Iraq, Prince 'Abd al-Ilah, an ally to imperial Britain.
I didn't have a clue about this.

Read all about the Iraq Levies here in Wikipedia.
The Levies distinguished themselves in May 1941 during the Anglo-Iraqi War and were also used in other theatres of the Second World War after 1942. The force thereafter grew and survived until it was disbanded in May 1955.
It seems to me that the force mostly consisted if Iraqi minority ethnic groups, that we mostly abandoned to ISIS a scant sixty years later. Shame on us.

Friday, October 11, 2019

President Trump: "The Hardest Thing I Have to Do"

President Trump spoke at the White House today saying that the hardest thing he has to do is sign letters to the families of fallen soldiers. Trump went on to share stories of mourning with families of fallen soldiers and his visit with wounded warriors.
I've got no reason to think this is insincere, so I thought I would post it this morning. I jumped in with everyone else taking the mickey about the president pulling his troops back out of the way of the Turks yesterday (passim).

Maybe we should think about committing some of our forces before we cast aspersions, or perhaps take responsibility for the British ISIS fighters that the Kurds have drawn the short card on keeping in custody?