Friday, May 24, 2019

Robinson Road

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

Too much perspective, that's the problem.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

No meat in this sandwich

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Huawei you? Who, who, who, who?

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

El Jefe Rides Again


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

Monday, May 20, 2019

Tooting's finest

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

Sunday, May 19, 2019

About last night

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

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Tennessee Ernie Williams

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

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

Friday, May 17, 2019

Si vis pacem, para bellum

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

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Open AI



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

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Doris Day

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

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

911

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

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

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

Monday, May 13, 2019

Manchester United 0 - 2 Cardiff City

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

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

My Name's Not Prince

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

Saturday, May 11, 2019

I was the mob until the mob came for me

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

I have taken this whole thing from https://quillette.com/2019/05/08/i-was-the-mob-until-the-mob-came-for-me-by-barrett-wilson/ where it is free, but I dropped a donation into https://quillette.com/helpfreethoughtlive/ which I hope squares things.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Touch of Velvet


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

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

After that I couldn't help but rib them about pages 92 and 93 of the publication along the lines of:
They start with https://www.easylifegroup.com/product/kegal-trainer-set/3558 then just get saucier and saucier. I forbid you to read it. To think my parents had it in the house.
Two days later kegal balls are being thrown in my face every working hour. Serves me right.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Hands free, as free as the wind blows

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

six impossible things before breakfast

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

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

If you ask me, the latter is the crazier.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

INCREASINGLY LESS SURE WAYS TO GET BOB SEGER TO GO

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

Monday, May 06, 2019

Crocodile Park



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

Saturday, May 04, 2019

The Ruler of the Queen's Navee

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


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

Friday, May 03, 2019

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

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

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

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

Update

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

Thursday, May 02, 2019

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

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

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

Subsequent approvals:

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Jackfruit

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

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

There could definitely be room in my life for this.

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

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Modesty Forbids

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

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

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Loyle Carner

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

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

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

Sunday, April 28, 2019

the giddy social whirlwind

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



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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

the giddy social whirl

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

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

Friday, April 26, 2019

π

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

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

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Robert Recorde


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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Click

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

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


Terrible news about Callum; fingers crossed. Wikipedia says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achilles_tendon_rupture#Treatment.

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

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

He owes me big time.


Monday, April 22, 2019

So many destination faces going to so many places

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

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


Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Fields of Athenry

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Saturday, April 20, 2019

faraway, so close

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

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

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

See Knife Crime. See Dan Young RIP.

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

A Midsummer Night's Dream

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

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

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

LINKS AND FURTHER READING

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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Household Gods

Myself: Alexa, how many households are there in the UK?
Alexa: The United Kingdom has 27 million households.
Isn't it mind-boggling that a smart speaker can answer a question like that? It is correct as well according to the Office for National Statistics.

The reason that I asked, was that in its first-quarter earnings report on Tuesday, Netflix revealed that in the first four weeks on the service, Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s UCP-produced comic book adaptation of Umbrella Academy was watched by 45 million households (a number which included mine).

I wanted to put 45 million households in context. One and two thirds times all the households in the UK certainly does that.

I am astounded.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Raised highbrow?



I read Carlos Acosta's autobiography about three years ago (Icons passim). It is a terrific book that has now inspired a film Yuli. It doesn't seem to be widely distributed in the UK, but it is on at the HMV Curzon so I will try and catch it in Wimbledon over the Easter weekend.

I saw Rupert Everett's The Happy Prince about the last day of Oscar Wilde at the same venue last year. I thought it was great and was astounded it didn't seem to get a nod for anything come awards season. It is on Netflix now so I recommend you catch up with it if you have a subscription.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Notre Dame

In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution; much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. In 1804, the cathedral was the site of the Coronation of Napoleon I as Emperor of France.

It is probably gonna take more than a fire to see it off.

We went to see it once when I was in Paris for a rugby international. One of the party was genuinely gephyrophobic, a condition that had been brought on by being blown across lanes in a high sided vehicle by heavy winds on the Severn bridge.

I can distinctly remember him having to stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood to race across the Pont d'Arcole, rather than go home without getting on to the Île de la Cité.

I am still amazed we didn't laugh at him. That is how serious it was.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Show Hole

I finished the Umbrella Academy on Netflix yesterday. I suppose that 18 days for a six part series isn't strictly binge-watching. For my next project I am now one episode in to Idris Elba's Turn Up Charlie. I think it got lukewarm reviews but I am rather beguiled by its hang-shaggy-dog-begging.

I was astonished to discover that people I know intended to stay up (or set alarms) to catch the first episode of the last series of Game of Thrones spoiler free in the early hours of this morning. I watched five episodes of the first series in 2014, before taking a five year break.

Perhaps I can catch up with these handy precis ......

Sunday, April 14, 2019

I Trawl the Megahertz

I learned from the invaluable Sodajerker podcast of Prefab Sprout's Paddy McAloon's re-release of I Trawl the Megahertz. It passed me by completely when it came out in 2003, but the 22 minute title track is a bitter-sweet masterpiece, the like of which I haven't heard before. Listen to the podcast for the extraordinary story of its creation.




I am telling myself the story of my life,
stranger than song or fiction.
We start with the joyful mysteries,
before the appearance of ether,
trying to capture the elusive:
the farm where the crippled horses heal,
the woods where autumn is reversed,
and the longing for bliss in the arms
of some beloved from the past.
I said 'Your daddy loves you'.
I said 'Your daddy loves you very much';
he just doesn't want to live with us anymore'.
The plane comes down behind enemy lines
and you don't speak the language.
A girl takes pity on you:
she is Mother Theresa walking among the poor,
and her eyes have attained night vision.
In an orchard, drenched in blue light,
she changes your bandages and soothes you.
All day her voice is balm,
then she lowers you into the sunset.
Hers is the wing span of the quotidian angel,
so her feet are sore from the walk
to the well of human kindness,
but she gives you a name and you grow into it.
Whether a tramp of the low road or a prince,
riding through Wagnerian opera,
you learn some, if not all, of the language.
And these are the footsteps you follow
- the tracks of impossible love.
12 days in Paris,
and I am awaiting for life to start.
In the lobby of the Hotel Charlemagne
they are hanging photographs
of Rap artists and minor royalty.
All cigarettes have been air-brushed from these pictures,
making everyone a liar,
and saving no-one from their folly.
As proud as Lucifer, I do nothing to hide
my kerosene dress and flint eyes
- which with one steady look, are able to restore
to these images their carcinogenic threat.
So what if this is largely bravado?
I have only 12 days in Paris
and I'm waiting for life to start.
I'm setting out my stall behind a sheet of dark hair,
and you, the hostage of crazed hormones,
will be driven to say:
'I am the next poet laureate
and she is the cherry madonna,
and all of the summer is hers.'
At first I don't notice you,
or the colour of your hair,
or your readiness to laugh.
I am tying a shoelace,
or finding the pavement fascinating
when the comet thrills the sky.
Ever the dull alchemist.
I have before me all the necessary elements:
it is their combination that eludes me.
Forgive me ... I am sleepwalking.
I am jangling along to some song of the moment,
suffering its sweetness,
luxuriating in its feeble approximation of starlight.
Meanwhile there is a real world ...
trains are late, doctors are breaking bad news,
but I am living in a lullaby.
You might be huddled in a doorway on the make,
or just getting by, but I don't see it.
You are my one shot at glory.
Soon I will read in your expression
warmth, encouragement, assent.
From an acorn of interest
I will cultivate whole forests of affection.
I will analyse your gestures
like centuries of scholars
pouring over Jesus' words.
Anything that doesn't fit my narrow interpretation
I will carelessly discard.
For I am careless... I'm shameless... and -
('Mayday, Mayday, watch the needle leave the dial')
I am reckless,
I am telling myself the story of my life.
Soon, I will make you a co-conspirator:
if I am dizzy I will call it rapture;
if I am low I will attribute it to your absence,
noting your tidal effect upon my moods.
Oblivious to the opinions of neighbours
I will bark at the moon like a dog.
In short, I'm asking to be scalded.
It is the onset of fever.
Yesterday they took a census.
Boasting, I said 'I live two doors down from joy.'
Today, bewildered and sarcastic, I phone them and ask
'Isn't it obvious? This slum is empty.'
I am listening to the face in the mirror
but I don't think I believe what she's telling me.
Her words are modern, but her eyes have been weeping
in gardens and grottoes since the Middle Ages.
This is the aftermath of fever.
I cool the palms of my hands upon the bars
of an imaginary iron gate.
Only by an extreme act of will can I avoid
becoming a character in a country song:
'Lord, y'gave me nothin', then y'took it all away.'
These are the sorrowful mysteries,
and I have to pay attention.
In a chamber of my heart sits an accountant.
He is frowning and waving red paper at me.
I go to the window for air.
I catch the scent of apples,
I hunger for a taste,
but I can't see the orchard for the rain.
There are two ways of looking at this.
The first is to accept that you are gone,
and to light a candle at the shrine of amnesia.
(I could even cheat).
In the subterranean world of anaesthetics
sad white canoes are forever sailing downstream
in the early hours of the morning.
'Tell the stars I'm coming,
make them leave a space for me;
whether bones, or dust,
or ashes once among them I'll be free.'
It may make a glamorous song
but it's dark train of thought
with too many carriages.
There is, of course,
another way of looking at this:
'Your daddy loves you, ' I said
'Your daddy loves you very much;
he just doesn't want to live with us anymore.'
I am telling myself the story of my life.
By day and night, fancy electronic dishes
are trained on the heavens.
They are listening for smudged echoes
of the moment of creation.
They are listening for the ghost of a chance.
They may help us make sense of who we are
and where we came from;
and, as a compassionate side effect,
teach us that nothing is ever lost.
So... I rake the sky.
I listen hard.
I trawl the megahertz.
But the net isn't fine enough,
and I miss you
- a swan sailing between two continents,
a ghost immune to radar.
Still, my eyes are fixed upon
the place I last saw you,
your signal urgent but breaking,
before you became cotton in a blizzard,
a plane coming down behind enemy lines.

Ain't that something? I think I will go for a lie down now.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hi-Fi-Fo-Fum

As if I needed any more convincing that an Echo Link or an Echo Link Amp ought to be on my shopping list considering the cost-me-an-arm-and-a-leg speakers and sub-woofer that have been festering unused all these years.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Black Dog

If you're walking along the beach and you hear Black Shuck's breath behind you, you must not turn around or you'll see his read eyes and you'll be dead in twelve months.
Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock or simply Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia, one of many ghostly black dogs recorded in folklore across the British Isles.

All very well but the quote above is all I have got from reading Christopher Howse's Soho in the Eighties. Slim pickings when you think I was already in London then, and I revere the Auberon Waugh/Richard Ingrams/Peter Cook et al triumvirate (? for want of a better word).

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The Universe's Greatest Mystery

Evan Davis: Hello. Excitement in Brussels.
Generic European Accent: If there is a big moment for all of us, it is today.
Evan Davis: Finally we get a clear picture of that dark vortex sucking in all time and energy.
Generic European Accent : It feels like really looking at the gates of Hell. At the end of space and time. The point of no return.
Evan Davis: Its not what you might be thinking but a black hole 55 million light years away. Meanwhile, back on earth, across the road in Brussels ....... Brexit.
In general lately BBC current affairs and news coverage has been driving me spare. The bait-and-switch at the start of PM on Radio 4 yesterday afternoon however, made me laugh out loud. Herewith.

Also courtesy of the BBC, here is a documentary following the researchers as they attempted to take the first-ever picture of a black hole, travelling the globe to build a revolutionary telescope that spans planet Earth.

Have I been too hard on Auntie?

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Mojo Pork Cubanos

I came back from Cardiff with - among other things - cucumber left over from making a kachumber salad, and a pork butt marinading in John's home made mead and spices.

We also watched a little bit of Chef the movie on Netflix over the weekend. The pork has been cooked and the cucumbers pickled so last night I made Mojo Pork Cubanos, an official recipe created for and made in the film Chef Roy Choi.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Let no man ignorant of geometry enter here.

Ben is in Florida with Jane visiting Rayburn and his family over Easter as usual at the moment.

We met in the Merton Apprentice last Thursday evening after work, before I drove to Wales on Friday and he flew out on Saturday.

He was talking about the number - or constant - Φ (phi) and how it appears in the proportions of, among many things, the human body? I said I hadn't heard of it and asked him if it was related to the golden ratio that the ancient Greeks knew about. He hadn't heard of that.

It turns out that Phi and the Golden Ratio are the same thing! Early in the last century a mathematician Mark Barr proposed using the first letter in the name of Greek sculptor Phidias, phi, to symbolize the golden ratio. Amazing eh? See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_ratio#History

When he is back, perhaps we can get together again, blow the froth off a couple of cold ones, and really start digging into the Fibonacci sequence?

I didn't see this one coming.

Monday, April 08, 2019

an Gorta Mór

Rattling the pots and pans in the kitchen last night after I got back from Cardiff, I commanded "Alexa, play In Our Time" so I could catch up with whatever Melvyn Bragg and chums had been discussing last Thursday. It was The Great Irish Famine.

Wikipedia
The Great Famine (Irish: an Gorta Mór, [anˠ ˈgɔɾˠt̪ˠa mˠoːɾˠ]), or the Great Hunger, was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and emigration. With the most severely affected areas in the west and south of Ireland, where the Irish language was primarily spoken, the period was contemporaneously known in Irish as An Drochshaol, loosely translated as the "hard times" (or literally, "The Bad Life"). The worst year of the period, that of "Black 47", is known in Irish as Bliain an Drochshaoil. During the famine, about one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland,] causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%
From what little I have managed to do with my family tree on the Ancestry site I can see that on my mother's side I have great, great, great grandparents James and Margaret Brian; born 1826 and about 1831 respectively in Ireland. Their daughter (also Margaret) was born around 1856 in Cardiff and married William Milton (who was born in 1850 in Somerset). That is where my mum's maiden name comes from.

On his father's side Dad's great grandfather James McDonnell was born in 1831 in Ireland, then married Joanna Griffin who was born in Cardiff. On his mother's side great grandparents Michael McDonald and Joanna Driscoll were both born in Ireland between 1841 and 1845, but their son Michael was born in Cardiff in 1874.

All lived through and fled the Great Hunger I shouldn't be surprised; babes in arms, children, teens, or barely adults.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

the apple doesn't fall far from the tree

My sister didn't know, or forgot, that I would be in Wales yesterday helping John move his things out of Skewen.

The logistics of the operation meant we have to store some stuff temporarily in Mum and Dad's. When Caroline drove past thinking no-one should be be home and saw a large van in the drive, she thought there must be a burglary in progress.

Leaving her three children, all under the age of five, strapped in their seats in the car, she strode into the house to confront ........ me in the kitchen making a sandwich.
Foolhardy is a combination of the noun fool and the adjective hardy, meaning "brave" or "bold." Put them together and you’ve got “foolishly brave.” Someone who is foolhardy throws caution to the wind and takes reckless chances. A foolhardy mistake is typically the result of this kind of impulsive behaviour. But foolhardy doesn’t always imply foolishness or stupidity; foolhardy can convey courage and romance, as in the case of a foolhardy passion or desire.
Quite.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich

My brother John is going to come along to Reginald D Hunter on my birthday. It will be exactly a year to the day since he took me to Taylor Swift, a friend of my nieces having dropped out.

I was droning on and on about my idea of pre-booking one interesting event each calendar month as we were driving from Cardiff to Skewen and explaining that I had already banked events up to August.

When you are taking the M4 on the way from Cardiff to Skewen, you pass junction 37 which is signposted for Pyle and Porthcawl.
The Festival
Every September thousands of Elvis fans descend on the Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl for a unique celebration of The King.
The feature events are the Official Shows taking place in the magnificent Grand Pavilion. These include The Elvies, the World's leading award Show for Elvis Tribute Artists.
In addition, The Hi Tide hosts over 100 shows over the weekend, many with free admission.
Finally, over twenty venues in and around the Town form the Fringe Festival, making Porthcawl the largest Elvis event in Europe.
Fate played the straight man, and September is now sorted as well.

Friday, April 05, 2019

"each month", "every month" or "once a month"?

I am putting meat on the bones of my plan to have one interesting night out booked in advance "each month", "every month" or "once a month".

Fiddler on the Roof has already done April's duty, I have got the Mad Professor sorted in the Hideaway for May, the Shakespeare in the (Merton Hall) Park for August.

They aren't booked yet, but I am minded to see Reginald D Hunter - Facing the Beast in the Shepherd's Bush Empire on June 22 (my birthday), with ExpeRience: The science of music taking the strain for July at the Royal Institution on the tenth.

September can wait.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The future could be good

Callum Hudson-Odoi impresses on first Premier League start to help Chelsea ease past Brighton, says Jim White in the Torygraph.

I don't know that I have ever read Jim White with attention before, but it seems that "Hudson-Odoi skipped past Knockaert as if he were barely there and fizzed an invitation of a cross towards the near post".

Fizzed an invitation of a cross is Tyrian purple prose.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Sunrise, Sunset



Off to the Playhouse last night for Trevor Nunn's widely praised revival of Fiddler on the Roof. The seating in the circle is certainly steep. Every time Teyve raised his eyes to heaven and spoke to God he seemed to be looking straight at me.

I have booked up an open air Midsummer Night's Dream in Merton Hall Park in August as
part of my new scheme to make sure I get out to an event at least once a month.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

the spotlight is mine

I tried replacing the GU5.3 light bulbs in the bathroom yesterday. The new ones I put in don't work at all.

Reading around the issue, it seems that there are issues around halogen versions of the bulbs, LED versions and transformers that look to be well beyond my pay grade.

I think I need to get an electrician to look at it.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Bowen

Torygraph
BBC journalist Jeremy Bowen reveals he has bowel cancer after he was tested despite having no symptoms.
I was in primary school (de la Salle) with Jeremy Bowen, so I wish him all the best. He was a couple of years older and his brother Nicholas was in my class. As Nicholas Browne and Nicholas Bowen, we were all but anagrams of each other.

I bumped into the two of them years ago in Twickenham at an England Wales game.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Mothers' Day

I had a video chat with Mum at Ty Enfys yesterday over WhatsApp courtesy of John's phone, the home's wi-fi, and my phone and wi-fi.

It strikes me that if I get her an Echo Show, I (and siblings) will be able to talk to her (and she to me and siblings) at any time via drop in.

What do we think? The Google Home Hub is a nominal alternative but I don't have any experience with it.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Will the circle be unbroken?


Marcus has been interviewing Peter Gill. I know not why. I thought I was the only connection between them. It is like my life is going on without me.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. I'll go. I'll stay.



Did you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still had the feeling that you wanted to stay,
You knew it was right, wasn't wrong.
Still you knew you wouldn't be very long.
Go or stay, stay or go,
Start to go again and change your mind again.
It's hard to have the feeling that you wanted to go,
But still have the feeling that you wanted to stay.
Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.
I'll go.
I'll stay.

Two years and nine months ago, we voted Out and March 29, 2019, was to be Independence Day when we left the EU.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Umbrella Academy

As a rule I try the get to yoga early on Thursday mornings. Today I spent 6:30 to 7:30 watching the first episode of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix instead. I just can't seem to summon up the moxie to get to an early morning class unless I am committed to giving someone else a lift, or I know a reciprocal lift-giver will be knocking on my door. Kevin's binning of Thursday mornings as a protest at the ninety minute Bikram being cut down to an hour has hit me hard.

That said, I can see why people have been recommending the show I watched instead of banging out my asanas this morning. I forbid you, however, from discussing it with me until I have caught up with the remaining nine episodes.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Need to no basis in fact



Prodnose (not for the first time):: This is one of these secret message things I suppose, intelligible to a select coterie, possibly resonant for you when revisited in some tranquil future, yet opaque to the great unwashed, and breaching no confidentiality agreements?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

"Out of all the unimportant things, football is the most important" said St. John Paul II

Remember last Saturday's opinion "every time I think I have written enough about Callum something else amazing happens"?

Something else amazing happened, last night Callum started and played 90 minutes as England beat Montenegro 5-1.

I refer you to the Grauniard:
Callum Hudson-Odoi dazzles in the limelight on his first England start
The Chelsea teenager was unplayable at times against Montenegro – England have yet another gem on their hands.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Zero Waste Shop

"We believe that with a little help everyone can consume more responsibly. So we decided to create Zéro, an independent shop dedicated to the zero waste lifestyle. All our products are sold in bulk or without disposable packaging and come from organic or fair-trade farming and where possible from local producers."

- Alicia & Josh, Zéro founders
The Zero Waste Shop has opened under my office in Zeenat's old Vanity Hairdresser's premises. I bough some sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil there yesterday and wish them all the best.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Klasik

When we were skiing a couple of weeks ago, Dommy and I used to pick up a a fifth of a litre of Klasik Slivka each morning, which would generally last the day as a pick-me-up during the longueurs of chair lift journeys.

Slivka (or Slivovice or Plum brandy) is apparently the most traditional Slovakian drink and I have identified a UK source on Amazon. Fill your boots at https://amzn.to/2TVRKWu.

I have also found - to my delight - that it is referenced in the first chapter of Bram Stoker's Dracula, "The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you. There is a flask of slivovitz (the plum brandy of the country) underneath the seat, if you should require it."

That said, when the Wales-Slovakia EUFA EURO qualifier kicks off at two o'clock to today all my Slovakian sympathy will evaporate like slivka spilled in a sauna.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

'if they're good enough, they're old enough'

Remember last Tuesday's opinion "every time I think I have written enough about Callum something else amazing happens"?

Something else amazing happened, last night as England beat the Czech Republic 5-0.
Chelsea winger Hudson-Odoi was a late call-up to the squad but, after impressing in training, he was handed his first senior appearance at international level as he replaced Sterling with 20 minutes remaining.
At 18 years and 135 days, Hudson-Odoi became England's youngest debutant in competitive internationals, eclipsing Duncan Edwards' record set in 1955. With Jadon Sancho also on the pitch, it was the first time in 138 years that England had two players aged 18 years old or younger in the side.
Once more with feeling: At 18 years and 135 days, Hudson-Odoi became England's youngest debutant in competitive internationals, eclipsing Duncan Edwards' record set in 1955.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Chicken curry off the bone

If you are from Cardiff no further explanation is necessary. The years and the memories. I have to stop looking at the artist's website now or I won't get any more work done today.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

In which Theresa May finally goes barking mad (or is revealed as mad all along)



"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results"

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Everything is Full of Gods

On a whim this morning, I loaded up the dishwasher, lit the blue touch paper and retired. After weeks of on-the-blinkiness it thrummed into life.

Benign neglect has come through for me yet again. With any luck the couches will now re-upholster themselves and the burned out light bulbs will summon up the energy for one last hurrah.

"Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive," as Robert Louis Stevenson observed, though he did add the unsporting caveat "and the true success is to labour."

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"It's been a crazy day..."


Every time I think I have written enough about Callum something else amazing happens. Today it is a call up for the England men's senior squad.

Monday, March 18, 2019

let ill tidings tell themselves when they be felt.

Dad was admitted to the Heath hospital on Friday with chest problems and kept in overnight. It turns out he has pneumonia in his right lung. He was started on antibiotics and discharged on Saturday evening.

On Sunday the Old Ruts Colts cup run ended when they were beaten away by Bromley.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Deffrwch Cymry cysgld gwlad why gan

What a day to be Welsh yesterday was.

We watched Wales beat Ireland to win the Grand Slam in the afternoon, and then went to see Andy Fairweather Low at the Hideaway in the evening.

Andy Fairweather Low (born Ystrad Mynachwas 1948) was quite brilliant. He is appointed as 2019's third Welsh Born Icon.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Slovak presidential election

If I hadn't been in Slovakia last week I probably wouldn't take much notice of the presidential election that starts today.

Slovak liberals cross fingers for election of pro-west Zuzana Čaputová, says the Grauniard.

Friday, March 15, 2019

This one will run and run

Callum was named in the England Under-21 squad for the first time yesterday. They are playing in March against Poland and Germany.

In the evening he celebrated with a goal and an assist as Chelsea beat Kiev in the Europa League.

There doesn't seem to be any sign of this story losing steam yet.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Fill yer boots

There is a special offer on this pressure washer in Aldi this week.

It could be just the job for cleaning up my patio as spring approaches.

If you had told me when I was 17 that I would end up writing about gardening and rotating machinery I would think that you had gone off your head.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

On The Road Again

I was out of the house early this morning to drive to Leamington Spa and then Telford for work.

After that I popped down the M50 then the A40 to go an see mum and dad in Cardiff.

The picture on the left is the bar in Ty Enfys. That is how I would like to retire I think.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Dave - Streatham



YouTube "suggested" this to me today. Not out five days yet and nearly one and a half million views.

There is definitely something in the water around these parts with this music. See also https://nickbrowne.coraider.com/2017/10/after-yesterday-more-local-talent.html

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Quiet One



We watched a movie called "The Quiet One" on Amazon Prime on the Friday evening before I disappeared skiing for the week on the Saturday.

I thought it was great so I have done a little research since I am back. It turns out that Jon Pegg who wrote and directed it is a boxing trainer as opposed to a full time artiste. Further he knocked the thing out for a budget of twenty grand; my cup overfloweth.

City boxing trainer who made a movie in a Birmingham pub scoops four awards at a film festival in Venezuela fills me with delight.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Wizz Kids

Looking at the Wizz website (where I have now set up an account), because there are only flights on Saturdays and Tuesdays, Ben and I could fly from London Luton (LTN) to Poprad-Tatry (TAT) at 16:10 Sat, 28 Dec 2019 (arriving at 19:45) and return from Poprad-Tatry (TAT) to London Luton (LTN) at 20:20 Tue, 31 Dec 2019 arriving at 21:55.

That would give us three days skiing. with the only disadvantage that it would be a close run (though not I suppose impossible) thing to get back from Luton to see in the New Year.

I will see that he thinks.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Link blogging Jasna

Poprad-Tatry airport is near enough to Jasna to make a long weekend skiing feasible.

Here are some links I could use to "roll my own" some time.

https://grandjasna.sk/ Hotel we stayed in.
https://dragonslairjasna.co.uk/ Justin's place
https://www.jasna.sk/cenniky/gopass/ lift pass
https://wizzair.com/en-gb airline

Friday, March 08, 2019

Happy Birthday

Dad is 85 today. If I ever get to that age, I will be ............ 85.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

I've been expecting you

Independent
Callum Hudson-Odoi: ‘I’m never nervous. I’m always ready, no matter what the game holds for me’
The most talked about teenager in the Premier League, the cover star of GAFFER Magazine: England’s Finest, speaks to Tom Kershaw about his journey to generation academy talent
This is getting ridiculous. I will not be surprised to hear next that Callum is in the frame to be the next James Bond.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Mi Casa Su Casa

I moved near to Whitton in 1986 so I have known a lot of the folk was are away with this week for a long time.

Although I knew it intellectually all the time, I have been pleased (what with Mum and Dad past their best) how many of them have reminded me over the last few days that they stayed at Bronwydd when they were down for rugby games etc. and how welcome they felt.

Chalk that up to John and Bernice.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

You know my methods Watson

I have been going skiing with essentially the same crowd for well over twenty years.

I only found out yesterday that Darren is Sean's brother.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Jasna Low Tatras

Wikipedia
Jasna Low Tatras is an all-year mountain tourism resort, situated in the heart of Low Tatras Central Slovakia. In winter it is the largest ski area in Central Europe. The history of the resort started in the 1950s, when the first system of cableways from North of Chopok to South was built. It covers both sides of Mount Chopok - Chopok South and North. It is considered the best freeride resort in Central Europe.
Still here. Still learning.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Nobody puts baby in the corner

I think Brendan has put on a few pounds since he and Dave last attempted the Dirty Dancing lift.

Jasná has never seen anything like it.


Saturday, March 02, 2019

Dissolution of Czechoslovakia

Wikipedia
The Dissolution of Czechoslovakia (Czech: Rozdělení Československa, Slovak: Rozdelenie Česko-Slovenska), which took effect on 1 January 1993, was an event that saw the self-determined split of the federal state of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, entities that had arisen before as the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic in 1969 within the framework of a federal republic.
It is sometimes known as the Velvet Divorce, a reference to the bloodless Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the end of the rule of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the restoration of a capitalist state in the country.
.........
Czechoslovakia is the only former socialist state to have an entirely peaceful breakup.
My italics. Fascinating stuff. It is strange that it sounds almost eccentric for two peoples to be able to split amicably without feeling the need to bomb or shoot each other.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Jasná

I am leaving early tomorrow morning for a week's skiing in Slovakia.

I may maintain radio silence while I am away, but I may post the odd message here.

You will have to wait and see.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The helicopter bunny

The Bomber is starting work tomorrow.

McSweeney's
Once there was an overprotected little bunny who wanted some space, so he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you with a stainless steel container of organic strawberries, for you are my exceptional little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny, “I will go to the playground — the one you call the ‘trashy playground’ — and play with kids you don’t like the look of.”
“If you play with the kids in the trashy playground,” said his mother, “I will follow you around and offer to help you with anything that seems too tricky.”
“If you follow me around,” said the bunny, “I’ll run into the field and hide behind a tree.”
“If you hide behind a tree,” said his mother, “I will organize all the other parents into a search party and find you, then put you on a leash next time.”
“If you put me on a leash,” said the little bunny, “I’ll refuse to leave the house with it on.”
“If you refuse to leave the house with your leash on,” said the mother bunny, “I’ll strap you into a giant stroller that you’re clearly too old for.”
“If you strap me in a giant stroller,” said the little bunny, “I’ll start school early with the neighbor kid.”
“If you start school early with the neighbor kid,” said his mother, “I’ll volunteer in your class twice a week, just to make sure everything is being handled optimally for your development.”
“If you volunteer in my class twice a week,” said the little bunny, “I’ll pretend I can’t hear you when you try to help me with stuff.”
“If you pretend you can’t hear me when I try to help you with stuff,” said the mother bunny, “I’ll have you referred for a speech and language assessment.”
“If you have me referred for a speech and language assessment,” said the bunny, “I’ll pass with flying colors and make you look paranoid.”
“If you pass with flying colors and make me look paranoid,” said his mother, “I’ll put you in a school for gifted children.”
“If you put me in a school for gifted children,” said the bunny, “I’ll fail on purpose so I can go back to regular school with my friends.”
“If you try to fail on purpose,” said the mother bunny, “I’ll check your grades and do your homework for you when you’re asleep.”
“If you check my grades and do my homework when I’m asleep,” said the little bunny, “I’ll change my login.”
“If you change your school login,” said his mother, “I’ll contact the dean and get the password reset. I’m SURE she’ll believe me when I tell her that you forgot it again.”
“If you contact the dean and change my password,” said the bunny, “I’ll only apply to colleges on the other coast.”
“If you only apply to colleges on the other coast,” said his mother, “I’ll buy a condo near the one you choose and spend long weekends there checking up on you.”
“If you buy a condo near my college and come visit all the time,” said the little bunny, “I’ll change my phone number and hide out in my friends’ dorm rooms.”
“If you change your phone number and hide out in your friends’ dorm rooms,” said the mother bunny, “I’ll know the new one because I still pay your phone bill. I’ll locate you on Find My Friends, and I’ll bang the freaking door down and that won’t make you look very cool, will it?”
“If you bang my friends’ door down,” said the little bunny, “I’ll drop out from all the stress of you bothering me and having to actually do my own homework.”
“If you drop out,” said his mother, “I’ll buy a bigger condo and the latest PlayStation just in case you want to move in. Your dad is staying in the old house, and I’ve pretty much moved out here now.”
“Shucks,” said the little bunny, “I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.” And so he did.
“Have an organic strawberry,” said the mother bunny.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Mad Professor

Tickets are booked for the Mad Professor at the Hideaway in May. I'm also going to see Andy Fairweather Low there in March. The trick, for me, in taking advantage of this wonderful, nearby musical resource seems to be stumping up for the tickets and committing plenty early. I used to imagine I would wander along on the occasional free evening but that never seems to happen.

Looking at my diary, I have got Trevor Nunn's West End transfer of Fiddler on the Roof in April. Maybe I should aim always to have at least one music or theatre event pre-booked in the schedule each month going forward as insurance against indolence?