Thursday, January 31, 2019

These are the times that try men's souls

Andy gifted me both his family's season tickets for Cardiff City's visit to Arsenal this week so I took the Burglar along.

He called me this morning to tell me the glad tidings that he appeared in Match of the Day's coverage of the game last night. I didn't apparently even though I was in the adjacent seat.

During the game there was a Tannoy announcement that Caledonian Road tube station (through which we had passed on the journey) was closed due to a "Police incident".

This turned out to be the stabbing to death of a teenage boy. A BBC report on the murder (here) also said "elsewhere in the capital on Tuesday, a woman was found with stab injuries in Baring Road, Bromley". Grove Park, the train station Paul uses to get into town is in Baring Road.

Having passed so near (in both distance and time) to two stabbings in one journey, he joked that both the assassins I had sent after him that day had failed, but it is still horrifying that he could saunter through such carnage.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Arsenal v Cardiff City

I was at the Emirates last night to see Arsenal beat Cardiff City 2-1, just as I was there in January 2014 for the same fixture the last time we were in the Premiere League. We lost 2-0 that time.

I wish I had been in the Empire Stadium in 1927 when Cardiff beat the Gunners 1-0 at Wembley but it wasn't to be.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What a Crazy World

As I was festering at home on Sunday I came across an early sixties movie on London Live (the first 24 hour entertainment channel devoted to London).

Harry H Corbett berating his eighteen year old layabout offspring Joe Brown, could be me talking to mine.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Same time next year?

Callum Hudson-Odoi gives Chelsea a taste of what they might miss
By scoring a well-taken goal in Chelsea's FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday, Callum Hudson-Odoi served up the latest powerplay in an increasingly fascinating battle between the teenager and the club.
The England Under-19 winger's cool finish after cutting inside ended the tie as a contest and came only 24 hours after he handed in a transfer request following a £35m bid from Bayern Munich.
If it was meant to remind Chelsea of what they might miss out on, the timing was exquisite - and all from an 18-year-old who has only made 15 appearances, with one of those in the Community Shield.
But as many people who have worked with him say, London-born Hudson-Odoi is no ordinary player.
With the transfer deadline looming on Thursday, he is also showing remarkable composure for someone so young.It is interesting to see I was writing about Callum on this day last year as well.  Four days left before we know for sure if he is staying at Chelsea or going to Germany (or Liverpool?).

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Combined Christmas and Birthday present

Given that the new Fender Acoustasonic will set a purchaser back two thousand bucks (or £1,699 in the UK) I am posting a video from a naysayer just to cool things down.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

LAMDA the slaughter

Myself: The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) is a drama school located in Hammersmith, London. It is the oldest drama school in the UK.

Mia: Oooooo

Friday, January 25, 2019

Post Morden

Ben saw a poster about an indie band from Morden, the Good Shoes, who have a song about their home down.

I've watched the video, but unfortunately I had alreadyseen enough shoegazing years ago to last me the rest of my life.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

"faded almost to zero"

This doesn't look good for Emiliano Sala.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Mail privilege

Microsoft’s internet browser is warning users not to trust the Daily Mail’s journalism as part of a feature designed to fight fake news.
Visitors to Mail Online who use Microsoft Edge can now see a statement asserting that “this website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability” and “has been forced to pay damages in numerous high-profile cases”.
The message, which is produced by a third-party startup called NewsGuard, tells readers to proceed carefully given that “the site regularly publishes content that has damaged reputations, caused widespread alarm, or constituted harassment or invasion of privacy”.
Microsoft Edge and I are in perfect agreement - see Icons passim.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The American Clock is ticking

Giles Terera pulls out of Old Vic's The American Clock and Clarke Peters and Sule Rimi join cast
I saw Clarke Peters in Five Guys Named Moe and Sule Rimi in Measure for Measure in the not too distant. Good to see Mr Rimi as a Cardiff boy who didn't go to drama school climbing the greasy pole.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Topo the Drum Playing Octopus

More than a decade ago (Icons passim), the Bomber had a highbrow and eclectic taste in movies. Now that he has reached man's estate, he selected Aquaman from the fayre on show when we went to the Odeon yesterday. Finally, a Movie Where an Octopus Plays the Drums! The life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

Callum (pictured with Ben at the same Odeon years ago here)  got on the pitch at the Emirates for the first time in the last ten minutes of the Arsenal Chelsea game on Saturday. Season ticket holders Andy and Ollie weren't at the game because they are over in New Zealand. Lat year, as the prospect of Callum actually turning out for the Blues at the Gunners was starting to seem plausible, I asked Andy if he would still give a boy he had known from his first day in primary school the same abuse he gives other Chelsea players.

"Yes," he said. Arsenal Till I Die.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

What a wonderful Worldpay

I have followed Natwest Streamline down the rabbit hole this weekend after seeing it as an acquiring banks option in Sage Pay.

Here's the story.

When NatWest was acquired in 2002 by Royal Bank of Scotland Group Natwest Streamline was renamed RBS WorldPay.

A decade ago, as part of the general financial crisis RBS had to be bailed out by UK tax payers. As recently as last year, the Royal Bank of Scotland's chairman admitted it is "unlikely" we will get back all the £45.5bn pumped in to the bank. In the same lecture he explained that at the time of the rescue the bank had been required to meet state aid requirements from the European Commission by selling off businesses which "materially reduced RBS's market value."

One of the businesses the collective genius of the government, the EU, and the bank itself identified as reducing RBS' market value was WorldPay (née Natwest Streamline), so it was sold to private investment firms for £2bn. It was floated on the stock market in 2015, and then two years later agreed to a £7.7 billion ($9.95 billion) bid from US credit card technology firm Vantiv.

That is £5.7 billion more than RBS had raised for it eight years earlier in a fire sale. It is a 285% profit that would have made a 12.5% dent in the total £45.5bn bailout.

It is estimated that there are 30 million tax payers in the UK. £5.7 billion is £190 each that was - in essence - given away. It is a text book example of the incompetence of corporate governance in the UK, the venality of the finance industry, and how we end up footing the bill.

You'd think people would be cross, but nada.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Lucky Dip

As previously advertised (Icons passim) we trotted off to the Young Vic on Thursday to see Paapa in The Convert. He was - as expected - great - without a hint of his Hamlet performance in the demeanour his character, and then - in the bar later - without a hint of that character in his  demeanour IRL.

Because I am such a skinflint I got us £10 Lucky Dip tickets without really delving too deeply into what lucky dip tickets might be.

Subsequently it was discovered that:
Lucky Dip tickets are a great way to see our shows for just £10. These are guaranteed standing tickets, however, the 'Lucky Dip' element means that at the performance you may be lucky enough to be upgraded into a seat - sometimes with the best views in the house!
PLEASE NOTE: Lucky Dip tickets are not allocated positions. This means that you will not find out which area you will be watching the show from until just before the start of the performance. As Lucky Dip tickets may be standing, please do not book if you are unable to stand for the duration of the performance. Where you end up is at the discretion of the front-of-house team. We cannot guarantee you will get a seat rather than standing, or guarantee your party will be positioned together.Lucky Dip tickets are a great way to see our shows for just £10. These are guaranteed standing tickets, however, the 'Lucky Dip' element means that at the performance you may be lucky enough to be upgraded into a seat - sometimes with the best views in the house!
This as you can imagine made me pretty nervous when I looked at the Young Vic site in the afternoon and saw that the show was sold out. I have also felt more popular and admired in my life when we were queuing up wondering if we were facing three hours on our feet, but in the end we were allocated great seats and I would try this tombola again.

On the way back Frankie started talking to the licensed busker in Waterloo Station, because - just like Paapa - he is a customer at Coffee in the Wood. She is essentially the Catherine de Vivonne of SW19.

Friday, January 18, 2019


His paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem" which introduced his computing machine was written in 1936. I did my O level in Computer Science in summer 1977, forty one years later.

It is longer from my O level exam to today, than it was from his published paper to me sitting my exam paper.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tony Kane

Tony Kane, who has died aged 80, was an artist, teacher, editor and community campaigner and one of the best-known figures in Wimbledon, south-west London. There he created the arts magazine Time & Leisure and set up the Wimbledon BookFest, an annual literary festival for the public and schools. He saw the creativity within everyone, and developed opportunities for both young and old to participate in the festival through story writing, plays and film.
Fiona (Icons passim) has written an obituary for Tony. Time & Leisure's offices are next door to mine and he often used to stop in for a chat. Here is a random example from three years ago. He was a gent and will be sadly missed.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Parliamentary Pub of the Year: The Four Elms

I have never previously heard of the Parliamentary Pub of the Year, but the Four Elms where we sometimes take Dad on furlough from Belle Vue has won it, so congratulations.

A voice inside is channelling Alvy Singer from Annie Hall, "What's with all these awards? They're always giving out awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler." but I am trying to quell it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Infinite Monkey Cage

John, my brother was up in London on business and stayed at mine last night. Over an evening's conversation, he recommended Radio 4's The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists' eyes. With Brian Cox and Robin Ince is how it describes itself.

"Alexa, play the Infinite Monkey Cage podcast," seems to work for it.

Next Monday's episode will be The Origin of Numbers which ought to work for me as I am currently reading Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science.

Monday, January 14, 2019

This weekend's achievements

From the minds that brought you TOUGH MUDDER, the WARRIOR DASH, and SPARTAN RACE comes … NAVIGATING YOUR DEPRESSION — the latest in ultra-tough obstacle-course competitions for adults!
If you love an extreme challenge, then NAVIGATING YOUR DEPRESSION is the obstacle course for you. Forget what you’ve heard about those other races… participants in NAVIGATING YOUR DEPRESSION are given the ULTIMATE warrior’s task: just making it through a single goddamn day!

The second installment of our Manifesto Series is available for preorder. Orders will ship late January, 2019. Since the 2016 election, reading the news each day can send even the most placid...
Sound crazy?! It literally is!
But that’s not all: while trying to complete the course, our Serotonin Spartans will also have to deal with our world-famous obstacles! In Tough Mudder, those obstacles include the Mud Mile, Everest 2.0, and a barbed-wire crawl! In Spartan Race, you’ll face the sled drag, the seven-foot wall, and the Hercules Hoist! In NAVIGATING YOUR DEPRESSION, you’ll face our world-famous obstacles like PUT ON SOME PANTS.
The PUT ON SOME PANTS obstacle is a brutal test of will, so don’t worry: if you can’t manage to get into a real pair of jeans, you’ll be allowed to continue the race if you can at least put on a DIFFERENT pair of pants. Fresh sweats are at least… something! But that’s not all …
Once you’ve PUT ON SOME PANTS, there’s no time to relax! Hop the Unexplained Pain Partition, sprint up Restlessness Road, and you’ll run straight into your first WATER OBSTACLE! Specifically, the water is in a SHOWER, and the obstacle is you need to TAKE A SHOWER. As with all water obstacles, we have a crew standing by for emergencies, but also to shout encouragement, like, “Come on, man, it’s such a small thing, but it will make you feel like a new person. It’ll take five minutes. Please? For me?”

Sunday, January 13, 2019


Netflix's Sex Education jocks and cheerleaders (raised in the Welsh valleys)
The high school campus is bathed in golden sunshine, the kids play American football on the lawns and varsity jackets are the cool uniform of choice.
Welcome to British school life according to Netflix.
Sex Education is a comic coming-of-age drama starring Gillian Anderson as a sex therapist and Asa Butterfield as her mortified teenage son. It is also an attempt by the US streaming giant to steal the BBC’s crown as the home of British-made entertainment.
The series was filmed in Penarth, South Wales, with a British cast and crew. But the first viewers of the show, which launched this weekend, were left baffled by the curious interpretation of the British education system.
Sex Education: a Welsh born icon. Well I never!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, writer, social critic, political activist, and Nobel laureate. At various points in his life, Russell considered himself a liberal, a socialist and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had "never been any of these things, in any profound sense." Russell was born in Monmouthshire into one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the United Kingdom.
In the early 20th century, Russell led the British "revolt against idealism". He is considered one of the founders of analytic philosophy along with his predecessor Gottlob Frege, colleague G. E. Moore and protégé Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is widely held to be one of the 20th century's premier logicians. With A. N. Whitehead he wrote Principia Mathematica, an attempt to create a logical basis for mathematics. His philosophical essay "On Denoting" has been considered a "paradigm of philosophy". His work has had a considerable influence on mathematics, logic, set theory, linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computer science (see type theory and type system) and philosophy, especially the philosophy of language, epistemology and metaphysics.
Bertrand Russel: a Welsh born icon. Well I never!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Curiouser and Curiouser

🔴IF I WERE ODOI...🔵(Callum Hudson-Odoi Song Parody Bayern Munich Transfer)

282,501 views, only published yesterday.

The whole Callum saga gets more surreal by the day.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Kerala Literature Festival

I am a great lover of both Wales and Kerala, but the idea of Wales being the guest nation at the Kerala literature festival still sounds exotic and strange to me.

Come to think of it, Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things was set in Kerala. That won the Booker Prize in 1997. My God I am getting old.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Events, dear boy, events

I have snaffled up tickets for Andy Fairweather Low and The Low Riders at the Hideaway on March 16th.

Also I went along the London Palladium Panto on Sunday. Julian Clary makes me weep with laughter. I am not entirely sure why, but he do.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Callumity for Chelsea? (yet more wordplay)

I make no apology for devoting so much space to the Callum saga. I wonder he will feature in the League Cup semi final away at Spurs tonight?

If and when he signs and gets the Bayern number 10 shirt i will probably tug on your sleeve again.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

artificial intelligence is entwined with state and corporate power

I think this is a great and important article. I won't quote from it or write a precis; take a few minutes and read the whole thing yourself

Friday, January 04, 2019

Happiness for Humans

I have been reading the book that the son and heir got me for Christmas. From page 170:
Was l like Colm at eighteen? Awkward, tongue-tied, badly in need of a haircut?
(A shower wouldn't kill him either, to be honest.)
Someone with many children, a former cabinet minister I seem to recall, wrote in his memoir that one is only ever as happy as one's least-happy child. It may have been the truest thing he ever said. Colm isn't unhappy exactly, but neither does he radiate the joy of youth. He is still, as he always was,a transparently decent person. He contains little malice or guile. I just want to shake him by the shoulders and shout, 'Come on, for fxxk's sake, Col, snap out of it!'
Whatever it may be.
Of course I learned a long time ago to keep my trap shut.
As William Nicholson had CS Lewis say in Shadowlands, 'We read to know we're not alone.'

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Anturiaethau Alys yng Ngwlad Hud

Dad is waning again, though antibiotics (fingers crossed) should sort him out. Elsewhere in the circle of life, I am due a new niece Alys (Welsh for Alice) today.

Previously merely passive-aggressive, my new (stop-gap) phone has now escalated its relationship with me to abusive.

Type “God is” and let autocomplete define your theology.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Making my message to myself less specific

It seems that Chrissie Hynde wrote "I'll Stand By You" with Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, who have written many hit songs, including "True Colors," I'll Strand by You is a favourite song of mine, and Billy Steinberg's contribution to the "True Colors" episode of the Soul Music podcast in which he explains how Tom Kelly persuaded him to change the lyrics to make them less personal provides real insight, I think.

Here is what he says about working with Chrissie Hynde.
"Tom and I never had a publisher, we both published ourselves. Jason Dauman was somebody who, for a commission, was willing to provide some of the service that a publisher would. He once said to me, 'Who would you like to collaborate with?' and it was sort of an annoyance to me. I didn't take him all that seriously, but almost facetiously I said, 'Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Chrissie Hynde.'
I said those names because they were three of my favorite songwriters and he sort of took it seriously. He went off and I just thought, 'Well I got rid of him, didn't I.' Then a little while later he called me up and he said, 'Chrissie Hynde wants to write with you and Tom,' and I thought, 'Right.' So anyway, I get a phone call and this woman said, 'Billy, this is Chrissie Hynde,' and I thought somebody was playing with me or something. I couldn't imagine it, but then in a minute it was quite clear that Chrissie was on the other end of the telephone.
Chrissie is a very complicated person, a very no-nonsense person especially when she doesn't know you. She was a little intimidating on the phone. The butterflies in my stomach were fluttering so much I could barely speak because I love The Pretenders. She said she'd like to get together and write some songs with Tom and me, and I went, 'Woo Hoo!' She came to Los Angeles and she was so determined. She said, 'I want to write a hit.' Over a period of about two weeks Tom and I wrote a handful of songs with her. The first one we wrote together was called 'Love Colors Everything.' Then we wrote 'Night In My Veins' which was also a hit single, and we wrote '977,' 'Hollywood Perfume' and 'I'll Stand By You.'"
Ben E. King's song "Stand By Me" was a big influence on this.
Steinberg: "'I'll Stand By You,' like the other hits that Tom and I wrote, started out as a lyric that I had in a notebook. I had the title and the chorus lyric. Chrissie is a very, very strong songwriter in her own right. She's very ruthless, she would get out her pen or her pencil and I remember I was fascinated the way she would write in the notebook because she wouldn't write on the lines. I use a Mont Blanc fountain pen and I tend to write kind of neatly. She would just scribble across pages. Very few lines would fit on a page and they wouldn't stay on the line. I remember she would just take a pen and she would cross out any lines I had written that she didn't like, and usually the lines that she didn't like would be ones that were too tender or too poetic. She would toughen up stuff I'd written. On 'I'll Stand By You' she added lines and changed lines."
This was written based on the piano. Tom Kelly played the piano on the record.Steinberg: "I remember when we wrote it I felt two things: I felt one, we had written a hit song and I felt two, a little sheepish that we had written something a little soft, a little generic for The Pretenders. Whereas 'Night In My Veins' really felt like a great Pretenders rocker, 'I'll Stand By You' felt a little generic. I know that Chrissie felt that way too to some extent. I don't think she really entirely embraced it to begin with, but she certainly does now because when she plays it live, it's one of the songs that gets the strongest response. It's done really well for her and for us."
So now you know, and I have something to jog my memory about yesterday.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Same Old Same Old

Floyd Mayweather needed just 140 seconds to beat Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition boxing bout yesterday. Former five-weight world champion Mayweather, 41, was smiling during the short-lived contest in Tokyo as he floored the 20-year-old three times.

On Netflix, I watched the first episode of Sunderland 'Til I Die, an eight part documentary series following the Black Cats as they are relegated from the Championship after being relegated from the Premiership the previous year.

Not the most heart-soaring end to the year, and only the slimmest chance of Cardiff City v Spurs boosting my joie de vivre at half past five this afternoon.

How are things with you?