Thursday, February 28, 2019

The helicopter bunny

The Bomber is starting work tomorrow.

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?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Critics bare their teeth

According to the Torygraph's film critic Robbie Collin, yesterday, Rami Malek's lousy Freddie Mercury impression is the most embarrassing winner in years.

A guy called Tim Staffell was the singer in a band called Smile before Freddie Mercury joined it and it became Queen. There is an interesting interview with him in Esquire.
My departure from Smile was completely amicable. I began to want to play music that was more improvisational. I was drifting towards listening to jazz and blues. The movie has used artistic license to depict the departure, but it wasn't really like that because Freddie and I were good friends at college. (We were in the same year at art school. We were taking the same course.) Freddie joining the band was very natural, as he was really good friends with the band members before I left and simply dovetailed in. I just said to them, 'Look guys, I've already gone for some auditions,' and I said, 'I'm not happy with this anymore and I don't think it's gonna work out.' How wrong could you be?
According to Staffell, Rami Malek's performances captured the nuances of Mercury that he remembers. "Wow, he has done his homework so much that he's dropped into character by observation. He's serious about pulling this off".

Who do we think is likely to be the best judge of an actor's Freddie Mercury, Staffell or Collin?

Monday, February 25, 2019

Trump declares national emergency to build border wall

Alfonso Cuarón won the Academy Award for Best Director last night for his work on Roma, a semi-autobiographical take on his upbringing in the Colonia Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. He previously won the same award five years ago with Gravity.

After Gravity, Alejandro G. Iñárritu bagged it twice in a row for lensing Birdman and then The Revenant.

Damien Chazelle triumphed the next year with La La Land, and twelve months ago Guillermo del Toro picked up the statuette for The Shape of Water.

Mexicans have won five of the last six best director Oscars. The wall on the border is going up far too late!

(P.S. Thank you for being too polite to point out that Cuarón, Iñárritu and del Toro are all younger than me.)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A rhetorical question

Q. What is the Welsh for "lost cause"?
A. There is no direct translation or equivalent phrase.

Wales 21 - 13 England

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Ry'n ni yma o hyd, er gwaetha pawb a phopeth

Ry'n ni yma o hyd, er gwaetha pawb a phopeth translates as "We're still here, in spite of everyone and everything."

Things are heating up nicely. The roof at the Principality will be open today, "so God can see us play."

Friday, February 22, 2019

Don't take me home

I stayed in on Monday to watch Callum and he didn't get on the pitch. Last night I went out to the Ramble Inn, and he started for Chelsea against Malmo, played out of his skin and scored a wonder goal. Them's the breaks I guess, I could at least vaguely follow the game on the screens in the pub.

Staying with football I have noticed that Don't Take Me Home is available on Amazon Prime.
Don't Take Me Home, an inspiring documentary from Welsh filmmaker Jonny Owen (I Believe in Miracles) following Wales remarkable journey to the final stages of the 2016 European Championships.
For the last 60 years Wales have tried and failed to qualify for a major football tournament. Having gone through the grief of previous manager Gary Speed s tragic death, heavy defeats, and positioned as a tiny country team with no pedigree, all bets were off for how the underdogs would perform.
Led by star player Gareth Bale, the team quickly became the outside favourites, dazzling millions of viewers. There's an ancient Welsh saying, "Yma o Hyd" which translates as "we're still here" - a defiantly apt statement from the smallest country in the history of the game getting to a major tournaments semi-finals.
Don't Take Me Home tells the story of that journey, how Wales shook the footballing world to its very foundations, beating tournament favourites Belgium to reach the semi-finals focusing on the players, managers and supporters.
Just the job as part of my preparations for the Wales England rugby tomorrow I think.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

You can't get there from here

This came up last night when I was talking to my brother. Guildhall College of Music and Drama is even closer to Moorgate tube station than my house is to Colliers Wood, and Moorgate is 27 minutes direct on the Northern line Bank branch from the Wood.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Tony Slattery was ubiquitous in the 80s; President of the the Cambridge Footlights in the era of Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, and Sandi Toksvig, then unavoidable in Whose Line is it Anyway? etc.

Wikipedia ( gives us a hint of why he is at the Colour House this weekend rather than on Sunset Boulevard but it is still a surprise to me.

I would be tempted to go, but I will have been drinking watching the Wales England game in the afternoon and you do not want me around improv once lubricated.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

‘F*** Sarriball’

Callum Hudson-Odoi gave Sarri an awkward sideways glance but did not come on for the Blues against Manchester United
Not only that, I stayed home to watch it.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Under New Labour, only the future is certain. The past keeps changing.

Paul Flynn, Old Illtydian and long standing Newport MP has died at the age of 84. He has appeared quite a lot on my spindrift pages over the years.

When Newport played Manchester City in the FA Cup this weekend, City’s starting XI cost £320m to assemble. Newport’s was put together for £50,000 and only two of the players commanded a fee. It would have tickled Flynn pink to see County play so well against the superstars at the 7,850 capacity Rodney Parade. I hope he caught it on the TV.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

As I was walking down the stair

Artificial intelligence is being applied with undue haste to analyse data in some areas of biomedical research, leading to inaccurate findings, a leading US computer scientist and medical statistician warned on Friday.
“I would not trust a very large fraction of the discoveries that are currently being made using machine learning techniques applied to large data sets,” Genevera Allen of Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University warned at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.
Machine learning is a form of AI being applied widely to find patterns and associations within scientific and medical data, for example between genes and diseases. In precision medicine, researchers look for groups of patients with similar DNA profiles so that treatments can be targeted at their particular genetic form of disease.
“A lot of these techniques are designed to always make a prediction,” Dr Allen said. “They never come back with 'I don't know' or 'I didn't discover anything' because they aren’t made to.”
Genevera Allen is a canary in the coal mine. As I am myself.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

An observation

Could there be a worse example of cultural appropriation than being outraged or insulted on behalf of someone else?

Friday, February 15, 2019

Valentine's day was yesterday

Nothing to see here move along.
Love Is Like Cocaine by Helen Fisher - From ecstasy to withdrawal, the lover resembles an addict
There’s No Such Thing as Everlasting Love by Emily Esfahani Smith - Are emotions no more than “micro-moments of positivity resonance? 
Masters of Love by Emily Esfahani Smith - Science says lasting relationships come down to — you guessed it —kindness and generosity
How to Pick Your Life Partner by Tim Urban - To a frustrated single person, life can often feel like this… (part 2 is here) 
Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex? by Kate Julian - Despite the easing of taboos and the rise of hookup apps, Americans are in the midst of a sex recession… 
No Labels, No Drama, Right? by Jordana Narin - Every time his name popped up on my phone, my heart raced. Still, we were never more than semiaffiliated…
Why Developing Serious Relationships in Your 20s Matters by Elizabeth Spiers - Are you in your twenties? Have you been told that now is your time to build your own life and not worry about things like settling down and having children?
In Relationships, Be Deliberate by Emily Esfahani Smith and Galena Rhoades - For milestones like moving in together, intent (rather than chronology) determines success
This is Emo by Chuck Klosterman - No woman will ever satisfy me. I know that now, and I would never try to deny it. But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a woman, either 
Love by Lauren Slater - Scientists say that the brain chemistry of infatuation is akin to mental illness—which gives new meaning to ‘madly in love’ 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Go West young man

Google AI:
One of the consistent challenges when navigating with Google Maps is figuring out the right direction to go: sure, the app tells you to go north - but many times you're left wondering, "Where exactly am I, and which way is north?" Over the years, we've attempted to improve the accuracy of the blue dot with tools like GPS and compass, but found that both have physical limitations that make solving this challenge difficult, especially in urban environments.
I agree, but with this caveat, I am always left wondering "Where exactly am I, and which way is north?

Visual Positioning Service (VPS) may transform me from Morlock to Eloi.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

There is nothing more real than magic

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Albert Finney, but it gives me a chance to pass on a solid gold story of his salt-of-the-earthiness.

Apparently, when he was down-sizing he asked my friend Frankie (how on earth he knew her I know not) to help by getting rid of his bric-à-brac via car boot sales. He warned her though, not to sell on anything that could be traced back to him which meant that she was "stuck" with items like a copy of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu inscribed to him by his then wife Anouk Aimée, a Tiffany photo-frame engraved to Daddy Warbucks which featured in the movie Annie, and the Marley company sign from the movie Scrooge.

What shall I watch to celebrate the great man?
Geoffrey Firmin: How, unless you drink as I do, can you hope to understand the beauty of an old indian woman playing dominoes with a chicken?
Under the Volcano ought to do it. He got an Oscar nod for Geoffrey Firmin in that. A part likely to speak to me I think.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

You with your head in the clouds

Spektrix raises £5 million from Foresight VCTs to fuel growth and innovation

Spektrix and Foresight are pleased to announce a £5 million growth capital investment into Spektrix Limited, the UK’s leading provider of cloud-based ticketing, marketing and fundraising software for the arts.
The investment on behalf of Foresight VCT plc and Foresight 4 VCT plc will be used to accelerate product development and support Spektrix’s international expansion, particularly in North America where it is already working with nearly 100 arts organisations. As part of the investment, Foresight has taken a minority equity position in the company.
Founded in 2007, Spektrix was an early pioneer in bringing cloud technology to the arts. It is now the UK industry’s leading SaaS solution, encompassing ticketing, marketing, fundraising, analytics, and customer relationship management (CRM). It has been recognised as one of the UK’s fastest growing technology companies by the Sunday Times TechTrack 100 and FT Future 100, and in 2018 helped almost 400 organisations to sell more than £500m of tickets.
The software delivers key digital business capabilities to arts and entertainment organisations, enabling organisations like London’s Barbican Centre, New York Theatre Workshop and Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music to deepen customer relationships, understand sales trends in real time, and power audience development.
Michael Nabarro, co-founder and CEO of Spektrix, commented: “The goal of Spektrix is to empower arts and entertainment organisations with the tools they need to excel in the evolving arts economy. This injection of growth capital gives us additional resources to expand strategically, increase the pace of innovation, and fully realise our ambitions for the sector on both sides of the Atlantic.
“This is the first external investment we have taken as a company and that is partly testament to Foresight’s reputation and approach to managing relationships with its portfolio companies. Foresight fully supports our aims and will work with us to do more of what we already do – but faster and better.”
This is interesting to me as we work with Spektrix quite a lot. I understand if you aren't quite so fascinated.

Monday, February 11, 2019

London Irish 20 - 22 Old Rutlishians

The scalp of London Irish is added to those of Wasps and Horsham as the Old Ruts' National Under 18 Cup campaign continues.

Mike Stallard says that no Ruts side has ever beaten the Irish away before.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Yesterday when I was young

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
I went to see Dad in Belle Vue yesterday. He was in his room in the chair. At first he was asleep, then he was talking in his sleep, but when he woke up he launched straight into a conversation with me. Actually he launched straight into the middle of a conversation as if it was an ongoing debate with which we were both familiar. After a while he fell asleep again and I left to go and see Mum.
Waking or asleep,
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream,
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

Saturday, February 09, 2019

If yesterday was tomorrow, today would be Saturday. What day is today?

After all the ducking and diving involved in connecting Bronwydd Avenue to the interwebs I arrived without a device that could take advantage.

This post is a back fill.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Sobbin' fit to be tied

I thinks it is entirely possible that we won't see a Broadway or West End revival of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers any time soon.

All together now!

Tell ya 'bout them sobbin' women
Who lived in the Roman days.
It seems that they all went swimmin'
While their men was off to graze.
Well, a Roman troop was ridin' by
And saw them in their "me oh my",
So they took 'em all back home to dry.
Least that's what Plutarch says.
Oh yes!
Them a woman was sobbin', sobbin', sobbin'
Fit to be tied.
Ev'ry muscle was throbbin', throbbin'
From that riotous ride.
Oh they cried and kissed and kissed and cried
All over that Roman countryside
So don't forget that when you're takin' a bride.

From that riotous ride!
They never did return their plunder
The victor gets all the loot.
They carried them home, by thunder,
To rotundas small but cute.
And you've never seens so,
They tell me, such downright domesticity.
With a Roman baby on each knee
Named "Claudius" and "Brute"
Oh yes!
Them a women was sobbin', sobbin', passin' them nights.
While the Romans was goin' out hobbin', nobbin'
Startin' up fights.
They kept occupied by sewin' lots of little old togas
For them tots and sayin' "someday women folk'll have rights."
Passin' all o' them nights.
Just sewin'!
While the Romans had fights.
"Hey listen to this"
Now when their men folk went to fetch 'em
Them women would not be fetched.
It seems them Romans ketch 'em
That their lady friends stay ketched.
Now let this be because it's true,
A lesson to the likes of you,
Treat 'em rough like them there Romans do
Or else they'll think you're tetched.
Oh yes!
Them a women was sobbin', sobbin',
Sobbin' buckets of tears
On account o' old dobbin',
Dobbin' really rattled their ears.
Oh they acted angry and annoyed
But secretly they was overjoyed
You must recall that when corralin' your streets
Oh, oh, oh, oh them poe little dears.
Oh yes
Them a women was sobbin', sobbin', sobbin' Oh yeah
Weepin' a ton Then sobbin' women
Just remember what Robin, Robin, Robin Oh yeah
Hood woulda done. Them sobbin women.
We'll be just like them three merry men
And make 'em all merry once again.
And though they'll be a sobbin' for a while
Oh yes!
We're gonna make them sobbin' women smile!

Thursday, February 07, 2019


Scicluna Delicatessen and Coffee Bar, High Fisher Gate, Doncaster.
This Aladdin's Cave of a deli is in the same building as my hotel. Maybe I am getting old but this far outweighs yesterday's report Doncaster one of worst places in UK for a night out, new BBC survey says in my book.

I am also enjoying:
According to a 900-year-old historical quirk, the small Yorkshire town of Doncaster, 175 miles south of the border, is technically part of Scotland.
Doncaster was signed over to Scotland in 1136 by King Stephen of England as part of the Treaty of Durham, after King David successfully stormed large areas of northern England.
It remained in Scottish hands for 21 years until Henry II appeared to reclaim the town under English rule in 1157. But, it was never formally given back.
Harry Smythe is laughing about that somewhere as well.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Coming around again

On June 3, 2016 I wrote:
The dashboard instrument cluster on my Ford Focus seems to have given up the ghost this morning. The speedometer and the rev counter are stuck at zero, while the temperature and fuel gauges are both steady in the middle of their ranges, and the LCD mileometer is completely blank.
I need to drive down to Cardiff after work; tiresome doesn't begin to cover it.
The same thing has happened today but this time I am going to Doncaster.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Everybody passing by will sigh for Harry

I am leaving for Harry's funeral shortly. He was taken quickly by liver cancer shortly after retiring. I went to his 60th birthday party in November 2012. I remember that maybe more than 20 years ago he (and his wife Maureen) invite Kim and I around for dinner when we were fist involved and she didn't really know any of my friends in Whitton. Typically generous and thoughtful

We will be retiring to the Admiral Nelson after the service. Too much perspective.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Dead Trees

After years, I think, of reading almost exclusively on kindle someone has recommended and lent me an actual physical book so today I will be embarking on The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America's Enemies.

Also I was a little late getting up and at 'em this morning, so I was still at home when a gardener who was working at another house offered to get rid of the dead fir tree in my front garden for £50.

My carbon footprint is bigger than average this morning.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Nasty, brutish and short

The first trailer for Hobbs and Shaw is out; Second Unit Director, Jonnie's Uncle Simon (see Icons passim). He still seems to be burnishing his action credentials, that's for sure.

He has wrapped The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle with Robert Downey Jr and Maleficent 2 with Angelina Jolie since then. It is astounding how long big movies spend in post-production. Actors promoting them must sometimes struggle to conjure anecdotes about work they did a couple of years ago when it is eventually released.

The film he worked on before Hobbs and Shaw, Robin Hood with Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx, might have been the biggest box office flop of last year. Tricky old business.

Saturday, February 02, 2019


When Camille Lopez's drop goal put Wales 16-0 behind against France on the cusp of half time yesterday, I gave up on watching the game in public at the Charles Holden and slunk back home to stew in my juices only to see an amazing comeback seal a 24-19 win for les  Gallois.

That was strange and unexpected but not as strange and unexpected as Hppopotamus by Sparks to which I was alerted by the increasingly essential Sodajerker podcast.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Snow: England cut off

This weekend's visit back home is cancelled.