Sunday, June 30, 2019

Not Angles but Angels

I tend to look at Empire Online of a morning when I am catching up with the world and trying to fool my brain into doing some work.

A couple of day ago I was a trailer for a Charlie's Angels reboot on it and recognised British accents.

These accents belong to actresses called Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska.

Wikipedia tells me both were born in London.

Scott's mother, Usha, was born in Uganda, of Gujarati Indian descent, and immigrated to England at a young age and her father, Christopher, is English. Balinska is the daughter of English chef Lorraine Pascale - born to Jamaican parents - and Polish entrepreneur Kazimierz Balinski-Jundzill.

I find this immensely cheering. As Keynes would have it:
Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits—a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.
Which is a round about way of saying that m way of saying that - over the long term- it is miscegenation that will save us.

Saturday, June 29, 2019


Mother Africa Sauce
In cooking school, we were taught the five French “mother sauces” as defined by French cuisine. The foundational sauce to the Afro-Asian flavor profile is what we call 'the Mother Africa Sauce,' a riff on West African peanut sauce.

You can pour it over a bowl of rice. You can dice up a sweet potato and mix it in as a stew. It tastes delicious with the meat of the chicken thigh crumbled into the mix. This sauce will keep for five days in the fridge and you can eat it every day, in a different way. It’s an easy back-pocket sauce that you can’t mess up. It’s both comfort food and comforting to cook. So give it a try.
After reading a post on these pages, my brother John got me a signed copy of the Between Harlem and Heaven cookbook for my birthday last week. I have read all the fascinating narrative that accompanies the recipes in it so now is the time to get cooking. Mother Africa sauce looks like the launchpad.

Ikoyi in St. James's Market, London has a Michelin star.
Ikoyi creates its own innovative cuisine based on the interpretation of West African ingredients. We combine bold heat and umami with the highest quality products in a warm and welcoming environment.
We explore ingredients such as Grains of Selim, a smoky peppercorn with the scent of eucalyptus, wild black tiger prawns and scotch bonnet chillies, which we ferment, burn and pickle.
Maybe I can take John  there for the tasting menu as his birthday present?.

Friday, June 28, 2019


I took it easy last night after an unbroken spell of dissipation that lasted from last Friday's party to meeting up with James (who I haven't seen since Wales v Australia in November and now lives in Ironbridge) in the Standard on Wednesday.

The stand down evening's entertainment consisted of part one of George Clooney's Catch-22 TV series on catch up TV then episode two on Channel 4 at nine o'clock.

All these decades later, I can't remember if I read Catch-22 when I was pretending to study for my O levels or two years later when I was pretending to study for my A levels*. Read it I did though, with the fervid attention that only a displacement activity can summon from me, so I know it well.

I must say that I think Clooney and co have done a great job, especially with untangling and straitening out the kaleidoscopic, achronological structure of the original.

We do miss one of my favourite jokes though; that Major Major bore a sickly resemblance to Henry Fonda and that "long before he even suspected who Henry Fonda was, he found himself the subject of unflattering comparisons everywhere he went."

Great job though, and four more episodes to go.

*It emerged in conversation years later that my mother was entirely aware that there was a paper back novel nestled in the chemistry textbook I was pretending to read and idly wondered "who I thought I was kidding.".

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Inspector Sands

I went along to Paddington Station with my brother on Sunday as he was on his way back to Wales.

When we were sitting over coffees waiting for the train an announcement came over the tannoy asking "Inspector Sands" to attend some location or other and John told me that this is a code phrase used by public transport authorities to alert staff, and other agencies such as the police, to an emergency or potential emergency such as a fire or bomb threat.

No threat came to fruition as far as I can tell but it is interesting none the less.

Wikipedia says Inspector Sands is a descendent of Mr. Sands. "The code phrase "Mr. Sands" was used in theatres, where sand buckets were used to put out fires, as a code for fire. The word "fire" backstage would cause alarm to either performers or the audience."

Do you see how I did that, changing the subject from choo choos to mummery so I could boast that we'e got tickets to Present Laughter in the Old Vic the week after next? It just opened to universal acclaim see

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Word on the street

Every week, Time Out readers share the weird things that they have overheard in London. In the current edition they are:

‘Thank you for not looking down your trousers to see whether your knob looks like a saxophone.’

‘We’re spread so thinly at work at the moment, we’re basically pâté.’

‘Apart from Wetherspoon’s, I literally don’t know what you want.’

‘I’ve always been quite wary of llamas.’

‘Finding a dead man at work was a more pleasant experience than getting the train back from All Points East.’

‘How can I garden? Everything I own is Ted Baker.’

‘I wonder what quinoa was up to in the ’90s.’

‘That’s my favourite hydrogenated potato-based snack!’

‘My phone knows how to spell “Berghain”.’

‘It’s cold out here because it’s the air.’

I am reliably informed that the person overheard saying ‘Thank you for not looking down your trousers to see whether your knob looks like a saxophone.’ was - drum roll - me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


The nature of Britain’s ‘elite’ is higher in the national consciousness than ever, with a series of events, including 2016’s vote to leave the European Union, putting a focus on the strained trust between significant sections of the population and those at the highest levels of politics, business and the media.
Social mobility across the UK is low and not improving, depriving large parts of the country of opportunity. This contributes strongly to this sense of distance. This study, conducted for the first time by both the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission, looks at the backgrounds of around 5,000 individuals in high ranking positions across a broad range of British society, and provides a definitive document of who gets to the top in Britain in 2019.
This report seems rather myopic and one dimensional to me. Thinking outside the box couldn't we also improve social mobility by turning more debutantes into crack whores?

Monday, June 24, 2019

a twitch upon the thread

I noticed Jay Rayner in the audience when I went to see Reginald D Hunter at the Shepherd's Bush Empire on Saturday.

Last week Rebecca messaged me about Mercato Metropolitano at Elephant and Castle. She took Steve there on his birthday and he loved it.

I googled the place this morning and found a Jay Rayner review.

This could be God's way of telling us to go there after the Night of the Iguana matinee in the Noel Coward Theatre on July 13th, as it is just a short jaunt down the Bakerloo line from Charing Cross.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ras Kitchen

I had thought that the soothing slow television that is Ras Kitchen might be something of an acquired taste; a private matter between me, YouTube and my chill out zone.

Not a bit of it. I mentioned the show in passing to Ben on Friday. He watches it as well, as does Rayburn's old mate Alex Devereux etc. etc.

Faith in human nature restored.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Happy Birthday to me

It was my
thirtieth58th year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In a rainy autumn
And walked abroad in shower of all my days
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
On the hill's shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child's
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sunlight
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and the sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singing birds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart's truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year's turning.

Friday, June 21, 2019

matcha lattes dusted with Moon Juice and laced with collagen and pearl

Jackfruit are extremely large compound fruit made of numerous yellow 'bulbs' of flesh contained in a hard, knobbly exterior, with each bulb containing a seed.
The English language, while handy enough a tool for Shakespeare, Milton and going down the newsagents to get a Daily Mirror and a pint of milk, occasionally needs punching up.

I have therefore decided (as a public service) to redefine the word jackfruit. Previously, and tediously, a species of tree in the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family that eclipsed the gaiety of nations and impoverished the public stock of harmless pleasure by its very existence, it is henceforth a sexual practice so disturbing that what you are imagining is worse than I could ever imagine.

There ought to be a law against it.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


The Court of Appeal is set to deliver its judgement on the legality of British arms sales to Saudi Arabia, later today. Since 2016, many countries have revoked or suspended arms sales to Saudi Arabia – including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland (radicals and subversives all).

Allow me to refer you to:
‘The Saudis couldn’t do it without us’: the UK’s true role in Yemen’s deadly war
Britain does not merely supply the bombs that fall on Yemen – it provides the personnel and expertise that keep the war going. But is the government breaking the law?
Also (yesterday as you won't be able to tell from outraged UK coverage)  the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary killings published a report concluding that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the victim of a premeditated extrajudicial execution, for which the State of Saudi Arabia is responsible.

Fill your boots at

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world named after a family. “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family again. Ever.” – Michael Corleone.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel

Never mind the debate, the country and the economy, it has come to my attention that "Rory" Stewart's real name is Roderick James Nugent Stewart.

If the stars align correctly the run off for the next leader of the Conservatives could be between Rod Stewart and (see Icons passim) Al "Piffle" Jolson.

My work here is done.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

ten thousand yard stare

The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved either one or two separate confrontations between North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but the Pentagon Papers, the memoirs of Robert McNamara, and NSA publications from 2005 proved material misrepresentation by the US government to justify a war against Vietnam. On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing a signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch (76.2 mm) and 5-inch (127 mm) shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox "was unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round."
It was originally claimed by the National Security Agency that a Second Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on August 4, 1964, as another sea battle, but instead evidence was found of "Tonkin ghosts" (false radar images) and not actual North Vietnamese torpedo boats. In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened. In 1995, McNamara met with former Vietnam People's Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp to ask what happened on August 4, 1964, in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. "Absolutely nothing", Giáp replied. Giáp claimed that the attack had been imaginary.
The outcome of these two incidents was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression". The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for deploying U.S. conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam.
In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated, regarding the first incident on August 2:
at 1500G, Captain Herrick ordered Ogier's gun crews to open fire if the boats approached within ten thousand yards (9,150 m). At about 1505G, Maddox fired three rounds to warn off the communist [North Vietnamese] boats. This initial action was never reported by the Johnson administration, which insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first.
As the US sends more troops amid tanker tension with Iran, how far is the Gulf of Oman from the Gulf of Tonkin? "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Banks Of My Own Lovely Lee

Clare 2-23 Cork 2-18

Cork, last year's champions went out of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship yesterday.
How oft do my thoughts in their fancy take flight
To the home of my childhood away
To the days when each patriot's vision seem'd bright
Ere I dreamed that those joys should decay
When my heart was as light as the wild winds that blow
Down the Mardyke through each elm tree
Where I sported and play'd 'neath each green leafy shade
On the banks of my own lovely Lee

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Munster hurling round-robin permutations

India are playing Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup at Old Trafford today. There were more than 700,000 ticket applications for the match in Manchester, and it is expected to draw a global television audience of one billion people.

That's all very well, but my DNA results (Icons passim) mean that I have to concentrate on the Munster Senior Hurling Championship.

Both today's Round 5 Round Robin games are at 2 pm; Tipperary v Limerick at Semple Stadium, and Clare v Cork at Cusack Park.

My genes are predominantly from South Munster so they are supporting Cork.

If Cork beat Clare and Limerick don't win, we'll be in the final on June 30th.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter

Myself: Boris Johnson's not his full real name you know, it is a sort of nom de guerre.

Prodnose: Tell me his real name is Doris. Life will be complete.

Myself: Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Prodnose: Can we compromise on Al "Piffle" Jolson?

Myself: If you'll be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Dear Jurisprudence, won't you come out to play?

Tuesday before last, as I was driving up to Warwickshire, I caught the latter part of episode three of 2019's series of five Reith lectures. In it ...
Jonathan Sumption* argues that judges - especially those of the European Court of Human Rights - have usurped power by expanding the interpretation of human rights law. Lord Sumption* argues that concepts of human rights have a long history in the common law. But by contrast, the European Convention on Human Rights has become a dynamic treaty, taking on new interpretations and powers. Article 8 – the right to private and family life – is the most striking example. Should these decisions be made by judges or parliament?
Interesting stuff. This post is an aide-memoire to remind me to listen to the whole lot.

(*What a wonderful name. Resumption, presumption, consumption, and assumption are all equally hilarious plays upon it. I am sure he has never heard any of them before.)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Broken Necks, Broken Doors and Broken Dreams

A scrum half who could seemingly do it all, he regularly tore defences apart for Pontypool during 1980's. But controversy was never far away. After winning what would be his only cap for Wales, he was banned for almost a year for punching an opponent. In an era where on-field fights were commonplace, Bishop felt that he was being punished by the Welsh authorities. In this explosive interview, he sets the record straight with The Attacking Scrum. No holds barred, no opinions shirked, Bishop's story is one of great talent and shattered dreams.
Yesterday I stumbled across this podcast featuring David Bishop who went to school with me. (It is probably safe to say this discovery did not coincide with a period of such laser like concentration on work and matters in hand that an independent observer might speculate if I was, perhaps, somewhere on the ASD spectrum.)

That said, and in my defence, I am not sufficiently OCD actually to have listened to it yet, but it is on my to-do list.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Any um-ber-rellas, any um-ber-rellas to mend today?

The Unbreakable® Umbrella works just as well as a walking stick or cane but does not make you look funny or feel awkward. Whacks just as strong as a steel pipe but it weighs only 1 lb. and 9 oz. (710 g). And yes, this umbrella resists the wind and will keep you dry in rain just like the best umbrella should. 
I wrote about this remarkable device as long ago as 2010 (Icons passim), but it was not until last June that Funes the Memorious (my brother John) bought me one - to my surprise and delight - for my birthday.

This week I can confirm (after carrying it with me as a month's worth of rain fell in a few hours) that - for all that it is also weaponized -  it is the best and most robust umbrella ever keeping-you-dry-for-the-purposes-of.

I tried balancing on it between two stools (as illustrated on in the Standard as a tribute, but that was kyboshed by the bar staff because "fell off umbrella" would not have seemed credible in an insurance claim or Health and Safety statement.

I am a unique and special snowflake who must not be put in harm's way.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Bertrand Russell, Bitchez

I was surprised to see a couple of comments from my niece on this Facebook post yesterday. I had always assumed that I was the only one in the family with a philosophy Jones, not that I ever asked any of them you understand.

While we are on the subject though I ought to take the time to praise Julian Baggini for bringing the wonderful History of Philosophy without any gaps podcast to my attention.

I am three elapsed months and 318 episodes into it now; almost having caught up with its nine year history. That said I sometimes put it on late at night and fall asleep (the fault is mine not Peter Adamson's) so I may have to go back and catch up on a few dozen episodes.

Also, having read an enthusiastic review by Terry Eagleton in the Grauniard, I have added Witcraft: The Invention of Philosophy in English by Jonathan Rée to my reading list.

So that is where we are at with regards to metaphysics and ontology, tomorrow Love Island.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Festum Fatuorum

My brother went to see my mum yesterday and asked her how my visit on Tuesday went. We had a great time apparently and I took her out ten pin bowling. This is news to me, and I would imagine the surgeon who operated on her hip as she has been using a walking frame to get about ever since.

Also yesterday, I got an email that signed off:
My pronouns are: She/Her
Without going full Jordan Peterson in reaction that is a first for me.

A Mad World, My Masters.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.

There's a production of The Glass Menagerie on at the Arcola Theatre at the moment. It is supposed to be good but I probably won't go as I saw another version only a couple of years ago at the Duke of York's.

What with the Night of the Iguana and Orpheus Descending, on 6 July Tennessee Williams will have three plays running in London. Not too shabby. The Glass Menagerie premiered in 1945; seventy four years ago.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

others have greatness thrust upon them

Kevin Michael TAYLOR, lately President, British Telecom Asia, Middle East and Africa and lately Chairman, British Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong. For services to UK/Hong Kong commercial relations.
Gosh, Kevin got an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. I've known him since the first day of infant school, but I had no idea his middle name was Michael.

You don't have to be 3PO-series protocol droid to know it is his round next time we have a drink in the Claude.

Friday, June 07, 2019

An observation

If someone shouts out "help! help!" it's often a cry for help.
The social media warning signs that show a friend is depressed.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Hat Tip, Simon

Nothing earth-shattering but this made me laugh out loud yesterday.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

The last freedom moped out of Nowhere City

I'm about to set off from Cardiff to London, via a meeting in Portishead and picking up Frankie (also visiting an aged parent) on the way.

Now that the Welsh Government has scrapped the M4 relief road that was to take the strain around Newport who knows when I'll be back. It was originally proposed in 1991 as a solution to congestion at the Brynglas Tunnels. I sometimes feel like I have spent most of my life queuing for the Bryglas tunnels over the last few years.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Art of Living

On my way back to see mum and dad I listened to Breath is Life: Eileen Kramer on Radio 4 in which the 104-year-old Australian dancer and choreographer takes us on a vivid dance through her life. She is so much older than them that it makes you think.

Also there is an Amazon Echo advert on the TV at the moment showing it helping an older person. I wonder if Anne-Marie has seen it.

Monday, June 03, 2019

I'm ten years burning down the road

10 years later on Saturday June 1, 2019 Siobhan McDonagh MP was in the Royal Standard watching the European Cup Final. Scousers were having their photos taken with her to celebrate their triumph. Very jolly, all in all.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Return of the dad bod

Jeff Mayweather often posts videos of him asking questions of some of the guys inside the Mayweather Boxing Club about who they think will win upcoming fights.

Quite a lot of them picked Luiz to beat Anthony Joshua which is interesting considering what a shock it was to the rest of the world, me included.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

The "How do I unblock my dishwasher pump?" Samba

It's not like me to spend Friday night in, but the resurrected dishwasher (Icons passim) had a relapse so I spent the evening alternately watching instructional videos on the Bosch Home UK and Ireland YouTube channel and fiddling about with the pumps, pipes and filters.

In the end I gave up and ordered a new machine from Currys. It is due on Thursday; free delivery, £25 installation and £20 o remove and recycle the old one. Not too shabby. If I had done that in the first place could have gone to see Marcos Valle in the Hideaway.