Thursday, October 17, 2019

not single spies, but in battalions

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

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

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


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

On the mend


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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Isn't it that he talks to animals?



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

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

St John Henry Newman

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

Sunday, October 13, 2019

One to watch

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

Saturday, October 12, 2019

When the Levies didn't break

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

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

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

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


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

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

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Trump Assures Kurds There Will One Day Be Very Nice Tree Planted In D.C. Commemorating Their Deaths

The Onion
WASHINGTON—Amid backlash for abandoning an ally that has been crucial in the fight against ISIS, President Donald Trump assured the Kurds Wednesday that there will one day be a very nice tree planted in Washington, D.C. commemorating their deaths. “Our Kurdish allies should rest assured that, despite the fact that U.S. troops will no longer provide them with military support, at some point in the future there will be a very good tree with branches, leaves, and bark memorializing their untimely and very brutal demise,” said Trump, promising that even if there wasn’t a plaque or anything denoting that the tree was intended as a tribute to the slaughter of Kurdish fighters and civilians, visitors would probably leave “flowers or little stuffed bears” to let others know that it was a sad tree. “You have my firm commitment that in 30 or 40 years, any tourist who happens to stumble upon the tree in a small park off K Street might think about how you were massacred for a second or two. And even if we forget which tree is actually the Kurd Tree, trust me when I say that it will be there somewhere.” At press time, Trump had given Turkey latitude to launch air strikes on the Kurd Tree if they felt it necessary for their national interest.
George H W Bush encouraged the Kurds to rise up against Saddam in 1991 after the Gulf War and then abandoned them. "We have no friends but the mountains" is a saying of theirs with which I sympathise.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao



No names, no pack drill but I think this video may turn out to be significant; getting my retaliation in first.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Quiz on my face

We won the quiz at the Antelope last night, but then again we same-old-same-old win it often.

What I want to record for posterity though is that Andy Tea was there (sans walking stick and looking well) less than three months after his open heart surgery (Icons pasim).

Monday, October 07, 2019

Life in Cardiff is wonderful

Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known as the composer, lyricist and original star of the multi-award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton, was on Desert Island Discs this weekend.

Thirty four minutes and forty five seconds in to https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00092wm  he waxes lyrical about his love of Cardiff where he is living filming His Dark Materials.

I didn't see that one coming.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Though the mills of God grind slowly; Yet they grind exceeding small;

Guardian
Celsa admits safety failures over two deaths at Cardiff steelworks
A steel company which has admitted health and safety failures over the deaths of two workers who were killed in an explosion at a plant in Cardiff could be fined up to £1.5m.
Engineers Peter O’Brien, 51, and Mark Sim, 41, died when a blast ripped through the Celsa Manufacturing plant. Another man was seriously injured in the explosion at the plant, in the Splott area, in November 2015.
Judge Neil Bidder told the court an automatic shut-off failed to activate after hot oil used to lubricate steel rollers surpassed normal temperatures. Workers did not manually shut down the system because an alarm that would have notified them of the danger had also malfunctioned.

The judge said: “The oil ignited and reached flash point … it caused a terrible explosion. The company has pleaded guilty to having failed to make suitable risk assessments. Had they made the assessments this accident would not have occurred.
Peter O'Brien was Bernard's brother. This has taken near enough four years to come to court (see Icons passim). That is a long time for the family to wait.
A statement from O’Brien’s wife, Marie, and their six children, released after their deaths, said: “Dad was a kind, gentle and funny man who loved the simple things in life … He took a major role as a member of the church and local community, through the 27 years of marriage he and Mum have spent time running Christ the King Junior Club, he was involved in rugby coaching at his children’s primary school for many years and loved his role as Confirmation Catechist at Christ the King parish church.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Read the Operation Midland report in full



Thursday, October 03, 2019

S3 Ep4: Peter Gill talks to Simon Stephens

“There are a handful of figures in the history of the Royal Court Theatre that define the place. They carved the path that, whether they are aware of it or not every artist that has worked here after them is attempting to travel down. One of that handful is the Welsh actor, director and playwright Peter Gill.
Born in Cardiff in 1939, Gill came to London in his late teens and got work here at the Royal Court as an assistant director. He worked with those figures who established the theatre in its first decade. He worked with George Devine, Lindsey Anderson and Tony Richardson. He worked as a stage assistant with a Anthony Hopkins on the touring production of Look Back In Anger. He auditioned for Ann Jellicoe. He established his name as a director at the Court towards the end of the sixties when his seminal productions of DH Lawrence’s trilogy of plays established Lawrence as firmly as a dramatist as he was known as a novelist and prose writer.
Gill’s first plays were written in the same decade. They are amongst my favourite plays in post war British theatre. The formal inventiveness, compassion, honesty and linguistic poise of Small Change, Kick for Touch, Cardiff East and The York Realist slay me quite completely. I once earned what I can only describe as a hard stare from Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington when I told him that I considered Gill’s debut play The Sleepers Den to be as striking as its contemporaries, Edward Bond’s Saved and Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming.
Gill established the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith in 1976. He made the place one of the cornerstones of exploration and energy in London’s theatrical culture. His many landmark productions as director there included the still celebrated startling opening production of his own version of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard and, at the start of the 80s he moved to become an Associate at the National Theatre where, in 1984, he established the National Theatre studio. The Studio became and remains a hothouse of exploration and invention for the leading theatre artists of its time. There are few if any buildings or institutions more fundamental to the last forty years of British theatre.
He has directed nearly a hundred productions across the UK and North American and continental Europe. He has directed Shakespeare and Sophocles, Turgenev, Pinter and Sam Shepherd.
This podcast is well worth a listen. Peter's mother, Margaret Mary (née Browne) Gill, was my father's aunt, with any luck I will be squaring the circle my introducing him to my actress niece soon.

https://royalcourttheatre.com/podcast/s3-ep4-peter-gill-talks-to-simon-stephens/

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Handbook of Hymen

BBC
Si: It’s one of those iconic motorcycle trips - we just got round to doing it as it’s such a great time to discover the United States of America, because of the huge changes that have gone on. It’s a good time to actually see what the States is about now. Route 66 has got historical status now, so there’s been a certain shift in the American psyche towards 66. It’s the mother road, it’s the most important road historically, in modern history anyway. It seemed an opportune moment to go and do it.
Dave: Over the years we’ve both visited America on east coast and the west coast. Obviously we know about Route 66, but there are thousands of miles of unchartered territory - there was a migratory route that really is the heart of America, real America, so it was something we wanted to do.
I couldn’t really picture what was there and it was a long time coming, it was quite difficult to film, as you need to look quite hard off Route 66 to find stuff: we didn’t want to go to just diners and drive-ins and eat burgers all the time. We wanted to get to the heart of America and the people.
Si: Route 66 is so important in terms of social history, in terms of it being a migrant route, it being an immigration route heading west towards California for fame and fortune and more prosperity. And all of that social history is the stock and trade of Dave and I, quite apart from the food.
Dave: We both reread John Steinbeck The Grapes Of Wrath, which is the story of that migration across America. It’s kind of the story of what created America. The modern America that we know today owes an awful lot to Route 66. But within that, we went back to the basics of Native American people, the trail of tears, where Cherokee people were taken from their land - all of that links to Route 66 and the migration. It took us a while to realise the depth of culture and history that was there, and that was what we really wanted to explore.
The weather was so horrible last night that I just stayed in and improved my mind with episodes 2 and 3 of the Hairy Bikers: Route 66. You'd imagine from first tabloid principles that this pair would drive me nuts,  but I am always astonished and impressed by how much history and social commentary they manage to sneak into their shows.
What road trip would you love to do next?
Dave: I’d love to motorcycle right across Russia. We’ve filmed in St. Petersburg, and I got quite used to the Georgian food. I went back to Russia after we filmed there a few years ago and Georgian food and Georgian wine is beautiful. That’s in the far west of Russia. But I think you can go all the way across to Korea and China - can you imagine what’s to be found there? A little bit like in America, a big expanse that we know very little about. We know even less about that expanse in Russia. However practical that is I don’t know, but that would be my dream.
Si: I’d quite like to do the ‘stans, all of the ‘stans - because I know absolutely nothing about them. Apparently they are incredible. I don’t know about the food… I was looking at the map the other day and there are quote a lot of ‘stans. All of which used to be a part of Russia, a part of China, or whatever… remarkable.
I think that they will need more than six episodes to do all of Eurasia, but I am up for it even if it turns out to be an heroic failure.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

World War Two graves of Allied dead restored in Iraq

BBC
Nearly 200 damaged World War Two graves in the Iraqi desert have been restored after decades of conflict prevented their upkeep.
.....
Since 1990 war and political instability in the country meant that it was unsafe for staff at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to manage the site.
Safety concerns led to the CWGC placing its operations in the country on hold for decades, save for brief periods where repairs were possible.
......
The CWGC maintains 23,000 memorial and cemetery sites around the world, helping to commemorate 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead.
Iraq represents its fifth largest commitment, where 51,000 casualties from World War One and 3,000 from World War Two are commemorated.
We lost 51,000 in Iraq in World War One. I didn't have a clue!

I imagine https://www.cwgc.org/ makes sobering reading