Thursday, October 31, 2019

Facebook Ad Library

The Ad Library shows you ads across Facebook's apps and services. You can use it to get information about the ads you see. The Ad Library contains all active ads running across Facebook Products.
Transparency is a priority for us to help prevent interference in elections, so the Ad Library also shows you additional information about ads about issue, electoral and political ads, including who funded the ad, range of how much they spent, and the reach of the ad across multiple demographics. We store these ads for seven years.
You can view and use the Ad Library at
If you're an advertiser, you can learn more about issue, electoral or political ads in the Business Help Center.
I imagine that this will produce some interesting information in the run up to the election.

Look at this link. The UK Government spent over a million quid advertising on Facebook over the last year and more than half of that in the last month.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Cardiff, where the poetic champions compose

YouTube's algorithms recommended a video of Morrison talking about this new album to me yesterday. To my surprise about one minute and ten seconds in (herewith he talked about recording a lot of it in Cardiff where he has a "set up" with guys playing keyboards, bass, drums and organ.

I was astounded. A little research suggests that the Music Box Studios is where the work was done,  and that Richard Dunn is the Hammond player.

I recounted this to my brother on the phone this morning and he told me that Van the Man lives locally in Pontcanna. Again I was astounded, but here is a story about Van Morrison popping in for a quiet drink at the Casablanca Club after a gig in Newport in the 80s.

At that time the club was managed by Frankie Johnson Snr. I was in school with Frankie Johnson Jnr. Ultimately it is all about me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Finite to fail, but Infinite to venture.

Gunfire and car stunts filmed on Newport Road for Mark Wahlberg's movie. The road was closed from midnight on Sunday until early this morning for "gunfire, police cars in a ram raid and an Aston Martin sports car flipping over the central reservation."

Simon Crane, who I met a couple of months ago, is the second unit director on Antoine Fuqua’s ‘Infinite’ so it will have been him behind the megaphone in Cardiff for the last couple of days.

Nigel Tufnel: You know, just simple lines intertwining, you know .....
Myself: Coincidence? None dare call it a conspiracy......

Monday, October 28, 2019

Hak Baker

Ben introduced me and Beth to Hak Baker last week. Since then he has dropped a new mixtape called Babylon.

I am not 100% sure what dropping a new mixtape is, but here it is for your listening pleasure and elucidation.

Also I have long wanted to share the story Ben told me of when Big Mikes (who did Trap Dreams with 19inerz) walked up the stairs of a bus he was on and people spontaneously burst into applause.

The real stuff flies under the radar.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Rorke's Drift

I have woken up too late to watch all of Zuu before the Wales v South Africa world cup semi final this morning I will just have to make do with the scene above.
Men of Harlech on to glory
This will every be your story
Keep these burning words before ye
 Welshmen will not yield

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Here's a good stick, to beat the lovely lady

Rerum novarum (from its incipit, with the direct translation of the Latin meaning "of the new things", or Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor, is an encyclical issued by Pope Leo XIII on 15 May 1891. It was an open letter, passed to all Catholic patriarchs, primates, archbishops and bishops, that addressed the condition of the working classes. 
It discussed the relationships and mutual duties between labor and capital, as well as government and its citizens. Of primary concern was the need for some amelioration of "the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class." It supported the rights of labor to form unions, rejected socialism and unrestricted capitalism, while affirming the right to private property.
Beth, if you are reading this, it has dawned on me that sitting around the table with two autodidacts on a Friday night (Friday night!) may not be the most fun a 21 year old girl ever had.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wojtek: The Bear that Went to War

Wojtek: The Bear that Went to War from Halcyon Pictures on Vimeo.

This time last year I was writing about Engel's hedgehog.
Wojtek (1942–1963; Polish pronunciation: [ˈvɔjtɛk]; in English, sometimes spelled Voytek and pronounced as such) was a Syrian brown bear (Ursus arctos syriacus) bought, as a young cub, at a railway station in Hamadan, Iran, by Polish II Corps soldiers who had been evacuated from the Soviet Union. In order to provide for his rations and transportation, he was eventually enlisted officially as a soldier with the rank of private, and was subsequently promoted to corporal.
Frankie's dad was one of the Polish troops who went from the Soviet Union, via Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt to join up with the Eighth Army and fight in the Italian campaign. I much watch this documentary with her and Kevin now I have dug up how you access it legitimately.
This is the story of Wojtek the Soldier Bear - a magnificent 500lb military bear who fought in World War 2 alongside a band of Polish soldiers. He shared their beer and cigarettes - and eventually their fate. Told by those that knew him, his story will capture the imagination and provide a very different perspective of the Polish war story.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Health care-acquired pneumonia

Mum's in hospital with pneumonia. She's been in since late last week actually and I went down and saw her on Saturday.

I've been googling it. You can see what the Mayo Clinic says here.

There is such a thing as Health care-acquired pneumonia apparently.
Health care-acquired pneumonia is a bacterial infection that occurs in people who live in long-term care facilities or who receive care in outpatient clinics, including kidney dialysis centers. Like hospital-acquired pneumonia, health care-acquired pneumonia can be caused by bacteria that are more resistant to antibiotics.
That could be the culprit.
Fluid accumulation around the lungs (pleural effusion). Pneumonia may cause fluid to build up in the thin space between layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity (pleura). If the fluid becomes infected, you may need to have it drained through a chest tube or removed with surgery.
They need to drain her lung but the fluid is too viscous, they have put her on antibiotics for a fortnight to see if that helps and they can try again.

It is all very worrying,

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Up to the Gills

For the first time in its twenty-five year history Jermyn Street Theatre is able to announce a full year of programming. Artistic Director Tom Littler, today reveals the full 2020 Season, with an array of work that ranges from world premieres to rare revivals, theatre legends to new talent and literary classics to new writing.
Highlights include the world premiere of a new play by Peter Gill directed by the author, alongside Gill's new version of Three Sisters; a triple bill of Samuel Beckett plays directed by Trevor Nunn; and Michael Pennington playing Prospero in The Tempest in a partnership with Theatre Royal Bath.
Beth and I are meeting Peter on Friday. Herewith the skinny on next year's productions at Jermyn Street for your diaries.

By Anton Chekhov
New version by Peter Gill
Directed by Tom Littler
World Premiere
9 September - 3 October 2020 (press performance - 11 September 2020).

By Peter Gill
Co-directed by Peter Gill and Alice Hamilton
World Premiere
7 - 31 October 2020 (press performance - 9 October 2020).
The autumn opens with two world premieres by the celebrated playwright and director Peter Gill (The York Realist). The first is his new version of Chekhov's Three Sisters directed by Tom Littler. Gill has previously adapted Chekhov's The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, and The Cherry Orchard. This is followed by Gill's new play Something in the Air, a play about love and memory set in London, co-directed by Gill and Alice Hamilton.
Peter Gill said: "I am delighted to be co-directing my new play Something in the Air with Alice Hamilton, and - because Chekhov has always been a big influence on my work as a director and a writer - that my new version of Three Sisters will open in such an intimate studio."

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Blog of Dominic Cummings Aged 13 3/4

I think that the enduring image that I will have of this government is from a video on the television news a few days ago.

A chauffeured car pulled up outside No 10. Boris Johnson got out on the roadside and walked around the back of the vehicle with his shirttails hanging out over his backside.

Dominic Cummings got out on to the pavement, walked confidently towards the famous front door, and then turned around and went back for the documents he had accidentally left behind on the back seat.

Can we really be in safe hands with this pair?

You can read Dominic Cummings blog at if you find yourself at a loose end.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Carré on regardless

Rhys Carré, who came on for Wales in the Rugby World Cup quarter final win over France yesterday, used to coach my nephew Seb's junior age group rugby side at St Joseph's.

That is the whole story so far but - as I only found out yesterday - I haven't really done much work on embellishing it yet.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Tell me. Do you spend time with your family?

I woke up in Cardiff after seeing mum in hospital and i am off to my brother's shortly to watch the Wales France World Cup quarter final with him and three of my nephews.

I will go and see Dad later.

I am giving my niece a lift back to London later theis afternoon as she is staying with me for a week while she is on a course at the National Youth Theatre.
You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Music Planet

Music Planet on BBC Radio 3 was my audio discovery on today's trip down the M4 to see mum in hospital.
The best roots-based music from across the world - with live sessions from the biggest international names and the freshest emerging talent, classic tracks and new releases.
I am back from Llandough now and listening to the show's World Mix with a glass of wine in my hand.

Friday, October 18, 2019


Yesterday: My mum was admitted to University Hospital Llandough. I will go and see her tomorrow.

Yesterday: I went to see Lungs and the Old Vic. Review: If you want to write an essay write an essay; if you want to write a play write a play.

Yesterday: I worked out what was wrong with my Hive system hub (passim). The cleaners had dislodged the power plug. I pushed it back in again. Society's subsidization of my three year engineering degree was a shrewd social investment.
Oh, such are the dreams of the everyday housewife
You see everywhere any time of the day
An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me

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: 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).

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  he waxes lyrical about his love of Cardiff where he is living filming His Dark Materials.

I didn't see that one coming.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Saturday, October 05, 2019

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

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.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Handbook of Hymen

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

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 makes sobering reading