Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Suitable only for 15 years and over

We know no spectacle so ridiculous as the British public in one of its periodical fits of morality.
A mass shooting - which killed 12 people - took place during a screening of the Batman film 'The Dark Knight Rises' in the US in 2012. The film remained on release in cinemas.

Earlier this year, towards the end of November, Vue and Showcase Cinemas decided to pull a film called 'Blue Story' after a fight broke out at a Vue cinema in Birmingham. Blue Story is a film in which one group of disenfranchised black teenagers from Peckham is at war with another group of similarly disenfranchised black teenagers from Deptford.

According to police, two schoolgirls, a boy and a man were arrested and seven police officers were left with minor injuries. The young people arrested did not meet Blue Story’s 15 age certificate.

According to the incorrigibly left-wing Daily Telegraph, "families queuing to watch the opening night of Frozen 2 at the cinema were horrified when a fight between three girls escalated into major disorder at 5.30pm".

In Blue Story's defence, it probably wasn’t that movie’s content because the film hadn’t actually started at that point. Also nobody was killed.

Reading between the lines, the fight might well have broken out between girls in the queue for Disney's Frozen 2. Screenings of Frozen 2 were not curtailed.

I wonder why Blue Story got it in the neck? Here's the trailer, any guesses?

2019 in a nutshell; a year we are well shot of. (Of which we are well shot?)

Monday, December 30, 2019

A story goes with it

I didn't catch Mystify, the documentary about INXS's Michael Hutchence on BBC2 last Saturday, but I have still got 28 days left to watch on the iPlayer.

Not normally my cup of tea I'll grant you, but I have long had a sneaking regard for the Hutch. Years ago when I was living in Whitton a friend of mine was working on renovating a place Michael Hutchence had bought in London.

One day he heard the architect talking to the client over phone. When it became clear Hutchence couldn't quite visualise what he was supposed to be deciding, they agreed that he should come over and see for himself, at which point (my italics and my unreserved admiration) he had to be told the address of his own house.

He turned up towards the end of the day on the way to Heathrow, possibly on Sydney time already - where the sun was already over the yardarm, but very friendly and gracious. Then having finished his business, and realising a couple of the lads he had been passing the time with lived on the way to the airport, gave them a lift home in his chauffeur driven limo.

In my eyes his light will never dim; RIP.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Book III Part I: It’s Time to Teach You Girls

While wit works, seek your orders here girls
those that modesty, principles and your rules allow.
Be mindful first that old age will come to you:
so don’t be timid and waste any of your time.
Have fun while it’s allowed, while your years are in their prime:
the years go by like flowing waters:
The wave that’s past can’t be recalled again,
the hour that’s past never can return.
Life’s to be used: life slips by on swift feet,
what was good at first, nothing as good will follow.

I took the makings of my notorious picklebacks to the traditional Boxing Day party and seem to have taken my brine to the next level  (it was widely praised) but left all the equipment behind when I made my excuses comparatively early.

I found out yesterday that while brine remains all the bourbon is gone. It seems a 17 year old M smuggled it to another room and used it up herself on her own thirst and bending similarly aged boys to her will. Good for her.
What nonsense, Lord Emsworth felt, the papers talked about the Modern Girl. If this was a specimen, the Modern Girl was the highest point the sex had yet reached.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

from the O.P. to the Prompt Side

Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest
Lady Malvern was a hearty, happy, healthy, overpowering sort of dashed female, not so very tall but making up for it by measuring about six feet from the O.P. to the Prompt Side. She fitted into my biggest arm-chair as if it had been built round her by someone who knew they were wearing arm-chairs tight about the hips that season. She had bright, bulging eyes and a lot of yellow hair, and when she spoke she showed about fifty-seven front teeth. She was one of those women who kind of numb a fellow's faculties. She made me feel as if I were ten years old and had been brought into the drawing-room in my Sunday clothes to say how-d'you-do. Altogether by no means the sort of thing a chappie would wish to find in his sitting-room before breakfast.
Apropos "measuring about six feet from the O.P. to the Prompt Side," if you'd been a fly on the wall when I had lunch with Peter Gill yesterday you would know that both “prompt side” and the abbreviation “O.P.” in the quote from the immortal Wodehouse above come from the theatrical stage.

On the UK stage cueing (triggering a lighting change, a sound effect, or some sort of stage or set movement) and prompting a forgotten line are done by the stage manager standing offstage in the wings. Traditionally, the prompting is done from the left side of the stage (as one faces the audience), also known as “stage left.” The abbreviation “O.P.” stands for “opposite prompt,” meaning the other side of the stage, i.e., “stage right.” Both terms date back at least to the 18th century.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Reading Age

I mentioned to Rebecca yesterday at the Hendrie's party that I was reading Terry Eagleton, and she said that she knew his son from school days in Oxford.

That's the whole story. Shrug your shoulders if you like, mine are broad enough.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Happy Holidays, fellow Schadenfreuders.

Andrew Rawnsley on David Cameron’s 'For the Record' (The Observer):
Neville Chamberlain died in November 1940, just six months after the bankruptcy of his policy of appeasement towards Hitler had forced his resignation as prime minister. This was unlucky because he did not live long enough to write a memoir trying to justify himself. This was lucky because he was not around to hear himself being pilloried as one of the most calamitous leaders in British history.
David Cameron, who was an ex-PM at the young age of 49, is doomed to be remembered as a Chamberlain-class prime minister and fated to know it. Now and for ever more, he will be defined by the one epic misjudgment that terminated his time at Number 10 and hurled his country into the vortex of chaos in which it is still trapped more than three years later. In the unlikely event that Brexit ultimately proves to be a brilliant idea, he will not be able to claim any credit for an enterprise that he opposed. In the rather more likely event that leaving the EU proves to be the gravest error in Britain’s modern history, he will rightly shoulder a vast weight of the blame. And in the event that Brexit is reversed, Cameron will be remembered as the man who put his country through years of polarising trauma for no purpose.
“Brexit is the giant, dark cumulonimbus that squats over the pages of this long memoir from its first sentence. You can sense that the author dreaded arriving at the chapters where he would have to explain himself, for the earlier ones are bulked up with some stodgy padding that could have benefited from more ruthless editing. In the build-up to the breaking of the storm that sweeps away his career, the tone is largely sunny … He tends to the bland when discussing other leaders, but there are a few tangy titbits … The book’s voice is not as humble as the interviews he has given to promote it. There are lengthy tracts of self-justification as he relitigates every controversy of his career before almost invariably coming to the conclusion: ‘I was right’ … the memoir oozes bitterness from the still weeping wounds of a man who feels betrayed … Cameron says he knows ‘I failed.’ This memoir doesn’t convince me that he fully grasps why.”
Sod the season of goodwill and luxuriate in The Most Scathing Reviews of 2019. That at least is my advice this morning. See Exhibit A above.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Wrapping

Christmas Wrapping is as good a post as I can think of today. It came on the radio recently as I was driving home and I was captivated by the bass.

It turns out that it is played by lady called Tracy Wormworth.

Merry Christmas Tracy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Browne with a knee

Literature of constraints: A detective novel written entirely without the letter E, a book of 10 sonnets that share a rhyme scheme and sound... more »
Arts & Letters Daily tipped me the wink about The Penguin Book of Oulipo: Queneau, Perec, Calvino and the Adventure of Form yesterday.

One of the many gifts the OuLiPo has given the world is the beau présent, which is a poem that contains only the letters in the recipient’s name. Here's a haiku from my name: a present from me to me.
I was in a jail,
snow shone on an ashen branch.
Whoosh, here rejoins now.
Which reminds me. I knocked on my old school friend Sean's door when I was back in Cardiff on the weekend, only to confuse his brother Kevin with him when he opened the door. Oulipesque as that may appear, it is still a hint we don't get together enough these days.

Sean and I exchanged beau présent haikus this year.

Mine based on his name:
Bees burn, ere beaks break
A sunken sun rebukes us.
Seek, ask, reassure.
His based on the letters in mine:
Rare is his renown
As when in absence we hear
Sea in a seashell
His is better.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Tweet of the Day

Discover birds through their songs and calls. Each Tweet of the Day begins with a call or song, followed by a story of fascinating ornithology inspired by the sound.
Nothing much of interest on the radio as I drove back yesterday, so here is my least favourite Radio 4 offering: Tweet of the Day It generally afflicts my ears at 5:58 in the morning just before I start my engines with the Today programme.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

British Mirpuris

Three Pounds in My Pocket
Kavita Puri hears what that catch-all term “Asian” really means for British South Asians. Although the Indian subcontinent is a vast place, the main migrant groups from the early "three pound" generation came from a handful of places.
One of the pleasures (let's make that the only pleasure) of driving to and from Cardiff from London is stumbling across interesting shows on Radio 4 which I would otherwise never imagine I ought to catch. That is how I came to be listening the Three Pounds in My Pocket  (link and precis above) on Friday.

Four minutes forty nine seconds into that installment I learned that the majority of British Pakistanis in England have origins in the Mirpur District, which is in Azad Kashmir; Mirpuris migrated because of the Mangla Dam, which was built in the 1960s and eventually flooded the surrounding farmland.

Maybe that is where the girls' grandfather was from?

I am heading East on the M4 this morning, I wonder what if anything on https://www.bbc.co.uk/schedules/p00fzl7j/2019/12/22 will catch my fancy.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

not because they are easy, but because they are hard

American astronauts have had to rely solely on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get to and from orbit since July 2011, when NASA retired its space shuttle fleet.

Yesterday, Boeing’s new Starliner capsule ran into trouble and went off course in orbit minutes after blasting off on Friday on its first test flight, a crucial dress rehearsal for next year’s inaugural launch with astronauts.

Today President Donald Trump has officially funded a Pentagon force focused on warfare in space - the US Space Force. The new military service, the first in more than 70 years, falls under the US Air Force.

Stirring stuff, but considering they still  can't actually launch astronauts themselves. I think taht perhaps a period of self-reflection might be in order.

Friday, December 20, 2019

To Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill

This is the first study of one of the most significant voices of modern international theatre, one of Wales's leading writers, and one of the most compelling and beautiful bodies of work in the last fifty years. To Bodies Gone is written by playwright Barney Norris, who has assisted in Gill's productions and possesses an intimate and personal knowledge of Gill's processes and values. He explores a career remarkable in its constancy from the groundbreaking staging ideas of the early productions to the extraordinary heights of the mature work, illustrated by the rave reviews for Versailles, Gill latest play. Norris's principle theme is the aesthetic Gill introduced to theatre, and which has remained the bedrock of his work, in its various manifestations across several decades: Gill's work as a writer and director has consistently revealed the extraordinary in the daily world. Analysing his career broadly chronologically, this study places Gill's work in the wider context of the theatre, providing a portrait of British theatre in the second half of the twentieth century and contributing new insights into theatre history. To Bodies Gone includes chapters on Gill's early work, influences (Lawrence, Chekhov, Beckett), his translations and adaptations (Lawrence, Chekhov, Wedekind, Faulkner), his directing career at the Royal Court, Riverside Studios, National Theatre and NT Studio, plus his major plays - Small Change, Kick for Touch, In the Blue, Cardiff East, The York Realist and, most recently, Versailles, Gill's exploration of the new order following the first world war. The result is a major study full of insight into Gill and into British Theatre.

I am out early doors this morning calling at Leamington Spa and Portishead, before heading to Cardiff, so I am queuing this discovery up up the night before, automatically to publish when I am already on the road.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Emperor Palpatine

According to this Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker review, "Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) lives, and has sent a message to the galaxy threatening revenge with a huge fleet of planet-killing ships."

In honour of that here he is yards from our office in Merton Abbey Mills.

Derek Jacobi is there as well; two emperors for the price of one (remembering I Claudius). While we are on the subject, Ian McKellen has visited as well.

I don't know what they were doing here, I just remember noticing it here on the Colour House Theatre website a while ago, and it popped back into my memory this morning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Life on the edge

Whirlpool washing machine danger revealed as recall launched
My Hotpoint model bhwd129uk is not affected. I imagine it is too old but I am strangely disappointed. It has been a slow day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Age of A.I.

We are at the dawn of a new age and the implications of AI technology for humans are almost unimaginable. Welcome to The Age of AI. Robert Downey Jr. hosts a brand new YouTube Originals series - The Age of AI. Discover the most innovative and leading technologies that will change the world forever. Technology is moving faster than ever, and it’s taking less time to be widely adopted. Join host Rober Downey Jr. to explore the depths of this fascinating, gripping technology. Watch all episodes uninterrupted with YouTube Premium or watch episodes free with ads for a limited time. Learn more at https://support.google.com/youtube/an.... Check out YouTube Premium at:https://www.youtube.com/premium/origi... See if Premium is available in your country at: https://support.google.com/youtube/an...

I am not sure I had heard of YouTube Originals previously but this may be worth looking at when it comes out tomorrow.

Monday, December 16, 2019


I went to see the Old Street Big Band in Shoreditch last week as it is run by Colliers Wood's own Andrew Roberts.

About half way through the first set I noticed Mark Marlowe at the bar so I went up and said hello. I turned out it was his first night back in London for three years as he has been playing on cruise ships, and he was only in Old Street Records by chance as the original place he and his lady were aiming for was closed when they turned up.

Guess what, he and Andrew played together at the Mills in the Mack Big Band nearly twelve years ago (Icons passim).

We must be getting old.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Up the Arsenal

I don't know why Tighten Up presented me with an entire book of "funny" Arsenal quotes at Friday's Christmas do, but they did.

I am about to take it along to the pub to watch Arsenal v Man City as good humour is likely to be in short supply.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Let the healing begin

As an antidote to the general election's fragmentation please find above a debate between two people who disagree profoundly but still manage civility.

Ditto:Terry Eagleton in conversation with Roger Scruton from seven years ago.

You will be fascinated to learn that I have just started reading Terry Eagleton's latest book.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Small mercies

I voted for Siobhan McDonagh, our Labour MP (Icons passim), and she was re-elected with a majority of 16,482.

I must admit, I didn't see the party's national humiliation coming though. I thought Labour was going going to do a lot better than the commentariat were predicting. More fool me.

Here's a small crumb of comfort. Last night Nigel Dodds - the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) deputy leader) lost his North Belfast seat to Sinn Féin's John Finucane and the world shrugged its collective shoulders rather than rioting or throwing petrol bombs. That is an improvement on Northern Ireland when I was growing up.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Elizabeth Is Missing

I was out last night as well as Monday and I am spoken for tomorrow as well as Friday. A therapeutic night in beckons. What could be more soothing than a drama about dementia.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Coyote Ugly

"Live sports screened on our TV'S / BIG SCREEN and food served until late." If we'd known, the Bomber and I could have watched the boxing at Cardiff's Coyote Ugly Saloon on Saturday instead of The Claude.

See also https://www.gq.com/story/elizabeth-gilbert-gq-march-1997-muse-coyote-ugly-saloon, the story that sparked the film. Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame (Icons passim) wrote the piece and used to work there. Might still work there for all I know come to think of it.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Set 'em up, we'll be knockin' 'em down

Kiln Theatre presents PASS OVER by Antoinette Nwandu
A lamppost. Night. Two friends are passing time. Stuck. Waiting for change.
Inspired by Waiting for Godot and the Exodus, Antoinette Nwandu fuses poetry, humour and humanity in a rare and politically charged new play which exposes the experiences of young men in a world that refuses to see them.
Paapa's on stage again in London 13 Feb - 21 Mar 2020, so we need to sort that out for our collective diaries.

Also, James McAvoy's just opened in a critically acclaimed Cyrano de Bergerac. There is zero chance of getting a theatre ticket for that but there is going to be an NT LIve broadcast of it on 20 February so I will aim to be in the HMV Curzon then.
My heart always timidly hides itself behind my mind. I set out to bring down stars from the sky, then, for fear of ridicule, I stop and pick little flowers of eloquence.

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Highbrow or Lowenbrau this evening?

Ben and I watched Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy on Netflix when we got to Cardiff late on Friday.

Saturday night we watched Ruiz v Joshua 2 in the Claude. Local knowledge served us well. We were comfy as Shire hobbits in the lounge, while the main bar was so busy it looked like that last assault of Saruman's orcs on Helm's Deep.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Mari Lwyd

I'm in Wales with Ben visiting his grandparents and cousins. Where can se get a horse's skull for  Mari Lwyd? Have I left it too late again?

Friday, December 06, 2019

Nick's degrees of separation

YouTube recommended the video above to me. Because I looked at the trailer for the Two Popes a couple of times? Who knows?

Anyway, as I was background half-watching it and hearing Anthony McCarten's Kiwi accent, it dawned on me that I vaguely remembered Donna (another New Zealander) saying she had a home-town friend who was a screenwriter. I double checked the name with her and it is the same guy.

His last four produced scripts were:
  • The Theory of Everything (2014)
  • Darkest Hour (2017)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
  • The Two Popes (2019)
Not too shabby.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Andy Tea Party

I got a message from Andy Cunningham yesterday saying he was going out for a beverage if I fancied it, and - guess what - he was pushing on an open door.

When I got there I discovered it was a low key celebration of the news that hereon in he only has to see the heart specialist at St George's twice a year.

Less than five months after six hours of open heart surgery (Icons passim) that is a fine early Christmas present.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

I’ve read you had a struggle with booze and all that.

I have been laughing to myself about my great fortune in meeting both Simon Crane (Brad Pitt's pal) and Peter Gill (ditto Anthony Hopkins) in the same three month period. Further chuckling about the idea that the Cardiff-born bard of working class love and loss, and Hollywood's go-to action maestro are nominally in the same business.

Any road, Tony H and Brad P talking to each other (Photography Buck Ellison, Stylist Mel Ottenberg) in Interview magazine gives me a chance to share it and for us to enjoy it together.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

The Tooting Popular Front

Not my constituency. I will be voting for Siobhain McDonagh but if I lived a few hundred yards further north I would vote for Dr Rosena Allin-Khan in Tooting. This video is funny, sly and self-aware.

Monday, December 02, 2019


Apparently all the men on my father's side of the family are like characters in a Harold Pinter play.

The OED takes the strain:
Pinteresque, adj. (and n.) Brit. /pntrsk/, US /pn(t)rsk/ [< the name of Harold Pinter (b. 1930), British playwright + -ESQUE suffix. Cf. PINTERISH adj.]
Of or relating to Harold Pinter; resembling or characteristic of his plays. Also occas. as n. Pinter's plays are typically characterised by implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses.
This may also explain my difficulty in understanding the son and heir: he is exactly like the rest of us.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

flipping the bird

Yon scary man with the beard in this video frequents Coffee in the Wood.

The other day he fed his dog some scraps of the chicken he was eating and the over enthusiastic hound bit the end of his finger off. He had to go to St George's and have it sown back on again.

Shortly after, walking the same dog in the park he came across a goose caught in a wire fence. He tried to set it free. The goose pecked off the recently reattached digit.

I forbid you to laugh about this you oaf. I have laughed more than enough for both of us.