Thursday, December 31, 2020
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.I bought the Bomber an XBOX for his sixth birthday (Icons passim). All these years later he is still an XBOX man. Fourteen years ago I needed to be more involved, so his account was set up with my email address and credit card details. We have never got round to changing this.
Yesterday I got an email saying we had bought "200 Call of Duty®: Black Ops Cold War Points." As I was forwarding it on to him for information I noticed that - for the first time I think - he had overwritten the stored card details and paid with his own. A sentimental rite of passage for me.
Addendum: A while back, when it was still allowed, I was a around at Helen and Mat's in the garden. Their son came out to join us and asked his mother if he could have some thyme. I at least took it for thyme probably because he seemed to me to be heading for the row of potted herbs on the patio. A keen cook myself, I was extremely impressed. But no. He was after XBOX time. It turns out that they ration him via a phone app. Another hour was negotiated and he returned to his pit.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
I got a heads up yesterday about Bill Gates on a Radio 4 programme called "How to vaccinate the world," so I listened to it on BBC Sounds in the evening. It was a refreshing change to hear something that wasn't glib. The Guardian leader yesterday was glib. Boris Johnson is glib. Left and right are equally guilty. William Gates III's mother obviously brought him up to chew his food thoroughly before swallowing. More power to her elbow.
I love Radio 4.
Monday, December 28, 2020
"We are ghosts or we are ancestors in our children's lives. We either lay our mistakes, our burdens upon them, and we haunt them, or we assist them in laying those old burdens down, and we free them from the chain of our own flawed behaviour. And as ancestors, we walk alongside of them, and we assist them in finding their own way."
Sunday, December 27, 2020
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen 🔰🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/G0JZ8iP9b3— Old Illtydians RFC (@OIRFC1928) December 23, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
I am thinking of Dad of course, and how he explained things to me simply when I was a little boy. Today in this season I remember (somehow I remember as I was a toddler) him explaining to me that Jews were warm and generous people. So warm and generous in fact that they often volunteered to work over Christmas so that other people could have a few days off.
Just a hand on my shoulder steering me the right way.
Friday, December 25, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Former President Barack Obama continues reading from the first volume of his presidential memoirs A Promised Land, offering a unique and deeply personal account of some of the landmarks of his first term at the White House.
In today’s episode, Obama confronts one of the key issues of any current world leader - what to do about climate change. Prompted by his own experiences of a Hawaiian childhood and driven by the need to create a safer environmental future for his daughters Malia and Sasha, he refuses to be blown off course. With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012 Obama is determined to negotiate a major international climate agreement. He travels to a summit in Copenhagen but is confronted by stalemate as world leaders refuse to compromise or, in some cases, to even engage with the issue. He decides the only way forward is to engage in a spot of gate crashing with Hillary Clinton.
I listened caught the last five minutes or so of this driving back up the M4 yesterday. I don't think I have ever heard anything so self serving. "That was some real gangster shit back there"??!!
O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Friday, December 18, 2020
I logged onto Facebook yesterday only to find:
Marcus Campbell Sinclair (1976-2020)
It is with much sadness that I must let you know that Marcus passed away yesterday. He courageously lived with his cancer for many years. Marcus was a unique and gifted person, who will be sorely missed.
Bad news. Much fun with Marcus over the years.
I learned from the comments on the post that he was Emperor Palpatine in the The Star Wars Exhibition at the County Hall, London back in 2007. I wish I could have told him how unimpressed Ben was with his throne (see Icons Passim). He would have laughed like a drain.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
At one minute to eight on the morning of January 29, 1928, Danny Driscoll walked to the waiting gallows in Cardiff prison.
With just seconds to go before his life ended he looked up at the sky and smiled. "Well," he said, "they've given me a nice day for it."
Outside the prison more than 5,000 men, women and children jammed Adam Street. A teenage girl led the singing of a Catholic hymn but silence when Driscoll's four brothers were led to the front of the barriers where armed police patrolled - Cardiff's underworld was rife with rumours that an attempt would be made to spring the men.
That underworld was ruled by Cardiff's fabled Forty Thieves, thugs who terrorised local race courses running protection rackets, charging bookies for supplies of chalk and sponges, and even buckets of water. You paid up. Or got cut up.
But Dai Lewis, a popular former boxer, refused to pay up. At Monmouth races on September 28, 1927, he defied the Cardiff gang led by Edward and John Rowlands - "Tich" and "Jack Tich".
A detective recalled years later that though Lewis wasn't frightened, "he was worried". So instead of going home to Ethel Street in Canton he stayed at a hotel.
That night Lewis sat in the Blue Anchor at the bottom end of St Mary Street with Driscoll and Tich Rowlands. John Rowlands and Edward "Hong Kong" Price waited in a cafe across the road. At eleven o'clock Dai Lewis walked out of the pub - and into local legend ....... read on
PG told me this story on Sunday. I had never heard of it. The Adam Street outside the prison jammed with 5,000 hymn singing protesters is the same Adam Street where Dad would be born five years later. 'Hong Kong' Price was PG's brother-in-law's grandfather.
http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/Driscoll%20and%20Rowlands.html is worth a look as well.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
I stumbled on the Gresham College lectures on YouTube.
Gresham College is an institution of higher learning located at Barnard's Inn Hall off Holborn in Central London, England. It does not enroll students and does not award any degrees. It was founded in 1597 under the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, and it hosts over 140 free public lectures every year. Since 2001, all lectures have also been made available online.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Futurist cooking will be free of the old obsessions with volume and weight and will have as one of its principles the abolition of pastasciutta. Pastasciutta, however agreeable to the palate, is a passéist food because it makes people heavy, brutish, deludes them into thinking it is nutritious, makes them skeptical, slow, pessimistic… Any pastascuittist who honestly examines his conscience at the moment he ingurgitates his biquotidian pyramid of pasta will find within the gloomy satisfaction of stopping up a black hole. This voracious hole is an incurable sadness of his. He may delude himself, but nothing can fill it. Only a Futurist meal can lift his spirits. And pasta is anti-virile because a heavy, bloated stomach does not encourage physical enthusiasm for a woman, nor favour the possibility of possessing her at any time.
RAW MEAT TORN BY TRUMPET BLASTS: cut a perfect cube of beef. Pass an electric current through it, then marinate it for twenty-four hours in a mixture of rum, cognac and white vermouth. Remove it from the mixture and serve on a bed of red pepper, black pepper and snow. Each mouthful is to be chewed carefully for one minute, and each mouthful is divided from the next by vehement blasts on the trumpet blown by the eater himself.
Monday, December 14, 2020
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Pride, 86, who was the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, his publicist confirmed.
Dolly Parton and a string of celebrities took to Twitter to pay tribute to the musician.
"It’s even worse to know that he passed away from Covid-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you.
He was lucky to get his career underway before bullshit notions like cultural appropriation got their feet under the table.
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Faravahar (Persian: فَرَوَهَر), also known as Forouhar (Persian: فُروهَر) , or Farr-e Kiyâni (فَرِّ کیانی), is one of the most well-known symbols of Iranian peoples, and Zoroastrianism, the primary religion of Iran before the Muslim conquest of Iran, and of Iranian nationalism.
Fifteen years later (see Icons passim) we're back.
Friday, December 11, 2020
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Wednesday, December 09, 2020
Ben and I went to bobochacha last night, at Helen's recommendation. It is a Pan-Asian place. We shared some dumplings to start and then both had prawn Singapore noodles. Singapore noodles are, for some reason, a sort of gold standard with me. I almost always try them to test a new place out. They didn't disappoint.
Tuesday, December 08, 2020
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologised to those affected by the Christchurch terror attacks as a report shed new light on how the gunman eluded detection.
The nearly 800-page Royal Commission of Inquiry report released Tuesday concluded that despite the shortcomings of various agencies, there were no clear signs the attack carried out by Brenton Tarrant was imminent.
But it did detail failings in the police system for vetting gun licenses, and said that New Zealand's intelligence agencies were focused on the threat posed by Islamic extremism rather than white supremacists.
Among 44 recommendations, the report recommended the government establishes a new national intelligence agency.
Following the report’s publication, Ms Ardern said: "The commission made no findings that these issues would have stopped the attack. But these were both failings nonetheless and for that I apologise."
Jacinda Ardern says "I" when talking about things which went wrong and "we" when talking about successes. On the face of it, perhaps, uncharitably a rhetorical gimmick. It impresses me very much though. I can tell because it has started to infuriate me when other people don't put their hands up an take responsibility. That lemon Vaughn Gething on Radio 4 this morning for example.
Monday, December 07, 2020
Auntie Nelly was the oldest. Peter, my Dad's cousin, was born in 1939. He was brought up in Tremorfa. There was an RAF camp that adjoined the house. His older brother Bernard told him that Auntie Nellie used to come round and "court" Bunny Churcher who was stationed there through the barbed wire at the bottom of the garden in the early days of the Second World War. They married but my uncle Bunny was killed in the conflict.
The two hooligans on the right are my youngest nephews. They have a little sister who is only one year old.
They are eighty years but only two generations away from Nelly. Alys may well have been born a century after her. If we were the Royal Family there would have been maybe a dozen monarchs at the most between 1066 and today.
Sunday, December 06, 2020
Saturday, December 05, 2020
Friday, December 04, 2020
The Bomber and I went along to The Little Taperia, a nearby Spanish tapas bar and restaurant round the corner, last night.
I felt that we had to because Morcilla Scotch eggs, with piquillo peppers were on the menu.
A scotch egg is definitely a substantial meal, Michael Gove has said, as he performed a screeching U-turn on his earlier controversial position that it constituted merely a starter.
We also ate salt cod fritters, prawns with garlic and chilli, plus a potato tortilla. Red wine for me. Lager for him.
I know you might find it difficult believe but we mostly talked about philosophy and mathematics. I didn't notice anyone on an adjoining table inclining an ear so as not to miss any of our musings on Platonic solids.
Thursday, December 03, 2020
Bethany's collaboration with Rhys Ifans is supposed to drop on https://www.heartofcardiff.co.uk/ today.
You can catch it now at https://www.heartofcardiff.co.uk/listen-gwrandewch/rodney though you have to sign up.
It ain't there yet, but it is what is going on these spindrift pages today so I guess we will just have to wait.
Wednesday, December 02, 2020
implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses
I was back in Cardiff yesterday with the intention of putting in a shift making sure Dad ate and drank at least something. He was never really awake though I managed to get some thickened Lucozade and yoghurt into him by putting a sweet drop on his tongue which seemed to trigger a swallow reflex and then following up with the rest of a teaspoon's worth.
At about ten to one, a nurse came into the room to do his "obvs" (short for observations). Concerned that his heart rate was very low, she called in Hannah*, a more senior nurse, who then called the Dr. After that they did an ECG. The Dr took me aside and told me that he was a lot worse than the day before, and implied - quite frankly - that this might be it over the next several days. I could have stayed but I was just getting in everyone's way in that single room.
Later, when I got a call to say he was much improved, a mental image formed of him opening one eye as I left and whispering "has he gone yet, Hannah*?"
*V impressed that Hannah's business-like hair bun was secured with tinsel rather than a hair tie.
Tuesday, December 01, 2020
Monday, November 30, 2020
It's not enough to land a punch. If its going to be effective you are going to need to have the proper follow-through. This means aiming just beyond your target, so that you maintain momentum after the strike itself.
I remembered this talking to my brother on the phone yesterday. We may find out how practical it is in the next few days if some people who shall remain nameless don't buck up their act.
Sunday, November 29, 2020
British Airways has apologised after tweeting its support for the England rugby team who are due to play Wales.
'English Airways' began trending after the airline tweeted: "Good luck to the England rugby team against Wales today." The tweet has now been deleted.
Wales' Health Minister Vaughan Gething commented: "Good way to annoy 3m+ potential customers".
BA said it had "unintentionally strayed offside" and was sorry.
Saturday, November 28, 2020
Friday, November 27, 2020
I also got the chance to show Ben the photo opposite of Kru Johnny, his old Muay Thai teacher, training Matt Hancock in the House of Commons in January. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then, but it certainly gives a new meaning to PPE.
What else? Dad is still in hospital. Three and a half weeks now. God know why they won't let him out. And John took Mum to the dentist this week so her new dentures should be sorted soon.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
President Donald Trump phoned in to lawyer Rudy Giuliani during a Pennsylvania hearing-style event Wednesday in order to claim 'we won this election' and that the election 'has to be turned around.
'This election as rigged and we can’t let that happen,' Trump said, even after Michigan and Pennsylvania certified the vote and his own administration issued a letter allowing the transition to President-elect Joe Biden to begin.
'This was an election that we won easily. We won it by a lot,' Trump claimed, while trailing Biden by about 6 million votes.
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
What a pass that is! 👏— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) November 24, 2020
Mason Mount wins the ball and instantly slots Callum Hudson-Odoi through on goal to bag Chelsea's opener!
The winger cooly picks his spot to finish the move 👌 pic.twitter.com/lGeFiu41F9
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
I am ahead of schedule when it comes to Christmas as I have watched the Apartment already. It was on BBC2 on Sunday afternoon. I have seen it time after time and own it in various formats but it always repays another look. This time I was struck by how wonderful the soundtrack was. For all that the piano player in the restaurant is not only miming, he plainly can't play at all. Mark Billy Wilder down one point. Gosh that hasn't happened before.
Monday, November 23, 2020
PG's Ancestry DNA test result has come through. You can see the regional breakdown of his antecedents on this publicly available page.
According to my DNA matches page on the system, he is the fourth most closely related person to me among those who have done the test. Coming - unsurprisingly - after my son, my nephew, and my niece.
To me the next logical step would seem to be to start work on his family tree. I have done mine to a certain extent, maybe I could repurpose some of that that; my great grandparents on my father's side being his mother's parents?
If you click the DNA tab on the website, select Settings and then go to Sharing Preferences, other users can be given permission to "view and modify test details and message users." I wonder if he sets that up for me if we could work through this together?
Sunday, November 22, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
Friday, November 20, 2020
I have arrived in Cardiff, but you catch me at a low ebb. I had an appointment to see my mother at ten o'clock Saturday morning for the first time since September 5, but I just got a call from the home. Two of their team members have tested positive for COVID-19 so there are no more visits for 28 days. Tomorrow is off and my heart has sunk into my boots.
Thursday, November 19, 2020
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Ian Botham's grandson James, born in Cardiff, has been called up to the Wales squad for the Georgia game.
I came across the extended Botham family when I was skiing in 2012 (Icons passim) and was very impressed - if that is the right word - by how normal they were. I imagine a 13 year old James was among the party.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
The notorious track and trace system has instructed the Prime Minister to self-isolate for a fortnight.
Mr Johnson has informed us that he feels as "fit as a butcher's dog" and "bursting with antibodies." Antibodies which, one imagines should protect him against another bout of the virus. He was admitted to intensive care seven months ago, so it is likely he is now immune.
Although it is possible that BoJo could catch it for a second time, the odds are miniscule. Out of 55 million cases globally, there have been just 10 confirmed cases of reinfection.
If Boris has to isolate even though he has recovered from COVID previously, what is the point of the vaccines over which there has been so much excitement?
Remember that these self isolation rules are the law. A peculiarity - to say the least - of this law is that people must remain at home for 14 days even if they test negative. He must stay away from Carrie Symonds and his baby for the full fortnight.
By way of contrast those who think they have virus symptoms, and isolate while awaiting test results, are allowed out immediately if it turns out they are not infected.
Those who test positive have to isolate for ten days.
Q.E.D. People who have the virus need to stay inside for less time than people who test and trace thought might have it but turned out not to.
Monday, November 16, 2020
Years ago I went to Teddington Studios to pitch for some IT work, on Robert Kilroy-Silk's show as I recall.
Des O'Connor had a reserved space in the car park with his name painted on it, so that is where I left my car. I just found it impossible to resist.
I was sad to hear he died yesterday. He seems to have been a lovely fella. I was very much taken by the fact that he, himself, was the author of many of the wisecracks Eric Morecambe used to aim at him.
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Friday, November 13, 2020
Bethany - one of my my actress nieces - is doing a lockdown audio thing with Rhys Ifans that will come out on December 3.
I can't really claim to have any preconceptions about sleuthing, Victorian police dogs so I will come to it with an open mind.
Renowned for his performances in hit films such as Twin Town and Notting Hill, Rhys Ifans will perform alongside Bethany Wooding and Oliver Wood in the thrilling audio drama.
Bethany Wooding, who also portrayed Kirsty in Owen Thomas’ audio drama Peerless in the Heart of Cardiff series, is an emerging actor from Cardiff who has previously trained with the National Youth Theatre and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s Young Actor’s Studio.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Ben came round last night and we shared food from Garfield and a case of Red Stripe. We also played old school reggae through my Peavey Backstage Plus amplifier. I don't think Ben had ever encountered a valve amp before. The coupla second delay when it still throbs after you have turned off the power messed with his mind. Later he introduced me to the music of Bushy One String.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
The Transition Integrity Project (TIP) was a series of June 2020 political scenario exercises in the United States, involving over 100 current and former senior government and campaign leaders, academics, journalists, polling experts and former federal and state government officials. The exercises examined potential disruptions to the 2020 presidential election and transition.
In August 2020, TIP released a report outlining its findings and recommendations. The report stated, ″We […] assess that the [sic] President Trump is likely to contest the result by both legal and extra-legal means, in an attempt to hold onto power.
I am not a Trump supporter. I am not a Biden supporter. I am a disinterested observer from the other side of the pond. I don't think this unholy saga is anywhere near finished yet for all that the BBC thinks it is.
Monday, November 09, 2020
I am not a Trump supporter. I am not a Biden supporter. I am a disinterested observer from the other side of the pond. I don't think this unholy saga is anywhere near finished yet for all that the BBC thinks it is.
Sunday, November 08, 2020
Saturday, November 07, 2020
Smacking children is illegal in Scotland from today.
I only ever smacked Ben once, it was in the car park under Virgin Active where I had taken him swimming. He dashed out into the path of an incoming vehicle, so I grabbed him my the wrist and tapped him on the palm. I realized later that I did it because I was afraid, not to teach him anything.
I can't remember my mother or father ever smacking me at all.
Friday, November 06, 2020
Garfield at Ting 'n Ting is open for take-aways during lock down so next week Ben and I will be doing Caribbean food.
His Mega Platter would seem to fit the bill.
Sharing platter of jerk chicken & pork, mutton curry, chicken curry, peppered steak, saltfish fritter, plantain, rice n peas, dumpling and coleslaw. A popular choice as an intro to Caribbean food.
That back at my place with a Studio One soundtrack and some Red Stripe Jamaican beer is a proposition lacking in flaws.
Do you remember I was talking about Kamala Harris's South Indian roots the day before yesterday? Her father is from Jamaica. Quite frankly Saravanaa Bhavan followed by Ting 'n Ting counts as prudent political research. We should be able to claim it against something.
While you're here, Mindy Kaling (who was making dosas with Kamala - keep up) has a significant ownership stake in Swansea City. (Everything is connected,)
Thursday, November 05, 2020
Wednesday, November 04, 2020
Tuesday, November 03, 2020
Dad - who should have been moving between care homes - is in hospital in the Heath and no one can go and see him.
All right, now I have to make arrangements to bring him back here safely cleared of all these false charges. But I'm a superstitious man, and if some unlucky accident should befall him... if he should be shot in the head by a police officer, or if he should hang himself in his jail cell, or if he's struck by a bolt of lightning, then I'm going to blame some of the people in this room, and that I do not forgive.
Monday, November 02, 2020
I was talking to Peter about Tom Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia yesterday. I can't remember how or why it came up. Stoppard's protagonist is Alexander Herzen, the Russian writer and thinker and a real historical figure. I mentioned that I had read Isiah Berlin on Herzen only for PG to tell me he knew him. You could have knocked me down with a feather.
It seems that Peter's 1981 production of Turgenev's A Month in the Country was based on a translation that the National Theatre commissioned from Berlin and PG used to pop around Isiah B's flat in the Albany* to discuss it as a work in progress. "Nice man," apparently.
The Albany! My cup overfloweth.
Sunday, November 01, 2020
When I was a boy I used to get the bus back home from primary school. On day after I got off, I noticed the narrow ledge under the automatic exit in the middle of the single-decker, and a vertical handle that passengers could use to steady themselves getting on or off. It struck me that if - once the cantilever door closed - I leaped back on I could cling to the outside of the bus and jump off at the top of the hill thus saving myself two or three minutes walking.
By the time the bus got to the top of the hill it was moving too quickly for me to dismount without taking my life in my hands, so I had to cling on in terror all the way to the next stop - further away from home than where I had started.
I saw something of that little boy in Boris Johnson at yesterday's press conference; initially full of bravado, now to scared to jump off and walk instead.
Friday, October 30, 2020
I went to Istanbul Meze Mangal with Ben yesterday. It looked like they had used lockdown to redecorate and remodel. The place was slick.
Inspired by the food, I watched Chef's Table Season 5 Episode 2 on Netflix last night. It profiles the Turkish chef Musa Dağdeviren who is documenting his country’s culinary past and keeping old recipes alive at his Istanbul restaurant. This morning I have ordered his book.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the British state has exercised coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted. It has taken effective legal control, enforced by the police, over the personal lives of the entire population: where they could go, whom they could meet, what they could do even within their own homes. For three months it placed everybody under a form of house arrest, qualified only by their right to do a limited number of things approved by ministers. All of this has been authorised by ministerial decree with minimal Parliamentary involvement. It has been the most significant interference with personal freedom in the history of our country. We have never sought to do such a thing before, even in wartime and even when faced with health crises far more serious than this one.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
“You are speaking...as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing... what you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure.”
I think this may be profound but I only heard it early this morning and the gears are still turning. I could easily change my mind by tomorrow.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Predicted relationship: Close Family–1st Cousin: Shared DNA: 1,640 cM across 55 segments
Monday, October 26, 2020
Sunday, October 25, 2020
This is kinda weird.
'Burning Questions' is a series by The Sun where politicians, commentators, experts and cultural figures are interviewed about current affairs and their lives.
It is a long-form style podcast that enables some of the most prominent political figures of the 21st century to give their views uninterrupted.
The usual ALT-RIGHT suspects get an hour each. It is indistinguishable from their holding forth on sites with more cultural potential. I was just surprised to find it curated by Rupert Murdoch's ankle-biting tabloid.
Saturday, October 24, 2020
The New Yorker has suspended reporter Jeffrey Toobin for masturbating on a Zoom video chat between members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio last week. Toobin says he did not realize his video was on.
“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” Toobin told Motherboard.
“I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video,” he added.
Is there some way we could make a show of solidarity with him? Any ideas?
Friday, October 23, 2020
We meet Kirsty, stumbling home from a night on the tiles on St Mary’s Street. But home isn’t where she wants to be. Instead, she finds herself weaving between the headstones of Cathays cemetery, where a chance encounter is about to open the doors to a whole new world for her, to a whole new Cardiff. Don't miss Owen Thomas’ hauntingly beautiful tale of fight or flight inspired by Cardiff’s legendary boxer Peerless Jim Driscoll.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
I dined out at Sam's Riverside the day before yesterday. It's OK it was a business meeting.
Last night I was at at a Korean place in New Malden with the son and heir. He lives with his mother.
Thus no social bubbles have been injured in the making of this blog post.
I hope to have a drink after work tonight with my extended, garrulous, multi-ethnic, theologically diverse household.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Peter recommended Drama out of a Crisis: A Celebration of Play for Today to me on Sunday. I will try and catch it on the BBC iPlayer. He said he had almost forgotten how left wing the Play for Today strand was, and then segued into telling me that back in the day, suspected subversives at the BBC had "Christmas trees" on their personnel files.
I thought quite frankly that he had gone of his chump, but no:
The vetting files:
For decades the BBC denied that job applicants were subject to political vetting by MI5. But in fact vetting began in the early days of the BBC and continued until the 1990s. Paul Reynolds, the first journalist to see all the BBC's vetting files, tells the story of the long relationship between the corporation and the Security Service.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Saturday, October 17, 2020
In Our Time was about Alan Turing this week, and very good it was too. All three guests (Leslie Ann Goldberg, Professor of Computer Science and Fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford; Simon Shaffer, Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Darwin College and Andrew Hodges, Biographer of Turing and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford) were articulate and knowledgeable. I was very struck with Shaffer - perhaps because I had never heard of him before - and his insistence that Turing owed a lot of his apparently abstract and abstruse leaps forward to a practical, material groundedness; hence the Turing machine.
A man to follow is SS, http://www.imaginaryfutures.net/2007/04/16/ok-computer-by-simon-schaffer/ is a link I have found. It makes an interesting Turing/Michael Polanyi connection. You know, Polanyi - the tacit knowledge guy.
Friday, October 16, 2020
You'll know if you read this blog that my son came round for dinner earlier in the week. Also I go and take my Dad's cousin (who is in his 80s and lives on his own) out on his grocery shop every Sunday morning. From midnight tonight I have to chose which of these two is in my social bubble. Either Ben and I can't meet in each other's households or I can't take Pete for a coffee in the Plum Cafe after Waitrose.
A ban on travelling to Wales from coronavirus hotspots elsewhere in the UK comes into effect on Friday evening. Mark Drakeford, the first minister has used devolved powers to shut Wales' borders. The ban will cover all of Northern Ireland, England's tier two and three areas and the Scottish central belt.
Neither my niece, who is studying here in London, nor I can go and see our family in Cardiff and South Wales.
Explain to me how all this can be justified or how the government has the authority to implement it.
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Fingers crossed, after last week (Icons passim) this will become a regular thing.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
If you want poetry without the pretension, listen to Frank Skinner.
Okee dokee I am prepared to give Frank Skinner's Poetry Podcast a go. As a left-footer I think I will kick off with the Gerard Manley Hopkins episode - https://planetradio.co.uk/podcasts/frank-skinner-poetry-podcast/listen/2029873/
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Take a look at the screen shot above. This is where the Government expects us to check our lock-down level (https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-local-restrictions). These people can't even write bog standard HTML.
Monday, October 12, 2020
Sunday, October 11, 2020
I have worked out a method for scoring Jonnie's premiership prediction competition (see Icons passim).
For each team you get 20 points minus the difference between your predicted position and the actual position. If you predict Liverpool will win and they do you get 20 but if they come last you get 1. If you predict Leeds will come 11th and they come 6th you get 15 etc. A perfect prediction gives you 400 points. The lowest mark you can get is 199 if your predicted winner comes last, you predicted runner up comes second last, etcetera etcetera.
I would keep it to myself, but I am currently second in a field of 28 with a score of 308 and thus feel validated. Villa are stealing points from everyone by over-achieving and the Manchester clubs are doing the same by under-performing.
Saturday, October 10, 2020
Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet is a studio album by the Miles Davis quintet, recorded in 1956 but not released until July or August 1961. Two sessions on May 11, 1956 and October 26 in the same year resulted in four albums: this one, Relaxin' with The Miles Davis Quintet, Workin' with The Miles Davis Quintet and Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet.
Friday, October 09, 2020
I went to the son and heir's for dinner yesterday. He can actually cook! I was amazed. When I arrived he was sautéing sweet pepper, onion, garlic and chilli. When that was done he seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices before adding mixed seafood and a dash of stock. It was served with veggie rice. All from out of his head rather than a recipe book.
Thursday, October 08, 2020
As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.
Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.
Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.
Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.
As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e. the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.
The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.
Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.
Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.
Wednesday, October 07, 2020
I always come across something good on radio 4 during my monthly road trip.
This time it was a drama called Deacon, I didn't hear from the beginning but I can catch up now on https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/b08yrp59
(It was very hard to be just outside Bristol but forbidden by the Welsh government to pop over the Severn Bridge to see my mother and father in Cardiff.)
Tuesday, October 06, 2020
A technical error with an Excel spreadsheet is believed to have caused 16,000 cases of coronavirus to be missed from national tallies, causing a "shambolic" delay to tracing efforts.
I take the Mickey out of Donna for the schoolgirl error of keeping important data in a spreadsheet. God give me strength.
Monday, October 05, 2020
Sunday, October 04, 2020
After picking up a ticket on a Sunday in Hammersmith and Fulham a little way back, I have now in subsequent weeks tried and failed to pay RingGo to allow me to park while I have a coffee with Peter in the Plum Cafe with a card in the machine (week 1), over the phone (week 2), and via the website (week 3).
Bear in mind that I already have a RingGo account that I use for my residents permit in the 'Wood and that I am hardly a babe in arms when it comes to e-commerce.
I will install the app (https://myringgo.co.uk/apps) and try that next time. If I can't get that to work I may just give up.
Saturday, October 03, 2020
Friday, October 02, 2020
Donald Trump announced this morning that he and his wife Melania tested positive for coronavirus. Most people won't want to acknowledge it, but I think Julian Baggini has called the implications bang for rights below. If however I say this to anyone myself they will accuse me of being a closet Trump booster.
More broadly I think the Open Yale Course Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600 needs to be on my to-do list. There's a YouTube playlist and a book.
If Trump stays well, it'll be "See, I was right to think this was no big deal and I am SUPER healthy."— Julian Baggini (@JulianBaggini) October 2, 2020
If he gets sick, he'll get sympathy and no Democrat will be able to say "We told you this was serious" without looking cruel and opportunistic.
I fear this is good for him.
Thursday, October 01, 2020
Ben told me over a pizza on Monday that he has been listening to a lot of reggae, and name checked Studio One.
I have been researching to catch up.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
I went to Pizza Hut with the Bomber yesterday. Pretty much all the other dining spots in Abbey Mills are closed on Mondays. It was rather a sentimental occasion for me. In his early days in Singlegate Primary I used to take him once a week to ARTTES 4 KIDS which was a gallery and children's art school under my office. We would go to Pizza Hut after he was finished and while his painting was drying.
He is twenty tomorrow.
Monday, September 28, 2020
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Friday, September 25, 2020
Thursday, September 24, 2020
I was out at Southwark cathedral (or more accurately its library) last night to see Diana Darke talking about her book Stealing from the Saracens: How Islamic Architecture Shaped Europe. It was a lot better than I feared from the click-bait title. Apparently a possible Semitic root of Saracen is is srq "to steal, rob, plunder", more specifically from the noun sāriq (Arabic: سارق), pl. sariqīn (سارقين), which means "thief, marauder, plunderer." This makes "Stealing from Saracens" an hilarious phrase apparently.
It was quite tremendously tricky getting a drink in Borough Market before the event due to crowds and covid restrictions but the Whiskey and Ginger saved the day. There's a small room upstairs that appears to be little known.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Didn't see this great photo by @jamieacarter when it was taken/posted back in July when Comet NEOWISE was visible. Posting it now as you might like to see it too. Jamie's a science and astronomy journalist for Forbes and the BBC Sky At Night, based in Roath. Used with permission. pic.twitter.com/k8SKCoQl57— I Loves The 'Diff (@ILovesTheDiff) September 21, 2020
It didn't previously occur to me to think that it might be beautiful.
Monday, September 21, 2020
Pamela Hutchinson, famed R&B singer with family group "The Emotions," has died at the age of 61, according to a post on the band's official Facebook page yesterday. The Emotions (Pamela plus sisters Wanda and Sheila) were best known for the song "Best of My Love," which reached number one on the Billboard Chart in 1977.
Don't get me wrong, there is room in my hear for "Best of My Love" but it is always "Boogie Wonderland," the Emotions collaboration with "Earth, Wind & Fire" that will make that same heart beat a little faster.
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Friday, September 18, 2020
I got my DNA test result on my birthday back in 2018 (Icons passim).
I got an email yesterday:
As you may know, we’re constantly evolving the technology and methods behind AncestryDNA®. Using a combination of scientific expertise, the world’s largest online consumer DNA database, and millions of family trees linked with DNA results, we’re releasing our most precise DNA update yet.
You can see the update at https://www.ancestry.co.uk/dna/origins/share/2291dec9-b75e-427d-bf76-0da2e1479c99
I am now 98% Irish, 2% Scottish and 0% the rest of the world. Two years ago I was 79% Ireland/Scotland/Wales with assorted other ingredients including 2% European Jewish. I fully expect to be more than 100% Irish the next time they run the rule over my chromosomes.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
The world may be going to hell in a hand basket but least Melvyn Bragg and In Our Time are back on Radio 4 on Thursday mornings.
They kicked a new series off with Pericles this morning. I haven't listened yet but I am sure that will be rectified soon.
One of the guests, Edith Hall, featured on the 'blog on this day last year.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Nesta Guinness-Walker (born 14 September 1999) is an English professional footballer who plays for AFC Wimbledon, as a left back. He scored against Northampton over the weekend.
Andy Tea Merchant told me on Sunday at the Wimbledon Brewery that Guinness-Walker is Alec Guinness' great grandson. This fills me with delight.
We whiled away much of the afternoon re-purposing Obi Wan Kenobi dialogue for the beautiful game.
To a defender "If you strike me down I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine."
To the referee "Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them."
That's no moon. It's a cross into the six-yard box!
You get the picture.
Monday, September 14, 2020
I will watch this tonight at https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08p5ly5/radio-2-live-at-home-performances-9-tom-jones
My band & I had a great time being able to perform together again (socially distanced, of course!)— Tom Jones (@RealSirTomJones) September 12, 2020
You can now watch and listen to our @BBCRadio2 Live at Home performance on @BBCiPlayer / @BBCSounds. I hope you enjoy. https://t.co/dQvWr65zqP pic.twitter.com/YvKy0ONhxI
Sunday, September 13, 2020
One day during her years at Radcliffe in the 1890s, Gertrude Stein sat down to write a philosophy exam. She just wasn’t in the mood, though, so instead of answering its questions she penned a short note to her professor, William James: “Dear Professor James, I am so sorry, but really I do not feel a bit like an examination paper in philosophy today”. In due course Stein received a response from James: “Dear Miss Stein, I understand perfectly how you feel. I often feel like that myself”. He gave her an excellent grade.
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Jonnie is running some sort of competition to predict how the Premiership will end up this year. I don't know how it will be judged but here is my best guess.
2 Manchester City
4 Manchester United
5 Tottenham Hotspur
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers
9 Leicester City
12 Newcastle United
13 West Ham United
14 Sheffield United
15 Aston Villa
17 Brighton and Hove Albion
18 Crystal Palace
19 West Bromwich Albion
Friday, September 11, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Wednesday, September 09, 2020
Yesterday, a Secretary of State told the House of Commons that a new internal market bill, due to be introduced today, will "reinterpret" the special Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland and break international law. This is beyond a disgrace. The head of the UK government’s legal department had already resigned so I imagine he agrees.
I have always a had a sneaking regard for John Major. I think he did most of the legwork that led to peace in Northern Ireland. Since Tony Blair got in though the phrase "this is the worst Prime Minister in living memory" has always been true. Boris Johnson is worse than Theresa May who was worse than David Cameron etc. etc. back nearly a quarter of a century.
Blair's cack-handed constitutional reforms are at the root of many of the problems we have in Parliament today. I am thinking particularly of the downgrading of the office of Lord Chancellor; separating judicial powers from the legislative and executive branches. Yesterday would have been inconceivable before that.
Tuesday, September 08, 2020
I have been writing a lot about the momentous, contradictory events of 1968 lately. It has also struck me that 1968 was the year that Peter Gill really broke out as a director when he presented three hitherto under-rated plays by D. H. Lawrence, as a group in the Royal Court Theatre.
In October they took one of the plays "The Daughter-in-Law" to Milan, Bucharest and Belgrade on a British Council tour.
That must have been interesting in the year of the Prague Spring and Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.