Wednesday, April 08, 2020


Official video for ‘Rewind’ by Bainbridge & Co. Shot over 2 days in Leeds on a budget of £80.
Herewith the new single from Sid's band. He co-wrote it with the singer and plays bass and guitar on the track. (You will need to place your hands over the ears of your maiden aunt for some of the lyrics.)

I really like it. Also available on Spotify.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Wally Nightingale

I was talking to Peter on Sunday night about the legend of the Sex Pistols (and their stolen gear) getting their start at the Riverside Studios in the mid 70s.

He confirmed it and started talking about someone called Wally Nightingale.

I thought he had gone barmy, but no .......


Monday, April 06, 2020


The son and heir is now attempting to craft fishing hooks from his mother's old sewing needles.

I think he is predicting a long lock down.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Always read the label

I have got a story about me being an idiot that might entertain you. When my brother John comes up for the weekend we have been known to kick Saturday off with a Nihari curry in the Lahore Karahi in Tooting. Yes there is such a thing as a breakfast curry, and last time John was here I gave him a Tooting-sourced box of two sachets of Laziza Nehari recipe and seasoning mix.

One day this week I got worried that I was going down with Covid-19. I had a terrible sore throat, I was sneezing and had a dry cough. Eventually though I tracked it back to the home made Nihari I had cooked. It had provoked my soft tissues beyond endurance. Hence the symptoms.

I was on a Skype call with John (and my mother) yesterday and warned him against the potency of the masala I had given him. Obviously I don't want him to go through what I did.

John disappeared from Skype off to his pantry or kitchen and came back with the two sachet box in his hand. He presented it to his PC's camera and pointed out that "Serves 14-16" was printed on it. Not "Serves 1-2."

My suffering was not unrelated to the fact I had taken in at least seven times as much spice as the average Nihari fancier, and the Nihari connoisseur, as a rule, is generally no slouch in this department.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, is now free to stream on Audible. It’s the version narrated by Stephen Fry, and part of a series of initiatives launched by JK Rowling and friends to keep everyone entertained while they’re cooped up at home.

You can get it at

I remember buying the Fry audiobook on CD as it was unabridged and would last long enough to keep Rayburn amused on a trip driving to West Wales (a mission in which it succeeded) to see Vince and Michele.

The CD version came out in 1999. I am pretty sure neither Ben nor Isaac were born at the time of the trip, and they came into the world in 2000, so it could be coming up for 21 years ago.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Eddie Large

Nearly seven years ago, a bunch of us went away to Somerset for the weekend (Icons passim) as a sort of stag do for Andy's upcoming wedding. (The wedding never happened but that is another story.)

I remembered the trip yesterday when I head that Eddie Large, the comedian had died aged 78 with coronavirus.

A lot of Andy's friends on the trip were musicians like him, and back in the day good players, once they got to around 17 or 18, could get gigs in big nightclubs supporting variety acts.

I don't know how it came up, but all these guys absolutely loved Eddie Large, describing him as one of the nicest, friendliest, most helpful people they had ever worked with.

I particularly recall a drummer (who'd been hit on the head with a cymbal by his disgruntled girl friend) telling me that Large had driven him to hospital in his own car telling him not to worry about bleeding all over the upholstery,

If they all remembered him as a sweetheart decades later that must have been what he was.

(I also heard a lot of anecdotes about other people's bad behaviour, but those must wait for another day.)

Thursday, April 02, 2020

LockDown Licks

Ollie's cousin Guy Pratt is giving us free bass lessons online while we are all stuck at home and Kevin lent me a bass a little while back.

I have no excuse for not coming out of this Long Dark Night of the Soul funkier.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Can I Confess Something?

I know we are not so far into this lock down, but I have all but become Christopher Walken's Duane from Annie Hall. That said I reckon this may be among the funniest two minutes in movie history.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Presumption of what?

I have been a fan, for want of a better word, of Lord Sumption since last year's Reith Lectures (Icons passim). Because of this, I take warnings like this interview with him 17 minutes into yesterday's Word at One programme seriously without necessarily agreeing to the last decimal point.
The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it's not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It's usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. That's what I fear we are seeing now. The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action. They don't pause to ask whether the action will work. They don't ask themselves whether the cost will be worth paying. They want action anyway. And anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria.
Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.
Q At a time like this as you acknowledge , citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn't be surprised then if the state takes on new powers, that is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.
A Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. The symptoms of coronavirus are clearly serious for those with other significant medical conditions especially if they're old. There are exceptional cases in which young people have been struck down, which have had a lot of publicity, but the numbers are pretty small. The Italian evidence for instance suggests that only 12% of deaths is it possible to say coronavirus was the main cause of death. So yes this is serious and yes it's understandable that people cry out to the government. But the real question is : Is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up , saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all, like the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister.
Q The executive, the government, is all of a sudden really rather powerful and really rather unscrutinised. Parliament is in recess, it's due to come back in late April, we're not quite sure whether it will or not, the Prime Minister is closeted away, communicating via his phone, there is not a lot in the way of scrutiny is there?
A No. Certainly there's not a lot in the way of institutional scrutiny. The Press has engaged in a fair amount of scrutiny, there has been some good and challenging journalism, but mostly the Press has, I think, echoed and indeed amplified the general panic.
Q The restrictions in movement have also changed the relationship between the police and those whose, in name, they serve. The police are naming and shaming citizens for travelling at what they see as the wrong time or driving to the wrong place. Does that set alarm bells ringing for you, as a former senior member of the judiciary?
A Well, I have to say, it does. I mean, the tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform. They are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government's command. Yet in some parts of the country the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country which are not contrary to the regulations, simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to. The police have no power to enforce ministers' preferences, but only legal regulations which don't go anything like as far as the government's guidance. I have to say that the behaviour of the Derbyshire police in trying to shame people into using their undoubted right to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the Fells so that people don't want to go there, is frankly disgraceful.
This is what a police state is like. It's a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers' wishes. I have to say that most police forces have behaved in a thoroughly sensible and moderate fashion. Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions. There is a natural tendency of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects. I think it's really sad that the Derbyshire Police have failed to resist that.
Q There will be people listening who admire your legal wisdom but will also say, well, he's not an epidemiologist, he doesn't know how disease spreads, he doesn't understand the risks to the health service if this thing gets out of control. What do you say to them?
A What I say to them is I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there's no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it's rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them.
Q Lord Sumption, former Justice of the Supreme Court, speaking to me earlier.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Social Distancing During the Black Death

James Hankins is a professor of Renaissance history at Harvard University.
One of the comforts of studying history is that, no matter how bad things get, you can always find a moment in the past when things were much, much worse. Some commentators on our current crisis have been throwing around comparisons to earlier pandemics, and the Black Death of 1347 — 50 inevitably gets mentioned. Please. The Black Death wiped out half the population of Europe in the space of four years. In some places the mortality was far swifter and deadlier than that. The novelist Giovanni Boccaccio, who gave us the most vivid picture of the Black Death in literature, estimated that 100,000 people died in Florence in the four months between March and July 1348. The population of the city in 1338, according to one contemporary chronicler, stood at 120,000.
Boccaccio at the time was a city tax official and saw the whole thing at ground level. Every morning bodies of the dead—husbands, wives, children, servants—were pushed out into the street where they were piled on stretchers, later on carts. They were carried to the nearest church for a quick blessing, then trundled to graveyards outside the city for burial. As the death toll rose, traditional burial practices were abandoned. Deep trenches were dug into which bodies were dumped in layers with a thin covering of soil shoveled on top. Boccaccio writes that “no more respect was accorded the dead than would today be shown to dead goats.”
We are on day 8 of our Decameron project. Rationing out one story a day during lock-in.

I started a song per story Spotify Playlist this morning.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Stop all the clocks

There are five hundred clocks in Buckingham Palace. Among them are musical clocks, organ clocks, astronomical clocks and mechanical clocks. I seem to remember, from the days I was there a lot, being told that there was a member of staff whose sole job was to keep them all wound.

Today, they will all need to be adjusted by an hour. It is difficult to imagine the task appearing very high up on HMG's list of key workers and essential roles though,

Saturday, March 28, 2020

small mercies

I managed to get through the garage yesterday and pick up my MOT'd car. I had feared it would be stranded there indefinitely while the pandemic works itself out.

That said I can't think of anywhere I should drive today.

This day last week though I had no electricity and no vehicle.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Two blue ticks

When everyone has read a group message in WhatsApp the two tick icon next to the time at the bottom on the right turns blue.

If you can all make sure you have read your messages before I go to bed each night I can just pass my eyes over all the blue ticks and know that you are safe and sound.

Also Zoom seems too be having its day in the sun. Vince and Mandy both mentioned it to me yesterday and Ollie ran a quiz on it last night. One to watch,

Thursday, March 26, 2020


Motorists worried about getting an MOT because of the coronavirus crisis, have been handed a six-month reprieve.

The government has granted car owners a six-month exemption from MOT testing.

However, it won't come in until Monday 30 March which means vehicles due an MOT before then must still take it.

The exemption "will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people get essential food and medicine," the government said.

The exemption will apply to cars, motorcycles and vans, but the government warned that vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition.

Garages will remain open for essential repair work while drivers will face prosecution if they're caught driving unsafe vehicles.

"We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID19 are able to do so," said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

"Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work."

Ain't a lot of use to me is it with my car still stuck in Dees of Wimbledon.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Future Legend

David Bowie
And in the death
As the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare
The shutters lifted an inch in temperance building, high on Poacher's Hill
And red mutant eyes gazed down on Hunger City
No more big wheels
Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes
Coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers
Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers
Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald
Any day now, the year of the Diamond Dogs
"This ain't rock and roll! This is genocide!"
Good morning I am back on the grid with 'leccy but my car is still stranded in Dees of Wimbledon,

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

And after all, you're my Powerwall

My house is now hooked up to the generator in the road. I have knocked on the front doors of my neighbours, either side and opposite to explain it will be running for at least a couple of days. It rumbles like an idling engine. Because that is what it is I suppose.
Powerwall can detect an outage, disconnect from the grid, and automatically restore power to your home in a fraction of a second. You will not even notice that the power went out. Your lights and appliances will continue to run without interruption.
If you have solar and Powerwall, then solar energy will continue to power your home and recharge Powerwall. Without Powerwall, solar will shut down during an outage.
I am starting to think that my previous indifference to Elon Musk's Tesla Powerwall ( may have been premature and short sighted.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The Book of Job

My car went in for its MOT on Friday. I still haven't got it back as they needed parts.

The power went off at home yesterday. Not in the street, just in my house. UKPowerNet have been great. They put a generator outside in the street late last night and I hope it will be connected today.

Apart from no car and no electricity everything is fine.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Before coffee, I'm up and walkin' around but I'm not awake.

Here's my schedule for the day as social distancing begins to bite.

Tune to 5 USA on Freeview channel 21 for:
  • 09:25 Columbo: Make Me A Perfect Murder
  • 11:20 Columbo: Dagger of The Mind
  • 13:20 Columbo: How To Dial A Murder
  • 14:55 Columbo: It's All In The Game
  • 16:55 Columbo: Candidate For Crime
  • 18:55 Columbo: By Dawn's Early Light
I like Columbo. We have 69 episodes (no sniggering at the back)  to sustain us over the weeks and months (

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Side Effects

Ben's maternal grandmother, Jane's mum Caroline, probably has only weeks to live.

There was supposed to be a do today (her idea) at which we would say goodbye while she is still with us. (I have never heard of such a thing before, but I can see it is gutsy.)

It won't go ahead now after the Prime Minister closed all pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, and gyms nationwide last night in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Further her imminent decline will coincide with the NHS being stretched as never before. This is inevitably going to be harrowing for my son and his mother.

There must be so many other consequences of these desperate days that my life is too blessed to allow me to imagine.

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Plan

I'm not going to the Winchester ............ I'm going to the Standard.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Round Are Way

Here' Callum - a year on from his senior England call up - showing the world you can get over Covid-19. More power to his elbow in these difficult days. A particular delight of the video is that the exercise bike is not in an exclusive gym, it's in the hallway of his mum and and dad's house round the corner.

The game is kicking off in around the park
It's twenty five a side and before it's dark
There's gonna be a loser
And you know the next goal wins
Cab it to the front as it's called a draw
Everybody's knocking at yours once more
Ernie bangs the sound
And no one's spoken since half past four
La, la, la, la, laaaa, laa

Round are way the birds are singing
Round are way the sun shines bright
Round are way the birds are minging
Round are way it's alright
Round are way the birds sing for you
'cause the already know yer
They already know yer

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Social Distancing

'Nuff said
Boris Johnson has advised against mass gatherings, sporting events and nights out in the pub.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Decameron

The year is 1348. The Black Death has begun to ravage Europe. Ten young Florentines—seven women and three men—escape the plague-infested city and retreat to the countryside around Fiesole. At their leisure in this isolated and bucolic setting, they spend ten days telling each other stories—tales of romance, tragedy, comedy, and farce—one hundred in all. The result, called by one critic "the greatest short story collection of all time" (Leonard Barkan, Princeton University) is a rich and entertaining celebration of the medley of medieval life.

Witty, earthy, and filled with bawdy irreverence, the one hundred stories of The Decameron offer more than simple escapism; they are also a life-affirming balm for trying times. The Decameron is a joyously comic book that has earned its place in world literature not just because it makes us laugh, but more importantly because it shows us how essential laughter is to the human condition.

The excuse that we do not have time to read the the thousand plus pages of Giovanni Boccaccio's masterpiece is starting to look a bit threadbare considering that we are all likely to be confined to barracks for weeks on end. Come on, escape the plague-infested city and retreat.

Film and Television Adaptations
  • Decameron Nights (1924) was based on three of the tales.
  • Decameron Nights (1953) was based on three of the tales and starred Louis Jourdan as Boccaccio.
  • Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Decameron (1971) is an anthology film which includes nine of the stories.
  • The 2007 film Virgin Territory is a romantic comedy based on the framing story of The Decameron.
  • The 2015 film Wondrous Boccaccio is loosely based on four of the tales.
  • The 2017 comedy The Little Hours adapted tales III, 1 and III, 2.

Monday, March 16, 2020

a little light relief

When Johnny Boon, Ben's old muay Thai cru, posted this back in January I was at best peripherally aware of Matt Hancock MP. Now that we live in virus land, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is as prominent as anyone in the country.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

I had a fight with Sam Smith's cousin once

The Gloucester Service Station on the M5 is not as other service stations:
We were the first family run motorway services on the UK roads. There are no franchises or fast food on our forecourts. Instead, a Farmshop selling locally produced food, a Butchery featuring meat reared from our own farms and a Kitchen serving homemade dishes produced daily using local ingredients.
Proper food with locality and a sense of belonging is at the very heart of everything we do. We believe proper food matters. So we serve it where you’d least expect it—on the motorway.
Ben and I stopped off there on Friday drawn by the grass on the roof and stayed to buy the evening's scan, Can I suggest you do the same?

Also add Mo Gilligan to the list of good stuff to which Ben has introduced me.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Sowers of Discord

We were already over the Severn Bridge yesterday when we heard that today's Wales Scotland Six Nations game had been cancelled; in the limbo or purgatory that is the congestion leading to the Brynglas tunnels. I have had many opportunities for reflection on Fridays over the last few years stranded on this God-forsaken section of the M4.

We couldn't visit mum and dad when we got to Cardiff because their homes have cancelled visits in light of Covid-19, so we have come back to London today to give Ben more time to practice in the run up to his driving test on Tuesday.

Callum (that spotlight is mine, it follows me wherever I go) Hudson-Odoi has tested positive.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Just get in, and we'll go for a ride

I am due at Leamington Spa, Telford, Kidderminster, Portishead and then Cardiff today. There's a map for that.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.

Grauniard: University vice-chancellors have told the government they cannot completely shut down if the coronavirus outbreak worsens..

Myself: In 1665, following an outbreak of the bubonic plague in England, Cambridge University closed its doors, forcing Isaac Newton to return home. While sitting in the garden there one day, he saw an apple fall from a tree, providing him with the inspiration to formulate his law of universal gravitation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

This one will run and run.

This morning, for your viewing pleasure, we have an animation. It may also be worth watching Michael Osterholm on last night's Joe Rogan Experience #1439. Osterholm's 2017 book Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs seems to put him credibly ahead of the curve on this.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Monday, March 09, 2020


I have pinched this tracker from the Telegraph to provide myself with a convenient reference for the next few weeks.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

86 not out

Dad is 86 today. Let's give him this soon-to-be-classic try that Wales scored against England in Twickenham yesterday as a present.

I missed the game as I was, unlikely as it sounds, curling in Tunbridge Wells.
David Frost rang Peter Cook up some years ago. "Peter, I'm having a little dinner party on behalf of Prince Andrew and his new bride-to-be Sarah Ferguson. I know they'd love to meet you, big fans; Be super if you could make it: Wednesday the twelfth." "Hang on... I'll just check my diary." Pause and rummaging and leafing through diary noises. And then Peter said "Oh dear. I find I'm watching television that night."
I've used the Cook line for ages when I can't make it to a function. From today it is dethroned by  "Oh dear. I find I'm curling in Tunbridge Wells that night."

Saturday, March 07, 2020

When one door closes, another ....... shuts

I have finished reading The Human Stain by Philip Roth and started on Music: A Subversive History by Ted Gioia. I came across the latter after stumbling on a podcast (Icons passim).

The former was recommended by Steve (Icons passim) and it is is indeed a fine, fine novel. That said I struggled with it at first as I thought the insufferable Nathan Zuckerman was an alter ego speaking in the author's authentic voice, as opposed to an unreliable narrator who is probably as deluded as the other characters. This is what makes the ice fishing scene at the end of the last chapter so poignant. I started to wonder if Les Farley was guilty at all. Roth was the matador and Zuckerman the cape to my confused and outraged bull.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Good Rockin' Tonight!

AWS Schema Conversion Tool
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Thursday, March 05, 2020

Khan-do attitude

My brother John will be up and staying with me for the night later, so I have got a Nihari on in the slow cooker. (It is based on a cooking sauce from a company called Kohinoor.) Last time he was here we had one in Tooting's Lahore Kahari, fourteen years on from our first! (Icons passim.) I have got him a Laziza Nehari Masala pack to take home so he can develop his own in the laboratory of the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen. (Exotic as they sound, I got my Kohinoor and Laziza products in Sainsbury's.)

The Wikipedia entry on Nihari says, "In some restaurants, a few kilos from each day's leftover Nihari is added to the next day's pot. This re-used portion of Nihari is called taar and is believed to provide the unique flavor. Some Nihari outlets in old Delhi boast of an unbroken taar going back more than a century."

I used to wonder about perhaps running my slow cooker permanently and just loading it up with more ingredients every time I took a serving out. What do we think? Would it evolve into an ur-casserole of unique depth and flavour or would it kill me? When are you coming round for dinner?

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

the dining philosophers problem

This post is intended, in years to come, to remind me of my lunch with the Bomber in the William Morris yesterday. Don't beat yourself up if you don't understand why this should be so.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

My Left Nut

Early in August (Icons passim) I wrote about Sid's band Bainbridge and Co. The track of theirs that featured on that post is now on the soundtrack of a new BBC 3 Series.

You can hear it thirty four seconds in to the clip above and My Left Nut's iPlayer page is

Monday, March 02, 2020

I wouldn't go as far as Wimbledon with Beryl Willard.

The Crown star Claire Foy and Fleabag's Andrew Scott were among the big winners at the WhatsOnStage Awards on Sunday.
Foy won best actress in a play for her performance in Lungs, while Scott took home best actor for Present Laughter.
And I saw both of them, both in the Old Vic as I recall. Present Laughter in July and Lungs in October.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

The man on the Clapham omnibus

Journey back home to confront the truth and find the moment that defined you. Peter Gill’s poetic masterpiece receives a timely revival.
This will be on just up the road in Clapham from April 21st to to the ninth of May. I will try and get along to it. Herewith the skinny:

Saturday, February 29, 2020

‘Yes Mr. Weinstein, I’m here for my 3AM reading.’

When Harvey Weinstein was convicted last week I remembered reading the LRB piece above nearly two and a half years ago.

Money quote:
After hearing my thoughts on the reading, Weinstein declared me bright and said he needed help with a movie he was making. It needed a new voiceover. He and another writer were going to work on it over the weekend. Watch a cut in his office, throw some ideas around. It was going to be fun. I should come. I was free and in town and intrigued. Is this how it worked? Is this how movies are made? My polite sounds became unintended commitments and when my agent found out, he was concerned. ‘When you work for Harvey, it should be a real meeting, in your capacity as a writer. This is a bad idea,’ he warned. I insisted. I insisted because I had implied I would do it to his face. I thought it would be bad form to go back on my word to Harvey Weinstein. I did not want to offend. A familiar feeling.
Let's give it up for Lucy Prebble's representative. Once more with feeling "when my agent found out, he was concerned. ‘When you work for Harvey, it should be a real meeting, in your capacity as a writer. This is a bad idea,’ he warned."
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel
It seems to me that the guy was risking making enemies and even appearing to turn down opportunities in the service of his client's long term best life interests. That requires real cojones, not Harvey's counterfeit version.

Friday, February 28, 2020

"Look how much my Dad can drink in one go!"

Olympiacos scored in the 119th minute away at the Emirates to knock Arsenal out of the Europa League on away goals last night. Anyone who was sitting near Andy H when this happened has my profound sympathy.

How long ago was it that the family came round to dinner at mine and he listened to the end of an Arsenal away game on the radio with such manic, visceral concentration that I thought he was pulling my leg? As I recall our kids were still in the early years of primary school so it must be more than a decade.

Thursday, February 27, 2020


I watched the first episode of Gentefied on Netflix last night and I was always going to big it up here.

I've read today though, when I just googled the title to find the trailer, that one of the writers has killed herself aged 28. This has rather taken the wind out of my sails. Maybe I will write about the show another day.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

He's right and I think you should read it as well.

Racism rests on two basic assumptions: that a correlation exists between physical characteristics and moral qualities; that mankind is divisible into superior and inferior stocks. Racism, thus defined, is a modern conception, for prior to the XVIth century there was virtually nothing in the life and thought of the West that can be described as racist. To prevent misunderstanding a clear distinction must be made between racism and ethnocentrism ... The Ancient Hebrews, in referring to all who were not Hebrews as Gentiles, were indulging in ethnocentrism, not in racism. ... So it was with the Hellenes who denominated all non-Hellenes—whether the wild Scythians or the Egyptians whom they acknowledged as their mentors in the arts of civilization—Barbarians, the term denoting that which was strange or foreign.
If someone made it up, our children can forget it. I am confident of this as they have forgotten every other bleedin' thing I have tried to tell them.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

NT Live

This video about the background work involved in the NT's live broadcasts of theatre to cinemas appeared in my Facebook feed yesterday. (There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.)

I've been going since 2014 (Icons passim) though it feels like it has always been with us.

Monday, February 24, 2020

How to build a guitar amp from scratch

Music Radar
Building an amp can not only be a fun project, but a good way of learning about electronics, how amps work, and also how to service other valve amps you might already own. It's a great way of building confidence and opening the door to other projects like constructing guitars, pedals or other studio equipment.
The recommendation screen on my android phone has suggested this to me and I admit I am intrigued.

That said, AmpMaker - the UK based supplier of the kit they used - appears to be on a sabbatical.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mr. Pink? Why didn't you throw in?

Shaun Edwards is getting a lot of the plaudits today after France beat Wales yesterday to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive, I also noticed Mr. Blonde and Nice Guy Eddie from Reservoir Dogs in the management team and grabbed a screen shot from the BBC coverage.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

AWSome (Gedditt!)

First played in 1883 as the Home Nations Championship among England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, with the inclusion of France in 1910 and Italy in 2000, the Six Nations Championship is among the oldest surviving rugby traditions and is one of the best attended sporting events in the world. Working with AWS and its partner Stats Perform, Six Nations is adopting new technologies that will help fans better understand the complexities and nuances of decisions made on and off the pitch.
With any luck by the end of the weekend AWS will be able to explain to us hiw marvelous Wales were today and exactly why England were so terrible tomorrow.

(Since my DNA test I am opposed to building a bridge from Scotland to Ireland but in favour of building a bridge from Ireland to Scotland.)

Friday, February 21, 2020

No panache

How can I put this delicately? Let's just say I went to see the NTLive Cyrano last night but I won't be putting my hat in the ring for a signed copy of Martin Crimp's script. 'Nuff said?

At least the alexandrine in the last line of my translation has a medial caesura. What are they teaching kids in school today?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

can I review you down the river?

Embed from Getty Images

Pass Over opened last night. We are going on March 4th. I can't see many reviews this morning though, despite yesterday's royal visit, that said there are five stars from the Evening Standard.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

third time's a charm

Volume 3 (6 new episodes) of Jon Favreau and Roy Choi's culinary journeys landed here on Netflix today.

That is three volumes (whatever volumes may be) since last June (Icons passim).

You can't really criticise Favreau's work ethic as he also seems to have produced and released The Mandalorian and The Lion King in the same period.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Mr Jones

This movie has got a limited theatrical release currently, and we can stream it on Amazon.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on the protagonist Gareth Jones. Read it at once, I can scarcely take it in. We have a new Welsh Born Icon in  Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones, straight outta Barry in 1905.

Monday, February 17, 2020

You know, just simple lines intertwining

Back in 2009, Chris Howell told me that the brother of a guy teaching in the same Welsh school as him had made an Indonesian action movie called Merantau (see Icons passim). This seemed quite remarkably unlikely but Gareth Evans went on to break out internationally with The Raid (number 71 in Empire's list of The 100 Greatest Movies Of The 21st Century.

Now he's back with a Sky TV series Gangs of London. Paapa Essiedu (late of this parish) is in it as well. Small world.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

C. Anne

I am back home in London having lit out of Cardiff early this morning to collect the Bomber at the end of his flight from Tampa, Florida to Gatwick.

There's a handwritten list (a few years old now) blue-tacked to a tiled wall in the Bronwydd Avenue kitchen that I want to record and remember. It comprises all the family birthdays and our forthcoming ages, plus mum and dad's wedding anniversary.

The third entry is C. Anne. That's Caroline Anne, my lost sister, our parents' third baby who died in childbirth. I imagine that C. Anne is used to distinguish her from Caroline my baby sister, The list says C. Anne would have been fifty.

I don't think my mother mentioned her loss to me more than a couple of times. I wasn't really aware of it at all until I grew up. I don't think my father ever mentioned it ever. But the wound didn't heal.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Kyrie Eleri Si√īn

I tune into Radio Wales as soon as I can pick it up when I am driving back from London to Cardiff.

This tends to mean that Eleri Si√īn, who does the two til five slot on weekday afternoons, is usually in charge of helping me to relax as I am crawling along the M4 on a Friday.

Yesterday a farmer's wife and grandmother phoned in towards the end of the show with the answer to "The 2:45pm Teaser".

"What do you do when you're not lambing?" asked Eleri by way of breaking the ice and making her feel at home. My heart instantly melted.

This is a question I have never heard on KISS Grime.  Even if I ever did it would come out more along the lines of "what man do when mandem not lambing?" I think.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Stephen Fry Hates Dancing

This post will go online automatically at 8 this morning. I will have long left as I have to get to Warwickshire early, then go to West Mercia, thence Somerset and (even thencer) Cardiff.

Why should I be the only one suffering?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

courteous and receptive to courtesy

The council managed to collect my rubbish this week you will be delighted to hear.

We are on a two week cycle: rubbish, paper and card one week; plastics, glass, cans and cartons the next.

It was third time lucky for me with rubbish, so there were three black bags and more than a month's worth of refuse in my wheelie bin.

Both a fortnight ago and four weeks ago, when I realised my refuse hadn't been taken, I was caught by the woman next door peering into her wheelie bin. I wanted to check if it was just me who had been missed or if the whole street had been overlooked and it is difficult to see if there is a black bag in a black plastic bin after dusk without sticking your head deep inside.

Being caught in this position can be, as you might imagine, difficult to explain to a neighbour especially at the second time of asking.

Perhaps I should have asked her in for a coffee so I could put her at ease. “I would not have had that happen to you. Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me.” in my best Hannibal Lecter would probably have done the trick.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The 5:05 watershed

There's a newish channel on freeview called Sky Movies Classic. It's worth a look if you find yourself at a loose end.

When I got in from work on Monday it was in the middle of a small Marlon Brando tribute comprising The Wild One at five past five followed by On The Waterfront at quarter to seven.

The Wild One was made in 1953. It was banned by the British Board of Film Classification upon its release and remained so (except for screenings in film societies where local councils overturned the BBFC’s decision) until 1967 when it was released with an X certificate.

Now they show it in a time slot where only school children can see it as the 9-5 wage slaves can't get home in time.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

One to the blade and one to the handle

I cracked and watched Spike Lee's Pass Over (Icons passim) even though we are going to see Paapa in it after he opens this week in the Kiln theatre.

Lee put the original Steppenwolf production onto celluloid and author Antoinette Nwandu talks about it above. Three minutes thirty in she is brilliant.

This play asks us, collectively, to consider the value of black lives
Specifically, the value of the lives of young black men
And I would say the value of the lives of young black men
Who are not special
Who are not entertainers
They're not athletes
They're not secret maths geniuses
They might never get better
They might never be different
But to entertain the possibility that we need to live in a society
that does not ask these young  men to prove their worth.

Our rugby club lost two boys a couple of years ago and we still haven't got over it; one to the blade and one to the handle. A victim and a perpetrator. Ben knew 'em both.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tampa fugit

Ben is flying back from Tampa to Gatwick this weekend so I will leave Cardiff early on Sunday morning (after visiting Mum and Dad on Saturday) to pick him up after flight DI7166 deposits him in the Gatwick South Terminal at 9:55am.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

PG Tips

Act 5 of Cyrano de Bergerac is essentially an epilogue set 15 years after the main events; Roxanne realises it was Cyrano who wrote the letters her lost love Christian sent, and as the light fades in the convent (literally and metaphorically) understands too late that she is losing her soulmate.

Here's the elevator pitch; we jettison the first four acts and transubstantiate the literary French verse into Cardiff's vernacular as a one act PG memory play called Nazareth House.

In our version, Roxanne, now a spinster school teacher, is visiting Cyrano at the residential home run by the religious sisters. The Gascon Cadets are a rugby club and the historical inspiration for Cyrano himself is the Carwyn James of the biography Into the Wind.
Carwyn James was a genius. He was also a tormented soul. The two sides of his life are explored in this biography, which contains new information and never-before-seen photographs.
Carwyn wore the red rugby shirt of his country, and coached not only the Lions but also his club, Llanelli, to victory against the All Blacks. He stood in a general election, contributed to radio and TV broadcasting over four decades and inspired several generations of students with his insights into literature.
This volume discusses all of those incredible achievements, but also raises a host of questions about issues such as his relationship with the Welsh Rugby Union and the BBC, as well as analysing the missed opportunity for him to coach his national team. It also fully addresses Carwyn’s battle with his sexuality, the lonely years in Italy and the period leading up to his tragic death in Amsterdam in 1983, at the age of just 53.
In Act V, scene vi of the original Cyrano says that his role in life has been to inspire others: Molière had genius, Christian beauty, but he was fated always to be hidden beneath the balcony while someone else ascended.

In the memory play Cyrano isn't sure if it was Roxanne or Christian he truly loved, so his wooing of Roxanne from the shadows as if he was Christian is even more ambiguous.

Here is the dialogue that needs to be reworked as the heart of the piece.

Oui, ma vie
Ce fut d'être celui qui souffle--et qu'on oublie !
(A Roxane):
Vous souvient-il du soir o√Ļ Christian vous parla
Sous le balcon ? Eh bien ! toute ma vie est là:
Pendant que je restais en bas, dans l'ombre noire,
D'autres montaient cueillir le baiser de la gloire !
C'est justice, et j'approuve au seuil de mon tombeau:
Molière a du génie et Christian était beau !
(A ce moment, la cloche de la chapelle ayant tinté, on voit passer au
fond, dans l'allée, les religieuses se rendant à l'office):
Qu'elles aillent prier puisque leur cloche sonne !

ROXANE (se relevant pour appeler):
Ma soeur ! ma soeur !

CYRANO (la retenant):
Non ! non ! n'allez chercher personne:
Quand vous reviendriez, je ne serais plus là.
(Les religieuses sont entrées dans la chapelle, on entend l'orgue):
Il me manquait un peu d'harmonie. . .en voilà.

Je vous aime, vivez !

Non ! car c'est dans le conte
Que lorsqu'on dit: Je t'aime ! au prince plein de honte,
Il sent sa laideur fondre à ces mots de soleil. . .
Mais tu t'apercevrais que je reste pareil.

J'ai fait votre malheur ! moi ! moi !

Vous ?. . .au contraire !
J'ignorais la douceur féminine. Ma mère
Ne m'a pas trouvé beau. Je n'ai pas eu de soeur.
Plus tard, j'ai redouté l'amante à l'oeil moqueur.
Je vous dois d'avoir eu, tout au moins, une amie.
Gr√Ęce √† vous une robe a pass√© dans ma vie.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

A Bottle And Friend

Today's Six Nations double header comprises Ireland versus Wales at quarter past two followed by Scotland versus England at quarter to five.

It is a given that Gareth the Rugby Gnome and I will be supporting Wales as unwaveringly as ever, but let's also take time out to remember that today's second game marks thirty years since Scotland’s 13-7 victory over England on March 17, 1990; a game that has gone down as one of the most famous, atmospheric and, frankly, rancorous matches ever. There's even a book about it for goodness sake The Grudge: Two Nations, One Match, No Holds Barred by Tom English.

Two teams each with three victories faced off against each other in the final round of matches, with both capable of completing a Grand Slam with a victory, and the first time that the Triple Crown had also been at stake at the same time.

I can still remember when England ran out of the tunnel first and lined up for the anthems, but, rather than following suit, Scotland - led by captain David Sole - left them to stew before walking slowly onto the field; the tension ratcheting with every moment. We were all watching it in the Admiral Nelson in Whitton with Scottish Harry Smythe. When Scotland won he has as happy a man as I have ever seen. This week last year we all went to his funeral.

If they sell any good scotch in in Standard I will raise a glass of it to H later on this afternoon.
Here's a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o' care, man?
Then catch the moments as they fly,
And use them as ye ought, man:
Believe me, happiness is shy,
And comes not aye when sought, man.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Huntin', Shootin', Fishin'

...... and Cyclin'

Would you hurry back?

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Friday on my mind

The weekend of Seasick Steve on Saturday is also to be enlivened by the Old Rutlishians Wine and Cheese evening.

This Friday we have the opening party for Abbey Mills new dress hire shop (

My cup runneth over.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Seasick Nick

If 2020's birthday present for my brother John is going to be a place on a workshop where he can build his own Cigar Box guitar ( I suppose I ought to get a ticket myself. He'll have to stay with me after all as it us just up the Northern Line from the 'Wood near Borough Station. (I had promised to go shoe shopping with Lady Gaga that weekend but I suppose I will have to cry off. Don't tell her.)

If a three string is good enough for Tom Jones and Seasick Steve doing You Gotta Move it is good enough for us.

Seasick Steve is playing the Roundhouse on 4 April (also a Northern Line jaunt from and back to the 'Wood) but adding to the package would make it a combined Christmas and Birthday present.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Pass Over

We're going to see Paapa in Pass Over at the Kiln theatre early in March. I found out yesterday that Spike Lee filmed a Steppenwolf Theatre prodution of it in Chicago and cut it into a movie that we can watch for free on Amazon Prime at

The question is do I look at it before or after the live show? I can see pros and cons with either option.

Perhaps I will watch Waiting for Godot on, the play Pass Over is inspired by and (somewhat to my surprise) something I have never seen or read.

Monday, February 03, 2020


Updated statement from DAC Lucy D'Orsi
At approximately 2pm today, Sunday, 2 February two people were stabbed in Streatham High Road, Lambeth.
Armed officers, who were part of a proactive counter-terrorism surveillance operation and were following the suspect on foot, were in immediate attendance and shot a male suspect dead at the scene.
The suspect had been recently released from prison where he had been serving a sentence for Islamist-related terrorism offences.
This is practically around the corner from me, but I didn't even hear about it until this morning.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Toots and the Maytals

Tickets are confirmed for Toots and the Maytals at the O2 Academy in Brixton on May 16th. I thought I might have to pull out because it clashed with Rachel's birthday party in Cardiff, but on double checking found that I had put the wrong date in my diary for both these events. This is a startling level of incompetence even by my exalted standards.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Alexa Calling

The Bomber is staying with Ray in the States for a while so no rugby or pizza for him today. "Serves him right 'n all," I hear you murmur.

Indirectly though he has led me to discover that I can telephone UK numbers from my Alexa devices free of charge. When I asked my Echo Show what time Corleone opened today it asked me I wanted to call the restaurant.

It turns out the feature is called Alexa Outbound Calling. Once you verify your phone number and sync your contacts with the Alexa app you can make outbound calls to all UK, US, Canada and Mexico mobile and residential numbers (emergency services such as 999 or 112, premium and business rate numbers are not supported) at no additional cost. Currently available from the UK only. To learn more, visit:

In summary, a free outgoing phone service. Why isn't it better known?

Friday, January 31, 2020

Owed to Joy

My plan for tomorrow morning is to go to yoga first thing, then pop in to Coffee in the Wood for breakfast, thence next door to get my hair cut.

In the afternoon I will go to the Standard to watch the six nations rugby with the son and heir, thence next door for a pizza in Corleone's.

I think it is possible to exaggerate how much influence leaving the EU tonight will have had on this.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

quid pro quo

I was out yesterday afternoon at the funeral of Frankie's 93 year old mother. Just as I feared (Icons passim) the video of my dancing with her turned up as part of the proceedings and this time I finally had to watch it. Uptown Funk was the guilty tune.

Talking to Steve at the reception I learned that he is reading Tom Holland now after learning the same thing from Sean last weekend. My plugging must have been a lot more breathless that I remember.

Steve reciprocated by saying that The Human Stain, by Philip Roth is the best novel he has ever read. That is on my Amazon wish list now. I finally managed how to add it via the Kindle app on my phone. I still can't work out how to read the wish list on Android though. I would have imagined that would be a basic requirement given that whenever a finish a book I need to buy a new one.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Father

Grauniard: Anthony Hopkins drives devastating dementia drama
A brutal, trippy portrait of what it must feel like to lose your grip on reality boasts an Oscar-worthy performance
Most years at Sundance, usually within the midnight movies strand, a horror film breaks out, terrifying all those able to endure it, kickstarting a buzz that continues through to release with poster quotes daring only the bravest of audiences to go see. In previous years there’s been Saw, Hereditary, Get Out, The Babadook and The Blair Witch Project but this year, the scariest film isn’t about a sadistic killer or an evil cult. It’s not even a scary movie in any traditional sense. It’s a film about the bone-chilling horror of living with dementia and it’ll haunt me for weeks.
Based on the acclaimed, award-winning play, The Father starts out as a deceptively simple drama hinged on a deceptively familiar dynamic. Anne (Olivia Colman) is losing patience with her 80-year-old father, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), whose grip on reality is fading but who refuses to allow a carer to look after him. She’s moving to Paris and needs to ensure his safety while she is away so before she leaves she must find someone who will endure him. For Anthony, life has become a source of ever-disorienting confusion and in a masterful stroke, the writer-director Florian Zeller (who created the original stage production) tells the story from his eyes as characters and locations shift and we become as muddled as he.
No sign (as far as I can see) of a UK release date for this yet but we will have to see it. It is yet another entry in the Ageing Curmudgeon Confronts Mortality stakes (Icons passim) and last time my brother John was up, PG entertained him and me with stories about visiting Hopkins' dad's baker's shop in the late 50s.

I also notice that Christopher Hampton (that's Sir Christopher James Hampton CBE FRSL to you, Prodnose) has got a screenwriting credit on it. As PG directed his Tales from Hollywood at the National back in the day, more anecdotes may be forthcoming.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Xi Jinping Vows To Combat Coronavirus By Making It Illegal To Mention

In an effort to assuage concerns about how his government has handled the deadly disease outbreak, Chinese president Xi Jinping held a press conference Monday to announce plans to combat the coronavirus by making it illegal to mention within the next week. “We are directing massive resources towards eradicating the slightest hint of any person speaking about the virus, and I promise you that any conversation or literature pertaining to the virus will be completely eliminated during the next seven days,” said Xi, warning that if immediate action was not taken, it could be too late to stop the spread of information. “We have already seen far too many senseless deaths as a result of this outbreak, so I vow here and now that those official death toll numbers will remain unchanged.” Xi closed his remarks by urging anyone who believed they were suffering from the outbreak or knew someone who was to come forward so they could be executed.
This is so close to what Kevin was telling us on Friday night, with the number of infections doubling in a day, that words fail me. Use your discretion.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The big question mark

Why Ben prefers to spend the latter part of January with his brother in Florida when he could be freezing his knackers off with the rest of us in the UK is one of the great unexplained mysteries.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

A Killer in Manila

The year is 1997, corruption was rife in the Philippines with the Capital Manila at the centre of that corruption.Two of the most powerful men in the World, Simon Moore and Boyd Stevenson were at logger heads with each other. They had offices Australia, Hong Kong, London and New York and of course Manila.Into this violent World stumbled five mid forty guys from the quiet sedate town of Henley on Thames, the sporting tour to beat all others was planned. The tour took in the Hong Kong Sevens, The F1 in Kuala Lumpur and the Manila tens.It was madness all the way. With Manila adding the icing on the cake. Manila, love, Madness. Five guys left these shores only one returned.

Kevin told me about the book above that Mike has written. I was one of the five who went to the Hong Kong Sevens and Manila with them in the mid nineties for all that I am a decade younger, not from Henley and managed to return.

I wonder if I dare read it?

Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Vulcan

Back in 2012 (Icons passim) we said goodbye to the pub my dad lived opposite as a kid; Adam Street's The Vulcan, though a decision was taken to dismantle the building and restore it to its former glory at St Fagan's Museum - brick by brick.

Coming up for eight years later the rebuild has begun and is predicted to take another three.

See Vulcan Hotel | National Museum Wales. I wonder if we weigh in with a few quid if they will let the family book it for a party once it is done?

Friday, January 24, 2020

Passing the torch

Arsenal drew two all at Chelsea in the week.

18 year old Gabriel Martinelli (born 18 June 2001) scored from the left wing for the Gunners, ably supported by 18 year old Bukayo Saka (born 5 September 2001) at left back.

After the Burnley game at the weekend, Chelsea fans had been purring about the long term potential of playing 19 year old Callum (born 7 November 2000) up front on the right wing supported by the practicality geriatric 20 year old Reece James (born 8 December 1999) at right back.

New kids on the block no more. I was born in the 60s.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy!

I was sad to hear that Terry Jones, founder member of Monty Python and director of three of Python’s celebrated feature films, has died aged 77, but cheered to learn that (as he came into the world in Colwyn Bay) I can anoint him as 2020's first Welsh Born Icon.

For what it is worth a friend of mine was behind him in a queue at some museum or gallery years ago and reported that he was a very pleasant chap.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Ben in the U.S.A (I'm a cool rockin' Daddy in the U.S.A. now)

Iguanas are falling from trees in south Florida as unusually low temperatures sweep through the region. The invasive species can become sluggish when temperatures drop below 50F (10C) and are susceptible to freezing once temperatures drop to around 40F (4.5C) and once frozen, these cold-blooded creatures lose their grip on the trees they call home. Residents have expressed shock at the sight of rigid reptiles lying motionless in the middle of sidewalks and backyards. But while they appear lifeless, they are simple too cold to move.
As if I didn't have enough on my plate, now I have to worry about Ben being poleaxed by a frozen iguana falling out if a tree while he is visiting Rayburn in Florida. (Why an iguana is visiting Rayburn in Florida, I couldn't possibly say.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

If the salary cap fits, wear it.

Saracens have "unreservedly apologised for mistakes made in relation to the salary cap" which will see the rugby team relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season........

What is the salary cap?
Premiership Rugby introduced its salary cap in 1999 to ensure the financial viability of all clubs and the competition.
On their website, Premiership Rugby says the cap helps "to provide a level playing field for clubs".
The salary cap focuses on the combined salaries of each player at the club within the salary cap year - July 1 to June 30.
The current level of the Salary Cap is £7 million, plus two Excluded Players whose salaries sit outside the cap, enabling clubs to recruit and retain world class talent.
As a result there is no restriction to individual player's salary, but on the whole squad spend.
Let's see, seven million divided by fifty two gives us £134,615.38 a week.

Callum Hudson-Odoi signs new five-year, £120,000-a-week contract with Chelsea.
So Callum pretty much earns the Premiership Rugby total squad salary cap on his own.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Snitches get riches

After last week's overcrowding fiasco, there is a new formal booking system for the Antelope's Monday night quiz.

The first reference to it on these spin drift pages is from May 14 2012, and I remember that the first time I ever went was after getting back from a Burnham on Sea mini rugby tournament that Ben played over the May Day bank holiday weekend which I guess suggests May 1st, 2012 was "summer the first time." (Correction: May 7 was the Bank Holiday in 2012.)

Tempus fugit. Jack's been hosting it all of that time, which is quite a stint.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Joker: Gentlemen! Let's broaden our minds. Lawrence?

I have taken to linking the headings of these posts to last year's entry so I can see that it is a year since we went to see Paapa in The Convert at the Young Vic. Next up with him is Pass Over in the Kiln Theatre on 4 March. I don't think I have ever been there before.

While we're on the subject of theatre, the NT Liver Cyrano is also booked for 20 February.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

My reading strategy

I have finished reading To Bodies Gone: The Theatre of Peter Gill by Barney Norris af started reading The Last Samurai by Helen Dewitt. When I have finished the latter book I will probably read another one.

There is an exchange from the play Certain Young Men quoted in To Bodies Gone that made me laugh out loud.

Christopher: She wants to send him away to school.
David: Where?
Christopher: That school for very gifted parents.

Twenty first century British education policy skewered with a one liner.

Nineteenth century British education policy skewered with a one liner.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Cwm On Down

Ben is flying off to Florida today visit his brother Rayburn and family for a fortnight.

When we met for lunch this week, he mentioned a mountain biking trail near London where he goes with mates. This reminded me that there are a lot of MTB facilities in South Wales, and to speculate that perhaps he could get a morning or afternoon in the next time we go down to Cardiff to see his grandparents.

There's a Mountain Bike Wales websitest That suggests to me that the Cwmcarn centre will be our best bet. 10 minutes from the M4 and only 15 miles from mum and dad's house.

For Cwmcarn Visitor Centre opening times please visit our website.

To book the uplift service visit Cwmdown Private Uplifts are not permitted on either of the trails.

Shop and bike hire are available from PS Cycles –

There is a shop, café and bike wash, plus pay and display car parking facilities.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The sounding of "a clear alarm to many"

SIR – Armed Forces pilots are awarded different wings badges according to their service. If one switches uniform, for instance from the Royal Navy to the Royal Air Force, Queen’s Regulations are clear: he or she must wear the wings of the new uniform (I did precisely that). Princes Philip, Charles, Andrew and Edward followed this rule, as did King George VI.
When Princes William and Harry decided to wear their original wings (RAF and Army respectively) on their other uniforms while carrying out ceremonial duties, it sounded a clear alarm to many that they considered their personal preferences more important than tradition and the stipulations of Queen’s Regulations. It is disrespectful to the Royal Navy to wear the wings of the RAF (or Army Air Corps), and vice versa.
Justin Tooth
London W3 
Whatever would we do without the Telegraph's letters to the editor to remind us of our duty in these trying times? My attempted parody from 2005 is revealed as thin gruel compared to the real thing.
SIR – The last time I found myself in my local GP's waiting room I couldn't help but notice that the only person present who had taken the time and effort to shine his shoes was a distinguished looking gentleman with a pronounced military bearing, to wit my good self.
Brigadier Sir Bufton Tufton (retd.)
London SW19 and bar

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Oscars: Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub.

Florence Pugh has got a best supporting actress nomination for Little Women. I first became aware of her when she played played Cordelia to Anthony Hopkins's Lear on the telly in 2018. (Tony Hopkins also has an Oscar nod this year.)

When John was up this weekend we watched "Fighting with my Family." She is in that as well as a wrestler called Paige.

Also in this year's Oscars, Scarlett Johansson has been nominated (alongside Pugh) in the best supporting actress category for her work in "Jojo Rabbit," as well as best actress for her role in "Marriage Story."

Johansson and Pugh will be sisters in the upcoming Black Widow movie. No disrespect, but how much Florence Pugh is enough?

I'm not entirely sure this couldn't be marketed as a Fighting with my Family follow up.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1

Her name is Yoshimi
She's a black belt in karate
Working for the city
She has to discipline her body

Cause she knows that
It's demanding
To defeat those evil machines
I know she can beat them

Oh Yoshimi, they don't believe me
But you won't let those robots eat me
Yoshimi, they don't believe me
But you won't let those robots defeat me

We were beaten like a gong at last night's quiz. Not even the satisfaction of drinking for free on the £50 voucher we got for winning last week could wash out the bitter taste of losing to a team who got 44 out of a total of 45 available points.

As we were walking out however Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1 by the Flaming Lips came on the PA and all was right with the world.

I bet I haven't heard it for a decade and nobody else in my team seemed to have heard of it at all. God help us if there is a round of alternative rock questions next week.

Monday, January 13, 2020

I’d been given a red shirt from Lindsay Anderson

My brother John and I went along to see Peter Gill yesterday. John continued back to Wales on the M4 afterwards while I tubed it back home.

There is an interview with Brian Cox in the Guardian today that is gaining a certain amount of traction. You can see it on

Here's the money quote:
“I was at the Royal Court. I was doing a play with Alan Bates and it was my 23rd birthday and I’d been given a red shirt from Lindsay Anderson. I’d just washed my hair so I was sort of glistening, heh heh heh, and I walked in and was introduced to her. She put her fingers on my shirt, and said: ‘This is a lovely shirt.’ And she started to run her fingers down the inside of my shirt. And I went: Uh oh! What do you do when you’re being touched up by a royal?”
What do you do?
“It was so funny. James Bolam, he could see what was going on and started going ‘Ooooh’ out of the side of his mouth, which somehow said princess didn’t take in at all. She just kept saying: ‘You were so wonderfully hooded on stage. I wanted to know more about you …’ She was an extraordinay creature. I excused myself and said: ‘Thank you, ma’am,’ and it came to a natural end.”
That would have been in PG's tenure as a Royal Court assistant director unless I miss my guess.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

rite of passage

Hudson-Odoi scores his first in the Premier League | Chelsea 3-0 Burnley | Premier League highlights

You can go straight to the goal at

One more item ticked off his to-do list.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

May you live in interesting times

As the world goes to hell in a handbasket, there is something soothing about Wales Online.

Family miss easyJet flight after row over luggage, for example. All very trying I am sure but it is hardly Iran Says It Unintentionally Shot Down Ukrainian Airliner.

As for The first look out the windows of Cardiff's new tax office HMRC building in the city centre, for all my time in the meditation hall, I can still scarcely aspire to that level of zen equanimity.

Relax. Nothing is under control

Thursday, January 09, 2020

I want you to play a game with me, Ray.

Ben and I went to see the latest Guy Ritchie at the Wimbledon Odeon. I thoroughly enjoyed though I can imagine how someone who didn't relish its winking through the fourth wall might find it something of a trial.

We went to Wahaca after; a tradition that is now over four years old. We must try and fit another one in before he flies off to Florida to see Rayburn.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Ordinary and Extraordinary Means

Frankie's mum passed over yesterday at St George's well into her 90s. Difficult as it is to acknowledge, it was time. There is a video of me dancing with her at a New Year Party a couple of years ago. I have only seen it through my fingers. Though I have heard it is available on social media, I forbid you to search for it.

As I seem to have started an obituaries page above, let me also pay tribute to Neil Innes (the Paul McCartney to Viv Stanshall's Lennon in the Bonzos) who passed away over the New Year.  Chris Howell and I once drove from Swansea to Bridgend to see him play. regard comes no higher.

Finally, here is a link to a Times piece on our office landlord who died in November.
Terry Buckland’s ability on the football pitch was spotted at a young age. In his early teens he had played for Queens Park Rangers, Wimbledon and Barnet, but in 1977, when he was 17, he was signed up to Wimbledon FC as a professional player. He juggled an onerous training timetable — four or five evenings a week and every weekend — with A-level study. It was early proof of a stamina that he would display throughout his life. Aged 18, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which required an operation. A year later his Wimbledon FC doctor noticed a breathlessness in him on the pitch and insisted it was checked out; a secondary tumour on his spine was found attached to his lungs. Buckland turned to chemotherapy and radiotherapy to blast the growth, but the harshness of the 1970s treatments for cancer had an effect on his heart that would thereafter plague him.
I had no idea.