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 http://www.mbwales.com. 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 www.cwmdown.co.uk. Private Uplifts are not permitted on either of the trails.

Shop and bike hire are available from PS Cycles – www.pscycles.co.uk

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 https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2020/jan/13/successions-brian-cox-i-was-touched-up-by-princess-margaret.

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 https://youtu.be/Pmej7cQMyTA?t=135.

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.

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Potential Labour Party Leaders

In May 1930, Oswald Mosley quit his ministerial position in the Labour Government. (He was succeeded in his post by future Prime Minister Clement Attlee.) Up until his resignation, some people thought of Moseley as a potential Labour leader. In 1932 he created the British Union of Fascists.

I  don't have a strong opinion on who should be the next Labour leader but I think that thuis proves that it is important to get the right one.

That said, Andy Tea in his days as a court correspondent saw Keir Starmer acting as a defence lawyer and describes him as very bright and impressive.

Monday, January 06, 2020

eternal recurrence

Good to see that Callum was back on song yesterday after a testing period, scoring one goal and making another as Chelsea beat Nottingham Forest 2-0 in their FA Cup third round tie.

Exactly a year ago to the day (Icons passim) he starred in a 2-0 win for the Blues against Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup. It is like Groundhog Day.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

the writing's on the wall

Encyclopedia Britannica
Cyrus the Great, also called Cyrus II, (born 590–580 BCE, Media, or Persis [now in Iran]—died c. 529, Asia), conqueror who founded the Achaemenian empire, centred on Persia and comprising the Near East from the Aegean Sea eastward to the Indus River. He is also remembered in the Cyrus legend—first recorded by Xenophon, Greek soldier and author, in his Cyropaedia—as a tolerant and ideal monarch who was called the father of his people by the ancient Persians. In the Bible he is the liberator of the Jews who were captive in Babylonia.
For some reason, I feel I should remind the world, Israelis and Bible Belt fundamentalists about a great Iranian today.

Cyrus the Great (c. 600 or 576 – 530 BC) figures in the Hebrew Bible as the patron and deliverer of the Jews. He is mentioned 23 times by name and alluded to several times more. According to the Bible, Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, was the monarch under whom the Babylonian captivity ended. In the first year of his reign he was prompted by God to decree that the Temple in Jerusalem should be rebuilt and that such Jews as cared to might return to their land for this purpose. Moreover, he showed his interest in the project by sending back with them the sacred vessels which had been taken from the First Temple and a considerable sum of money with which to buy building materials.

Saturday, January 04, 2020


First yoga class: September 1, 2009.
500th yoga class: April 1, 2018.
600th yoga class: January 3, 2020 (yesterday).

A little bit better than one a week for a little but more than ten years.

Raj (in my imagination): As a mix of these energies, the number 600 symbolizes spiritual development, balance, home and family stability, responsibility, choices, opportunities, potential, providing for someone, reliability, nurturing someone, solving problems, infinity, eternity, and the change of cycles and phases.

Myself: All very true no doubt but I still can't touch my toes without warming up.

Friday, January 03, 2020

Cabinet of curiosities

‘Two hands are a lot’ — we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos…
I haven't yet read the Dominic Cummings's Blog post that is attracting so much heat this morning, but there is a link above for me to follow later. In a nutshell, Boris Johnson’s chief adviser has issued a call for “weirdos and misfits” to apply for jobs in Downing Street as his plans to shake up Whitehall begin to take shape.

It has reminded me though of what Emma told me years ago when I asked her what her secondment to the Cabinet Office at No 10 had been like. "It's full of very intelligent people who probably cut their own hair" she replied. That sounds weird enough to be going on with to me.

Come to think about it, Tracey spent time at the Cabinet Office as well. She told me she was working on a paper on how the government could respond more effectively to unexpected events. Unfortunately its announcement and publication were always having to be postponed because something unexpected had happened.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

AI 'outperforms' doctors diagnosing breast cancer

I despair at the nonsense embedded in https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-50857759,

Money shot:
Unlike the human experts, who had access to the patient's history, AI had only the mammograms to go on.
..like that's a good thing.

David Wooding! thou shouldst be living at this hour. PERFORMS.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

The Road not Taken

The National Archives released the Prime Minister's papers from a quarter of a century ago yesterday - see https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/about/news/prime-ministers-papers-from-1996-released.

I think they can be downloaded, but you have to set up an account etc. and I don't have time today, but according to the Torygraph: Malcolm Rifkind wanted to bring Russia in from the cold and make them a member of Nato.

If you want my opinion, NATO should have been disbanded after the Warsaw Pact dissolved itself in 1991, but Rifkind's ideas was a worthy second best.
“The most difficult problem we face is how to integrate Russia into the European and Western family of nations in a realistic and sensitive manner,” the files says.
Noting how Boris Yeltsin, the Russian president, appeared “visibly weakened,” it says the country’s democrats were “on the defensive,” with reformers “antagonistic to NATO enlargement” and eager to exert the country’s might over breakaway nations tempted to join the West.
Mr Rifkind warned that Russia should not become a full NATO member because it would have “the absurd consequence of requiring the West to come to [Russia’s] help in any future frontier conflicts, for example with China” and potentially give Moscow a veto over NATO deploying its military might.
“A possible solution would be to create a new category of Associate Member of NATO. It would, however, give Russia a formal status within NATO, allow it to attend, as of right, Ministerial and other meetings and encourage a gradual convergence and  harmonisation of policy, doctrine and practice.”
Such partial membership would help NATO enlargement, paving the way for former Soviet countries to forge links with the alliance “without rancour and retaliation” from Russia, the document says.
This sound analysis and imaginative suggestion was dismissed as "farcical" by ministers at a Chequers seminar.

Instead our foreign policy concentrated on introducing crony capitalism so as to turn the bulk of the Russian people into paupers, while dealing out their birthright assets to wideboy oligarchs at knock-off prices hence all-but ensuring the emergence of today's revanchist regime.

Malcolm Rifkind joins Norman Tebbit on my list of Conservatives with the wit, at least, to understand how relations with post Communist Russia have been bungled.