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 Siôn

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 Siôn, 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 où 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.
Grâce à vous une robe a passé 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?