Saturday, October 31, 2020

Friday, October 30, 2020

Tent Food

I went to Istanbul Meze Mangal with Ben yesterday. It looked like they had used lockdown to redecorate and remodel. The place was slick.

Inspired by the food, I watched Chef's Table Season 5 Episode 2 on Netflix last night. It profiles the Turkish chef Musa Dağdeviren who is documenting his country’s culinary past and keeping old recipes alive at his Istanbul restaurant. This morning I have ordered his book.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

One day we'll look back on this, and it will all seem funny

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the British state has exercised coercive powers over its citizens on a scale never previously attempted. It has taken effective legal control, enforced by the police, over the personal lives of the entire population: where they could go, whom they could meet, what they could do even within their own homes. For three months it placed everybody under a form of house arrest, qualified only by their right to do a limited number of things approved by ministers. All of this has been authorised by ministerial decree with minimal Parliamentary involvement. It has been the most significant interference with personal freedom in the history of our country. We have never sought to do such a thing before, even in wartime and even when faced with health crises far more serious than this one.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hat tip: Spencer Klavan

C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

“You are if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another. It is all one thing... what you call remembering is the last part of the pleasure.”

I think this may be profound but I only heard it early this morning and the gears are still turning. I could easily change my mind by tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

I couldn't lose


Last night, my DNA's home town beat the city where my genes ultimately expressed themselves: see

I noticed when I logged on to Ancestry DNA to mine the link above that Seb has done the test I bought him for his birthday a while back.
Predicted relationship: Close Family–1st Cousin: Shared DNA: 1,640 cM across 55 segments
He's my nephew but it ain't too shabby as a result I think. I have been astounded how accurate these tests seem to be. I wonder how PG's will turn out?

Monday, October 26, 2020

Gething Sentimental Over You

Vaughan Gething is a half-wit, and you may quote me.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Burning Questions

 This is kinda weird. 

Burning Questions: 36 videos18,675 viewsLast updated on 16 Oct 2020

'Burning Questions' is a series by The Sun where politicians, commentators, experts and cultural figures are interviewed about current affairs and their lives. 

It is a long-form style podcast that enables some of the most prominent political figures of the 21st century to give their views uninterrupted.

The usual ALT-RIGHT suspects get an hour each. It is indistinguishable from their holding forth on sites with more cultural potential. I was just surprised to find it curated by Rupert Murdoch's ankle-biting tabloid.

Saturday, October 24, 2020


 New Yorker Suspends Jeffrey Toobin

The New Yorker has suspended reporter Jeffrey Toobin for masturbating on a Zoom video chat between members of the New Yorker and WNYC radio last week. Toobin says he did not realize his video was on.

“I made an embarrassingly stupid mistake, believing I was off-camera. I apologize to my wife, family, friends and co-workers,” Toobin told Motherboard.

“I believed I was not visible on Zoom. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me. I thought I had muted the Zoom video,” he added.

Is there some way we could make a show of solidarity with him? Any ideas?

Friday, October 23, 2020


Over by yer
We meet Kirsty, stumbling home from a night on the tiles on St Mary’s Street. But home isn’t where she wants to be. Instead, she finds herself weaving between the headstones of Cathays cemetery, where a chance encounter is about to open the doors to a whole new world for her, to a whole new Cardiff. Don't miss Owen Thomas’ hauntingly beautiful tale of fight or flight inspired by Cardiff’s legendary boxer Peerless Jim Driscoll.
My niece Bethany plays Kirsty.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Bubble Wrap

I dined out at Sam's Riverside the day before yesterday. It's OK it was a business meeting.

Last night I was at at a Korean place in New Malden with the son and heir. He lives with his mother.

Thus no social bubbles have been injured in the making of this blog post.

I hope to have a drink after work tonight with my extended, garrulous, multi-ethnic, theologically diverse household.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

This is Wales

This is Wales where my mother, my father and most of my family live.

This is Wales where getting my mother a new set of dentures will require her to be isolated in the home where she lives. Alone for fourteen days after a visit to a dentist.

This is Wales where my father who needs nursing care and has late stage Alzheimer’s can't be moved until he has a COVID test that the assigned nurses are incapable of performing.

This is Wales whose devolved government forbids me to visit from London.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

How steadfast are your branches! O Christmas Tree

Peter recommended Drama out of a Crisis: A Celebration of Play for Today to me on Sunday. I will try and catch it on the BBC iPlayer. He said he had almost forgotten how left wing the Play for Today strand was, and then segued into telling me that back in the day, suspected subversives at the BBC had "Christmas trees" on their personnel files.

I thought quite frankly that he had gone of his chump, but no:

The vetting files:

For decades the BBC denied that job applicants were subject to political vetting by MI5. But in fact vetting began in the early days of the BBC and continued until the 1990s. Paul Reynolds, the first journalist to see all the BBC's vetting files, tells the story of the long relationship between the corporation and the Security Service.

Read the whole thing ......

Monday, October 19, 2020

Sold I to the merchant ships


I don't know if The Forgotten Slave Trade: The White European Slaves of Islam is reliable but I have got more and more interested in the subject while reading Don Quixote and reflecting on Cervantes' time in Algiers.

Sunday, October 18, 2020



Loose Windscreen has got a new album coming out. I expect him to hear from the estate of Tom Petty about the remarkable resemblance of the track Ghosts to Free Fallin' (Icons passim).

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Like breathing out and breathing in

 In Our Time was about Alan Turing this week, and very good it was too. All three guests (Leslie Ann Goldberg, Professor of Computer Science and Fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford; Simon Shaffer, Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Darwin College and Andrew Hodges, Biographer of Turing and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford) were articulate and knowledgeable. I was very struck with Shaffer - perhaps because I had never heard of him before - and his insistence that Turing owed a lot of his apparently abstract and abstruse leaps forward to a practical, material groundedness; hence the Turing machine.

A man to follow is SS, is a link I have found. It makes an interesting Turing/Michael Polanyi connection. You know, Polanyi - the tacit knowledge guy.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Intolerable Cruelty

You'll know if you read this blog that my son came round for dinner earlier in the week. Also I go and take my Dad's cousin (who is in his 80s and lives on his own) out on his grocery shop every Sunday morning. From midnight tonight I have to chose which of these two is in my social bubble. Either Ben and I can't meet in each other's households or I can't take Pete for a coffee in the Plum Cafe after Waitrose.

A ban on travelling to Wales from coronavirus hotspots elsewhere in the UK comes into effect on Friday evening. Mark Drakeford, the first minister has used devolved powers to shut Wales' borders. The ban will cover all of Northern Ireland, England's tier two and three areas and the Scottish central belt.

Neither my niece, who is studying here in London, nor I can go and see our family in Cardiff and South Wales.

Explain to me how all this can be justified or how the government has the authority to implement it.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe.

The Bomber came round to mine last night we cooked the Chef Show flatbread (Icons passim) and watched the Chef movie (Icons passim).

Fingers crossed, after last week (Icons passim) this will become a regular thing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

In my craft or sullen art


If you want poetry without the pretension, listen to Frank Skinner.

Okee dokee I am prepared to give Frank Skinner's Poetry Podcast a go. As a left-footer I think I will kick off with the Gerard Manley Hopkins episode -

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

local lockdown postcode checker

 Take a look at the screen shot above. This is where the Government expects us to check our lock-down level ( These people can't even write bog standard HTML.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Is the julep tart enough for you?

The son and heir has started watching the Chef Show on Netflix and thinks we should collaborate on some flatbread. I am all over this like a cheap suit and have ordered the Tartine book.


Sunday, October 11, 2020

So the last shall be first, and the first last

I have worked out a method for scoring Jonnie's premiership prediction competition (see Icons passim).

For each team you get 20 points minus the difference between your predicted position and the actual position. If you predict Liverpool will win and they do you get 20 but if they come last you get 1. If you predict Leeds will come 11th and they come 6th you get 15 etc. A perfect prediction gives you 400 points. The lowest mark you can get is 199 if your predicted winner comes last, you predicted runner up comes second last, etcetera etcetera.

I would keep it to myself, but I am currently second in a field of 28 with a score of 308 and thus feel validated. Villa are stealing points from everyone by over-achieving and the Manchester clubs are doing the same by under-performing.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet

This has swum into my consciousness today because, of all things, I am reading Don Quixote.

I remember Andy M saying to me years ago that when you hear someone play a ballad you can hear the reward they got for every moment they practiced. It is so true of Miles D here.

Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet is a studio album by the Miles Davis quintet, recorded in 1956 but not released until July or August 1961. Two sessions on May 11, 1956 and October 26 in the same year resulted in four albums: this one, Relaxin' with The Miles Davis Quintet, Workin' with The Miles Davis Quintet and Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet.
Three more albums to work through from the same sessions. Life is good.

Friday, October 09, 2020

Red Pepper Day

I went to the son and heir's for dinner yesterday. He can actually cook! I was amazed. When I arrived he was sautéing sweet pepper, onion, garlic and chilli. When that was done he seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices before adding mixed seafood and a dash of stock. It was served with veggie rice. All from out of his head rather than a recipe book.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

The Great Barrington Declaration

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. 

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. 

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza. 

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity. 

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. 

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home. When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals. 

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020


 I always come across something good on radio 4 during my monthly road trip.

This time it was a drama called Deacon, I didn't hear from the beginning but I can catch up now on

(It was very hard to be just outside Bristol but forbidden by the Welsh government to pop over the Severn Bridge to see my mother and father in Cardiff.)

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Our betters


A technical error with an Excel spreadsheet is believed to have caused 16,000 cases of coronavirus to be missed from national tallies, causing a "shambolic" delay to tracing efforts.

I take the Mickey out of Donna for the schoolgirl error of keeping important data in a spreadsheet. God give me strength.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Hey, check me out!

I can run neither the NHS COVID-19 app nor (for what it is worth) the RingGo app on my phone. Maybe it is time for an upgrade?

Sunday, October 04, 2020

The RingGo Kid

After picking up a ticket on a Sunday in Hammersmith and Fulham a little way back, I have now in subsequent weeks tried and failed to pay RingGo to allow me to park while I have a coffee with Peter in the Plum Cafe with a card in the machine (week 1), over the phone (week 2), and via the website (week 3). 

Bear in mind that I already have a RingGo account that I use for my residents permit in the 'Wood and that I am hardly a babe in arms when it comes to e-commerce.

I will install the app ( and try that next time. If I can't get that to work I may just give up.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Rip Off Britian

 I think that In God's Country must be the move that Peter thinks pays more than a slight resemblance to The York Realist.

Friday, October 02, 2020


Donald Trump announced this morning that he and his wife Melania tested positive for coronavirus. Most people won't want to acknowledge it, but I think Julian Baggini has called the implications bang for rights below. If however I say this to anyone myself they will accuse me of being a closet Trump booster.

More broadly I think the Open Yale Course Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600 needs to be on my to-do list. There's a YouTube playlist and a book

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Studio One

Ben told me over a pizza on Monday that he has been listening to a lot of reggae, and name checked Studio One.

I have been researching to catch up.