Thursday, December 31, 2020

Here's looking at you Kidjo

Ever since I listened the the latest episode of Soul Music (Icons passim), I have had the album above on heavy rotation. 

Never mind just "Once In A Lifetime," singer Angelique Kidjo recorded her own version of  the whole of "Remain in Light" in 2018 after coming full circle with the music from her arrival in Paris in 1983 fleeing the dictatorship in her home country of Benin. She heard the record at a student party and recognised the Afrobeats adopted by David Byrne and Brian Eno that made her feel both joyful and homesick at the same time.

Count me among the joyous syncretists. If you ever catch me among the culturally inappropriate parsimonious, finger-waggers; diskard me.

I am the sum total of my ancestors
I carry their DNA
We are representatives of a long line of people
And we cart them around everywhere
This long line of people
That goes back to the beginning of time
And when we meet - they meet other lines of people
And we say: bring together the lines of men

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

XBOX al-Zaman

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
I bought the Bomber an XBOX for his sixth birthday (Icons passim). All these years later he is still an XBOX man. Fourteen years ago I needed to be more involved, so his account was set up with my email address and credit card details. We have never got round to changing this.

Yesterday I got an email saying we had bought "200 Call of Duty®: Black Ops Cold War Points." As I was forwarding it on to him for information I noticed that - for the first time I think - he had overwritten the stored card details and paid with his own. A sentimental rite of passage for me.

Addendum: A while back, when it was still allowed, I was a around at Helen and Mat's in the garden. Their son came out to join us and asked his mother if he could have some thyme. I at least took it for thyme probably because he seemed to me to be heading for the row of potted herbs on the patio. A keen cook myself, I was extremely impressed. But no. He was after XBOX time. It turns out that they ration him via a phone app. Another hour was negotiated and he returned to his pit.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Four Play

I got a heads up yesterday about Bill Gates on a Radio 4 programme called "How to vaccinate the world," so I listened to it on BBC Sounds in the evening. It was a refreshing change to hear something that wasn't glib. The Guardian leader yesterday was glib. Boris Johnson is glib. Left and right are equally guilty. William Gates III's mother obviously brought him up to chew his food thoroughly before swallowing. More power to her elbow.

Soul Music on my beloved Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime is also available.

I love Radio 4.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Lay my burden down

I am getting better. I take great solace from - of all things - something the Boss says in Springsteen on Broadway:
"We are ghosts or we are ancestors in our children's lives. We either lay our mistakes, our burdens upon them, and we haunt them, or we assist them in laying those old burdens down, and we free them from the chain of our own flawed behaviour. And as ancestors, we walk alongside of them, and we assist them in finding their own way."
My father is walking beside me not haunting me.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Thanks to the Old Boys

Saturday, December 26, 2020

brought up short

I am thinking of Dad of course, and how he explained things to me simply when I was a little boy. Today in this season I remember (somehow I remember as I was a toddler) him explaining to me that Jews were warm and generous people. So warm and generous in fact that they often volunteered to work over Christmas so that other people could have a few days off. 

Just a hand on my shoulder steering me the right way.

Friday, December 25, 2020

I Won’t Be Wronged, I Won’t Be Insulted, and I Won't Be Layed a Hand On


Dad would kneel down at the side of his bed and say his prayers in public in barracks when he was doing his National Service. If anyone took the piss he would sort it out the old fashioned way.

My sister Caroline is 19 years younger than me. When he was putting her to bed, I am told, he would craftily say his prayers then as well to save time later. Love grows.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

To see oursels as ithers see us!

BBC Sounds: A Promised Land by Barack Obama Ep 8.

Former President Barack Obama continues reading from the first volume of his presidential memoirs A Promised Land, offering a unique and deeply personal account of some of the landmarks of his first term at the White House.

In today’s episode, Obama confronts one of the key issues of any current world leader - what to do about climate change. Prompted by his own experiences of a Hawaiian childhood and driven by the need to create a safer environmental future for his daughters Malia and Sasha, he refuses to be blown off course. With the Kyoto Protocol set to expire in 2012 Obama is determined to negotiate a major international climate agreement. He travels to a summit in Copenhagen but is confronted by stalemate as world leaders refuse to compromise or, in some cases, to even engage with the issue. He decides the only way forward is to engage in a spot of gate crashing with Hillary Clinton.

I listened caught the last five minutes or so of this driving back up the M4 yesterday. I don't think I have ever heard anything so self serving. "That was some real gangster shit back there"??!!

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as ithers see us!

It wad frae mony a blunder free us,

An' foolish notion:

What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,

An' ev'n devotion!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Browne Boots


Ben wore Brahn Boots to the funeral yesterday. Dad would have approved. He used to sing it to me when I was little. I have a quick blub up listening to it on Spottily. If I had thought of it in time I would have worn a pair as well.

Our Aunt Hanna's passed away, 
We 'ad her funeral today, 
And it was a posh affair, 
Had to have two p'licemen there! 

The 'earse was luv'ly, all plate glass, 
And wot a corfin!... oak and brass! 
We'd fah-sands weepin', flahers galore, 
But Jim, our cousin... what d'yer fink 'e wore? 

Why, brahn boots! 
I ask yer... brahn boots! 
Fancy coming to a funeral 
In brahn boots!

I will admit 'e 'ad a nice black tie, 
Black fingernails and a nice black eye; 
But yer can't see people orf when they die,
In brahn boots! 

And Aunt 'ad been so very good to 'im, 
Done all that any muvver could for 'im, 
And Jim, her son, to show his clars... 
Rolls up to make it all a farce,

In brahn boots... 
I ask yer... brahn boots! 
While all the rest, 
Wore decent black and mourning suits. 

I'll own he didn't seem so gay, 
In fact he cried most part the way, 
But straight, he reg'lar spoilt our day, 
Wiv 'is brahn boots. 

In the graveyard we left Jim, 
None of us said much to him, 
Yus, we all gave 'im the bird, 
Then by accident we 'eard...

'E'd given 'is black boots to Jim Small, 
A bloke wot 'ad no boots at all, 
So p'raps Aunt Hanna doesn't mind, 
She did like people who was good and kind. 

But brahn boots! 
I ask yer... brahn boots! 
Fancy coming to a funeral, 
In brahn boots!

And we could 'ear the neighbours all remark 
'What, 'im chief mourner? Wot a blooming lark!
'Why 'e looks more like a Bookmaker's clerk... 
In brahn boots!' 

That's why we 'ad to be so rude to 'im, 
That's why we never said 'Ow do!' to 'im, 
We didn't know... he didn't say, 
He'd give 'is other boots away. 

But brahn boots!
I ask yer... brahn boots! 
While all the rest, 
Wore decent black and mourning suits! 

But some day up at Heavens gate, 
Poor Jim, all nerves, will stand and wait, 
'til an angel whispers... 'Come in, Mate, 
'Where's yer brahn boots?'

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

 I am in Cardiff. The requiem for dad will be in St Joe's at 11 and the burial in Thornhill at 11.

Thanks to everyone who has reached out to me.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

My Name Is Inigo Montoya

I want my father back, you son of a bitch.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

96 Tiers

Fuck Boris Johnson and fuck Mark Drakeford. All I wanna do it bury my father with dignity on Tuesday while supporting my mother. I will never forgive the two of you for this shit.

Friday, December 18, 2020


I logged onto Facebook yesterday only to find:

 Marcus Campbell Sinclair (1976-2020)

It is with much sadness that I must let you know that Marcus passed away yesterday. He courageously lived with his cancer for many years. Marcus was a unique and gifted person, who will be sorely missed.

Bad news. Much fun with Marcus over the years.

I learned from the comments on the post that he was Emperor Palpatine in the The Star Wars Exhibition at the County Hall, London back in 2007. I wish I could have told him how unimpressed Ben was with his throne (see Icons Passim). He would have laughed like a drain.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Forty Thieves

 At one minute to eight on the morning of January 29, 1928, Danny Driscoll walked to the waiting gallows in Cardiff prison.

With just seconds to go before his life ended he looked up at the sky and smiled. "Well," he said, "they've given me a nice day for it."

Outside the prison more than 5,000 men, women and children jammed Adam Street. A teenage girl led the singing of a Catholic hymn but silence when Driscoll's four brothers were led to the front of the barriers where armed police patrolled - Cardiff's underworld was rife with rumours that an attempt would be made to spring the men.

That underworld was ruled by Cardiff's fabled Forty Thieves, thugs who terrorised local race courses running protection rackets, charging bookies for supplies of chalk and sponges, and even buckets of water. You paid up. Or got cut up.

But Dai Lewis, a popular former boxer, refused to pay up. At Monmouth races on September 28, 1927, he defied the Cardiff gang led by Edward and John Rowlands - "Tich" and "Jack Tich".

A detective recalled years later that though Lewis wasn't frightened, "he was worried". So instead of going home to Ethel Street in Canton he stayed at a hotel.

That night Lewis sat in the Blue Anchor at the bottom end of St Mary Street with Driscoll and Tich Rowlands. John Rowlands and Edward "Hong Kong" Price waited in a cafe across the road. At eleven o'clock Dai Lewis walked out of the pub - and into local legend .......  read on

PG told me this story on Sunday. I had never heard of it. The Adam Street outside the prison jammed with 5,000 hymn singing protesters is the same Adam Street where Dad would be born five years later. 'Hong Kong' Price was PG's brother-in-law's grandfather. is worth a look as well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Free Since 1597

 I stumbled on the Gresham College lectures on YouTube.

An intriguing establishment:

Gresham College is an institution of higher learning located at Barnard's Inn Hall off Holborn in Central London, England. It does not enroll students and does not award any degrees. It was founded in 1597 under the will of Sir Thomas Gresham, and it hosts over 140 free public lectures every year. Since 2001, all lectures have also been made available online.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

La Cucina Futurista

Futurist cooking will be free of the old obsessions with volume and weight and will have as one of its principles the abolition of pastasciutta. Pastasciutta, however agreeable to the palate, is a passéist food because it makes people heavy, brutish, deludes them into thinking it is nutritious, makes them skeptical, slow, pessimistic… Any pastascuittist who honestly examines his conscience at the moment he ingurgitates his biquotidian pyramid of pasta will find within the gloomy satisfaction of stopping up a black hole. This voracious hole is an incurable sadness of his. He may delude himself, but nothing can fill it. Only a Futurist meal can lift his spirits. And pasta is anti-virile because a heavy, bloated stomach does not encourage physical enthusiasm for a woman, nor favour the possibility of possessing her at any time.
And again:
RAW MEAT TORN BY TRUMPET BLASTS: cut a perfect cube of beef. Pass an electric current through it, then marinate it for twenty-four hours in a mixture of rum, cognac and white vermouth. Remove it from the mixture and serve on a bed of red pepper, black pepper and snow. Each mouthful is to be chewed carefully for one minute, and each mouthful is divided from the next by vehement blasts on the trumpet blown by the eater himself.
I can't help but think that this is Nigella Lawson's next series sorted out. Does anyone know her agent's phone number?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Cold Shower

I didn't have any hot water yesterday because I turned it off a few days ago and neglected to turn it back on.

I am trying to work out a way to blame but so far I have come up short. Sometimes I am astounded that I even manage to get through the day.

Sunday, December 13, 2020


 ‘He was a trailblazer’: Charley Pride, country music’s first Black superstar, dies from Covid complications

Pride, 86, who was the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, his publicist confirmed.

Dolly Parton and a string of celebrities took to Twitter to pay tribute to the musician.

"It’s even worse to know that he passed away from Covid-19. What a horrible, horrible virus. Charley, we will always love you.

He was lucky to get his career underway before bullshit notions like cultural appropriation got their feet under the table.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Harmony: Faravahar

Faravahar (Persian: فَرَوَهَر‎), also known as Forouhar (Persian: فُروهَر‎) , or Farr-e Kiyâni (فَرِّ کیانی), is one of the most well-known symbols of Iranian peoples, and Zoroastrianism, the primary religion of Iran before the Muslim conquest of Iran, and of Iranian nationalism.

Fifteen years later (see Icons passim) we're back.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Hidden Depths

Here's the Bomber's current work in progress when it comes to reading and his art work.

Dad started off as a draughtsman, and came into his own as a late bloomer.

Maybe the apple didn't fall that far from the tree.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020


Ben and I went to bobochacha last night, at Helen's recommendation. It is a Pan-Asian place. We shared some dumplings to start and then both had prawn Singapore noodles. Singapore noodles are, for some reason, a sort of gold standard with me. I almost always try them to test a new place out. They didn't disappoint.

Last week (see Icons passim) we went to the Little Taperia and we have penciled in the Brazilian Picanha  Steakhouse next. All just round the corner and within a three minute walk from each other.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Jacinda Ardern


New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has apologised to those affected by the Christchurch terror attacks as a report shed new light on how the gunman eluded detection.

The nearly 800-page Royal Commission of Inquiry report released Tuesday concluded that despite the shortcomings of various agencies, there were no clear signs the attack carried out by Brenton Tarrant was imminent.

But it did detail failings in the police system for vetting gun licenses, and said that New Zealand's intelligence agencies were focused on the threat posed by Islamic extremism rather than white supremacists.

Among 44 recommendations, the report recommended the government establishes a new national intelligence agency.

Following the report’s publication, Ms Ardern said: "The commission made no findings that these issues would have stopped the attack. But these were both failings nonetheless and for that I apologise."

Jacinda Ardern says "I" when talking about things which went wrong and "we" when talking about successes. On the face of it, perhaps, uncharitably a rhetorical gimmick. It impresses me very much though. I can tell because it has started to infuriate me when other people don't put their hands up an take responsibility. That lemon Vaughn Gething on Radio 4 this morning for example.

Monday, December 07, 2020

Through the barricades

Dad, who died at 87, was the youngest in his family with four older brothers and three older sisters.

Auntie Nelly was the oldest. Peter, my Dad's cousin, was born in 1939. He was brought up in Tremorfa. There was an RAF camp that adjoined the house. His older brother Bernard told him that Auntie Nellie used to come round and "court" Bunny Churcher who was stationed there through the barbed wire at the bottom of the garden in the early days of the Second World War. They married but my uncle Bunny was killed in the conflict.

The two hooligans on the right are my youngest nephews. They have a little sister who is only one year old. 

They are eighty years but only two generations away from Nelly. Alys may well have been born a century after her. If we were the Royal Family there would have been maybe a dozen monarchs at the most between 1066 and today.

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Do not go gentle into that good night

 Dad passed away at the age of 87 at about eight o'clock last night.

Friday, December 04, 2020

A substantial meal

The Bomber and I went along to The Little Taperia, a nearby Spanish tapas bar and restaurant round the corner, last night.

I felt that we had to because Morcilla Scotch eggs, with piquillo peppers were on the menu.

A scotch egg is definitely a substantial meal, Michael Gove has said, as he performed a screeching U-turn on his earlier controversial position that it constituted merely a starter.

We also ate salt cod fritters, prawns with garlic and chilli, plus a potato tortilla. Red wine for me. Lager for him.

I know you might find it difficult believe but we mostly talked about philosophy and mathematics. I didn't notice anyone on an adjoining table inclining an ear so as not to miss any of our musings on Platonic solids.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Why are we waiting?

Bethany's collaboration with Rhys Ifans is supposed to drop on today.

It ain't there yet, but it is what is going on these spindrift pages today so I guess we will just have to wait.

You can catch it now at though you have to sign up.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

implications of threat and strong feeling produced through colloquial language, apparent triviality, and long pauses

I was back in Cardiff yesterday with the intention of putting in a shift making sure Dad ate and drank at least something. He was never really awake though I managed to get some thickened Lucozade and yoghurt into him by putting a sweet drop on his tongue which seemed to trigger a swallow reflex and then following up with the rest of a teaspoon's worth.

At about ten to one, a nurse came into the room to do his "obvs" (short for observations). Concerned that his heart rate was very low, she called in Hannah*, a more senior nurse, who then called the Dr. After that they did an ECG. The Dr took me aside and told me that he was a lot worse than the day before, and implied - quite frankly - that this might be it over the next several days. I could have stayed but I was just getting in everyone's way in that single room.

Later, when I got a call to say he was much improved, a mental image formed of him opening one eye as I left and whispering "has he gone yet, Hannah*?"

*V impressed that Hannah's business-like hair bun was secured with tinsel rather than a hair tie.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Going for a Burton

I am down in Cardiff to try and see Dad. Next time I am back I will certainly catch this Museum of Wales show if possible. Ashley has curated it,