Sunday, April 11, 2021

Biltong/Beef Jerky

I popped round to the Hubble late yesterday afternoon to watch the Grand National. Congratulations to Rachael Blackmore on becoming the first female jockey to triumph in the world's most famous steeplechase, with a stirring victory on Minella Times. (Purists may claim that Elizabeth Taylor won it as 12-year-old Velvet Brown on a gelding called The Pie in the 1944 film National Velvet even though in the story she was disqualified on a technicality.)

The main reason I went over though was to taste the biltong that had been dried overnight there. Ollie had put it into her dehydrator at sixty degrees for seven hours.

I bought a rump steak and sliced (or more accurately snipped) it into strips. The marinade was Nature Kitchen Steak Spice (sea salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic flakes, red bell peppers, green peppercorn, tomato, and chilli powder) plus a little more salt and sugar loosened with cider vinegar.

I left it to marinate in a closed container overnight in the fridge, then open in the fridge for the morning to get most of the moisture out and patting it dry with kitching before patting it dry with kitchen paper and removing the garlic flakes.

Very good it was too, though next time - as a small adjustment - we may dehydrate for an hour less.

That said I may try some Mojama before returning to beef.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Forth Bridge

Though we are no longer involved it was interesting to see how all the royal online presence was managed yesterday on the death of the Duke of Edinbugh in pretty much the way we devised all those years ago. (Icons passim).

Friday, April 09, 2021


Probability is the most important concept in modern science, especially as nobody has the slightest notion what it means.

Bertrand Russell, 1929 Lecture

I have reached Keynes death in  The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, though there are several chapters left. Perhaps they deal with his legacy? I must admit I have found him a very engaging character.

Recently also having finished  Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers by Cheryl Misak I have started to become interested in probability, a field in which Keynes and Ramsey both did important work.

An odd beast probability when you think about it. Can it be squared with cause and effect? Radioactive decay for example. How can it proceed at a given rate without being coordinated?  

I can't see how you can square it with determinism or a clockwork universe.

What if nature is fundamentally probabilistic, which is surely what quantum mechanics implies? What would that mean?

Thursday, April 08, 2021

No names, no packdrill

 .......  I shall be waiting for you at the bottom of the next page disguised as a footnote.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Tuesday, April 06, 2021


Ben came around last night to see Bethany's movie. Good stuff. He also introduced me to Chunkz and Yung Filly. It is unlikely that YouTube's algorithms would ever have suggested to them to me, so life is enriched. He also mentioned in passing that the online tutor with whom he gets on well did philosophy as a first degree. I am unsurprised.

Monday, April 05, 2021

The servant has become the master

I haven't previously really paid any attention to Yuval Noah Harari, but John told me an idea of his on the phone yesterday about the insidious route by which technology usurps our self-determination by moving from helper, to agent to master. The terminology may not be his as I am remembering it and can't find a reference online.

John illustrated with routing services (like Google Maps, for example, the one that I use).

They start off as helpers, telling you where, say, Meadowbank Close is when you are visiting someone whose house you haven't been to before.

Next as agents, they guide you along the route adjusting for, perhaps, traffic conditions.

Finally as masters, they compel you to take a route optimized for their own agendas. It isn't science fiction.


Google Maps will start directing drivers to routes it calculates to be the most eco-friendly based on a list of factors.

The search engine said it will highlight journeys that generate the lowest carbon footprint using mainly traffic data and road inclines.


Sunday, April 04, 2021

Me, I Disconnect From You

A Good Friday service in south London was broken up by police over apparent breaches of Covid-19 regulations.
Footage uploaded on YouTube showed Metropolitan police officers addressing worshippers at the Christ the King Polish Catholic church in Balham, south London, late on Friday afternoon.
The video shows an officer telling the congregation that they could be fined £200 or arrested for the potential rule-breaking. He said: “This gathering is unfortunately unlawful under the coronavirus regulations we have currently. I suggest, ladies and gentlemen, that though it is Good Friday, and I appreciate you would like to worship, that this gathering is unlawful, so please may you leave the building now. Thank you.”
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would see such a thing in my lifetime. Five tube stops away on the Northern Line. That brings it home for all that it makes no moral or ethical difference.

This on top of the Sarah Everard fiasco. I withdraw my consent from policing by consent

Perhaps I should remind the police of  the principles which were set out in the ‘General Instructions’ that were issued to every new police officer from 1829, nearly 200 years ago:
  1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
  2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
  3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
  4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
  5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
  6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
  7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
  8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
  9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.
This, as explained by the notable police historian Charles Reith in his ‘New Study of Police History ‘in 1956, was a philosophy of policing ‘unique in history and throughout the world because it derived not from fear but almost exclusively from public co-operation with the police, induced by them designedly by behaviour which secures and maintains for them the approval, respect and affection of the public’.

I use the past tense deliberately because this philosophy is now dead.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Lessons from history

The proclamation that sanctioned the birth of the unified Kingdom of Italy came into force on 17 March 1861. Victor Emmanuel, first King of Italy, presiding.

The Meiji Restoration brought practical imperial rule to Japan in 1868 creating, arguably for the first time, a central government which exercised direct power through the entire realm. Emperor Meiji presiding.

The Unification of Germany into the German Empire, a Prussia-dominated nation state with federal features, officially occurred on 18 January 1871. Kaiser Wilhelm I presiding.

There is a strong case then for asserting that the Axis powers, the military coalition that fought in World War II against the Allies, comprised three modern countries founded within a decade of each other.

Let's date their alliance to the Tripartite Pact, an agreement between Germany, Italy and Japan signed in Berlin on 27 September 1940.

It is longer from the birth of the Kingdom of Italy to the Tripartite Pact, than it is from the Tripartite Pact to today.


Friday, April 02, 2021

Sometimes it's just E

Literary Review

The first note known to have sounded on earth was an E natural. It was produced some 165 million years ago by a katydid (a kind of cricket) rubbing its wings together, a fact deduced by scientists from the remains of one of these insects, preserved in amber.

Then someone came along and invented jazz. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Their Rule of Six: My Rule of Sucks

My social bubble evolved into the rule of six last night; same dwelling, more people and in the garden. It struck while I was there, socializing comfortably outside, that my perfectly serviceable garden has been all but uninhabited for the last year for all that I employed gardener Alex to come round and have a crack at it last weekend. That's a part of my life that could do with an upgrade.

In a similarly ludicrous, but psychologically revealing, development I found myself coveting my hosts' robot vacuum cleaner. My cleaners haven't been here for a year now and I have not hoovered once in that period. I need more elbow grease not a tech upgrade.

I also spied a food dehydrator in the kitchen. This makes me think I need one as well. They have promised to make biltong for me if I salt, spice and slice the meat and bring it round. I think this was agreed just to shut me up.

I am pathetic. Yes pathetic is the word we are searching for here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

And you can Poliak Off as well

Stephen Poliakoff: Grauniard 2009

As a young dramatist I made my TV debut with a play about incest called Hitting Town. It was shown on ITV and Mary Whitehouse tried to get the regulators of the time prosecuted for showing it. The whole matter was referred to the attorney general. If she had succeeded, I might not have had a career in television; and yet she was speaking for nobody because the show received the huge total of two complaints.

Stephen Poliakoff: Indescribablyboring 2013

Hitting Town introduces Ralph (Mick Ford), a young student paying a visit to his older sister Clare (Deborah Norton) in an unspecified city. Ralph is anarchic, hyperactive, living on his nerves because IRA bombs have been detonated in his adopted town. Clare, recently single, shifts between chastising his tiresome attitude-striking, and showing delight in his manic energy.

He takes her for a evening on the tiles: they kiss passionately in a grotty restaurant, make hoax calls to a radio phone-in, walk through a hideous shopping mall, visit a karaoke disco.

Did it stand up as drama? "Seeing it again, what struck me was a rawness and extraordinary brutality. Half of it's shot on location in shocking bleakness. The anger and undirected energy were a reaction to the London bombs of the time. You expected a car to blow up as you walked towards it. But it's also about a time –punk arrived 18 months after I wrote it."

My God, Stephen, I said. You mean Ralph, with his curly hair and his childish anarchy, was the first-ever sighting of a punk? "

Peter Gill directed the TV version of Hitting Town. This would be around the time that he was turning a blind eye to the Sex Pistols rehearsing in the Riverside Studios. The legend is that they could get in on the sly because Wally Nightingale's father worked there and had a key. Yeh right, the Sex Pistols - no strangers to volume - could rehearse without anyone noticing. There is a case for PG as the godfather of punk and I intend to make it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

understand him enough to find him extraordinarily interesting

I finished  Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers by Cheryl Misak (Icons passim) on Audible last night.

He was a student of yesterday's John Maynard Keynes. Further his 1926 paper "Truth and Probability" took issue with Keynes' A Treatise on Probability.

Many other friends of these pages pop up; Wittgenstein, for example. Roger Penrose helped the author with information about his father Lionel.

What a shadow Cambridge in the first half of the 20th Century continues to cast.

Monday, March 29, 2021

In the garden, growth has it seasons

I got The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes as this month's audio book with my Audible credit and it has dawned on my that we lose footnotes when books are read out to us. I don't really what they can do about that though.

After the Conference of Paris and the Treaty of Versailles disgusted him deeply, both on moral and economic grounds, Keynes resigned from the Treasury.

He spent his afternoons at Duncan and Vanessa's farmhouse protecting his knees with a scrap of carpet, as he weeded the gravel path through the fruit trees and vegetable patches with a pocketknife, working with such regularity that Bunny Garnett would measure the length of Keynes' visits by the condition of the path.'

I find this rather beguiling. Alex Devereux, who was round helping with my garden this weekend has given me weeding jobs out front. Perhaps John Maynard's example will encourage me to get on with it.

(I am also intrigued by Keynes' A Treatise on Probability, but getting round to it is perhaps even more unlikely than me gardening.)

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Andy Tea, He

Andy Cunningham being of Scottish descent, I have been chatting to him offering congratulations on Scotland beating Ireland to achieve their best ever Six Nations position, while leaving sure to leave a convenient space for him to congratulate me on Wales winning the whole thing.

He is as happy as a sand boy, but not only because of the rugby, he has also just been given the all clear after his July 2019 open heart surgery (Icons passim).

Also he had heard about Bethany's film, which means Sky must be promoting it reasonably well.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

even at the turning o' the tide

 Scotland beat France at the death yesterday, so the Six Nations title belongs to Wales.

Also from today in the Principality:

Here in England from Monday:
  • People will be allowed to meet outside - including in private gardens - in groups of up to six, or as two households (with social distancing)
  • The stay-at-home rule is ending, although the government is urging people to stay local as much as possible; holidays away from home are still not allowed
  • Outdoor sport facilities will reopen, including golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, and outdoor swimming areas
  • Formally organised outdoor sports can restart
  • Weddings can take place, attended by up to six people
On the other side of the ledger:

Here is an update in response to the many posts about Hideaway closing… For well over 2 years, we have been looking for...

Posted by Hideaway Streatham on Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Friday, March 26, 2021

Why don't I do the thinking for both of us?

The 32-30 result at the Stade de France was a hammer blow to Wales, and it denied them the Grand Slam. The damage it has done to their hopes of winning the Six Nations title is not terminal though and I have broken out my tartan scarf for tonight's France Scotland game.

Because France won with a bonus point but Wales picked up a losing bonus point last week, Les Bleus now trail Wales by five championship points in the table with one game left.

Les Bleus must beat Scotland with a bonus point tonight. That will draw them level with Wales in the table and the title will be decided on points difference.

Currently, Wales have a points difference that is 20 better than France's. Therefore, France must win with a bonus point and by at least 21 points.

(If France beat Scotland by 20 points with a bonus point and both teams are tied on points difference, then the tournament will be decided by the number of tries scored. Currently, Wales have scored 20 tries and France have scored 15 tries. What happens if France beat Scotland by twenty points and score five tries I don't know.)

If  Scotland win by eight points, they will finish second in the table above France which will be their best result in the Six Nations ever. I haven't double checked this but I heard Stuart Hogg say it so it must be correct.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Diriliş: Ertuğrul

Helen and family have finished watching all 448 episodes of Diriliş: Ertuğrul on Netflix. We worried that the mental health implications of lock-down would be profound but I never imagined this.

Joking aside, the show is an extraordinary phenomenon and I can't think of a better thing she could have done to prepare her son for a multicultural world than sit through the whole of the epic saga with him.

I watch it myself but I still have 440 episodes to go. No plot spoilers please.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Memory Factory

Here is what Ben did with the Penrose tile fridge magnets (Icons passim). It is a lot better than my effort, though I can see he has had to sacrifice a tiny bit of symmetry because of having one purple dart too few.

I am also quietly pleased to see his U11 Player of the Year shirt (I had it framed) on the wall in the background (Icons passim).

My dismal effort by way of contrast

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Superb and nothing


Kenneth Williams sums up the government over the last year.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Winston Smith

I had my COVID vaccination at lunchtime yesterday and then completed the census in the afternoon. I had no instructions from the State about what to do after that so I just watched a bit of telly.

“...most men and women will grow up to love their servitude and will never dream of revolution.”

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I am only being whimsical really. It has struck me this morning that I haven't even read the leaflet I was given after the injection and that does imply a large degree of trust on my behalf.

Bristol last night is a warning to us all though.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Luke Pearce/Wayne Barnes Show

France 32 - Wales 30 on the BBC yesterday was two plus hours of referee Luke Pearce and TMO Wayne Barnes discussing the finer points of the laws of rugby football over slow motion clips. This was only occasionally interrupted by passages of actual play.

Wales can, and probably will, still win the Six Nations but the Grand Slam is gone and everyone Welsh is Sad Keanu this morning.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Lines intertwining

Glen Matlock is on the Rockontuers podcast tomorrow, proving once again that PG is a strange attractor sitting at the centre of all culture.

He was running the Riverside studios when Glen Matlock was rehearsing with the Wally Nightingale era Sex Pistols there, and he directed host Guy Pratt's father Mike in first ever production of D. H. Lawrence's The Daughter-in-Law at the Royal Court Theatre in 1967.

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Life in the Day

 I aw the Bomber yesterday. He is due to be back in the office in Clapham on 26 April as COVID - touch wood - recedes.

We ate feijoada, farofa, rice and greens. It must have been good because he photographed and sent the picture to Halex, his old school friend, and took the leftovers back with him.

We watched a couple of episodes of The Lost Pirate Kingdom on Netflix last night, and kept thinking of Rayburn because Florida kept coming up in the stories. I had no idea it used to be Spanish.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Alumni Illumination

Two Oscar nominees have got PG form both for the film The Father; Anthony Hopkins is the oldest Best Actor Oscar nominee ever and Christopher Hampton who has got a Best Adapted Screenplay nod.

I saw PG's NT production of Hampton's Tales from Hollywood. He also directed a Christopher Hampton translation of Hedda Gabler at the Stratford Festival, Ontario, Canada in 1970.

A 1966 rehearsal for  A Provincial Life at the Royal Court. Written and directed by PG and based on the story My Life by Anton Chekhov.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Global Britain in a Competitive Age

I must try and make time to read this. 

For example, the maximum number of nuclear warheads Britain will stockpile is to increase, it had been due to drop to no more than 180 warheads by the mid-2020s but will now be set at no more than 260 warheads.

The reason? It is “in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threat”. We are prepared to use nuclear weapons in response to doctrinal threats!? Surely this can't mean what the words say.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Project Vigilant

Police officers in plain clothes will be stationed undercover outside bars and clubs across the country in the coming months in a new scheme to keep women safe on the streets.
When I heard of this initiative on the Today programme this morning, I thought it would almost certainly be a meaningless, reflex government gesture in reaction to the  Sarah Everard tragedy, but a little more digging has revealed that it actually is a genuine project road-tested in Oxford in 2019 so let's give it the benefit of the doubt.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Whiter than white

Ham and High: June 2020

Black Lives Matter: Principal of Central School of Speech and Drama resigns and admits racist comments after students and alumni slammed ‘overt racism’

Mia is at Central. I had no idea about this until yesterday.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Kitty Flynn

Just heard the sad news, Rest In Peace, Kitty.

Posted by Newtown and the Irish in Cardiff on Sunday, 14 March 2021

Saturday, March 13, 2021

one win away

Wales moved one win away from landing the Guinness Six Nations title and a Grand Slam after crushing Italy 48-7 in Rome this afternoon as the unbeaten tournament leaders reeled off a third successive bonus-point victory. Gareth the rugby gnome is so excited he has stayed at the Hendries' ready for next week.

England beat France narrowly which is the best possible result for Wales. I had a strange experience watching that game as my brain was supporting England while my heart was with France.

A win against France next week will give Wales a Grand Slam. I have decided that we will be singing as follows:
Weeheeheehee dee heeheeheehee weeoh one win away
Weeheeheehee dee heeheeheehee weeoh one win away

Win away, one win away, one win away, one win away
Win away, one win away, one win away, one win away

In the jungle, the mighty jungle
The lion sleeps tonight
In the jungle the quiet jungle
The lion sleeps tonight

Win away, one win away, one win away, one win away
Win away, one win away, one win away, one win away 
.... repeat to fade

Friday, March 12, 2021

We read to know we're not alone

I wrote about learning of Anthony Elliott's passing (Icons passim) back at the beginning of February, A little later his sister contacted me after his daughter had stumbled upon the post. She told me that she had showed her brothers and her mother my "lovely little story" about him. 

I am very moved by this, hence the Shadowlands clip above. I first saw the movie in the Richmond Odeon. It had been converted to a "multiplex" and the main screen was in what used to be the stalls in the original set up, so the toilets were at the back of the auditorium. I distinctly remember a significant proportion of the girls and women at the showing going straight from their seats to the bathrooms to sort out the mascara that their tears had smudged; bittersweet.

Also (Icons passim) I saw Shadowlands on stage with mum and dad about fourteen years ago. Again, bittersweet.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree


I showed the Bomber how to use a matrix to do geometric transformations yesterday. He took to it like a fish (up a tree) to water, and extended it instantly to 1st and 3rd angle projections from his technical drawing, and thence Penrose tiling inflation. Hence the video above, I am staring to wonder if Feynman and his diagrams (like Sir Roger) also come from what I will tentatively term "geometric intuition."

We also watched  KLITSCHKO, and ate a Colliers Wood Tandoori curry.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

school girl 11

Eddie Izzard, Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent star in new Sky Original film Six Minutes To Midnight, available exclusively on Sky Cinema from 26 March.
Crikey, Bethany made this in 2018 (Icons passim) and it is only seeing the light of day now.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021


Scenes At The Royal Oak, Broadway, Cardiff - Circa 1995

Monday, March 08, 2021

with a small "c"

A nun who knelt in front of armed security forces in Myanmar to stop them firing on civilians has said she was prepared to die to save protestors' lives.
In extraordinary scenes in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Sister Ann Roza Nu Tawng can be seen pleading with police and soldiers not to shoot.
..and Dad, up in heaven on his birthday was right all along.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

I contain multitudes

I have booked up my COVID injections. The first is in a fortnight, and the second early in June.

I did it at

Yesterday I was moaning about privacy and confidentiality on the internet. Today I could book easily by remembering the name, date of birth and postcode registered with my GP and having the details confirmed against a central database.

I am aware of the irony.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you

I sent my old friend Andy a WhatsApp message on Thursday just to confirm that we had indeed seen Ian Shaw supporting Kurt Elling all those years ago. After that we caught up as we don't talk that often. The next day when I logged into Facebook and then Twitter posts from him were high up in my feeds. They never have been before. The only explanation is that these social media behemoths are spying on me. (Oh and on you too.)

Friday, March 05, 2021


I have just got up to the Potsdam Conference in the David McCullough biography of Harry S. Truman I am working through.

From July 17 to July 25, nine meetings were held. After that, the Conference was interrupted for two days, as the results of the British general election were announced. By July 28, Clement Attlee had defeated Winston Churchill and replaced him as Britain’s representative, with Britain's new Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ernest Bevin, replacing Anthony Eden.

I had no idea. Can you imagine how Donald Trump would have reacted to that?  It doesn't bear thinking about. Winston took it on the chin. For all his achievements, his greatness and his lesson - at least in my eyes - lies at least as much in his dignity, modesty and resolution in the face of failures and set backs.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

My Brother


I'll put my hand up. I am almost entirely sure that when I went to see Kurt Elling in 2005 (Icons passim) Ian Shaw was the support and I didn't like him at all. Three months to the day since dad passed though and after a long conversation with John last night, this song - which he also wrote - has changed my mind. I remember him as rather overwrought performing in the Festival Hall. This is anything but.

My brother, my brother, my brother
Would have kept a close watch,
Explained the unknown, played the bass trombone
In a marching band.
My brother, my brother, my brother
Would have married a nurse.
I could have played in the church,
Watched him carefully find
His sweetheart's hand.

My brother was strong from our father's side.
His back was straight and long, and when my father cried
Because he didn't understand what I couldn't say,
My brother was there for us all anyway.

My brother, my brother, my brother
Would have bought me a beer
In a New York bar, said I've gone too far,
Try to be a better man.
My brother, my brother, my brother
Left a message for me.
He said he'd left his wife to be free.
We'll not all perfect you see,
My brother and me.

My brother was tall from my father's side.
Too tall to tumble and fall, but when my father died,
He gathered us in like little birds in a nest.
He did what he could, he just did his best.

My brother, my brother, my brother
Lies in peace, so they say,
Like we all do one day,
Whatever the hell we believe.

My brother, my brother,
Still keeps a close watch,
Still explains the unknown.
I hear his bass trombone sometimes.

My brother was strong from my father's side.
His back was straight and long, and when my father cried
'Cause he didn't understand what I just couldn't say,
My brother was there for us all anyway.
Never alone, never alone.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Getting my priories straight

Sometimes it is good to be reminded just how remarkable the place where we live and work is. Written and produced by John Hawks who also supplies lead vocals.

Monday, March 01, 2021

St David's Day


 O Great Saint David, still we hear thee call us,
unto a life that knows no fear of death;
Yea, down the ages, will thy words enthrall us,
strong happy words:’Be joyful, keep the faith.’
 Archbishop Francis Mostyn (1860-1939) of Cardiff, Wales.

Even PG watched the Wales England game on Saturday. How extraordinary that this interview should be shown at half time in perhaps the only match he has ever watched.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Triple Crown

Sometimes comment is superfluous

Saturday, February 27, 2021

‎Rockonteurs with Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt

I have been surprised to find that I haven't mentioned the ‎Rockonteurs podcast with Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt here before as we are already up to episode 24.

Episode 25 with Alice Cooper should come out in the wee small hours of the morning and I will, as usual, summon it via Alexa and listen as I potter through my tasks before setting off to meet the day. 

That Cardiff connection is that back on 1973 Leo Abse MP asked the Home Secretary to ban Cooper from the UK because of "his incitement to infanticide and his commercial exploitation of masochism is evidently an attempt to teach our children to find their destiny in hate, not in love." These days Alice comes across as one of the nicest men in the world in interviews as well as a first class story teller.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Passed his best

It has occurred to me that I haven't commented on the passing of the great Chick Corea on these spindrift pages.

Let's put it this way, I came down and started playing Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed the other morning. It came out in F rather then E flat for some reason and it didn't sound as good as this.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Inch by Inch

Icons passim

We are in hell right now, gentlemen believe me and we can stay here and get the sh1t kicked out of us or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb out of hell. One inch, at a time.

I woke up yesterday morning and glanced with disdain at the pipe cleaner attached to my shoulder. There used to be an arm there. I flexed the bicep, or at least nerve endings and receptors told me I did. There was no visible response from the limb itself.

Later I got a WhatsApp message from my brother

  💯 press up challenge.Are you joining me?

I am joining him.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Working backwards for Christmas, to prove that I love you.

June 22: My birthday.

June 21: Step 4 – All legal limits removed on mixing will be removed and the last sectors to remain closed, such as nightclubs, will reopen. Large events can take place. Tomorrow!

May 17: Step 3 – Indoor venues such as the inside of pubs and restaurants, hotels and B&Bs, play centres, cinemas, museums and group exercise classes will reopen. The new indoor and outdoor mixing limits will remain for pubs and other hospitality venues. Back to the gym and hot yoga?

April 12: Step 2 – Reopening of non-essential retail, hair and nail salons, and public buildings such as libraries. Long overdue haircut.

March 29: Step 1, part 2 – Outdoor gatherings allowed of up to six people, or two households if this is larger, not just in parks but also gardens. The Hendries' investment in garden furniture and heaters starts to pay off?

March 8: Step 1, part 1 – People can meet one other person outside for, say, a coffee or picnic, not just for exercise. Children will still count towards this. Be still my beating heart.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Put your lips together and blow

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famously apophatic conclusion to his TRACTATUS LOGICO-PHILOSOPHICUS is:

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.

We are also told that Frank Ramsey famously replied:

What we can’t say, we can’t say, and we can’t whistle it either.

Considering Ramsey actually composed the 'official' translation of the Tractatus from German into English this has always struck me a tad disingenuous. Pulling his own leg?

This month's audible credit has been spent on Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers by Cheryl Misak so maybe after I have got through that I will be able to cast some light. (Misak's Aeon essay Philosophy must be useful may be worth your attention if you are intrigued at all.)

(My brother John's latest Audible credit was spent on Stephen Fry's Orwell Collection: Animal Farm & 1984.)

Monday, February 22, 2021

forgone all custom of exercises

Boris' roadmap out of lockdown is to be revealed today, not enough and not soon enough to make any noticeable difference in the immediate future is my prediction.
I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

give me the hook or the ovation

Thomas Tuchel says he was unhappy with the performance of half-time substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi after the Blues were held to a 1-1 draw at Southampton in the Premier League. The Chelsea manager said of Hudson-Odoi, who was taken off in the 76th minute: 'I had the feeling he was never really into the game.' 
I didn't see the game so I have no idea about the merits of this decision. It does seem very harsh though. Can't be an easy life growing up in public like Callum.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Walk between the raindrops

Matt Hancock : Your report specifies intelligence/counterintelligence with SW19-Corps.

Myself : I'm not presently disposed to discuss these operations, sir.

Matt Hancock : Did you not work for the Hendrie-A in SW19-Corps?

Myself : No, sir.

Matt Hancock : Did you not assassinate a government tax collector in Quang Tri province, June 19th, 1968? Captain?

Myself : Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation... nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist, sir.
This will be my first and final comment on last night in the Hubble.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Thai me up, Thai me down

A Thai action movie last night, plus food from Thai Town in the High Street. The Thai Town platter to start, then Pad Thai. 

The food was better than the film for all that the trailer is great. At least I can't be accused of being relentlessly highbrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

kiss away each hour of hiraeth

When referees fight back: Darren Drysdale confronted Ipswich player Alan Judge face on - but was he right to do so?
Former referee Keith Hackett gives us his view on Drysdale's 'rutting stag' as we ask, what happens next and has this ever happened before?
Dad would have said that Darren Drysdale was "dropping the bean" on Alan Judge above. I don't think I have ever heard anyone else use that colloquialism.

He refereed for a bit after he stopped playing. In one game things got so heated he stepped out of the field of play and announced that now he was over the touchline he was no longer an official so anyone who wanted to sort things out the old fashioned way was quite welcome to join him. I know what all secretly wish Darren Drysdale had done that with this pipsqueak.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Roneo'd, docketed and stereotyped

 It looks like if you change the name servers for an AWS registered domain you need to do it in the "Registered Domains" section rather than changing the DNS records in "Hosted Zones." 

AWS: Nick - I'll be very brief, look, the lengths go through to you direct via Admin, not via us. Read the orange handbook, love.

Well that's been my morning so far and it isn't even eight yet. How are things with you?

The change was from


.. in case I need to switch it back.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Riverside Recollections

I thought I should pop this up here. It is all mist to the grill.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Words fail me

Somehow Louis Rees-Zammit's second try yesterday is better with commentary in French.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Stick to what you know

I noticed an AppleTV app on the Amazon Fire TV stick so I have got that up and running, though it was a pain in the backside as you have to validate it via an Apple device so I had to find and recharge an iPad I hadn't used for five or six years.

There is also a NowTV app, so 2014's box (icons passim) may go the way of all flesh.

There is also a Disney+ app but I am sulking because they have been beastly to Gina Carano (Icons passim).

Friday, February 12, 2021

Piecing it together

 Undergraduates Hunt for Special Tetrahedra That Fit Together

A group of MIT undergraduates is searching for tetrahedra that tile space, the latest effort in a millennia-long inquiry. They’ve already made a new discovery.

What Aristotle started over 2,000 years ago, a team of 30 undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is continuing. They’ve been capitalizing on a recent mathematical advance that has injected new life into a millennia-long quest to identify shapes that can perfectly fill, or tile, three-dimensional space.

“It’s quite exciting but also at the same time a little intimidating to know some of the greatest minds have been working on this topic,” said Yuyuan Luo, a first-year MIT student participating in the work organized by MIT professor Bjorn Poonen. 

Aristotle’s interest in the question arose as a rebuke to Plato, his teacher. ......... read on .........

I am seeing these issues everywhere now. How little geometry, it seems, we actually understand. Next stop protein folding?

Thursday, February 11, 2021


 I saw Ben last night. Nominally to eat sushi while watching Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends. We succeeded at that, and darn good it was too, but before we watched:

The whole Kites and Darts thing is going really well.  Next stop meteorites in Siberia then girih patterns in medieval Islamic architecture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

the wind of change

This week, the Crown Estate sold seabed rights to six offshore wind developments for £879m.

The £879m of option fees are paid to the Crown Estate to secure the rights to lease the seabed in each year that the wind farms are in development. They equate to £110,000 per megawatt per year, compared with £20,000 the last time a leasing round was held in 2010. More than £8bn could be paid to the Crown Estate over 10 years.

When the wind farms begin generating electricity, these option fees stop and developers instead pay 2pc of gross turnover to the Crown Estate as rent.

The Queen gets something called the Sovereign Grant in exchange for surrendering all profits from the Crown Estate  to the government. Every year, the Queen is given an amount of money equivalent to 25% of the Crown Estate's profits. 

The Sovereign Grant for 2020-21 is £85.9 million. That is now due to be boosted by 220m per year.

An increase in the grant to from 15% to 25% was approved by Parliament in March 2017, to help lay for a £369 refurbishment of Buckingham Palace.

I ranted about this earlier this week (see Icons passim). I am astonished that it is not more controversial.

On the day of the sale "Empty shelves: No custard creams for Brits in Belgium" was the lead business story on my BBC News home page

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Soccer for geeks (Pay attention there at the back Callum!)

Stop nagging! Of course we can apply Euler Characteristics to find out the number of hexagons and pentagons on your football.

For every surface S there exists an integer chi(S) such that whenever a graph G with V vertices and E edges is embedded in it so that there are F faces (regions divided by the graph), we have V - E + F= chi(S).

For a sphere chi(S)=2.

So, if we have P pentagons, and H hexagons we can calculate the number of vertices as follows:

6 vertices for each of the hexagons, i.e. 6*H.

5 vertices for each of the pentagons, i.e. 5*P.

But we have counted each vertex three times (once for each adjacent polygon) so the number of edges E = (6*H + 5*P)/2.

Substituting and solving this equation we get P = 12. So, there are 12 pentagons.

Moving swiftly along, we can see that each pentagon is surrounded by 5 Hexagons. So there should 5*P hexagons, but we have triple counted each hexagon for each of its 3 adjacent pentagons. Thus the number of hexagons is  5*P/3 which equals 20.

That is why - dunderhead -  there are 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons in that ball you are standing there bouncing.

Anyway, you are getting under my feet now. Go out and kick 32 polygons worth of leather and air around. I will call you back  in when your tea is ready.

Monday, February 08, 2021

In which I am snarky

 Brian Moore in the Torygraph

England were well beaten in Saturday’s Calcutta Cup and it was only their obduracy, or Scotland’s imprecision, that kept the score-line to a, superficially, respectable 11– 6 loss.

Finally, drop the counter-productive talk of brutality. It creates a one-dimensional prism through which England are seen and, more importantly, see themselves. Brutality should be an adverb, not an aspiration.

Strictly Brian, brutality is a noun. Brutally is the adverb for which you are looking. There is also brutal; a perfectly serviceable adjective.

Man, typing that felt good.

Sunday, February 07, 2021


There is still a poster on the wall of Ben's old teenage bedroom celebrating Wales' famous 30 - 3 Six Nations win against England in 2013. It is a montage of Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, George North, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, and Justin Tipuric.

Three of them also started in Wales' encouraging win over Ireland today. Off the top of my head (I haven't checked) Faletau and Biggar played in both games as well. That is quite remarkable longevity in such a brutal game.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

The Crown Estate


The CEC manage 55% of the foreshore of the UK and almost all the seabed out to the 12 nautical mile territorial limits, and have in addition the vested rights to explore and utilise natural resources of the UK continental shelf areas, which extend to the 200 nautical mile limits. These rights include the sub-soil, minerals, and substrata below the surface of seabed, but exclude the rights to oil, gas and coal. The CEC license the generation of renewable energy on the Continental shelf within the Renewable Energy Zone out to 200 nautical miles under the Energy Act 2004. They lease sites for undersea storage of gas and carbon dioxide under the Energy Act 2008.

That's right, the Queen owns, and can dispose of as she sees fit, all the rights to off shore power generation in UK territorial waters. Tony Blair's government ceded this to the Crown in 2004. 

Offshore Wind Leasing Round 4 anybody?

This is a disgrace.

Friday, February 05, 2021

Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker

It has struck me lately that the first scene (as opposed to the opening sequence) of Apocalypse Now is pretty much my experience of lock-down. Truth be told Willard's workout from it is not unlike what mine has been reduced to as well (

Maybe we should start dubbing or subtitling our own experiences over it like the (never getting old) Hitler Downfall meme (

Thursday, February 04, 2021


 "I'll leave it at that I think, whatever it is." Two months on to the day things don't get any easier.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021


 These days I seem to be all about the audio book, and I got two more today.


The Second Kind of Impossible: The Extraordinary Quest for a New Form of Matter by Paul J. Steinhardt  after Ben and I played with Penrose tiles on Monday, and What the Qur'an Meant: And Why It Matters by Garry Wills as background to our increasingly diverse and inclusive (Diverse AND Inclusive? Ed.) Arabian Nights project.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

You can't get there from here


Born in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales on 19 Jun 1961 to Robert Elliott and Anthony John Elliott. Anthony John Elliott married Anabel Meana. He passed away on 28 May 2017 in Gijón, Asturias, Asturias, Spain.

I got an email from an old school friend yesterday. Out on a (COVID sanctioned) walk he had bumped into yet another old school friend who told him a further old school friend, Anthony Elliot, was dead. Died with cancer.

This has hit me pretty hard. We hadn't been in contact for years, but the ancestry link I found above when I googled his name must be correct; he had a Spanish mum and a Cardiff dad. I feel wretched about the fact that he died in 2017 and I didn't find out until 2021.

Let's pretend to cheer ourselves up with an "Ell" story. Julius Caesar was the set Shakespeare for our O level English literature and we were all assembled (mob handed) for a performance of it one evening in the Sherman Theatre, I remember it particularly. Tony Booth was Mark Anthony. 

Understand that in the Sherman in those days, you entered from a corridor and then walked down a few stairs into the stalls; the stage was at the same level as the door and we were right at the front. Ell made an unscheduled loo break and then strolled accidentally back onto the stage only to find himself in the middle of the conspirators. The moment he realized where he was is was is the single funniest thing I have seen in my entire life. He lost his nerve and jumped back down with the rest of us. I love him still but it would have been better if he had possessed the sang-froid to stay on the stage and brazen it out. Maybe even stabbed JC a coupla times himself.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Virtue Ethics

Hooray! I have found a PDF of Elizabeth Anscombe's 1958' paper Modern Moral Philosophy.

I am also working through After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Third Edition) by Alasdair MacIntyre.

I can't help but conclude from this turn events, that I am spending too much time alone with my thoughts and that - for me at least - lock-down can't end soon enough.

Finding yourself pondering whether virtue ethics qualifies as a rival approach to deontology and utilitarianism, can't be good can it? It's not like everyone else needs to be rescued from agonizing about how Jeremy Bentham or Immanuel Kant's take on life's little challenges might unfold.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Can you dig it?

The Dig seems to be going down a storm on Netflix, but anyone who can watch it without channeling Ted and Ralph from the Fast Show is a better man that I am.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Munster Soviets


The Irish soviets (Irish: Sóivéidí na hÉireann) were a series of self-declared soviets that formed in Ireland during the revolutionary period of the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War (1919 to 1923), mainly in the province of Munster. "Soviet" in this context refers to a council of workers who control their place of work, not a Soviet state.

Well I never. I hadn't previously heard of these convulsions in the land of my ancestors

Friday, January 29, 2021

Language is wine upon the lips

 I was looking at some Proust yesterday. Specifically the C. K. Scott Moncrieff version “Remembrance of Things Past.”  Philistine that I am, it made me weep with laughter:

For a long time I used to go to bed early. Sometimes, when I had put out my candle, my eyes would close so quickly that I had not even time to say "I'm going to sleep." And half an hour later the thought that it was time to go to sleep would awaken me; I would try to put away the book which, I imagined, was still in my hands, and to blow out the light; I had been thinking all the time, while I was asleep, of what I had just been reading, but my thoughts had run into a channel of their own, until I myself seemed actually to have become the subject of my book: a church, a quartet, the rivalry between François I and Charles V. This impression would persist for some moments after I was awake; it did not disturb my mind, but it lay like scales upon my eyes and prevented them from registering the fact that the candle was no longer burning.

The immortal Beachcomber (J.B. Morton) was brought irresistibly to mind. "Ah, Lolotte has just entered. Lolotte, the little dancer from the Brebis Qui Tousse, who used to shoot plums off trees with a rook-rifle - how long ago?"

Any road, I started googling the great man to see if I could find any more Rive Gauche first-person-singular riffing when I came across "Morton was born at Park Lodge, Mitcham Road, Tooting." Further research revealed "the house where he was born, now demolished, was on the site of what is now the Morley’s store on the corner of Franciscan Road." I feel that there is a pilgrimage in my future if a 15 minute walk counts as a pilgrimage.

Morton applied his love of the surreal not just to his writing but to everyday life. Walking through Guildford one day with Gerald Barry, Morton stopped at a pillar box. He talked into its opening: "Are you alright, my little man? Don't worry, we'll soon get you out." Soon, a concerned crowd gathered to see who was trapped inside. Somebody summoned the fire brigade to help, while Morton and Barry made a discreet exit. Events like this were quite frequent: on another occasion he littered Virginia Woolf's front doorstep with dozens of empty, quart-sized brown ale bottles.

I have added littering Morley's front doorstep with empty brown ale bottles to my to-do list.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Half Chat


The scene above is from Lenny (a 1974 film about the comedian Lenny Bruce, starring Dustin Hoffman and directed by Bob Fosse) came up when I was talking to my brother on the phone last night. I find it difficult to believe I found it on YouTube given the sensitivities of 2021, but there it is.

The whole movie can be streamed from Amazon Prime Video - see

Also "half chat" which John remembers as an old Cardiff synonym for mixed race  - and of which I had never previously heard - is real according to

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

"plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose"

Callum made his first premier league start for Chelsea on April 4, 2019 (Icons passim).  Maurizio Sarri was the manager, but three months later he made way for Frank Lampard. With the appointment of  Thomas Tuchel yesterday, and only just 20 years old he is on his third gaffer. Doesn't exactly scream continuity does it?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Bubble, bubble toil and trouble

As I was putting the rubbish out this morning, I noticed a pair of black trousers in the front garden. They looked like they had probably been there some time; I'm not the most diligent of horticulturalists. I popped them in the bag along with the rest of the week's detritus.

Could they have been mine? I pretty much live in black pants; jeans and moleskin as a rule. I had a drink or two (in my bubble you understand) on Saturday night before I got home but surely not enough to start disrobing before I had got the front door open.

I wonder what the neighbours' overactive imaginations made of it? They've been looking at me in askance lately but I just assumed that was because I use Jack Daniels instead of mouth wash, and like to greet the dawn by cranking out Link Wray's Juke Box Mama through my valve amp.

Monday, January 25, 2021

So shines a good deed in a weary world

I dropped PG's weekly grocery shop off yesterday. He is taking things slowly waiting for his first vaccination to kick in. It had been snowing, and when he opened the door to let me out, we bumped into a neighbour spreading gritting salt to clear any ice off Peter's path. What a gent. He was just doing it as a civic duty. If I hadn't been on my way home at that particular moment no-one else would even have known he had done it. Old school.

I remember in the first lockdown Peter ran out of stock and called next door on the phone to see if they had any spare. They did, so he popped over to collect an OXO cube left out on the door step as everyone followed regulations to the letter. The unintended and undeserved bathos of that image sums up 2020 for me.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Time Out

 I can either write something here or I can watch  Man Utd v Liverpool on BBC 1.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Shabbos goy

Yesterday was one month since Dad's funeral. As I have got older (I'm still getting older, it hasn't stopped) I have begun to realise that whenever he wanted to teach me anything he would do it in one or two pithy sentences, the significance of which would only dawn on me later. When I was a little boy - scarcely more than a toddler - he told me that Jewish people were very warm and generous. So generous in fact that they would volunteer to work on Christmas day in vital industries and and services so that everyone else could have the day off. "Wow," I remember thinking.

My brother John is nine years younger than me. I told him that anecdote after the funeral. Guess what he told me. Yup. When he was a little boy - scarcely more than a toddler - Dad told him that Jewish people were very warm and generous. So generous in fact that they would volunteer to work on Christmas day in vital industries and and services so that everyone else could have the day off.

The same explanation to two little boys all but a decade apart is plainly no coincidence. He wanted to inoculate us against the virus of casual antisemitism (I use the word casual advisedly). 

It isn't theoretical. Our family home is at the bottom of Ty Gwyn Avenue. The  Cardiff United synagogue opened around the corner in Ty Gwyn Road in 1955.  One Saturday morning in September 1981, as Elliot Fine walked to that very synagogue with three of his children, a German ex-pat neighbour - who had already plagued the family - rammed his car into them before getting out and stabbing Elliott to death. I was twenty years old. The same age my son is as I write this.

Up until now, I have always been reluctant to share what I think of as the wisdom of my father's teaching. Could he not be, perhaps, accused by grievance brokers of coming close to insulting or patronizing the people of whom he seemed, to my young ears, to have spoken so warmly? I needn't have worried. I learned yesterday, from reading a biography of Harry Truman, of something or someone called a shabbos goy, 

A Shabbos goy (Yiddish: שבת גוי‎, shabbos goy; Hebrew: גוי של שבת) is a non-Jew who performs certain types of work (melakha) which Jewish religious law (halakha) prohibits a Jew from doing on the Sabbath. Notable examples include Maxim Gorky, Harry S. Truman, Colin Powell, Martin Scorsese, and - my particular favourite - the adolescent Elvis Presley, all of whom assisted their Jewish neighbors in this way.

What was my old man boosting but a mirror image of this? A live and let live world of respect, tolerance, help and interdependence. It is no wonder I miss him so much.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

I like Ike

I finished The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s by William I Hitchcock yesterday.

It is a terrific book with many lessons for our boorish times. One lesson is that it is so even handed that the author's obvious respect and admiration for his subject makes his criticism of Eisenhower for letting the CIA off the hook on covert operations all the more devastating.

Lesson two (on this day of days) is the civility of the handover of office from Ike to JFK.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Don't tell Peter


Israel’s coronavirus tsar has warned that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may be providing less protection than originally hoped, as the country reported a record 10,000 new Covid infections on Monday.

In remarks reported by Army Radio, Nachman Ash said a single dose appeared “less effective than we had thought”, and also lower than Pfizer had suggested.

By contrast, those who had received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine had a six- to 12-fold increase in antibodies, according to data released by Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer on Monday.

The issue of some vaccines being less effective after a single dose rather than two is well known, as well as the fact that protection is not immediate. While the first dose can take several weeks to promote an effective antibody response, the second dose can trigger different responses, supercharging the protection. Pfizer itself says a single dose of its vaccine is about 52% effective. Some countries such as the UK have delayed administering their second doses to try to maximise the number of people given a first dose.

I'm not surprised. The cockamamie idea of giving as many people as possible an initial dose of a Covid vaccine - rather than preserving stocks so there is enough for second jabs first came to my attention when it was suggested by serial self-deluder Tony Blair on 22 December. As an idea it is based on precisely ..... nothing. It is like me suggesting that we could double the amount of shots we have available by halving the dose notwithstanding.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


Back in August (Icons passim) I was talking about parallels between 1968 and 2020. I will try and watch this movie on Netflix tonight. Is it too early to start talking about parallels between 1969 and 2021?

Monday, January 18, 2021

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Kate Bingham

I am off to see PG's this morning. I will do his shopping and drop it off, and then ferry him along to his COVID shot and back.

Ages ago he identified  Kate Bingham is the only bright spot in the Government's response to the virus.

How does he do stuff like that? I've never previously given much truck to intuition but I can't really see any other explanation.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Paved with Good Intentions

These pages are my time machine, and tell me that on the equivalent weekend both last year and the year before my brother John was visiting me. He obviously isn't this year. As for the video above, I found out recently that Chris Rea wrote "The Road to Hell" about the M4 after he was stuck on it for hours after flying back into Heathrow. Demonstrating I like to think John's grit in managing to get here in 2019 and 2020.

In 2018, Burt Reynolds died in the same week Dad was admitted to a care home. Reynolds' swan song 'The Last Movie Star,' led John and I to create the 'Ageing Curmudgeon Confronts Mortality' film genre as a tribute to our old fella.

Kodachrome was another film with the same theme. ditto 'The Meyerowitz Stories' (Icons passim).

Today though I watched Lucky, a Harry Dean Stanton led contribution to the field. We had identified it before but never got round to it. Now it is free on Amazon Prime Video there is no excuse.

It is fantastic.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Splendeurs Et Miniseries

 Frankie sent me a message last Sunday morning so I could tell Peter it was Helen's birthday today. Unfortunately I didn't read it until I had left but I remember that he had mentioned that very day that he thought she would like Balzac so I emailed him and he recommended either "Lost Illusions" or "Splendeurs Et Miseres Des Courtisanes" as a gift from the two of us.

"Lost Illusions" has been delivered. The English title of "Splendeurs Et Miseres Des Courtisanes" is "A Harlot High and Low." I can't speak for everyone, but the latter doesn't scream light-hearted, surprise token birthday present to me, though I have been chuckling to myself imagining it dropping unexpectedly through the letter box.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Decagonal and Quasi-Crystalline Tilings in Medieval Islamic Architecture

The conventional view holds that girih (geometric star-and-polygon, or strapwork) patterns in medieval Islamic architecture were conceived by their designers as a network of zigzagging lines, where the lines were drafted directly with a straightedge and a compass. We show that by 1200 C.E. a conceptual breakthrough occurred in which girih patterns were reconceived as tessellations of a special set of equilateral polygons (“girih tiles”) decorated with lines. These tiles enabled the creation of increasingly complex periodic girih patterns, and by the 15th century, the tessellation approach was combined with self-similar transformations to construct nearly perfect quasi-crystalline Penrose patterns, five centuries before their discovery in the West.
Everything is coming together as investigating the possibilities of geometry in art with the son and heir fuses with reading the Arabian Nights with chums.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


Marshall McLuhan (Hat tip Marina Warner)

 Electric circuitry is Orientalizing the West. The contained, the distinct, the separate—our Western legacy—are being replaced by the flowing, the unified, the fused.

Girih (Persian: گره‎, "knot", also written gereh) are decorative Islamic geometric patterns used in architecture and handicraft objects, consisting of angled lines that form an interlaced strapwork pattern. I wonder if there is a connection between them and the Penrose tiling I was burbling on about yesterday?