Sunday, September 19, 2021



To Ronnie Scott's with Andy and Ian to see Kurt Elling featuring Charlie Hunter last night. What a great evening!

Charlie Hunter plays hybrid guitar. It is difficult to explain see My view of him was slightly obscured so I was absolutely baffled where the bass was coming from as there was only one person with a stringed instrument on stage though I seemed to be hearing bass and guitar.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

‘Kamikaze pigeons’ trained to intercept suspicious drones

 American researchers are examining whether the flocking instincts of pigeons can be harnessed to counter armed drones as the rapid development of ‘swarm’ technology prompts warnings that the emerging UAV threat is difficult to contain

Imagine several terrorist drones carrying primed hand grenades buzzing towards a civilian or military target, leaving its defenders with just moments to deploy their state-of-the-art countermeasure. With a furious beating of wings, the precision weapon designed to send the deadly machine crashing to the ground is launched – a squadron of kamikaze pigeons. 

Far-fetched as it may sound, the idea is one of those being explored by American researchers as the defence and security sector scrambles to respond to the extraordinary pace of development in drones – or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – which is seeing robotic and increasingly capable autonomous aircraft move rapidly from the purview of state militaries into the technological and commercial mainstream. 

The pigeon research, being carried out by an unnamed private US company according to an industry expert, aims to harness the birds’ natural flocking instincts and acute vision to draw them towards the particular sound and motion of a “quadcopter” drone. The birds will be trained to fly at a machine or machines en masse, neutralising an attack on a potential target from an airport to an open-air concert at the cost of their own lives. 

,,,,,,, read on .....

Life is now wierder than anything Beachcomber ever invented.

Friday, September 17, 2021

Read all about it

A books and reading round up today.

The Wimbledon Bookfest Sunset Festival is on and I went to see the Georgia Prtichett event last night. 

My next Audible credit drops in three days time. I see that there is an unabridged version of The Fortune Men available so I will get that: Booker shortlisted and Cardiff set.

A rave review in the Telegraph for First Casualty: The Untold Story of the Battle That Began the War in Afghanistan by Toby Harnden. His Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan (Icons passim) is one of the definitive books about our experience over there, so his new one goes straight to the top of my reading list.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

iPhone? If I'm paying, it is a MyPhone


I ordered Ben a new 64GB iPhone SE on the weekend. It arrived on Tuesday and we set it up in the evening. It is just a coincidence that the new model was announced at the same time.

His old handset had disintegrated. It was five years old after all. The contract I was signed up on could have got him a new one three years ago with - to all intents and purposes - nothing extra to pay.

I am writing these words here as a back stop so I don't make the same mistake again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

National Health

Paul had his stoma surgery for suspected bowel cancer on Monday. It took six hours, but he managed to get up for a brief walk yesterday, plus ten minutes on Skype. 

His sister told me that they are waiting to see if the the growth removed had spread into the nearby bowel membrane, which was removed with it.  This will decide whether he will need chemotherapy or not.

Neil, our mutual friend, has had a similar gut operation and is now fully recovered. I think talking to him has been very useful for keeping Paul positive.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

HRH Pat Geary

I wasn't there.

If I was there I didn't do it.

If I did do it, it is protected by a non-disclosure agreement.

The papers that were served had a semi-colon rather than a comma on page 298 rendering them invalid.

Actually I am not even here, because I don't exist.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Dropping a name from the top of a ladder

 When I went round to PG's yesterday he said, "I saw Trevor (Nunn) at the Riverside in the week so I told him you liked his production of Beckett's Happy Days. He says thank you very much and sends his regards."

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Phoning it in

 I went round to Morden to see Ben this morning as we hadn't met since we had a pizza with Mia, and his phone is on the blink. Jane was there, back visiting and told me he is re-entangled with Niamh.

I have ordered him a new iPhone that should arrive on Tuesday. I will have to work from home until it turns up as it needs to be signed for.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Small Change

This is where we will be on Wednesday. In the theatre mind you, not in Cardiff. (Mrs Harte is based on my grandfather's sister unless I miss my guess.)

Friday, September 10, 2021


Bethany moved into halls yesterday ready to start at Guildhall.  I met her, her mother and my brother at The Jugged Hare, a nostalgic venue for me as we used to pop there for a quick pint after lectures when I was doing my EMBA.

As we were walking around her new stamping grounds I realised that Moorgate tube station as opposed to Barbican will be a better bet next time I visit as it is on the Northern Line with no changes from the 'Wood.

We ate - or rather they did - at a Russian Armenian Restaurant call Erebuni. It was a bit early for me so I just frank Guinness instead.

P.S. I have noticed that the title links from the blog have been a day out lately, because I missed out 30 August. Thus today's link goes to that day. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

A Killing in Tiger Bay

 On Valentine's Day 1988, a young girl is discovered brutally murdered in Cardiff's docklands. Despite evidence pointing to a lone white male killer a ten month investigation concludes with the arrest of five local black men. What happens next beggars belief.

BBC 9pm tonight. I was in school with John Actie. My friend Sean Burke's novel Deadwater was inspired by the casae.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021


A truffle-hunting pig has been kidnapped. Her grizzled owner, Rob (Nicolas Cage), abandons a quiet, off-grid life in the woods and sets out on a recovery mission, chauffeured by a yuppie-ish truffle buyer named Amir (Hereditary’s Alex Wolff, dressed in pale blue linen and a flashy Gucci belt). It is soon revealed that Rob is a former superstar chef.
I know that today is supposed to be all about Boris Johnson's legacy baiting proposed £12bn fix for health and social care, but I couldn't let Nic Cage's latest pass by unheralded.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu was brilliant last night beating Shelby Rogers (who neat the world no 1 in the last round) to reach US Open quarter-finals. Even thought she blew her opponent off the court in the end it was still dramatic stuff as she was 2-0 down and 15-40 adrift in the third game of the first set before it all started coming together. Next time out on the court - tomorrow - she will face Belinda Bencic (the Olympic champion.)

Amazon Prime's exclusive coverage of the US Open may turn out to be a great coup for them in the UK, bit I wish the match had been on a channel where my mother could watch it. 

Emma Raducanu's father is Romanian and her mother is Chinese. The nagging blather we get about race and ethnicity is largely generals fighting the last war.

Monday, September 06, 2021

Here I am, walking Primrose

I don't know why (perhaps because it is good) but The Promise is one of my favourtie singles. Also Ben (who will be 21 at the end of this month asked me (see Icons passim) to buy him Girls Aloud when he was only five.

RIP Sarah Harding. The BBC are implying she is part of the collateral damage from Covid. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was true.
In March this year, in an extract from her memoir published in the Times, Harding wrote: "In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last."

She said she didn't want an exact prognosis, just "comfort" and to be "pain-free".

Harding also wrote in her autobiography, Hear Me Out, about how she initially put off getting medical advice when she first found lumps under her arm in December 2019.

She eventually saw a doctor who advised her to schedule an MRI scan - but then "coronavirus hit and everything either went into slow motion or stopped altogether", she wrote.

"I was aware that I needed to get this health issue sorted, but with everything that was going on, it was tough."

She said the pain continued getting worse. "One day I woke up realising that I'd been in denial about the whole thing. Yes, there was a lockdown, yes, there was a pandemic, but it was almost as if I'd been using that as an excuse not to face up to the fact that something was very wrong."

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Taliban declare China their closest ally

The border between Afghanistan and China as at the end of the Wakhan Corridor, an odd looking thin tendril of land separating Tajikistan from Pakistan. The border itself is only 57 miles long. 

It was established in an agreement between the British and the Russians in 1895, although the Chinese and Afghans did not finally agree on it until 1963. The Chinese side is in Xinjiang where all the Uyghurs are banged up.

This arrangement is so ludicrous that it would be funny if it wasn't so mad and bound to end in tears.

Saturday, September 04, 2021

"London Bridge"

The Government and the Palace's preparations for the death of the Queen (codename "London Bridge") have been leaked to the Politico website (here) and are all over the press today.

It includes plans to change the royal family’s website to a black holding page with a short statement confirming the Queen’s death. I knew that already because it was my idea. I guess I can say that now it is no longer a secret.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Eric Clapton at Old Ruts

I stumbled on this article on Facebook the other day. It seems that Eric Clapton played - with John Mayall's Blues Breakers at the venue we now know as the Old Ruts Club.

It is well worth a read.

Mick Clarke, the author, sounds like an interesting fella.

Thursday, September 02, 2021

Speak Memory

I had a wonderful time with Mia and Ben in Corleone's the day before yesterday. Girl can eat, though she slim like twig! Respec' due be wha gwan.

Sad story; the original owner's heart went out of the business when his pizza chef was stabbed to death in Tooting. A lovely guy that chef. He would do the trick of forming pizza dough in mid-air so it looked like a frisbee. I remember him throwing them to Nigel (also no longer with us) to Nigel's unbridled delight.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Gimme another break

We, family and friends, had such a wonderful time what with my niece Mia stopping here on her way to Heathrow that I have nothing profound to announce today.

I can't help but think that is in everyone's best interests..

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Gimme a break

As we go into the international break, Spurs are sitting pretty at the top of the Premiership with a 100% record and Arsenal are holding up the table, bottom with a 0% record. This situation will remain unchanged until at least 11 September when league fixtures are back.

Andy H - as you can imagine - is not best pleased.

Monday, August 30, 2021

The Realignment

Retired General Dan Bolger, author of Why We Lost: A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, joins The Realignment’s season premiere to discuss the rise and fall of America’s post-9/11 military interventions.

YouTube recommended this to me yesterday and I listened to it as I was pottering about and I, in turn am recommending it to you. A critique of the USA's military hubris taking in everything from the fall of Saigon to the current Kabul fiasco is all the more compelling for being delivered by a patriot with unimpeachable credentials.

Oh, did I mention that Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars was published in 2015? It is not like he is cutting his coat according to his cloth in August 2021.

Find The Realignment wherever you listen to your podcasts: Apple: Spotify: iHeartRadio: Stitcher: Google:

Sunday, August 29, 2021

A case of you

I came to Joni Mitchell comparatively late in life because I cannot friggin' abide Big Yellow Taxi (especially the last twelve seconds and that stupid bleedin' laugh).

I like to think though that if she hadn't written it already I would have come up with "A Case of You" myself eventually.
Just before our love got lost you said,
I am as constant as a northern star
And I said, "Constantly in the darkness,
Where's that at?
If you want me I'll be in the bar."

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Every two hours

Here is my schedule for the first part of the Bank Holiday weekend.

8:30 Hot Yoga

10: 30 Weekly Skype video call with Mum and siblings

12:30 Man City v Arsenal down the Standard.


Friday, August 27, 2021

not fib for purpose

 Man charged with contaminating supermarket goods

A man has been charged after a police investigation into the contamination of supermarket products in west London.

Leoaai Elghareeb, 37, from Fulham, will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday.

The Met Police said he had been charged with contaminating or interfering with goods with intent.

The case relates to incidents at a Sainsbury's Local, Tesco Express and Little Waitrose on Fulham Palace Road, Fulham, on Wednesday evening.

My Sunday morning shopping trip with PG, starts at that very Little Waitrose and also takes in the nearby  Sainsbury's Local (if anything he wants is out of stock in Waitrose) before finishing at the independent grocers opposite.

I'm gonna keep this arrest news under my hat, he can be anxious enough at the best of times. Does that make me a bad person?

Thursday, August 26, 2021


We went to see Salomé at the Southwark Playhouse last night. Salomé was a bloke and it was terrible. Perhaps I should watch Al Pacino's documentary to try and understand it. Online at Amazon.

According to the programme, the patrons of the Southwark Playhouse are Michael Caine, Peter Gill, Simon Hughes and Andy Serkis. PG kept that quiet!

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Gimme Shelter

Ooh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Ooh yeah I'm gonna fade away
War, children
It's just a shot away
Charlie Watts has passed. The lyric video above works as a tribute both to him and to the cynically dispossessed, abandoned, encircled prostrated around Kabul's airport.

I've got a a great down-to-earth Charlie W story as well though. A friend, or maybe friend-of-a-friend  I can't remember who it was,  of mine played in Watts' jazz band on tour and said that the great man used to take his cymbals onto the plane as hand luggage because he worried they would be dented if they were thrown into the hold with the rest of the luggage. He didn't have a flunky to do it though he just tucked then under his own armpit.


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Take them to a baddie hospital

It isn't out in the cinemas until September 3rd, but reviews of Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings  have appeared in the UK press and they are all saying good things about it.

I have tweaked the playback of the teaser trailer above to plunge you straight into the maelstrom as our titular hero disposes of two foes simultaneously with a spectacular double kick that looks like doing the splits with intent after leaping six feet in the air.

It spoke to me because Ben used to practice something similar when he was a little boy. One day I asked him why. "In case two burglars come in here together."

"OK, but what will you do after you have kicked them?"

"Put them up in the tree outside and wait for the police to come and take them away to a baddie hospital."

I think our first post-COVID trip to the Wimbledon Odeon followed by Wahaca should be on the cards for early next month.

Monday, August 23, 2021



E10 is cleared for use in all petrol driven Ford models sold in Europe since 1992 excluding:

  • Ford Mondeo 1.8 SCI from 2003 to 2007.This model and Ford models sold before 1992 should continue to use E5.

Personal imports not approved by Ford of Europe are not included in the above statements.

Before I was driving back up the M4 from seeing Mum in Cardiff yesterday, I had never previously heard of E10 petrol.

E10 petrol explained

During summer 2021, the standard (95 octane) petrol grade in Great Britain will become E10. In Northern Ireland, this will happen in early 2022.

The change in fuel applies to petrol only. Diesel fuel will not be changing.

Almost all (95%) petrol-powered vehicles on the road today can use E10 petrol and all cars built since 2011 are compatible.

If your petrol vehicle or equipment is not compatible with E10 fuel, you will still be able to use E5 by purchasing the ‘super’ grade (97+ octane) petrol from most filling stations.

Petrol pumps will clearly label petrol as either E10 or E5.

So now you know.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Whatsisname who was in that Sherman audio thing with Bethany

 Vince got me a programme when he went to see I am McKellen's age-blend Hamlet in Windsor on Thursday, so I will give it to PG today.

I remember praising  Rhys Ifans' Fool in Glenda Jackson's Lear while not quite being able to remember the actor's name. For me, he will now always be "Something Rhys? Rhys something? You know, whatsisname who was in that Sherman audio thing with Bethany.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Carrier Enabled Power Projection (CEPP)

Just in case you were wondering what our much ballyhooed aircraft carrier is up to now.  Not even this government would try and deploy the navy to landlocked Afghanistan ......... would they?

Friday, August 20, 2021

Tom Tugendhat


 "Those who have never fought for the colours they fly, should be careful about criticising those who have."

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

These are the times that try mens' souls

Eleven and a half years after I was asked to help out the Disaster Emergency Committee with their Haiti work (see Icons passim), the country is suffering after another earthquake.

I learned a lot on that campaign. First, how well off we are over here. I remember just getting out of the shower before I set off to the offices. I was toweling myself off, feeling fresh and good when it occurred to me hardly anyone on the island could even aspire to a day revolving around that fragrant and comfortable set point.

DEC comprises ActionAid, Action Against Hunger, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern,  Age UK, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund  and World Vision.

There is power, efficiency and wisdom in that collegiate structure as opposed to a top-down approach. Age UK knew people with the same specialization in Haiti, ditto  Save the Children. Help was targeted via these networks in a way that simply wouldn't happen with a broad brush (slap dash?) approach.

Monday, August 16, 2021

How long will this separation and this hatred last?

Thursdays are traditionally "poetry night" in the city of Herat when men, women and children gather and recite both ancient and modern poems.

I'm still working through the Arabian Nights at the rate of one night per day. Night 289 finishes with a girl reciting a poem at a dinner party.

How long will this separation and this hatred last 

Until the joy that has passed returns to me again? 

We lived together in the same country; 

In our enjoyment we thought the envious paid no heed. 

But time betrayed us, forcing us to part; 

Leaving our dwellings like a barren waste. 

You censure me; do you want me to be consoled? 

My heart, I see, will not obey your voice.

Abandon blame and leave me with my love. 

For love is not yet emptied from my heart. 

You broke your oath and chose another love, 

But, though you are away, my heart will not forget.

Poignant doesn't begin to cover it, the day after Kabul fell.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

My Muse Does All the Work


I have been playing around with an app called MuseScore trying to write a lead sheet. Very happy with it so far.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Cyrano, My Love


I stumbled across this and can't seem to find a way to see it,  I need to see it.

Friday, August 13, 2021

a bum note

We went to see Bach & Sons last night. The Bridge Theatre is a nice venue that is new to me, but the play itself is an affront to good writing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Anything Goes

October is now sorted out in my pre-book something live each month campaign. August (Thursday actually) is Bach & Co and September is Kurt Elling at Ronnie Scott's.

Any ideas for November?

Monday, August 09, 2021

The March of Time

My brother John's not too far away today interviewing a client so he will visit this evening, we'll go for a drink then a curry and he'll drive back in the morning.

Both my diary and these spindrift pages say the last time this happened was at the beginning of March 2020, all but a year and a half ago. Chalk up (or is it down?) another withering on the vine to the malign COVID blow back.

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Gold: Always believe in your soul


After the disappointment of the Lions losing the test series to South Africa yesterday, Wales' Lauren Price wining an Olympic boxing gold medal this morning has bucked my spirits up again. Overall the UK finishes the Olympics fourth in the medal table. Not too shabby.

Also Prince William does a fine job interviewing her about her remarkable life story above, by being friendly, modest and unassuming. 

Saturday, August 07, 2021

Now is steel 'twixt bowel and bladder interposed

The NHS has sent me a bowel cancer screening test kit. Considering Paul is due an operation for it and Neil has actually I had one, I suppose I had better do it.

It is probably wishful thinking to assume that reading Improved Detection of Elusive Polyps via Machine Learning form the Google AI Blog has covered me already.

Friday, August 06, 2021



Rebecca sent me this last night as her Charlie is involved in the visuals though not the music. Not really  man's ting cuz, but happy to spread the news. It does my heart good to see it was largely filmed around the tube station

Thursday, August 05, 2021

A Stinging Delight

PG bought me A Stinging Delight: A Memoir by David Storey for my birthday. (A hardback mind you!)

I am "creeping like snail, unwillingly to school" though it. Not because it isn't good, it is great. I am almost unendurably moved. A clause in a sentence can send me off into an introspective reverie.

John Patrick Anthony Browne (born 8 March 1933) and David Malcolm Storey (born 13 July 1933) were contemporaries. Perhaps that has something to do with the resonance. 

"I will finish it eventually" is high and sincere praise. Unlikely to appear in the blurb on the back of the paperback though.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021


 I woke up this morning to learn from the Today programme that a Barbie of Oxford Covid vaccine designer Dame Sarah Gilbert has been created.

Perhaps by coincidence, my latest Audible book selection is Vaxxers: The Inside Story of the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and the Race Against the Virus by Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green. So far it is really remarkably good.

It is Mum's 84th birthday today, Who do I talk to about getting a Bernice Browne Barbie doll?

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Left on Afghanistan's Plains


Afghanistan: Street fighting rages as Taliban attack key city

Ferocious fighting is taking place in a major Afghan city, amid fears it could be the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban.

Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province is under heavy assault from the militants, despite persistent US and Afghan air strikes. will show you what I have written over the years.

Read the heartbreaking Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan about Helmand. What did those boys give their lives for?

John Reid, Secretary of State for Defense, committed 3,300 troops to Helmand province, Afghanistan in January 2006. Speaking to the media Reid said "We would be perfectly happy to leave in three years and without firing one shot because our job is to protect the reconstruction." In the first year about 4 million bullets and 25,000 artillery rounds were fired by the British armed forces.

John Reid is was and ever shall be a sanctimonious prick, as widows and orphans can attest.

Monday, August 02, 2021

Ronan Keating: The Beginning

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning has dropped on Netflix so Ben is coming round this evening to watch it with me. Perhaps confusingly for a series of five films "The Beginning" is a prequel.

I can see from my Amazon orders that I bought the first film on December 18th last year, so this has been a seven and a half month saga for the two of us.

I have linked my Fire TV with the Echo that sits below it, so according to Amazon, I should be able to start the movie by announcing "Alexa, play Rorouni Kenshin."

I tried it this morning.

The reply, "playing songs by Ronan Keating, " came back in a flash!

A feature that still needs work, I suggest.

Sunday, August 01, 2021


The Maytals at the Jazz Cafe has been cancelled, so I have had to arrange something else for September. Kurt Elling at Ronnie Scott's on the eighteenth has stepped into the breach.

Andy M is coming. I can remember going with him to see Arturo Sandoval at Ronnie's because his brother Phil was in the support. Andy thinks this was about twenty years ago. I have done some research and I think it is more like thirty five.

Breaks down like this: I know I met Andy in 1985 when we were both working on a project at the . Grangemouth Oil refinery. I am sure about this because I know I was back in London in February 1986 to start my MBA at the City University Business School. 

There's an album Arturo Sandoval — No Problem - Recorded Live At Ronnie Scott's Club released in 1987 but recorded in August 1986. Today is August 2021. I think I must be right about this.

Saturday, July 31, 2021


 Half past eight this morning.

Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry  

Have also nicknamed my new (still unboxed) robot vacuum cleaner Muriel.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Umbrella Academy

The man is genuinely beyond parody even given the high level set at

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Hang Fire Southern Kitchen

Blimey John, we met Shauna of the Hang Fire Southern Kitchen more than six years ago (see Icons passim).

Here's the post I was talking about that explains their decision only to open three days a week until September due to staff shortages.


What a long slow death we are dying.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick's announcement (outside the Old Bailey of all places) that "everyone in policing feels betrayed,” by PC Wayne Couzens’ murder of Sarah Everard was tin-eared and ludicrously complacent. Apparently his is a crime that “sickened, angered and devastated” London’s policing community. Poor old put-upon Commissioner and poor old put-upon capital policing community eh. What am I supposed to do, pass a helmet around and take a collection for them?

The stark truth is that until the Met takes responsibility for the fact that this heinous crime was committed by a serving police officer the organisation will not be able to take appropriate action to reduce the chances of it happening again. Cressida Dick's attempt to include the force among the victims of PC Couzens is slippery, crass, solipsistic nonsense.

Ditto the Home Secretary's asinine announcement last week of paltry gestures that will "bring together the incredible work of police officers around the country and create a consistent response to ending these appalling crimes". Verbatim quote; my italics. Just take a moment to savour it. If the work is already incredible what will it be like once it has been improved, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

I recommend that the Home Office and the Police themselves stop telling us how marvelously competent and sensitive they are, and let the public work it out for itself.

I am currently prescribing a period of modest and sincere self-reflection for UK law enforcement.

You see a lot doctor, but are you strong enough to be able to point that high-powered perception at yourself or are you afraid to?
Clarice Starling to Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Play it, Sam

We went to Sam's Riverside last week for the prix fixe menu. £20 for two courses and £25 for three. I plumped for two; rainbow trout with endive, then onglet steak in an oriental sauce with broccoli. It was yummy in my tummy.

I have never had, or indeed heard of onglet before. Herewith the skinny.

What is onglet?

Onglet is the French name for a cut more commonly known in English as hanger steak. This rather forgotten choice is a flat cut from the diaphragm or lower belly. It is very loosely textured, can have a tendon running through it, weighs about 400g/1lb and is also known as butcher’s steak, because it is said butchers recognised its superior flavour and thus never put it on display but kept it for themselves.

The special attraction of onglet is a big beefy flavour but some people find it rather strong because of overtones of liver and kidney. It is especially good to serve with highly flavoured sauces.

Makes sense.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ups and Downs

The Lions won yesterday but I have woken this morning to the disappointing news that two-time champion Jade Jones lost in her first match at the Tokyo Olympics to Kimia Alizadeh of the Refugee Olympic Team.

I don't think I have ever heard of the Refugee Olympic Team before, maybe that is because this is the only the second time there has been one. It made its debut at Rio in 2016 -

The 2020 roster is on

Kimia Alizadeh was originally from Iran.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Jade Jones tomorrow


When is the event?

Sunday 25 July, with the first qualification contest starting at 2am BST.

Which round will Jones compete from?

Jade Jones enters the competition from the round of 16, which starts from 2:28am.

Her fight is 3:52am and will be against the winner of the qualification contest.

The quarter-finals start from 6:12am, while the semi-finals are shortly after 8:04 am and repechages from 11am.

Should Jones go the distance once more, the gold medal contest will be at 1:30pm.

With any luck I will have an appointment with BBC1 early tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Grandad, Grandad, You're Lovely

I watched Jade Jones: Fighting for Gold on the BBC iPlayer last night.  I have been a rabid Welsh fan of hers since she won her first Olympic title in 2012. My transition from someone who had never seen taekwondo before to a conspiracy theorist who thought, before she prevailed, that the judges weren't giving her a fair crack of the whip as I watched it on the telly was a miracle to behold.

I am writing this later than usual as I have been on the road all day. A by-product though is that I heard Jessica Ennis-Hill on Desert Island Discs.

I was very struck that for both if these extraordinary athletes, their maternal grandfather was a high influence and driving force.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

In Audible

 This month's Audible credit has gone on The Tender Bar: A Memoir by J. R. Moehringer.

At 8 years old, suddenly unable to find The Voice on the radio, J. R. turned in desperation to the bar on the corner, where he found a rousing chorus of new voices. The alphas along the bar - including J. R.'s uncle Charlie, a Humphrey Bogart look-alike; Colt, a Yogi Bear sound-alike; and Joey D, a softhearted brawler - took J. R. to the beach, to ballgames, and, ultimately, into their circle. They taught J. R., tended him, and provided a kind of fathering by committee. Torn between the stirring example of his mother and the lurid romance of the bar, J. R. tried to forge a self somewhere in the center. But when it was time for J. R. to leave home, the bar became an increasingly seductive sanctuary, a place to return and regroup during his picaresque journeys. Time and again the bar offered shelter from failure, rejection, heartbreak - and, eventually, reality. 

I wonder why that spoke to me? (I had never heard of JR Moerhinger until it emerged that he will ghost write Prince Harry's magnum opus due next year.

During the month (when I also bought some more credits to pick up the latest Fry Wodehouse) I also picked up The New Testament: A Translation by David Bentley Hart.

The early Christians' sometimes raw, astonished, and halting prose challenges the idea that the New Testament affirms the kind of people we are. Hart reminds us that they were a company of extremists, radical in their rejection of the values and priorities of society not only at its most degenerate, but often at its most reasonable and decent.

"To live as the New Testament language requires," he writes, "Christians would have to become strangers and sojourners on the earth, to have here no enduring city, to belong to a Kingdom truly not of this world. And we surely cannot do that, can we?"

I wonder why that spoke to me?

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Letters from Baghdad


I watched this movie on Prime the night before last.  Even if you haven't got Prime you can rent it for 99p. Gertrude Bell's story is remarkable in itself, but the images and footage are also very resonant as we work our way through the Arabian Nights.

When I was round the Hendries' last night, there was a question about Ms Bell on the quiz show playing on the kitchen TV in the background. You may say:
a. That I aced it.
b. That I didn't tell them I had watched a 90 minute documentary about her the day before.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Down By the Riverside

I guess that was due to go in after "Happy Days" which we saw on Sunday closed. It must be a body blow to the Studios.

Killing time on Sunday, I was waiting in front of a screen that was scrolling through highlights from the Riverside's archive, and discovered that  John Sessions' satirical solo The Life of Napoleon played there in 1987. Thirty four years ago! Blimey, I can remember going to see it as I was working around the corner at Wimpey. I can even recall talking to John Sessions after it in the bar. 

Today's other theatrical revelation is that I know now the name (see Icons passim) of the son of a cousin who went to RADA giving the family a London hat trick of that, Central and Guildhall when you add in my nieces. He is called Bart Lambert.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Spike Lee for President

We saw  Lisa Dwan as Winnie in Happy Days at Riverside Studios yesterday. It was terrific. That is my whole review. I also find that I am very much in favour of Sunday matinees.

Spike Lee commented as follows when he made a mistake at Cannes and announced the winner of the Palme d'Or prematurely,  'I have no excuses, I messed up. I'm a big sports fan. It´s like the guy at the end of the game who misses the free throw.' 

If we had politicians with the cojones to say 'I have no excuses, I messed up" occasionally we would be a lot better off.

Sunday, July 18, 2021


 I pretty much always catch the news on Radio 4 at six in the morning.

On Sundays there is a fifteen minute called Profile (an insight into the character of an influential figure making news headlines) on before it.

Today's was about Mark Cavendish, and I caught maybe the last five minutes of it. 

I had no idea that his achievements at this year's Tour de France came after illness and injury, or that he only secured a place in the team at the absolute last minute.

I might start setting the alarm a quarter of an hour earlier.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

a smiple favour

I had to walk Ollie back home from the pub last night. Her arm is in a sling and there was stuff we needed to transport.

When we got there Andy offered me a drink and - it being rude to decline - I accepted.

We watched the start of a film called "A Simple Favour" on BBC. I was rather taken with it so I have added to my Amazon wish list.

I think that she killed both her husband and her missing "friend" but don't tell me if I am right or wrong.

Friday, July 16, 2021


Britons who received an Indian-made version of the AstraZeneca vaccine are being barred from travelling to foreign holiday destinations, according to reports.

 The batches at issue are 4120Z001, 4120Z002 and 4120Z003.

4120Z003 is the one I got.

Jeff Bezos and space will have to wait.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Soul Music

BBC Radio 4's peripatetic series Soul Music reappeared with a new episode yesterday. It tries to marry es the stories of songs  (one per episode) by the creators with testimony from people whose lives they have affected.

The first episode was about Smalltown Boy by Bronski Beat. As a rule I could live without that, but last time I was in Cardiff Phil told me that Mike Ede has got a job this summer as Jimmy Somerville's driver on his tour and - for some reason - I found that juxtaposition very funny.

Coming up next Wednesday morning The Carpenters' We've only just begun is likely to be much more up my street.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

I robot

I don't actually own a vacuum. I used to rely on the cleaners but they haven't been here since lockdown started over a year ago. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:


It is not as if we are world class skin-flints but I still hope that MPs will vote later against the government's cut to the UK's foreign aid budget. Spending on international development was cut from 0.7% of national income to 0.5% in response to increased spending in the pandemic, despite a commitment to spending 0.7% in the party's 2019 election manifesto. Meeting the 0.7% figure was made law in 2015.

Monday, July 12, 2021

About last night

It's rugby gnome, it's rugby gnome
It's rugby, Gareth rugby gnome

Repeat to fade.

Sunday, July 11, 2021



Sean has recommended a film to me, something he rarely if ever does:
Try to approach Oldbboy without reading anything about it first. One midnight, a few years ago, Film 4 had drifted from one movie to the next without me noticing as I sat doing some editing or a crossword or something. Then I found myself starting to pay attention to what was on screen, and thought 'What the fxck is this?'
I have watched it now (£2.99 to buy or 99p to rent on Amazon) and pass on a similar unadorned, pot-spoiler-free high-five to all of you.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

P.G. Wodehouse Volume 1: The Jeeves Collection narrated by Stephen Fry is 40 hrs and 37 mins of meaty goodness, and a staple of my Audible library.

The 45 hrs and 27 mins of P. G. Wodehouse Volume 2, The Blandings Collection narrated by Stephen Fry  came out the day before yesterday. This is without a doubt where my monthly credit will go when it comes around on the twentieth.

I do hope that Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend is in it. I remember it as Dad's very favourite, so even if it strictly wasn't the fact remains emotionally true for me. Here'a a quote from it:

'But why the dooce couldn’t Ern have - er - pinched them for himself? Strong, able-bodied young feller, I mean.’

Lord Emsworth, a member of the old school, did not like this disposition on the part of the modern young man to shirk the dirty work and let the woman pay.

As ever with Wodehouse, a phrase I regularly use "old school" appears though I had forgotten its origin.

(The Folio Society six volume set The Best of Blandings consisting of Summer Lightning, Heavy Weather, Uncle Fred in the Springtime, Full Moon, Pigs Have Wings, and Service with a Smile, remains on my bookshelf. My Wodehouse strategy incluing both belt and braces.)

Friday, July 09, 2021


July, August and September now being sorted, I think I will go and see The Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Lyric in Hammersmith in October. 

Rachel O’Riordan, the director,  was appointed Artistic Director and CEO of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre in February 2019.  Previously, she was the Artistic Director and CEO of Sherman Theatre from February 2014 – February 2019. I wonder if PG or either of my actress nieces know her? Maybe I could even persuade the former to come along?

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Get your priorities right


Welsh red: ex-postal worker and retired nurse grab gold with a pinot noir

Monmouthshire’s White Castle Vineyard scoops top prize against global rivals in prestigious blind tasting award

First it was English winemakers that had vineyards in traditional wine-making regions such as France looking over their shoulder, now it is Wales, after a “deliciously fresh” pinot noir from Monmouthshire scooped a prestigious wine award.

White Castle Vineyard’s “pinot noir reserve 2018”, a red wine that costs £25.50 a bottle, has become the first Welsh vintage to win a gold medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).

In other news

England fans are 90 minutes away from seeing the men’s national team win a major tournament for the first time in more than half a century after Harry Kane sent the Three Lions to the Euro 2020 final.

After the captain scored the winning goal on the rebound after his extra-time penalty had been saved,60,000 fans in Wembley were sent into delirium along with millions of fans around the country.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me...

I booked tickets for Simon Russell Beale in Nina Raine's new play Back & Sons directed by Nicholas Hytner at the Bridge Theatre. They are for August 12th. 

Happy Days at the Riverside is already in the bank for July and we have got the Maytals at the Jazz Cafe in September.

One a month is coming back online as the world wakes up again. next stop October.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Great oxymorons of our time: smart motorway

I had the bright idea of driving to Cardiff from Hammersmith on Sunday. Bad move:

The M4 will be closed in both directions over the weekend of 2 July – 5 July 2021 between Junctions 4b (M25 interchange) and 5 (Langley). The closure will start after 8pm Friday 2 July and the motorway will reopen by 6am on Monday 5 July.

There are closures every weekend for a while going forward see M4 junctions 3-12: smart motorway - Highways England

I note though that if I drive from home I go on the M3 and then take the A329(M) that joins the M4 at junction 10. That is beyond the currently announced closure schedule which ony goes as far as junction 9. Rules out the PG-Hammersmith-Cardiff plan for the foreseeable though.

Monday, July 05, 2021

Watch this space

 PG told me yesterday that Uncle Michael and Auntie Philomena's grandson went to RADA. Chalk another drama school up for the family.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Our Food, Our Family

I turned on the telly after our weekly Sype with Mum yesterday and caught an episode of a show called Our Food, Our Family with Michela Chiappa.

It was about a woman called Kemi Nevins. Born in 1962 to Nigerian parents studying medicine in London, at the age of six months Kemi was temporarily fostered by a British family. At the age of six, once her parents had qualified, she was taken back to Lagos. She couldn't settle though and returned to Britain and her foster parents. It was all rather moving, I must try and get to her Pontcanna Cafe next time I am back in Cardiff for a Saturday.

Reading up on the series online, I also realksed I had half watched the first episode (about Welsh Italians) with mum when I was visiting her before COVID. It seems like a lifetime ago.

Saturday, July 03, 2021


Bethany Mia has been accepted into the BA Honours in Acting acting BA at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. You know, the place where, snigger, Dominic West and Lily James Larry Olivier and "Judo" Dench went. We are all beside ourselves.

See Icons passim.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Pregnant women will give up their seats for me

If you're 60 or over and live in a London borough, you can get free travel on our transport services with an Oyster photocard.

Sweet. If I can find time in my busy schedule to go through the rigmarole of getting a 60+ London Oyster photocard, my trips to and from the Jazz Cafe will be free.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

The New Hideaway?

We have got tickets for the Maytals at the Jazz Cafe for early in September. Although the Jazz Cafe is a long way from here, it is just a moment's walk from the Camden Town tube station, and the Northern Line can take me from Colliers Wood to Camden Town in little over half an hour.

Maybe it can take over the role that the Hideaway once played in my life?

Here's waht's on -

Wednesday, June 30, 2021


Ben is due round tonight to watch Rurouni Kenshin: The Final. John has warned us against the dubbed version, so we will go with subtitles. He says that - once you have invested your imagination in the first three - unfamiliar voices jar.

I must show the Bomber the video of Takeru Satoh training above. First, it is very impressive. But second it shows we were right about why Kenshin is forever running along the sides of walls. It's a difficult trick the actor can actually do.

The fifth and final film - a prequel - should be along later this year.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


Now ole man Wordsworth, so they say
‘E liked to roam the ‘ills,
Wiv ‘is butterfly net an’ ‘is botany book,
An’ a sixpenny packet o’ Wills.
An’ when e’ come ‘ome in the twilight,
You’d ‘ear is missus cry:
“Now Willie, me lad, where the ‘ell ‘a you bin?”
And Willie’ e’d reply:

“I’ve been looking for daisies:
A daisy drives me wild,
An’ whenever I see a primrose
I giggle just like a child.”
Then ‘is wife says, “Chuck yer kiddin’,
I can’t swaller that stuff –
The only daisy that tickles you
Is a bit o’ mountain fluff.”

 One night ‘e come ‘ome extra late
Wiv ‘is eyes all glowin’ bright
An’ is wife says, “Where you bin to, mate,
T’ come ‘ome this time o’ night?”
An’ Will ‘e answers ‘er promptly,
“I’m nearly orf me ‘ead,
For I’ve found another new kind o’ bird” –
But ‘is missus ups and said:

 “You an’ yer bloomin’ daisies,
An’ yer different kind o’ bird,
Is about the fishiest story
Wot ever I ‘ave ‘eard,
‘Op off, then, back to yer ‘ill-tops
An’ yer innocent nature-stuff –
An’ I’ll warrant the bird that sings to you
Is a bit o’ mountain fluff.”

In Wordsworth's Footsteps: Radio 4.

Wordsworth and the Romantics: Gresham College

Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World is this month's audible credit purchase.

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Rain It Raineth Every Day

We had an inch of rain last night. One inch of rainfall equals 4.7 gallons of water per square yard in old school units.

I woke in the night to the racket of a torrential downpour what sounded like a strange clicking sound. On investigation the clicks were drips coming through the ceiling in the spare room. I put a saucepan on the damp patch to catch whatever else fell and retired back to my pit.

All is well this morning and there is not even really any noticeable mark on the ceiling but something must be done. (Given how bone idle I am probably by the next lucky owner of the house.)

Sunday, June 27, 2021


 I went to the Standard yesterday to see Wales knocked out of the Euros by Denmark.

After that we switched channels to see Harlequins beat Exeter in the Premiership Final. When Louis Lynagh, son of the Australian great Michael, scored two tries in the final ten minutes Andy reminded me that he used to be the full back in the Richmond team that Ben and Jonnie used to play against for the Ruts in Surrey League 1. I can't really remember him myself even though he would have been Ben's opposite number.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Outlaw

Torygraph (behind paywall)

The Catholic Church denounced The Outlaw and lobbied against its release. Production Code enforcers denied the film a certificate of approval, prompting a legal battle in numerous state courts.

One Californian judge famously quipped that Russell’s breasts “hung over the picture like a thunderstorm over a landscape. They were everywhere”. The film had a limited release in 1946 – when the Catholic Church excommunicated anyone who saw it – and did not gain a national release until 1950, and only then after 136 “lurid” close-ups of Russell were reportedly removed.

This same film was on BBC at ten past ten this morning. Fill your boots at

Mum laughed like a drain about this earlier today and it lead to an hilarious series of stories and memories about confession. I for one thank Howard Hughes just for that.

Friday, June 25, 2021

This is the very essence of the way of the Samurai

 Now that I am sixty I think that I may be on the brink of a breakthrough in my practice. 

Mushin (無心) is the essence of Zen. It is a state in which the mind is not fixed on or occupied by any thought or emotion.

This pure state, this pure mental clarity, is produced by the absence of the ego or limited self.

For myself I translate 無心 as "absent-mind." As I enter my seventh decade I find the state of absent-mindedness has become more, and more easily, accessible.

Where did I put my keys?

What have I come upstairs looking for?

Who is this person at the front door and what does she want?

I just stand there. "When the swordsman stands against his opponent, he is not to think of the opponent, nor of himself, nor of his enemy's sword movements. He just stands there with his sword forgetful of all technique. He has effaced himself as the wielder of the sword. When he strikes, it is not the man but the sword in his hand that strikes."

What were we talking about again?

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Us again

We went to the Curzon Wimbledon last night to see "The Father." (I think it is the first time I have been to the movies since Ben and I saw Guy Ritchie's "The Gentlemen" in January 2020. How cinemas have survived lockdown is a miracle.)

As for the film itself, having lost Dad under not dissimilar circumstances, I am too raw to write about it. I spoke to my brother over the phone when I got in. He in turn told me about a Disney+ short "Us Again." His daughter said that the beginning of it was like watching a documentary about my mother and father, her grandparents. John agreed with her, so it is one for the list, but maybe something to watch on my own ...... something in my eye.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Tooting my horn


Almost my own surprise I greatly enjoyed the Summerstown walk last night.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Here's to Life

No complaints and no regrets
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets
But I have learned that all you give is all you get
So give it all you've got
I had my share
I drank my fill
And even though I'm satisfied
I'm hungry still
To see what's down another road beyond the hill
And do it all again
Happy birthday to me. 60 today.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Isn't it romantic?

You won't have read about it here, but I have been working my way through the Reformation and the Enlightenment. I found them both wanting; maybe the nuns and Christian Brothers that educated me cast a longer shadow than I previously imagined. 

Next up Romanticism. 

I found Isiah Berlin's 1965 lectures on YouTube at

For Berlin, the Romantics set in motion a vast, unparalleled revolution in humanity’s view of itself. They destroyed the traditional notions of objective truth and validity in ethics with incalculable, all-pervasive results.

Crikey! Also Ben's up in the Lake District this week; Wordsworth and Coleridge territory. Something in the air as we move in parallel perhaps?

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Final?


RUROUNI KENSHIN: THE FINAL has dropped on Netflix. Ben and I watched the first three films of the series with sushi back in February. It looks like it is time to pick up the chopsticks again.

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Epic Iran


The Iranian Presidential was on yesterday though I don't think the result has been announced yet. It also reminded me that - as well as the Theatre - we went to the Epic Iran exhibition at the V&A last Thursday and that I hadn't yet recorded that here.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Under Milk Wood

I went to Under Milk Wood at the National last night. It is the first time I have been to the theatre since I saw Paapa at the Kiln last February.

I also saw Mia for the first time in London since she started at Central. The wages of lock-down eh?

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Saturday In The Park

I don't want to tempt fate, but we are having a picnic at Roath Park in Cardiff on Saturday to celebrate my nephew's 21st and it looks like my mum will be able to come. Released from the home where she resides for the afternoon and able to return without being quarantined.

Playlist: Saturday in the Park - Chicage

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Tart enough for you?

I delivered chunks of salmon marinaded in chilli pesto to the Hendries' last night so that it could be run through their dehydrator and we could  snack on it during the Wales v Turkey footie today.

It turned out very well. Next time I would add a little more salt and remove the skin but it was pretty darn good. One of my favourites so far.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

hottest day of year so far as temperature hits 28.6C

Myself: Honey, do me a favor. Run to the drug store and get me a lemon coke with chipped ice. Will you do that for me, sweetie, please.

Prodnose: What on earth are you on about now?

Myself: There's no air conditioning. Whenever the temperature goes above 28 degrees centigrade I become the flawed, lamenting heroine of a Tennessee Williams play.

Prodnose: Rubbish.

Myself: Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty

Monday, June 14, 2021

GB News

GB News: Andrew Neil’s right-leaning live news channel, which aims to take on the leftie, “woke” orthodoxy of mainstream British media has launched.

I have just returned my TV to pick it up via Freeview. It is on channel 236 just below Russia Today and Al Jazeera. Not the mos prominent of slots though Freeview seems to bunch news outlets together in the two hundred and thirties. I wonder if I will ever watch it again.

That said, I wonder if the tide is turning, I went to a Wimbledon Bookfest session (Tim Marshall: The Power of Geography) on Saturday and was truly impressed by the level and variety of the questions asked from the floor at the end of the session. They were informed, detailed and heterodox. I would have expected an audience on the Common to mouth bien pensant platitudes, but we had, for example,  provocative broadly right-wing questions that were dealt with seriously without the pearl-clutching that we would get if anyone ever asked them on the BBC. Also the questions referred to things like the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which - though germane to the talk - hadn't been mentioned in the presentation; a sign of a reflective, well informed listener.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Death at Deepcut

Documentary producer John Battsek, whose credits include Oscar-winner One Day In September and Emmy-winner Manhunt: The Inside Story Of The Hunt for Bin Laden, has made his first foray into podcasts with Audible series Death at Deepcut.

Between 1995 and 2002 four young trainee soldiers were found dead at a military training camp outside London, Deepcut....

I will listen with interest. We know a little about this peripherally as we got a forensic job analysing the backup tapes from the dispatch system Surrey Police were running at the time, as they no longer had any way of reading them. (That's a problem we'll see more and more of I think.)

Saturday, June 12, 2021

What is it that you can't see?

I always try and get along to at least one event at Wimbledon Bookfest. I like to see how it is progressing physically as we have skin in the game with their IT.

I'm booked in for Tim Marshall: The Power of Geography at 2pm this afternoon. That, foolishly, was booked before I realised with Wales' first game in the Euros. I will have to try and find a pub on the common where I can catch the end of the match, which in turn means I'll have to go on the bus rather than drive.

I watched Alastair Campbell live over the video link on Thursday. It all went off seamlessly. Who would have imagined just a few years ago that such a simulcast from a park would even be possible for a small organisation as opposed to a broadcaster?

Friday, June 11, 2021

This web page is on strike


The TUC website's '404 error' page has cheered me up this morning. Very refreshing in this po-faced age.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Catch the Pidgin

President Nana Akufo-Addo start dey lobby for Chelsea player to play for Black Stars

Callum is in Ghana on holiday and has met the president. Despite having played three time for England at senior level he still has the option to transfer his loyalties to mother and father's country.

Ghana start dey push for Chelsea player, Callum Hudson-Odoi to play for Black Stars.

Prez Akufo-Addo make dis revelation after en meeting plus de Chelsea attacker on Monday.

Callum Hudson-Odoi who dey Ghana for holidays meet with Prez Nana Akufo-Addo who make am clear say e go like have de player in de national team.

Who knew that the BBC had a Pidgin news service? Certainly not me.

We can start to learn more at I wonder if there is a sense in which Pidgin is to West Africa what Swahili is to East Africa?

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

My local is closed


It was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that it would last forever: I was wrong.

The bars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

The Night We Called it a Day

We are still working through the Arabian Nights (Icons passim) at the rate of one a day using the Malcolm Lyons translation. As of this morning we are up to night 219.

‘Damn you, you evil slave, do you dare to carry a message of treachery from the wife of your master? By God, there is no good in you. Your colour is black and so is the record of your deeds. You are ugly to look at and your nature is despicable.’

.... says al-Amjad to a blameless eunuch before chopping off his head and reminding us that slavery and racism are not an exclusively Western phenomenon

Monday, June 07, 2021

ev'n at the turning o' th' tide

I was back in the gym for the first time this year yesterday.

I have got my second COVID jab today.

With any luck we will be back at the Antelope pub quiz tonight for the first time since the first lock down.

Dare we dream?

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Happy Days

Happy Days at the Riverside (11 June to 25 July) is running a Sunday matinee. I think that needs to be my July theatre date (Under Milk Wood is June's) as the world starts to come back to life.

Tony Hopkins' Oscar bagging The Father is on there for a week as well (11-17 June) so I will try and catch that next Sunday as well perhaps.

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Ben had three bikes nicked out of the back garden last week. One of them a motocross dirt bike I got him. It hit him pretty hard. I will need to remember approximately when it happened at some time in the future I am sure. The best way to be able to do that is to record it here. More in sorrow than in anger, though there is plenty of anger.

Friday, June 04, 2021

Galton Professor of Eugenics

Yesterday's Lionel Penrose was for a while Galton Professor of Eugenics at UCL


Penrose was a central figure in British medical genetics following World War II. From 1945 to 1965, he worked as Galton Professor at the Galton Laboratory at University College London. The first title of his chair was "Professor of Eugenics" (1945–1963), then he had it changed to "Professor of Human Heredity" (1963–1965). According to his successor, Professor Harry Harris, Penrose “never liked the name 'eugenics’, because it seemed to him to be too much associated with uninformed and dangerous policies of racial purification." Harris also reported the "long delay" in changing this name was due to "legal problems" associated with the original donation from Francis Galton and described how Penrose simply ignored the "eugenics" element of his job title.

That means that he personally is in the clear, but I still can't help but find the title from the perspective of 2021 irresistibly funny as opposed to infuriating.

Personally when it comes to eugenics I am with - as I am on so may other things - with Chesterton.  In 1922, but writing about a time before the Great War, he reminded us

It was a time when this theme was the topic of the hour; when eugenic babies (not visibly very distinguishable from other babies) sprawled all over the illustrated papers; when the evolutionary fancy of Nietzsche was the new cry among the intellectuals; and when Mr. Bernard Shaw and others were considering the idea that to breed a man like a cart-horse was the true way to attain that higher civilisation, of intellectual magnanimity and sympathetic insight, which may be found in cart-horses.

He was right when everyone else was wrong. That is a lot harder and nobler than what goes on now, when virtue signalling nobodies queue up to kick people when they are down, destroyed over the slightest transgression with no hope of reprieve,

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Automatic Mechanical Self Replication


Sir Roger Penrose being my current man crush, I have stumbled on this video of his father's Lionel's work. It is the most extraordinary thing to see out of the blue. I couldn't believe my eyes. The implicit seeding principle is making steam come out of my ears.

(I think I was nattering on to PG over the weekend about Sir Roger's father and uncle both being in the Cambridge Apostles. Stumbled upon Dad looking for surrealist uncle Roland with whom Peter was familiar.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Night Operation

I have been looking at Owen Barfield lately. 

Night Operation, his only work of science fiction, was written when he was well into his seventies. 

In the 22nd century humanity has taken to  inhabiting the sewers serving our present society because of a dread of terrorist and bio-chemical threats.

The overwhelming fear engendered by these phenomena coupled with economic collapse, as given rise to a society obsessed with security, standardisation and control of information.

It is only through a mixture of luck and the continuing existence of a few elderly people who have a dim awareness that life has wider significance that the chief character in the story, is able to break out of this horrific mental and physical prison, where the glories of human culture have been buried in a virtually inaccessible library and replaced with aspirational hedonism and an obsession with rote learning.

I think I'll get a copy, it may speak to us about what our response to COVID has wrought.