Friday, December 31, 2021

Don Camillo

 Perhaps because I had been thinking about Dr and Mrs Dreyfuss in The Apartment yesterday, I suddenly remembered Dad, when I was a little boy, weeping with laughter reading a book called 'The Joys of Yiddish" by Leo Rosten and reciting extracts with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks. I've ordered a second hand copy from ebay.

Later, when we were tinkering, remote from each other, with Amazon Prime Watch Party (we did get it working)  I mentioned the Rosten memory to my brother John and we started reminiscing about how dad and all his brothers were suffused with the short stories of Damon Runyon, O. Henry, and P.G. Wodehouse and how we had taken this in on behalf of the next generation almost unconsciously by some sort of osmosis. We've both had the experience, reading the three authors above, of coming across a phrase that, through sheer familiarity, we thought was one of Dad's. Indeed, John found my own  regular "you interest me strangely" in Wodehouse ("Thank You, Jeeves" I believe) when I had no idea that was where I picked it up.

Ok, let's have a crack at delineating the old man's favourite short S from each of the triumvirate. My best guesses are:

O. Henry: The Gift of the Magi.

P.G. Wodehouse: Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

Damon Runyon: Romance in the Roaring Forties

That last choice may be controversial. I am all but sure John would go with "Hold 'em Yale!" because the contexts into which Dad could introduce "I wish to say that old Liverlips' noggin is a very dangerous weapon at all times" really was a wonder to behold. I'm going with "Romance in the Roaring Forties" though on the basis of "Dave walks over and starts to give Waldo Winchester the leather, which is considered customary in such cases" I really thought "giving him the leather" was a phrase of Dad's until I read that.

While we are on this page, the stories, beloved by the old man, about good natured feuds between a Catholic priest and a Communist mayor post WWII in a small Italian town in the Po Valley are collected in the Don Camillo books. I couldn't remember the name yesterday. John couldn't remember them at all. This month's Audible credit will go on The Little World of Don Camillo with a following wind.

Finally, back to Jews and Catholics and coming in a complete circle.

Worth a watch. Wiser days in many ways. Less tightly wound than now.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Watch Party

 I've been peripherally aware of an option called Amazon Prime Watch Party for a while. Apparently it is a facility you can use to chat with up to 100 friends while you watch movies and TV shows online together. I've noticed it on the Prime Video website but had never come across it on the Fire TV Stick until recently. The explanation appears to be that it is available via the Fire TV Prime Video App, but doesn't appear in the general Fire TV interface. I think I must have come across it when Fire TV took me into the app when I was watching Amazon coverage of a Premiership football game.

Herewith the skinny (I believe that is the technical term). Follow this link.

John and I have agreed to try and give it a test drive with The Apartment today. It seems desperately unlikely but wouldn't it be wonderful if we could use to watch movies with mum? Is it that impossibly more advanced than combining the Skype chat we have every Saturday morning with watching a video streaming from St Brigid's? We've done both of them in the last couple of weeks.

While we were laying our plans last night J.C. told me that Jack Kruschen was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Dr. Dreyfuss in the The Apartment. For all that I am uncomfortable with another human being, never mind my little brother knowing more about The Apartment than me, I was pleased for Jack Kruschen (Icons passim). It was richly deserved. (How Naomi Stevens was overlooked as Mrs Dreyfuss, I will never know. " A girl like you, for the rest of your life you want to cry in your noodle soup?")

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Rita Tushingham


It has struck me this morning, that this must be the first time I haven't seen PG for more than a week since the start of the pandemic. Have some random recollections of his from the swinging sixties on me. First, he decided to concentrate on writing and directing as opposed to acting when  Ray Brooks got the lead in The Knack ...and How to Get It. Second, there is also a story about him helping Tony Richardson out with the auditions for A Taste of Honey but I can't remember the details.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

I needz my choonz

Rebecca sent me new music (above) yesterday, and Frankie sent me a message giving me a task and saying "can you have a try as you’re there doing nothing?" 

Both bucked me up immensely. Many others, though I now they mean well, are dealing with me as if I am as helpless as Steve Martin's  Ruprecht in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels -

Monday, December 27, 2021

Burning Man

What with my COVID powered coughing and wheezing I am finding the consumptive DH Lawrence a much more sympathetic figure as I am working through Frances Wilson's "Burning Man: The Ascent of D H Lawrence"  than I did when I was hale and hearty.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

For Those Who Can't Be Here


I like to think of myself as a cynical and poisonous individual. I wouldn't have the slightest hesitation putting the boot in if I thought otherwise, but I must say I think that the Duchess of Cambridge nails this. 

I am frankly unconcerned about how technically easy or difficult the piece is, what impresses me is her time keeping. It is absolutely nailed on. There's not a drummer, a click track or a conductor and she starts solo. Take it from me - someone who failed at this for years - when you practice alone steady tempo is your Achilles heel playing with others. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Belles, belles, belles

I was so wiped out by COVID yesterday that I went to bed around six. I spoke to John my brother on the phone for a while but I reckon I was asleep by seven. When I woke up this morning I just lay there sweating and festering under the bed clothes, until I remembered getting a message from the - always reliable - Andy M a couple of days ago which said:
There is some marvelous new music around and and I need to catch up stuff. Radio 6 music is also a good source of new listening with a number of great shows, particularly on the weekend (Iggy Pop, Cerys Matthews, Guy Garvey, Craig Charles and Huey Morgan). So much music (so little time)!
"Alexa, play BBC Radio six," I said. Amy Lamé was hosting the show that was on and introduced Claude Francois' Belle Belle Belle as well as giving a quick pen portrait of the video. As soon as the song ended I was all over YouTube looking for it.  I defy anyone to watch these two and a quarter  minutes of of Gallic fun in the snow without cheering up. It has certainly put a smile on my face.

More genius is that it is a cover of Made to Love by the Everly Brothers with new French lyrics by Claude Francois.  Claude Francois also wrote the French lyrics to Comme d'habitude. When Paul Anka wrote English lyrics for it, the song became My Way. How wonderful is that?

Friday, December 24, 2021

Quos Deus vult perdere

 It looks like I was tempting fate with my rant about lock-down yesterday as I cam up positive on a lateral flow test early yesterday evening and the COVID diagnosis was confirmed at a drive-in PCR this morning, so I could be stuck inside these four walls until January 2nd. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year eh? It is I suppose possible I could be released after seven days if I pass lateral flow tests 24 hours apart on days six and seven. According to the letter of the law I could go to New Year's part if I arrived exactly at midnight.

A bright spot is that I have got good friends and neighbours (the Hendries and the Butlers for example). Every now and then I hear a knock on the door and open it to find a carrier bag of goodies has been deposited by a benefactor. Helen and Mat left me a take-away curry and four Stellas. That's the Christmas spirit for you.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

More hair with that shirt, sir?


No more than six people will be allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants in Wales from 26 December.

Two-metre social distancing rules will also return in public places.

Licensed premises will have to offer table service only, face masks will have to be worn and contact tracing details collected.

Outdoor events will be limited to 50, with 30 indoors, but no restrictions were brought in for smaller meetings in private homes.

First Minister Mark Drakeford called for people to limit the amount of socialising they do and take a lateral flow tests before they go to meet other people.

"Outdoor events will be limited to 50, with 30 indoors, but no restrictions were brought in for smaller meetings in private homes." Let's be clear about what this means. It means that our family get together earlier this week after my aunt's funeral wouldn't be allowed next week, a whole year after no such thing was allowed at my father's funeral. I am incandescent with rage.

Fines will be handed out to employees in Wales who go to work when they could work from home.

From Monday, workers will receive a £60 fixed penalty notice and companies hit with fines of £1,000 every time they break the rule.

Until now there has just been guidance encouraging home working.

The union GMB said it would affect "the poorest, most vulnerable workers" while the TUC said it was "at best naïve" to think responsibility is shared.
That dickhead Vaughan Gething (Icons passim) was on Breakfast TV this morning. The expression of disbelief on Naga Munchetty's face when he was explaining that the nonsense above wasn't a problem because no-one had been fined for it and it was a way of exerting pressure on companies as opposed to poor working stiffs spoke louder than any words.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Requiem for a Dream

 It is a year today since Dad's Requiem, and Auntie Rona's was yesterday.  Both of them were mass in the parish at 11 followed by Thornhill Cemetery. At least yesterday we could meet the family at the Manor Parc hotel afterwards. That to our distress was outlawed last year.

Mum watching the service streamed live to her care home, went better than I dared hope. We could even give her communion, which was a great comfort to her.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Acceptable in the 80s

 I am in Cardiff for Mum's older sister, Auntie Rona's funeral. Mum's not well or sparky enough to attend so I will watch a stream of the services with he on and then go along to the reception (wake?) in the hotel afterwards to pay my respects. (We couldn't meet socially after last year's funerals like Dad's because of COVID restrictions. After the Welsh Government announced yesterday that fans will be unable to attend sporting fixtures in the country from Boxing Day I can't help but fear therapeutic family gatherings may be banned again.)

I have noticed a rather heartwarming trend of people keeping up with relatives in their 80s this weekend. When I knocked on PG's door to take him on his weekly grocery shop, his nephew and his nephew's son were there paying a visit. I called on Sean, and old school friend, early yesterday evening to find him and his sister caring for their elderly mother, and when I met another friend Kevin in the Borough Arms last night he brought his eighty year old uncle Win Taylor along.

Monday, December 20, 2021

not to yield

Myself: “Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Prodnose: Tennyson right? Is this the Dan Fish thing again? Three days in a row.

Myself: I suppose it is really, but - in this week of weeks after last year's week of weeks - it's about mum and dad as well. Peter said a striking thing to me yesterday. I think he made it up on the spot. It didn't sound like he was quoting himself or anyone else. "If we were aristocrats our stories would be called history, the fact we aren't doesn't make them gossip."

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The gift that keeps on giving

World Cup winner pleads with Dan Fish to put retirement on hold after 'absolute class' performance against Quins

For all that my daily coverage of life the universe and everything has been a touch "one-note" lately I am going to keep sharing this heart warming story. Surely Mr Spielberg there is a Christmas movie for the ages in here somewhere,

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Feed the FIsh

My brothers and I talk with my mother over Skype every Saturday morning. Vince told me today that Dan still can't retire. Wales online put it best "Harlequins v Cardiff team news as cult hero Dan Fish to go against England star Marcus Smith" -

Dan, the great grandson that is a result my Auntie Nellie's courting of Bunny Churcher through the barbed wire at the bottom of the garden of the house PG grew up in. The other side of the fence was an Air Force base. A base that was referred to in PG's play "Small Change." We saw a revival of it recently. Do I have a family or an almanac of the twentieth century?

Friday, December 17, 2021

Going postal

 If it hadn't been for Radio 4, and specifically the healing balm of Jack Thorne, screenwriter, on Desert Island  Discs with Lauren Laverne at nine followed by episode 5 of On Seamus Heaney which took us to ten this morning while I was stuck in traffic trying to get to the midlands I think I might have turned into Michael Douglas in "Falling Down."

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The Iron Lady


My brother John was up yesterday with the actress nieces plus a school friend called Carter, so we went along to Corleone for a pizza before they drove back to Wales.

Mia was talking about an exercise she has to do at Central delivering a politician's speech. I suggested Margaret Thatcher's above (transcription here). Looking at the video this morning, there is a lot that she could work with there.

Two other random ideas were Condi Rice and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan's emotional speech at Prime Minister's Questions after a video was leaked showing Downing Street aides laughing about a lockdown-breaking party in Number 10 - herewith.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021



Sean Burke
Doesn't do any work,
But if badgered he
Claims to study theories of tragedy.


Sean Burke
Continues to shirk.
What on earth are we s'posed to be citing
In the years since The Ethics of Writing?

Charles Moore: Torygraph

A clerihew is a well-known form of light verse, invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley. It is just four lines long, and comprises two rhyming but non-metrical couplets. (His very first one went: “Sir Humphry Davy/Abominated gravy./He lived in the odium/Of having discovered sodium.”)

During Covid, the distinguished historian Sir Noel Malcolm, former political columnist of this paper, went for many long walks. As he walked, he developed a refinement of the clerihew which makes the form stricter. The first couplet must find a rhyme for the name of an author. The second couplet must conclude with the title of one of that author’s works.

Here is an example: “WB Yeats/Liked all the excitement an uprising creates./Yet he was nowhere to be seen/In Easter, 1916.”

Sir Noel calls his new genre “authorihews” (and has just published a little collection of them for Christmas, under that name). I prefer to call them “malcolmicals”.

Part of the fun is the absurdity created by these rhyming rules: “The contribution of Benito Mussolini/ To political theory was teeny./Only his desire to make a splash is some/Explanation of The Doctrine of Fascism.”

I particularly like the second rhyme in this one: “To the eyes of Bram Stoker/ Everything appeared blood-coloured or ochre:/Apparently he was suffering from macular/ Degeneration when he wrote Dracula.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Paranoid Delusions of Adequacy

Tooting's Pearl Chemist is where I got my two COVID jabs.

This is the queue yesterday (Monday). On Sunday night, the Prime Minister urged adults to “get boosted now”, promising that all over-18s could get their jabs by the end of the year.

Within moments of his ill-advised broadcast, the NHS booking site crashed for many users as it was repeatedly overwhelmed by demand from millions of people.

Long queues were seen outside vaccination sites on Monday - not just mine - as Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, said the Government would “throw everything at” the Covid booster programme to tackle the omicron variant.

I would throw everything at the Government if I could get near enough to one of them.

I am glad to see that the Speaker of the House of Commons shares my disdain for Boris Johnson's megalomaniac confusion of his role with that of a President as opposed to a  primus inter pares (first among equals) minister. PM's have been abrogating executive powers for years but this is getting ridiculous.

When Sajid Javid arrived to deliver his statement on the Government’s COVID plans yesterday he  copped a proper earful from the Speaker before he even got to his feet. Like me, Sir Lindsay Hoyle wasn’t happy about Boris’s Sunday night address to the nation about turbocharging the booster programme. Once again, he complained, Parliament had become ‘a second runner-up to television news’.

(Also glad to note that the Bomber has finally booked his vaccinations.)

Monday, December 13, 2021

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

 Dan Fish turned out for the Cardiff Blues for what should be the final time yesterday. Playing against Toulouse, the reigning European champions whose side featured World Rugby’s player of the year Antoine Dupont, must be a good way of closing your account.

Wales Online:

Dan Fish is the popular Welsh rugby player who's been trying to retire for weeks but can't

See for our coverage over the years.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


 Herb: I was a fool to ever leave your side

Me minus you is such a lonely ride

The breakup we had has made me lonesome and sad

I realize I love you 'cause I want you bad, hey, hey

Peaches: I spent the evening with the radio

Regret the moment that I let you go

Our quarrel was such a way of learnin' so much

I know now that I love you 'cause I need your touch, hey, hey

Myself: Disinvited, and it feels so good

Disinvited 'cause we understood

There's one perfect fit

And, sugar, this one is it

We both are so excited 'cause we're disinvited, hey, hey

Prodnose: What on earth are you on about now?

Myself: (Summoning some little dignity) In this life old boy, there are those who scoff and those who understand. All together now.... One two three four .....

The entire cast:  Disinvited, and it feels so good .......

Saturday, December 11, 2021

The finest people in the world

I would rather be with the people of this town than with the finest people in the world.
I stood and raised my my glass in the boozer last night as I delivered Mayor Deebs' wonderful line from Roxanne, 

It's a kind of unofficial sign that Christmas has begun. I am sure I will be knocking this masterfully back-handed compliment out again and again to ever diminishing returns over the next fortnight.

(We miss you Fred Willard.)

Friday, December 10, 2021

Lab 22

Above Greggs on Caroline Street

The World’s 50 Best Bars awards ceremony took place on 7th December in London and included the inaugural Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu award. After assessing hundreds of entries from across the world, a shortlist of five bars had been announced.

  • Bar Trigona, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Herb Garden in Your Glass
  • Bövem, Pessac, France: Functionalism
  • Himkok, Oslo, Norway: NFT & Blockchain 2021
  • Lab 22, Cardiff, UK: Theories + Frontiers
  • Little Red Door, Paris, France: Grounded

..... and the winner was Lab 22, Cardiff!

Let's just savour this impossibly, romantically, aromatically unfeasible development; it is above Gregg's in Caroline Street! Sometimes I love Cardiff so much I think my heart might burst.



I'm going down 2 Caroline Street

I'm gonna crown the first girl that I meet

I'm gonna talk so sexy that

She'll want me from my head 2 my feet

Yeah, yeah, yeah


Thursday, December 09, 2021

Football Focus

 To the Standard early doors last night as Callum was starting on the wing for Chelsea away at Zenit St Petersburg with a 5:45 kick off. He ended up with a yellow card for kicking an opponent during the 3-3 draw. Perhaps, on reflection, it was a mistake for me to have shown him that Shaolin Soccer (Icons passim) DVD all those years ago.

Having a pint to finish, I also stayed long enough to catch some of the Manchester United game. They were up against a Swiss side called Young Boys at Old Trafford. When Andy Tea told me that the Young Boys played their home games at the Wankdorf Stadium I spat out much of my remaining lager laughing.

That's right:

Young Boys

I offered to get him a Hoodie with that printed on it for Christmas, but he seemed curiously reluctant to confirm his size.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

"footage emerged"


The Metropolitan Police is reviewing footage in which senior Downing Street officials joked about holding a Christmas party during lockdown, four days after the alleged event took place.

Downing Street has repeatedly insisted there was no party on Friday, December 18 last year, amid a row over whether lockdown rules were breached. 

It has been reported that the alleged event involved party games, as well as food and drinks being served until past midnight, at a time when Tier 3 rules explicitly banned work Christmas lunches and parties where it was "a primarily social activity and is not otherwise permitted".
Let's see 18 plus 4 is 22, so this lamentable display was filmed on December 22nd last year, the day of my father's funeral. The day when we were allowed to admit so few people to the service in St Joe's that the readings echoed round the all but deserted church, while good friends who had turned up just to pay their respects waited outside. The day that there was nowhere to go and console each other after the burial, when in saner times we would have gone to the Old Illts rugby club for a wake. Wakes are a celebration of life - one last party to honour the deceased. And what a wake we would have had in a place where there is a plaque on the wall to remind is that he was the club captain sixty five years ago.

NSFW but I still agree with what I posted on December 19th last year.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Phoning it in

I am now on a Google Pixel 4a after 30 months on a £49.95 Alba 4.

Don't worry, the 4a is already discontinued. 

Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Monday, December 06, 2021

Extraordinary How Potent Dross' Music Is.

Guess what came on the radio as I arrived at PG's yesterday. Only Luther Vandross'  "Dance With My Father." Exactly what I didn't need given this day last year. I've watched the video this morning. Dear me it is moving.

When I was leaving, after taking PG on his weekly shop and for a coffee, guess was on the radio. More Luther Vandross, reminding me that we lost him as well in 2005.

It is if the universe is conspiring against my mental equilibrium.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Pay It Forward

The night before last Andy Tea came across a confused older man on the floor in the gents in the Royal Standard. He had fallen, or perhaps more accurately gone down with his collapsible walking trolley when it collapsed (always read the label).

We got him up, and settled then when he was recovered enough for us to understand his attempts to tell us his address, took him home in a cab. It was sheltered accommodation, called Dolliffe Close in Mitcham. I googled it this morning so I could put its address, plus his name and flat number in my contacts in case the need arises again. If you follow the  Dolliffe Close link you will see that I am already old enough to be looked after there!

Poignant that I write this on the anniversary of noting that Dad was gone.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

You am what you is

Let's have something unprovocative on this day of days; Spotify's list of the top songs I listened to this year. I don't use Spotify a lot, but there it is warts and all.

Glad to see "My Culture" on it.
This is what my Daddy told me
I wished he would hold me
A little more
Than he did
But he taught me my culture
And how to live positive
I never wanna shame
The blood in my veins and bring pain
To my sweet grandfathers face
In his resting place
I made haste to learn and not waste
Everything my forefathers earned in tears
For my culture

Friday, December 03, 2021

Rona and Dad

Auntie Rona has died. When I told Jane and Ben, Jane said that years ago Rona had told her that the first phrase I ever uttered was "God bless the Pope!" I can't remember it myself but I will take it.

Her passing leaves only mum left out of all her siblings. Dad was the last of his to go. He passed a year ago tomorrow at 8 pm.

I'm taking my own son out for rodizio at the Picanha Steakhouse tonight. Tomorrow, as usual, we will be off to hot yoga, an 8:30 am start. 

Mens sana in corpore sano. Passing the torch. I like to think that the old man will look down and approve.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Hands off Cox, on socks

Like my brother John, I often turn to an Audible book if I wake up restless in the middle of the night or early in the morning and need the gentle distraction of a voice whispering in my ear. Today it was the autobiography of Brian Cox, the actor, and the chapter covered his work at the Royal Court. I was a bit surprised that PG wasn't name checked as he would have been there at the time.

I googled Peter Gill Brian Cox when I came down this morning and discovered the video above about their time working together at Riverside. (Can't say I have actually listened to it all yet, but no doubt I will.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

The Epistle of St. Paul to Philemon

 1:1. Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy, a brother: to Philemon, our beloved and fellow labourer,

1:2. And to Appia, our dearest sister, and to Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the church which is in thy house.

1:3. Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:4. I give thanks to my God, always making a remembrance of thee in my prayers.

1:5. Hearing of thy charity and faith, which thou hast in the Lord Jesus and towards all the saints:

1:6. That the communication of thy faith may be made evident in the acknowledgment of every good work that is in you in Christ Jesus.

1:7. For I have had great joy and consolation in thy charity, because the bowels of the saints have been refreshed by thee, brother.

1:8. Wherefore, though I have much confidence in Christ Jesus to command thee that which is to the purpose:

1:9. For charity sake I rather beseech, whereas thou art such a one, as Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also of Jesus Christ.

1:10. I beseech thee for my son, whom I have begotten in my bands, Onesimus,

1:11. Who hath been heretofore unprofitable to thee but now is profitable both to me and thee:

1:12. Whom I have sent back to thee. And do thou receive him as my own bowels.

1:13. Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered to me in the bands of the gospel.

1:14. But without thy counsel I would do nothing: that thy good deed might not be as it were of necessity, but voluntary.

1:15. For perhaps he therefore departed for a season from thee that thou mightest receive him again for ever:

1:16. Not now as a servant, but instead of a servant, a most dear brother, especially to me. But how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord?

1:17. If therefore thou count me a partner, receive him as myself.

1:18. And if he hath wronged thee in any thing or is in thy debt, put that to my account.

1:19. I Paul have written it with my own hand: I will repay it: not to say to thee that thou owest me thy own self also.

1:20. Yea, brother. May I enjoy thee in the Lord! Refresh my bowels in the Lord.

1:21. Trusting in thy obedience, I have written to thee: knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.

1:22. But withal prepare me also a lodging. For I hope that through your prayers I shall be given unto you.

1:23. There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus:

1:24. Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow labourers.

1:25. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

For all that we went to church every Sunday, I can't remember that I had ever even heard of the Epistle of St. Paul to Philemon until recently. Onesimus ain't a servant, he's a runaway slave. This is where Christianity started letting the air out of that particular tyre, for all that it is unacknowledged in the 21st century. 

Chalk another one up for the old man three days off his anniversary. Crafty bugger was a lot more profound a Pauline scholar than he let on. Tent-maker anyone?

"If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat."

That sound familiar?

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

That's what my daddy told me

What with everything going to hell in a handbasket, yesterday morning I reached into my memory for lines I made up for my own guidance years ago,

be as careless with your own heart

as you are careful of everyone else's

love and lose and learn

tread lightly on the earth

but try and put more into the pot

than you take out

I've never written them down before. I think perhaps I was never happy with the careless/careful contrast in the first two lines; by careless I mean generous and by careful I mean mindful.

I keep getting it in the ear from well-meaning people who complain that B and J and I won't give up on and abandon N. Guess what, my father wouldn't have either. Less than a week from the anniversary of his passing I puff my chest out when I think of him.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Wham! The Final?

 Scotland will host Ukraine in the play-off semi-final for the 2022 World Cup, while Wales have been drawn at home to Austria. Both these games are on Thursday 24 March 2022, 

If Scotland and Wales win their matches, they will face each other in Cardiff in a final for a spot in Qatar on Tuesday 29 March.

Andy Tea being a Jock, I have made an executive decision that if Wales and Scotland do meet we will drive down together from London for the game. 

Much to my surprise, when I suggested it to him he agreed with alacrity. (The back up plan in which I would spike his drink and Andy H would help me stow him in the car boot won't be needed. Best to be prepared though.)

Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Test Card


This was better than 90% of the BBC's current output, and remains my visual mantra.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

The Secret Conversation

A fading star of Hollywood's golden age, now living a quiet life in 1980s London, hires a journalist to write her biography in order to bring in much needed income. The journalist can’t believe his luck. From poor Southern farm girl to a powerful Hollywood goddess her story is pure celluloid. A devastating beauty whose hard drinking, hard loving lifestyle kept the gossip columnists busy as her movies thrilled the punters. The ultimate femme fatale - Ava Gardner.
I think I'll go and see Ava: The Secret Conversations at the Riverside next year, Ava Gardner and I being practically joined at the hip. Forty odd years ago when I went for my interview in Imperial College, Mum and Dad came with me on the day trip. As we were killing time in one of the garden squares around it, ma's chin hit the ground. Ava Gardner was there as well! At the time I didn't know Ava Gardner from a hole in the ground, but it is still a precious memory and the play is about this time in her life. (Don't tell Elizabeth McGovern, who adapted it from the book and stars, that Once Upon a Time in America, in which she stars is the only film I have ever walked out of.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Ducks in a row

 I have finally managed to get our group trip to Get Up Stand Up, the Bob Marley musical sorted though it is quite different from the original plan (Icons passim).

The tickets are for the evening of February 5th. "What?" I hear you cry. "That is the first weekend of the Six Nations!" (Shorely shome mishtake; Ed.)

Breaks down like this:

Ireland Wales kicks off the tournament at quarter past two in the afternoon in Dublin. All of us (plus Gareth the rugby gnome, my daffodil head dress, my half Wales half Ireland rugby jersey, and my DNA results) can watch the game in the Standard (180 High Street Colliers Wood, London SW19 2BN).

Corleone (186A High Street Colliers Wood London SW19 2BN) is open from noon on Saturday. We can eat pizza there after the game, which will stop me from getting off my head as history proves that once I have had a meal I can't booze any more.

It is only 25 minutes from Colliers Wood to Leicester Square on the Northern Line.

If we get on the tube a little after six, we will get to the Lyric Theatre (Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ES) in plenty of time for a 7:30 show.

I lovers rock it when a plan comes together.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

And if you're hungry, girl, I got filets (woo-woo)

Granted, the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, but the Silk Sonic album came out less than a fortnight ago. We can all just stay at home listening to it instead.

(John, if as you say Mark the butcher is having problems sourcing them Anderson .Paak has got filets.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Normal service will not be resumed (fingers crossed)

I went to the Standard last night for a quick drink with people who were assembling there before walking up to the Wimbledon game, but ended up staying to watch Chelsea Juventus when I saw that Callum was starting and was rewarded by a goal from him in a 4-0 thrashing. (Wimbledon won as well 3-2.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Look What You Made Me Do

As of today, "Look What You Made Me Do" has become "Niamh's Theme." Taylor Swift is a genius. Right Said Fred get a co-writing credit; Du sublime au ridicule il n'y a qu'un pas.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower

  • Italy 17-10 Uruguay
  • Scotland 29-20 Japan
  • England 27-26 South Africa
  • Wales 29-28 Australia
  • France 40-25 New Zealand
  • Ireland 53-7 Argentina

Has there ever been a weekend in the Autumn Internationals before when all the Northern hemisphere sides beat their Southern hemisphere opponents, I wonder?

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Don’t just do something, stand there.

 Putting the Rabbit in the Hat is this month's Audble credit purchase.  Actor Brian Cox narrates his own autobiography. 

I was drawn to checking it out originally when PG told me that he had heard that there was an entry for him in the index. Obviously I can't confirm or deny that from an audio book, but the clincher was that reviews suggested it is quite spectacularly waspish and indiscreet.

Also, John my brother who uses Audible as well told me that Paapa Essiedu is on it. His performance of  The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is available here; free if you are a member.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The day today

 8:30 Yoga

10:30 Weekly Skype chat with mum

12:30 Leicester v Chelsea in the Standard (Callum playing fingers crossed.)

17:30 Wales v Australia rugby (Amazon Prime)

Friday, November 19, 2021

Books Do Furnish a Room

I finished reading A Stinging Delight, David Storey's posthumous memoir; PG gave it to me as a hardback for my birthday. I went slowly, stowing it in my gym bag and pulling it out a couple of times a week to read when I did half an hour on the recline bike.

I couldn't get through it any more quickly because I found it so desperately moving; Storey being almost an exact contemporary of my own father, the anniversary of whose passing is bearing down on us.

Next up for reading on the bike, another hardback due to be delivered today. The Women Are Up to Something: How Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch Revolutionized Ethics. I am such a tart for best sellers.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

for the both of us

The new single from small oat cappuccino (aka Ego Ella Mae), came out yesterday. Available on all formats at

With any luck we will get to see her on March 10th next year at Lafayette, as "one-a-month" extends its tentacles through the first quarter of 2022. (Lafayette will be new to me, but I see that - like all forward thinking venues, it is only a five minute walk from the Northern Line.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Elisha and the Two Bears

 2 Kings 2:23-25

23 From there he went up to Bethel, and while he was on the road, some small boys came out of the town and jeered at him. 'Hurry up, baldy!' they shouted. 'Come on up, baldy!'

24 He turned round and looked at them; and he cursed them in the name of Yahweh. And two bears came out of the forest and savaged forty-two of the boys.

Steve told me about this at Donna's birthday yesterday. I think it is about the funniest thing I have ever read. Perhaps I should have done theology rather than chemical engineering in university?

Monday, November 15, 2021

You can't get there from here

 In the middle of a family Skype chat (two brothers and a sister) yesterday, John said "Alexa, tell Hive boost heating," and turned on the radiators in my house.

Oh, how we laughed.

This morning I have taken a step back. Not so very long ago my home's AI firing up the central heating because it was eavesdropping on a video call would have been the stuff of fantasy and science fiction. In 2021 it is unexceptional, workaday white-bread.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Some enchanted evening

 I got a message from Kevin G yesterday morning to say that Soul Music is back on the radio. Yesterday's episode was about Ain't no mountain high enough. Next Saturday's will be Some enchanted evening and the limited series goes on until December 4th.

I got a message from Frankie (Mrs Kevin G) later telling me that one of CITW's "loveliest customers, small oat cappuccino aka Ego Ella Mae," was warbling on Jazz Voice, a show from the EFG London Jazz Festival that was on BBC 4 on Friday night. Herewith

While we are on the general subject of to-do/to-watch/to-listen lists, I have remembered that Peter Ackroyd's version of the Canterbury Tales is in my Audible library, so I should be able to catch up with the Wife of Bath on that to improve my understanding of the Wife of Willesden. Audible's just labeling it with chapter numbers ain't a great help though*. (I have also discovered that the Wife of W doesn't actually open until the 17th though, so we went to a preview last week.)

While I am here, I have stumbled on a podcast called The Central Club. I may take a look, but I may not. I am not sure how much more down and dirty Cardiff I can take.

(*I think it starts about half an hour into chapter 9.)

Saturday, November 13, 2021

My identity is fluid

 I was Irish (like my DNA) in the Standard this afternoon as my boys beat the All Blacks 29-20 in Dublin.

I am now transitioning back to being Welsh for the football against Belarus tonight.

I imagine that all my Polish friends will find room in their hearts for Wales as well this evening.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Zadie be good

 Off to the Kiln Theatre yesterday evening for, what I thought was, the first night of The Wife of Willesden; a modern take by Zadie Smith on Chaucer's Wife of Bath. (I can't seem to see any reviews this morning though.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but I think I would have got more from it if I knew the Wife of Bath better. That fault, it must be said, is to be laid at my door rather than that of the estimable Ms Smith.

Let's think, I have been following Zadie Smith since her debut novel White Teeth published (what?) twenty years ago. When Kara was very little, Sophie and Raph asked us to give her books to be read when she was 18 as birthday presents rather than ephemera. (She is still a long way from eighteen.) A Zadie Smith volume was delivered from me. I bought her collection of essays, Intimations, from Audible during lockdown. She read it herself and the cadence (not the accent) of her voice was different to the one I imagine when I read her. An interesting take on "authenticity" and the perception thereof.

We pre-ordered pre-show drinks (there was no interval) and I left my cap on the table where we drank them. The Kiln's staff rescued it when they were re-arranging the room for the after show party; it was graciously and efficiently returned when I asked after it. That is worth a five star review on its own.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

form is temporary, class is permanent


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever On A Temporary Shutdown As Letitia Wright Recovers From Injury

Though we already knew we were going to have to wait longer than originally thought for much-anticipated MCU sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the production itself is now facing a delay due to the severity of the injury sustained by Letitia Wright.

Wright, who plays Shuri in the film, and appears primed to be the lead for the sequel following Chadwick Boseman's death, suffered an injury involving a stunt wire rig in August while the movie was shooting in Boston. She returned to London to recovery, but that has taken longer than anyone thought, which means that director Ryan Coogler and his crew have shot all the footage they can without her.

We saw Letitia Wright in The Convert with Paapa at the Old Vic; three years ago next January. I remember being very impressed with the way she conducted herself in public. We were having a drink at the bar, after the performance, with Paapa (natch) when she appeared; came down in a lift as I recall. Happy, patient and friendly she then spent as much time as they wanted chatting to fans and having photos taken with them. After that she went back up in the lift. I imagine her getting back to the dressing room, pulling an anonymous beany hat on to her head and going home on the bus. Class.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

When I go, I'm going like Elsie.


Terminally ill man arrested for 'mooning' at speed camera

A terminally ill man who bared his behind to a speed camera van says he was "gobsmacked" to be arrested at home.

Darrell Meekcom, who was recently told he has multiple system atrophy, exposed himself at the van in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, on Friday.

He said he was forced to the ground during his arrest later the same day.

West Mercia Police said inquiries were on-going after a 55-year-old man was arrested for public order offences.

Wheelchair user Mr Meekcom, who has heart disease, kidney failure and Parkinson's Disease, said after his diagnosis he came up with a so-called bucket list of things he wanted to do before he died.

Mr Meekcom said he informed officers he was terminally ill during his arrest

He decided to target the speed camera van on Stourbridge Road in his home town after he had been "caught by them a couple of times for silly speeds like 35mph in a 30 zone and it always bugged me".

"I didn't think anything of it," said the father of two, who added: "It was a good laugh."

However, the response took him by surprise.

"I was simply gobsmacked that I got arrested for mooning a speed camera," he said.

I can't help but admire Darrell Meekcom's chutzpah. Not sure that the police have covered themselves in glory here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

The Women Are Up to Something

 I'm on record (Icons passim) as approving of Elizabeth Anscombe and Virtue Ethics, so I was delighted to come across the following in a Prospect review of Benjamin JB Lipscomb's new book about her, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch:

For Anscombe (at one point “tracksuited and smoking a cigar”), the orthodoxies of motherhood were of little interest—legend has it that she would place a label on her children that read “If found wandering, please return to 27 St John Street”—while her domestic philosophy, as she told the Manchester Guardian in 1959, was that “dirt doesn’t matter.” 

What a woman! We shall not see her like again. 

I have noticed in my diary that I am signed up for:

The Women Are Up To Something

Thursday 18 November 2021 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Hosted by the LSE Library


It had slipped my mind completely. I guess it must have been there a while.

Monday, November 08, 2021

That fellow calls forth all my powers

 It breaks down like this. Lots of us want to go and see Get Up Stand Up: The Bob Marley Musical in February. Off the top of my head I have got yeses from John, Mia, Bethany, the Butlers and the Hendries plus maybes from the Goddings and the Rileys. 

I likes a Saturday matinee me because it affords the opportunity to get plumbed in afterwards. Likewise the girls in drama school can be committed from eight in the morning until nine at night, pushing them to favouring a weekend slot. 

That said February is the rugby six nations month and we have also got Arsenal, Chelsea and Wimbledon AFC season ticket holders in the mix. "Ay, there's the rub."

The Six Nations weekend off falls on Feb 19th. But Arsenal are at home against Brentford that day, though Chelsea are playing on the Sunday, and Wimbledon are away at Bolton Wanderers.

On reflection I think we are looking at 19/2 and the H's just have to take one for the team. This train of thought is still a work in progress though.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Learn from my mistakes (that's you not me, I never have)

 I managed to return Mia's bike yesterday. The Tooting to West Hampstead Thameslink train journey was a lot more comfortable I think than the Northern Line to Golders Green would have been. One to file away, especially now that I can see that South Merton and Morden South are both on the same St. Albans route and in easy walking distance for Ben from home.

Unfortunately when I arrived at what I thought was Mia's, it was the flat she was living in last term. My phone's battery was dead so I couldn't call her until a very gracious man in Kam Computers and Mobiles let me trickle some juice into the handset so I could get through to her.

She came along and met me at the Black Lion, another one for the address book, where we sat outside for a drink and a chat before I passed the bike back to her and sent back to the 'Wood. (|Toilets on the train are another advantage railways have over tubes if you are going straight to the station from the boozer.)

Saturday, November 06, 2021

Happy Crimble and a Gear New Year!


When I went to Kevin's birthday party last year I was talking to his daughter Sophie. She had just graduated in law, but was filling in during the pandemic working as an extra on the new Jurassic Park movie at Sheperton and was telling me stories about all the precautions and regulations that filming in the time of COVID entailed.

Since then, she has been working constantly; actually landing a featured part in Havoc (a Tom Hardy action movie made in Cardiff) and appearing in the six million pound Sports Direct Christmas advert (the UK's most expensive ever) above.

Funny how life turns out sometimes.

Friday, November 05, 2021


 To the Jermyn Street Theatre last night for Footfalls & Rockaby, a Beckett double bill. In Footfalls, Charlotte Emmerson paces the stage alone interacting with Siân Phillips' disembodied voice. In Rockaby Sian Phillips sits alone, interacting with her own disembodied voice.

The latter was especially moving for me. We have an hour or so every Saturday morning with our own seated mother over Skype. "More," breathes Phillips live in the piece to her own recording of herself. I take that to mean that the character, though reduced, wasn't done yet and got some consolation from it.

Siân Phillips is 88. She married Peter O'Toole in 1959, the year before my mum and dad tied the knot. We saw her in Under Milk Wood at the National in the first post lockdown theatre I attended.

Also (and I only add it here as it doesn't seem to have been recorded in the 'blog before) I saw her in Marlene at the Richmond Theatre in - I guestimate - 1997.

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Valid Orders

Dad was always keen to stress that the Orthodox Church had "valid orders." I think he would approve of Kallistos Ware.

A month from today will be the anniversary of Dad passing on. If you don't believe in purgatory meditate on his last month, caught by NHS bureaucracy in hospital when he should simply have been moving between care homes.

I had a dream last night in which Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and I were doing yoga in a nuclear missile silo. I imagine that there are rich psychological pickings there given my state of mind.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Batallón de San Patricio


In all, 50 Saint Patrick's Battalion members were officially executed by the U.S. Army. Collectively, this was the largest mass execution in United States history. I think I opened a can of worms yesterday.

One Man's Hero is now on my watchlist. 
When a small group of Irish soldiers fighting for the U.S. during the Mexican-American War are treated harshly for their religious convictions, fellow compatriot and career soldier Sergeant John Reilly (Berenger) takes up their cause and leads them in a desperate escape across the border into the enemy territory of Mexico.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Canelo Álvarez, boxer

Canelo Álvarez is fighting Caleb Plant this weekend, and the winner will become the first boxer to unify the Super-Middleweight division. (I weighed 13 stone this morning so - for all that I have lost my COVID lockdown weight gain - I will still need to lose a whole stone to make the Super Middleweight 168lb limit.)

Now that I am 100% Irish myself, I have started to ponder Canelo's red hair.

Canelo in Spanish is the masculine word for cinnamon, which is a common nickname for people with red hair. His mother, Ana Maria, also has red hair. In Mexico, it is common for people to associate red hair with the Irish soldiers who fought for Mexico in the Saint Patrick's Battalion during the Mexican–American War. That's it. Next time I watch The Alamo, I am supporting  General Santa Anna and his army.

Alvarez is on the list of Notable Irish Mexicans on this Wikipedia page.  Even better, Álvaro Obregón was president of Mexico during 1920–1924 and his surname Obregón is a Mexican version of O'Brien! My cup runneth over.

Monday, November 01, 2021

Peter Schmeichel, footballer

I came across Peter Schmeichel on Desert Island Discs as I was driving back from Cardiff to London yesterday. To my surprise he turned out to be an extremely articulate man with a compelling family story.

Here, as a public services is the link -

I may even get his autobiography

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Poignancy and poppadoms

We stayed in Mum and Dad's empty house after the Wales New Zealand game. I needn't have worried about changing the clocks. They were right this morning. We obviously (and somehow disturbingly) didn't get round to updating them six months ago either.

After the game we went to the Duchess of Delhi in Cardiff Bay because Ollie remembered liking it last time they were down for a game. Andy, being a Kiwi, was absolutely delighted to hear that the All Blacks had dined there on Thursday before the match. "They called all the way from New Zealand to book," said the waiter proudly. I think dining there could turn into a tradition so I have tagged the name above with the restaurant's website.

(PS Ben has tested positive for COVID. I haven't got any details on how long you will have to isolate etc. yet.)

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Note to self

 In the UK the clocks go forward 1 hour at 1am on the last Sunday in March, and back 1 hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October.

I will be staying in Bronwydd Avenue tonight along with house guests and after having watched the Wales New Zealand rugby. None of the clocks there auto-correct, so I must post reminders everywhere to tell me that it will be an hour earlier than they all say tomorrow morning.

Reading List: P.G. Wodehouse on 'Daylight Saving Time'.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Cities in Acts


I found the map above on this page by a Jill Marshall, yesterday after my strange (possibly booze inspired) conflation of the Arabian Nights and the Acts of the Apostles yesterday He got around that St Paul didn't he.

I would love to see a similar Decameron\Don Quixote\1,001 Nights map.

Thursday, October 28, 2021


 After going to see part one a week ago Saturday, I was pleased to read that after impressive initial box office takings and rave reviews, the next instalment has the green light aiming for an October 2023 release date.

As I wrote at the time, three hundred and forty odd into the 1,001 Arabian Nights I was interested to see how much of the book's Islamic/Arab/Bedouin influence it retained and I am still chewing on that question.

I wonder if this session could be in my future?

3pm Eastern Standard time in November works out as 8pm in the UK I think. What else would have have to do at that time on a Saturday night?

I polished off the 347th Arabian Night today which means that, if there really are 1,001 we will be finishing on August 13th 2023. If the "orphan" tales, such as Aladdin, added by Galland who got them from Hanna Diyab, sit outside the Nights' framing story with Scheherazade we may well be finishing just as the new film arrives.

That said, it has struck my that the Arabian Nights - at least so far - are predominantly, though not exclusively urban and very far from the sands of Arrakis. 

When I got in yesterday evening, I started to see strange parallels between the Arabian Nights and the Acts of the Apostles; trials and jeopardy in cities around the Mediterranean interspersed with perilous voyages, mostly by sea. It still needs work but I wonder if I am on to something; if only about storytelling structure and tradition.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Always read the small print

 I have scored a last minute ticket to the Wales New Zealand game in Cardiff on Saturday, but that means I will need a COVID pass.

I am a bit anxious about using the NHS App for it, because my ailing phone is held together with string and even if there was enough room on it for the app I can easily imagine the battery giving up the ghost just when I needed it over the weekend.

It turns out though that you can also get something called a a digital NHS COVID Pass that can be downloaded as a PDF - see Getting a digital NHS COVID Pass - NHS (

I went through all the rigmarole (actually it was quite easy as I had my NHS number to hand) this morning and everything was fine until I looked at the product and found it said barcode expires: 29 October 2021 at 6.54 AM; two not thirty days after it was generated. I tried again 20 minutes later and just got another that expired 20 minutes later.

If you've had:

  • a vaccine used in the UK – your NHS COVID Pass lasts for 30 days, but the 30 day period refreshes every time you log in
  • a negative PCR test or rapid lateral flow test – your NHS COVID Pass is valid for 48 hours after a negative result
There must be a bug in the system that is giving me some kind of hybrid of the 30 day vaccination pass and the two day flow test.

There is a helpful notice saying "If you’re not sure why you’ve been sent a file, or you have any questions, email," but the no-reply in the email address doesn't give me any great hope.

I will just have to print out a new cert Friday morning.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Budget purdah


Budget purdah, in the United Kingdom, is the period after plans have been prepared but before the Chancellor of the Exchequer's annual budget is announced, when they refrain from discussing any matters which have relevance to the forthcoming budget.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton resigned after "ma[king] an off-the-cuff remark to a journalist, telling him of some of the tax changes" in the autumn 1947 budget speech

These days there is no such thing as budget purdah, merely budget news management and budget spin. Parts of the statement are selectively trailed, sometimes in the form of leaks to government-supporting newspapers, but more usually through press releases, in the days leading up to the statement. For all that  when I was a Corporate Development Executive I used to have to work late into the night on Budget day working out what the bombs that had been dropped meant for the construction, housing and aggregates industries, government by press release is not an improvement.

(If your memory stretches back further than the 24 hour news cycle you may recall that we have already had a budget in March this year. Don't even get me started on that.)

Monday, October 25, 2021

Travel Broadens the Mind

 Helen was in the car when I was driving to to PG's yesterday morning. She was going to do some planting and tidying in his garden while I took him on his weekly grocery shop. As we entered Putney she noticed a sign saying that it was in a new Ultra Low Emission Zone. I had never heard of it but she quickly Googled it on her phone and found it didn't come in until today. I was a bit worried with a car from 2003 that I would have to start paying £12.50 a day for the privilege of taking PG to Waitrose, but she found a page where you could check your vehicle's registration number and I don't.

Here it is as a public service -

On the way back, as we were driving through Wimbledon, she recommended the Buenos Aires Argentine Restaurant, where she had been with Mat recently, and said that Andy Tea recommended the nearby Roxie. Either might be a good place to take Ben so I have tagged their names with their websites for future reference.

In the afternoon I was supposed to take Mia's bike back on the train from Tooting to West Hampstead Thameslink (the St Albans train). Looking for an earlier one than I had planned I couldn't find any service from the station at all. I thought initially that I had gone off my head, but ultimately deduced there was nothing running. There was no notice saying this anywhere on the Thameslink site though. I just had reluctantly to deduce it. How difficult would it have been for them just to put a sentence explaining on the station's page?

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Callum (first reference for ten weeks)

Callum scored his first goal of the season in Chelsea's 7-0 thrashing of Norwich

Thomas Tuchel said he has been impressed by Callum Hudson-Odoi's recent performances, but wants to see more consistency...

'He had a good game against Malmo, he had another good game today. There are still things to improve and to work on now.

'He needs to show that he is able to produce performances like this consistently and it’s the time now to show that. The next opportunity is on Tuesday.'

That sounds like he'll start again against Southamption in the EFL Cup.

Update: I just watched the highlights on Match of the Day. Callum was unlucky not to be awarded a second that was judged to be an own goal.

Saturday, October 23, 2021



Those leftist Atreides weirdos are politicizing sandworm attacks on Dune to control us and keep us in lockdown forever!

Okay, clearly the sandworms are real; I’m not one of those people that allegedly stormed Castle Caladan or anything. But come on, people, open your eyes. It’s just a thirteen-hundred-foot-long worm that lives under the desert of Arrakis that will sneak up on you and eat you alive if you walk outside on the sand, especially if you’re with a big group—in other words, it’s exactly like the common flu!

Did you know it has only a one percent death rate? There have only been seven hundred thousand deaths from sandworm attacks this year, so yeah, barely anyone even dies from them. We need to get back to running those spice mines as soon as possible and stop worrying that mining spice actually attracts the sandworm to that central location. So what, maybe we’ll have a sandworm incident, big deal, what’s the worst that’ll happen?

The point is, we’ve been in lockdown long enough .......... read on..

I'm off to see the new Dune movie later today. Three hundred and forty odd into the 1,001 nights I am interested to see how much of the book's Islamic/Arab/Bedouin influence it retains. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

uber die wahrheit

How can it be that I have never heard of Edith Stein before? 
Edith Stein (1891–1942) was a realist phenomenologist associated with the Göttingen school and later a Christian metaphysician. She was a Jew who converted to Catholicism in 1922 and was ordained a Carmelite nun in 1933. She died in Auschwitz in 1942. She was subsequently declared a Catholic martyr and saint. She campaigned publicly on issues relating to women’s rights and education. Stein is known philosophically primarily for her phenomenological work on empathy and affectivity, her contributions as research assistant to Edmund Husserl, and her philosophical anthropology. She was in discussion with leading philosophers of her day, including Husserl, Scheler, Heidegger, Conrad-Martius, Ingarden, and Maritain. Her work contains original approaches to empathy, embodiment, the emotions, personhood, collective intentionality, and the nature of the state. In her later work, Stein developed an original philosophy of being and essence that integrated Husserlian phenomenology and Thomist metaphysics.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Against Dryness

 In Our Time today was about Iris Murdoch. I was astounded to hear Simone Weil get a namecheck. So astounded in fact that I immediately forgot the context in which Miles Leeson had brought her up.

Googling though, I think it must be "attention:"

I have used the word ‘attention’, which I borrow from Simone Weil, to express the idea of a just and loving gaze directed upon an individual reality. I believe this to be the characteristic and proper mark of the moral agent.

Also astonished to find that Elizabeth Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Mary Midgley, and Iris Murdoch were lifelong friends.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Bursting my Audibubble


It's Audible credits day and, as previously announced I am going to spend this month's subscription on  Awaiting God: A New Translation of Attente De Dieu and Lettre a Un Religieux by Simone Weil. Stop laughing at the back, if you don't like abstruse 20th century quasi-Christian mystics other books are available. (I likes chips, me.)

More and more "free" content is coming along in the Plus Catalogue that John told me about. I must keep an eye on


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Sacred Geometry

I have booked Ben on to Sacred geometry – new patterns with Tom Bree at West Dean 14 to 16 January 2022 as a Christmas present.

I only mentioned it in passing to him originally to be honest but he is really keen. I am glad I bit the bullet because - as I write - there are only two places left. 

It is residential and he will be staying Friday and Saturday night. Also, and to my surprise, he encouraged me to come along as a guest. We will be able to entertain his colleagues with tales of quasi-crystals over dinner. What larks! 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Hide in Plain Sight

 A little after eight thirty yesterday morning, I was driving round to Helen's to pick up some plants; she helps PG with his garden but doesn't have a car herself.

I won't say exactly where, but I passed our MP Siobhain walking down the street on her own. On a day when the PM is to lead Commons tributes to David Amess I raise my hat to her.

Stoic chutzpah used to be an oxymoron. She has made it real. 

Perhaps I should collate what I have written about her here over the years and email it off to her office as a tribute.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Anything (except Peter) Goes

We went to see Anything Goes' Saturday matinee at the Barbican yesterday. It was terrific. I Get a Kick Out of You, You're the Top,  It's De-Lovely etc. etc.

Mia's flatmate Saskia had the ticket originally slated for PG; end of aisle in case he had to flee. When I told him I had got it he said he couldn't come because the theatre is "hermetically sealed."

"How do you know?" I asked eyebrows raised.

"I directed John Osborne's 'A Patriot for Me' there in the 90s," he replied. Greatest Answer Ever.

He was absolutely right. 

Each row of the Barbican Theatre is accessed from either side via its own door, enabling the auditorium to be aisle free. As the lights dim at the beginning of a performance, all the doors close in unison.

I was a trifle freaked out myself and I really don't do anxiety. It was as if Ernst Stavro Blofeld had pressed a button. I half expected “I shall look forward personally to exterminating you, Mr. Bond," to come over the PA.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Reach out and touch it; it is gone

 As a rule I wander along to the Royal Standard around six on Friday evenings to raise a glass or two to the end of the working week.

Last night I was somberly reflecting on the murder of Sir David Amess, as I walked past the supermarket in which I have spoken to Siobhain McDonagh, our MP, in order to congratulate her on a speech about the Uyghurs. Waiting for the lights to change at the pedestrian crossing I remember that I have stood next to her there as well. When I got to the pub, I remember that just two years ago (Icons passim) she was there in the garden as well watching Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Nigel Farage live from Port Talbot

I must show this to my brother John who is very near to Port Talbot in Margam. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I wonder which pub he broadcast from.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Simone Weil

Rebecca's Steve recommended Simone Weil to me the other day. (We were sitting in Ganley's Irish Bar. in Morden, a venue where the topic of Christian mystics can't help come up over a Guinness or two.)

I have found an In Our Time about her from nine years ago here. (Melvyn and guests are always worth listening to and there is a reading list as well.)

 I can see that Awaiting God: A New Translation of Attente De Dieu and Lettre a Un Religieux by Simone Weil is available is an eight and a half hour unabridged audiobook narrated by: Rosemary Benson. I will probably add it to the library when my next Audible credit arrives on the 20th.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Break a leg

My cousin Ria's son Bart Lambert went to RADA and opens in Antigone tonight in Chester.

Considering I also have a niece in Central and a niece in Guildhall at the moment, a new hashtag is born, our family's #HithertoRecessiveTheatreGene

Did I mention that Peter, Dad's cousin, directed Antigone in the National Theatre with Jane Lapotaire, as I recall, in the title role?

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

My country wright or rong

Covid vaccine programme “one of most effective initiatives in UK history” but delay to first lockdown a “serious error” that should have been challenged.

The House of Commons and Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee have publihsed their Report, Coronavirus: lessons learned to date, examining the initial UK response to the covid pandemic.

Publihsed? Seriously? Proof reading, if proof reading be needed.

Monday, October 11, 2021



A musical?  A musical with  Peter Dinklage sporting a normal sized proboscis? Bring it on! The world can never have too much of, or too many contrasting takes on, de Bergerac.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Credo ut intelligam

 "I believe so that I may understand" is a maxim of Anselm of Canterbury which is based on a saying of Augustine of Hippo "believe so that you may understand."

I don't think I have ever seen anyone as surprised as Joe last night when he saw me at the back of church when he was taking up the collection.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

7 years bad luck

 I have broken the mirror I brought up from Cardiff for Mia. I was trying to load it into the car along with her bike.

Confession at St Joseph's is at 5:30 on Saturdays. Probably still time to make it.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Never mind the quality, feel the width

 To the Coronet Theatre last night, for The Lodger. I didn't like the play at all (though Iniki Mariano is one to watch), but boy did I like the building and the decor.

Our candlelit bar is one of the most atmospheric theatre bars you’ll visit

Tru Dat. Also the piano's in tune. I gave the clientele a jazz-inflected version of my own composition "While there's a spotlight." No one noticed.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Ruination of the Nation's Urination

 There was an hour and ten minutes to kill last night at the Royal Court between curtain down on 'What If If Only,' and curtain up on 'Is God Is.'

I spent it at the bar, adding three more pints of lager to the cheeky one I had taken on board before the first play.

Is God Is runs for AN HOUR AND A HALF without an interval. By the time I got out there was pressure that needed to be relieved.

For all the gender-neutral codification of the toilets, there was still no queue at the one labelled "urinals" and an enormous queue at the one labelled ummmmm .... something-else-I didn't-notice-I-was-in-a-hurry.

Does all this argy-bargy improve the lives of anyone? How about halving the allocation of Gents and doubling the allocation of Ladies while leaving the letters above the doors alone.

That's dislodged something else from my subconscious. There's a story about Churchill and Attlee meeting in the loos in the House of Commons after the war. Churchill took his place some distance away from his old colleague and went about his business.

"That's rather stand-offish considering all we're been through," said Attlee.

"Guilty as charged," replied Winston. "It's just that I've noticed that whenever you see something large and private which is working well you always seem to want to nationalise it."

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

I'm at that stage in my life

We meet this morning on the cusp of a marathon. I have long had tickets for What If If Only, a new short play by Caryl Churchill at the Royal Court tonight, but got an economically irresistible offer to see Is God Is by Aleshea Harris in the same venue on the same day.  Thursday is The Lodger at the Coronet. That is three plays in about 27 hours. I should be awarded an honorary degree in theatre attendance.

When I was chatting to Mia about this she said "My friend who just graduated it in Is God Is at the Royal Court. I saw him yesterday." She meant she way him socially as she hasn't seen the play yet.

Let's give it up for Ernest Kingsley Jnr