Wednesday, March 31, 2021

And you can Poliak Off as well

Stephen Poliakoff: Grauniard 2009

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

Stephen Poliakoff: Indescribablyboring 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

understand him enough to find him extraordinarily interesting

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

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

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

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

Monday, March 29, 2021

In the garden, growth has it seasons

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Andy Tea, He

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

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

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

Saturday, March 27, 2021

even at the turning o' the tide

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

Also from today in the Principality:

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

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

Posted by Hideaway Streatham on Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Friday, March 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Diriliş: Ertuğrul

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Memory Factory

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

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

My dismal effort by way of contrast

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Superb and nothing


Kenneth Williams sums up the government over the last year.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Winston Smith

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

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

― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

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

Bristol last night is a warning to us all though.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Luke Pearce/Wayne Barnes Show

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

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

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Lines intertwining

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

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

Friday, March 19, 2021

A Life in the Day

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

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

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

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Alumni Illumination

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Global Britain in a Competitive Age

I must try and make time to read this. 

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

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Project Vigilant

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

Monday, March 15, 2021

Whiter than white

Ham and High: June 2020

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

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

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Kitty Flynn

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

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

Saturday, March 13, 2021

one win away

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 12, 2021

We read to know we're not alone

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

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

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

Thursday, March 11, 2021

judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree


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

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

school girl 11

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

Tuesday, March 09, 2021


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

Monday, March 08, 2021

with a small "c"

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

Sunday, March 07, 2021

I contain multitudes

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

I did it at

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

I am aware of the irony.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

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

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

Friday, March 05, 2021


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

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

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

Thursday, March 04, 2021

My Brother


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Getting my priories straight

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

Monday, March 01, 2021

St David's Day


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

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