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.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Get your kicks in W6

The Plum Cafe was closed yesterday, so Peter and I lit upon the Truth Cafe for his breakfast after getting his grocery shopping done. I'm noting it because he liked it and otherwise I will have forgotten if he wants to go again.

We happened to park by the discreetly secluded vegetarian restaurant The Gate, and I remembered going there with Chalice more than 25 years ago. I wonder how long ago I last thought of it?

The gourmet grocery shop Peter gets his fruit and veg in is called Hammersmith Natural at 194 Fulham Palace Rd, London W6 9PA. I'm noting it because I have never previously been able to remember its name but I noticed it on Google Maps when I was looking up the premises above.