Saturday, July 31, 2021


 Half past eight this morning.

Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry  

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

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Umbrella Academy

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

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Hang Fire Southern Kitchen

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

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


What a long slow death we are dying.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 26, 2021

Play it, Sam

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

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

What is onglet?

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

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

Makes sense.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ups and Downs

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

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

The 2020 roster is on

Kimia Alizadeh was originally from Iran.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Jade Jones tomorrow


When is the event?

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

Which round will Jones compete from?

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 23, 2021

Grandad, Grandad, You're Lovely

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

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

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

Thursday, July 22, 2021

In Audible

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder why that spoke to me?

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Letters from Baghdad


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

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Down By the Riverside

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

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

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

Monday, July 19, 2021

Spike Lee for President

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

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

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

Sunday, July 18, 2021


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, July 17, 2021

a smiple favour

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 16, 2021


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

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

4120Z003 is the one I got.

Jeff Bezos and space will have to wait.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Soul Music

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

I robot

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

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

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


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

Monday, July 12, 2021

About last night

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

Repeat to fade.

Sunday, July 11, 2021



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

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 09, 2021


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

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

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Get your priorities right


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

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

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

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

In other news

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

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

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Great oxymorons of our time: smart motorway

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 05, 2021

Watch this space

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

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Our Food, Our Family

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

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

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

Saturday, July 03, 2021


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

See Icons passim.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Pregnant women will give up their seats for me

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

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

Thursday, July 01, 2021

The New Hideaway?

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

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

Here's waht's on -