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

Tuesday, October 05, 2021


I sent Andy a message saying I was thinking of getting a USB/MIDI cable (Icons passim) to help with transcribing music I have composed.

He replied, with what I took to be a photo of his home studio, saying "Hi Nick, this is what I have, it's a focus rite Scarlet 2i2, a nice simple piece if kit. Also on top is a mac interface (called dodocool) which gives a few more USB B and C slots."

I have had a look at the 2i2 on the manufacturer's website and it doesn't seem to have MIDI. I am very intrigued by being able to play my bass and guitar into it though, and record and process them.

Maybe I would be better off with the 4i4 (

I will ask Mr Mulford what he thinks. (Note; also ask him about bundled software.)

Monday, October 04, 2021

'S Wonderful

 I have invented a new game.

As I am sure you know, I reject Gordon Sumner "and all his works and all his empty promises." 

I am sure we all have our least favourite stanza from his oeuvre, but what really pushed me over the edge was:

Don't think me unkind
Words are hard to find
They're only cheques I've left unsigned
From the banks of chaos in my mind

With the best will in the world, what the friggin' hell is that supposed to mean? "Sting, where is thy death?" forces its way irresistibly to mind. 

Here is the challenge. Name a song you genuinely love, but you would hate if he had written it.

I will open the betting with George and Ira Gershwin's 1920's classic:

'S wonderful
'S marvelous
You should care for me
'S awfully nice
'S paradise
'S what I love to see
You've made my life so glamorous
You can't blame me for feeling amorous

Genius, yet if written by Sting ...... RUBBISH!

Your move.

Sunday, October 03, 2021


All women know they are prey – and that no one with any authority seems to care

Marina Hyde

Back on my soap box:

When I did my jury service seven years ago it was a case involving a prowler assaulting a series of girls and women on a Friday evening just up the road from here; Tooting IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!

Of all the people who saw the incidents, the only two men with enough cojones to confront the circumstances directly were a Brazilian and a Pole. All the Brits "passed by on the other side." If those two immigrants, both of whom needed translators in court, hadn't been there things would have been far, far worse. I take my hat off to them. There should have been a scheme that doled them out gongs and cash and leave to remain here as long as they like.

Is emasculinity a word? It bleedin' ought to be. We should confront, and our sons should be brought up to confront, predators immediately and directly. Wouldn't cure the problem entirely granted, but it would diminish it immeasurably.

(Now I come to think of it, I should be very proud that Frankie trusted me enough to drive her daughter and her two grand children home in the pouring rain yesterday.)

Saturday, October 02, 2021


 SuperBlue the album we saw Kurt Elling promoting at Ronnie's a fortnight ago is streaming on Spotify (and Amazon) now. I thought it wasn't out until the eighth but that is just the physical version. It is difficult to see how artists can make any money at all out of recording these days.

Friday, October 01, 2021

A perfect storm

 My brother John tipped me the wink earlier this week that petrol stations are being resupplied in the wee small hours of the morning to prevent the mere sight of a tanker precipitating grid lock and, based on this advice, I managed to fill up at the Colliers Wood Tesco at around seven this morning. My engine was running on fumes. I myself can largely function without the car, but I have to drive to Hammersmith every Sunday morning to take a man in his ninth decade, who lives alone, out for his weekly grocery shop and that trip was looking less and less likely for this weekend until this morning.

The High Street around the tube station is a perfect storm of incompetence and virtue-signal grandstanding by TFL and the council. At the best of times there is only one lane in each direction because of the cordoning off of the bike lanes and the projection of the bus stop into the road. This morning this was exacerbated by a broken down bus stuck against the curb with its hazard lights flashing. It was difficult to move in the congestion.

"Hard luck," you may think. Bear in mind though that St George's hospital is just up the road from us and ambulances need to charge up and down the A24 (of which our High Street is a section) to and from its A&E department.  At the best of times all these traffic calming measures make it all but impossible to pull over and get out of the way. Ben, with his gift for understatement and months ago, described the experience of blocking a siren-blaring ambulance with some poor patient inside and absolutely no option for letting it past as "embarrassing." Quite. Queues at petrol stations have made the situation much, much worse.

Sadiq Khan, London's mayor and former MP for Tooting, ought to know about St George's but unfortunately he is a self-satisfied narcissist. Do you remember his ludicrous "I need 24-hour security because of my skin colour and the god I worship" assertion at the Labour party conference earlier this week?

First of all I can imagine Allah the Most Merciful looking down and announcing, "don't try pinning any of this on me Sadiq. I think we will find it was you who was asleep at the wheel."

As regards skin colour there was a guy with the same complexion as our Great Leader at the petrol station this morning organising the allocation of vehicles to filling slots. He was maximising efficient throughput with a smile on his face that was friendly without ever getting any way near supercilious or condescending. As I was fuelling I noticed that he was subtly arranging things so that vehicles were allocated to pumps on the same side of the car as the petrol cap, all but eliminating that ludicrous thing where you have to stretch the hose over the boot. Ditto avoiding the situation - as far as possible - where a car at one slot blocks access to one in front.

Off the top of my head, I would estimate he was improving performance by about 20%.  If he ever runs for mayor I will vote for him in a shot.