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 https://ditto.fm/forthebothofus

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 https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0011f50/jazz-voice-2021-from-the-efg-london-jazz-festival

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 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0011403

I may even get his autobiography