Saturday, December 31, 2022

Where am I today?

@scheifferbates Every Welsh person returning to Wales from England #wales #england #welsh ♬ original sound - Scheiffer Bates
That's right! Down by, over by yer!

In a related development, I have heard that an under-the-radar non-profit organisation comprised almost exclusively of the world's leading philologists has deduced that almost everything I post here has been cut and pasted from Wikipedia. Really? Cut and paste this

Friday, December 30, 2022


Pele is dead at 82.

Mexico 70 is my first hazy football memory. Dad took my younger brother Vince and I to see a game in a friend's house, as the family had a, deep breath, colour television! I have two abiding memories; the contrast between the vivacious gaudy brightness of the pitch in the sun with the sections towards the touchline in the shadow of the stadium roof. The second is being mortified with embarrassment as I was there in my pajamas. The decision or opportunity to take us must have been a last minute thing.

Truth be told, I can't clearly remember exactly what game we saw, but I imagine it would either have been the final - Brazil beat Italy 4-1 the day before my ninth birthday - or the 1-0 game in the group stages in which Brazil beat defending champions England. Either way Pele would have featured.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Ghosts of Two Horses

We had a weird but funny pissing competition in a local WhatsApp group yesterday. The Hendries, who are in New Zealand, posted a photo of a beautiful, tinged summer sunset on a beach. Lee, who is out there with Vera, responded with the view from their Parisian apartment, chic as the city itself. Everyone piled in etc etc etc.

In the end I got the arse and posted a picture of the fence in my back garden. And yet, and yet .......

Half way down the image, and to the right, the ghosts of two horses swam into view. I have ordered a canvas print of what I think may become a key image of the 21st century.

My Canvas

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Ethics of Care

This month's Audible credit has gone on In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development by Carol Gilligan.

Prodnose: And it is all Sean's fault for writing The Englishwoman?

Yes. Do your remember that recently, I have been pondering if not positing (Icons passim) a longstanding female moral tradition that we may trace from The Three Marys at the Crucifixion, via the Medieval anchoresses to, say, Edith Stein, Simone Weil, and even Elizabeth Anscombe in the 20th century?

Prodnose: No.

It has struck me of late, that the "ethics of care;" a feminist approach that challenges traditional moral theories as male-centric and problematic to the extent they omit or downplay values and virtues usually culturally associated with women or with roles that are often cast as ‘feminine' may be considered as part of the same stream. Thus Ms Gilligan's book, widely credited as kick starting the movement is relevant.

Prodnose (looking like a fool): Ah yes, of course very much so.

Can we not find analogues in Simone Weil's radical conception of attention, or in Edith Stein’s phenomenology of sensual and emotional empathy?

Prodnose (ungraciosuly): I s'pose.

Myself (lighting pipe and impersonating Tony Hopkins as CS Lewis in Shadowlands): The English term “empathy,” in fact, was coined only in 1908 as a translation of the German Einfühlung, which literally means “in-feeling.” Stein's 1917 dissertation  is increasingly discussed and viewed as one the most nuanced phenomenological accounts, on a par with Husserl’s and Scheler’s analyses. Edith Stein? That'll be St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (1891-1942) to you, young fella me lad.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Vagus Nerve

I was sitting in the Standard last night shooting the breeze with Jone, among others. Perhaps because he is Norwegian, the subject of biathlon - the weird (at least to our eyes) Scandinavian winter-sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting - came up. I mentioned, in passing, that I had heard that competitors in it had such extraordinary self mastery that they could lower their heart rates just by concentrating. He told me it was likely true as during the race, the skiers' hearts pump at close to the maximum allowable rate, but between these sprints they have to switch gears and fire a steady shot.

When I wondered out loud, how such an extraordinary thing could be achieved, Renu - his fiance and a doctor - piped up; they accomplish it by enhanced control of the vagus nerve.

"Never heard of it," was my contribution to the discussion.

"Also known as the tenth cranial nerve, it interfaces with the parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract."

"Ah, heart and lungs eh?"

"It is a channel by which they can be relaxed by, say, deep slow breathing or even the application of a cold press to the upper area of the sternum."

"Like yoga!"

"I was thinking more of the role of endurance training, central command, reflexes from muscle, and of the carotid-cardiac baroreceptor reflex in changing vagal tone during intense exercise and recovery, but yes, like yoga."

I'm so happy I went down the pub rather than the library opposite. It is more educational.

Monday, December 26, 2022

not with wisdom but with the conceit of wisdom

For years, there has been worldwide fear of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impending takeover of the world… who knew that it would start with the world of art and literature.
It certainly scares the shit out of me, because it is opaque (its reasons are hidden), and it is (inevitably in and of itself because of the way it "learns") a tool for magnifying prejudices. Just because we have had many Prime Ministers who went to Eton doesn't mean that we should.

Sean made a good point when I asked him what he thought. It struck me that someone who had written books called things like "The Death and Return of the Author" and "The Ethics of Signature" might have something to contribute here, and he made a terrific point.
Indeed, there are very few differences at a philosophical level between arguments for and against writing and those for and against digital technology and at a practical level many centuries will have elapsed before we will know whether the opportunities afforded by the latter outweigh the dangers.
Fascinating. I think I should have another crack at Plato's Phaedrus with that analogy fresh in my head.
Here, O king, is a branch of learning that will make the people of Egypt wiser and improve their memories. My discovery provides a recipe for memory and wisdom. But the king answered and said ‘O man full of arts, the god-man Toth, to one it is given to create the things of art, and to another to judge what measure of harm and of profit they have for those that shall employ them.’
Quite, and again.
And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only the semblance of wisdom, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much while for the most part they know nothing. And as men filled not with wisdom but with the conceit of wisdom they will be a burden to their fellows.
Thinking of the David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak brain-dead PPE/Oxford Union coagulation that has constipated the county for the last dozen years, AI is not the only dragon that needs slaying. Plato will outlast us all.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto

“Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers' enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.” ― Simone Weil
Prodnose: I don't understand the connection.
Myself: I wish I didn't understand the connection.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Weil 1 de Beauvoir 0

What I think is Simone de Beauvoir's only meeting with Simone Weil, from de Beauvoir's first volume of autobiography "Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter."

While preparing to enter the Normale — the training-college in Paris for professoriates — she was taking the same examinations as myself at the Sorbonne. She intrigued me because of her great reputation for intelligence and her bizarre get-up; she would stroll round the courtyard of the Sorbonne attended by a group of Alain's old pupils; she always carried in the one pocket of her dark-grey overall a copy of Libres Propos and in the other a copy of Humanite. A great famine had broken out in China, and I was told that when she heard the news she had wept: these tears compelled my respect much more than her gifts as a philosopher. I envied her for having a heart that could beat right across the world. I managed to get near her one day. I don't know how the conversation got started; she declared in no uncertain tones that only one thing mattered in the world today: the Revolution which would feed all the starving people of the earth. I retorted, no less peremptorily, that the problem was not to make men happy, but to find the reason for their existence. She looked me up and down: 'It's easy to see you've never gone hungry,' she snapped. Our relationship did not go any further. I realized that she had classified me as 'a high-minded little bour-geois', and this annoyed me, just as I used to be annoyed whenever Mademoiselle Litt attributed certain tastes I had to the fact that I was only a child; I believed that I had freed myself from the bonds of my class: I didn't want to be anyone else but myself. 

It fills me with delight that Weil beat de Beauvoir into second place in their general philosophy exams at the Sorbonne. Maybe a trip to her grave in Ashford, Kent ought to be on my list for 2023? She is buried in the dedicated Catholic section in Bybrook Cemetery there.

A random thought; Weil, Sir Richard Francis Burton and Wittgenstein (three of my favourites) are all laid to rest in Catholic soil despite not being, officially, of the faith.

Friday, December 23, 2022

A Question of Agency

Out for a Christmas dinner with PG last night the subject of agents came up. I am very far from clear exactly what it is they do, but acquisition thereof is a hurdle the drama school nieces will have to overcome at some stage.

His first was Robin Fox, and after that he was with Peggy Ramsay. Follow the links in the last sentence to their Wikipedia pages. They sound like a couple of colourful characters.

Robin Fox, was the scion of the theatrical dynasty comprising Edward, James, Laurence etc. As well as "the grandson of Samson Fox (1838–1903), a British engineer and philanthropist, principal founder of the Royal College of Music and inventor of the corrugated boiler flue." Principal founder of the Royal College of Music and inventor of the corrugated boiler flue, is unimprovable. Let's not even go there.

In Prick Up Your Ears (1987), the Joe Orton film biopic, Peggy  Ramsay is portrayed by Vanessa Redgrave, The Letters of Margaret Ramsay, Play Agent, a collection of her letters edited by Colin Chambers, was published in 2018. "She would have got my new play on," says Peter. "Probably by blackmailing someone."

We shall not see their like again. Peter is still with Casarotto Ramsay & Associates Limited.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Only connect

Leafing through the Guardian yesterday, I came across this article about the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic, much of it is an interview with the screenwriter Anthony McCarten. Various neurons fired because I remembered he was a friend of Donna's (a mate of his went out with her sister - Icons passim) when they were growing up in New Plymouth, New Zealand. Based on this, it struck me that I hadn't seen Donna for a while so we arranged to meet up for a glass or two of wine in Canedo after work. Rebecca came along as well in the end. 

Google told me he also has a play that "opened" on Broadway a few days ago, I put opened in inverted commas because, as the Daily Mail told us: 

Jennifer Connelly walked opening night red carpet BEFORE husband Paul Bettany’s debut The Collaboration is canceled due to COVID-19

  • The show was called off due to a positive COVID amid cast and crew
  • Connelly, 52, was stylish in a a black Louis Vuitton monogram long-sleeved dress
  • 'Performances will resume on a date to be announced,' a rep for the show said

You have to love America. Still going ahead with the parade even though the show has been cancelled. It will sound familiar to Afghan girls who can't go to school or university now. You can always rely on the USA because it will always let you down.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The Third Rome

 I listened to episode 23 of the Empire podcast "The Fall of Constantinople" last night. (More accurately I listened to it at about 10:30 in the evening when Virgin Media came back online.)

At the end William Dalrymple says something along the lines of:

Russia now sees itself as the last surviving pillar of Orthodoxy. Rome was the first Rome, Constantinople was the second Rome, Moscow now regards itself as the third Rome. They see themselves as the last true Christians.

Interesting stuff; for all that I've referred before (Icons passim) to an sort of unholy trinity, comprising Putin, Aleksandr Dugin and Patriarch Kirill, marrying Russian irredentism and a Slavic manifest destiny; I may have played down the religious angle.

Deep history can be surprisingly relevant to contemporary events and tensions. There are now two Orthodox churches in Ukraine. The older and larger church is the Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Moscow Patriarchate; a branch of the Russian Orthodox Church, it is under the spiritual authority of Patriarch Kirill (see paragraph above) of Moscow. 

By contrast, the second, newer church, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, celebrates its independence from Moscow. With the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, a solemn council met in Kyiv as recently as December 2018, created the new church, and elected its leader, Metropolitan Epifaniy. In January 2019, Patriarch Bartholomew formally recognized the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as a separate, independent and equal member of the worldwide communion of Orthodox churches.

I've still got a lot of work to do understanding all this.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Road Trip

I caught up with Jone over the weekend who filled me in a bit more on his adventures driving a firetruck in a convoy that met outside Oslo to donate in Ukraine (Icons passim).

"You understand units of measurements, don't you?" he said and when I confirmed that I did showed me a spec sheet. He has persuaded someone to contribute a generator. It weighs 3,718 kg and puts out 320 kW. 

"Bloody hell!" says I, "You could run a hospital with that!"

"Yes, yes you could," he replied, then, as it this was a bagatelle, "All I need now is someone to donate a crane truck, I have got a few irons in the fire."

Wouldn't it be great to go with him in the cab. One last adventure before old age and breakfast wine bring the curtain down.

Last time he went over the border at the Hrebenne-Rava-Ruska: road, cargo, passenger - and rail passenger crossing; on the next trip he is hoping to get as far as Lviv.

All that said, the longer this goes on the more pessimistic I get about Ukraine's prospects. I find the gloomy John Mearsheimer and Col Doug MacGregor* more convincing than the boosters. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Russia pushes on all the way to Odessa, leaving Ukraine land-locked, as well establishing the Dnipro river as the new border between the countries.

*I heard MacGregor say the other day that there are 40,000 US troops in Poland. Can that be right? It seems extraordinary.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Y Wladfa

Y Wladfa (Welsh pronunciation: [ə ˈwladva], "The Colony"), also occasionally Y Wladychfa Gymreig (Welsh pronunciation: [ə wlaˈdəχva ɡəmˈreiɡ], "The Welsh Settlement"), refers to the establishment of settlements by Welsh immigrants in Patagonia, beginning in 1865, mainly along the coast of the lower Chubut Valley. In 1881, the area became part of the Chubut National Territory of Argentina which, in 1955, became Chubut Province.

Patagonian Welsh (Welsh: Cymraeg y Wladfa) is a variety of the Welsh language spoken in Y Wladfa, The decimal numeral system used in Modern Welsh originated in Patagonia in the 1870s, and was subsequently adopted in Wales in the 1940s as a simpler counterpart to the traditional vigesimal system, which still survives in Wales.
Some small part of me actually won the Qatar World Cup yesterday.

Sunday, December 18, 2022


Rosalía makes other pop stars look like they are not trying hard enough. On the penultimate date of her 2022 Motomami world tour, the 30-year-old electro-flamenco star brought an ice melting blast of Spanish sizzle to a wintery London. In one of the most inventively staged arena productions of recent years, she danced like a dervish, sang like a nightingale, rapped like a gangster, played piano and guitar, and she did it all with such complete commitment to the song and the moment that she seemed constantly either on the verge of tearful disintegration or joyful self-combustion.....
Having studied at music school in Barcelona, Rosalía Vila Tobella achieved local fame as a traditional flamenco singer, before rising to become a superestrella by audaciously blending traditional music with electronica, R’n’B and hip hop. While streaming has opened up the global market for more exotic rhythms and non-English language songs, there is a sense that Britain hasn’t quite caught up yet. Rosalía’s wildly adventurous third album, Motomami, has been the most acclaimed album of 2022 according to aggregate website, but didn’t even crack the top 40 in the UK.
Can this be what I have been unconsciously searching for since Ben and I got back from Seville?There's only one way to find out.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

"On ne naît pas femme, on le devient"

I've been talking to Sean about his novel The Englishwoman quite a lot lately.

But why has this white, middle-class Londoner with no political or religious affiliations made this perilous journey in the first place? And why does she turn down the opportunity to escape when death becomes the likely outcome?

Why indeed? It has led me, I think, to uncover - or possibly posit - a longstanding female moral tradition that we may trace from The Three Marys at the Crucifixion, via the Medieval anchorites (in Britain from the 12th to the 16th centuries, anchoresses consistently outnumbered their male counterparts by as many as four to one) to, say, Edith Stein, Simone Weil, and even Elizabeth Anscombe in the 20th century. An heroic, under-celebrated form of resistance that manifests itself, superficially passively, in the bearing of witness. A necessary corrective to the male tendency to "pick sides" as if every dispute was a football, rugby or cricket match.

The trouble with this though, it has struck me lately, is that there is absolutely no way to square Simone de Beauvoir with it. Specifically the way that Le Deuxième Sexe turns the existentialist mantra that existence precedes essence into equally dreary tone-deaf proto-feminist gobbledygookery. On reflection, I will go further, its publication in 1949 represents the moment when the worm turned, when abdication of responsibility was equated with moral superiority. Today's cankers like the sex-gender distinction and granular internally contradicted identity politics followed, it seems in retrospect, slowly but inevitably.

I diskard her uterly.

Prodnose: Eh? Who are you today? Roger Scruton?

Myself: You try writing when you are listening to "Digging Your Scene" by the Blow Monkeys  or "Love Changes (Everything)" by Climie Fisher and see how much sense you make.

Prodnose: Show me the 80s white label 12" singles and I will show you the man.

Myself: Tru dat.

Friday, December 16, 2022

The Friends of "Best of Enemies"

Best of Enemies is a triumph. I can't say any more about it at the risk of letting cats out of bags.

If I had one criticism it was, for all that it was skillfully done, there was too much exposition. It has dawned on me this morning that I did get stuck into what was called the "New Journalism" at an early age and drank deeply from, off my head and in no particular order Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese and Norman Mailer. Mailer's "Miami and the Siege of Chicago" was a particular touchstone last night. There's a battered hardback copy on PG's bookshelves as I recall.

Speak memory: to get home from school I had to get two buses, on from Llanrumney into town and then another from town to Rhiwbina. In town, I could pop into Lear's, Cardiff's main bookshop, and pick up imported Bantam paperbacks of books by the sort of authors name-checked in the previous paragraph. The seemed impossibly glamorous to me at the time because they had occasional glossy pages of adverts bound into them. These days I would probably compare them to my Folio Society editions and find them wanting.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Performance of my Life

 I got a message from Mia yesterday, she said she had been chatting to some bloke at the wrap party for the BBC thing she was shooting and had mentioned going to see Paapa Essiedu in "A Number" with us at the Old Vic back in January (passim). He said he and Paapa were old friends having shared a flat when they were at Guildhall and even for a few years after.  He turns out to have been Sion Alun Davies who has featured previously (passim) on these pages as an "Antelope Tooting Pub Quiz regular."

When I told Frankie, she mentioned in passing that Jonathan Holloway, who lives a few doors away in my street, has written a newly imagined adaptation of Dickens' popular short story, The Visitor that will go out on Radio 4 on Christmas Day with an all star cast

It may be a small world, but it certainly seems to revolve around me.

Oh and we are going to see Best of Enemies tonight.

Ain't all roses on the drama front though. Not by any means gravy as Netflix’s Cancels ‘Warrior Nun,’ Its Highest Audience-Scored Series Ever. Boo! Cries of shame.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Cuban Brothers - So Sweet

I can't remember where I saw the Cuban Brothers. I am pretty sure it was at a big open air festival gig; maybe Hyde Park or Clapham Common. My memory seems to suggest that they were just performing on the grass, not even on a stage. For all that they were great.

Spotify seems to know I liked them. It told me this morning that they are playing at the Fox & Firkin in  Lewisham on February 4th.

Noooooo! I agreed with Ben only l;ast night that we would be in Cork that weekend.

Anyway, do yourself a favour and press play above.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Anything for a quiet life

Jone (Icons passim) has delivered his fire truck from Norway to Ukraine. The shot on the right is taken from its cab at the border, 

There is another photo encypted in WhasApp that has the caption "This Norwegian is a paramedic at the front line. Came to receive the ambulances and medical supplies we brought." Probably best not to publish that in public I guess and risk him being identified.

I'm really impressed by this and that is generally not my style at all. I'm going to meet the son and heir after work in the Standard for a swift half after work tonight before going next door but one to Corleone for our semi regular pizzas. Then on Thursday I am going to the theatre (Icons passim). These two trips represent more than enough excitement for a week from my point of view. 

I imagine he is back in Poland now. "Now we celebrate," he writes under the photo of bottles and glasses to the right. He has earned it.

He says he will be back in the Standard on Friday evening. That should be a good night. We will also be saying good bye to the Hendries until after Christmas as they are flying off to New Zealand on Saturday.

Monday, December 12, 2022

What Do You Think of it So Far? Rubbish!

The council rubbish collection will be on Thursday 29 December ether than the usual Tuesday as it is Christmas. I was popping some stuff in the paper and card blue-lidded wheelie bin that I keep in the front garden in the winter yesterday, when I noticed a black parcel in it. I live at 11 Xxxxxxx Road, and it was addressed to a girl with an Indian name who live round the corner at 11 Xxxxxxx Close. (I don't care of you have my address but I ain't giving out hers.)

I popped it round. We occasionally get each others mail but this was ridiculous. What was even more ridiculous is that she told me it was her father's Christmas present. What kind of lemon "delivers" a parcel into a waste bin? I could easily have missed it completely.

On the bright Christmas side the winter's first snow fell last night and I woke to a blanket thereof.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Within you and without you

 Ah well; England and Wales are both out of the World Cup now, but life goes on.

By life, of course I mean me going to the theatre once a month.

Best of Enemies is booked for Thursday.

"Hakawatis: Women of the Arabian Nights" in the  candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe was lined up last week for January 4th. More in hope than expectation this, but I thought I would give it a go. I polished off Night 750 of the 1,001 this morning, which is more than two years' worth at the rate of one a day.

I can see "The King and I" in my calendar on February the 14th. I have also got an email confirming I bought the tickets, for all that I have no recollection at all of booking them or with whom I am going. This is going to need sensitive handling if noses are not to be put out of joint.

Finally, at least for today I need to get to the touring version of Girl from the North Country at the Wimbledon Theatre between the 14th and 18th of March next year. That'll be more than four years after \I met up with John and Lorraine after they saw, what I think was, the original production (Icons passim).

Saturday, December 10, 2022

WhatsApp Doc?

Alright, the adventure has just begun. Man (44), fire truck (33) and about 2000 kilometres to Ukraine. What could possibly go wrong? Btw it’s snowing, and the tyres are really old… 😬😁

Wow, friend and all round good egg ,  Jone has set off from Norway to deliver a fire engine to Ukraine. Also he says he has to maintain radio silence until he has dropped it off and got back to Poland. Renu, his partner must be at her wits' end, but Andy Tea has told me she has gone off to a spa with her mum for the weekend; a good strategy for all that she must still be anxious. I'm anxious for goodness sake. God knows what it must be like for her.

Friday, December 09, 2022

Imperial Overreach

 Two 'tings yesterday.

First off the bat, back in 2019,  an American woman called Anne Sacoolas killed a boy called Harry Dunn; she was driving on the wrong side of the road. She was whisked away back to the good old USA,  luckily for her, we are told, she had diplomatic immunity as the wife of a US agent working in the UK. She was promptly shipped out of the UK. Yesterday she was sentenced to to eight months in prison, suspended for 12 months, for causing a death by careless driving. The former US spy was sentenced in an "unprecedented" case at the Old Bailey - but did not attend the hearing in person after American officials advised against.

'Nother 'ting on the same day the US and Russia exchanged jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, 

Biden's administration is a disgrace. Imagine if France had done two such cynical simultaneous deals with the UK; you'd never hear the end of it.

You didn't read it hear first, but at the end of the day, the USA - adrift without principle - ultimately will abandon anyone and anything without a backwards glance. Vietnam? Afghanistan? Pay attention the good people of Ukraine.

Let's not extradite Julian Assange.

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Warrior Nun

I have finished Warrior Nun Series 2 on Netflix now, so the plot spoiler ban is lifted. The supernatural entity who lived in the realm on the other side of the Arc, a being called Ria certainly cheered me up enormously whenever she was mentioned; sharing as she did, the name my cousin goes by. I hope there is a series 3, and I hope there is more Ria in it.

Prodnose: You'll be free to watch Harry & Meghan Volume 1 then, when Netflix drops that today then, if it hasn't landed already.

Myself: You'll be free to watch Harry & Meghan Volume 1 then, when Netflix drops that today then, if it hasn't landed already.

Prodnose: What does all that mean; the text with the line through it?

Myself: It means I'm not going to watch it. I am playing with typographical conventions.

Prodnose (looking like a fool): Oh yes, of course you are I see it now.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022


I have been following William Dalrymple and Anita Anand's Empire podcast (Icons passim) since it started, though not - I must admit - religiously. The first series was about the British in India and the first episode of the second series, which will be about the Ottoman Empire dropped early yesterday morning. In it, Anita and William are joined by Peter Frankopan (Icons passim) to discuss Byzantium and the rise of the Seljuk Turks. I will try and follow this more completely.

I have embedded the episode from Spotify above. No particular agenda, I just wondered if I could.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Ghosts of Princes in Towers

I took a screen shot of Prince Harry playing the guitar from the first Netflix trailer he and Meghan released. It looks to me as if he is aiming for A7 but his finger have slipped down a fret. 

Charitably it is a half diminished seventh chord topped with a fifth, but I am not sure that is what he was aiming at and does make a terrible racket.

I did it independently but I am not the only one who has raised a quizzical eyebrow. Take a look at this leg pull.

I remembered bass player Phil's story, from decades ago about Prince Edward being sent out to put a pound in the parking meter when he was doing a session. It was when Edward aspired to a showbiz career, and was learning the ropes at the Really Useful Theatre Company with Andrew Lloyd Webber?

I laughed at the time, but - on reflection - he comes well out of it. At least Eddie was there rolling up his sleeves and getting on with the matter at hand. Imagine asking Harry or - God help us Meghan - to do something like that! Instant proof of your racism.

I was telling Jone about Harry's guitar fail in the pub when we were watching the football and he pulled up the wonderful picture below on his phone of Boris Johnson "playing the guitar.

Public Service Announcement: A capo can be placed on the strings of a guitar so you can play a song in a different key. It pinches all the strings across a particular fret, essentially shortening the strings, raising each string by a semitone for each fret.  In the picture, BoJo's left hand is on the wrong side of the capo, making whatever chord he is threading utterly irrelevant.

Monday, December 05, 2022

A Mad World, My Masters

Nadhim Zahawi, , the Conservative Party chairman, has urged nurses to accept a lower pay rise to send a “very clear message” to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

He told unions it was time to “try and negotiate” and insisted that the soaring costs facing Britons this winter were predominantly because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “We have to come together, this is not a time to be divided,” he told Sky’s Sophie Ridge. “I hope to send a very clear message to Mr Putin that he cannot use energy as a weapon in this way."

I am so outraged by the conflation of two, essentially unrelated, issues (nurses' pay and war in Ukraine) that I can't understand why nobody else seems to be. It is as cheap a platitudinous gesture as I have ever had the misfortune to see.

I looked Nadhim  up on Wikipedia. He has got a degree in chemical engineering. It makes me wonder f I can send mine back; something along the lines of John Lennon returning his MBE.

All this on the same day as Iran said it had ‘abolished’ the hardline morality police blamed for death of Mahsa Amini. We will wait obviously to see how this plays out, and I can't help but wonder how much the brave and dignified actions of the Iranian football team at the world cup contributed.

A Sunday so absurd that the Tories were spouting gibberish Goebbels would have blushed at, while the "mad mullahs" were following the will of their people? 

Sunday, December 04, 2022


I woke up this morning all alone in the old family house on the second anniversary of dad passing on. Bittersweet, but that Cathedral of Memory was, on reflection, one of the better places I could have been this morning. I am back in London now.

I visited mum yesterday. It was the first anniversary of her sister's death, but I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and didn't remind her. John, my brother brought a custom jigsaw made from a photo of of her and the old man before a Law Society dinner. It took a while but she finished with a flourish; mental and social stimulation plus hand to eye coordination retraining, in one handy package.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Best of Enemies


We have got tickets for Best of Enemies on December 15th; a fact that came as something of a surprise to me even though I had booked them. I stumbled on an APB I had put out mid November in WhatsApp, plus a confirmation to the people who had said yes that I had bought the tickets. Not a sausage in my diary never mind my memory for all that I could find the transaction in my card statement. Diligent searching revealed the tickets in my email's spam folder. Delfont Mackintosh Theatres' reputation can't be what it was. I truly leave my life like a castaway adrift on a makeshift raft in the Atlantic.

I am very much looking forward to seeing David Harewood as William F Buckley Jr. Some people have cavilled at the casting, but I think it could be a stroke of genius. Thomas SowellJohn McWhorterGlenn LouryClarence Thomas etc. could all be described, to a greater or lesser extent, as heirs of Buckley and might resonate with the performance.

Friday, December 02, 2022


Wittgenstein: Philosophical Investigations 

§265 Let us imagine a table (something like a dictionary) that exists only in our imagination. A dictionary can be used to justify the translation of a word X by a word Y. But are we also to call it a justification if such a table is to be looked up only in the imagination? -- "Well, yes; then it is a subjective justification." -- But justification consists in appealing to something independent. -- "But surely I can appeal from one memory to another. For example, I don't know if I nave remembered the time of departure of a train right and to check it I call to mind how a page of the time -- table looked. Isn't it the same here?" -- No; for this process has got to produce a memory which is actually correct. If the mental image of the time -- table could not itself be tested for correctness, how could it confirm the correctness of the first memory? (As if someone were to buy several copies of the morning paper to assure himself that what it said was true.)

Looking up a table in the imagination is no more looking up a table than the image of the result of an imagined experiment is the result of an experiment.

I looked this up yesterday, as I wanted to double check I had As if someone were to buy several copies of the morning paper to assure himself that what it said was true right before I used it as a joke in a WhatsApp message.

On rereading the whole passage though, it strikes me as generally relevant to the 21st century, skewering as it does the models that underlie what we read about climate change projections and COVID infection forecasts etc.

Thursday, December 01, 2022


Songbird was written in half an hour at 3am when she couldn’t sleep. She says: "Fortunately, I had a piano in my room [but] nothing to record it on, but I had to play this song. The whole song [came out] complete: chords, words, everything within half an hour. I couldn’t go to sleep in case I forgot it, so I had to play it all night long."

RIP Christine McVie. It was worth playing all night long.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Who knows where the time goes

 The burglar is having his pre-op bowel enlargement today. I have to pick him up from the Princess Royal hospital, drive him home, and hang about for a couple of hours to make sure he is OK. With any luck then his colostomy reversal will happen next Wednesday, December 7th.

The stoma surgery it is reversing took place on 15 September 2021, so that will be 450 days between the operation a reversal that usually happens after about one hundred days.

The last time I saw him, come to think about it was when I picked him up from the Princess Royal after his colonoscopy. That was on May 30th 2021; exactly eighteen months ago today!

The observations above come after Unison announced last night that paramedics and other ambulance workers had backed taking industrial action. The Royal College of Nursing has scheduled its own walkouts on December 15 and 20. 

If he is released from hospital, as is planed on 12 December, that will be 561 days after the test that revealed the tumors. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Wonderful News

I have always loved Lewis since his Mum Karen brought him along on our group skiing trip, and he took my little Ben under his wing. At the time he was eleven and Ben was eight, the encouragement and support he gave my little one warmed the cockles of my heart. Ben's 22 now, so I guess he is 25.

Now he is an international rugby player. Good for him. I wonder how he is qualified for Jamaica. I saw his grandmother, only the once, at Karen and Stewart's wedding. Perhaps the Caribbean heritage is from her.

Update: Ben and Lewis on the deck of Bondy's boat later on in the year they met (passim). I get sentimental looking at and reading that post.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Rodney Ackland

The author of the play Mia was in this weekend went to Central as well, which squares the circle nicely. I was aware, for some reason that eludes me, that it was first performed in 1952 so I was somewhat surprised by the frankness of the language and the treatment of homosexuality.

Wikipedia explains:

The first staging of his (Rodney Ackland's) large-cast drama, The Pink Room (or The Escapists), in Brighton and then at the Lyric Hammersmith in London on 18 June 1952, was largely financed by Terence Rattigan, who liked the play and believed it deserved a London production. The Pink Room was a tragi-comedy set in the summer of 1945 in a seedy London club (based on the French Club in Soho). It received a severe critical panning and after that, apart from one further play and an adaptation, it led to the playwright's more than 30-year virtual absence. According to its director, Frith Banbury, "When the play failed, Terry never wanted to see Rodney again."

However, following the abolition of the Lord Chamberlain's play licensing in 1968, Ackland was able to rewrite aspects of this play, re-titling it Absolute Hell. It was performed in its new form in 1988 to considerable success at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond-upon-Thames, directed by Sam Walters and John Gardyne, and starring Polly Hemingway and David Rintoul.

All clear?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Absolute Hell

I went to see my niece in Rodney Ackland's Absolute Hell yesterday afternoon, which means that, according to my calculations I have been to the theatre three times in the last seven days. Two, I will grant you were Saturdays but the most recent was a matinee and last week's was an evening performance. which means they all fit in a 168 hour period.

What a great afternoon I had; wonder after wonder. For all that I knew intellectually that it was a final year production at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, I think that subconsciously I was expecting something like a school or church hall. This naivety stood me in good stead. They have their own theatre, the Embassy (here is its Wikipedia page), formally a professional, commercial operation but owned by Central since 1956. The set and the costumes were beautifully crafted, there was a cafe bar when we could get a drink in the interval etc. etc. In retrospect I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was and it added to my enjoyment.

Oh, and Mia was very good as Elizabeth. It was also good to see two of her classmates that I have met socially with her, Alex and Saskia, in it as well.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Cymru Persia

 I couldn't help it. In the end I bunked off work for the second half of the Wales Iran game. Let's take it on the chin, they deserved to beat us.

I even found myself warming to them when they hit either post and then had a shot saved within ten seconds. I admired the fortitude of the prone striker who was smiling ruefully to himself. They also endeared themselves to me by smiling whenever they were up to skulduggery that strictly should have had them up before the magistrate in the morning.

I also liked what I saw of their fans in the ground.

It does make me wonder about the effectiveness of sporting and cultural sanctions. Are they not perhaps worse than nothing, perpetuating the myth of the distant inscrutable Other? 

Prodnose: The Other?

Myself: In phenomenology, the terms the Other and the Constitutive Other identify the other human being, in their differences from the Self, as being a cumulative, constituting factor in the self-image of a person; as acknowledgement of being real; hence, the Other is dissimilar to and the opposite of the Self, of Us, and of the Same.

Prodnose (looking like a fool): Oh yes. I see now.

It is just like Russia at the Euros in 2016 (passim). Why do we keep confusing the people with the regime? When Wales played them at the Euros (and won 3-0) in Toulouse there were no incidents at all between rival fans despite our tabloids droning on and on about the threat of the Kremlin's paramilitary Ultras.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Think Globally, Act Locally

I drew Ghana in the World Cup Sweepstakes run by friends and neighbours, the Hendries, so I decided to watch their first game at Canedo's, my local Portuguese cafe/restaurant (host Alberto, hostess Marietta) over a glass of red or two. What could be a better venue for the Portugal Ghana match, I reasoned than a Portuguese run place with a shirt donated by the Ghana qualified Callum Hudson-Odoi?

I was right. The atmosphere was great. Who knew there were so many Portuguese locals? Also with the game streamed from a Portuguese channel I didn't have to endure Roy Keane on ITV1.

Rod M and partner are back in Blighty this weekend for a family wedding, so we are going to meet up. (She has got a name; I just don't feel authorised to share it with the world.)

He sent me an email yesterday saying he had booked a table at the Norfolk Place, a cafe/restaurant and bar near their hotel. I just accepted, put it in the diary, and checked the route from here to there on Google Maps.

Later he sent me a Wikipedia page link. The Norfolk Place Restaurant is the ground floor dining room at the at the Frontline Club.

The Frontline Club is a media club and registered charity located near Paddington Station in London. With a strong emphasis on conflict reporting, it aims to champion independent journalism, provide an effective platform from which to support diversity and professionalism in the media, promote safe practice, and encourage both freedom of the press and freedom of expression worldwide.

Could there be a better place for me to meet the International Man of Mystery who is the Kitchen Cabinet's Geopolitics correspondent?

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Dinner with Groucho

Dinner With Groucho - what's it all about?! from Arcola Theatre Marketing on Vimeo.

I saw "Dinner with Groucho" last night at the Arcola theatre, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think I have been there before. Rebecca took Helen's ticket as she is stuck at home with Covid. Afterwards in the bar, the show was only about 70 minutes long, she told me a story about what social workers, like her, go through. It made me cry. There is now a fifth member of the Kitchen Cabinet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The other McKenna

Kerlin Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of rarely-seen early works by Stephen McKenna. Painted in the 1960s, when the artist was in his 20s and living in London, the works in this exhibition result from a decade of remarkable creative freedom. (Herewith.)
I am rather taken with this. PG sent it to me because Stephen McKenna was in St Illtyd's (our common alma mater) with him all those years ago. 
Assembling fragments of shape and colour, McKenna’s early abstract paintings adopt a vivid multi-chromatic palette and a dreamlike elasticity. As the decade progresses, the artist begins to introduce the human figure to these scenarios, using spatial illusion to bend linear time and elicit intense psychological drama. Moving from abstraction to figuration with ease, he layers windows within windows, rooms within rooms; suspending the figure in abstract geometric prisms, or splicing it into composite parts. Seldom seen since they were first exhibited, the paintings in the sixties have a vitality and sense of discovery that reverberates across half a century – and are as captivating now as they were upon completion.
We didn't get a lot of that talk when I was there, in the Llanrumney comp it had become.

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


USA 1 Wales 1. I'll take it. Watched the game in the Standard with fellow Welshman Luke.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill grew up in a world of terminal decay. The last of the local mines had closed, businesses were shuttering, and despair was etched in the faces around her. Her father urged her to get out of their blighted corner of northern England: “There is nothing for you here, pet,” he said.  

 The coal-miner’s daughter managed to go further than he ever could have dreamed. She studied in Moscow and at Harvard, became an American citizen, and served three U.S. Presidents. But in the heartlands of both Russia and the United States, she saw troubling reflections of her hometown and similar populist impulses. By the time she offered her brave testimony in the first impeachment inquiry of President Trump, Hill knew that the desperation of forgotten people was driving American politics over the brink—and that we were running out of time to save ourselves from Russia’s fate. In this powerful, deeply personal account, she shares what she has learned, and shows why expanding opportunity is the only long-term hope for our democracy.
Nine months after adding it to the list (passim), I have  spent this month's Audible credit on Fiona Hill's book. With any luck it will help me with social history, Russia, Ukraine and Trump.

Alexander Mercouris is a YouTube channel I follow about the crisis. I also try and keep up with Timothy Snyder's course: The Making of Modern Ukraine, a playlist on the YaleCourses channel.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Lavender Hill Mob

 To The Lavender Hill Mob in Richmond on tour last night. I absolutely loved it despite never having seen the film. 

The conceit, for want of a better word, is that the plot is played out in Argentina by a cast of the friends of the main protagonist, who has fled there with his ill gotten gains.

Early on a waitress character serves up two elaborate cocktails, adorned with paper umbrellas plus citrus fruits and olives on sticks etc. One of them, of course, fell on the floor though the cast carried on regardless.

It very much reminded my about what PG told me about the lessons of working in rep all those decades ago; if you take out a box of matches on stage and open it, it will be upside down and they will all fall on the floor. Flowers in vases should be plastic flowers in empty vases, if you have real flowers in vases filled with water the next person who walks past during the performance will knock them over.

Must catch the original film itself one day.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Wake Up Boiler (Christmas has come early)

 My boiler has taken to staying on for fifteen minutes and then cutting out. I had FIRST Plumbing & Heating GOC Ltd round to look at it twice to no avail. The first time they serviced it and decided there must be a blockage. The second time they cleaned out the F&E tank and flushed through with chemicals. Still no dice and I haven't heard back from then since. Been trying Plan C Today. Running the heating and the hot water manually via the Hive web interface for seven minutes then turning them off for eight. Rinse and repeat.

What I will do I think for the meantime is program the system to follow that schedule automatically. It looks a bit long winded on the UI though. I wonder if there is an API or something I can use to get at it more directly?

Also, not to self, try draining the radiators.

Friday, November 18, 2022

I told you I'd forgotten

 I told you I'd forgotten

Of your fingers in my hair

I told you I'd forgotten

Of your dad's old rocking chair

I told you I'd forgotten

Of the things we used to do

I told you I'd forgotten

Of the days of me and you

I told you I'd forgotten

In the absence, in the night

I told you I'd forgotten

Of the break up and the fight

I told you I'd forgotten

To forget what I forget

I told you I'd forgotten

To regret what I regret

Did the merry-go-round make us dizzy?

Did the candy floss get in my hair?

Was it perfect that night or just busy

With the prizes we won in the fayre?

I'm sitting here remembering

Your fingers in my hair

I'm sitting here remembering

Your dad's old rocking chair

I'm sitting here remembering

The things we used to do

I'm sitting here remembering

The days of me and you

Did the merry-go-round make us dizzy?

Did the candy floss get in my hair?

Was it perfect that night or just busy

With the prizes we won in the fayre?

Prodnose: What on earth is this drivel?

Myself (summoning up some little dignity): Explanations will be provided on a "need to know" basis.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

No conceivable interest

 I am lying in bed over a bottle of vin rosé. Ali Asgar, who was cook to a British regiment in the War, is 'baking' a partridge in a pot. The cavalry have collected and horses been paraded. They say it is a two days' ride to Firuzabad, but I hope to do it in one.

Prodnose: What on earth is this?

Myself: It is the last paragraph I read in The Road to Oxiana last night; top of page 164 in my edition.

Prodnose: Of what conceivable interest to anyone is this?

Myself: No conceivable interest.

I did, with an effort; though it was hard on the rest of the party. Opinion at Kavar gave the distance as nine farsakhs, thirty-six miles. I rode eleven hours, excluding one stop for lunch, and as the good going and the bad were about equal, I can hardly have averaged less than four miles an hour. It must have been more than forty miles.

Prodnose: What on earth is this?

Myself: It is the next paragraph I am going to read in The Road to Oxiana when I take it up again; this evening I hope.

Prodnose: Of what conceivable interest to anyone is this?

Myself: No conceivable interest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Adding insult to injury

 John (her father, my brother) can't go and see Mia in Absolute Hell at the Embassy Theatre, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama Friday week:

Please note: Due to announcement of industrial action, the performances on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 November have been cancelled.

Harrumph! I can't go on Wednesday, as I am prebooked for the new Frank McGuinness at the Arcola darling. John and I wouldn't be wise to go on Saturday night as we are on a workshop (passim) building cigar box guitars in a pub from half past ten in the morning and the chances of us still being compos mentis come the evening are slim to nonexistent.

I am amazed how disappointed I am by this turn of events. PG says the play is worthwhile, and speaks highly of the director, having directed him in turn, back when he was an actor. In Original Sin and A Patriot for Me as I recall. 

He also gave a thumbs up to a BBC version with Judi Dench. The insanity of the modern world is illustrated by the fact you can watch this on Amazon Prime in the USA (herewith) but not in the UK. Ditto it is nowhere to be seen on the BBC iPlayer. We paid the license fee that got the thing made, yet we can't see it while Appalachian mountain Hillbillies can. Go figure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022


Rod M is back on London for his stepsister's wedding in Hertfordshire on the 26th. I will try and meet him and Carolyn early on Sunday morning as they fly back at midday.

This is handy, as I want to bend his ear about Mali. He was out these with the EU as I recall.

BBC: Yesterday

UK withdraws troops from Mali early blaming political instability

The UK is withdrawing troops from Mali earlier than planned due to political instability in the country, Defence Minister James Heappey has said.

Since 2020 around 300 British soldiers had been in the country as part of a UN mission to protect the local population from Islamist extremism.

Mr Heappey said two coups in Mali in three years had "undermined" efforts.

He also attacked the current Malian government for working with the Russian mercenary group Wagner.

"The Wagner Group is linked to mass human rights abuses and the Malian government's partnership with the Wagner Group is counterproductive to lasting stability and security in their region," he told MPs.


The operation in Mali had been described as "the most dangerous peacekeeping mission in the world" and 288 UN soldiers have lost their lives there since 2013.

The UK is the latest country to pull its troops from Mali, with France formally ending its decade-long presence last week.

French troops had been in Mali at the request of the then-government, however, since seizing power in 2020, Mali's military rulers have fallen out with France and have instead turned to Russia to help in their fight against Islamist insurgents who are wreaking havoc across much of the country.

Monday, November 14, 2022


Took the drama school nieces (Central and Guildhall) to see my cousin's boy Bart (RADA) playing one of the principal roles in Les Miserables in the West End yesterday.

I got to the theatre early and failed to notice that Mia was already there until she called out "Uncle Nick." I didn't recongise Bart's sister Vanny at all until she said hello.

I forgive them though, I am not one to bear grudges.

Bart was absolutely brilliant as  Thénardier; so convincing a villain that I felt like punching him on the nose when we walked round to see him at the stage door afterwards.

As for the musical itself, I remain - I am sorry to say - unconvinced. Eb, Eb/D, Cm, Eb/Bb, Ab, Ab/G, Fm7, Bb and repeat for the rest of your life. Why do they keep playing the same tune all the time and why is it almost all in the same key?

Perhaps it isn't the longest-running musical in the world, it just seems like it has been going on forever when you are watching it.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

All grist to the mill

 I just sorta assumed that the Wales Argentina game would be on at least one of the screens in the Standard yesterday for all that it clashed with the Newcastle Chelsea game. No such luck.

I would have turned on my heels and walked out, but Andy H had arrived before me and, gentleman that he is, got me a pint. 

Stuck there for at least 20 fluid ounces, I started casting round for an interim solution and wondered about my phone. I was surprised to see that the Prime Video app was already installed so I fired it up, and navigated to the game, all courtesy of the boozer's wi-fi.

I ended up watching the whole game on it there. Joe turned up and it was his birthday, then the rest of the Reillys, from Mass, to take him out for a pizza after Chelsea game etc. etc. I even stayed to watch the Newcastle Arsenal with the Hendries which followed.

Video on the phone is actually a practical proposition. I only spent 25% of my battery on the rugby. A lesson worth learning.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Keep on keeping on

I was at Spice Jazz last night with Andy M watching Yolanda Charles' Project PH. What a great band! A good venue too, previously unfamiliar. It is downstairs at the Spice of Life pub. Tube from the 'Wood to Leicester Square, a left turn, and the job's a good 'un. Must go again.

It is a good trick, keeping in touch with friends you only ever see occasionally. I imagine that the COVID lock-down made that worse; breaking occasional habits. Let's check out me and Andy.

I last saw him and Ian at Ronnie Scott's in September last year.
The time before that I met him in Hammersmith one Sunday morning after seeing PG. I don't seem to have a date for that. Let's call it 2000. (Update it was April 2021)
April 2019: ExpeRience: The science of music at the Royal Institution.
September 2017: Armenian Tasting at the Red Herring Wine Club.

Four times in just over five years. Doesn't seem like much but it keeps the wheels turning.

Being men of a certain age we asked about each other's parents and children. I was absolutely delighted to hear that his 87 year old father had recently got a speeding ticket while driving back from a Steely Dan tribute band gig. Older than both Mum and PG and putting them to shame. Old school.

Friday, November 11, 2022

The Final Lap

I finished story 719 yesterday, so Volume 2 of the Malcolm Lyons 1,001 Nights translation is done and I have started on the third and final volume. today.

Alex can read Kindle books aloud, so my current MO is to use the Alexa app on the phone to fire up the day's story on the everywhere group as I go about morning routine; there are speakers in the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room and the kitchen you see. 

After that I go through it again, reading it myself, and writing a precis that I send to the rest of the group on WhatsApp.

There should only be 282 left now.

It has been one of the most rewarding and educational of the tasks and projects I am forever setting myself.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning

Friday: Yolanda Charles: London Jazz Festival with muso-chums

Sunday: Les Mis in the Sondheim #TheatreDynasty

Saturday 19th: Lavender Hill Mob Richmond Theatre: ColWood works outing

Wednesday 23rd: Dinner with Groucho - Arcola Theatre

Friday 25th: Absolute Hell - Embassy Theatre, Royal Central. More #TheatreDynasty

It can catch up with you this music or theatre once-per-month plan; grows like topsy if you don't weed it regularly.

Gotta stay in tonight; season 2 of Warrior Nun has dropped and still nursing head after Liam the landlord's birthday in the Standard yesterday.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Rakie Ayola

Watach the vidoe above. Ladies and gentlrmen we have a new Welsh Born Icon. Rakie Ayola, born Cardiff 1968. You go girl! I will be all over The Pact.

''Woke,'' as wielded in this case, is a manipulative term, used to present something inherently positive and unproblematic in a negative light. Was on the end of it myself this weekend, but that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

You can't get there from here

Back in 2017 (passim) I was astounded to discover that Russia has a border with North Korea. 

Been chatting to Jone, Renu's Norwegian boyfriend lately, and was just as astonished to learn that Russia has a border with Norway as well.

Norway is a long way away from North Korea.

Just bear my naivety in mind the next time I get on my high horse and start lecturing you about the geopolitical implications of something or other.

Monday, November 07, 2022

Know thy enemy

Rod M has been casting his gaze over last Tuesday's, last Wednesday's and last Thursday's posts. The general conclusion is that I have failed to satisfy the examiners. As the man responsible for geopolitics in the kitchen cabinet, his points must be addressed.

First off the bat I accept his elegant skewering of my comments on the Angola-Tigray truce. Here are my words:

Not a lot of coverage in the UK, of a ceasefire in what has been described as the ‘deadliest war in the world.' A deal brokered by the African Union note, not the increasingly marginalised and irrelevant United Nations.

The great man's withering response:

The AU brokered Ethiopia Tigray deal for example isn't to the detriment of the UN but precisely what the UN is about. Chapter 8 of the Charter is all about regional arrangements for conflict resolution and prevention.

The "old Africa hand" is right. See I have no option but to take it on the  chin.

As for my comments on Putin and the SCO, I think I may attempt a defense. When I recommend reading and listening to Vladimir's voluminous essays, speeches and Q&A sessions, this should not be taken as me advocating them as edifying. I just think it is prudent to try and understand what he thinks. Ditto the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation; it may well be (the Rodster's assessment) a grouping of autocratic regimes whose main aim is to prevent the spread of ideas that are anathematic to them. All that I am saying is that, given that the SCO represents about 40% of the world’s population, it is probably not a bad idea to have it on the radar.

That said, I am always grateful though for criticism as constructive and educational as that I get from the international man of mystery.

Sunday, November 06, 2022

The Volcano

I have written twice before (in 2012, then 2020) about the pub my dad grew up opposite being rebuilt in the  Cardiff's St Fagans National Museum of History.

Cerys Matthews presented a BBC documentary about St Fagans in the week (herewith). There is a segment about The Vulcan about twelve minutes into it. We can expect an opening next year. We must try and hire it for a party and gather the descendants of the Brownes who lived so nearby.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

A tale of two MPs

I am in Cardiff for the Wales New Zealand game today, so I won't be going to Coffee in the Wood for the caffeine shot that has become traditional (since I lost my 8:30 am yoga Jones) before 10:30's Skype call with mum. Today I will be there in the actual physical flesh.

Thinking about CITW though conjured up a mental image. When I bowled up there a couple of weeks ago,  Siobhan McDonagh - our MP - was picking up a coffee to go wearing a garish a football jersey as I have ever seen (black and pink stripes anyone?). It had with her name on the front and Mitcham Park FC on the back. A little internet research revealed that she is the sponsor of the U13 Diamonds girls team. I imagine she was on her way to watch a game. Isn't that heart-warming? I'm a big fan. I saw her having a late weekend lunch with her sister in Canedo's on the High Street not so long ago. (Other posts about her on the spindrift pages are here.)

Could there be a greater contrast, in terms of loyalty to the community that elected you, than with that lemon Matt Hancock MP, who has lost the whip after abandoning his constituency for f I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in Australia?

Friday, November 04, 2022

Might the sun be rising in the East?

The Ethiopian government and northern Tigray rebels agreed to a ceasefire on Wednesday, the African Union’s special envoy said at a press conference in Pretoria. The agreement comes after the warring parties began their first public face-to-face talks in South Africa since the onset of hostilities in November 2020. ‘Today is the beginning of a new dawn for Ethiopia, for the Horn of Africa and indeed for Africa as a whole. Let me hasten to thank God for this new dawn,’ said Olusegun Obasanjo, a former Nigerian president. The truce includes a commitment to a ‘cessation of hostilities as well as to systematic, orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament, restoration of law and order, restoration of services, unhindered access to humanitarian supplies, protection of civilians, especially women, children and other vulnerable groups,’ he added. Ethiopian civil war: parties agree truce to end hostilities
Not a lot of coverage in the UK, of a ceasefire in what has been described as the ‘deadliest war in the world.' A deal brokered by the African Union note, not the increasingly marginalised and irrelevant United Nations.

The African Union is an alliance of states that currently consists of 53 countries mainly located in Eastern Africa and Western Africa. All member states comprise a total area of 11.29 million square miles (29.25 million km²) and about 1.33 billion people.
Russian Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov on 27 September chaired the first meeting of the Organizing Committee in charge of preparing for and holding the 2nd Russia–Africa Summit and other events in the Russia–Africa format in St. Petersburg in summer 2023. The meeting was attended by representatives of key ministries, departments, government agencies, and business associations.

The decision to regularly hold Russian-African meetings in this format was taken during the first Russia–Africa Summit in Sochi in 2019. The upcoming summit aims to provide a new constructive impetus to the development of Russia’s multifaceted relations with African countries and bolster the policy of a comprehensive and equal partnership with the African people.
More evidence that, regardless of rights and wrongs, we Europeans and Americans are deluding ourselves if we think the whole world is united against Russia. Putin’s vision for a “multipolar world” to supplant what he views as the Western-dominated international order that emerged after the Soviet Union’s collapse. I can understand how his invocation of the West as a hegemonic neo-colonial power bent on stunting the development of the rest of the world and exploiting poorer countries night play well in Africa. Especially an Africa struggling with grain and fertilizer imports in the light of NATO led sanctions.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Might the sun be setting in the West?

I was a bit puzzled after yesterday's post (herewith) when I couldn't seem to find any reference to September's SCO conference in the spindrift pages at all. It turns out I had written about it, but - as it was held in Samarkand - I had vented in September to the WhatsApp group in which we are digesting the 1,001 Nights, one night at a time; 71% in as of yesterday.

The 23rd meeting in Uzbekistan, of the nine-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was covered in the myopic UK press as if it was a side show to Ukraine's problems for all that - China, India and Pakistan being members of the SCO - the organization represents about 40% of the world’s population; and that,with the addition of Russia, the SCO countries make up 60% of Eurasian territory (the other member states of the organization are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and now Iran).

Leaping from crag to crag like a mountain goat, I now enquire if you have ever heard of BRICS, an acronym coined to associate five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa? Since 2009, the governments of the BRICS states have met annually at formal summits.

Prodnose: Should the West be worried that Saudi Arabia wants to join BRICS?
Myself: Yes, very much so. Yes.