Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Sex-O-Matic Venus Freak

Woke up this morning to find Macy Gray all over social media and the press on both sides of the Atlantic. 
‘Just because you go change your [body] parts, doesn’t make you a woman, sorry,’ says Gray

Not all that bothered myself, but it reminded me that the track above from her debut album (what 20 years ago?) is one of my favourites ever. 


Finally caught up with the first episode of series three of The Umbrella Club last night. Absolutely bonkers but very enjoyable.

It is like we are living in a parallel universe and can't find our way back home. Exactly the plot of the show, come to think of it.

Monday, July 04, 2022

African American Conservatives

It is probably more information than you need, but Radio 4 kicks off at 5:58 every morning in my bedroom. On weekdays this is so I can ease myself into the Today Programme via Tweet of the Day. That works fine Monday through Friday, but we don't get it on the weekend so this morning I got the last two minutes of:

Profile: Clarence Thomas - Timandra Harkness tells the story of the the US Supreme Court Justice at the centre of overturning the right to abortion in America. How did he go from poverty in Georgia to highest court in the land? And why did his politics change from campaigning for black rights to anti-affirmative action conservatism?

Having been blogging about the Supreme Court lately, I listened to the whole 15 minutes yesterday, and you can do the same here for at least a year.

I was intrigued by a reference to Thomas Sowell  as an influence on his move to, what for want of a better word, we shall call the right as I am aware of Sowell from the Hoover Institution.

This in turn got me thinking of John McWhorter, who I have been reading for nigh on two decades now, starting with The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language. I didn't even realise he was African American I don't think, until he started doing a podcast with Glenn Loury.

Also Amazon Fire TV has been recommending me this movie lately.

A lot to chew on here; early days. I am very far from an opinion never mind a conclusion.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Britannia Point

Plenty of coverage in the press of this incident round the corner. 

I don't want to come over as some sort of raging conspiracy theorist, but it does seem extraordinary that someone was pointing a camera at the window at the very moment it fell.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

More RBG, Less GBH

 July 1 (Reuters)

 Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google will delete location data showing when users visit an abortion clinic, the online search giant said on Friday, following concern that a digital trail could inform law enforcement if an individual terminates a pregnancy illegally.

Though this story doesn't seem to be on the BBC News website, it was the first item on BBC Radio 4's ten minutes of News and Papers at six o'clock this morning. I know it sounds unlikely but you can listen to it here for the next 29 days. I know this whole saga of Roe v Wade is driving a stake into the heart of the USA but why should it be the first thing off the bat in our news in the UK? (I was waiting of our government whip who has resigned after groping two men in a private members club. Anyone who can read the phrase "private members' club" in that context without laughing can no longer be my friend).

More seriously I need to get my head around this American saga.

OK, here is the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization judgement that overturned Roe v Wade 1973. The trouble is it is 213 pages long.

How about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Offers Critique of Roe v. Wade During Law School Visit from the University of Chicago? Nobody as far as I know has ever accused RBG of being a right wing ideologue.

“My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum on the side of change,” Ginsburg said. She would’ve preferred that abortion rights be secured more gradually, in a process that included state legislatures and the courts, she added. Ginsburg also was troubled that the focus on Roe was on a right to privacy, rather than women’s rights.

“Roe isn’t really about the woman’s choice, is it?” Ginsburg said. “It’s about the doctor’s freedom to practice…it wasn’t woman-centered, it was physician-centered.”

Interesting. Is that why it was overturned, on the right to privacy issue?

Ginsburg talked about the case she wished would’ve been the first reproductive freedom case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Struck v. Secretary of Defense. In that case, Ginsburg represented Capt. Susan Struck, who was serving in the Air Force in Vietnam when she became pregnant. The Air Force gave her two options: terminate or leave the Air Force. Struck wanted to keep the baby and her job, and Ginsburg took her case. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, but the Air Force relented and allowed Struck to keep her job, rendering the issue moot. 

“I wish that would’ve been the first case. I think the Court would’ve better understood that this is about women’s choice,” Ginsburg said.

Even more interesting. Smart cookie Ginsburg. Much to chew on here. 

Friday, July 01, 2022

Full-Court Press

 I was idly Googling the US Supreme Court last night (the justices never seem to be out of the news lately what with overturning Roe v Wade and yesterday's ruling limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate emissions from fossil fuel-fired power plants) when I came across a table in Wikipedia.

Religious makeup of the current Court
NameReligionAppt. byOn the Court since
John Roberts (Chief Justice)CatholicismG.W. Bush2005
Clarence ThomasCatholicismG.H.W. Bush1991
Samuel AlitoCatholicismG.W. Bush2006
Sonia SotomayorCatholicismObama2009
Elena KaganJudaismObama2010
Neil GorsuchAnglicanism/CatholicismTrump2017
Brett KavanaughCatholicismTrump2018
Amy Coney BarrettCatholicismTrump2020
Ketanji Brown JacksonProtestantismBiden2022
Isn't that remarkable? It is overwhelmingly Catholic. If we claim Neil Gorsuch for the left footers, it just leaves one Jew and one Protestant to make up the numbers. No WASPS at all, Ketanji Brown Jackson being an African-American woman. 

I am astonished this isn't bigger news. To put it in context there have only ever been two Catholic presidents; JFK and Joe Biden. Neither known for their piety, or devotion to canon law. To be honest I am bemused that Biden, and Nancy Pelosi for that matter, haven't been excommunicated.

"This one will run and run," Fergus Cashin - Irish Cardiff Catholic“™”.

Thursday, June 30, 2022


After I crossed myself and genuflected in the Convento Santa María de Jesús on Saturday morning, I left and wandered down to the Plaza de Pilatos. There's a large tourist map of the city there, on a plinth behind perspex. I took it in and set off, meandering; seeking whom I may devour. Had a wonderful half hour or so; one foot in front of the other, through leaves, over bridges. Started to think it was time to get back and resurrect the Bomber from his pit, only to find that I was hopelessly lost. Not a scooby.

Being a half wit, I decided to solve this by walking more quickly, Yeah right, here's an ironic italicized question mark in inverted commas "?"

Did I mention that whatever tom fool O2 scheme I am on gives me calls and texts in Europe but no data? Thus I couldn't get Google Maps to put a ring though my nose and drag me back to Hotel Abanico.

I messaged Ben asking him for the name and address of the hotel so I could get a cab back. He replied with the necessary but also mentioned in passing that he only had 2% left on his phone's battery and that he hadn't brought a charging cable. Idiot child; I wonder where he gets that from?

I managed to flag down a taxi, though I had to get outside our largely one-way or pedestrianized area to do so. The driver delivered me, and then.

Though it is unlikely I will ever be identified in a line up for a crime committed by David Bowie or Peter O'Toole, I am slimmer than I used to be. Any roads, I left my belt in the basket after going through customs and when I got out of the cab pigeons came home to to roost.

I pulled the deck of ID's, receipts and cards out of my back pocket and laid them out them on the taxi's roof so I could pick out the right one with which to pay. As I did so my pants fell down around my ankles, I had disrupted the triple fold I had done on my waist band to keep them up beltless. 

There I was legs akimbo, spreadeagled with my arms on top of a car and a bare arse. It looked like a cheap 70s porn knock off of Starsky & Hutch. Dignity always dignity.

I do hope that none of the Poor Clare sisters from Santa María de Jesús saw it. 

This concludes my Seville stories, unless there is something even more hideous that my subconscious is hiding from me,

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Convento Santa María de Jesús

Being an earlier riser than the Bomber (isn't everyone? Ed.) when we were in Seville I was out flaneuring of a morning while he was still catching up with his zzzzzz's.

The first day I came out of the Hotel Abonico and turned left. A hundred yards down C. Águilas behind a nondescript door in a blank wall was this:

Whoosh, here becomes now. Britain would look like this if it wasn't for the Reformation. I have checked it out since I am back home. Google Maps says it is the Convento Santa María de Jesús see https://goo.gl/maps/jDcKua8ojc5MteKm7

I can't find anything about it in English, and it isn't in the DK Guide to Seville Helen lent us. Here's a Spanish video.

If we ever go back I will buy cakes and pastries from the nuns. All of this colour and life goes on behind what looks like a warehouse wall.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Eat Me

The food was top notch in Seville. (Also Helen was good enough to tell us in advance that 'Calle Argote de Molina is the street near the Cathédral that has some good restaurants' and that steer did us the power of good when we first arrived, late at night, tired and hungry. We weren't let down.)

Let's see if I can't return the favour by working out the places we patronised from my Google timeline and a pocket full of receipts.

We sent the Decameron group (don't ask) the image on the right in WhatsApp after dinner that first evening, captioning it "tapas at the restaurant you recommended." I need to correct that. She had written of the Calle Argote de Molina restaurants. "We went to the one with the red awnings (La Subasta?)" In fact our party were at Antigüedades Bar de Tapas which also has red awnings. La Subasta is on the other side of the road seven meters away if Google Maps is anything to go by.

Ben whose arm is in the picture squeezing lemon on fried fish was very taken with the tartar de salmón which is in the picture at 10 o'clock. Here is a recipe from Lidl's Spanish website. (Is it snobbish to find that funny?)

We had lunch both days at Casa de Gula (C. Álvarez Quintero, 9, 41004 Sevilla.) Returning the second time because their tartar de tomate served with smallish oblong slices of deep fried bread was a big favourite with the Bomber. Here is Albert Adrià's recipe. I had to include it because it contains:

  • 8 gramos de salsa Lea Perrins (Lea Perrins)
  • 3 gramos de salsa Salsa HP o Brown sauce

HP sauce and Lea Perrins; old school.

Saturday's dinner was at Casa Robles, a massive 61m from Friday's. Seafood paella para dos por favor as my Spanish started to revive. Good stuff; the food that is not my mangling of the language.

Late afternoon Sunday we got fueled at Casa Manolo, in the Plaza de la Alfalfa just up from the hotel. Of the two of us, I knew it the best. The Bomber not being a great one for springing from his bed full of the joys of spring I had got used to having a contemplative coffee or two there of a morning while he festered on his mattress with his head under the pillow.

Entrecot ternera for him, fritura variada for me. Then off to the airport and back to Blighty to forget what the words italicized in the last sentence mean.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Going about things backwards


Here's a video called 'Seville - From Seville Cathedral to Setas de Sevilla - Walk in 4K' I haven't watched it yet, but it resonated with me becuase the Bomber and I did it in reverse on our last day there yesterday. Climbing to the top of the Setas in the morning and then the top of the Giralda in the afternoon.

Spooky eh?

Sunday, June 26, 2022

More of the same (sigh)

Real Alcazar de Sevilla in the afternoon.

Teatro Flamenco Triana in the evening. 

Thin gruel I know, but one does one's best. Oh, and Ben bought some souvenir socks.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Trying to make the most of it.

 We arrived in Seville from London too late anything much more than check in to the hotel.

Then go out to eat.

Ben was very taken with the tartar de salmón.

After that we just strolled around the Barrio de Santa Cruz. You know us. We don't like anything too fancy.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Work is what we do, but it is not who we are


At 82, the jazz legend will this weekend be one of the oldest performers ever to grace Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage. He recalls his career highs, from making his hip-hop classic Rockit to working with Thundercat

When the pandemic took the now 82-year-old jazz legend Herbie Hancock off the road, his half-century passion for Nichiren Buddhism came to the rescue. “I could have been miserable over what I was missing out on,” he says, from his Los Angeles home, “but for the first time in 50 years, I ate dinner with my own wife every night, and slept next to her in my own bed. It was a blessing. Music is what I do, but is not what I am.”

I am very taken with the opening paragraph above from the Herbie Hancock interview. 

The cab is picking us up at half past twelve today. Thence to Gatwick, thence to Seville for the weekend. 

I probably won't be blogging while we are there, but I will likely back-fill when we return, a daily entry serving as a kind of comfort blanket for me over the years.

So what's the future

No matter where I go 

I will still belong in Andalusia

Where good, honest men grow weak

And the rich grow strong

Something's wrong

Sir Tom Jones is at least as wise as Herbie Hancock. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

What a Carrie On

When we went to see Tina Brown on "The Palace Papers" recently she mentioned in passing that she  thought Lord Geidt, the Queen's Personal Private Secretary for a decade, was a "safe pair of hands' and a great loss to the Palace.

As ever when I hear of someone from the Royal Household I check them out in my online archives. This time it yielded a story. I've got email conversations from 2011 that are copied to one "Christopher Geidt." They are couched as if they are just a general evaluation of the character sets the Monarchy website that we had developed and supported at the time. They weren't. Do you remember when the Queen delivered a speech in Gaelic during a historic visit to Ireland that year? 'A Uachtaráin, agus a chairde' she began. All the flim flam I was getting was designed to make sure that the Irish orthography (fill your boots here)  would be correct when the text went up, and all done without me having a clue. I remember the next day when her words were 100% correct on the Palace website and wrong (unaccented, plain) in the domestic press.

A rule of mine is "Do not ever go toe to toe with people who can combine that level of foresight, attention to detail, and discretion. You will only come off second best." I thought of it again when Geidt resigned as Boris Johnson's ethics advisor after being put in an "odious position."

Thought of it again this week after Geidt said the claims of Boris trying to get Carrie a job “could be ripe for investigation”. For all that the, ahem, networking for jobs proposal was kicked back by, among others, The Royal Foundation, the revolving door between No 10 and the Household is real. Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, who made the approach on behalf of BoJo was previously the Cambridge's Private Secretary. Samantha Cohen, Director of Office: 10 Downing Street, was previously Assistant Private Secretary to HM The Queen and that is just off the top of my head.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Don't mind me. I just live and work here.

The series 3 of the Umbrella Academy that Netflix promised me for my birthday isn't there yet, but the page still says it is coming today. 

Luckily yesterday gave me another Netflix story. One of their shows was filming at Abbey Mills. Mick the site manager has told me that it was something called Treason. The cast and crew are listed on IMDB at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt16450274/fullcredits/ in case anyone is interested. 

I went and had a gander when they were setting up. I had no idea filming was so elaborate a business. I saw a lorry forklift crane, a cherry picker, a huge generator truck etc. all round the site.

When I went back later for more nosey parkering, I was astonished to find that all they seemed to be doing was filming a scene in the MED Cafe adjacent to the William Morris, and that all these gigantic external rigs and the scores of technicians seemed to be concerned with little else other than getting the lighting right inside it. Part of the pub seemed to be converted into the actors wardrobe, there were loads and loads of people milling about. I was amazed.

It certainly gave me a new respect for what Simon Crane (Ollie's brother) does for a living. If it took all this palaver just to film a few actors in character having a chat over a cappuccino, imagine what is involved in helming an action scene in a huge Hollywood movie.

It makes me start to wonder if real workaday human beans such as myself are being reduced to extras as the whole world is becoming a film set. Take this from outside Phil and Rachel's in Cardiff earlier this month

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

To Kill a Mockingbird

 As I pulled up outside the house yesterday, Lee and Vera were coming of the place opposite. They told me that they were off to the theatre in Hammersmith. (I didn't catch if it was the Riverside or the Lyric.) I said that I myself was off to see To Kill A Mockingbird at the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue.  When I got there it struck me that the Giegud, the Apollo, and the Lyric are practically adjacent and that having seen Get Up Stand Up! in February and Jerusalem last week I have ticked off the current productions at all three. Maybe PG is right about the Wood being a hotbed of arts enthusiasts.

To Kill A Mockingbird was great, just as John and Lorraine said when they saw it in March, something Andy and Ollie also confirmed. More confirmation that my friends and family are practically keeping the West End afloat on their own.

Monday, June 20, 2022

The rhythm of life

I'm not crying, I've just got something in my eye.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Fathers' Day

What was it you used to say Dad?  "Money is like manure; pile it up - it does nothing but stink, spread it around though and it encourages young things to grow.”

Anyway, I dropped a few hundred quid on a tenor sax for Paul and Jenny's daughter Emily yesterday. Had been talking to her on the bandstand at the Mills over the Bank Holiday when she expressed an interest in moving on from her (already accomplished) flute to saxophone.  Also she subsequently endeared herself to me by taking my side against her mother in a discussion of the EmMaj9 "James Bond" chord.

Put my hand in my pocket as a tribute to you John Patrick Browne, you cantankerous old bugger. While the rest of the world is wondering why I, a man with a 60+ Oyster Card, am showering gifts on a teenage girl, you will be looking down on me from heaven and smiling.

And that is all that matters.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

I am too tired to be frightened

The Crown Estate published its annual results a couple of days ago, might as well have put them on a bonfire in the garden for all they attention they attracted.

Capital value: The value of the Marine portfolio increased by 22% to £5.0 billion, driven largely by offshore wind, in particular leasing Round 4.

I wrote about this twice in February 2021 (by yer, and over by yer). The Queen owns, and can dispose of as she sees fit, all the rights to offshore power generation in UK territorial waters. Tony Blair's government ceded this to the Crown in 2004. And nobody except me seems to think it was outrageous! It is not as if all the North Sea oil was hers, it is a precedent set comparatively recently for all it sounds medieval. The value of this "gesture" to Her Majesty increased by a billion quid last year. (OK strictly 0.9 billion but you get the point.) Where are the headlines? 

Before I get back down off my soapbox, let's raise the small matter, once more, of the Government's insane half a billion pound investment in the OneWeb satellite constellation (74 employees at the time the money was spunked up). I have been banging on about this for two years now. They launched their satellites from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Oops, what with Russian sanctions, Russian retaliation 'n all. Chalk another one up to Dominic Cummings, strategic genius.

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Lazarus Project

Here's the trailer for Paapa's latest. I reckon it is about five years since Frankie met him when he turned up at their coffee shop and later introduced us at the Monday night pub quiz in the Antelope. Certainly he is still on an upwards trajectory.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Seeing the future

Bookfest finished yesterday with Abdulrazak Gurnah. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2021. (Does that make him the reigning champion until 2022's is announced?)

Sometimes it is good just to sit back and reflect on how far Fiona et al have come in the last fifteen years. The first event I can remember is Kate Williams on Lady Hamilton's Attitudes at the Chapter House in 2017.

I was at Bookfest on Monday. Yesterday I was at home watching Fiona Hill on Russia, America, and the Future of European Security over Zoom as part of the LSE Festival.

It isn't there yet, but it should be on the LSE Player in a day or two.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

That's Mia's call sheet for yesterday at Central on the right. She is opening as Lady Anne in Richard III tonight. We can't go and see it though. She's in the second year and productions aren't open to the public until the third. It is probably for the best. I would be very surprised if I could listen to her saying "Come, now towards Chertsey with your holy load," without laughing and lowering the tone around Henry VI's funeral.

I've never seen a call-sheet before. She sent it when she was starting to wonder if she would be able to make it to see Jerusalem with us at the Apollo last night. I had offered her the spare ticket when Carol dropped out a couple of weeks ago. I told her not to worry. There were two intervals so she would manage to get to see at least some of it. She made it for the whole thing in the end after persuading her director to give her her "notes" the next day. It is a keepsake for me now. I imagine she passed it over to reassure us she wasn't messing us about. Tickets for Mark Rylance in Jerusalem's revival being like hen's teeth. (Had to toss a coin to see which drama school niece got the spare. This time Beth lost, but I am sure there will be next times.)

As for Jerusalem itself, what to say? Helen messaged me this morning as follows: "I thought it probably one of the best plays I’ve ever seen." I concur.

As I was watching it I could imagine, drinking, laughing, moaning, lying and suffering with the cast's waifs and strays, ne'er-do-wells and naïfs in the pub John used to drink in when he lived in Skewen, as opposed to a caravan in the Wiltshire woods. No greater tribute can be paid to its larger than life authenticity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Palace Papers

 I took Emma and Nicola to see Tina Brown talk about her book The Palace Papers: Inside the House of Windsor, the Truth and the Turmoil at the Wimbledon Bookfest last night. I worked with them when we relaunched the monarchy website in 2009. 2009! and we carried on working with the Palace until 2014.

I thought it would be fun to sit between two Royal Household insiders and raise the occasional eyebrow at Ms Brown's yellow journalism. I was right.

Nicola doesn't work there any more, but Emma does. I think she had fun being at something frivolous after all the pressure of organising the Jubilee. I didn't get any gossip out of her as she is the soul of discretion; something she disguises very well by telling you about people being nice as if she is passing on a titbit. Apparently Donald Trump is very engaging and polite, especially with the peons, vassals and serfs (people like me and you) his public persona suggests he wouldn't even notice.

I have decided to appoint her as the royal correspondent of my kitchen cabinet. Second member after Rod.

Monday, June 13, 2022

The History of the World Part 1

 I need to start putting some meat on the bones of the weekend in Seville with the Bomber that we have booked.

We are flying out from Gatwick on Friday 24 June, 2022 at 16:05 and arriving in Seville at 19:45.

On Sunday 26 June, 2022 we fly from Seville at 21:35 and arrive at London Stansted at twenty past eleven.

When I booked this I didn't think coming and going from different London airports would be an issue. This was before National and London rail strikes were announced by the RMT union. Officially the union says that it will hold 24-hour strikes on Tuesday 21st, Thursday 23rd and Saturday 25th June, so theoretically it shouldn't have any impact on us at all. Old and cynical as I am however, I think the situation will need monitoring. 

The Gatwick Express goes from Victoria.

The Stansted Express goes to Liverpool Street.

Nothing much exciting is gonna happen Friday night if we don't land until quarter to eight, so maybe just a meal at the Hotel Abanico. The accommodation is already booked.

Saturday, what man tinkin' break down like this; day - Real Alcazar de Sevilla - evening flamenco (Teatro Flamenco Triana).

Sunday Cordoba (https://www.mezquitadescordoba.com/) and from there to the airport. 

Sound like a plan?

Sunday, June 12, 2022

King Solomon

 King Solomon has been featuring in the 1,001 Nights for the last few days.  (We are up to to Night 571 as of today, thanks f'r asking.) I didn't realise he was such a significant figure in Islam (as well as Christianity and Judaism) and in, what would you call it?, Middle Eastern culture (?) in general.

In fact, it has dawned in me, that all I know about him at all is that he demonstrated how wise he was by proposing to cut a baby in half, and summat about the Queen of Sheba. With respect to the latter, that Solomon and the Queen of Sheba are often found together in the same sentence is the limit of my knowledge.

How is this to be rectified? Let's see. "Nearly all evidence for Solomon’s life and reign comes from the Bible (especially the first 11 chapters of the First Book of Kings and the first nine chapters of the Second Book of Chronicles). " Reading that will be a start then. 

"The biblical Book of Proverbs contains collections of aphorisms and other wise teachings attributed to him. Like his father, Solomon was also revered as a poet. The biblical Song of Solomon is attributed to him." Ditto.

Also there is an "In Our Time" from the Melvster. It is ten years old, but I think we can overlook that as he is supposed to have reigned in the early 10th century BCE.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Today's bad pun

What can I say? It cheered me up this morning. Don't try and tell me you haven't got more of a spring in your step just from having seen it.

Friday, June 10, 2022

I don't second that ammendment


Matthew McConaughey: Take the time to watch the whole thing if you can. He was born in Uvalde, where his mother taught kindergarten less than a kilometre from Robb Elementary school, where the latest Texas school shooting took place. That shouldn't make any difference, but to me, it does. (I realise this is a crunching gear change but it reminds about wondering why Joanna Lumley was so involved in the Gurkha Justice Campaign until I found out that her father  served as an officer in the British Indian Army's 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles in Burma during World War II. She was probably brought up on stories of the wonder and valour of Gurkhas.) Shouldn't make any difference, but to me, it does. Cleanses the palate of any suspicion of bandwagon jumping or virtue signalling.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Well that's it, that one sentence above. Americans talk about it as if Moses brought it down from Mount Sinai inscribed onto a stone tablet.  A truth they hold to be self evident. To almost anyone brought up in the UK, I would suggest, it is all but incomprehensible. What was it that Wilde wrote? 'We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language'. It is a cultural chasm.

Take a look at this video of Niall Ferguson, born in Scotland but now a naturatlised US citizen and one of the few people in public life to right of me https://youtu.be/LBxw53tEurY?t=3520

Condoleezza Rice, former US secretary of state joins Hoover senior fellows Niall Ferguson, H. R. McMaster, and John Cochrane to discuss what the scourge of gun violence says about America’s social and cultural divides. Ferguson, as I do, appears to think that the other three have gone stark staring mad.

Thursday, June 09, 2022

My Kitchen Cabinet


The Congolese student fighting with pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine

Jean Claude Sangwa took up arms in Luhansk – and his pro-Moscow views are mainstream in much of Africa

I thought of Rod M, as I was reading the article above yesterday. As we often meet up when he passes through London, I can see that (passim) he left to work on the ground with the  United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO, in September 2008.

I am all but sure that when we saw George III in the Wyndham Theatre in November 2014 he was en route from DR Congo to the Ukraine to take up a role with the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) monitors. When he got there he sent me a photo of him outside the 'MIR' Hotel, Severodonetsk. The hotel is probably rubble now what with "Severodonetsk: Zelensky ties fate of east Ukraine to battle for city" (BBC 8 hours ago).

Right at the end of 2018 (passim) I learned he was off to Mali. The Wagner Group anyone?

I imagine I am reheating a lot of the above, but it has struck me how much better qualified he must be to talk about Congolese pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine and the pro-Moscow views that are mainstream in much of Africa than anyone I will hear on the radio. (I am amazed and impressed that the Guardian has broken ranks even to the extent of acknowledging the phenomenon.)

More and more, I am starting to suspect that I personally know someone who is better informed on any specific hot button issue than any member of the dreary commentariat.

I will start gathering these exemplars together over the months and years into my own new Kitchen Cabinet. Rod is the first official member. Our annual meeting will be in the Royal Standard as opposed to Davos.

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Cardiff's Joe Cordina

As of June 4th, Cardiff and Wales have their latest boxing world champion. Joe Cordina stopped Kenichi Ogawa in the second round with a stunning right hand to win the IBF super-featherweight strap. 

According to his Wikipedia page he is 5 ft 9 in tall, about the same as me. The super-featherweight limit is 130 pounds. I was 13 st 2 on the bathroom scales this morning. That is 184 pounds, so I am 42% more than his fighting weight.

If, hypothetically,  someone was to take out a bouncer with one right-handed punch along the lines of Cordina's above he would probably be barred from all the clubs for whom the firm who employed the victim look after the doors.

Prodnose: This is one of these secret message things I suppose, intelligible to a select coterie, possibly resonant for you when revisited in some tranquil future, yet opaque to the great unwashed, and breaching no confidentiality agreements?

Myself (insufferably): You're repeating yourself, and it's not for the first time.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

148 Not Out?

Last night, Boris Johnson secured the support of 211 Tories against 148 rebels, in a confidence ballot.

The size of the rebellion was greater than those faced by Theresa May, John Major and Margaret Thatcher in similar votes.

The vote means 41 per cent of Tory MPs do not have confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership. There are between 160 and 170 MPs on the government payroll, meaning it is likely that only around 40 backbenchers expressed support.

But Mr Johnson insisted: “I think this is a very good result for politics and for the country. I think it’s a convincing result, a decisive result. And what it means is that, as a Government we can move on and focus on the stuff that I think really matters to people."

He is absolutely barking mad. Two by-elections are to be held in June. Both are to replace a Conservative MP who resigned in disgrace.

Ahmad Khan, who was elected to the Wakefield constituency in 2019, was convicted in April of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party in 2008.

Neil Parish quit his Tiverton and Honiton seat after admitting watching pornography in Parliament.

Well that is two Tory landslides in the bag then, I bet they are rubbing their hands together in Conservative Central Office.

Boris (keeping up spirits): The boy stood on the burning deck,
Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle’s wreck,
Shone round him o’er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,
As born to rule the storm;
A creature of heroic blood,
A proud, though childlike form.

The flames rolled on – he would not go.......

Entire Company: How can I miss you when you won't go away?
I keep telling you day after day
But you won't listen, you always stay and stay
How can I miss you when you won't go away?

Monday, June 06, 2022

nice to be comfy, nice to be nice

Wales are through to the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958, only the second time ever and I am beside myself. Being Welsh though I am going to celebrate with warm domestic, even parochial, memories rather than English style bunting and street parties.

The best player in Wales' 1958 team was John Charles. When I was growing up in Heol Lewis he lived round the corner and ran "John Charles Sports" a little shop - in the parade near Rhiwbina library as I recall - about a mile away. When he walked past us in the street once, Dad told me that he was a famous football player, and while I didn't actively disbelieve my old man, I did find it difficult to credit that there was a bona fide Juventus legend domiciled in our vicinity. There he was though.

If John Charles was 1958's stand out, Gareth Bale is 2022's. My brother John saw him once, our Gareth out on his own walking a dog (it was in Roath Park as I recall). Similar double-take; can the man who just wandered past with no entourage, just Fido on a lead, really be the same chap who went from Spurs to Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee? There he was though.

If your heart isn't warmed, you haven't got one.

Let's give it up for the good people of Ukraine as well. Oleksandr Zinchenko was gracious and wise in defeat.

Wales' keeper done unbelievable job. I don't think we deserved to lose. Such a tight game. So tough to lose. After a fight you cannot fight again. If you lost, you lost. Life carries on. I wish Wales all the best. It's a long time since they have been there. Football is emotions, if we can give some great feelings to our fans then job done. I feel sorry for our fans because we could not get the result today. Sorry for the supporters around the world. Every one of us gave everything. But this is football, it can happen.

As football players, we need to represent our country as best we can. Everyone needs to live in peace. And we need to stop the war now, because you don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. Today it is Ukraine, tomorrow Russian could be in your country.

It may not be idiomatically perfect, but the sentiment is clear. Until my Ukrainian is better than his English I am not going to criticise him.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

About last night

The Plain People of Ireland: Well there was certainly plenty of music to choose from yesterday. The BBC’s Platinum Party at the Palace: Queen, George Ezra AND Craig David! Did that not tickle your fancy?

Myself: Can't say it did.

The Plain People of Ireland: Mighty Hoopla at Brockwell Park?  Three stops from Tooting to Herne Hill on the train with your 60+ Oyster Card and the job's a good 'un. Main Stage had some acts-of-the-moment — Self Esteem and Jessie Ware among them — as well as some more established favourites, including Kate Nash, Macy Gray, Katy B and headliners Sugababes. Eighties star Kim Wilde topped the bill  on House of Love, and the Pleasure Palace was a drag extravaganza, with appearances from Blu Hydrangea, The Vivienne (doing a Cher tribute, no less), and Tia Kofi teaming up with electropop act Little Boots.

Myself: Not really feeling it. I'd already been to the Brockwell Park with my brother Vince and his wife Michele to see Madness on Friday. Also I was concerned that the LGBTQIA+ community might be under represented on Saturday's line up.

The Plain People of Ireland: Say no more. Everyone’s favourite drumming weatherman Owain Wyn Evans at the Cardiff Castle Jubilee Celebration Concert? You'll have been in the audience there with your dear personal friends the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the city where you were born.

Myself: Nope.

The Plain People of Ireland (inspired): Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds with your other brother John at Margam Park!

Myself: Nay nay thrice nay.

The Plain People of Ireland (as a horrible realisation dawns): Surely not the Karaoke & Disco gig at The Royal Standard down the High Street?

Myself: Correct! A day without a Val Doonican song is a day without sun.

Entire Company: Now Delaney had a donkey that everyone admired, Temporarily lazy and permanently tired, A leg at every corner balancing his head, And a tail to let you know which end he wanted to be fed.
Riley slyly said, "We've underrated it, why not train it?" Then they took a rag, They rubbed it, scrubbed it, they oiled and embrocated it, Got it at the post and when the starter dropped the flag ......

Saturday, June 04, 2022

I am a draper mad with love

Learned from the Torygrpah today (herewith but behind a paywall) that Peter Blake: Under Milk Wood is at Waddington Custot, London W1, from June 11 to July 23 2022.
A series of over 170 watercolours, collages and drawings by Sir Peter Blake illustrating Dylan Thomas's landmark 1953 ‘play for voices’, Under Milk Wood, is to be exhibited by Waddington Custot this summer, in a new, dedicated exhibition space opposite the main gallery at 22 Cork Street, London. The series has never before been shown outside of Wales, and this exhibition debuts a number of new works shown for the first time, as Blake has continued to work on the series. Under Milk Wood will open as Blake celebrates his 90th birthday. 

Illustrating Under Milk Wood is a project that Blake has been working on for over 40 years. The artist first heard the play as a student at the Royal College of Art, when it was broadcast on the radio in 1954, but his idea to create a series of illustrations based on the piece was conceived a quarter of a century later in 1979, when he was given a recording to listen to in the studio as he worked. Blake returned to, and abandoned, the project multiple times until the 1990s, before embarking on the series in earnest: "As soon as I decided to illustrate Under Milk Wood, I researched it, read it and listened to it again and again. I still play it a couple of times a week and read it once a month. I've always treated it as a separate piece of work. I work on Under Milk Wood at home in the evening. It's almost like a 'separate me' doing it."
As Jules says in Pulp Fiction, "Oh, man ! I'm goin'. That's all there is to it. I'm fxxkin' goin'."

Friday, June 03, 2022

Lost and Found

Six people are being prosecuted by the Metropolitan police for allegedly breaching Covid-19 restrictions during a vigil for Sarah Everard, who was murdered by a Met officer.

According to court documents, those being charged include Dania Al-Obeid, 27, from Stratford, east London; Vivien Hohmann, 20, from Clapham, south London; Ben Wheeler, 21, from Kennington, south London; and Kevin Godin-Prior, 68, from Manchester. Their cases were heard at Westminster magistrates court on Wednesday.

They are being prosecuted for allegedly attending a gathering of more than two people in an outdoor place when London was under tier 4 restrictions on 13 March 2021.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the four named above were being prosecuted under the single justice procedure, which meant the case could not be observed by the public. It also means the decision to prosecute under Covid laws was solely a Met police decision. Most prosecutions in England and Wales have to be authorised by the CPS. The Met said the case on Wednesday for the four accused was an administrative hearing.
Words fail me. The "offences" were committed on 13  March 2021; not too long before 16 April 2021, when two parties were held by Downing Street staff at No 10, the night before Prince Philip's funeral.

Wayne Couzens is serving a whole-life sentence after pleading guilty to the kidnap, rape and murder of Everard while a serving police officer.

The Met:
Couzens betrayed Sarah and all of us when he used his knowledge, status and equipment to deceive and abduct Sarah and we do not understate the impact this has had on public confidence.  
The fact that he used equipment given to him by the Met is reprehensible and it compounds the dreadful nature of his crimes.  

Nevertheless, it has to be the case that officers are able, on occasion, to take some or all of their equipment with them, between places of duty and where needed, travelling to and from work. They do not require explicit permission. It is a personal decision that has to be done for legitimate reasons and that they will have to justify if challenged. 
Couzens used his warrant card as part of his deception to identify himself as a police officer. Every officer carries a warrant card.  
Righty ho, that's OK then. "Every officer carries a warrant card." Point taken,  how about the small matter of the handcuffs he used on her? What do you think "Couzens betrayed Sarah and all of us" means? I think the Met's us refers to them - the Force - not the public, the rest of us. Don't you love the faux cwtch with which the folksy press release refers to "Sarah" as if she was some sort of acquaintance? Me neither. Something more like "Ms Everard" would have been more respectful.

The Metropolitan Police acted appropriately at the vigil held in memory of Sarah Everard on Clapham Common, a new inspection has found.

HMICFRS found that the Metropolitan Police was justified in adopting the view that the risks of transmitting COVID-19 at the vigil were too great to ignore when planning for and policing the event.

After reviewing hundreds of documents, body-worn video from police officers at the vigil and other media, and conducting interviews with the police, vigil organisers and politicians, the inspectorate found that:
  • police officers at the vigil did their best to peacefully disperse the crowd;
  • police officers remained calm and professional when subjected to abuse; and
  • police officers did not act inappropriately or in a heavy-handed manner.
However, HMICFRS also found there was insufficient communication between police commanders about changing events on the ground.

The inspectorate said that public confidence in the Metropolitan Police suffered as a result of the vigil, and that given the impact of images of women under arrest – which were widely disseminated on social media – a more conciliatory response after the event might have served the Met’s interests better.
Righty ho, that's OK then. My arse it is, for all that the last paragraph is one of the great understatements of our time. Remember all thise riots that groups of women instigated? When public order had to forcibly be reimposed. Me neither.

You know how we use that phrase "shame culture" to patronise and denigrate societies from other parts of the world, well there are worse things. Downing Street and the Police they have weaponised into some sort of executive arm charged with imposing policy, are incapable of feeling ashamed of anything. Nothing is ever their collective fault. It is always just a few bad apples.
Well I, for one, am ashamed of them.

(For what it is worth, and I may return to it again it has always seemed to me that if the boyfriend that Sarah Everard phoned on her way back that fateful night hadn't reported her missing and maintained a constant barrage of follow ups the murder might not ever have been solved. Remember when those two sisters were murdered in Wembley Park in 2020? The bodies weren't found by the police, they were found 36 hours later, in the bushes where they had been hidden, by the boyfriend of one of them. My heart goes out to him and his gumption but how is it that he could locate them and Plod couldn't? Imagine the scene he stumbled upon.)

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.

Myself: Call me old fashioned, even romantic, but there was something heartwarming and thrilling about that win yesterday.

Prodnose: Ukraine holding off Scotland to set up a Wales showdown on Sunday for a World Cup spot?

Myself: No, Johnny Depp being awarded more than $10 million in damages in his US defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard!  Ba-dum-tish! Goodnight folks, I'm here all week! 

Prodnose: What you just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Myself: He shoots, he scores!

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Alexa, Sea Shanty Fart

Julia Boggio is a photographer whose studios used to be on the ground floor in Abbey Mills' Apprentice Shop directly under our office. That is how I happened to start following her on Twitter years ago. Today it paid off.

I am not sure I will be able to resist blasting Mr Farts - The Wellerman (Sea Shanty Fart) out of my windows next Monday when Colliers Wood's Shanty Singers are rehearsing as usual in a garden a few gates down. There are 82 of them according to https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/shanty-singers-colliers-wood/ Eighty Two!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Longueur of a long year

 I don't know if you've noticed, but I have taken to linking the titles of my posts here to the same day last year. Here is the skinny from May 31st 2021, so it is twelve months since Paul had his colonoscopy.

Checking my email records, his cancer surgery was on 13 September, so that was more than eight months ago. Looking on the bright side, the operation seems (touch wood) to have been a success, in that as far as I know there has been no recurrence. Can't be much fun living with a stoma bag all that time. He still hasn't got a date for another operation to reverse the colostomy, though I can see on the shared diary that he has got an appointment in the hospital on June 17th, for all that will be more than nine months from the procedure.

Cramps his style significantly if you want my opinion. Couldn't lure him out for a drink and a meal with Bondy, Hugh and Jason early in April, and drew another blank with the Bookfest/Tina Brown/Royal Household bun fight in a fortnight. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

No left turn unstoned

 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Good that innit? You know as a sort of, ahem - deep breath, how to live your life without being too judgmental type thingummy-jigger.

Also I think I left my phone charger back in Cardiff. Either that or it fell through a wormhole in the space-time continuum and will turn out to be an important plot device in the next Spiderman-Dr Strange link up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Prodnose: Probably the former rather than the latter.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

In which I address the nation

Wimbledon Bookfest is on again. Fill your boots at  https://www.wimbledonbookfest.org/Events/2022SunriseEventsCalendar.aspx

I am going to Tim Marshall on The Political Geography of the War in Ukraine because I am posh and clever,

I am going to Tina Brown on The Palace Papers (outrageous yellow press sensationalist nonsense) with my Household home girls because they will need to depressurize after working twenty four seven on the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend. Neither posh nor clever but lady petrol fueled shits and giggles are guaranteed.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Monstrous Regiment

Hello, I've never uploaded a video to Blogger before as far as I can remember but Rod sent me this and it seems to be a TV show so I guess it is legit. His little girl all growed up. Much as I love Rod, I am amazed that anyone descended from him can be sentient, never mind accomplished, self-possessed, and engaging. Three adjectives I don't recall throwing at him back in the day in Putney, when - how to put this mildly? - neither of us was shy about nuancing each other with a modifier or two; fat, bald, daft, wankstain, indolent, MAD-BAD-AND-DANGEROUS-TO-KNOW.

Anyone who doesn't have such a good friend hasn't lived wisely and well. Ever watched Question Time on the BBC, taken issue with someone on the sofa who disagreed with you, and sorted it out the old fashioned way on the landing? Me, Rod, John and the other Nick have. I seem to recall helicopters and search lights afterwards but that may just be the romantic in me.

I was amazed the other week to see Paula's daughter reporting on the BBC News at One.

Fiona's daughter is with the BBC now, I friend-of-a-friend heard about her at Buckingham Palace.

If these girls grow up to rule the world while Rod and I play dominoes in the pub, I - for one - will think it is an improvement.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Something Changed


I've long had room in my life for Jarvis Cocker's low key, furtive, unassuming take on masculinity in the 21st century, for all that Pulp's meisterwerk "Different Class" came out in 1995. "Something Changed," above is my favourite track. If you are ever round at mine and I start strumming it on the guitar after a few drinks, go home. Even if the party hasn't started, it is over.

Any road, Good Pop, Bad Pop: Not a life story, but a loft story. By: Jarvis Cocker, Narrated by: Jarvis Cocker Length: 6 hrs and 39 mins Unabridged Audiobook Release date: 26-05-22 has gobbled up this month's Audible credit. His voice soothes me. I've downloaded it (the audio book not his voice) and it will be keeping me company as I drive down to Cardiff later so that I may salute the matriarch tomorrow.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Wine-time Fridays

Friday 13 November 2020; a gathering in No 10 Downing Street on the departure of a special adviser. Photo above courtesy of Sue Gray.

Friday 4 December 2020; my father dies in the Heath Hospital

Friday 11 December; 2020; a 34 bottle wine fridge is delivered to Downing Street. Despite the harsh rules, Downing Street has scheduled 'wine-time Fridays' into the electronic calendars of 50 No 10 staff every week between 4pm and 7pm. 

Tuesday 22 December 2020; my father's funeral. Kevin, who was in infant, primary and secondary school with me has to stand, among others, outside St Joseph's in the rain to pay his respects. There is no wake. It would have been in the Old Illtydians' Club, where we could have sat with all Dad's oldest and dearest friends and talked, and wondered at the plaque that reminded us he was the rugby captain in in 1956. After the burial my son, a nephew of mine and a couple of nieces sit in the drizzle in the Bronwydd garden in a circle of plastic chairs each about nine feet apart talking.

Friday 25 December 2020; Merry Christmas, but no wine-time Friday for the likes of us. I will never forgive this shit as long as I live.

Read it and weep.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022


I got a message from PG yesterday:

Gavin Millar has died. Obit's worth a read. He was a great friend then champion of Rose Wilton, and he and Melvyn Bragg produced the film I made of one of Joyce's Dubliners stories which is where I met  Rose. He and his wife had 5 children and they gave a new meaning to Bohemian. 

It took a certain amount of digging this morning to establish that the Joyce dramatisation must be Grace which went out on the BBC in 1972. I am recording it here so I don't forget.

"In Grace by James Joyce we have the theme of alcoholism, redemption, religion and paralysis." Sounds right up my alley. I must read it, PG's TV version I assume is lost.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Speak, Memory

Andy sent me the YouTube video above recently. It is Thunderthumbs a side project of his brother Phil who plays bass. Andy played keyboards and Phil bass when we recorded my stuff.

Let's see if we can work out when that might have been. I first got friendly with Andy when he picked me up from Edinburgh airport to give me a lift to Grangemouth and we got talking about music as I had an acoustic in a guitar case with me as hand luggage. We were both based in Flyover House not too far from Kew Bridge station but working for Wimpey on a re-instrumentation project at the BP refinery in Scotland.

This must have been 1985, as I am sure I started my Evening MBA course in February 1986, and I was back in London full time by then. I am pretty confident my schedule was too hectic to get into the studio to record anything I had written until the course was over, so my best estimate for that is 1988.

Thirty four years ago. Well, well, well.

PS I just serendipitously discovered that the London Mastering Studio is four minutes walk from home. I was trying to track down the horrible noise I could hear yesterday evening. That turned out to be the Shanty practice, singing and drinking in George's back garden. Dear me, that is in my street.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Is it wacky or whacky?

Myself: And now, here they are! The most daredevil group of daffy drivers to ever whirl their wheels in the Wacky Races! Competing for the title of the world's wackiest racer! The cars are approaching the starting line. First is the Turbo Terrific driven by Peter Perfect. Next, Rufus Roughcut and Sawtooth in the Buzz Wagon. Maneuvering for position is the Army Surplus Special. Right behind is the Anthill Mob in their Bulletproof Bomb. And there's ingenious inventor, Pat Pending, in his Convert-a-Car. Oh, and here's the lovely Penelope Pitstop, the Glamour Gal of the Gas Pedal. Next, we have the Bouldermobile with the Slag Brothers, Rock and Gravel. Lurching along is the Creepy Coupe with the Gruesome Twosome. And right on their tail is the Red Maxx. And there's the Arkansas Chug-a-Bug with Luke and Blubber Bear. Sneaking along last is that Mean Machine with those double-dealing do-badders, Dick Dastardly and his sidekick, Muttley. And even now, they're up to some dirty trick. And they're off... to a standing start. And why not? They've been chained to a post by shifty Dick Dastardly, who shifts into the wrong gear. And away they go on the Way-Out Wacky Races!

Prodnose: An ironic statement on the madness, magic, melee and maelstrom that was the last afternoon of the Premiership season yesterday?

Myself: No.

Prodnose: Achingly arch postmodern allusion to what Guy Debord called the Society of the Spectacle?

Myself: Afraid not.

Prodnose (increasingly desperate): A chilling indictment of bourgeois hypocrisy and a plea for rigorous intellectual self-examination!

Myself: Wrong again. "Those medals you wear on your moth-eaten chest, should be there for bungling at which you are best."

Entire Company: So stop the pigeon. Stop the pigeon. Stop the pigeon. Stop the pigeon. Stop the pigeon. Stop the pigeon. Stop the pigeon. Howww?
Nab him. Jab him. Tab him. Grab him. Stop that pigeon now!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

It's all about me


A month from today on my birthday, Netflix is going to drop the third series of The Umbrella Academy. That's nice of them. I wonder where they got the date? Perhaps I had to enter it as some part of signing up. I almost haven't got the heart now to tell them I am thinking of dumping them in favour of a full Spotify subscription, my music to video consumption ratio being highly skewed towards my choonz. I needz my choonz.

On the tube to the South Bank yesterday (Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, followed by Prince: Purple Passion and Pomp at the BFI, thanks f'r arskin'). I picked up a copy of Friday's Standard from the seat and read that on June 22nd:
Jools Holland and an all-star line up unite to Raise the Roof at the Royal Albert Hall.

Hosted by AJ Odudu and Jim Moir, this unforgettable evening of music and comedy will include performances by Celeste, Melanie C, Paloma Faith, Paul Weller, Ruby Turner and Van Morrison. Stand-up stars Gina Yashere, Omid Djalili, Stephen K Amos and Shaparak Khorsandi will showcase their comedic talents.
It's presented as a Prostate Cancer UK Benefit. Am I being entitled, complacent and superficial to think it sounds more like my surprise birthday party?

Everyone else in the world: Yes Nick. Yes you are. Entitled, complacent and superficial doesn't even begin to cover it.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Entre eux deux

Melody Gardot (or perhaps more accurately MG and Philippe Powell) released a new album yesterday and I have been listening to little else since. I can't remember what my route to Ms Gardot was. (Maybe If I'm Lucky on the Charlie Haden and Quartet West album Sophisticated Ladies?) Anyway Boonoonoonoos!

It's really restrained; piano and voice, and all the better for it. I'm very surprised Melody G hasn't appeared on the blog before, but I am all over her career like a cheap suit. Philippe Powell intrigues me. Don't think I have ever heard of him before.

Vocalist Melody Gardot is joined by French-Brazilian composer and pianist Philippe Powell for her sixth studio album Entre eux deux.

This is Gardot’s first duo album, and the first time she has invited someone else to take her usual place on the piano.

Entre eux deux takes a minimalist approach to its 10-song track listing, utilizing a sparse sonic palette comprising only Gardot’s vocals and Powell’s piano. It’s described as a meticulously crafted, minimalistic album showcasing Gardot’s vocal ability and Powell’s emotive piano style, coming together like a deep conversation between two longtime friends.


Although all of the songs on the album are original compositions, the duo makes sure to pay homage to the past. Both artists carry forward the Franco-Brazilian torch that was lit long ago by celebrated artists such as Pierre Barouh, Vinicius de Moraes and Philippe Powell’s father, the guitarist and composer Baden Powell.
Franco-Brazilian? New to me, but we have the beginnings of a to-do list above.