Monday, January 31, 2022

International Man of Mystery

 It struck me in the week, that my old friend Rod worked as an OSCE monitor in Eastern Ukraine (Icons Passim) back in 2014 so I dropped him an email to get his take on the current Russian stand off and we talked for an hour on Skype yesterday. To my astonishment he was in Jordan with his lady friend. You just can't keep that boy down.

In a typically generous though ambiguous gesture he invited me to visit his house on a Greek island even though (because?) he isn't there! Passive aggressive doesn't even begin to cover his range of tactics for pulling my leg. He once invited me to Luhansk for Christmas "because it is twinned with Cardiff" (Icons passim).

Looking back through these pages, in 2018 he was in Mali (Icons passim) with the EU.

2010: Political Advisor to the Force Commander for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Icons passim), also - same year - bought my son a Christmas present (Sighs passim).

I will never forget being in the theatre (Icons passim) with Melvyn Bragg on my left and Rod on my right. I had to pull the hairs at the top of my thigh through my trouser pocket to stop from corpsing with laughter as Rod's sotto voce Melvyn impersonation delivered a running commentary on the play.

Did I mention he also worked in an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan?

I also remember hair rasing stories from his stints in Georgia and Serbia, though they don't appear on these pages all those above do which makes me glad I write here every day.

Chris Howell and I first met Rod and our other future friend John Ashton in Bilbao. We were all on our way to run the bulls in Pamplona. John and Rod asked us to watch over their bags while they argued with the police .........

"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," as Rick said in Casablanca.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

“He looked like my uncle Louie,”

I googled Corleone yesterday as I wanted to book a table at this local restaurant so we could eat after the Six Nations game next weekend and came across the striking images of Marlon Brando's transformation into Don Corleone in the Godfather above. I always knew Brando was younger than the character but I had never realised quite how much.

It made me think again of Keisha Banya, the Hair, Wigs and Makeup Supervisor on 'A Number,' also being teacher of Mia's at Central. New respect from me for her job now. I never gave it a thought before. 

I will definitely be going to the restored 50th anniversary version of The Godfather in a well equipped cinema when it is released next month.

Saturday, January 29, 2022


I was a bit surprised yesterday when I was posting about "A Number" and using my Bunburying label to check up on my theatre going as the pandemic fades, to find that I hadn't officially recorded going to see Bart in Thrill Me. It was good to introduce Bethany to him. We went on January 13th. Let's address that now by noting the production's OFFIES nominations.

Prodnose: What a relief!

Friday, January 28, 2022

A Number


Off to the Old Vic, last night to see Paapa in "A Number." Let's run the COVIDITRON over this. (The conviditron is an imaginary scientific instrument that measures the impact of the virus on our lives.) The last time I saw Paapa on the stage was in Pass Over at the Kiln in February 2020.  We bought last night's tickets in May last year. The last time I was in the Old Vic was to see Lungs in October 2019. Blimey, the coviditron's needle is in the the red zone. "She cannae take any more, Cap'n! She's gonna blow!"

As for the play, production and performances; I thought they were all brilliant. Proving once again the advantages of being a misanthrope. I am thrilled and amazed, when anything actually turns out to be good.

Frankie had to drop out on the day, so Mia came along straight from Central along with Saskia her flatmate who is on the same course. She said that when her phone vibrated as the message from me inviting her arrived she was in a class being conducted by Keisha Banya, who actually worked on the show. Synchronicity! I looked her up in the programme.

Also mad props to the guy running the door and queue. He suggested we message the ticket graphics to M&S rather than wait outside. Good call we were cozy in the warm over G&Ts when they arrived rather than resentfully shivering in the street. Ditto the young lady on the Old Vic staff who gave me a mask on the way out after I had lost mine. It meant I could just walk onto the tube rather than trying to find some where to buy a new one. Shout out also to OSEYO – Korean Food and Culture Hub which we passed on the way back to Waterloo. Kimchi is in the gaff again and life is good.

Thursday, January 27, 2022


I watched An Online Pilgrimage through Ethiopia last night. 

Christianity in Ethiopia is a fascinating topic of which I know nothing.

Nothing that is to say, apart from what an Ethiopian lady Uber drive told me as she was ferrying me back from Whitton to Colliers Wood pre-lockdown.

Much to learn. Much to learn.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Koshka Duff


The Metropolitan Police has apologised to a woman for the "sexist, derogatory and unacceptable language used" while she was being strip-searched.

Dr Koshka Duff was detained in 2013 after offering a legal advice card to a black teenager during his stop-and-search.

On CCTV footage, officers can be heard laughing about her hair, clothes and talking about her underwear.

The force said it had settled her claim and "sincerely apologised".

Dr Duff, who is now an assistant professor at the University of Nottingham, was trying to give the "know your rights" card to a 15-year-old boy in London.

The officers accused her of obstruction and arrested her.

She told the BBC she decided to act in the spirit of "passive resistance", and went limp rather than walking to the police van willingly.


On the evening of 3 March 2021, Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old marketing executive, was kidnapped in South London, England, as she was walking home to the Brixton Hill area from a friend's house near Clapham Common. Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens falsely arrested her under the pretence of having breached COVID-19 regulations and drove her to near Dover where he raped and strangled her, before burning her body and disposing of her remains in a nearby pond.


It seems to me indisputable that if Koshka Duff was walking past when Wayne Couzens was falsely arresting Sarah Everard, and attempted to give her a "know you rights" card then Sarah Everard would be alive today. A thumbs up to Ms Duff from the Welsh jury.


Dr Koshka Duff was detained in 2013. The BBC reported the police apology yesterday; nine years later. There is no reference to the apology on the Met Police website. Thumbs down from the Welsh jury.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Party All The Time

Daily Mail

Is Boris's birthday the 'killer blow'? MPs expect MORE party revelations as calls grow for PM to quit now - saying the latest bash with 30 guests, Union Jack cake, M&S nibbles and a BBQ 'changes things a lot' and could mean a LOST confidence vote.

Boris Johnson's  birthday part on June 19 2020; 30 guests in the Cabinet Room chimed with me because on June 22nd 12 of us sat socially distanced in Wandle Park to celebrate mine. The pubs didn't even re-open until July 4th

Here is (are?) the one thing I wrote every day in these spindrift pages in June 2020 -

It has also reminded me of a BBC article from June 28th "Two illegal street parties in London closed down by police." 

Dispersal zones were put in place in Clapham Common and Tooting Bec Common to clear crowds causing "significant disruptions" on Saturday night. (Tooting Bec is two stops away from me at Colliers Wood on the Northern Line and Clapham Common is only five.)

Home Secretary Priti Patel has called on people not to attend street parties, protests or mass celebrations.

Speaking on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, she said: "As much as people do want to be out right now - the weather is amazing - stick to the rules, follow the guidance."

'Simply unacceptable'

She said the rise of mass gatherings held in recent days was "unacceptable" and that it risked a second wave of Covid-19 which would devastate the UK economy.

Quite. Saturday June 27th was 8 days after the party in the Cabinet Room.

Monday, January 24, 2022

7 Changes in 11 Days

 The Welsh Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance is on

I have posted the link above so I can find it easily in future. I don't think it should change. Unlike the guidance itself. Living in London with family in Wales.

The English guidance is on It looks like I won't need a COVID pass at the theatre on Thursday, though I had better check as January 27th is the actual day the regulations change. It is such a pain in the neck keeping up with all of this.

I still can't visit Mum though as far as I can tell, as the home is only allowing Essential Visitors and my sister has got the nomination for that. That at least was the situation on the nineteenth.

Sunday, January 23, 2022


 I went to my 650th yoga class yesterday up. No Ben as he wanted to lie in and catch up on his shut eye after a long week's work followed our West Dean trip last weekend. Come to think of it I have also seen off Donna and Kevin over the years, which is a pity as I am incapable of getting up and out for a 6:30 am weekday class unless I am picking someone up in the car or they are collecting me.

Kevin quit when the bulk of the Bikram classes were reduced to an hour down from 90 minutes. I agree with him. It was a retrograde step but I still think an hour is better than nothing.

Here's the history -

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Little World

Added to my Audible library today in memory of Dad.

Friday, January 21, 2022


 Global music quartet DakhaBrakha perform Ukrainian folk music with an air of theatricality.

Performing an unexpected and riotous clash of roots and rhythms, DakhaBrakha (meaning ‘give/take’ in old Ukrainian) merge their folklore stylings with the transnational sounds of Indian, Arabic and African instrumentation.

Originating as an avant-garde theatre project, the band appear on stage in traditional dress, which combined with their astonishingly powerful and uncompromising vocal range, creates a dramatic spectacle. As they play a multitude of instruments, their eerie, edgy harmonies blend with cello, concertina and percussive rhythms.

That's what I saw in the Barbican last night and it was great.

I had completely forgotten I was even going when I found it in my diary the other week. DakhaBrakha looked like a typo. 

It's a family thing. My brother John once bought eight tickets (8!) for Bratislavan folk dance in Swansea's Brangwyn Hall that he promptly forgot. "It seemed a good idea at the time." We both need PCs that have USB breathalyzers attached or disable e-commerce after 11 pm.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Oh Danny Boy

 'Look in the bars of Cardiff Met' — Eddie Jones tells other clubs where to find new rugby players after unearthing England duo

Eddie Jones has quipped that every rugby team will now be looking at Cardiff Metropolitan University to try to sign players after naming two former students in his England Six Nations squad.

Harlequins duo Alex Dombrandt and new England find Luke Northmore - former Cardiff Met RFC players - were included in Jones' 36-man party on Tuesday.

Quins No. 8 Dombrandt, 24, will be looking to add to his four international caps while 24-year-old centre Northmore is one of six uncapped players in the squad.

Their call-ups have shone a light on the impressive rugby credentials of their university, with both players representing the Archers just a few years ago in the BUCS - the highest level of university rugby in the UK.

Our cousin Danny Milton is the director of rugby at Cardiff Met. From art to sport, the family continues to storm the barricades. Amazing really.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022


 Kevin G's father Brian passed away last night peacefully at home listening to jazz.

I wrote before (see Icons passim) about the mad story he told me about seeing Orson Welles' bonkers stage version of Moby Dick in the fifties, and that is how I will remember him. I thought, until he proved otherwise, that he was, in a good way, absolutely barking.

March 31st 2018 was the day I spent the most time with him. We went to see Paapa in his RSC Hamlet at the Hackney Empire; a Sat Mat. Brian and Mrs Brian not being in the first flush of youth we got a cab all the way (all the way!) from the 'Wood to Hackney so as to avoid stairs and escalators.

Plenty time to talk and grow comfy in each others' company. All good.

When we arrived, we went for lunch in the pub around the corner from the theatre. More accurately, the Goddings went for lunch, I just got plumbed in.

This had implications for my bladder once the show began. Luckily, I had seen the production before so I knew its rhythms. I selected a hiatus not long before the interval when I wouldn't disturb anyone and hurried off from my aisle seat to the loo. 

Business conducted, I was leaning at the balcony at the back of the stalls when I chanced to look down to my left. Mimi Ndiweni (Ophelia) was crouching there hiding. (Exeunt Act III?)

"Hello," I murmured. She smiled shyly and gave me a little wave. Most surreal moment for me ever in a theatre.

No really a story about Brian, but it happened on my Brian day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

1922 and All That

I kinda sorta follow the other Tom Holland since I read his book Dominion. This podcast, The Rest is History, that he does with  Dominic Sandbrook is all over the 1922: Year of Destiny meme as well. Never activated a neuron with me in all of my life before yesterday.

Monday, January 17, 2022

1922: The Birth of Now

Like all right thinking people, Ben and I listen to Radio 4 when we are in the car on a longish road trip (there only being so much Showaddywaddy a man can take).  As we were driving back from West Dean yesterday there was an episode of Open Book about Ulysses, by James Joyce, which was first published in full a hundred years ago.

Apparently there is a school of thought that suggests 1922 was an artistic annus mirabilis; the year that changed everything. After the Joyce show there was a plug for 1922: The Birth of Now: Matthew Sweet investigates objects and events from 1922, the crucial year for modernism, that have an impact today.

Crikey! Kicks off next Monday and runs five days a week for a fortnight at a quarter to two in the afternoon.

  1. The Shabolovka Tower and the Gherkin
  2. The Criterion, which published The Waste Land
  3. The True Story of Ah Q, by Lu Xun
  4. Bertolt Brecht's play Drums in the Night
  5. Louis Armstrong leaves New Orleans for Chicago
  6. The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, and Egyptomania
  7. Nosferatu and Modernist Horror
  8. Hลshล, the First Aircraft Carrier, and HMS Queen Elizabeth 11
  9. Pirandello's Henry IV and the Idea of Truth
  10. Einstein, relativity, time, and indigenous Australian modernism

One cannot help but admire the chutzpah; each episode being a mere quarter of an hour long.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Up the stairs and turn left

Ben and I will be leaving West Dean today when his "Sacred Geometry" short course finishes. We have been staying in room 52.There is a virtual tour of the Front Entry, Oak Hall and Tapestry Corridor at If you follow it up the main stairs, turn left and follow the Tapestry Corridor down to the last door on the right you will be on the route to where we have been put up; not too shabby.

|I took a photo of one of the hangings in the Tapestry Corridor, because it put my in mind of the Arabian Nights which I am still reading at the rate of one story a day.

It depicts a scene form Torquato Tasso's epic poem "Jerusalem delivered (1557), which tells of the First Crusade in 1099 and was produced in 1736 in Rome by Pietro Ferloni. Godfrey of Bouloigne, the figure in the blue cloak with plumed helmet and gold tunic, is depicted in the final duel in which he slew the commander of the Arab army and won Jerusalem for the Christian army.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

It's all related

As a birthday present, John my brother has got us a pair of Sat Mat tickets for The Seagull, at the Harold Pinter Theatre on July 9th.

Let's take The Seagull for a walk. I remember seeing Peter Hall's production at the Old Vic in 1997. It starred Felicity Kendall as Madame Arkadina.

My niece Mia, John's daughter, is in her second year at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She played Madame Arkadina for her assessment (my italics as I don't know exactly what that word means in that context). Act 3 with Trigorin as I recall.

The last time I went to the theatre with Mia we caught "Anything Goes" at the Barbican. Peter Gill couldn't make it, so I gave Saskia his ticket.

Adrian Noble directed a translation on The Seagull that the RSC commissioned from Peter in 2000.

Felicity Kendall was in "Anything Goes" coming up for a quarter of a century, after I saw her in The Seagull.

"Round and round it goes, where it stops, nobody knows."

Friday, January 14, 2022

Pit Chat?

I remember us launching the Royal Family's twitter account. The details on it say, 'Joined April 2009.' I would never have guessed it was that long ago. We certainly were't anticipating tweets like the one above in those halcyon days.

When we started it I persuaded them not to follow anyone. Today I see that they are following 459 including and May I suggest that is a list that needs more active pruning, ma'am?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

One a Month in the Bank

 I could be accused of playing fast and loose with booking one gig or show per month well in advance, but them's the breaks. We've got Ava: The Secret Conversations tickets but due to scheduling coordination and conflicts the seats are booked for March 31st rather than April, the month to which I , with BoJo levels of hubris, intend to assign them.

I haven't paid out yet but Harris & Baker's Backstage Pass at the Wimbledon Theatre on Sunday 1st looks like getting the nod for May.

June - as you already know - is To Kill a Mockingbird.

John's going to get a Sat Mat for The Seagull  at the Harold Pinter. My birthday is in June but he is aiming for August, June and July being all but sold out. I imagine that his because Emilia Clarke is in it. It was due to be staged a year or so ago but got Covid cancelled, I guess a lot of early tickets probably went straight out to people who paid for the earlier run.

What will I see in July though? I am haunted by the gaping hole in my schedule. Worrying about it in January though I suggest confirms the worth of the one-a-month discipline.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Show and tell

The details of the photo on the right, charming as it is, are inconsequential in this context. What stands out to me is an Echo Show next to the phone behind Aunt Philo and her first great grandson Ted.

It is coming up for three years (see Icons passim) since I speculated about getting one for my mum. I also noticed on a house visit that my old school friend Sean's mother has got one as well.

Here is what Philo's daughter - my cousin - said when I asked her about it.

It is an Echo Show, well spotted. We got Ma one during lockdown so that we could see as well as speak to her, Kate was in her bubble but the rest of us only had phone contact. This way, Vanny, Georgia and I could at least have daily face time without her having to do anything apart from instruct the echo to answer our calls. She now rings us too and gets weather and news updates and plays all her favourite old timers too.

Lily in Ty Enfys (who I respect enormously) is unconvinced by Alexa and older people and I take that on board but I wonder if Ria's slow burn might work for us. What if I get mum a show that is used initially as nothing more than a rotating photo album? After a month or two we could show her how she could listen to her favourite music on it. Later we could start "dropping in " on her and saying hello.

The jury is still out but it is not impossible.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

White Truffle

PG gave me this White Truffle Extra Virgin Olive Oil on Sunday.

I got the impression that perhaps someone had given him a gift pack of posh oil and vinegar bottles for Christmas, and that - while he was comfortable with the others - he couldn't quite work out what to do with this one.

I've had a look in the larder, so I think tonight I am going to drizzle it into a sweetcorn chowder served up with an Italian meatball panini. Tomorrow it will be used to season a mushroom risotto.

After that I should know if I like it or not. Here is a link to its home page for the likely future date when I have finished it and thrown out the empty bottle only to realise I can't live without it and have forgotten the brand.

Monday, January 10, 2022

When The Whip Comes Down (Live)

Here's Callum's FA Cup goal from Saturday. I thought it was worth embedding as the tweet seems to be from the legitimate official Emirates FA Cup account to it is unlikely to disappear.

As I type it has struck me, now the African Cup of Nations is on, that nothing came of the rumours he might give up England for. Ghana.  IF he was going to make the move surely he would have done it for this event. Then again, what do I know?

Sunday, January 09, 2022

33 Love Lane

 There is a free advanced search on the 1921 census digital version hosted by Find My Past at 1921 Census of England & Wales |

As I know my great grandparents lived in Love Lane in Cardiff I have been able to search it by surname and street-name.

Here is the 33 Love Lane household.

  • Catherine Browne born 1896 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • Ellen Browne born 1862 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • Margaret Mary Browne born 1901 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • Stephen Browne born 1900 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • William Browne born 1917 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • William Ida Browne born 1898 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales

Ellen (nรฉe McDonnel) is my great grandmother. Margaret Mary is PG's mother and little visiting three year old William Browne was his godfather.

I remember Dad lived in Adam Street.

  • Honora Browne born 1899 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • James Browne born 1890 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales
  • Mary Browne 1921 Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales

My grandmother, grandfather and aunt; Mary was the only one I ever met, the grandparents having died before I was born.

Saturday, January 08, 2022

T EFFLuent

 I was rather surprised to find yesterday when I went through my diary that I am going to a theatre four times in the next four weeks.

It gave me enough of a jolt finally to get round to applying for my 60+ London Oyster photocard so I can get in and out of the West End free of an evening.

The confirmation email says:

Your photo will be checked and approved if it meets our guidelines. Your photocard will be delivered within 5-7 days.

If your photo doesn't meet our guidelines we can't approve it. We'll email and ask you to upload a new photo

I hope the guidelines don't exclude jowly grumpiness

Friday, January 07, 2022

Words and Music

 I got a message from John yesterday saying he will be driving up early in the morning on the 15th with Lorraine, Jasmine, Emily and Sophie. Mia will already be in London as she is coming back to Central this weekend, though I won't be as I am staying at West Dean with Ben.

They are going to see a couple of matinees, Dear Evan Hansen on Saturday and Hamilton on Sunday, before driving back again. I like to get out to a gig or a show at least once a month, and this reminded me that what with Omicrom cancellations and my own self isolation I didn't see anything in December. Looking through my diary though I can see that there is quite a lot in the pipeline, much of which had slipped my mind, so here is a list as an aide-mรฉmoire.

13 Jan Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story at the Jermyn Street Theatre.  (My cousin's boy Bart is in it.)

20 Jan DakhaBrakha at the Barbican ("Ukrainian folk music with an air of theatricality." I had completely forgotten about this. Note to self: travel route will take thought because of closures on the City branch of the Northern Line.)

27 Jan A Number at the Old Vic (Paapa on stage for the first time in a while. Helen may not be able to make it as Mat is due to be away skiing. If that happens I will give Bethany her ticket.

5 Feb  Get Up Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical (loads of us going mob-handed)

10 March Ego Ella May at Lafalyette (Ms May was known as small oat cappuccino at Coffee in the Wood)

19 March John is up for a To Kill A Mockingbird matinรฉe (I could get a ticket for something else in Shaftsbury Avenue at the same time and meet them before and afterwards.)

20 June my tickets for To Kill A Mockingbird. What about April and May? I hear you cry. Some sort of combination of Jerusalem, Ava at the Riverside, and The Corn Is Green at the National is my best guess. Maybe try and book Jeruslem first as tickets are likely to be scarce for a limited run and work around that,

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Twelfth Night

 When Ben calls in on the way home from work, he generally gets to the 'Wood at about five, so we have taken to meeting in the Standard opposite the tube station rather than having to coordinate whether he should come to the office or the house, or what do do if I am in transit between them. It is also close to both Corleone and the Istanbul Meze Mangal for an early dinner as they both open at five making them handy.

Today is Twelfth Night if you are a Catholic. It was yesterday for Anglicans.  Christmas decorations come down, so I pointed my phone's camera to preserve what we all refer to as the Standard's "Nazi Santas"

Goose Stepping Santas

Heil Hitler Santa

I realise that the resemblance is accidental, and I am displaying poor taste, but I can't help but laugh every time I see them again for a couple of weeks each side of the turn of the year.

Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Do you have any apples in that basket?

When I was talking to John the evening before last he said he had been out for a drive along the coast. This is very un-Browne like, the cabin fever must really be biting. Like me he listens to Radio 4 a lot in the car, so he recommended two shows her heard on the trip to me: the Food Programme: #FoodTok: Mastering the Art of Cooking in Three Minutes and a Faith in Music episode about Ralph Vaughan Williams.

I haven't listened to either yet, but I did put Williams on Spotify when I was working yesterday: plangent, introspective, numinous stuff. It did me the power of good. Intrigued I looked him up on Wikipedia which told me that when he was at Trinity College Cambridge, he became friendly with the philosophers G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell. This struck a chord as I am also working through Frances Wilson's "Burning Man: The Ascent of D H Lawrence" and learned in that of Lawrence being invited for dinner at High Table at Trinity College, Cambridge by Bertrand Russell. He sat between Russell and Moore as I recall. (Also, during a visit to the rooms of John Maynard Keynes, Lawrence became aware of the economist’s homosexuality and was horrified.)

The Bloomsbury Group, Freeman Dyson, Ernest Rutherford, Wittgenstein etc. the list of people who went through Trinity between, say, the late 19th and mid 20th century and must in general largely must have been acquainted with each other is astonishing. Someone should write some sort of accessible social and intellectual history of it. (It someone already has and I am just unaware of it I apologise.)

Icons Passim: Beyond the Fringe.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Carry On at your Convenience

 I went out in the car for the for the first time yesterday since my ten days self isolation; first over to PG in Hammersmith, then to deliver Christmas presents to the son and heir in Morden (which shows you how long I have been out of circulation) then briefly to the office, thence to the gym.

Nobody else was in the Apprentice Shop (our office's building) so I finally managed to get a photo of the notice that has been on the door of the Ladies' toilet since the beginning of pandemic precautions. I have been laughing at the image conjured by "PLEASE USE THE DESIGNATED  CUBICLE FOR YOUR OFFICE" for months and months now but I've never managed to get a picture of it before. Not even I could explain away being caught pointing my phone's camera at that door as some poor woman came out, or was walking up behind me to go in.

Monday, January 03, 2022

Talking Rubbish

My Merton rubbish collection is on Tuesday as usual this week, even though it is a Bank Holiday today. I checked it at Find your collection days (

"Fascinating!" I hear you cry.

The story gets worse. Last week, institutionalized by day after day of self isolation, I got up on the morning I imagined the collection would be made and started typing a WhatsApp message to Joe who lives opposite asking him if he knew the Christmas week arrangements. 

Until, that is, I had the brilliant idea of looking out of the window to see if any of the neighbours had put their bins out. The idea just came to me as some sort of mad inspiration; a kind of sixth sense if you like. An atavistic throwback to a gentler more holistic time, at peace with itself and society's natural rhythms.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

I suggest a reboot

 I don't have any New Year's Resolutions myself, but I have got some pointers for Sir Keir Starmer. Granted it can't have been easy becoming the Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition in April 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but his response to the virus has been strategically naive.

To my mind, the primary constitutional function of the Opposition is to expose the policies and actions of the Government to scrutiny. I would go further, it is NOT, except in the run up to an election. to propose detailed alternative policies.

Lack of appreciation of this has been Starmer's Achilles heel. He is forever painting himself into a corner, by adopting a rhetorical stance that commits him to saying that Labour would have cracked down harder and faster with regards to COVID always and everywhere. This is not exposing the policies and actions of the Government to scrutiny. This is, to all intents and purposes, giving Johnson and Co. a free hand to impose any gimcrack, back-of-the-envelope load of old cobblers they just dreamed up without any debate.

Concentrate, Keir my old son, on making these crash test dummies justify themselves to us, the public. When they claim to be "following the science," ask "what specific science?" You are dealing with people so monumentally deluded, stupid and incompetent that they think something as flippant as"'Captain Hindsight is rising rapidly up the ranks and has become General Indecision' is a legitimate response in the serious business of the House.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

All By Myself (Eric Carmen)

It's New Year and my final day of COVID self-isolation. I hope that the butterfly that will emerge tomorrow from the cocoon in which I have been confined for the last ten days will care more for enjoying the world than scolding it. But that's tomorrow. Today I will scold.

Next week it will be eleven years (Icons passim) since I lambasted David Cameron's Behavioural Insight Team. It is difficult to believe I know, but my warning wasn't heeded.

Cameron's lunatic innovation lives on in the Independent Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours (SPI-B).

On 22 March 2020, this shower came up with Options for increasing adherence to social distancing measures.

It quite clearly says:

A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened... The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent.

This is advice to bully and intimidate the public. It was plainly taken on board, but it is not a legitimate function of government. They work for us. We don't work for them.

On 13 May 1940, in his first speech since becoming prime minister, Winston Churchill said:
"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat". We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
An adult addressing adults.

When the government no longer trusts the people the inevitable result is that the people will lose trust in the government. I still trust the people. Friends and neighbours have delivered, often unbidden though always gratefully received, everything I could possibly need and more while I have been locked up. From national and local government I got exactly nothing.