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.

Friday, May 20, 2022

A Life in the Day

 I stopped by Coffee in the Wood yesterday morning on the way to work as Frankie had told me there was an invitation to Spike and Samantha's wedding reception for me waiting to be picked up. Sophie let me hold the baby while my flat white was being prepared. I like all babies, but I particularly love babies who I can hand back to someone else if there is any nappy or vomit maintenance to be done. Anyway, I confided in the little one about some worries I have about the reliability of PayPal IPNs with particular regard to inconsistencies around the 'Pending' status when it comes to card as opposed to account transactions. She didn't judge me. Didn't make any fatuous, ignorant, or uninformed remarks. Just looked me in the eye with complete trust and made me feel as if I could take on the world and win. I still think she would be a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnson. Girl can delegate, I'll say that for her.

The son and heir came round to the office on the way back from work and we put the Seville/Real Alcazar weekend to bed. Flying out 24 Jun, 16:05 and landing back in Stansted 23:20 Sunday 26th. The itinerary still needs work, but the hotel is booked as well. On the way out we bumped into Helen (inspiration for the trip) on the gantry between the Apprentice Shop and 525's Coles Shop. The gods must be smiling on us.

When I got home I realised I needed some fixins to knock dinner out of the park so I wandered down to the Co-op. As I walked past Canedo's the Portuguese Bar/Cafe/Restaurant at the end of the road it struck me that couldn't remember ever having been in there. I went in. A framed Callum football shirt was up on the wall so I had a chat with the owner about him, ordered a beer and sat outside watching the world go by.

When I got home I finished reading my old school friend Sean's novel.

Just a perfect day

Drink sangria in the park

And then later, when it gets dark

We go home

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Prima Facie

 I had a chat with my brother on the phone last night. The first for a week which is unusual for us; both been busy. He said that making small talk at a conference last week (HASAG?) he discovered that another delegate, just like him, had been to see To Kill A Mockingbird at the Gielgud. (I am going on June 20th.) This guy also gave two thumbs up to Jodie Comer in Prima Facie at the Pinter which hadn't really been on my radar.

Looking at the website:

Ticket availability is currently extremely limited but please check the website for any late released or returned tickets.


A limited number of standing tickets will be available at the box office on the day of performance. 

What! A man of my age?

National Theatre Live in partnership with Empire Street Productions broadcasts Prima Facie from the Harold Pinter Theatre to cinemas worldwide following it’s west end season.

You interest me strangely. PrimaFacie.NTLive.com says it will be streamed on July 21st to cinemas including Wimbledon's Odeon and Curzon as well as the, handy on the Northern Line, Clapham Picturehouse.

That looks like the way forward then, for all that it seems odd they can broadcast it live in July when it closes in June. That said, I guess they must know what they're doing. I can hardly be the first person to notice this.

Not unrelated (passim), it is exactly a year ago that I bought my first post-lockdown theatre tickets.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

When a man is tired of London

 Tooting Market with Rebecca's Steve last night for what is becoming (passim) a semi-regular, once a month or so, sundowner.

As I was walking up from the 'Wood I noticed a place called "Smoke & Salt" that I don't remember seeing before so I had a gander at the menu in the window. The £50 a head Six-Course Sharing Menu, looks like one for the to-do list some time when my brother John is up on a visit.

Arriving at the Broadway five or ten early, I decided to take a detour around the Broadway Market. That is no slouch in the restaurant and bar stakes either (herewith) for all that its web developers are slouches in both the SSL certificate and giving different parts of the site different URLs departments.

This time at the distinct Tooting Market,  rather than at the Secret Bar I met Steve in essentially communal seating in the belly of the beast from where we could strike out to an assortment of liquor vendors.

After about 45 minutes of that we went and did the same at Broadway Market. He dined on Greek food at Pittagoras. I stayed on the booze while offering moral support.

Tooting should be in my life more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The One with Home Automation

 I saw Kevin G at the Standard early on Friday evening.

"How long ago was it that we used to go to Bikram Yoga for the six thirty Thursday morning class?" I asked him.

"Oh, I'm not sure. Maybe about four years? Why do you ask?"

I was remembering the day before. "The light in my bedroom still comes on at half past five to wake me up for it."

I double checked and he is right. The last time we went was June 2018. I never had a problem getting up if I was giving him a lift or vice versa, but since then nada. I just roll over and go back to sleep.

These days the sun has already risen of a morning when I get up, so today I have removed all the automatic light scheduling in the bedroom including (what was I thinking of?) the times it comes on in the evening to trick people into thinking someone is at home.

I will try and look at the heating schedule next, what with Summer starting next month and gas prices having gone through the roof. Possibly I should be looking at tweaking my home automation settings more than twice a decade?

Inspired by this frenzy of activity I have also set the Amazon Show in the room to wake me by playing Radio 4 at 5:58 in the morning so I can ease into the |Today Programme via Tweet of the Day. Instructions by the BBC here. I have only had the Show for three years (passim). Still I can see how you might think I should have got around to it before now.

Monday, May 16, 2022

In which I haven't a scooby


Priti Patel, hear this loud and clear: Julian Assange must not be handed over to the US.
I have no very clear idea at all what this is all about.


Brexit: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

Again no real clue apart from deducing that it is a protocol relating to Northern Ireland. Otherwise drawing a blank to be honest.

Daily Mirror

World Cup WAGs line up to back Coleen Rooney 3-1 in battle with Rebekah Vardy

Both married to footballers. Who is suing whom and over what? Not the foggiest.

Remember it as if it was yesterday. Well enough in fact to know that we were in Blenheim Road with Dad driving and me in the passenger seat. "What do you think of the death penalty then?" I demanded with the sneering implication of unearned moral superiority that made me such beguiling company in my late teens.

"I'm not sure that I have ever thought deeply and hard enough about it to have an opinion of which I would try and persuade anyone else," he replied mildly.

"Harrumph," I replied thinking he was avoiding the issue. Decades later the smoke has cleared and I believe it is one of the wisest things I have ever heard.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Give That Wolf A Banana


Geopolitical considerations may have focused the world's attention elsewhere, but for me at least 2022's Eurovision Song Context will always belong to Norway's Subwoolfer.
Not sure I told you, but I really like your teeth
That hairy coat of yours with nothing underneath
Not sure you have a name, so I will call you Keith
See where you're going, but I don't know where you've been
Is that saliva or blood drippin' off your chin?
If you don't like the name Keith I'ma call you Jim
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
Give that wolf (banana)
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
I like the scent of every meal on your breath
That hunger in you, I'm in danger now, I guess
Let's go to grandma's, you say grandma tastes the best
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
(I want your grandma, yum, yum)
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
Give that wolf
Someone give that wolf a banana
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
(I want your grandma, yum, yum)
Someone give that wolf a banana
And before that wolf eats my grandma
Give that wolf a banana
Give that wolf
Give that wo-o-olf
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
Yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum, yum-yum-yum
Someone give that wolf a banana
Not sure I told you, but I really like your teeth
That hairy coat of yours with nothing underneath
Not sure you have a name, so I will call you Keith

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Codex to Cortex

Friedrich Nietzsche: The Dawn of Day

I have not been a philologist in vain—perhaps I am one yet: a teacher of slow reading. I even come to write slowly. At present it is not only my habit, but even my taste—a perverted taste, maybe—to write nothing but what will drive to despair every one who is “in a hurry.” For philology is that venerable art which exacts from its followers one thing above all—to step to one side, to leave themselves spare moments, to grow silent, to become slow—the leisurely art of the goldsmith applied to language: an art which must carry out slow, fine work, and attains nothing if not lento. 

I'm in the middle of Sean's new novel, and for the first time in God knows how long engaging with an actual physical readable object. Kindle and Audible have been my go-to-guys for too long, and I am rediscovering the lost and gentle art; slow reading of a thing. Idiosyncratically I think, the recumbent bike in the gym has been key. I do half an hour on it every coupla-three days; 'bout twenty mins reading a chapter of The Englishwoman, and then a last five-or-ten flicking back through it checking, pondering, depressurizing. Liber naturae anyone? Decorum est pro patria mori? Both from chapter three. I know what they mean now. Previously I have tended to read like I was binge-watching streaming TV and wouldn't have taken the time to chase them down. I am starting to realise that an old-school chewing-of-the cud after a chapter and before a new one is all to the good. Kindle and Audible don't encourage flicking back and forward.

We are embodied creatures.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Bish, "How's your kid?"

I learned about this podcast from Wales online yesterday so, having been in school with David I had to pick up on it. It is about an hour and a quarter long and I have only listened to the first thirty odd minutes but it is good stuff. I offer it here for anyone else who knows him. I always considered the Bish -behind the carapace - thoughtful and articulate. I was right.

The road and the miles eh? The road and the miles. Ben and old school friends are going to Swansea this weekend for the 21st birthday party of a boy  - in his final year at University there - who was at Rutlish with them. I was in my final year at University College Swansea 40 years ago. I was in school with Dai from 1972 to 1977. I find these numbers scarcely credible.

According to Deadline, Spinal Tap II is due in 2024.  This is Spinal Tap was released to critical acclaim in 1984, so that will be a 40th anniversary as well. When I was in Edinburgh in 1985 I played a cassette of the soundtrack album to Sean (yet another school friend) trying to convince him it was an authentic po-faced release. He was too street wise to be taken in. It's 2022 now and he still needs to loosen up if you ask me. Live a little, you know.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

The RingGo Kid

 Sorry to be a bore, but it is more from the motoring correspondent today.

I have appealed Tuesday morning's parking ticket. The one that was issued in the road outside the house. Half remembering that Morden Council have outsourced their parking operations to ringgo.co.uk, I fired it up and logged in. Sure enough the page https://myringgo.com/permitapplications shows a permit with the new car's number plate, as indeed does https://myringgo.com/merton/home. Buggered if I can work it out.

Hang on, light may have dawned. I have got an Thu, 7 Apr, 16:58 email saying:

Your temporary vehicle change is now in effect, and will remain in place for 21 days, at which point, it will revert to its original vehicle details. You may revert the permit to its original details manually, before 21 days has elapsed, by selecting the Revert option on your permit session.

Temporary? What am I, a car collector?

Another email followed Thu, 7 Apr, 16:59 (one minute later) Subject: Your Resident Permit has been Authorised but showing the old license plate in the text.

Ah well the appeal is in. Let's just play 'em where they fall.

Speaking of 'buggered if I can work it out,' I stopped in Hammersmith and Fulham for a lunchtime sarnie at a cafe with PG the day before yesterday That is a RingGo parking fiefdom as well. You could pay at the machine or call a number. No machine was in sight so I called the number. That started rabbiting on about the old registration and payment by an old card for all that my details are up to date on the web. I just gave up. I wonder if there is an app I should install on the phone.

That said I have now done my online speed awareness course and passed. God knows how. I was incredibly sullen. After the stopping distance section the friendly instructor said, "Any comments Nick?"

"I was already familiar with the concept of the conservation of momentum," I replied coldly, adding "a body remains at rest or in a state of uniform motion unless acted on by an external resultant force."


As the course went on the bubbly and cordial Kayleigh got asked for her thoughts more and more; mine seemed to be needed less and less. Suited me down to the ground.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Car Trouble

 I have to do a speed awareness course online today. Committed my offence in Wimbledon's 20 mph stretch by the common the other week when I was on my way to PG. I cannot but raise a quizzical eyebrow as it took me one hour and forty three minutes yesterday to drive from my house to his flat, pick him up and take him to the Jermyn Street Theatre. Distance 12.4 miles; average speed 7.2 mph.

There was a ticket on the windscreen of the car when I set off. Obviously swapping my permit to the new license plate didn't work. All the metered spots near Jermyn street being in use I had to chance my arm in a resident's spot in order to get himself to his meeting on time. Got away with that though.

On the way back we got to the Sloane Avenue service station and filled up running on fumes with the dashboard alarm telling me I had less than one mile's worth of petrol left. As I gratefully pushed the nozzle into the cap the car started running down a slight incline to the busy street with PG serene and unaware in the passenger seat. I had to chase it, leap in through the door and pull on the handbrake saving his life by seconds as he smiled and waved.

A day in the life of the Brownes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Hey Kids! Let's Do the Show Right Here ...

 I have said I will give PG a lift into the Jermyn Street Theatre for a meeting about his new play and to see the space in which it will be performed, so I might as well use the few minutes I spend writing each morning to get that straight in my head.

First off the bat I will have to pay the congestion charge which I don't think I have ever done before. I have got up to three days to pony up for that according to https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/pay-to-drive-in-london

Next up parking; there are meters in Jermyn Street according to Westminster Council (herewith). Failing that Q-Park Leicester Square is only a short walk away at 39-41 Whitcomb St., London WC2H 7DT. Either will be another dent in the bank account though. The garage is £27 an hour while the meters are a comparatively reasonable £5.18. If I was going on my own I could get there on the Northern line for free with my 60+ card. No parking fees or congestion charge involved.

Google maps is advising me to pick him up at ten in order to be sure of getting to the theatre for 11, so I will probably need to leave here not long after 9.

The meeting is with Alice Hamilton his co-director. Here's a picture from Google so I can recognise her.

Cofounded the "Up in Arms" theatre company with Barney Norris who actually wrote a book about PG (passim). Hence the connection I imagine.

Tickets are already on sale at 

While we are on the subject of acting, I got a message from Mia at Central yesterday. Her Cassandra went well (is Cassandra supposed to go well?) Next up is Lady Anne in Richard III.

"V  enjoyable huge part for an actor," says PG. Don't know that I've ever seen it myself, but it does sound like it is probably better than landing the role of third serving wench.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Cinco de Mayo Weekend

 As predicted by me Dmitry Bivol beat Canelo Álvarez early Sunday morning UK time to retain his light heavyweight title. I thought that 175 pounds was just a step too far for a five foot eighter and turned out to be right. I had a bet on, mediated - as ever - by a Reilly, but this time Pat not his cousin Lee. I could have got four to one on Bivol to win, but Pat dug up fourteen to one on Bivol to take it by knock out, TKO or stoppage so I put a tenner on that. I just couldn't see a Russian beating a Mexican on the judges' scorecards during Cinco de Mayo weekend in Vegas in front of a baying Latino crowd. More fool me, that is just what happened and I came out empty handed.

Note that a Russian competed in a sporting event just as himself, not a regime's stooge and the sun still rose the next morning. Nobody's opinion about the Ukraine has changed by yer man being able to express himself at the highest level. Wimbledon, tennis and the All England Club should take note.

My bet was placed on my behalf at Pat's son Ollie's 19th birthday party at the Standard on Friday. When I woke up the next morning I couldn't remember what time I had got back (always the sign of a good night) so I took a look at my Google Maps timeline. It says I left the house at 18:47 and arrived at the pub four minutes later: 19:01. On the way back, I left the pub at 00:47 and got home at 01:15.

Alien Nation: Have Humans Been Abducted by Extraterrestrials?A prestigious Harvard psychiatrist, John Edward Mack, thought so. His sudden death leaves behind many mysteries.

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Born to Da doo ron-ron

I have finished listening to Bruce Springsteen reading his autobiography (passim) on Audible.

Seventy nine chapters bracketed with a forward and an epilogue. Let's kick off with what sounds like faint praise. "Chapter 5: The Irish, " announces the Boss at the beginning of chapter 5. Next off " Chapter 6: My Mother." Begin to see a pattern emerging? Hardly anyone does this on Audible, making it difficult to break up their books into bite size pieces.

By way of contrast, let me praise it with a faint damn.

…Once they were here, Patti and I knew our children would be our first priority. All of our tours would be booked around school schedules, childrens’ events, birthdays, and because of Patti’s insistence, planning, and dedication, we made it work. I worked hard not to be an absentee dad, but in my business that’s not always possible and Patti picked up the slack. She also guided me when she thought I was falling short. For years, I’d keep musicians' hours, a midnight rambler: I’d rarely get to bed before four a.m. and often sleep to noon or beyond. In the early days, when the children were up at night, I found it easy to do my part in taking care of them. After dawn, Patti was on duty. Once they got older, the night shift became unnecessary and the burden tilted unfairly toward the morning hours.

Finally, one day she came to me as I lay in bed around noon and simply said, “You’re gonna miss it.”

“Miss what?”

She said, “The kids, the morning, it’s the best time, it’s when they need you the most. They’re different in the morning than at any other time of day and if you don’t get up to see it, well then…you’re gonna miss it.”

The next morning, mumbling grumbling, stolid faced, I rolled out of bed at seven a.m. and found my way downstairs. “What do I do?”

She looked at me and said, “Make the pancakes.”

Make the pancakes? I’d never made anything but music my entire life. I…I…I…don’t know how!


What a sweetheart our Brucey is, I thought sentimentally reminiscing about my little Ben (now six foot three) as a toddler in his high chair getting outside a fish finger, plastic fork in hand. Then my hedonic set point (miserable suspicious atmosphere hoover) reasserted itself. "I'll bet you anything you like," I misanthroped to myself, "he becomes a master pancake thrower."

Sure 'nuff:

After some early cementlike results, I dialed it in, expanded my menu and am now proud to say that should the whole music thing go south, I will be able to hold down a job between the hours of five and eleven a.m. at any diner in America.

But then again, just one trivial and insignificant (to everybody else but me) slip with regards to tone in over five hundred pages. Not too shabby sir. Not too shabby at all. It is a marvelous book.

Saturday, May 07, 2022

The personal is political

 Quote 1

Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by, 

That here obedient to their laws we lie.

Simonides of Ceos

Quote 2

Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.

Sun Tzu

If BoJo had gone to school with us in Llanrumney, he would have come out a sadder wiser man, albeit the sadness and wisdom would have been hard won, having cost - by my mind if the Bish or John Actie had got hold of him - a few teeth and a crooked snout.

What an extraordinary coincidence that he should be addressing the Ukrainian Parliament last Tuesday with our own local government elections due on the Thursday. You can read the preening narcissist's  disgraceful self-mythologizing grandiose gobbledygook here

"It is a conflict that has no moral ambiguities or no grey areas." Cobblers. What happens in war is that one side sends their best and bravest to kill and be killed by their enemy's best and bravest; to brutalise and be brutalised in return. There are always moral ambiguities and grey areas.

Will even one life of a soldier or civilian holed up in the Azovstal steel plant be saved, or extended by a breath,  due this bum's cynical hitching of his wagon to the good people of Ukraine's undisputed stoicism and valour? I think we know the answer.

"This is Ukraine’s finest hour," intones the guttersnipe echoing Churchill. Churchill! This may be a minority opinion, but to my mind Churchill's finest hour was the Potsdam Conference in 1945. It started with him, Stalin and Truman representing the Allies, but concluded with Clement Attlee, Stalin and Truman representing the Allies. The Conference was interrupted for two days, when the results of the British general election were announced. Labour defeated the Tories so Churchill and Anthony Eden went home to be replaced by Attlee and Ernest Bevin. Can you even begin to imagine the Johnson creature taking it on the chin with such grace and dignity? Of course you can't. We'd just be spoon fed some balderdash claiming he had to remain in office (election result notwithstanding) "to finish the job."

Friday, May 06, 2022

All politics is local

 What with one thing and another I didn't get to the gym lunchtime yesterday for my cardio on the recline bike so I had to go after work. Thinking a crafty pint afterwards might be in order, I drove home first, and walked back.

As I set off, Lee - who lives opposite - was arriving on his bike so I popped over the road for a quick chat. He and Vera are coming over to Hammersmith with me to see PG on Sunday you see so I just wanted to confirm the details.

A little further down the road I bumped into Pat (Lee's cousin) and his wife Fiona walking their dog. (Whisper it but there is a surprise birthday party for their son tonight.)

On the High Street I came across Andy Tea and then Ollie. I did eventually get to Merton Abbey Fitness & Wellbeing. I'm not complaining but it took quite a bit longer than a head-down, no-eye-contact walk.

Duty done I stopped at the Standard on the way back for a sneaky-cheeky one, meeting Ollie and her husband Andy H there as I'd arranged on the way out.

Andy told me he'd cast one of his Colliers Wood Ward Local Elections votes for Thomas Joseph Walsh of the Green Party. I independently had as well because I know Tom Walsh and think he is sound. No ideology involved.

Couldn't help but notice in the polling station that our Tories were branded "Local Conservatives." (The Grauniard explaineth.)

My other two votes went to Labour. One of them to Laxmi Attawar who I'd seen eating in Corleone round the corner when I was there with Ben at pizza earlier this week. Andy is less impressed with Laxmi. Fair enough, but at least it is with Ms Attawar and her record, not with a media caricature.

All politics is local. All pubs should be locals. Here are yesterday's results.

Thursday, May 05, 2022


T'blog's a sort of notepad or jotter today. I'm thinking out loud.

Helen went for a long girls' weekend in Seville with old school/college friends in April and came back raving about the place.

Knowing my Ben's fascination with sacred geometry, she picked up a pack of postcards from the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos for him. I passed them over on Tuesday and he - bowled over - is now sold on the two of us spending time there ourselves. I wonder if we can fit it on over the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend which runs from Thursday June 2nd until the Sunday?

Helen and chums stayed at the Hotel Abanico (http://www.hotelabanicoseville.com/) and booked travel at http://thetrainline.com/ (I think they flew, go figure). She insists we make time for a trip to Cordoba no matter how tight the timescale is (who am I to argue), and has dropped round a couple of well thumbed guide books.

I am looking at the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend which starts Thursday June 2nd. For all that it may be a bit soon, that could well be the best bet. 

My interest is largely fired by Quixote and the Arabian Nights, Ben's by the art and architecture, but I think a blended 'Morisco' approach built on the Islamic heritage will work for both of us.

We also ought to programme a briefing with the Butlers around the corner at the Little Taperia before we head off; to get ourselves in the mood, to get a few last tips from, and to thank, Helen & Co before we go.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

The Englishwoman Is Up To Something

I managed to get back on the recline bike yesterday for the first time since 22/3 which was the first time since 3/3 which in turn was the first since 8/2. A lot of this indolence I am sure relates to the fallout from the months and months of Covid ennui, but for all of that it is hardly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It is just that in these days of Kindle and Audible a recumbent session in the gym is, apart from cookery books in the kitchen, just about the only chance I get, or allow myself to get, to engage with a physical, printed volume.

Sean inscribed a copy of his, then, new novel The Englishwoman for me last December. At the time I was "creeping like a snail" through The Women are Up to Something, and what with my desultory cardio sessions I didn't finish it until March.

As I eased my way back in yesterday I read the first chapter of The Englishwoman, and noticed that I was mentioned in the Acknowledgements. Embarrassing that I hadn't seen that before, but not as embarrassing as corresponding with and seeing Mr Burke for all these months and having to 'fess up that I still hadn't started on his work.

Now I hope we can move on.  The first chapter, cross my heart, is rather good.

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Here, There and Everywhere

 There are four Alexa speakers in the house; the original Echo in the living room, an Echo Dot in each of the bathroom and the kitchen, and an Echo Show in the bedroom. All four are in a Multi-Room Music group named "Everywhere" which I seem to recall is automatically created when you have more than one device, and the kitchen and living room speakers are in a group called "Downstairs." 

This all seems to work fine for music. There must be some sophisticated going on with the sound in the background, because the synchronisation of all four speakers is spot on which seems remarkable to me over a WiFi TCP/IP network. I never tire of saying "Alex, play If I Fell downstairs" to kick off the Beatles or "Alexa, Diana Krall downstairs" (crawl downstairs, geddit!?) to get songs from Mrs Elvis Costello. Simple pleasures for small minds I suppose.

Alexa is surprisingly good at reading out Kindle books, and though I can get it working on the Echo Show because I can select the book from my library on its screen I have never managed to get any mileage at all out it on the other three devices just by using my voice, never mind getting it to use the Everywhere group. Audible is better with regards to voice control, but it is a bit hit and miss.

I've discovered a work round with the Alexa app on my phone though. Open it and press the play button at the bottom of the screen. if you scroll down you will be (or rather I was) presented with your Kindle and Audible libraries. Swipe through the thumbnails of the books listed and tap the one you want to continue listening to. At this stage you will be presented with a list of all the groups. If I select the "Everywhere" group I can get my fix throughout the house as I am pottering about. BBC sounds doesn't work like this, so I can't get Radio 4, and podcasts are a but tricky as you seem to have to select them from the recently played list, but all in all a significant enhancement of my experience. This is certainly how I will be doing my daily Arabian Nights story from here on in.

Monday, May 02, 2022


I went to see Whispering" Bob Harris & Danny Baker at the Wimbledon Theatre last night. It wasn't in my diary and I had completely forgotten about it until a got an email from ATG Tickets entitled "Information about your upcoming visit." 

At least I am not the only one whose memory is not what it was. They were telling a story about interviewing a practically comatose Lou Reed about the album Transformer which was recorded, or so they claimed in the USA. Now I happen to know that Transformer was recorded in Trident Studios while Lou Reed was living in a rented house in ....... Wimbledon which is where Harris, Baker and audience were last night, because I wrote it down here on the 'blog. Why can I remember a post from 2013 but not where I am supposed to be from day to day?

I forgot I was going to the theatre last Wednesday as well until I noticed it my schedule. If I can't remember anything unless I cover it here, I had better record what other bookings I have got coming up.
  • Jerusalem: Apollo Theatre June 14th.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird: Gielgud Theatre June 20th
  • The Seagull: Harold Pinter Theatre Jully 9th matinee
That ought to do us until August I would have thought.

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Among the new poems is a Clerihew of mine

 It is said that Rhys Ifans

Posts content on OnlyFans

I know because my friend Neil Parish MP

Monitors all the new porno for me.

I'm in two minds about all of this:

  • 'Porn MP' Neil Parish has said he will resign from Parliament after looking at porn in the House of Commons
  • He confirmed his exit in an interview outside his local conservative association with BBC South West
  • The move will trigger a by-election in the safe Conservative constituency of Tiverton and Honiton
  • Parish said he and his wife received death threats, but clarified these were made before Friday's revelations 
  • He bizarrely claimed the first time he was caught, he was attempting to look at tractors on his phone
  • He has admitted viewing the material for a second time deliberately while waiting to vote in the Chamber
  • Senior Tories and opposition figures had called for Parish to go yesterday after the allegations were made 

First of all, I enjoy sniggering at someone else's misfortune as much as the next man, though that said I had the shock of my life when I Googled "tractor porn" yesterday. Note to self: turn SafeSearch back on.

And yet, and yet. PG wrote "I felt sorry for him" in a WhatsApp group yesterday. The empathy that makes him a good writer for all that he types like a baboon using its elbows I suppose.

There but for the grace of God ........

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.