Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Who knows where the time goes

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Wonderful News

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

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

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

Monday, November 28, 2022

Rodney Ackland

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

Wikipedia explains:

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

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

All clear?

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Absolute Hell

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

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

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

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Cymru Persia

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

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

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

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

Prodnose: The Other?

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

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

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

Friday, November 25, 2022

Think Globally, Act Locally

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Dinner with Groucho

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

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The other McKenna

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2022


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

Monday, November 21, 2022

Fiona Hill

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

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

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

Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Lavender Hill Mob

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

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

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

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

Must catch the original film itself one day.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Wake Up Boiler (Christmas has come early)

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

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

Also, not to self, try draining the radiators.

Friday, November 18, 2022

I told you I'd forgotten

 I told you I'd forgotten

Of your fingers in my hair

I told you I'd forgotten

Of your dad's old rocking chair

I told you I'd forgotten

Of the things we used to do

I told you I'd forgotten

Of the days of me and you

I told you I'd forgotten

In the absence, in the night

I told you I'd forgotten

Of the break up and the fight

I told you I'd forgotten

To forget what I forget

I told you I'd forgotten

To regret what I regret

Did the merry-go-round make us dizzy?

Did the candy floss get in my hair?

Was it perfect that night or just busy

With the prizes we won in the fayre?

I'm sitting here remembering

Your fingers in my hair

I'm sitting here remembering

Your dad's old rocking chair

I'm sitting here remembering

The things we used to do

I'm sitting here remembering

The days of me and you

Did the merry-go-round make us dizzy?

Did the candy floss get in my hair?

Was it perfect that night or just busy

With the prizes we won in the fayre?

Prodnose: What on earth is this drivel?

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

Thursday, November 17, 2022

No conceivable interest

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

Prodnose: What on earth is this?

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

Prodnose: Of what conceivable interest to anyone is this?

Myself: No conceivable interest.

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

Prodnose: What on earth is this?

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

Prodnose: Of what conceivable interest to anyone is this?

Myself: No conceivable interest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Adding insult to injury

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2022


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

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

BBC: Yesterday

UK withdraws troops from Mali early blaming political instability

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Monday, November 14, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 13, 2022

All grist to the mill

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Keep on keeping on

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 11, 2022

The Final Lap

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

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

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

There should only be 282 left now.

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

Thursday, November 10, 2022

I'm so dizzy, my head is spinning

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

Sunday: Les Mis in the Sondheim #TheatreDynasty

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

Wednesday 23rd: Dinner with Groucho - Arcola Theatre

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Rakie Ayola

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

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

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

You can't get there from here

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

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

Norway is a long way away from North Korea.

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

Monday, November 07, 2022

Know thy enemy

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

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

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

The great man's withering response:

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 06, 2022

The Volcano

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

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

Saturday, November 05, 2022

A tale of two MPs

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

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

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

Friday, November 04, 2022

Might the sun be rising in the East?

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

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

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

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Might the sun be setting in the West?

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 02, 2022


YouTube suggested this video to me yesterday. It is over three and a half hours of Vladimir Putin making a speech and answering questions from an audience at a think tank event and it comes with a real-time translation. It has been made available by, of all people, Sky News; not an organisation whose output I previously thought of as publishing content requiring at attention span.

The think tank is called the Valdai Discussion Club; here is its Wikipedia page, and here is its website.

I can't claim to have watched all of the video with the concentration it deserved, but I have seen a lot of it. I have to come clean, it is a very impressive performance, and something I find it almost impossible to imagine (pulling two names out of a hat) either Joe Biden or Boris Johnson having either the stamina, the mastery of detail, or the coherence (as opposed to blather) to deliver.

My main takeaway is the breadth and depth of the international audience sitting in the venue. The world is bigger than the USA, the UK and the EU. Might the sun be setting in the West?

Tuesday, November 01, 2022




I got a link to the article above from my old friend Chris yesterday. I guess it was a subtle reminder of the days (BSc Chemical Engineering 1979-82) when we would be sitting at the back of a lecture theatre laughing about favourite Kurt Vonnegut books and stories rather than paying attention to the fascinating topic reaction kinetics.

It was good to catch up and tell each other about our sons. His Dylan is 6'1" and in Bristol reading Animation.  We also swapped AncestryDNA results. Here's his. Viking stock! Arriving by long-boat to pillage. Stealing gold from monasteries and carrying off men as slaves and girls as concubines! It explains a lot now I think back on Hendrefoilan Student Village.

Now I remember, Rod M came to Chris's first wedding.

Rod M is a sort of strange attractor at the centre of my life. I am hoping to catch up with Dommy Lafranceschina (ex Commonwealth Games Greco-Roman wrestler) this weekend as he is coming down from Clitheroe to Cardiff with some mates for the Wales New Zealand game. Rod knows him as well as he went with the crew to Pamplona one year when I had to cry off.