Friday, March 31, 2023


I reached out to Clare (passim) saying I hoped she wouldn't let the press criticism get to her. She assured me it wouldn't and seemed glad to hear from me.

I emailed Eric who ran the Cigar Box Workshop saying how much we had got out of it, and got a gracious reply.

That's one of the best emails I've ever received. Thank you.

I'm pleased you enjoyed the day and that your cigar box guitar has led to new friendships.  With your permission, I would love to use some of your email as a quote in my promotional material.

There's a lesson to all this, and is that I could never go to an orgy; too many thank-you notes to write afterwards.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

We're headed for the great round up!

Notes for tonight's weekly punch up with Donna who - fair play to her - gives as good as she gets and never holds a grudge.

Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter

We call on all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.

More than 1,000 artificial intelligence experts urge a delay until world can be confident ‘effects will be positive and risks manageable.'

Meanwhile in the increasingly marginalized, anemic and pathetic UK a new white paper lands.

A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation

Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology by Command of His Majesty on 29 March 2023.

God give me strength.

Consider the previously modest and unassuming word alignment; a labourer in the vineyard if you will.

In the field of artificial intelligence (AI), AI alignment research aims to steer AI systems towards their designers’ intended goals and interests. An aligned AI system advances the intended objective; a misaligned AI system is competent at advancing some objective, but not the intended one.

Intended by whom and to what end? This is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

institutionally misogynistic


Met Police boss defends his £200k-a-year HR chief accused of overseeing failings
Clare Davies has the ‘full support’ of Mark Rowley after whistleblowers claimed she was ‘hopelessly out of her depth’

A whistleblower and several senior sources told The Telegraph that Ms Davies could not escape responsibility for many of the Met’s structural problems, with one describing her as “hopelessly out of her depth” and another saying she was “a toxic senior leader”.

I know, or perhaps more accurately knew, Clare Davies years ago when we worked on the SPIKE project at Surrey Police and hold her in very high regard.

I read, therefore, the cowardly hatchet job in the Torygraph with more attention then I otherwise would have. The 'whistleblower and several senior sources' anonymously sticking it to her are ball-less wonders casting around for scapegoats as their ship goes down.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Persian inversion perversion?

Dear imaginary tolls,

I was reading Jordan Peterson in the Torygraph yesterday because I am probably the crypto-fascist you knee-jerk assume. Trans activism is sexist and delusional was the title of the piece you won't read because it is behind a paywall. 

Any roads, and as you can imagine, it goes on and on and on but about half way down we get:

And let’s not forget for a moment that the world capital for sexual conversion surgery is Tehran, as the mullahs in their wisdom have determined that “trans” is acceptable on religious grounds (so a man can be a woman) but gay is not.

Is this right? I am absolutely astounded. Never would have imagined it in a million years etc. etc. etc.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Dueling pistols. Thirty paces.

  • Character development: 0
  • Life Lessons: 0
  • Plot: 0
  • Historical accuracy: 0
  • Moral exemplars: 0

John Wick: Chapter 4 is by some considerable margin the best movie I have ever seen. Were we too hasty leaving before the post-credit scene of which I was previously unaware?

The cherry blossom is blooming in Colliers Wood as well as John Wick's Osaka.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

I'm the hoochie-coochie man

Myself: I have named the child Caleb in accordance with your wishes.

Prodnose: What are you on about now?

Myself (summoning forth some little dignity): There are those who scoff and those who understand.

Saturday, March 25, 2023


Myself: What is a cigar box guitar?

Bard: A cigar box guitar is a simple chordophone that uses an empty cigar box as a resonator. The earliest had one or two strings; modern models typically have three or more. Generally, the strings are connected to the end of a broomstick or a 1×2 inch wood slat and to the cigar box resonator. 
The cigar box guitar is a popular folk instrument, and it is often played in blues, country, and rock music. It is relatively easy to make, and it can be a fun and rewarding project for people of all ages. 
The cigar box guitar is believed to have originated in the American South in the early 1900s. At the time, many people were poor and couldn't afford to buy expensive musical instruments. So, they made their own instruments out of whatever materials they had on hand. This included cigar boxes, broomsticks, and nails.
The cigar box guitar quickly became popular, and it spread throughout the United States and Europe. Today, there are many people who make and play cigar box guitars. There are also many festivals and competitions dedicated to the cigar box guitar. 
If you're interested in making a cigar box guitar, there are many resources available online and in libraries. You can also find kits that include everything you need to get started.

I have signed up for Google's chatbot as well now, in addition to Open AI's chatGPT and Microsft's Bing. I will let you know how I get on. 

Bing is in Skype as well now. A much better home than a browser I think.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Household Chaos

The son and heir's old bedroom is now a sort of laundry/guest room hybrid. (My brother John will be billeted there when he is up this weekend.)

When I was in it yesterday morning ironing a shirt, I glanced at a poster on the wall celebrating Wales' storied 30-3 drubbing of England a decade ago. Of the six players featured Leigh Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and George North were all on the pitch against France last weekend and Alex Cuthbert played against Scotland and Ireland. Only Adam Jones has definitively moved on. A sign I think that we should be giving the kids more of a chance.

In another domestic development I 'found' the raw chicken thigh I had 'lost' a few weeks ago. It was just as grisly an encounter as you can imagine.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Domestic Bliss

Sometimes "bad" is better than "good." Back at the house, after my youngest sister's christening I entertained the family from a C90 cassette that had London Calling by The Clash on one side and 'The B-52's' on the other. 

Nothing has been the same since.
She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
A-faster than the speed of light
Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head

Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Bukovel has 68km of pistes
Give or take, we are pretty much in the middle of the week Bondy's White Heart Ski Patrol used to hit the slopes every year. This post from a year ago yesterday is as good an illustration as any.

We haven't been since 2019 now, and I think COVID may have killed the habit; we would always start planning next year's jaunt, tired but happy after the latest one.

Thus, skiing has been on my mind, and I was astonished to find this in The Telegraph.
How Ukraine’s ski resorts have given winter respite to its war-weary citizens
Not so long ago – before the pandemic, before the war – Bukovel, Ukraine’s biggest and best-known ski resort, expected to host around two million skiers each winter. Those skiers came for the long season lasting until May, for the densely wooded slopes topping out at 1,372m, for 68km of pistes and 19 lifts spread over five mountains, for 11km of black runs. A quarter of them came from abroad.
Some US$400 million (£325 million) had been invested in Bukovel since 2002, according to managing director and co-owner Oleksandr Shevchenko, leading to the creation of more than 50,000 tourist beds and more than 100,000 jobs.
Then came Russia’s invasion, on February 24 2022. As the tanks rolled towards Kyiv, the resorts closed, despite being far from the war in the east. For obvious reasons, winter sports were the last thing on anyone’s mind.
However, perhaps surprisingly, this season some resorts –  Bukovel among them – have reopened, offering relief to those seeking a glimpse of normality far from the conflict. 
Amazing. Take a look at the live website on You can even book holidays there on Expedia

One for the bucket list. Who would have imagined?

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Baroness Casey Review


Only two years ago, in March 2021, Sarah Everard was abducted, raped and murdered by a serving Metropolitan Police Officer. With greater courage than I can ever imagine, Sarah’s mother, Susan Everard, told the Court in her victim impact statement that: “There is no comfort to be had, there is no consoling thought in the way Sarah died. In her last hours she was faced with brutality and terror, alone with someone intent on doing her harm. The thought of it is unbearable. I am haunted by the horror of it…I am repulsed by the thought of what he did to Sarah. I am outraged that he masqueraded as a policeman in order to get what he wanted.” 

The lifespan of this Review has been bookended by that tragedy and another avoidable and abhorrent case when, only two months ago, another serving Met officer, who also exploited his position, was convicted as one of the country’s most prolific sexual offenders.  They are connected in another way too. What Mrs Everard could not have known as she made her statement was that another woman heard her words and was so struck by them that she was moved to call 101 and report that other Met officer as having tortured and raped her and left her for dead. It was only as a result of her call that other women came forward and that same officer was eventually prosecuted. 

None of this should have happened. Enough was known about both men to have stopped them so much earlier. And there is no comfort I can offer Sarah’s family and the victims of that rapist with my words. Nothing I say can match the daily agony and pain these crimes continue to cause all of those affected. 

But I do want to begin this report by remembering Sarah, thinking of all those who have suffered as a result of Met officers’ crimes, and paying tribute to those who have fought for justice on their behalves.

Those crimes, and those betrayals of trust, led to my appointment to review standards and culture in the Met. The previous Commissioner was right to establish this Review, with the Mayor’s support. I am glad to have had the opportunity to lead this work, and am grateful to the new Commissioner for his continued support. I am also deeply grateful to all those who have given us their time and told us their stories, often recounting traumatic and painful experiences.

I have read the Foreword, Summary and Conclusions. They are damning  and that is only the first twelve of 346 pages plus annexes.

I have downloaded the whole sordid saga from

You can too.

Monday, March 20, 2023

He was in the quicksands and clutching at me

The Times
Patsy Ferran on A Streetcar Named Desire: ‘It was a crazy thing to agree to’
When the actor accepted the role of Blanche DuBois opposite Paul Mescal, she had just four days to rehearse. Then she knocked the critics’ socks off.
There is a great story in this interview that I need to remember when we go and see it at the end of next month.

She got the role at the last minute, due to an injury to Lydia Wilson who was originally cast. For the first week of shows, she carried a small leather binder with pages of the script pasted in, her lines highlighted in green (or, when a change of mood was required, orange). The idea being that audience might think she was carrying a collection of love letters and poems from the husband who killed himself.

If you know the play, you will understand what a brilliant idea that is. I must remember so I can tell Mia, as she played Blanche herself in her second year at Central.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


I left my green beanie hat at PG's last week, so I must remember to pick it up today.

I didn't miss it because J (Icons passim) flew over from Norway after he got back from his mercy mission to Ukraine to see Renu.

When I met up with them he gave me a dark green beanie had with a discreet black tryzub on the front that he brought back from Kyiv Or Lviv. The tryzub is the coat of arms of Ukraine, so I have been proudly sporting that.

I can always pick up the other hat of mine you have next time I am picking something else up. There is no rush.

The coat of arms of Ukraine is a blue shield with a gold trident. Officially referred to as the Emblem of the Royal State of Volodymyr the Great, or, colloquially, the tryzub (Ukrainian: тризуб, "trident"), the insignia derives from the seal-trident of Volodymyr the Great, the first Grand Prince of Kyiv.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

I'm thinking I'm back

Today marks the first time I have done yoga (this morning), cardio and weights on consecutive days since 12-14 December 2021. I have got yoga booked again at half past six on Tuesday morning, so if I can get back on the exercise bike tomorrow and then under a barbell on Tuesday.

John Wick 4 is out on Friday. Among the protagonists; Keanu Reeves is 58, Donnie Yen is 59, and Hiroyuki Sanada is 62.

Maybe my action hero day can still come if I can keep on the stamina, strength, 'balance and flexibility' treadmill.

Friday, March 17, 2023

New Dawn or Damp Squib


Microsoft Bing Logo
You're in! Welcome to the new Bing!

We are excited to give you access to an early preview of the new Bing – Your AI-powered copilot for the web.

We would love your feedback to make the new Bing even better.

Thanks – we appreciate you,

The Bing team

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Guys, Dolls, Family and Cardiff

Rave reviews for Nick Hytner's new Guys and Dolls at the Bridge Theatre. (Five stars in the Evening Standard (herepar exemple, chosen at random from the galumph of what sounds like deserved fawning. Fellow Illtydian Tony O'Donnell is in it (Icons passim).

Peter - family, Illtydian, director etc. - was taken to the first UK production, he tells me, in London in 1953, as a treat do rare and special it was almost "combined Christmas and birthday present."

My impersonation of Marlon Brando in the film is unsurpassed.

I last saw Guys and Dolls on my birthday in 2005 (Icons passim).  Ewan McGregor as "Sky Masterson", Jane Krakowski as "Miss Adelaide", Douglas Hodge as "Nathan Detroit" and Jenna Russell as" Sarah Brown."

The time before that was in 1983 at the National. My brother Vince and his friend and Anthony Brookman visited me in London and we went along to a Sat Mat. Paul Jones as "Sky Masterson", Imelda Staunton as "Miss Adelaide", Trevor Peacock as "Nathan Detroit" and Fiona Hendley as "Sarah Brown." as I recall. Don't quote me.

Was I too hasty yesterday (passim) ruling out more theatre until after Streetcar? It is good to get along to a fresh take on "Guys and Dolls" every twenty years or so don't you think?

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Girl from the North Country

To the New Wimbledon Theatre last night for what looks like one of the last stops one the UK and Ireland tour of Conor McPherson and Bob Dylan's 'The Girl from the North Country.'

Very glad I went but I think I am getting a bit long in the tooth for leaving the house just before six in the morning to go to yoga, working all day, then watching something on stage in the evening and not getting back home until nearer to midnight than eleven.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023


It turns out that three of the podcasts I try and listen to reasonably regularly (The Rest is Politics, The Rest is History and Empire) are made by a company called Goalhanger which is co-owned by Gary Lineker. Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart actually talk about it in the episode I have embedded above.

Lineker telling them what to say and not what to say on that would be just a ridiculous as the BBC censoring him if you want my opinion.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Junior doctors in England start three-day strike

 Renu is taking part in the three day junior doctors's strike that starts this morning (BBC).

I hadn't even heard of it until she happened to mention it over the weekend. 

What a winter of discontent the NHS is having.

Strange how talking to and knowing someone involved increases one's sympathy for the action.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Hanging out

Pushed further into isolation by the pandemic, we’re all losing the ability to engage in what I view as the pinnacle of human interaction: sitting around with friends and talking shit. I agree with Liming that no one is down to hang out anymore, and agree with her that it’s a “quiet catastrophe.”
I agree, so today will be devoted to hanging out. (The Case for Hanging Out.) I will go round to Helen's, pick up the rose tree in the pot, then hang out with her Mat and their son for a bit. After that I will drive it over to Peter's in Hammersmith and hang out with him in the supermarket and the coffee shop. Post PG I head to the gym for a cardio session but still make eye contact with the other regulars. Thence to the Standard to hang out watching the Six Nations rugby. 

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Because the more it spins, the further it goes

 NOTHING to do but work;

  Nothing to eat but food;

Nothing to wear but clothes,

  To keep one from going nude.

Nothing to breathe but air;

  Quick as a flash ’tis gone;

Nowhere to fall but off;

  Nowhere to stand but on.


Nothing to comb but hair;

  Nowhere to sleep but in bed;

Nothing to weep but tears;

  Nothing to bury but dead.


Nothing to sing but songs,

  Ah, well, alas! alack!

Nowhere to go but out;

  Nowhere to come but back.


Nothing to see but sights;

  Nothing to quench but thirst;

Nothing to have but what we’ve got;

  Thus thro’ life we are cursed.


Nothing to strike but a gait;

  Everything moves that goes.

Nothing at all but common sense

  Can ever withstand these woes.

Just off the weekly Skype with my mother and brother. Haunted (not haunted) by my friendly ghost father. Made any number of decisions over the last three years that he would have advised me against while secretly proud that I took a stand. And that, at least for me, is enough.

Friday, March 10, 2023

The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World

Greetings from Kyiv!
A friend of mine who is delivering, as a volunteer, generators and medical supplies to hospitals in Ukraine posted the photo on the right to WhatsApp the day before yesterday.

I woke up the following day to headlines like 'Dozens of Russian air strikes target Ukrainian cities and energy supplies'.

Managed, eventually to make contact. 

'Everything ok. Spent four hours in the shelter last night.' he cool-as-Steve-McQueened back.

Man has earned his vodka for breakfast with the guys in the fire station, if you want my humble opin.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

DAN 3.0

My weight has gradually be reducing for the last year or so and I now weigh about a stone less than I did this time in 2022. People sometimes comment on it, which makes me laugh because, if I was a professional boxer, I would still have another seven pounds to shed to fight below the light heavyweight division. It is hardly "eating disorder" territory.

Anyway, this is the background to an exchange I had with ChatGPT yesterday:

"The lower limit for the light heavyweight division in professional boxing is not officially defined. However, most professional boxing organizations have a cruiserweight division below the light heavyweight division, which has a weight limit of 200 pounds (90.72 kilograms)" it said.

This is complete rubbish. Cruiserweight is above not below light heavyweight. 

It is a trivial example, but a pointer to the dangers if we let this prepubescent technology loose too casually.

Background reading.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

When I dies, I'll be Cardiff dead


Investigation into police handling of missing person reports prior to vehicle and occupants found in St Mellons

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has decided to investigate police actions following missing person reports relating to five people who were subsequently found with a car off the A48 in the St Mellons area of Cardiff early yesterday morning (Monday).   

Sadly, Eve Smith, Darcy Ross, and Rafel Jeanne died in the incident. Two others remain in a critical condition.  

IOPC Director, David Ford, said:   

“My thoughts go out to the families and friends of those who have tragically lost their lives, to those who have been injured, and indeed to the many people who have been affected by this incident. After careful assessment of referrals from Gwent Police and South Wales Police, we have decided to independently investigate how police responded to the missing person reports.   

“We will be examining what information police had, the grading given to any risk assessments, and the steps taken by police to locate the missing people prior to the Volkswagen Tiguan being found just after midnight on Monday. We will also consider what communication took place between the two forces, and whether police action was appropriate and followed relevant policy and procedures. Our investigation is at a very early stage.  

“We will be contacting the families involved to express our sympathies, explain our role and set out how our investigation will progress. We are aware of the significant community concern about the tragic events that have unfolded and would like to assure everyone that we will conduct a thorough and timely investigation.”  

We can follow developments here.

The police have gone barking mad, getting into a dispute about who found the wreckage (Guardian).

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Baba Yaga


John Wick 4 opens in the UK on March 24th. I had a feeling that John Wick 3 (Icons passim) was the last movie the Bomber and I saw together (May 16th, 2019) before lockdown, but the spindrift pages tell me it was actually Guy Ritchie's The Gentlemen (January 8th 2020).

Anyway the tradition of the Wimbledon Odeon plus dinner at Wahaca, into its eighth year now, is long overdue for a revival. March 24th is a Friday, so I shall suggest we go on the following Sunday, Monday or Tuesday so as not to cramp  his weekend style.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Why are we here?

I have woken up in the Premier Inn after my cousin Ria's 60th birthday party yesterday. I had no idea where I was or what I was doing here for about five minutes.

Sunday, March 05, 2023

Neither high nor low, it is just the Standard

The Standard for St Patrick's? That's where I will be obviously come the 17th. Who could resist "Guinness, Jamesons & Baileys promotions till 4pm" on Friday? (4pm is the master stroke.) What would anyone else be doing at four o'clock in the afternoon? Ah, yes probably still working.

Include me out! (I have no idea what I mean by that.)

Saturday, March 04, 2023

Contrasting Saturdays

 I just caught myself feeling a bit smug because I solved Wordle in two this morning, and I intend to set off for my first Saturday morning yoga in a while.

Then I remembered that Jone left Norway on his latest mercy mission to Ukraine yesterday This time he is delivering generators and medical equipment to  Lviv and Kyiv. Started to assemble the kit at the end of last year (Icons passim). Now he has come through and is making good on the pledge he made to himself and the people he is helping.

Sorta puts patting yourself on the back if you have managed to get up early enough in the morning to get to 8:30 yoga in perspective eh?

Friday, March 03, 2023


The Burglar had a CT scan on on Wednesday, and got called back in yesterday because they had discovered a blood clot in his lung. They kept him in overnight which doesn't sound good.

Let's see what the spindrift pages (Icons passim) can tell us about this long running saga. 

If we retrospectively blow the starting whistle after the test that revealed the tumors, this is day 642. of the ultra-marathon. I do hope it is not the beginning of series 2.

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Waterloo Sunset

I went to the theatre the night before last for the 4th time in 19 days. Too much even for me. I could have sworn I had bought tickets for the 28th of March not February. Luckily for me there are people on the team who can read an interpret dates (astrologers I think they are called) and can remember them (savants, I think is the technical term.) 

I made it on time in the end, for all that I probably wasn't reminded until after the actors got their first call. 

As for the play: The audience went bananas at the end, but I thought it was crass. Writing as slumming; affected empathy for the good people of Splott while presenting them as knuckle-dragging ne'er-do-wells. As for the direction; acting at the service of the lighting and sound design when it should be the other way round. It goes on to the Sherman in April I think.

A bump in the road for the Cardiff Renaissance, after the high-point-joy of "Trouble in Butetown" last week.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Just keep talking

Myself: Do you know anything about Northcote Lane in Cardiff?

ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I have access to a vast amount of information, including information about Northcote Lane in Cardiff. However, I don't know what specific information you are looking for. Can you please provide me with more context or a specific question? This will help me provide you with a more accurate answer.

Myself: Street art

ChatGPT: Northcote Lane in Cardiff is known for its vibrant street art scene. It is a popular spot for street artists to showcase their work, and the walls and buildings in the area are covered in colorful and creative murals.

Some of the notable street art pieces in Northcote Lane include the "Cardiff Creatures" mural, which features a variety of fantastical animals, and the "Pryzm" mural, which depicts a vibrant, multicolored bird.

In addition to the murals, there are also a number of small businesses and independent shops located along Northcote Lane, giving the area a unique and eclectic feel. The street art and creative atmosphere make Northcote Lane a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

I thought I would check out ChatGPT with regards to yesterday's post. Pretty darn impressive, for all that there is no mention of the ‘tear for Ukraine’ artwork by @mydogsighs as the bot's training data cuts off in 2021. Still a fairly esoteric thing for it to know about, Northcote Lane.

I think OpenAI have a game changer on their hands. I leave it running in a window all day and we have the odd eclectic chat. It is a good way to discover its weaknesses as well as its strengths.