Wednesday, May 31, 2023


I had a weird Monday to Friday last week. No phone (I smashed the screen on Sunday Icons passim) and no car (as it when in for cosmetic repairs dating back to August Icons passim).

I ordered a new handset on Tuesday, but it didn't arrive until Friday because DPD are s useless. On Wednesday they claimed that they had missed at 11:56, though I was there all the time. On Thursday. they arrived at half past seven in the morning only to find the office empty. Imagine that! Then on Friday I got up at the crack of dawn and still got a message saying they had missed me. This time however my dander was up so I charged out of the Apprentice Shop and caught the delivery man before he managed to get in his van and skedaddle. My manner was was somewhat curt.

Anyway, walking (no car) round with no phone and no car for a whole set of weekdays, really gave me an internal reset. Everyone else wandering round and bumping into each other while staring intently at rectangular screens in their hands with white wire hanging out from the buds in their ears looked initially absurd and then, by the end of the week, sinister.

I must not ever get caught up in that madness.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

A man's got to know his limitations

Possibly I am tempting fate and getting ahead of myself but The Equalizer 3 is pencilled in for September's bimonthly action movie treat, following John Wick Chapter 4, FAST X, and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

There should also be room in my life for Finland's SISU. Jone says Finns are really like this. "Are we drinking or talking?' one said to him once in reply to a social comment over vodka. More on for a streaming playlist than a cinema trip I think, but worth a look.

Monday, May 29, 2023

We're putting the band back together

The phone rang just before ten last night. It was Ben. He was on a weekend gallivant with Simona. They had ended up in the Charles Holden. Did I want to come round? I did. I had never met Simona before, but we had a wonderful hour or so sitting out in the pub garden. It is lucky the Holden closes at eleven. If it had an extension until the early hours I wouldn't have let them go until after last orders.

Ben said that Jonnie, back from University, had met him and Rory yesterday (the three of them played in the same Old Ruts team while they were at school) and that they were planning on catching up with Alex who did as well. I had thought of Alex in the week as I walked past the flat he shared with his mum on my way to the Ukraine meeting.

I drove along Birdhurst Road on Sunday morning as I had had to pick up some stuff for Peter from Helen's. There was a shiny black Range Rover with German plates outside Callum's family home. I guess he must be back from Bayer Leverkusen.

The boys are back in town. Rory didn't come on the scene until secondary school, but in their few years in primary I was forever taking Ben, Jonnie, Alex and Callum to crocodile Park, muay Thai and the movies etc. They're all twenty two now. It makes me quite sentimental just thinking about it.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Standing with Ukraine

I got an email from Siobhan, our MP, ten days ago:

Next Thursday, we are lucky enough to be joined by Luke Harding, the war journalist, who is currently stationed in Kyiv, Ukraine, and is coming to talk to us about his life on the front line. 

Luke Harding is an exceptional journalist, writer, and award-winning foreign correspondent with the Guardian. His remarkable career has taken him to the front lines of global conflicts, from Delhi to Berlin, and from Afghanistan to Syria. Luke has reported on the brutal realities of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria.  

Between 2007 and 2011, he was the Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief. In February 2011, the Kremlin deported him from the country in the first case of its kind since the Cold War.

As I write this invitation, Luke is in Ukraine, directly reporting from Kyiv. We are incredibly fortunate to have him available to share his invaluable experiences and unique perspectives with us firsthand. 

You can follow Luke on twitter at @lukeharding1968 to see where he is right now.  

There will also be time for a Q&A, and I would love it if you were able to join us and ask any questions you like. As always there will be refreshments provided. 

The public meeting will take place next Thursday May 25th at 7.15pm at Merton Vision, 67 Clarendon Road, Colliers Wood, SW19 2DX. The event is open to the public, and we are welcoming guests from all walks of life, please do bring along any friends or family who may be interested in attending. 

Join us for what promises to be a fascinating and thought-provoking evening.

Very impressed with her for organising it, I went along and was even more impressed that the "refreshments" provided included wine and I could sit down with a glass of red in my hand.

Things started very encouragingly with what I took to be a Freudian slip. In his introductory remarks the chairman said that Mr Harding had been nominated for the Orwellian, as opposed to Orwell prize. Hilarity ensued.

As for the level of analysis to which we were exposed I was less impressed. "Putin, and almost everyone else in Russia, is a nutter," seemed to be about the level of it. Groupthink also extended to the audience. Whenever anyone asked an interesting or informed  question, they were looked at as if they were mad. A guy asking about whether the ascent of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (which represents about 40% of the world’s population see Icons passim) meant the world's centre of power was shifting away from Washington and the West and what the impications of that might be for the support of Ukraine was dismissed as if he had brought up something irrelevant. A lady I took to be African made the point that much of that continent supported Russia. She also was dismissed as if it was ill mannered even to bring the matter up, for all that Rod - the old Africa hand) has told me:

One thing is true about Russia and former Soviet Union and Eastern bloc as education magnet for African and other students... Cheap etc but also seen as attractive because of perception that Soviets helped bring about independence and decolonization etc. So many Africans speak fluent Russian... The Governor of Segou in Central Mali spoke Romanian. My old boss in Congo, a Malian, spoke fluent Serbian.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

There Is No Alternative

"One of the great cover versions," writes Andy M. "I've played many people that track as a 'guess who' and no-one got it. So out of her normal character as a kick-ass rock/soul singer and one of my favourite tracks, helped just a little by Herbie's fluid phrasing and dense chord structures and the marvellous (late) Wayne Shorter on soprano sax playing those simple rhythmic lines towards the end. And not a bad song either!!"
Listen to it.

Friday, May 26, 2023

The Watch


Historian A. Roger Ekirch has argued that before the Industrial Revolution, interrupted sleep was dominant in Western civilization. He draws evidence from more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern in documents from the ancient, medieval, and modern world. Other historians, such as Craig Koslofsky, have endorsed Ekirch's analysis. According to Ekirch's argument, adults typically slept in two distinct phases, bridged by an intervening period of wakefulness of approximately one hour. This time was used to pray and reflect, and to interpret dreams, which were more vivid at that hour than upon waking in the morning. This was also a favourite time for scholars and poets to write uninterrupted, whereas still others visited neighbours, engaged in sexual activity, or committed petty crime.

I'm tending to wake at around three and lie awake for a while every now and then, so I have decided to use what used to be called 'the watch' to catch up with blogging and correspondence etc. Thus, henceforth, if you get a message from me in the wee small hours of the morning, I haven't woken up with a panic attack necessarily, I have just fallen into the ancient habit of biphasic sleep.

“Now the standard cure for one who is sunk is to consider those in actual destitution or physical suffering—this is an all-weather beatitude for gloom in general and fairly salutary day-time advice for everyone. But at three o’clock in the morning, a forgotten package has the same tragic importance as a death sentence, and the cure doesn’t work—and in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day.”

 F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up

Thursday, May 25, 2023

What do they call you up there? They call me Mr. Tibbs!

I went to see Retrograde in the Kiln Theatre the night before last, but couldn't write about it until now as Helen was going to yesterday's matiness and didn't want any plot spoilers.

Anyway I strolled in only to find someone apparently in my place because the ticket was actually for today. I sat down next to her and was displaced only to meerkat up, spot and move to another empty space. I repeated the trick a few times until I ended up in a seat that stayed abandoned and watched the play. It was really good. Here is the theatre's page on it including extracts from its four and five star reviews. The writer is someone called Ryan Calais Cameron who seems to be quite the coming man. I just like him because he is from Tooting up the road from my house.

It finishes on the 27th so you have got no chance of catching it. Come to think of it I imagine the performance when I was playing musical chairs before curtain up was as well.

The Golden Age of Hollywood. Behind closed doors, aspiring actor Sidney Poitier is offered a lucrative contract that could make him a superstar. But what is he willing to sacrifice?

From the writer of award-winning, sold-out, For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy, Ryan Calais Cameron’s explosive new play explores identity, resilience, and integrity as it examines a true event in 1950’s Hollywood and the reality of a Black actor’s journey to stardom.

Next up, once-a-month, Guys & Dolls Bridge Theatre June 15th 2023 7:30pm.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Nuclear Family

Myself: Nuclear had a long history of figurative use before its main association with weapons and energy, as nucleus has senses meaning "kernel" or more simply "something essential." Nuclear doesn't have to refer to an explosion whose destructive power derives from an uncontrolled reaction. See how I did that?
Prodnose: No.
Myself: I used it ambiguously as an antonym of itself in the title of this post.
Prodnose: It's a hardscrabble life you lead.
Myself: Ups and downs. I'll grant you that.

At the moment the trajectory is upwards. Ben's, Jane's and my pizza at Corleone on June 19th will be our sixth consecutive monthly get together after last Sunday's Fast X movie night. Alternating Corleone with an action movie you don't necessarily have to strain every brain cell to appreciate is also working out well. Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One is pencilled in for Sunday July 17th.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

You can take the girl out of Ely

Cars have been set alight and objects have been thrown at police near the scene of a crash in Cardiff. Riot police with dogs joined emergency services on Snowden Road in the district of Ely on Monday evening after 100-150 people gathered there. Some of those gathered wore balaclavas while others were seen breaking up paving slabs to hurl at officers. Videos on social media also showed fireworks being thrown at police. Police said arrests had been made but did not give a figure. The events that led to the disorder remain unclear.
Mum's from Ely. She and Dad got married in St. Francis' on Cowbridge Road, about half a mile from the burning car above.

Monday, May 22, 2023


Myself: Can I make calls on an Android phone from Windows 10?

Bing in SkypeYes, you can make calls on an Android phone from Windows 10 using Microsoft's Phone Link app. You need to have Bluetooth enabled on both your PC and your Android device. You also need to install the Link to Windows app on your Android device and grant it the necessary permissions. Once you have set up the app on both devices, you can open the Phone Link app on your PC and select Calls. You can then use the dialer or search through your contacts to make a call. You can also receive calls on your PC and accept or decline them.

My phone fell out of my jacket pocket as I got out of the car yesterday. The already cracked screen is not working at all now and I can't access SMS from the PC though WhatsApp still works. I don't know about incoming calls. I will test it on the landline when I get to work. I imagine I will need to order a new handset today.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

AI AI, Captain Kirk

More seriously, I am signed up for the Chat GPT and Other Creative Rivals | Institute of Philosophy ( conference on 31 May and 1 June. Geoffrey Hinton's contribution is entitled '.Qualia are the phlogiston of cognitive science'. Oh goody.

Should we be worried about DarkBERT?

Closer to home:

Saturday, May 20, 2023

The red thread

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain

By: Victoria MacKenzie
Narrated by: Charlie Norfolk, Stephanie Racine
Length: 3 hrs and 32 mins

In the year of 1413, two women meet for the first time in the city of Norwich.

Margery has left her fourteen children and husband behind to make her journey. Her visions of Christ – which have long alienated her from her family and neighbours, and incurred her husband’s abuse – have placed her in danger with the men of the Church, who have begun to hound her as a heretic.

Julian, an anchoress, has not left Norwich, nor the cell to which she has been confined, for twenty-­three years. She has told no one of her own visions – and knows that time is running out for her to do so.

The two women have stories to tell one another. Stories about girlhood, motherhood, sickness, loss, doubt and belief; revelations more the powerful than the world is ready to hear. Their meeting will change everything.

My monthly Audible credit should land today, and there is a last minute candidate for it.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Shirley Road

I am reading the Author's Proof of Sean's new novel. Chapter 10 begins lamenting the sparseness of middle class enclaves where people gather to be apart; "no doorstep chats, no shared legends, no sense of community."

I thought immediately of the article The hidden lane in Cardiff covered in amazing art that tells fantastic stories. Colourful murals decorate the walls of an alleyway behind Shirley Road in Roath (Northcote Lane's sister?), and I particularly thought of one.

Shirley Road resident Jan Evans has been sitting smoking all day, every day, outside her house for the last ten years

One of the most striking murals is a celebration of the community of Shirley Road - capturing how they came together during the lockdown. "They were talking about the processions they were very proud of in the lockdown," says Alex, the artist. A number of times during the lockdown, two dhol drummers who lived nearby - Raj Singh and his father - kept spirits alive, making music as they led a procession along the lane. Residents of the street followed in their wake, and some even wore fancy dress for the occasion - one person dressed as a clown and another in a dinosaur costume. Alex's mural captures the fun and uplifting occasion, Including Jan, sitting on her chair with a cigarette in hand as she gazes at the parade.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

I am a D.J. I am what I play

Regardless of rants like yesterday's, I am listening to Spotify’s AI DJ, which was launched in the UK and Ireland the day before yesterday, perfectly happily this morning.

Press Release
To create the DJ we reimagined the way users listen on Spotify. The DJ knows you and your music taste so well that it will scan the latest releases we know you’ll like, or take you back to that nostalgic playlist you had on repeat last year. Never before has listening felt so completely personal to each and every user, thanks to the powerful combination of:  
Spotify’s personalization technology, which gives you a lineup of music recommendations based on what we know you like.
Generative AI through the use of OpenAI technology. We put this in the hands of our music editors to provide you with insightful facts about the music, artists, or genres you’re listening to. The expertise of our editors is something that’s really important to our philosophy at Spotify. 
We have experts in genres who know music and culture inside and out. And no one knows the music scene better than they do. With this generative AI tooling, our editors are able to scale their innate knowledge in ways never before possible.  
A dynamic AI voice platform from our Sonantic acquisition that brings to life stunningly realistic voices from text.
It is hardly the end of the world, if this makes a 'mistake' every now and then and comes up with something I don't particularly enjoy.

I also with a comment Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys made in an interview in the Radio Times. He recounted being amazed by the 15-year-old daughter of the act’s manager asking a bot to come up with a song in the style of Pet Shop Boys. 

“There’s a song that we wrote a chorus for in 2003 and we never finished because I couldn’t think of anything for the verses,” he said. “But now with AI you could give it the bits you’ve written, press the button and have it fill in the blanks. You might then rewrite it, but it could nonetheless be a tool.”

Makes sense; once again its not a disaster if it doesn't work out.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

I put a spell on you

Myself: Summarise 
Bard: Nick Browne is a Welsh-born icon. He is a writer, a boxer, and a family man. He has a blog where he shares his thoughts on a variety of topics, including his family, his work, and his thoughts on current events. In a recent post, he shared his location on Google Maps for 24 hours, allowing readers to follow him throughout his day. He also wrote about his weight loss journey and his hopes to become a super middleweight boxer. Browne's blog is a mix of personal and professional insights, and it offers readers a glimpse into the life of a Welsh-born icon. 
Here are some of the topics that Browne has written about on his blog: 
  • His family: Browne often writes about his wife, children, and grandchildren. He shares stories about their lives and his love for them.
  • His work: Browne is a writer and a boxer. He writes about his work as a writer and his training as a boxer. He also shares his thoughts on current events. 
  • His weight loss journey: Browne lost over two stone in the last year. He shares his story and his tips for weight loss. 
  • His hopes to become a super middleweight boxer: Browne is a boxer who hopes to become a super middleweight champion. He shares his training regimen and his thoughts on boxing. 
Browne's blog is a mix of personal and professional insights. It offers readers a glimpse into the life of a Welsh-born icon.
Fresh off the press this morning. Google's Bard is just as mad as Microsoft's OpenAI GPT. The world has lost its collective mind with the credence it gives to LLM generative artificial intelligence. I have particular fears for its adoption in medicine and the law.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

How The Light Gets In

Yesterday's post was devoted to cultural events I will attend over the next week or so. Today's is about one I definitely won't. "The World's Largest Music & Philosophy Festival" is an absurd idea.

I like rock 'n roll music but I can't be doing with rock 'n roll philosophy. Similarly I am unconvinced by Scott Woods assertion that the work and statements of some of our favorite MCs line up quite comfortably alongside philosophy’s greatest — and most notorious — minds. The Lil Wayne: Friedrich Nietzsche connection, for example continues to elude me.

Have fun when Rowan Williams supports Gruff Rhys on Sunday. I will be in my local watching Man City v Chelsea.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Enough to be going on with

Obviously I have got an appointment with my couch for Mia in Steeltown Murders tonight. Looking at my diary, there are six more or less cultural engagements in the next twelve days.
  • Aladdin Sane: 50 Years Exhibition with Andy M at the Festival Hall on Wednesday evening.
  • Jah Wobble presents Tuned In live at Wimbledon Library on Friday
  • FAST X with Ben, Simona and Jane at the Wimbledon Odeon, Sunday
  • Retrograde at the Kiln Theatre Tuesday week
  • Trauma and Hope Thursday, 25 May⋅16:30 – 18:00 Birkbeck, University of London

Sunday, May 14, 2023


When I woke this morning I decided, prompted no doubt by yesterday's Mali back and forth with Rod, to listen to episode one of Frontlines of Journalism. Reflecting on some of the most difficult stories he's reported on, BBC International Editor Jeremy Bowen look at the obstacles that stand between journalists and the truth.

I have always followed his career as (Icons passim) he was in school with me.

Alexa was duly instructed to play Off Balance, episode one throughout the house as I went about my morning routine. "Getting to the truth means weighing up evidence and making judgements. You can’t be neutral about everything, in a world this cruel."

There are ten episodes in all. It looks like they weigh in at just under a quarter of an hour each. Highly recommended. I will certainly work through the whole lot.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Oh My Way to Bamako

Telegraph: 12 May 2023 • 4:14pm
Wagner troops ‘raped and tortured dozens in Malian killing spree’
UN reports on incident in 2022 which rights groups call the worst atrocity in a 10-year conflict between Islamist groups and the army
Malian soldiers suspected of working with Wagner mercenaries probably executed at least 500 people and sexually assaulted or tortured dozens of others during a five-day operation in the village of Moura in central Mali in 2022, the UN Human Rights Office said on Friday.

On March 27 2022, Malian soldiers and foreign personnel descended in helicopters and opened fire on fleeing residents, the report said. In a round-up of civilians in the following days, hundreds more were shot and thrown in ditches.

The report was released after a months-long investigation into what rights groups called the worst atrocity in a 10-year conflict between Islamist groups and the army. Thousands have died and millions have been displaced.
The story above doesn't seem to be very widely covered and I can't seem to find the UN report itself anywhere. Time to call in the Kitchen Cabinet's International Man of Mystery methinks. He actually went to Mali with the EU early in 2018 (Icons passim). I well remember him telling me he following in June last year, which is relevant for all it came as news to me.
One thing is true about Russia and former Soviet Union and Eastern bloc as education magnet for African and other students... Cheap etc but also seen as attractive because of perception that Soviets helped bring about independence and decolonization etc. So many Africans speak fluent Russian... The Governor of Segou in Central Mali spoke Romanian. My old boss in Congo, a Malian, spoke fluent Serbian.
Update 13:35: My Man Came Good

Friday, May 12, 2023

Steeltown Murders

Starts 9pm Monday May 15th BBC1. Episode 1 of 4.

My niece Mia Khan is in this and appears in three of the four episodes. She's still in Central in her final year and got the gig from her own initiative. I don't imagine it will be a massive part, but mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Harlot's Ghost or Stone Mattress

Jane sent me a voice message on WhatsApp at about twenty past seven yesterday. I imagine it was a hands-free transmission while driving to work. She was laughing out loud at a story from Margaret Atwood's Stone Mattress collection that she was listening to on Audible and wanted to recommend it to me. Here is the link.

The other contender for this month's subscription buy is Harlot's Ghost by Norman Mailer. I rather gave up on Mailer chronologically when Ancient Evenings came out and I didn't fancy it, but Rory Stewart praised it to the skies on The Rest is Politics recently.
Harry Hubbard is the son and godson of CIA legends. His journey to learn the secrets of his society - and his own past - takes him through the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the "momentous catastrophe" of the Kennedy assassination.
Actually he and Alastair Campbell discuss how they choose books to read in today's 'question and answer' edition of the podcast. I have embedded that specific section above.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Running in the family

I didn't watch the coronation on Saturday morning. I was watching my nephew playing for Heath Park Rangers under six team on the Cardiff  University Sports Fields. What a treat to see Seb score the first goal in his new yellow birthday Erling Haaland boots! Talking to his father, I couldn't shut up even for two minutes, but things were happening one after another that flashed me back to memories of Ben playing football and rugby when he was a little boy. Seb's birthday was on Friday, and his party was due in the afternoon; Free running with Nerf guns.  I started to wish I could go and join in the fun in that as well.

I found myself getting quite sentimental as I drove through Llanrumney as I was reminded of the years I spent on buses up and down Newport Road going to and from school. Looking at the website, I see that 2013 is St Illtyd's centenary. It is quite sobering to realise I started there almost exactly fifty of those hundred years ago.

More nostalgia, if you can be nostalgic about something that happened before you were born. Dad was doing his National Service in the RAF when the Queen was crowned. He was selected to be one of the servicemen lining the route because, he told me, he was one of the few at his base tall enough to meet the height requirements. He was a bit taller than me but not over lofty. Average people are much bigger these days.

He was bivouacked in Hyde Park, but said it was great: "like being on holiday." From the procession on the day itself, he remembered Princess Margaret being very beautiful and being particularly taken with the vivacious and cheerful Queen of Tonga.

It rains heavily in Tonga, in the warm South Pacific. Thus it did not seem unusual to Tonga's Queen Salot that it should be raining in London on coronation day. Instead of withdrawing into the shelter of her coach like most notables in the long procession from Westminster Abbey, Queen Salote sat in the drenching downpour, a massive (6 ft. 3 in., 280 Ibs.), broad-faced woman in red robes and a headdress from which two feathers stuck stiffly upright; she beamed, waved, mopped rain from her face with a handkerchief, beamed again. The soaked, footsore crowd who had waited interminable hours to see the procession instantly warmed to Queen Salote. 

 After the procession she hurried back to her house in Weymouth Street, took off her soaked gown (made from the bark of a hibiscus tree), had a hot bath and went to bed. Later she told newsmen that she loved the British weather. "The public was as wet as I, and we were both enjoying ourselves . . . Oh, it was marvelous. The greatest day ever." Wrote the London Daily Telegraph: "Few visitors can ever have endeared themselves so widely and so speedily."

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

You Are Old, Father William

 Sorry this is brief. I have left my reading glasses at home so I have to run over to Boots and get some more as well as being back as close to nine o'clock as I can. I have tried fooling around with font sizes etc. but to no avail. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

  "You are old, father William," the young man said,

    "And your hair has become very white;

  And yet you incessantly stand on your head —

    Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

  "In my youth," father William replied to his son,

    "I feared it would injure the brain;

  But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,

    Why, I do it again and again."

  "You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,

    And have grown most uncommonly fat;

  Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door —

    Pray, what is the reason of that?"

  "In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,

    "I kept all my limbs very supple

  By the use of this ointment — one shilling the box —

    Allow me to sell you a couple."

  "You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak

    For anything tougher than suet;

  Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak —

    Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

  "In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,

    And argued each case with my wife;

  And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,

    Has lasted the rest of my life."

  "You are old," said the youth; one would hardly suppose

    That your eye was as steady as ever;

  Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose —

    What made you so awfully clever?"

  "I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"

    Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!

  Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?

    Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

Monday, May 08, 2023

Middleweight is calling me

I am exactly twelve stone this morning; the weight Canelo Alvarez met John Ryder at over the weekend.*

This is officially the lightest I have been since I started recording my weight regularly at the beginning of 2007. I was a cruiserweight then, just two pounds within the limit. Got down to 12 stone 7 (light heavyweight) in May 2016 though it did creep back up, and now I am a super middleweight. Hardly a precipitous decline is it when you put it like that. Middleweight beckons at 11 stone 6, then super welterweight at eleven stone on the dot. I am not on a diet. If I do ever boil down another fourteen pounds I will not want to lose any more. I seem to remember that is what I weighed in University.

*Didn't Ryder do well? Lost a unanimous decision but finished the stronger fighter after going down in the fifth. "A moral victory," says the commentator at the end on the highlights reel above and I agree.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

The thin end of the glut

I need to get back to the 'Wood ASAP! In my absence they have started admitting Scotsmen to our Irish local. The thin end of the glut if you want my opinion.

Scottish National Dictionary

GLUT: A wooden wedge, such as was used e.g. in tightening the Huidin of a flail or in adjusting a plough

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Put a sock in it

I have bought another painting. This one is by Sharon Smart and is intended as a nostalgic companion piece to the Malcolm Murphy (Icons passim). The A.P. Chemist is now Café Canedo. Out of my house, turn right, proceed to the bottom of the road and turn right again. You can't miss it. I think the mobility scooter is the detail that won me over.

Prodnose: Of what conceivable interest is this to anyone?
Myself: No conceivable interest. Do you remember me buying that pack of half a dozen pairs of black socks from Marks and Spencer's and being left with an orphan when I lost one?
Prodnose (uncertainly): Yes. I am your superego after all.
Myself: That is what Sean says. What is my superego then?
Prodnose: It is the part of the personality structure, mainly but not entirely unconscious, that includes the individual's ego ideals, spiritual goals, and the psychic agency, commonly called "conscience", that criticizes and prohibits the expression of drives, fantasies, feelings, and actions.
Myself: And I've got one? Well I never. Anyway I found the lost sock. It was in the tumble drier in mum and dad's so I am back to a full complement now.
Prodnose (insincerely): I bet you're glad you didn't throw its partner away then. (Under breath): God give me strength!

Friday, May 05, 2023

The Rollercoaster

I am going back to Cardiff today, so as a special treat for you I have shared my location on Google Maps for 24 hours:

  • Wake up with me and potter round the house as I wash, dress and breakfast.
  • Join me in the office for a morning's work.
  • Ride with me in the car down the M4.
  • Thrill, as I arrive in Cardiff and knock on Sean's door.
  • Follow us as we drive to the Albany Gallery.
  • Later, a curry. You're welcome.
  • Finally, drill down in Street View and look on fondly as you imagine me slipping between the sheets in Penylan.

You are living your best life.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Super middleweight is calling me

I weighed just a pound above twelve stone on the bathroom scales this morning. This is as light as I have been since I started recording my weight regularly in my training log. The first entry in that has me at 14 st 2 on January 14th 2007. This day last year I was 13 stone on the nose, so I have lost more than two stone altogether and all but a stone in the last year. I am on the last notch of my belt, so I had a rummage in the wardrobe. The replacement I found wouldn't even fit. I have either been a lot lighter in the past or there is more belly fat and less muscle than previously.

Saúl 'Canelo' Álvarez will defend his undisputed super-middleweight title against John Ryder at the Akron Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico on Saturday. I only have to boil off another pound to challenge the winner. I am amazed how little coverage there is in the UK of an Englishman fighting for these straps. I think we just pretend to be interested in boxing.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Trauma and Hope

I meet my mate Steve semi regularly after work in Tooting's Broadway Market for a bit of literature chat over a glass or two of something. (In his day job he is Associate Director of Clinical Services at an NHS Foundation Trust.)

He has invited me to 'Trauma And Hope' - Meeting Dr Yasser Abu Jamei on May 25th, said another friend of his, Ben Jamal, will probably be there as well, and sent me this video of Ben talking about the 2020 Nakba Rally. It turns out he is the Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign. As I listened to him talk about his paternal Palestinian heritage and his British mother I naturally thought of Hannah Khalil so I sent the details over to her. Here's Ben talking about it as an introduction to a Nakba Rally video.


I think I will be go along to see what Gaza's pre-eminent psychiatrist has to say on a rare visit outside the blockaded Gaza Strip, for all that I am no expert. We all need to be taken out of our comfort zones every now and again.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Other oaths are available

Backlash at 'tone deaf' plans for Brits to swear oath to King from their homes during Coronation

Myself: Please rewrite "I swear that I will pay true allegiance to Your Majesty, and to your heirs and successors according to law. So help me God." In the style of P G Wodehouse.

GPT-4: Here is one possible way to rewrite the sentence in the style of P G Wodehouse:

"I say, old chap, you can count on me to be a staunch supporter of you and your bally offspring, as long as they don't go against the law. God's my witness and all that rot."

Raymond Chandler

I'll stick with you and your kin, as long as they play by the book. God knows I mean it.

Ernest Hemingway

I will be loyal to you and your sons. They must follow the law. God will help me do it.

William Shakespeare

I do profess my true and faithful service to thy royal self, and to thy lawful issue and their heirs. So God be my surety and my guide.

Geoffrey Chaucer

I swere that I shal trewly serve and honoure yowre hye magestee, and yowre heires and successours by lawe. So God me helpe and kepe.

Groucho Marx

 I swear to be a loyal subject to you and your offspring, as long as they don't break the law. And if they do, I'll break their legs. So help me God, or whoever is in charge around here.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Ryan Calais Cameron

Five stars in the Torygraph, among a torrent of rave reviews, for Retrograde at the Kiln.
"This account of a pivotal episode in the life of Sidney Poitier is so articulately defiant it bears comparison with The Crucible." That's my monthly theatre trip for May sorted then; all done and dusted for Tuesday 23rd.

I googled the author, Ryan Calais Cameron, whose work here "propels him, at a stroke, to the front rank of our playwrights" and found he was born in Tooting, just up the road from where I sit writing. Also, he's got something called For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy on in the West End at the moment, but I can't make it as it closes next weekend.

I'd forgotten I had an account on the Kiln website, but when my email address pointed me its way I could see a list of my other visits to the building.
  • THE ARAB - ISRAELI COOKBOOK 13/07/2005 14:00
  • PASS OVER 04/03/2020 19:30
  • THE WIFE OF WILLESDEN 11/11/2021 19:30
The fourth week of May is shaping up nicely.