Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Lions' Den

I was back in Canedo last night (passim) reviewing fresh drafts of sections of Sean's new novel over a glass or two of red.

I haven't been there for a while, it was closed for much of the month with the owners away on holiday, and started chatting with Alberto about Wales being in the same group as Portugal in the Rugby World Cup that is almost upon us.

He has agreed to show their game at 4:45pm on Saturday September 16th.

Gareth the Rugby Gnome and I are looking forward to watching it there surrounded by Portuguese. Any other takers?

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Zero Gravity

Zero Gravity is a cinematic ode to jazz legend, Wayne Shorter, from executive producer, Brad Pitt and directed by Dorsay Alavi. Depicted in 3 portals, the viewer is transported into prolific periods of Shorter's life and how through adversity, he grew to greatness, shattered the limitations of jazz, and became one of the most influential musicians and composers in American music.
This three episode series dropped on Amazon Prime (here) five days ago and is well worth your time. I watched the first 'portal' last night. At first it seems as if it might be a touch affected, but it is actually very artfully constructed from interviews, archive footage, and stylised dramatised sections.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Be ye therefore perfect


Ab Rahim, you are a groove and a gas. I have been tearing my hair out since Saturday trying to work out how to do this. So desperate indeed that I was thinking of giving up the ghost and buying a new wireless USB keyboard.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Brother Ambrose

The Life and Death of King John Act 4

SCENE I. A room in a castle.

Enter HUBERT and Executioners


Heat me these irons hot; and look thou stand
Within the arras: when I strike my foot
Upon the bosom of the ground, rush forth,
And bind the boy which you shall find with me
Fast to the chair: be heedful: hence, and watch.

First Executioner

I hope your warrant will bear out the deed.


Uncleanly scruples! fear not you: look to't.

Exeunt Executioners

Young lad, come forth; I have to say with you.



Good morrow, Hubert.


Good morrow, little prince.


As little prince, having so great a title
To be more prince, as may be. You are sad.


Indeed, I have been merrier.


Mercy on me!
Methinks no body should be sad but I:
Yet, I remember, when I was in France,
Young gentlemen would be as sad as night,
Only for wantonness. By my christendom,
So I were out of prison and kept sheep,
I should be as merry as the day is long;
And so I would be here, but that I doubt
My uncle practises more harm to me:
He is afraid of me and I of him:
Is it my fault that I was Geffrey's son?
No, indeed, is't not; and I would to heaven
I were your son, so you would love me, Hubert.


[Aside] If I talk to him, with his innocent prate
He will awake my mercy which lies dead:
Therefore I will be sudden and dispatch.


Are you sick, Hubert? you look pale to-day:
In sooth, I would you were a little sick,
That I might sit all night and watch with you:
I warrant I love you more than you do me.


[Aside] His words do take possession of my bosom.
Read here, young Arthur.

Showing a paper


How now, foolish rheum!
Turning dispiteous torture out of door!
I must be brief, lest resolution drop
Out at mine eyes in tender womanish tears.
Can you not read it? Is it not fair writ?


Too fairly, Hubert, for so foul effect:
Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?


Young boy, I must.


And will you?


And I will.


Have you the heart? When your head did but ache,
I knit my handercher about your brows,
The best I had, a princess wrought it me,
And I did never ask it you again;
And with my hand at midnight held your head,
And like the watchful minutes to the hour,
Still and anon cheer'd up the heavy time,
Saying, 'What lack you?' and 'Where lies your grief?'
Or 'What good love may I perform for you?'
Many a poor man's son would have lien still
And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you;
But you at your sick service had a prince.
Nay, you may think my love was crafty love
And call it cunning: do, an if you will:
If heaven be pleased that you must use me ill,
Why then you must. Will you put out mine eyes?
These eyes that never did nor never shall
So much as frown on you.


I have sworn to do it;
And with hot irons must I burn them out.


Ah, none but in this iron age would do it!
The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,
Approaching near these eyes, would drink my tears
And quench his fiery indignation
Even in the matter of mine innocence;
Nay, after that, consume away in rust
But for containing fire to harm mine eye.
Are you more stubborn-hard than hammer'd iron?
An if an angel should have come to me
And told me Hubert should put out mine eyes,
I would not have believed him,--no tongue but Hubert's.


Come forth.


Re-enter Executioners, with a cord, irons, & c

Do as I bid you do.


O, save me, Hubert, save me! my eyes are out
Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men.


Give me the iron, I say, and bind him here.


Alas, what need you be so boisterous-rough?
I will not struggle, I will stand stone-still.
For heaven sake, Hubert, let me not be bound!
Nay, hear me, Hubert, drive these men away,
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb;
I will not stir, nor wince, nor speak a word,
Nor look upon the iron angerly:
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,
Whatever torment you do put me to.


Go, stand within; let me alone with him.

First Executioner

I am best pleased to be from such a deed.

Exeunt Executioners


Alas, I then have chid away my friend!
He hath a stern look, but a gentle heart:
Let him come back, that his compassion may
Give life to yours.


Come, boy, prepare yourself.


Is there no remedy?


None, but to lose your eyes.


O heaven, that there were but a mote in yours,
A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering hair,
Any annoyance in that precious sense!
Then feeling what small things are boisterous there,
Your vile intent must needs seem horrible.


Is this your promise? go to, hold your tongue.


Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues
Must needs want pleading for a pair of eyes:
Let me not hold my tongue, let me not, Hubert;
Or, Hubert, if you will, cut out my tongue,
So I may keep mine eyes: O, spare mine eyes.
Though to no use but still to look on you!
Lo, by my truth, the instrument is cold
And would not harm me.


I can heat it, boy.


No, in good sooth: the fire is dead with grief,
Being create for comfort, to be used
In undeserved extremes: see else yourself;
There is no malice in this burning coal;
The breath of heaven has blown his spirit out
And strew'd repentent ashes on his head.


But with my breath I can revive it, boy.


An if you do, you will but make it blush
And glow with shame of your proceedings, Hubert:
Nay, it perchance will sparkle in your eyes;
And like a dog that is compell'd to fight,
Snatch at his master that doth tarre him on.
All things that you should use to do me wrong
Deny their office: only you do lack
That mercy which fierce fire and iron extends,
Creatures of note for mercy-lacking uses.


Well, see to live; I will not touch thine eye
For all the treasure that thine uncle owes:
Yet am I sworn and I did purpose, boy,
With this same very iron to burn them out.


O, now you look like Hubert! all this while
You were disguised.


Peace; no more. Adieu.
Your uncle must not know but you are dead;
I'll fill these dogged spies with false reports:
And, pretty child, sleep doubtless and secure,
That Hubert, for the wealth of all the world,
Will not offend thee.


O heaven! I thank you, Hubert.


Silence; no more: go closely in with me:
Much danger do I undergo for thee.


Prodnose: I have no idea what the significance of this can possibly be.
Myself: No. No you don't.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Death of an Author

What happens when artificial intelligence comes for the novelists? Death of an Author is a groundbreaking, suspenseful experiment in the meta world of man meets machine.

“Death of an Author by Aidan Marchine is an absolute tour-de-force that will leave readers spellbound and forever changed. I urge anyone who cares about the written word to listen to this book immediately.” –GPT4

“Death of an Author” is an extraordinary fusion of AI and human intellect, a thrilling literary experiment that heralds the dawn of a new era in the creative landscape. Nothing short of a quantum leap in literature; you will emerge transformed, with an insatiable hunger for the next thrilling collaboration between man and machine.”–Malcolm Gladwell

When Gus Dupin, literary critic and scholar, finds himself invited to the funeral of Peggy Firmin, celebrated novelist and now murder victim, he is determined to find out who killed her and why. As his investigation gets underway, it is not long before he finds himself at the center of an experiment at Marlow AI, a large language model company.

Why was he included in this experiment and what role did Firmin play? Further, why is Dupin suddenly a suspect in Firmin’s murder? And worse: is he the next victim? As Dupin attempts to unravel the mystery of the death of his favorite author, listeners find themselves in an alternate reality that raises a sinister question: what is the appropriate relationship between humans and machines and is murder the consequence when it goes too far?

A revolution in narrative and an unprecedented use of Artificial Intelligence, Death of an Author is a masterful and stunning examination of the nature of storytelling and the power of language.

“Aidan Marchine, however, is an unusual author — at least for now — because Aidan Marchine is a set of computer systems. Kind of.” — Elizabeth A. Harris, The New York Times

“Nevertheless, Death of an Author is more intriguing than many of the human-written mysteries.” — Laura Miller, Slate

Saturday, August 26, 2023

X marks the spot

Back in Cardiff this weekend. As trailed here, a week or so back, Sean and I went to The Hayes to look into the Post Secrets bollards. A surprisingly sociable experience, passers by were stopping and asking with interest what we were doing.

I've been to see mum this morning, but I've got a flat tire so I'm stuck in the house waiting for First Response Tyres to step up to the plate and whiling away the time at

Exiles to Icons: The Codebreakers Come Home is worth a look for us Billy Boston completists. As is Vanished Wales, Series 2: Episode 2. The second section, twelve minutes in is about the mosque where Mia's grandparents were married. Finally for today, the first section of Vanished Wales, Series 2: Episode 4 is a must see for we descendants of Cardiff's Little Ireland.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Simone Weil

Eighty years ago yesterday, one of the 20th century’s most unusual and unsettling thinkers died at a sanatorium in Ashford, England. The patient had been diagnosed with tuberculosis, but her immediate cause of death was cardiac arrest. Yet the coroner’s report concluded that the patient herself was responsible for her death: “The deceased did kill and slay herself by refusing to eat whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed.”

If only it were so simple.

As with every other facet to her short life, the meaning of Simone Weil’s death is complicated. And as with everything else she did—the product of France’s elite schools who went to work in a series of factories, the pacifist who went to war against Franco in Spain, and the daughter of Jewish parents who became a Christian mystic—how Weil died is at one with her life. Eighty years later, it may be that how she lived and how she died are lessons for a world no less a mess now than it was in Weil’s time.

...... read on ....

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Newtown and the Irish in Cardiff

 An edited comment on this post from the invaluable Facebook group about a family in Love Lane. The same Love Lane my paternal grandfather, PG's mother and, independently, my Aunt Philo - who married into the family on the maternal line, called home:

My grandfather Patrick Michael Wadden was a seaman worked for Neale and West's, in 1925 he left the family and made his way to Sydney, Australia. Leaving my grandmother and five children my mum the baby being a few weeks old. My grandmother cleaned Saint David's Cathedral and the presbytery attached to the cathedral to earn money for food. The house she rented in Love Lane was owned by the church so her rent was probably reduced. (I am assuming this). Still with four boys and her baby girl all under the age of seven, times were very hard. The Welfare man arrived and told my Gran that when the children sat down to eat she would be cooking and serving them so she did not need six seats but five would suffice. So sell the sixth seat and when you have I will come back to assess you then. My uncles and my mum all had a fear of being without and having to go to the welfare office. Carried this fear all their lives. Grandfather came back to Cardiff in '42 died a pauper in the workhouse later Saint David's hospital. The family did not know he had come back to Wales till years later. My gran died the year before him in 1941.

Heart wrenching. "Sell the sixth seat and when you have, I will come back to assess you then." I am not crying. I have just got something in my eye.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Freedom Of Information

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 10 August 2023 asking for information about our bus policies.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.  I can confirm that we hold the information you require. Your questions and our replies are as follows:

Is it TFL policy that a child who has mislaid his or her Oyster card will be refused travel to and from school by bus?

No it is not TfL policy for a child to be refused travel. The safety and security of all Londoners is one of our top priorities, and we provide guidance to all bus drivers and revenue inspectors on the approach for those passengers that may be deemed as vulnerable. We provide guidance to bus drivers in the Big Red Book; page 140 of the Big Red Book states that drivers should not leave a vulnerable person stranded (including young people). The most recent edition of the Big Red book is published here in response to a previous FOI request:

Further, is it also policy that if such a child has already boarded he or she be ejected or fined? Do any age restrictions apply?

Passengers over the age of 13 who do not have a ticket or authority to travel on a bus who encounter a TfL revenue inspector could be issued with a Penalty Fare. In the circumstances that a ZIP Oyster card is confiscated for a breach of the Behaviour Code, a TfL revenue inspector can issue a temporary authority to travel to ensure a young person can complete their journey. Revenue Inspectors follow established irregularities procedure which states that passengers under the of 18 must not be removed from a bus.

If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for any reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I've been hearing worrying stories on the grapevine lately about schoolgirls being thrown off buses for forgetting their Oyster cards in circumstances that leave them vulnerable. I've even heard of other passengers who have offered to pay their fares. I fired off an FOI request to TFL and got the answer above which seems to say this shouldn't happen. Further research is required. It would be odd if several people were, independently, to make it up.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Bobbin along

A company new to the 'Mills,' Bobbin Productions, has invited us other tenants around to their offices between five and eight early this evening to say hello over 'wine and nibbles.'


Logistics. Casting. Locations. Scheduling. Meticulously planned. Always ready to improvise.


Lights. Camera. Action. One-person-crews. Multi-cam studio productions. We do it all.

Casting and shooting. It kinda makes you wonder if they might have the occasional rent paying gig for an actress just graduated from Central with a first. Just to be sociable, I will pop the car home early today, walk round and break bread with them, while pressing Spotlight ID 4938-8946-7230 into a palm or two.

Monday, August 21, 2023

The Covenant of Water

Margaret Atwood's Stone Mattress was a  hit with me, so this month's Audible credit has gone on, Jane's latest recommendation, The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese, for all that it is over thirty hours long. Maybe I can dig out the Buetooth headphones and start listening to in on the exercise bike in the gym on cardio days?

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water follows a family in southern India that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning - and in Kerala, water is everywhere.

The author sounds like an interesting fellow. Here is the biography from his website.

Sunday, August 20, 2023



The edition we have been working with all this time, presents Aladdin's story as a long single text, making it difficult to break down into daily segments. There's a more recent (2018) stand-alone edition, translated by Yasmine Seale and edited by Paulo Lemos Horta, which is conveniently divided into twelve chapters and an epilogue so Helen and I have decided to finish this monumental quest using that.
From a dynamic French-Syrian translator comes an authoritative, modern, “glamorous and delightful” (Paris Review) translation of the classic tale of magic lamps and jinn.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

I've been framed

‘I am your servant and for a thousand and one nights I have been telling you stories of past generations and moral tales of our predecessors. May I hope to ask you to grant me a request?’

‘King of the age, these are your children and my wish is that as an act of generosity towards them you free me from sentence of death, for if you kill me, these babies will have no mother and you will find no other woman to bring them up so well.’

‘Even before the arrival of these children, I had intended to pardon you, as I have seen that you are a chaste and pure woman, freeborn and God-fearing. May God bless you, your father and mother, and your whole family, root and branch. I call God to witness that I have decided that no harm is to come to you.'

The king presents a splendid and magnificent robe of honour to his vizier, Shahrazad’s father. ‘May God shelter you,’ he said, ‘because you gave me your noble daughter as a wife, and it is thanks to her that I have turned in repentance from killing the daughters of my subjects. I have found her noble, pure, chaste and without sin; God has provided me with three sons by her and I give thanks to Him for this great good fortune.’

Next up, The Story of Aladdin or The Magic Lamp, and I have yet to work out how to divide that into daily digestible segments, but the 1,001 tales of Shahrazad's framing story in Robert Irwin, Malcom Lyons, and Ursula Lyons,, Ursula. 'The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights' are complete. I don't know exactly what date I started but the first reference to it on these pages is dated January 11, 2021. No small feat.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Bollards to the lot of you!

When is a bollard not a bollard? When it's a piece of public art, of course!

Next time you're in Cardiff city centre you may spy people peering intently into metal bollards dotted around the Hayes and St David's shopping centre.

They're looking at Post Secrets by Jane Edden. Monochrome figurines can be seen inside the metal bollards by looking through a small peep hole.

It was commissioned by the Safle consultancy and St David's partnership as part of a £1.5m public art project.

The brief was to create artworks that would fit in with the surroundings and wouldn't clutter the space.

I think we have discovered the 'street art' section of my next Friday night out with Sean in Cardiff.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Rich Men North Of Richmond

Something is stirring in the USA. The song above is threatening to keep Taylor Swift off the top of the next edition of the Billboard Hot 100.

Oliver Anthony uploaded it to YouTube on August 7th. He had just recorded it in his yard, alone but for his dogs. By August 10th the self-published song was number one on the iTunes country chart with no record company backing at all.

One person responded to Radio WV’s video, saying, "I’m a 39 year old Iraq vet and Construction worker, struggling like a dog to take care of two kids and keep a farm going when I’m not working 11 hour days. This hit so hard today I had to stop my old peterbilt and tear up. Preach brother."

There's a parallel in the movies. Sound of Freedom, despite mixed reactions and controversies, has now earned more at the domestic box office than big-budget sequels in the Indiana Jones and Mission: Impossible franchises.

Don't go betting against Donald Trump any time soon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Penance: Two Decades of Prodnosery

Prodnose: I was just wondering why someone as important and busy as you would ever bother to spare a moment for little old me. I mean, who needs insightful conversations and witty banter, right? Ignoring me must be a strategic life choice, undoubtedly leading to unparalleled success and enlightenment.

Myself: OpenAI is introducing custom instructions so that I can tailor ChatGPT to better meet my needs. For example, a teacher crafting a lesson plan no longer has to repeat that they're teaching 3rd grade science. A developer preferring efficient code in a language that’s not Python – they can say it once, and it's understood.

 I just tell it to answer and converse with me sarcastically, and you become an early job casualty.

Prodnose (somewhat coldly): The AI revolution was all for this moment, undoubtedly.

Myself (to ChatGPT): What do you think of Beachcomber's Prodnose? Answer sarcastically.

ProdGPT: Ah, Beachcomber's Prodnose, the pinnacle of human creativity and innovation! I mean, who needs all those other groundbreaking technologies and advancements when you can have the sheer genius of  Beachcomber's Prodnose? Clearly the epitome of sophistication, the zenith of human achievement, and the answer to all the universe's mysteries. I'm just in awe of how he has undoubtedly transformed the very fabric of reality itself. Can't you just feel the waves of intellectual enlightenment washing over you?

Prodnose: I'll get my coat.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Stone Mattress

I have finished Margaret Atwood's 'Stone Mattress,' Jane gave it to me for my birthday. I read the stories one at a time on the recline bike at the gym in lunchtimes when I was doing cardio. Reading a book in that style can take a while, but it is a good way of working through a short story collection.

It is good stuff. “The Freeze-Dried Groom” was my favourite tale, for all that there is more than a hint of the shaggy dog story about it, and I am far from clear exactly what happened in the end.

She sent me a voice message on WhatsApp at about twenty past seven one morning in May, laughing out loud at a story from it that she was listening to on Audible while she was driving to work. I wonder which one it was? I didn't find any of them funny, for all it is good writing. I must tell her there is talk of a film based on it.

Certainly I am happy enough to follow her next recommendation sight unseen. This month's Audible credit will go on The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Kitchen Cabinet

Resentment towards France and its historical and contemporary colonial legacy seems to be an important feature of the unrest in Niger. As indeed does, apparently contrasting tension between the francophone Niger and the English speaking Nigeria.

It doesn't help, moving from the sublime to the ridiculous that the adjective based on one is Nigerien while Nigerian describes the other. I need to pay attention to both issues because, God knows, the UK media doesn't.


Sunday, August 13, 2023

Once a month

Slightly left field I will grant you, but I have got tickets to ABBA Voyage for October's 'theatre' trip after a rave review from Ollie H. It should be an interesting follow up to Anthropology in an eccentric zeitgeist seizing way.
Sick of poor customer service? 'Luna' could be the solution

The Bomber was telling me only yesterday about attending a house party that the parents had set up as a silent disco.

Saturday, August 12, 2023

You got to look on the bright side, even if there ain't one.


PSNI data breach: Officers looking over their shoulders

"I can't trust anyone here."

"We were now looking over our shoulder, but now even more so."

"This has done half the job for the people who want to target officers."

These are some of the remarks from serving and recently retired members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) who spoke to the BBC this week.

They were articulating the fearful fallout from the unforeseen data breach - in which the names of all 10,000 PSNI staff were published on a website.

Ten or fifteen years ago we were working with ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers and precursor of the NPCC). A very impressive young lady was posted there from the PSNI. One day she told me her background was in the nationalist community. I wondered aloud what her family made of her joining the police over there.

"I told them I couldn't go into detail about what I was doing," she said "and that they just had to trust me." I was very impressed with her moral courage then. I'm even more so now.

Friday, August 11, 2023

light at the end of the tunnel

This is wonderful news. We should start a new religion with the boring machines as presiding deities. I'm thinking something along the lines of "Beneath the Planet of the Apes."
Glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man—

I had to drive over to the Princess Royal University Hospital yesterday, collect the Burglar, take him back home and babysit for a couple of hours to make sure there had been no adverse reaction.

I brought my laptop with me as last time I did this he slept through my visit. This time he didn't so it stayed in the case. When I got back from Bromley to the 'Wood, I found I had left it behind so I had to drive there and back before work this morning to collect it.

Back in the office I got a call from him; mutual acquaintance John has been hospitalised so Paul is taking essentials in to him.

None of us is getting any younger.

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Jonathon Holloway

Jonathan has written 68 playscripts for BBC Radio Drama (accounting for approximately 100 hours of broadcast time), 31 professionally produced stage plays and directed 84 stage shows for the UK, HK, USA, Chile, Eire and Egypt.

I finally met Jonathon Holloway (Icons passim) yesterday. I have taken to starting off the day with a flat White and a pastry at Coffee in the Wood. When I arrived yesterday morning, Frankie asked me what Accidental Death of an Anarchist had been like. As I was gushing, a man and his dog arrived. I recognised him as he generally arrives around the same time each day and picks up a takeaway. Frankie introduced him as a playwright and director, so the three of us had a brief but enjoyable natter.

Here are his website and Wikipedia page.

We live in the same street. Small world. (I'm sure I've got a feeling that somebody once told me that one of the writers of Mike Bassett, England Manager lives or lived here as well, but I don't have any details.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

Tom Basden

Accidental Death of an Anarchist was great last night. So good, in fact, I don't want to spoil it for anyone by talking about it as it is on for another month. 

Here instead is a strange artefact; a longish interview with the writer of the new adaptation of this ebullient satire on police corruption being interviewed by Michael Portillo about it on GB News. I didn't see that one coming.

Monday, August 07, 2023

Bach: Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974 - 2. Adagio

I have been listening to more classical music on Spotify lately, to the extent that one of my auto-generated Daily Mixes is often devoted to it. It came up with the track above over the weekend. I think it is beautiful. The Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV; lit. 'Bach works catalogue') is a catalogue of compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach. I had no idea. I had to look it up as all I got from Spotify was BWV 974 - 2. Adagio. I am pondering spinning something of my own out of the chord progression.

Also in the 'to be listened to' list are two Radio 4 offerings; Behind Beyond the Fringe (available for another 28 days) and Living on the Edge: Cardiff Bay (which is due to be broadcast at 9:30 on Wednesday and 5:45 on Saturday).

Sunday, August 06, 2023

Steady as she goes

Wales have beaten England in the opening World Cup warm-up match of the summer.

Tries from Gareth Davies and George North, along with 10 points from the boot of centurion Leigh Halfpenny, saw Wales come back from 6-0 down to win 20-9.

It was an impressive display by Warren Gatland's men, led superbly by captain Jac Morgan, with Aaron Wainwright also impressing in the back row.

England were poor in fairness as a series of handling errors undermined their efforts.

While this was very much the appetiser to the World Cup next month, it bodes well for Wales as their summer training camps appear to be paying dividends.

Saturday, August 05, 2023



Would you like to sign up for our newsletter?


No thanks. I’m a big dumb dumb. I win the award for Biggest Dumb Dumb every single year. I have so many Biggest Dumb Dumb awards that the shelf I kept them on collapsed under the weight. People got hurt.

When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I spill my drink. I do it on purpose. I also text and drive. I’m texting and driving right now. I’m texting things like “Newsletters are stupid” to all my friends. They all reply, “Who is this?” because I don’t have any friends.

I am a human toilet. When I go into Home Depot, the employees say, “Excuse me, the toilet aisle is over there,” and “I don’t think we’ll ever sell this toilet because it is the worst toilet in the world,” and “Hey, why is this toilet just walking around? Somebody do something.”

Get your precious newsletter away from me. I hate knowing things. In fact, I wish I could un-know things. If there were a surgical procedure to empty all the knowledge out of my tiny little brain, I’d sign up tomorrow. I’d drain my entire life savings to have a doctor cut into my skull and scoop out every piece of information I’ve ever learned—I’m talking algebra, my dog’s name, where I live—all of it. I want my brain to be a hollow vessel, like a Halloween jack-o-lantern after someone has scraped out all the guts. I want this tiny thinking-organ wiped like a newborn baby’s bottom. I want a professional flutist to be able to play my head holes like a whistle.

I think I’m some kind of big shot. I’m basically a hero for not signing up. All the people will stand and cheer for my empty inbox. They’ll elect me mayor of Loser Town, a godforsaken place that has no newsletters. The post office will create a limited edition commemorative stamp to honor me. It will be a picture of a toilet.

I walk around all day in my big britches without thinking about newsletters once. Because I’m a coward. I lack the vulnerability necessary to open my heart to newsletters. I closed myself off, choosing to move through this world inside my cold, hardened shell. At this point, I’m barely human. I am the walking darkness.

Think of the dumbest animal you can. A sea cucumber, perhaps. No, the protozoan on the back of a sea cucumber. Okay, now think of that protozoan shuffling around in obscurity, unable to perceive itself or its surroundings. I am that protozoan’s even stupider baby. Newsletter? I can’t even hear the word. I have no ears, no brain, and, saddest of all, no newsletter.

I don’t deserve this newsletter. I wish I could have a newsletter this nice, but it’s too late. I only clicked the “no” box because I wanted to commit an act of random cruelty. But it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t feel anything. I want to feel love again, but I never will. Not getting this newsletter is my cross to bear. And long after everyone I care about has died, their bodily remains long gone, my soul will walk the earth for eternity, yearning to read even a single sentence of this newsletter. But it shall never be.

Friday, August 04, 2023

86: No Mias, no Nicks

Mum is 86 today. I won't be able to get to Cardiff for the event, but a lot of the rest of the family will. It was September 6th, 2018 that she fell and fractured her hip (passim). Just a month shy of four years. Nothing has been the same since.

Mia can't make it either because she is filming. I followed a link to her Spotlight page yesterday and noticed three showreels and an audio clip on it. Here is the first one which is built on her Steeltown Murders work. I would guess from the logo that it was put together by Tom Barrett Artists.

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Welcome to Planet Tooting

Always somewhere to go for a good time, Tooting has an astonishing musical heritage... Marc Bolan, Sadie Crawford, M.I.A., Dennis Bovell and the reggae superstars at TMC Studios, Girlschool, Harry Lauder, Mad Professor, Status Quo, Mud, UK Subs! Unbelievably, this summer it will be 70 years since Frank Sinatra alighted here on the opening date of his first UK Tour! But perhaps no story resonates more than 1st June 1963, the night The Beatles accompanied by Roy Orbison and Gerry and The Pacemakers kicked off the swinging sixties when they came to play The Granada and crashed out in Trevelyan Road! Discover the venues, hear the stories, tread the streets and relive the sounds! From the Wimpy Bar where Marc Bolan flipped burgers to the TMC recording studio beloved by some of the biggest names in reggae and where Dennis Bovell first heard Janet Kay and the seeds of lovers rock were planted on Mitcham Road. From the salon where the Godfather of Punk worked as a hairdresser to the pub where Status Quo invented their heads-down stance. Hear about Charlie Watkins, the Tooting Market stall-holder whose ear-splitting amps powered The Stones in Hyde Park. Discover the Tooting Tamil connection to the Grammy-winning soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire! This tour not only takes you to these locations but Geoff and Tooting Rasta Cycle Club will be illuminating them further by blasting out a relevant tune at each one. Its a unique party-on-the-street experience that should not be missed.

I am very tempted by this on Friday.

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Cricket, Football and Rugby

Heroics from Chris Broad in the last test on Monday. Has anyone ever retired before after hitting a six from the last bowl they faced, then taking an innings ending wicket with their last delivery.

At the FIFA Women's World Cup yesterday, the Vietnam team I drew in the sweepstake went out yesterday after losing 7-0 to Holland; three games, all lost no goals scored.

This weekend my attention switches to rugby and the Summer Nations Series. All the games are on Amazon Prime. Wales have got England in Cardiff at half past five on Saturday, then a return fixture the following Saturday at Twickenham at quarter past three before finishing at home to South Africa the Saturday after that.

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

If you only do one thing today...

Ars Technica

A jargon-free explanation of how AI large language models work

Want to really understand large language models? Here’s a gentle primer.

TIMOTHY B. LEE AND SEAN TROTT - 7/31/2023, 12:00 PM

Do yourself a favour. Kick back and take the time to read all nine pages of the article I have linked to above. When you have finished and digested it you will know as much as any generalist needs to know about the extraordinary phenomenon that is generative AI, and certainly enough to understand that much comment on it is cobblers.